Back Story – Fulfilling a Promise. Part Two

Heavens! I am freezing right now.  Did anyone else have another visit of winter this week?  I hope this is the last of it.  Before I could start writing I had to run water out to the chickens.  Theirs keeps freezing overnight and we bring it in to thaw in the morning then take it back out to them.  There may be a water warmer involved next winter!

If you just dropped in this week and need to catch up on my story, check out Part One.

So, here I find myself, 50 something, empty nest, new husband, new home, new community and down to only one job for the first time in at least a decade.  I have truly been a little bit lost for the past nine months with all the extra time on my hands.  You would think it would be an easy transition, but it has been a shock to my system.

Here is the real kicker.  After all these years of yearning for creative time, now that I have it, I feel guilty for indulging in it.  What the heck??  I no longer have kids here to put first for their survival, my husband is fine with my art time especially since he also now has time to enjoy his horses and other interests. I take care of all my design/print clients first every morning and we have adequate income.  Why do I feel guilty for taking the time to do what I have always wanted to do?  If you have answers, please fill me in.  I want this whole guilt thing GONE!

Are there other roadblocks to fulfilling a promise to myself?  Yes, indeedy.  Procrastination, that I’m pretty sure is another word for fear is one.  Right now I am fighting the urge to throw myself into two un-art related projects.  Those two projects did not show up until I committed to a big ‘ole, heavy duty art project (more on this below) this week.  Life in general also pretty regularly stops my artwork with family obligations and home/farm maintenance.  There is a reason that artists and writers and musicians run off to cabins in the woods with no phone or wifi.  Sometimes that is the only way the good work can get out. Constant starting and stopping interrupts necessary concentration and the work gets watered down from the original inspiration.

One more big hurdle to fulfilling my promise to myself is the simple fact that I don’t give myself the priority required.  It feels very selfish to put my own WANT (I would argue NEED) before so many of the other things listed above.  More than once I have said that girls of my generation were raised to be TOO NICE.  There I said it.  We were raised to put everyone and everything above ourselves.  It is ingrained throughout our cells and extremely difficult to erase or even temporarily lock away.  Hummm, I think this is related to that darn guilt thing.

Soooo, what have I been doing and/or going to do to fulfill my promise?  I started this process almost four years ago.  When my son (my youngest) pulled out of the driveway for his first year of college, I literally took over his room.  Yes, it seems cruel.  Yes, he reminds me of it occasionally, but I did it and he doesn’t seem too much the worst for it.  I set up three big tables and had my computer/work stuff on one, art supplies on another and sewing machine on the third.  For the past four years I have let myself play.  Not consistently, not with serious intent, but I have played.  I have tried out all sorts of creative endeavors in my attempt to find what I really like best and my “voice”.  I have made lots of messes, bad art, bad craft, some good art and good craft.

Now I feel like it is time to drill down.  Recently I read or heard (can’t give you the source because I don’t remember it) that it takes about ten years for an artist to find their “voice”, that thing that makes their work unique to them.  My sporadic art making over the last several decades should count as about one year total and add the past four years of playing around, I figure I’m five years in.  Now, I’m not getting any younger here and I have no guarantee that I could pull off a Grandma Moses by making it to 80 years old.  My butt needs to get to work.

I had been playing around with doing an extended daily project when I ran across The 100 Day Project. By now I know myself pretty well and I suspect that just left to my own devices, I would start out pretty strong on a personal project, but without some accountability, I would soon find excuses to skip days here and there and there and here until it fell apart.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have signed up for The 100 Day Project.  This is totally out of my comfort zone.  I have done a thirty day project, but the work was very small and thirty days is NOT 100 DAYS.  The project itself asks you to post on Instagram your daily project.  My plan is to do a daily 8 x 10 painting or drawing and also post on my Facebook page and offer the work for sale.

What do I expect out of this?  First, it takes what? Thirty days to ingrain a habit?  For me, one hundred days would be more likely.  I will have to follow through with this during THE busiest time of the year for us.  It starts April 4th, which is right after I finish Bee School (Did I mention Bee School?  I will come back to that in a later post.) on April 1st.  The garden starts going in mid-April and my bees arrive then as well.  My son graduates the first weekend in May.  Before he graduates and sends all his stuff home, I have to get the bedroom that I use as an office painted and rearranged to fit his furniture.  We will be out of town for his graduation so I have to figure out how to paint or draw while in the midst of family and celebration.  The 100 days does not end until mid-July.  Who knows what else will test my determination in that timeframe.

Second, the whole “voice” thing.  My unique style and interests cannot evolve without consistency.  I have not had consistency.  I have had stops and starts.  I am hoping to hone my skills, discover that uniqueness and what I want my art to say.  Big order!

Third, income.  Here is the honest truth to this art thing.  I HAVE to make stuff.  It is in my genes.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay for endless supplies or store all the stuff I make.  To support my habit/addiction I have to make some money to buy more supplies AND I would really like people to enjoy what I create.  I have given away many, many pieces of my work over the years and I like to do that, but it is not a self-sustaining process.  Art supplies are expensive and we are not wealthy people.  Animals have to eat around here as well as ourselves.  So, what I make on this project will be for sale and I am going to ramp it up a little with some advertising investment to see what happens.  My goal this year is to replace my income from my last PART-TIME position.  You got that, right?  Not outrageous expectations, but bigger than anything I have ever asked of myself before.

I think I have given you enough to read this week.  You have the link above if you would like to join The 100 Day Project.  I am not going to bombard this blog with my work every week during the project, but will let you know how it’s going.  I will post links to my Instagram and Facebook pages for you to check out.

If you want to go ahead and start following those here are the links.  I will be updating information on them in the next couple of weeks as I prepare for all this.

Instagram  and Facebook

I am off to prime canvas.  Have an awesome week!

 

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Back Story – Fulfilling a promise. Part One.

I don’t make promises lightly.  I take them very seriously, put a great deal of thought into them before I commit and at this point in my life I only know of one promise I have been unable to fulfill due to events beyond my control.  A promise may take longer to fulfill than anticipated, but it is always in the back of my mind and will nag at me until I can follow through.

Starting this week I thought I would give you some back stories about why I write this blog, why I do some of the things I do and what is behind some of my artwork.  What goes on here often feels random to me so I imagine it does to you too if you take the time to read this craziness, but there is a constant thread running throughout.

From my earliest memories I only remember wanting to do one thing consistently and that was to make art is some form or fashion.  The smell of crayons still invoke memories of mark making by my tiniest self.  There were complaints from my family members when I would ask them not to move while I drew them watching TV in the evening.  I spent hours hiding under a tree making tiny stick villages and stories about the people in the village.

It was always in my head that this is what I would do all my life.  Keep in mind that I grew up in a rural community and art was not accessible except in books, so where this ability or notion came from had to have been genetically installed somehow.  I did not have artistic family members to learn from.  As my Mom has said of me, “she was born with a pencil in her hand”.

I am not one of those people who will say that they had supportive people surrounding them.  Quite frankly, I had very little support.  I had a couple of teachers that encouraged my work, but otherwise I was expected to shoot for a practical career, so for a compromise I got my art degree, but with a concentration in graphic design instead of the studio art I would have preferred.

After college, life kicked in full force.  I got a job as a designer/illustrator with a newspaper and eventually was an art director at a small ad agency.  There came marriage, kids, a printing company we owned and eventually a divorce and a life reboot.  All this time I squeezed in drawing, painting, making of some sort wherever I could.  A couple of large sketchbooks full of future paintings were often my only art. It was not unusual for me to sell a piece of work here and there or get a commission on a fairly regular basis if once a year is regular.  Trying to keep two kids in food, clothing and shelter often required me to work two jobs and I was too darn tired to pick up a paint brush.

Try as I may, I could not find any regular time to do what I loved to do the most.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost threw away all my art supplies because I found it so depressing to see them and not use them.  At some point when my kids were young and busy, busy, busy I realized that I had to quit beating myself up for not being able to create lovely artwork while sitting in a minivan at an hour of soccer practice five days a week.  Trust me, I TRIED!

I couldn’t tell you the date, but somewhere in that era of time I made myself a promise.  I promised my exhausted, stressed, often depressed, over worked self that I would do everything in my power to raise these two lovely humans I gave birth to, into good, kind, productive members of the human race and THEN, God willing, I would let myself have the time to draw, paint, make, whatever my heart desired.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself now.  I would love to tell you that it is easy and perfect fulfilling this promise to myself, but I am finding that a promise to myself may be the hardest promise I have ever had to fulfill.

I will leave off here to continue next week for Part Two of the story.

Have a wonderful week!

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