Shortly before the end of 2017 I was feeling dissatisfied with my creative output. We, as creatives often make these fuzzy goals in our heads, and then when somehow those fuzzy goals don’t magically become reality we get down on ourselves.
I decided to do two things.
Get a calendar and set more concrete goals.
Give myself a red star every time I met a writing goal, and a blue star every time I met a visual art goal.
Now, you can do all this on a Google Calendar–well, if you don’t care about the sparkly stars. I decided I needed both. I use the Google Calendar to set goals. When I’ve done a particular item I cross it off. But even better is my old-timey paper monthly calendar. I don’t set any goals there or write in any appointments. Instead, I write down what I did, and if it’s writing I get a red star and when it’s painting I get a blue star.
Shiny! Shiny! I’m astonished at how many shiny stars appeared on my calendar. Maybe I did more work because I was keeping track of it or maybe I’ve been working hard all along and didn’t give myself credit.
Even last week when I was laid low by that nasty flu, I managed the three digital pieces above and the analog drawing of a “rocker”, as well as revision of four chapters in my comedic boomer novella, entitled Hannah’s Hearing.
What about you? Do you give yourself the credit you deserve? Go ahead. Give yourself a gold star!
Painting by Marie Lyons, Welcome Summer, acrylic, 13.5″ x 13.5″
On January 31, 2018 I retired for the third time.
When you’re an artist you often can’t wait to lose the day job and do what you really want to do, but I can tell you there are perils to having all that free ‘alone’ time. It’s much harder to keep yourself going and organized than you might think, and it’s especially difficult if you are energized by social interactions.
Work is not the problem here.
Most creatives can’t help but work, but the isolation, and the fear that you’ve missed the boat–that the world has moved on in your creative field and left you behind–is a pretty miserable thing to contemplate.
I think young artists experience this too and I know only one answer to that kind of misery.
Keep on keeping on.
It might sound like the definition of madness, but you’re not going to let that bother you, are you?
The painting above is by Marie Lyon who began her art study when she was 53. She’s now, 88 and continues to work. Read all about her at Debra Eve’s Later Bloomers. She sounds like a fun lady.
A few days ago I posted a drawing on Instagram, and a lovely artist, Laureen Marchand made kind remarks on my drawing ability. Laureen is a fine artist. Make sure you check out the beautiful art on her website.
A Caution to Mentors and Mentees
There was a time, during my studies, when my fellow students thought perhaps I relied to heavily on my drawing virtuosity. A stunning concept for me because I knew nothing of such virtuosity. The criticism was kindly meant, but I have to admit it left me floundering for some time. I didn’t, however, let it end my love of drawing, and my intuitive belief that some of the work I was creating was quite good.
A little warning to Mentors, take care with your words. Speak kindly and make sure your mentee understands. And you who have the good luck to have a mentor, remember no one knows everything, and you must not blindly believe everything you’re told.
Love drawing? Go for it. Love figurative work? Do it. Love the swirl of colour? Create it. You have a gift. Use it.
I already know I’m going to take David Schmid’s course on mystery writing (The Great Courses) and a whole lot of classes in psychology.
What about you? What are you planning to learn and make this year?
The artwork above is one I made some years ago. I used a process of sticking down many little bits of paper (on canvas) until I began to realize an image of sorts. This one came out looking a bit like a Cezanne painting.
Okay, you think I’m going to get into a conversation on what is the politically correct way to wish friends and relatives well during this holiday season.
Nope. I don’t care. I wish every one of you well. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate with family. To take time to enjoy. To socialize. Yes, even you, my dear introvert friends. I’m one of you and I’m sure I’ll find a little corner somewhere, sometime, to think of ways to make that chapter sing, or how I to use a resist with watercolour, to…
That’s allowed. It’s also allowed to think about how lucky you are to have what you have, and how wonderful the people around you are. And it might also be a good time, at night before you fall asleep, with your belly too full and your mind still buzzing, to think about the things you did this year.
Take an Inventory
Don’t spend time on shouldas. This is not an exercise in making you feel like crap. But if you are like most creatives, you expected an awful lot of yourself and you’ve noticed all the things you didn’t do, and have forgotten how much you did accomplish. I bet if you take an objective look–do an inventory–you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come. There are the real things, like the number of drawings and paintings you’ve made, or the number of stories you wrote, the revisions you’ve completed, the rejections you accepted, the acceptances that thrilled you, and then there are the things that matter even more. What did you learn? What new wisdom have you attained? When you worked, how did it make you feel? Did it calm you? Did it give you respite from the craziness of the political world? Did it bring you peace, even for a moment?
I bet this is year was a win for you in more ways than one.
This may not be the cheeriest topic you’ll find on a blog, but it is, I think, a timely one. You know we boomers have never been ones to step back and let others take over from us.
Hang in there you poor Millennials, we’ll step aside one day, but we’ve still got a lot to do.
Okay, so we’re going to make them wait a bit, but you don’t want them to have to take care of us when they finally get to be boss. It isn’t a fair thing to do, besides, you know, there are still things to do, and you can’t do them if you can’t think.
About 27% of us will get Alzheimer Disease
I know. Depressing! But wait, not one-hundred percent, only twenty-seven percent.
Only about the quarter of the elderly populations get Alzheimer Disease? But what about Auntie Mildred, and Great Uncle John and most of those poor ones in long term care?
The Majority of Dementias are not Caused by Alzheimer Disease.
That’s right! And unlike Alzheimers, you can take actions to keep from developing many of these other types dementia. I recently picked up Dr. Antoine Hakim’s book called Save Your Mind. Dr. Hakim is a prominent Canadian Neurologist, and he firmly believes that we can stave off non-Alzheimer Dementia by doing seven things.
Control you blood pressure. Strokes, even those tiny TIAs hurt your brain/mind. Your brain needs a lot of energy to function, which means you need to get nutrients to it. Hardening of the arteries, doesn’t help you. So take care of vascular issues
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Lay off the sugars, and don’t go overboard on the fats
Learn something new all the time. Read and write. That’s right, writers, you’re helping your brain. Make art. Heck, make anything.
Exercise regularly – Walking is good.
Care about other people and have some good friends who care about you.
Find a way not to be sad for long. Depression hurts in more ways than one.
Not so bad, eh? You’re doing all these things already aren’t you?
If you’re not, consider it. It’s not to late to start and you don’t want to burden all those hard working young uns.
Above is a drawing I made of my little sister. Here she is as a young beauty.