You may find this amusing, but I really wanted to get this out to you this week. It’s Sunday morning in Moscow, Russia. I woke up fairly early this morning in my undisclosed* hotel room near Red Square. I didn’t want to wake my wife by sitting on the edge of the bed tapping away at my keyboard, so I’m coming to you from the throne room with the door shut.
There’s an Echo in Here
Normally I describe my view, but it’s one you’re used to seeing. You know. White tile, white porcelain, a drain on the floor, and a bathtub to my side. The water in the sink is running, to help drown out my Morse Code message-tapping on the keyboard. I’m wearing a thin white robe that came with the room. This morning is quiet, designed for catching up from jet lag.
Tonight we will meet our group, many of whom have been on each of the last seven art trips, and I’m also looking forward to meeting some new friends. We’ll have cocktails, get acquainted or start catching up, and then tomorrow our art-specific adventure begins.
Did I Mention I’m Tired?
Our flight on a Russian airliner from New York was nothing out of the ordinary. You know — crammed in a seat, trying to sleep, and some loud couple with their lights on who decided to talk the entire night in Russian. Thank goodness for earplugs and blankets to put over our heads.
Applause broke out when we landed. I’m not sure if it was the thrill of being in Moscow or the thrill of realizing we’re all still alive after that long, long flight.
A Picture Fest
In the ride from the airport I annoyed my friends by rolling down the window of the cab and snapping pictures like a madman. It’s a mixture of old and new — even casinos on the streets, which was totally unexpected.
Hello, Comrades, I’m Here
Once we arrived at the hotel, our room wasn’t ready, but everyone else wanted to stay there until they could catch up on sleep. So I set off with my sketch pad and my camera and got a great feel for the neighborhood nearby. Red Square, the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral — the onion-domed church that, according to legend, was so beautiful that the czar didn’t want another like it built anywhere, so he had the architect blinded. Ouch. And there is some very high-end shopping nearby, all the big fashion brands. I’ll save my money in hopes of bringing home a painting or two. It’s my obsession.
Not What You Expected
Three times now I’ve visited this amazing place. It gets a bum rap in the movies and television, but frankly, it can be a little intimidating, especially these days. I have to admit that I was totally intimidated on my first trip, expecting what I saw in the movies. But this city is vibrant, colorful, high-fashion, and architecturally stunning.
Instead of seeing little hunched-over old ladies in colorful headscarves and cossacks dancing in the streets, or men in green military uniforms and carrying machine guns, you see well-dressed young people staring at their smartphones, amazing new skyscrapers — and men in green uniforms, carrying machine guns.
A Shout-Out to John Wurdeman
I’m here because more than a decade ago I was invited to travel with John Wurdeman, the owner of Lazare Gallery. He introduced me to Russia, and I fell in love with the people, made some great artist friends I’m looking forward to seeing, and I fell in love with Russian art. We plan to see lots of it. I wanted to publicly acknowledge John, because I would not be here if it were not for his generosity.
Painting with a Master
We’re going to spend five days here in Moscow, then five in St. Petersburg, and then I get to spend three more days painting with some of my Russian artist friends in the countryside, including one who is a Russian Master and an instructor at Moscow’s great Surikov Institute at the Russian Academy of Art. I’m excited.
For now, it’s time to get dressed and begin my official adventure for the day. I hope this got through to you.
Hopefully I can post images on Facebook and Instagram, and even if you can’t friend me because I’ve reached my limit, you can still follow me so you can see some of the pictures. Of course we will do a story of our adventures in an upcoming issue of Fine Art Connoisseur.
My Thoughts Almost Prevented My Trip
I’d like to end with something that changed my life: my willingness to go outside of my comfort zone. As I mentioned, I was intimidated about Russia, and I almost didn’t go that first time because I gave myself excuses about why it was a bad idea, why it wasn’t safe, why I couldn’t afford to go. My head was playing games with me. But I told myself I was going to go for it anyway, and I pushed the negative stuff away and jumped in.
As a result I had one of the richest, most memorable times of my life, including a chance to visit the home of Russia’s greatest living artist at the time, who has since passed on. Had I listened to my internal voices and excuses, I would have missed something truly important in my life. This week I’m taking 50 people who jumped in and took a chance, and I’m excited about sharing my experiences with them.
Where is your head messing with you? What cool adventures are you avoiding because of the excuses in your head, because of your fears about the adventure itself, of the cost, or concern for the people in your life who need you around? Maybe those fears are real, or maybe they are only excuses to make you feel comfortable.
Being uncomfortable can be life-changing. Taking risks can be invigorating. Challenging yourself to try new things will give you confidence and a great feeling because you know you went for it.
I hope you’ll look at your bucket list and start taking action. There is always a way if you want it badly enough.
Have a great Sunday — if you get this — and I’ll hopefully have a moment next Sunday to touch base.