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The Gift of Time

June 17, 2017

For years on end I commuted to work five days a week, and had to find time to fit my art somewhere into the rest of an exhausting schedule. Even so, I was determined, because art was my saving grace. I kept everything out and ready to go at a moment’s notice, after dinner and for longer stretches on the weekends. I recognized art making as my go-to anti-depressant. It still is.

My studio was my air-conditioned garage, just off the kitchen and the heart of the house. I was never far away if someone needed me. I learned to work with interruptions. Multiple small-scale textural paintings were perfect for that way of working, because they each required their own time to dry, sometimes a couple of days.

After retiring from my day job, and having successfully launched the last of the grown kids out into the world, I developed a strong aversion to any kind of time commitments that might take me away from the studio. At the same time, I worked hard on making art my life’s work and my business. On most days, showing up for work no longer had a dress code, or certain hours. Occasional appointments, short-term teaching gigs, show openings, and sporadic meetings (preferably with artists) were OK, but having to be somewhere the same days every week? Been there, done that.

In recent years I’ve managed to have a little vegetable garden, just because it was a long-cherished dream and a strong family tradition. It brought us great joy and some fine meals.

But since my husband died almost a year ago, I have decided that I want to concentrate on my art now. I’ve ripped out my raised beds, and raked the soil into the grass. I thought it was going to be a difficult decision, but it really wasn’t. It’s a relief, and feels like a gift of time.

I’ve achieved the isolation I always dreamed about, but without any kind of structure to nudge me into action. It’s an adjustment. But the flexibility to start a project and keep at it until exciting things start to happen is an opportunity to stretch and grow as an artist. I hope I am up to the challenge.

Never Forget – Collage, 4×4 inches


25 Comments leave one →
  1. Good Golly Miss Molly permalink
    June 17, 2017 12:18 pm

    Martha – you hit on something both artists and writers struggle with – keeping at their work until something interesting starts to happen. So often those around us don’t get that part of it (“well, you don’t LOOK busy”), but that’s exactly what we all need – the time to be patient with our work and quiet and even isolated. A lovely post and collage.

    • June 17, 2017 9:52 pm

      Thank you, Miss Molly! You said it well. “The time to be patient with our work and quiet, and even isolated.” I grabbed some of that time this evening with some good jazz playing in the background. Heaven!

  2. June 17, 2017 1:55 pm

    I look forward to this myself in a year! I feel the same way about wanting to choose what I do every day and look forward to lots more studio time.

    • June 17, 2017 9:57 pm

      Liz-Anna, I just now visited your blog and saw your beautiful studio shots. More studio time will change your life!

  3. June 17, 2017 3:30 pm

    I love the way you describe your creative process. May your days hold beauty, peace and joy.

  4. Sandra Kennedy permalink
    June 17, 2017 5:05 pm

    Lovely of you to share your artistic journey. I wish you every success stretching and growing as an artist (and you’re pretty good now!). The veg look great, I hope you have a good source of fresh veg nearby. I too am making my rather large garden more easy care, have reduced the veg area, and am replacing some plants with easy care shrubs/groundcovers, especially our native plants which cope better with our strange weather. My painting “studio” is also my dining-room, and finally I’ve had a wall cupboard retrofitted to make it easy to swap the room between painting and dining. Long may you continue to enjoy your art.

    • June 17, 2017 10:00 pm

      Thank you so much, Sandra. Yes, this area has an amazing array of fresh and even organic vegetables to choose from. I think I’ll be saving money when all is said and done! My dining room was my studio for a period of time when I lived in Florida. Then it stretched over into the living room. Good thing I had a supportive husband.

  5. patqu permalink
    June 17, 2017 5:41 pm

    Good, you now have the freedom to create without the constant commitments. I too used to work,garden, raise children.. I am glad I was able to accomplish all that when I was younger. But am so happy to be able to just concentrate on my interests. Carry on Martha.

    • June 17, 2017 10:01 pm

      Yes, Pat — life can be good if we make it so. Thank you for being here and for always encouraging me.

  6. Ruthie Sexton permalink
    June 17, 2017 6:30 pm

    Hi! Martha
    Cradled panels and/or gallery wrap panels…for collage… do you collage around sides or paint the sides?
    What type of cutter do you use for your large circles?
    Paint, do you use liquid acrylic or tube acrylic? I use tubes because I do small art too.
    What type of glue do you use? I use Liquitex matte medium.
    I WISH YOU WERE ON WEST COAST I would love being in your class!! Ever thought about doing an online class??
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself and your lovely art. I soooo look forward to your emails!!!
    Ruthie Sexton

    • June 17, 2017 10:08 pm

      OK Ruthie, let’s see . . .

      The cradled panels are for my paintings. I’ve been doing those for about 10 years now. The collage is a whole other way of working for me, and quite a different body of work. But if I were to collage the panels, I would paint the sides, probably black, as I do now with the paintings.

      My paper circles aren’t large – just an inch and a half, because I have one circle punch that size. And I have a square punch as well. I enjoy punching circles and squares. My punches are Fiskars.

      My paints come from whatever is handy — fluid acrylics or tube acrylics.

      My glue for collage is most often Liquitex matte medium.

      Online classes . . . I’d love to do some. I just need to get it together an figure out how to do them.

      I’m so glad you enjoy the blog, Ruthie. That means so much. Thank you!

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