For the next 40 minutes I am alone.
Well, that is ostensibly alone. The little one is asleep upstairs sprawled across the bed, sleeping. (not entirely unlike her mother). For the first time in along time I have not only the time, but the impetus to actually write something. I also have the uncanny need to insert as many obscure adjectives into the sentence as I am capable.
Over the last few weeks and months I have become more more aware of how important the rituals around things are becoming to me. So much of my desire to do something is dependent on all the steps that come before it. In order to shave I have to shower. In order to sit and watch television I have to eat something. In order to paint miniatures I have to make a cup of tea first. These things in fact seem so interconnected to the activity itself that they have actually become part of that activity.
I suspect this is my latent OCD manifesting itself in a less destructive manner. Instead of repeating line of a song over and over and over, (or words that have a funny sound or hand motions, or whatever I get stuck on) the ritual of doing things not only prepares me for the activity, but puts me in the mindset of "it is time to do x".
It reminds me a lot of the time I spent at university. Where the early forms of these rituals became. Every wednesday I would clean the room, shower, write for an hour and walk to the bookstore. where I would have two cups of coffee and then walk back home, work on a painting for three hours and then go have a beer. Every week, without fail. I woke up at the same time, and did copious amounts of work that way.
Fast forwarding a few (nearly ten?) years and I see echoes of these early routines throughout my day. I no longer drink earl grey, but I do drink black tea. I don't clean the house the same way, but I do clean my studio before I work; and so on and so forth.
PG Tips. Breakfast (and occasionally lunch and dinner)
of champions (and people who forget to eat)
One thing that strikes me however is that I'm not working. Well, I am teaching (which any teacher can tell you, is an enormous amount of work) but I'm not actually painting. I suspect this is because my need for ritual has be supplanted by the needs of my daughter. I.e. food, changing, making funny sounds and sleeping. Her routine is still developing, but for the first time in a long time, I actually feel like I might be developing the routine necessary to get back to work. Cup of coffee, check the email, organize the studio, pet the bunny twice and so on. It's still in its early stages, but its here.
In the meantime I've also realized how much pressure there is on being a painter. Most of it coming from within. The need not just to paint, but make good paintings. I've painted a lot since last march (when I completed "Above and Below") but none of it has been on canvas. It's all been on tiny soldiers. I think because most all, my hobby retained some of it integrity as my life, house and studio was thrown into upheaval once we knew we were having Charlotte. On my modeling desk, very little, (if anything) changed. Granted I have less time to do it, but the rituals persisted, the space endured, and the activity continued.
"Above and Below"
14" x 14"
oil on board
It's my full intention (and has always been my full intention) to continue with the blogging. At one point, I blogged (such a funny work "blogged") once a week again, without fail. But as my work life went haywire when my employers recognized that I could be taken advantage of with very little pushback, my time for the ritual that led to blogging was pushed aside and, inevitably, my writing disappeared. I think I can fix this, since I think i have recognized that the steps prior to take-off are as important as the plane actually lifting off.
I know this particular blog entry is terribly straight forward. But for the first time in long time, the weariness and anxiety of both parenthood and career are both asleep upstairs. Its almost as if where 10 minutes ago I was eyeballs deep in the weeds and now all of a sudden my hands are free. Time to put those hands to work and make some paintings.
But first, I'll have a cup of coffee and a biscuit pet the bunny and spin around three times. Or whatever.