This Artist’s Take On Self-Care

This Artist’s Take On Self-Care

Last Sunday I pushed myself to get ready for my two upcoming exhibits this month. That stint involved framing three pieces (of considerable size) and mounting (gluing) story labels to quarter-inch thick white foam core and cutting them out with a large industrial X-acto blade.

All This May Not Sound Like Much. Yet, after four hours of standing, leaning over, using my hands in ways that are not the everyday, my hips were whining and my lower back wanted a date with a heating pad. Holding the body in tense anticipating of screwing things up and the shallow breathing that results, well, people, I gotta tell you this is physical labor. The idea of a hand massage almost brought tears.

view of Terra Kind Studio framed works of art ready for exhibits and sales

A view inside Terra Kind Studio. Alas, a poor photo due to crappy lighting. Yet you can see many works have been framed and are ready for exhibiting this month! No blood was shed in the process.

Yet, everything was completed and for the most part, well done. That’s saying something as I’m not a handy person and I have no talent for working with glue. I remind myself no blood was shed.

All this is to say I started thinking about *GASP* Self-Care and all the feelings, opinions, and perspectives that “buzzword” evokes. I know it’s good for you but stay with me…

We’ve been hearing about “self-care” for quite some time now and it seems particularly directed towards women. From the beginning, I was suspicious. Was this yet another marketing campaign to drive women (a.k.a. consumer queens) to go out and buy more stuff so she can take care of herself? As if women have to be told to take care of themselves and/or have to stand up and fight for what is an enableable right.

I know I come from a place of privilege. I work for nobody but me. I have control (most of the time) over my own time. I get to do what I want to do (as long as it is fair for everyone around). And I do make a point to take care of myself. If I didn’t, I could not do the work that I do.

Self-care is about self-value, honoring your principles and what you hold dear. It’s realizing our mind and soul are contained in a needy human animal. Take good care of the animal and it does marvelous things for the mind and soul so you can go on to make great things.

kristin maija peterson

Being aware of your moment of NOW slows you down. It lets you focus and see all the amazing works that nature wants you to witness. Go and find yourself a good forest to wander about in.

With that, here are a few actions I consider and do as self-care that are, for the most part, totally free.

Sleep. It’s so obvious yet undervalued in our hyper-productive society. For me, sleep is an absolute imperative. A good 8 to 9 hours of it in a quiet, dark room. White noise optional. No screen time at least an hour before bed. While I can manage one night of poor sleep, too many nights in a row and I will become depressed and yes, I easily get sick if I don’t have proper sleep.

Water. Plenty of it. It keeps the body hydrated and the mind sharp. Yes, I probably use more toilet paper than I would like because of this practice but hey, I can ward off a headache by simply drinking water.

Walking. Hell, just moving. I spend a lot of time sitting to do my work and walking, taking the stairs, stretching, parking far from the entrance, any means that I can incorporate movement into my day, the better.

Meditation. A word heard more often than self-care! Many moan at its very mention. I didn’t think I could get my squirrel brain to do it either. Argh, it’s so boring! And then again, it’s not. It did take a few years until I could sit and focus on nothing but a mantra and breathing. There are mornings when it is a mind-fuck wrestling match on my cushion. But just 10 minutes that often runs longer (because I can) is a godsend for my anxious human animal to calm down. PLUS I gleam ideas and insights as I move out of a meditative state. Now it’s completely habit, like brushing my teeth. I can’t imagine life without meditation.

If I didn’t take care of myself, my tired frazzled brain wouldn’t notice this artistic arrangement courtesy of Mother Nature.

A few things I do to take care of the artist-me:

Learn New Skills. I am a big fan of SkillShare, books, extension classes and workshops, or just going down a rabbit hole with Google because I’m curious about something. These days it’s about botany, the names of plants and who is related to who, and other plant intrigues.

Artist Dates. A lot of people have heard of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a timeless book that serves not just artists but anyone wanting to live a creative life. I swear to god that Artist Dates are a must. I particularly love going to other artists’ studios to talk about their work and going to art festivals for the same reason. I break the rule that an Artist Date should be going to or doing something you have not gone or done before. Regardless, I get so much inspiration from other artists it makes my heart swell.

Price My Work with Integrity. I know I price my work on the high-end for a lot of people. However, I know the level of work that goes into producing it. It takes me five to six hours every weekday, sometimes more on weekends for four to six weeks to complete one large-scale watercolor or graphite drawing. I use professional-grade materials and I frame my own work. I believe in the work, and its value, and this is reflected in the price. To price lower would be settling for less than I deserve.

Finding Out About Other Women Artists. Living or dead, women artists and their stories give me a continuum, a context for finding my place in the art world and in art history. Reading about what some of these women went through for their art is both humbling and yet empowering.

Your turn. What are your feelings about self-care? What does self-care look like to you? I heard someone say that going out and protesting for a good cause is a form of self-care for them. How radical is your self-care? Please share in the comments. Namaste.

Tools I Use For Framing

Tools I Use For Framing

I Frame My Artwork.

This is for two reasons. One, custom framing retail-wise is expensive. At the moment, I am preparing for my very first solo exhibition with twenty-three pieces to frame. If I used local framers, my budget would be exhausted before half my pieces were ready to hang. Two, I like to frame my pieces with a certain aesthetic that I don’t think I would be able to control using a local frame shop. I feel bad about not supporting local frame shops but an artist has to do what an artist has to do.

When I first started my own framing process, it took more than half a day to get two pieces framed. Full disclosure, I order frames from Custom Picture Frames. They carry a simple natural pine frame that’s perfect for presenting my work. I had a couple of hiccups with them, like busted or scratched non-glare acrylic. They immediately sent out a replacement at no cost.

art framing tools assembled on wooden butcher block tablelettered for description
My art framing tools.

My Framing Tools List

Following along with the lettered items in the photo, here are the tools I use and the reasons I find them useful.

A. Artist’s Tape. For adhering artwork to matting. If needed, I can remove the tape without damaging the artwork.

B. Measuring Tape. Hanging hardware should be placed one-third down from the top of the frame. I use the measuring tape to measure and mark where I should place the hanging hardware on the back of the frame.

C. Kneading Eraser. Sometimes the matting can have some scuff marks and a kneaded eraser can remove marks without damaging the mat.

D. Glue. This is the only place I dare use glue (if you’ve read my About page, you’ll know I am a disaster when it comes to using glue. I use a bit of glue to adhere my business card to the back of a framed piece.

E. Old Hand Towel. I could use something better but this works for holding onto the edges of the non-glare acrylic. I chose to use non-glare acrylic because it’s lightweight and I am really afraid of handling glass. I can just imagine the blood, the damaged artwork, the dispair! Anyway, an old towel (clean, by the way) is handy for managing the acrylic and removing bits of stray stuff that can get caught between the acrylic and matting. Framing in the dry winter air and its static cling made the process especially trying. (Insert lots of swearing under my breath here.)

F. Philips Screwdriver. Why is it called Philips anyway? Simply put, I need a Philips screwdriver to screw in the little screws that mount the hanging hardware on the back of the frame — one-third down from the top of the frame.

G. Gimlet. This is such an important tool. I am sure it has saved me from additional swearing under my breath. The gimlet allows me to create starter holes for the little screws so I don’t end up slitting the frame’s wood.

H. Little Stubby Screwdriver. Maybe it’s called a Steve or Stuart screwdriver. I don’t know. Anyway, this little guy saves my fingers from bleeding by prying up the metal prongs holding the foam core backing. I need to turn the prongs up to remove the backing, matting, and acrylic, next position and tape my piece to the matting, then put it all back together, turning the metal prongs back down with the screwdriver before adding hanging hardware and wire.

I. No. 2 Drawing Pencil. For marking where I should mount the hanging hardware on the back of the frame.

J. Scissors. Scissors will cut through the excess hanging wire. They always send a generous amount. Hanging wire should never be pulled taut across the back of the frame between the hanging hardware. Instead, there should be some slack to allow the wire to hang the artwork comfortably from a wall hook.

K. Personal Stamp. Not at all necessary for framing but rather my way of signing my pieces. My initial letter K for Kristin developed when I was very young and it stuck. I found a place that makes stamps from a graphics file so I had my own made to stamp the back of each framed piece and then sign my full name next to the stamped K.

L. Business Card. This has my studio name, contact information, website URL, etc. It’s important for artists to market themselves where ever they can. My work often has to stand alone and speak for itself as to who created the piece, how can the artist be contacted, and where can I find more of her work. I always glue a business card to the back of my framed pieces.

The obvious key to making my framing process go smoothly is to have all my tools assembled and easy to reach along with a clean tabletop. It’s helped reduce my compulsion for swearing under my breath.

Was this helpful? What would you add? I know some of this stuff could be terribly obvious. I also know I should probably show photos of the framing steps as listing the uses for the tools isn’t enough visually. Hopefully, you were able to follow along. My thinking is to help elevate the trepidation of framing your own works if you have never done it before.

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