Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finding Your Voice...Or Recovering It

Recently, I read a powerful blog post by Kelly Rae Roberts.  I encourage you to visit her blog and take a moment to read it.  I think it is important.
As artists, we are often pushing ourselves in many directions.  I know I do.  I am primarily a quilt maker, a textile artist who uses my own cloth as well as commercially printed cloth.  I am a mixed media artist who works with all sorts of paint, medium, and ephemera.  I have more than one means of walking on my artistic path.  One medium often informs the other, or so it has been my experience.
That said, we can easily get scattered.  Our time is split between making work, applying to shows or teaching venues, volunteering time and resources to organizations, and more.  And that is just our artistic selves.  What about all the other things that happen in our lives?  After all, none of us live in a vacuum!
Every one of us has unique demands on time and artistic resources and these will vary over the years.
If we have young children at home or aging parents, we know that these are our priorities.  These are periods of time when our art-lives take a back seat and we find ourselves less prolific.  Many of us are doing these things plus juggling the demands of a career outside the studio.  It makes me tired to read all this and I. Have. Done. It.  And guess what?  I wasn't making much art while I was juggling all those plates.  Each of these things was an "era", a portion of my life.  If I had an artistic voice, it was whispering very faintly.

Early in my "former life" as an RN, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the field of death and dying.  She humanized and put a face on the experience of loss, death, and challenging life transitions.  In reading Ms. Roberts' blog post I was reacquainted with Ross.  This quote should resonate for many who read this:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Realize that we are all the sum of our experiences.  We all have great joys and sometimes great sorrow.
It makes us who we are as human beings.  And for all of that we learn a great deal about ourselves and the world.  As artists, we are often conduits:  we use our art as a means of expression.

There are times for many of us that the events of our life overshadow our artistic-selves:  it is a universal truth.  The challenge is to reawaken the muse, to find the balance, to work with intent, to prioritize time for making art.


  1. Wonderful post, Leslie! I took a break from my day job to read it and Kelly Rae's post. I'm struggling a bit right now with balancing my energy zapping day job, creating art, helping my elderly parents, my guy and friends. I find that incorporating this balancing act in my art really helps. Thank you for this post!

    1. Everyone's situation is unique, but I have experienced my version of this: working full time and wondering how you will ever have a minute to yourself, never mind making art! When you are spinning a lot of plates, and add to that the emotional component of helping family elders, it is no wonder. First, take care of yourself in little bitty ways. Perhaps it is a simple basket of hand-work that you can pick up and work on for 15 minutes a few times a week. This, too, shall pass. I'm glad you stopped by, Mia.

  2. This really spoke to me today, because right now in my studio I feel like I cannot focus. Working through grief, healing and reawakening. Thanks for your very thoughtful post, Leslie!

    1. Grief is a continuum. It has its tougher days and sometimes we get them unexpectedly. I had one a couple of days ago after finishing a book that reminded me of my sister. I made a cup of tea in a cup she gave me a lot of years ago. Silly, perhaps, but it helped. There is no way around it but through it. We can lean on each other!!


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