Friday, November 25, 2011

If My Peers are The Standard...

After the Dance
 Competition is a funny thing; it can be subtle, nearly undetectable, like natural gas without the ‘funk’ additive. J It sneaks up on you, especially when your aim is to live your life on your own terms. Not everyone lives with a ‘scarcity mentality,’ that is, a belief that there’s only a short amount of ______ to go around. A classic example from my past is high school and college art courses. In Still Life 1 (too long ago to be sure if that was a title), we came into the classroom and the teacher arranged a boot, a glass vase, a gourd and a plastic apple and orange, on a table. Our assignment was to draw the images. In a classroom with artists skilled in hand-eye coordination, in an hour’s time, they were finished, including shading, highlights and rendering the various textures. But there were other students who, in an hour’s time, were struggling to round the orange, or they somehow had the boot looking like a swatch of cowhide. But there was a third group: the students who were making a valiant effort, with the shining example of the first group as their model. They had erase marks on paper, a look of determination and frustration on their brow, but they were faring “better” than the second group.

And so it goes: competition without really trying. I recall folks showing up with a number 2 pencil and believing that to be sufficient. It was and can be. But when they would see me with my set of pencils with designations from 4H to 4B, a pink pearl eraser and maybe a kneaded eraser; you could see that sense of self-esteem slip a bit. But I wasn’t the standard and truthfully, I was striving to reach the standard others were setting. I watched them, bodies relaxed, yet focused on the task, confidence shining like a silver knight’s armor. I wanted to be one of them.

I’m not sure if it’s the “times” or a movement that seems to be happening “right now,” but for me, my life is ordered by a higher direction. Certainly, I may look at the work of a Serge Kponton, or Matthew Ivan Cherry and think “I wish I could render the way he does,” but most of the time, I hear someone who seems to direct my work in other ways. I am not instructed to “do it just like him or her” but to allow my mind, my body and my soul to receive what is there and to render as He directs. It’s a beautiful thing!

My peers…they aren’t the standard any more. There is one who directs my steps and he is more than a standard; he’s my muse and spirit of abundance.