Category Archives: choice

You don’t know where you are until it passes you by

tree of life, sketch, drawing, ink drawing, sketchbook, journal, art by jessica doyle

And you don’t know where you’ll end up until you take that leap of faith.

Last July life got a whole lot busier for me. I began working more at the City Market producing and selling art at the stall and Chris became a full-time parent overnight. Our lives changed instantly as Chris scrambled to find a way to look after his son while he was at work full-time. His son turned 12 shortly after and was then able to spend a few hours alone here and there so that helped.

It hit me hard. Chris went from sharing custody 50/50 with his ex to having his son full-time with no extra money, support or anything. It took a toll on our five month old relationship but it also opened it in another way and I got to see how wonderful this man really was. I also got to know his son better and saw how great of a kid he was.

While dating and single from 2007 to 2012, before Chris and I got together, I swore up and down not to date a man with children because of the experiences I had with them. These men were completely absent in their children’s lives or kept me a secret from their kids and/or their ex or were dating multiple women and lying about it. These things didn’t bode well for me as I wanted to someday have a child of my own and very much wanted an involved father in that child’s life.

So I began dating men without kids and usually these men were kids themselves who were more interested in their boats, bikes and pensions than in finding common ground to walk on together. I managed quite well to attract men who wanted no commitment.

I then quit smoking and quit drinking shortly after and began to see “I” was the reason for not attracting a quality man into my life. Well… half the reason… at least.

I’ve known Chris a long time… since I was 19… so 20 years… long… time. We grew up in the same neighborhood. He went out with a good friend of mine as a teenager. He was also a mutual friend of my ex-husband and I. I can remember sitting on the couch talking with Chris while my ex was engrossed in video games. I was never just Jessica. I was Andy’s girlfriend then wife… then ex. This all seems so long ago. A lifetime ago.

We all attended college together and Chris hung out with my ex at our apartment. We partied together but mostly I stayed home as I was sick a lot during college with Chron’s disease and physically could not handle the late nights and party’s. We all studied Graphic Design, surface design and illustration.

After Fredericton we both went our separate ways. Chris spent some time in Toronto and then had his son here in Saint John. He married and raised his two step-children and his own child. All the while I divorced and partied my ass off for five years in Saint John, Fredericton and Vancouver, perhaps making up for losing most of my twenties to severe illness and for marrying a man who didn’t share the same values and morals as I did. And there is no fault in that, it’s just the way the cards played out.

And now, 20 years later Chris and I find ourselves expecting a baby, dealing with extensive child custody and divorce issues, managing two homes, three cats and simply doing our best to keep healthy organic food on the table, the bills paid up-to-date and all the while we both are doing it sober.

Our life may seem mundane to some but it’s our life and the one we are choosing to live. Chris partied lots during his teens and early twenties while I got the partying out of my system in my late twenties and early thirties. And while I miss the parties on occasion, it’s a rather nostalgic feeling of been there done that, had fun and moving on now to the next stage of my life kind of feeling.

And I’m so grateful and lucky to have this man to share this stage of life with.

I love you Chris.

It’s 2013 and the beginnings of chunky marmelade

Chunky Orange Lemon Marmelade

When you haven’t written in so long it’s easier to keep on not writing. But, in the back of your mind, the words and letters keep churning and jumbling up and into empty space until you get them written down in a tangible form. While I have been drawing pictures, it’s the words that weren’t making sense to me and therefore I did not write.

These last six months have been nothing but life changing. I haven’t found God or anything like that but I have found the courage to live more honestly and to trust in those people whom, let me, into their lives. You can’t help but wonder how you could have lived the way you did for such a long time repeating gesture after gesture after ever after.

There is solace in repetitive movement and even in the the state of inaction… the ticks, the drinks, the inhalations, the thoughts, the running, the drawing, the writing, the eating, the frantic screaming, it all soothes anxiety and mends the hearts of troubled souls irregardless of how temporary or destructive in nature this self-soothing may be. We can only go on circling for so long in a state of chaos before spinning out.

So, last night I made some chunky orange lemon marmelade from scratch. That sums up my everything.

Happy 2013!

AND FYI… Handmade 2013 desk and wall calendars are listed for sale in the shop.

The Marmelade recipe I adapted from the Mad Scientist and home Cooking. Also, I used an extra amount or orange peelings that I have been freezing over the last few months. If you are going to make marmalade DO USE certified organic citrus fruit as the peelings are not sprayed or died.

Coming out to play or how an introvert fails to thrive

jessica doyle self portrait

If you are a creative person you likely have many drafts or unfinished pieces of work in various stages of completion laying around your studio or stored on the computer.

In early November, 2011 I began entering a burnout from working online and from life in general. And by mid-January 2012 my health had completely failed and I was hospitalized for seven days. It’s only now that I’m coming out of it (publicly) so to speak.

What’s sad, is that I knew it was happening all of last year but didn’t know how to stop it or where to go for help or how to financially afford treatment by taking time off of working as I have no health insurance or employment insurance. I wrote the following on November 7th, 2011, the night before my 38th birthday, and never published it here on the blog.

What exactly does it mean when you hit burnout or rather when you succumb to not be able to creatively think or do anything else other than change who you are.

And when you are introverted, adjusting to extroversion is almost painful at a cellular level. To an introvert, extroversion feels like being tickled everywhere for an extended period of time and forced to exert and use one’s senses in life in an outward fashion that others can see, taste, smell, watch or feel immediately.

An introvert on the other hand basically sponges all that external sensory stimuli, balls it up, swallows it, mentally digests it and assimilates it all into the brain for use in original and unique regurgitation onto paper, instrument or dialogue that extroverts absorb in the form of entertainment.

The above few paragraphs are by no means a finished thought but they do summarize how fast my fragile boundaries were eroding. I was utterly overwhelmed most, if not, all of last year. Only those people closest to me knew the extent of what I was trying to deal with if they even knew at all. I didn’t share too much here on the blog… I don’t think I knew how to. Yes, my failing thyroid is playing a part in all of this and yes I’m keeping up with the blood tests and adjustments in medication again.

And what finally prompted me to sign into this blog and break the silence and actually write today was perhaps the most awful therapy appointment I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through yesterday. And it wasn’t that it was awful per-say, it was just unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before… and I’m going to submit myself to it all over again next week. Haha.

A few weeks ago my Mom gave me a camera to use, that she had won at work, as she already had a camera of her own. It’s a Canon Powershot SD 3500 IS, 14.1MP. I’ve begun playing with it. I snapped the pic above in the upstairs bathroom.

Whose Art Is It Anyway?

I usually don’t pay attention to any crazy-artist streaks within me, but I suppose from an outward standpoint it’s probably obvious. I have a tendency to swing between extreme emotions about everything I do, spending half the time loving a painting, and the other half hating it. But that’s normal, right? Creating is hard.

I also like to spontaneously change my work after it’s finished. One might say “destroy.” “Ruin.” “Cover up.” I say “improve.”

I have been known to quietly remove an unsold work from public view in order to change it in such a drastic way that it is essentially a brand new painting. First I’ll paint it white. Then I’ll paint it over.

This infuriates my husband. In his mind, the work now belongs to my fans and my audience, even if no one owns the physical painting. In my mind, the painting isn’t finished until it has a home, and as long as it’s hanging on my own wall, we’re calling it a “work in progress.” Continue reading

The Shower Scene – A Gallery Story

I want to say upfront that this is just one story from my life, and not a commentary on the gallery system as a whole. My personal experience with “traditional” galleries has ranged from lackluster to unethical (and possibly illegal, but I’ll get to that in a second.) I do not believe they’re all like that. I’m very open-minded about galleries. I’ve simply had great success and enjoyment representing myself, and doing so is not a reaction to anything negative as much as it is a belief in doing something positive.

But anyway.

When I was starting out professionally, I heard from a number of people within the local art scene that I was ready for my own show. So I went out and got one. The gallery I’d found was up and coming, an offshoot of a more successful gallery nearby. The owner (we’ll call him Shawn) was an artist himself, and sold a great deal of work, all at higher end prices, with a pretty significant and growing following in the area. He liked my work, and immediately offered me a show. After securing a date, I heard from fellow artists that although his art “was a bit formulaic,” he seemed to be a fantastic businessman. The openings I attended in the months leading up to my show were lively events.

When I arrived at the gallery the morning of my own show to set up, I could sense a weird and unexpected attitude from Shawn. He was cold and unhelpful. He abruptly announced that I couldn’t use blacklights, a fairly integral part of my art, despite seeming enthusiastic about them a few weeks prior. He further informed me that I wouldn’t have access to half the space I was promised, because another artist was using it. When I firmly explained the necessity of the blacklights, he finally told me I could use a small room through a hall and in the back for this purpose.

I was determined to keep a good attitude about things. Continue reading

The Artist’s Drug of Choice

What’s your poison? Chocolate? Video-games? LSD?

Self-consciousness?

Artists have become notorious for substance use, addiction, and a good measure of crazy, which is probably intertwined with our ability and our need to make art. Not that all of us are crazy (yeah, right) and not that we’re all addicted to chemical head changes.

Or… are we?

As artists, our way of processing things, everything, is a bit different than people who don’t have the inclination to make art. We feel everything strongly, we see color differently, we look past reality into a world that doesn’t exist without our imagination. That in itself is a bit trippy, and we wouldn’t have the wherewithal to make grand, fantastical statements out of paint, thread, or music without a tendency to latch onto the emotional vibration of life. It’s not that everyone doesn’t do this to a degree, but artists take emotion to a whole new level. We breathe emotion into life. Often in beautiful, awe-inspiring ways. There’s an ebb and flow to be sure, with much of our time spent in frenzied creativity, overflowing with inspiration and ideas, high on nothing more than our need to create.

But there’s a flip side. Sometimes, if not properly nurtured, our emotional processing skills get broken. Sometimes everything gets black and dull and scary. Continue reading

I Think I’m Giving Up Cable (and other signs the apocalypse is nigh)

Remote Control

I‘m a wannabe minimalist. I dream of location-freedom and spend a lot of time figuring out ways to be more nomadic. You know, just in case I start traveling all over the world at a moment’s notice. In fact, this year I’ve decided to participate in the 100 Thing Challenge.

I hate being owned by stuff. Stuff doesn’t prove anything about your success in life, other than that you like to accumulate stuff. It is not memories, it is not living. It’s just stuff. Stuff and things.

I think it all started about 7 years ago when we decided to live without a microwave. We moved into an apartment with a very (very) small kitchen. It didn’t come with a microwave and we decided it was unnecessary to get one. We had an oven. It would require more thought and time put into our eating, but so what? When we moved again in 2009 to a place with a much larger kitchen, there was a microwave on the counter. I asked the owner to remove it as soon as we signed the lease. We’ve never missed it, and the counter space is awesome. Continue reading

Personal Empowerment (and Kicking Ass)

A Confident Stride

A couple of years ago, as I approached a new decade, I decided that I was no longer going to be bashful in my 30s. To me this meant developing the strength I knew was there, and blossoming into the perpetual self-confidence I felt I deserved but never embraced. Why shouldn’t I? I was young, healthy, smart. I had good ideas, and with a little hard work, a great future.

Suffice it to say, now in my 30s, this is still an ongoing struggle.

So what’s the problem? What I didn’t know in my 20s is that being confident is a verb, an action. It’s not a feeling that floats around inside you. Doing the things of a confident person is what makes you confident. You have to do first, feel later. You cannot sit around waiting for confidence to find you, or blame the lack of it on your inability to accomplish tasks. The years continue on around us regardless of whether or not we feel confident enough to participate. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Continue reading