As a writer and musician, I know something about becoming engrossed in my craft. I’ve experienced having the hours slip by unnoticed as I happily write or play. The artist who is the subject of this article takes single-minded focus to an entirely different level, however. In coming up with the above title, I considered several adjectives for this painter. Descriptive words such as preoccupied, mesmerized and obsessed. Any could apply. She happens to be my wife.
The Focused One
Not made for multi-tasking, Sandy can take on a single task with nearly impenetrable focus. If she’s involved in something, a person seeking to communicate with her would be wise to say her name with the volume turned up a little before intruding with any further words.
The result is that she works fast and efficiently. Not being distracted gives her a great advantage over most of us. It doesn’t hurt that she has always had a nearly inexhaustible energy supply, but it’s primarily concentration that enables her to accomplish so much.
Only in recent years have I seen her abilities applied to painting. I’ve known for a long time that she wanted to paint artistically. She reflects on the origins of her dreams. “When I was 18 yrs old and thinking of my future life, I knew I wanted to be a wife and mother and make a lovely home for my family, but I also wanted to at least try art, all mediums such as painting, pottery, sculpting and sewing. I planned to have a room all to myself to do my art, just for my pleasure. It never occurred to me to sell it.”
The Arts Take Center Stage
It was about four years ago when we bought a house that was somewhat suited to her dream. It has an area that was converted from a carport to a family room. We divided it so half is hers for art and half is mine for writing and music. We bought some art supplies and slowly she started using them.
“I am finally beginning to fulfill a lifelong desire after working full time for 50 yrs while being a wife and mother with no time for me. I was retired for two years, in my 60’s before I got the courage to try painting. I did not know the first thing about it. I had always done drawings with pencil.”
My latest novel was published and she hand painted bookmarks to give away to book buyers. She could paint those fairly fast and they were beautiful. It was with these that Sandy started to enter a particularly imaginative zone. The ideas started flowing effortlessly–nature scenes, animals, dancers and so on. She would do them for hours, one after another. Eventually, she started selling them through a local used bookstore. The quality improved rapidly.
“Currently, I am working with acrylic paints. I began with watercolors about two years ago or so. It’s hard to do, as watercolors are not forgiving. One goof and your painting is lost. I’m painting dogs and cats onto stones with acrylics at this time. I had been painting on canvas but that can get costly, and where do you put all these paintings? When my dog died, I received an adorable portrait on a stone from a friend. I loved it and wanted to learn how to do that. So I began painting them. They were awful at first, but I just kept at it. They are much better now. When some people have seen them, they’ve wanted to commission me to paint their pets on stones.”
Whatever the medium, Sandy becomes immersed in her work thoroughly, but it’s with the stones that she takes it to a new level. I’ve seen her start on touching up a stone that was considered near completion in the morning and get caught up in detail to such a degree that she didn’t finish it until eight hours later.
“Painting is my meditation. Nothing is on my mind when I am painting. I can sit for hours and hours painting, forgetting to eat, forgetting everything. I think it increases my serotonin levels. It is truly calming. It is where I get my serenity, however temporary it is.”
Life is Good
Yesterday, I asked Sandy how her life is better since she began painting regularly.
“My life is much better having my new hobby painting. It is certainly therapeutic. I feel better about myself. My thoughts turn to what I want to paint in the future rather than what I am worried about. I am doing my art, my thing and I can get that great serenity whenever I need to by sitting down to a jar of water, paint brushes, stones or canvas.”
And so it is.