Big Bite

Apr 11, 2021

I’ve been wanting to embark on a big project for a while. I started one in early January which ended up being a huge fail. I found myself avoiding going into the studio it depressed me so much. I wondered if maybe I’d bitten off more than I could chew, that I’d lost my mojo, and started wondering if I should even be doing this art making thing at all. Wiling away my golden years reading books and watching 90-Day Fiancée seemed like a viable alternative.

After removing myself from the pity pot I decided to gesso over the offending work and begin anew on a bigger, more ambitious project. And big and complex it was. It’s taken me more hours to complete than I care to admit.

Early on I decided to share my progress, the good, bad and ugly, on Instagram as I plodded along. I was nervous… what if my work was poor? What if people got bored? What if I failed again, this time in a spectacularly public way?  

The fear of failure looms large in me, in most of us I think. Our choices are often made harder laden with all the “what ifs” we conjure. We often fall softly back into what’s easy, to what’s comfortable. This past year we were either stripped of the comfort of routine or struggled with too much routine. We lost familiar faces, some forever. There has been tumult and uncertainty at every corner. Going forward we will never be quite the same. Sometimes for ill, but sometimes for good.

I like to think I’m an optimist, but I’m probably more of a realist. I tend to plan for the worst and hope for the best. There have been plenty of times in my life that I didn’t think I could handle one more test, one more hurdle, one more disappointment. Each time I thought I just couldn’t do “it” -- whatever “it” was -- I learned the hard way that indeed another challenge was barreling down on me and that yes, I could go on. I could go on because there was no other choice. One foot in front of the other, I’d say. Yes, the pandemic has and will continue to be a threat that lives among us for some time and there will be scars as a result. But haven’t we gained something as well?

I shouldn’t have worried about my Instagram plan. It ended up being a godsend. Needing to have something to share each day kept my feet to the fire. Despite my fears each post was warmly received, even the ones I admitted to being unhappy with. I found myself wanting to do a good job not just for myself but for others. It created a little connection from me to friends, family but also to total strangers. That was a gift.

I’m not alone in this. On Facebook, a wonderful group called “View from My Window” sprung up. People from all over the world shared a photo of the view they were limited to during their confinement. Each post, whether of a brick wall or the sun setting behind the Eiffel tower, magically bound people together. You could imagine being there sharing a cup of something with a new friend. That’s something really wonderful. Or people have discovered a connection to nature quite literally right in their own backyards: Birding, stereotypically assigned to the 65+ crowd became a pan-generational pastime. And amidst our collective struggle to accept our new reality I’ve heard that families have had the extraordinary gift of truly learning about and loving each other in new ways. Yes, there has been terribly suffering, loss, damage and we will continue to feel the effects of this for years to come. But to live on, we must recognize and celebrate what we’ve gained.

Finishing this painting was a very small accomplishment in the scheme of things. Very small indeed. But all those little things, the new bird at the feeder, the cocktails by the propane heater, dinner with family not just once in a while but every night, were little bites that helped make the big bite which is Covid bearable. As we emerge from this horror let’s not forget what was wonderful. I’m pretty sure I won’t. I’ll have this big old bite of a painting to remind me.

Painting: Wicked Farm Tulips © Lissa Banks 2021