Friday, November 25, 2011

seeing through the leaves

Near our house is a great walk up a canyon that parallels a small creek. Despite frequent strolls up its path, on a recent trip the surroundings all looked new to me. I realized that the fallen leaves had revealed what was usually hidden. Immediately the walk that was so familiar to me became something new.

It is so easy to get caught up in a routine. Many of us are most comfortable with knowing exactly what is around the corner. Of course we know that fall is coming, and then prepare ourselves for winter, and clean up for spring. However seasons offer a time of change, something new. My daughter never lets me know what is around the corner. She presents new challenges and successes every day. Not quite as timely however, like seasons, she is always changing.

This year, the coming of fall decidedly brought a new attitude on my life as a mother and artist. It stretched blank canvases for a new body of work. It cleaned up my studio, posted ideas on the wall and helped me nestle in to what the next few months, the next season, had to offer. I am looking forward to what I will see through the leaves.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

fear of falling

The creative process is tricky. Unlike so many things in our lives: seasons, schedules, calendars, systems, it is completely unpredictable. Creativity comes unexpected and sometimes even uninvited.

My daughter's nap schedule (although often absent) is the bane of my existence. Although I feel obliged to say that I love EVERY minute I spend with my daughter, I will not withhold the the fact that I look forward to "nap time." Not only does the nap serve as a time for me to catch my breath, maybe grab a cup of tea and a snack, but it is also the time for me to head on up to the studio and make a few marks. The minute there is quiet on the monitor, is like hearing the referee to say "GO!" at the starting line.

But then comes this sickness in my stomach. Oh gosh, I must create, NOW. Hurry up, think of something, make, fast, do, succeed. Oh yes, that is where it gets really tricky. Not only do I expect to make a few marks on the canvas, but I must succeed: finish: cross off one thing on the to-do list. I want to apply for this show, send one to that gallery, sell to these people.

This is a common struggle for many creative people. After one success, another is expected immediately following and then another. But one thing I have learned as an artist is that you MUST fall, you MUST take a bad fall in order to progress towards something better.

My daughter, now 11 months old, just started crawling. For months I thought she was on the verge; hands and knees, rocking back and forth. But I could see that she was fearful of falling and now the same is happening with walking. She fearfully reaches out to make sure BOTH my hands are there before taking her first step. Sometimes caution and fear need to be left behind to take that first step.

what to expect, when you have expectations

After my daughter was born, I created a whole host of ideas, goals, and expectations of what my life as an artist and mother would be like. Being the type A person that I am, I had always tried to control everything in my life in the past, why not continue? Well, that to-do list of expectations, ideas and goals still exists. It haunts my every day existence. Maybe today I will finish a painting and apply for that show, or maybe not.

Frustration starts seeping in. That to-do list lingering. I used to be so PRODUCTIVE. Now my productivity is changing diapers, making food, cleaning up after messes. And where does my art making fit in?

I remind myself of how important this moment is. The one I will never get back. The day she first crawls, says "da-da," points to "da-da." Without expectations, I try to ease into whatever it is the day brings me, whether or not it allows for time in the studio. I try and trust that my art making will fit in where it can.

In the past I always found that non-attachment to productivity works best in the studio. Sometimes just showing up is the most important step. Likewise, I showed up the day I conceived having no clue as to what (really) to expect. And here we are.

Being a parent is completely unpredictable. No matter how many books you read and suggestions you accept your child will be different. Much like my process of art making, there is only so much you can control. But maybe that is where the excitement lies.