I admit it.  Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday.  There are lots of reasons for it – it is a secular holiday, so you don’t have to worry about offending anyone or leaving someone out, it comes with yummy food and none of the calories, it brings back wonderful memories of my family gathered around the table when I was younger, and it reminds us to pause and be thankful for what we have.  Kinda like a kinder, gentler New Year’s Eve… without the calories.

So, what am I thankful for?  First, I am thankful for this wonderful recording of Satie’s Gymnopedie in my music library.  I’m not a huge Satie fan, but sometimes he has the perfect music… like for stormy November nights,  with icy rain sluicing down the windows and thoughts rattling against the inside of my skull like the leaves against the glass panes.  Satie is a lovely, ponderous, purple sound.  Maybe next we can segue into Copland’s bright blue Saturday Night Waltz and take flight.  (And in fact, we have…)

I am thankful for this studio I sit in, surrounded by my paintings, all waiting to be finished, full of potential and possibility.  I am thankful that I was able to attend one of the best art colleges in the country, and thankful that enough people were terrified of my second year painting professor that they dropped the class, leaving a class of only four students to receive 9 hours of personalized instruction a week.  I am grateful the aforementioned professor made us learn to mix our own gesso and stretch our own canvases, and I am thankful that I can now buy that crap already done from the store.  I am thankful that my career path has followed my “artistic” path very closely, and that whatever I’ve learned in one field I’ve been able to use in the other.  I am thankful that my parents never told me I couldn’t draw, and thankful that years and years of practice have allowed me to be able to fake it fairly well these days.

I’m thankful for my subject matter.  The horse for me is a neverending marvel, the perfect blend of power and containment.  I’m thankful that there have been a wonderful herd of horses in my life, and that my “first” horse was an ancient Cleveland Bay.  I’ve never looked at a “plain” brown horse the same way since.  I’m thankful for the miracle of birds, and it’s nice that they so often tend to live in those other awe-inspiring things: trees. And speaking of trees and the inherent majesty of Spanish moss and resurrection ferns,  I’m thankful for literally the entire state of Louisiana.  I think I could wander the wilds of Louisiana and Florida forever, dreamy and dazed, and never run out of things to delight the eye and inflame the senses.

I’m thankful for the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and thankful that a public school music teacher told me I could and would learn to play it, and then made me do so.  (And I’m thankful for this marvelous recording by the ever delightful Anne-Sophie Mutter.)  Speaking of Ms. Mutter, I’m thankful for Anne Rice, both in literary and “fairy godmother” form, and I’m thankful I’ve been able to give something back to her for all the enjoyment she’s brought me over the years.

I’m thankful for Rembrandt, Sargent, Mucha, Magritte, Leyendecker, Audubon, Parrish, Toulouse-Latrec, Rousseau, Mehl, St. Clair, Brenders, Pratt, Forbes, Hopper, Van Gogh, Caravaggio, Gorey, Stubbs, Keane, Vettriano and Deja. And whoever came up with the whole Art Nouveau phase, Minoan art period and Byzantine iconography thing, you rock.  I love you guys.

I’m thankful for my best friends, for a litany of unsaids.  I’m thankful for my parents for their support.  I’m thankful for my family for their love.

And I’m thankful for my husband – artist/draftsman supreme, man of steel, head cheerleader, personal-demon slayer, and professional “pep talk” giver.  I’m thankful he knew me for 10 years and then decided he still wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

Finally, I’m thankful for you, whoever you might be, out there reading this blog.  Thanks for providing an audience, a challenge, a goal, a competition, an eagerness to share and talk and touch and explain and listen, and thanks for allowing me a platform to share with the world.  I was going to close with some crack about the pen being mightier than the sword but the paintbrush being mightier than all, and then I lost the thread.  So, instead, I close with what I am most thankful for – the art.  Happy Paintsgiving.

© Joanna Zeller Quentin 2011.  All Rights Reserved.