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Patience and Staying the Course

What happened in Sarah's Art Life 2019?

This past year was a year in which I explored being an artist "in earnest." From exploring markets to exploring social media, I covered a lot of ground. And while a lot happened, there are a few stand-out moments.

I started an Etsy shop. After standing at the edge of the quarry, looking down at the cool, green (water for a good 18 months, I decided that I wouldn’t die if I jumped in. Still, that scene from the movie, Breaking Away, in which one of the young men dove into the quarry and cracked his head open on the rocks below, shone brightly before me, as a beacon of warning. And the warning was carefully labeled: “Don’t expect too much.” Was my launch “successful?” Well . . . not by any business standard—or social media standard—or my own standard. But it’s a start. And though taking the risk was almost physically painful for me, I didn’t crash into the rocks below. I’ve sold a few things and have learned a lot. Mostly about patience and staying the course.

Art continued to permeate my home life and, on occasion, glue the lovingly frayed edges together. When, in my heart, I have trouble finding the depth of compassion I need to remain a patient person, parent and partner, I paint my way through. Sometimes, I sketch my kids. Touching the edge of their face, I lean in when it would feel better to lean away. I drew Mika one morning, as she read a book on the couch. This is one of the few occasions on which she holds still. And I observed her little features, her determined look and the softness and fragility of someone who might, in the next moment, stand before me with a stern and obstinate expression, questioning why she should not wear her best summer outfit in 36-degree weather. I’ve grown and learned a lot. Mostly about patience and staying the course.

I made a screen-printed tee shirt for my daughter, Ayana’s math club. I read the instructions on the

screen-printing kit that I’d bought for my son, and that he didn’t use, and I made the tee shirt with the input of all four kiddos in the group. Never mind that one wanted the main image to be a VW bug, another wanted their faces to be memes and a third wanted the club name on the shirt—their initials, S.A.J.A. A composite of ideas from growing kids—that has the makings for a great art project. And I’ve grown and learned a lot! Mostly about patience and staying the course.

I began painting in church, brought art to Youth as an expression of faith and worship in our church. We started carrying journals to church. We made illuminated manuscripts. We built tiny, gilt, arks of the covenant, and we made prints from God’s Nature. Our church holds a refreshing space for equity and creativity and so many different expressions of faith. And I now have a pile of sometimes good and sometimes not-so-good “church paintings,” that may or may not find their way out of the closet this year. I’ve grown and have learned a lot. Mostly about patience and staying the course.

I painted indoors and outdoors, made block prints for friends and family and seen many beautiful things in a refreshing new way—from the fungus of the forest floor to Mt. Baker in tis many moods. I painted Christ with last year’s ashes and a laughing baby Jesus that my husband suspected might inspire Christmas card recipients to think we’re expecting . . . we’re not! I threw away many pieces of paper that cost more than a couple of fancy coffee drinks. I’ve washed quite a bit of water-soluble ink down the drain. And my ego shrunk down three times its size—like the Grinch in reverse! But I’ve grown and learned a lot. Mostly about patience and staying the course.

Today is the first day of 2020. So what’s next?

Once I began to take steps on this creative journey, I learned that we can never really plumb the depths of creativity. The waters are deep. They are healing waters. And they are ever changing waters that shape the plot of earth beneath which I walk (usually with my dogs).

In 2020, I’ll dip my feet into solo shows at the Food CoOps in Bellingham in April and at Cordata in December. I plan to focus on this beautiful place and community where I live. I’ll see it with new eyes, while honing “old mediums.” Hello, black ink, my old friend. And watercolor and acrylic.

I’ll continue to pause and paint my family—and for my family—to know and love them more deeply, as the river flows. Maybe I’ll even paint myself in this way.

In 2020, I plan to wade deeper into the river of the business of art and reach gently outward to expand my sales organically . . . can social media be organic?

Most of all, though, I will grow and continue to learn a lot. Mostly about patience and staying the course. And love and family. Community and sharing art continuously. Letting those creative and healing waters flow.

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