My entire summer has been a more metaphorical cleaning of the attic. I have been acquiring new roles, such as "grandmother of three," "college buddy now in her fifties." I have also had the pleasure of not only forging fresh relationships with new grandbabies and old college friends, but of reconnecting with high school friends on Facebook and my own siblings, all wrapped in a parentheses of the music being created within my own family unit.
At this age, relationships become even more important, as they are my fuel for being an artist. Over the past decade, I have carefully swept my attic clean of unhealthy, one-sided relationships. I find I no longer have a tolerance for being with people who have nothing to give back in return. Instead, I have focused on my family, and building new and stronger relationships with our artist friends and musicians, all of whom provide deep love and support, shared experiences, and new ideas that find their expression in a cleaned out attic, where there is room to grow.
Christy's commission sketches
In my own work, I have spent the summer working on designs for my new line of Magic Baby clothes. They have been selling as fast as I can get them finished and photographed. Now I am gearing up for Fall and Winter, with new editions being created in soft flannel, knitted fabric and baby cord. I am also trying to work out some baby boy designs. I need to come up with something very cute and very unique, but not "girly." My 'clean attic' and supportive relationships give me the support and space to let my mind have room to think.Please don't get the idea that my house or my work space is literally clean. Quite the opposite. In my writing studio, every shelf is covered with research materials, my manuscript pages and files, and accented with piles of finished artwork, TagTalk cards and the like decorating the floor.
In my art studio, a too-small bedroom filled with a Pier 1 dining room table converted to a work table, fabric and works in progress are everywhere. It looks like a mess, but this is how I work. I have my fabrics organized in ways that I can find just what I am searching for. My trims and notions are organized in containers and boxes that fill the space under my work table. The lighting is terrible, but this is the space I have to work in, and this is where I work. Every day.
My point in showing this to you is that the "cleaning the attic" analogy has nothing to do with literal cleaning. It has everything to do with clearing out our lives so that we can focus on our passions. For those of you who haven't found your passion yet, I suggest the technique of attic-clearing to help you make room for finding it.
Another artist group I am participating in, Compositional Conversations, was formed online by my colleague Terry Jarrard Dimond. You can check the links in my sidebar to some of the artists who are also participating and writing about the project. Terry, an amazing artist, invited 16 artists to participate in a conversation, both in writing online and responding, but also by agreeing to be recipients of an art piece begun by her with a single piece of fabric which is sent to each artist respectively to be added to, considered, and conversed with. It's an intriguing exercise for the artists, and a chance to respond to the choices other artists have made. My turn to receive the artwork-in-progress is fast approaching. Each week, as I see the pictures posted from the other participants, my heart starts to race in nervous anticipation. Clearing out my metaphorical attic has made room for these new experiences and artistic conversations.
If you regularly follow my blog, you may have noticed that I have been absent for awhile. I have been really, really busy working, and have needed to focus on that. Somehow, though, the fish napkin holders arriving in the mail following six weeks of reconnecting with old friends and loved ones got me to thinking about the past, about attics, about relationships, and about making room for what is important. I hope, perhaps, my thoughts will jog your own in the same way. Time to clean your attic.