Play, Practice and Pigeon Holes

Back in another lifetime, in the days before I became a mother, I was a preschool teacher. My favorite group to work with were the 2-3 years olds. Except for the potty training, every day was play. And I was the one who came up with all of the crazy things we would play with – silly putty, play dough, water, sand, shaving cream, goop, paint, crayons, markers … even pasta! And I think I had more fun playing than the kids! Every day was a new adventure.

When I first became a parent, it was a pretty similar experience. Being a mother of a young child is a grand excuse to play. We played with toys, painted on walls, did “science” experiments. But as he got older, their seemed to be little time left for playing – or at least the time of playing that I can join in. And my creative spirit got put aside for soccer practice and homework and video games.

But in these last few years since my son left for college, I have rekindled the creative flame of my inner child. My art is my play today – I do not need a child around as an excuse to get my hands dirty. I am always experimenting with different methods, mediums and things to paint on. I see people doing something new and I just have to try it. Recently I learned how to make paper (so easy!), and found you can make paper with just about anything! It doesn’t always come out great, but it is a great process.

If I am going to improve my skills, then after play, there needs to be some practice. I don’t always like to practice. I like to be good at something from the start, but that is not how art works for me. Sometimes while experimenting, I stumble upon a technique I really like. Then I need to engage in practice without judgement of the outcome might be. It has taken a while for me to learn to let myself enjoy this process without needing to “produce” sellable art. In the days before I sold my art, I made art just for the sake of it. No need to worry about making art that people would buy. I think this has been the most difficult part of coming into being a local artist. I get into thinking that my art is only good if people buy it. Or if they “like” or “follow” on social media. The truth is, not everyone likes what I make – often not even me! And that is perfectly okay.

So what I have taken away so far from this period of “becoming” an artist, is that I the most important part of my art is the play and the practice. I just don’t fit into one pigeon hole, and even if it does fit, I get antsy when I see another and have to try that one out. I can’t seem to settle down into one type of art. I am not an portrait artist or an ink artist, or a watercolorist or an abstract artist or a digital artist – I am all of those things. And although I have great respect for those artists that find their lane and stay there, I am just not cut from that cloth. Granted, there are some forms of art I am better at than others, but that is where I just loop back to practicing. And when I am bored (which is too often!), I start over again with play.

For all these reasons, I am really excited about my upcoming Table Top Sale at Main Gallery 404 April 14 -16. I will be bringing many different types of art, that would not normally go with my exhibition on the gallery wall. It’s a chance to sort through closets and boxes and pull out some of my art experiments, and let them see the light. I have spent the last 2 weeks or so pulling together my collection for the sale to find the stuff I made without any thought to how someone else may see it. Some of it I will bring to the sale, and some of it may even sell, but that is not the point. The most valuable part of this process for me is not the value on the price tag, but the value in rediscovering the joy of play and practice, for that is where my artistic spirit lives.

For those of you who read my blog and follow my art, I do appreciate you! My hope is that my art brightens your day or adds joy to your life, as it does for me.


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