On Painting

The Mountains Breathed

"Sometimes, on mild summer nights, he would spread a blanket somewhere on a freshly mown meadow, lie on his back and look up at the starry sky... And sometimes, if he lay there long enough, he had the impression that beneath his back the earth was softly rising and falling, and in moments like these he knew that the mountains breathed."

 ... from A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler



I've been wanting to leave the social media arena for a long time. It's interesting how difficult it is, how much it controls what I do, how much of a distraction it is from the things that require extended periods of deep attention. The notion of "attention" is something I find interesting.

There are two questions: "To what am I paying attention?" and "Who is paying attention to me?" Social media encourages the latter. It feeds an unapologetic culture of self-promotion that leaves a bitter taste. What interests me most, and from which my time on social media tends to distract me, are my immediate surroundings, my core relationships, and the first question of "to what am I paying attention?" Even the positive things I find on social media - all of the wonderful art and stories and photos of people I care about - have felt like an incredibly overwhelming avalanche of distracting images and information.

The real challenge for me along these lines is the idea of living as if no one were paying attention. How would I live? How would I paint and what risks would I take? What interests me at my core? In all my years I have never truly freely explored these questions. On the surface it may sound deceivingly self-centered, but in actuality it is the least self-centered way to be. 

Before my generation found social media, I kept a fairly regular blog and posted there once or twice a week. Blog posts tend to require more thought and organization. It somehow fills a strange unexplained need to record things and put them "out there," even though very few people (if any) actually read them. Returning to my obscure blog may just be the perfect outlet for sharing without all the noise.

Stacy Caldwell3 Comments