Artists have a reputation for being temperamental, sensitive, and volatile, and I have been doing nothing whatsoever to help quell that stereotype lately.
After spending the month of July happily wandering around my old stomping grounds of London and Paris, I returned to the US and jumped straight into a hectic teaching schedule for the whole of August, things were go, go, go, I had no time to stop and think about anything, no time for self evaluation or sentimental reminiscence. Thank goodness.
Then came September.
My summer camp was over, the kids started school, and I decided to give myself a week’s rest. Bad idea. I started being a mopey mess of introspection. All of a sudden, I was flooded by a thousand quietly worried thoughts.
“what exactly am I doing here? I miss Europe. I should live in a city, it’s too quiet. This isn’t conducive to being an artist, there are no people to talk to here, why is it always so hot? I don’t like working from home, I need a studio space with real humans in it. Ugh, the presidential race is so depressing; what is the world coming to?” I could go on, and I did, but I won’t write it all down here.
I don’t want to make light of these thoughts and feelings, they are based on genuine concerns that I have. I am working through many of these issues, and making changes in my lifestyle to help myself. However, I find that inactivity rarely helps my state of mind. I’m always more content when I am busy, and when I am busy, I find ways of working through my problems. It is the inbetween times when I am left to my own devices for too long (just after the camps, just before the Fall fairs) that can magnify these thoughts, and dip me into a downward spiral. The trick, I’ve been told, is to recognize when this is happening and stop it (easier said than done, mate).
However, I think now that I’m forty, I’m finally beginning to gain a little maturity. No really, this time around I managed to nip the negativity in the bud! I like to share, so I’m going to share my very mature (stop laughing) healing process with you. You are welcome.
The Healing Process
Cleanse and Detox:
I cleaned out my house, purged it all of all useless and undesirable articles, moved things around, and made more space for me to work in. So satisfying, and pleasing to the rest of my clan. Very upsetting to the trash removal guys. Sorry!
After teaching a camp on Yayoi Kusama, I had been itching to do a big drawing on canvas. I saw a photo of Yayoi sitting at a huge canvas and drawing organic patterns onto it with chunky pens, and it made me long to do the same. So, I bought a large canvas, and some Montana paint pens and started drawing without any real forethought or planning. I’m going to do a series of them. I work on this canvas whenever I need a little break from my printing. Giving into your instincts, and not having any other motive than pleasure when working on your art feels great.
I stopped dawdling, and threw myself into the printing. This year, I have signed up for more fairs than usual, so there is more to do. I’m leaning in, the theme for winter is penguins and snowscapes, and my house is overflowing with the little feathered creatures. Awww!
Keeping a journal:
At the end of each summer camp, I come home with a pile of scrap paper with ink blots, scribbles, and teeny tiny, unnoticeable smudges on (kids are so fussy!). This year, I’m incorporating them into my sketchbook. Almost every night, I choose a sheet of paper and turn whatever is on it into my own drawing, sort of like an artsy rorschach test. Sometimes I forget, and just draw on a new page. Whatever, I find it a great way of loosening up my inner art muscles and keeping myself from getting into a block. Also, it makes me happy and stops me from late night snacking.
Reconnecting with Nature
I stopped behaving like a mole, and forced myself outdoors more often. Sometimes I even convinced other people to be outdoors with me. Once, I got completely lost, but that is a story for another day.
Throw in a few bars of chocolate, a trip to the Renaissance fair, a few episodes of Stranger Things, a date night, a bottle of really weird cider, and some self chiding, and there you have it. Self healing. Voila. I really must be maturing -I love being forty.