Betty J. Slade



    How do you sign your name?

    I wrote an article some time ago about a speaker who, though her reputation brought big bucks, her life seemed shallow and she didn’t live up to her signature. We walk through life bearing our name and signing it on everything we do.  So do we live up to our name or does our name live up to us?  Just asking!

    When I finish a painting, I stand back and look.  I come back to it several times, and after doing my best I sign it, and that painting represents me at that time. I’ve signed my name many times over the years, and I have improved since I began painting back in the 60’s and I am amazed that some can not be improved on. Others can but it also shows my growth as an artist and a person. Now I am expressing myself as a writer and writing about artists and writers and signing my name again. Some articles can be improved on, others stand complete, another sign of growth.

    Robert Henri, artist and writer says about art, “Art is the inevitable consequences of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of origin.  The work of art is a result, is the output of a progress in development and stands as a record and marks the degree of development.  It is not an end in itself, but the work indicates the course taken and from it projection can be made. The work is not finality.  It promises more and from it projection can be made.  It is the impress of those who live in the full play of their faculties.  The individual passes, living his life, and the things he touches receive his kind of impress, and they afterwards bear the trace of his passing.”

    When we live in full play of our faculties, then we have done our best and our work will stand, even though we continue to grow.  Great artists’ work will span over 50 or 60 years of their lives, and their work continues to improve, but even their first pieces will have a certain imprint that is recognizable of their name.

    A phrase in Henri’s statement caught my attention, “the manifestation of the principles of origin”. Is he saying that which we are born with and the growth process will reveal it and this is art? 

    It reminds me of a book that was popular many years ago by the name of The Prayer of Jabez.  The name Jabez meant causing pain to others.  He prayed he would overcome his name and be better.  He became a blessing because of his desire to do better.

    Substance comes with a price, and living up to a good name is hard to come by.  I was thinking of the many wonderful people in Pagosa who live up to their names everyday.  When you take time to get to know them, you begin to understand some of the things that have happened to them that enabled them to become who they are. The quality of their lives didn’t just happen. According to Henri, they begin with certain principles of origin, and then the course taken, those principles are revealed. They have their bruises and heartaches and have transformed into better people because of it.  They have paid a price for their name and their good character.

    Artists and writers have our own unique battle wounds and gaping holes.  We excitingly and willingly make ourselves vulnerable showing our bruises in our writings and paintings. Sometimes this brings judgment and more scars, but we can’t seem to help ourselves, we just have to do it, it’s part of our origin, it’s our bent.

    When we continue to live in full play of our faculties and when all the words in us have been said documenting our lives, and when the painting is finished and we sign our signature making our final brushstroke, hopefully we have left an impress that speaks well of us and our name.

    The Final Brushstroke! Our signature is on everything we do.

    "It took me four years to pain like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." Pablo Picasso


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