Do you remember last November when I wrote about an upcoming experiment? Well, even though I’m a few beakers short of the scientific method, I still think I’ve proven my hypothesis is true: I am most productive when I can focus solely on painting and nothing else.
I was a little nervous to broach the subject of a painting getaway to my husband. ”What if I went away for two weeks just to paint?” I asked, wincing. ”It is worth a try,” he replied.
And I have been pawing him in gratitude ever since.
The thing is, our current schedule hasn’t been working great for me to fit in painting. I’ve built in painting into the homeschool schedule but when that time rolls around, I’m either too busy with other stuff or I start painting only to stop when I’m on a roll because it’s time to start dinner. What if when I homeschool, I only homeschool? And when I paint, I only paint? I could rearrange our whole schedule to fit in painting weeks, extend homeschool year round, and take breaks in a more natural flow for our family. So we launched the experiment over the last two weeks.
Now it is no small feat for Mamacita to go away for two weeks. It takes an army–and to them, I am so grateful. So grateful. After stocking the house with food, catching up on everyone’s laundry, and checking out 75 books at the library, I packed up my car and headed to the mountains.
For the first few days I cried many times for joy at this amazing opportunity. Sure, I missed my family, but this was such a different kind of bliss. I felt undeserved of this time. There were so many God-moments–like the first day, the first brush, the first song said, “I made a break, I run out yesterday, tried to find my mountain hideaway…” Yeah, I think that God uses aging British pop rockers to say, hey, this is where you are supposed to be: relax and enjoy this gift. Oh, Simon and John…
By Friday of the first week, I was ready to get my hands on my kids and husband. I had watched a video on my phone over and over through the week of those devilish angels. They came in for the weekend and it was like Happy, Happy Home on steroids. There was more crying and “this is great!” My husband and I both agreed that the week had gone smoothly. The kids were excited to see my work. It was wonderful.
Then on Sunday night the four of them hopped in the car and drove back home.
Ugh, my heart split as I watched them drive off. Week two was harder–mentally and physically. I haven’t painted that intensely for a long time. I am out of practice. By the second Friday when my dear four returned, we were in agreement: two weeks is too long. One week is perfect.
But, whoaaaa! Before you say, Angela, you must have accomplished a lot in two weeks! I will say: I would not characterize my time away as prolific. I worked on only one painting that first week…and finished it on Monday of the second week. I brought unfinished canvases to work on–figuring if I finally completed them then I could start afresh on new ideas at home without the burden of a lineup of halfway paintings (a year in the making). This was my chance to clear the slate. And I did! Feels so good.
I plan on sharing here what I worked on, but I have fun outings to post about, too. Working and living in solitude is crazy, man. Having a few fun fieldtrips saved my sanity for sure. I even had the pleasure of lunch with the very talented Shannon Berrey, who–I discovered–has even more talents now that I’ve gotten to know her better. Read her blog–it’s good! A DIY queen she is.
So much we learned on our experiment, which makes it a success. To my family, thank you for such a gift of time. To all of you out there in a relationship with someone of a creative spirit, God bless you–it is a challenge. So now, onward!