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.

New-ish Art

I’ve finally updated my gallery page with the 3 paintings I finished for the art show last month, and I put two of them up on my Fine Art America page too.

This abstract is entitled Breaking Through, and I painted it with the thought of people finally breaking free of their programming.

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The last two are watercolors that started out as experiments with my son from about a year ago, using salt crystals on the page to create interesting texture. After letting the textured pages sit for a long time, I built on top of them in ways that seemed interesting to me, without any set plan in mind. The first was more successful than the second and may have become a personal favorite. I titled it Outer Space 1 because I assume I’ll be painting more on the theme at a later date. I loved playing with my new set of metallic watercolors that I got over the holidays on this one.

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The second is a generic landscape that seems a little garish to me, but it is an interesting effort so I am sharing it. Because I wasn’t as satisfied with this one, it is not getting a name nor did I upload it for merchandising purposes, but I do have the original available if anybody is interested.

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I have been meaning to share these for over a month now, but work and life has been insane. Still working on coming up with some solutions to give me more time to create, but I am taking things as they come. It felt so good to work on these.

Art Show Appearance

My husband and I will have a booth at the Baldwinsville Canal Arts Festival this Thursday, July 5th, in Baldwinsville, NY. It’s our first art show in years, and I am excited about it, even though the weather doesn’t look too great as of earlier today. We’re doing it in big part to get to know our local community of artists better. I want to be more active locally.

So if you are in the CNY area, stop out and see me! There will be original art, prints, and books available, as well as some various leftover merchandise from our convention days.

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The Fires Burning Within

I have been feeling this increasing need to create for several months now. I’ve laid a lot of groundwork, have my pieces all laid out on the game board, but things keep getting in the way, not least of which is my refusal to ever work myself sick again. Not excuses, just frustration at the delay.

My goal is for all my creative endeavors to be fueling each other, for the art and writing to flow back and forth, to use them as inspiration for both my music and my costuming. My husband and I are talking about starting to sell homemade bath and beauty products which we did as an offshoot of our Fairy Magik label years ago but at the tail end, so we didn’t give it a very good go. To do all of that while taking in freelance sewing work and spending more time with the children. But to do more than chip away at that requires me first and foremost getting out of this stressful and physically exhausting job I’m currently in, which we’re working on.

I’ve been posting older work on Instagram to inspire me to continue chipping away, but honestly, by the time I sit down and have a few minutes to work, it’s so late at night that I’m spent and can’t tap the space I need to be in. Everything comes in it’s own time, and I feel the “soon, the time isn’t right just yet, but soon”, but patience has never been one of my strongest points. So the fires within continue to burn, to grow, threatening to overwhelm me.

When I finally unleash the fire, it will be a sight to behold.

Art Supplies

I received the gift of some amazing new art supplies this past weekend at a belated Christmas celebration. I feel incredibly spoiled. The Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolors are my preferred medium because I love the pigmentation, and I use the white Dr. Martin ink for highlights sometimes. I’ve never played with metallic watercolor before, so that will be fun to do.

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Since I have gotten them, I have also begun the process of going through our old art supplies, testing them to see if they are still good and discarding items which are no longer functional. Also, reminding myself of what we have. Because that will help determine what pieces I tackle first. I was surprised that a cheapo marker set I bought way back in 2006 only needed a few thrown away, though I suspect many that are left may be a one-time-use-only before they completely dry out too.

What I will need to purchase most likely are the papers and canvasses to put the work on. And that can get pricey, but not quite as pricey as paints can. But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by our supplies.

Anyway, I’m still having a difficult time carving out time for creative work, and usually it is my art time that seems hardest to squeeze in because I’ve made music more of a priority at this point, but I’m sneaking in bits wherever I can. It feels really good to get any creative time, even if it’s only 10 minutes here, 30 minutes here, time I should spend doing chores or going to bed earlier. It feels good.

A Couple Sketches

I found a couple of old sketches that I never shared here, probably because when I drew them, I was less than happy with how they came out. But I like them now, so I’m sharing them! I had to brighten the pics and darken the pencil lines to get them clear because I was lazy and didn’t want to hook up my scanner.

There is still a disconnect between my sketches and my finished works. My pencils are loose, almost aggressive at times, and I’m able to get that feeling still in my pastels and charcoal drawings as well, but when I switch to paints, I get a little tense and try to be “perfect” still. It was something I struggled with in my costume renderings. So it will be a balance I will continue striving toward as I move forward in my art.

I’ve started working on a couple new songs and that theatrical piece in odd moments, so new work is coming, and I’m still happily making future plans for projects. We’ll see what I manage to accomplish.

Getting Ready

Last night, while sitting in the dark with my laptop monitor screened turned low on my bed while my daughter lay next to me tossing and turning due to teething and getting over the cold we shared earlier in the week, I spent a solid chunk of time focusing myself for my next projects to be released here.

Writing – I’ve decided my next poetry collection will be one of love poems, and I’ve narrowed down my choices last night. I will narrow those down further and finalize my selection in the next week or so, and then start roughs for illustrations. I need to decide if I want to make the book more expensive and do colored pages or not. I know the illustrated poetry collection to come after this will definitely need to be in color and possibly hardcover if I make the illustrations nice enough, so it’s something for me to think about. But yes, the future poetry collection will be where some of my new work will be aiming to land in, and of the ones I’ve shared here, Little Boy Blue will find a home.

I have two bigger writing projects I want to work on in 2018, a novel and a theatrical piece, as well as finally maybe moving forward on my graphic novel, but I still need to decide what is going to be my priority and how best to balance my currently limited writing time. I would love to be able to release both the poetry collection and my first novel by the end of 2018 and get my theatrical piece produced and my third poetry collection and graphic novel out by 2019, but I am not holding myself to any set schedule as of yet because my life is my life, with no set routine in place, and my kids always come first. But those are my big audacious goals. It would be lovely to settle into a rhythm of publishing one novel and one collection of poems and/or short stories a year. I think it can be done eventually. But maybe not until my kids are way more self-sufficient!

Music – I spent a long time going through all the songs I have ever written, half-written, written lyrics for, made notes about, etc. I discarded some real stinkers! I probably kept some stinkers too because they are still a little “precious” to me, but what can you do? Of the songs I’ve kept, I’ve tentatively separated into two potential “albums”, and my focus for the immediate future musically is to really hone every song on the first album and get it all on paper, get honest feedback on them, then hone some more and decide what I want to do with them all.

Tomorrow I hope to spend some time really focusing on art planning. Aside from the illustrations for the next poetry collection, I’ve been holding off on delving into BIG pieces for years. I had in mind years ago a plan to do a series of Dangerous Women portraits, made of women of history and fiction and myth and religions who shook the status quo, but I’d also like to dip my toes back into fantasy paintings and illustrations, and I get a lot out of the abstracts I’ve done too. But too much debating in my mind about it will continue to make me not produce anything, so this weekend is my “make up my mind” time. Honestly, a big chunk of it will probably depend on what decent art supplies we have left after we chuck what has become unusable over the years! I think I’m going to ask for some new paint sets for the holidays and see what I get.

Anyway, I’m feeling very good. Tired, still, as only a parent of a teething baby can be, worried about the state of the world and humanity as always, but good. Despite the chaotic nature of our current reality, I can create. And I can share what I create as I want to do so. And that is very good.

A Dip Into My Past

This past week, while waiting for people and on mini breaks at work, I read through my blog from the very beginning, way back in 2012. It was an interesting trip back for me. Eye opening, and very helpful in finally honing in on the next direction of my life.

The first few years of doing this blog focused a lot on writing as that was what I was prepping for release into the world. I also kept talking about music and art projects that I wanted to tackle. And I really miss having projects that I am passionate about. I miss all parts of that process.

I also posted my dream schedule of balancing parenting with being a freelance creator, and I am so far from that dream at the moment, it is laughable. Working full time (plus) in theater left me with barely any other creative time, let alone quality parenting time, and while the job was fulfilling in different ways before the leadership shift and it gave me the stability to get a mortgage and health insurance to have my 2nd child, I was so much happier when I was only working part time for them. Then going back into a different full time position doing bridal alterations has been draining in a very different way, and because of the hours the shop is open, even though I am physically working less hours, I still feel like I never get to see my kids or create anything extra. Especially since I’m still self-healing from last year. I feel all this pent up creative force longing to burst forth though.

So, the goal for the past couple of months now has been to be freelancing by the end of the year and becoming the at-home parent. Once that happens, I will still do some alterations. I will do some costuming work too as it comes up and as I can find time to do it. But I want to focus the bulk of my energies on my kids and on creating my own work again. I need to feel that passion for creating that I get sucked out of me by scraping myself dry through overwork.