I had so many things crowding my brain last Friday it made me dizzy! Therefore, I spent hours driving around. But 3 lucky realizations saved the day.

I was headed to the coast to meet a contractor on our bathroom remodel. I wanted to be sure to bring all the food and drink I’d need, because the Covid outbreak is terrible in Newport and I wanted to avoid going to the grocery store there.

Also on my list was dropping off some birdwatching essentials to my mom, since she has been sheltering in place and doesn’t get out much. So I packed up the new binoculars my son sent for her, some live mealworms from the fridge, a container of turkey curry soup we’d made, some elderflower juice that I’d had in the freezer to bring to her for a while…

And finally, I remembered to bring her some art materials: charcoal, pastels, watercolors, pencils and eraser. I thought she might try to get back into drawing now that she is home-bound. (She used to be an artist too!) When I got the car loaded with my clothes, food and dog gear, plus the dog, I set out.

Mom called and wanted me to stop at the store and pick up a new hose for her – her old one had sprung a leak. And while I was there, could I get some strawberries? How soon would I arrive? Her birdwatching friend was visiting to check the bluebird box and wanted to meet me! And could I bring my scissors to give her a haircut while I was there?

Lucky realization #1

Our visit went well, and Mom is sporting a slightly masculine haircut. (I’m more used to cutting my husband and son’s hair than a woman’s!) I finally got on the road and moseyed south. I usually drive through Corvallis, but I was low on gas so I decided to stop in Salem for lunch and gas and then head over to Lincoln City, since I had more time and no one waiting on me.

Lucky realization #2

Maybe I finally started to relax a little bit too, because I was about an hour into my drive when I realized I’d made a huge mistake. I had FORGOTTEN to pack one very crucial item. The house-key!

I mentally checked my car – no key in there. No key in my purse. No key with a neighbor, and none under the doormat. Now, I was about an hour and half from home. That would mean 3 hours just to get home, retrieve the key, and get back to where I was. It would put me at the beach by maybe 7 pm. I might as well just stay home!

Lucky realization #3

Then I realized that my daughter lives in McMinnville and she had a key!  I was about 20 miles from McMinnville – much closer that heading all the way home. The problem was, I couldn’t reach her! I tried, calling, texting and emailing. No response. I headed toward her house anyway.

Finally I got a return call from her, but she was at least a half hour from home – at a Dr.’s appointment. Well, I’d still be ahead of the game, so we decided to meet at her place. While I waited for her to arrive, I stopped to buy some Gluten Free pasta at our favorite deli and some Campari at the Liquor Store. After picking up the key, I finally got back on the road.

I blame my over crowded, dizzy  brain! I had too many things to remember… and so I forgot that one very important item! When I finally got out of the rapids of the stream of thoughts that clogged my brain, when I finally ‘Eddied Out’ my brain could function again.

“Dizzy Eddy Out” ©Ruth Armitage, Watercolor on paper, 30?x22? $1950

A Sign of the Times

This got me thinking about all the information that we allow to crowd our mental space:  lyrics to songs, news reports, conversations with friends and ‘frien-emies,’ to-do lists, appointment times…. Half the time, my brain is so stuffed, that it is swirling with dizzy thoughts when it is time to go to bed. When I finally had a chance to relax on the drive, my brain could function on a better level.

What does this have to do with art? Well, I got to thinking about how I usually only work on one painting at a time. The painting I’m working on occupies all my available mental space. And I was also thinking about how many artists I’ve talked to that are having a hard time working during this pandemic and time of social divisions.

My theory is that the mental space that all this dizzying uncertainty takes up is huge.  But, take heart! I’ve found that simply getting into the studio and creating is one way to shove all the worry and tension away from my limited mental space. One thing about painting is that it is so complicated that it takes your mind off everything else when you are working.

If you’re feeling dizzy with all the disruption in the world right now, why not sign up for one of my upcoming classes? My next class is coming right up: August 4-6, live from Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. We’ll be working with line to interpret the landscape. The class is open to all media and you should be able to use what you have on hand, from drawing materials to paint and supports. If you’ve been wanting to encorporate more line in your work, this class is for you!  And if you know of another artist who might enjoy my blog and newsletter, please share this with them!

What about you? How many things do you have crowding your brain? Are you feeling a bit dizzy with all the change in the world? How do you clear your head? Take care, and try to leave enough room in your brain for new ideas, or at least leave enough room so you can remember your keys.

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