sorry for the long one

i dont know why i've been under some self imposed silence about my life on the blog lately. perhaps i want to spare us all the tedium and distress. blogs are interesting. when i first started this blog it was more a personal rant than anything. it lasted 2 months and i deleted it. i waited a few more months and started again. i decided to stick with the artists' journey. MY journey and my work. my experiences, struggles blah blah blah. it's easy to become what i deem a leper on a blog. it's surprisingly easy to say too much and scare people away. its easy to bore people. its too easy to just be one's self and forget you need to monitor and self correct lest you cause irreparable damage to it [the blog]. it takes a lot of hard work to make a blog successful. i wouldn't even say i've done that. i noticed awhile back i had over 100 subscribers to google reader, that felt like a milestone. i have plenty-o-followers but i'm thinking many of them are long gone and their little avatars are merely ghosts stuck in my follow box.

i have found that my blog has served me well and not quite how i had originally imagined it would. i'm not sure i even understood what a blog was when i started it. i thought it would open doors for me in the art world, i suppose it has in subtle ways but mostly it has been a stepping stone for building relationships with mostly other artists from all over the country, even the world. i value those relationships. it's been a struggle to find as much support and friendship in my 'real life' but i know that takes time and effort of a different sort.

so. i've lived here in huntsville texas for almost six months now. in that time if i am honest with myself i have made strides that perhaps i wouldn't had i stayed ensconced in vermont. i was sequestered and secluded up on that mountain in stowe. i hiked almost every day in beautiful forests. i was in a great gallery just down the road. i had access to wonderful food, felt relatively safe, lived for free by care taking in a beautiful home, had part time work whenever i wanted job driving the local taxi. i lived with a supportive friend and partner and yet by the time 5 years flew by it was time to leave. too easy. too safe. too isolated. there were of course other reasons, it wasn't all heavenly there obviously, but the crux of the matter was we, tod and i, needed to go get a life.

zoom into now. huntsville texas. i'm still in culture shock i guess. i've yet to find materials to work with other than wood scraps from the phoenix commotion job site. i walk or ride a bike nearly every day looking for stuff on the roadside. its a clean city (town really). i venture on the frontage roads and have been on what seems every road in the vicinity and there just isn't the stuff here like there was in vermont. so i've had to adjust. and as most of you know i don't live with the same space and options for working like i used to. i've not been as productive as i feel i should be. half the time i'm too afraid to make noise, make more of a mess in our living space than there already is, afraid to make MORE that will just pile up and cost me in the long run to store or move it. but being paralyzed hasn't done much for me either. so i spend my days trying to find little jobs on craigslist thinking if i can get some income i will relax a little and function better but alas huntsville is just not the sort of place people post gigs/jobs online. its prison or university faculty work and thats about it. the few other jobs i've checked into are just not something i feel i can do/not qualified to do etc. so art seems to be the dangling carrot i return to and chase time and time again.

i've started checking into galleries in houston again. emailing, querying... soon to send off the obligatory cd packets for the places that for whatever reason dont take online submissions. all my fears come up about not enough work even though i'm choking on the work i have here. and my interests are in my little wooden assemblages; almost impossible to imagine a gallery saying oh god paula we MUST HAVE THOSE! ...ya know?

this has been a tough time. i've wanted to move. tod was on the fence up until a week ago but has now decided that this is the place to stay for now. since i haven't any money left i'm pretty much stuck here unless i want to just become a vagabond. [yes i know i sound like a victim] truth be told i dont know where the hell i'd go even if i did have money. i wonder how i can feel just as lost as the day i quit massage in arizona and had no clue what i was going to do. it was almost easier in a way, because getting rid of most everything and just driving off into the sunset and camping was fast and easy. living on the road had its own challenges but less felt at stake. i am an 'artist now'. not so easy to just toss art, tools and supplies. and i dont want to stop being an artist, not sure i could. those things are the only investment i own. i've got five years + of nearly day in and day out art under my belt. i've been represented in the same gallery since jan 2006 as well as been in a handful of other galleries/shows. my work has been purchased by an impressive mix of art collectors but it isn't nearly enough. i've got to up the game somehow. honestly this feels like the biggest hardest hurdle i've come up against in quite awhile. no real clue what to do, as part of me feels even if i got into the best gallery in the world i'd still have problems, maybe MORE because then i would have to produce more and it's becoming a jungle in my little 8x13 studio.

i think the naivety is gone. i dont think i had any idea, how could i after all, what an artists life would be like. there is no road map, you just assume you make art, get in a gallery and sell it, right? there is much to learn, much to digest. figure out. lots of trusting and intuition and a blind belief in oneself that honestly i find exhausting. i love making art but still struggle with knowing where it belongs. how it fits into anything 'real' in the world. believing i have any worth or value. i struggle with the heart that wants and believes i can do this and the head that says you are a failure and a useless blob of flesh. i'm tired. i'm jaded. i am cynical. i am lost. i am angry and afraid. the joy is still there when i allow myself to get lost in my work. but the worry about money, the boredom, the utter boredom of living in this banal city casts howling screams inside my head. the challenge is to focus. to keep trying. keep searching. i'm in my own prison. i'm aware of the prison just a few blocks away, aware they live in cells. in hell. i'm in my own hell. my own cell. its my own existential struggle. i'm so tired of fighting and not sure i've got much more fight in me. reminds me of when i was a child how i could NEVER get a math story problem. i would labor over it until tears of frustration would shut me down. always needing my sister, my parents, a teacher or classmate to do it for me. show me. and i yet i never understood the basic formula, how to know how to figure it out. that is how my life feels right now. there is some formula i feel that exists to living this artists' life and i am NOT getting it. maybe you just make it up. who knows. no one can do it for me.

as with most problems, the more you obsess over it the more difficult it becomes. so you prance around it pretending it isn't there. thinking the answer will pop out at you if you ignore it. when that doesn't work you get mad again and stab at it with whatever mental tool you have. to no avail. then you stop trusting yourself and question everything. the 'what does it mean' shit comes up. does it mean i'm not supposed to be an artist? does it mean i'm not supposed to this or that? i'm my own cyclone. twirling around with all my thoughts and anger. hard to walk away from that mess and know what direction to go into. its dizzying. time zips by and nothing seems to have gotten accomplished. so thats where i'm at these days. starts and stops. determination mired by the defacto of no results. in a strange way i keep correcting myself and realizing there is no other. nothing else. just now. i have to widen and explore the now. over and over and over. prying it open like a clam and looking at now. now. now.

so NOW you know where i've been. what i've been. did you really read all of this?


Michelle said...

You say:
it's easy to become what i deem a leper on a blog. it's surprisingly easy to say too much and scare people away. its easy to bore people. its too easy to just be one's self and forget you need to monitor and self correct lest you cause irreparable damage to it [the blog]. it takes a lot of hard work to make a blog successful
I say:
It is hard work and you surprise me,
how open you are and
how open you stay!!!
I did read almost everything and
I thank you for your open sharing!
I believe there are People (me),
can take small, maybe some Times big Things out
of your expirience, bring then to mine and help, to
see a point that may can be changed or just bring more awernes!
Thank you Paula

paula said...

thank you michele. i know you have your creative challenges too and i appreciate that you are out there!

andrea said...

Quucik comment as I have groceries defrosting on my counter: your long posts are ALWAYS interesting. That's why I'll be back!

CMC said...

One of these days..maybe in October when they hold this every year...come to Dallas and make the rounds of the studio in this area of Dallas where lots of artists live.
Here's one link I found..and there are others on this link to follow.
One woman I know who lives there...used to take her truck to a junk yard where they weighed in going in and going out. Maybe you can find more 'stuff' like that.

paula said...

thanks cheryl...of course i have no room for anything so i have to work on THAT first!
the link looks great though, might be worth that long drive if i'm still here :) thank you.

CMC said...

Another thing is that it might be a good area for you to live in. Lots more going on and a city.

Colleen Kole said...

I do read everything! I wondered where you were but know you would tell us. You are so honest-sounds like space is the first issue to conquer? Wish I could help with that.

paula said...

i'm apt to believe it will always be something and i'm suppose to just learn to work with what i have. i'd say i need to sell art more than anything else (or make money somehow), i need to get financially responsible again, pay tod back, pay bills and create a life ....YET AGAIN (hands on face,running, screaming into the brush)

Jeana Marie said...

wish I knew what to say that would help...still here though, reading quietly. I hope you get some positive feedback from the galleries you've been contacting and soon, I really do!

Nellie's Needles said...

Your every post gets my attention. I read it all. I'm rooting for the heroine in the saga of your life story shared through your blog. You have a strong and determined spirit that is to be envied. If you don't make it, that will be a sad commentary about the rest of the world.

Kim Hambric said...

Yes, Paula, I read the long ones.

Perhaps we should form an art leper colony.

Or perhaps we should ask the question, "What would Thomas Kinkade do?"

Sending a cyber hug -- its the best this leper can do.

andrea said...

A question: How does one set up a Google reader thingamabob?

A reflection: Your life in Vermont sounded idyllic. As a restless soul I understand the need to keep moving but I'm finally at the stage of my life where I think that if I have access to outdoor spaces, a dog, a partner, a high-speed connection, an income and, most importantly, time and space to make art then why change? Of course I don't really have all those things right now but my world is definitely getting smaller as my needs shrink.

A thought (and the math problem comments you made is what made me think about it): Do you really think that making it big in the art world is the answer? Even then economic freedom might elude you, not to mention the fact that the sort of personal/spiritual/emotional freedom you (we all) crave would also elude you. What sort of LIFE do you want?

A comment: I 'm thinking your life might make a really cool indie film.

paula said...

excellent questions andrea.
google reader, just go to google and type in google reader if you dont see it on a tab. sign in with a google account and start subscribing.

yes vermont was idyllic from afar. the reality was it wasn't our house and we were harangued almost daily by an insane gardener that the 'family' wouldn't fire. she made life hard to swallow, invaded our privacy and peace and quiet. plus the house we caretook for was going to be rented and that meant more people above our heads, more work, stress and it was acoustically horrible when others were there. it wasn't 'ours' to do what we wanted. also, we were very secluded. stowe was filthy rich and after 5 years i had 2 friends there which i rarely saw. long winters, no real jobs either (remember taxi driving was pretty hard and i panicked so only did shit rides)....the east coast just didn't feel like me. tod was born east coast and had a lifetime of winters and was sick of it. the mentality etc...just not us.

i would love to stay somewhere too and not always move. do i want to make it 'big' in the art world? not sure that is an option for me and not sure what that even means. i know it IS possible for an artist to make it selling in galleries/online/shops ways i dont even know. that would be big for me.
i think the sort of life i want gets continually honed down. i would love to have freedom to make choices, poverty doesn't allow that... for whatever reason i am not 'healthy enough' yet in mind/body spirit to handle a normal job. i dont need much to live so i'm struggling with what to do when i dont have a ton of options here. when i was a massage therapist i made good money and never thought i would do anything else. even a few massages a week made decent money but my body can't do it and the lic. has expired and i have nothing to GIVE.
so in my ideal life, i make enough to live in my own dwelling preferably not in the middle of a city but close enough i can get to it without wasting too much time/gas.
a studio separate from the home on the property. friends/students, people who want to share in the art/food/music of life. be able to hike in mountains and live in a dry arid climate.
i have a fantasy of having enough to travel when i want in my car and camp, leave and collect materials...mostly a pure artists life collecting materials, making things and releasing them in the world. sharing. learning.

i'm not that far off from what you said you need. why change. well here there isn't enough variety for ME. if there were at least beautiful mountains to climb nearby and more resources....we came here to work with dan and that didn't turn out for me the way i'd hoped. i realize that when you are happy and healthy it really doesn't matter WHERE you are or WHAT you do. i have much more growth to do as a person, dont forget my whole life i was a nutjob who drank like a fish. honestly i never expected to live past 40 so why plan for a future. why save money etc.
it never occurred to me i would be alive and worrying if i could afford a pair of shoes and food. it kills me that all i have to do is sell $800 a month and i would be ALRIGHT. i was doing that in 2007 but we all know the world is different now. new game plan....the math problem....
as for the indie movie. ha. you'd be lucky to get a picture of me from the archives!

paula said...

bottom line andrea
i just want to be healthy enough to take care of myself. not be financially destitute. i would love to achieve that by selling art. i wonder i'm asking too much of myself? of life?

andrea said...

All I can suggest is that you keep asking the questions. That's more interesting than finding the answers but doesn't exactly put food on the table or peace in the mind, does it?

By the way, I think that place does matter, but not in the way most people do.

PS We wouldn't need to see you. Just choose someone to play you! :)

ArtPropelled said...

I've been totally engrossed in this post and all the comments..... so yes I do read your long posts. Not much I can add to what everyone else has said but I do gain insight from reading your posts and I'm forever hopeful that everything works out soon.

paula said...

nellie, if i dont make it is will be a sad commentary about ME. i appreciate your thoughts.
jeana, thank you for the good thoughts.
kim..you are not a leper nor am i. we just haven't found our people.
robyn, i think meeting you this year has been a huge gift. thank you for sharing quotes and thoughts and art with me. thank you for encouraging me and being gentle and understanding.

deb said...

Paula so many of us read you, so many of us are cheering you on on your heroine's journey and wishing we were brave enough to go too. Don't stop being you here, don't worry about what some people think, some of us love you and your honesty. I wish all my students would read your blog, so they would really understand that it is hard out here and that most of them won't be brave enough to make it either. Wouldn't it be grand to have a patron like Da Vinci's who'd just let you live in his house and make whatever... ah to dream... sending you hugs and blessings, and something a little more tangible in the post

paula said...

deb...wow you brought tears to my eyes. thank you. i can't tell you how for days after writing stuff i feel like i have soiled myself in public and people must be thinking oh shut up who cares blah blah blah. i myself can't stand to hear people whine and complain. i try to rationalize that i'm searching...but sometimes i think jesus just grow up or something.
it is people like YOU that keep me sane...offer advice, chocolate bars, books...art...life. thank you. i appreciate what you said about your students although i think i'd cringe at my lack of maturity if they saw this coming from a 48 yr old. i'd be the example of 'you dont want to be like HER do you!!!!????'