Years ago I was invited to stay at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM in order to write. The contrast from living in New York City to the land of enchantment was liberating!
Once there, I fell in love with New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains and promptly joined with two other artists staying there in day hikes. Being painters, they would stop and paint watercolor landscapes so they urged me to join them in doing the same. I explained that I was the kid in junior high and high school who escaped all art classes by getting a library pass to read. Nevertheless, encouraged, for the first time ever, I began to draw and paint.
Now, if you are familiar with Taos, you would understand why D.H. Lawrence began to paint when he lived there during his last years. Painting in New Mexico –as in Greece or Italy – is in the air and the remarkable light which envelops you. So even if you’ve never painted ever, the atmosphere and beauty makes you want to pick up a brush.
The new friends – both professional artists- were impressed with my ‘primitive paintings’ and wanted to exchange theirs in order to have one of mine. After hiking, biking, and painting for two weeks, I felt guilty as I was not writing, and went to confess to Henry who was the director there. His response was simple, “I don’t care what you do. It’s your time.”
So I continued to sketch and paint as well as hike the mountains. What I didn’t realize until the summer was over and even though I have never painted since that time, was how it influenced my future writing. When you draw still life or paint a landscape, you look in a very different way, noticing more details than usual. It gave me a new way of perceiving which enhanced my future writing, and has never left me to this day.
So the lesson is to follow your bliss and explore other art forms, for you cannot know how it might enhance your own!