I am writing this in the small town of Sayulita, Mexico. The sun is bright, the air warm and the sound of chickens, dogs and children in the streets fill the air. Everything is different here, especially the pace. Time seems slower, the days longer, everything seems to be made by hand, and the small shops are all shuttered every afternoon to nap.
I always bring sketchbooks with me but unless the trip is very long I tend not to do too much art. My normal life at home is already filled with creating Art. I am always challenging myself to make something that is new and different.
It is a seductive enterprise; the act of making things. Someone once said, I don’t know who, that you can be having a pretty crappy day but if you make a piece of art that you actually like, then that day will forever be golden.
So why then, when I am here, a thousand miles from the answering machine, the morning and evening traffic back and forth to my studio, and the somewhat irrelevant errands, am I not diving into making Art. I clearly have the time.
I think the issue has to do with stimulation. When I am in a new environment I tend to notice much more of my surroundings. This makes sense, because to me, what I am seeing is brand new. Things tend to stand out, especially when they are different.
In just the past 24 hours I have seen a man running shoeless and shirtless, actually carrying his water bottle balanced upon his head, a dog that looked like a diminutive grey lion, a 2 1/2 yr. old child, sitting underneath her father’s chair, he making bead crafts, she using his smart phone to surf the internet, an iridescent green iguana running on his hind legs, a chicken who found his way into the neighbor’s compost pile, the Mexican Delineated Woodpecker with it’s magnificent crimson head, been awoken up by the cawing of the chachalaka birds with their gravely noisy calls, watching a man dressed in gold foil suspended all afternoon upon a pole in the blaring sun, motionless amongst all the busyness of the town, donkeys and horses who actually look hungry, a nation of ants that move upon any tiny scrap of food that is even momentarily left unattended, walls painted with jarring color combinations that somehow look fantastic in this place that is so bright, hundreds of pelicans dropping from the sky into the sea to feed and of course, the tell tale signs of a communities’ happiness, the perpetual smiles of almost everyone you meet in this small seaside town.
So it is in this respite, this pause of watching the sun slip behind the horizon every evening, and the moon just a thin crescent right now delicately floating upwards into the twilight that I am reminded again that the reason I make art is to awaken myself, to transport myself to a place of my own imaginings. But somehow here where all manner of unseen things exist, I find that need sated. Instead I just mostly feel a renewed sense of curiosity and wonder that all this exists. It is all so absolutely different from where I usually am. Unlike the complicated effort of creation, the art of seeing doesn’t require doing much of anything at all. It is all so refreshingly simple.
With gratitude, Nicholas