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Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Rua MacMillan  - acrylics on blue slate turkey feathers
Last November I had a fright with my eyesight. The change happened abruptly, virtually within the span of a day. An urgent trip to the ophthalmologist revealed a condition that occurs with lots of folks with nearsighted vision, and that's the release of debris within the eyeball. It leaves one with 'lightning bolts' in the peripheral vision, and floaters, cobwebs, and other interesting bits in one's field of sight.

More troubling than these ever-present ocular objects is the fact that the affected eye now perceives everything darker than the other, normal-sighted eye. This new normal had left me very afraid to pick up a paintbrush again. What if my color perception has been so greatly altered that it will redefine the course of my painting ability? What if what I now produce will look okay to me, but atrocious to folks with normal vision and color perception? What if?

Even worse was the fact that a feather painting currently lay incomplete. It was a carefully planned multi-feather display that was well on toward completion, a portrait of a talented musician friend from whom I sought permission to paint for inclusion in the illustrated book underway, 'Off the Beaten Path - an Artist's Adventures in Scotland'. Color registers differently now than it did when this was begun, color and skin tones are so subtle in a portrait, oh this won't do at all!

Thoroughly intimidated by the circumstances, I set all color work aside and threw myself into a project that went in an entirely different direction - the production of a fantasy-themed, all-ages coloring book. This was a project long residing in my head, but offered a creative outlet while I adjusted to the change in vision. Black and white, the biggest contrast of all, right? Difficult to mess that up.

That coloring book project grew and grew, and took on a heavily researched life of its own. What I initially perceived as a three-month project evolved to a six-month creation, but that coloring book is another story for another article.

Meanwhile, color work sat patiently waiting, always present, always within view. Eventually the need and desire to complete that work grew larger than the intimidation and apprehension. It had to be met and concluded! The challenge was met, lots of the artist's music was played to carry the work through, adjustments were made, and the work? Complete.

My point is it wasn't as dreadful and impossible a task as I feared it would be. But when you get down to it, few things are.  Fear will prevent you from trying, fear will make things look bigger than they are. In the end, fear wants to be held as an excuse, leaned on as a crutch. 'Don't take on that daunting thing, stay down here with me. It's much safer here.' You can send fear packing by meeting it, acknowledging it, and then rolling up your sleeves and doing that intimidating thing anyway. And that is the place where we learn, grow, and evolve - on that alluring precipice on the other side of fear, just beyond our comfort zone.