Lately I’ve been carving out more time to work in my home studio (it’s tiny, but it works—for the most part). Back when I was in art school, I was always making books, and I was always carving wood blocks and lino blocks. It was a daily practice, and one that I enjoyed. Fast forward a few years, when I realized that I wasn’t making enough time for printmaking. I missed it. It’s been hard in the last few years to make enough time for art (is there ever enough time for the things that we love?), but I’ve been working to find the balance.
I have a small tabletop printing press, which I bought from a friend about 7 years ago. Sometime last year, I realized that I had not carved a block or pulled a print in over a year. I couldn’t remember the last print that I’d made, and it made me sad to think that this thing that had once been a daily practice, a thing that had brought so much joy, was not in my life anymore.
So I made myself a deal: I’d make a little time each week to carve a block. Weekends only, maybe. I’d make time when I could. After all, I was working full time and trying to build a small business, and I was already feeling like a workaholic.
That was all the more reason to make more time for making art.
Below is one woodblock that I used to make the print at the top of this post—it’s a tufted titmouse made from 3 different blocks carved by hand. It had been years since I’d made a print with multiple colors, and I was excited to do one again and get back in the groove.
This year I decided to use my Etsy shop as a way to keep myself motivated: I wanted to add new items each week, and that meant I’d have to hold myself accountable—I’d have to make something new every week. Even if I was only making one finished piece a week, it would mean that I was making art a daily practice again.
That might have been the best decision I made for myself all year. Yes, this year has been crazy. It’s been heart-wrenching, and trying, and I’m grateful I get to spend each day with a loving, supporting partner. Getting through this year has been about focusing on what’s most important and finding joy in the everyday—and seeking happiness and gratitude in the things that I can control.
I’ve made a lot of adjustments this year, and one of the most rewarding has been getting back into the daily practice of drawing. Sometimes those drawings turn into blocks prints, or greeting cards, or small paintings. Sometimes those drawings don’t become anything else at all, and that’s fine, too. Some days they’re just doodles, just an exercise that’s almost a kind of meditation. They’re a way for me to unwind, and explore, and find a little everyday joy. I hope that during this year, you’ve been able to find the things that help you do this, too.