I started reading about mindfulness and honoring the power of the present this past year (thank you His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle and Anthony De Mello). Painting still life offers me a valuable lesson in the power of presence--it's a rigorous practice in staying focused on the thing immediately before me. Painting also makes me mindful of the significance of small things.
This summer, I decided to partake in life coaching sessions with Marisa Weppner, owner of Sage Yoga & Wellness (learn about her integrative life style therapy here), to solidify my goals as a painter and business owner. I wanted to write a mantra for my business that captured my intentions as an artist. After a deep discussion about why I paint, why I paint what I paint and what I hope to share, I honed my art business mantra to "elevating small things."
Small objects act like anthropomorphic symbols of our lives. Look around your office, your kitchen, your bedroom, your bathroom--what do you see? Some of my most treasured items are physically little--my grandmother's handkerchief, sewing shears of my mother's, a baseball, a Lego figurine, a Euro coin from travels abroad, handmade Mala beads. They feel like treasures because they represent a meaningful piece of my identity or conjure a happy memory.
I often find this kind of joy in small food items. My neighbor grows the lovely plums depicted in the painting in this post. She takes the time to cut a large bowl of plums for my family every year around early September and allows me to pick more whenever I wish. These plums have a beautiful frosty blue coating that reveals a vivid deep blue-purple beneath when rubbed. The golden marbled blue cheese came from the Boise Co-op, one of my favorite places to buy socially-conscious food for still life paintings.