With a new year it is naturally time for reflection- I pause to be thankful for all that I have and all the great people in my life and I consider what changes need to be made for the year ahead. Between Christmas and New Year’s, I took time off from work to be “an artist” again and in such a small amount of time so much happened.
In the studio, I finished one piece, started multiple others, and did other maintenance such as photographing works and keeping up with social media. All was going well, I was a machine for a purpose and then… the sickness that I felt creeping up on me finally made its move. I could say that’s my luck but I know enough about the body to know that I was a ticking time bomb waiting happen. I had been tired for weeks and kept pushing the boundaries knowing there was a week of solitude in my future. So of course the second I shut down the engines, my immune system screamed “that’s it, I’m taking a break too”.
When I say being a “real artist” for a week, it feels a bit off-putting, but what I mean by this is- finding time to create is a challenge for me. It’s not for lack of want because it is something I do need. I’m really not quite myself if I haven’t made it to the studio, however if it was more feasible I’d be creating every day but unfortunately the bills need to be paid and the work that actually creates that currency needs to be completed so my mind/body are constantly fighting to endure.
Which brings me to say it’s not quite accurate to consider that a “real artist” is someone who works day after day in solitude at their studio. In fact, at least within my small circle of the world, most of us hold multiple jobs and/or work in the art field doing something of equal value that occupies most of our time. It’s not easy to juggle so many things or manage so many things you are so equally invested in. You get into a routine where you work to create and create to actually live.
Being so, my first couple days of freedom required a large adjustment period.
I forgot how to manage my time so freely- I realized my studio practice became similar to my track workouts: it was scheduled, exercises where planned out to produce specific results, and I had a goal to complete. Since I lost the ability to more slowly meander about, I forgot what it felt like to have time.
Over the course of the week, I remembered how much time everything takes. I spent hours doing the most seemingly small tasks- cutting paper = 3 hours, moving paper = 3 hours, gluing components together = 30-45 minutes, and just thinking all the steps through = infinite amount of hours. I started some photo dairies just to keep track of the expanse of time that shifted to even prove to myself I was accomplishing anything because that was the next obstacle I had to endure. Having so much time, I needed to not stress about what could be easily misconstrued as wasting time. I had to let go of how precious I was making it.
The stress of having more time is a result of creativity often coming with many costs, because it's rather difficult to juggle creativity with real life. Creativity is such a personal space to dive into. It is a plane of existence that suspends time and seemingly defies the properties of physical space- the best way I could describe it to a non-artistic folk is it’s like sleeping- you remember some of it, other times not, dreams are sometimes good, some bad, and then you wake up.
I often feel a bit overwhelmed because I care about the work I do, I care about the people I am around, and I need to be creating for my own sanity. The studio is a place where I can peacefully exist- it is a space that I actually allow myself to feel vulnerable in, that’s why I am so protective of my time there. It's important to feel vulnerable in the studio space because you have to be an open vessel and willing to let it all in...good ideas, bad ideas, hopes, fears, all of it. My best work appears after a series of struggles and mistakes because I learn from all of it and I am a better person and artist for it.
Needless to say in many ways my week off was successful because I endured these artist fears. My body broke down and it’s going to take some time to recover but it does remind me of my limits and that’s something I’ll continue to work on. It also reminded me (not that I had forgotten) along with last week's amazing opening at Samantha’s Café of all the great people I have in my life rooting for me. I’m certainly rich with a great family and amazing friends, I cannot say that enough. The second I fell ill my phone blew up with offerings of support and for the opening I had people come from all over the region to support me (and Samantha’s). One of the biggest rewards is the love for the artworks just keeps coming. After a night like last week's opening, though I still have some obstacles to overcome, everyone’s support certainly helps me believe that much more I can make it (whatever it is).
Perspective is a word I’ll continue to whisper to myself over the course of this year, breathe is another we’ll see what happens.