Seasons of Life and of Art Making

There’s this idea about seasons of life – for example, being a mother to babies and toddlers can feel like it will last forever, and that she’ll never get back to her regular life – and it helps to think of that phase of life as a season. It’s a season of life, and things will change. The next season will come (with its own challenges and joys).

For a while now, I’ve been hearing and reading about artists and writers who work seasonally, as in the seasons of the year, and it’s an idea I’m thinking about embracing as well, in my own art making practice.

I’ll share with you about those artists and writers.

The first is a writer, Sarah Selecky who was interviewed on the Zen Courses show with Janell Allen (the show’s new name is Level Up Your Course). The writer balances her worklife/income/production/marketing by dividing the year. For 6 months of the year, she writes. She goes dark on social media, completely and totally, and only writes her books. The other 6 months of the year, she teaches writing classes online, goes back onto social media and does her marketing work. Find the episode here.

Amazing! How cool to chart her own path and create such an unusual way to get a balance between creative work and work that results in more immediate income.

I can’t remember which season it is that she does her writing, but check out the episode, you’ll enjoy it. The writer is thoughtful and interesting and Janelle is an excellent interviewer. (I can’t find this episode, but I’ve asked Janelle and I’ll update the post with the link to the show.)

Artists Who Divide their Art Practice Seasonally

Artist Lesley Riley is a quilter and textile artist who I’ve followed for years, seeing her work in how-to books and such. More recently, I found her on Instagram and was interested to learn that she only creates her cyanotypes in the summer. I thought, “oh, that’s interesting.” And as I began to work with Solar Fast light-reactive dye and cyanotypes, I began to understand why.

Cyanotypes (Sun-Prints or Photograms) require summer sun, or a UV light box. Leslie works very large and does wet cyanotypes, neither of which work very well with a UV light box. So, she makes lots and lots of cyanotypes all summer, and then uses those prints in her hybrid artworks – cyanotypes plus digital additions, the rest of the year.

Elizabeth Bunsen, or #LakehouseAlchemy, as she tags her work on Instagram, also works with cyanotype. While she hasn’t specifically posted that she works more with cyanotype in the summer, she does seem to spend her summers at her lake house, where she posts lovely pictures of her artwork hanging up to dry outside in the gorgeous summer sun.

This need for cyanotypes and Solar Fast to have the strength of the summer sun is also going to lead me to work seasonally. I started working with Solar Fast (light reactive dye) in the winter, using found objects, purchased dried plants, and my UV light box. I’d bought the UV light box a couple of years ago, tested out Solar Fast, and didn’t get back to it. I’m glad I had the equipment in place so that when this current body of art was ready to come into being, I had all the tools I needed.

This summer, I would like to gather and press plants from my own garden, where I’ve been expanding into growing more and more native plants. I would also like to work larger than my UV light box allows me to. And I’d like to try wet cyanotype, which means I need the sun and to be working outdoors.

Another seasonal aspect to my art making is that I find it hard to get myself to do much quilting or sewing in the summer. (Which means I’d better get to work, finishing some quilting projects before the weather gets nice and it’s time to be out in the garden.)

Instead of fighting that – that desire to be a winter quilter – I’ve decided to embrace it. I do cyanotype and Solar Fast prints outdoors in the summer, and particularly can work larger in the summer. In the winter, I make my quilts. And year-round, I do all the other things – smaller Solar Fast prints, collage work, assemblage sculpture.

Do you work seasonally? Do you know of artists who do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!