Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dear Lani

Collage by Lani
I got a note from a visitor to from Cherry Hill, NJ, and I thought the questions were pretty universal, so I thought why not put the question(s) and answers here.

Here's the note:
Dear Lani,

I have just finished visiting your website and want to thank you for the inspiration.

I am a 46 year-old, married, mother of three from Cherry Hill, New Jersey who is finding it hard to start anything artistic at the moment. I have an interest in assemblage art, collage, journals, fabric art, sewing and numerous other crafts. And I have so many ideas, but it is hard to get anything done, both with art and housework. I go to do something creative, then look around, and the housework needs doing.

An internal wall suddenly rises. If I am creating, the only time I realize where the time went is when the children get home from school or I look up and realize it's time to get the dinner on.

I would like to be able to enjoy both my art and home. I have found in the past that when I am creating, and then I go and do something in the house, that the housework is actually more enjoyable.. But this does not last long. And I find myself getting irritable if I am interrupted when creating.

My questions are:
1. Is there such a thing as taking on too many projects at once? I have a few unfinished projects that I work on then leave and come back to. Other artists seem to manage this very well.
2. How do I get rid of the internal critic?

3. I have tried to just block everything out and go for it, which is okay for a time. How do I sustain the euphoria of creating?

I was hoping you could shed some light on these questions.

Kind Regards,
Married in Cherry Hill

And here's my answer:

I am so glad you asked these question. I love these sorts of problems! What I love most about them is how close we are to the answers.

I suspect that carving out time for what sustains you is really what this is all about. Folks that study the link between health, happiness, and creativity point to a minimum daily requirement of 20-23 minutes a day of creative, quiet, reflective time for optimal health. So it's no wonder that you feel happier when doing house work after art. Art gives you energy and good health.

To approach things in an organized manner would probably mean eliciting cooperation from your family. Sit down to a family meeting and state your intention and need to work on your creative projects. (This is what families do when they need to make changes that involve everyone's help.) You will be getting them involved in finding solutions to the issues of running a household while maintaining personal interests and pursuits. If they are helping with finding solutions they will be quite invested in good outcomes, which helps you a lot.

There are many folks out there with great time management ideas for you to take a look at. You can go through these few links here and make notes before you sit down with your family. You could also do a google search for websites devoted to time management for artist/moms.
*My good friend Marney Makridakis has a wonderful time management booklet in the Artella Shoppes.
*Blue Suit Mom is a website devoted to time management for mothers.
*Organizing Network had a great article in their archives, just click here.
*And here's a link for an article from one of my favorite websites, All Things Frugal.
Give yourself permission to enjoy the things that feed your soul like assemblage art, collage, journals, fabric art, sewing and other crafts. By doing this you will feel more complete, healthy, and happy and you will have so much more to give your family!

As for question #1, I think that having more than one project on the go is essential for many of us creative folks. But it can get confusing, so one way of keeping this clear is keep things as visible as possible, keeping projects in clear plastic tubs, bags, and containers, so that things are tidy but you still see them.

As far as inner critics go(#2), my idea would be to give your inner critic a helpful job to do. Julia Cameron suggests getting up before your critic, doing your morning journaling (and I find art journaling works quite well) before you are totally awake, before you've had a shower or started thinking of all you have to do. Once you have a small body of work accumulated, let your inner critic find ways to improve your work. This is what your inner critic is for, to help you do your very best. Make your inner critic an editorial assistant.

#3. "How do I sustain the euphoria of creating?" I'm not sure that euphoria is something that can be sustained really. One of my teachers, Edith Kramer, is very fond of the "second wind" idea with art making. She's observed that artists have an initial euphoric feeling that things are going well but then like runners, they hit a wall. Edith feels that it's very important to push beyond that wall, to get the "second wind" effect. She says the best art making happens after the artist pushes through the wall and finds the "second wind" phase.

I hope that answers some of Married in Cherry Hill's questions. I sure hope she doesn't feel alone with all of this because she isn't!


Patti said...

Oh, Lani, I'm so glad she found you! You hit the nail on the head - how many of us feel like we have adequate time for our creative endeavors?!? And, silencers for those nasty inner voices griping that "the dust bunnies organized and the vacuum cleaner went missing," or "the kids should eat more than pot pies and popsicles," and, "is that your laundry or did you rent space to the dry cleaner," and so on. Even when I am caught up, which is never, I battle with these issues and try to remember that the cost of therapy can pay for a lot of art supplies!

art and beautiful junk said...

Sounds like me. These questions are what make me crazy. I have only so much time and way too much to do. I mean, my real life is what I call mundane but I know it is important. Especially to those who count on me. I am getting older and tire easier now. I used to be able to stay up all night and work on my art but now I need sleep. Some times I get up early but I never seem to get done what I want to do and then there's the high from doing art...I could really do art all the time and let everything else go. But, there are those who count on me so I have good times and bad times. I have productive days and days that totally not mine. I have been trying to take it a day at a time without being resentful of those who count on me.
Thanks for the questions and the answers. Gotta go now. They need me.

Lani Gerity said...

I hope Married reads these comments!

Judy said...

Wonderful answers Lani, married in lucky to have found you to answer them for her.

Annabelle said...

Interesting and it kinda describes me.Didn't know about the second wind but I surely can relate to my art pieces I finished....very true! Thanks