I began reading two new books today. One is an audio book, the other is traditional. Between the library and my own bookshelves, I have more than enough reading material for several lifetimes.
Yesterday I began five new paintings. Actually, what I did was to paint oil gesso over older work that no longer satisfied me. I guess you wouldn't actually call that painting, but it really is a new beginning. The first step into new work, just like the first page in a new book.
It dawned on me today that I always like to have some "space" for savoring the books and the paintings that I've just finished. There is something satisfying about remembering a story well told, the depth of the characters and how they lived with me for a time. I also take a great deal of pleasure in walking by my newest paintings, even as I think about sizes and subjects for my upcoming explorations. My most recent work is always my favorite for a time, and can stymie new beginnings if I let it. Oh, the doubts that creep surreptitiously into my good intentions...how did I ever make such a wonderful painting? How can I ever be successful again?
But I have to paint! So I take the plunge and before long I'm deeply involved in the problem solving and intuitive gestures that layer by layer create my next new favorite! It is the same with books. I find myself wandering through the shelves of choices, still thinking about the ones I've just finished, knowing it will be difficult to find one to compare. To compensate for my struggle, I choose more than one and begin them all. It takes the pressure off. That's why I like to give myself more than one canvas at a time. I can "play" a little more freely with what I like and don't like, and see where the journey takes me. Reading and painting, I fall in love again and again. What could be better?