Two weeks ago I was scheduled to attend an art market, but my plans were thwarted by a minor emergency. It’s quite true that, emergency or not, my creative endeavors are often thwarted–by sick children or a busy husband or my own lack of energy–and that this has been a source of ongoing conflict in my relationship with my husband.
His contention has been that I am responsible for the true origin of these creative blocks, and I can acknowledge that there is truth to this. But I have held that he bears some responsibility for this as well, because he often makes himself unavailable to the family, and to me, because of his work load, much of which is truly unnecessary and unprofitable. He is a man of many endeavors, one of which pays the bills. And while I can get up to my studio while the kids play, there is also this strange magnetic quality to being a mother. They are drawn to me, they sense my absence and seek me out, with crises and questions, when I am in the studio. So his presence is very helpful. My husband and I have gone round and round about this, with my frustration and his defensive only growing.
The afternoon of the aforementioned failed art market attempt, I was outside catching Abby the leaping-over-the-fence goat in my nice jeans and heeled boots, stewing over the fact that once again my creative energies had been thwarted. Above me in the forest I could hear a murder of crows cawing madly.
They’re after a hawk again, I thought. They are very close. I should go see.
They were directly above me, on the wooded slope where my studio sits. I walked up the path, and within minutes I could see them all, crows and hawk, perched in the tall oak by my studio door. The crows were aggravated and flapped their dark wings, as if they were generating a storm around the hawk. As I drew closer, the hawk alighted and flew out of the forest, crows pursuing. In its fierce claws dangled a snake.
This was all significant. Consider the Hawk, Lord of the Skies, fed by the Snake, Daughter of the Earth, and harassed by the Crows, mischief-makers and denizens of the Shadows. I gathered my supplies and sat down and sketched the scene I had just witnessed.
Since that event, my husband went on a five day vacation with our friend George. While he was gone, things shifted at home. I went for a not-so-annual physical and was prescribed thyroid medication. The result of taking said medicine has been that I now have the energy not only to get up to my studio in the afternoon, but also the energy in the evening to clean my house. It would be fair to say that this has transformed my daily life.
Also while he was gone our son Bert decided to homeschool. High School had become a daily adventure in failure, and when he was home in the afternoon all his stress came out–on us. Now he is his laughing self again, and we are working together to find the learning opportunities that best fit his bright and capable self.
Last but not least, little Renee dreamt on two consecutive nights that she was flying. After the first night I told her that if she realized she was dreaming, she could take control of the dream. So on the second night when she found herself flying right outside the bedroom windwon, she decided to go flying over the river. Yesterday evening, while in the studio, I realized that this was a scene I must paint for my daughter.
Before J left on his mini-adventure with Goerge, we revisited once again, and not pleasantly, the conflict surrounding my blocked creativity. I explained to him that it was like we were both juggling so many balls, and for me to be able to pick up my creative work, I needed for him to put down some of the things he was juggling. This analogy seemed to communicate my perspective to him in a way that heretofore I had been unable to accomplish. I think that this newfound understanding, coupled with his time away and my thyroid medication, has helped us get over this hurdle, and I have gotten BACK in the studio.
And so this week, I began to paint that scene, of the hawk and the crows: