Spring Comes and Saves Me from Myself

I have started and stopped and restarted my painting career so many times that I cannot count them, but fortunately, I have always restarted and the restarting is like spring itself. It always comes and saves me from myself.

In life, there are the linear people who begin down a path and never deviate from their courses. They are goal-oriented, and they see the carrot at the end of the road, and they begin running toward it–never wavering from their pursuits. On the other hand, there are the cyclical people–the people who ebb and flow through life, bobbing up and down like a merry go round.


Rites of Spring – Forsythia and Pussy Willow
Jacki Kellum Watercolor

“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.” ― Shannon L. Alder

After years of seeing only the desolation of winter and its barren frozenness, I am experiencing a winter thaw, and shoots of new growth are reaching toward the light. To be very honest, my painting Rites of Spring is not one of my favorites. In fact, I have almost tossed it several times, but I realize that something about its murkiness tells part of my story–especially now, when I have not completely washed the mud of winter away from myself.  Don’t get me wrong,  I don’t mind throwing away my bad paintings–my misfires–but sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a keeper from the pile that I sweep out the door. Sometimes a painting is somewhere in between good and bad–somewhere between hit and miss–and at that time, a painting simply needs a little bit more work–a few more strokes of cadmium red–another wash of cobalt blue. I don’t mind risking the fixing of my paintings either.

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul…. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ― G.K. Chesterton

While I have only painted intermittently throughout my life, I have taught art consistently, and I have noted that beginning painters are alike in at least one way–they don’t want to gamble with fixing things. While they may not be totally pleased with what they have created, they are afraid to risk an alteration. In my opinion, if a painting isn’t working anyway, I have lost nothing in trying to make it better.

“There is something beautiful about a blank canvas, the nothingness of the beginning that is so simple and breathtakingly pure. It’s the paint that changes its meaning and the hand that creates the story. Every piece begins the same, but in the end they are all uniquely different.” ― Piper Payne

Surely, I might try to correct a painting and absolutely ruin it, but what have I lost? The painting was no good anyway. On the other hand, I might actually gamble at making a few fixes and come up with a great painting. Certainly, my art deserves taking chances and so does my life.

“The death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color. In short, the power of a certain kind of dream is such that death need not indicate finality at all but rather signify a metaphysical and metaphorical leap forward.” ― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Today is March 1. In the South, spring has definitely begun by March 1, but in the North, winter stubbornly hangs on for another month. In both places, however, spring always comes, and it saves me from myself.

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again

June, she’ll change her tune
In restless walks, she’ll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning to her flight

August, die she must
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold
September, I’ll remember
A love once new has now grown old


Thank God for the cycles of living. Thank God for the bobbing up and down. Thank God for the springtime, and thank God for the opportunities to restart.

“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare
to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.”
― Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow


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