pandemic, studio life, Uncategorized

Wallow, then rise.

How artists are living their lives during this public health crisis is as varied as their DNA. Most are mourning the loss of opportunities to share their work with appreciative audiences. Some feel a surge of creativity. Some find it difficult to focus on art. Some are seeking balance amidst home schooling, working from home, and meal preparation. Some have lost access to their studios and are making art at the kitchen table. Some just can’t make it work at home. Some have lost the jobs that enabled them to pursue art in the nooks and crannies of their daily lives. Some haven’t skipped a beat. It is okay to be any one or all of these.

But whether it’s now during the pandemic, or later when health and stability return, artists will do what they do. They will reflect. They will comment. They will interpret. Trust me, no matter what the genre, COVID19 is not far from the artist’s mind, even when the work may appear to be a form of escapism. No judgment here on art as an escape from sadness and loss—it’s a healthy response.

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Girl With Mask, detail

Sometimes awareness of deep injustice and the reality of separation from loved ones are enough to make you want to cut off your ear. Pandemic as subject has certainly crept into my work, as in these two small works on paper. Girl With Mask expresses a dark humor moment with a Vermeer-inspired parody. The knowledge that millions of workers do not have the privilege of working from home inspired Risk vs Benefit.

The work currently on the easel and nearing completion expresses themes of loneliness and isolation. That work, still untitled, was going to be the focus of this post. I was going to show you my process, warts and all. And I will do that. Maybe next time. I find though, that as I write these words, that plan has become tone deaf to my own inner state. Sometimes when things are bad, it’s perfectly okay to just wallow in it for a while. For a while. Then we shake it off, having acknowledged the depth of the absurd reality, the pain, the suffering of our fellow human beings, and we do the best we can to live our lives as authentically, as compassionately, as lovingly as we can.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Observe social distancing. These are acts of love.


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art process, Inspiration for Making Art, studio life, studio practice, Uncategorized

Studio life, self-isolation and hope

COVID-19 has ushered in a whole new world for all of us, to state the obvious. Everyone is adjusting, whether it’s learning how to work from home, managing remote learning for the kids, or dealing with the physical distance between ourselves and our fellow human beings. You may be dealing with all of that and much more. Some of my colleagues with rented studio quarters have had to pack up their supplies to move home, and are in the midst of improvising spaces to continue working. Most artists have faced the cancellation of events, which for many represents a significant loss of income.

I don’t want to repeat or add to the litany of woes we hear daily. I’d like to keep hope before us. I need it, and I’m guessing you do too. So here are a few of the upsides for me in the time of coronavirus.

I have more time to devote to my practice. I’m not running errands or attending events. There’s plenty of food in my kitchen, and using curbside pickup when supplies run low is a real time-saver. I miss grocery-shopping, but I have no problem living with this temporary adjustment if it keeps more people safe.

Priorities shifted when I cancelled my studio event. I had planned to revamp my art inventory system after that, but since I’m not rearranging the studio or buying party supplies, this project rose to the top. This cloud-based inventory system will save me time and frustration later on. I’ve been able to enter all my 2020 work into the database, and most work from 2019. Another benefit: revisiting every piece has forced me to look at each one critically. After a time, I recognize some no longer pass muster or feel at home with my current body of work, so I’ve removed them from inventory. House-cleaning is good.

Real, in-the-moment conversations are gold. So much of our communication today is via text, email or social media. I’m not saying it’s bad to use any of them. But a real life, in-the-moment visit, voice-to-ear, ear-to-voice, heart-to-heart, can warm my innards exponentially more than text on a cold screen, no matter how friendly. Video conferencing and chat apps have connected me with my friends, family and colleagues several times this week. As artist friend Gwen commented, “Physical distance doesn’t have to mean social distance.” We are fortunate. During the time of the Spanish flu, the nearest comparison to this pandemic, this was not possible.

Pressing pause creates the internal space necessary for art-making. When an artist prepares for an art event, the pressure is on. A certain number of pieces need to show up on the walls, and a lot of it had better be new. People expect that. Now the calendar has cleared. There’s time to assess, to nurture, to think—or not. There’s time to absorb, to be the sponge that soaks in inspiration and ideas. There’s time for them to hibernate, until the season is right to wake up and cause a ruckus in the studio.

Good things continue to happen. Watching my young granddaughters show off their nascent ukulele skills over FaceTime. Getting a walk-through of my son’s new home, also via FaceTime. Receiving notice of acceptance into two exhibits this week. Such bright spots keep my spirits buoyed.

I’m not a Pollyanna. I get that both short-term and long-term, there are serious outcomes ahead. But we are resilient people. We can cope. We can be strong. We can love our neighbors and even from our confinement, we can do good. What are the upsides for you? What made you smile this week? Tell me in the comments below.

20607 With-wp

With.


Join me on Facebook and Instagram for behind-the-scenes peeks and first postings of new work.
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