Lemons, lemons, lemons. Sometimes life just keeps throwing you lemons. Out of the blue, KAPOW! Lemon to the back of the head. Or worse, one giant pile of lemons buries you with a loud KUTHUD. Lemon seems to be the flavor of life. Lucky for me, fresh squeezed lemon-aid happens to be one of my favorite drinks.
So what do lemons have to do with living a creative life, you know, besides the fact that you keep getting pummeled by them? ROUTINE. Lemons are those problematic routine disruptors that send you flying off course just when you thought things were going great. Routine is one of those simple joys in life that, in our fast-paced and ever changing society, we tend to underrate or completely overlook. Routine is one of the most important aspects of living a creative life. Repetition is a beautiful zen-like experience for an artist or maker, and a consistent routine is what allows artists to zone out and solve creative problems.
The idea of embracing routine flies in the face of what we're taught an artist should be: A brooding, moody figure that strives to be completely eccentric and unpredictable. We all know how much energy we put into our creative endeavors; how exhausting to try and fit into this "artist as chaos" societal stereotype while churning out amazing work at the same time! I encourage you to embrace routine in your life. Just make sure that you carve out a block of time in your day or week for creativity and stick to it. Claim it. Own it. Make sure the people in your life know that this is important to you and you need this time to be successful.
Sounds easy right? Well I'll be the first to say its not. I think about making art EVERY SINGLE DAY, but I don't make nearly enough. A few bumps in the road (or lemons to the back of the head) can really set an artist back.
I'll share a few of my lemons to get you thinking about yours. Stay positive, be optimistic. A little determination can go a long way when turning those lemons into lemon-aid...
My biggest lemon has been struggling for the past several years with the effects of hypothyroidism. I have found it quite debilitating at times. Serious fatigue, weakness, and major league brain fog make picking up a pencil and getting to work quite a feat of willpower and determination. So how to overcome the wall of fatigue? I am making baby-steps of progress. I draw, paint, or work on creative hobby projects like (Nerd alert!) painting my D&D mini figures and pruning my aquarium plants a little bit at a time. Luckily, I think I'm finally in a position to get the medical care I need, and I'm optimistic about my future artistic endeavors. Even a little bit of work once a week will add up to a body of work eventually. Some progress is better than none at all; just keep moving forward.
My second biggest lemon has been the upheaval and complete disruption of my daily routines. My husband and I picked up and moved, chaotically and on short notice, halfway across the county. We are now back in out home state of sunny Texas (Hello beautiful sunshine and warm weather! Goodbye freezing cold darkness and misery! Yay!). Just about all of my art supplies are packed away in storage; including a few things I was working on before we left. As we wait the six months or so for our new home to be built we are living with my very generous parents. While this has been great for improving certain aspects of our life that got out of hand while living in the North East, it has been catastrophic for my creative routines. So, the plan is to focus on the small things- sketching, smaller drawings, color studies, and planning some bigger moves for later when I'll have my new workspace. This lemon is all about planning and goal setting. Keep those big goals in mind, but take the time right now to focus on attainable intermediate and short term goals. This way you don't loose huge amounts of time and momentum playing the waiting game.
Now to my third, tiny little lemon. In the midst of all this chaos we were quite surprised to discover we are expecting our first baby. Why must we always make more than one major life change at once? Its practically a tradition now. The new house holds the promise of a beautiful studio space where I can work and make a mess to my heart's content, but I have to figure out how to make it as an art professional and be a Mom. I am really excited to be able to share my life with this new little person. I just hope I can set a great example by being there for them and giving them the care they need, while expanding my artist's practice and maintaining my sometimes waning energy levels. I have to admit I'm pretty stumped on this one. I'd love to hear from all you artist/Moms out there! What was your creative life like after having your first child? How did you handle taking care of a new infant/toddler and maintain some progress in your artist's practice?
Don't forget: Optimism, goal setting, planning and determination! Creative people are great at making lemon-aid. I'd love to hear about your biggest lemons, artistic struggles, and how you overcame them! Leave me some comments below!