It has been an extraordinary week. After an incredibly intense year working toward starting a business it launched Monday. Twenty-five women began their journey with The Spontaneous Art & Life Project & Women’s Circle and it is just amazing. I love these women, the Circle is just extraordinary, and as women can join any time more will be coming in, two more since we launched on Monday, and I am over the moon delighted.
With The Project launched I am back to my art and I have 2 commissions to complete for The 100 Ladies Spontaneous Art Project and I absolutely love doing these ladies but I had to ease my way back in. There is a balance that I must continually work with. It is the balance between my head and my hands. Launching The Project was a head thing. To draw, I have to get back into my hands.
I don’t know if it’s because I am bi polar but I have these moments when I freeze up and wonder if the bridge will collapse in the middle between the two poles of my brain. For a second I feel that wild-eyed terror “Who was I to think that I could draw?” This is something that we are working on in The Project, the fears that we developed from early on when we were told we could never be artists. For me it was a first grade teacher that laughed at me and tore my drawing up in front of my class. I was just short of my 59th birthday before I tried to draw again.
I sat very still. I cleared my throat a few times as if that mattered or might help. I shifted around nervously in my chair. I opened up my sketchbook, picked up the pastels, and as if I was on the edge of a plank with a pirate pushing a knife into my back and saying “JUMP!” I started. I honestly felt scared to death. For a second. And then the pastel glided across the page and I got that feeling I think an ice skater might get who hasn’t skated for a long time. There is that moment when you stand at the edge of the ice, and you pick your foot up just ever so slightly, the sun glinting off the steel blade, and in one moment, whoosh! you are gliding across the ice and there is nothing but the ice and the sound when you make a sharp turn and there is powder in the air. Flying, soaring, gliding, and you’re off! and you wonder why you were ever afraid, and you keep skating and never look back. Until the next time.
This is why it is important to draw everyday and I have been until I got into the week or two before the opening of The Project and then I petered off and then I didn’t have time at all for a week when I was finishing a twenty-five page eBook and doing all of the work surrounding the opening. As I drew today I remembered, and promised myself, that even if it is a tiny little drawing I have to do one every day or as close to that as possible. It makes me feel better. It makes everything easier. And it makes me less depressed and more stable, more balanced.
Today I was sinking. Slipping into depression in a way I haven’t for some time. I had 2 people here from the insurance company about the rebuilding of the cottage. It is going to take longer than expected. I am overwhelmed by the details, all of the decisions I have to make. I was slipping, becoming paralyzed, I recorded the podcast for members of The Project — I do a 10 minute podcast for them each day, five days a week — and I said that I was so overwhelmed with all of the insurance people and dealings that I had been having a great deal of trouble leaving the house again. In fact, with the exception of going to my daughter’s house on Mother’s Day for dinner I haven’t left the house in over 2 weeks. I have been increasingly afraid. I ran out of milk and a lot of essentials. There wasn’t much food. I ordered out which I don’t like to do. Every day there was a “good excuse” why I could not go out that day either. Finally, today, it became really critical. The insurance men were here for two hours. I just sat here when they left. I.just.sat.here. But then…
Then I picked up the sketchbook and the pastels and I started to draw, and as I got into drawing the girl with the spirals I felt so happy, and I went slip-sliding across the page blending the creamy pastels with my fingers, and I wiped my fingers on my caftan, I was like a little kid finger-painting, absorbed in joy, pure joy. And then she was finished, and I sat there just staring at her, and I was breathing easier, and then I knew I could do it.
I got up, fed the dogs their dinner, took them out to the potty, threw on clothes and got in the car, and.I.went.to.the.store.
It is hard, I know, to understand this if you don’t have a brain that works differently, but this was huge. By the time I got home I was sweating and panicked. It took me 3 trips to get the groceries in, to drag the trash barrel in from the alley that had been out there since I took it Sunday night — I kept looking out at it and couldn’t make myself go get it — and I stood in the kitchen putting away groceries and then leaned back against the kitchen counter. I had made it. And it had taken a toll. But I made it. I bought a lot of stuff. I won’t be going out again soon, but I wouldn’t have gone out at all if I hadn’t drawn that lady with the spirals.
Drawing makes me whole. Writing is important but I have learned, after 6 decades on this earth, 5 of them writing seriously, that I need drawing to be whole. And I work with the women in The Project with this. I tell them don’t be afraid of drawing, don’t be afraid that you have to “make art.” Drawing is a tool. Draw a stick figure. It is just a means to an end. I had no illusions of becoming Georgia O’Keefe or having paintings in MOMA. That’s what keeps people from drawing. We feel if we can’t make “Great Art” we have no right to so much as buy art supplies. Well I’m here to tell you that drawing is a tool that can set you free. Scribble with crayons on the refrigerator. Throw finger paint at the walls. Why not? Cavemen and women left their mark inside the walls of those caves, crude drawings of horses and things from their lives. We need to express ourselves. Take “art” out of the hands of “artistes” and give it back to the masses I say. Without that drawing at the top of this post I would still be sitting here with no milk for my coffee in the morning and no toilet paper and a whole lot of other really essential things. I drew myself right out the door and to the store.
The Spontaneous Art Project is about saving lives, saving ourselves, having fun, being silly, being joyful, and maybe being dead serious about the fact that if we don’t save ourselves nobody else is going to. At least that is true for me.
Tomorrow I return to the first of the two commissions that I need to finish and I am so excited. I have joy juice in my veins and pastel dust in my hair and I am ready. I have started to draw again. Everything will be okay.