I am an artist. From the months of September through mid-June, I am a Humanities teacher and apply all my creative juices in helping students to get excited about what they are learning and to feel empowered about making constructive change in themselves and in society. I don’t stop making art during the school year, but my focus is constantly interrupted.
In the summer months I can concentrate on my own art, apply all my creative juices to my own work. I can indulge myself by being able to follow every imaginative idea and creative lead. I can stay up as late as I wish to follow through on a project and not have to worry whether I will have the energy to teach classes the next day. I can wake up in the middle of the night if I want to get going on an idea I’m excited about. I can eat at any time, no need to have to stick to any prescribed schedule. I can run out on the spur of the moment to get supplies and materials I may need to carry a vision to completion.
Today I was printing a block I had cut earlier in the week. When I heard the nap of the roller, I sighed. By listening carefully to the nap, you can tell if there is too little or too much ink on the roller. This ability to determine the amount of ink simply by sound comes from making lots of prints. It felt good to be reminded I possessed this aural skill.
Smelling the oil-based ink made me smile. I was reminded of growing up, where the smell of home was not bread baking or a pot roast cooking. Because my father was a sign painter and worked a lot at home, the smells of turpentine and show-card paint evoke those old family memories.
It’s great to be back in the luxurious making of art without deadlines or expectations. (Well, actually, I probably do have a few expectations.) It’s one of summer’s gifts to listen to the sound of the nap, smell the ink, and let my imagination run.