"We are not the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes — one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximum freedom to thrive, or fail, in our own chosen way.
- Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life (1989)
I never felt like I was getting enough done in 2018. Nevertheless, when I sat in my studio on November 3rd, waiting for the first Open Studio visitors to arrive, I looked around at the walls, filled with my work. I had made twenty-one pieces of new art in 2018 alone.
Of course, it's hard not to dwell on all the extra art I *could* have made if I had only been more focused, more disciplined, more whatever. However, I need to take into account the fact that I went through three IVF cycles last year. If you're not familiar with the process, it's…a lot. Each cycle involves more than a month of heavy drugs, injections, lots of blood draws and ultrasounds, and minor surgery. Fortunately, my wife and I are science dorks, so it was also really interesting, and that helped us both through it. But I did spend a good chunk of 2018 dealing with medication-induced depression, pain, and, on the last cycle, a fever that lasted nine days. It’s pretty hard to work when you’re sick.
So, I mean, maybe I should feel good about all the art I did make, instead of wondering why I didn't make more.
At the beginning of September, I got pregnant. I've never been pregnant before, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would mean to have a child, and why I wanted to be a parent (which is something I never really anticipated would happen in my life). Now that we live in an age where parenthood is more of a choice than it's ever been, there's a lot more personal responsibility involved. Will I be a good parent? Will having a child really make a positive difference? Should I intentionally bring a new human into a world that is already overpopulated and which could plausibly see the end of our species in the near future? These are very real and very important questions, and I cannot pretend they have universal answers—they don’t.
Nevertheless, everyone has reasons behind the decisions they make. I believe that it is a wonderful blessing just to have the chance to be alive in the world. This has remained true for me no matter how bad things have gotten. I am aware of how fortunate I am to be able to feel this way, and I know very well that there are many, many people in the world for whom life is a largely joyless burden. But I believe that the odds are good that Miki and I will be able to raise a happy, kind, and useful person. And for whatever time we all might have—whatever time our future child might have to be alive—I think it's worth it. I really do.
Since I found out I was pregnant, I haven't been making as much art. I've mostly been writing, reading, and planning. My art career is definitely going to change, and there's a lot of art I want to finish before my delivery. I'll still be making and selling art, and hopefully having some exhibitions. However, I'm planning to be a full-time parent, and I know that I won't be making new art very quickly once I’m a mom.
Here's what I plan to do in the coming months:
1. Finish four more Insect/Flower paintings, in order to have enough art for a solo show. My next task is to find a gallery space for that show. When this happens, I will definitely let all of you know! The originals you've seen already (and which at least one of you has already reserved) will finally be for sale, as well.
2. Finish the symbolic architecture painting I'm currently working on. I don't know if this is going to be a single painting or a series, but I want to see how it ends up.
3. Start a new series so that I already have something going by the time the baby arrives. I think this will make it easier to fit art into my life after she’s born.
4. Put up art for sale on my website. Amazingly, people don't know I still have prints and originals for sale if I don't, you know, actually tell them. Anyway, even though some prints have sold out and about half of my original paintings have also been sold, I still have lots of art for sale! I'm going to make it available for purchase soon, but in the meantime, if you're interested in a piece, feel free to email me about it.
Again, thank you all for being here. It's been an amazing first year of being a full-time artist — much better than I ever expected — and this is mainly because of your interest, kind words, and support. I love getting your emails from all over the country and all over the world, I love knowing that work I made is part of your lives at home or in your workplaces, and I love hearing your thoughts and reactions to my art. I should have several new paintings to share next month.
Happy 2019, everyone!