We had the good fortune of connecting with B.J. Lane and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi B.J., how has your work-life balance changed over time?
From January 2020 to now, I feel as if I have lived a lifetime of change. Last year started out on a very positive note. Great things had been planned. Exciting opportunities were unfolding. I must admit, I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time. Three different solo art exhibitions were scheduled for 2020—each one focusing on a different collective of my work over the last 50 years. At the beginning of January my first exhibit, “Memoirs of the Heart”, (a 30-year retrospective of family featuring family portraits and poetry), opened to the public. I felt as if this was the beginning of mass exposure to my lifetime of work. Finally, over 50 years of embedding creativity into my life, the scale was tipped towards the arts. It felt as if all my hard work was beginning to pay off. In collaboration with the San Diego County Library (Vista Branch), not only had we planned out each exhibit, (including opening and closing receptions), to kick off the first program we were offering a free beginning portrait workshop to share with community. I also was writing my first book—a small book of gratitude and portraiture,  which would accompany the paintings and drawings. My solo exhibition ran for almost 2 1/2 months when suddenly one week before the closing reception the library closed without warning—my artwork locked inside. The following two exhibitions planned for later in the year were also eventually canceled along with the planned workshops. That same week, my 29-year-old disabled daughter’s day program closed their doors. Tammy, (who is affected with Autism) was suddenly back at home full-time. I felt my world spinning. The Pandemic had arrived. It was time once again, to find a balance between family, safety, and my creativity. My art was put on pause.

Having an art career while raising a family has always been a balancing act. Once, someone told me that I would have to choose between my art career and my family—that it wasn’t possible to do both with excellence. I wanted so much to prove to myself that that person was wrong. Early on, I had declared to myself I would find a way to balance these two gifts I’d been given—my creativity and my family. During the years I raised my three girls, I always had my retreat—my art studio. It was the place I would go when they slept, or played. It was the place I created. My art was tucked in-between feeding babies, changing diapers, and playing with sidewalk chalk. I always found ways to create—sculpting their little bodies, filling my sketchbooks with their sweet faces, or playing with a variety of art material in my studio. When my children attended grade school, I offered my artistic skills. I would go into their classrooms and present art lessons, or help their teachers with art projects. I created banners for the PTA, and ran an after-school arts program. When we made the decision to homeschool our children art was interwoven in their lessons. When my youngest was diagnosed with a severe communication, social and developmental disorder, I drew PECs (a Picture Exchange Communication system)—little laminated sketches—to help her know what to ask for, or to help remind her what she was being asked to do. And when I couldn’t do any studio art, my writings or piano playing were the arts I would turn to for creativity, peace, and sanity. In mid-March 2020 a physical, mental and spiritual challenge landed on our front door step. My main focus would now turn to family, caregiving, and Covid19. My art would once again take a back seat as it had done many times before; but, somehow I knew my creative spirit would reemerge even stronger.

I made a decision that day. I was determined that this new circumstance would not take me down, and instead I would be the ball and “bounce”. I made a promise to myself not to stay on the ground, immobilized. Instead, I pivoted and looked around me. I needed to find a way to balance my family, and my artful journey. My first challenge was to find a way to find a medium and subject that would keep me creatively engaged in the home environment, that could also be done while taking care of my daughter, Tammy. I needed to make an impact on myself, and create something that she might like as well. Years ago a friend had given me a huge roll of thick, glossy magazine paper. It was tucked away in my recently renovated art studio, and hadn’t been used since my older daughters “homeschooled”. Over 20 years ago, we had created a “timeline” together of history, both written and visual. From the beginning of the forming of the earth, to dinosaurs and the early records of human civilizations, on through the early ages and finally the forming of the United States of America, together we drew and painted and researched figures in history. It had been a good learning tool for them, as well as a chance to keep up my drawing skills and creativity. In March of 2020, I once again began documenting on a timeline, only this time it was daily events in my home. I sketched my disabled daughter, my husband, and my surroundings. I copied news headlines, and product signage and put them in the timeline. I wrote down Tammy’s simple language, “Go to the coffee store?” and “What time is it? What time is it? What time is it? Go to work?” Tammy knew things were different. Emotional meltdowns and tears of sadness and depression happened daily. She was experiencing loss just as we all were—a loss of consistency, loss of familiarity, loss of connection. I’ve known for a long time that creating schedules, having projects, and infusing art in a daily routine can help balance my life. And so, we drew and colored and painted every day—one day after the other, after the other. We focused on what was real … what was in front of us daily. We focused on our life … each moment. Almost three months later, on June 15, 2020 the Vista Library open their doors long enough for me to take my art exhibition down. That was also the day we reached the last bit of paper on the 19-foot role. Documenting the first three months of the coronavirus was an extra-ordinary experience for me. Creativity kept me focused on the good, and focused me away from all the negativity surround us. The daily process changed my perspective, my energy, and promoted love and gratitude for all I have and what I am. Through the process of this daily project, I found peace, connection, and gratitude while balancing the two greatest gifts I have been given … my family, and my art.

I have learned through the years that creativity through art is a tool that can heal, can bring positivity, and can teach us all about each other. It is a special gift for both the giver and the receiver. Creativity can help us slow down, enjoy the moment, and appreciate each other. Challenges can be transformed through all different forms of art into something meaningful, comforting, beautiful. Through my artwork and poetry I encourage others to have gratitude for life itself. Whether my art helps someone to work through a loss, or recaptures a special memory, or teaches about important places or people of the past, I believe recreating stories through art can help to enlighten, lift and heal the human spirit.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Through my artful journey of more than 50 years, I have always had a desire to learn. These are three important ingredients that keeps me motivated and helps me continually improve professionally.

1. Filling a need. By offering commissions, I work directly with clients to create a lasting memory of a precious places, people or event in their life. I’ve worked with grieving families by creating memories of lost loved ones. I’ve painted special homes, classic cars, and small murals for clients. I also work closely with non-profit organizations such as “American Association for University Women”, and “The Quad Collective”, by highlighting special women in history. I have joined in fundraisers in collaboration with “Save Our Forest”, and “Rally for Children”, in Fallbrook. I am involved with “D’Vine Path”—a program for disabled adults to learn viticulture, catering, and life skills. I fill my heart with purpose.
2. Find ways to improve myself. If I’m not studying a different medium or working on improving my art, I’m working on improving my skillset for business, relationships and family. What I’m finding is the need for self reflection, stillness, and gratitude.
3. I believe seeing what we can be grateful for in our lives is the answer to living a successful life. Utilizing these special ingredients, I have found ways to fill a need in the community, I’ve inspired others to find their path, to reach for the stars, and helped to show how to be grateful every day for life. And most importantly, I have shown myself a way to rise above difficult situations and loss through this pandemics through my own daily art practice, and daily gratitude.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

1. A must is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista … an open air museum with a blacksmith shop, weaving house, and live steam engines and antique cars. Especially on father’s day, this is a must during their main yearly open house event.
2. Stop in at the Fallbrook Art Association to take a peek at many local artists’ work. Then walk a block and check out the Fallbrook Art Center. Pick up a map of the art walking tour, and discover many sculptures and murals in their lovely town of Fallbrook. You will truly be amazed. Oh…don’t forget to check out the Historical Museum and the lovely Reche School House (yep, I painted this beauty!)
3. Balboa Park is a for sure stop, especially if you love art, science, history, and architecture. How about the zoo? It’s right there close by, and wow, what a lovely way to spend a couple days! Amazing!
4. The Oceanside Museum of Art is a close drive from me, and a fun stop in to look around.
5. The Escondido Center for the Arts is also an amazing place to visit. One of their recent exhibits featured art about Frieda Kahlo, and one of the pieces exhibited was created with my help. A sculpturette, by the Quad Collaborative—featuring significant women and their contributions through sculpture, costume, visual arts, and story.
6. And don’t forget some wonderful places to see gorgeous cars … when the world opens again: La Jolla’s annual Concours d’Elegance – Luxury and classic Car Show scheduled for April 16-18, 2021 7. Interested in cultural dance arts? I especially love the The San Diego Ballet Company 8. And of last but not least, Liberty Station. From boutiques and a Public Marketplace filled with gourmet eateries and shops, to art galleries and museums, this is a super fun way to spend a couple days.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are many people who have helped me along my journey—both in my business and my personal life. I have the support of my husband, my children, my siblings, and many wonderful friends, teachers and mentors. I am truly thankful for all of them. As I look back over the years, I think the forming of my core image began with my parents. They taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. They were not perfect, and eventually divorced, yet there was love in my family, and there was a commitment to look at the good in every situation. I was 21 when they went their own paths. There was no hatred, or anger in their separation. There was still an element of love and forgiveness. They follow their dreams. They did what they felt was right. And they encouraged me to follow my path as well.

I also owe much of my success to mentors and coaches, one of whom is Darren Hardy (an American author, keynote speaker, advisor, and former publisher of Success Magazine). His mentorship has helped me pass hurdles of self-doubt, helped me with time management and productivity, and helped me truly understand what success looks like for ME. He reminded me that with life there is never “true balance”, as we continue to be off balance every time we take a step forward … one step after the other. Instead, progress happens when we are “off balance” … moving forward towards our own success in life, and striving to grow better every day. Mostly, he has encouraged me to embrace my life with gratitude … to be thankful for all the gifts I have. I also credit him for my first published book this year “Memoirs of the Heart-(Portraits and Poetry)”, a companion book to the Solo Exhibition that was offered to the public in January of 2020. Daily Gratitude continues to help me as I continue to walk through my own journey…sharing my gift of art even through the Covid years.

Website: https://wwwbjlaneartgallery.com
Instagram: bjartworks
Linkedin: Bj Artworks
Twitter: Bj Lane @Bjartworks
Facebook: @BjlaneArtGallery
Youtube: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC7NXxJ4jcJuFZPJH3A4xSmQ/videos
Other: Memoirs of the Heart Book Available in the U.S. only https://py.pl/3wAMnEx09W3

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