So on a recent bright and sunny but still cold day, I gathered up my supplies and stopped nearby to capture this bit of color in an otherwise plain neighborhood. The other side faces toward the lake and mountains and I couldn't help but wonder what the view was out the ample windows, if indeed one would be high enough to see over the houses and catch sight of a bit of blue water.
The other thing I thought I'd share is from June of last year, a bit of multi-media play I never got around to adding here. And it seemed a perfect example of what Austin Kleon recently shared in a post he titled "Learn to Play the Fool." I'd been working on one of the Sketchbook School Revival classes that called for acrylic paint, and I had paint leftover on my brush and palette that seemed a shame to wash down the drain. Early on in my surface design experiments, I'd learned of expending paint onto a piece of plain fabric designated for this purpose. Eventually, that fabric will be covered in paint of various colors that might just provide an interesting background for something. I knew you could do the same onto paper so I turned to the back of the sketchbook and started dabbing paint in no particular pattern. I soon had a page that was nothing but ugly to my eye, and I couldn't imagine how it would serve as a first layer to anything. Random dabbing wasn't working for me like other artists says it does.
So I tried something different, something more in line with my aesthetics and just painted lines down a new page. Ahhhh, now I was relaxed and soothed and enjoying myself, my imagination seeing ways I could add over the top of these - 5 pages worth until all the acrylic paint was gone.
But in reading Austin's post and the people he quoted, I had the sense that the last couple of years when I've stepped away from textiles, I'd been doing just that, playing the fool, and it was a good thing. “It’s simple,” writes George Leonard in the “The Master and the Fool,” the epilogue of his book Mastery, “To be a learner, you’ve got to be willing to be a fool.”
"By fool, to be clear, I don’t mean a stupid, unthinking person, but one with the spirit of the medieval fool, the court jester, the carefree fool in the tarot deck who bears the awesome number zero, signifying the fertile void from which all creation springs, the state of emptiness that allows new things to come into being."
And here's how the playwright George Bernard Shaw encouraged an aspiring writer to “resolutely” make a fool of himself:
"You say you are scarcely competent to write books just yet. That is just why I recommend you to learn. If I advised you to learn to skate, you would not reply that your balance was scarcely good enough yet. A man learns to skate by staggering about and making a fool of himself. Indeed he progresses in all things by resolutely making a fool of himself. You will never write a good book until you have written some bad ones."
Well said. Indeed, how many people decide not to sign up for a class because they don't know enough about the subject and don't want to look stupid (raising my hand here).
And Austin himself gave me my answer to why I've been so doggedly trying different things, not really understanding why.
"In Show Your Work I also wrote that mastery isn’t enough for the searching life of the artist. “You can’t be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again.” (In some cases, literally: I’m thinking of Erik Satie, going back to the academy after he was already known as a composer.) And this starting over, or beginning again, learning something new, requires a willingness to look like a fool, or a “curious idiot.” "