Monday, July 14, 2014

my Monday morning slap up the side of the head

My Monday morning started like any other. I grabbed a coffee and headed to my studio to do my scheduling. Every Monday morning I tear off huge sheets of paper and tape them to my studio walls and on these pages I write out all of my to-dos for the week, nice and big, in colourful markers. I function much more effectively with these large in your face lists as opposed to small desk planners.

After I had my mind and activities sorted for the days ahead, I decided to linger over my coffee, before walking the dog. My task would be to proof read my newsletter. I won't be publishing it until Friday but I wrote it yesterday and I wanted to have another look.

The topic of the article in the newsletter is tips on drawing/painting clouds (my response to a question from a newsletter reader). At the end of the article I wanted to share the art of one of my favourite landscape artists - who does clouds and skys that I love.

So la-di-dah, I go googling for a link to her art to place in the newsletter. Louisa has never done social media, no blogs, no website, no Facebook biz page so I knew I had to find something else. The galleries that carry her work always have some sort of press going on about her.

I wasn't prepared for what I discovered. My artist died last year. I stared at the screen in disbelief. It wasn't another woman with the same name, it was her. An obituary and posthumous praise from various galleries, all of it telling the horrible truth - this amazing artist was dead at 60.

I have been a fan of this woman's work for 23 years. I stumbled upon her art back in 1991, when she was a young wife and mother, still in her 30s. She was carving out a live for herself as a landscape painter based in Santa Fe New Mexico. Her work was just as powerful back then and over the years I would see her work in art magazines (the ones in which galleries post big ads featuring some of their best artists). I did try to 'follow her' but one would think she didn't own a computer as she remained silent. She lived the 'artist dream' of painting everyday, living well off the sale of her art and she didn't have to keep up with Facebook changes or html glitches on her website. Okay, maybe that is just my dream... :-)

I don't know how she died, whether it was a sudden, perhaps accidental death or a terminal illness. In the end, it doesn't matter. This incredibly talented person's artistic gifts to the world shall be no more.

I was not only a fan of her work but of her philosophies and her lifestyle. Her marriage ended and her two daughters grew up. Louisa realized her passion for the land not only through her painting but through farming. She raised Dexter cattle, had Norwegian horses, chickens and dogs, gorgeous gardens...simply my kind of peep.

I think we all need to find someone that we can relate to and boy, when I find an artist that also does the 'back to the land' thing, well let's just say I breathe a big sigh of delight and I feel like I am okay, normal, it validates my choices, which I am very well aware are not mainstream choices. Let's face it not everyone chooses to tie themselves down with livestock nor do they choose to muck stalls on a Sunday afternoon. (what I did yesterday :-) )

So what about my slap up the side of the head? (back to the title of the post in case I lost you)...well as I tried to wrap my mind around the reality that this wonderful woman had died so young, at the height of her game, at that moment, it seemed as if the grim reaper strolled through the studio and whispered to me, "So what are you waiting for?"

Okay, I admit, a big melodramatic but that is how I described the moment to my husband. Maybe it was the voice of my higher self, guiding angels, the Universe or my intuition...I don't care what label the Source has, I just got the message.

Now what do I do with it? Well, that is going to take some thinking. I have created a pretty dreamy life for myself and I thought all things were on track but still, this question, "So, what are you waiting for?" gave me chills. What if I were to die at 60? (insert sudden cuff to the side of my head). Is there something I am holding back from doing? Is there some big, grand art I need to get creating?

I did think of a possible fun tribute to Louisa.

I was putting feed in a goat manger later in the morning and I was thinking of all of this and I got the idea to go buy a large canvas, to dig out my ancient tubes of oil paint and some palette knives, load everything in my vehicle and head off to a favourite spot nearby to do a plein air landscape, big sky and all.  Louisa style...probably not something the public would ever see but hey... :-)

So why do I write all of this? Well, I believe we all inspire one another and I want to shake you up today. I want to rock your world with this question,

"So what are you waiting for?"

(and we can thank the grim reaper for that one, ha)

Last but definitely not least, here are three links to the incredible Louisa McElwain:


Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

hmmm don't think I've been waiting for much of anything...might be, but I can't think of anything off the top of my head. I try not to let health issues get in the way, and try not to let set backs stop me. I might never really make it as an artist, but I don't think it will be from lack of trying. and I don't think I will have many life regrets, (well maybe one, i wish I traveled more), its such an open ended question since things can change so quickly in a persons life.

Paula Pertile said...

Wow. Well first, gee, how sad that she is no longer with us. What awesome paintings! I can see how you connected with her vision, on a lot of levels.

As for 'what are you waiting for?', well, OK then. That kind of slapped me on the side of the head too. I won't be getting out any masonry trowels or oil paints, but I may just start on that art idea I've been putting off.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Beth S Macre said...

Hi Teresa! Thanks for sharing this. I am always amazed at how time flies and can't help to wonder how much time do I have left. I don't think I will ever have time to do every thing that I want to work on. And every time I hear of someone who passes away at a young age, it slaps me up side the head too!
Good reminder. ~Beth

Teresa Mallen said...

Okay, so we are a bunch of sore heads :-)...

Jennifer Rose - the way you keep on keeping on despite your health challenges is an inspiration to all of your readers. I would say you aren't waiting for much - best of luck as you continue with your art education!

Paula, I am weakening about the trowels and the big canvas in the vehicle. What was I thinking?! But I might just knuckle under and give it a go for an afternoon. I am so glad you had a chance to see her work. Sigh.

Hi Beth, I hear you about not having enough time to do all we would love to do. Glad I am not the only one that thinks 60 is a young age. :-)