20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be. 21. Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance. 22. Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve. 23. Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow. 24. Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate. 25. Find out the fewest material things you need to live. 26. Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle. 27. There are no worthwhile tricks in art; find the answer. 28. Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul. 29. Commit yourself to a life in art. 30. No struggle, no progress. 31. Do rather than don’t. 32. Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters. 33. Read. Be conversant with the great ideas. 34. No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art. 35. Ask. Be hungry to learn. 36. You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class. 37. Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list. 38. Take pride in your work. 39. Take pride in yourself. 40. No one is a better authority on your feeling than you are. 41. When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about. 42. Be organized.
I’m walking on the beach this cold brisk morning, the bleached sea grass bending in the wind, when there, up ahead, in the pewter waves, I see a surfer in his wet suit, sleek as a seal, cutting in and out of the curl, shining in the light. I’m on the far side of sixty, athletic as a sofa, but this is where the longing starts, the yearning for another life, the one where I’m lithe and long-limbed, tanned California bronze, short tousled hair full of sunshine. The life where I shoulder my board, stride into the waves, dive under the breakers, and rise; my head shaking off water like a golden retriever. I am waiting for that perfect wave so I can crouch up and catch it, my arms out like wings, slicing back and forth in the froth, wind at my back, sea’s slick metal polished before me. Nothing more important now than this balance between water and air, the rhythm of in and out, staying ahead of the break, choosing my line like I choose these words, writing my name on water, writing my name on air.