Sunday, February 28, 2021

Cookies & Crayons

 



Remember when all you wanted was a cookie fresh from the oven? Opening a new box of crayons? Smooshing play dough in your hands? When the joy of smells, colors and textures made your day, or maybe just the moment because you quickly moved on to another toy or taste or texture?


Your world was full of mystery and magic and motion that you probably don’t even remember now. Although that’s all part of the process of growing up and becoming, I know there’s a part of me that misses those simple joys. 


Playtime. 



It’s of the best things about being a parent and grandparent. Kicking a ball across the room. Scribbling on a big roll of brown paper. Smelling fresh play dough and tempera paints. 



Yes, as an artist, I do get to create in my studio. But too often, the joy of play gets smothered by sales expectations, product perfectionism and business management. Questions like: Do I need a new website? How can I take better photos of my work? What more can I do to increase sales and visibility on my Etsy shop? What new items can I make and add?


Time for a cookie. Or crayon. Or both. 


Days with Cieran and Meyer not only bring back good childhood memories, they make me stop. Take time to not just taste the cookies, but lick the spoon, my fingers and the chocolate on the edge of my mouth.


Let myself smell the waxy scent of a new box of crayons and marvel at all the colors tucked in rows like a choir singing. I get to watch and remember dipping a paintbrush into the thick tempera paint and smearing it down the paper. Being just as happy with the paint on the paper as the water turning different colors washing the brush. The more muddy the water, the better. 



We say, it’s just child’s play but it isn’t. Watch a child play. Really watch. What do you see? It’s not just paint on paper. It’s the smell, the hand, the brush, the smoothness, thickness, color, in that paper world. Look and see that little person being in the moment. 


Spending time playing with little ones is pure joy.

But it’s also a reminder of the power of pure creativity. 

The power of pure Being. Here and Now. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Breaking Through

 


Ice and snow covered my world for the last week. There’s nothing I love more than snow. But walking around the snowy park and frozen lake near my home, I didn’t really see it in the same way this time. 


Instead, I was afraid of yet another disaster to add to mounting COVID list. And many, many people were without light and heat. Working from home doesn’t work without internet. Do virtual schools give kids a snow day?


Creative ice. 


I’ve pushed myself through this whole year to create as much as possible not just to keep my work out there, but to keep myself going. If you read my last blog, you’ll know I finally hit the wall. Making turned into a slog instead of a joy. Creative ideas seemed to stop flowing and pushing myself just made it worse. 



I spent a few days watching the ice coat my trees and the snow fall. It was too cold in my garage to throw or trim on my wheel, so I found myself in my studio puttering around. I wrote in my journal, moved a few pieces around and rummaged through my closet. 


Next thing I knew I’d rearranged my studio. Again.



I took everything off my two big black work carts and flipped them from left to right. I pushed one cart shelf up five inches to create a taller space. I rearranged the lower shelves with bisque molds all on one side and clay on the other. I got rid of dirty old plastic that I’ve been using for the last 10 years which I’m sure isn’t healthy. I cleaned, dusted and mopped. 



Drip by drip. 


Next thing I knew, it was thawing outside my window. The sheets of ice were breaking up. The snow had melted on the sidewalk. 


Inside, I’d created a new area dedicated to photography. In the past, anytime I needed photos of my work, I’d go to a professional. When he retired, I had to go it alone. At first that involved carting a stand, tabletop, lights, tripod and cameras out to my garage. I moved inside, but still every time I needed photos, I had to rearrange my entire studio. 



Now, I’ve got a photo area all set up and ready to go. All I have to do is put my piece on the shelf, my phone/camera in the tripod and shoot! Here are some of my first experiments with my new set up. 




Melting happens. 


After all the cleaning, I spent the next day throwing. When I went to put the bowls in the studio to dry, I saw a total of seven new bowls drying on the shelves. 


What happened to my COVID wall? Last time I looked my shelves were empty and inside I felt frozen. But somehow, in spite of all the snow and ice, moving and mopping, something inside of me melted. 


The cold inside me started to thaw and slowly, drip by drip, my creative spirit broke through.  


And some of the beauty that fell outside, had somehow fallen softly on my soul. 



Thursday, February 4, 2021

Hitting the COVID wall





Closings. Openings with strict limits. Online and virtual shows. Through it all, I’ve worked and made work. While I’ve always been good at promoting other people, companies and arts organizations, I’ve never been comfortable promoting myself. 


But I knew that had to change. So I posted. Blogged. Jumped back on Etsy and Pinterest.  Reorganized my website and blog. And even in the New Year, I keep looking to redo, redesign or refigure all my online efforts to find a way, a better way, or maybe any way to survive in this crazy covid world.


I kept my fingers crossed. I told myself it would all be over soon. 


Yeah. Right?


It started so softly, I didn’t notice at first. A restless night. Crankiness. Then came the WTF attitude that is so not the me I know. After the holidays, it’s normal to hit a slump but this was more like a slide down a muddy hill into gooey, sticky mud. 


And I didn’t even try to fight my way out of the mud. I just sat down in it. And stared at nothing. 



Covid 19 depression is real. Since the quarantines and social distancing, depression rates have gone up. Post holidays, it’s only gotten worse. New research shows Americans in 2020 are sadder than they’ve been in most years over the past decade, with more than a quarter, 27%, reporting they experienced a lot of sadness the previous day, the Gallup 2020 Global Emotions Report found.


So if you’re feeling it, like I am, know you’re not crazy and you’re not alone. 


Now What?


That’s what I asked myself as I leaned against my Mother Cedar tree. She quickly answered, “Stop fighting it and lean in.” 


How do I do that? What could I do? Well, the obvious answer is: nothing. 



What I discovered this week is that doing nothing can mean a lot of things, actually. It can mean sitting quietly and sighing. Looking out at the trees. Sipping a cool glass of water or hot tea. Letting music fill my mind instead of negative thoughts, allowing tears to flow and sitting still. 


Throwing therapy also helps. Especially when I decide it’s just that and not a production goal. So this week, I took out the last clay out of an old bag. I wedged it by slamming it against the board. I slapped it onto my wheel and leaned in. What did I expect: nothing. What did I get: two small bowls. 



Will they survive firing? I don’t know and, frankly, I don’t care.  

Because it was the act of throwing that helped me survive this, one more covid, week. 


What would help you?