Monday, September 28, 2009

My Addiction

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.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Life Speeding Along

Shanna warping the Earth Loom in saturday's gusty downeast wind, preparing to weave in honor of Mabon with plants harvested from our land.

Last night I dreamt of a white horse running through a field. Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of it's mane which looked like a Pegasus wing. The horse eventually came to me and I was able to pat it.

When I dream of animals, I refer to the book "Animal Speak" by Ted Andrews, to gain some insight into the dream's meaning. The horse represents freedom and journey, and judging by how fast this horse was running, I sense that some parts of my life might be moving very fast for me, faster than I might normally expect.

It is an odd juxtaposition, to on one level sense this speed, but on another level there are moments that feel so still and slow.

This past summer had me busy between building the new studio and organizing for Lubec Arts Alive. From these projects (which are both still in progress though transitioning toward an "end") I went back to my teaching job at school. At the same time, I have new projects forming in my mind and ideas about moving the arts forward for both our community and in my own personal studio and work as an artist. My mind never seems to rest.

Yet, in this one time-warp type moment yesterday, all things slowed to a perfect moment of stillness.

I had hustled around the house all morning in preparation for the Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour. The final preparation was to warp the Earth Loom so that visitors could join me in weaving. At first, I was a bit discouraged. The air felt bitterly cold, and the wind was whipping wild. My hands were approaching numb and I still had many strings to measure, cut, and tie.

In this moment, listening to the rustle of tree limbs sway, leaves twirling and falling to the ground, I was in a meditative space with the rhythm of repetitive cutting and tying. I looked out over the field and toward the water, then the sky, watching the trees sway and grey clouds move quickly by with peeks of blue coming through. Instead of being the one always moving fast, I felt still and centered while nature moved fiercely around me.

Then, like a slow-motion movie scene, an osprey flew toward me, swooping down to perhaps only thirty feet from ground, then back up and over the barn, between an opening of trees, and off over the field.

It was a magical moment.

A freelance writer from a Canadian arts magazine interviewed me on Friday (I was one of many artists interviewed) and she asked a question about how the land inspires my work. Words can't fully express an entire philosophy and reverence for nature that I feel. But if I could have relayed to her that moment with the osprey, if she could have stepped inside my soul and felt that perfectly still yet whirling moment, I think she would have understood.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray!

Shanna giving a cheer at Crow Town Gallery on opening night of Lubec Arts Alive 2009
Photo by Goodman/Van Riper Photography

Chris is off to Calais today to run errands and I thought I would snag a few minutes of the day to finally post a blog entry. The photo above says it all...relief to see things in action that I have been working on this past summer. Lubec Arts Alive was a huge success and just today I got the 200 photos titled and uploaded to a Flicker site. The work for LAA2009 continues, but I am closing in on finishing up the 2009 responsibilities. Of course, there is always LAA2010 to contend with...but we'll deal with that "little" project as it approaches.

For now, I am content to be sitting in my comfy big chair and breathing easy that one more task is complete. Still, the list is long, but I am feeling like routine is back to some sort of normalcy. School started a couple weeks ago and I am pleased that so far, knock on wood, all things are good on that helm. I am enjoying the classes and looking forward to seeing what masterpieces the students create this year. Even though teaching can be overwhelming at times, it can also be inspiring and rewarding. I would like to see the latter increase over the challenges long term!

The studio addition project continues. We are closing in on the final details. Soon the floor will be laid, stairs finished, and equipment moved in. We are still dealing with some leaking into the new basement, and until that is fixed, the kiln and wheel will not be moved. I am finding myself antsy, and wanting to create. This cold weather moving in has me moving toward hibernation mode and all I can think about (when not thinking about teaching or Lubec Arts Alive) is being in my own sacred creative space. I had hoped to be fully in there by next weekend since I am on the Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour, but it looks more like I will be in the process of moving furniture and supplies while visitors stop by! Close enough!

During Lubec Arts Alive, Chris gave a poetry reading in the new studio. It was amazing! even without the floor installed or the window trim in place, the ambiance was perfect. I keep dreaming of what other wonderful events we will be hosting in the future. The new space is a dream come true. I feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful to all who have had a hand in helping us achieve this goal.

If I want to see that new space ready for the loom and wheel, I suppose I should get back to staining boards and painting walls.

Check out the Lubec Arts Alive Sites:
Lubec Arts Alive Blog
Lubec Arts Alive Photos on Flicker

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hiatus from Blogging

With the start of school last week, Lubec Arts Alive post-project details, and working on the new studio at the same time - I am a bit behind with my blogging. I plan to make a new entry this weekend please check back later! I will hopefully be posting new pics of the studio progress, as well as a link to see a ton of photos from the Lubec Arts Alive event. Check out the other blog (which needs to be updated too!) to see the incredible mural that is now housed at the Lubec Historical Society. Natasha Mayers led the project and she was amazing!