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Stars

The world of art is a galaxy of luminous stars.

My favourite social media feeds are filled with postings about art and artists.  Every hour, I am exposed to new images, new work, new media, new ideas.   I spend a portion of my day star-gazing, pondering the vastness of the creative Milky Way.  The work of other artists fills me with interest, bewilderment, and awe. It is wonderous and inspiring and very overwhelming. 

So many artists.  So much creativity.  So much good work.

The reality of one’s insignificance is revealed when you look at the stars above. 

I read an article recently about the top visual artists of the moment: the brightest stars in the galaxy.    I am ashamed to say I recognized only a handful of names on the list.  I was instantly concerned about my ignorance. I questioned my ability to make relevant work, being so out of touch with what is going on in the world of art –  supernova, mega-star, history-making Art.

My reality is far removed from the centre of the artistic galaxy.

The truth is, I make small work in a small village in a sparsely populated area of the planet.  I am geographically and culturally removed from large artistic centres.  I am not a superstar. I am a tiny star located 27,000 light years from the galactic creative centre:  a puny pinprick of light often clouded by interstellar dust.

I am not a Sirius, Canopus or Arcturus.

But, I am a star, shining on.

In order to keep working I have to believe that, in some small way, my work sends light out into the cosmos.  The sun in our solar system is small compared to other stars in the galaxy.  However, it has a vital part to play in the universe, especially to the astronomical objects surrounding it.

I have come to realize that everyday, everywhere, there are creative people making work in a modest way.

The Milky Way is formed by billions of stars emitting light together.  Individual stars, large and small, are no longer distinguishable within the band of light that arcs across the sky.

The beautiful, breathtaking glow is created by all.

So twinkle, twinkle, little star.

(By the way, according to those with more knowledge than me in such matters,  the centre of the galaxy is a supermassive black hole:  impressive, but very hard to shine around.)

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Interruptions

 

Last week, my creative work was a series of short bursts, distractions and irritations.   Spring break meant juggling parenting along with the usual part-time job, art business tasks, and studio time. The week was full of social obligations, such as family gatherings, birthdays, play dates and meetings.  I cooked meals, watched countless handstand attempts (my daughter’s latest obsession), fed cats, drove here, drove there, made gifts, and hid eggs.  Like a fool I tried to sneak in some art making time, but just as I would settle into the studio, there would be a hungry kid or a hungry cat or a phone call pulling me away.

By the weekend, a heavy case of crabbiness had set in.   I could feel the space between my eyebrows contract.  A squinty-eyed frown took over my face.   My temper shortened.  My tongue sharpened.  I recognized the signs and warned my family –  “Beware of Artist Interrupted”.

In my foul mood I daydreamed about an entire week of just being an artist.  Making work.  No distractions.  No obligations except the studio.  No people.  No cats.

Then, Monday arrived.   My schedule returned to normal.  My sweet, happy  daughter went back to school, my husband went to work, and I climbed the stairs to the studio.

I sat down at my work table and immediately felt guilty.

I am spoiled. I have a beautiful studio in a brand new house.   My part-time job is only two mornings a week.  I usually have 2 full days and 3 half days a week to work on my art life. The social outings that pared down my work time last week are a sign that I am surrounded by family and friends.  I have my husband’s support and my daughter’s love.

The truth is, if I had a whole week by myself with no interruptions, I would probably be bored and burned out after 2 days.  I would waste time because I could.  I would have more time to distract myself with unimportant things, such as organizing my sock drawer and scrubbing the studio sink.  Knowing my time in the studio is limited forces me to focus.

My life as a whole feeds my creative work.   I base my drawings and collages on my experiences as a mother, wife and community member.  Without the interruptions, I would have nothing to make art about.

I really should be giving thanks for all the annoying distractions.

So please, interrupt me,

but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Marring the Page

  

The blank, unspoiled page is a place of possibility.  The potential to create greatness, goodness, beauty, truth, and meaning is before you.  The paper awaits your hand, your marks, your words, your voice, and so you lift the pen, the brush, or the pencil to begin and then

pause.

You hover with uncertainty over the page.  The fear of ruining the perfection of possibility settles in.  To make the first mark is to commit to the inevitable mistakes and struggles of creative work.  

An artist can get stuck indefinitely in fear of marring the page.

I return to blog writing after a very long break.  This post is the equivalent of making a bold mark on a pristine page in a new sketchbook.  I don’t know what the work will look like a week, a month or a year from now.  These first few posts may look like the misfit drawings found at the beginning of a sketchbook.  They may not fit in once the momentum builds and work flows.  

However, I am making marks and

I am using a permanent marker.