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Silenzio, Bruno!

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Dolomiti, 16"x20", oil on canvas, available

It’s my new favorite mantra: ”Silenzio, Bruno!” It comes from the Disney Pixar movie Luca (totally awesome), where it’s shouted by a teenage sea monster to quiet his nerves whenever he’s contemplating some reckless act of teenage derring-do requiring more bravery than brains. It’s got a lovely ring to it, especially when shouted at the top of your lungs. “Silenzio, Bruno!”

There’s a Bruno lurking in the jungle of my brain, ready to pounce the minute I step into my art studio. He loves to pop into my head with one cocked eyebrow, which says louder than words: “Who do you think you are?” Or he might ambush me on the way into the studio, tripping me up with the sad, simple question: “What on earth is the point here?” And suddenly, sitting on the couch seems the only sensible thing to do.

“Silenzio, Bruno!” It resonates deep within me, and it’s Italian! Is it just me, or is everything better in Italian. “Silenzio, Bruno!” shuts my monkey mind right down and gives me time to get into the studio and grab a brush.

Of course, then there’s the problem of luring the muse out from wherever she’s hiding. It’s harder than you might think, as a well-brought-up New Englander, to throw caution and self-criticism to the wind and listen to the sappy, happy, wild and carefree Kate within. She’s there, but she needs permission to come out and play. So next I shout: ”Parlami, Kati!” (Speak to me, Kate). Perfetto, yes? OK, so Disney hasn’t caught on to this one yet, but I’ve got dibs on credits when the Luca sequel comes out.

One of my favorite artists, Richard Schmid, suggests we “paint like a pig eats.” Having watched the pigs on my sister’s farm enjoying the leftovers from a farmers market, I can tell you first hand what a delicious invitation this is. Pigs are all in! They are fully involved. Mangia! I don’t really know who I am or what I’m doing it for, but my goal is to dive in and find out. I’ve got limited time left on this planet, as do we all. So what could I possibly be waiting for? Permission? Perfection? Mangia!

There are so many styles, so many subjects to paint, so many techniques to try, and it’s easy to get sidetracked, to second guess, to question. But if I listen to Kati, I simply dive in. I choose what draws me and let my heart lead. And when I do this, I find I’m much more likely to paint something that sings for me and, if I’m lucky, perhaps for you as well.

May you silence your Bruno and set your muse free!

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