My work had a certain trajectory and pace, once. I interrupted that when we decided that relocating to North Carolina made sense in 2014 (huge mistake, but it’s done and I’m back in Vermont. *deep breaths*) As soon as we said “Go”, everything destabilized in my world. It’s little stuff from having things where you want them, because you can’t when you’re trying to sell a house, to big stuff like having to make room in your schedule for constant appointments, changes and paperwork, and running around like a lunatic.
Moving wasn’t easy, but at the same time I had outgrown my studio space. I had the 8x10ft spare bedroom stuffed with supplies and equipment, shipping stuff crammed into the basement, and I had resorted to painting in the kitchen because it allowed me the space to work AND I could be available to my family when needed. My new studio in NC finally had the space I needed, but the year and a half it took to get there caused a massive gap in my work (because the house wasn’t selling, so my husband worked in NC and visited home once a month, while I kept the household going by myself for nine months, and then when we moved the house was late and we were in temporary housing – even losing that at one point – until we could finally move in.) Getting back into my groove in NC was tricky. I wouldn’t say I was rusty, but just out of sorts.
Then my world burned down. Life and death, 24/7 for over two years now. When I look at photos of myself and my husband before and now, we look like we have aged almost 10 years since 2017.
In the midst of that, we moved AGAIN – but this time back to Vermont. We had a short and crazy time-frame. We literally flew out and looked at houses (22 in three days, not including repeat visits to a couple of them), and had closed and moved into our house six weeks later. I have to pause and say that while I do really like my house, I know we got taken advantage of. We keep finding things the homeowners knew about and hid, and the worthless inspector didn’t catch. It makes turning this home into our forever home more expensive, and likely to cost us more than the house will be worth. My husband is always saying “Sunk cost, too late now, move on!” but every time we find something new (like the basement flooding, for example) I just want to drive up to that home they moved to and pop them on the nose.
Currently, we’re remodeling. Here are some split pictures of before and now, and they are taken from the SAME place/angle. You’d never know it was the same house:
The day is currently filled with the sounds of hammers and saws and what have you, as well as me needing to be on hand for questions which come up frequently, in addition to ongoing issues and still settling in and getting things set up (for example, I finally got into the eye doctor yesterday, seven months later than I should have. There are a lot of services you have to establish for yourself, and doing this twice in three years hasn’t made it any easier!)
Some artists can paint in the middle of a tornado. I’m kind of amazed by that. For myself, my work suffers because if I manage to get work in, it’s usually pretty sub-par given my distraction level. Everyone likes to say “Just USE the pain, paint it! Use the angst!” Yeah, bite me. That’s such an annoying stereotype; the angsty, suffering artist toiling away at their best work while they hack off their ear. Some of us need a bit of stability. And I like having both ears, so there’s that.
Still, I’m trying to push myself. I realize that I feel like I don’t exist. A lot of that is because I barely do anything for myself that is about accomplishing something, and it’s all for everyone else or for “us.” Now if I get a moment to myself when I could actually paint, I find that I just want to take a bath or go read a book. This other stuff IS a full-time job. However, as an artist not painting you’re also not growing. I have a lot of artist friends, and I can see how much they have grown during this time while I have not. You cannot grow if you aren’t doing. I feel left behind, too, I guess.
Finally, two weeks ago I decided to push myself and at LEAST do a mini-painting. SOMETHING. Anything! A faster, smaller piece that I could actually finish and feel like I had done something for myself that wasn’t because I had to, or in the name of self-soothing. I managed to finish these two:
I felt great! Yeah, they’re not masterpieces or anything and I just painted them in a day each… but they’re DONE! I felt like I was on a roll!
The roll stopped. Life, AGAIN, needed too many things and when I had a moment I just wanted to hide away again. I’m completely aware it’s my own fault. It’s just that when you only have so much energy to use in a day and it gets tapped out with doctors appointments and the ongoing crazy, you just don’t have much left. I did manage to get my Patreon up and running finally, and create two coloring pages for it. Not painting, but still a little something!
My Patreon page is helping give me a little push, and those two little paintings, that’s a glimpse of me that I haven’t seen in a while. What I really need in my life is a little paint, and it’s up to me to figure out how to get it. Even if everything is in complete chaos. I have a million ideas, I just need to find the time, energy, and space to make them start happening! Something has to give though, so I’m trying to figure out that balance.
I’m also looking toward September. If life works out (PLEASE pleasepleaseplease work out), I’ll have a kitchen, my son off to college, and the space to breath and create again. I don’t want to pin all my hopes on one thing, but… That’s the theory! (And regardless, don’t pumpkin spice lattes come back then? That should motivate me too! Yes, I’m one of those. I’d be embarrassed, but seriously I love the stuff.)