Why is it sometimes so hard to give ourselves “permission” to do what we need to do to be happy? I ask this because with so much free time comes more reflection, and I am noticing how many times a day the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” pop up. I shouldn’t spend this much time on the computer. I should be pulling weeds or doing laundry or sorting that pile of accrued junk that has been there since last October. I should eat better, and move more, even though it hurts to do so. I should be cleaning my cellar, painting the side of my house, washing the dogs, playing games with the birds. I should be scrubbing the radiators (regular readers know why, lol), washing the floors, painting the walls. I should be organizing my artwork, getting rid of clutter, cleaning my fridge, and cleaning under my bed. I should be making those onerous phone calls concerning tangled up insurance and bill stuff. I should be finding the floors of lost closets and FINALLY paring down my strange wardrobe to essentials. I should, should, should.
Or, I can forget all that, sit down, and just stitch and bead for a few hours. And feel like I’ve really accomplished something. I could, but so often I don’t, because I feel the pull of all the other things that need doing. That “should” be done, before I “indulge” in recreational activity such as artmaking. But what if it isn’t just recreation, but creation, and it is essential to my well being? I’ve come to realize that the positive benefits of working on my art are important to my sense of wellness. I can truly escape pain by getting engaged in the rhythm, of the stitch. The arthritis is now in the soft tissues of my elbows, adding to the aggravation of constantly painful feet and legs. It never ends. Rome might be burning, but that texture that happens when that viscose thread overlays the area of patchy lamé and digitally printed cloth is just perfect! I feel fellow artists can relate.
So, with more time to actually do art, my Responsible brain seeks universal permission to indulge. To stay up late and work until I just can’t any more, knowing I can sleep in as needed. To delay required tasks and just go with it, and see what happens. To give myself permission to “go deep” with the art and see if there are any new things to discover. There usually are. As a teacher who works on a ten month contract and “has summers off” I do suffer from a fair amount of “survivor’s guilt” for having time off to have such a problem on my hands. I would argue that I work more than the average 40 hour a week employee -- year round -- in my head, at least. I am always thinking of ways to teach better and to “art” better, and rarely take a “real” vacation. I can’t think of the last time I went away somewhere and just rested or chilled out. Just not my way, and certainly not within my finances. My idea of the best way to use extra time is to go fishing into my art, seeing what I can catch.
This summer I jumped right in and have gotten a lot of home-based organizational chores done. There is a lengthy and demanding list still on deck, and I will indeed get to as many as I can over this long, gorgeous, satisfying, and guilt-free summer. But I will also work at my artistic goals, finding value in my artwork as work, and not just enjoyable therapy. I’ve delved into the digital prints I made last summer at Mass Art with new vigor and am finding that I love what is happening with them. Instead of building an image with fabric, starting with a digital image on cloth first is a very different challenge. I have to be more discriminating about what I add. It is more like poetry -- adding small, subtle pieces of cloth there and there, obscuring parts of the digital image while not covering too much, takes time and experimenting. Then there is stitch, and beads, with the same delicate decisions happening. What I don’t do is as important as what I do to the spaces and details. Interesting challenges,
I am working on the first of several bowl images, and am finding as I embellish and make a juicy, reflective surface, the lively digital image is somewhat lost. I think of Picasso, a quote that stated something to the effect of “You have to ruin a picture in order to finish it,” and also “All art is first a form of destruction.” I am glad that I have a series of many bowls to create this summer and see how each one develops and resolves. Knowing that each is begun with a digital, reproducible process is reassuring and lets me take the plunge to push a piece...I can always leave another less embellished, later.
Going deep, ladies and gentlemen, including pugs, cats, and parrots. The Artist’s hat is firmly in place and I giggle at the thought of over a month more of this time and space. I will try to not take it off until the end of August. ;)