What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? That’s a question Mary Oliver poses in her wonderful poem “The Summer Day.” Even in the depths of winter, I often turn to that question for insight. I find it especially resonant as it relates to art and that sticky thing called “time management”.
Should I work on the tattoo, the bugs, the book dummy, the instruments, or the wine label today? It’s a wonderful conundrum to have on a cloudy December morning. Today is Wednesday – my one wild and precious day devoted exclusively to art-making. It means for the next eight hours, I will get to work furiously on whatever creative project interests me most. It also means that at the end of the day, I will have to clean up my mess (ha!), shut my studio door, and put art-making on hold until this time next week. As a result, I’ve noticed an ever-widening gap between my ambitions in art and that tight square on my calendar that hems them in.
At this pace, a project that should only take four days gets spread out over a month. It reminds me of something I recently learned about banana slugs – one of the Northwest’s amazing native mollusks. (The banana slug, it’s worth noting, is bright yellow, can weigh a quarter pound, and has mind-blowing mating rituals.) It’s also been observed that banana slugs travel through old growth forests in big, slimy circuits. That means the same slug has been seen sliding across the same patch of moss at the same time each week.
Well, sometimes I feel like my artistic journey mirrors the path of a banana slug: We’re both crawling along sluggishly only to arrive at exactly same spot each week. Only, I’m not hermaphroditic.
So, like the banana slug, here I am at the end of this entry back at the same question I started with: What to do with my one wild and precious day of art-making? Should I try oil pastels, a medium I’ve been hungering to dabble in? Should I finish up the book dummy and research publishers? Should I start sketching out designs for the tattoo and wine label I’ve agreed to do? I’m not sure, but I better get the slime rolling and get on my way…
Visiting Susan Bennerstrom's studio in Bellingham over Thanksgiving