Finding myself already counting down to our next vacation. On vacation in new countries I don't expect to know anybody and don't have the chance to feel bad. Here in England when I go out and am around people it is the worst because at home I know people back home through online. But out there I know nobody. Feeling alone in a crowd feels like a horrible party every time I go out of the house. It rarely bothers me I'm so busy and preoccupied with making art and growing my skills and business, but when it does ouch! Summer might me difficult for me.
Learning how to be a regular blogger is hard for me. While I believe it is worth doing, as a visual person I often struggle with the format. Instagram on the other hand is easy for me to love. Sharing my words with an audience isn't so easy, but sharing pictures with few or no words needed is almost too easy. Thanks for following me on Instagram, if you haven't already you are missing out on a bunch of cool stuff over there!
Spring sprung a few weeks ago here in Oxford, or so I thought before it got cold and grey for an extended period of time. Today marks the first official day of spring and the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. Hurrah!
Lately I have been too preoccupied to clean up at the end of each creative session. They blend into each other and there is a mess growing in my art studio. The art studio that is getting packed up and moved across the ocean next week. A little mess is okay with me as long as I keep creating. So far 2015 is off to a great start. I am excited about where my art is going to take me.
After months off this Morning Pages writing is extremely effective at opening up my mind and generating blog topics and content. Getting through a month of daily blog posting for #nanoblopomore would probably be a failure already if I didn't start up Morning Pages in late October. I came up with three rough drafts just this morning for me to expand on later. I love it! This leads me to believe that I should find a way to make Morning Pages work for me year round and not just during the dark and cold winter months. If I want to keep blogging and I do then I need to write more or my mind will just be visual. The visual is obviously super important but adding text to my visual thoughts and journey and being able to express myself with words is pretty important for eventual success.
When I got out of the habit of writing morning pages I moved over to sketching in the morning. Turns out doing a controlled drawing like a mandala early in the morning is a good way to wake up and get my hand eye coordination started. But my thoughts suffered and in turn my blog suffered without my Morning Pages. So I am back to writing then again in the morning. Summer is pretty great for that as we simply have more time and are not so rushed in the morning. So I write then I draw and sometimes I draw then I write. And I avoid email and social media until I am done, often I wait much longer. And my day is set up and started in a positive productive manner.
Making lists again. Love having paper on my desk so I can write down whatever comes to mind whenever it comes to mind. Pens are never in short supply in my studio. It is on my list of things that are currently working for me. Taking stock of what is working and what I need to work harder on. Each thing that has made it into the first column has taken time to become habit. I didn't used to write every morning, blogging used to be a huge chore with month long breaks in between posts and it used to take me a year to fill a sketchbook. My goal for the next few weeks is to pick one thing from the Find Time For column and move it to the What Works column. Thinking either Etsy or Exercise or maybe focusing on Gratitude. Do you make lists? What is on your lists?
Mornings are hard. I thought they would get easier when the days started out sunny and warm but so far it is even harder to get to the work and I need to be even more disciplined. I still very much want to sleep in until 7 or later and writing my morning pages snuggled in the cozy warm bed is no longer very appealing. I got out of the habit of writing Morning Pages and I think my blog suffered and I suffered as a result. Now I am working to get back into it and establish a new routine and new location for my morning work. Only to have that all change in two weeks when the girls are both out of school for the summer! My mornings will remain basically the same this summer and in a way be easier since there will be no rush to pack lunches and get dressed in the morning. We will be keeping very busy but not rushing out of the house at 8am kind of busy. I put down some scrap paper on my desk this weekend and started taking notes on it. Really great system. Protects my desk and I always have something to write on. Those rolls of paper from IKEA are going to get a lot more use now! Morning pages, blogging, warm-up sketches before I check my email or get on Facebook.
We came home from our vacation a day early so we would all have more time to recover before school, work, travel and chores take over our lives again. That is one of the advantages of driving. It paid off and I have a plan to take off running in the studio on Monday with no pressure on myself to do anything other than draw in my sketchbook before my core hours start. Then come Monday after getting the girls to school I will be on the clock working. It will be a week of streamlined schedules and hopefully learning how to be more efficient as a family and as an artist. Making time work for me instead of against me.
- Wakeup 6am to beat Charlotte
- Morning Pages + Blog
- Light Breakfast
- School Drop Off*
- Core Hours 10 - 12
- Lunch + Social Media
- Preschool Pickup
- Play or nap
- Alex Pickup
- Girls' Bedtime 8:30
- Read, draw and relax
- Bed by 10pm
Having some sort of daily ritual may be the most important part of the creative process. It took some time to actually figure out what works for me. With my eldest in school full time until late in the afternoon and my youngest in preschool until after lunch 4 days a week I have those four days to work. Twice a week I need to drive out to the burbs in the morning for an appointment, but I am able to bring more portable work with me and I don't lose much productive time outside the driving time. The daily ritual mostly stays intact.
- Coffee + Morning Pages
- Light Breakfast
- School Dropoff
- Exercise/ stretching/walking/biking/activity
- Studio Core Hours
- Lunch/ Social Network
- Preschool Pickup
After the preschool pickup I am try to squeeze art or reading in whenever possible but I can't schedule it in. Some days are better than others and it is important to wake up each morning with a fresh perspective. That is where the Morning Pages become so useful. When I wake up in a funk I can often write myself out of the negativity and salvage my mood. So many days I wake up without a plan about what I am going to make and I just get going and something happens.
Ten frightening lies that mask the truth that I am scared of failure and I often use that as an excuse to not act. Too bad that doesn't work. I keep this carefully hand lettered list posted in my art studio so I can confront it every day while I am working instead of merely listen to the whispers in my head. It is still hard, but I have reasons to keep going and I will never succeed if I don't try. Maybe someday I will start crossing off the items, or tear up the list or burn it. But for now it sits taped up by my desk next to a more encouraging list. Together they help keep me striving and pushing through the stalls that happen all the time.
These collagraph plates are the start of a failure. I worked hard cutting out these shapes last week but what I didn't take into account was the lines from the corrugated cardboard printing in a very distracting pattern. Nothing to be done but reuse the prints for some other purpose, trash the plates and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience. It is upsetting and very frustrating. I get discouraged and a little depressed about it. Being a beginner and learning is hard but so important. The well tread safe route rarely (never) leads to breakthroughs. In honor of my artistic growth and change I am currently offering all my older prints at a discount on Etsy. Get them while they are still around. Keep doing the work through the problem and come out on the other side better off for the struggle. Can't say that about every painful experience in life.
Feeling some artistic anxiety as I work on this project with Alex and work on this blog. I need to get another blog post up today and I am out of rough drafts to post from. Anxiety about the work and figuring out the next step on this exciting inspired project. Been thinking about my church and their annual Leap of Faith leading up to Easter. The whole idea is that I focus on prayer and fasting for something rather specific. In the past it has been health, pregnancy and other more vague prayers and I have given up a variety of foods, TV and the ever popular Facebook. Some years I have been more devoted to the fasting and prayer and others I have not. A few years I have sat the whole thing out completely. Usually my personal results seem to tie in to my level of commitment. This time around I am giving up complaining and worry. Worrying about the art business and complaining in general. Just do the work and keep going as The War of Art advises. Good advice.And what I am praying for is to see a path of success with my art for it to be more than just a hobby business.
We even draw together in waiting rooms. I have started bringing materials with us whenever we go out. We are both having such a blast working on art together. There is not enough time. This princess sure looks friendly and I like her earrings.
Keep going. Over and over again. Thanks Ira Glass for the stellar advice and encouragement. A week into the hard focused work and it is already paying off. Of course I already knew this from my own life experience and from books I have read like The Artist's Way and The War of Art. It is so obvious that even my little kids do it. They are always working hard and practicing every skill that they know new and old over and over again. I leave out a scrap of paper and my eldest writes and draws all over it. She can't help herself. But adult me still forget and needs a fresh reminder from time to time. Now I am finding ideas that I didn't have two weeks ago are suddenly coming out of apparent thin air. I can feel my brain working better. Sticking to my Core Hours and working is begetting more energy and more ideas to work with. Planning ahead for summer and fall.
Paper is my big hoarder collection. I have piles of it that I either made or collected over the years. Thankfully it doesn't take up too much space, but keeping it orderly is another issue. Among the art that I have made on paper and the scraps of art I have various art papers. The most special to me are the washi papers. I mostly use them in my sketchbooks these days where a little washi highlight can go a long way. So beautiful.
Big changes are in the work for next fall when my littlest goes off to preschool four full days a week. But this month she is starting preschool four mornings a week and that is the perfect amount of change for right now. So lucky to have the rest of this winter and spring to ease into everything. And four mornings is just enough for me to give myself the gift of work. Morning meetings with myself contained within my daily Morning Pages, followed by walking both kids to school together. Then I have about an hour to run any errands or get a coffee or do some laundry before I start my core hours in the studio with my printmaking apron on at ten and work until lunchtime at noon. Then it is time to pick the littlest one up at school. Two hours four days a week is sounding pretty fabulous after six years of cobbling time together and never having enough time to tackle the big projects.
It's been a few months since I worked on art for myself. How did that happen? Why the delay? No more of that thank you. This is a busy week for me but I have this morning free so I carve. Resistance won November and December, but it will not be taking my January. Not anymore. Springlike weather has me wanting to print and to print I need to finish carving this block and it isn't going to carve itself sitting on a shelf.
Last week I took myself out to a local gallery. The children were having a meltdown after school so I fed them and gave them a bath and as soon as my husband got home I cleaned myself up a little bit and headed out the door. The Morning Pages that I write thanks to The Artist's Way have proven themselves to be an invaluable tool. But they have been the only part of the book that I have done with any consistently. I haven't even finished half the book. And I have always been terrible about taking time for myself and going out and having small children has only encouraged that tendency since by the end of the day I am usually so tired. But I got an email that local friend Quemby M Bucklaew was having an opening there I made the time to go. Getting out the door was not easy and neither was talking to the gallery owner and giving him one of my ATCs but it did not kill me. In fact I had a pretty good time and think I should make time to go to more things like this around the area. This is a time to treat myself that I struggle with but must do more often.
Forming good habits and routines and sticking with them is always a challenge when life seems to be pulling you in a million different direction. You tell yourself that the early morning ritual of writing Morning Pages and being productive before the sun rises is for people that don't have a family that includes young children. That your children rise at 5am on a regular basis and you are far to busy to nurture yourself with regular Artist Dates while caring for your family. The same goes for regular dates with your partner the excuses to skip dates and focus on the children exclusively is all too tempting and easy to fall into. The problem with these excuses is that everybody has them and it is a choice to fall for them or push through them. Not everybody is in the trenches of parenthood with small children but everybody is busy and everybody has time constraints. Some periods in life are harder than others so maybe the date nights will be on a smaller scale or at home with the TV off just engaging in conversation and the Artist Dates may just be a walk in the woods or getting a latte in the morning after dropping the kids off at school. But it is important to keep these habits up as best I can and just keep on writing, keep on creating and keep nurturing myself, my artist and my relationship. Take the time to look up at my surroundings and notice the beauty that is all around and how truly lucky I am.