Each time I begin a painting, or prepare to teach a class, I become a novice again. What am I doing? How do I start? I am going through this process now as I step into a new painting series for an exhibit in 2015 and prepare for my classes in Canada, Colorado and Italy. There is the paradox of being an experienced artist and teacher, but apparently needing the discomfort of feeling lost, of starting over. This sense of beginning from scratch keeps my work alive.
Novice comes from the Latin, novas, meaning new. It also refers to a person entering a religious order. Each day we are offered entry into a spiritual order. Even now there are the morning sounds of baby birds all around our house and in the woods. A red-winged blackbird scolds me from the top of the tree for getting too close to his nest. A baby house wren perches by a ceramic bluebird, bill gaping, demanding food from the clay figure. The scraggly robin nestlings stay at the edge of the nest with their beaks open, keeping both parents zooming to and fro– bearing bugs and worms. All kinds of baby birds and their peculiar names:
colt, squab, squeaker owlet, puffling, peep eyas, gosling, cheeper
This pattern of commencing has become so familiar to me that I now welcome feeling unprepared knowing that thisis how I get prepared. Stabbing in the dark, being willing to follow an impulse, move, make a mark, a splash of color, or perhaps list the names for large groups of birds:
cast, shimmer, convocationcauldron, covert, tunecharm, skein, colony,congregation–siege, scattering, scold:glittering charm bouquethorde aerie flamboyance!
The smallest detail and a glimpse of the unimaginable vastness turns my attention to where the intangible brings the miracle of simple newness.