It’s summer here in the northern hemisphere, but a few months ago this scene was occurring in my aunt’s backyard in New York.
It’s called Sheep TV because every morning the sheep line up along the fence near the house and look into the windows of the house. My aunt said the way they line up is similar to the way we all sit around when we watch tv. Hence, “Sheep TV.”
As usual, I started this commission off with a mini sketch painting, got that approved by my auntly client, and then moved forward with the final painting.
This process was punctuated by a tyrannical obstacle.
The obstacle was allowing an unhealthy tyrant to take up real estate in my noggin.
All was going fast and smooth until I allowed thoughts in my head (where you can usually find thoughts) to affect the timeliness of the job.
The thoughts ran something like this:
“You’re no good, who do you think you are doing work like this?”
“You’ll never be able to finish this well.”
“How are you going to ship this to your aunt without it getting ruined like that last thing you got in the mail?” (During this time I had received a hardback book severely damaged by our US postal service.)
“You’re not finishing this very quickly; you’re a failure on your own timeline.”
Yikes! I realized I was letting this voice bully me into the ground, into inactivity. It dawned on me that I would never talk to an art student like that to motivate them; why would I talk to myself like that?
And the funny thing was, the majority of the final painting was done; all I had to do was finish some little details.
So, I pulled myself together with some prayer and elbow grease, told myself it’s okay to fail, and if I did, then that means I could just start again. And hey, I’d learn more too!
Realizing all of that was a great learning experience.
And I finished it! Here’s the finished product, from mini-sketch to the final painting:
I loved how it turned out, and how there was a balance between a crisp and yet loose feel in the painting.
The neat thing was is that it was completed on my grandparent’s 64th wedding anniversary. It hasn’t been a year since Grandma died, so even for us kids and grandchildren, it was a special day. I attribute my talent and success thus far to my Grandma J, so I feel like she was kinda watching over me and saying “Hi” as she helped my wrap up the painting on her wedding anniversary.
So there you have it: Sheep TV. (Above are some more close-ups.)
This ordeal reminded me of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s discernment of the spirits. Only if you are in a habit of doing really bad things will the Good Spirit jab you with painful thoughts. Otherwise, if you’re doing the right thing, it’s the Evil Spirit that assails you with negative thoughts and feelings. He wants you to fail, to be unhappy. I realized he was sitting there on his throne of misery loving to see the control he had over me. Once the tyrant was called out for what he was, and thus displaced, there was so much freedom, hope, and productivity in mee ol’ noggin!
It took me a while to mail the painting to me and my patient aunt. I really obsessed over how to get the painting to her without it being damaged. The painting arrived safe and sound and is now in the process of being framed. I hear she has some more sheep to be painted…
I hope you enjoyed this post about “Sheep TV” and the struggle with the interior tyrant. May you have true freedom this 4th of the July!
And before you leave, I’d love it if you would check out the notebooks in which I did all these paintings. That’d be grand, because when you click the link below, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
No art supplies for today! However, here’s the source of the discernment of the spirits: