Things have been slow and quiet in the studio this last year. Moving across the country for the second time in three years (plus a cross country road trip only a month after our move) really did a number on just about everything in our lives.
We lost two of our pets over the holidays and then gained a new furry family member which required a lot of time spent grieving, healing, and adapting to life with a puppy again.
Our first big foray into a more intensive homeschool year kicked off in the fall and it has been a blast, but obviously takes a great deal of time and focus. I won't change it for anything, but I became keenly aware of what kinds of boundaries I needed to set in terms of my work load.
I spent nearly all of 2017 and 2018 working on other people's ideas, which don't get me wrong, I love doing, but after a time I realized I wasn't creating the work I wanted to explore anymore. Major projects and a backlog of commissions had piled high on my desk and I was overwhelmed by all of it.
2018 leading into 2019 was, for lack of any better words, chaotic. A lot of good mixed with a lot of rushing, heartbreak, upheaval and general craziness. Needless to say I've been feeling burned out and unmotivated. This website, my studio and my art practice languished on the sidelines while I rebalanced. I don't regret a second of it.
Things began to change, slowly, but surely. Those major projects I had spent so much time and energy on sold out and went out of print and are beyond my control for bringing back to the world which keeps asking me about them. (Sorry guys, per contract agreement with my co-creators I am not in charge of reprints.) Despite my sadness over their ending I felt more free than I had in a long time.
Commissions were completed and made their way to their homes and my heart was warmed by all the kindness of my clients.
My family and I came into a routine in which I finally felt at peace and unrushed as we began to settle into our new home completely.
We hit our groove and still I struggled to step foot in my studio. I have had numerous project offers but I couldn't bring myself to say yes to most of them and began to ask myself why?
The world we live in likes to tell us that we must always be busy. We must always go, go, go, produce, share, find followers, make products people want, etc. It asks you what is the point of doing anything unless you do it well enough to share it? And it reminds you that you'd better take a damn beautiful picture of it or it was all for nought.
It doesn't tell you to soak up the days with family. It doesn't tell you to create just for the sake of creating. It doesn't smile fondly on spending time to simply play and explore. It doesn't tell you how refreshing spending a month doing nothing extra other than reading books can be. It tries to make you forget how quickly your children grow up before your eyes. It tries to hide the importance of rest. It constantly tries to shout at you all the different ways you could be, all the different things you could do; it tries to make you forget your own inner voice.
So instead of paying all this outside noise any mind I decided to ignored it all. I slipped quietly into my day to day, barely poking my head above the surface except to answer a message or an email, and I spent a lot of time thinking on where I wanted to go from here. And over the last year I found my answer.
I want to focus on my own body of work and my own projects. I will still take on commissions in small quantities seasonally, however I want the majority of my studio time spent on my own work and visions. I am also moving away from those projects of the past few years, that work will slowly come down over the next few months to make room for new ideas and artwork.
The chaotic nature of the last year or two simply left me feeling spent and drained and for the longest time I didn't recognize it was largely due to my ignoring my own voice and ideas. Whenever I had a project I felt guilty for any number of reasons whenever I wasn't working on it. If I picked up my sketchbook to doodle for myself, guilt. If I was spending time with my family, guilt. If I was sick, guilt.
And then when I was pouring my all into the projects I also experienced guilt. Guilt that I wasn't spending that time on my personal work that incessantly buzzed around the back of my mind. Guilt that I was spending hours pouring over projects that all too quickly were beyond my control to share anymore. Guilt that I had no time for my family. It piled on higher and higher until I was staggering around wondering what in the world was wrong with me.
This life is short and I want to spend it exploring my world as deeply as possible and creating work that stirs my soul. There is too much to be in awe of every single day, I can no longer justify spending one second worried about those things that are really not of importance.
I don't care how many likes I get. I care that I created something that moved me and I hope that it speaks to others in some way. I don't care if I bring in a little less by not taking on too many projects. I care that I am able to be present in my own life. I worry less about creating the work that other people want to see me create. I care that I am able to create something I see as important or beautiful, something that makes my heart sing. I don't care if I'm not constantly pouring over my work desk. I care that I am experiencing my life and this world to the fullest extent, because all too quickly we all arrive at the end and I want to look back fondly at the life I built alongside my family.
In the next couple of months I will be spending my time working through my ideas for new work and projects and sharing my processes and behind the scenes shots and I hope that you might join me for the ride. You can always find my at my Instagram account if you want to follow along: @brittburkard
PS: I want to note that I know I am privileged in my ability to make any of these choices. We struggle with our own day to day battles, a lot that I never share outside my closest friends, but I also recognize that many have struggles more intense than I will ever know. I know I am privileged to have the opportunity to be at home with my children and to work in a career that I love deeply. But I also know that I hit my limit and I need to draw my boundaries. I want to do the work that allows others to find beauty, hope and inspiration in their own lives.