Licking the Dog's Nose

A friend mentioned to me that someone challenged her to read, within one year, a particularly long and demanding book. "I didn't really want to do it," she confessed. "But he's knowledgeable and he was insistent, so I did."

She's cute, but not so blindingly so that I want to kiss her nose. Ruby by Steve Henderson, 12 x 9, oil painting.

She's cute, but not so blindingly so that I want to kiss her nose.
Ruby by Steve Henderson, 12 x 9, oil painting.

My first thought was, "Why?," which goes to show why I don't play well in groups, followed by, "That's as reasonable as children accepting a dare–to lick the dog's nose, say–simply because someone confronted them and told them to do so."

Within art circles, painters and draftsmen challenge themselves to do all sorts of odd things–like painting the same tree every day for three months–simply because someone who wrote a book did so and instructed readers to do the same.

Why? I mean, do you really want to paint the same tree, 90 days in succession? With the limited time that you have to pursue oil painting, is this what you want to do?

If the answer is no with the caveat, "But he's knowledgeable and he's insistent that this is how I will grow as an artist," then reconsider licking the dog's nose.

The idea of regularly painting over the course of 90 days, so that you can get yourself into the habit of doing so, isn't such a bad one, and maybe that is one of the things the author is trying to teach. But you can accomplish this by announcing to your people in the room, "For the next 90 days, I will be in the studio from 6 to 8 p.m., painting."

And then go paint. What you want. How you want. One work every day, or seven days for one work. The very act of doing it regularly (it's okay to miss a day; don't get weird) will propel you to the next level, on your terms.

Dare you.


Carolyn Henderson is the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a weekly columnist for Fine Art News, a division of Canvoo, and writes a lifestyle column, Middle Aged Plague, that is published online and in print newspapers throughout the country.

Describing herself as "small, insignificant, and ordinary," Carolyn writes for and about normal, everyday people, who are not small and insignificant at all.


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