Anthony Vodraska & Anita Gilbert


(posted on 9 Jan 2011)


Life's Many Changes

It has been six months since my last posting and much has happened and changed in our lives. While our art work has been an important and constant thread throughout this period, life's other sorrows and joys have frequently needed our undivided attention. My Mother's deteriorating health last Summer and her passing in August 2010 weighed heavily on us. We are grateful that we were able to return to the Midwest in 2007 after many years overseas in order to spend these last three years with her and my siblings. May her spirit enjoy a myriad heavenly bounties, joyful reunion with family members that have gone before her and an enduring peace in God's loving and compassionate embrace.

In September and October we took a two month road trip to the East Coast to visit our family. Our oldest daughter and husband living in the metro DC area were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Olivia, in January. Our granddaughter is an absolute joy to be around and we are counting the weeks until our next visit. We then traveled up to Boston via the Berkshires to spend a few weeks with our youngest daughter and her fiancé. We thoroughly enjoyed helping our daughter reorganize her studio space and immersing ourselves in the Boston art scene, visiting several galleries and museums. We eventually found our way to Wisconsin to visit my brother and his fiancée. All the while, we were treated to gorgeous fall colors. Once home, we labored hard to finish Fall harvests and prepare our gardens and the acreage for the approaching Winter.

We both had time to reflect upon the direction of our respective art work and how that meshes with our personal and shared life goals. With another grandchild on the way and concerns over our distance from our daughters and our advancing years, it is not surprising that life's many changes will affect our art work. During our long road trips, we had hours of discussions on art and creativity. We found that creativity and the creative process were central to our concerns. We visualized a continuum between two poles: "Create to Live." and "Live to Create." No matter where one finds oneself on this continuum at any moment in their lives, there will assuredly be opportunities, constraints and risks. We felt that where we were along that continuum needed to change.

When one creates to live, they seek to use their creativity to earn a living. Certainly, a noble pursuit which benefits many and is the source of much innovation in art, science and business. Somewhere further along the continuum a person may be content to just to earn enough from their creative endeavors to defray the costs of pursuing them. When we returned to the Midwest, we thought that we could create works of art, first and foremost, that we enjoyed and enough would be sold to cover the costs of materials and maybe even earn some income. In a tough economic climate and a challenging market we were devoting more energy and resources to selling the work. Increasingly, we felt our inner compass shifting to making art work that was more appealing and affordable to fewer buyers.

Some may dream of living to create as a pure expression of their unencumbered creative spirit. Many artists struggle with living to create by choice or circumstance doing their art work as time permits while caring for or raising families or working in jobs that utilize little of their creative energies. Others take pauses in the pursuit of a living wage to pursue residencies or devote themselves for a period of time exclusively to their art work. Still others, like us, in their later years, find the means, make the hard choices, and channel their energies, resources and time to create as long as their health and time on this earth permit.

After much discussion, we have shifted our focus further along the continuum toward "Live to Create." I am focusing more on mixed media pieces that resonate and better convey deeply felt spiritual insights through content, materials and techniques. Anita has paused her work in clay and has returned to exploring her artistic visions through oil painting. For now, we are not exhibiting our work locally or regionally as we build new bodies of work. That may change in the future once we feel our new work has matured and is ready. You can keep track of our new work through this blog site or our new website at which is still be populated with our older work. You can also get to our website through or More on the website in a separate blog.

The next posting will present a recent mixed media art work that explores my interest in the Creative Word as it finds expression in nature and mankind's pursuit to understand the ineffable and the unknowable.

Anthony Vodraska

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