After being home due to Covid19 safety issues at my place of work, for some time, I now find myself searching for work, at an age when I should be planning my retirement. I won’t go back to my previous job as even in the best of times, it is a dangerous, mentally and physically exhausting job. I continued to work at my art, upping the game as much as possible in order to somehow make a living at what I know I am very good at, and love.
Contrary to all of the hype, although it seems that the art world is thriving, I would say it is just the opposite. Inundated with kitschy and an anything is art attitude (which honestly who can say?), it is harder and harder for people to dig through the logjam to find the truly good, or even what they would like to own. But we artists carry on, as it’s in our blood, and do whatever it takes to get our work “out there”. Aside from trying to survive, we truly want people to enjoy our work. We want it to be seen.
The job market is very tough right now, also contrary to what is said. The one good side effect is that some employers are starting to understand that they have to offer a fair wage. I live in a small town where the jobs are either medical, retail/restaurant, or college with a few office related options. For two of those they require specific qualifications, for retail you have to have low self esteem or massive desperation, and for office jobs, mostly luck and to be quick. I managed to find one that appealed to me, as I am also a writer. But it is only part time, and seems that it will mostly be filing. Oh and just minimum wage, and no benefits. I find out tomorrow if they are interested in me, but am I interested in them? Yes it would allow me more time for my family and art, but it really isn’t enough pay, as well as the filing aspect along with being in a very tiny office with two other people.
While trying to decide what to do in regard to the office job, if offered, I did the usual pros and cons thing, which includes the fact that I am the major bread winner in my household. I also did the asking the universe what I should do, thing. The office position should seem perfect, but something just doesn’t feel right about it. And that’s not good. It could just be normal hesitation due to having been out of work for so long. But I don’t think so.
Then the universe did something, I received a request to do a commission. It’s still at the very early stage of price negotiation etc. But having it pop up like that when it has also been a while for that, makes me hesitate even more about the office gig. Some might say, “a bird in the hand” and all that, and “do both” (which even five years ago was no big deal…) but something tells me to trust in myself, and do what feels right, and not get into a situation where I’m trying to do it all, for minimum wage. I guess another night to sleep on it might help.
Thanks for reading my art life ramblings. Stay well!
If you are interested in commissioning a one of a kind art piece to treasure, please contact me. You can DM me here on WordPress. Or DM me on my Instagram page ( which I tend to be on more often) at, instagram.com/susanm.l.mooreartist . You can also purchase my art on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/omordah
No, not that crossroads. Though the “devil is definitely in the details”. Being at a crossroads with your art, or writing, or whatever creative things you do, is always a nail biting, angst ridden moment. And hopefully that’s all it is, a moment, a short period of time in your life where you may be questioning your creative ventures, your style, inspiration, or if you even want to continue. It can be a confusing and scary time.
OK so zombies may not be the best example, but they are scary and confusing.
In the course of my career as an artist, I’ve had many of these crossroad moments. In particular ones that in hindsight seem to coincide with that seven year evolution we all go through, uh, every seven years. (Proven, look it up). Not that I don’t have other “moments” in between, because I do, and have. But the big ones do fit that pattern. Currently I am going through it again. I should have realized as I have had a hard time concentrating, and finding inspiration, or ambition. At first I blamed it on this last, long year of Covid19 and isolation. You have to feed the beast, and being home all the time is not conducive to that. Hence my thinking that that was the only reason. It is a huge reason, but not the only one.
Recently, one of my adult children mentioned during a conversation about eye glasses, that she was “old” and her “eyes are sensitive now.” What the what?! She’s 35. And when I said that ‘I never really felt old until this year’, she sent a shocked face emoji. Humm. At any rate, that got me pondering, as us old folks will, that perhaps it isn’t just the plague causing my lack of inspiration. And doing some calculations, I saw that yes, I’m starting a new seven year cycle. I’ve embraced and been known as being an artist, nearly my entire life. If I don’t paint, or sketch, then who am I? Just another faceless person in the crowd?
Don’t worry, I haven’t gotten to the point of no return. As a matter of fact, I never really stopped painting or sketching. It just hasn’t been at the same level of intensity. I have been feeling somewhat directionless and all over the place. I’m sure I’m not the only person feeling this way. It has been a tough year for everyone, and many of us must be feeling at loose ends.
As with everyone else, I have been impacted in ways I didn’t foresee. Plans, important plans have had to be put on hold, possibly for a few years, possibly to never happen, and this has been difficult. Many toxic things happen on a daily basis in the world. As an artist, in a family of artists, I know that the impact of this toxic world hits us deeply, making creativity that much harder to attain. It’s hard not to be affected. It’s hard not to engage, or see it. But for us creatives, it is vital that we learn to do what we can to help, and not absorb all the toxins, because that causes us to become immobilized. Add to that the seven year metamorphosis, and you can see my dilemma.
As I sit here writing this, it feels a bit cathartic, like getting it out, writing about it helps. Yes, I have been painting and drawing things aimlessly, but maybe that’s good. I’m still working at it, and perhaps after I’ve had some time to just play around with it, something will kick in, and I’ll know which direction on that crossroad to follow.
Thanks for visiting and reading my blog. Stay well. If you are interested in any of my paintings or would like to commission a piece, please DM me, or go to my Etsy site, at etsy.com/shop/omordah I’d love to hear from you!
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It seems odd to me, that even at this stage of my life, it still takes me some time to realize things, or to have an epiphany about something that should have been pretty obvious. It could be that I’ve always been more of a leap before you look sort of person. Something that has gotten me into hot water and situations that unfortunately take a lot longer than the leap, to climb out of.
In April, due to covid19 and the situation I found myself in at my place of employment, I had decided that living outweighed the very real threat of the other alternative of staying there could. So feeling pushed to make a choice, I chose life, and never went back. I say it this way as I don’t feel that I quit, I feel I was forced to make a drastic decision. But this isn’t what this post is about. It’s about being aware. Taking the time to think.
“When” I create my art, has always been a tricky subject. Life has ultimately decided for me the when in most instances. For example, as a young mom, although I would have preferred to stay home, reality stomped its often large, dirty boot, on my plans. As they say, the kids had a nasty habit of eating, and wanting to wear clothes. So I took whatever jobs I could get. For my husband’s work, we had to move, a lot. This meant I had to start over every time. From finding a home, to packing, to getting the kids enrolled in new schools, to finding new doctors, this was always on me. Add to that, finding work, and then working. Well when would I cram in art? Art which is the very air I breathe.
Somehow, I always found a way. One of our first apartments, was a two family flat. We were upstairs. Each flat had a bay window in front, and attached next to it was an enclosed porch. It really was a pretty little apartment. On one side of the bay window, one of the windows opened on to the porch. My boys were young then, and leaving paints, and mediums around wasn’t such a good idea. When you stepped out of our apartment door, there were stairs that led down, and a landing that led to our front porch. This porch proved to be the ideal place for a tiny studio for me to work. Most of the time, I would simply open the bay window, and climb over into the porch. Now that I think of it, I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t just go around. Hum. It must have been that once my youngest was napping, or they were settled watching TV, it was easier to just clamber through the window. My little porch “studio” worked well also because I could keep my eye on the boys while I painted.
But that nagging question, of “when”, still dogged me. When we first moved there, I set up the studio, but I had my boys to care for. My husband had a job painting overpass bridges. This job often took him away for weeks at a time, and we still needed more income. I had made a few friends, and with their help, (watching my boys), I was running around going on job interviews. (At this time, non of my friends worked, so they thought I was bonkers.) And with all of this, when would I find time to paint?
Around the same time that I finally found a job, (which came with it’s own craziness), my husband got accepted into the Post Office. However, he had to pass a test where he was required to know every address in the city, and it’s zip code. I kid you not. He was given cards to study. So we would go over them relentlessly every spare moment, for weeks. Thankfully he got the job, but with two boys, and the hope of one day owning our own home, I still needed to work. Again his job required odd hours, He had to start out working nights. This was tough on all of us, but it allowed me to work. Our oldest was in school, and that left the little one. So not being able to find anyone to watch him, (this was back in the day, not many daycares), my husband “watched” him. That’s another story.
When I got home, I cooked and cleaned, cared for and played with the boys. I had to be really organized, but I was young, and had a lot of energy. I set up lights in the studio, and would work on a painting two evenings a week for an hour or so after they went to bed. This is just one example of how I fit in the “when”.
Each time we moved, with each new job, and each new situation, and with each new child, I found a way to fit in the “when”. But I was always rushing. Rushing through getting kids ready for school, through work, rushing through being there for my husband, through family outings, through life, and through working on my art, and honing my craft.
This brings me to my “epiphany”. After I left my job this past April, I found it hard to concentrate on my artwork. I was going at my usual pace, and getting some things done, but considering I now had “all the time in the world”, my kids are grown, I’m basically on my own, and I have set up a nice studio area, it was weird, I was struggling. Not really accomplishing what I thought I should be.
Then it hit me, that the rushing and speed that I kept up for decades, that, that was my pace! It was the force that kept me going, that made it almost a desperate act to create. Not “having the time” is what forced me to make the time.
Let’s not also forget that what is happening in the world right now, the pandemic, and how the daily fight for our very lives politically, socially, and mentally, is affecting all of us.
It took me months to settle enough after leaving the job, to really work on my art and writing. That feeling of being lost and alone, (which is not new, but is now affecting the entire world), caused me to hesitate, and falter. Then of course there is “social” media, which has been and is getting darker by the day.
For what they call creatives, (a fairly new way of describing artists, and craftspeople, which for me the jury’s still out on), anyway, for creatives like myself, it can render those who have historically been the most sensitive among us, mute or frozen. That’s another loaded word, “sensitive”. It can imply that the person is weak. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being sensitive means aware, means feeling, and caring. Its often what pushes us to create, to make others feel, to envision great things, something, anything. And that, that takes courage.
Now I have this other dilemma, to reinvent my pace. Sometimes lately, I feel like I have too much “when”. I need to balance it more. But the state of things makes that harder now. I hike or walk every day, and that’s good. But I miss seeing my family, easily, or at all. Every move has to be carefully weighed against the possible danger, as I am high risk. I also live in a small town, so there was never a lot going on to begin with. It’s gotten to where, when I stopped at my local library, (I put books on hold and they brought them out to me), it felt like an adventure. Having to have my books brought out to me shouldn’t have been such fun! I rarely see people that I don’t live with, and Zoom, or facetime is difficult for someone with anxiety issues.
Add to all of this the fact that for the first time in my life, I began staying in bed later and later. I was definitely faltering. And it wasn’t that I was actually sleeping more, oh, no, I was checking the social media beast. The beast that will suck up half your day when you fall down one of the cajillion rabbit holes that it opens to you. It left me feeling even worse. I couldn’t save everyone, or change hearts. I felt less productive, and less motivated. I had the “when”, but I was allowing the world to dictate my daily fate.
About two weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough. I set my alarm to six thirty a.m. , not to wake me, because most days I would wake around then. No, I set my alarm to remind me to get the hell up. Out of the bed. And I have been. Over the last four months, I have actually been painting steadily. But I’ve had a lot hanging over my heart, exacerbated by social media. Which I do have to follow to a certain extent, (this blog, posting my art on IG, on Etsy and FB and trying to find outlets for my art to bring in some income, which has pretty much dried up.) Since I started forcing myself back on track so to speak, I am feeling better, and have more energy. But it is a tentative change, one that I have to be aware of every day.
I know the “when” is entirely up to my whims now. This means no excuses but can also mean no pressure unless I put that on myself, say by entering competitions, or taking on commissions. Either way it will be mostly at my own, new pace. Epiphany!
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Color has always been important to me. Even as a small child, the aesthetic of color was something I paid attention to. Growing up, we were one of the last families that I know of to get a color TV. After constant pleas to get one, my father finally asked me why it was such a big deal to me. I looked at him and said, ‘real life is in color daddy’. I was four. I guess I was precocious. The reason I remember this exchange, is because my dad found it funny, and would repeat the story to whoever would listen. We still didn’t get a color TV.
I have brown eyes. Occasionally throughout my life, I have wondered how different my life would have been if they had been blue. We all know that blue eyed people have more fun. That’s not to say that for most of my life I ever really wished for that. At least not until recently in my waning years, and being alone so much due to covid19, and ruminating in my own mind about “what could have been”. For most of my life I actually found blue eyes, especially really light ones, creepy, almost devilish. Heheheh. I know, I know, how dumb that is. It may have come about from something I may have heard when I was young, who knows? It did seem that a lot of people that seemed insincere had blue eyes, and often actors with light blue eyes played the “bad guy”. It occurs to me that this is how unreasonable attitudes can arise. I definitely don’t want to add to that shite show. For a long time the only people that I personally knew with blue eyes were my grandmother on my Mom’s side and her second husband who I knew as Grandpa, and I never felt that way about them, so weird.
Here’s my theory on this, as I grew older, it became very obvious that people with blue eyes had the world on a string. Just like blondes, blue eyed people seemed to get away with a lot that the rest of us schmucks couldn’t. And I get it, now. (Watch Republic of Doyle, you’ll see what I mean). So here’s my theory on “spoiled” blue eyed people; people can be very superficial, particularly here in the US. Historically blue eyes have been revered. Songs that played on our heartstrings. Movies and how those blue eyed ones are treated, usually being chosen for the main protagonist, even if not the best actor for the part. I suppose that in this case, the lack of a color TV did me a favor. I know many may disagree, but as I grew up, it was obvious to me that kids at school got treated better, often learning very young to play the cloyingly adorable golden child. Then regarding songs, there are a few that I can think of, that highlight or praise brown eyes, one is Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”, which is a beautiful song, and another is “Beautiful Brown Eyes” by Rosemary Clooney. But for the most part, it’s those blue eyes people sing of. Oddly enough, I don’t have a lot of portraits that I’ve done, where the subject has blue eyes. I don’t think that that is a conscious thing.
I did have a childhood neighbor, who had blue eyes, and she was the typical middle class princess. I wasn’t allowed to touch anything in her room, and everything was precious, and dolls were it for her. I played with dolls, but I also liked climbing trees, drawing, building forts, and riding horses. Also she only had to bat those blue eyes to get what she wanted, while, I only had to do nothing to suddenly be in trouble. Go figure. I know this is bordering on whining about things that can’t be changed, but it is, to me, one of those things that just seemed to happen a lot. That’s not to say I thought about it much, or even at all. I was a naturally happy kid, and things always seemed to roll off my back. And even as a small kid, I knew that I preferred things the way they were for me. Somewhere in my kid brain, I knew that I was good with the status quo, and just got bored with her. I was what people called back in the day, a “tom-boy”. I wore that like a badge of honor, completely clueless that they didn’t necessarily mean that in a good way. I think that there was only one time that it brought me to tears. I had an older cousin, and he saw that I was upset. I remember to this day what he said to me. He knelt down to my level, and said, “don’t worry, tom boys make the best women.” Then he winked at me. And he was right, heheheh.
Then there are those with green eyes. They always seemed more mysterious and just didn’t have that same shallow vibe. My kids have eyes that change from green to hazel to almost yellow/gold depending on the light. And it’s awesome, I may be a bit biased. Funny how our different experiences in life can “color” the way we think. and By the time we did get a color TV in my childhood home, life had hit us pretty hard, and it just didn’t seem as important.
As an artist, I bounce back and forth between sketching, black and white inking, and vibrant color, and enjoy using all of these styles of art. But I also know my four year old self was right, life is definitely better in color.
Thank you for joining me, and I hope everyone is staying safe and well.
As I was writing my most recent blog, I read some extremely sad news. My family and I have been following and loving Marc Maron for many years. His style of humor, at once disgruntled with the world, while being so relatebly hilarious, along with his love and appreciation of music, and love for his cats has made him feel like we know him. This despite the fact that in his world we don’t even exist. Not in a true sense, but yes as his fans. It feels like more than that though.
Of late during the “plague” as he refers to it, he has been sheltering with his girlfriend, the director; Lynn Shelton. As someone who has been a long time admirer, it has been very obvious how happy Marc has been. He has been going live online, playing his guitar and even singing, often mentioning Lynn while she waved in the background.
When you let “celebrities” into your life it feels as if they are your friend. This is the case with Marc Maron for us. We relate and can empathize with him. His humor and even grumpiness helped us through some tough times.
Being someone who makes it clear he likes his privacy, (yet often grudgingly is there for his friends), it’s just doubly exciting when someone like this allows you into their life. Marc has been doing this with his somewhat impromptu online music bits. He stops and reads the comments and it feels intimate and friendly. I had what to me was a happy experience just last week during one of these sessions. I had mentioned the name of Chuck Berry to him. He commented on it then started riffing some of Chuck Berry’s music. He was happy and singing and it felt like being there in his living room, Lynn in the background sometimes commenting.
Yesterday on a break from writing I read the devastating news that Lynn who had been sick for about a week, had passed. I am crushed at how unfair this life can be. I am just someone out here in the ether of fans, (oh how I hate that word). Although it was not related to Covid19, her sudden death has somehow hit me harder than so many other horror stories we hear everyday. Possibly because of the nature of this plague, were we are kept apart from the suffering, it is hard to relate to it unless it hits personally. It is more likely because she and Marc welcomed us into their happy life, and we love them in our way. I am grieving for her loss, for her family and friends. What I have read from the many people who loved and worked with her, she was a remarkable person, and will be dearly missed. But I especially grieve for, and find myself worried for Marc Maron. My god this is so horrific and unfair.
To this funny, sweet, man whose comedy, that strips bare the b s and, in an odd way gives us hope, and laughter, so much laughter, I send love and wish him the strength to weather this.
In mid March as things were just starting to really come out about what was happening around the world, and how we should all be taking precautions, I had just taken two weeks off due to feeling over worked, and completely fed up with my job. It’s the kind of job that can wear you to the bone, both physically and emotionally, as well as possibly dangerous in “normal” times. We were hearing things more and more every day. As I was not getting any cooperation from those I worked for, and as a matter of fact, various situations with clients were becoming more and more stressful, and dangerous, I felt it was best that I took some time off to reassess my own situation. There was also a part of me that could read the writing on the wall, and knew that this virus was going to get worse before it got better. Where I worked, as I alluded to, on a good day, was unhealthy in every way. On the day before my “vacation”, in the community home and apartments where I worked, not only were we completely out of any kind of sanitizing cleaners, we had little cleaning supplies overall. We were expected to not only be there for the clients as counselors and emotional support people, but we were expected to clean up after them. Many extremely hazardous, and disgusting things were expected of us by our supervisor. Although the higher ups had told us that the “object was for people to do for themselves”, our immediate supervisor in no uncertain terms, yet in a very ambiguous way, (so as not to implicate herself), made it clear on a daily basis that if we did not do it, there “would be no job, and we could find another down the road.” One of her favorite things to say. As I am older, that left me with little choice. But it also left me at higher risk.
When it came time for me to return, my supervisor tried to be nice, and to placate me, saying that “it isn’t that bad.” That I was blowing it out of proportion. She actually asked me on the phone, as she chuckled, “Do you want to be sick, Susan?” It was a ridiculous question. (I had not felt well, and my doctor at that point, said that I “could not return until a week after my last day of any symptoms.) My boss was implying that it was all in my head. I asked fellow co workers later that day, what the situation was regarding supplies, and rules. The folks we worked with all know their rights, and again in “normal” times, refuse to wash, are abusive to employees, and hang out in less than ideal places, getting drugs, etc. My co worker informed me that nothing had changed. (There was also a death of a client who although he had had some physical illnesses was generally fine. But from the time I went on sick leave, about ten days later, he had become increasingly ill, to the point where he had stopped eating or drinking, and then passed.) I was told that it was from his other illnesses, but I feel he may have had covid19. But of course have no proof, and this was right before anyone in our area started testing people for it.
A week later, when I phoned to have an interview with my doctor to “clear me”, I had become worried that considering everything, along with my age, and family history, as well as some health issues, that it would be best if I took an extended leave of absence. Unfortunately, my doctor had called in for her own leave. I was transferred to another doctor, who was arrogant, and also dismissive. He said that he “didn’t feel that legally he could give me a doctor’s note for leave.” I explained the situation, and he said that he would “look into it, and get back to me”. He never did. My leave was up and I was suppose to return to work. My family knew what I had gone through with this job, and understood that it was dangerous for me to return, and urged me not to do so. And I agreed. I quit my job, and have not looked back. Unfortunately I am the main source of income in my immediate family. I do have a small income otherwise, but it isn’t enough for all of the bills. My family are doing what they can, and we are holding on.
I do not regret quitting. I believe in my heart that I was in danger, and am good with my decision. We will get by, it won’t be easy, but I’m alive.
I have been using my time probably like most, “visiting” family online, fixing things around the house, doing what is in my power to help, and working on my art.
I’ve done a few things recently, including a quick self portrait, (where I feel I may have been a bit too intense, heheh), and a portrait of Andrea Bocelli, as I was so moved by his performance in the empty Duomo in Milan Italy that I started on it soon after.
Do what you believe is best for you, your family, community, and the world. Stay safe, stay home, and flatten the curve for all of us. But also do something to feel better, for yourself and everyone else. I’ll catch you next time, because I’m still here and intend to be for as long as I can 🙂 .