Ten days before I got around to coming back here. I've been pre-occupied and distracted and also kept busy. The dayjob is a significant part of it. The fairy tale I am trying to tell is also a part of it. My art is a part of it.
On Friday the 13th I am going to the dayjob "talk", which is really an interview of sorts except that I get to have some negotiating power too, mainly because I've been doing the job for two decades and have gained a rather difficult and distinctive expertise. I say this without any intention of boasting, but only as a matter of fact. Because the irony is that despite this particular skill strength I have not used it to gain "success" as expected by most. For the past six years I have put it on the sideline while I tried to make another story for my life. A story that has more heart and meaning. A story that I could live with and that I will have the least regrets for, if not entirely without regret.
This year is supposed to be the seventh year of my being "brave", everyday dancing along the tightrope of unpredictability and always braced for the worst of an unstable income. But this year I am taking an alternate route. I am going back into the "corporate jungle", so to speak, but I am bringing with me my ancient magical forest, and I am going to navigate both, and eventually, only one will remain as a natural course of Things and as a fruit of my intentions.
I will do this because I have reached the edge of a cliff and if I am to continue to shape the life I will not regret then I must find a (temporary) way to make enough money to make a leap. I have been making many many steps for the past six years but this time I need a leap. A few leaps. Across seas, actually. Out and away. A heaving push forward. And I need a bit more money than I am able to make now to be able to do them.
It terrifies me. This decision that I thought I will never make but always suspected I will. It is actually making me physically sick in many little ways. I find myself running deeper into my canvases, and my pages, and feeding ravenously of stories and fairy tales for sustenance. Because I have a better idea now, if not yet a flawless strategy, of how to fight and flow with the life-draining and soul-parching characteristics of my dayjob. Because it makes no sense to do the dayjob if I am not going to keep doing the art and the story. The dayjob is supposed to be for the art and the story, that is all it is, a means to an end. Until such time when the end is also the means.
If all goes as well as I am envisioning it will, I have roughly three months left to be as ready as I ever will be.
It may not immediately seem like a direct connection but moving out my painting studio into the garage was a big step into further defining my movements. For quite a while I have made do with the tiny dark space under the stairs, exhausting all possibilities of arrangements, schedules, and even habits. But a lack of natural daylight and elbow/knee room could only be endured up to a certain point especially when my direction is to expand to bigger pieces that extend beyond the pools of artificial light I could manage and the floor space I could claim.
Allowing my art to progress more freely, and to unfurl and unfold, will mean I can have a sturdier spirit when I plunge into the regular dayjob work. Like the flowerings in my artwork, my soul will be a teeming lush impossible magical garden that is more impervious to drought and pollution and acid rains.
I also feel that is it a symbolic move, from inside to outside. I had originally thought that the only way I can have a studio with enough daylight and space was to wait to move out of the house again and be able to afford renting my own condo unit where I will also live by myself. But that step won't be at least until the second half of this year and that's too long to keep my art constrained.
Then I had a dream about my grandfather who was a painter and illustrator in his days, and from whom I most likely inherited my artistic genes. After that dream I woke up with the idea of using the dresser table he made for my grandma (which has been passed on to me by my mom) as a drawing desk. The dresser has been stored in the garage because there is no space for it in the house, and the plan was I will take it with me when I move into my own more permanent space. Except that step will again take too long and the dresser is just standing there, gathering dust.
In a surge of inspired action I moved all my painting stuff into the garage and started fixing things. As I slowly moved in I also started painting my bigger pieces, and found a flow that I have been hoping to find. It took me around three days to really settle in. The old mango tree across the street watches over the gate and provides a much-needed natural view to complement the open sky above it. The bright natural daylight is balm to my over-strained eyes that have always squinted in the poor indoor lighting. The natural breeze soothes my oft-frayed emotions.
It is a rather open space. When it storms I will have to pull in my things closer to the house and cover them. But the gate is high enough to provide privacy, and I seriously believe the mango tree spirits are watching over at night to deter would-be thieves (Although I doubt the thieves will find anything they could make easy money of -- heck, even I have a hard time selling my own paintings! Hahaha!)
My grandma's dresser, with it's triple mirrors (when I close my eyes and look at the mirrors, I see myself in three forms), is now a vision/storywall of sorts. I've taken some key images from my own journal and laid them out in the open. Again another symbolic inside to outside move. I am putting out the images for me to see everyday, like practice, like reminders, like prayers. Last year were the seeds, and this year the garden rises to flower. And the flowers bring in the creatures and the beings. And the story makes itself even as I make it for myself. Always the flowers, beautiful and impossible and magical. And the ravens and the buttermoths, the dragons and the wolves and the foxes. The wild stag who is both hunter and hunted. The flower-marked with their riddles and their poetry. The lost sleepwalking kings with their magics.
I have repeatedly mentioned in previous posts that I want my inside to be reflected more on my outside. A more authentic self that I continuously work upon to grow and evolve. When I go back to that dayjob work I want this to be the case, that I am more the self I want to be and am becoming rather than the self that the dayjob tends to cultivate. I have to be clear and certain, and I have to be resilient and brave. I know that not everyone will get it, not everyone will understand, not everyone will agree. But I will keep claiming that space of fair partnership. And if it becomes a matter of life and death of the soul, then I know what I have to do.