Wednesday, April 30, 2014

scheduling conflicts

I like a good schedule. I like to know when I have to do something and when I can move on to something else. I like the guidelines that this kind of living gives me, because then it is easier for me to feel productive, and helps me to quantify in some way what I have done with my day. School taught me how to live by the clock, and for me it has really just stuck around. I can stick to the same schedule for ages. I am really good at consistency, and when things change it can be rather hard for me to adjust.

Having a kid changes everything. I know it is cliche to say that, but for me change can be quite disturbing to me. I like my routine. I like the freedom it gives me to have a routine. If I know how each day is going to play out, then I know where I can take breaks and move things around for extra activities, I know how to better accommodate for the unexpected. I know just how long it takes me to do things, to travel from A to B, and where I can make up time if things get a little messed up along the way. When things are all mapped out I don't have to worry about blank spots in my day where I waste time.

I hate it when things change and now I have to alter my routine and remake my schedule. This week we are changing the kids nap schedule, because he has not been sleeping through the night as well as he used to. I used to know how long he needed to nap, when to feed him. Exactly how long we should stay at the park in order to get back in time for his nap, and when he had to wake up so that he wouldn't be over slept. Now things are up in the air.

Since he isn't taking a morning nap his afternoon nap needs to come earlier than what it was, but he hasn't adjusted to the change so I am having to play things more by ear than I am used to. I have to give him a nap when he is tired which means that we don't go to the park at the same time and we don't eat at the same time. Because of all of this change I get to the end of the day an have run out of time to do all of the things I need to on a daily basis. So my sink is full of dirty dishes, and the floor hasn't been cleaned as I would like to have done by this point in the week. I have a schedule for all of my chores, for my work, and for how we play. Losing this schedule means that many of the things I am really good at getting done are being neglected.

What all of this adds up to, is that I am not sure when I can actually get my own art work done. I spend all of my day trying to figure out his new schedule and how to keep him happy that I haven't been able to be very productive in my artistic realms.

This is a little upsetting to me. My art is a happy place for me. It puts me in a better mood, and helps me to find a zen like balance in my mind. It is kind of like my disconnect from the stresses of this world, or my reset button for the day. Not getting to do my art, like I would want to is starting to fray me at the ends. I need that creative release, and this change of schedule is really starting to mess with my head.

I know that this is just a time of transition, but it doesn't make it any less stressful for me. I just keep hoping that by the end of the next week or so we will have this all figured out, and I can get back into my work and let out some of the pent up stress that is starting to affect my life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Tricks

Ages ago I got a drawing pad to make digital art. After a month or so I gave up trying to use it and it got put in a box and forgotten about. I lost a lot of chances to learn a new skill with that pad. If I had stuck with it I would have been really great a using it by now. Sadly, I have come back to using this drawing pad years later and I have no experience and no skill with this tool. Now, I am starting from scratch, but this time because I have been scanning my work and spending more time in photoshop, I have more motivation to gain skills in this new medium.

It is not easy at all. I like to learn new things but wrapping my head around the concept of drawing on a screen is much more difficult than I could have imagined. It is why I gave up last time. I don't think of my drawing tools the same way the computer does when I am drawing, and the disconnect is affecting my work. I can use the same brush to make all kinds of different lines and shapes when I need something different. This whole changing brushes in order to do something different is really messing with my head. It makes me feel like I would have benefitted from learning how to draw with pointillism rather than line work. Making a ton of dots to draw the picture makes more sense in this medium than trying to actually get my lines to do the same thing that I can on paper.

All I know is that it is becoming increasingly frustrating to try to put ideas down this way. It is kind of like having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to find it for weeks. You really need to use that word, you know that you have it in your vocabulary, but things are just not connecting for you. You know that you have the capability to use the word, and the opportunity to put it to good use, but for some reason it is just not there for you when you want to use it.

I don't plan on giving up on this endeavor yet. I just have to figure out what direction to come at this to make it work for me. Everyone has their own strategy for doing things. If I go to youtube and find tutorials on how to draw in photoshop, I will get a list of hundreds of people who all have different ways of using the tools and techniques. All of them have the same tools, and all of them make great pieces of work, but all of them have different preferences and techniques personalized to their own drawing and thinking styles. Just like them I need to find the function that works best for my own style of work.

I think the hardest part is that the program is so vast and the technique so new to me, that I have become overwhelmed by the possibilities. At the end of each day I find that instead of actually getting work done on the piece I am trying to make, I have spend a good portion of the day doing what kids do in paint, or that cool game kids pics we had when I was kid. I go through all of the brushes and try them out. Then I go through all of the different settings on the different brushes and test them. At the end of the day I have a series of marks of different size, shape, and texture and no actual work done.

I just wish I could get to the point where I know what each setting does, so that I will know what I need in order to get my work done. I just want to know what technique I need. I have this awesome tool and I am sad to say that I am not using it very well yet. I hope that I can learn how to appropriately use it and actually be able to achieve something. I just can't give up while I am still learning. I cannot decided that I am no good at this without giving myself a proper chance get better at it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feeling Useless

There are many times where money is tight, or I want something we don't really have the money for, and I think to myself why did I choose to become a stay at home mom. I wonder, why it is that I decided to pick such a useless art major. I feel sometimes that I can be of so much more use to our family if I were to work, and contribute a second pay check. I have always had some kind of work throughout my entire life. If I felt that I needed a little more to get by on, I have always had the option of picking up more with extra hours.

My parents have a custom furniture business in the garage. When I was growing up if I ever needed money for something my mom's answer was always to go out and help in the shop. I always knew that if I needed something I could go earn it. If I wanted something I could go make money for it. My parents had taught me the value of money and work. I thank them for that, but sometimes I feel like they taught me too well, because I have a hard time not bring in some sort of income. 

It just makes me feel so useless when I cannot just go outside to the shop and earn what I need. It is a convenience that I miss sometimes. I may have hated to work in the shop when I was a kid, but it was something I could always go to. Now that I live in another state it really isn't an option any more. 

I have to face my decisions, and the conflicted feelings that I have about them. It could be so much more simple to just pick up a job, and help more directly with our goals, but that would mean that I wouldn't be able to be there for the kid.

Taking care of the kid and being there all the time for him is more important to me than making extra money at any job. None the less I still get these feelings every once in a while where I wish there were something more that I could do. That maybe some of my extra hours in the day could be used to do something more useful. Nap times could be work times for me. His independent play time could be my time to bring in a little income. But things are not that way and I have to learn how to live with that. 

These feelings make me restless. This is part of why I dedicate so much time to my art. The more time that I use up during the day the less time I have to brood on other options I could have chosen to take. I am confident in the decision I have made. I would choose the same things every time if I were to do it all again. There are just moments of weakness. Those days where I get to the end of the day and feel like I have not gotten anything done with my time. Those are the days where I question my decisions. Those unproductive days with too much time to over think things make me doubt myself. 

I constantly question if what I do during the day is enough. I don't have a 9-5 job. I cannot quantify just how much work I do. So it is difficult to determine just how productive I have really been. When it is harder to see my accomplishments, it is harder for me to feel good about my work during the day. It can be disheartening. 

I like to avoid these feelings whenever I can by keeping busy. When I feel like I have had a productive day I have no reason question my choices. Every day I try to be sure that I am productive enough to avoid these crippling feelings. I value my time with the kid too much to even really consider a job. I just have to remind myself of that when I am suffering from doubt. 

Sometimes I just think too much about the "what if's" and lose sight of the long term value of the choices I have made. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making Changes

Things tend to happen when you are working towards longer term goals. We can become comfortable with the daily routine of a goal like that. Wake up, brush teeth, eat, work. What can happens is that things change. What can also happen is that you change your goal. Circumstances have a way of making us want something new. I started out this year thinking that I wanted to paint a thrift store painting every month. I am however building up quite the collection of these. They are taking up space in my home and they aren't really challenging me any more. This has caused me to reflect on just how effective this goal may still be.

I have many different hesitations about changing my goals. I hate to feel like I am quitting or giving up on something. I worry that I haven't really pushed myself far enough, or that I have failed the idea in some way by not continuing to pursue it to completion. I don't just give up a goal for any old reason. But, my husband helped my to understand that maybe it wasn't a bad idea to change my goals. He reminded me that it wasn't much of a goal, if I couldn't adjust it to better fit my changing circumstances. If it is too ridged of a goal it becomes just a task or work.

So, with some deep reflection I have decided to take my already existing thrift store art in a different direction. I am not going to completely abandon my goal, but tweak it so that once again I am working toward something more than just a task. My new idea is to make cartoon like stories of my currently existing pieces. I don't know where I am going to go with these, but I want to explore this new technique of art and expand my skills into new mediums. I am sure I will come up with a new goal that corresponds to this new style of work, since I don't know where this is going yet I cannot really create goal.

In the past during art school I did this kind of thing all of the time. I would start off a project with one idea, and through mistakes and adjustments I would end up with something that could be completely different from the original idea, but still in the same vein. The process of continual adjustment adds the the final product, because you have included what you have learned along the way, you can make it better than what you could have come up with in the first place using the limited knowledge you had then.

The goals we make have to have the freedom to adapt to what we need. We don't always need in the end what we needed at the beginning. We make adjustments as we go to fit the person we are now. It is not a worth while goal if it is not making yourself a better person, so change it to a more challenging goal, then you will always be improving as you go.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Losing grip

I have a ton of interests and hobbies. When it came time to pick out a desired direction in my life it became difficult to pick just one with all of the interests that I have. It took me ages to finally pin down art as my desired degree and career path in my life. I know that many people feel the same way about life.

Consequently, I like to pursue several different interests at the same time. Currently, I am re-reading a series before the next book comes out, I am working on a new watercolor painting, blogging, building my internet presence, starting my spring garden, and raising a kid. I try to work on all of these things every day so that they don't get forgotten or neglected. It is kind of a lot of stuff to split my focus between, but I feel so passionately about all them that I don't want to neglect any of them.

What tends to happen is that, because I like so many things I keeping adding new activities to my day. I read, and then write, and then nap the kid, paint, write, eat, and the list goes on. Then as I continue to add things to my day things start to slip through my fingers.

I like to do leisure free writing. I often sit in front of a blank paper and pour all of my current emotions onto the page. It helps me to logically go over them and think things out. I also wrote a book once with my leisure writing. Words are just as much a creative outlet for me as my art work is. Sadly this has become one of those things that has slipped between my fingers in the last couple of months.

Along with many other hobbies I have enjoyed there are just not enough hours in the day for me to fit it all in. I sometimes like to imagine all that I could do with my life if it were longer. There is just so much stuff that I want to do. There are so many things that I want to experience and learn, but I am limited by the amount of time I have to do them.

This forces me to sort out my priorities. I will never be able to do all of the things I want to. Maybe in the next life I will be given a chance to do so, but for now I have to decided what I feel most passionately about doing. I have to reduce my number of activities I try to attempt doing in the day so that I can actually finish the things that I care most about.

Just because I have decided that one thing is more important that another doesn't mean that I have to all together quit pursuing that interest. Just because I don't have time to write every day doesn't mean that I have to stop writing completely. I just have to make sure that I make time every once in a while to indulge in a different hobby. I have to change my life from a daily rotation to a weekly or monthly rotation on some things so that I can occasionally get to all of my hobbies. It becomes like a treat every once in a while I get to do something different that I love, rather than what I do every day.

Maybe one day I won't have to deliberate so much over what I want to do with my time. But for now, I am still fighting with  myself to narrow my interests down. Somehow I doubt that my thirst will ever really be quenched, and I will always want more out of my time that I will be able to do. All I can do is hope that time will never run out, and that I will have all of the time I will ever need to learn grow and create. I guess what I am saying is that I don't ever plan on getting old or dying.