John Lennon said, Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.
And I think, Has he been looking over my shoulder?
Obviously that can't be true ... even if he was still around. So how did he know?
Because it’s a universal problem that we all experience.
When you’ve got deadlines to meet and responsibilities to take care of and you’ve scheduled your days and weeks and dollars down to the very last second, hour and cent and everything’s going along swimmingly until … the car won’t start or water heater exploded or your client cancelled the project or, oops, somebody forgot to pay the electric bill … life showed up and interrupted your plans.
And we blame it on life, because many times it’s out of the blue. And many times we caused it ourselves by either inadvertently or purposefully ignoring the warning signs and plowing on through.
Regardless, we will blame life, because that feels so much better than admitting our own negligence.
Because art imitates life – lucky us – this same kind of thing happens in the studio when we’re creating our beautiful art.
The wrist and the pencil just aren’t feeling it today. That brain that was with you all fifty times you read that paragraph, isn’t coughing up any great illustrations to accompany it. Or maybe you’ve got a great graphic and need to say something brilliant and catchy that just won’t come. Or the dreaded blank white page, begging for words and color that elude you in direct proportion to how near a deadline is ... the nearer the deadline, the more elusive they are. Unless the deadline has already whooshed on by … then they are likely to be gone completely!
These are just a few ways that life shows up in the artist’s studio. And important reasons why artists need other artists and why I love chatting with Dixie, Gerrie, and my quilting friends.
Every one of us has days when life is happening to us. Sometimes life happens on our Gathering weekend … quilt blocks get sewn upside down; needles break; machines act up; some drawing or rendering just won’t come together no matter how hard we try; colors on a canvas turn to mud and we have to start over. It’s so nice to have somebody right there who’s been through that, too. They probably won’t have some instant solution or sage advice. They don’t need to. It’s enough to know that they understand. They’ve experienced it, too. They’ve known that frustration and lived to tell the tale. We will survive, too.
When you stay holed up in your lonely studio too often and too long, life will happen and deal you blows over and over and over. That’s what life does. In your head you know that it’s not fatal and you will get past it. And you know it will come again, and you’ll survive that, too.
But your heart is more fragile. And your heart will listen to your head … for a time or two. But after a few more times, and your heart will succumb to the pounding and no message from your head will get through. And your art will suffer mightily, because art originates in the heart. When your heart has been pounded enough, the art might stop completely. And that would be beyond tragic.
So nip that nonsense in the bud right here and now, and get busy locating your own Dixie’s and Gerrie’s. You need to be around creatives who do what you do or something very similar.
Start with online groups; check out social media; maybe find clubs or local chapters of clubs or organizations; take classes related to what you do; hang out in places where your types would hang out.
It’s not really easy, because many creatives are reclusive by nature. But everybody needs other people, though maybe just a handful and not a crowd. Keep up the search ... you will find them eventually.
Then when those days show up when life is happening to you or them – and they will! – you’ll be there to lift one another up.
And that wonderful art you do will not only continue ... it will get better and better and better ...