Sometimes you open the wrong door. Or a door leads you the wrong direction. Or the door opens onto another door, and another after that. Or sometimes the door is just locked and you don’t have the key.
I just returned from an amazing trip to Venice, Florence and Rome. It was my first, but it won’t be my last. I have fallen in love with Italy, the doors and windows, the food, the people, the ancient buildings and, oh yes, the art! All of art history, each layer built on the last, just like the buildings of the middle ages built on and over the rubble of the Republic, and the Renaissance rising from there. There’s nothing like walking through the ruins of ancient Rome, or among unfinished Michelangelos emerging from the stone, or standing in an entire room of Botticelli’s to have art history seep into your bones.
Just as travel broadens the mind, it can also give space and perspective on what we are doing at home in the studio. I have been stuck since January on one piece. It’s not working. I know it’s not working but I keep trying to make it work, kind of like trying to force open a locked door without a key. Getting some physical and temporal space away from it was good for me. By taking space I realized that I can just make a change–take away the parts that aren’t working and replace them. I know it’s not rocket science, but sometimes we can’t see those really simple solutions when we are in deep, listening to that evil twin on our shoulder that’s causing us to doubt everything we have ever made and ever will make.
Most times we don’t have to go as far away as Italy to get that perspective. Sometimes a walk in the woods, or dinner with friends, or a trip to the library can have the same effect. Sometimes it’s better to stop fighting the piece that isn’t working, to move on to something that gives back a little easier. Take a day, or a week, or 5 months and a trip abroad like me, and come back when that key slips into your hand. Every lock is a little different.