petunias in the garden…
“…maybe I’m just tired
of thinking that there was one way, only one way out
I was hoping by now,
that maybe I’d have found
Answers to the questions that are keeping me down
Take my life and start it somewhere else
I breathe in the change
The only way is up again…”
– Clean Bandit “Up Again”
It’s September. September means autumn. Autumn is BY FAR my favoritefavoritefavorite time of year, so I get pretty excited when the calendar starts listing the “-ber” months.
It’s not fall yet. Here in Southwest Florida, we still have about a month or so of hurricane season, which means a lot of heat and humidity, and a lot of rain.
But things are shifting- the sunlight is a lot less intense, and is no longer washing everything out, including the blue of the sky. In the mid-summer, even if it’s a perfectly clear day, the sun tends to turn the sky pretty gray. But as we move into autumn, the sun shifts from being directly overhead to being more on the horizon, so it becomes dappled and golden as it’s filtered through the leaves on the trees.
The days are shorter, which I am *so* grateful for. I’m the kind of person who likes the evening to feel like evening- I almost feel like a weird sense of relief when the sun goes down everyday, like “I did it, I go through the afternoon!” Afternoons have always been tough for me- I get into a weird fun between lunch and around 7pm, and I always have. I remember coming home from school and just feeling “blah” as a kid, and I also remember getting a little stir crazy in college and grad school and just needing to get out of my apartment in the afternoons to escape the heavy feeling. I don’t know what it is- I suppose it’s a facet of my personality. maybe it’s because I swim in the mornings, and after lunch my body is pretty much done for the day.
Whatever it is, the afternoon funk just *is*. So instead of fighting it, I’m trying to approach it as an opportunity to find interesting things to do. A stretch of time that I can do something fun or creative or happy. And if that doesn’t work- because sometimes it does seem like creativity takes just TOO much energy- and it’s a true “how the hell am I going to get through this entire afternoon?” kind-of-day, I just do little tasks on my to-do list until it’s over. Nothing creative or fun, just things that have a set start and end and a set way of going about them (paying bills, editing photos, ordering our dry groceries from Amazon, doing non-creative tasks in my art studio, etc.) so I don’t have to think about it too much.
So, yeah. I LOVE when Daylight Savings Time ends. Just two more months! I don’t love that the sun is brighter earlier in the day (living in Florida, I have to be super conscious about how much dun I get when I am outside gardening and swimming) but I love that the sun sets around 6pm and the day feels like it’s naturally transitioning. For some reason, it’s so much easier to do things in my art studio when it’s dark outside. Maybe I don’t feel that pull to get outside as much when it feels like it’s officially nighttime. When it’s bright and sunny outside, I get super antsy and feel this weird desire to get out there, even if it’s hot and it’s 7pm and I’m in my PJs and not remotely interested in BEING outside. Does that make any sense?
Other autumn things: Gracie went back to school. She’s in third grade now, her last year at the school she’s been in since she was 18 months old. She LOVES it there. I can’t stress this enough- she’s known the same teachers, the same kids since she was just a little toddler, so it’s her home. Going to school is as natural to her as waking up and brushing her teeth. It’s definitely a part of our routine. We’re starting to think ahead for next year, and what school she will attend, and the idea of her not going to the same school (which ends at grade three) is bittersweet. But we still have an entire school year at this current school.
I have to admit, I was kinda hoping that when Gracie went back to school and the calendar turned to September, things would go “back to normal”. When that didn’t happen, I was a little perturbed.
But then I realized there is no normal. What is normal? What was/am I hoping for? I think that’s why those lyrics up top make so much sense to me right now: I’m really tired of thinking there’s just one good way to do stuff, one right way to live, one single answer to all the questions I have going through my mind all the time.
I’m a creature of routine, so I guess I was hoping we’d easily get back into our regular routines. Wake up, school/work/etc., home from school, dinner and family time, sleep. Weekends for adventures. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But it’s been hectic. We’ve been figuring out what activities Gracie might do this year- there’s no afterschool programs at her school this year, which is a BIG change. My parents are still at their summer place, so there’s no Nanny and Papa time for Gracie, which she misses.
And then Tom’s karate schedule shifted (AGAIN). And then he crashed on his bike, and white wasn’t as serious as it could have been- thank God- there’s been a week of him recovering from that.
Gracie appears to have picked up her first bug from school, so I’m holding my breath and hoping she doesn’t get sick.
And I’ve been put on new thyroid meds which are making me more high strung than usual. I have anxiety to begin with, so anything that adds to that is a no-no for me. But I’m taking my doctor’s advice and taking them loyally, and keeping my fingers crossed that it all evens out.
Besides that, I’m kinda all over the place. Besides my regular routine of gardening/swimming/health stuff/home stuff every day, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.
Of course, my “thing” is art. It’s my passion. I still love it.
The issue is that I have totally changed my focus on creativity. For the longest time it was about creative business, about making a “career” from creativity. Becoming “legit”. Validating my interests and my art supply addiction. Figuring out what it took to get a zillion Etsy sales and a million Facebook likes. Blah blah blah.
Whenever I lost my path before, I’d throw myself into rebuilding the Etsy store, finding new things to make, launching stuff. Making big plans.
Now that my attitude has shifted (success is not the only aspect of happiness) I’m sort of spinning my wheels.
I know I want to paint. Right now I’m obsessed with watercolors, and I still want to do the intutive painting I did in the Flora Bowley class last year. I kinda want to combine both. I lovelovelove abstract painting and designing unique abstract patterns.
I’m also really interested in learning botanical illustration, probably as a result of my addiction to gardening. The good news is that a lot of botanical illustration is done with watercolor. The bad news is the whole crux of botanical illustration, at least the kind that appeals to me, is that it’s all about realism. Which ultimately does not interest me.
But the shape of a flower, the curve of a leaf, the colors of a petal and stamen- those seem very “otherworld”-ly to me. And that’s why I am drawn to plants so much.
Anyway, I keep saying “oh, no… I’m all about abstract and I spent all the time learning acrylics and have a bunch of empty canvases and I bought a bunch of classes about mixed media and acrylic and line drawing…” but then I keep finding myself obsessing about botanical illustration and watercolor and studying different botanical art work and picking up different books on different techniques for painting flowers in watercolor and stocking up on watercolor paints in all colors, not just the brights I usually gravitate towards.
I think what I am going to do is go ahead and study it. Take a class (I got one a year or so ago but never actually sat down and took it since it seemed too much of a shift from the Flora Bowley class), and do a series of botanical illustrations. At the very least, I will learn a lot about watercolor, which is something I want to do so that I can go ahead and incorporate it into the painting I have been doing this last year. One of the mixed media classes I took this summer was all about the layering of acrylic and watercolor and it fascinated me. So it can be done. I just feel like I’m a little unsure of myself when it comes to the technical aspects of watercolor.
It’s just that all the art I get the inspiration to do- botanical illustration, line drawing, paisley/arabic design, zentangles, abrstract watercolor, collage, oil pastel… when I finally get the time to sit down and do it, it never seems like a valid way to spend my time.
I try and remember that I felt this way when I started painting. For some reason, committing to the Flora Bowley class made it valid. Then it turned into something that brought me so much joy that the joy alone made it completely valid. And the joy also made it something others respected- my parents were even very interested in my painting progress and what I might paint next. It’s the most we have ever talked about my art, and it meant a lot.
It seems like it’s such a stupid, trivial thing, but when I flip open my little moleskine and open my box of watercolors, I get paralyzed by indecision, by fear. I find other things to do that seem more “valid”. I guess the apprehension to try something new is a total fear of failure, a fear of change. And a whole lot of “why can’t you just stick with ONE thing? You are such a flake!”
But I keep trying to remind myself it’s about creativity, and about joy. And about learning and growing. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. So what is the risk in painting a flower? It might be a game-changer. It might now.
But I think painting a flower is a decent way to spend an autumn afternoon, right?
(Here’s a video of the song I quoted from above- I LOVE this song. I love the whole album, actually.
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