Just keep going…


Copyright Jen Cushman

I returned home from teaching last week at the CREATE Art Retreat sponsored and organized by Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine in Costa Mesa, California. I taught two classes and did some filming on techniques using ICE Resin for short 3 to 5-minute how-to videos for the magazine’s website.

The filming was fun and also amusing. I know the editors will edit out the blunders, but I actually think they are hilarious because it just goes to show that no matter how perfect I try to make things, something always happens, like my phone ringing while I’m in the middle of mixing resin and my son asking me if I would come to school to pick him up rather than having to ride the bus home. Or having the mic fall to the floor with a major “thwack” because there was no place for me to clip it onto my shirt. 

The boo-boos I really loved were when I realized I needed to grab something that was just out of reach of the camera, so you will see my hands reaching into goodness knows where and somehow returning with a pair of scissors. The thing is that no matter what happened, I just kept talking my way through it. It’s kind of like when a singer is on stage in front of a huge audience and she trips. The thing to do is just keep going and never let anyone see you sweat.

As I continue to juggle my schedule of finding studio time to make art, keeping up with my publishing schedule and deadlines, teaching at art retreats and also doing my job with Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin and raising a family, I’ve had lots of people ask me, “How do you do it?”

I always smile at the question because the answer is actually very simple. I just do it. I just keep going no matter what. Sure, I get overwhelmed sometimes (like now) when I look at my calendar and there are literally back-to-back deadlines as well as the Bead and Button Show coming up next week in Milwaukee.

The thing is that I’m not alone. All the women I work alongside juggle a busy schedule of art, teaching, family, company responsibilities. The friends I made this past week at CREATE — Pam Carriker and Kari McKnight Holbrook — juggle a crazy schedule too. As a matter of fact, it was a large topic of discussion for us as we talked about trying to find balance. (By the way, Pam’s wonderful new book, Art at the Speed of Life is all about this.)

Each of us get the same question: How do you do it? And we all answer along the same lines. We just keep going. We do it because we love it, because we are so grateful and humble for the art experiences we are having, because we are learning things about ourselves in the process that brings a fullness – no a juiciness – to our lives that would pale by comparison had we not walked down the road we’re on.

It takes stamina and focus to be a working artist. It takes some talent, a good support system of loved ones to help us navigate the path to our dreams and it takes a passion and dedication to the craft. When a student asked me in earnest how she, too, could start this journey, these are the things I told her.

Her eyes lit up as though I let her in on a secret society. I smiled because I used to think there was one too. I decided to write this blog post to let others know there is no secret. Just this: Follow your passion, hone your skills and keep moving forward.


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7 thoughts on “Just keep going…

  • patsy

    Well I do think you artists in the States are superwomen! can’t imagine how you find the time to create and dream. I live in the Philippines and there’s someone to help with the cooking, cleaning, laundry. I come home from work and I just go to my little room and make things. But I find there’s not enough time! Maybe I sleep too early! It’s my first time on your blog and I will go wander around some more to partake of the “juiciness”. Sounds real good! Patsy from HeARTworks

  • Linda Kinnaird

    I most definitely relate to your post -very well said; in my case instead of kids I have my 91year old mom living with is to take care of in addition to a full-time job and my jewelry. I just keep on keeping on…

    • jencushman Post author

      My goodness Linda. Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment. My heart goes out to you for having the strength and courage to take care of your elderly parent. It is so difficult when the time comes for the roles to be reversed where you must act the parent even though you both know that you are, and always will be, the child. It’s hard to watch them begin to falter as they age. Keep making art as your refuge and what heals your heart. When you are born to make art, there is nothing else you can do but be creative. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog post! {{Hugs}} Jen

  • Kari McKnight-Holbrook

    Girlfriend- you are AMAZING! I barely can keep my head above water these days, being bad and not posting on my blog yet. But I can’t tell you how much fun I had as your roommate- and I can’t thank you enough for all the knowledge you shared so freely!
    I am in awe of you and all you do!

  • Pam Carriker

    Jen it was so much fun meeting you and being roomies at CREATE! I especially loved being able to talk about the career of being an artist with you and Kari. We all have much in common, a love for art, a passion to share it freely with others, and a drive to keep going forward!
    xoxo
    Pam