It might be that I'm impatient, or indecisive, maybe a tad bit finicky, but I prefer to call my lack of focus, enthusiasm. My family likes to tease me for moving between projects like I'm moving down the line in a buffet, nibbling the stuffed olives, the mini skewered meatballs. And it's true that I want a taste of it all, but it’s also true that when I find something delicious I'll go back for a plateful.
Luckily, my tastes are mostly centered in the arts: painting, writing, sculpting. I guess the problem comes within those subsets. I’m a painter. It’s what I studied in school, what I get paid to do, and maybe this should be enough to satisfy the visually artistic side in me, but it’s not. My obsessions run wide. Sometimes I’m perfectly satisfied with my brush in hand. I’m lucky to have a fabulous publisher that’s always hungry for new work, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get bored. To assuage this need for something new I’ve tried mixing up the mediums. This past year I moved from painting solely on panel to painting on vintage book pages. I liked the idea of marrying my love for words with my love for painting.
And of course there was the project that I started (and have yet to complete) of the paper mache birds. For a few weeks all my passion was diverted into sculpting these papery feathered creatures. I researched paper mache recipes and wired intricate feet into their bodies so that they could stand. I've been dreaming about making these birds for quite some time; ever since I read a book in which one of the characters sculpted large birds that hung from the ceiling like mobiles. Someday soon I’ll finish my birds, but for now the muse has settled elsewhere.
For a short time last year I was obsessed with fashion design. It was right after seeing “Alice in Wonderland”. I sat through the movie too consumed with the costumes to pay attention to the plot. That week I went to the fabric store and bought a dress form and yards of brocade fabric and set about sewing a jacket. I can’t follow a pattern (or maybe I just choose not to), and not too surprisingly my jacket looked lovely on the mannequin, but not too sweet on me. The dress form has since moved down to my daughter’s room where she puts it to good use (also not following patterns) as she sews skirts and shirts and dresses late into the night.
Before the obsession with costume design I was convinced that I wanted to start my own line of fabric. I researched repeating patterns and fabric tradeshows. I found companies in China that could produce my designs. But I didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to make it come to life. But the dream hasn't died. Some day I still might go back to school to study textile design.
The problem is I’d love to go back to school to study so many different things. My oldest daughter has started dreaming about going to Parsons The New School for Design in New York and I’ve started dreaming of accompanying her. The course catalogue gets me salivating: fine arts, furniture design, architecture, set design, fashion, photography, interior design, illustration (the list goes on). I want to study them ALL.
Okay, so obviously I can’t do it all and we haven’t even touched on my other obsession…writing. (Add an MFA in creative writing to that aforementioned list.) I think I wrote my first book in fourth grade. It was a middle grade novel about (believe it or not) a girl in the fourth grade. I’ve written a lot more since then and hopefully the writing gets progressively better. But just like the visual arts, I want to write it all: short stories, essays, novels, picture books, plays, screenplays. Right now I’m working on a play with my mom (who has newly become quite a good playwright). I’ve got plenty of short stories and essays in need of revising, a memoir that’s on the backburner, a middle grade novel in need of a rewrite, a YA book that I’m quite happy with and three more books that are just itching to get written.
So how can I find the time to do it all? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that all that creativity doesn’t get spent. Instead it gets compounded, multiplied. Like gears or pistons, each of those outlets helps generate more fire for the next one. If I was only doing one thing I think I might burn out. So here’s to hoping I never do. And if I don’t find time for it all.
There’s always my next life…