Repentant Rule Breaker

Lenten page in my Altered Hymnal from 2008
Lenten page in my Altered Hymnal from 2008

I’m a rule folllower at heart, but not to the letter.

If I can justify that the rule is empty, meaningless, then I break it. Or if I’m lazy….

The presentation I gave at Encausticon this last fall was entitled, Fusing Life Layers. The theme was how to cultivate and cohesively sync our moments of inspiration throughout the day with our studio time. In this presentation that I wrote (because it is much my philosophy), I highly emphasized disciplined studio time.

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And then I came home from that event and broke my own rule…with no justification. I “gave myself a rest” from the studio, you know, until I “got my energy back from traveling”. And then I used the following excuses:

  • I have to get ready for Thanksgiving
  • I have to get ready for my daughter’s birthday
  • I’m too busy shopping for a work/live space
  • And now I have to get ready for Christmas
  • I need to reflect on the upcoming year (then I’ll start)
  • I need to get our year end accounting done
  • I need to do some income projections for our new business
  • I need to work on my business plan
  • I need to get our taxes done

In the midst of all of this, I did little doodles and wrote in my journal, made Valentine’s, led art journaling classes and projects for KCRM Women’s Center and the Willow Tree. It looked like I was really busy.

You know what I did with my studio time? Confession: I played sudoku on the computer.

Now, I know what was going on in my mind. There was a lot rolling around up there. We are moving in a week for goodness’ sake. This building thing has been going on since last November. But I allowed this to be my excuse instead of my catalyst for creating some incredible paintings through this experience.

Excuses, procrastination, alcohol and sudoku, I gave them up for Lent.

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Lent really is a big deal to me. Winter is hard for me both physically and emotionally. By the time Lent rolls around, I desperately need the hope that it brings. Last night at the Lenten service I attended, I found this in the bulletin:

“After all, [Lent] is meant to be the church’s springtime, when out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges.” –excerpt from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Yesterday I began an online Creative Pilgrimage through Lent offered by Abbey of the Arts. Today we practiced Lectio Devina on Gen 3:23-24:

“The LORD God therefore banished him from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken.  He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the Garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

What came to light for me was the phrase “to till the ground from which he had been taken.” I grew up a farm girl. I watched the strong men in my family till the ground. We also had a large garden which I helped to tend, to hoe, to pick off the potato bugs, and sometimes I got the heebie jeebies from the huge flying insects and ran as fast as I could from the garden. The work was hard. We all worked and sweated long hours, but it was also good and satisfying.

And I realized that my excuses for the studio were no longer valid. I need to till my ground. I need to work hard even when I don’t feel like it, especially when I don’t feel like it. I need to recognize that painting is my work and that my work is essential. These things are NEEDFUL. I must till my ground for the harvest to come.

So today I painted. I planned to anyway, but I’m good at avoiding plans at times. Today no excuses were valid. Not even my to-do list.

Holy Conversation
A work in progress from today: Holy Conversation

Are you stuck too?

Mary Beth Shaw recently shared a couple great articles on Facebook. Yea, that first one really pricked my heart:

* Your Job Is in the Studio by ArtBizBlog

* Top Artists Reveal 10 Ways to Beat Artist Block by Somerset Place

And take my advice, do the work anyway. This is a rule that should not be broken. (I’m preaching to myself.)

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