Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Something beyond your grasp

By Rick Blechta

Here’s a thought for my first post of a brand-new year: Regardless of how many things you can do with accomplishment, is there anything you would really like to be able to do but which you know you could not do well? Sorry for the word salad, but I hope you grasp my meaning. 

I have had people tell me that I’m amazing because I can do so many things well. I set very high standards for myself, so I know what they’re saying is not really quite true.

Sure, I know a lot about music, can play a whole assortment of instruments decently, and I’m a good arranger. But I also know people who are way better and I’m always in awe of what they can do.

I write novels. Often they get good reviews. Sometimes they’re nominated for awards. One time I actually won one of those awards. Do I consider myself a good writer? Yes. But not a great one.

I could go on about other accomplishments, but you get the point. I can do a number of things well, however…

There is one thing I’d like to be able to do which I just don’t have the talent to do: paint.

We have a calendar of paintings by the Canadian artist Clarence Gagnon. He was very accomplished and while some of his paintings are very realistic, his smaller works are much more impressionistic — and I love them. The one for January is a view of a Quebec town in the dead of winter.

Looking closely, it is composed of just daubs of paint that mean very little. It’s only when you step back several feet that your breath is taken away. Even though the image remains indistinct, your brain can fill in the missing detail and those daubs become the steeple of a church or a bush in the foreground.

Both my parents were accomplished artists. It’s what defined their relationship when they met. It’s probably why they feel in love. They passed that love of painting down to their middle son, but they left out the ability to do it. My sister and brother both have that ability. I know. I’ve tried and the results ain’t good.

If there’s one thing I’d really like to be able to do, it’s paint. If I could do one painting like those little Gagnon masterpieces painted on plywood or academy board, I would be satisfied. But it would have to be good and I know I just don’t have the ability to accomplish my wish.

Is there something you don’t do that you fervently wish you could? Please share it!


Anna said...


Donis Casey said...

I can't paint like I wish I could, or play the guitar well enough to be heard by other people. But I do both of them anyway.

Sybil Johnson said...

I wish I could play an instrument, specifically the harp. I love listening to music, but truly do not understand how it all works.

Douglas Skelton said...

I cannot play an instrument but I wish I could.

blogcutter said...

I'd love to pick up a few more languages - Russian, Polish, and maybe Chinese and at least one indigenous language. I used to pick up languages fairly easily but I know that as I get older (I'm in my mid-60s), I'm not as good as it as I used to be. Or maybe I'm just lazier, have less energy and am conscious of having fewer years ahead of me than behind me! And as for the non Indo-European languages, they're much more difficult for me to wrap my head around.

But if I could offer you some words of encouragement... if you enjoy painting, then why not just paint? Not everything you produce has to be a masterpiece, nor does every pursuit have to be a career (as long as you can put food on the table). Goodness knows a lot of us could use something interesting to spend our time on these days!

Rick Blechta said...

Boy! So many great comments. Thank you all!

I suppose I'm in the same boat painting-wise as those of you who would like to play an instrument.

Harp is a really tough instrument to learn (and play), Sybil. The concert ones are also heavy as all get out and fragile. Hit it in the wrong place and it's wreaked. I've moved a friend's a number of times and it's not fun. But it does have a lovely sound. Could I suggest investigating an cetic harp? They're smaller and simpler and not all that expensive and sound just as heavenly!

Douglas, have you ever played a recorder? They're dead easy and you can get a plastic one for just a few bob. Or by a bagpipe chanter if you want to delve into your Scottishness. Or how about this if you want to try something like sax: https://www.amazon.co.uk/8-Hole-Saxophone-Portable-Instrument-Beginner/dp/B08CQQH1FG/ref=pd_day0_267_7?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B08CQQH1FG&pd_rd_r=999b9708-c402-4c4e-aad7-b1789f300eac&pd_rd_w=uaqQx&pd_rd_wg=ZPz9A&pf_rd_p=82bea144-0110-40ad-957f-5614a5716224&pf_rd_r=1Q88VP4FY9D5MYRJVAA7&psc=1&refRID=1Q88VP4FY9D5MYRJVAA7

And to blogcutter, I don't enjoy doing things when I'm shite at them. I have works of my parents, a grandfather and a number of really fine ones by friends of my father and grandfather, plus the ones we've bought on our own. Believe me, I've tried to just draw with a pen or pencil and I can't even do that very well.

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the comments and thoughts!