Avocados & Avocations

May 2nd, 2014

web avocado oil

I’m convinced that we all need an avocation — a pursuit that has little or nothing to do with how we earn a living. Even when I was at my most broke and working jobs I hated, I had a passion or two simmering in the back of my brain. Writing bad poetry, keeping a weepy journal that had occasional flashes of insight, developing obsessions about the French Revolution or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Right now my avocation is learning to paint. The thing I love about it and also fight against is that it has no purpose whatsoever. As someone so focused on outcomes in my publishing job, doing an about-face and immersing myself in process without a goal in sight is a mental struggle. But I’m learning to┬áplay the long game. Several years ago, I planted a couple of iris bulbs in a terra cotta pot and eagerly awaited some blooming. Every year, stalks would shoot up with nary a blossom. Year after year after year. Eventually I gave up and forgot about it. This spring I went outside to find four iris blooms on one of the plants. Evidently while I was fretting, some invisible underground work was going on. That’s why I’m trying to overcome the need to force some measurable results from painting. What’s the point of it? I have no idea, but I’m trying to be patient and see what blooms. It might be something entirely unrelated to painting, a ricochet effect that causes some other part of my life to burst into flower. Or it might be just the pleasure that comes from the smell of oil paints drying in my kitchen, the luxury of fat tubes filled with silky, intense color, the ripeness of that moment when you cut open an avocado and place its lush beauty on the palette of an empty white plate. ┬áSomething, nothing, everything.

4 Responses to “Avocados & Avocations”

  1. Lori says:

    In my opinion your painting skills have bloomed. Your picture is lovely and I enjoy your writing. Thank you,

  2. baba says:

    If that is your painting … tres cool !

  3. Susan Lenz says:

    Hi! Your painting is wonderful. I can relate whole-heartedly to the mental struggle that comes with the creative process and its seemingly lack of balance to our logical world and its measurable results. As the saying goes: Been there; Done that! The passion for art-making, however, always seems to overcome the negative feedback coming from my more sensible part of my brain. There’s nothing more rewarding than passionate creativity. Thanks so much for sharing this art and especially your writing. You are truly an inspiration. I think that’s why I chose you for my “Women Who Break All the Rules” artwork. If you recall, I made two pieces. One is now hanging in Palmetto Hands, a juried art exhibition that is part of the North Charleston Arts Festival (through this week). There was no reason I elected to use needle and thread for self expression. There is nothing sensible about using two skirts and a photo transfer for a work of art … but I know it was a joy to make, a joy to share, and a joy to make contact with another artist, you! Thanks so much!

  4. Barbara says:

    Since I’ve been taking an online art class this year that goes on for the year and has a different instructor each week, I’ve been more relaxed, at peace with myself, pacified my internal critic, can see improvement, and I’m having fun doing it. I think my writing is getting better as a side effect. You know when you paint your mind goes to a place unconcerned with anything but what it is doing. Maybe the lesson is to be unconcerned about having to be productive or have the public clamoring to buy your work or even having to be good, which you are. What an idea. Do something just because it feels like you want to do it.

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