This blog started as a way for me to parse out the reasons that I decided to leave performing behind, and the skills/knowledge/sensibilities that allowed me to transfer fairly easily from one milleu to the next.
I have a confession though.
I’ve been art-ing.
Actually, I don’t have quite enough self-confidence to call it ‘art,’ not yet anyway. I have friends who have made their lives and livelihoods from their paintbrushes, and I can say unequivocably that I have not their skill nor innate talent nor experience. Having trained as a musician, I realize the countless hours that it takes to master something. (Hell, I started playing piano at age 3, got 2 degrees in music, taught and performed for nearly a decade and I still wouldn’t EVER claim to have mastered music-ing.)
But over the last several months, I’ve noticed something: that I’m happiest when I’m making stuff. And the ‘what’ that I’m making is almost irrelevant: could be an intricate doodle in the margin of a page of notebook paper, could be an unholy mess in the kitchen as a result of a dinner adventure, could be a recorded cover of a song I dig. As long as I have something to show for the time at the end of the day, it seems time well-spent. I bought myself a pad of paper and some markers this winter…and then got some watercolor papers and paints…and then bought some big 18×24 paper and compass. And I started filling up those pages.
And it feels good.
It feels good to start something, not having the foggiest idea of how it will turn out. Sometimes the end result is more awesome than anything I thought I could do! Sometimes it’s a hot mess. But every time I noodle around, I’m learning something – about the materials, about these very basic techniques and aesthetics I’m developing.
This new-found artistic discipline is also helping me to tap into some of the things that I loved about music, but have little occasion to practice in my daily life. Solitude. Slowing down to examine the things around me. Working on a piece, but being able to put it away for an undetermined period of time without penalty. I also get to be the last word, if only because no one else is in my head…it’s a small thing, but something that I find that I missed from teaching.
Maybe more importantly, however, this little doodling project has opened up some wonderful doors for me. I spent a day at the Art Institute of Chicago and walked out so wonderfully overwhelmed, with such a thirst to spend more time around amazing art of all types. A good friend gave me Liz Gilbert’s new book Big Magic, and there were several points that I found both immediately applicable and really helpful. Another pal asked me to doodle for her soon-to-be-born daughter, and posted a little clip on her youtube channel. (it’s in the first minute or so.) I’m more courageous in my artistic pursuits – in fact, I’m diving back into the NaNoWriMo pond this November because I think I might actually have figured out what the larger problem with the novel I wrote back in 2012 was, and Imma Finish That Story Dammit.
So here’s a question for you: how are you cross-pollinating your non-artistic life?