Mapping it out

I had this whole thing set up that I wanted to do in March. I had a collection almost ready to go; I had a whole posting schedule for social media. Stuff was written and planned in advance, I was painting, it was glorious. And then BAM. Life. We got thrown yet another medical curve ball that completely derailed every single plan that we all had for that month. I’ve lost count how many times that this has happened now; we just desperately tie a knot in the rope and hold on for dear life.

Life is so weird.

So here I am, at another crossroads. Summer is upon us. My senior in high school has since graduated. The medical issue(s) have calmed down, for the moment. They rarely stay that way long, but we’ll take what we can get. I am no longer the lone driver in the family, the taxi and chauffeur to every appointment. I stand gazing out at the horizon with some expansiveness in view, a widening of the lens that has not been available to me in so long that I’m almost frightened by the height and depth of it. I stand here knowing that even as the summer wanes and we move into fall, the needs of my family and homeschooling will not weigh as heavily on me as they have for the last two decades. While I will still have three at home, they are all in high school now. Their need of me is waning, and quickly.

What now?

Goodness, what an invitation.

There is so much on my mind that has sat, trapped, for so long, waiting for its time. Writing for me is as easy as breathing. There is so much that I want to get to work on in that sphere. I don’t know how it will all play out, exactly, or what it will look like. Some of it might be long form pieces here on the blog. Some of it might be for publication. Maybe I will finally get around to writing that book that everyone has been hounding me to write for years. Notebooks that have sat for years, stuffed full of notes, will finally see the light of day.

Art, on the other hand. Hmm. Painting and creating came to me from a completely different avenue. I started painting in the midst of my two youngest children both becoming pretty darn sick nearly a decade ago. I had scrapbooked quite a bit, and if you dig back far enough in my blog archives you will probably find some of the layouts. But something in me just sort of snapped. Life was absolutely, completely chaotic. It was dark and nightmarish. I had no idea which way was up. Something had to give, in my mind–I truly felt like I was on the edge of the abyss somehow. One night I picked up my scrapbook supplies, started using them to paint and draw, and never looked back. I don’t think I’ve actually put pictures on paper since. Painting is how I process my world, and it is a completely separate brain space and muscle from writing. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not as easy as breathing. It doesn’t just come to me. I hesitate to say it’s an almost spiritual practice, because I don’t think that’s the right description exactly, but…it’s definitely an intimate journaling practice for me, even though you never actually ‘see’ what I’m thinking when I’m creating. Creating takes me out of my head. Into my heart. Shuts off all the crazy to-do lists, and lets the silence in. Even when I’m drawing grumpy old Greek grandmas that make me laugh every time I see them in my sketchbook.

If you’re curious, I mostly use watercolor. I originally started out with acrylic, but have barely touched it since. I use watercolor because of its ease of travel. I have drawn and painted in waiting rooms and surgery wards and hospital rooms. All you really need is the water brush pre-loaded with water and your palette, and a good sketchbook. No mess, no fuss. Dries very fast. I also use watercolor pencils quite a bit. When I do have time, I like to play around with gouche, and sometimes dip into the acrylics. I have started to branch out a bit into some oil pastels when I really have time. I’ve had a few artist friends beg me to try oil paints, but I just haven’t made the jump yet. Hilariously-ironically? Watercolor, as a medium, is one of the most exacting of the artistic mediums. You really have to know what you want, and commit to it- understand how layering and light works- because watercolor is not forgiving. It will rapidly become a muddy, soggy mess that is not at all what you see in front of you or in your head if you aren’t aware of how watercolor ‘plays’. It’s a ‘perfectionists’ medium, one of my artist friends jokingly said. I was rather taken aback and asked her to explain what she meant, which is when she explained all of the above. I had never known that at all. My reasons for using it were purely practical from the start. Acrylic and oil took too long to dry. I didn’t like how colored pencils, even watercolored ones, ‘looked’. Pastels were out of the question. Too messy! My whole watercolor journey had been entirely self taught, working to get the results I wanted. I like it vibrant; I like it when it looks like it was painted in acrylic or oil but wasn’t. I like how watercolor can quickly give life to a sketch and give an idea of how things might look. That’s it. I wasn’t setting out to conquer anything, any medium. I was just playing. Isn’t that crazy? I somehow picked one of the toughest. Take from that whatever you will.

I’ve thought a little bit about the goals I’d like to aim for this summer, at least art wise.

I want to:

  • move my Etsy listings to a shop here, self-hosted by July 1
  • finish up the collection I was working on in March by July 15
  • daily sketchbook entry
  • focus on character development!
  • work on two/three larger pieces (one for each month- June/July/August)

How does that sound?

What are your goals recently? Anything you are working on? I’d love to cheer you on. Doesn’t have to be art related either. I am an equal opportunity encourager!


2 responses to “Mapping it out”

  1. You’ve got this. I’ll be cheering for you, too. As for me, I’m working on my third book, one my grownup kids have been begging me for years to write, filled with kitchen stories and recipes from all the kitchens I’ve inhabited throughout my lifetime. I’m about 20K words in, so about halfway. Side note: I remember the feelings coursing through me when we graduated our oldest from our homeschool. And the youngest. And the three in the middle. Parenting adults has been quite the bewildering and beautiful experience–one I’ve been encouraged to write a book about but the truth is I wouldn’t know how to even start it. Anyway, let’s do this thing.

    1. Go Lisa Go! It sounds like an amazing book. It really is bewildering isn’t it? That’s a good way to describe it.

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