Journal After Italy (part 1)

I have been reading A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf, which is an invaluable guide for creative people. Inspired by that, I started re-reading some of my own diaries, starting with my return from Italy in August, 2017. (Casa Bella Città Bella) I decided to publish some excerpts on my blog (my diaries are much too lengthy and private to publish unabridged.) Even so, what follows is Part One of many parts to come.

Going through these journals has been helpful to me , allowing me to reflect on my life and see my art journey with more clarity. Perhaps they will be helpful to others, too!

sunset over Florence, July 2017

sunset over Florence, July 2017

Aug. 23, 2017

I can’t believe my time in Italy is over. It feels like a dream. I worked on my poems today. I think they are ready…

Aug. 30

I’m so unhappy… I’m terribly, terribly sad. I cry all the time.…Wretched is the perfect way to describe myself. Just. So. Wretched. I want to throw up, I’m so unhappy…

my sketchbook, a detail of a fresco in the    Uffizi   , in Florence, Italy

my sketchbook, a detail of a fresco in the Uffizi, in Florence, Italy

Sept. 7th

Intentional Loitering.

There is a different kind of work that will arise from working this way.

So, here I am in my studio. All I did was organize it today, and putter around. But that’s important too. Just like when I was in Italy. I have to stop being so hard on myself. This resistance, this puttering, is part of my process…

I was walking around town doing some errands, it was a lovely sunny day, and I felt keenly aware that any moment some inspiration might strike me, something that wished to be a painting, or a poem, or a story. Deep breaths. Being in the moment. I don’t want to be so scattered as I used to be.

I just know I will thrive in a schedule. A schedule supports my practice. It is not rigid, but supportive and dependable. So I’m trying my best to do the studio 10 am- 3 pm each day. So many other things to juggle (exercise, housework, cooking, family time, friend time, business side of work) but I have got to keep the studio sacred.

I have to have the grace to forgive myself. To work with life. It’s like I’m weaving such a complicated tapestry, and I have so many threads in my hands, it can be quite confusing.

Even though I didn’t paint today, I feel very happy in the studio. I feel happy about getting it perfectly organized so that everything is how I want it to be. It’s my space

set up in my studio, beginning a self-portrait

set up in my studio, beginning a self-portrait

Sept. 8

Ok. Time to get to work. I will lay out my colors. My tantalizing, beloved colors…

Sept. 17

I feel peaceful inside. I feel as though I am on the edge of many worlds. Each world is Art…it’s more like a peaceful opening of doors. A hallways of doors, opening one by one.

“Self Portrait” 14x11 inches, oil on canvas

“Self Portrait” 14x11 inches, oil on canvas

Sept. 27

Today I went for a bike ride with Ian (dreamy) and then painted for 4 hours. I felt like I was in a jungle, some unknown territory of painting, because I couldn’t bear to do another small still life in the chiaroscuro style, with all that damn blending.

But I don’t know how to proceed: I’m flailing about with a palette knife. I did a self portrait of myself at the easel with a blue shirt and some flowers. I scraped away a lot. I don’t know if it’s good. It’s not. But I feel like I had to do it.

Later At [my son’s] soccer practice. Just turned on my laptop and wrote my novel for an hour. It’s slowly coming along. I asked Morgan if it would be weird for him if I set up my easel and painted during practice. He said yes. It would be weird. Oh well.

children playing soccer (sketchbook)

children playing soccer (sketchbook)

Sept. 30

Getting ready to go dancing. My orange-patterned skirt doesn’t fit me; I have gained weight. I’m feeling unattractive. I’m breaking out and notice signs of aging. It’s hard to keep exercise and healthy-eating a priority.

I’ve been so tired lately. I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m doing too much, again. It’s nearly impossible not to. I’d love to curl up with a good book and read all day long under a blanket. Art is hard. Painting is hard. There are these sneaky, unsettling questions at the back of my mind that threaten to bring the whole facade down. Stuff like:

  • “You have nothing to say.”

  • “You’re not good.”

  • “This is all ridiculous.”

I’m trying to set aside my anxieties about money, and my emotional troubles, and just feel grateful for the everyday moments. I’m looking forward to a quiet family day tomorrow, and a cozy evening with Ian, to reconnect with a glass of wine and some time together…

“Vino Rosso” 7x5 inches, oil on board

“Vino Rosso” 7x5 inches, oil on board