Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Recovering from Burnout

Recent addition to an old journaling project in a recycled children's board book. 

2023 was a stressful year for me. 

Of the “major life stressors”, I sure checked a lot of boxes in those last few months. Lost a job? Check. Death of a loved one? Check. Sell a home? Check again. Of course the home wasn’t one I lived in, my mom did, but I owned it and she had lived there quite a while and it was filled with memories. So yeah, that one was stressful too.

When my mom passed away suddenly, I quickly became aware that she she was struggling more than I had realized. I knew she was having mobility issues and was probably not going to be able to live on her own for much longer. What I didn't know is she had neglected some important things, and those things fell on me to sort out. It’s taken time and a lot of sleepless nights, but I’ve gotten a handle on it all…. I think…. and now I’m dealing with the exhaustion that comes from having so much happen in such a short timespan. So…. now what?

 Well, the job thing sorted itself out, so I’m good on that front. The condo sold quickly and I’ve dealt with the majority of my mom’s possessions. I’ve still got a few boxes hanging around to deal with, but the disaster zone in my own house has been more or less cleared out. The reduction of chaos certainly has helped my mindset.

Over the past several months I have completely stepped away from social media, and creating in general. It just didn’t seem important with everything else looming. It probably hurt my business more than I realize, but I had to do it for my mental health. Something had to give, and my art business was what I chose to put on the back burner. Of course stepping out of creative life has it’s drawbacks, and now that I’m ready to get back to it, finding a place to start has been a challenge. 

Artists tend to flock together, and a new artist friend proposed an opportunity that seemed perfectly timed. She suggested a shared journaling/bookmaking project, and since I felt ready to get back to creative life, I accepted the challenge. It’s still been difficult to get myself going. We set an approximate date for the first part to be completed, but when we had our check in I still hadn’t started. We pushed it out a few more weeks to accommodate my apathy, and I’m happy to report I’m almost there. Motivation is still really low, but it’s a task that can be broken down into small sections that I can tackle with a small time commitment, so that’s how I’m doing it… in small 10 minute chunks. 

I’ve also dug out a box of old journaling projects that I never got around to completing, and I plan to work through some of those in between this other project. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and eventually I will get back to myself. It may be a different version of myself, but that’s ok. You can’t have a year like I had and not come out of it somewhat changed. 

I’m taking the year off from shows and art fairs so I can focus on learning and having fun. I have abandoned half finished paintings that I may or may not get back to, but I’m ignoring that for now and just doing what feels right. I may not go back to social media any time soon, but I will try to remember to post something from time to time, and to see what all my virtual friends are doing. Hope y’all have been having more fun than me.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Starting a new large painting

This will become one of my botanical pieces. I've already decided on a colour scheme, a general theme and what plants will be prominent. I'm starting work on a set of five large pieces that I can submit to local galleries for consideration. It's time for that I think. 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

I've got a good memory, it's just really short

"Ballad of the Broken", 20x20 inch mixed media on wood

I'm getting old. 

In my head I still feel like I'm 30-something... but then something will happen that will slap me back to reality and I'll have to acknowledge that some things don't work quite as well as they used to. My memory is one. 

A few months ago I decided I needed to update my credit card reader that I use for art fairs. The old one still works, but it reads the stripe on the credit card and the new readers take the chip, tap and also accept debit card transactions. They're more secure and offer another choice for my customers. All good. So I go online and order the upgraded hardware. And the order is immediately cancelled. I don't have time to figure out why, so i put it on the back burner and on my list of things to do.

The list of things I need to do is fairly long. But I do get back to it a few weeks later and the same thing happens. And again a few weeks later. I submit a support ticket. Nothing happens. I don't have time and I have more important things to stress over, so I leave it. 

This week I'm determined to get a bunch of stuff done because I have Arts on the Credit coming up in a few weeks. I've got new work that I'm thinking is pretty good and might sell, so I really want to have that reader. I order, my order is cancelled. I submit another support ticket. This time I get an email back right away with a few basic questions. The first one: what email are you using to log into your account?

It dawns on me immediately..... I set up my account a decade ago, when I had a different domain and a different email address.  Jeezus, I can't be that dense, can I? I go back into my old email (I still use it on occasion for personal stuff) and sure enough, there are promotional emails there prompting me to upgrade my hardware. Sigh. So I go into my account and use the old email to order, and sure enough, it goes through. 

I also have 800 unread emails sitting there, so there's that. 


I'll be at Arts on the Credit with my new collection of botanical inspired paintings, April 29-30, 2023.  Always a good show. If you come out, make sure you pop around and say hi. I'll be right by the door. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Random People on the Internet

blue and orange rose mixed media painting
"Winter Blue", 20x20 mixed media on wood. Prints available on my website. 

 I've been making generous use of the block button recently. There was a time when blocking someone wasn't something that came to mind when I got a negative comment online. But with a growing audience, the occasional critical comment has become something else entirely. From people telling me to "give up and just get married", or that my work is "unoriginal" ( or better yet... "complete crap"), comments from random strangers has become something I've had to actively deal with, to make sure they don't mess with my head.

Comments on social media can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they can provide valuable insights and perspectives that we may not have considered before. On the other hand, they can be hurtful, offensive, or simply unproductive.

Here are some tips for dealing with random comments on social media:

Take a deep breath and remember that it's just the internet. It can be easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and take things personally, but it's important to remember that these comments are just words on a screen. They don't define who you are as a person.

Consider the source. If the comment is coming from someone you don't know, it's likely that they don't know you either. They may not understand the context or perspective that you're coming from. If the comment is coming from someone you do know, try to consider their intentions. Are they trying to be helpful or are they just trying to start an argument?

Carefully consider whether or not to engage. If the comment is inappropriate or offensive, it's okay to just ignore it. There's no obligation to engage with every comment that comes your way. It's perfectly fine to delete it and block the person... sometime that can be the best course of action. However, if the comment is well-intentioned and you feel like you can have a productive conversation, it could be in your best interest to consider responding. I've developed a few friendships with artists in other parts of the world that started with simply responding to a comment. And engagement on a social media post tells the algorithm that your content is interesting to your followers, and shows it to more people. 

Stay calm and respectful. Even if you disagree with someone's comment, it's important to stay respectful in your response. Avoid personal attacks or insults, and try to focus on the issue at hand. Getting angry and having a comment war doesn't achieve anything, and can affect your state of mind.

Take a break if you need to. If you're feeling overwhelmed or distressed by the comments you're receiving, it's okay to take a break from social media. It's important to prioritize your own well-being and mental health.

Overall, it's important to remember that random comments on social media are just that – random. They don't define you, and you don't have to let them get to you. By staying calm, respectful, and taking care of yourself, you can effectively deal with random comments and keep your social media experience positive.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dealing with a lack of motivation

Sometimes a small project you can work on for short periods of time is a way to get going. I can do anything for 5 minutes is my reasoning... and I usually work away for an hour or so. 

I haven't done any work in a few weeks. Nothing. No painting, no drawing, not even a sketch. I can't seem to get myself into my studio. I figured I needed a break and let myself be a slug for a bit. But now, if I let it continue I could find myself in a full on block, so I need to take some action. 

As an artist, it is not uncommon to experience periods of depression and lack of motivation. These feelings can be especially difficult to cope with, as they often interfere with the creative process and can lead to a sense of disconnection from your work. However, there are ways to manage these feelings and continue to produce meaningful art despite the challenges.

One effective way to cope with depression and lack of motivation is to establish a daily routine. This can include setting aside dedicated time for your art practice, breaking larger projects into smaller tasks, and setting achievable goals. A routine can help provide structure and give you something to look forward to each day, which can be especially helpful when you are feeling low.

Another helpful strategy is to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. It can be helpful to have someone to talk to about your feelings and to provide perspective on your challenges. Do you know other artists? There's a pretty good chance someone you know has experienced a similar issue. Joining a support group or online community of artists can be a great way to connect with others who may be experiencing similar struggles.... particularly if where you live doesn't give you an in person group to access. 

Taking care of your physical and mental health is also crucial for managing depression and lack of motivation. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. It may also be helpful to try stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. For me, getting outside is key. Canadian winter is not exactly known for sunny days, so if the sun is shining I make a point of getting out in the sun for at least 20 minutes. It really does help.

Finally, it can be helpful to focus on the things that bring you joy and fulfillment, both inside and outside of your art practice. This could include hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or engaging in activities that bring you a sense of peace or relaxation. Sitting at home in front of the television doesn't work for me, even though it seems to be my go-to activity these days. 

Remember that it is okay to take breaks and take care of yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. It is important to be gentle with yourself and to remember that it is okay to seek help when you need it. With time and effort, you can find ways to manage your depression and lack of motivation and continue to create meaningful art.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

First layer of paint

I'm starting a new painting... not sure yet what it's going to be, but the first layer of paint has to go on no matter if it ends up an abstract, landscape or botanical.