Today, September 10, has been spent clearing out boxes of papers, stored since my move 2+ years ago. The good news: there’s very little “trash”. The good news? much of what had been stored may now be obsolete. The better news: this draft blog post is still relevant, if not quite so much. Written at the end of May, it was a reflection on being at Crossroads. I no longer feel quite like that. Several exhibitions have come and gone since then – there’s been a lot of new work made over the past two years. There are two invitationals to deliver work for in the next month.
For nearly three decades (yikes!), in one format or another, I taught, coached, facilitated – whatever you choose to name it- I worked with creative people, individually, in classes and in small groups. Whether in a formal setting such as a University classroom or professional symposiums or more casual retreat environments, my basic task was to help folks make the next move or next jump in their creative process. Along the way a lot of processes, techniques and possibilities were shared but the underlying focus was always on each individual’s journey.
Every person is unique and each set of circumstances is very particular. Still, the basics of creative work are consistent from my point of view: learn the required skills and language, master your tools, improve constantly and most important, show up! Make one decision and then the next. Then the next. Be true to your initial creative vision, each subsequent decision should match that.
Life: Circumstances change. We find ourselves, every so often, just moving with the currents, perhaps adrift. It can be difficult (and is certainly time/energy consuming) to re-orient. Having just come through one of those multi-year situations, here were major challenges: My studio discipline was shot. The daily work habit needed to be rebuilt. I went from a decades long consistent daily practice to not being in studio at all. Part of this had to do with all that accompanies a major loss, from coping to surviving to putting myself back together, and then to building a new life. What did/do I want that life to look like? what is an appropriate life/work balance, now? I used to know the answers to these questions, has that changed? Actually, lots has changed and I am adjusting and choosing and celebrating!
Confidence, well, where did it go, if it ever existed? (Is the work any good? what happens next? how should it look? why am I doing this? In short, all the questions we ask ourselves as we build what is generally, a very solitary work life.)
Identity: Marge Piercy said: “every artist lacks a “license”. This is true. We can self describe, self identify as artists, with or without degrees, with or without an exhibition record, sales, awards and external acclaim, but many of us face a certain sense that the outside world places little or no value on what we do. A friend once told me that what people like me do is non-essential, therefore without value. Is this true? For that friend it was. I’ve almost always had a strong sense of self, of who I am in the world, but at times the self-doubts can be challenging. There’s no shortage of reinforcement for insecurity, is there.
***Now, on the other side of this reflection from late May, I am still not in studio daily, but am creating new gardens, new pollinator habitat, new community relationships. This matters. My little cottage in Billings is on the market and has required major work in the aftermath of a renter. sigh. There’s been a lot of work at the treehouse – hooray- and here at the StarHouse. This has been the season of paint on my shoes <G>.
Some decisions have been made in light of personal changes as well as the change in the “market”.
- Travel for teaching is no longer in the template of my life. I will miss all of you whose relationships have been so important over the years. thank you for the gifts of your friendship and for how you allowed me to see through your eyes.
- A greater focus on putting the work into the world is important. Perhaps (if there is something to say <G>) I will begin writing again.
- Primarily, it has to be about what happens in the studio. Without that, there is nothing to share, nothing to say.
As we approach the Equinox, colors are shifting; the habits of birds and wild critters are changing, there’s a welcome chill in the dark hours and lovely warmth in the afternoons. The higher peaks behind the house have snow. The light is wonderful.
wishing you well.