Today I enter my studio readying myself to engage the day. My espresso assures me that Courage will be arriving shortly. I made the appointment the night before, but she is so often late. My oils, conte, watercolors, and pencils welcome me warmly.
“When do we start?”
They look to me eagerly. They love most of what I’ve made so far and they can’t wait to see the newest installment. The piece is coming along nicely, but they insist it needs more and certainly so do I, but Courage is on her way and I can’t start yet. Without her anything I do will turn to mud. I’ll wait.
Pencil is becoming impatient. I look at the line drawing on my easel and the sketches on the wall. He did a pretty good job back there, I guess it won’t hurt to pick him up. Lines and ellipses have shown up. Curves and swirls, angles… and now there is a skull. I think the perspective is off and the zygomatic has gone a little wonky. Maybe if I use my metacognitive skills I can fix the problem next time.
I really wish Courage would hurry up.
I have been “getting ready” for way too long now. How many times should I draw these boxes before I actually get something done? Maybe she’ll get here while I’m cleaning my palette.
She occasionally does.
Windsor and Newton, Gamblin, and M. Graham are so excited to start. They’ve been couped up in these tubes for too long and are just happy to be breathing again. “We promise to do our best. We won’t let you down!”
It won’t be you that is lets me down. It never is.
Ok, my brush is ready. My colors mixed and reference in hand. Courage is making me nervous.
I guess if I start without her she won’t be too upset, but I’m definitely not happy.
One stroke. A few more.
I think this is terrible.
No, I’m sure it’s terrible.
If I second guess every stroke, then maybe I can make something good happen. If I’ve forgotten how to paint, then I guess I can quit. I won’t have failed because I stopped trying and then I won’t see my flaws. My imperfection glistening in every stroke.
But I think I just saw something. Somewhere in between the ochre and sienna. There was a glimmer of it. Faint Beauty is showing through. My brush found it while lingering over the lines of his furrowed brow. I won’t quit quite yet.
Around the eye and in the structure of the jaw. Simplify the planes. Lay it down and leave it. Squint.
I didn’t hear her come in, but She was sitting next to me watching me work. She surprised me. I almost forgot she was coming.
Courage sat silent for a long time and I smiled.
“I’m glad you came.”
Abigail Platter is an illustrator in Seattle who would live outside and paint fantastical scenes forever if she could. http://www.abigailplatter.com