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.
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.
Today I thought I’d share a blog about some of my art friends. These are all artists that I appreciate not only for the quality of their work, but also their work ethic. And they happen to be really cool people, too. Click on any of the images to find out more about that artist.
This is from my first visual journal, which is actually an altered book. I gessoed out the pages before adding acrylic, collaged photocopied images, collaged wallpaper, watercolor and permanent marker. See more of my visual journals HERE.
The mother and child image is universal to all cultures, and is always one that is close to my heart.
What are some of your favorite topics for your visual journals? I’d love to hear your comments!
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.
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.
Some days are more glamorous than others. There are those days where I announce a big event, get into a show, sell some work, or get to go somewhere exciting. Those are glamorous. Today, not so much. I did get my taxes finished last night (a whole day early), and then spent most of today doing catch up work on emails, filling out online forms, following up with clients, and making a couple of to-do lists. Which led to another to-do list or two.
I think I checked off 3 of the 13 tasks. But they were the three most important things.
One thing I’ve learned about being an artist, is that it takes some planning and patience. And some discipline. It’s definitely not as glamorous as the movies would have you think. Yes, I’m occasionally inspired. Yes, I’m even sometimes tortured (all mental self-infliction). But mostly I have to be self-motivated and wise with how I spend my time. I don’t have the luxury of going crazy (although some say I’ve already arrived at that destination). And I’m not only responsible for myself – I’m also trying to be a decent wife, mom and person in addition to an artist. But that doesn’t make for very interesting movies, does it?
Just for fun, I searched for “tortured artist” and found the wikipedia entry, which has a whole list of examples of tortured artists – including writers, musicians, actors, directors and visual artists – very few of which are women. We ladies have too much to do to stand around being “tortured”. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
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>
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.”
Misty’s Public Service Announcement in support of artists, women and everyone who works hard and is misunderstood.
I am an artist. Most people really don’t understand what I do or what that means. I realize that “art” is an extremely complicated concept, and I don’t expect people to get it. I am an artist, went to art school and surround myself with artsy things every day, and even I don’t get it some of the time. And I really think those that act like they get it all of the time are just trying to impress someone. (After all, A BFA really is just a degree in BS).
I am an artist. I make things. I create things. I conceptualize things. Out of nothing. I think all of the time, even when my hands are idle or I’m supposed to be sleeping. I feel like I could never live long enough to create all of the things in my head. I make things to see. I make things to feel. I make things to share. I make things to express. I make things and then hide them under other things, behind layers of paint, paper and wax. All of my insides are out, at once exposed and hidden.
Yes. I do sell my art (the Art Gods gasp at the blasphemy!). On the outset it is made from within, but in the end, many pieces are sold. You, too, can own a piece of my soul.
I began working as a teen to make money – babysitter, short-order cook, server, ice cream dipper, video renter, snowcone maker. I’m glad I learned how to work hard at an early age. I am blessed that I had help from my parents to go to college. I know that.
I made art in college. I worked in college. I graduated. I got a job. I got married. I made some art on the side. I learned to be a teacher. I taught art. I learned to be a better artist. I practiced. I showed my work. I made more art. I showed more art. I made art for others. I made art for me. I made art I hated. I made art I loved. I made more art.
And I worked. Hard.
I started a business. I learned a lot. I created a lot. I crammed a warehouse full of supplies and equipment into a 9 x 10’ bedroom, and I went to work! Every day, even on the weekends sometimes. I’ve loaded down my van to the roof and dragged so much crap all over this state (and several others). It’s hard, dirty, unglamorous work. But I don’t give up.
I keep making art. I keep showing my art. I keep growing as an artist. I keep trying. I keep working.
I am fortunate to have a studio in my back yard, and I go there almost every single day. Yes, I’m fortunate, but I’ve also worked very, very hard to attain the studio. No one bought it for me. I earned it myself. I pay for it and its contents myself. So don’t look at my studio and ask me “What does your husband do?” That’s irrelevant.
I have children. I work hard to be there when they need me. Sometimes I’m more available than others. Sometimes I take extra jobs to help get us by. Sometimes I make good money. Sometimes I don’t make as much. But I work hard. Every minute of the day.
And, to answer one man’s question, no, I don’t “get bored being at home all day.”
It’s hard to get bored when you’re the CEO, COO, Owner, President, Creative Director, Marketing Director, Quality Control, Web Designer, Social Media Coordinator, and Production Manager of your own company.
No one taught me how to work as an artist. They don’t teach that in college (that’s a whole other rant). I figured it out. I’m still figuring it out. It’s probably the most ridiculously impossible thing to do in the world. But I’m doing it. Every day.
So here’s the PSA: If you meet a woman that says she is an artist, do NOT assume that she is a kept woman. Do NOT assume that it’s just a hobby for her. Do NOT assume that her husband is the “breadwinner” or that she relies upon him to support her work. Assume that she is the hardest working person you’ve met, and you’ll probably be right. And one day, when you see her work recognized by others, you will know that she wasn’t just an overnight success.
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.
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.
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.
“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 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!