2020 for me started off great. I had a large order that I was working on and had a few more in my work cue. Staying busy and continuing to be creative. Who could ask for anything more? Then we started hearing about a virus. As the days passed, orders started to get pushed back due to retailers' uncertainty. Thankfully none were cancelled, but my time table got messed up. I kept working.
One thing that also happened was a brand new product being released. A flexible clay hybrid called Cosclay (Curable Oven Safe Clay). Intriguing to say the least. I was anxious to get my hands on it. To discover a whole new world. This helped the days starting in Mid-March when we began to "shelter in place." This is not news to anyone, because we all had the common chore of staying sane during Covid-19. My sanity came in the form of my creative outlets. Sculpting is my therapy. I kept an open mind and when a Facebook Friend named Dale said that I should make flamingos, I took it to heart. I saw the potential for the new flexible clay as a medium that might just add fun to the flamingos. I went to work. I sketched, I planned, I created armatures and made a collection of flamingos. Also around the same time the non-profit organization and gallery called Florida CraftArt was having their annual members' juried exhibition. I entered 3 of my new flamingos, two of which were juried into the Virtual Exhibition. Yay! I was and continue to be ecstatic. Even better news as a three month exhibition that culminates in vote counting for the People's Choice Award, one of my flamingos won! I continue to have bursts of ideas hit me for more fun things to do with the flamingos. And, my ever supportive husband continues to provide me with new ideas for ways to take my creations to the next level and beyond.
Beyond flamingos, I was contacted by a long-time collector asking if I would create a cat cremains urn in the likeness of her recently departed cat. I explained that I'm not a portrait artist and that it would probably take a while to create because I expect to have starts and missteps along the way. That's just the way it is when I do something brand new to me. Finally we came to a meeting of the minds and I went to work on the cat urn. I made 3 bodies that were not used, 2 tails that were not used and the head was sculpted and smushed numerous times before an acceptable likeness was arrived at. As much as I wanted to just say no, in the end I was happy that I pushed through and finished the piece because it is one that I really like a lot. I worked with 3 different types of clay, Cosclay (flexible), Apoxie Sculpt and regular Super Sculpey polymer. I used the Cosclay for those areas that needed some flexibility, the Apoxie Sculpt for making joins like tail to body and head to body and sealing areas with cracks and the polymer clay for the body and legs. The underside was also Cosclay with a hatch that I created and embedded magnets to hold it in place.
Now as August comes close to an end I am working on another monumental piece. A very large cat, over 20" in height. The largest cat that I have made to date. This cat will be more involved than my Big Fishing Cat of 2018. So far the cat has been constructed using regular Super Sculpey polymer clay along with Apoxie Clay for joining the arms, feet and tail. I used Cosclay for the tail. This has been a learning experience. I've already made an earlier attempt using a base of Apoxie Clay and then on top a layer of Cosclay for the clothes. This approach was not working out to my satisfaction so I rethought, regrouped and rebooted. Sometimes you have to be willing to realize that another approach is in order. So far I'm very happy with the way this cat is going. I've taken a new approach to procrastination and have started work well in advance of when the cat will be needed. I have the cat at a point in its creation that it really is all downhill from here. So I am able to fine-tune and enjoy sharing my studio with this cat, and our dog does not seem to mind.
I realize that I'm influenced by words people say. Sometimes the influence turns into inspiration. But I find myself thinking a lot about my art, my studio, my media. I also have realized that I have to be able to close the door. Covid-19 has caused me to rethink my work days. Because every day is now a work day, I have the potential to work 24/7 and that is not good. To obsessively retreat into my little world will make it harder for me when the day comes, hopefully sooner rather than later, when I am able to resume new normal activities. I now close the blinds, turn off the computer, tidy up and close the doors to my studio at 6:00-ish. I do not re-enter after dinner. I set boundaries for my mental well-being and for the well-being of my relationship with my husband. We have our routine of dinner, clean up and watching TV, sharing time together. Better balance to my life in these very unusual times. This better balance has helped me to get into better rhythms for sleep. There were times when I tried to push things and found myself dozing while painting. Not a good thing to do. If I had to make a list of good things in my life the top three would be time with my husband, not getting Covid-19, and supportive friends, then followed by exercise, a new outlook on my work and priorities, discovering new materials and being able to stay open to new ideas.
What's your list?