My Messy Palette

December 7th, 2013

web palette

In every painting class, I start out with a well-organized, tidy palette. By the time I’m half way through, my paints are all over the place, mixed up in so many combinations that I can’t even remember what original colors I used on what part of the painting. I promise myself to do better, but I have to admit that I love the look of paint gone wild, of a life lived outside the lines. I’ve been reading Brown Dog, Jim Harrison’s collection of novellas about a character who lives off the grid and whose appetite for life makes my world of iPhones, email, Facebook and 24/7 tech seem sterile and one-dimensional. Brown Dog, a down-on-his-luck underdog with a wide-open heart, lives a simple life of hand-to-mouth and day-to-day, but his being is complex — earthy, tender, funny and fully alive. It makes me wonder if I can’t keep my palette in hand because I secretly wish my life were more colorful and riotous. So much of my time is spent on the computer or in constricted circles of the known and predictable. For someone who already lives too much in her head, the internet is a drug, a bad romance, a safety zone of seems-like. I’ve become a follower of curated lives and Pinterest prettiness, of TED talks and travel blogs, of other people’s adventures and achievements. Yes, lots of it is inspiring and useful (can’t do without my Kindle downloads!), but with all the posting, tweeting and texting, I sometimes feel like my life has a CNN news crawl running through it.  Brown Dog touched a place in me that hungers for the wide open spaces of the spirit, for a wild Montana of the soul, for a place that can’t be Instagrammed.

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