Your Official Permission Slip
Hello again! Yesterday the temperature reached about 90 degrees in Oakland. That's hotter than our normal summer! It got me in vacation planning mode.
Not travel planning so much, because after our mural-making trip to the Dominican Republic in June, I'll mostly be hanging around home in July and August. (Speaking of which, our GoFundMe campaign for the DR trip is up and running! You can see some fun photos and read about our fundraising goal here. And even make a donation if the spirit moves you.)
My Mid-Summer Days Dream
Vacation planning = I'm brainstorming the summer art vacations in my studio that I'll be offering YOU! Yes, you, not your kids or your neighbor's kids, or that friend who you're always passing creative ideas to. It's your turn, my friend!
In fact, as part of the Ten-Year Cleanse I've been writing about—and specifically the pruning-off-chunks-of-my-business-and-life-that-are-no-longer-serving-me part which I spoke of here recently—I decided after seven straight years to stop offering summer art camps for kids. Or any programs specifically for kids, actually, after I wrap up a few projects this spring.
Oh, I meant unless the "kids" are older than 14, like 40 or 50 or 60. :)
I'm absolutely loving working with high schoolers and adults these days, on mural projects and in my studio. That's what I want more of in my life. More of you.
What I Love About Making Art with You
Here's you: You carry a heavy load. You've got responsibilities at work and at home. You take care of your business—deadlines, reports, bills, taxes, dirty dishes, walking the dog. You're also constantly looking out for others: supporting your friend through a divorce, wrangling and taxi-ing children, caring for elderly relatives. Your schedule is a juggling act. You're trying your best to do good in the world. You care. You give a lot. In a nutshell, you're awesome. And you're stressed out. You often feel a little off balance. (The high schoolers I work with are like mini-Yous. Same stress level, slightly different sources.)
Here's you when you're making art: You're timid at first, but you settle in quickly, because you sense that you're in the right place. After a few minutes with a paintbrush/pen/mosaic tile/glob of clay in your hand, your worries and cares start to melt away.
You breathe deeply, just then realizing you'd been holding your breath. You get lost in the moment, slip into "the zone." Your mind drifts. You untangle some issues you've been struggling with, without even consciously trying. You connect with those around you and share a laugh. You feel light. Time flies. Time stands still. Who cares about the time? Your pulse slows. Your blood pressure drops. Your brow unfurrows. Your eyes light up when you discover that you actually can make stuff, and it's not half bad! You start to feel like a kid again, in the best way.
Here's me when you make art with me: Yay, I'm so glad you finally joined me in my happy place! Yay, I get to share all my cool toys with you! See, I told you you could do it. No, you're not going to ruin it, stop saying that. It's really not as scary as you thought it would be, right? (What's way scarier is living your life kinda boxed up, not knowing what you're capable of, or draining your soul caring for everyone but yourself.) I'm so honored and thankful that you're here. Seeing your eyes light up and watching the weight lift off your shoulders is like drugs to me, a natural high. I believe it's why I was put on this planet: to support and encourage you in your creative journey. You totally deserve to be here making art right now, so sink in and enjoy.
Ouch. What if the nasty little voice in my head says I don't deserve it?
We'll talk more about this in an upcoming post, because the apparent frivolity and luxury of allowing yourself time to make art touches a deep nerve in a lot of us. Being idle (or appearing that way) has become a big no-no. We've all been swept up to some degree in our society's wild race to see Who Is the Busiest Human? That contest seems to determine Who Matters Most.
There's a lot of baggage and B.S. to unpack around this topic. For now, please re-read the paragraph above that begins, "Here's you when you're making art," and take note of the things your nasty little head-voice wants you to believe.
Then, hear this: With the power vested in me as a long-time school teacher and mom, I hereby give you this Official Permission Slip to Appear Idle For a While.
Please slip away from the family/chores/workload and go make something. You'll be setting an excellent example for those around you. And stay tuned for art opportunities coming up in my studio, designed to support your idleness. :)
Kurt Vonnegut said it very plainly: "To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."
What'll it be, then?
This is the perfect time for you to chime in on what types of art classes you're looking for. My studio is equipped for lots of things: mosaic, acrylic painting, collage, and clay, for starters. My former kid-sized campers and I also forayed into papier mache, rubber stamp carving, stationery-making, hand- and machine sewing, found object sculptures, wooden sign painting and more. How about designing lamp shades? I've never done it, but I'm curious, and that's enough.
I've got loads of ideas up my sleeve, but I aim to please and intrigue, so let me know your ideas. I also want to experiment with classes-by-video, so just because you live far away doesn't mean you can't state your preferences, and hopefully join in the fun of making.
Happy summer day-dreaming!