Climbing to a new base camp

I’ve been feeling different about my day-to-day work, since Open Studios. That weekend was such a prolonged, nervous-energetic high of owning myself, reaching out, and challenging myself both personally and creatively — I’m finding it hard to go back to my usual habits of freewrites and simple practice sketches; I’m finding, I suppose, that I want to work bigger and bolder, and I’m ready to do so.

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Actually it’s not just Open Studios that has me thinking. Last night we went to hear Fiona Apple on her tour with Blake Mills. Much has been made of Apple’s apparent fragility — I don’t want to belabor it because the word “fragile” is used too often to describe women who may or may not be that — but it was astounding how vulnerable she seemed onstage. I don’t mean weak, but emotionally open to a truly remarkable degree. It made it all the more startling and powerful when she launched into songs with such a high level of control, range, and oneness with the music that both Erik and I felt we’d gotten to see/hear something very special. I thought my Open Studios attempt was brave, but this was that taken so much further.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I’ve begun volunteering with a national organization called Learning Ally, which records audio versions of textbooks for the benefit of blind and learning-disabled students. Basically, for a couple of hours a week (or more, or less) I get to go into a proper recording booth and play teacher/helper/audiobook narrator. It is so much fun I can’t believe it’s allowed. It’s challenging work, but I find it very meditative, because it requires such absolute focus. You’re not just reading off a text (ideally with appropriate emotion and inflection), you’re also keeping track of yourself on a screen, and offering interpretations of non-text elements like pictures and tables. It’s the perfect blend of creative and structured, and for reasons I haven’t yet completely explored, it makes me want to step it up with my art too.

Hey, remember when I said this apartment was making me go totally writer-y? I guess momentum has swung the other way, now. I’m still doing a bit of writing here and there, but visual art is starting to feel like my primary medium once again. So curious how this happens — it’s so rare when I want to do both at once; most of the time it’s just one or the other taking center stage.

Some of my recent sketches from magazine photos (sharing page space with older doodles) — the ones that make me want to do something more:

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4 responses to “Climbing to a new base camp

  1. I absolutely love your honesty and watching you grow as an artist. It’s like watching a flower bloom. And I don’t mean ‘grow’ as ‘improve’ as I think you’re an amazing artist whether it’s in the medium of words or paint. I mean ‘grow’ as in your confidence, and how you take on the challenge of trying new things, and stretching your creativity. It makes me sometimes feel like I might be a tad stagnant in comparison. Which then encourages me (as your writing prompts do) to stretch the writing attempts.

    • Oh Lisa, what a wonderful thing to say. Thank you. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to just stay in one place for awhile though, and not stretch so much — maybe I stretch myself too thin, with all these different pursuits and topics. I don’t know. I just have to trust that we all work differently and my way will turn out to be good for me.

  2. Hi Lisa, I am slowly catching up with your blog but I am so proud and happy of you!!! Open studios, sketches, so much practice, recording textbooks- so great, creative and beautiful. huge well done and much, much love to you my dear friend.

    • Thank you so much, dear Aga!! I try. These days I spend a lot of time in my own head and that’s not always a good place to be, so Open Studios and the recordings and sketching out in public are good to get me out. 🙂 I think I need more of that, especially as winter comes on and it gets darker. Big big hugs and love to you.

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