The much anticipated Holiday season is behind us. Yay! I consciously, but involuntarily started listening to Christmas music on the November 3-4 weekend, my first craft fair of the season. I unexpectedly hummed along to the tunes of the one-horse open sleigh and the poor old partridge in the same pear tree. Some three weeks before Christmas I got a bit tired of listening to Christmas songs. By the time it was December 25, just like last year, I wished I could Grinch my way out of Christmas and teleport myself to February.
In 2018, I started my first outside market day mid-April. I finished my last “Summer” market day mid- October. That’s a pretty long “Summer” season. Then, I took a quick 3-week intermission to prepare for the next storm and dove head-first into the Christmas craft fair season. While I typically only attend 1 or 2 market days a week and aim to work only part-time to keep my health in order, many weeks of the year I felt like a headless chicken running along a non-stop assembly line. Sourcing frames, sourcing sea glass, painting and sanding frames, gluing and sealing glass panes took up the early part of the week. Typically, only a few days near the end of the week were left to make actual designs.
Unless hurricane force winds threaten to blow my sea glass filled market booth into the ocean, Summer market days are typically very enjoyable. I am outside in the sun, talking to cheerful people about travel, art and beachcombing. When art sells, bills can be paid. However, the end of every good sales day is often also filled with the bittersweet feeling of knowing how many art pieces will have to be ready again by the following weekend.
So Boohoo for me. Can everyone please feel sorry for me for a moment? My job requires me to go beachcombing and scavenging thrift-shops for a living, puzzling at home with sea glass pieces while I listen to podcasts and take naps when fatigue sets in. Yep, it’s terrible. I deserve no sympathy. In truth, I’m grateful for having the opportunity to live this lifestyle. But, dare I point out that even a repetitive hobby becomes work after a while?
I didn’t keep track of the exact amount of art pieces made in 2018. I estimate the amount to be above 500 completed artworks; some big, many small. The beach-themed art is hopefully hanging in windows, on bathroom walls and in children rooms bringing joy to the people observing them. I’m truly appreciative for the joy I am able to spread. But every so often, with the repetitive nature of the most popular pieces, I ask myself if I can call them “artworks”. Yes, every sea glass design is hand-made and unique, but are they mass-produced souvenirs perhaps? If anything indicates that I AM truly an artist, it is the recurrent theme of self-doubt and self-criticism.
It is now January 2019. I foresee a 3-month vacuum where I will occasionally ask myself what the meaning is of all the art making and art selling madness. While I should be making inventory for the summer months to relieve some pressure, my creativity and inspiration demand me to take a break from the repetitive routine. I ask myself what the net effect of a busy year has been on my health. Am I so talented that I even burn myself out in a free-as-a-bird lifestyle that includes strolling down beaches? The answer is a hesitant “yes”. I am currently picking up the shattered pieces of myself and gluing them back together. And now with some time on my hands and being forced to rest, I start spinning circles in my head, questioning my priorities in life, the years rushing by in a hurry, the reason for doing it all again. Sound familiar anyone? Yep, same Martin. Still here.
I have sat down today and am writing a blog in the company of a coffee. I look at the neighbours shoveling rain on their driveways, the water drops racing down the windows. I reflect on the changes of the past few years. Despite my social media account showing an adventurous life, my health situation is far from perfect. I have neglected it. I still walk around with a heavy rock chained to my leg and risk sliding back into trouble with every day I push myself too far up the ever beckoning slope. It remains to be a personal challenge that might never go away. But like the ocean, my life is full of movement. Changes are again on the horizon. This year will certainly not be the same as the last. That’s a thought that comforts me. The freedom to decorate my days and weeks slightly differently is always there. The tides will bring in new treasures, challenges and opportunities. It’s up to me to pick them up, let them wash away, or use them for something new and creative.
A bit late, but best wishes to all for the new year!