FROM MY TROPICAL DECK CHAIR
Painting is a passion that, for me, operates outside the twin arenas of need and greed. Oh sure, I was pleased when a San Francisco gallery asked me to submit slides this week. Pleased, and enormously flattered. One of my oldest dreams is—oops, was—to exhibit in important cities and make a big name for myself as a painter.
Retirement in Mexico has changed and rearranged my priorities. I’m still painting, of course. My yellow wallpaper still life with seascapes series are more colorful than ever. More skillful, more confident. As a painter, I am coming into my full powers.
Yesterday I painted my first ever face of Frida Kahlo. She looks like she is about to open her mouth and say something. I have collected images of and by Frida Kahlo for years. I must have deeply intended to paint her at some point. How happy I am to have met and won this point. I knew that if I could properly accomplish the portrait—embedded as a trompe l’oile postcard behind the still life of mangos and Mexican pottery—the rest of the work would line up behind it.
“The Not So Still Life” is a book I ordered on Amazon. One of the ones I had when I lived in Santa Fe. It fell to the art books dealer, or I donated it to the library. I don’t remember. I do remember that I thought humidity and tropical heat would destroy my books. Which turns out not to be the case.
An artist separated from her art books is a sorry proposition. You have to shed your stuff to achieve escape velocity—but I dream of my art books as others may dream of success in love and work.
My own aspirations to success in love and work are delimited by my greatest desire to always and forever do what I want, when I want, however I want, for as long as I’m still having fun.
I don’t like marketing my work, so I don’t. An art teacher at the Taos Institute of Arts said you could buy yourself an international reputation as a painter simply by placing ads in such publications as Art News and Southwest Art. Phooey. Another way of interjecting yourself into the art world is to attend art openings, where you then proceed to schmooze your head off. No thanks. I’m a painter. I just like to paint.
Haven’t we all wished wished wished when we were working—whether the successive day jobs I undertook as a dreaming writer/artist, or doing the career ladder mambo, cha-cha-cha—for someday, when we would be released from indenture, free to do or not do, exactly as we please?
Clap your hands! Stamp your feet! A big holy YES for all of us escapees from the machine. Retirement gives us the entitlement. We are all rightfully entitled to freedom now from other people’s expectations, and other people’s demands.
If this is true, if this is truly how I feel, why oh why did I cast myself into an unholy alliance with a life coach in the States to provide “writing and editing” services to her? I would be her ghostwriter for an unspecified period of time. Hoisted on my own petard of need and greed. In exchange for a cheap computer we got at Costco that, as it turns out, is programmed in Spanish and the punctuation is in wonky places—not your standard keyboard.
I sold myself cheaply. Now it turns out, she wants “us” to investigate putting her work onto Kindle, and formatting it to be published on Amazon. Hello? If I were technologically savvy, or even had the slightest ambition to become so, would I not do this for my own novel, instead of blogging it so everyone can read it for free? Of course I would.
Lincoln freed the slaves over a hundred years ago. When I make a bad decision, I don’t have to ride it, ad infinitum, to the gates of hell. I’ve e-mailed the coach that I changed my mind. I will give her back the cheapo computer on her next trip to Puerto Vallarta. There are no perfect people, is my excuse. Think nice thoughts.
website: santafekitchenstudio.com blog: http://outofthearmchair.wordpress.com paintings can be seen in Puerto Vallarta at Galeria International on Morelos and in the Marina.