For the final Someday Interview in its current format, we have an interviewee that I’ve been pursuing for months. Janice Cartier, an artist from the Garden District of New Orleans displaced and dealing with what happens when life as you know it explodes, who also paints breathtaking images with words, wasn’t sure at first she could do the interview. I nagged, cajoled and begged. Finally she gave but said:
“But Alex… I may not have answers, I am still in process.”
“That’s fine Jan, we’ll do it in November. Creativity, I‘m focusing on creativity then.”
“Creativity?” she smiled quietly, “Yes, I can do that. “
And then she thought:
Somedays? Hm…That’s a bit tougher story… And it was.
Before we get into the interview itself let’s take a deeper look at Janice’s process because what Janice went through coming up with the answers to this interview exemplifies exactly why I run Someday Syndrome.
The lesson is sometimes the doing of something very difficult to do. The interview was at 7,000. It took me all day yesterday and the day before to get it to 3,000. Editing and writing hell. And today to get it to 2000.
I had to work, break, work, unkink, work, curse, work, check word count, all day long. And stay with it to the exclusion of all else. Because somewhere in the doing of this, with your template, with your questions, and artistic creative process, that intersection… somewhere in that was a problem for me… and a key. A clue. A knot to unravel.
And I had to find out what on earth it is. It’s a simple interview for goodness sake… I think I found it, and it was more than one thing really. Honestly, I am laughing a bit and shaking my head and unkinking my shoulders with a discovery I just made and a decision… to ask you to read it and help with the editing, help with the polishing, so it comes out in the sincere and helpful way it is intended, and carries the value of context as well. Helps your audience with their creativity.
Taking the overwhelming amount of information and choices we have available to us and narrowing it all down to the essential and the precious. That’s what Someday Syndrome helps people do. It’s a process, it’s a struggle and it’s monumentally rewarding journey.
Thank you, Jan, for being such an amazing person and painting us a beautiful picture for the final Someday Syndrome Interview.
Name one moment in your life when you threw a pity party for yourself and the reasons why you felt you weren’t able to achieve your goals. Were you feeling stuck? Had you felt you failed? What wasn’t working in your life?
I came across a note to myself, while working at my desk the other morning, in my active projects notebook: “Deer Tracks” collage. It’s a comprehensive, exciting plan for a different kind of piece. It has some names, some influences, written on it, ink drawings, and ideas for the piece…it’s the kind of thing all artists have around…our conceptualizing bits of this and that. I thought I had made this plan last spring. It’s tied to the current work, the huge “Deer Tracks Nearby” monumental watercolor, but the ooh-ahh notes I made are from four years ago: August 3, 2005.
Seeing the date brought tears and I looked again at the second name on the plan. Passed my fingers tips over it. Felt the sheer eagerness and risk taking ambition of what I had written. The zeal of new, fresh, adventurous work. For a moment I was right there again. I saw his face. Felt his presence. In that moment, in that space. In that bloom of new thought, new ways to work, new direction forward, and working anywhere near or with John T. Scott some more… I remember planning to do whatever it took to do that.
But John is dead. There will be no working with John. And this project? A few weeks after my pen made those marks, Katrina hit. Pillars in my life fell in that storm, or shortly after. And in second waves. One close friend after another… work, personal life…public… collectors…colleagues…loved ones… opportunities…It stuns me even now. Even my source material, the land I paint, became inaccessible to me.
So the tears come. But I only let them flow for awhile. I miss them. These marvelous people. This incredible place and my relationship with the coast. The rich ties to community. Walking my brick paved sidewalk. Moments big and small. Yep. Pity party material alright.
Even our worst behaviors fulfill a need in us or express our desires. When you threw yourself that pity party, what did you hope to gain? What need did you fulfill?
Becoming masters at process is invaluable for artists. Things occur again and again until we deal with it. If we are resisting something, or emotional about it, there’s probably a decent reason why. It’s the same in studio process. If you can’t solve what you are after one way, take a look, experiment a bit until you come to another aha moment. Ask questions of the stumbling point. That’s how you break through.
Tell us what you did to break up the pity part. What actions did you decide to take? Did someone help you buoy your spirits? Push you along?
I acknowledge that things are more than a little out of whack. That’s reasonable. Some people know that I was right there, right in the eye of the storm in that “sliver by the river” when the storm hit. What people may not know is that where the heart of my painting comes from is exactly where that storm made landfall near the Pearl River. Every facet of my life was disassembled, tumbled and tossed. I lost a disproportionate amount of people I am close to in such a short period of time. But I made a decision some time ago not to just survive. I want my whole creative self intact. So I work everyday toward that.
The most important question any artist can ever ask or answer about that is this:
“Did you show up?” Seriously, not one single thing creative thing can happen good, bad, or indifferent if you don’t show up, fully present, and give it your best shot on that day in that moment in that space with what you have at the time.
I have a few extreme encouragers to help get me through, or to laugh with when I need a laugh. And I have some fabulous ghosts, the spirits of some fantastic people right here in my heart.
But I want new whole experiences, too. So that, being able to go out there fully and take it all in again. That’s a powerful incentive. So when it is important enough and you know why it is, you choose it. You show up there.
Can you look back on that moment and tell us how you felt when you did decide to take action? What results came about from your decision to take charge and move on?
Boots and saddles moments. Get in the boat, jump on the Jet Ranger kinds of now we talking…moments. Love them.
We are sensitive souls after all. What makes us creative and richly engaged in the studio is the very thing that makes us vulnerable outside of it. It’s a matter of finding balance. Of letting some things go and acting on others. I love that moment of powerful intent, acting on it. Prepping for it too. What’s happens now after the storm sometimes is I will jump right in, know it’s fantastic full speed ahead, and hit a wall I did not know was there when I set out. Ouch. So it takes figuring out where the fault lines are sometimes and overcoming them.
It feels great to overcome those. I can tell a huge difference from even a year ago. An exciting tickle, the tingle of just being in it, just being there, in that place that is so you. Your creative self at play is one of the best parts of self. My creative self keeps leading me back to me. Into those boots and saddles moments.
Like returning to “Deer Tracks Nearby”. That is a huge and wonderful thing for me to be doing. Right at the center of my heart. It is a challenge, but it feels…scrumptious, in spite of what I have to do to do it.
Everyone has a Someday problem hiding deep inside, even little ones. What variety of the Someday Syndrome do you currently harbor? What would you like to achieve but haven’t yet?
Hm, good question. I need constant updating to see, is this or that true now? Can I do this now? What do I dare wish for now? Things like that.
Examining your Someday Syndrome problem, what are you currently doing to resolve it and eliminate it from your life?
I am trying to shorten steps. Get back to the level I need to be at to actually exceed it. Complete work. Find new distribution, new clients. It isn’t easy. Everything is tinged with a poignancy that I have yet to find a way around or over, so through seems to be the path. And of course the economy is what it is, not to mention the gate keeping landscape in flux. But I am looking for ways to leapfrog some steps and not lose any quality or richness. Make sure that I let go of anything that creates an obstacle that doesn’t have to be there.
Many people suffer the same problems you do. You’re not alone, and neither are they. What would you tell people in your situation right now to help them avoid what you’re going through?
Avoid it? I don’t know of a way to avoid the kinds of things that just happen in life. If you notice I am not on a coast at the moment, not because I wouldn’t like to be, I would, but I have to settle some health issues, find some way to decrease sensitivities to mold and environmental things like that. Irony, huh? And I have to face that I may not get to ever really go back.
I never expected ever to have to do so much so all at once. Devastation is truly a real thing for me. 90, 000 square miles inside and out…everything I touched… Takes a little time. So give yourself time. Protect that inner self. It’s where the creation comes from. Not the surface. Not the circumstances. Make some peace with being in process. And that that is very much okay.
Transitions by nature are uncomfortable. They are those places in between, but they can also hold riches, discoveries, things that help us get to the other side. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We all need it.
If you could ask for one thing, right now, to help you overcome your Someday Syndrome, what type of help would you ask for?
Technical help. Referrals. Cash.
Actually, it helps to have another perspective to shorten steps, or to hold your hand, a soft place to land, help to stop the nightmares or the stupid fears. I mean it’s silly, I would jump into a helicopter and hang out over a barrier island in a second but updating my WordPress site terrorizes me, presenting my portfolio to one more glazed over gallery owner wears me out and trying to compare myself on paper to others seems absurd, irrelevant to me. Resumes seem…not to cover it.
I want ways to shorten those steps or throw the book out. I passed a line of experiences some time ago that just makes it very hard for me to conform. Just let me get to the creating part. Just let me find home again, or maybe just let me have the ability to roam.
Help me sell my work, or consult on any and all things creative. I am very good at that.