I asked my friend and fellow Pugwash Artist Collective member, Jenn Houghtaling, how she has managed to find time for art while juggling the many obligations and committee work involved with being a municipal councillor for the last three years, as well as a leader in management of the local farmers’ market. The answer was not an easy one.
She is juggling so many balls she suffers from ‘crazy active brain’ where she is never feels at rest. To battle this she has been on a path to mindfulness, walking through the woods behind her home for an hour three times a day, most often with her partner Ben and their two young dogs. It releases her to just be present, paying attention to nature and being inspired by it. Noticing the vertical lines, the change in colours as autumn sets in. And in doing so her brain stills, affording her the space to let solutions flow in. Being an artist, problem solving, thinking outside the box and flexibility are second nature and, it turns out, real assets when applied to other arenas she is involved with.
As a potter, with minimal available time, she is content to keep pace with functional pieces like mugs and bowls, fulfilling her commitment to keeping regular customers happy. It centres her, allows her to settle into the ‘process’ and the creation just flows. This too, like the nature walks, allows her brain to relax.
When asked how she sees herself as an artist in 5 or 10 years, she isn’t sure. Like with the feeling of responsibility to her pottery customers, Jenn feels a strong commitment to her constituents in Cumberland County, NS. In the future, she would like to find a balance: institute a routine she can feel good about, between art making and serving her community. She has been thinking about diving into painting, which has fewer time restraints than clay and might be easier to jump into without setting aside huge blocks of time. She hopes she will be creating for the fun, the joy of it, embracing absurdity.
She has also been pondering the possibility of Pugwash Ted Talks. But that is a whole other discussion and a good example of what happens when a dynamic, creative thinker like Jenn Houghtaling opens herself to possibilities.
An artist Jenn admires: Beth Cavener, American sculptor working in clay using animal forms
Go to Jenn’s website to see her work: https://earthvinestudio.ca/