Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Slowing Down Time: A Painter's Perspective

Wild Apples
16x20 oil/canvas, en plein air
Available - Contact Michael

As I grow older, I notice something alarming.  An hour doesn't seem like an hour any more, and a year, not like a year.  Instead, they seem far shorter than they should be.  And the older I get, the shorter they become.  I mentioned this to my 86-year-old mother, and she said, "Just you wait—it gets worse."  No one warned me about this when I was growing up.

Now I envision a future in which a year will seem like a month, a week or, Heaven forbid, a day.  It's like Einstein's description of time dilation; as I approach the speed of light, entire solar systems are born and then die of old age, all during my short lifetime.

I want to slow down time.  I want to slow it down so that a summer seems as long as it did when I was eight years old.  How does one do that?

I think you slow down time by taking time to do the things that are important to you.  For me, it's taking time to enjoy a walk along the ocean with my wife.  It's taking time to paint the apple trees before the blossoms are stripped away by the wind.  It's taking time to relish the moment so I can cherish the memory.

In plein air painting lingo, when you reach my age, Life should no longer be a "quick draw" event.

I'm now taking more time with the painting process outdoors.  I no longer rush through a painting.  If it doesn't get finished in the time I have, so be it.  Instead, I'd rather consider each stroke, and while I'm considering, listen to the bees busying with the apple blossoms.  By the way, did you know that apple blossoms smell faintly of roses?  I discovered that while painting the above piece this week.

I'm still puzzled by this time phenomenon.  I think it has to do with percentages.  When I was six, a single summer—one quarter of a year—represented 1/24th of the amount of time I'd lived at that point.  The summer that is now at my doorstep, however, will represent a much tinier sliver of my life, just 1/240th.  So, summers may seem a tenth as long as they did back then.

By the way, if you don't know about Einstein's time dilation effect, here is a short video that explains it.

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