curiosity killed the cat…

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Art, Artistic Endeavors, Favorite Things, Oil Painting51 Comments

…but I am not a cat.  And neither are you.

When I was on my creative retreat last March, there were a few themes that kept coming up.  They were from different authors and podcasters and, if I heard them more than once, it really made me take notice.  Enthusiasm, showing up, schedule, and routine were some of those themes.  Another one was curiosity.

Since then, I’ve heard curiosity brought up in many creative business podcasts.

Follow your curiosity.  Be curious.  Stay curious.

I even heard it in a sermon about cynicism.  One way to combat cynicism is to be curious…to not assume the outcome, but to approach life with a sort of wonder.  “What would happen if…”

It’s the triumph of hope over experience.

(Does anyone recognize that period drama reference?)

I realized, as I’ve been listening to all of this talk about curiosity, that I meander through my creative journey in that way.  If I wonder about something, I’ll usually just give it a try and see where it leads.  Sometimes, it’s a dead end and sometimes I discover something new about myself or something new that I love or something new I want to add to my business.

The best example of this in my own life recently, as you may have guessed, has been with my art.  For years, maybe even decades, I would look at the art of others and marvel at it.  I would wistfully imagine being comfortable in front of a blank canvas, excited about how I might fill it with how I see the world.

I actually tried my hand at fine art painting when I first started my business.  I was painting on just about everything else, so why not canvases.  I painted a few simple, mediocre barns in acrylic paint and assessed that the talent to create fine art that was worthwhile just wasn’t present in me.  I would stick to painting walls and furniture.

That curiosity remained, though, and I finally decided to chase it a couple of years ago.  I played with watercolors, graphite sketches, soft pastels, and digital painting/drawing.  I really enjoyed watercolors, but I always loved the look of oil paintings and felt drawn to that particular medium.  It was the one I was most intimidated to try, though.  I know it sounds silly, but I was intimidated by the clean-up!  How exactly does one clean oil paint off a wooden palette?

I was fortunate enough to have a friend who studied fine art in school and she guided me through my first couple of oil painting sessions.  I ended up moving before we got very far, though.  Then, I joined Michelle Wooderson in The 100 Meadows Project.  That was a game changer.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I was curious enough to just dive right in.  I knew the paintings would be bad.  I knew I would be embarrassed by them.  But I also knew that there was no way to get better at painting than to actually paint.

All three of those things ended up being true!

So, I’ve been painting and studying and practicing and learning and reading and watching.  And, it’s interesting…  The more I try to satisfy the curiosity, the more curious I become.  I am hungry to learn more and grow more.  I am satisfied in my pursuit, yet unsatisfied with my current knowledge and ability.  In a good way.  The way that encourages me to continue to practice and seek out instruction.

It has not only spurred me along in art, but it’s made me curious to try other things.  I’ve always wanted to be really good at calligraphy.  I can sort of fake it, but I’d like to write in beautiful Copperplate script with flourishes and embellishments.  So, I’ve bought some books and some Copperplate nibs for my dip pens and I’ve been following that curiosity as well.  I have no idea how I’ll use calligraphy once I learn it, but I’m going to learn it none-the-less and just see where it goes.  (And I enjoy using my 1820’s silver dip pen I purchased in Paris.)

All of this to say, don’t be cynical about what you can and can’t do.  Take a minute to wonder about the things you’ve always wanted to do or try.

What if?  What if you try it?  What if you give it a good, solid month or a year? 

Maybe it won’t go anywhere, but maybe it will.

Be curious.  Follow that curiosity.

Chase it, even.

And see what happens…

What are you curious about?

curiosity killed the cat…

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51 Comments on “curiosity killed the cat…”

  1. An inspiring message. I love so many textile mediums , quilting, rug hooking, wool , knitting.. I want to improve my knitting to a level I’ve been Leary to attempt. As I was reading your piece it spoke to me.. what have I got to loose to put myself out there to go for the next level that Inwoild love to achieve. I have learned a lot so continue…. thanks. You really are a extremely talented lady… in so many ways. I never comment on blogs. I wrote to you once before many years ago when you were in a “not so Sure”of yourself.. I knew you were very talented then, and look what you have achieved and become, impressive.. so nice to watch you soar.😊

  2. Has the rabbit sold? It is wow!

    I’m always amazed at how you find the time to pursue your curiosity, run a business, and raise a family. Very inspirational.

  3. Marion, thank you again! I’m no artist, though I went to one of those paint-a-canvas sessions & came away with a recognizable barn! I’m trying to learn to play. I quit when I was 22 mos. I didn’t even know till a couple of years ago. Children play creatively by following their curiosity! This is a huge boost!!!

  4. A friend of mine passed away 3 years ago. Shortly after, her son arrived at my door with what seemed a ship load of art supplies. She had wanted me to have them, everything from chalks, & charcoals, to oils, & brushes galore and more! Supplies I had only ever eyed in the art supply store on my way to my favorite pencil & eraser isle. My husband soon set about to build me my craftroom to house my newly inherited treasures. And that he did, we transformed one of our spare bedrooms into what I now call ‘my sanctuary’. But, my friend had left me & I hadn’t a clue how to use the newly organized mountain of supplies. I have always doodled and just recently gotten serious about my drawing. I just happened upon your blog one day and that was it. You have inspired & encouraged me to experiment with multiple medium, including taking classes, but most of all stepping out side of my comfort zone & experiencing a whole new side of my self I never knew I had. So thank you Marian, for encouraging me to create things I haven’t seen, because there is so much yet to know.

  5. The other half of that saying that most people don’t know is “satisfaction brought him back”, which fits with your message here I think.

    That hare is excellent btw!

  6. inspiring and make me feel proud of you. It is not always curiosity is bad. Sometimes it helps us grow. So as in the case of yours.

    My kid is fond of painting and most often come with funny stuffs out of curiosity. (Hope you understand what I mean)

    Jokes part, Best wishes for your future and thanks for sharing a valuable post.

  7. ….I heard the best speech ever once upon a moment in time ~ and it sticks with me when I am curious and try new things….the gentleman walked to the microphone with a lisp in his speech and having ‘flunked’ several grades in school but became very successful despite what people thought…..he said ‘never, never, never give up’….and walked away from the microphone…..a 5 word speech.

    so no matter what I pursue ~ even on my worst day, I will never, never, never give up!

  8. Thank you for your inspiring words. I was afraid of chalk painting furniture that I have in my house for fear of ruining it but after watching your videos over and over last year, I became confident that I could do it. My thought process now is give something a try and if you fail then at least you gave it your all.

  9. When my mom was in her 90’s she had to move to assisted living. She also had to give up many things she once loved because of various reasons. She was miserable. At about 68 I vowed that i would not live my final years that way. I have never been artistic – crafty, yes, but not artistic. I can’t draw stick people with a ruler! However through Jeanne Oliver and her blog, I found mixed media art. I took classes and I can do it! It is a very forgiving art form. However, since then, I’ve gone on to take watercolor classes, acrylic classes, drawing classes, colored pencil classes. I’m not good at any of it, but I love it. Some of it I will be able to do until I am too old for anything else. It won’t matter if my hands shake or my eyesight isn’t the best. But the point of all this is I love it!!!! Even tho I’m not good, I’ve learned that that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I love it and doing whichever form I choose, makes me happy. That’s something you can take to the grave!! Thanks, Marian, for bringing this to the forefront of our minds. Hopefully you will inspire others to give some art form a hand.

    1. Jo – are you sure we’re not twins separated at birth?
      Seriously, it feels as though you’re speaking directly to me.
      Thanks to you and Marian for the words of inspiration!

  10. I have sewn since I was 15 and wanted to learn how to draft my own patterns. This past year , I was fortunate to have a wonderful Italian lady teach me. I love the process of drafting. Taking a flat piece of paper and making it into a 3 dimensional object.

  11. For me the problem is finding time these days to pursue curiosity beyond just the beginning stages. I picked up many skills when I was younger. After I received a calligraphed card from a classmate when I was in college, I bought myself a set of calligraphy pens and ink. I did many cards, posters, wedding invitations, etc.. I also became interested in the art of illumination and decorated my calligraphy creations. For lack of time, my calligraphy eventual dropped off to creating something once or twice a year. I recently turned down a request to calligraphy a baby announcement, because I just didn’t have the time. I regret that, but I have work to do that actually pays (graphic design) and our family has become more involved in our parish and homeschooling group. Then there are the other things I enjoy doing – knitting, sewing, reading, gardening. There does not seem to be enough time to follow all those paths of curiosity.

  12. Marian, you are a total inspiration to so many of us out here. That rabbit painting is exquisite! And you have come SO far, taking us along with you as you learn. Thank you so so much, from the bottom of my heart.

  13. Such a good perspective on “trying it out and seeing what happens”.
    And like many have commented before me – I want that hare painting too!
    Please make more!
    And maybe a fox? Fox are my favorite animals.
    Thanks Marian!

  14. Marian, If you haven’t run across Lindsey @ thepostmansknock.com, you’re in for a real treat! She’s the Queen of Calligraphy, as you are the Queen of Everything (;-D). She provides tons of free practice sheets, tips on tools, techniques, and so much more. I’ve sent you a link to my Pinterest board where you can take a look at lots of her posts I’ve saved that you might find useful (if sharing with you worked).

  15. Thanks, Marian. I now see my inner “squelcher”. I was rabidly creative back in my 20’s but now in my 70’s not so much. I wondered what changed and now I see that it was me deliberately shutting down my natural curiosity. Feeling too busy to take time to explore something else. And now I see that curiosity is a kissing cousin to creativity! So I like this post and the invitation to be curious. I can do that. Thank you!

  16. You should follow my friend on IG – @paperglazecalligraphy. She’s a professional calligrapher that just started out making place cards for family holiday dinners. She’s seriously amazing now and making a nice income!

  17. I have always wanted to play a musical instrument with some level of apptitude. I started playing the acoustic guitar on January 1 of this year and have continued every day, sometimes for even just 5 minutes. I can tell that I am making progress in just two short weeks. I am a watercolorist and I have watched in amazement as your painting skills rapidly progress. Like you, I admire oil paintings the most and have always wanted to try that medium. When you were in the midst of the Meadows project, I purchased the oil painting supplies I needed to jump in and give it a go. They are still all sealed. Ugh! I just don’t have the courage to go there, but one day, (hopefully, before the paint dries out) I will. You are inspiring and encouraging.

  18. I grew up in a very artistic home…but regrettably have let life’s tasks get in the way of painting, crafting, etc. Your 100 Meadows Project posting really excited me. And, to see the incredible paintings you did…amazing! I tried to buy one in the auction yesterday, but, alas, as a Federal employee working without pay, I could only go so high in my bidding. Maybe next time! Keep on doing what you are doing–you are very inspiring to all of us!

  19. I use a glass palette for oil painting. You cover it loosely in between sessions and I put it inside a plastic box with a lid. This keeps the paints very usable from week to week. When I have filled up or when I finish a canvas, I let it dry and just peel away the dried oil paint from the glass. I bought a glass cutting board to use and put little rubber feet on the bottom side to keep it slightly elevated from the table and easier to pick up and put down.

  20. The postmansknock.com is a blog that I follow and she is so so generous in her information, worksheets, etc. (a lot like you). Her calligraphy is wonderful and helpful.

    On another note, a phrase or quality I have recently recognized about certain persons is “generosity of spirit”.

    It’s the one quality that I saw in you when you first started your blog years ago and I started following it. I’ve recognized it in Lindsey with her calligraphy. It’s come up lately with several friends that show that same quality, “generosity of spirit.” I’m striving for that in the new year for myself, putting myself out there without fear and with confidence. I feel it’s an uplifting goal for 2019. Thanks.

    PS That hare painting is amazing.

  21. We need to always try and see, people have all kinds of hidden talents, thanks this was a great post and from this Sr. citizen keep trying.

  22. Okay now don’t laugh at me….. My 2019 goal is…..to sell on Ebay!!! Oh!! I am a good buyer on there but the whole selling idea is scary to me. I have wanted to do this for a while now but always chicken out. I am scared of the whole shipping process and don’t want people mad at me. Curiosity has really got me on this!!! Right before ( as in 10 minutes before) I read your blog I was just telling someone about my idea and now I know i’ve got to go for it!!!
    Thank you!!! …..being a great artist might be better but hey baby steps!!!

  23. It seems there is a fine line between discouragement and delight. You can have the same level of ability in both situations, but one says “what if I fail” and the other says “what if”. My experience has been the opposite of yours. I have taken oil painting classes for a few years, but only recently have I set out to make my own paintings. I bought some acrylic paint out of curiosity over how I could create something different. I’ve been too intimidated to just put paint to canvas knowing it will probably turn out badly. After reading today’s post, I think I should look at it as “what if I like it”, “what if it’s fun”. Thanks for the reminder that curiosity is a good thing.

  24. I’m curious about how my current project will be received by the world. I’m working on a printable dollhouse and it’s a lot of work, but my hope is that it’ll be printed again and again by families that need a rainy day project.

  25. Oh. My. Head! The rabbit picture is TO DIE FOR! Is it for sale?? Love the message here and keep up the great work! LOVE IT!

  26. A note from an old lady. You’re incredible! You have no idea how I marvel at everything you do. It seems that anything you take on becomes a big success, I’ve never seen anything like it. Some of us can do maybe one or two things well, but with you, it’s everything you try! Jeez, your parents must be proud, I know I’d be.
    Have you ever thought of becoming a stock broker, lol? You guys could buy your own church with your talents.

  27. I’ve followed your blog on and off since you first started having things at Lucketts, I think anyways. I tend to read from the beginning if the blog demands my attention. I was in awe of you starting your business and it’s the one story that stays with me as I make my own way down my business journey. I’ve officially been at it a year this month and near tears last night at my lack of progress. This morning my husband was talking to our oldest about school and said “Trying is the hardest part.”, and then looked at me. He always puts the spark in my heart! I’m curious to see where I’ll be in a year! Thank you for all your stories. ❤

  28. Jarndyce and Jarndyce (or Jarndyce v Jarndyce) is a fictional court case in Bleak House (1852-3) by Charles Dickens, progressing in the English Court of Chancery. The case is a central plot device in the novel and has become a byword for seemingly interminable legal proceedings. I just watched this Dickens story on- I think prime video but if you want to see the penmanship of old you should see this film. It is unbelievable that they could use this complicated intricate form of writing and get anything done. It seems it would take a day to produce a postcard!

  29. I took a class on calligraphy but struggled. Only to fine out that the nibs for pens are for right handed people and I am left handed. Think about the nib?
    I ordered a left handed nib/pen on Amazon and it made a big difference. Also
    I have always played around with embroidery with a little difficulty. I ordered a left handed embroidery book from Amazon used, and it was a game changer. Also I learned to knit and crochet as a right handed person with no problem.

    1. I am so glad that you said that about nibs being for right-handed people, I am left handed and would never have know that! Much Gratitude, Charlotte

  30. Wow,at that rabbit or hare painting!!! Phenomenal! Marion, your posts feed my soul, my doubtful inner self. I’m so afraid to pick up those paint brushes again. My partner went to great lengths to set me up in the front bedroom with my own studio. Tons of paint and every brush I’ve ever wanted sits there, waiting for me to come pick them up and try again. I feel like such a total failure. Then I rush to read your posts first because they inspire me so much, and today you wrote exactly what I needed to hear. I need to do 100 paintings in a hundred days or close to it, lol. Or I need to take a class out at the jr college or SOMETHING to get me out of this awful rut I’ve been in for years now! Thank you for sharing your journey with us, I can’t tell you how much it means. You’ve made my day! Thank you.
    Shelia P.

  31. Well, Marian, the hare painting is quite magnificent and certainly attests to the fact that you are a talented artist. I would love it hanging on my wall, for sure. The tones of brown against the black background are just stunning.

    A great post, this one. Follow your curiosity. Such good advice. I am in a place in my life where I have lots of artistic desires, but not much to show for them. I am trying to make 2019 a year where I move into actually creating, even if only on a limited basis. But I want to try new things and your post is very inspirational in keeping me headed in that direction. Thanks so much!

  32. I got oil paints for Christmas but I’ve yet to get them out of the box. I’m a little intimidated by the whole thing. It will happen but sometimes it takes a while for the curiosity to outweigh the intimidation.

  33. I was so hoping that I would be the only one who would love that rabbit. What was I thinking. The one thing I love most about your posts, well maybe not most….but, it’s reading all the comments and as I read every last one of them I sit here with a big smile on my face and warmth in heart. I just love reading what you have brought to so many people, it’s kinda crazy and so wonderful.

  34. Funny you should bring up this topic of all days. I was gifted a wing back chair that is solid and the cushions are still plush…..yet a cat had scratched up the fabric. I’ve been wanting to attempt to do a slipcover on a wing chair for awhile. I’ve done dining room chairs, which I find to be simple. Wing chairs are a bit more complicated, but I’m up for the challenge. Your tutorials on Youtube are wonderful and that’s what I’m going by. Wish me luck

  35. Thank you, Marion, for your inspiring words…again! My goals for 2019 are to do something in the garden every week and do something creative every week. (We can garden year round in this part of Texas.) My last goal is to write. It’s my talent and my calling so every word I write is an act of obedience to God.
    Bless you.

  36. Such a beautiful and inspiring post. I have learned so much from you but I think your art has had the biggest impact. For you to let us watch you learn and grow has been such a wonderful experience. We tend to think that talented people have something we don’t but you have shown us that it also takes a desire, a determination and a willingness to learn. I’m just so impressed by your strides in your work. In my opinion, you are one of the major influential people of our time.

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