Can you relate?
Something you’ve been doing naturally for a long time, now feels like it is inactive. Perhaps you haven’t had time to enjoy it or use it and it has fallen into a buried file in your brain. French is like that for me.
I started taking French in Fourth Grade and continued all the way through high school, college, and graduate school. At one point, I read an 800 page book in French. But now? Now I can understand just a little bit and speak even less. However, not far down the list of things to do, I am going to wake up that dormant ability, dive into an online French course, and get ready for a trip I am planning with my hubby for our 35th anniversary in a few years.
Dormancy Is A Season
It’s January here in Central Florida which means we may start out the morning in the low 40’s and hit the low 80’s by 2 or 3PM. The sun likes to tease with brightness and swing with a crisp hook of humidity. Where 54 degrees feels rather wonderful for taking a stroll in the north east, down here it cuts to the bone and feels like it could snow.
Today is a great example. It’s 66 degrees but storming with thunder, lightening, even hail. We are in the tail of the weather system that is dropping several inches across the Carolinas and beyond.
It feels unexpectedly warm in the midst of the downpour, at least in the few seconds I opened the back door to try and persuade our dogs to go out for their morning business. We have our normal beauty blooming; palm trees and cordyline plants, coleus and even some passion vines can be found. Yet, there is dormancy.
Dormancy Is A State of Being
Dormancy around here is more obvious in spirit, I think, rather than in plant life. Sure, we still venture out to the beach on warmer days and sit on benches by the lake. There is very little need for a coat past 10 AM on most days, but yet, many I talk to feel a certain quietness to their usual hustle and bustle. The days are just as busy but the motions accompanying them are solemn.
As an artist, I understand that in personal terms and creative terms. Recently I was hit with a brick wall, figuratively speaking of course. Usually I see it as I approach, but this time, it crashed into me. At first I thought it was a dip, a period of time where I needed to wallow a bit, play, practice, and proceed, until I climb out and regain my creative zing. This time it felt different and I hadn’t had a word to describe it until just now. Dormancy.
Almost, if not all, artists go through dips. That’s a given. We need opportunity to lose ourselves, refresh, and discover the next step. Often it comes after a big project is completed or a collection has been rolled out. Sometimes it comes before those milestones and those are the hardest to get through. Often those dips cause delays and redirection, but most always end with a climb back up.
Dormancy is defined as being temporarily inactive or inoperative. The button is turned off.
How do I know it’s dormancy versus a dip? Like everyone else, I have felt burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion with the current state of our world. Like many, during the last two years of Covid, I’ve struggled with life changes that had nothing to do with a pandemic, yet were effected by it. I’m lucky to physically come out the other end of brain surgery for an arachnoid cyst with wonderful results and a severe osteoporosis diagnosis with manageable care. But they have effected me.
Where I once may have been looking at a slide down a creative dip in the past, I am now staring at a door to a cave where a season of dormancy is to ensue. And I’m okay with that, because in that cave dormancy is a blanket that is only covering one part of my creative being.
This is typically the time of year that I put plant-staining paper on the back burner and focus on pottery, but this year I had a different plan. Always working a few months in advance, I had planned this period to be a deep dive into filming classes since my physical stamina making pottery was in question. To my bewilderment, I had a second veil of dormancy come over me.
The Brick Wall That Hit
My brain stopped, at least my ability to teach a class to a camera. It took me a while to realize as it was buried under a layer of decision fatigue and holiday distractions. In fact, about five weeks ago, I actually had written about my online experience teaching and the need to add live segments. I think that need was the first hint as to what was to come. I didn’t make the connection until just before New Year’s and, honestly, I am still writing out my account on that one so more reflections continue to surface.
For now, I can just say that after thirty-ish years of teaching, my brain has hit an obstacle that is going to take me a while to weed through. That part has gone dormant, really dormant. So much so, that even thinking about recording a class makes my head hurt instantly.
Side note to my Live Weekly Art Journaling students…this dormancy has left a window open for Live Classes. AJ is not effected! Woo hoo!
The beauty of dormancy is that it is a season of rest and refreshing revival. I can’t say for certain that I will come out of this dormancy in the same path that I was on prior with filming classes, but I do know that other parts of my creative being are wide awake.
Revitalized with Clay!
My next chapter is actually a continuation of my journey since I was four. My first love in art and my first memory of feeling limitless in creative expression continues to be my favorite way to spend my day: pottery.
Physical therapy helped more than I expected and with a few tweaks in process and moderation in my schedule, I have returned to clay. As much as I love creating in clay, I also love learning, sharing, educating, inspiring…really any type of discussion.
I am working on a series that shares the meaning of clay, not just as the potter but as the collector, and the magical connection between the two. A compilation of audio recordings, writings, and images, this series is taking organic form, evolving as it develops. Of course, there are pottery pieces being created throughout the journey. Stay tuned as it unfolds, or should I say, as it fires up!
PS: Creative Prompt
In hopes that my personal dormancy hits a common feeling with you, I encourage you to write about it, or create through it. Expressing yourself, even doodling on paper, helps sort out and process tangled reflections.
Writing in a journal is a great place to work out your thoughts, but I always find the steps before I write to be the most useful in loosening contemplations.
Here’s what I do.
- Fix a cup of coffee or pour a glass of wine. Just the action starts to relax my mind frame.
- Pick one of my Earth Journals. Truly, it’s not a sales ploy! The plant-stained designs provide imagery that settle me more. I get lost in them while my I feel my mind open and begin to release.
- With my finger or a pencil, I trace out different images that appear to me. The concentration and focus center around the shapes and shadows of the plant designs, the imagery that is so much more than stains becomes the guide in unearthing my thoughts.
- Sometimes this is where I complete my musing and sometimes I go on to writing.
Why I think this works for me?
I’ve studied right and left brain science for decades. As a teacher, it is important to be able to identify that which triggers my students to learn. This study also carries into why I make the art I do and how I intend it to of use to my patrons. However, I am not a doctor nor a scientist so I can only explain it how I have come to understand it.
The preoccupation with tracing out lines of plant stains to make recognizable images keeps my right brain, the creative beauty, working while my left brain, the analytical side, works in the background ordering and making sense out of thoughts that feel tangled.
The use of an Earth Journal instead of a blank page is actually very simple. Earth Journals provide natural one-of-a-kind designs that are malleable. Each image is not only unique but is perceived through a filter only the onlooker has. It’s organically personalized. That’s what sets it apart.
Of course, you can try one out yourself. Visit RachelleEason.com to learn more and connect with your own one-of-a-kind journal.