Hibernation with Low Expectations

“I Carry Your Heart,” Mixed media collage postcard, Molly Larson Cook, 2017
Excerpts from poem by E.E. Cummings

It’s been a month and two days since I’ve posted here, and longer since I’ve actually completed a painting. I’ve been thinking about why that is. There are possibilities – of course. There are always possibilities.

–We bought a house and we moved. Moving takes time and energy. First you find the place, then you pack your stuff and hire a truck. Then you unload it in the new place and start unpacking and finding places to put things. The painting gets set aside. Time. Energy.

–My studio went from a roomy and very light space in an old hotel, to a much smaller and cozier (code for small and dark with a low ceiling) shed near the house. Resettling in a new studio turns out to be as difficult as resettling in a new house, even when you’re happy to have the space so close to home. And I am. But it’s a completely different routine.

–It’s January and cold and gets dark much too early. Artists love the light and that includes me. Gray skies and rain have morphed into foggy, sunny “Maine” days with near freezing temperatures that drain my energy even though my little studio is heated and has work lights.

–Then there was the desire to start thinking of a garden now that I have the space. So, I spent time poring over books and articles about gardens. This is not entirely a segue from the painting. Before I was a painter, I was a floral designer, trained by the best. It turns out that most wonderful floral designers went to art school and not florist school. And I had a garden design company. Much of my life has been about plants and flowers.

Full disclosure: When I was a young college student, I fell for Botany and wanted to make it my major. This was back in the day when professors really said such things: “Girls don’t do science.” So I became a journalist and writer instead.

Art came a little later. But the love of the plants never ended.

So instead of painting on these chilly days, I’ve been busy inside potting up seeds, building myself a small indoor greenhouse, going over those lists and dreaming of the garden I have not had space for in many years.

I did finally gesso up a canvas and have a painting in progress, and I believe I’ll get back to the canvasses when things warm up a little. This makes me laugh, because when I was a first year student at Maine College of Art, we worked in an unheated building in January and had to wear gloves. We ate the hot, homemade soup the blessed faculty brought to us. In the intervening years, I seem to have lost the cold weather mojo!

At the moment, settling into a new house, learning my way to new places, getting used to a new routine combined with the urge to hibernate in the cold weather combined with the desire to do more than look at seed catalogs have added up to no new work.

It’s not an equation I expected, but as one so-far unnamed person posted elsewhere about expectations:

“The key to happiness is low expectations.
Even lower.
There you go.”

February will be grand!

8 thoughts on “Hibernation with Low Expectations

  1. After watching you with yours, I was inspired. Michael enjoys doing things for our own place after working on everybody else’s for years. Gratifying, yes? And I get to play in the dirt! Later, in the paint!

  2. Thank you…The I Ching has been on my mind these winter days. The ancient wisdom has seen me through much before now and I trust that will continue.

  3. You are right, Lesley…And I’m giving myself time with the art. Labors of love require time…

  4. I’ll try to live down to that goal. I feel many things I could do, but the cold keeps me inside. (Even though when I go out it’s not really that cold.) I’m about to finish three books, and the light and warmth are returning, so I think I’ll be raising my expectations soon.

  5. These things are part of your new adventure; about change, absorbing, adapting, accepting, finding your way. You’ve done this before. It’s all good. The Art will come…

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