But Only if You’re Standing in the Eye
As evidenced by this blog's title and subtitle, the song The Eye, by Brandi Carlile has been playing in my mind... It feels like a wise part of me wants me to listen and remember that even when life is whirling around uncertainly, there is a spot of calm for some of us even amidst the chaos.
Life has changed permanently in this world, and we are still right in the eye of the storm. In the United States, we are still seeing rising numbers of COVID 19 cases and deaths, and in smaller numbers, recoveries. There will likely be many more recoveries, but this virus seems to take hold and hang on for a long time, which means there are still many, many people sick at this time fighting off this new virus.
I don’t know of a soul whose life has not been impacted on some level. There are a lot of people whose lives are being upended and put at severe risk, especially those working in the COVID 19 units, surrounded by this invisible invader. And those who are at higher risk, fearing for their lives because they are no longer able to have at home healthcare assistance like before. Then there are those who have no idea how they will overcome the financial strains of losing employment, waiting for unemployment, missing bill payments, losing childcare, and the list goes on.
I continue to be open to ways I can assist others while still respecting orders to stay at home, and until this weekend I continued to work in the art gallery (which has been closed for a month now), patching, painting, securing and preparing for our doors to close for a while. Being able to work part time has been an interesting transition through this surreal experience. I have really appreciated relying on a routine that was close to my former routine. Of course, there were no customers… No dressing up was done… And the work was much more manual and laborious than normal customer service work. Still, I have deep gratitude for being able to cling to a portion of normalcy for a little while.
Now begins the next period, the unemployment period. Thankfully, I still have some freelance clients to keep me focused. And secretly, I am a little bit excited to have a little time off to create more art and continue practicing new techniques. Before this pandemic, my normal routine consisted of working part time in an art gallery tucked into the most magical corner of the desert; I would set up my computer so I could mess around on my own art projects and maybe do a little client work in addition to the work I did in the gallery. I have had to be more mindful of creating time to work on client projects lately, and honestly, it’s been a challenge.
So, how do I see the next stretch of time playing out? Oh, heavens. So many ways. I have a lot of plans… And I hope to bring to fruition a few ideas I have been simmering on in the background landscape of my mind. One thing I know for sure is that I will continue to immerse myself in learning while I have some more forced at-home time. As a perpetual student, I have been fortunate enough to learn of a course that I have wanted to take for a while now - and it has been opened up at no cost to creatives who want to learn how to make art that sells. In fact, this course is called Make Art That Sells : Money BadAss and so far I have liked - and been challenged - by it. The course was created by Lilla Rogers and Beth Kempton, and until I recently decided I wanted to be an illustrator, I had not heard of these two creative and empowering women. Now that I have, I look forward to taking many more courses from them; I have so much to learn and I admire their style of teaching and stewardship of their students.
The Money Bad Ass course really targets a tough spot for me: money. So far, I have only made it through a couple of assignments - partially because I have been really busy adapting and painting, and partially because addressing money issues is a real actual issue for me. This particular course is designed to be completed in three weeks if you really dig in, but it is self paced and I can imagine it may take me six months or so. And that’s okay. It honestly takes me “a little extra” to be willing to feel the feelings that money concerns bring me, so I will take my time. Thankfully, I have really enjoyed the facebook group support, and that has opened me up to dabbling in other groups as well.
I feel a little out of place sometimes with creatives that are a couple of decades younger than I am, but I have found a creative facebook group recently that has been so welcoming and kind that I have felt safe to tiptoe out of my comfort zone and interact a bit. I am so glad I did! What amazing people. Many of the people in these creative groups are from all over the world, and many have been sheltering in place for quite a long time. I can sense their openness to interact with people and I feel such deep gratitude for the sense of belonging I already feel from so many people I have never met. I wonder if I would have ventured into these sharing spaces as much if we hadn’t all been sent to our proverbial rooms; for that, I am grateful.
It seems that there are a lot of content creators out there who are generously offering their classes at discounts or no charge, entertaining at no charge, sharing things that are designed to uplift us and create a sense of togetherness so we don’t all feel so alone. I admire this so much. And I always love learning.
This month, I have loved digging into some Irene Lyon videos on YouTube as supplemental education in my own somatic therapy journey; I have also been eating up a ton of astrology videos, attempting to be willing to watch some social media marketing content, and working my way through some SkillShare courses (my current favorite is Sweet Spots: Expressing Big Ideas in Small Illustrations by Tom Froese). I signed up for a deeply discounted Udemy course about Mastering Geometric Grid-Based Designs in Illustrator (I can’t wait to get into this one), and I am in love with what I have learned so far from a limited time free Handcrafted Herbalism Mini-Course through Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.
It sounds like a lot when I write it out… I will take my time and do my best to set up a schedule. This is a really important and I daresay, sacred time for me and for so many of us. I feel a sense of knowing that things won’t be going back to the same old ways of being after this - and I feel like I am in a fortunate enough position to steer my life in a direction where I can create things that are important to me, and work in a way that considers my impact on others. How can I position myself to be ready for the important work that is ahead of me? How can I make room in my place of privilege for others to join me so that we can stand in a shared space of equality? How can I use my voice to speak up for those whose voices have been drowned out?
These are the questions I always like to ask, and I know this is an opportunity for myself and others like me to continue making art that matters; continue connecting with people; continue learning and preparing for those moments when we are able to meet another human being where they are and provide some sense of safety, humanity and relief.
In other news, I keep seeing the words COVID 19 and Coronavirus in my head, two words that begin with C, all decked out and lettered - and I would like to reclaim the C in a sense. So, in line with my SkillShare Sweet Spots assignment, I made a series of four spot illustrations from my own life that represent the different words that begin with C that have impacted my pandemic… In order, they are: Cooper the Desert Dingo (of course), The letter “C” straight chillin’, a Cuppa Chamomile, and California poppies (these glorious beauties have bloomed in my backyard and my heart is in heaven). Super fun practice - I hope you enjoy!