2013-03practiceToday’s artwork: a set of altered book pages. These are sample pages from my A Year of Altered Books class, which is open for enrollment until January 5th. I’m working on the first month’s lessons right now, which are supposed to be about backgrounds, but I think are actually coming out as all the different ways I use paint, glaze and gesso. I’m having a lot of fun flinging paint around in my three practice books.

I realized this morning that this class is turning out, at least for the moment, to being paid for being inspired. Other than a sort of rough list of twelve different things I like to do when I alter books, I don’t have a real plan. It’s also the first class I’ve offered that isn’t complete when I start accepting registration. I have no clue what each month’s lessons are going to look like. What I thought I was going to talk about and film this week is not completely what I’m putting into the lessons—because this set of pages came out of a month about backgrounds. What I’ve ended up with for this month is sort of here are five things I do with paint—and here’s me doing all of them to create a finished set of pages. And now, here are five things I do with glazes…

So, this is a good development in my ongoing battle to continue to grow as an artist while still creating things that are marketable, and keep food on my table. I’ve spent most of this year trying to realign my business so that it more closely resembles the artwork I produce now, and the things I like to do. Letting go of producing things that people might still want to buy that don’t necessarily have anything to do with my artwork was a hard thing to do, but I feel happier about where I’m headed than I did a year ago.

A year ago. I was in hell this time last year. My first trip to the emergency room was in mid-December. I was exhausted, and a little lost, and not sure how to dig myself out. What a difference a year makes. I’m better now—still not 100% myself, or completely healthy yet, but in a better place physically and mentally. I’d like to lose a big chunk of weight, and regain some of the physical strength I lost by spending so many months taking it easy. But hey, I’m here to complain about being overweight and weaker. And I’m not trying to bleed to death. Those are good things.

Also? I have health insurance now. Or I will in January. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I have a policy I can afford. It’s not perfect, but it does let me keep my doctors and hospital, which was my primary goal. Maybe next year, I’ll be able to upgrade to something with a lower annual out of pocket limit. For now, I at least have something to protect me from having to go through the juggling act I did this year.