Yesterday I trashed my house in the process of creating a painting niche in my living room. I thought about how the arrival of the new precipitates change, even chaos for a moment before it is reassimilated into new order. I’m happy to report that my living space is back to normal except for the fragments of my huge desk, dismantled and lying in pieces around my home. Making space for love, for creativity, is serious business. Sometimes it feels like the whole universe is dedicated to distracting me from this work…the random phone call from the acquaintance just as I sit down to draw…the itch to check email. The sudden arrival of laziness, headache or fatigue. The coworker who calls in sick on my one full day to paint. The dishes. The trash. The recycling. The compost with fruit flies orbiting it. Everything becomes a siren song that leads me away from what I am here to do. Make. Art. Now.
Today is my first day back painting in several months. After getting piles of prints and cards printed, bagged, and priced, I was languishing to get back to making. Not making art for a while is like losing one of my senses…It’s like realizing that you can’t smell or your ears are plugged up or your fingers are too numb to feel. In short, I become a zombie, half alive, half dead. Today, I opened an old sketchbook and an unfinished painting fell out, a pug dog hula hooping…it’s morose, wrinkled face makes me laugh with delight. Sometimes I feel like that dog, trying so hard to keep my hula hoop in the air while all sorts of flashy distractions whizz past me. How do we stay the course, stay centered and focused on what really matters?
For starters, I’ve decided to create and stick to a studio art schedule that is realistic. Unlike old schedules that are dead on arrival because they have me sitting down at my easel at 8 am, this one gives me the room I need to be human, to care for myself. I start creating at 10 am, thank you, after a relaxing morning journaling, sipping tea, and eating a healthy breakfast. Then I take an hour and a half for lunch which gives me time to make food, clean up and have a short nap, maybe even have a friend over. Then it’s back to work. But I will quit before it gets dark in time to take a nice walk. This comes to 15 hours a week of art time, 32 hours at my overnight caregiver job.
Secondly, I am reminding myself that artmaking is supposed to be fun. I’m not going to guilt-trip myself into doing something I don’t want to do just because it might be “cool.” Creating has to involve my body–expressive, performative, engrossing. It has to be emotive and heartfelt. It has to be personal, challenging and bold. It’s time for me to set some new goals too, and get clear about my direction.
I found my vision statement from when I was in kindergarten, written by my teacher on a cut-out paper cloud. “My dream is to be an artist. or a swimmer. I also want to take care of orphans. I want to be a singer.” That pretty much sums up what I want my work to be about. Vision. Embodiment. Compassion. Voice.