One Way Streets, Traffic, and Other Types of Road Blocks for Artists

No doubt, the traffic in northeastern cities is unfathomable. To make matters worse, almost all of the city streets are one-way. When I am driving in the city, I am constantly circling the blocks, trying to find an arrow pointed in the direction that I want to go, and at least once per day, I make a mistake and pull into an alley or begin to edge down the wrong passage.

When I finally get on the right street, I have to dodge the jaywalkers and then suddenly, without warning, some kook will stop and park–right in the middle of the street. No doubt, the driver has a short errand in one of the nearby shops, but regardless, one second you are merging with traffic and the next, you are stuck behind a parked car. Invariably, I am the car right behind the car that decides to park in the middle of the road. Working myself out of that kind of buttonhole is definitely a challenge. Unfortunately, without a great deal of imagination, I can see that in life, I often find myself in the same types of tight spots–trying to figure out my next best move.

Not long after I moved to the North, I accidentally got into the lines of traffic that were headed into the New York City Holland Tunnel, and of course, that traffic only goes one way. I had driven to North Jersey to take my son to a camp, and I thought that I was headed back to South Jersey. I began to notice that the cars had begun moving slower and were edging closer and closer toward me. They had gotten uncomfortably close. I had never driven in New York City, and at that time, I hadn’t even driven much in Philadelphia. City traffic scares me to death. I reached a toll booth, and I am sure that fear was scrawled across my face and I timidly asked the lady at the booth: “Is this the way to Atlantic City?”

“Oh, No, Honey,” she chortled “This is the Holland Tunnel. You’re heading into New York City.”

I nearly cried. “Please, can you do anything to get me out of here?”

Milk Cow – Jacki Kellum Graphite Pencil Drawing
Original – $175 – Prints Are Available
For Former Pro Baseball Player Mark Littel’s Book
Country Boy Conveniently Wild

That saintly lady at the Holland Tunnel literally stopped the New York City traffic and got me turned around. Just before I darted away, I explained, “I’m from Mississippi. We have cows, not cars,” and she laughed. The entire freeway rang with her laughter.

Udderly Fine – Jacki Kellum Graphite Pencil Drawing
Original Sold – Prints Are Available

That was a close call, and unfortunately, I all too often find myself tangled in the webs of my mistakes or missteps. The upside of this scenario, however, is that until now [knock on wood], I have always managed to survive. All of my life, I have heard that when cats fall, they always land on their feet. I never tested the theory, but I wonder if it is true and I wonder whether this tidbit about cats is part of understanding a greater truth about the way that I  live. Regardless of how wildly I spin through my own universe–regardless of how many times I flip and flail through the air–and regardless of how far I manage to fall, I always seem to land on my feet, too. When I finally learned to believe that things in life do tend to work out, I became calmer in simply living.

Worry is like a rocking chair. It requires a lot of work, and it gets you nowhere.

At times in my life, I have been a worrier. In fact, I still find myself being anxious too much of the time, but I am getting better. In my observation, worriers have a lot of fear. Sometimes we cannot tell who in society is overly anxious and who is not. Some people who worry a lot are extremely successful in business and they seem to have everything in control, but beneath a control freak’s facade, there often lies a fear that at any moment, his entire world is going to implode.

Among other things, control freaks are perfectionists and are afraid of making mistakes, and because of that, they are terrified at the prospect of loosening the reins with which they control everything about themselves, including the people around them.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

Zebra Gets A Ride – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

At times in my life, I was more of a perfectionist and more concerned with control than I am now. I have finally found a way t loosen my grip a bit, and like Zebra, I am finally getting a ride. The good news is that absolute control is not necessary. It is not even good. A little chaos is actually a better thing. Because of my creative nature, I have never been completely in control. Einstein makes me feel better about my being chaotic.

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign? ” – Einstein

The control freak would look down upon the creative’s chaos, thinking that the chaotic is weaker than he, the one in control. In reality, it is the creative [his chaos and all] who should question those who cannot function without absolute order. I wonder about the strength of a person who can only function in limited, controlled environments.

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

While the orderly are excellent at attending to facts in their limited constructs, the creatives are the ones who invent those constructs. Without the inventiveness of the chaotic creative, the orderly businessman would have nothing to sell.

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Inventing is a chaotic business.

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.” ― Mary Shelley

And inventing requires a process of free-fall during which ideas spin and twist and contort, and sometimes, the ideas finally land on their feet. Yet, sometimes, they do not. Hear me: that is ok. It is ok that some of our ideas work and that others do not. Fear of making mistakes causes a painter to quit painting and it causes writer’s block. The victor is the person who can re-examine what he has done, toss some things away, and save the better stuff to polish into a pearl. This is an artist’s life and it is a writer’s life. Embrace the challenge. Let yourself flow.

Consider the Lily – Jacki Kellum Watercolor
Original $$300.00 – Prints Are Avaiable

In another post, I explain that I have learned to paint by faith, and I call that painting faith Intuition. In that ther post, I offer a list of things that I find essential to learning how to paint from intuition, but one of the most important points is the following:

The most important decision that is necessary for every artist is that of deciding whether you really want to be an artist or not. After that, the most important step is to show up each day and to begin working at creating what you want to create.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford

Your Efforts to Become a Better Painter Must Be Constant. After you have committed to showing up to paint each day….




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