Finding the Work / Life Balance

Greetings from Missouri Bend Studio! In my last post, I mentioned that I was going back to work full-time, so two weeks later, I'm here to report on progress keeping up the work/life balance that so many of us struggle with. My new job requires a steep learning curve, which pretty much zapped my energy the first week, but I'm catching on to things now (slowly!) so I've turned my attention back to the idea of figuring out my time in the studio. I don't think I want to put the pressure on myself to require that I spend any significant time there during the work week, but I've found the daily practice is still pretty essential at some level. Those few moments of meditative drawing keep me balanced and bring a bit of satisfaction and rhythm to my day. It's also a way of marking time and being present in the moment.

Daily drawing, March 24, 2018

Daily drawing, March 24, 2018

So, the latest incarnation of the daily drawings, which I took up again yesterday after a couple of weeks without doing them, are slightly smaller than at 5" x 4". I think I will try to make the drawing each day, but perhaps wait until the end of the week to dip them in the beeswax, which I can do in a batch. That kind of workflow feels more manageable and allows me to keep up some measure of the rhythm of a daily practice. Yesterday's drawing is above and the one from earlier today is below. As with all the others, these will find their way into MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.

Daily drawing, March 25, 2018

Daily drawing, March 25, 2018

I also want to have other drawings going on in the studio, which I can work on as time allows, especially on the weekends. After a disappointing attempt in the studio last weekend, I'm happy to report that things are moving forward again as of yesterday. I've finished up a couple pieces that had gotten started, which I've sort of hallmarked as a new series called Impromptus. Each one was a struggle to find the flow and finally came together when I let go (the lesson I must learn over and over and over again!!!) and let the drawing be what it wanted to be. 

There are as many different ways of working as there are people making art...and no one way is right or wrong. I strongly believe we each have our own way of working, along with our own inner language and sense of mark-making. I think my work is always stronger and more satisfying for me when I let my inner creative loose on the page. Play....that's the secret! When we are playing (something we adults have forgotten how to do, oftentimes) we aren't thinking about what move to make next....we just and in the moment, in a full expression of ourselves. When I am in that state, as I finally was when Impromptu no.1 & no. 2 came to fruition this weekend (after much gnashing of teeth, believe me!) we are most ourselves and are making the work that only we can make. 

Yet, I am not without those pesky doubts that lurk quietly in the corner recesses. "These drawings are just goofy scribbles," that inner critic chides...."what does it mean?" the voice badgers. "Shouldn't you be trying to say something communicate on some topic of importance?" It goes on and probably know those voices. But there is a louder voice....the one that doesn't seem to speak in English (insert your own language here) but projects a kind of knowing and joy and satisfaction....and... enjoyment....and fun, yes fun. I think these drawings are fun....they make me happy and I hope they bring some happiness to least a smile!

Off to the office for me tomorrow....but I'll carry the joy and creative spirit of the studio with me. Hope you do too, wherever you go. Thanks for stopping by!


The Index of Days

Welcome to February! I've had a busy week in the studio and I'm going through the white paint, that's for sure! As our winter wonderland of white began to melt and evaporate, I noticed in my drives to town, that naturally more and more of the other colors in the landscape were reappearing. As readers might remember from my first post of the year in which I stated my desire to be more observant, I've been trying to do just that as I go out into the world....notice and pay attention. Sometimes little vignettes of the landscape take my breath away....sometimes it is color....or shape, or line. So, even as I worked on a couple more pieces in the Winter White series (see below), I was struck by the warm golden yellow of the grasses peaking up through what was left of the snow banks. Or that hedge of rich red in the dogwood bushes I would see here and there. My commute into town takes me along the golf course where an amazing willow tree holds forth majestically, with delicate lines and a most luscious golden yellow. And all that evergreen....and the umber browns against the snow and the soft blue gray of the distant bluffs....well, I was overwhelmed. 

And then somewhere, in the New York Times I believe, some image of people gathering hemp, that also took my breath away and it began to occur to me that all those things I saw and nearly wept over during the previous days, along with the things I'd read, the conversations I'd had, and everything else I'd seen and done, had become some kind of repository inside me. And I understood that, for me, the creative process, is one of accessing all that stored memory....and maybe the pieces are akin to mnemonic devices, of a sort.

I'd finished up the fourth and fifth in the Winter White Series and decided I'd break the ice on a couple of unfinished pieces on the same paper that had been staring me in the face for a couple of years. Perhaps you know the kind....those careful works you've spent countless hours on, yet remain dull and lifeless....and now lay abandoned.

The two pieces above were made using those two old drawings as a base. They were already divided in half, like a book page, and that notion of the book, along with everything I'd been thinking about, combined to lead me to create the pieces above. As I began to let go of the preciousness of the work I'd put in on those pages, the series title announced itself to me....Index of Days. What if you could capture memories in a way that would point to a conversation, or a thought you had....or an image you'd seen? If you could create some sort of index? What if you really let go and let your hand move across the page, following your instincts and wouldn't that inner repository of memory know just what to do to create the index? Maybe you wouldn't be able to articulate everything that came out, but you would recognize it as something interior, something that once resided in you and now was there to communicate with the world. Maybe others could access your index to find their way into their own interior.

I recognize a number of things in these pieces....the reference to the wispy red and ochre lines of those beautiful winter grasses rising up out of the ground and through the snow banks. I recognize the gingko leaf as a marker of memory and I traced it from a cut-out gingko leaf that lays on the corner of my desk. I recognized the reference to that rich hemp I saw momentarily, which reminded me once again of the grasses....the grasses that I love in the landscape here. And that spot of aqua....that was the color of the river I glimpsed briefly as I rounded the curve on the road back home.

Before I knew it, those old cast-off drawings had become enlivened....they reignited my interest in palimpsest as a metaphor for the richness of memory in the overlay of our accumulating days.

So, while the Winter White series will continue in some fashion, especially when we get the next snow that transforms our land, the Index of Days is an outgrowth of that series. As the snow melted and the edges of the landscape began to be seen again, there were new inspirations and a new kind of seeing. I'm excited by the release I felt when I finally let go of those drawings in limbo....letting go of the preciousness and trusting in my hands and heart.

The work I make is never planned....the work that sees the light of day, that is. My work comes from an interior place and the lesson to be learned over and over again, is the need to trust our own wisdom. 

So! As we move into February, I thought I'd have a bit of a sale over at Missouri Bend Studio....a kind of Art for the Heart sale....10% off in my shop to entice you to give a gift of original art to someone you love. Everything is on sale through February 15th. I'll be back here before then, but it's not to early to think about Valentines Day! 

Also, please remember you can always sign up for my monthly newsletter, which goes out the first of each month....I'm off to finish up the February issue right now. You can find the link on the About Us page of the website or by clicking here.

Enjoy your weekend. Cheers!