The unfinished side of me

My husband likes to remind me that when I first decided to blog he had to talk me down from doing my planned 365 creative project (an art project, everyday, and then blog about it . . . for a year). At first I was offended, “What, you don’t think I can do that?!” and then I glanced over at my 3 year old who was going on day 3 of wearing the same socks . . . I have a real ‘shoot for the moon’ approach to my work but sometimes its just not practical.

I have been at a standstill (in terms of doing art) since the end of February, mostly because my youngest was given the opportunity to attend a great school that started this summer. When we found out she got accepted I decided to spend that precious time with her. Three year olds can be a handful but I love hanging out and experiencing life with my girl. I’m still grappling with not having her at home everyday.

I recently started following creative blogger Austin Kleon. He is a successful blogger, artist and author. He describes himself as a writer who draws. His most recent post spoke to me. He highlighted a quote from Kathryn Schulz, a staff writer for The New Yorker, that really resonated with me.

“For me, the engine of writing is almost always ignorance. I write to figure out what I think.”

I realized in the few posts I wrote that I learned quite a bit about myself through my writing and also my creative work. I’m not writing about what I know, I’m writing to find out. While writing my last blog post titled Mother of Angels, I realized I was finding out how I felt about my own experience with miscarriage; something that up until that point I had refused to confront. I was emotionally exhausted after that piece which is another reason why I took some time away.

During that time I did a few commissions here and there. A family member proposed a project to me. He and his wife had spent New Years Eve in NYC and he took an incredible photo of the ball dropping in Times Square. It was a rainy night and the lights from 7th Ave were blurred in the pavement. There were halos of blue, white, red and yellow. The buildings were casted with violet and blue light. The focal point is Times Square literally glowing like it is the heart of the city. It was a really cool shot. He asked if I was able to make a re-creation* of the picture and I accepted the challenge.

It has been a hot minute since I’ve painted and that is mostly because I’ve been raising tiny humans. Those two jobs aren’t easy to do at the same time. My previous experience with painting was with oil paints and while they are beautiful to work with they are also a pain and toxic . . . did I mention I’m raising tiny humans? Life is about paper plates, prepackaged crackers, paints that dry quickly, and brushes that can be cleaned with soap and water. I once viewed acrylic paints as the lesser of the paints; I was wrong. There is so much that can be done with acrylics and with different mediums they can paint like oils. I really enjoyed painting this piece and am so thankful for every opportunity that gives me a chance to paint outside of my comfort zone.

Heart of the City, 2019
acrylic on canvas

What I have learned is that I only had a vague idea about what I wanted my blog to be. Am I a portrait artist, a painter, an illustrator? Am I all those things? Am I none of those things? (I’m basically Po from Kung Fu Panda 3)I’m going to write and create my way through these questions and more. I’m ready to get back to work, hopefully I can reach some peace with it all and as an artist find my voice and path, much like Po.

*recreation: Some thoughts, more than one person has said something to me along the lines of “Is it really art if you are only copying a picture?” Art is so subjective, I’ve seen some things in the MOMA that I wouldn’t consider art and I’ve seen things my kid has brought home from school that looks like it should be in a museum. From the outside I guess I can see where someone would ask that question. But there is such a process to it all and for me it is a re-creation. I’m not copying the image, I’m using the picture to create something new. Same with the NYC painting, it is not the exact picture, I pulled out the parts of the picture that I thought helped give that feeling of being there that New Years Eve night in New York City. Everyone has their opinion on what art is to them. And that is what I think is great, there is an artist for every definition.