Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Make the Summer Last

© PublicDomainPhotos / Dreamstime.com

Today is the last day of summer and I'm not very happy about it. Don't get me wrong, I love the fall and its "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," but this year I just can't seem to make the leap into duvets and cocoa. I want to make the summer last forever; phrases like "endless summer" sound perfect to my ears.
I wasn't always so eager to stay in summer mode or to keep wearing my standard summer wardrobe of shorts, T-shirts, and sandals for months on end. I used to genuinely look forward to watching the stores fill with fuzzy sweaters, coats, scarves and gloves while I wished the weather would hurry up and change so I could wear all those cozy items. One thing that I especially used to enjoy was the whole "back to school" vibe, but with online learning and nobody really in the classroom, I can't get excited about buying notebooks, pens, or art supplies. Even if the prices are crazy low (notebooks for 25 cents!) I find myself walking past the well-stocked shelves and thinking, nah, I don't need anything new.

My reluctance to leave summer probably has a lot to do with the fact that my every single waking summer moment seemed to be completely dedicated to work, both at my day job as well as with my creative life. Being consumed with work and productivity without the opportunity for much diversion meant I missed out on summer fun: no real vacation time, no trips out of town or overseas, no break in routine. Yes, I got a lot done, but, hey, I want to go to Paris!

These last few days have found me trying to make up for lost time with as much R&R as possible. Oddly enough, I subsequently discovered that I could be just as productive, maybe even more so, if I did give myself a break, such as:

  • Sitting on my balcony, staring at nothing, doodling in my watercolor sketchbooks: squirrels, goldfish, trees and leaves. The feeling that I didn't have to do this only made me want to do more of the same. Consequently I filled up an entire sketchbook in a couple of weekends.
  • Reading. Reading inspired me to jot down several new story ideas I wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't taken the time to, once again, sit on my balcony and dive into a stack of new books feeling wonderfully "lazy."
  • Going through old magazines at a leisurely and quiet pace has given me a huge, fresh supply of magazine cut-outs, suitable for both art and writing references.
  • Experimenting with a variety of gel, fountain, and brush pens encouraged me to freewrite several unexpected poems, snippets of dialogue, and scene descriptions I had no idea were out there waiting for me.
  • Walking for at least an hour in between writing, reading, and painting and with no destination in mind has given me time to think, ponder, plan, and regroup. Rather than wearing myself out, I became totally re-energized.
  • Restaurants. Because we hadn't taken any kind of holiday, my husband and I decided at the start of the month to go out to eat a little more than we usually do. Which then gave me extra time to read, paint, walk, and write without worrying about grocery shopping or clean-up. Delicious!

Time has become more precious to me than ever before. There is a lot I still want and need to do, but there's a lot I don't want to miss out on, such as feeling the sun on my face as I drink a second cup of jasmine tea with no particular agenda in mind. All good things that can be transformed into stories and illustrations once the temperature drops and I'm forced back inside my office-studio listening to the rain pummel the roof. It will be here soon enough.

Tip of the Day: Art journaling is a fun and easy way to make the summer last. Base your journal exclusively on what the summer of 2021 meant to you, or choose a favorite year from your childhood. Brainstorm or create mind-maps listing every special detail. Use your summer photos for sketch references. List and review any books you read. Write, draw, collage your memories and be sure to pour a cup of cocoa while you're at it!