Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Following Through

It really takes energy and focus to commit to getting things done.  I recently had a conversation with another artist about this.  She said she has two art spaces in her house and all the materials she needs and time to paint but finds it difficult to actually motivate herself to sit down and work.  Another friend said she just procrastinates and then the day is over and she has not gotten to what she had planned to do.  Twelve years ago I decided to write a book.  I had an idea and made a schedule for myself.  Every Monday would be my writing day and I did not veer from this commitment   It took a year to complete.  I found that creating a routine actually worked.  I suggested to my artist friend and she choose one day a week to do her artwork and if it led to more art time during the week, then great. If not, then at least she would have the satisfaction of following through on that one day.  It feels great to complete what you set out to do.  It doesn't have to be a big thing.  It could be setting aside time to read a book, or calling that friend you've been meaning to contact.  It's about setting up a goal for yourself and then when you've completed this one goal, move on to the next goal.  A wise mentor taught me this.  When you don't complete what you think you want to be doing, you start feeling guilty and then frustrated and it diminishes self-esteem.  My goals for this week were to complete a piece that I was working on and to blog.  It took several days to figure out how to fix what I didn't like about it and required plugging along.  Now that it's is done,  I feel a sense of accomplishment and am on to my next goal - packing for a two week vacation in the sun.  I don't like to pack.  I obsess about it but am determined to finish by tonight.  I leave on Saturday, so yes, I am a bit OCD.   It's only Wednesday.  Oh well.  We all have our little quirks.  Here's what I did. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Another Life Lesson

I was working on a piece last week that I thought I might submit to a show.  I knew it needed more work but I wanted an outside opinion so I showed it to my husband.  Not a great idea.  The feedback was that there was too much bright color and it needed to be toned down.   Color, lots of it, bright, rich, full of flavor color is what I respond to, what moves me, what excites me.  For some reason, I didn't trust my intuition about the piece and I changed it into something that was not at all a reflection of me.  So I kept working at it and trying to perfect it.  I ended up feeling frustrated and annoyed with myself.  Should I cut it up, I wondered, throw it out, set it on fire?  Well, that's a bit dramatic.   Today, I sat down again and decided to just play and not worry about the outcome.  This was for me and it needed to flow from me.  I took the pressure off myself.  This was not going to be for a show, or for someone elses' approval.  Yet another reminder about trusting myself,  listening to my own voice, and trusting my own inner wisdom.  I transformed the piece that was initially blocking me and what I came up with felt right for me.  I don't know if it is finished, but it was fun to create and it's all mine.

One of the revisions that I did not like

What I ended up with

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Open A New Window

Yesterday I attended a workshop given by Adria Arch on how to use Golden paint products.  Adria is a gifted artist and the day was great fun.  What was most exciting was that I came away with some wonderful insights.  I began my journey as an artist over ten years ago when my friend Judi taught me about stamping.  That evolved into taking a multitude of classes and workshops over the years including collage, print making, painting, abstract art, composition, color and design, etc.  It all felt risky to me, scary and often uncomfortable.  Art making is a very personal experience and when you take classes, people look at your work and teachers give feedback.  I kept on pushing myself to learn and to stay open to the learning and to the discomfort and the feeling that compared to others I was studying with, I was not nearly on their level.  My first collage teacher, Joan, would tell those of us in her class to think of ourselves as artists.  I never could accept that concept.  Yesterday, when I walked into the workshop, who did I find there?  Joan!  What a funny feeling to be taking a workshop with her as an equal.  At the beginning of the day, Adria mentioned that she was excited to be teaching this workshop to experienced artists.  As I sat next to my former teacher, I smiled within because now I do see myself as an artist.  I do feel confident in my abilities.  I still get stuck, I still feel fearful at times when I don't like what I've produced or don't know where to go next.  The difference is that I do know what to do when I find myself in these places and based on the foundation I've built, I know I will eventually move forward.  I don't know it all and intend to keep on learning.  This is one of the things I love so much about being an artist.  It is a never-ending learning process and can never be routine.  I am developing new neural pathways.  That's what happens when you open to new experiences.  You grow.  New things are always challenging, and can create fearful feelings.  But as Auntie Mame sang (I hope some of you know who this is) "Open a new window, open a new door, travel a new highway that's never been tried before."  The gift is that when you take the risk, you change the status quo and you evolve.  You may decide that you are not so good at something or don't really enjoy it but that does not matter.  What is important is that you've tried it and that is a good beginning.  Maybe the next thing you try will turn into your passion.

Here are a few workshop pictures.

Adria's studio in Arlington

Playing with Golden's Micaceous Iron Oxide

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Beginnings

Well, here I am blogging!  I've thought about doing this for years and I guess now is the time.  Art & More will be about my artwork and whatever life experiences I might like to talk about.  I was a psychotherapist for over 30 years and eleven years ago, I began to explore the artist within.  I didn't even know she existed and now she has become an integral part of me.  I studied for five years at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass. and then went on to work with a wonderful artist, Jane Davies. She has inspired me, supported me and pushed me to places I didn't have the slightest idea I could go.  Now I am displaying my work in open studios, art galleries and have sold a number of pieces.  It is so affirming and exciting to keep on growing and developing oneself.  It is great fun to have a next act in life.  When I retired a few years ago, I was concerned that I would become bored.  Well, then came along two precious grandchildren, volunteer work that is interesting and stimulating, exercising, meditating and painting.  I am anything but bored.  Some days I am overstimulated!  It is essential as we age to stay involved, informed, and connected.  I will be posting some my work and hope you enjoy what I have to share.