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,