September! It’s the best month for a vacation, don’t you think? When I had a regular job, I always reserved a couple of weeks in September for traveling, or just for hanging around the house or in museums. But one casualty of the creative life is often free time. Make no mistake- I’m free to schedule my time, and I enjoy that. But the necessity of creating cash flow to pay off previous health, framing or other business costs when sales don’t cover them often leads to a lack of unscheduled time, especially during prime months.
Today is a beautiful day and an unexpected day off. My temp job at the bookstore will not need me to cover vacations till next week. I am trying to catch up a few tasks today, and then I’m giving myself a vacation, too. I’ll need it! I have another job coming behind this one that will be interesting- fabricating art for installations here and in other cities. But it will again make downtime scarce.
Artists also need to schedule studio time, and it’s easy to put on the back burner, especially when paying debts off. But again, the ability to give myself regular studio time doesn’t feel like obligation- it feels like freedom. It’s necessary, and art work suffers when I don’t print regularly, but creative hours don’t constrain the mind; they actually stretch it.
I’m lucky- and grateful- that some of my various part-time jobs actually help me to engage my creative life. I checked my 4-week monotype workshop and it just barely filled. So vacation postponed for Tuesday, and part of Wednesday too, as I have a DPL workshop at Schlessman Library that evening. However, the workshops will be a return to art in an unusually important sense for me. I recently alluded to the notion of writing about books in my posts to process what they mean to me. The same is true of teaching printmaking. My monotype workshops are intended to address the frustrations of trying to incorporate our creative lives into our daily lives. With that in mind, I try to engender a spirit of camraderie, exploration and spontaneity into the proceedings all while trying to instill disciplined habits and a professional manner in the print room. When there are 7 fellow artists in one studio, one must be mindful. But that mindfulness is a precious gift, to me.
I’m usually rusty after a break from studio anyway ( it’s been over 3 months) so the simple physical act of making demo prints and re-establishing good print room habits is valuable in the sense that body memory is a useful physical discipline. But the conversation will also help me get my mind back to my real work as well. In helping others solve creative problems, I’ll loosen up my own creative muscles. I often stay after my class and work on my own things – I have the ink and tools out anyway. I’m hoping to hit the ground running this fall and produce some large work. I’ll try to post more about my various projects this fall, though I really love the book blurbs too, so I’ll be posting those, as well.
But Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week I’m putting down to reading, museums, soccer and puttering about the house. The weather should be good, and my last big paycheck will arrive Friday. It’s been a long, productive summer (except art making) so I’m going to reap my reward: time. Studio time is as valuable as a glass of wine and a good book in warm golden September sun, and I’m going to try to get a little of both before the first frost hits.