It’s been two months since I arrived back in Portland. I seem to find myself always marking time. Not only in the realization of what time has passed, but in reflecting back to where I was a year ago. Prior to my trip, this would have been almost impossible because months would fly by (as these past 2 have) and I could barely remember how I had filled my days. The beauty of travel is that it usually brings the gift of vibrant intentionality; the desire to be purposeful with one’s every moment. This can sometimes bring with it a hectic need to ‘check things off’ one’s to do or see list. I was a lucky girl and had no return ticket or specific plans, so there was an lovely organic and spontaneous nature to my intentionality.
I was also very purposeful to take the time to record the passing of my days. I have 5 journals filled with writing and drawings, and completed 64 blog posts that document my entire journey. Yes, some days this documentation was easy, and the creativity flowed, sweet and effortless. Other days, however, it was challenging to put pen to paper at all. My writing is a way for me to process not only what I am seeing and doing, but my emotional journey as well. Some days, understandably, I wanted to escape this process and lose myself in the distraction of the moment. I do find myself trapped in my head frequently, so I learned to give myself grace in those moments and just LET GO. Except for the work I did surrounding my exhibitions, I had no external deadlines, so I was able to let my work ebb and flow in a comfortable and undemanding rhythm.
I’ll be honest. In the past two months I haven’t really done any significant creative work. Yes, I have done the occasional blog post and drawing, but nothing with any serious intentionality. This week is sort of momentous for me. I have literally scheduled 20 hours of creative work into my calendar. Yes, it’s only 20 hours, but it is 20 hours more than I did last week. Even with my new desire to curb my barrage of social activities, I have found these interactions filling up week after week. I would look back on a Sunday afternoon and realize that I had marched through 7 days without one moment focused on my art-making. One of the wonderful things about not being employed by anyone is the ability to make your own schedule AND to be spontaneous. I want to do both, but I have been seriously remiss in scheduling in the projects that need my attention if I am going to make any forward movement in the world of illustration.
I painted the above scene on my last full day on Iona. This beach, called the White Strand of the Monks, feels virtually untouched. (If you are interested in the gory back story on the beach’s name, feel free to read this.) I would always be startled to find the occasional tourist walking in amongst the striated rocks and piles of seaweed. Usually I was alone and the shore was pristine, allowing my feet to be the first to sink into the sparkling white sand. The waters directly off the beach are a deep rich turquoise, but on my last day, the sea was glinting completely silver in the afternoon sunshine. As the winter sun made its way towards the horizon, it turned the distant hills a rosy pink, their blush a deep contrast to the indigo of the Berg of Mull. As I sat on a large flat rock and sketched, I was very careful to write out what I was sensing and feeling as well as make the necessary pen marks to capture the landscape. I was very deliberatly marking this moment in time. It was the essence of intentionality.
This whole ‘I’m my own boss’ thing is very exciting and a bit terrifying. I work best when there are external deadlines, so I am pondering how to create that impetus in a situation where I don’t necessarily have other people providing that motivation. I absolutely need to make this shift in my thinking if I have a chance at living in this new and unfamiliar land of self-employment. I want to find a new ebb and flow that works for my new life here in Portland and I would welcome the wisdom from those of you that have been walking this road long before me. If any of you have any tips or tricks for me that have helped you during a similar transition, please do share. Yes, now. Share now. The comment window is easy to use. I will be intentional and write you a nice thank you back.