Yesterday was Art Therapy Day in Thessalon. There were only three of us – the hard-core three, Rhea, Pauline and me. So what did we do?
We did what we always do: we drank coffee and ate yummy food, but mostly we played at art – and playing at art is serious and delightful work. I put together my archive book from 2011, which I’d been putting off for about two years. The cover is a Tibetan woodblock print of a dragon from a calendar I bought in the early eighties in Toronto. After that I got out the pop-ups again, because I want to learn some new techniques.
Couldn’t I learn those techniques on my own at home? Yes, I suppose I could. Having spent most of my artistic life needing to pay the bills with art, I lost the knack of playing around, being patient with myself, screwing up pieces and starting over without getting annoyed. Art Therapy isn’t about production. It’s about doing art. If you don’t get done, if you don’t produce anything, so what?
That’s a lesson I need reinforced every now and again. “They” say that women are process-oriented and men are goal-oriented. Well, I’m here to tell you that hunger is likely to make you goal-oriented, no matter your plumbing, and that’s what I’ve been for decades.
At the latest writing binge another writer said to me, “It’s not about the word-count!” Yeah, I know that, but I set a word-count as a goal, especially in the compressed and deadline-rich world of the binge. You know what I say, right? I don’t need time; what I need is a deadline. (Duke Ellington said it first!)
But I’m also thinking, especially as I’m going back to a job in a couple of weeks, that I need to regard my writing as play in the same way that I see Art Therapy as play. Maybe I’m doing that already in a way – after all, I wasn’t in the least annoyed about finding out that 30,000 words of “Here be Dragons” was backstory.
Art Therapy Day refreshes my spirit, fuels my creativity and makes me laugh. I’m so glad we decided to do it, and that we’ve kept it up. Coffee, chocolate, good friends and art – what more do you need?