I’ve been so busy working on getting the studio initially funded and established that I haven’t painted very much this year, I'm sad to say. I've created a few commissions and have done some smaller studies here and there, but I haven't been operating at my usual output. Even though I'm still figuring out how I'll juggle the boys' school schedules and running the studio, I've devoting the second half of this year to just making work weekly, even if it's just one painting.
As I was explaining this and my desire to dive back into making raw, expressive work again vs. the figures that have preoccupied my brain in a group chat yesterday, my friend Sili gave me an assignment: "I want you to paint the word 'grace' on a canvas...and then do whatever brujeria it is you do when you paint. You need to give yourself grace-your arms haven't even been working well enough for you every day!" She's right...the nerve pain and weakness I've had in my hands and arms daily since March have also been a significant contributing factor to my slow output this year thus far. It's been frustrating to say the least, picking up a brush and feeling my arm go limp as I lose grip on it in my hand and it falls to the floor...not being able to squeeze paint out of bottles let alone feel it as I spread it across a surface. Even now as I'm typing this, pain radiates from my neck through my elbows, down the undersides of my forearms and my ring and pinky fingers on both hands are dead. There are several times throughout my day when I'm only able to use half of my hands, so yes. I do need grace to outpace my ambitions as I work and juggle and mom and wife and curate and manage this Fall & Winter.
I'm so driven by ambition though, especially when inspired and that is hard to reign in when my creative queue is backlogged with words, images and ideas like it has been the last few months. Even though I had told myself that August would be my month to dig back into my practice and get going on bringing all that's been stored up in my brain to life, I honestly wasn't sure where I'd even start. Thankfully, a conversation two weeks ago with my friend and fellow painter Calida Rawles has served as a compass. She was in town visiting from LA and wanted to finally meet in person, as we had been unable to do so while I lived in Cali. She came by the studio and after we chatted a bit about life, politics, motherhood, and ideas for new paintings, she turned to my work on the wall and started to give me some insightful, constructive feedback that felt like a charge of sorts to return to painting more raw, abstract work.
I've been doing exactly that this week and as much as I have enjoyed the challenge of expressing impact and experience on the body with my figures, I've surprisingly found expressing impact and experience in the body through line, mark, burst and flow has been a relief I wasn't aware I've been yearning for. My friend Karen asked me on Tuesday what it feels like to be back at the canvas in this way and I told her "like taking a deep breath."