Random, Awkward and AWESOME with Artist Resident Norola Morgan: Arting with ADHD

Norola Morgan is a mixed-media artist, performer, and teaching artist living in Houston, Texas. This is her fourth installment in a 4-part series as Artist Strong’s Artist in Residence. You can enjoy more of her art and random musings over on Instagram: @studio.moonyoonits.

She is excited to be re-opening her online shop, but it is not yet live. Home | MoonYoonits Studios (square.site) will be live in a few days so that you can get your fix of handcrafted wit, whimsy and weirdness!

I found out that I had ADHD in the weirdest way possible.

Having grown up in a small town, maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised. As a teenager, I was chatting with an older family friend, and she busted out with: “You were hyper when you were a kid. Your mom used to have to give you medication.” I was stunned. I had no idea what she was talking about. I asked my Mom about it, and she said, “Yes, you’d be so “busy” that I’d give you medicine and put you down to sleep.”

As an adult, I later asked her if it was actually medicine, or just some kind of liquor, because some parents did do that back in the day to get their kids to go to sleep. Apparently, it actually WAS medication, whatever they were prescribing for hyper kids in the early 80s. I seriously had no memory of it.

So, what did it mean to grow up with ADHD, and not know? It meant feeling perpetually awkward and alien. It meant that, even though I was academically talented, that I was often inarticulate due to all the thoughts and ideas crashing around in my head.

It meant people being impatient. It meant frequently losing things, being clumsy, sloppy, forgetful, easily distracted and disorganized. It meant being yelled at for those things, because when you are considered gifted and talented, expectations are sky high. It meant being alone a lot, becoming very resourceful and independent, and learning how to mask fidgetiness and chaotic tendencies.

How did art come into this? It was my saving grace. Like many kids considered weird, academics and art made space for me gave me some standing in the world. These two things allowed me to shine. However else I may have been a disappointment or disaster, doggone it, I was gonna get good grades, and I could be counted on for my creativity.

How does ADHD spice up my life now? It still means being kinda chaotic and easily distracted, and as an adult, I have developed enough coping skills to channel my energy into productivity and get things done. Having jobs with a set structure and set deadlines has been helpful. BUT! I don’t function well under too strict a structure or micromanagement.

I need some freedom within a structure to maneuver. Give me a basic clear outline of what is expected and what you need, and I will deliver something AMAZING. This has absolutely been the case with my commissioned works. I’ve been so blessed to have people who trust me to handcraft custom art for them.

And, once I stepped away from the job, I found I had to create that structure for myself. Has that been a challenge? A little bit! This is where my resourcefulness and adaptability comes into play. I’ve learned to set daily flexible “office hours” and create a list of administrative and artistic goals that I want to accomplish for the day or week.

I’ll be honest, I LOVE ticking items off of my to-do list. I may not hit all the items, but the most important ones will usually get done. I definitely have days that are more productive than others, and on the less productive days, I’ve learned to allow myself some grace.

I’ve learned trust the cycles and rhythms of my creativity. Some days are not art making days, and on those days, I do things like send and answer emails, prep for upcoming classes and performances, plan social media posts, or go visit art spaces or potential venues or markets. And some days I just focus on things like chores and family needs.

Perhaps the biggest way that having ADHD has impacted my art is that my creative output is restless and varied. Oh my goodness, I am interested in soooooo many things! Different materials and techniques and art forms! I wanna try my hand at so much! And I have. I have the massive stash of supplies, materials, costumes, props, and UFOs (unfinished objects) to prove it!

It’s not necessarily a matter of getting bored. I might just run out of energy and enthusiasm for a project, or hit a challenging portion, and I have to leave it for a bit. Sometimes a looooong bit. I will circle back. In the meantime, I just might start another project. It’s not unusual for me to have several projects going at once. It helps to keep me engaged and productive. Often, what skills I learn in one project I can apply in another.

Wow! This is a long one! I hope it holds together well, and thanks so much for hanging in with me. To be honest, I feel like I’m learning about me even as I’m sharing this information with y’all. Stay tuned for a bonus post on July 31st! It will be a Q & A with questions asked by friends, fans, and followers! Can’t wait to see!

Artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.

The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.

And if YOU want to apply to be an Artist Strong Artist Resident, subscribe to our weekly updates to hear about the next time applications are open.