Monday, September 28, 2009
Not to make light of those who face addictions of any sort, but I have often likened my obsession with creating to a drug addiction. If you are an artist, you will fully understand this. If you are not, you may find this statement strange.
I just went back into the studio after nearly four months of no artwork activity.We have been building a new studio and for the past few months my supplies have been in boxes and equipment not accessible because of having to use the barn for building supplies. On top of that, I have simply had no time. Managing a building project has been more of a handful than I ever expected!
As I said, four months no artwork. I had mentally prepared myself for not doing any artwork over the summer. I gave myself permission to focus on other things with the knowing that I would, come the end of August, be moving into a new, better studio space that I could use in the winter months as well. Not a bad trade-off. I could handle the short term.
But two months turned into three and a half months and counting. When away from the clay too long, I get agitated. Little things bother me. I begin to obsess on what I am not getting done in the studio. I get cranky, maybe even slightly depressed. the demands of a full-time teaching job add to the stress and give even more reason why I need my "fix".
I couldn't take it any longer - no more waiting. I told Chris that no matter what, I was going to begin clay work with or without the new studio.
So this past weekend I heated up the barn and foraged through boxes looking for tools that had been put away awaiting their new home. I found enough to get me rolling. Filled a bucket with warm water and wedged about 30 balls of clay. I went to the hardware store and bought plastic tarp to line the barn walls and floor, and with my not-too-strong arms managed to shift the heavy potter's wheel into place. I started with my ritual throwing of mini pots, then working my way up to the larger bowls.
I instantly felt the most relaxed I have in months. All the worries about not having the new space ready, or the follow-up LAA work, or prep for school....just started to dissipate. I was centered, calm, complete. It felt so good, and long overdue. Hours passed in a flash.
As with any addiction, once you start in again with your substance of choice, you want more and more. Suddenly I am again ignoring the basic things that need to be taken care of. All I can think about is getting back into the studio, my hands in the mud. I lay awake in the middle of night thinking about I will make next. I hope for morning to come soon so I can get up and bring my ideas into some sort of visual reality. I remind myself to set limits as to how many hours I am allowed to be in the studio, lest I ignore too many other important things (and Chris lets me know when this is happening!) But eventually, the planned six hour sessions turn into 12 here and there. It is a cycle that is hard to break out of.
On the whole scale of things, an addiction to art is not so bad. I have, however, found myself saying more than once, that it is not an easy life being an artist. It dictates the space you live in, gives you sleepless nights when the mind won't stop inventing, and costs loads of money in supplies with little financial return.
It doesn't feel a choice to be an artist; you are just are. That desire to create is strong, and it has a tight hold on my soul.