"...to stand or wait around with the intention of committing an offense."
--Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a legal phrase from 1891
("offense" meaning Art, in my case)
I can't seem to write about Italy in a linear way; it's going to come out over the next few months in fragments. I feel much like a deep pond which reveals its hidden world slowly, as the mud settles to the bottom, and the light shines down into it. If only I could stop thrashing about and stirring up more mud! But when I sit quietly by myself, sipping a tiny cup of espresso (my new, Italy-induced addiction), I start to have a strong feeling, like I can almost see something really important, something that perhaps may have been within me all along, but has been roused during my time in Italy, and is now trying to make itself known.
What could it be?
Shortly after I returned from Italy, in early August, I met up with the artist Jennifer Griffin. I tried to describe to my experiences to her, including the unseen, internal changes I felt deeply. Something about the culture of Italy had influenced me.
I found that in Italy, there didn't seem to be the same intense focus on production, efficiency, and money, at least not what I was used to in America. Instead, I felt I was in a different, slow, sensual sort of culture. Wherever I wandered, I encountered an enthusiasm for really good food, fresh and delicious ingredients, a deep regard for the quality and beauty of the experiences and interactions, and a respect for leisure as a regular part of life.
(Example: siestas... necessary after eating tons of pasta, as I did daily. See image below.)
I wanted to take some of that mindset, and bring it back home with me into my life. I felt restless and agitated.
"I'm just not ready to go back to the way I used to work," I told my artist friend Jennifer. "All those rigid goals....I used to just set a bunch of goals for myself each week and struggle arduously to check them off my to-do list."
I remember having a calendar in my studio with exactly what kind of painting I was going to do each day of the month. I felt like I had to work this way, to prove to the world that I was a real artist and that I could make money and pay my rent. But now, I no longer have an urge to work that way. It just doesn't feel right any longer.
Jennifer suggested that I invite a different method of working into my studio practice. She described something she called "intentional loitering." I would go into the studio regularly (that's the intentional part) but once there, I would loiter, putter around, and see what kind art wanted to manifest. It's a little frightening to let go of control like that!
But I knew I had to try it because as she spoke, it was just like all these wonderful bells started to ring in my soul. So that's just what I intend to do!
After spending time with Jennifer, I went home and wrote in my journal:
I feel deep in my heart that there is something inside of me-- there are paintings inside of me, that won't come out..they won't respond to that sort of dominating, controlling energy I used to have. They need space, and quiet. They are curious but shy.
This brings to mind these little black kittens in Italy that used to come onto the cobbled alley street and watch me while I painted, if I was quiet for a while.
Curious, but shy.
And yet...so wonderful, and so worth waiting for!
More: Poems I wrote in Italy!