Every day DailyPaintworks.com sends out an email embedded with thumbnails of hundreds of new artworks that member artists have posted. I feel guilty when I receive those daily emails and have no new collages posted in them. If I’m not represented, then I haven’t been productive enough, but sometimes other activities get in the way of creating new works. How can these other artists be so prolific all the time? I’m in the studio four days/week, but even when I’m there, there is no guarantee that I’ll CREATE anything. I try to do all of my business paperwork and show entries outside of studio/gallery hours, but, even so, other activities get in the way of creativity, and hence I feel inadequate.
I have noticed that my feelings have changed, though, since I embraced this path in my life. During the years I worked in a corporate job and when I was teaching, I can remember CRAVING color and texture. To me that craving was every bit as visceral as sexual desire, and even more intense than hunger. Walking through a fabric store could be as stimulating as watching a porno movie. Sometimes I could do nothing more about the desire than get out some colored pencils and make a few swirls, or pull out old needlework or a crocheting project, but most often I just had to choke down the desire. Now, fortunately, I don’t suffer from those intense physical and psychical feelings because I know I will soon have access to my materials and the opportunity to get to work with colors and patterns.
But my father taught me that “Time is money,” and that when one is self-employed, productivity goes hand-in-hand with income. My father the musician didn’t accept unpaying playing jobs because he viewed his time as too valuable, and hence I can’t get over the feelings of guilt associated with busying myself with activities that don’t ultimately pay or that aren’t an investment toward a possibility of payout. I try to weigh each activity in which I’m involved with its possible productive outcome, but sometimes I feel trapped into spending time on a project that won’t add to my coffers. Does income ultimately matter most (was my daddy right?), or can one actually ENJOY spending time mindlessly on activities that may have no ultimate payout (or was he wrong)? How does one separate the PRACTICAL, fiscal side of how one spends time from the desire to be part of something bigger than oneself?
I’m probably overthinking all this, but time is precious now. As a milestone birthday draws near, I view time differently than I once did. When I was in my teens and twenties, time couldn’t go fast enough: on to the next life-changing accomplishment, over the next hurdle, etc. Now I see the end of my life, and every day passed unproductively is robbing me of remaining time and is ultimately taking away from the small bucket of time I have left on earth. There are still so many more things to do! More than ever I see my life as a gamble—sometimes there’s a payout and sometimes there isn’t. I want to make sure that at least I break even, and that I balance personally productive time with unproductive rather than dallying away my time left.
That being said, it’s time for me to get to work. Here’s a draft of a project in process. The pieces are all loose—nothing’s glued down—but it’s a custom piece honoring a beloved grand-daughter. What a wonderful subject!