Archives for posts with tag: art and the artist

I’m an artist. A painter, primarily. I have a regular “day job” as an analyst, and have for many years – it’s just easier to support my lifestyle and my creative endeavors with a bit of steady employment, versus attempting to use my creative endeavors to support my lifestyle (for me – your results may vary). I sat down with my coffee this morning, after a lovely “camera walk” at a new (nearby) location and a coffee with my Traveling Partner, and I began scrolling through the past year’s pictures taken hither and thither with the purpose of updating my “all the art” photo album, and the “new art since 2010” album. Google Photos politely and helpfully took me to the last items that were updated to each album as a starting point to the scrolling.

…That was more than a year ago…

I scrolled… and kept on scrolling. I scrolled through pictures of flowers in my wee garden, and pictures of garden efforts that were varying degrees of success. I scrolled through seemingly endless pages of pictures from camera walks over the course of the year. I scrolled through pictures from multiple business trips and a trade conference. I scrolled through pictures of weather, and pictures of “why not?”. I scrolled through pictures snapped in retails spaces of items to share with my Traveling Partner for inspiration, or to gauge interest. I scrolled through holiday pictures, camping pictures, lunches, brunches, and coffees with friends. I scrolled through pictures of birds, squirrels, racoons, cats, dogs, snakes, and deer. I scrolled through pictures of beach trips, birthdays, and miscellaneous adventures here or there. I scrolled through pictures of my partners shop as it developed over time, and pictures of projects he completed there. I scrolled through a handful of selfies, and numerous pictures taken in order to confirm “is this the one you want?” while I was running errands. You know what I mostly did not scroll through? Pictures of new paintings. There just weren’t many. Two? Four?

I look over my shoulder at work in progress, and the most recent completed work… minimal. 7 pieces? 9? Not even 1 per month for the 14 months of pictures I scrolled through, and most incomplete or not photographed. Damn. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling (for quite a while) this certain specific feeling of being “crowded” or “imposed upon” by the day-to-day demands of living a full life. I’ve failed to nurture this part of myself, and that’s honestly a massive self-care failure. I could do better. Time to reflect on the experience of painting so much less for the entire time I’ve had a dedicated studio (in any living space in which that has been the case, frankly)! It makes no fucking sense. I created the space to work in… why am I not working in it?

…Is it a lack of inspiration? That seems unlikely given the number of hastily dashed off notes to myself about things I want to paint, and the number of pictures I’ve taken specifically with compositions on canvas in mind.

…Is it lack of time? That’s an easy out; life is busy, work takes time out of my day, and there’s certainly plenty of work to be done to maintain our quality of life…but…do I really lack the time? I suspect not – but I’m sure not using the time I have to paint (or, let’s be real, to write on the regular).

Is it lack of will, interest, or materials? All pretty practical, but no. I’ve got the materials, the space, and the time available… My interest hasn’t waned. I can’t dismiss “lack of will” entirely; if I had sufficient will-to-act, I’d be in the fucking studio painting, would I not? I find myself wondering what’s up with that?

Being true to the artist I am, I see the effort, the will, and the self-care time going more to walking with my camera, out on some trail, breathing the fresh air, getting some exercise – and these are good things. I can’t complain that I’m treating myself badly. Those walks definitely nurture my creative side – and a camera is far more compact to travel with than paint boxes and an easel. It is a very different sort of work, though. For me, painting (note: I’m primarily an abstract impressionist, more or less…) is a way of communicating things I don’t have words for (and that’s really saying something considering “all the words”). When I stop painting, I start trying to force emotions into words I don’t have. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this eventually tends to result in mindless nonsensical chattering of streams of consciousness that are distracting, confusing, or meaningless for whoever happens to be stuck listening to me babble. (Do I sound as if I’m being hard on myself? Consider the burden on someone who lives with that, though… how tough would this be on my Traveling Partner, a very reality-bound engineer-sort?)

…Perhaps that’s the key. This partnership. This amazing love I share with my partner. I am reluctant to yield moments I could stand near my partner just breathing the air he exists in for something so self-centered as painting. That’s not fair to either of us – surely I would resent that over time, and that could undermine this profound love I feel for this singular human being. We both want to hang out together approximately every minute of every day – realistically we both also recognize that won’t actually work. It’s also not particularly emotionally healthy. So. There’s that.

I guess I’m just saying, I really noticed that I’ve “failed myself” a bit on this detail. There are paintings and ideas for paintings in my head, living in a space that has become crowded with them, distracting me and making it tough to properly communicate whatever else is going on (most especially related to any of those notions/thoughts/ideas).

“Anxiety” 10″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/ceramic 2011

The other day, in response to a moment of stress and heightened background anxiety, I retreated to the emotional comfort of my studio… and got to work on a new piece. Fuck that felt good!! “She discovered the answer was within her all along…” Omg. So trite. So… ridiculous. I think on the number of years I painted on the floor…or in some corner…or on a kitchen counter or dining table, any space I could use that had enough room to work. I could do better for myself. I felt so much less anxious just getting some color on canvas… something to think about.

Meta Luna, 12″ x 12″ acrylic on canvas w/glow & glitter, 2022

So… new job, new habits. It’s a new beginning and I’m not wasting it. I made a point to start getting my hands manicured again – and I’ve stopped tearing at my cuticles (again) or biting my nails (again). Nice. I’m keeping an eye on work hours and setting health boundaries with my time. I’m putting my errands and to-do items at the top of my list each day and refusing to allow myself to push myself further down among my priorities. Feels good.

…This is perhaps a lot of words to say “it’s time to begin again”… 🙂

I’m sipping my second coffee this morning, letting my mind take a break from work by looking over newly prepared canvases waiting for further attention, and a couple small half-finished pieces that I am working on a bit at a time. It’s a new approach. It reflects the feeling of permanence in this place. I sigh contentedly and sip my coffee, smiling.

…It’s not permanent. Very little, if anything, is. I sip my coffee staring into the colors on canvases, and lose myself in my thoughts…

Sometimes beginnings are untidy. It’s rare that an intention is effortlessly achieved. Things seem always to be “becoming”.

It’s a pleasant day to reflect on an unwalked path, an incomplete painting, or a dream as-yet-unfulfilled. I sip my coffee and try to do so in the context of impermanence, and a sort of accepting non-attachment… the future does not exist in my present. It’s up ahead, somewhere, waiting to become a moment all its own. I think about my notion that a cottage garden would be lovely out front… and the patience involved in seeing that become, first, a plan, then, over time, with some luck and persistence and any number of new beginnings… a garden worth lingering in. No certainty that it will be a “cottage garden”, really… That’s how things go; differently than planned. Often. 🙂 My results vary. lol

Still… I can begin again.

I’m sipping the last of my second cup of coffee. It’s a Friday; I might have a third, later. I’m in pain, mostly managing it. I’ve felt the tiniest bit “under the weather” since yesterday, as if fighting off a head cold. I feel… tired. Bone-deep fatigue unrelieved by a good night’s sleep. Rested – still tired. I struggle to fully engage routine tasks. I don’t feel wholly alert. I struggle to resist distractions.

I find myself becoming annoyed with myself over my “lack of motivation” at the end of what has been a ridiculously busy work week. My inner dialogue begins to become aggressive and adversarial, and a tad “punishing” and disrespectful. I could take time to try to sort out where all that garbage and mess comes from… or I can take the break I so clearly need, and do a good job of that, instead. I mean, clearly I learned this self-abusive unproductive bullshit somewhere, but those sorts of ugly relationship dynamics are not a regular part of my everyday life now. I can just “let all that go”, and make a point to willfully treat myself with more kindness and understanding. To embrace my own “Big 5″ relationship values – even in my relationship with myself.

I’ve got a long weekend coming up. I feel my shoulders relax when I think about spending time in the studio painting. As I imagine the moment, and anticipate the feeling of “treating myself” to that creative time, I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile begin at the edge of my mouth. I imagine hiking my new favorite local trail, again, and doing some sketches there, and returning to canvas and paint at home. I imagine sleeping in, and waking slowly. I imagine waffles for brunch, and little breakfast sausages, piping hot, fat crackling and popping in the pan. I imagine putting my feet up with a new book, and sipping a glass of sherry as twilight becomes nightfall. I imagine spending quiet time with my Traveling Partner, and long leisure hours discussing one plan or project or another. Rest and art and love seem like good things to spend the weekend on…

…I straighten my posture, and look over this spreadsheet, feeling just a bit less beat down, and ready to finish this week… One more way to begin again. 🙂

It’s been a lovely relaxed weekend, filled with unexpected moments of delight and love. Pleasant. Restful. Even productive. I’ve enjoyed each lovely loving moment without reservations. I’ve found purpose and growth in the handful of moments that were less than ideally delightful. Hell, no hard feelings, either; it is probably an unreasonable fantasy (and an unsustainable reality, at best, and only occasionally, if ever) to contemplate a life of endless contentment and joy. Rain falls. Humans are human. 🙂 I value the opportunities to grow and to be more the woman I most want to be, although, sometimes, in spite of how the information reaches me.

It was a rainy autumn weekend, and I’ve no reason to complain about that.

Several times this weekend I’ve taken a moment to reflect on where I am, and where I seem headed, relative to where I began, and who I have been. It’s been an interesting journey.

The wintry wood beyond the deck inspires me to paint scenes of winter. Shades of gray. Whites. Blacks. Winter days. Winter nights. I let my mind wander, thoughts of paintings to come. 🙂

It’s time to begin again.

Actually… I do know better. I can’t claim ignorance on this one; holding on to expectations and assumptions is a reliable shortcut to disappointment. Seriously. I let it go. There’s no value in beating myself up over the poor sleep thing.

I started into the weekend very much looking forward to sleeping deeply, sleeping well, and sleeping in. Innocent enough; I was struggling with fatigue and exhaustion, and the nights just felt too short, no matter how early I went to bed. I was eager to sleep in on Saturday morning, and, while I did so (on a technicality), my sleep was interrupted, restless, and less than ideally restful. Still – a great day of painting followed, so, no matter.

I rather stupidly caught myself still drinking coffee well past 5pm last night. Saturday night. No problem; I am not so tightly held to a “bed time” that the occasional late night would be a problem, right? So. Yeah. Amusingly, I was so tired, right at my usual time to start winding things down, I totally went to bed “on time” anyway. Caffeine? Not a problem apparently…only… my fitness tracker pointed out this morning that actually, I fell asleep, sufficiently deeply to register as actual sleep, sometime past 1 am. Wait… I was asleep enough to be awakened by a bad nightmare, shortly before midnight… wasn’t I? Fucking hell. My sleep, after I went back to bed following my nightmare, was again restless and interrupted. Here it is Sunday. Nothing whatever like “good sleep” occurred this weekend. lol Fuck.

Did I set myself up for failure by becoming emotionally invested in the task of sleeping? Probably. Is that “why” I didn’t sleep well? Doesn’t matter whether it was or wasn’t, actually, and getting caught up in the why of the poor sleep is just a distraction from the more immediate concern; awareness that investing in expectations and assumptions (even about sleep) is problematic. It puts me on a path of being disappointed by day-to-day experiences so commonplace as to be unavoidable. Not helpful.

I woke fairly well-rested this morning, in spite of the short, restless night. The laundry is started (I didn’t get far with it yesterday. lol Artists, amiright??). My studio is ready for me to get right back to work on several projects. I consider a visit to the market, and where the timing needs to fit into my day. When I feel like painting, everything else is a distraction. I am sitting in the studio, sipping coffee… and yawning. Listening to the washing machine chug along.

Inspiration is a funny thing; if I walk away, no guarantee it will be waiting when I return.

I sip my coffee, thinking about art. Interrupted work, like interrupted sleep, doesn’t always turn out quite as planned. Maybe I actually paint more today… maybe I don’t. I can’t tell from this perspective, right here, quite yet.

I pause my writing to put on my painting playlist – maybe music will get me re-engaged in this piece? I put out peanuts and bird seed and sit with my coffee for a few minutes, on my meditation cushion, seated in front of the patio door. Waiting. Watching. Breathing.

Visitors come and go. I sip my coffee and enjoy the moment.

The washing machine clunks to a stop. I get up to move the clean wash into the dryer, still unclear where the day will take me. Feeling rather less inspired that I felt at the end of the evening, last night. I’m neither disappointed nor unhappy; it was a great day in the studio yesterday, and the day, today, is far from over. I just don’t know what the day ahead will hold. What it looks like, from here, may be very different than the day I look back on. Best not to set myself up for failure by imagining the day too clearly or specifically, or falling into the trap of becoming so invested in one outcome, that no other can satisfy. lol

I consider the day, and this moment, here. I decide to begin again.