What to do when LIFE happens

I enjoy reading the blogs of many artists. Sometimes a long time goes by without an entry, and I’m left wondering…what happened? It is possible that they just simply weren’t inspired, but probably something happened that was not related to their art at all. Life simply got in the way.

This happened in my studio. Life milestones for one child, and serious medical issues for another combined to render me unable to create this summer. I had started a print in early June for the Bloomington Open Studios Tour, which then hung unfinished — and mocked me — for two months. When I finally decided to finish it, I felt that the early layers of ink were just too light. So I flipped the block over and used the MDF surface to print a bright layer of yellow over the pale yellows, oranges and greens. Then I proceeded with more layers of bright color and a series of purples. Here’s the resulting print:


Elizabeth Busey. Drifts of Plenitude. Linoleum Reduction Print.
Edition of 17, 17 x 25in image size.

The image was inspired by the Palouse area of southeast Washington State where ancient floods temporarily pooled, and the resulting settled sediment was blown into fertile dunes of loess. Unlike most topography, this area was not formed by rivers and streams, so there are no continuous valleys or long ridges. Wheat, barley, peas, lentils and rapeseed (for Canola oil) are grown in abundance.

During my sabbatical, I also neglected to post another print that I created when I was a visiting artist at the Indiana State Museum. During my two week stay, I carved three narrow blocks while chatting with school groups and children visiting with their parents. The image is inspired by the behavior of the eastern fork of the White River just south of Indianapolis. I would take the blocks home and print them, bringing back the print-in-progress the next day.


Elizabeth Busey. Meandering’s Largesse. Linoleum Reduction Print.
Edition of 14, 17.5 x 23in image size.

One of the most challenging parts of this summer was not allowing my artistic fires to go out completely. I borrowed numerous books from the public and Fine Arts libraries, and had fun painting watercolors on old black and white topo maps. But it was difficult.

What do you do when life interrupts your artistic practice?

P.S. For those of you in the Midwest, you can see these prints in person at the Fourth Street Festival of the Arts and Crafts in Bloomington IN on Labor Day weekend. Saturday, August 30th from 10 – 6, and Sunday, August 31st from 10 – 5.

4 Replies to “What to do when LIFE happens”

  1. I can relate completely Elizabeth. I'm here, waiting for my son to recuperate from Surgery, packing up a house and trying to decide what to do with my blocks, paper, press…….family, health, financial, marital issues all competing with what is after all as I'm regularly reminded, "just a hobby"…….Great print by-the-way. In whatever fashion I do hope you get back in the studio. I'm a fan of your work.

  2. Andrew,
    I hope that your son't recovery is a smooth one. I have found that it is so much more difficult to deal with medical issues for my children — much more stress & worry, feeling like I have no control…I wish I was the kind of person who could make art out of the midst of this, but I'm not.
    Plus you have the added challenge of moving your creative life from continent to continent!
    I've challenged myself to spend some time on Monday searching for the muse, and also getting back to my blog feed to see what people (like you!) have been doing.
    I wish you safe travels…

  3. Elizabeth,

    Your post went straight to my heart. Yes, life happens and I, like you, find it difficult to work when I'm juggling issues with big emotional resonance and the myriad things of every day. I always think back to your post on "who does she think she is" but clearly, from Andrew's comment above, lack of time to devote to this work is not restricted to only women.

    I sincerely hope that whatever the serious medical issues were, they are now behind you. So good to see your work. All the best to you.

  4. Hi Katka,
    Things seemed to have resolved themselves, and for that I'm grateful. I'm amazed at how exhausting life can be, and how hard it is to feel the artistic juices flowing. I'm spending the week exploring what I can do with prints that just didn't work out. Maybe they were early work, or slightly misaligned. I have an exhibit opportunity in November in our City Hall, and I'm toying with an exhibit of altered prints with a working title "Fighting Against the Tyranny of the White Border." Or something like that 🙂
    Hope that the muse visits you and blesses you with both inspiration and actual time to create. Peace.

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