Happy New Year everyone! Wow. 2013. How can that even be? The holidays have come and gone with gatherings and guests to celebrate the season. We had much music in the house…
… and we were granted our winter wish for snow a few times over the break from work and school schedules. Of course we took full advantage of this.
The kids were granted an exceptionally long seeming break this year which has led to what feels like enough space for the obligatory seasonal activities, as well as some much needed down time, among other things… One of them had her wisdom teeth out the other day, while the other is going through the proverbial tooth-pulling of the college application process. Neither of these things is for the parental faint of heart.
Amidst all of this seasonal din and down time, I’ve managed to spend the better part of the last few days combing thru dozens of old sketchbooks and journals for a project I have due later this winter. This is some work that I have been sketching and ruminating upon, but that has taken me through a rabbit warren of notions and ideas before becoming only recently, quasi-workable. Even so, art work is a liquid thing and I can only attempt to capture it, best I can with vessels and tools at hand.
I am not sure what caused things to chink into place with this project (or even if I trust that they truly have!). Maybe it’s the availability of some time to move at my own pace, time to write in my book and look around at my world as an observer.
As I looked over literally years of work in my sketchbooks, it dawned on me how dry this past year was for me in many ways. On the one hand, I worked a great deal - the Taos trip, puppets, concertinas… the list goes on. But very little Art Work really. At least not the soul-feeding, vulnerable, juicy stuff I have normally cultivated. There are probably a number of reasons for this. First, the work that is getting done takes a good bit of time and energy, which I recognize. But I believe there is some self sabotage in there too. I’ve written in the past about the complicated relationship I have with my art school experience, with Art (capital A) in general, for that matter. I have not shown much of my own work in a gallery setting since graduating. The work I have shown has often been fraught with grief processing that I may never complete. Over the years, both during and after art school, I have often been paralyzed with anxieties and insecurities surrounding my own processes and products. Are they good enough? Are they original enough? are they… Enough?
What does it mean to create something? What place does originality play in art these days where everything, from movies to music, seems re-purposed, re-cycled, re-processed into whatever’s cool at the moment. And ‘cool’. That’s a whole other concept that I don’t understand nor have ever fit into. And instead of working more to figure all this out I think I have been in somewhat of a lock down mode. Working on surface things like my day jobs. Conveniently not sketching as much as I might normally. Or forgetting to blog as much – at least in a deep, vulnerable way that I have in the past.
But while this is all the case, it is also the case that I continue to be a part of a community of artists who buoy me up and light my way as I chart these waters. One of them pointed me in the direction of this book:
With advice such as this:
suddenly, I am not so worried about feeling like a phony artist. Or one who is something other than original. This is an earth shattering book for someone who nursed at the bosom of insecurity and anxiety in school – grade school thru art school. It tastes a bit like freedom. At the end of the day, no one owns oil paint, or the art of quilting or embroidery. Or watercolors. We all can have our own voice in these media (and beyond!!) if we just give it a shot. The hilarious thing is, I teach this! I know this stuff on an intellectual level. And yet…. I can fall into the lint trap of avoidance when I get to feeling small. It’s a sneaky thing, smallness.
I feel like I have stepped through a door just recently….
And I am fortunate that on the other side of this door, there are those with a light to light my way down the rabbit hole…
And down the rabbit hole I go. I’m exploring an old fairy tale that I have pondered for ages, that of the Selkie. As it turns out, I have a ton of stuff in my old sketchbooks that have given me a new avenue for exploration and I am excited to see what reconfiguring these old thoughts and drawings will come to. There will be a painting or two and perhaps some newly dug up artifacts of a soulful creature that has been looking for her place in the world.
I look forward to sharing these with you on this blog and just blogging more deeply in general. I’ve taken recently to bite sized updates on the twitter and facebook feeds which is fine here and there, but lacks depth over time. I thoroughly enjoy reading the blogs I keep up with and want to continue adding my voice to that rich tapestry of words and experience. Speaking of other blogs, I will be sponsoring one of my favorite blogs 6512 and Growing this winter. I love Rachel’s writing on motherhood and gardening – her art is LIFE!! I look forward to getting to know some of her readers out there in the Great West.
Anyway, as my mom says, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. For now at least. The new year seems to have broken me open. I am grateful for it. Peace to you and yours in 2013. Let’s keep each other posted!