I was in my car for hours today going back and forth to Madison (about six hours round trip) to pick up some paintings. I also stopped to see some old friends, had two nice walks--one in the city and one through the woods at a scenic overlook on the way home--and I heard a couple of interesting programs on public radio. But most of the day was it just me behind the wheel, quiet, thinking. On the way down to Madison I thought about my galleries and workshops, and about all the many things I need to do for each one, bits and pieces of business. It's been getting complicated, with a full year ahead of workshops, and six galleries to keep up with--plus I'm hoping to add a couple more, itself a major project.
Thinking through all of this had a calming effect (I've been feeling a little overwhelmed) and I'll feel even better when I enter it all in a computer program I've been using for organizing, called One Note
. This program allows the user to put everything related to a particular project or topic in one place--emails, URLs, notes, documents, pictures, to-do lists. It really beats my old method (if I can call it that)of using notebooks, scraps of paper, printouts, and paper file folders that always seemed to get buried or misplaced.
So, that was the drive down. Most of the trip home I thought about my paintings, in a much less organized way. Fleeting images of textures and surfaces, color ideas inspired by photos that my friend in Madison showed me, little blips of excitement over powdered pigments and solvent, which I have been experimenting with in the past week, ideas for collage with encaustic wax, and the possibilities that would open up with ordering custom built panels, etc, etc. Very stream of consciousness, and invigorating. It was kind of agitating as well--because I can only think about painting for so long before I want to do it, and I was of course, stuck behind the wheel.
A few miles from home I came out of my reverie and it struck me how very differently I had been thinking on the way down, with my careful step by step to-do lists. Frankly, there are
days when I wish I could go from step A to step B in my painting, without twenty five detours along the way. Those are days when my messy studio with all of its half-formed ideas-- piles of materials, scraps of this and that, and dozens of panels in progress--seems overwhelming. Fortunately, though, I can usually put a positive spin on the situation, and see instead possibility and promise.
I read someplace that artists tend to have a high tolerance for ambiguity and things that remain unresolved. This is true for me in the studio, but not so in my art business and workshop planning. There I'd be lost--and quite anxious about it--without clear ways of organizing, prioritizing and scheduling. It's really very amazing and fortunate that the same lump of gray matter can handle both intuitive and methodical thinking.
The painting above is called Stony Path
(16"x16") and was one that I delivered to Circa Gallery in Minneapolis for my recent exhibit (though it remained in the back room since I brought a few too many paintings.)