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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

 

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. margaret conte permalink
    June 17, 2017 7:35 pm

    i dig it !

  2. June 18, 2017 7:40 am

    So glad that you have good chunks of quality time for your wonderful art. Love visiting your blog and seeing what you’re doing. Since retiring 5 years ago I’ve taken up painting, and I’ve continued my main interest in abstract Improv art quilting. From a fan of yours in Huntsville.

    • June 18, 2017 8:01 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Connie. I’d love to see some of your work. Do you have a Facebook page, Flickr, Instagram, or a website? I’d especially love to see your Improv art quilting. Much like collage, I’m sure! Enjoy your studio time.

  3. joreimer permalink
    June 18, 2017 9:53 am

    I’m so glad you shared some of your personal story with us. I wasn’t aware of your husbands death … I’m sorry for your loss and the grief that follows. I’ll bet your art helped so much We’re both retired and have moved to a smaller home and studio and I’m still adjusting to the move and to his worsening health so there’s less time for artmaking , or that’s just a story I tell myself. Structure and motivation are In order. But now I can say “if Martha can do it, so can”.
    I love your tiny collages. Are these done as a daily warmup?

    • June 19, 2017 8:44 am

      Jo, we had downsized considerably when we moved to this house in 2010. But even though it’s small, it has a closed in, insulated, and air-conditioned garage that is now my studio. My heart goes out to you. Sometimes we have to make the art fit the circumstances.

      As for the tiny collages, I just love the size and format. I like them even smaller, but haven’t yet experimented making a series of them. Of course for purposes of shipping, the smaller the better. Daily warmups usually consist of making more papers — printing, hand painting, cutting interesting imagery from magazines.

  4. June 18, 2017 9:58 am

    When I retired i thought I too would have the gift of time. After raising kids, working for many years, it was finally going to be my time. Until I inherited my grandson that is. My studio became his bedroom. This is the first time in my life I have been without a studio. I have a small table set up in my bedroom and I am lucky my husband doesn’t mind when his dresser becomes full of drying papers. I have one more year until my grandson graduates from high school. I am trying hard to be patient but it is not easy. I am not getting any younger.

    I am glad you are getting back to your work. I love the new direction and the monoprints on your flickr page are really going to be wonderful collage additions. I too would love you to teach an online class!

    • June 19, 2017 8:47 am

      Hang in there, Roberta. I’m so glad you haven’t let your life circumstances keep you from your art. I have several friends walking the same path as you. I would be the first to do it if I were asked. A close friend nearby is 76 and has two of her teenaged grandchildren, whom she has raised. God bless you and all the rest who step up for family.

      Thank you for the nudge to do online classes. I need to make this year my goal!

  5. Norma Thompson permalink
    June 19, 2017 11:53 pm

    Loved reading about your journey….we are all on a life journey n it’s good to share. It reminds me that we are all connected …….

  6. July 25, 2017 1:55 am

    You’re definitely up to the challenge! Look forward to following through future photos and blogs. Enjoy it!

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