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.
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.
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?
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.
Linkedin: Bj Artworks
Twitter: Bj Lane @Bjartworks
Other: Memoirs of the Heart Book Available in the U.S. only https://py.pl/3wAMnEx09W3