Playing with Paint

IMG_20200102_112921

I broke out the old guache paints with my daughter yesterday and painted as she directed me while she worked on her own painting. It was fun, and I don’t know if I will add more layers or just have it be a throwaway piece. I need to do more of these though. It felt good.

 

Finally, some creative progress!

I know I have mentioned before how the autumn is really my time to get my butt kicked into high gear and work on all the things, and that is how it has been feeling. Several projects are finally culminating into their final swing, some serious personal development has been going on, and I am excited to continue sharing here everything that I can. That being said, I wanted to give a little bit of a run down of where I’m at on things, partially to give me something to look back on in a month when I am reflecting on the year overall.

Writing: 

  • I am currently compiling my second poetry collection and really hope to have this out by the end of the year.
  • I wrote a huge chunk in my post-apocalyptic short story and hope to actually start shopping it around along with a few others after the first of the year.
  • I’m making good progress on my Shakespeare poems and will start doing art pieces to go with those at some point next year.

Art:

  • I have scanned and am in the process of editing the illustrations for my poetry collection and am designing the book cover for said collection.
  • I am teaching myself to work on a tablet for digital designs in the hopes of eventually designing my own fabric prints to use in my sewing career.
  • I am designing my next two shows and committing the costumes to paper this week, which is always a little scary but exciting.

Music:

  • I finished writing another song last night! This is the one I scrapped and rewrote, and I need to edit it, but it feels good to have it done.
  • I have started getting my singing chops back again slowly after another break from it due to crazy parenting and gig schedule.
  • I’ve been playing my flute once or twice a week while my daughter is in preschool, even if I have other things I “should” be doing, and it’s felt great.

Now how much I can push forward will depend again on both my paying design gigs and also I am trying to open a custom clothing boutique online as we go into the new year. So we shall see how that goes. But it feels good to be creating right now.

Life’s Not Letting Me Off the Hook

I applied for a position that I thought was a shoe-in at a local theater company that I previously had worked with. I was over-qualified for it in many ways, but it would have given us a stable income again which would have come in handy. And I would have learnt a lot and been part of a group of like-minded people for the first time in a while. But I was passed over, which was a blow to my ego for a few days.

I didn’t want the job, really, beyond the stability. I want what I’m doing now, spending time with the kids and freelancing and trying to carve out the creative time wherever I can. I’m making okay money with the freelancing now, though I had a gap of six weeks with only a couple tiny jobs which was scary. But I know I can build it. And I loved having that time with the children without any deadlines looming, if I’m honest with myself. I don’t want to be trapped working regular hours anymore. It’s something I’ve been saying for years I’ve wanted, and life is not letting me off the hook this time. I’m being given the opportunity to sink or swim, and so I’m swimming. I’ve laid the groundwork for a lot of Big Ideas, and now I have to put those into action.

It has been difficult for me to find time to post here and do the work I like posting here. I’ve had a little bit of creative blockage in this adjustment period, and I’ve been letting myself be dragged down by the world’s woes and by financial stress. But I’m finally ready to go. As I’ve written in the past, the autumn is really my time to be extremely productive. So we shall see what happens.

Creative Recovery

I just finished a big project, designing the costumes for Mamma Mia at a localish summer stock. Between doing the contract and building a couple of costumes and taking on a bridal alteration in the middle, I felt wiped out when I was finally done on Tuesday. But I had fun with the design, after fighting it, and it was really nice having a small shop to take on the alterations and builds of the show so I could get some really nice design details in without driving myself to be sick in bed because of it.

So the past couple of days, I’ve been focusing on my kids and being kind of mindless at night after they go to bed. I freaked out about the state of the house and spent some time cleaning. I’ve played the piano every day and started singing again. I stretched for 2 days and started exercising again today. We are camping and taking the kids to their first water park tomorrow. And I’m ready to be creative again on all fronts.

Most important of all, I have finally accepted that when I design a show, it is going to consume me. And that’s okay. I have been belittling my creative process for a long time, because shows like Mamma Mia aren’t “serious” art, because the audience it reaches isn’t the one that needs escapism most, because I feel like if creative people in the entertainment industry put their attention toward fixing societal ills instead we might make the biggest leaps we have ever done as a species. It’s been hard to set those feelings aside and have fun. But I can do “serious” creative work and I can do frivolous creative work. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I’ve also accepted that I physically can’t do it all, so some things have to give. Motherhood is the biggest energy-taker on me right now, and my costuming work is second as that is what is paying the bills. But I will continue to work at my art, writing, and music as I can.

Hopefully the next couple of months will see more bountiful droppings to this page. But I won’t feel bad or guilty if I don’t. I’m beyond that finally. I think it’s a good thing.

Anxiety in My Art

I have noticed that I have a lot of anxiety over a blank canvas lately, and this is not a metaphor. When it comes time to commit putting my ideas and sketches down onto what will be the final work, I have to fight fairly severe anxiety. Do any of you experience this?

It’s something I don’t ever experience when cutting out a sewing project or writing, though it is a little bit present when I write music. It’s my inner critic not letting myself create. Probably because I haven’t had very much time to create in recent years.

However, it also factors very heavily in my renderings for my costume design work, and I know that is directly the result of still dealing with issues from my working myself sick a couple of years ago and parting ways with the theater company I was with. Almost a PTSD-anxiety situation, and yet I am forcing myself now to do my first huge show since that one. And this time I actually have decent help to make the show happen. But when it came time to commit to putting stuff on paper, it was nerve-wracking. The whole process was supposed to be fun, and it wasn’t. Once I got out of my own way, I started having fun with it, but it was a week of torture. And I really don’t want to be a “tortured” artist. Life’s too short for that. So I will continue to work on that.

Computer Clean Up – Found Some Old Papers and Articles

In my odd moments of peace at the interim college position I took this semester, I have started cleaning up my computer files, going through truly ancient folders. Old history and theater papers, primarily. And I was wondering if any of you would be interesting in reading them if I posted them here? One of them, a final paper for a class called Voyages of Discovery, is on Mary Kingsley’s travel diaries, and the professor told me that she thought I could have a career as a research historian if the whole costume design thing didn’t work out. I have another on Deena Metzger’s The Woman Who Slept with Men to Take the War Out of Them that is really in depth. Then a bunch about art and imagination. Since I have been going chunks of time without posting here, I thought maybe I could post them when I don’t have much time for anything else, and it would be an opportunity for a little more discussion than has been happening of late here and maybe some more philosophical posts from me as I consider where I was 15 – 20 years ago to now and how society has advanced since then. Thoughts?

Update on Creative Workings

It’s been a while since I’ve shared what I’ve been working on, so I thought I would pop by and do that. Everything is taking much longer than I’ve wanted it to with my personal projects, but I’ve come to expect that in my life of parenting and freelancing.

Art – I’ve been working on colored pencil illustrations for my next poetry collection, which will be a sampling of my poetry on love. I hope to finish these up in the next couple of weeks and begin prepping the book for publication. I’m also in the middle of my first big illustration in a while to accompany my Humpty Dumpty poem, which I posted a couple in progress pics on my Instagram account. I’m really hoping to finish that one up this week. And I’ve started working on art because I want to try my hand at designing fabric, so I probably won’t be posting any of that here.

Music – After the success of fully putting down on paper my first song in years, I had hoped that the process would get easier, but my next song is proving difficult, and I am scrapping what I’ve started to rewrite part of it. As I have nothing really planned yet for my music, I want to take the time to get it the way I really want it. I also am starting to do my vocal exercises and play my flute more regularly, which is important. I really want to find a way to be making music more a part of my life again. It’s just one of those things that got put on hold when both my kids were young and we were in transition. But it is still one of the easiest ways for me to center myself and decompress.

Writing – I have been chipping away at both a new short story that I want to shop around and my novel. While I can’t always find the time to write every day, I’ve recently been writing longer chunks when I do sit down, so hopefully I can continue growing that. I’m also continuing to produce poems and pieces for another couple collections I’m working toward. I want to try submitting some poems places too, but that means I can’t share them here, and that is tough for me.

Other creative stuff I’m currently sewing a gift for someone that I’m really excited about, and I’ve been doing a lot of work with building my sewing and costuming work, which is good because this is where my money is coming in.

So slow progress is better than no progress, and as I come off of my contract job, I’m looking forward to having a few weeks of more time before the next contract really takes off. I am also going to try to post here more regularly again, but we shall see how that goes.

The Biz

I’m just past mid-way working on my first feature film in the costume department. The hours are excruciatingly long but I have met so many great people and learned so much in this process and am being paid very well for my time, so it is worth the exhaustion of a few weeks. The designer I’m working with is so well-organized and creative, my hard work has been very appreciated by everyone involved, and the sheer juggling of all the pieces is interesting to watch and learn.

Yet as a side note, it is insane to me the amount of effort that goes into making a theatrical production or feature film, and even though I do enjoy film and theater myself personally, I can’t help but feel like the creative and monetary energies of everyone could be so much better spent elsewhere in the world. There is just a whole lot of waste going on. Even down to the number of cases of bottled water that we go through on set each day, and of course there is no recycling at most of the locations so it all just goes into the trash (I take some of my empty bottles with me to recycle at home, but when I’m super exhausted after a long overnight shoot and trying to clean up the mess in our area, I just scoop it all up into the can). I felt the same way on my first theatrical production I got hired onto after the break I took when I had my son. Here is this gigantic set built with beautiful costumes made from scratch, and it is a five week run and then it gets stored or destroyed. And then onto the next show or film. I can’t help but see the irony of all these really green creative people adding to the waste of the environment with everything involved. But I’m still here and a part of them, and seeing how costly things are, it would be incredibly difficult to produce a truly low-footprint production.

Every other thing in my life has been put on hold with the filming schedule, but yesterday and today on my days off, I am still filled with so much creative energy. I start my other long term costume job for the spring tomorrow, filling in as costumer of a college dance department while their’s is on maternity leave, which requires me to miss 3 days of these last two weeks of filming, and I am looking forward to diving back into my personal projects while doing the work for the college and spending more times with the kids once the film is done. I will need to readjust my timeframe for releasing certain things, but the work will be coming. Life is very interesting and exciting for me right now.