I read an interview with Roz Savage, an amazing woman who has rowed(!) across the Atlantic Ocean and is set to row the Pacific in a few months. She said that she had been living the good life in London - husband, big house, good job, sports car - but she was discontent.
One day she wrote 2 obituaries for herself: one that could be written if she continued to lead the life that she was living at the time, and another obit that reflected a totally different, exciting and ideal life. She compared the two and realized how far from her ideal life she was. In a move that not many could make, she left everything behind and pursued her ideal life. Now, years later, she is happier than ever: a single, homeless, jobless ocean-rowing soul. Clearly, as my students pointed out, a childless woman.
However, reading this interview had a huge effect on me and it's still percolating. One of the first things that I did after I read it was grab the painting that I thought I'd completed and slap some big, crude, dark shadows onto it. Then I attacked it with bright, bold, impasto paint and remodelled the areas that I'd thought were "alright" into areas that made a statement. It seemed crucial to not let a tepid painting stay in the world when it was possible to create a bold one instead. Winston Churchill, an ardent painter among other roles, said that: "(t)he first quality that is needed is audacity."
I determined to use my brush bravely and with lots of paint on it and to fear only the timid mark.
I've started a new piece, a large figurative one, with this in mind. Though it's only just at the underpainting stage, I'm keeping Roz in mind with every stab and swoop of the brush. My obit. should not read: "she was a competent painter"; it should say that my paintings were filled with energy, passion and life.