Wednesday, December 2, 2015

tinyExpanse 365 Y1 (2013-2014)

Sitting down to write today, I see that it has been nearly a year since my last blog entry! I've missed the clarity that writing on a regular basis gives me for my work in this profession where one makes his or her own rules entirely. Today seemed like a fitting day to reflect, having completed my 365th day of a year of painting last night.

This was the second time I have completed this project, titled "tinyExpanse 365". I took a 2 month break between the two years, and spontaneously began the second year when I started to miss the daily practice of painting - I had stopped noticing my surroundings as consciously every day. And hey, I'd done it before, I could do it again!

However I was really surprised by how different my experiences were from the first year to the second. If tinyExpanse 365 Y1 can be described by the word - ADVENTURE, tinyExpanse 365 Y2 can be summed up by the word, DETERMINATION.

And most of my challenges over the last 365 days (well, 180 of those at least) can be summed up with one word: pregnancy.

From December 2nd, 2014 - June 2015, the project was pretty smooth sailing.  When my partner Sean and I found out in June that we were expecting a baby in February 2016, things started to get a little bumpy. In a mean twist of fate, my beloved oil paint became my most expedient nausea trigger, and in particular, the 3"x3" tinyExpanse canvases. Something about focusing on that little square while smelling the paints, even when outdoors, really got to me. More than one poor mountain biker witnessed my post painting purging in the foothills. My daily paintings were often  not a spontaneous act of joy but a determined effort to keep my commitment to the project.

On top of the nausea there was some degree of distraction, changed priorities, and exhaustion to deal with. I learned quickly how motherhood was going to take my focus away from my career very quickly, and how disciplined I would have to stay to keep my paintings moving forward. I learned also how physical the creative process is, and grew in admiration for artists I know of who have worked through illnesses, often life-long ones that have no due date in site.

I knew early on that the second year could not top the first in terms of range and scope of landscapes explored. My travels from 2013-2014 took me all over Idaho in my collaborations with Idaho Conservation League, as well as to California, Iowa, New York, Colorado, Finland, and Iceland. This constant change in scenery and perspective kept me eager to get out my painting box each and every day. Being more house-bound this year forced me to explore the familiar and the simple things a little bit more attentively. The process reminded me of how I used to tell my yoga students to try to find something new in downward facing dog each time, how it was possible for the familiar to never lose a sense of discovery. I found this to be a useful exercise in painting - what new little angles of the neighbor's roof could I find? Or how different the same view looked in different seasons, weather, or times of day.

I'm sure there will be a host of new lessons I will learn once the baby is already here, but I've got plenty to chew on for the next couple months!

Today greets me with a few sentiments - I can't help but admit that relief is the predominant one. But I also feel that the struggles of the last five months have helped me become more capable of the focus that will be needed ahead as an artist as well as a mom. And a lot more compassionate towards myself and others who make a living from their creative processes. A livelihood is a whole lot of pressure to put on one's inner inspiration, but I think in the end this pressure can help one dig a little deeper and distill what is most important to create a lot more clearly.

About to grow out of my carhardts...

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe that baby will be coming soon. I think you got a little bit of a preview of what being an artist and a mother might be like. Good knowledge and thoughts to process. You will have to make time for your art. But I can tell you that it is all worth it!