Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



October 2014

“urge: n. a strong desire or impulse” from the Pocket Oxford American Dictionary.


The Urge

Dear Reader,

When someone I have just met asks me a question about myself, it may force me to reconsider a stock reply. In this case, the question came after a guest saw my studio: “Do you paint every day?” Simple answer: “No.”

But there is no simple answer when your life’s work and passion is concerned.

Here is the fuller response for No.

I am also a writer and that means sitting and composing for long stretches of time. I am always ready for an idea to pop up when I am doing something else, igniting a mad scramble for pen and paper. My projects vary from prose to poetry, but more often it is prose in every day clothing: an essay, a recommendation, and follow-up emails. One of the email responses required that I view a video to look for a piece of information.

After watching a PBS documentary about poet Stanley Kunitz, I had an urge to begin a particular poem. He talked about how his poem “Quinnapoxet” came entirely to him in a dream. It made me think about a dream which keeps resurfacing, its way of telling me that it needs attention. Why have I kept pushing it back down into the well? I know it will be very emotional to write, and I am afraid of its intensity. This is the burden of writers tangling with images from deepest emotion; we need to face the pain and work to make it into art. Kunitz is a great teacher in that respect: just read “The Portrait” and “An Old Cracked Tune” for starters.

So, no, I do not paint every day. I always seem to have a series going (right now it’s small collages)…But I do have an urge. It will require first choosing a large canvas that has a painting I am ready to let go of. I have the urge to literally stretch out in front of a large canvas and let colors and shapes surprise me. The same urge overtook me several weeks ago, and “In a World” emerged.

The yes and no of the creative process goes very deep. Inspiration and unexpected triggers do not allow us to rest. But it’s a most welcome agitation.