Saturday, February 23, 2013

Make it happen, check it off!

My trip is right around the corner so I have again been busy doing a lot of last minute things, getting my taxes done, taking care of other pressing appointments, visiting my friends, family and of course doing more genealogical research. I have awoken with anxiety several recent mornings. I am worried about my trip, my life and my art as everything has seemed upended and in flux as my life has made sweeping transitions in the last couple of years.

Much of these thoughts are just "the fear" rearing its ugly head again, sadly my constant companion in this life. These last two years I have tried harder than ever to just feel the fear and do it anyway with sometimes good results and sometimes questionable ones. It is what it is and as my friend Jennifer says, "maybe it is time to just lighten up" and maybe it is that easy. I will try to do just that.

Lighten up...

I was thinking while I was on a short walk in the woods today that I should create a self help book for artists for when they find themselves stuck in a rut with a bad case of block, self doubt or when they are paralyzed by fear. I thought this while the sun streamed through the winter trees with my head full of worry. I also thought that there should be a well designed day planner/journal with a pre-printed check list that asked of the reader some basic questions.

Did you move your body today? 
Walk, Yoga, Dance etc.
Did you express yourself through art today? 
Not a big project, just something creative.
Did you drink water and take vitamins today? 
Basic self care is so easy to forget
Did you reach out to friends or family today? 
Make plans to connect outside yourself.
Did you explore someone else's art today? 
Keep learning and exploring as not to grow stagnant
Did you do something for your own art career today?
Update your website, write a blog, return an email etc.

There are probably a dozen more questions one could ask but these seem like the basics for self care. It seems so simple and I think if these tasks are accomplished they would help keep one connected, functioning and prepared to make art. I like how the list is open, there are not time constraints or needless pressure (you give yourself a hard enough time already.) Just do something, lighten up and little by little the work gets done and everything works out in the end. Right? Could it be that easy? I don't know but I am going to see how answering these questions for the next week makes me feel even with all the trip stuff and everything else I need to do. I invite you to join me for the next week. I can see as one gets used to taking care of the basics again and in a routine manner that the questions would change over time. These are just the ideas I have when I am looking for answers and help. I thought maybe this might be useful to someone out there as well.

When I first started this blog, this type of post was more of what I did. I explored the actions and emotions of being an artist and the road blocks as well as more "how to" features. I would like to get back to that aspect of this blog again. Keep coming back as I explore and express myself hopefully out of the block I have now found myself in.

Until next week keep fighting, the world needs your work and mine too!

PS: Here is some new art to explore by another, a new single by CocoRosie (I listened to this song on repeat while I wrote this post)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The road to hell...

is paved with good intentions so the saying goes... and my blog is paved with them too currently. I am so sorry for my tardiness yet again. Please stick with me, I will return to normal service soon...

Lawrence Co. Arkansas 
where many of my Grandma Sally Campbell Chapman's family lived and died.

Time has just been flying by and it is feels like I can't keep up. It is not exactly a comfortable feeling. It was just the holidays, January started and Stewart arrived and then I was sick for twenty days and working and suddenly my trip is fast approaching and I feel overwhelmed by all I have to do and all I want to do. I want to spend time with my friends and family before I go. I also want to show Stewart some new things while he is here, however I have been all consumed with the genealogy research for my upcoming project. Since I have been well enough to do so, it really is all I have done. I am obsessed. It is like a very frustrating puzzle, two steps forward and six steps back but I am getting somewhere slowly but surely.

I have researched and learned so much about several branches of my family tracing us back to England and Ireland and yet the toughest nut to crack is of course the Scottish connection which is quite ironic since that is the lineage I chose to follow for my project and trip. I know the link is there, it is just finding the proof that I need to feel comfortable with it all. I am determined to get there.

It has been a fascinating experience even with the frustrations. I have learned so much about the common emigration and migratory patterns from Scotland, North Carolina, Tennessee to Arkansas. I have learned how much Scottish culture has been passed on here. I have learned snippets about the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and of course the Civil War as I meander along with my family and the times they lived through. I have learned about the large families and the prevalence of infant mortality. I have learned how connected families become and of towns named after distant relatives and of old country graveyards full of my people. I have seen faces that I have never seen before by finding photographs of my family members on the Internet. I have seen the similarities in facial structures and learned of families of singers, a fiddler and an indentured servant and death along the trail. I have also seen slave names and read countless stories about families that are not even mine but because we share a family name I read on anyway and assimilate their stories. For hours at a time I have been attached to Sirs and Ladies and even a few Barons. The people I have learned about have been the persecuted and the persecutors in familial lines wrapping around each other. Ultimately at the beginning of all these stories there is a boat that takes these people from their homes to this new world that they will fight and die for, all so that I can exist years later to travel back to where they started and make art for their ghosts. If this is just the beginning I can't imagine what it will feel like once the actual work starts.

This is an American story, this is a Southern story and this is an immigrant's story and one that belongs to most of us.

Until next week, keep fighting your fear, your inertia, your doubts and sing your song loudly if not for yourself, then for the ghosts of the past.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Putting things right

dispatches on a hopeful Friday night

It's Friday and I am here and I hope you are here too! I gave my notice at my job this week so next Thursday will be my last day. It is for the best. It makes sense and it is a good thing. If anything, having this part time job reminded me how important my full time art career is to me and how I must never take it for granted or let the precious time slip away from me. I don't want to work in an office. I can work in an office and I can even do well at it but I really don't want to spend my life that way. I am not so good at balance and I wasn't able to work on my art the way I wanted to while I worked in the office. I thought I might be able to and I tried a little at the start but it just wasn't meant to be.

I leave to go to Scotland in 6 weeks and I have a lot I need to do before then and I have a lot of research and things I need to prepare for my trip and there was just no way for me to do that the way I wanted and keep working in the office. 

I am an artist. I have dreams and ideas and these things have to be expressed and when they are not it builds up in my heart and soul and creates a very uncomfortable situation. To be an artist is more important than money or success it is a need like breathing and like the beating of my heart. This is serious business and I can't ignore it or pretend it can ever be compartmentalized or made to fit societies rules and regulations.

So, that is that and I feel a sense of relief. Now, I just need to start expressing what I want to create. I have stories and ideas in my mind but I can't quite put them into words yet. I think there might be a small series of works in me... a prototype of memory series perhaps... and I need to finish that body of work I started in October... so much to do. Mostly I want to dream and write and think about the exciting things that are all around us and explore how I fit in to it all and how my work does as well.

Until next week, keep fighting. Get mad if you have to, just get it done. If you try, I will try too.