Monday, March 28, 2016

Passion Without a Plan

©Theresa Grillo Laird -Twigs and Blossoms- 10x10 - oil on linen
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Washing dishes is seldom a rewarding task, but this week I've been entertained by a bird building it's nest 10 feet from my kitchen window. He works diligently and energetically in bursts, then disappears for hours. Twig by twig he builds, dropping like a rock to the ground then soaring almost straight up, carrying a stick bigger than he is. Sometimes the wind undoes his work as fast as he can do it. Yet each day he's back and the nest gets a little bigger.

It struck me how alike his activity is to an artist's practice. We also return to the practice daily no matter what the result of the previous day's work. We diligently build our knowledge base and our painting bit by bit. Sometimes, as when the bird carries a stick bigger than he is, we take on more than we know in an attempt to bring our vision into being. We keep trying despite the setbacks. 

Each day the bird returned, sometimes with it's mate. Undaunted, they went back to work rebuilding what the evening winds had undone. 
They had chosen a narrow ledge above the carport for their nest. It seemed ideal, being high off the ground and inaccessible to other animals. But on all but the calmest days, the wind swept under an overhang and blew their handiwork away. It reminded me of the times I've labored over a painting that seemed to be a good idea but became bogged down because of foundation problems. Yet I admired their tenacity and their certainty of the worth of their effort- qualities every artist needs! 

One night after a furious thunderstorm, I found the nest in pieces on the ground. I thought the birds had finally given up until I found them building a nest on the opposite end of the carport. It was barely better than their first spot and after a few days of rebuilding, they abandoned the effort.

When you paint enough paintings, you soon learn that some paintings need to be abandoned no matter how much work you put into them. Sometime taking a bit of time to check that you have a sound foundation, works better than passion without a plan.


  1. Love your analogy! I feel like I've been away from my nest for the past couple weeks what with kids on spring break and hosting a family gathering. Looking forward to pursuing my passion tomorrow! That's my plan anyways ;)

    1. Cory I know how that is! We can't abandon family!The solution when overwhelmed with family duties is to find at least 1 hour in the day that you can call your own. For me, that's sometimes first thing in the morning before I'm needed and sometimes late at night when my duties are finished. Sometimes balancing everything takes as much creativity as the art itself!


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