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i think most of you know i am a struggler.  few things come easily.  making art comes easy...the actual putting it together aint so easy cuz of the materials i work with, my limited work space/tools/knowledge etc.: however,  the finding of objects and having the 'ability' or 'luck' in allowing them to find mates to meld with is for me actually easy.  i'm sure many people could look at my art and say well duh how hard CAN IT BE to stick that on that and call it a flower.  exactly.  it is and it isnt.  it can take days, weeks, months before an object feels (to me) right with another.  the patina, the color.  the shape and the texture.  all of it will feel right and if it doesnt 9 times out of 10 i will not touch it or finish it until something does feel right.  it all has to feel right.  it is and it isnt: easy.  it is and it isnt:  hard. and that isnt all there is to making art.  making art means making the time, the space.  for me it means not living like most people do in order to have that time/space.  it is and it isnt: easy.  it is and it isnt:  hard.

kinda like life.  i mean how hard can it be?  joe blow gets up. drinks his coffee, maybe eats sumthin.  takes a dump and goes to work.  mindlessly doing things at times. working. coming home and settling in front of the tv or going out to a game or the bars.  alone or with a mate. with children and pets.  the goal is to take care of it all and do whatever it takes to provide. thoughts go towards insurance, college ...the future for 'them'.  being responsible and living this sort of mechanical life by rote.

 me?  i usually wake up and check in with how i feel.  did i do alright after that usually not so good sleep?  am i anxious?  am i exhausted? can i do what i need to do today? and when i get out of bed and if i have to go out into the world i need to decide if i can walk there or ride my bike there.  my bike that is duct taped on both handlebars so the gear knobs dont fall off; the tires old and forever needing air.  the gears slipping and the brakes weakening.  if i walk i need to bring baggies to pick up found objects.  if i drive i am always sure that rear tire still has air in it cuz its always low...or the battery will start and i have enough gas to get me there.  will it be hotter than fuck and i'll panic and be stranded if my bike falls apart or my car? if i stay inside, if its raining or just too harsh out what can i add to my online art stores.  what am i working on and what do i need to do/buy to finish it?  is it too hot and bright or cold and windy to do much metal cutting/grinding on my porch?  should i do a lot of cutting of things and get an assembly line of work ready to put together so i have something to do indoors if its going to be in-climate for a few days?  do i need more objects?  do i need to walk around and look for found objects for hours on the road?  do i need to go the scrap yard and dig thru a pile of greasy metal and do i even have cash on me because thats all they take there?  do i have the emotional space to be open to making something completely different? have i done all my online networking, is it the right trash day to go looking for packing materials in the dumpsters?   thats kinda how i live.  not always....but its a pretty typical day in my world.

i hate change.  i hate repetition.  i love life.  i hate life.  in my world, the sun is the making of art.  i orbit around art, it. the sun.  the bright life giving thing that i do is called making art. and there is more to making art than the literal physical action of making something.  being an artist, for me at least, entails much more than just making something and calling it a day.   when its a gray day both literally and figuratively, when i am not making art or at least involved with some aspect of my art life i dont do so well. this year i've made less art than i wanted to for a few known and unknown reasons.  its easy to blame the weather.  its easy to blame the fact that i had that horrid roof leak shit going on for weeks and everything kind of shut down in my world....including me.  but what excuse do i have now? and is there really even an excuse.  sometimes life just presents you with challenges and it's your deal to figure out.  i really get that nothing can stay the same.  and if it did it probably means you are dead.  so i guess i've been aware that more changes are going to be taking place.  HAVE already taken place and i need to get up to speed.

you see, now the sun is out. its gorgeous.  its that tiny window of time before the hot humid hell descends.  and i find myself not wanting to make anything.  not even wanting to be home.  i have nowhere really to go and not much to do.  i find myself visiting with people a bit more.  when there is a pause in the normal day to day i resist. i brace myself for whatever it is i suspect is going to descend upon me be it a something minor or major.  i brace myself for that relentless knocking on my psyche to keep growing and learning. sometimes it just means rest.  sometimes it means something needs to change and you better get your intuitive eyes and ears open. so i look at what doesnt feel right and lately i've started obsessing about living somewhere more functional and less noisy.  i am getting frustrated living in a place that is almost always noisy and jarring to say the least.  yes there are plenty of quiet times but i never know when the next jolt of noise will come at me and i find it difficult to relax here. i can't just lay down and try to nap or even go to sleep at a set time cuz who knows if the music or the parties or the kids or whatever is going to keep me up or be the thing that awakens me. its some sort of apartment stress disorder hahaha.  i'm starting to feel too old to be living next to 20 yr olds. to be living atop a private gym.  i like their energy but not the noises that are prone to follow them around. maybe that isnt even true.  maybe i just need more purpose or involvement. who knows. i'm not so clueless to think that any person place or thing is really going to make everything perfect.  i also have the thought you move.  then what?  you gonna just keep doing what you always do?  fuck that you'll go nuts. 

so i find myself wondering about what is next.  find myself lookin .....sniffing around.  many of you may or may not know or remember that i've mentioned i've had 'patron rent help' since last july. my guy tod moved on last april (2011)and i just wasnt making enough to pay his half of the bills on my own ~ wasnt ready to move, had no clue what to do so i stayed.   my sales have slowed down and truth be told i wouldnt be able to keep living as i am were it not for this help.  i have been offered help in finding a place to live as well (which in fact is cheaper than apartment living).  keep in mind this person is not filthy rich.  ever watch herb and dorothy?, well my art patron is of that ilk (not that they collect art of big time people but they live/work in a frugal manner  and have an understanding of an artists' life/struggles, their appreciation of the arts etc is what is similar).  someone who has worked their own rear end off and saved and scrimped and was smart enough to take care of themselves and understands what an artists' life can be like as far as the struggles etc.   i'm sure that seems like a dream come true to many of you and dont get me wrong this is just an unbelievable gift UNBELIEVABLE.   i do still have to foot the bill for everything else, at least the rent isnt something i have to worry about paying each month.  besides that, when sales are slow i still need money for my own bills right? guess what?.... its difficult to accept. guess what?  i still stress each and every month because i think i oughtta be doing that myself, because i never expect that it will be paid next month and dont assume it will continue even a month more. EVER. there is some stress and accountability in receiving such a selfless gift and besides, i really want to make it on my own as an artist.  as a human. 

i love helping people too, so i know that this is as beneficial to my 'patron' as it is to me in ways i hope i get to experience myself one day......but there is this nagging feeling of me wanting to make it on my own again.  a truly healthy individual does that.  and i wanna.  obviously not to the point yet of saying okay i will work at that nasty box store and slave away doing a hideous mind, body and soul sucking job (and yet there are people out there who love those jobs and god bless'em but it aint for me...i think i would rather slink off into the desert and be coyote food).  guess i'm not 100% healthy cuz i'm not willing to do that. maybe that is healthy?  who can say. still i can't help but to feel that something in my life needs to change and i am the one who needs to figure it out.  it has been good to look around and see other places.  houses that are for rent or for sale....imagining myself in there working on art.  would i be/feel all alone in a 'real neighborhood'?  would i just evaporate?  i've come to enjoy and almost need this passive interaction i get when i'm on my loft porch or parking lot working on art,.  at least i see people and we nod or chat.  and dont forget about the homeless dude who drops off shipping materials as he empties the trash for a local business.  dont forget the big dumpster filled with packing peanuts and boxes and sometimes clothes or supplies!  and then the neighborhood...i can walk all around and feel safe and find stuff and feel connected even when i'm utterly alone.  not so in some of these more traditional neighborhoods.

so what do i do?  where do i go? do i go? do i stay? do i move to another state and try again?  even though tod and i ended our living together relationship last year we are still as good as friends as when we were together.  now that he is in seattle its tempting to go there.  my sister is there.  there are a handful of people on this planet that really get me, 2 of them are in seattle.  and yet....i'm here.  and while i'm not technically making it on my own, in a way i am in ways i never ever have before in my adult life.  i'm slowly but surely making friends.  i have dozens of acquaintances.  i have an excellent re pore with the 2 scrap yards in town. i dont feel totally invisible here and i like that.  i go places and people recognize me and quirky as i am, as they are too.  it just kinda works.  much as i can't stand the heat/humidity or the lack of good food and culture, there is something to be said for a quirky small town.  the fact that there aren't as many box stores.  the fact that you feel like everyone knows everyone and somehow we all get along even when we are pissed or annoyed with each other there is this unspoken forgiveness that happens over time that always blows my mind.  i've never lived somewhere that appears to go thru so many morphs. rebirths.  many of us are here and we dont know why.  people are changing.  learning.  accepting.  growing.  struggling.  i kind of fit in in a way.  even if i dont really.  i'm the solo artist.  i keep to myself most times.  dont share too much about myself unless i really trust someone.  usually work most of the time and only occasionally do the social scene because ...well repetition kills me.   and well, most times its still much more gratifying to be in the art making zone.  but i am aware that people replenish me sometimes even more than art does and that is also a 'first' for me.

there is still more story to tell, but i'm going to stop right here.  i need a break. its nice outside.  if i aint gonna make art i can at least go scrap looking . or go sit under a tree and get grounded.

little lines of thought that came to me:

happiness and peace comes from within
obtaining that is in the doing and being
not the getting and having

take some pride in your struggle
very recently i realized that i've been ashamed and angry at my struggle
its time to embrace the struggle


Paula, from my perspective you have a whole lot to be proud of... not just your amazing art but how you're surviving and making connections to sell your work as well as the social ones with all of us "out here." You have my admiration in spades.
Lisa D. said…
Big hug to you lady
Scottius said…
Thanks for sharing this really have true talent in many ways. And yes, please do go out and enjoy the day. if it's as beautiful in Huntsville as it has been in Austin, it's not to be turned down. And sometimes doing nothing is the best thing of all.
Viktoria said…
Your post touches me Paula !
Yes, take a break, and sometimes we need to travel a bit? visit friends?
The art will keep!
deborah said…
You're great and it's good to hear from you! Keep at it :-)
Gail Baar said…
I love reading the way you write, Paula. You struggle the same way we all do at times; it is interesting to realize how alike artists are. The day may seem perfect for making art, but you just don't feel right, nothing comes to you. We all make our own little worlds. Keep writing, keep sharing, thanks!
Jo Murray said…
Life has a way of throwing challenges at you Paula. How you overcome them reinforces your strength of character. You are strong, and talented, so keep on plugging. Optimism and hope bring their own rewards.
paula said…
i always appreciate when anyone takes the time to read whatever i'm babbling about let alone chime in :) thanks for letting me know you are out there!

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