I completed four paintings over those ten days of work/dental visits. I like to think the pieces sold like hot cakes. In fact, they did sell fast and generated enough interest that John Natsoulas asked what other rabbits I could pull out of my hat. After the sale of a few more of my bunnies, he offered me a solo show. I said, "YES, I'll have me another piece of THAT there cake!" and got on the books for November 2015.
I would have nine months to produce twenty pieces for this show, painting sometime between delivering children to their morning school programs, but staying home with them while they were sick of course, enriching their ed-jumakations with swimming and ballet and clay and soccer, providing 3 meals and 2 snacks and laundry and... and... so, sure, I was never overwhelmed by these prospects.
Just as I was getting ready to lean deeply into this, I was given a copy of Natalie Goldberg's book Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing. I sort of snorted and snuffed my way through many of its passages; like when she waxed eloquent about how inspirational it was for her to stop to appreciate the design of the spoon she used to stir her just-right cafe, while chewing the oh-so-perfect bite of croissant, in the oo-la-la French countryside; like when she spent hours analyzing the color of blue on her palette, before even painting a drop! I don't have TIME for this lady.
Apparently I was patient enough to stumble into some pages where Goldberg could really speak to a few of my lingering questions: Why was I painting? What purpose was it really to serve? What was I hoping to get out of it? How would it change my life? How would my work effect others?
Just then the phone rang. It was my friend Kate O'Neill.
I blurted out to her, "Tell me, why is it women artists are still unknown? Why have women writers gone so far ahead of them in the world?" She was working on her doctoral dissertation in feminist psychology.
There was a long pause. "Well, I called to see if you want to go to the movies. There's finally a good one playing in Taos." She paused again. "Do you really want to know?"
"Yes," I said.
And she reeled this off: 1. More women are writers because it is something you can do in secret or private. It is much more threatening to create visual art because there is much more exposure; a painting or sculpture is out for anyone to see right from the beginning, and women haven't had much public support. 2. Anyone can afford paper and pencil, but to paint you need money and you have to take up physical space. 3. Many renowned women painters had a man behind them. O' Keefe had Stieglitz, Frida Kahlo had Diego Rivera, Elaine de Kooning was with Willem de Kooning. [Note 1] 4. Women can support women writers. A book is affordable. Paintings often aren't. Men, usually the holders of money, buy male artists' work. [Note 2]
Excerpt from Natalie Goldberg, Natalie. "Writer Meets Painter." Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing. New York: Abrams, 2014. 113-115. Print.
Note 1: I am financed by Terry Smiley!
Note 2: If she wasn't too worried about getting to that movie on time, I like to think that Kate would've stayed on the line to expand on her point 4: men's purchases of art is only a part of a vicious cycle. If men have more resources to make artwork than women, then more art by men will be available to promote and more of it to purchase, by the other men who have the purchasing power.