I am at one month until school starts. Whew! I can't wait. Again, I don't want to rush this process and make time go any faster than it already does, BUT it will be nice to be back in classes and learning.
I worked on a couple of paintings this week simultaneously. One on canvas and one on another wood slice. They are both done in oils, so it helps when one is drying I can work on the other. I'm discovering the power of gesso! Who knew how empowering it would feel to gesso over a painting that wasn't going well? With watercolor and paper, if I messed up or didn't like the direction a painting was going, I got to throw out the paper. That can be very costly when you are working on artist-grade materials. About a month ago I started a large canvas of an abandoned barn in Washington State, and while I liked the initial stages, I quickly stymied on progression of the composition. That composition is what I'm now painting on the wood. Small scale seems to be working much better for me. The canvas is evolving into something very personal. Fingers crossed that I can execute.
That is a perfect segway into where my mind has been over the past several weeks too. I'm about to get real personal here folks. I turn 50 in a couple of weeks. And for some it's no big deal. I love when someone says, "oh it's only a number". Maybe. But it happens to be a rather big number in a person's life span. It's the beginning of another decade. And that time period happens to be thought of as the "downward" slope of life. You start thinking of retirement, and finish paying off a mortgage. Perhaps you are celebrating a 30th wedding anniversary with your best friend. Or maybe seeing your children graduate college or get married. And this is definitely when stuff starts to happen with health too. Its a time in a person's life when you need to think about tomorrow more than ever. All these crazy thoughts run through my head, because you know I'm not there for ANY of that! Ha! When I first decided to return to school, I had the goal of graduating when I turned 50. Then when I transferred to UA and realized I was missing some of my basic classes, that goal was quickly gone. And now I'm looking at graduating in the next 1 1/2 - 2 years. And then what? Then I get to hustle my way into shows and residencies and the creative life I've always wanted. I get to do all this on my own. There's no Mr to help support (financially or emotionally) what I'm working toward. And while being alone is definitely hard at times, I think I've made my peace with the reality of the situation. Il destino doesn't have a perfect mate for me. This year alone has been one of great upheaval too: the realization of just how expensive it is to attend a university full time, and then moving into a shithole to be able to still go to school. I'm still waiting for this move to be cheaper than where I was before. So far.....it's not. The only saving grace is I no longer live next door to druggies. BUT....I now live in a smoker's paradise. My allergies and asthma hate it.
I've fallen into a very bad trap over the past several years. I've turned to food to cope. And lets face it, I emotional binge eat like there's no tomorrow. Stressed about a test? Eat some chips. Frustrated that you can't paint like how you want to? Have another soda. Tired of being alone when it seems the world is paired up? Go ahead and eat that container of ice cream. It is a vicious cycle - one that as 50 creeps closer and closer, and the stress of spring semester quickly overwhelmed me, and the lack of money constantly was on my mind - it became too easy to eat my way to my highest weight ever. And it's more than a number on a scale. It's that feeling of god my knees hurt all the time. And it takes me 15 - 20 minutes to just make the pain go away each morning to be able to walk around. Or avoiding really looking in the mirror at myself. Never having any clothes that fit anymore. Well...the list is endless. I simply don't want to be that person anymore. Part of it started with me reminding myself to be positive in the face of adversity. Positive outward, positive inward. And then taking a long look at what exactly I'm consuming - sodas, refined sugars, thousands of empty calories....
I don't want to live like this. I don't want to have the smile on my face, while inside I'm dying. I'm working so hard to get this degree. What happens if I'm not around to enjoy it? What happens if I'm too sick or fat to make the rest of my goals come true? And I'm walking into a visual world, where I will be judged on first impressions of not only my artwork but me too. I can no longer ignore or hide that I'm quickly destroying myself with my own fears and emotional baggage. At the end of every day, I not only want to feel fulfilled in my creative endeavors, but I also want to like who I am as a person. Right now, I'm just not there yet. I cannot help but ask why do I continue to get in my own way? I'm proving to myself that I have what it takes to get this degree, and that I can paint. Do I need to destroy myself before I get to live the life I've always dreamed of? I need to let this shit go. I'm empowering the wrong things. I need to empower myself. I need to love myself.
Hence the painting I'm working on. I'm calling it something like "Death to Before". It's a work in progress. Like me. I'll be unplugging my social media for a little bit (especially over my birthday weekend), just to take a pause and remember to breathe. I want to get my head on straight for the next chapter in this journey. I want to do everything I can to find the strength to walk away from the voice that says "I can't" and leads me into gorging on an entire bag of chips. And instead, hop on my bike and ride, or pick up a pencil and sketch, or simply be still in the moment and okay in the silence. So yeah, I told you it was about to get real. I just opened up and laid myself bare there for you. Being vulnerable isn't easy. But it's a beginning of that positive outward, positive inward that has become my mantra. All of this has been the hardest thing I've ever undertaken. School, art, life, me..... If I don't do it, there's no one who is going to do it for me.
So that's it for this week. I have painting and bike rides scheduled for this coming week. And some work thrown in there too. Be good to yourself.