Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let's play!

Er, I mean, WORK!! Work, work, work, of course.

I have the opportunity to teach two 10 week art classes to 4th and 5th graders in the gifted program in our local school district. The lovely part of this is that it pays decently, will be attended by motivated students who choose to sign up for the classes, and REQUIRES me to PLAY!!

My inner taskmaster (also referred to as "FEAR BRAIN"), doesn't like play - in fact, it loathes play.

"There's no time for play," sneers the taskmaster. "We must work. Time is slipping by. Tick, tick, tick. We must make money. We must succeed. If we don't succeed WE ARE DOOMED!!!"

Ha!! "This is a job", I explain to the taskmaster. "We have a money making opportunity here, (he, he, he, he), but I have to come up with projects that fit within a bigger idea that will become the "class". Projects - (he, he, he, he), I must WORK to create projects (he, he, he, he, he).

When I was young, I saved my money and bought into an art craft of the month deal. Every month someone somewhere sent me an art project in the mail - with directions and supplies. I cannot tell you have much I LOVED that deal. I would get the box and disappear to my room for however many hours it took me to complete the project. It was magic - pure magic for me. I still can remember that feeling, the utter excitement at the thought of this project arriving in the mail and then the process of creating it. If someone were to ask me what some of my favorite childhood memories were, this would be on the short list.

The process of creating these classes to teach has brought that all back to me and more. I've realized that I don't let myself play. Hours have flown by immersed in tempera paint, chalk, oil pastels, charcoal, without a thought of eating or stopping. I catch myself grinning and singing as I play with materials and ideas. When I think of returning to my "real" art, my heart tightens slightly like it's gripped in a vise.

An expectations vise. I have no expectations for greatness and criticism when I am creating teaching projects for children.

How do I infuse my own projects with that gleeful process-oriented childlike attitude with which I approach these teaching projects? I think the answer is simple - I must play more. Even the task of creating these projects has opened something up within me that surely will infuse my "real" art. I wonder what would happen if I gave just as much weight in terms of studio time to play as I do to work?

Can you play today?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Passing on the left

While running on the trail this morning, I was passed fairly often by bicyclists. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it when they call out "On your left" before they get to you.

They are bigger, faster, and have the advantage of a clear vision of the trail ahead with me and Super Sprecka on it. I am thankful when they take responsibility for those advantages and help out their fellow travelers on the journey.

Maybe this is a little like life. There are times on the path when we have the advantage. We are stronger, faster, or just more experienced than those with whom we share the road. Rather than just blowing by everyone, it's good to respect where they are, acknowledging that their place on the path is just as important as ours, and if we can help them out at all, so much the better.

I will be out of the studio this week, revisiting my former life's vocation during a friend's family emergency. The time spent away from the studio this week and next has already been a blessing in a couple of ways:

  • it reaffirms my decision a year ago to leave a career that I enjoyed and hopefully was good at but that was taking too great a toll on me personally, to embark on a new career journey that embodied a dream I have always had.

  • when I step back into the studio after time away, I am struck with such a sense of coming home that I am so thankful that I am allowed this opportunity.
Enjoy your week.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How about a little magic sparkle dust?

All great writers have it, don't they?

On one of my spectacular runs, I was hit with a nugget. Of an idea - not a rock or an acorn.

I call it a nugget because it is small - just a tiny thing (I had this thought clarified for me by this wonderfully insightful person), but GOLDEN. I am keeping it safe - protecting it from thieves and ne'er-do-wells, just like you should always do with small, precious things, and because it is magic I am working to help this little nugget grow into an actual creation that I will share with the world. (These ne'er-do-wells who would destroy this fragile creation are not necessarily evil-minded - just thoughtless, perhaps even well meaning who can with an unwise comment or question shatter the possibilities that this nugget embodies.) The destroyers can also be doubt and neglect - nuggets must be tended to or their magic disappears.

My nugget involves writing and on another wonderful run, it occurred to me that I was my own ne'er-do-well in terms of my thinking. I somehow expect these flashes of brilliant insights, glowing with possibilities and life, to carry on throughout the sweat and hard work of actually doing the work of creating this thing.

"Real writers", I think to myself, "probably go directly from the glow of creative inspiration (think of the Christopher Lloyd character in Back to the Future when he imagines the flux capacitor - "GREAT SCOTT - IT'S BRILLIANT!!!"), and then move directly to the final, amazing product that probably sparkles with magic writer dust - every page fairly glittering with brilliance.

Somehow, deep down, I think I actually kind of believed that - that everything "real writers" wrote was somehow amazing. When faced with that expectation I was reluctant to even begin.

OK!! I can do this. I think I'll even sprinkle a little glitter on some of my pages as I work - a little reminder that every word, paragraph, and page are magic - whether they evolve into a final product or not - they're part of that process so they are golden.

They fairly sparkle with possibilities.