When Germany Calls

This blog has been sitting idle again simply because I have not.  Since my last post, I have been continuously engaged in commissions, and while I look forward to taking on new custom work in September, I am currently on a bit of a self-imposed break.  Being successfully self-employed requires knowing when to rest just as much as it requires motivation to work, and being a successful artist, as my former professor Dr. Meister used to tell me, requires regular creative play.  For me, that means painting whatever I feel like painting without pressure or deadlines and indulging in my love of textiles by knitting with the exquisitely handpainted yarns I have a tendency to collect.

My last vacation took me to Rome in 2013 and my last trip to Germany was even farther back, in 2008, but after I met my boyfriend Florian (who lives in Germany) last fall, it soon became clear that traveling was on the horizon again, and that I probably should not have waited so many years to take enough time off to enjoy a change of scenery.  I am currently writing this post from a pleasant small village in Bavaria, with a steady breeze wafting through the kitchen window and the dramatic clouds threatening rain over the Alps beyond.  I arrived here at the end of June and will remain here until the beginning of September.

We have been doing a bit of traveling around the area (a trip to Salzburg, Austria inspired the painting above), but after the first two weeks here, Florian had to go back to work, and we can only travel on weekends (we took a wonderful trip this past weekend to see old friends of mine in Dresden).  On these trips, I wind up taking hundreds of reference photos and imagining a million different ways to paint the things I see.  During the week now, I find myself with 7-10 hour stretches of alone time, with no real responsibilities, in a village where the only "distractions" are the pervasive green of the rolling grasses, the startling yellow of the sunflowers, and the ever-shifting clouds over the mountains.  This is probably for the best, because it gives me time to process all the things I have seen and try to put them on canvas while they are still fresh on my mind.  I spend my days painting, taking pictures of the scenery, writing in my journal, sitting on the balcony, or visiting the chickens and goats at a nearby farm.  I could take the bus into the larger neighboring town and probably will at some point, but I am currently too intrigued by the utter tranquility of a life of solitary meditations (and read Thoreau far too often as a teenager) to venture back into the rest of the world just yet.

When you strip away your daily job, your daily nuisances and distractions, the hangouts where you while away your hours, the constant buzz of life in a larger town where novelty has swept the imaginations of most of the inhabitants, where hype and events and new businesses and developments are constantly fighting for your attention, you have an unusual opportunity to look at yourself and your place in the world, and ask yourself if you really follow your priorities or not.  You ask yourself what you really care about.  How you would really like to spend your limited time on this Earth.  With little to no schedule and nobody holding you accountable, you ultimately have only yourself to depend on for a fulfilling day, and your work has to be its own reward.  In reality, this is always true, but we humans cloak ourselves in a lot of illusions and excuses whenever we get the chance.

And the burden of freedom and choice, for someone who has grown accustomed to habit and not having free time and allowing the the external world to lead one around, is simultaneously dazzling and daunting.  It forces the soul to let go of frustrations and delusions, to muster the strength to go forward in a more deliberate way than before.

In the coming weeks, I think it would be interesting to learn more about how artists live and work here in Germany, revisit a couple of the museums I enjoyed so greatly back in 2008, and look into some of the opportunities I might have to show or sell my work here. . . the downside of lots of free time alone is that laziness has a way of setting in and I really do enjoy giving myself goals. . . but for now, I will relish the opportunity to stop and look around for a while, to make sure those goals will be fulfilling ones before diving in.

If you like the work you have seen in this post or on Facebook or Instagram recently, feel free to inquire about prints or originals.  I will be offering two of my favorite pieces as limited edition prints when I return in September. . . for the details and to pre-order, please visit this Etsy link.

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