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End of Year Reflection



Thinking about everything that has happened this year. Somehow, every year I’m surprised so much has happened and so quickly, too.


I pulled out all of my old journals recently with my oldest one dating back to 2009. All mildly embarrassing, but mostly so pure. Young Raquel! Wishing for everything! I am so proud of myself for being here despite everything that has happened in my life. I often find myself taking my life and my achievements for granted, but just being here is a gift. I am doing my best, reminding myself life is not a race, and that my journey is mine.


This is my end of the year reflection–part of me questioned whether or not I wanted to make this public… But I don’t mind. I have my journals for myself, and as I move into this next year I want to continue to share my process and my thoughts in a way and a space that feels right to me.



 

Six months of daily painting

This year I started my year off by painting every single day for six months. And for a while this felt really great. But slowly I became burnt out. And unfocused. Like I was expressing myself but unable to understand what I was doing and feeling disconnected from what I was making. I felt like I was unable to articulate whatever it was I was trying to say. I make my art so that I can communicate and that my work can communicate back to me. In a sense, I realized I was just filling space. Making as many marks as possible, filling the page, filling my life with these little marks so that there was no room to reflect. Moving through life unfeeling and not allowing myself to grieve.


However, six months of paintings is still a lot of paintings. I made about 180 paintings from this challenge alone. Now that I'm taking a step back from all of these pieces, I am seeing patterns and am slowly starting to decipher what it is I was trying to say.


I see an excess of marks and a compulsive sense of mark making that fills the whole page. Getting lost in tiny marks as if trying to paint all of the leaves on a tree, allowing them to swirl through voids and openings like the expanse of the sky. Bold colors and marks mixed with softness and delicate affection. Marks starting to move off of the page as if reaching like arms outstretched. I see landscapes and escape through the night's stars.


Really I think I was just grieving. Trying to make it through each day and painting like this allowed me to move through these emotions without having to speak clearly about the pain and loss. It's as if all those marks and layers were representing the persistence of loss, those emotions that are inescapable, hard to process, and hard to articulate, yet constant. I was silently asking myself: what do we do to feel this absence? How do we escape the pain of loss? How do we fill what is empty? What do you do when that emptiness cannot be refilled, or replaced? What do you do when grief is inescapable?


Here are some of my favorites from January through March :



 


I think about my time at Haystack so often. Words fail me when I try to talk about my experience and the work that I made there. Except I think out of any of the moments this year I spent creating, this was the most powerful. My two weeks at Haystack corresponded with the end of my six months of daily painting and reminded me that I do have something to say. I do have something I am trying to communicate. I want to communicate through my art and for my art to communicate back to me but it requires some intention and reflection. It also requires of me to make space for that emotionally. I went there knowing that I wanted to make work about my mom and my love and longing and grief. It just required me to be open and even though I had no idea how to, it all happened so organically with one image, one memory, leading to the next.






 

I found my list of New Year's Resolutions for 2022... and am currently thinking about the new year and what I want from it.


A lot to be proud of from last year from the things I accomplished like applying and getting accepted to Haystack with a fellowship, completing the Maine Master Naturalist Program, buying a kayak!, completing my daily painting challenge which I am counting as "complete" because I think I got what I needed from it even if I only made it six months, using what I have with less spending, applying to open calls, showing my work, etc...


And more than what I wrote down: made space for my work and made space for healing and grief in my work, found a medium that I love (acrylic ink), made small works on paper so that I could hold them close and in my hands, made some zines, created in three sketchbooks, made one big painting on paper, took time for rest and nourished my practice in different ways than painting.


As I move into this new year, I am asking myself: what practices do I want to maintain? What do I value in my art practice? What do I want my life to look like? What do I want to work on or build towards? What routines work for me? What do I want to let go of?



Goals for 2023 that I want to share:

  • I want to make more space for reflection and intention in my work

  • Find comfort in my new studio space within my apartment

  • Apply and get accepted to one thing--an open call or residency

  • Make a book

  • Take a class or two

  • Maintain a sketchbook throughout the year

  • Take more photos with my instant cameras

  • Make time for rest and continue to trust myself and my intuition


Happy New Year Thank you for following along with me all year.

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