January is just whizzing by me. Surely, time moves faster as you chase it. And I feel as if I have been chasing it, with so much to do, and trying to fit it all in. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just stop, and breathe. And slow down the moment. And pay attention.
For months now, I’ve been simultaneously preparing for war and peace, so to speak. ( I think it’s an Einstein quote, and he actually said, ” You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”) For about a year, now, I’ve been going to school part time to complete a certificate in technical writing. I’ve also been trying to increase my hours in the studio, ramping up my practice, trying to make a go of being a full-time artist. The sensible fall back plan, and the big dream. I feel like every day I get up and just throw myself at it all. There is rarely a sense of completion, because there is always something more to do. I just keep setting little goals, and moving forward. Inch. By. Inch.
There are financial pressures. I don’t know if the artwork can answer them. It seems to be gaining traction, but I have to wait and see how it all shakes out. I really want to be able to jump in with both feet into… something. But for now, I must simultaneously prevent and prepare.
Painting and technical writing might seem at odds with one another. And it does feel like I’m living two lives, or preparing for two futures, or even two potential selves, sometimes. Each activity exploits different parts of my personality. But the two things also compliment one another in remarkable ways. When I was working my way through my foundation technical writing courses, I was struck with how the skills I was learning could be directly applied to all of the writing that I am required to do as an artist- statements, bios, website copy, etc. Active voice, defining audience, elegance, efficiency, specific language, direct style. My studio notebook has become my constant companion, and I’ve learned to just get it all down, and edit later. My editing class sharpened my attention and further developed my appreciation for brevity and specificity in my painting practice.
Right now, I’m taking a course in Information Graphics, and I find myself asking different questions in the studio. Questions like “What is the question that the work answers?” and “How do I shape the data to answer the question?”. It’s all pretty interesting stuff.
One of the things I always do in January is clean my studio, and this year was no exception. I also tried to create a “clean” area, over to the right, for a drawing space. I’m trying to have a corner that isn’t covered in wax and paint splatters! (I know–good luck!) I’ve also added the memory foam mat on the floor, because all the standing takes it’s toll. If you don’t have one of these in the studio, get thee to thy computer, and order one. They are heaven.
Well, then, back to work! I have a data set to download, and some paper cutting to do!