Recently a fellow artist friend gave me the May '11 issue of Art in America to share an article on parallel practices called, "Artists in a Parallel Universe." In it, a panel of artists were asked (in February at the College Art Association conference) to discuss their non-art related activities when they aren't making art, those that feed their art practices. One of the artists, Vija Celmins, turns to gardening and calls herself an "avid weed-puller." While reading this I thought, hey I do that too, I pull weeds as a respite from studio work. However, this summer rather than being in a dry spell as the article addressed, I am thankfully making art. Perhaps I find pulling weeds to be even more informative during this busy time. It is a practice in which I don't have to make decisions. I know what stays in the ground and what goes into the compost, there's no second-guessing. With weeding there is a set task to do, and once it is done something has been accomplished. This is a great encouragement when minute and large artistic decisions leave my mind feeling like soup.
From this parallel practice I also bring back to the studio the recognition that having a drawing going at all times is vital for me. The above drawing is one I am working on this summer. On the table it waits, so I add a group of lines first thing of a morning or paint on at the end of the day. A little bit at a time. Not all at once. Like weeding, one plot at a time.