The Brutal Art of Slowing Down
Slow. Slow. Quick. Quick. Slow. 2018 is done. 2019 brings new hopes and printmaking adventures. I took some considered time-out yesterday to reflect on the year that was 2018. It was a great year, with challenges, wins, losses. But one thing stood out above and beyond everything from the year … I need to SLOW DOWN! The fog of busy-ness, be it doing what I loved or not, meant that it took some time to finally heed the words. In reality, life has been screaming this at me for the past 8 years, but I have always been one to do things the hard way! Isn’t that the best way to learn?? 🙂
First … Thanks and Gratitude
As I write my first blog post for the year, I want to say THANK YOU. I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement I receive from everyone who supports my work.
Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog articles. I love to write, and I get such a thrill when I know someone has read the words I have written and gained something from them.
Thank you for the Pins and Follows on Pinterest.
Thank you for the purchases of work throughout 2018.
Thank you for putting your faith and trust in me to come to my workshops and let me teach you new creative skills.
Thank you for letting me share my passion, and for the encouragement to follow a passion that I only dared dream to be possible.
Now, if you will, please allow me some self-indulgence as I recap my year that was 2018 for Kim Herringe, artist, teacher, student …
January – March
I started the year as I normally do – full steam ahead with big ambitions … I was going to write one blog article every week, and produce at least one reduction linocut print every 3-4 weeks for the duration of 2018. I got myself to the end of March with one blog article and one finished and one half-finished print, then a affectionate mosquito love bite and I found myself almost bed-ridden with Ross River Virus. I was (physically) knocked for six for the rest of the year. My carving days for the rest of 2018 were numbered! For a steady 3 months I was out of action. I’ve been off and on since then. The virus seems to attack the joints as if I had severe arthritis.
BUT I did manage to create my Beerwah Rising reduction linocut print by end-February. This is now one of my most favourite prints. It was a finalist in the Local Artists-Local Content Art Prize, and exhibited at the Caloundra Regional Gallery. A very proud moment for me. There is one print left available for sale. It is currently on show in Brisbane and may return to the Sunshine Coast this month. If you are interested in that print, let me know.
I think most noteworthy (for me) was seeing myself fulfil a life-long dream to teach. Since childhood I dreamed of becoming a teacher. I can remember pretending to teach classes (from my bedroom) when I was of primary school age. During high school I desperately wanted to become a high school art teacher; but life sent me on another direction.
Fast-forward 30 years, and 2018 saw the beginning of realising that dream. It was a big financial investment to get the workshops started – tools, materials, paper, desks, chairs – everything I needed to create a ‘portable’ workshop program. At the beginning of the year I took a deep breath, pulled up my big girl pants, and just went for it! By the end of the year I had run 14 workshops and can see and feel that I have a future with this. It fills my soul to share something I love so much with people so keen to learn. And I WILL repay the investment back to the bank account! Another very proud moment for me.
April – June
The virus was raging a war on my joints with no respite. My lino carving had ground to a halt. I did manage to keep my workshops going, which I am most proud of. I found that compression stockings were my new best friend! Not sexy, but neither is pain.
Something I aim to create with my workshops is a spirit of ‘generosity’. It is my hope that students enjoy an experience that has everything they need to facilitate a full learning program. I put everything I can into each and every workshop. I get such pleasure from delivering them – determined to deliver to a standard where students leave feeling that they have received more than they anticipated. I started to receive feedback from students sharing their thoughts about my workshops – I can not put into words the delight, pleasure and immense gratitude I feel when I am given feedback; and I can see that I am delivering the type of experience I am working hard to create. All of a sudden hard work doesn’t seem so hard!
I am an exhibiting member at the Peace of Green Gallery in Maleny for 2 years now. Peace of Green celebrated 25 years of continuous operation in April 2018. We had a big celebration, and I felt honoured to share in the success of years of hard work, perseverance, persistence and determination of the members during that time. The Gallery has weathered several ‘financial crises’. Member have come and gone. The gallery is a testament to the hard work and determination of all its members, and I am proud to be a part of it.
I was also invited to exhibit work at the new Razorback Gallery in Montville. This gallery is an extension to the Montville Art Gallery. The gallery was opened in May (albeit officially in August) as an artist run gallery. The artists who exhibit also staff and market the gallery. It was an absolute privilege to be in the company of such talented and accomplished artists. It was also a pleasure to meet customers at the gallery. To watch people interact with the work was a special opportunity. To meet people who bought my work was a privilege.
This period also bought very sad news of the illness of a much loved family member. I have seen illness, and felt its pain, but only at an arms-length away. This time it was too close to home. Priorities begin to shift. What is the most important starts to bubble to the surface in a way that can’t be ignored any more!
So this period of the year bought to a head an internal struggle – managing and balancing ‘life’. I was running my own web development/marketing business; trying to manage my health; trying to get my art and workshop business started; and trying to be the best wife I could for a husband I adore; and trying to be available for my family. I had been running my own marketing/web development business for 12 years at this point. Before that was an 18 year career in the advertising and marketing industry. As I am want to do, I threw all of me into my career throughout that period. I was very good at being busy, and even better at taking on more than I can manage. I loved what I did (to a degree), but I knew that I couldn’t do and be everything to everybody.
The ‘slow down’ murmurings we quietly and persistently bubbling their way to the surface.
I had already experienced 2 major burnout periods in my adult life, and I knew I didn’t want to do that again. The thought of stopping ‘work’ was on one hand terrifying and on the other, liberating. There was a lot to consider. A lot of fear to work through. Taking that step would mean I could focus my attention on where I needed to most – my love and my passion … self, my husband and family, and my art. It also meant a huge leap of faith in myself. This was a big test for me.
July – September
I DID IT … I acted to make one of the biggest decisions of my life – to leave my ‘career’. The internal struggle had really been waging for a long time, but the events of the year, and the quiet and persistent murmurings of SLOW DOWN finally found their way to the surface.
I was finally ready to let go and put behind me the blood, sweat and tears of 30 years in a commercial space to focus on family, self and my art. I grossly underestimated how taxing the application of the decision would be; but also underestimated how liberating the feeling once the wheels were in motion and I passed the point of no return. My husband comes from a military background. He doesn’t understand the commercial world, so struggled to understand how difficult it was for me to ‘just let go’. All the same though, he was and continues to be a tremendous support and source of encouragement to me. He has adopted for himself the title of my “Artistic Director’.
And I was able to slowly get back to a little carving! My ‘After the rain‘ print was half done, way back in March. It was so good to get back to carving after months of wrist pain, but it felt strange to pick up a print I had left months earlier. Slowly I got back into to.
The printing itself was suddenly very physically taxing too. I was realising just how much the virus had got me. I realised I had to slow down in my ‘creating’ too. And the more I slowed, the more I enjoyed it.
The joy of carving, gently and slow. The smell of the ink as I mixed colours. The sound of the ink rolling across the lino block. The thrill of the reveal.
My carving and printing days were still very limited. It was driving me crazy not to be able to carve and print. It did, however, force me to look to other less physically taxing printing media to satisfy my urge to create. I turned back to gelatin plate printing with a more focused attention than I had in the past, and I’m enjoying a new journey of exploration in this space. This process sends me into a space of deep detachment to an outcome; where I can simply enjoy the process; and worked to further reinforce the mantra to SLOW DOWN.
Oh, and I almost forgot … Suzanne Vega has been the soundtrack to my life since I was 15 years old. I vividly remember seeing her in concert in Brisbane in (I think) 1993 (Note: I wasn’t 15 then!). I sat in the back of the Concert Hall, and Archie Roach was the support act. In July 2018, no cyclones to cancel concerts and with tickets in hand, I was finally able to see and hear her live, again. It was a great show. And she continues to run on shuffle and repeat in my studio!
October – December
Where on earth did the year go! Every year the pace of time get faster. The year that started with such grand plans and ambition was trying to squeeze as much as it can into the last few months of itself. But now I was at odds with myself. The conditioned fast-forward pace that I normally operated at was steadfastly challenged by the ever stronger SLOW DOWN voice inside my head.
The last part of the year saw me busy tidying up loose ends from the business;c reating new work for the Maleny Printmakers’ ‘Collectables‘ exhibition; and beginning to really feel just how far I may be able to take and grow my art, my workshops, my self in the pursuit of my passion.
I have been invited to participate in a few group exhibitions in 2019. As and when they happen I will share more, but now finally understanding the real meaning of pacing myself. If I was going to improve and sustain my health, focus on family and grow my arts practice, I was going to have to better pace myself and SLOW DOWN.
But before we really get into SLOW DOWN mode, lets throw in one last curve ball for the year … we decided it was time to think seriously about maybe possibly moving into a bigger home. I have been in my home for 8 years. The longest period I have spent in one place over my life. I recently counted 36 or 36 moves in my 48 years. Yikes! I have spent 4 of these 8 years sharing this home with my darling husband. I think its time now for ‘our’ home. Plus, or maybe ‘rather’, I had seriously outgrown my studio. What was once an open, clean and clear working space was filled with materials and equipment and little to no surface space to actually create work.
With this thinking came the idea to also look for a new home where I could run my workshops from my own space. October planted the seed. November started the looking. December saw us find a place and put a contract on it. There is still one hurdle to jump before we know that the property is ours, so keep your fingers crossed that things work the way we hope. If they do – I will have some very exciting news to share later this month!!
Oh, and we did manage a holiday during the year too. A change of scenery and my beloved and I took a week off and spent some well earned time away on Fraser Island. Such a beautiful part of the world. Surrounded by nature. Fresh salty air. Sleeping in. Cocktails. We both needed the break, and I came home with a clearer head. Oh – and a stash of banksia photos, ready for linocut prints in 2019!
So there was my 2018. Another year revolution around the sun. Definitely not the year I anticipated, for better and for worse, but a year of more lessons, laughter and gratitude for everything that she delivered to me. And I think the most gratitude for finally hearing, I mean really hearing, the message to SLOW DOWN.
The Year in Statistics
- 9 major reduction linocut prints
- 19 blog post articles
- 8 smaller linocut prints
- countless gelatin plate monotype prints
- countless cyanotype prints and experiments
- 1 metal plate etching – it’s lonely. It needs friends!
- 8 group exhibitions
- 3 print exchanges
- 5 skills-sharing days and weekends with like-minded creative souls
- 1 Finalist in an art prize
- 14 printmaking art workshops – THANK YOU
- more sales of work that I could have wished for – THANK YOU!
- an enormous injection of funds to suppliers of art materials for my workshops
- countless lessons in patience and perseverance
- and a huge stash of ideas ready to take into the new year!
What I learned
- I NEED to slow down.
- Stuff happens. Regardless of plans and intention, life throws us obstacles and opportunities. It is what is is, so run with it.
- Trust myself. What ever happens, however anything and everything pans out, it will all be ok. I am worth the investment of self-trust.
- That what is most important to me is real, and here, and I NEED to invest time and love in to it.
- I have a voice. I have something to say. But I also have ears. And I need to listen, better, and more. But not all that needs to be heard has sound.
- My arts practice can be self-supporting and sustainable.
- I am woman. Hear me roar!
My goals and dreams for 2019
- I will continue to create.
- I will have a new studio space. Big enough for me to spread my wings, create and teach.
- My husband and I will have OUR home.
- My family will be a priority.
- I will create as many prints as my body and soul will allow.
- I will write blog posts when I can.
- AND I WILL SLOW DOWN!
Here’s to a fabulous 2019. A year full of peace, love, joy, adventure and time slow enough to enjoy the pace of the ride.