Welcome back! Yes, you’re right, I skipped a week. Sometimes life doesn’t fit my schedule. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride. I try my best to keep to what I promise. I try hard. I usually succeed.
After a week of recovery from Cirenaica which included organizing my workshop notes, followed by a week of fireworks and birthday candles and setting up for a new round of paintings, I’m back on task. Well, I’m back on task as much as my summer distractions allow. Squash is growing, tomatoes are showing up, and banana peppers scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Flower baskets beg for water.
The dog wants out to laze in the sun then wants in because the flies and mosquitoes are driving her crazy.
It seems a long time since I’ve devoted myself to my sketchbook. I’ve been preoccupied with the first novel and now writing the second, while still editing and revising the first. But I have to sketch because I cannot paint until I sketch.
Sketching finds the feeling that feeds my wrist and fingers and brushes to make the paintings I want to produce. This year I’m concentrating on mixed media, stylized images that express comfort and love. I want to make things that make other people smile and feel good.
And more… I’ll see how far I get this week and what catches my interest.
See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.
Early on in this series we looked at our intention to create art and asked the question, “How serious am I?” The deeper I get into my own work, the more serious I am, the more driven, the more confused I am about the quality of my work. I’m talking about writing and how I’ve learned that there is a “best” way to tell a story. I’ve learned that I’m prone to leave out some important things – best ways to deliver characters and scenes – and I’m struggling to understand how to recognize and fix the problems.
I just heard myself saying to myself, “Maybe you’ve taken on too much with this book.” Maybe I have. Maybe I can’t learn the things I need to know to do this story justice. Maybe… and then I stopped. I reminded myself that I want to tell this story, this particular story because I believe it’s important. And I reminded myself that two years ago I didn’t know enough to know to ask the questions I’m asking now.
My intention has been clear from the beginning. I want this. I want this enough to work this hard at learning the craft. I’ve learned to ignore some input and some teachings and to embrace others. I’ve done virtually nothing but learn and practice and learn and practice. I tell myself, “This isn’t math. You can do it!”
So this week I’m going to take you back to the second week topic and ask you to review your intention to create. Are you any further along than you were six months ago? Does it matter to you?
How Serious Are You?
On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I’m all in!, where are you as we start this week and is it where you want to be? Where you imagined yourself to be?
Pick Your Battles.
Everything we do that we do well requires some time and effort. Time and energy can be the two strongest forces working against us as we age. Can we ignore our obstacles? By this time in life, I think we’ve all come to realize that the adage, pick your battles, has real meaning.
I’ve always been a nap taker. On the days that I did not allow myself the luxury of an afternoon snooze, I felt restless and less focused. Rather than fight my nature, I succumbed and am much happier and more productive for giving in.
My husband listens patiently to my babblings about what I’m writing or what I’m painting. He’s supportive but not engaged in my enthusiasm. I had to seek out other creatives who would share my excitement. Rather than fight with my husband over my disappointments, I accept what he offers and appreciate him for who he is.
I have friends who are challenged by mobility and other health-related issues. They’ve had to accept their physical limitations but that doesn’t mean restrictions on their creative dreams. Tools at hand, inspiring videos and a willingness to embrace the freedoms a creative spirit affords, keeps the artist alive and busy finding new ways to accommodate first the artist, then the limitations.
Finding the time to work.
I found that I accomplished the most writing in the early morning. Fresh from sleep and dreams, I hit the computer keyboard and pound out the words. After about an hour, I have to take a break and walk around a little, feed the dog, have some coffee or tea. So I learned to set alarms on my phone to reflect my way of working.
I officially start work at 9 o’clock in the morning. I may be up at 4 or 5 and been writing and musing and planning. But by 8 a.m., I need to be showered and dressed and prepared for work as if I had an office to get to. It took me six months of retirement to realize that I work best with a schedule. So I created one. By following a schedule I found my level of commitment to the work was rewarded with pages written and paintings painted and boundless satisfaction and self-appreciation!
I also realized that not every day is a work day. Somedays I found I could not focus or settle down into the routine. I knew I was missing the element of pressure to achieve so I began working with deadlines. I entered art shows and writing competitions that came with a finish-by date. That gave me the extra nudge I needed to keep me going.
Deadlines and schedules may not be what work for you. I seem to get the most joy out of accomplishment. Many people find their joy in the process. Watch yourself, see how you work, notice what makes you feel good about what you’re doing and how you do it. Then establish working rules that fit you and allow you to get the most creative enjoyment.
Tips for the week:
- Pay attention to distractions. What pulls you away from your art?
- Take note of your personal work style. When are you the most productive?
- Consider your workspace. Does it fit with your working style?
- Make notes about the obstacles and challenges you find. How can you put your artist self first, before accommodating limitations or restrictions?
- Keep sketching
- Try a timed writing off of one of your sticky note thoughts from last week. Get a pad of paper, position yourself in a comfy spot, set a timer for 5 minutes and write without lifting pen from paper.
Keep building your bank of sticky note ideas.
While you were working, and cooking meals and cleaning house and doing laundry in your free time, did you wish you had just a few more hours to write, to paint, to draw? Look back at your life and account for the creative moments you slipped into ordinary days. Remember how satisfied you felt when a creative impulse turned into something fun for the family or an unexpected achievement on the job. During all those years of indulging in fantasies of what if I was a published writer or had a show in the art gallery downtown, did you ever make a plan to make it happen? If you were to make a plan, where would you begin?
First things first, close your eyes and let yourself drift into the worlds of what ifs. What do you see? What do you want?
These are the absolute first things to consider before you try to take steps into the creative abyss. Why? Because every creative possibility is available to you now, and there are too many to pick from! To get started, pick something to focus on.
Now that you’ve seen your creative self, live with it for a while. Jump on the internet or go to the library. Look at publications and websites that teach and promote the type of art you wish to create. What are other people doing? What do you like? What don’t you like? Do you see a technique or a style that lights you up? Try it out. Whether in a sketchbook or composition notebook, draw, paint, or write a little something each day.
Make sure you have uninterrupted time to yourself. If you need to leave the house to go to a quiet place, do that. The best-selling crime novelist, William Kent Krueger, writes his chapters in a coffee shop. I have a black tote bag that holds a small watercolor tablet, a portable paint palette, a small bottle of water and a composition notebook along with an old makeup bag that contains all manner of pencils, pens, an eraser, and sharpener.
You can see that you will need to take a little time to assemble the tools of your craft as well. But don’t let that slow you down. If you don’t have everything you need, start with what you have. After all, this is your FIRST WEEK of becoming what you’ve always been. This is the week to try on your creative self. You don’t have to show anyone else your efforts. Not now. Get comfortable in your artist shoes before risking your confidence to critical eyes.
Tips for the week:
- Take time to reimagine yourself as an artist or author
- Have a pad of sticky notes handy. Jot down thoughts as they come to you.
- Find wall space that can become your creative regenerative space and post your notes.
- Pick one note and do something about it – sketch that idea, write a paragraph about a character.
- Relax and enjoy. Get used to the idea of becoming something fresh and new.
- Join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/greyhairsrising/ for discussions, encouragement and to share.
After a week of discovery, not only of your creative self but also your workspace and tools, plus daily practice, you’ll be ready for next week’s topic: How serious are you?
See you back here next Sunday night!
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