This morning, I woke to find an e-mail from the wife of one of my cousins – one of my favorite people. This gal is known throughout the family as warm, sunny, loving, caring, funny. We all look forward to seeing her. A devoted and generous daughter, wife, and mother, and now a beautifully graced grandmother. She manages to do all this without any grey hair or wrinkles, mind you. She remembers dates and connections and keeps the family together through her gestures and thoughts – everyone adores her, as do I, though I hardly tell her enough. We are lucky to have her and the deliciousness she is to our family.
Her note was a forward about two art-making projects: the Solstice to Equinox: Out of the Darkness into the Light and the 2019 100DayProject. You can read about both, here. We had spoken about the 100Day Project last year. But while very inspired to participate in the project, my motivation was nowhere to be found. This is nothing new. Inktober 2017 – I managed to draw/create for a total of three days before daily home life got in the way and I “forgot” I was supposed to be drawing every day for the month. Earlier this year, when the 100DayProject came around, I went out to my art space (aka The Shed) and drooled over my favorite mark-making supplies and tools and daydreamed about arting for a luxurious 100 days; I’d be transformed, feel accomplishment, be in touch with my creativity and experience a sense of deep inner peace I’ve not felt in a while. Plus, a project commitment might result in the bones of a show or a series of new work.
Instead, none of this happened…except for those three sketches/drawings back in Inktober 2017 and in May of this year I did Avenue Q (which was a hoot and nourished a portion of my creative bones). That’s it. Performing art is a different creative process than visual art, at least for me. In June, the fresh tenacity and confidence high from the show easing, I received a promotion at work. As much gratitude as I have for the betterment and support of my position, I started smack in the middle of the crazybusy season (which only ended about three weeks ago) and jumped into a roiling, disorganized mess left by my predecessor. My first month was no less than 70-hour weeks, if not more, and there was little-to-no training. Baptism by total engulfment. No time for art – or writing, or carrying a camera or getting involved in another show.
The weekly promise of days-off looms large; in my head my art intentions are strong, ideas rampant. Motivation and follow-through are uncomfortably stalled at a big fat meh.
We have a sizable shed. It came with the house. It’s not heated nor insulated and the mowers are in there with yard tools, patio furniture, and the tubs of Halloween/Christmas stuff. The shed is not dedicated to art. But, when we moved here I was VERY – super, over the top, elated- enthusiastic about the space and gleefully set-up my art space in a large corner of the corrugated tin garage with thick plywood flooring. It felt good. Cleared cobwebs, played music, lit candles, began painting the door. Up went shelves, unpacked books and paints, glue, tools, ephemera, found a new work table – all the special magic stuff – arranged to my liking, inviting me to come play. It felt really nice! and right and exciting to have a creative home, again. In two years I’ve been in that space four times of any length, maybe. That’s it. This morning’s e-mail makes me want to art – daily, for three months or a season – and yet, the next thought is, “Why bother? I don’t have the time. Other things are more important and more practical. ” Surely this is not uncommon self-defeating innerspeak.
While I understand a creative pause maybe be a necessary aspect of learning a new job and adjusting accordingly, part of my self is regularly neglected or denied and the more I realize that, the more it bothers me.
So, on my last day off, I decided to see if how I’ve been feeling could be fixed.
Just be in the space because I miss it. Because when I’m not there for a while then return, it’s much like seeing an old flame after years pass. Awkward, unsure where you stand, maybe a cool welcome and, with any luck, things eventually feel comfortable, warm, safe. Looking around, refamiliarizing myself, looking at projects-in-progress it started to feel good being in there; why do I stay away from art or the space I made for myself? Mid-overthinking, I turned and found mouse droppings, albeit dried and old, on some of the shelves and work table…to add insult, my books and sketchbooks have begun to lightly mold. This made me sad…sadder as the evening went on, much to my surprise, because the bright side usually pops up and I’m fine. But not yet, even a couple days later.