Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time, Life & Art


To all of you who look forward to a little art inspiration in you inbox, thank you for reading.  But it's hard to write about art when you're not doing any! (Well, that depends on how you classify "doing art" which I will talk about later) So I thought I'd revisit the theme of  "What do you do when your life crowds out your art?" 

Jobs, family & other obligations take up lots of time.  You busily go through your days, that turn into weeks and then years, of no art.  And you are left wondering, is it really important to me?  Because if it was, I would MAKE time for it.  And that's true.  

And it's not.  (It's scary, but that's pretty much how I view all of life!). If only life were all about intention, priorities, will.  I don't know about you, but my life is more complicated than that. I have good intentions, priorities and a fair amount of willpower.  Yet I remain 20 pounds overweight, have a list of unread books and exotic places I've not made it to yet, I'm not a millionaire and have quite a few lofty goals that may never see completion. That's my reality. 

I admire others who can focus to achieve.  Like a laser, they focus their beam of intention to their latest goal.  Nothing deters and eventually they reach their objective.  Then, they find a new focus and off they go.  Achieving the achievable.   And we applaud wildly.  Bravo!  Because we wish we could or would do that.  Achieve the achievable.  And if it's so achievable, why don't we achieve more?  Could it be that that laser focus, that beam of intention -- is NARROW?  They focus.  All else is an unnecessary distraction.  That's the key. A narrow focus. (and all else hinders)

I've realized that while admirable, I have a wider lens.  Yes, I have passion and focus but I'm easily distracted. I have many interests and I view life as a pleasant stroll with detours. Those detours are what makes it interesting!  I'm sure I'm ADHD and that that explains a lot.  I have accepted my inability to stay with a thing for more than two hours without complete tedium setting in.  Can I push through that?  Yes, when I have to.  Another key. When I have to.

Art is not a "have to" for most of us.  After I stopped teaching to care for my dad, I mourned like I had lost a friend.  I love teaching.  And because I was teaching, I was making art because it was required.  When I didn't "have to" anymore, I found I didn't.  Worse yet, I didn't "feel" like making art.  Letting go of all that I was doing before gave me the time and space to do other more important things that needed to be done.  I couldn't do it all.  Something had to give.  I tried.  Unfortunately, in the end it was the art.  Or at least the kind of art I was used to making.

For a while, I just felt very sorry for myself.  Who was I without my art?  I thought it was so much a part of my being, my identity.  Still, if found I really didn't do it when I had the time!  It seemed like an all or nothing proposition for me. Either I was a working artist producing framed paintings for shows and such, or I wasn't one. As though I needed to sacrifice my art because I didn't have the time "to do it right".  I was making excuses.  I wanted to do it my way or basically not at all. I'm complicated. :)  and honestly, I just didn't want the pressure of deadlines. So I resisted art entirely.  For some reason, I thought that meant forever and that I wasn't really an artist anymore. I lacked dedication.  Not hard core. I should push thru.  Use the art to heal. Blah, blah. 

Then one day I picked up a pencil and I doodled a bit on my "to do" list. It took five minutes, but Something in me shifted.  A couple of days later, I doodled on a napkin in a restaurant.  And a few days later, on the church bulletin. (Yes, I was listening to the sermon!)  it was through those small doodles that I realized that being creative is like breathing.  I didn't stop being a creative being because I stopped producing.  Does that make sense? 
I'm still a creative being even tho I don't have time for large finished works.  I was still creating paintings in my mind, admiring others work, appreciating the long evening light on the trees and the cast shadows that would be a perfect landscape...if I still painted. (Can you hear the violins?) 

One day I realized I might want to make art that day.  Then I thought "darn, that means I have to drag all this stuff out and clean off my studio table and..." So I didn't.  A few days later I wanted to again, but it seemed like just to much effort, so I didn't.  But I had the desire.  And little by little, I've been feeding that flame again.  My art has changed in the last two years.  In the next few blogs I thought I'd share my thoughts on how to make art when you have no time to make art.  How to make art when your life and circumstances crowd out your desire and need to make art.  I'd like to look at how you find time or focus on art when your life is so full of other things, important things. Let's make art a part of your life, not something on your bucket list. No an all or nothing proposition. Something to feed your spirit and heal your soul.  And about making art that is personal and meaningful without a huge time investment. Art that enriches your soul, but does not add to your "to do" list.  Art that heals, stimulates, energizes, and takes you places.  Art that is flexible and goes where you do.

No matter where you are in life, I'm finding you can always take your art.  Art and life are not separate --and both are a journey.  Slow down and take the time to enjoy the whole of it.  Those detours off the main path may lead to great adventures.  Be open to distraction and allow yourself to go off course.  Who knows what you may find off the beaten path?  The path is over rated!