Our time is not unlimited here

We must set priorities if we are going to actually do the things we want.

Catskill Farm, pastel, by Carol L. Douglas, long gone to a happy home somewhere.

I mentioned to my Tuesday morning Zoom class that I needed to run over to the hospital for a medical test after we finished, but that I wasn’t unduly worried.

“Worrying is like praying for something you don’t want,” said one.

“Worrying is the misuse of imagination,” said another.

“Worrying is paying interest on a debt you don’t owe,” said a third.

Demoing painting.

These were brilliant bits of folk wisdom and I wrote them down, to add to the one I always quote, Matthew 6:34. Later, when the radiologist told me I need more testing than they can do locally, I took a deep breath and recollected them.

I’ve already gone two rounds with cancer, so I’m pretty good at gauging what I’m seeing and hearing. There’s cause for some concern, but not for panic. I went for a very brisk walk to work through my reaction. Then I headed to bed remembering one of my favorite aphorisms: “Tomorrow is another day.”

An occasional brush with our own mortality is useful. It reminds us that our time here is not infinite. I suffer from a bad case of believing I can fit in everything. When I wrote about the volunteerism trap, it was partly in response to frustration at having so little time to paint.

That’s my friend Boo.

I’m not a worrier, but I am a planner. I’m planning a show on August 15 featuring work by students from the past five years. To invite them, I had to make a list. I was astonished at the number of people who’ve come through my studio. Many of them started as students and became friends. There is something about learning together that forges relationships.

I’ve known that to be true in real life, but am surprised to realize it’s also true in Zoom classes. That puts me in a happy dilemma. I’d like to collapse my classes down to two a week, but there are people in each class for whom the schedule works best the way it is. I like spending time with them.

Tom Sawyer’s Fence, oil on canvas, by Carol L. Douglas. Available.

So, for now, I’m going to continue to teach three classes—two on Zoom, and one live—and hope I can get some painting done in my spare time (proving that the “you can’t have it all” lesson is a hard one indeed).

I’ve appended the schedules to the end of this post. The dates take us all the way to the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” as John Keats described Autumn. That is, by far, plein air painting’s best season.

I wish I could spend all of September in New Mexico. I’d try to kill myself with hot food at the Hatch Chili Festival. And Fiesta de Santa Fe is America’s oldest continuous festival, running since 1712.

I’ll be there to paint and teach in the Pecos Wilderness September 13-18. The aspen and cottonwoods will be turning gold, set off against the cool greens of spruce, firs and pines. And the heat of summer will have dissipated, making it perfect painting weather.

I have taught Sea & Sky in Acadia National Park in the first week of August for years. But COVID-19 forced me to move it to October 4-9. I like to think of myself as an agile thinker, but I wasn’t happy.

The Dugs, by Carol L. Douglas

I finally remembered how many times I’ve snuck off to Acadia myself in October, because that’s really the most beautiful time of year in Maine. To call the color “eye-popping” does not do justice to the grandeur of a New England autumn. The ocean is warm and the air is clear. If you’ve never seen the northeast in its Autumn finery, this is a great chance to discover it.

Another thing I’ve revisited has been my hesitance to teach in the South, which was just plain stupid. So, when Natalia Andreeva invited me to teach in historic Tallahassee, I jumped at the chance. Around the time the first snows hit the coast of Maine in early November, I’ll be sneaking off to Florida to teach Find Your Authentic Voice in Plein Air, enjoying the spreading live oaks and Spanish moss.

All of these workshops are on my website, of course. And you can read more about upcoming weekly classes here.

Tuesday morning ZOOM classes, 10-1, open to interested painters from anywhere

August 11

August 18

August 25

September 1

September 8

September 22 

Thursday morning plein air classes, 10-1, open to painters in the midcoast Maine region

August 13

August 20

August 27

September 3

September 10

September 24

Monday evening Zoom classes, 6-9 PM

August 17

August 24

August 31

September 14

September 21

October 12