That Feeling of Spring

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Splashes of color,
drips, droplets, dabs,
sprinkles, sprays
–marks, translucents,
opaques, frivolity, whimsy,
abstract, realism,
imagination, fantasy,
figures disappearing
into a mist…

When making art, you can create what you desire, design and allow.
The artist can choose to be detailed, intricate and precise.  The artist can choose to be abstract as heck and expressive.  And there is everything in between.
That is why I believe that

EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST!

As I also believe that everyone has a hidden poet (because everyone has a voice), I also believe that everyone has a hidden artist.  Perhaps one who has been shamed into
hiding, but she’s there just the same, waiting to be invoked, invited, induced to come out and play.

That is what this painting was to me.  This was painted at the beginning of my discovery of art as a possible way to express myself.  Playing on Aquabord, a substrate that was new to me, the paint flowed in a surprising way.  Yes, substrates make a difference as to how the paint behaves.  Substrate is the surface on which the artist paints.  There are many types of substrates these days!  Sometimes, any substrate works.  I’ve painted on gessoed cardboard.

With so many online opportunities to learn while playing–that is the perspective to take when you are beginning to paint or painting after many years of not painting.  Or at any level of experience.  Play and learn.  Make many mistakes.  And carry on playing, learning and practicing.  Like any practice, you have to do it daily.  Best to plan it into your day.

 

Calico Cat

I remember painting this piece–the discovery of images, shapes, making designs and loving the colors, the whimsical cat and dog that appeared.  I was following the flow of what wanted to be seen next.  I was certainly a beginner when I painted this piece.  I would do it differently today.  And yet, there are people who really love it.  So it sits in a little gift shop waiting for the just right person to adopt it and take it home.

I see the naivete of myself as an artist.  But this piece, any piece, is important to one’s development as an artist.  Recognizing images, finding ways to enhance those images, blocking out images with color, learning about design, placement of objects in relation to one another and so much more.  Each is a necessary step in the learning process.  We can’t know something before we know it in life or in making art.

CatFish copy

I recollect that I painted the initial background in an abstract way.  Following the intuitive painting process taught by Flora Bowley.  But then, as I typically do, I see an image or two and leave abstraction for images.  The cat, the dog, the fishbowl with swimming fishes.  Flowers…this piece was pure play.  I think that comes across to the viewer.

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Today, with the necessity of sheltering in place and social distancing, when I can approach the day as I did this painting, I do better.  I ask myself what the next step is, what can I do in this one moment? Paying attention to my feelings and when I need to pause, step back, observe and wait and let the wisdom of the moment inform my choices.  Then, I’m in conscious conversation with my life as it is right now.

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For those of you who want to explore your creative side, there are many online art classes and teachers.  They typically offer free tutorials on their websites.  A few of my online instructors:  Flora Bowley, Tracy Verdugo, Olga Freeman, Lucy Chen and Galia Alena.  Check out their websites and see if something calls to you.  We start somewhere.

Be safe, stay healthy, find your calm in the midst of the storm.

Giving Your Creative Best

…this is the way I give praise.  It isn’t to be the best…it is to be my best.

Sometimes, I get into a fret wondering what is my purpose?  What is the body of work that I have to contribute either in writing or painting?  What is mine and  mine alone to share?  How am I making the world a better place for my being here?

Do you ever ask these questions?  Or wonder about your purpose?  Of course, if we get into comparison, we see people out there who seem to be driven with purpose from the beginning.  Those who make a positive impact.

Like Jane Goodall…

Watching this documentary over the past few nights, I’m struck by Jane Goodall’s sense of purpose.  Her early childhood knowing that she had a calling.  And, although she didn’t know how she was going to achieve that calling, she trusted in it and perhaps put herself in places of opportunity.  She had a supportive mother who let her believe that her dreams were possible (as outlandish as they might have appeared to others).  Jane didn’t know how it was going to unfold, but unfold it did.

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Most of the people in my circles don’t seem to have such a follow the breadcrumbs course to their purpose.   For me, it’s been more of an obstacle course.  And then an effort to decipher what was that all about?  I find myself looking for meaning in a life that has been turned upside down several times.

Is there a purpose to be derived from a life riddled with complexities–my own intricacies influenced by others?

Does my purpose center around what am I learning from this life of challenges?  Is this what I can share?  The hard won life lessons?  Is my “purpose” woven into these?

In our culture, do we make way too much of having a purpose?  Does even the option to consider your purpose depend on your economic status?  If you are in survival mode, your purpose is to survive.  The self-actualization hovering at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs…if the other needs on the ladder are met, then we might have time to consider purpose.  Then again, we’ve all heard the rags to riches stories.

What is that one magical thread that you seek to give meaning to your life?  Some people never ponder this…they live their lives.  Some with a greater degree of consciousness than others.  Is their life of any less value for not pondering these questions?

Is it as I said at the start of this blog?–
this is the way I give praise.  It isn’t to be the best…it is to be my best.  

Learning from History…or not

Do we learn from those who preceded us?  Or does each new generation go into a coma of forgetfulness?  Are the hard lessons that our ancestors learned forever lost on us and the generations to come?  Though we study history, we don’t seem to get the magnitude of what history tries to teach.  Inherent in the study of history is the key message, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did,”  or “Learn from my mistakes.”

We don’t seem to be able to do this–learn from the mistakes of others.  There are definitely some things that we need to find out for ourselves.  However, in the social context of things, the bigger picture, why do we stubbornly refuse to learn from history?  How can society move forward if we don’t extract the lessons learned from previous generations and the history of other cultures?  Why does real growth and spiritual evolution appear to be stunted?

Reading the book, The Underside of History:  A View of Women Through Time, by Elise Boulding, I am naively stunned to see how little we’ve progressed.  Is it because our amygdala (the part of the brain that responds to fight or flight) is constantly triggered (and exhausted) by too much negative media input?  When are we not sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next shoe to fall?  When do we get to rest deeply in our own selves?  It seems that continuous over-stimulation doesn’t allow for the quiet times necessary to go deep and extract wise inner guidance.

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Contemplation:
Do you allow enough quiet time in your daily life?  Do you take time to quiet your system and contemplate?

 

Art Challenge TV Show

I have been viewing a former TV reality show, “Work of Art,” via YouTube.  The show only lasted for two seasons.  The up-and-coming artists are given a creative challenge–i.e., explore the theme of movement, collaborate with a child’s work of art, visit a new place and paint a portrait of a local person, etc.  The judges choose a winner of the challenge each week and one artist who fails the challenge goes home.

As a viewer, I appreciate the unique and innate creativity that is part of each one of us.  I can almost see the inner wheels turning as these artists craft a concept into a tangible work of art.  For the artist (or writer) viewing this show, there is an inspirational boost.  You could take the challenge yourself–reframe it to your own genre–and give yourself a specified amount of time to complete the challenge.  If only for the fun of it!

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There is a cutting edge to creativity.  We repeat a technique over and over again (practice and patience) and in doing so, integrate this technique into our repertoire.  It has become part of our creative expression.  We have a conquest.

And then, another level of learning presents.  A chasm of sorts, something to leap across or otherwise navigate.  An artist or writer looks for the next creative challenge.  We want to grow.

Writing Prompt:
How’s the weather where you are today?  Is it a good day to be outdoors, sitting on a park bench with your journal in hand?  If not, how about a quiet little cafe where you can sit in a corner, sip your tea or coffee and play the observer.  Writers, notice the passers-by and try quick, one-sentence cameo descriptions…the goal is to capture something essential about that person…or place.  If you are an artist, try your hand at the sixty-second-sketch and then go on to the next person, place or thing that gets your attention.  Play!

 

sketch