Boundaries and Caretaking

I have weak boundaries. They’re getting better, but it’s something I have to be aware of. I’m a caretaker and my first instinct is to drop everything to help. Sometimes, whether I’ve been asked to or not.

I’m grounded this week. and its…boring isn’t the right word…lonely, and frustrating, and not what I want, and productive, and good, and what I need. Caretakers, especially recovering ones it seems, have an elastic tolerance for the ups and downs of our lives and become adept at that thirty-second run through the maze of self doubt…So my best friend grounded me. My job right now is to take care of me and the girls right now and trust that the world won’t go out of business without me. 

My studio days are long now. I’m catching up on work, and paperwork, and making art again. It’s hard to admit this even to myself, but while I have been busy…while I have been getting things done and moving forward. I don’t know that I’ve been actually working. While I’ve been working I’ve been giving serious thought to a couple of soundbites…they’ve just been rattling around in my head, the first by Neil Gaiman, and the second by my friend Matt Kish.

 “This is how you do it: You sit down at the keyboard and you put one  word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

and this one, which is sadly paraphrased

“If you write only when you’re inspired, you may become a decent poet. You’ll never be a novelist though.”

-Neil Gaiman

Matt is an interesting, prolific man who has a lot to say about art, literature and comics. Someone asked him recently on facebook about his work and how he makes so much of it. His response was heartfelt, and like most answers having to do with making art, not the answer anyone’s hoping for. It went something like this…

“Do the work. Even when its hard. Even when you don’t want to and would rather do anything else. Sit down at your desk and do the work. Put in the time. Push through. Sometimes…a lot of times it just sucks.”

The sneaky thing is, that it’s easy to trick myself into thinking that I’m doing the work, when in fact I’m not. Working in my sketchbook is doing something, but when it becomes all that I’m doing then I’m not doing the work that needs to be done to live. I’m not saying that it’s not important, but that there has to be balance. I haven’t been screwing around, but I haven’t been doing the work either.

So I’ve been grounded while I transition, figure this all out and make my life sustainable. I’m making adjustments. I’m taking care of myself, making lists and I’m not freaking out as I move forward. 

I sent these commission paintings off to their forever homes in Oregon and Wisconsin this week. That bear was such a joy to draw, hahaha. This week I’m finishing up some shirt designs for a friend, and a wedding drawing…Its bonkers to me to think that someone thinks that one of my drawings is what she’d rather have than wedding photos. 

My friend Leighton has sent me the first half of a new script for the Electric Team. I’m doing nine pages and am really excited about it. While I’m prepping to start, I’ve been going through the amazing artwork by Sam Albert, and I can’t help but think about how similar this process is to creating fan art. Studying the design choices that another artist made and thinking about how to translate those ideas into my own style. This is a great place to use my sketch book to both do work, practice and explore ideas and promote the actual work. 

I’ve got other big news, but it’s going to have to wait for now until it’s a little more tangible. I’m leaping. 

Until next time, take care and be good.
Your friend,
Jeffrey

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