Pop

My current catch-22: I think, “I should really write a new post and get back into the swing of things, it’s been so long, too long.” And then I think, “But I should explain, I should rationalize, I should set new realistic goals. I shouldn’t just pop in a post all of a sudden, it’s been too long!” So then, having thoroughly shoulded all over myself, I do nothing. The time with no post yawns wider, and becomes even more of a reason that just popping in a post isn’t an option.

Meanwhile, there’s so much to write about. My new baby girl! A new move around the country. Newer adventures in mommy-artistry. New art, but different. New inspirations, some surprising. And new realizations that communicating through writing and art inspires me and keeps me healthy, and that even if I can only do a little bit right now it’s just the right amount.

So, I started thinking of my favorite Toni Morrison quote. When asked why she started writing Toni Morrison said “I wrote the book I wanted to read.” And that’s what this post is, the post I’d like to read — an acknowledgement that it is difficult to get art done and raise two gorgeous wee girls, and be present in this family as a wife and mother and person. I would like to read a blog post by a Mom who says, hey, look, I’m an artist, and I’ve got these great kids, and amazing husband, and friends and family and all the rest, and I’m just trying to figure it all out and also, oh yea, this is what I painted and how and why. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t need to read a self denigrating, or aggrandizing, list of all the reasons she hadn’t recently posted — I would just want to know more of how all the pieces were currently fitting together.

So: I’m just popping this out there.

And I’ll be back real soon.

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Please Don’t Feed Your Fears

Copyright 2013 Kate Forman www.kateforman.com

Copyright 2013 Kate Forman http://www.kateforman.com

I haven’t posted anything in a very long time. Also, I haven’t been painting very much. My wee baby girl just turned one, and I’m still learning the juggling act of being a mamma and an artist (not to mention all those other identities of wife, friend, etc.) This idea of painting sayings or phrases is something I’ve been kicking around for a while, and I’m planning on continuing it and posting them here and on my FB page. Hopefully they’ll act as a warm up and motivate me to get to painting a few other things that I’ve left on the back burner for far too long.

Thankfully brushing the dust off…

'Holding Hands' Copyright Kate Forman 2004

'Holding Hands' Copyright Kate Forman 2004

So, it has been a very long time since I’ve posted anything here. Unfortunately, I’ve been neglecting this blog and my other on-line presences: the website… the twitter….and the Facebook. As it turns out, it’s just as easy, if not easier, to be distracted and even overwhelmed by an abundance of good things. I’m used to griping about the ick and the gook — they’ve been my standard excuses for not marketing-painting-hustling enough — but I didn’t imagine that loveliness could be a de-railer too.

Plus, full confession: I was always walking a line between keeping the super personal & the super professional clear…I never saw myself as a blogger who’d use this forum as a diary. I wanted to blog to refine my sense of my presence on the web, market myself, get new ideas and words back, be a part of the times, and get better at using words to describe myself and my art. And then I hit this obstacle: how to express the super personal, super wonderful, and concede that it meant re-creating how and when to make art…

In short order: when I started this blog, not too long ago, I was a single childless lady who made most decisions, including artistic, within the wide open space that description entails. Now I am (happily, over joyously, breathtakingly) married and 32 weeks pregnant. It turns my head around, it amazes me, it inspires me, and…it’s changed me.

On top of that: two really cool illustration projects fell in my lap. I’m not complaining about any of this, no sireebob, I’m kicking up my heels in joy (okay: metaphorically, as I’m not jumping around at all these days.) However, all of this good stuff overwhelmed me…and in an attempt to prioritize this blog, and the above forums, went by the wayside.

But that’s not what I want, what I do want, now more than ever, is for  my ability to create art and generate an income from it to be consistent. So, taking a deep breath, I’m waltzing into this Thanksgiving Holiday giving thanks for the amazing goodness in my life: for my husband — who emboldens me, for my growing baby — who captivates me, for my friends and family who’ve always believed in me, and for my capacity to climb back on the horse, again, and continue trying to make this thing of a working artist…work.

Keep kissing those (artistic) frogs

'Behind the scenes' Copyright Kate Forman 2006

‘Behind the scenes’ Copyright Kate Forman 2006

 This weekend was my beautiful god-daughter Jenna’s first communion. It was a blast: she looked like a wee princess, and kept her tiara on long after her pretty white dress and hand-knitted shawl came off. There was a lot of dancing among the young guests, but Jenna’s younger brother, Scott, my Godson, and I took some time to look through his sketchbook.

Scott is an amazing artist and he keeps an almost daily sketchbook. It’s awesome and filled with pictures of his imagination, including a castle he designed for his sister (what princess wouldn’t want a pink castle with a purple slide as the exit door?) and a cool green frog waving from  a cool turquoise lily pad.

Which brings me to the point of this blog: Scott’s self acceptance, and how all of us other keepers of sketchbooks and similar collections of dreams and ideas could learn a lot from it.

You see: the frog drawing, as compared to some other sketchbook pages, was, well, a little rough. Please understand, I’m not dissing Scott’s artistic talent, he’s WAY ahead of where most 5 year olds are developmentally. It’s just, the wave was a little off, and the posture on the lily pad was just a smidge un-frog like. On top of that, Scott’s name — drawn over the frog — had been crossed out in blue crayon, and the whole page had been ripped out of the book, and then stuck back in.

So I asked Scott what was up, and this is how he explained it to me: first he wrote his name, but then he didn’t like where it was, so he crossed it out, and then he thought he didn’t like the way the frog looked, so he ripped it out, but after a little bit he realized that he liked the drawing just the way it was, so he put it back in.

That’s all folks.

No breast-beating or loathing self-doubt, no torturous self talk or avoidance of sharing. Just an open, confident, loving ability to edit, and accept, with a healthy dose of matter-of-factness.

To top it all off, when I praised Scott for his truly wonderful drawings he very seriously looked me in the eyes and said: “yes, I am a great artist.”

Now I know I’m biased, he’s my Godson after all, but I really think he’s brilliant. So, the next time I’m painting and berating, or resenting a revision, or shrinking from self-promotion I’m going to keep young Mr. Scott in mind, and dial down the neurosis and up the acceptance.

To that end: I never liked the illustration that accompanys this blog. I still see it’s faults, but today I also reminded myself that I painted it while I was working 40+ hours a week, and operating on way too little sleep. It was an illustration for a children’s magazine, and a perfect fit for the article. There are things about it that I learned from, and wouldn’t repeat today, but I still really love the make-up guy — I painted him with greatness.

You can’t burn the candle at both ends

'Toss Up' Copyright Kate Forman 2003

'Toss Up' Copyright Kate Forman 2003

 

My Grandfather passed away last week. It’s odd, because I posted about time management, and didn’t mention him. I suppose it was a little too new to write about. There are so many benefits to working from home, but I know from my day job that it’s easier to handle grief when the boss ain’t me. I can compartmentalize difficult feelings and focus on the task at hand when there’s an external force (bosses, co-workers, clients) right in front of me, but at home, even with a deadline or a healthy to-do-list, I find it much more difficult to make my emotions behave.

I have been blessed in my life to have two Grandfathers. They couldn’t have been more different, and they got a long like a house on fire. From my childhood to my adulthood their ability to laugh it up and find common interests (for example: paintings of riverboats,) made me happily surprised.

My Grandfather who just died was an insurance salesman, a pipe smoker, and prone to dressing mono-chromatically. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease fourteen years ago. Alzheimer’s is a mean disease, and it made me angry that his feisty personality, humor, and ability to quickly cut through b.s. was pervasively overcome.

My last post was a whine, I’ll admit. My problem with time management is that once I start doing something I find enjoyable, it’s hard for me to shift gears, even to another enjoyable task. Hence ‘painting days,’ and ensuing neglect to marketing.

In my defence, I’ve been this way for a long time. My Grandfather’s passing made me recall a night I slept over their house, when I was sent to bed I brought along a flashlight and was happily reading away when he knocked on the door and poked his head in. I braced myself for a stern reprimand (it wasn’t the first, or last, time I’d get caught reading when I should have been sleeping) but instead he smiled, took the pipe out of his mouth and said, “sister, you can’t burn the candle at both ends.”

I was 8, and I had to think long and hard about that imagery. Just now, writing it, it made me that combination of happy sad that comes from remembering childhood and Grandpa’s, but it also made me think that maybe being a working artist is attempting to burn the candle at both ends.

As he really did love to call anyone out on their tall tales and/or excuses, I know what he’d say if I ran that theory by him: (cover your eyes fair reader,) he’d call BULLSHIT. And then put the pipe back in.

Sigh. Back to priorities, time management, and shifting gears.

Time management, argh, ack, and oh jeez

'Tug of Water' Copyright Kate Forman Illustration 2004

'Tug of Water' Copyright Kate Forman Illustration 2004

Since I’ve had this blog (two months,) I’ve made it my business to post about once a week, usually on Tuesdays. However, I didn’t post anything at all last week. After nearly two months of prompt and enjoyable blogging, a developing Twitter presence and a fairly steady presence on Facebook, I hit the wall.

Simply put: I have poor time management skills. However, I also have a day job, a family, the loveliest fella ever, illustration deadlines, and, you know, a strong need to make art. So, more complexly, if I spend all day painting I have anxiety about my marketing campaign (I have GOT to get out another e-mail ‘blast,’) but if I spend all day twittering and networking (check out this cool jewelry and mixed media artists’ blog, and this magical artists’ one too) I have guilt about not painting (what’s the point of shouting “I’m an artist, pay me” from the virtual mountain tops if my craft languishes?)

But, let’s be real, it’s even more complex than that: because my day job sustains me financially, and I find it emotionally rewarding too, because my family and friends (and the lovely fella) need more than furtive texts and breathless apologetic voice mails.  If the other side of my career and my personal life don’t get enough attention, they all get cranky, and justly so…but if I place my art lower than them on the time priority list I get cranky (and so do art directors on tight deadlines.) So.

It’s hard.

In an attempt to save this from a completely self gratuitous vent, I will pass along this fantastic blog: ArtBiz — for the business of being an artist, I find her to be an excellent resource for art marketing and tough love inspiration. And, shuffle shuffle, I am aware that balancing acts and time management are all things I can and will work on.

But, I’d just like to say: it’s still hard to get pulled in so many directions all at once.