Friday, January 21, 2011

Whimsy Or Not

Yesterday afternoon, by plan, I experimented with collage painting under the generous tutorage of my friend and neighbor Nancy Overton. We’ve become friends since Nancy and Chuck, both artists, live nearby and work out at the gym with me. As you, the reader, can intuit, I’m working at being more playful in art and in life. Did I say work out and working at? Now there’s an oxymoron. But of late “working at” is the only path I’ve been able to figure out. Playing just gets lost in the daily pattern of boring responsibilities which seem to consume all my energies. I’m recalling now that I got all A’s when I was a Recreation Minor in undergrad school and enthused at making PLAYING my life’s work. That was only sixty years ago, I mutter to myself. Where oh where has my enthusiasm gone?

Nancy exudes playfulness. She has many talents both as a writer and an artist. In addition she’s a dedicated garage sale shopper, an activity that leaves me blank but gives her joy as well as treasures. She walks Lake Merritt with enthusiasm three times a week. I marvel how she stays so upbeat.

What’s most delightful to me about being with Nancy is her laughter. It’s not a feminine giggle nor is it stifled by clipping short her breath, as many women are programmed to do. In volume it’s neither boisterous nor gentle, but with or without my new hearing aids, just right. It’s musical and vigorous and seems to come from her toes, gaining momentum as it travels upwards, and then really filling all the empty spaces in the room. I’ve noticed when she is in a group that it is contagious. I’m not sure how she achieves it, or even if it is partly genetic, but I treasure being around it.

As we experimented with collage we shared ideas and techniques. It was messy and fun. Truth be told I felt slightly cautious. Without inhibitions Nancy puts almost anything in her collages including reconstituted seaweed which she gathers at Stinson Beach. I came home with blue and orange fingers. I’m hoping Nancy’s confidence and non-judgemental attitude will be catching. Maybe so, maybe not. As in most things, more will be revealed.

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