This falls under the subheading “And now for something completely new.” Last week I received this distressing message.
I have had a strong and active career and now up against the greatest challenge of my artistic life: divorce.
This has caused and is causing multiple career changes and life losses on multiple fronts. Many changes are taking place that are out of my control. As an artist and primary care giver/daddy-mom, I am in shock, pain and force to face many changes that will shift my whole art career that I have built from scratch the last twenty years. This means the loss of my beautiful studio, putting my studio and art life into storage, and to completely rethink and reframe my life as and artist/father. This also means less time for art, due to having to co-parent and juggle more, as well as loss of my home, and 50% time with children. The stress, anxiety and depression are extremely difficult. I’m trying to remain composed and positive.
I need tools and resources for survival. What do you suggest? What are tools and resources for artists going thru divorce? What do other artists do in this situation? What are practical financial, emotional, physical, mental, artistic, and career coping mechanisms? I would appreciate any advice you can offer.
I sent out an S.O.S. on Twitter. A couple of wise people took me up on my plea to help this gentleman.
S.L. Donaldson Wrote In With This Advice
Whatever you do, DON’T let it stop you from creating art. Divorce can completely cripple your creativity, because whether you are the one initiating the divorce, the one being divorced, or even if it’s mutual, divorce is draining in so many ways. It doesn’t matter if it’s amicable or the next World War. It is often tough to find the time, money, or strength. You may have all kinds of feelings welling up inside such as anger and resentment, heck, maybe even joy ;-). Well, it may sound like a no-brainer, but just be sure to channel all that emotion in a productive way. If you are not able to do so out of personal motivation, then make sure to have emotionally and artistically supportive people around you. And I’m not talking about the kind of ‘support’ that implies spending (read “wasting”) time verbally bashing the ex, but rather helps you direct that energy at canvas, paper, or clay.
Betty Ann McKinney sent these 5 Tips for Artists Going Down a Hard Road
Artist can be emotionally sensitive people. When life turns rough they tend to panic and worry about how to handle the stress of the events. Here are a few tips from an artist who has been though divorce and is now a full time caregiver. She also feels that now is the best time of her life, even with the hardships she has lived in.
1. Take care of yourself! You cannot care for your children or parents if you are not caring for yourself first. Healthy diet, regular exercise and a strong support group are needed. Join a singles group at a Church or community center. Twitter with other artist and follow artist you admire on face book or their blog.
2. Use any free services available–like libraries. Your local library can order any books they don’t have on their shelves through interlibrary loan. Check out books on finance management, coping with the loss of a spouse, and at least one book that will make you laugh. Humor and being around other interesting people help fight the demons of depression.
3. Your art is your best asset in trying times. If you do not have a fancy studio, do not give up. Join 85% of the artists in the U.S. who do not have a studio and work where you can. Find a spot to create, maybe a garage, basement, attic, or–like me–a corner in the hallway. But do not stop making art. The act of creating shakes off the pain in your heart. I once made a divorce collage! Use this time to grow personally and creatively.
4. Sign up for a course in any art you have always wanted to learn more about. If you can afford it, take private lessons from an artist you admire–even if it’s only for an hour or two a week. Sadly, one day your parents will be gone and your children will have lives of their own. When this happens, you will look back on these days and be glad you used them wisely.
5. You cannot control the bad things that happen to you. But you can control how you react to them. Do not waste your time wallowing in anger, self-pity, or depression. Fight that battle every day until you win. Your career and your future depends on your victory. The harder you fight, the happier you will be. If you invoke the patience to work through this part of your journey, you will come out on the winning side. Nothing can take away your love for creating, so give it time and your art will be a major contribution to your healing.
Thanks, Stephanie and Betty!
Does anyone else have any resources they can share? Anyone heard of an “Artists dealing with divorce” virtual group?