This is going to sound really silly but for the past year, I've been feeling a little at loose ends. Obviously, there is plenty of work to be done for the shop. And even though I am working really hard (harder, in some ways, than we were when we first opened), thanks to our part-timers, I also have a few more evenings to myself. I've been able to pick back up on yoga and have evenings that I'm home before 8 pm, with plenty of time to satisfy my introverted soul. So I've been kind of stumped: what is it that I want? what is missing that is making me feel somewhat stressed out? It is not simply a matter of taking more vacations or consecutive days off, though I'm sure those would help as well (even though I can't make up my mind where I would go or what I would do).
Completely accidentally, I stumbled across one part the oh-so-obvious answer to this question about two weeks ago. It's really quite pathetic considering how much time I spend lecturing people on the importance of creating. Now, I heard from many people that they were worried that if you make your art your career, you will somehow end up hating your art - just the fact of having to do something for money puts a different spin on it. I wasn't feeling like that was my problem exactly; I'm totally fine creating things to sell at the shop and am challenged (in a good way) to figure out things that customers will like that I can create for a reasonable amount of time and energy and I certainly don't hate the process of creating things for the shop. But I had a free evening and I went to the beach and took photographs for a completely frivolous (as far as it relates to the shop) purpose and it was So. Nice. Not just the part about being on the beach, but playing around with angles to take, placement, etc. It made me realize that, while I AM spending a lot of time creating things, most of that has been for the shop. It counts as creating, as using my hands and brain in that certain matter, but there's some carelessness and intuition that doesn't necessarily get put into play for such tasks. Perhaps one would say that Art is somewhat lacking for these commercial endeavors.
In any event, it is especially timely (right before the holiday rush when I need to be at a minimum of crabbiness) that this project would come along. Funny how those things work out. For this project, thousands of cyanotype fabric butterflies are making their way around the world (see Swarm the World on Tumblr). At each point, the recipient gets about a month of installing the butterflies and taking their pictures. As you might expect, the process has been somewhat delayed: my initial month of April turned into August turned into September. And while I would have liked to take the butterflies to the Arboretum in springtime, this is probably a better time of year for photographs.
Each butterfly has a tiny magnet sewn onto the back and while some clever people have been using wire and other tricks to get the butterflies to stick to non-magnetic surfaces, I decided to just keep things simple and find surfaces that are magnetic, even if that means a few disappointments. I thought for sure that street signs would be magnetic so that I could create a sign that was just butterflies, but so far I am not finding one.
Still, there are plenty of options and I've definitely had fun scouting locations.
And, in the interest of continuing such creative play, I took the leap and signed up for a workshop at Whispering Woodlands. I've taken a workshop from this instructor in the past (though usually I try not to repeat instructors, I think this is exactly the arena that is currently lacking in my life). The last class that I took inspired that four-volume hand-bound set of quotes and watercoloring so this workshop will surely be a similar source of inspiration. I think I'm really missing Valley Ridge Art Studio, not just for the workshops but for the way they were totally getaways and a little bit soul-rejuvenation. But that just means I have to be on the lookout for other opportunities. I think next year it will be a workshop from Kelly Kilmer, so that's something to look forward to.
How about you? Any favorite workshops or creative endeavors this summer and fall? Where are your favorite places to learn and be inspired?