The herald, or announcer of the adventure...is often dark...or terrifying; ...yet if one could follow, the way would be opened through the walls of the day into the dark where the jewels glow. *
This painting is part of a series I am working on. There will be 22 paintings representing each of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. For those of you unfamiliar with the Tarot, arcana means secret. The archetypal images in a Tarot deck, for example– The Hermit– have no fixed meaning, but just as in a dream, have a particular message for you each time you choose this card. One discovers the meaning of the image in a similar way that you go about unraveling a dream. A good painting operates by the same process: you discover something new each time you see it.
It is tempting to say again that the most difficult part of any project is just to begin. Take one step in the direction of your vision. But then there are those times in the middle where doubt makes is hard to continue, and then the panic at the end– so I find myself having to begin over and over again. The willingness to embark each day has led to, as my friend Harriet Goode said: The unknown began to take on a pleasing shape.
Herald: A messenger; one that gives a sign or indication of something to come; a harbinger.
Each morning I resist the temptation to dash out of bed and rush to my paintbrush. (There is that distinction between spontaneity and compulsion). Early dawn anxiety is countered by waking up slowly, remembering a dream, recalling a grateful moment. This is followed by meditation, reading and writing– which gives me some traction to more fully enter the inner world of paint and impression.
I make an effort to pay attention to what arises in my inner world, and my immediate environment, as if it matters, as if any of these things could be the herald.
For example, it’s mid-November and just last night a ladybug alighted on my hand and crawled all over my schedule book. My four-year-old mind is certain this is good luck. After all, time for a ladybug must be entirely different– vast and unfettered with worry about the future.
And then there was the immature red-tailed hawk that perched right outside our kitchen, turning its head 360 degrees! Seeing everything all around, while the rest of his body stood perfectly still:
To keep myself from jumping off cliffs on discouraging days, I alternate my work on bigger paintings with quite small ones, and writing in my journal. Walking is essential for clearing my mind and making room in those cluttered drawers in my brain for new ideas. And wine in the evening with loved ones is welcome too!
Have you begun a project you were afraid to do? I'd love to hear from you.
*Joseph Campbell, Hero With A Thousand Faces, p. 53