Neglect Your Art For One Day And…

Molly Cook, 1993
Molly Cook, 1993

“If you neglect your art for one day, it will neglect you for two.”

I first read this in a statement by a jazz musician about the importance of practice, practice, practice.

At the moment, I’ve neglected my art for the past several days as I find myself in the middle of holiday activities.  I’m not going to make excuses.  But it hasn’t been a total neglect.  I’ve been busy creating things but have, for this week, cleared my workspace (which is another name for the island counter in my tiny apartment) to make room for baking, wrapping gifts, writing cards – the usual.

I did design and print my own Christmas cards. I made ornaments for my grandkids – a family tradition.  I visited The Studio Door in San Diego to see their Holiday Show and Sale. I bought some new art supplies for me and for my artistic granddaughters.  I looked through two books on acrylics and watched a demonstration on DVD.

Perhaps most important, at least where my art is concerned, I reviewed what I’ve done so far in my “body of work” (and before that) to consider where to go when I pick up the brush again in a couple of weeks.  What do I still need to learn?  Where did I do something worth keeping and where did I do something that goes in the “failed experiment” pile?  Where did a happy accident take me to a new place?

“Neglect” is a big word and a visual artist rarely truly neglects his or her work.  Our eyes don’t stop taking in the world and the world is full of ideas.

I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly composing new pieces in my mind’s eye.  Colors, designs, juxtapositions, possibilities keeping in mind the words of Gary Ambrose, my sculpture instructor at Maine College of Art:  “Rich and complex, not complicated and confusing.”

The little watercolor that accompanies this post goes back to 1993, about the time I turned from visual art to writing.  In many ways I regret that turn, but I’m glad some things survive to remind me of what I knew back then and can still use today.  I recognize a sense of play and rule-breaking in the little watercolor that gives me courage to keep going further – to play and break more rules – with what I’m doing today.

Nothing is lost. Or neglected.