Bodysurfing in Art
People who are so consumed by their art that they forget to eat or bathe have always been a wonder to me.
When I subtitled this blog “radical retirement,” it was my brazen way of saying I was nailing it from Day One. A friend had told me it takes about five years to get into a rhythm in retirement, and I set out to prove her wrong. Except I didn’t. In several postings I expressed frustration with how much I wanted to do and how little time I seemed to have.
I’m nearly halfway through Year Five. I’m still not sure if I’ve got it right, but I’ve done a 180 in how my days are structured, and now even I forget to eat (or delay till I’m starving) and skip a shower now and then.
Since I got my art degree, I’ve been looking for something that would be “my” art–unique and identifiable, that I felt passionate about. I’ve dabbled in almost every medium, never feeling like I was getting close to mastery in anything. The closest I’ve come to feeling consumed has been this blog: when I sit down to put a piece together I stay with it like a dog with a bone. And body surfing. Whenever I’m in the surf, it’s always “one more wave.”
Through a weird confluence of events I believe I’ve found my true calling in art:
- Because of a stressful family situation I was seeing a therapist, who encouraged me to put my creative needs first. She also told me that people who don’t find an outlet for their creativity release it in drama instead.
- I started listening to Katherine Torrini’s Creative Life Spark and discovered I’m a High Voltage Woman. Katherine says if the voltage isn’t channeled it–guess what–comes out in unhealthy ways.
- I received a link to a post card swap. Hesitated to sign up–could I produce 10 small pieces of art I wouldn’t be ashamed to mail to another artist? I worked on it for a while before registering, so I’d be sure to have something to mail. Discarded two or more for every one even halfway usable, but kept pushing through. Surprised myself many times with the results. Finally registered and mailed out the 10 pieces I thought were the best (with at least a dozen left over I wasn’t so sure about). I’m also receiving cards in the mail, and mine hold up quite well in the mix.
Now that the swap is finished I can’t stop. If I don’t make at least one card a day I feel twitchy. When I’m working at the computer I’m coloring something (right now, as a matter of fact, while photos load). I’m mailing random cards to friends, people I’ve just met–anyone at all. I scan everything before it’s mailed as a record.
My granddaughter sometimes calls me “Jillybeans,” so that’s what I call this work. I’ve created a logo, labels, a business card, and *TA DA* a new Jillybeans blog.
Even if you can’t swap, if you’d like to receive an original jillybean, send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m getting my granddaughter into the act as well, and her recent work sort of channels Mondrian.
The funny thing about this reversal or priorities–the laundry still gets done, as well as the grocery shopping and choir practice and even bathing and eating. Just not quite so obsessively. I suppose I’ve just changed my obsession, but this is a lot more satisfying, and way more fun.