Just Play

“I didn’t paint the morning after her visit. I drew. Little caricatures, cartoon figures really. Sitting. Running. Walking. Swimming. Fast, fast, fast. No time for me to think. Skiing. Bicycling. Dancing.

Just play, Laine had advised. So I tried to play. I worked at playing, determined to keep trying until I could play without having to work.”

When I came to this spot in Robin Black’s Life Drawing last night I had to stop reading and put the book down. Work at play?

Gus, a  middle-aged artist who’s dealing with her father’s dementia and the fallout from her own infidelity, finds comfort in her painting. Everything she paints, the chairs, the walls, every brick, is alive — everything except the people. She even says she thinks she might be missing the “life-drawing gene.”

She’s become cautious since her days of “preaching the virtues of risk and of failure…” She says that mistakes have “lost their appeal.”

Like Gus, I’ve known that cautious feeling. I too have “preached the virtues of risk and failure” on my blogs and to my students.

Every day I see that I am one of those who has to “work at play.” But I know that when I finally get to play without work, that’s when the work will come alive.

Now I will savor the rest of Life Drawing as I feel a kindred spirit in Gus, and a true appreciation for the author, Robin Black, who brings these characters, with their real-life issues alive on the page.

(Read The Rumpus interview with Robin Black)


 

I’m looking for inspirational women! Do you know anyone who incorporates play into their life? Someone who has a 9 to 5 job or family obligations… but still finds time to incorporate creative play into their life? Please email me at catherine (at) gmail (dot) com.

Forty Year Photo Project

1981, Cincinnati

1981, Cincinnati

1999, Brookline, MA

1999, Brookline, MA

This powerful photo series by Nicholas Nixon depicts four sisters over the course of forty years. As Susan Minot writes so eloquently in this NY Times article:

Throughout this series, we watch these women age, undergoing life’s most humbling experience. While many of us can, when pressed, name things we are grateful to Time for bestowing upon us, the lines bracketing our mouths and the loosening of our skin are not among them. So while a part of the spirit sinks at the slow appearance of these women’s jowls, another part is lifted: They are not undone by it. We detect more sorrow, perhaps, in the eyes, more weight in the once-fresh brows. But the more we study the images, the more we see that aging does not define these women. Even as the images tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what it looks like to grow old, this is the irrefutable truth, we also learn: This is what endurance looks like.

How often do we start a project and see it veer off into a place we least expected? Even though we don’t know these women, we can find our own story in this photo series.

The same thing happens when we complete our own ‘project’. Whether it’s a drawing a day, a month of writing, or a year of piano playing. In the end it will be about much more than ‘practice’. There will be something unexpected. An understanding, a resolution, or maybe even a revelation.

Monday Blog Round-up!

 

via Unsplash.com

via Unsplash.com

This is what “Go Play” is all about!