Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!
stepping backI'm writing this close to the Autumnal Equinox, as cooler temperatures and fall colors are beginning in the landscape around my Wisconsin home. I love this time of year and the shift to a more inward-looking season. As nature goes into hibernation, there seems to be a call to contemplation and creative work.
This year, in particular, I'm feeling more in synch with this seasonal shift than I usually do, as efforts to slow down my overall pace of teaching, traveling, and exhibiting are finally being realized. A few years ago I started thinking about partially retiring from outside commitments in order to have more time in the studio, as well as to relax, have more solitude, and enjoy family and friends. It was more of an urge than any kind of plan at that point, but it became more insistent as time went on. I wanted to take a step back--not leave anything really important behind, but become more selective in how I spend my time and energy. Once I focused on making this happen, there were various commitments and plans already in place to work through. This took a while, but these commitments--the video and other projects with Squeegee Press, teaching gigs, and exhibits--all contributed financially and emotionally to clearing my way forward. In the process, I've paid attention to what brings me the most satisfaction and what can be simplified or let go.
a recent exhibit, Overlays, at Addington Gallery in Chicago
It's been a challenge to shift my reactions and responses, to change the habits of years of saying "yes" to more than I could comfortably handle, crowding my calendar and over-promising. As my husband pointed out, if I really wanted to semi-retire, I needed to start saying "no" to things! And also to give myself more time when I do take on a new project (which of course, I will continue to do, hopefully with discretion.) That seems pretty obvious. But it's hard to turn down opportunities when art income is uncertain. Committing to a slower pace has involved not only changing my responses and relying on back-up resources but also having faith that things will work out. (I still wonder if this slower-paced era ahead will last, but time will tell.) For me, committing to a slower pace has been an evolving process. Mostly I have just recognized my intention, made a few simple decisions, and am now letting my life find a new course. I rely a lot on intuition in making choices and regret some later, but I'm learning. Semi-retirement is a goal, but a squishy one. Goal-setting is often described as a logical, step by step process--making plans in writing, breaking the goal into short-term strategies, acknowledging progress and so on. Especially when the goal is concrete, this can work very well. But important goals are often reached in a less linear way. I have to smile at the number of friends who have heard my schedule and exclaim, "but you said you were slowing down!" Yes...all in good time, all in good time.
In some ways, this semi-retirement phase is no different from what many people in all fields go through in their 60s or 70s. It is a disengagement from the larger world to which they have spent decades contributing, and an opportunity to focus on their personal work and activities. Many people find this change difficult, but artists have an advantage. Because most of us never retire from our studio practice, finding meaningful direction in retirement is not an issue. The new, extra time is truly a reward.
Looking ahead, my 2020 calendar includes two exhibits, three workshops, and a potential residency. That may still seem like a lot. But I hope this will be a pace that suits me. I want to step back, not out--to have less stress, more time, more painting. And to do so with sincere gratitude for all that has brought me here.