Deep Thought Thursday: Working through disaster

Anita Rodrguez wrote:

I love your newsletter, can't wait for Mondays, but the last week in January was pretty awful out here in Western KY. No power, bitter cold, no cell or land lines, etc. At least we had shelter–cold, but livable. So my question is how other artists deal with natural disasters. This recent ice storm really sidetracked my artmaking efforts, not to mention my marketing attempts.

Can you help Anita? If you've ever had to keep your art career going through a disaster, we'd love to hear from you.

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13 comments to Deep Thought Thursday: Working through disaster

  • I haven’t worked through a disaster where my space was gone, etc., but I have worked through huge disruptions in my work and marketing efforts. I follow the 5 minute rule, which is 5 minutes is better than nothing…anything I do is better than nothing. There have been a few times that I had to let go completely to deal with a major disruption, but for the most part I have been able to stay on track by doing anything, anything at all that moves me closer to my goals.

  • I also haven’t had to work through a physical disaster, but a disaster of emotions and energy. My father died when I was in the middle of painting illustrations for a big book contract. There were several months when I couldn’t do anything. I just sat, drank tea, read and spent time with my friends. When I finally was ready to go back to work I had refreshed vision and passion. I think occasional breaks or changes in pace (voluntary or enforced) are necessary to push your inspiration and passion in a new direction. Keep persevering, do small tasks as mentioned before and… Best of Luck!

  • I’ve never been through such a disaster before, so my sympathy to Anita and admiration for her courage in the face of that. What about photography? I’m assuming she’d have limited access to art supplies but perhaps a digital camera could be a source of inspiration. Record (at low resolution if need be, to fit more on the memory card) people, places, textures, colours – anything that grabs the eye. Good things, bad things, ideas or just pleasing little images to get through each day. The result afterwards will be an amazing collection showing of your mental journey during the event.

  • I have been through those types of disasters. And though it’s not my favorite thing, I have found the silver lining in that a big part of being an artist (for me at least) is being able to be still and go deep. Having no power helps make that happen whether you want to or not.

  • I know what it’s like to be w/o power for a week in winter, w/o a fire place too. Being in bed was the only place I could stay warm. I wound up making a sculpture about it. I was walking the quarter mile up the hill, hating the cold, when the mantra came to me, “Winter Is.” I began just repeating it. Istopped resisting and actually looked around to see all the tree leaves and pods frozen on and in the ice. Started the artwork and the weather changed. Everything melted in a day and a half. What I’d been hating suddenly became precious as I tried to capture it before it disappeared. It was a good lesson. Titled it “You must beleive in Spring.”

  • i was an art teacher in a higer secondary school, in kerala, india. my two children left us due to a genetically de-generative decease, hrithik at the age of 7 and medha my daughter at the age of 8, after medha’s demise, in march 2008, i felt a vacuum in my life. i left the job and turned to the world of paintings and shifted my stay to bangalore. now i am living for my paintings, i have completed some paintings, and that is why i am alive now, the art in me help me a lot to overcome a total disaster in my life.

  • I live in west ky. All I will say is that it sucked.

  • There was a horrible emotional loss in my life some years back that had me sitting like a zombie on the sofa for a long time in shock. It was definitely being in shock. But being able to create my art, little by little, especially teaching a class of seniors, sharing what I knew, really made a difference to me. It was like creating NEWLY into the futher, MY future. So find something, anything, any small thing you can do that is creative. If you are too cold, then at least bundle up and think of new ideas you can pursue when you thaw out!

  • Danna Tullis

    Turning to 3-D work to keep the juices flowing during grief and then creative writing during a time when I had a serious injury kept me feeling creative even though I was unable to produce for income. The loss of ability to work due to your circumstances is most certainly unsettling but if you can remain steady and find another creative outlet it will help until you are back on track again.

  • I don’t have a comparable experience, but my heart goes out to Anita.

  • What amazing stories in the previous posts. It’s wrenching to go through such things and challenging to get back on your feet… Have suffered some losses along the way (house burned down- everything gone, death of closely beloved, divorce, being without power for a week in Vermont… all of the above, but spread out over many years.) This fall has been particularly hard since 2 very close friends have serious cancer. Art is the keyhole that lets in the light. A journal with good paper for multi-media; sketches that grow into paintings, words that grow into ideas that grow into sculpture… My journals have been my refuge for many many years. Portable, finite. Tiny steps… The five minute idea is brilliant. Best of luck to you.

  • Just painted a cover on a new journal. Following my own advice and Constance’s.

  • Constance: That’s what Rachelle Disbennett-Lee says: “If you can’t do a lot, do a little.” It all gets you closer to your goal. Tina: Pulling out the camera is a good idea. And I would say also pulling out the journal. Seems like you could dump a lot onto the pages of your journal. Who knows where that could lead? Jane, Lynne, Sreedharan, and Liza: Those are very personal disasters indeed. And it sounds like the art (and the journals) was the saving grace.