"Airplane," 9" x 12" x 3/4", acrylics on Raymar panel (all 5 sides so no need to frame), depicting a friend's Golden Retriever, photo used with permission from Team Husar Photography. This painting is $629, which includes special delivery to your doorstep (inside the contiguous US). Inquiries may come directly to me. In process photos here.
I Have a Confession
You might not have seen it on the surface, but the last couple years have been very difficult. My Grandmother passed away, suddenly but peacefully, in March 2013, and that ushered a string of immeasurable losses - pillars of my family, dear friends, mentors, a friend's child, mothers of my kid's friends, one of my daughter's teenage friends. It was (and is) never ending. Life does that sometimes.
Not only was I feeling unrooted in my personal life, but there was an emptiness in my painting process that began to loom and gather momentum. I had been battling burnout for a while, and with the hurt washing over my personal life, creative burnout moved in.
Many, many days the only reason I came into the studio was because of my commitment to paint daily - it was a promise I had made to the universe and I felt an irrational need to uphold that. But the cathartic mental benefits that creating used to provide were out of reach. It was unsettling and terrifying.
During that time I found great strength in talking to other artists and learning they, too, were battling burnout. I was not alone. Morbid, I know, to find pleasure in other's lack of it, but also such a relief! And if you are there now, you are absolutely not alone, I promise you that. And I will say that it's all beatable, because I have dug my way out.
My recipe for falling back in love with painting? I attribute it to a few things:
I acknowledged that my personal life needed to come first. Pledges to daily painting aside, I had an obligation first of all to myself to work through my losses and come to peace with my memories. I was no good to anyone were I to get both lost in life and in the studio, and while one does not come without the other, one had to be served first in order for the other to return.
I eliminated my personal goal of a new painting each day - but I did not retract my daily painting pledge. Reducing that stress of having to create something start to finish and instead focusing on picking up my brushes and just playing with my materials put a spring in my step.
I accepted fewer commissions, which meant more days when I could paint what I felt like and how I felt like. Learning to play again was very foreign at first. But taking the pressure off of having to make each piece wall-worthy, invigorating!
I took painting process classes - because nothing kicks my butt into overdrive like watching a master throw it down.
I took journaling classes, still creatively based, but not focused on painting. They prompted me to look inside myself for ideas, even when said ideas were a big dark cloudy mess, and gave me different ways to let that mess out. They also introduced a new range of materials and processes, all which sparked entirely new creative pathways, and oddly enough, are now finding their way into my paintings.
I changed my studio soundtrack. I built an entirely new playlist. I gave myself permission to MOVE when an especially fun song came on and was reminded that dancing while painting results in spectacularly gestural marks.
If I truly didn't feel like painting, that was ok, but I needed to then do something to feed my soul. Cook a healthy meal, practice yoga or meditate, take a nap, lose myself in a good book, laugh hard. You know the routine - those things that always make us feel good, but oddly enough, are the first set aside when life gets crazy.
I found a counselor who seriously could be a best friend, except for the fact that she gets paid to talk to me. Working through and categorizing my losses with her - and yes, my creative juju was a significant loss - has helped me identify triggers and build boundaries. And those will help me protect what I've rebuilt and rediscovered.
I have been doing all the above for a long time - like I said, this has been going on for years. And some days felt better than others, but it was always a rollercoaster of sorts.
And then, in the shadow of post-Kentucky Derby days, when I was supposed to fall into a that predictable ginormous-event-letdown, the oddest thing happened. I couldn't wait to paint something glorious and celebrate the joyous pagentry of the Derby project.
Suddenly my easel didn't hold an obligation, it held a promise. Something only I could unearth.
My nails are pretty dirty right now, rhetorically speaking. And it feels fantastic. And while it might disappear in the morning, I am savoring this moment. I need to remember it for one of those days when promises are broken and undeliverable.
I hope that you can see AND feel my passion and happiness in these newer works. Thanks, as always, for following along with my artwork!