Realizing that I was spending at least 80% of my time on admin work was a big deal. And while I've made efforts to correct that, I'm still not quite at the point where I feel 'caught up' to the things I want to have done that would allow me to fully pour into my artwork without distraction.
But I have gotten a lot done, and a lot of my long term plans and priorities have shifted and taken form in just these last three months.
We got through two of the biggest conventions of the year this spring; my extensive efforts at improving our convention presentation paid off with record sales at Texas Furry Fiesta and Biggest Little Fur Con. We still have a long way to go to have any solid sense of financial security, but it's wonderful not having to worry about meeting rent or bills or grocery expenses between conventions.
We've also been debuting a much-updated version of Jonathan's old Fursonas: Types and Stereotypes talk, which was very well received at BLFC! The room was at capacity, but here's the portion of the crowd that stayed for more than an hour afterward to participate in the enthusiastic Q & A.
I've also been slowly finishing up the last of my commissions. As time becomes a more and more valuable resource, I find myself wondering how limited my offerings for commissions will be in the future. I greatly enjoy working with my clients, and getting to collaborate towards their ideas, but I have more paintings I want to do for myself than time to do them in. I'll likely wind up narrowing them down to pieces which feel like they could already be a personal painting based on the content and intention of the work.
Delivering this oil painting commission did lead us on a great adventure, though! We drove up to Colorado for a couple of days for a long overdue visit to a number of friends in the area.
Outside of all this travel, cons, and continuing to wrap up paintings, I've had a couple additional things I've been devoting time to.
We've started doing camping trips to the local mountains every few weeks or so with some close friends, something we've been meaning to do since we moved here last year. Since this has been Jonathan's first time camping as an adult, he had an awful night of sleep the first time-- but chose to turn that struggle into determination to adapt and improve.
While camping offers a great experience to actually have a day or so that's truly away from work or household stuff (even our 'days off' tend to be filled with admin work and food prep), it's also something which feels fundamental to our future. The past months have seen me more worried than ever about the state of the environmental crisis, and thus the shape our lives will take as a result. As dramatic as it sounds, equipping ourselves with some basic survival skills-- the sort of practical things that used to be commonplace-- seems crucial.
That leaves me with a lot to consider about what should take priority in our lifetimes, which may be shorter than we would have hoped. How do I create work that matters, that uplifts people, brings them peace, or moves them forward? How do I decide the balance between continuing to fight to reduce the total damage, versus thinking of our time as hospice, when it feels we have so little power to change things?
I know that I want to do the most that I can, but in a way that keeps me from burning out completely. In that direction, I'm trying to build towards a future where I'm not completely at the mercy of how the country changes in the next 10-20 years. While we're aiming to eliminate our non-medical single use plastics from our household by the end of the year, we're also hoping to approach a decent degree of self-sustainability in 10-12 years, working in conjunction with close friends to build community and share resources.
This past year, I started learning to grow my own food, and just this past week was able to finish up a long row of garden beds to get a few dozen vegetable plants in the ground, with great help from friend Shal who has been staying with us.
I've put a huge amount of work into developing several garden beds in our small yard, which has been rewarding, but also time consuming. Part of me wants to apologize for investing so much time in that labor that could have gone towards art, but it still feels like work I'm glad to have done. It's a huge emotional reward for me in the present to appreciate the space I've created, while also important to our long-term goals.
But now that most of that work is complete, I have many hours freed up to devote back to painting. We're leaving home yet again in just one week, this time for Anthrocon-- but as soon as we get back, my top priority for July will be wrapping up two Liminal Forms paintings to have ready for Gencon. The summer busy season is about to hit, but I'm feeling ready for the challenge that lies ahead. I have a lot that I want to prove to myself about my own capabilities in the coming months.