Oct 10, 2015
Some days, I call "footless" days, are ones where you have things you need to get done but just can't find your footing in the morning and you spend the rest of the day off-balance.
I've been doing my artist-in-residency at the Mayflower Arts Center in Troy, OH, since early July and it will continue on through October. During the residency I've been mostly immersed in studio and creative life. It's been a real refreshing charge to my creativity and creative batteries. But you can't live the 24/7 studio life forever. Or can you?
Leaving that debate on the backburner for now, the last 10 days I've been outside the studio and residency doing various family functions and trips. Pulling myself out of the studio mindset has had its plusses and minuses.
I've gotten to visit with both sides of the family as they are entering new and challenging life changing events in their lives.
I've gotten to make some photographs I'm actually pretty happy with and excited about. The new places and fresh eyes always awaken and stir creative juices, even though I've been to the various places I visited many times - you can still find fresh eyes if you've been away from a place long enough.
I got to fly and there's something about being in a plane that makes my brain shift, relax, see things differently, and pieces things together in a way that doesn't happen other places. It's always been that way for me. It's like shower epiphanies, but different.
But I also missed my residency studio space and location. I sit here in my home studio for the first time in almost 3 months and trying to picture it as the creative space I've created and found at the Mayflower studio and realizing the things I've made, discovered, created, etc during my residency would not have happened in this studio. Nothing against this studio space. I like it, but it had become normal and comfortable. It had become too easy to get online and dwindle away the day. And how easy it is to fall back into the old habits, routines, and patterns that I was trying to break by doing my residency.
I have three more weeks (ish) left in my residency and I head back down there this afternoon. And I need to do some serious pondering about what I've done, haven't done, what I wanted to do, what I didn't do, why, what, etc over the last three months and what I want to take away from the experience.
I will say that after this nice extended residency, having a two week residency somewhere else would be hard to pull off. But then again, now that I've done this one, I have a better understanding of what you can and can't accomplish by packing up your (or at least my) studio for a short period of time and try to find or refind your footings in your studio and creative life.
May you find your footings in this crazy world of creating things. It's not easy and there are days when the footing just isn't there. On those days, ride the current and see where the day takes you. Sometimes, it's pretty exciting.
Initially my residency at the Mayflower Arts Center was scheduled to be July and August.
The first phase was loaded with preparing, marketing, and supporting my Organic Abstrations: Series 2 exhibit, working on my "roundtuit" list, and working on designing, supporting, and teaching childern's summer art camps in Ohio and Michigan. I dubbed it "My Summer without A/C" (as described in a previous post).
Due to scheduling changes and such, I have been given the opportunity to extend my residency through October and am considering this extension as Phase 2 (which I'm toying with calling "My Fall without Heat".)
Without specific activities to focus on, Phase 2 has been a bit more confusing and frustrating. Coming off a rather busy and productive few months, it's common for me to flouder around a bit, finding something new to dig my teeth into.
During this transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2, I attended Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA. It's a convention I've been going to every year for 5 or 6 years and it always shakes me up as a creative and an artist. The convention is packed with 60,000 fans of science, science fiction, comics, movies, fantasy, gaming, anime, art, movies, TV, celebrities and thinkers. And it's become a sort of "New Years" transition for my buddy Greg and myself. We use the annual trek to the convention to contemplate where we were last year and where we want to be next year. Hitting the Dragon Con New Years resolution period during a time of transition can be a bit daunting. A time when you're considering your successes and failures, and plans to continue successes and resolve failures can be a damaging time when you're transitioning. Existential crises can arise.
A book I'm reading, "Daily Rituals" by Mason Currey, describes the daily rituals and habits of creatives and thinkers from the 1800s to current day. Of course there is no one right way for creatives and thinkers to "do things right". Each person must discover what works for them. One thing I've noticed some writers have done is to stop at a point where you know what's going to happen next. That way, the next time/day you sit down to begin writing, you won't be facing a blank page and a blank mind. You'll already know where things are going so you can jump right in with your writing.
This is also a similar trick several of my painting buddies use and something I've told my photography students - have several things in progress so while one painting (or coated paper) is drying, you have another one to be working on.
This is advice and a practice I do with my day-to-day projects, but not with my big projects. I get so focused on working on and finishing a series or big project, I forget to be nurturing smaller projects and watering the seeds of the next big project. So I tend to have a lot of stops in my progress and flow, and spend a bit of time standing in the middle of the intersection going, "hmm, where to next?"
So, during this pit stop in the intersection, I'm considering how to minimize the during of time I spend in the intersection in the future.