How To Fall In Love With Where You Are

by Mary Gilkerson

Love where you are, no matter where that is.

“From the Edge, LXXIII", oil, 4 x 6", © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“From the Edge, LXXIII”, oil, 4 x 6″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

We all get frustrated with where we are at times, whether that’s frustration with physical place or with a situation.

That’s exactly the spot I found myself in a few years back. In my case, I badly wanted to go back to the place I consider home, the Sea Islands, but the circumstances just meant that wasn’t possible at the time.

I spent some miserable months mired in that frustration. My discontent was also very much tied to feeling like I didn’t have enough time to paint. And I’m one of those people who gets really antsy when I can’t paint. In fact, I get downright cranky!

So there I was stuck right in the middle of I feel sorry for myself land. I wasn’t in the place I longed to be and I didn’t have time to do the thing that really grounds me. I was a hot mess.

I was so angry with where I was for not being where I wanted to be that I couldn’t enjoy the place I was at. Huge ontological crisis.

And like most of those, there is really only one way out. Move. Your. Feet.

So I decided to finally do something I’d thought about for a long time, make a painting a day. I’d found Duane Keiser and Julian Merrow-Smith’s blogs back when they first started around 2005-2006 and thought they were really on to something, for a lot of reasons.

What they were doing was painting the world around them, a small painting a day, and posting it online. In the process of dialoging with the place that they were, they were creating something new.

So I started.

“Full Moon Rising", oil, 6 x 6", © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Full Moon Rising”, oil, 6 x 6″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

I made a committment to make a painting a day for 90 days, and to post those paintings every day on my blog. That was a scary thought all on its own. I decided to focus on landscapes that I could see along the edge of the highway since I traveled out of town every day to feed and ride my horse. I’d make a painting every day of a landscape that was so familiar that I could find my way around without a map.

I was thinking really pragmatically, creating myself a PROJECT, something that had a definite beginning, middle, and end that would help me to make some damn paintings!

But what happened was so very much more.

The process of painting is very much like falling in love. There’s the first glance and noticing, then the laser focus on details, and the obsession!

All of that followed.

And what happened was that as I made those small daily paintings, I started looking really closely at my immediate surroundings. And I discovered that they’re really quite beautiful.

I went from traveling from point A to point B with the windows rolled up and the radio blaring, to being that annoying person who slows down and pulls over, from being a temporary visitor to being a member of a community.

“Distant Smoke with Wind", oil, 4 x 6", © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Distant Smoke with Wind”, oil, 4 x 6″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

That was the external. On the internal, I think I quit checking my metaphorical watch, my internal list of shoulds, coulds, and woulds.

And the best part?

I ended up with two places that I feel deeply connected to, that I love, and I get to split my time between them.

Does it get any better than that?

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