It occurred to me this morning, that no matter where we are in life, young or old, we are always in process. We never “ARRIVE”, we’re always on the journey.
Alright, you’re all smarter than I am and figured this out when you were five, but have you reminded yourself of it lately?
Thirty-year-olds think, that by now, they should know it all, have it all. And for sure you should have arrived by the time you’re 45, 60, 70…
Oh, wait, it’s all over when you hit seventy. Too late. No soup for you!
Except that you haven’t arrived. Still, you’re in the process of becoming. You always will be. You live all your life in the process of one thing or another. The wonderful thing, the amazing thing, is that we get to decide what we want to work toward. Hey, kindness is a good goal. How about that? We can work toward being kind, or courageous, or both and everything else too.
Above is the beginning of an egg tempera painting I’m working on. I don’t know what it will become. I have lots of snarling, buzzing thoughts that tell me it will come to nothing, but I’m excited by it. It has potential. Anything that is in process has potential.
I might be edging my way back into writing. Maybe.
Sometimes winter comes like this, with green and yellow leaves still on the tree. Not this year. The leaves have been gone for weeks, but yesterday it rained all day, and today the wind is howling. The rain has turned to snow. This is’t our first snow this autumn, but I think this one might be for keeps.
No matter. I’m so fortunate to live in a nice warm home, and when going outside isn’t much fun, you turn to your creative work. I swear that’s why Saskatchewan has so many writers and painters.
“The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the helical rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.” —Wikipedia
Wow, that describes my condition perfectly: lethargy and erruptions of irritation. Occassionally an idea will seek me out and I’m in a fever until the lethargy comes back in taking with it every bit of energy and leaving me, dare I say, mad.
I am overstating things, but yes, there is too much smoke in the air, it’s hot, I need a new project. My old projects, though not finished fill me with lethargy. This happens.
Funny thing is it is exactly these hot, grasshopper hopping, cricket-singing days I remember from my childhood with nostalgia and longing. It occurs to me that perhaps I need not produce every minute of every day. Maybe it’s good enough, sometimes in the dog days, to lie back on a lawn chair with a good book, and look up every once in a while to watch the birds practise their flying and see the heat shimmer in the distance.
Lac Green Nord in the Province of Quebec, Canada, is an oasis. And doesn’t this fire look relaxing?
The only thing is that I’m not very good at relaxing, and to be honest when you are the playmate of a five-year-old granddaughter you don’t relax much. Little Maya who wakes up at 6:00 am told me earnestly on the evening the day after we arrived, that it would be a very good thing if I woke up earlier like she did.
But sometimes it’s not about relaxation. It’s more about changing the input. If you keep feeding yourself the same mental diet day after day your creativity starves from lack of proper nourishment. Because I’m a head person (someone who lives more in thought than in the physical world), it is a good thing to change things up and try a sensory diet for a while. On this holiday I had every opportunity to add experiences to my mental diet. I plunged into the water, screamed when I was splashed, slapped Horseflies, whirled on a tube being towed by a boat. I went to a parade and visited family in a care home. I did no writing, not even my morning pages, and very little drawing.
At home now I have so many ideas and plans that I have to calm myself down and take a step back. I know from experience that in this stage of the creative process I will not be happy with anything I do, and everything will go too slow, and soon enough I’ll despair.
Therefore, I will pick the peas and shell them. I’ll write this blog. I’ll make a little careless drawing, and I’ll read the next chapter in The Chronos Project, (my time travel novel) and consider how I can improve it. I’ll go slow.
Give yourself the grace of going slow at times. And you don’t have to be brilliant all the time either (she said, though she finds this hard advice to take).
Oh, and I did make these two scribbles, because, hey, creativity is like a drug. It’s not easy to stop and thankfully stopping isn’t necessary.
A few weeks ago I wailed about not being able to paint. I’m not going to tell you that it’s all come back to me and I’m flying. But I am painting, and I’ve been completely immersed in it all week long. Everything is different, the medium, the style, the type of painting, but I’m learning, and I’m old enough to know that learning is one of life’s most important things for me. If I’m not learning, I lose interest and everything is washed over in blues.
Above is a digital piece worked in a painterly realistic style.
My whole art education was about abstraction with elements of either the sublime and/or expressionistic. I feel like a traitor to my education, and my mentors, but man, there’s a whole other world of art out there.
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.
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.