It was the best of times, it was the…well, a mediocre time. Great because I was painting. Less than great because it didn’t turn out remotely as good as I had hoped.
I am working on painting glowing light. I am a generally serious and restrained person – kind of the opposite of colorful and lighthearted. These last two years have been heavy enough without me pulling myself down any further. So this year I am focusing on joy in my life. I hope to start showing you more paintings which radiate hope and joy.
I have learned a lot during the era of Covid. One thing is that, although I do best actually creating my artwork in solitude, my work truly thrives when I have the opportunity to present it to others. I need that feedback which is only present in person, watching people react to and make connections through my paintings.
I have long been an advocate of visiting galleries and art museums. There is no comparison to standing in front of the actual painting only an arm’s reach away. No matter how high quality a reproduction is, it is not the real thing made by the artist and seen by your own eyes. This is such a priority to me that I have built international trips around the artwork I can experience and share with my family. Can I tell you about one of those experiences?
As a child, my mother would often read to me and my siblings about art and artists. One painting stands out in my mind (partly) for silly reasons. Primavera(Spring) by Botticelli is masterwork depicting mythological figures and is heavy with symbolism. My mom was showing me and my brother a picture of the painting in a book and pointing out different elements. She mentioned the “angel hoovering above” at which we broke into unstoppable giggles. Hoovering, not hovering. You know, cupids are not usually depicted as vacuuming the air above Venus! This was then a family joke for years. Fast forward to my first trip to Florence, Italy and The Uffizi. Wandering through halls of art and then stepping into a room with a huge, wall sized painting: Botticelli’s Primavera. I was breathless at the experience. This painting, so small in a book on my mother’s lap, is massive. I cried and laughed out loud – in public! There were certainly connections to my mom (also an artist), my childhood art appreciation (books and museums), my college art history studies (slides!) and the sheer, enveloping experience of standing in front of that painting in Florence.
I could keep going. I have been to twenty world class art galleries in half a dozen countries. I have experiences with art which are priceless and I will always cherish. I am pleased to have shared most of those experiences with my husband and now many with my children as well. I have seen art works capture the attention of my children at young ages, how they will pause and ponder over a painting. How they will bring up memories of particular paintings they have seen in galleries, how they feel about them, how something else they are experiencing makes them feel and reminds them of the painting.
We humans are made to experience with our senses. The digital world will never eclipse real experiences. Twitter is inferior to books. Virtual is less ideal than physical. People need people. The introvert that I am has been hit a little too hard with that lesson this past year and a half (going on two).
It has been a long stretch, folks, and it is time to open the studio again! I have stayed afloat by painting several commissions and plugging away at new work of my own design these past years. My focus has been fresh new work, focusing on light, drawing on a desire for hope and peace for the future. More than twenty paintings that have never been shown (including the ones pictured above) will be exhibited at my Open Studio in October of 2021.
Finally hitting that “delete account” button was really hard. I was kind of mad at myself for finding it difficult. I mean, I’d been toying with the idea of deleting my social media accounts on and off for years. Every time I would read an article about how bad social media is for your creativity, concentration, patience, peace of mind, etc. I would have renewed intentions of kicking the habit. But I just didn’t. I would flex my self-control instead. I’d take a break. I’d use a time monitoring app to help me keep track and break the scroll habit. But I still found I was spending hours on my phone.
I don’t have hours to spare! Where was this time coming from?
Well, from my kids for starters. I would take little phone vacations when feeling stressed. But the mini-escapes never felt refreshing. Instead of actually giving my brain a little peace, I was just filling it up with more noise. I wasn’t letting my brain work on creative solutions in those little moments between. I would fill the voids with information opioid. You know, because it is sooo helpful to read all 200 comments on a stranger’s post.
So I have taken Facebook and Instagram out of my life.
Time did not magically increase for me. I still don’t get as much done as I would like in a given day. I still have limited time to work. I mean, I still have four little kids.
However, in the first few days after I got rid of my social media accounts I felt more clear-headed. I picked up my phone just as much, but I put it back down right away because my insta-fix was gone. And really, checking my email wasn’t nearly as compelling as a social media feed. I started to have more patience with my kids. I started to speak in more coherent sentences with better vocabulary. I started being able to focus on my reading right away instead of with a little lag while my brain got used to processing printed words instead of scrolling images and statuses begging for reactions and instant gratification. I am spending more time reading to my kids again. I am able to make it through their school day with a little more grace. I am finding mental energy to say yes to more meaningful interactions and projects. I even finished a painting that had been sitting unfinished for months!
So I am definitely sticking with the non-social media lifestyle for a while.
Maybe when my baby isn’t a baby anymore I’ll be able to carve out some time and use it as a tool instead of a stress-inducing distraction. Until then, I have big plans for this site! I want to get a lot more tutorials up and make more process videos. I want to offer encouragement for my readers to be creative and cultivate the moments of beauty in your life. I want to improve my own painting practice. I have some very specific goals for my artwork and a brand new series of paintings in the works. I have built some new skills to branch out my artwork into new product areas. I am working on cool, insider content. So. Many. Ideas.