Art & Quarantine

In a recent email I was sharing my thoughts on how this year has gone from my standpoint as an artist and decided it also might make a good blog post. I want to preface my thoughts by saying that I am blessed! I am healthy, my family is healthy, we are not in a food or financial crisis and realize that this pandemic has had devastating consequences for many families and countries. My situation is probably one of the easiest to be in – just stay home and keep to myself! But I know even those of us that are only required to do that, it has been a major shift in our daily life.

When it finally happened – the last of all the events on my schedule was cancelled and all the galleries were closed I felt more than a little lost. First, to be completely honest, I mourned a bit. An empty calendar looming is hard to reconcile at first. I was heading into what had appeared to be a great year – I had big art events scheduled, new and old, had joined a new gallery, with a paid residency to look forward to and within a couple of weeks it had all disappeared and was replaced by a heavy layer of fear hanging in the air. I didn’t know what to do, so I shut down and did absolutely nothing! After a week or so of sitting on the couch wallowing in a bit of self pity, I finally returned to the studio and began completing the work in progress that was for upcoming shows. It seemed like a waste of time, there was no reason to push myself to complete the art now. It was slow going, with low enthusiasm but, looking back, I’m glad I continued. Eventually there will be shows again and I’ll be ready! After that I took care of some “business” things that I don’t always enjoy but had plenty of time to get off of my to-do list. Redesigned business cards, overhaul the website, cancel upcoming classes, post on my blog, re-write my artist statement and updating my resume were among the mundane chores that I finished.

Throughout this time Spring was finally beginning to show its face, hiding here and there among the dead winter leaves and bare trees. I walk daily, often multiple time, outdoors in the woods and around the fields – observing the changes, taking photographs and just absorbing the peaceful calm of nature. It’s probably been the most grounding experience during all of this. Although I am one to enjoy the coming of spring and signs of new life (I admit I am a wildflower geek!) this year it seemed to hold an even greater promise. When I was feeling that I was just trapped in time there was evidence that life would go on, and actively looking for it was both a good distraction and a great joy.

After a few weeks I returned to the empty calendar and looked at it again, with fresh eyes. It didn’t seem as empty now, it was full of possibilities. All those “one of these days” things we all talk about? Well, now was the time. I sorted through half-finished projects and completed or discarded them so they no longer took up space in my studio or my mind. I cleaned and organized the studio (not that you could tell it now!). I carved many new stamps and used them on scrap papers, then painted more scrap papers with vibrant colors – all added to my stash of papers I can choose from when I decide to collage next. When all else fails, on particularly rough days, I continue to do small slices of creative work in my art journals. I began an online class that I had purchased last year and, most likely, wouldn’t have ever slowed down long enough to sit and learn. That led to inspiration of more new creativity. and I just signed up for another class!

The days have begun to finally flow in a slow, comfortable rhythm that includes outdoor time, reading, learning, working in the studio and “daily life” activities. I am also taking better care of myself – exercise, full nights of sleep, cooking delicious meals, soaking in the tub and just being more aware of what my body wants and needs. In the meantime the calendar will begin to fill. A few events have set re-scheduled dates. I’ve discovered some virtual opportunities to participate in. I’ve been blessed with grants from the Indiana Arts Council and a couple of small commissioned projects so I can pay the bills and keep myself supplied in paints and materials. For now, I’m going to take advantage of this slow time.

How have you dealt with the last few months? Are you feeling confident of the future or cautious? I think I waiver between the two, especially if I am exposed to the media for any length of time! Then I need to retreat – into a book, into the studio, into some music or into the woods. I hope you have found your retreats and are able to use them when needed – love & blessing to you!

Your randomly creative friend,

Lynne

IDEAS 2.0

I am going through and updating, deleting and generally spiffing up my blog. After 800+ posts and seven years, I’m sure this is past due! Thanks to the fabulous Alyson Stanfield and her Art Biz Blog for the prompt! I’m guessing no one needs to see old announcements about upcoming classes and shows that happened years ago so those will be the first things to go. In the meantime I’m revisiting a lot of posts that I’d forgotten about.

When I ran across this one I knew I wanted to share it again and knew exactly what images I wanted to match with it! When I posted this original poem in 2008 I hadn’t yet reach a stage in my blogging adventures to even know how to add images along with the words. Which ended up working perfectly because I hadn’t yet created these digital drawings.  I don’t share much of my poetry, this is the only one that made it to the blog and, as perhaps you might notice, I’m not necessarily in my happy place when I write it. I can’t recall ever feeling so happy I just had to write a poem about it! 🙂 During this one I was feeling creatively blocked as well as struggling with some life issues that wanted to overwhelm me. I’m glad I’m not in that place anymore! When I re-read it today I relate it more to the wintertime and all the things laying dormant under the snow waiting to be released into the sunshine to grow and flourish. I’m more than ready for that to happen as I gaze out the window at all the whiteness surrounding us today!

Lynne

"anomoly" digital drawing © Lynne Medsker
“anomoly” digital drawing © Lynne Medsker

Fragile shoots of creative inspiration creeping from between the cracks 
in monotonous everyday life. Some struggle tenaciously for existence 
most wither quickly, life choked from them suffocating in the climate 
they were born.
Those that endure the harsh beginning required to grow without nourishment, 
pushing past smothering layers of daily tedium. Cautiously they proceed, 
death waiting, grasping, determined to wedge them under layers 
of unimaginativeness.
Scarcely any will survive the journey despite their most valiant efforts. 
Their route chaotic with sights & smells. The dead, decaying predecessors 
strewn recklessly along the way. A frightening path, even for the resolute.
Struggling to outrun the stench of failure the most resilient push forward, 
hoping that the next layer, or perhaps the next, will release them from 
this nightmare. Slowly, tentatively they surface, grasping their 
hard earned freedom.
Fresh air & sun caresses them and, though they are few, they sprout 
and blossom a furious riot of brilliant colors. A kaleidoscope 
of leaves and blossoms fed from the flesh of dead ancestors 
lying beneath the uncaring layers of life.
Tiny seeds drop working their way slowly down below the tiers 
of dullness and predictability, dormant. Waiting in dream-laced limbo. 
Flashes of life-giving inspiration ignite them, 
beginning another perilous journey upward toward the warm, inviting rays.

"below the surface" digital drawing © Lynne Medsker
“below the surface” digital drawing © Lynne Medsker