This article in the NYT about what the author has learned in her forties inspired me to make my own list.
Some things I’ve learned in my 40’s:
1. People are paying less attention to us than we think they are. Feel free to leave the house with black shoes and navy socks. No one will notice.
2. It’s okay to openly acknowledge that there are some books we will never want to read no matter how important they are in the literary canon. I officially announce that I no longer care that I will never want to read Faulkner or Joyce.
3. It’s okay to accept that you will never be a person who…. runs a marathon, gives up sugar/gluten/meat, holds political office, dresses like a fashion icon, marries George Clooney…we all do lots of things and it’s okay that it’s none of those.
4. In your 40’s you realize that your time is limited. So get to work…there is a lot of art to make!
5. Accept the idea of a new normal. For me this is the decade of “but my body never used to do that/look like that/feel like that.” Well, it does now. So instead of berating yourself, let’s acknowledge that there is a new normal. And while we’re at it, let’s take care of ourselves with more purpose and compassion.
6. Our natural awesomeness gets more awesome as we age. Happily this coincides with being more confident and less scared to be seen for who we really are. So let’s all make a loud noise in the world! Other people need and want to hear what we have to say.
I think the 40’s are my favorite decade so far. What do you think? Loving your decade or ready to move on? It’s a fun topic for reflection.
I’ve been on a roll carving woodblocks the last few days. Above is a shot of finished blocks propped up on my easel waiting to be printed. If I stash them away I won’t remember to print them and they’ll never be finished. So I leave them out in plain sight where they call to me until I get out the ink and make them into prints. If only there were a few more hours in the day…
I also started a new block. It’s not yet finished but here is the sketch (detail), stage one (detail) and stage two. I’m having the best time with this one.
The change to Fall seems to have energized me in the studio. How about you? What are you working on this week?
A few days ago I came home from this beautiful spot. But I’m still there in my heart and mind.
I hope you’re ending your summer dwelling in sunshine and saltwater!
I’m happy to report that I have been busy finding words. And I’m equally pleased to say that I’m just letting them come; getting them down on paper with no judgments, no revision, only small amounts of inner critic. It’s that honeymoon phase during which you can tell yourself it doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad or otherwise…it’s only word finding.
I’ve also been working to finish studio projects that have been hanging around for a while. The thistle detail above is from a series of four woodblocks that I’ve just finished carving. This seahorse too:
I now have two sets of woodblocks to print and then those small bodies of work will be finished. It’s the natural rhythm, I thnk, to finish up projects as the summer ends and be ready to begin fresh work. (I may have to do some more seahorses – I love them!)
What new work will September bring? What are you busy finishing before autumn?
I am an artist who loves images.
I am also a writer who loves words.
This month I’m spending time with my writer self, opening up some doors in my mind that have been closed a little too long. Time to throw them open, clear out the dust and find some words.
So I made this is the studio this week to offer myself some encouragement.
After writing The Proper Care and Feeding of your Artist last week I realized that if we artists are going to ask for more support from friends and family we need to define our terms.
For example, I wrote that if your friends and family don’t know how you measure your success as an artist, they should ask you. This means, of course, that you have to have your answer ready.
So let’s do our homework:
1. How do I define my own success as an artist? What kind of recognition/sales/etc. do I want to achieve (if any)?
For me, my success is more about living the life of a working artist than about making any certain amount of money. I love that I get to have a studio and spend most of my working hours making art. The fact of working as an artist is a big part of feeling successful for me.
2. What kind of feedback do I want?
The answer to this is very person-dependent; I want different feedback from different people. If the person in question is a fellow artist I’d like something different than I would if the viewer is a personal friend or family member.
3. Have a ready answer when a friend or family member asks what they can do to support you. Would you like them to go on an artist date/buy something small from your Etsy shop/text you now and then during the work day to remind you that you’re not alone? Be prepared so that when they ask you have your answer ready. Again, you might have more than one answer depending on who is asking.
For my part, I’m thinking of making The Care of Feeding of your Artist a printable manifesto to hand around to people I know. If it comes together I will share it so you can spread the word too.
Let’s make gathering support for artists a mission! We need it and we deserve it.