Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
If you’ve read many of my posts or been to my place, you’ll see that my garden is an extension of my studio, and a huge source of inspiration and reprieve for me. The studio structure is a converted two-car garage, and when we moved in, there was no garden to speak of. So when we designed the interior space and added a window, the view wasn’t as big of a concern as it should have been. (Hindsight). Fortunately, the garage also had a screened-in porch attached, and that has become one of my favorite places to think.
This weekend, my hubby helped me out by making a little writing desk out of an old wooden palette. It works perfectly in the space, allowing me to overlook the garden and stay mosquito-free at the same time (a huge task around here). He lovingly named it “The Raven” a testament to his sense of humor, and a nod to his inner Mad Hatter.
For some, rainy days and Mondays are big downers, but I happen to love both (However, I currently don’t report to “work” on most Mondays, so that most likely determines my affection). This morning brought spring rains, and I was able to clear my head while enjoying the vibrant beauty of the garden. The birds sang happily. I even made a quirky little poem to memorialize the moment:
And as I’m wrapping up this post, guess who perched outside my back door?
The raven’s unglamorous Texas cousin, the grackle (as seen through the screen, from my new desk).
Seems spring only lasts a couple of weeks here in north Texas. Soon the heat will be sweltering and the humidity high. So on perfect spring days like today, I have the windows and doors open, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the paint is flowing.
A change of scenery is good. It stimulates the senses to be in unfamiliar surroundings. I had the privilege this summer to get out of town and take a few small trips, so I thought I’d finally get around to sharing it with you.
My first trip this summer was to see friends in Kansas City. My dear friend Terrin had been telling me for a while about the First Friday art walk in KC, and she had a good feeling it would be something I’d be into. So, I finally made it happen –it was even better than I expected!
It was more like a block party than a gallery walk. But this block party went for blocks and blocks and blocks. The galleries and streets were so crowded, many times we had to make a single-file line just to get through to the next place. I’m not kidding, I’ve never seen so many people out for an art event. They have a lot of good galleries there, all within walking distance, and the atmosphere was fun and casual, not like many of the pretentious gallery walks in Dallas.
For hours, we walked from one street to the next, popping into galleries and seeing a new band performing around every corner. There was the first group of middle-aged performers, happily playing in the corner of a parking lot, while a range of admirers danced to “you can be my bodyguard, and I can be your long lost pal…” Later we were greeted by a slick rock band blaring from a more official-looking stage set up. But probably my favorite was a group of spontaneous break dancers in the middle of the street. Traffic was at a complete stop, and the dancers and the surrounding crowd could have cared less. I was instantly in love with this eclectic mix of people, music and art.
One of my favorite exhibits was by Judy Onofrio at Sherry Leedy Contemporary. My attraction to the sculptural work made up of bleached cow bones was a surprise to myself (and the friends that were with me). Her ability to take jawbones, vertebrae and ribs and turn them into fascinating works of art was pretty exceptional. Most of them were wall-hangings, but there were also some large vase-like structures that were very impressive.
I only snapped a couple of photos, but you can see more of her work at http://www.judyonofrio.com. And — lucky for me– the artist was actually there during the show! I got to meet her and ask her about her process. She told me she has a neighbor that raises cattle and allows her to collect old bones from his fields.
She said that she enjoys all the parts of collecting, cleaning, and bleaching the bones before assembling them into sculptures. Somehow, she has devised a method to conceal all of the joints where the bones are connected, and she told me that’s also a fun process for her. (Thanks to Terrin for snapping a pic of me talking with Ms. Onofrio).
What a fantastic way to start the summer. I’m eager to go back up to KC and do it again soon.
“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity… You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
I set a challenge for myself this month to post on my blog daily, and this, my friends, is the final post for the month of April 2014. I did it!
There were days that were a lot more inspiring than others, some very exciting with good news to share, and others that I just didn’t feel so motivated about. But I’ve found that this has been a really good exercise for me — it has kept me focused each day, because I knew I would need to share something interesting each day with you.
Just like my journals, my blog posts are a good resource for me to see what was going on in my life at a particular time.
An overview of this month’s posts:
I have gotten to share some of my visual journals with you, which until this month I hadn’t published online. Posting on my blog daily has encouraged me to finish some of those journal pages that I had started but had been dragging my feet on finishing. See awesome april posts # 1822, 23, 25 and 27 for new journal entries, and I have a new visual journals page that I’ve been adding to all month.
I shared things that inspire me along the way(days # 5, 6, 7, 14, 20, 28) and the advice I would give to my artist self 20 years ago (#16).
My trip to Europe is officially on the books, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s been 10 years since I traveled overseas, so I’m happy to have something fantastic to look forward to next year.
You got a few glimpses into my studio (day # 10, 15, 26, 28), and the studio of my friend Jennifer Cowley (day #2). I also shared a few of my art friends (day #11 and # 24), as well as some of my students’ work in progress (day #3).
I’ve had a great month getting my work out there. I revealed the news that I was selected to complete a public art mural for McKinney this spring. ( I’m still waiting on a start date, and I’ll keep you all posted on the latest developments with that project). Meanwhile, I’ve also sold a few paintings this month, and been selected for a juried show.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog this month, and to my new ‘followers.’ As always, I’d love to have comments from you on any of the posts.
I have been layering found images into my paintings for the last several years, but sometimes I wanted the paint to have more surface texture. There are many additives you can put into acrylic paint, but most of them either take a lot of layers to build up a thick surface, or they are opaque. I wanted the texture, but still with transparency. Enter encaustics!
I have admired encaustic work for some time – it has a very deep, luminous quality — but wasn’t quite sure how the process worked. So, I took a couple of classes over at The Encaustic Center in Richardson and immediately knew this was a medium that I could continue to experiment with.
What is encaustic? It is painting with heated beeswax! It’s an old method that has been around at least 2500 years, and was used by the Greeks and Egyptians for painting everything from boats to portraits. Find out more about the history of encaustic painting HERE.
Probably one of the most notable artists from the past 50 years that employed encaustic painting in his work is Jasper Johns, famous for his paintings of maps and the American flag.
I make my encaustic medium (beeswax + damar resin) in a large electric skillet. I then use oil paints to add the color (pigment) to the clear medium. I have a separate griddle for this, with 16 oz. ink tins lined up with the colors I want to use. This is the same setup used at the Encaustic Center, and in most books and articles I’ve read on encaustic painting. Some artists buy their encaustic paint already made (R & F has some really good paints), but they are very expensive.
What I love about encaustic is it’s a very fast, spontaneous medium. It dries quickly (think of how fast candle wax hardens), and can be used for both additive and subtractive techniques. You can also layer paper into your work easily — including drawings, photographs, collage, ephemera, etc. Imagine how exciting this was for me, as I love to glue all kinds of things into my paintings! To have a true “encaustic” painting, you have to fuse each layer together, slightly re-melting each layer to make sure it adheres to the one below it. I use a heat gun most of the time, but have just started enjoying using a torch as well. (However, when I add paper, I try to keep the torch far away).
In my newest series, I drew with charcoal or pastel onto tissue paper, then layered those drawings into my paintings using clear encaustic medium (clear paint, with no pigment added). The tissue paper became so transparent, that you can hardly detect the edges in the painting. It allowed me to “float” my drawings on top of previous layers of collage and paint. And the drips are now in 3D!
I just added a few more encaustic pieces to my web site, which you can find HERE.
And I’m happy to announce that two of my larger encaustic paintings were accepted into the 125 Juried Art Show, which opened yesterday. The show is at The ARTS Gallery at Collin College, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75074. The show runs April 28 – May 17, with a reception on Thursday, May 8 from 5:30 – 7:30pm.
There’s nothing like new art materials to make me excited. I just got some new paint sticks last week, and have been looking forward to this week – lots of studio time. Tomorrow is the day!
I’ve been using these a lot with my encaustic work, but also love to draw with them in my oil and acrylic paintings.
I also use oil sticks for many of my drawings on paper.
I finally made some new cradled panels this weekend, too. Thanks to my hubby for his help with these (or for letting me help him — he’s so much better at mitred corners than I am).
I made these underpaintings a few months ago, but now that I have the cradles on the back, they are ready for me to layer paint and color. Who knows how much of my original painting will even be visible when I’m done (probably not much). I can’t wait!
I’ve never really considered myself a gardener. My mom had a nice vegetable garden and pretty plants around the house, but I didn’t ever want to help out with that growing up (teenagers). On my own, I can’t seem to keep house plants alive. I tried a vegetable garden a couple of years ago, and was very unsuccessful. Last year I limited my vegetable gardening to three tomato plants, which yielded two tomatoes total all summer. Although that was a 100% increase from the prior year – if I kept it up, I might have enough for a couple of nice salads in a few years — I think I’ll just stick to the farmer’s market.
I have a lovely location between my house and my studio that was calling for vegetation, so I decided to try a perennial garden last year. I tried to plant a lot of things that were hardy for this weird north Texas weather, using my friends at Shades of Green as an expert resource. The area is shady at high noon, but gets good morning sun, and the north end gets afternoon sun as well.
After a particularly cold, harsh winter, the garden is growing back!
I’ve also added a few new friends.
Fall used to be my favorite season, with the cool breezes coming after a harsh Texas summer. But now, I think Spring has taken the top spot. I love going through the garden each day, seeing what is sprouting or blooming. It’s usually the first thing I do in the morning. I also use the garden as a place to reflect, notice the details and colors of nature, listen to the birds, and give my mind a rest if I’ve been working on a difficult project.
I also think it makes a nice entrance to my studio.
As I was making pies tonight, I thought I’d share with you an awesome story.
I had the privilege of growing up right next door to one of the greatest women I’ve ever met – my Granny. She was the hardest working person I’ve known, too, and had such a positive influence on everyone around her.
Growing up, I knew she was special – people would drive for miles to get one of her pies. She would make anywhere from 10 to 20 a day, and sell them from her house or over at my uncle Tommy’s store. She would get up while it was still dark outside, and have her kitchen clean by the time most of us were getting out of bed. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she made dozens of pies for weeks, covering her whole house with boxes of special orders. She wanted to make sure that anyone who asked would have the perfect dessert for family gatherings. She averaged up to 3000 pies a year, and kept this up well into her 80s. She was absolutely amazing.
Almost 10 years ago, I was asked if I would be interested in illustrating a cookbook. I hadn’t done anything quite like that before, but I thought I’d go ahead and try. I ended up illustrating two book covers for Cookbook Resources. The first that was published was for the Illinois Farm Bureau (above). But I actually finished one called Simple Old-Fashioned Baking first. It just took a couple of years before the book was published.
Meanwhile, I got to meet the company’s owner, Sharon Jones, at her office in Highland Village. After chatting for a while we realized we were from nearby towns in Fannin County. I told her that the inspiration for my cookbook cover for Simple Old-Fashioned Baking was my grandmother, who was an excellent cook, and notorious for her baking. I spoke of my grandmother’s hand-written recipe cards that I used for the cover, and how people would drive for hours to get her pies. Then a light bulb went off, and she said, “Your grandmother was the PIE LADY!?” She was very familiar with my grandmother’s work, and decided right then to dedicate Simple Old-Fashioned Baking to her!
I couldn’t have planned that any better, if I’d tried — a cookbook that I illustrated that ended up being dedicated to my Granny. Sharon also went and interviewed my grandmother, and there’s a short biography along with some of her recipes inside the book. I was so proud to get to be a part of this project, and then to have my grandmother celebrated was more than I could have imagined.
Tonight I made three pies using her recipes. It took me about 3 hours, and I (along with my kitchen) was covered with flour when I was done. I don’t know how she accomplished what she did, but I realize now what an artist she was. Every pie she made was delicious and also beautiful. She never used a recipe or really measured anything exactly. She make all of her crusts by hand, and could tell if they were right by “feel.” (Family members had to convince her to write things down for us, so we would have a chance at getting it remotely right).
Well, my pies might not win any beauty contests, but man, they smell good! And they taste almost as good as hers.
So in yesterdays post, I spoke of how journaling has helped keep me sane through the years. About twelve years or more ago, I heard about the concept of “art journals.” I had been doing something similar, but not the the degree of the artist’s I found online – and I was so inspired! I have always liked collage and text, and this was a great way for me to combine both of them.
I began working in an oversized altered book — using gesso to block out a lot of the images and text on the pages. In it, I collaged photographs of Greek and Roman sculptures, stained glass windows, and any type of image that I found interesting. Then I painted, drew and collaged more until the images looked the way I wanted them to. That book, started in 2004, is still a work in progress. Some of the pages are complete, and have come out of the book. But many are still in tact. Some have just the background started, and others are almost finished — just waiting for that final je ne sais quoi.
A couple of years ago, I discovered spiral-bound sketchbooks that have thick mixed media paper, and are marketed as “visual journals”. My first one is filled primarily with just doodling.
As I’ve progressed, and I’ve seen my pages get a lot more colorful and painterly, and I’ve collaged a lot more.
I have four volumes in progress right now, with volume 1 almost complete, and volume 4 in it’s infancy. I’ve just added an ART JOURNAL page to the blog, with galleries from each volume. Stay tuned for more!
A big part of my creative process is journaling — both the longhand-written text kind of journaling, and also visual journaling. I’ll share about the writing part today, and visual journals in tomorrow’s post.
I started keeping a diary as a kid, but didn’t really get into daily journaling until my Junior year in high school. Our teacher made us write journal entries (you know, for a grade), and it soon became my top creative outlet. I not only wrote in my journal, but also cut out magazine articles and newspaper clippings, and made collages and illustrations. I have tons of poems I wrote — a few good ones, and many really sad, desperate teenage girl kind of poems — as well as long, descriptive narratives of my summer days working, dating, getting into trouble and being completely bored.
I kept writing in that journal through my Senior year, and it’s a priceless artifact now, in all it’s 2″ three-ring binder glory. I pulled it out to take photos for this blog post, and have now stayed up most of the night reading it. Fascinating stuff.
It has been interesting to see the world through my own teenage eyes. Some things are much different from an adult’s point of view (Note to past self: “He’s just not that into you”). And then, some things never change. Even then, I had so much I wanted “to accomplish, so many things to do, places to go, people to see…” And I still have a hard time being patient, because I “want to go out and do it all.”
Probably my favorite find was in an entry written at the end of the summer between Junior and Senior year. I had worked all summer at Braum’s Ice Cream Store, and was desperately wishing for school to start back. I’d had enough of sticky sweet customer service, and was convinced that when I grew up “I’m gonna get myself a career that I like.” Amen!
Even now I practice journaling on a regular basis. After reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” I became re-convinced of the value of writing a few pages of prose every morning, to clear my mind and help me to focus when I’m ready to work. I use it to write goals, hopes, prayers, meditations, frustrations, ideas and grocery lists. It’s also a great way of documenting my life at the moment – you forget so much of the everyday details.
And I find it interesting to see what changes over time and what stays the same.
“It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past.” -Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
Dear twenty year old self:
Hi, hope you’re having a good day. Looks like your classes are going pretty well. (Don’t worry, sculpture isn’t my thing, either). I will say you need to go to bed earlier, so you aren’t so tired in the mornings. Those early classes are kicking your butt.
I just wanted to tell you that I think overall you’ve done some nice work. Something to keep in mind during critiques: It’s just their opinion. The other kids in class are at the same level as you. And most of them are probably going to end up working in education or some kind of sales job anyway. Do your thing. Keep working hard. Don’t worry so much.
While you’re at it, get to know your teachers. Ask some questions. Go to some art openings. Get involved in the art scene. Those other things you’re into can wait. SHOW YOUR WORK. Keep learning, stay humble, but own it. Stop caring what they think.
Switching from Art Ed to Art History was a pretty good call, I guess, but I know you really wanted to do Drawing and Painting. Well, we know that’s not justifiable to you-know-who, but you’ll get there eventually. It’s going to be an interesting journey for you. You’re going to have to go through a lot of stuff to get there. Don’t give up. And by the time you figure it out, you’ll actually have something meaningful to say.
So keep up the good work. When you’re in the Art Building, take a deep breath and remember that smell — oil paint and potential. And thank that janitor that lets you paint all night there when you’ve got the painting due tomorrow.
Technology can be a blessing and a curse, but I think the smartphone has radically altered the way we see the world, or at least the way we record and present our point of view.
Although I don’t consider myself a photographer, snapping photos is a part of my everyday practice of finding inspiration, making connections, and exploring concepts. Here are a few Instagram photos I’ve taken over the past several weeks that interested me for their use of pattern, light, texture, and/or juxtaposition of meaningful objects.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas /blockquote>
I found this on Amazon recently, just published this year. I think it was one of their suggestions, based on what I’ve purchased (effective marketing on their part). I had heard of the “Steal Like an Artist” book, yet never read it, but thought I’d take a chance on this one. It was a quick and easy read, and full of helpful things to encourage artists and creative types to promote themselves in this digital world. Many of the things I have been doing and suggesting to others myself, but there were also some chapters that pointed me in new directions. For example, one of the ideas I had been thinking of was to find a month where i would publish my blog daily, and this book helped me to go ahead and commit. Here we are on day 9, and I’m still going strong!
Another book that’s been on my nightstand for over a year is “Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty” by Phoebe Hoban. I read the first third of it pretty quickly, but somewhere in the middle, I’ve lost my mojo. Neel has been one of my favorite painters for a long time, and it’s interesting to see how she got her start, and the obstacles that she overcame to keep making her art.
I have to say, at this point in the book, I am kind of angry with her over her poor choices as a mother (her kids were in terrible health as babies, and her older son was habitually emotionally and physically abused by one of her lovers, with her knowledge). I feel this, while also knowing there is a huge double-standard for female artists in comparison to their male counterparts. (These kids had fathers, too, that didn’t do much to help out). And there are plenty of male artists that are almost never criticized for their parenting abilities — that seems to be irrelevant when speaking of their work as artists. But, nevertheless, I find it interesting how much of her biography is centered upon her responsibilities to her children, and perhaps rightly so. Most of her choices were based on the fact that she had mouths to feed, as well as art to make. Perhaps she did both the best way she knew how.
Just writing about it makes me want to pick it up again and she how she manages to “not sit pretty.” Go girl!
Part 3 of 3 – “keeping your sense of wonder” – the ridiculous
As I explored the fields of antiques, collections and plain-ol’ junk this weekend at the Antiques Weekend in Round Top and Warrenton, I found a lot of things that bordered on the ridiculous.
I found this watercolor on a table of a tent that had been really picked over. I can’t imagine why this gem hadn’t been scooped up yet. But I have to say, it made me laugh. Kudos to the artist for making whatever the heck they wanted to. Looks like a painting done from a photograph of a heavily mulleted and moustached guy, clad in plaid in front of a sculpture of Jesus, which is itself in front of two other paintings, one of a western landscape and one of The King himself. (I imagine the challenge was to see how many clichés one could put into one small work of art). So now I have provided you with a iPhone photograph of a painting of a photograph of a sculpture, two paintings and a guy. And since you can see the reflection of my hands, I guess you could also call it a selfie.
There was a particular tent that gave me a lot of material for the topic of “ridiculousness”. The proprietor was quite a work of art herself. She seemed to have a strange obsession with doll parts, and tended to put doll heads on any vertical type of post she could find.
Although some of my friends on Instagram found this pretty disturbing, I was fascinated. I didn’t find it too scary, but I also didn’t look any of the dolls in the eye and just kept moving.
The same person also had a nice collection of random (mannequin) body parts, carelessly piled on the ground like an open grave.
So what does all of this mean?
As artists, we are often expected to visually make sense of this world. We make a lot of things that make sense only to us. Sometimes there are things that we can’t verbalize, but are still important to our art making process.
Sometimes things just don’t have to make sense. They just make us wonder!
Day 2 of 3 of “keeping a sense of wonder” — the nostalgic
As I mentioned on my previous post, I sometimes have to take myself out of my everyday habitat in order to find that sense of wonder. I headed south for the weekend to Round Top, Texas, famous for their Antiques Week every spring and fall. Ever since high school, I have liked to go to antique shops and flea markets. I remember heading out by myself to the quirky antiques shop on the square in Honey Grove, or the trades day in Bonham. I would wander around, not looking for anything in particular, but would always find weird old things that spoke to me. Of course, these were just gateway junking experiences, grooming me for my first dumpster-diving high during my freshman year of college.
In Round Top & Warrenton, there is always so much to look at. But as a DIY kind of girl, I prefer the fields of random junk over booths of prettied-up crafty things. We found a little treasure amongst the piles of rust — a momento to remind my husband of good times at his Grandma Ginny’s house. He remembers sitting on a similar stool in her kitchen when he was a kid. It’s still really sturdy – they don’t make ’em like they used to. Now, if I can just figure out how she made her fudge so magical.
My main shopping mission this time was to find a set of lockers for my bathroom. After scouring the grounds, I had found three possibilities — but there really was only one that I wanted. So I stalked. I approached. I bargained. I walked away. I came back the next day when they were packing up. I won.
These lockers remind me of the ones I had during junior high. I love the click the latch makes when you pull it up to open the door and the clanking metal when you close them. All I need is a photo montage of Ricky Schroder, Kirk Cameron, Max Headroom, Molly Ringwald, Lisa Bonet and Cyndi Lauper on the inside door and it will be like time stood still. (Hmmmm. Maybe that’s exactly what I’ll do…..)
I didn’t really have a sense of nostalgia when I first started exploring those flea markets and antique stores as a teen, because I’d only been around a handful of years myself. But I did have a fascination with how previous generations used different objects, and I’ve always loved things made of wood and metal. Maybe because I grew up in a generation made of plastic. I didn’t realize at the time that those outings were my early “artist dates,” a time to let my inner artist daydream, imagine and play. And looking at discarded treasures is still a source of inspiration for me. And of wonder……
Part of staying inspired and motivated as an artist is to keep your sense of wonder. I have been working pretty hard in the studio for a while and needed to plan a time to get out and see something (re)new. So here I am in Round Top, Texas today, exploring and being intrigued by the beautiful, the nostalgic and the ridiculous. There is so much to share, it will take me a few days to cover it all…..
First: The Beautiful.
April in Texas is probably my favorite time (I really like late October, too). Things are lush and green, and the wildflowers are profuse, especially in this part of the state. I grew up in a rural area, where there were tons of wildflowers along the roads and highways. I don’t see them as much in suburbia (with the exception of a few yards that have enthusiastic owners who spread seeds each spring), so it’s good to get out and see them in their natural habitat. Bluebonnets in Texas never get old (just don’t ask me to paint them).
We had a fast and furious time of looking at more ‘junk’ than the law allows (more on that next time). After most of the vendors started packing up, we headed over to the square in Round Top and took an early evening stroll. It is the most picturesque little square — if Hans Christian Andersen had been a Texan, I’m sure he would have chosen this for the setting of his fairy tales.
And the Live Oaks are gorgeous!
We have a live oak next to our house, which I love (I can see it right out my studio window), but it’s really nice when they have room to spread like they do here. They are gnarly and majestic. Sublime.
We finally made it over to our rental cottage for the evening, and we had another warm welcome from this guy. His owner, Joi told me he’s a Gypsy Vanner and Shire mix. He kind of reminded us of a Clydesdale, with his size and the long hair around his horse-ankles. There are actually several gorgeous horses here, and sprawling green fields as far as the eye can see.
I’m looking forward to sitting on the porch in the morning with a cup of coffee, while I watch the horses have their breakfast, and wonder…..
“Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I’m given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one’s own vision.”
One of the strangest dichotomies of being an artist is the constant need to “express yourself” and the constant fear of “putting it out there.”
I’ve been making art for a long time, and I still struggle with this. Sometimes when I enter a new juried show, or approach a gallery about showing my work, I get a little knot in my stomach about how I’m going to be perceived, and wonder if I’ll be accepted or rejected. (Just keeping it real). I do something similar when I’m making art sometimes, too, especially if it’s outside of the box. I’ll have this great idea, and then talk myself out of it before I even start (my “censor” gets the best of me). But I have also learned that when I have that feeling, it means I’m stepping out of my comfort zone, and that’s a good thing. I’ve just got to push through the fear and cross into the unknown.
On Thursdays, I have three adult students that come to the studio to paint. They’re all at different experience levels and backgrounds, all with different interests. One common thread we’ve all found is that sometimes it’s just hard to get started. The potential that a blank canvas holds can be exhilarating and daunting. The drawing is on the canvas, but there is no color yet. And then you jump in.
Michelle has been working on a gorgeous painting, using the palette knife to apply her paint. She was telling me today how she once took a class, and admired how one of the other students seemed to effortlessly apply the paint with a palette knife, and how she felt like she would never be able to do that. But now, after giving it a shot, (and some practicing), she can, too. And she does it well! This is still a work in progress, but she is doing an outstanding job of layering the colors with her palette knife, finding that balance of creating a realistic image while keeping the expressive scrapes of the knife.
It was also fun to watch Jo and Tatiana today, as they got started on new paintings. At first, the blankness of the canvas was a bit intimidating, but once they started, they were so happy with what they had done.
And I was very impressed with them, too — look at those colors and expressive lines!
A good start. (Thanks, ladies for letting me share your works in progress – for letting me put it out here!)
So now I’m going to log off and submit work for a new show – one that pushes me into the unknown. Wish me luck.
Today I took a quick trip across town to visit my friend Jennifer Cowley’s studio. I met Jennifer last year, when she joined the ArtSeen Studio tour here in Frisco. She came by and visited with me in the fall and I instantly felt like this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Her studio is in the front of her home, and is a work of art in itself. She has the best furniture in there! I wish I’d taken more photos, but I’ll share some of the highlights.
Here’s the infamous pink stove that she uses for storage. When she moved here from Oak Cliff, she couldn’t bear to part with some of her vintage fixtures, so she just brought them with her and has found creative uses for them. I wish I’d gotten a pic of her awesome orange metal sink!
She has a great desktop that is also a light box, which was a hand-me-down from a fellow artist. We had a fun conversation about how most things we have were not purchased new, and many of them were free. It’s all about seeing the beauty in uncommon objects and using things for alternate purposes (and knowing others who have really cool junk they’re willing to give away).
And then there are beautiful vignettes like this, that honestly I don’t even know what to say. Perfection.
Most artists I know have really interesting stories about how they got to where they are now, and she’s no exception. I enjoyed getting to know her backstory a bit, how she began her college education in the dental field, went into architecture, and then truly found herself in art. Out of college, she worked in an art gallery for a while, then a serendipitous encounter with the very successful artist Frank Frazier changed her path entirely. She got to travel and work with Frank for a couple of years, and he has become her mentor as an artist. I can see his influence in her work, although she definitely has a strong aesthetic of her own. See her online portfolio at www.jenmonet.com.
One of the best things about having other artists as friends is that they “get” you in a way that most other people don’t. There’s a drive in you that’s both a blessing and a curse, and it makes you quite different than a lot of your other friends and acquaintances. You see and experience the world differently. Your ideals are different. And as an artist in a suburban town, it’s even harder to find others that think like you. Glad I’ve found a few.
One of the things I enjoy most is sharing my love of mixed media with others, and hearing them say, “This is so much fun!” I got that chance this past weekend in my studio, during my Mixed Media workshops. We partied into the night on Friday, and part of the day on Saturday, and I was impressed with the variety of art that was made.
Artist Cheryl White attended the workshop and got the fever — not much of her journal was untouched before she left. She has written a blog post that features one of her gorgeous creations from the weekend. Check it out HERE. (Note: that’s her in the photo above [bottom left], working on the journal page that is featured in her blog).
The goal for my classes is always to inspire, but I find that I come out of them motivated and encouraged by the creativity of others. It’s good to make art, simply for the sake of having fun.
This past weekend my daughter went to auditions for middle school band. She’s a fifth grader, who a month ago, had no interest whatsoever in being in band next year. She was set on taking the ‘exploratory wheel’ course, where she would get to try different elective classes in 6-week intervals. Not a bad choice. But her big sister let her know that if she was interested at all in band, that she would probably want to go ahead and take it as a 6th grader, and not have to be in beginning band as a 7th grader (with all those 6th graders –ew!). So… she took her sister’s advice, and set her heart on being a percussionist.
I’ve always thought she has pretty good rhythm, and as a percussionist she would get to play the xylophone (following in her mom’s footsteps – I was excited about re-living my band memories vicariously through her). We showed up for tryouts on Saturday. The cafeteria was full of tryout stations – woodwinds, brass and the highly esteemed percussion area – to which she made an instant beeline. As we waited for her turn, I could tell she was nervous. We watched as the kids before us tapped out rhythms and answered questions by the director.
Then it was her turn.
She did a pretty good job overall, but I could tell her nerves were getting to her. (She had also stayed up most of the night the night before – much to my chagrin – at a friend’s house, so she wasn’t at her best for her first ‘job interview.’ ) After an involved tryout, the director advised her to go try other instruments, and then come back to chat with him if percussion was still her first choice.
She fortunately went and tried everything else– from the bassoon, to the tuba, to the trumpet and flute. She was exceptionally good at the French horn, and thought for a brief time that was the instrument for her. Until…..she tried the clarinet. Apparently, she did an excellent job getting a good sound from the clarinet. The instructor was very encouraging and expressive about her encouragement. This is exactly the type of reaction that goes a long way with my daughter (apple/tree). So, there we had it……she was going to play the clarinet!
On the way out from the two-hour tryout session, we talked about how interesting it was that she went into the tryouts with her heart set on percussion, and then decided clarinet was the instrument for her….. and how life is like that, too. Often, we think that we know what we want. But it isn’t until the pursuit of that goal, that we find the thing that is really right for us. But the first goal wasn’t a waste of time. On the contrary, if we had never even tried for anything, we would have never known what other possibilities were out there.
As an artist, I’ve found that this has been true in my career. I didn’t always have the future planned, but it wasn’t until I tried making it as an artist, that I discovered other possibilities that were waiting for me.
My daughter mentioned several times this weekend how glad she was that she went to the tryouts and tried all of the instruments. I hope that this is the first of many things that she tries for….and discovers surprises about herself along the way.
Since I was a kid, I’ve loved collecting images – tearing out pages from magazines or books. Sometimes it’s simply a pattern or color that inspire me. Sometimes it’s another artists’ work from a magazine. I also really love home design, so I’ve got binders full of tear sheets for inspiration. This summer, I wanted an area to put up an oversized pinboard in my studio to display the stack of art images I had collected. I decided the inside of the garage door would be a great place, since it wouldn’t take up valuable work space, and it would help to beautify what was an eyesore. I got a couple of sheets of foam insulation from Home Depot and cut them to fit snugly inside of the garage door. Then, I just pinned up my image collection: magazine pics, postcards, drawings, prints, photos and other sources of inspiration. I’m constantly adding to the pinboard, which is about 70 square feet of awesomeness. Here’s how it turned out.
Ok, now on to my real image collection obsession: Pinterest! Not familiar? Let me explain. No, there is no time….Let me sum up… Pinterest is an online “pinboard” combined with a social media site that allows you to “pin” images from the internet onto virtual pinboards. You can also ‘follow’ any other pinner, and get ideas from others whose style you like.
In layman’s terms, it is visual crack, and I spend way too much time on there. But as a visual artist, I justify it as “research.” It is a fantastic way to find inspiring images (and too many DIY projects to count) without having to search all over Google. What I love is that you can customize who you want to follow, and even which boards, so that you get the types of images that you want to see. Recipes and Workout ideas? No, thank you. Color, Art and Gardening? Bring it on!
Here’s a peek at my personal pinboard. Click the image below to go to my Pinterest page.
By the way, there is a fine line between inspired and distracted. I am happy to dance on both sides of that line. -Misty
One book that has seriously changed the way I view myself as an art-maker and a human is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Once I completed the book (much like a 12-step program for recovering artists), my mindset had been changed forever. No longer was I waiting around for someone else to give me permission to be what I wanted to be. And I learned to let my art be a form of play, not so much work.
I’m starting a series of art classes based on this principle of play, using a variety of media to inspire my students to let themselves actually have a good time while making art.
I believe you can use the skills and techniques of art to communicate your ideas, but without the element of play, the art lacks soul. Allowing yourself to play allows you to use the part of your brain that you don’t control. Think about kids and their imaginations. Let’s get back to that again.
For more information on my classes, visit www.freshpaints.com/classes. I will start another series after the New Year, so check back for new class schedules. Let me know if you’d like to join me.
“Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” ― Julia Cameron.
I got to spend this past weekend exhibiting at Art City Austin, enjoying a great location right at the intersection of the 1st Street Bridge and Caesar Chavez streets.
It was great hearing what attracted people to my work, and it’s always interesting how different artworks affect different people. Of course, most people knew right away if they even wanted to wander into my booth– if they were afraid of color, then my art wasn’t for them. But those who have a passion for color like I do, came on in and took some time to study the layers in my work. They were often impressed by the depth of color in my work. A lot of my works have many layers of paint — (sometimes one or two entire paintings) underneath the surface. I also use glazes in my work to create transparent layers, which really help to make the colors deep. It’s really hard to get good photographs of my work, and seeing them in person is the only way to truly appreciate the depth of color.
I met a lot of great people — gave away hundreds of business cards, and sold several works of art. Thanks to Patrick, Ellie, Colleen, Remi, and Katherine for their patronage and encouragement! Austin has been one of my favorite places to visit for the past couple of years, and Art City Austin was a great place to show my work.
When I moved to Frisco, TX almost five years ago, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on a personal level. I knew it had great schools, so that appealed to my maternal need to give my kids “the best.” It has a pretty good city plan, as far as suburbs go. And we found a good little house in a nice neighborhood at a great price. Plus, it had a studio for me! But I wondered what would be in store for me career wise– you know, artistically. At the time, I was doing a lot of decorative painting, which included murals and faux finishes, and Frisco was (and still is) one of the fastest-growing cities in the US. There were lots of possibilities for those kinds of jobs here. I kept pretty busy.
On the side, I was making my art when I could, and I was eager to meet other artists. I was hoping that the art scene reflected the progressive attitude I saw in the rest of the city. I joined the local art guild, and soon started meeting some great artists — many artists around my age who were making some really great work. It really inspired me to keep making more art and to keep showing it. Over the past couple of years, the art guild has grown into a really cool group (www.vagf.org), and it looks like the rest of the city is catching up.
This past weekend, we hosted the reception for our first show of 2011, “Resolutions,” to a crowd of well over 100 people. We had a great time hanging out at the new Discovery Center– Frisco’s new visual and performing arts venue. Awards were given, artwork was sold, new connections were made. I had several conversations with other Friscoans (non-artists) that had been longing for art events to attend within the city limits. They could actually have a classy date-night right here in town.
The previous weekend, thegallery8680 held their first opening of the year, and I am privileged to be a part of that show. Director Robyn Parker Feehan is the visionary behind thegallery8680; she started the space last year to promote contemporary artists in the region. This show, “Celebrating Women Artists” includes photography, drawing, painting and mixed media works from nine female artists from Texas. The reception was a great success, again with over 100 people in attendance. More proof that Frisco is becoming a hot spot for the visual arts in North Texas!
I really believe that moving to Frisco was the right move for me as an artist. We’ve got a core group of artists who are working to create an active arts community. It’s still in the formative stage, but we’re definitely headed in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring.
If you’re in town, check out these exhibits:
The “Resolutions” VAGF Member Show will be on display at Frisco Discovery Center through Saturday, February 26. Frisco Discovery Center is located at 8004 N. Dallas Parkway, Frisco 75034. Hours are M-F 10-5, Sat. 10-6 and Sun. noon-6pm. Admission is free. Information on the Visual Arts Guild of Frisco can be found at www.vagf.org.
“Celebrating Women Artists” runs through March 12 at thegallery8680, located at 8680 Main Street, Frisco 75034. There will be a daytime reception/luncheon on Wednesday, March 9, from 11:30am – 3:00pm. Visit thegallery8680 blog at www.thegallery8680.blogspot.com. Call Robyn for an appointment to see the artwork at 214.585.8175.
As I mentioned before, I’ve begun a new fixation with pears. They have shown up in some my paintings over the past couple of years, but this time they’re the main attraction. I’ve been buying pears each time I go to the grocery store, and then I’ll come home and set them up on my kitchen table. I’ll draw directly from observation, as well as take a ton of digital photos. These photos were the source for this new set of drawings. I took some photos during the day, and some at night, trying to create the right groupings, lighting and composition.
As much of my other work, these explore family relationships. However, instead of using people, I put pears as stand-ins for myself and others. (The titles give a clue to what’s going on in each composition). It’s funny that even my kids know which pear specifically represents them without me telling them. Now I have dozens (maybe hundreds) of new reference photos, with all kinds of “people” in them, so there’s no telling how many drawings and paintings I’ll do in this series.
Through this process, I’ve discovered a renewed interest in drawing, specifically in charcoal. I enjoy working really loose, and gradually building up rich, dark values. Working in monochrome has been liberating, as I don’t have to worry about color. It has been a good diversion from painting. As I started back on some of my paintings today, I had a fresher outlook. I found that my mind had shifted into a different kind of art-making, and helped me get back to painting with a new perspective. Plus I think I came out with some interesting drawings, and I’m inspired to do even more.
“One of the hardest things in the world is to see yourself objectively. I’m not sure it’s even possible.”
I recently (last week) decided to start doing at least one self-portrait every year. I’ve only really done a few “official” self-portraits in the past. Of course, each work of art has my heart and soul in it, but there are some that are more personally reflective than others. Let me share them with you.
Here’s the earliest self-portrait I can find, made in August of 1988, when I was fifteen. I hadn’t had a lot of artistic training up to that point, but I think I got a pretty good likeness. At least that’s how I remember myself looking. (Check out those bangs!)
I’ll continue by skipping the horrible self-portrait I did in college, the result of a class assignment. A family member owns it now and will not let me take it back and destroy it. Or atleast paint over it. If I have anything to do with it, that painting will NOT make it into the art history books. It’s humiliating on so many levels.
Here’s a charcoal self-portrait I did several years back when I was teaching and my students were working on self-portraits. I didn’t put a date on this drawing, but I’m pretty sure it was made in the fall of 2001, right after 9/11. I was expecting my second child and had lots on my mind. Maybe that explains the serious look.
Here’s something that started out as a self-portrait, but ended up not as an image of me, but a reflection of how I felt at the time…
This was begun in 2006 (top), when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The title was always the same, “Ou est la joie de vivre?” Translated from French to English, it means “Where is the Joy of Life?” It’s also a play on words, because the collaged images that I used were taken from a wallpaper pattern called ‘Joie de Vivre,’ which shows families happily working and frolicking, just happy to be alive, I guess. No worries in this ideal world. I worked on this painting over the next three years, keeping the collaged elements, but at some point I took out my likeness and replaced it with a woman who is turned away from the viewer. Possibly the journey in this painting is more valuable than the end product. But I think that’s true for all of my work.
Last year I made this 4×4 inch collage entitled “36” that I consider my self portrait for 2009. It’s definitely more lighthearted than some in previous years, thank goodness!
This painting, although I wouldn’t consider it a self-portrait, has a lot of personal connections. Also completed last year, “She Comes from Texas” uses the image of the Venus de Milo as the main subject. The title comes from a collaged passage, located below her feet. It is a quote Ernest Hemmingway, which I found in another book, written in the 1950s. It says, “With us, if a girl is really beautiful, she comes from Texas and maybe, with luck, she can tell you what month it is. They can all count good, though. They teach them how to count, and keep their legs together, and how to put their hair up in pin curls.”
Obviously, the point here is the irony, but I think the quote hit a nerve with me. Growing up in rural Texas, I often felt that I was viewed this way by the men and boys I grew up with. In our small-town culture, the main way I saw males communicate with females was through teasing. Most of it was light-hearted, but I tended to take things very personally, and really never felt very good about it. I learned to smile, though. As a matter of fact, one of my nicknames given to me from male coaches as a teenager was “smiley,” (in addition to “stubby” and “air head deluxe”). I thought that most men thought I was pretty dumb. Wonder why?
So here is my latest “self-portrait.” I’ve been working on it for a few months, but just completed it yesterday. There’s a lot going on here, but I think that is the perfect reflection of who I am right now. There is charcoal, paint, furniture molding, computer keyboard parts, a playing card, and collaged wallpaper. The central figure doesn’t look anything like me, but I think she reflects confidence. I’ve been growing in that this year. Probably my favorite part of this is the blue square behind the girl’s head — it’s a Post-It Note. Any mother or ambitious woman can relate to needing constant reminders, all over the place, all the time. It’s definitely been one of those years for me.
It will be interesting to see how my life, my style and my self-perception changes over the years. I’ll keep you posted.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
I like my work best when I let myself be free and loose, and not getting too attached to what’s on the canvas at any given moment. Sounds fun, but it really isn’t that easy to do. I have to keep reminding myself “Don’t be afraid to mess up. It’s just paint.” To really make progress, I have to get into this certain frame of mind, where I’m immersed in the paint, and not really thinking about the outcome. It’s a place of subconscious that I haven’t been able to explain…..until today.
When I found this quote yesterday, I didn’t know who Scott Adams was, so I did a little research on him today. Turns out, he’s the creator of the “Dilbert” cartoon. I checked out his blog (www.dilbert.com), and guess what he posted about today? He talks about his theory that artists get “Crazy Eyes” when they’re in the creative ‘zone.’ You can read about it here. http://www.dilbert.com/blog/entry/crazy_eyes/ Really funny stuff.
Yep, that’s a good way of explaining it — crazy eyes! That “sort of glassy, unblinking, dreamy, scary look” when someone is lost in their own imagination. I’ve never checked out my eyes in the mirror when I’m in that zone, but I can only imagine that they must look crazy. I think my husband has noticed it. He’ll say something like, “I can see your wheels turning.” Usually, in a matter of minutes, I’m in my studio, with paint on my feet and in my hair. Fortunately, some of the paint lands on the canvases I’m working on as well.
That makes me think about this painting that I finished this last month. It’s inspired by a Crazymaker that I know (a term coined by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way,” and not at all the same as Crazy Eyes). This Crazymaker had been making quite a bit of crazy for me over the past several months, so this painting was my therapy to work through some frustrations. I scraped on a background layer of color, then added some personal thoughts with charcoal. The next part is kind of a blur, because I let myself just let go and not worry about how it came out. I had nothing to lose. This painting came together quickly and I couldn’t have created it if I had been trying. I just let myself make some mistakes, and artfully chose the ones to keep.
Some trivia: Scott Adams grew up in Windham, NY, and I grew up in Windom, TX. Quite a serendipitous day.
I had a lot of fun playing around with a new media today. Since I’ve noticed a lot of pears showing up in my work, I bought a bunch of fresh pears at the grocery store last night. I thought it might inspire me. Add the pears with several brand new bottles of brightly colored ink that have been awaiting the right day, and the inspiration was born!
Here’s one of the first sketches I made with charcoal. I added color with the ink, diluting it like watercolor. Once it was dry, I used oil pastels, and later chalk pastels to outline, highlight, shade and add definition.
After doing a few of these, I started to loosen up a bit. I kept the washes pretty light and loose, adding salt for texture. Here are some of the looser ones.
I have to include these two (below) because they made me laugh. Some of the ink took quite a long time to dry, and when I moved the paper, the ink ran. I knew that would happen, but I just wanted to play around and see what came of it. The pears grew appendages.
When my daughter got home from school, she saw my “models” (to use her terminology) on the table. She, too, thought they looked a lot like people. She had an acorn and put it on the stem of one of the pears, telling me to make it look like a head. So here’s the result of our creative collaboration.
These are all relatively small, done on 9 x 12″ watercolor paper.
It has finally cooled off here– no more 100 degree heat. The mornings are a little chilly, and the afternoons are warm with a cool breeze. Amazing what that can do for your outlook. Perfect weather to make some art!
Within the past few weeks, I’ve completed about two dozen new works of art, from tiny 4 x 4″ works, to larger paintings and mixed media pieces. Some of them I started several months ago, and others I started and finished within a couple of days. I wanted to share a couple of the “before” and “after” pics with you.
Here’s a photo of some ‘works-in-progress’ that I posted on my Facebook page back in July. I had been having fun layering paint, spraying the wet paint and watching it run. I didn’t really know where I was going with these paintings, but I like to work on top of a layered background anyway, so at least I had a starting point.
And here’s how they ended up–
This painting, “Home” started out as the painting on the far left (above). As you can see, not much of the original underpainting is left, and the canvas was turned horizontally rather than vertically. The layered underpainting did help create a jumping off point. I started scraping layers of paint on top of it, and added layers of glazes for depth. I was encouraged by my friend Robyn to do a larger version of ‘Home,’ as the first one was just 6 x 12.” So this canvas seemed to be a good fit.I changed up the colors a bit, but I’m really pleased with how it came out.
This one started out as the painting in the center (top photo). Again, not much of the original layers are showing. I absolutely love the deep turquoise blue. I don’t think the photo shows the colors very well — I may have to get one of my professional photo friends to help me out with a better shot. It’s got a nice, glossy varnish on top that brings out the juicy colors. I did a little writing in charcoal between the layers of paint, and that’s where this painting gets it’s title, “Give Yourself Freedom.” I think I was listening to a Tivo’d episode of Oprah late one night, and got inspired by that phrase, which struck a chord with me, because I think much of what holds me back is not restrictions given by anyone else but myself. Just in case you can’t tell, the white spot on the canvas is actually a keyboard piece that says ‘enter.’
As far as the third painting from the studio shot (the one with the figure in the top photo), it’s still a work in progress. I think I’ve almost worked it to death. We’ll see if it survives or gets reincarnated.
(Update: The third painting did, in fact, get reincarnated – only the bird survived. It is now “The Progression of Things.”
I am interested in taking art historical depictions of women (typically created by male artists) and keeping the overall composition, but changing the meaning entirely. These women are no longer in the background; they are no longer simply seen as allegories of beauty and desire. They are now active participants in their own life, everyday women with interesting stories to tell.
Stylistically, I prefer looser lines and more abstracted forms than used in traditional paintings. I am influenced by the modernists: Matisse, Picasso, Van Gogh, Valadon, and Toulouse-Lautrec, to name a few. I feel a connection to their liberated use of color and simplification of forms. In this particular work, I first layered paper onto the canvas. The underlying image (a photograph of a sculpture that I took while in Boston) shows through only near the bottom of the composition — the dark areas in the female’s dress, and under the red garment of the child.
Another influece on my art is stained glass windows. I believe this comes from my background in Art History, and eventual travels in Europe. Each panel of stained glass tells a story through simple lines and bold colors. Likewise, each canvas or panel of my work captures a simple moment in time (a conversation, an exchange between mother and child), and elevates it to a moment of the sublime. Although I use the “aura” or halo in some of my work, it not meant to be religious, but rather to bring to light the sacred acts of everyday life. Using these female subjects, much of my art work deals with my interpretation of my own life: my role as mother, daughter, and wife.
Pablo Picasso said, ” Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” For me, at least, this is true.
“To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong. “ – Joseph Chilton Pearce
Over the past couple of years, this has become my creative motto. It speaks to me very personally. I am by nature a perfectionist of sorts, terribly afraid of being wrong. Mostly not wanting to look stupid.
I’m not sure how this became such a part of who I am (I have an educated guess), but it’s been there a long time.
When it comes to art, don’t we all feel like we’re wrong at some point? I have sat through many, many art history classes, all of which held up artists as geniuses of their time. And I agree that many were indeed geniuses. I’ve critiqued their work. I’ve stood in awe. But some of them really just knew how to work the system. And sometimes I thought, “What? This is art?” Because, as we all know, art these days is so subjective that it’s hard to say what art is anymore. I like some of it. I hate some of it. Most of it I can at least appreciate. But you have to admit it, most of what is considered “modern” and “it” in the art world now really isn’t very pleasant to look at.
Yes, I know that’s the point, ok. But it still doesn’t make me want to look at it. So there. It is visual art, for crying out loud.
And so what if I’m wrong? I’m not afraid of being wrong anymore, remember (she reminds herself).
So this leads me back to my own creativity….. over and over again as I’m working in my studio, I have to remind myself to enjoy my creativity. Stop thinking so hard and have some fun at it. Play. Experiment.
I’m still working on losing my fear, I guess. But I’m a lot closer than I was this time last year. And the year before….
It was seven years ago that he and I were sitting on a huge lawn with thousands of other people from all over the world. It was our first trip to Europe, and it just so happened to be one of the most magical days of my life.
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For a while now, I’ve been feeling the need to write. I used to love journaling. I’ve got volumes of poems, prose, stories of my life from when I was a teenager (Oh, the drama!). I used my journal — a very large three-ring binder — to let out my frustrations, my longings, my ideas, my passions, and all the things that I knew no one else would understand. These writings began as an assignment from my favorite English teacher. Most of my classmates would moan in disdain each time she announced a new set of writing tasks and due dates. But I relished every moment of it, and couldn’t wait to live life so I would have something to write about.
And so here I am, twenty years later. Haven’t “had” the time to slow down and write much. It has seemed like a luxury that I can’t afford. House. Kids. Job. Husband. Volunteering. Just too much to do. And then there’s this art thing. You know, I could be painting right now.
But I’m at the point right now that I don’t think I can afford not to write. As my youngest daughter, Sophie, said a while back, “I’ve got all these thinky-things floating around in my head.” As she said this, she moved her hands in a swirling motion on either side of her head. My husband and I laughed and he said, “Yes, I’m sure you do!”
I totally get that! She put into words how I feel about 95% of the time. These Thinky Things are so noisy that they pretty much drown out everything else, and keep me from being focused on anything. Even this morning as we were driving, we passed the art center where I’m having a show this month, and a million “to do’s” popped up into my head like spam in a trash folder. My husband, who knows me so well, heard my sigh, and said, “I can see the wheels turning. Are you thinking about all the things you need to do?”
Yep. And starting a blog was very high on my priority list. (check!) Sure, I think it’s a good way to communicate with my friends and “fans.” But more than anything, it’s going to be a way for me to put all of those Thinky Things in their place!