Updated: Feb 28, 2020
It is February. Snow drops have pushed up out of the wet earth and dot the flowerbeds of my yard. They grow right beside the Camellias whose blooms have graced the yard for weeks. Rain has lasted for days but today has dawned with cold and sun. Not my favorite combination – but I will take the sun, as we haven’t seen it all week. Winter is only delightful to me because it means continual fires in the fireplace. It is a season and I try to enjoy it the best I can. I enjoy coats, so I endure the cold, but I am always counting down to longer, warmer days.
Seasons of our creativity can be just as difficult to endure. When we feel dry of inspiration and doing our craft is more work than play, art can feel like a drudgery – at first. Just getting to the easel, canvas, paper, wheel, sewing machine, etc. can feel daunting. Pushing ourselves just a little bit may be in order. What I have found, though, is that pushing myself to the eases, even on the driest of days can yield surprising results.
The reason for this is the very act of creating can create the desire to do more. Sometimes, if I will just prime a canvas with a vibrant color the very act of moving my hand across the canvas can begin the creative juices to flowing. I find this practical approach in my daily life as well. I may not want to organize my whole closet – but straightening one shelf can inspire me to get a bit more done – even if the whole space doesn’t get an over-hall. One of the heroes of my faith, Elisabeth Elliott says, “When you don’t know what to do, Just, do the next right thing.” This is good advice. Sometimes the “next right thing” in my studio is the cleaning of brushes that have been sitting in thinner for weeks. Straightening up my studio space can be as inspirational as anything. My sister recently posted a picture of her beautifully appointed and freshly organized studio: I know she was inspired.
The process of creating art changes as we change. Often, we get frustrated a process that we have labored in for years, not realizing that we ourselves have changed. Because we change, in many ways, so must our art. It may not need to be a large change, like going from painting to sculpture, but it could be changing from doing large scale works to smaller scale pieces. You may not go from quilting to sewing dresses, but you may switch it up to include a line of pillows. All of our changes do not have to be sustained for long periods of time, but may just be short forays into different media for a season.
The seasons of my own life have changed drastically in recent years, even in the last month. The challenge to reflect on what my life is becoming compared to what I thought my life would be created the most difficult season of all. Embracing what is, as opposed to what we thought would be, can leave us feeling muddled, maybe even confused, to say the least. If we have held on too tightly to the “might have been,” we might find ourselves in bitter territory. I get it. I have done it. In art and in life. It is a sure way to find ourselves stuck.
“Loving the Process,” the title of this month’s blog series is about more than enjoying the process of the artistic journey – though I do hope I am offering some light when the doldrums hit our creativity – but I am convinced that many of the same principles for the creative process are also very applicable to our daily lives. Journaling, walks, even collage, can help us sort out some of the issues we face in every-day life.
The seasons of my life have been very similar to the seasons in South Carolina: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall sometimes jumble into the same week! Being a wife, mom, new grandma, friend, artist, writer, Church member, and simply “me,” are roles that sometimes have to be juggled in a day. This can make for odd blooms in our lives, or deadly frost that kills new growth. It can feel turbulent and out of control. In order to “Love the Process” in this case means a few very important steps for me:
1. Prayer and Bible Study to keep me grounded when everything wants to fall apart.
2. Gratefulness in all things.
3. Keeping priorities in order: God, Family, Church, Career.
4. Alone time for me; Alone time with my husband.
5. Practicing the artist tools.
How have you learned to enjoy the season where you find yourself today?
Finding Joy In the Journey,