Surrounding yourself with beauty, acting in love, taking care of you soul, and supporting others are critical to living well. Each of these look different for every person, but on the May night when I wrote the post below, sitting on the floor of my grandparent’s house, completely alone, painting, in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, my soul was filled.
Lessons in Art and Female Responsibility
(Written 22 May 2016—six days before getting married)
I’ve spent the past few days discovering the joy, relaxation, and true therapy of painting. Watching the paint meet and blend with the canvas is a beautiful detail and natural reaction of material that I’ve never observed.
My fiancé asked me, after I expressed frustration with the way something was looking, what lessons I’ve learned. I took offense at the question, because I wasn’t “learning lessons” like a five year old, but, even still, that question continued to play out in front of me. The funny part is, I quickly realized I have learned some lessons.
I’m learning patience and to enjoy a process. I’m learning that inspiration doesn’t have to come all at once, but that the beauty of the process is resting in the knowledge that I can stare at a half-completed canvas and know that I will finish it and the inspiration will come—eventually.
I’ve discovered, what feels like, a carefully guarded secret—a window to a cave inside of myself has opened. Patience is not something at which I excel—far from it, in fact—but, this process is teaching me.
In addition to the personal lessons I’m learning, I’m gaining a new understanding of what women in the past experienced when it came to artistry and expectations, as a whole, for the female gender. As I remember the story (told to me by my mom), my great-grandmother was an incredible artist—which is evident by her beautiful paintings. However, due to the time in which she was a young woman, it was not acceptable for her to pursue her art professionally. Therefore, she taught school until she married.
Sitting here, almost married, painting and pondering the many things I want to do in life, I feel a grave responsibility to women of generations past to pursue what I love and push the limits where they were constrained. It will come in baby steps, I know, but I am starting to make a conscious effort to advocate for women when stereotyping and patriarchal systems try to stifle them.
I recognize this topic is one with many different perspectives. Not everyone is able to act in the freedom that I am thankful to experience (the USA may have far to go, but it’s further than other places).
However, I want to know (and hope you’ll share!): what is your perspective on the current push for women to embrace and support each other, regardless of each one’s chosen path? Do you feel a similar responsibility to past generations, too? How do you integrate these ideologies into your daily life, or do you? If you disagree, why, and what do you think instead?