Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Walking...


My dear little blog will take a turn for a while as I focus on an important aspect of life and source of energy for my art...walking.  Before I launch into this I want to say a BIG thanks to neighbor & extraordinary artist Maggie Connors for letting me use one of her paintings to start this off with.  Look at the woman in the painting walking so confidently & easily, fantastic!  Thanks Maggie...

I walk for exercise of course but it is also my main source for deep thinking & problem solving.  As I get older I want life to slow down with hopes of absorbing every second of every day and the pace of walking suits that nicely plus there is so much more to see when walking.  Sometimes it can feel as if I'm moving in slow motion as people jog, speed walk, bike or just scamper past in that type-A brisk busy walk which requires twice as many little snippy steps as any normal walk.  I've certainly done all those but much prefer a good old fashioned stroll.  Italians have it right with la passeggiata (a gentle slow stroll) in the evenings after one of their exquisite meals.
   
So why am I so focused on walking?  It has become a big issue in my life due to advanced osteoarthritis, every step hurts and journies are only short distances for which I pay a painful price with screaming knees and sleepless nights.  Actually it feels like I'm under house arrest lately!  I will be getting new knees soon and the first thing I'm going to do with them is take a good long walk.  Science has made great strides (ba da boom) with joint replacement so I'm confident for the future and getting back to being an action figure.  These days I think of people like Renoir who suffered enormous pain and deformity with RA.  In fact when I was a young artist I remember seeing and being horrified (in sympathy not disgust) over a photo of Renoir whose hands were completely distorted by the disease.  He had to wedge paint brushes between his fingers then tape it all together.  What incredible suffering he endured!  His most famous quote is "The pain passes, but the beauty remains"  when he was asked how he could continue to paint while in agony from the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.   Renoir also said to one of his dealers who was watching him paint "you see you don't even need a hand to paint".  That's because as all good artists know you paint from your heart.  Other great painters who suffered with arthritis were:  Raoul Dufy, Matisse, Grandma Moses, Paul Klee, Peter-Paul Rubens, Antoni Gaudi, etc...but they kept right on creating. 

I have been doing a ton of reading, specifically, Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit (terrific book!) and am particularly drawn to her writing about Wordsworth and how he and his sister would go on enormous walks.  So for a little while I will be focused on Walking and all the art it inspires and will keep painting as well.  This will be a great project to keep me going until I can get back to walking...



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