As I was groping for the words that would lead me into today’s post, these lyrics to Semisonic’s “Closing Time” entered my head. “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Like most aphorisms, this line seemed suspiciously simple at first blush. The instinct is to challenge such self-assured statements. After all, nothing had to end in order for this blog to begin!
Or did it?
The period of my life when I created in anonymity has ended. It has been replaced with this new phase, in which my output is available to the public: to view, enjoy, critique, learn from, and possibly even purchase. The stakes have been raised, but the rewards even more so.
It is helpful to get reflective every now and then. This has helped me realize that I amleaving something behind in order to move ahead. Knowing this, I should prepare for some of the discomfort of loss that accompanies any departure, but also deliberately focus on what is gained.
The broader application of this idea can benefit any artist:
At every step of creation, you are leaving the previous stage behind. Watercolorists must realize that, with each new brushstroke, they will never be able to go back to the painting that existed before. They must move boldly forward, beginning the painting anew with each new application of pigment, and not be too fond of the past. This has become ever more difficult for me in a world of the “undo” button.
A final lesson to be taken from the lyric (for now) can be revealed by inverting the statement: Every ending is the opportunity for a new beginning. I am terribly guilty of constantly try to “perfect” a work: word by work, line by line, stroke by stroke, adding, subtracting, modifying. There is something to be gained by declaring the current endeavor done and moving on create a new piece; one built on the lessons of its predecessor.
In that spirit, I will end this essay so that sleep can begin, and a new one be delivered fresh. I’ve attached a painting of a rosemary plant in my house. It is a bit older, but it represents a work I completed rapidly, and for the sake of simply experiencing the moment of creation. I learned from it. And as it happens, the piece turned out pretty well.
Newer work to come!