As weeks have turned into months and drawn all of us into the new COVID-19 “normal”, I find myself thinking back to the beginning of the “stay at home” order and the concerns expressed for our safety that seemed to increase almost daily. Things changed so dramatically and abruptly; it was disturbing. But just as quickly, the feelings of panic and frustration that all of us felt initially slowly morphed into a quieter, less frantic, and more reflective life in the Hosier household.
My husband, Paul and I are avid travelers, but serious yard work and home “fixit” projects—all long overdue—replaced our immediate travel plans once the epidemic began to spread. We both enjoy cooking, but in recent years we had subsisted on simple, quick meals, dining in restaurants, or eating whatever we could find in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Now, a major part of our new “normal” revolves around meal planning, grocery shopping (our big outings) and cooking, grilling, and baking. Once again, we enthusiastically experiment with new recipes, new foods, and new cooking techniques.
Although we miss the company of our friends and family, we have learned how to join them virtually or from a safe social distance (no hugs and kisses!); Zoom and Facetime are now as familiar as Facebook, instant messaging and email. I engage in church activities and services through Zoom and YouTube. Today, my life is less complicated and less hurried. I have accepted this situation and use my new-found time for reflection on my life; I seek out and appreciate many little pleasures I once spurned.
I feel fortunate to be an artist and, upon reflection, especially during this time. I hear others talking about feeling isolated and of their frustration with staying home, but these are not my thoughts. As artists, we sometimes crave isolation and relish time away from people and everyday events to focus on and nurture our artistic soul. COVID-19 has imposed on me an isolation that I personally cherish. My life, at least temporarily, is decluttered; I have more time to nurture my creative spirit. With every cancelled show or reception (and I do miss them terribly), I seize the opportunity to experiment with a new technique or medium and personal time when I am not focused of creating a particular piece or body of work. Currently I am exploring papier mâché incorporating it with encaustics. I take time to read art books and articles; watch videos exploring art techniques new to me; and review the artwork of others online. It has been a good time for my art!
I have played “musical studio spaces” during the past several months. When ACME Art Studios closed their doors temporarily and I could not go to my studio, I had to create a new one in my home. I took over part of the garage (husband says a “large part). Once I set up for work, I thoroughly enjoyed painting during many spring days with the garage doors thrown open allowing a gentle, refreshing wind on my face and my art work or experiencing a rumbling thunderstorm snug in a warm protected spot. I realize that I may never have this opportunity again. Right now, I am spending time in my other studio in Weaverville (near Asheville) where I grew up. Because I can’t have every art supply in each studio, I try to focus on a particular medium in each studio. One of the many joys in Weaverville is that a great art supply store is just a few miles away. They know me by name there!
As the pandemic continues, I occasionally find that I am fatigued by the separation from family and friends. I long to hug my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. I dream about the trip to Italy we were planning to take this summer. I miss being at ACME Art Studios with all its artistic vibes and miss the other artists with studios there. I miss Fourth Fridays and the crowds of art lovers who wander through Wilmington’s downtown galleries. I miss the students in my art classes at Cameron Art Museum. But, most importantly, I remember how very blessed I am. All it takes to pull me out of the doldrums is to step into my studio and rummage around my art “stuff.” This simple act transforms me. I know this “stay at home” situation will not last forever. But for now, I plan to enjoy today for all it brings to me.