When you lose a job you are stunned, especially when its nothing you did and nothing you could have done would have saved that job. That happened to me this spring and finding another "straight" job to support my art habit has been an exercise in futility. I have worked in higher education for a long time and the field I worked in is disappearing like buggy whips, thank you Mr. President.
I realize its for the good of the order but everyone over the age of 40 should start worrying in this field. We are the expensive, trained, educated people that schools cannot afford to keep around anymore. So, I find myself unexpectedly outside the gates of the ivory tower figuring out what comes next and knowing that particular rabbit hole is closed to me for keeps.
The upside is more time in the studio and more work to get out there in the marketplace, and it is starting to get noticed. My days are different now. I think I work harder than I have ever have, and for me the line between workday and weekend and workday and evening has become fatally blurred. When you are immersed in your art life you don't even track time. Sometimes I think I should feel isolated but I don't. I can go for three days and not see another human besides my husband who reels in from the work world around five every night and collapses in his chair to watch the news.
If I remember to look at the clock I will go in the house and potter around figuring out dinner, but sometimes he has to come fetch me and it can be 7:00 p.m. and I won't even notice if the work is going well. Its so easy to disappear down the art rabbit hole and not even care about the peripheral things in life. I have wounded myself more in these four months than ever before I think. Smashed my thumb with a chasing hammer, stabbed myself with metal, glass and wire and oh yes, burned myself with solder. That's just the short list.
But of out of this carnage, reflection and just plain time has come the best work of my life. I'm in love with my jewelry. The necklaces have become stories and each one is like a painting that is made to be worn. I even have a list of things I want to build, things I'm looking for and ideas, funny now that I have so much time it isn't enough.
I took on a friend's yard too. My garden is part of my art and this guest garden is very different but lovely in its own way. It needs me. As my friend said, "I don't have the patience for the feminine touches. I don't notice when roses need heading or lavender needs pruning. Today the garden and I spent three hours together in the hot sun. I made a dent, a small dent. The sun and the work are wonderful for just contemplating nothing but the moment. Gardening is zen, its being in the moment, in the now and while I am sore and sunburned I am deeply satisfied tonight.
Tomorrow is a day to get back on the easel and start painting. Laying away the jewelry making supplies for a bit to roll out some important work, but more on that next time. Just wish me luck and patience as I trade in pliers for paintbrushes.