Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In My Free Time

If I were truly a woman of leisure, I like to think that I would do a lot more visual art. While I was never brilliant at it, I liked drawing as a young person and am a nonstop doodler. I spent a summer playing around with oil paints and would like to do so again. I think printmaking is a beautiful art and have some ideas for what I would like to make -- if, you know, I knew how to make prints.

I bought a sketchbook and some pencils on a whim a couple weeks ago. It's probably the just the weather, but I've been feeling like a creative change is on its way, and I've been trying to pay more attention to any spark of an idea I've had lately. It's been six months since I resigned, and I've had a little more time to stop and pay attention when that creative subconscious waves its little hand and then looks away, whistling innocently.

I'm one of those people who, when doing a new thing or working on a project, feels like she really can't get started on something special unless everything else that should be done is done. I feel guilty putting up a Christmas tree when the laundry isn't folded. I hesitate to work on my writing-for-pleasure if I've got editing-for-pay I could be doing. And it's not from a sense of duty -- far from it. It's more a feeling of ritual, of making something special in its own space, instead of going with a creative flow when I feel it -- or at least trying to find a balance between the two.

So in light of that, the other day, when I felt like playing with the pencils and sketchbook for the first time and I had some time to kill, I decided that I would just sit right down and draw what was in front of me. No arranging, no looking for something easy or interesting -- just draw what was there, if only to get a feel for the pencils and paper. And what was in front of me? A battered, 35-year-old tacklebox, which used to belong to Matt's grandpa and is now Maia's. And of course, it was at a crazy angle to my line of sight -- it was pointing directly away from me, so it was hard to show its third side. In any case, this is what I came up with:

Yesterday our power went out in the late afternoon because of an ice storm. No power also means no water and no heat. We went into town for a fast-food supper (and bathrooms), swung by the grocery store for s'more fixins, then settled in at home in the living room with books, sleeping bags and candles in front of the fire. Maia conked out pretty quickly, and John sat up reading Harry Potter by candlelight. I had plenty of work I could be doing online, but instead was brought into the quiet of the evening, the rain outside and the soft talk of the fire inside. I made an old-fashioned blog:

That one looked a lot better by candlelight. But, you know, it's a start.


  1. I think because law-school writing is so dry, my new hobby has become colorful/strange/bad figures of speech. I love 'em more than a junkie fresh from rehab loves the sight of his dealer, standing on his favorite corner with a "Colombia" stamp still drying on his passport.

  2. I'm impressed!

    (I just spent ALL EVENING loom knitting about 1/3 of a fish (intended as a little boy's baptismal gift this weekend) completely unable to see the finished project until it began to physically take shape in front of me. Art and engineering . . . not my strong suits no matter how much I wish they were!)