Ideals to Action

Seated figure (study). Conté crayon, charcoal on heavyweight paper. 14" x 17"
Seated figure (study). Conté crayon, charcoal on heavyweight paper. 14″ x 17″

Finally finished this figure study I started ~ 14 weeks ago. This work captures the naked likeness of my favorite model, hanging out in the sunny corner of my makeshift studio space. Since completing the study, I have moved on from this composition to a few other rapid figure drawings/paintings, which has been great practice in formal figure drawing skills. During a recent chat with the model pictured here, the topic of school words came up. I have not the faintest idea about my university’s motto(s) or words; in the past eight years I’ve attended six schools and feel decidedly disconnected from any alma mater. In contrast, his school experience was more Hogwartsian, and part of the university’s legacy is in its words: ideals to action.

Ideals to action stuck with me for a few days after our chat, and I thought about the many ways these words play out in my life. The call to action is essential in nursing practice. Interestingly, it is also within the spirit of art practice. Ideals to action describes the translation of thoughts, beliefs, and values into physical, tangible progress towards change. As much as in public health nursing or community organizing, ideals to action is characterized by the creative process and adaptation: the action of making art fulfills the ideals of the artist (at least, this artist), the work then enters new contexts in its existence, and multi-level transformation is possible.

I’m now in the second half of my nursing education, and making time for art this semester has been even more of a challenge than it usually is. In light of this bleakness, for Spring Break 2016, instead of jet-setting to some distant locale, I’m gathering my energy, supplies, free time and sunlight hours to get a few creative projects done, generate some work to think about, and explore opportunities. I’m “fighting back,” as creative types in my nursing student cohort tend to say, or reclaiming my free-time, even putting ideals to action, filling the week-long vacuum with personal pursuits that have definitely molded in the long hours of lecture, reading, and clinical practice.

An ideal I think about every day of every week: the time when I achieve that elusive balance between school-employment work and creative work to fulfill myself completely. Here’s to the second half going much, much quicker.

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