Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Woman At a Crossroads

Aren't we always? At a crossroads, on a journey, in the flow, at a threshold . . . and hopefully fully present in the right now. Something to aim for anyway. I think I'm "most present" when I'm doing artwork. There's something about standing at the table, letting the materials I'm using drive the decisions about what to do next that makes me feel very grounded and HERE.

Writing is different for me. What I love most about it is the way the characters and the story take over. I sit down to write for an hour and the next thing I know, three hours have passed and I haven't stretched or done my floor exercises, not to mention how I completely forgot about the laundry or the weeding that needed to be done TODAY. You know the feeling -- where time does that weird stretch and contract thing.

Time alters when I'm doing artwork, too. But it's a different experience. Like flying with your feet firmly planted on the ground (or in my case, the concrete floor covered with a too-thin for comfort carpet and -- by my paint table -- two "cow mats" -- yup, what cows stand on in the barn to be milked). Purchased at your local (if you have one) farm supply store, cow mats are about 1/10 of the cost of gel mats and you don't have to worry about spilling paint on them. They're so ugly they benefit from spilled paint. But they WORK.

Am I at a crossroads? I'm not at one of those huge, life-changing ones like friends who are moving or retiring or changing jobs. But still . . . I recently completed one of the young adult novels I've been working on ever since my first book (ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON, HarperCollins) came out. I sent it off to my fabulous agent and now it is out there "looking for love." I have two other YA novels and an adult murder mystery in process but I needed a break after finishing my Jumble story. That's when I'm so glad I have the artwork. Right now it's a series of mixed media collages called "Woman at a crossroads" -- they are on stretched canvas (using vintage maps, acrylic paint, graphite pencil, marker, wire, beads, ribbon, fabric, decorative paper, hand made paper). The one above (20X24") was a birthday gift to my friend of so many years I hesitate to put the number down. Let's just say, since we were 13! On the collage posted below (20X20"), the woman is attached so that she can be turned to face any direction on the compass. I have two others partly completed, not quite ready to be posted.

Of course, daily writing practice goes on regardless. To kick things up a notch, I decided to try drafting a poem a day at the end of my morning journaling. Inspiration: all the people who were doing that to celebrate Poetry Month. I'm a little slow on the uptake, so it took me until April 20th to get going! I'm happy to report that I have 37 drafts waiting to be worked on (yes, some days I wrote more than one). Seeing through the eyes of a poem is a great way to start the day, so my hope is to keep this as a part of my morning routine as long as I can.

Do any of you flip-flop back and forth between writing and visual artwork like I do? I'd love to hear from you about how that works for you and what challenges arise from doing both!

1 comment:

Linda Townsdin said...

Great post today and I love your artwork! Yes, it does help me to switch gears when I get stuck on a story or novel I’m working on. I’ll read “how to” books on writing or grab a few magazines and scissors and whale away cutting out words and images and pasting them haphazard into a journal. It’s not art work, but it gets the energy flowing and gets me out of my own head.