Every day on instagram I see my contemporaries posting new work. Every day! Even on Sundays! I used to be like that too. I was relentless. I felt it was very important for people to see just how hard I was working. Then some stuff happened. In short order my Dad died suddenly. My dog died. I got married. We got a new dog. My Mom got cancer then died. We got another dog. I spent months overpowered by grief. Then the migraines I’ve struggled with for 25 years grew so intense there were entire months that I barely left my house.
I’ve never given up on my career, but I feel really awful some day thinking about how much time I have lost. I’ve felt angry, depressed, and sad. so sad. I wonder where I would be if my life were different. Of course I wouldn’t be me if this weren’t my life, so a pointless query. Instead, I’m asking myself what can I learn from this, how can I adapt, what matters?
I’m working with a new neurologist now, and I am working my way through all the cutting edge medications and procedures, as well as the ancient ones. I’m having some good days. I’m making some okay paintings. Since I make less work right now , I think about each piece more. I sit and write and draw and think a lot harder about what I’m doing. My entire process has slowed down and I value my studio time more than ever. I think about the term “work smarter not harder”. I’ve learned how to get a lot done in three hours since I rarely get eight. Instead of blasting out work and shoving it up on social media, I take my time and ponder paintings. I don’t always get to take advantage of every single opportunity I’m given. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to resume my old work schedule, but for now, the paintings are coming slowly, “like a herd of turtles”, my Dad would say :)