Set the Date

even smallerA few months ago, sitting in my living room with a glass of chai tea, artist Ramona Louise and I decided to put on an event called “Art in the Garden.” We would turn my tiny back yard into an art gallery and present a series of Ramona’s unique art pieces, pieces still in process, not yet fully formed, and yet to be named. We took a huge leap of faith.

The figures Ramona was working on at the time were mixed-media sculptural female figures, reminiscent of the Santos iconic figures of Spain. Santos figures were a Spanish tradition of creating mannequin-like, highly decorated figures designed to represent angles, saints, or aspects of the Trinity.   Often carved in wood, artists decorated these mannequin-like figures with elaborate clothing and adornment.

Like the Santos designs, Ramona’s “Reflective Figures” possess an earthy, folk-art feel. But instead of taking up the religious themes of traditional Santos art, Ramona’s figures represent environmental issues that deeply concern her: the loss of bees; the disappearance of bird species; the decimation of fishes in our seas. They reveal her own deeply held love of nature and her concern for how nature is being affected by human culture.  And even in those early stages of creation, I knew these women coming into form revealed much more than powerful social issues: they reveal the very soul of the artist.

Fast forward. . .

At 2:00 p.m. on November 6, artist Ramona Louise showed up to place her figures on gorgeous cypress pedestals. The garden had been cleaned, pruned, and spiffed up to a fare-thee-well. The setting could not have been more perfect for these iconic women to deliver their artful environmental messages. At 4:00 p.m., awaiting the arrival of our guests, Ramona and I surveyed the garden, astonished at what we had accomplished. The garden was beautiful, fully recovered from its previous state of disarray; the art was outstanding, all five pieces; the food was exquisitely prepared by Kristen Dolphy and artfully displayed on bistro tables; the wine was chilled and waiting. We stood in awe, slightly exhausted.

And then, they came. Artists of all sorts entered the garden: writers, editors, gardeners, furniture designers, interior designers, graphic designers, landscape designers, painters, body workers, enlightened entrepreneurs, lawyers, farmers, yogis, chefs, coaches, therapists, photographers, moth breeders, grandmothers, good friends, lovers, and lovers of art. So many varieties of artful living filled my tiny garden on Thursday night. The party was on.

At dusk, the outdoor lighting came on, giving the “Reflective Figures” a magical shimmer in the night garden. A few of us sat on the deck in the glow of a full moon, and the glow of the company of people dedicated to flourishing in their artful living.

I say all of this to make a point about the importance of setting a date. If you had asked Ramona three months ago if she was ready to show her art, she would have said absolutely not. At that point, she wasn’t even sure what she was doing with the interesting figures she was experimenting with with. But we created the event and we set the date, and I won’t even begin to relate the hard work, the trial and error, the set-backs, and the triumphs I saw her go through as she created the series of women. The date was looming. She could not stop working. She had made a promise — to me, to herself, and to hundreds of subscribers of my website — that there would be “Art in the Garden” at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 6. And if you showed up last Thursday, you saw the remarkable results. Ramona Louise owned her role as “artist.”

Just like Ramona, each one of us has within us an artful creation that wants to emerge. But for a variety of reasons, we postpone making much less showing our art. We get busy. We procrastinate. We are afraid — of being judged, of failing, of falling short of what we wanted to create. Our own inner critic knee-caps us. He’s a mean son-of-a-bitch.

There are many ways to stop postponing making the art or living the life we desperately want to make and to live. One way is to “set a date.” Make a promise. Put it on the calendar. Establish an accountability partner. Send out invitations so you can’t back out on yourself. And then, get to work. Every day, even for just a little bit. Work on that story. Tend that garden. Putter with that collage. Practice those new recipes. Hone your craft, put in your time, and get yourself ready to share it with others who know what it’s like to create. Others who will appreciate your efforts. Others who will show up and applaud you for your willingness to say, do, make what you are capable of.

Set the date, and just see how many people you make happy in so-doing.

If you’d like to talk about your own neglected desires for living artfully, and creating boldly, or if you’d like help in establishing life structures to support your artful living, LifeArt Studio offers you an initial no-cost Creative Momentum Session. It might be just the thing to help you “set the date.” Contact us here to set up an appointment soon.