Thursday, June 28, 2012

Enjoy the now

Pure excitement yesterday when I opened my packages from Zazzle to see my first set of printed cards and a cosmetic bag with one of my favorite paintings on them. It was a test and I am happy with the results. So much so that ordered more cards and I look forward to getting some prints and maybe some other products made that I can list in my Etsy shop.

It is always so gratifying to see my artwork out there in the world and in a new context other than in my studio or hanging in my house. Same goes for my jewelry. I love creating and then I love the idea of that piece of me becoming a part of someone else's life.
In fact, this morning, before yoga class started one of my students walked in wearing a necklace that I had made years ago when I had my jewelry store. I did a double take and said "I made that!" She shared that a dear friend bought it for her before he passed away and that the two year anniversary of his passing is in two days. I had a feeling it would be an emotional class for her and after class I checked in to see how she was doing. Through her tears she shared that yoga had helped her through some of her grief and that I, being her teacher, had also helped. She also expressed that the necklace now had even more significance knowing that I had made it... that she had chosen to come to class on a Thursday morning when she normally does not... that it was meant to be today. 

It is amazing to learn how we can impact people, sometimes without knowing we are doing so. As passionate as I am about my art and creativity, there was a time when I struggled with the idea that making art and jewelry was just stuff, commercialization, and that I somehow needed to "do more" with my life. To have more purpose. Thankfully, I let that notion go as my creative passions are stronger and need to be expressed. What I have realized is that when we do what makes us come alive we are serving our purpose and we in turn touch others from a place of fullness... sometimes without ever knowing... sometimes finding out in unique ways... sometimes years later in life. The lesson and message that my student left me with this morning... "We just never know what is going to happen, how quickly things can change."  We must do what we love and be present with each moment so that we can live fully as we just never know what will happen next. Thank you for the important reminder, Karen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Painting As Life

Day Two

I started this large piece about a week ago and have worked on it throughout the past week. The beginning stages are always very carefree and flowing with big washes of paint, lots of drips and splatters and a covering of the canvas in a very stream of consciousness sort of manner. I know that most of what first goes down on the canvas will not remain in the final piece but there is no way to get to the later stages without first being here. In addition to the dance, as I have referred to the painting process before, painting is also very much a metaphor for life.

Day Five

Images and colors come and go like experiences and happenings. Layers build up and contribute to the overall piece much like our own being. There are highs and lows as the painting progresses. Struggles develop as things feel like they aren't quite working. And then with the change of a color or area of the canvas everything is flowing again and contentment or even satisfaction become the overriding emotion.
It is interesting to see the connection between those feelings and the quality of the painting. For example, when I start to worry about an area of the painting I notice the work gets tight and lacks the energy and life it should have. The cerebral part of me steps in and pushes my intuitive guide to the side. Basically, I start to think too much about the work. That's when it's a good idea to grab new color and freely brush over the area to refresh the work.
Day Seven... and counting
What I love most about this metaphor is that we can use the process to learn and grow. We can take risks, play and experiment and know that it's just paint... we can cover it up and begin again. It is a safe space to push our limits because there are no mistakes, just a series of experiences and lessons. If we are very present in the process we can notice how we are feeling, how we react, where we hold back or come up against fear and when we are content. We can learn to be with ourselves, with our breath and with each moment as they unfold with every new mark made on the canvas.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Drum Love

I am super excited because I just got my new drum! A djembe to be exact. I have been drawn to drumming for a long time and have been wanting to learn. I love the drums so much so much so that when I had an MRI I actually found it strangely soothing with the drum-like sounds tapping an unfamiliar beat inside the tube where I laid.
Living in a more rural area means that we do not have the same luxuries and offerings as larger areas so I searched for the nearest drumming class and the closest one I could find is about 2 hours away. Then it occurred to me ... why not just get a drum and learn on my own?! So that is what I did. Last week I found this pretty, red Toca drum and it arrived yesterday afternoon. As soon as I got home from work I checked youtube for some basic lessons and started to play. Love it! Drum circle anyone?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend Fun

Friday night I made this flourless chocolate cake. It looks a little crumbly but it was actually dense and fudgy and oh, so tasty. Baking at almost 9000 feet above sea level is always interesting and slightly unpredictable, especially when you don't really know much about baking to begin with. I know people alter recipes to bake at this altitude but I don't know enough to know how or why. So I followed the recipe and it worked out pretty well. I shared a few pieces with some of my workmates and got the approval. My husband also gave it a thumbs up.There are lots of recipes out there and after a quick search I decided to use this one.

Saturday afternoon I hung a couple paintings at a local bakery cafe. I went in after they closed and they had cleaned the floors so the chairs were up on the tables. The paintings will be up for the rest of June so I will have to go in when they are open and snap a few shots to get a different perspective.

I tried to get a closer shot without the restaurant furniture. I painted these pieces in 2011 about when I was really getting back into the groove and painting a lot. I think they are about 30x40 inch canvases. I love painting bigger pieces, they are so much fun.The more canvas the more space to express and develop the work as well as get physically into it.

Lately, almost every weekend, we work on home improvement projects. But, yesterday we decided to take the day off and go out and play. We took our little 4x4 machine out into the forest and on the county roads to explore. It was such a beautiful, sunny, warm day. We saw a little bit of wildlife- a deer and a coyote. We stopped for lunch along this river. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Speaking of big paintings... here is a new piece I started yesterday morning before we left on our adventure. It is a 36x48 inch canvas. I know it will evolve many times before it is finished. I look forward to the process and to see what takes shape.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Destination Unknown... or Shall We Dance, part 2

In a previous post I mentioned the relationship between my painting and I as a sort of dance. In the beginning stages of each painting I mostly let my heart lead. I put down paint in an intuitive manner. I wash the canvas with swatches and strokes of various colors of paint and water allowing for blending and drips, colors running into each other, layering and covering until the canvas is no longer white. I then listen to the work, look for signs of where it wants me to go and that is when the painting takes the lead. I continue to work this way, stepping in at times, making decisions and then again stepping back to allow the painting to guide me.  There is a sense of freedom, excitement and an element of surprise in this approach. It is an interesting process and the only way I really know how to paint. I might begin a painting with specific visions of how I want it to look, of the colors and composition but it never fails that those ideas do not end up in the final piece and if they do there are only hints peeking through layers of painting.

"Follow Your Heart" acrylic on canvas, 22x28 inches
Here is the finished piece that I showed in progress in part one of this post. I made a few final decisions and this is how it turned out. As the piece progressed and started to take shape I was thinking about an amazing woman I learned about a few years ago. She called herself Peace Pilgrim and her story is so inspirational. She lived her truth and followed her heart dedicated to a message of peace. I couldn't stop thinking about her as I painted and so her story was woven into the painting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lately, I have been noticing how great it feels to paint. Just to clarify, it has always felt good but I have been painting more than ever over the past year and I feel I am really in a groove. Painting has been my passion for about 20 years now (Wow!) but I have not honored it or nurtured the process in the way that I should. I also have not painted consistently over the years. I have worked creatively in spurts developing small bodies of work and participating in local art shows here and there but never consistently enough to feel the work take on a life of it's own. I have experimented and dabbled in collage, printmaking and other mixed media forms that have been really enjoyable and have filled in the creative need when I have not painted. I have also had a small wholesale jewelry business that has been a fun filler from time to time (when I got orders or created new designs). 

My current studio space. It may be hard to tell but there are layers of paintings leaning up against the garage door.
But lately I have noticed a shift, a deeper commitment to the process, and it is when I am painting that I feel artistically whole. It's a bit difficult to put into words but there is a feeling of connection, of feeling alive and being at one with myself and the moment. It is a similar feeling to when I practice yoga or the messages I share when I am teaching a yoga class... of being in the present moment, of breathing deeply, of coming from a place deep within and allowing things to unfold naturally and just be as they are. I feel a whole lot of gratitude and much of the rest of the world, worries or concerns fall away when I am in the flow of painting. My heart opens wide and I know it is what I am supposed to be doing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Open Up to Possibility

I truly believe in putting our hopes and dreams out into the universe and then watching them manifest. I have had it happen before and know that it works. I love when the inklings start lining up and they all seem to be more than coincidence and instead seem like little messages that we are on the right path.

 I recently found this stamp pictured here and loved the message. I mean, why not have big dreams and why not go after them? 

"Dream Big"  acrylic on canvas, 16"x20" 
This painting grew out of the stamp's inspiration to dream big.

And after being an avid follower of Kelly Rae Roberts for the last couple of years and loving her artwork and her openess to share I recently decided to purchase her ecourse, which I am also loving and learning a ton from. And guess what one of her messages is... to DREAM BIG. I have also been working with some interesting material on positivity. I love this book and use some of the exercises and when I am consistent and focused (trying to commit this to a daily practice) I see the results. Dreaming big and being positive go hand in hand.

Maybe it is just coincidence but I like to believe in dreaming big, of the power of positivity,  of finding our purpose and opening ourselves up to the possibilities of those dreams. Who are we not to do so and why would we want anything less or different for ourselves? Especially when those fruits are then shared with those around us. Win win.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Destination Unknown... or Shall We Dance?

I never know what my paintings are going to look like. I have never been one to plan what I paint. While I do have ideas or thoughts of what I want to paint they are usually no more than little seeds because what I conceptualize and sketch as ideas in my journals never end up on canvas and what ends up on canvas is never planned ahead of time.

Beginning stages... just getting paint on canvas.
 There is something magical about seeing my work develop and move in a direction that feels right although it is not always a straight, easy path to that place. I think that is one of the most exciting parts of the creative process for me. I am not sure why but this is how it has always been. My paintings take on a life of their own and evolve as I work. It is not something that I can completely control. Instead, it is more like a little dance that my painting and I have. It is like a relationship and I cannot always take the lead. Often, I must step back, listen and let the work guide me.

Sort of huge jump from the first stages... got lost in the process and forgot to document.
What is your artistic process? Does your artwork turn out just as you envision or do you do a little tango with your work too?

 Although this diptych is not quite finished, it feels close. I guess I will have to wait to see what my dancing partner has to say... More on the inspiration for this painting in a future post.

Friday, June 1, 2012

don't wait for magic

So many fears have kept me from beginning this blog. I have had the secret desire to start it for some time now and I have been dreaming it up- how it will look, what will I say for my first post, but then my inner critic would start in and present me with all kinds of worries that pushed the reality back a little farther... "What will people think?" (judgement)... "Who am I to share my thoughts?" (insecurity) ... "Will anyone even care?" (acceptance)

Why do we hold ourselves back from our full potential this way? I guess I am realizing that in order to grow and develop I must push through those doubts and know that I can and am only offering my best  by coming from a place of truth and love and I hope to find compassionate, like-minded creatives who are interested in sharing and joining me.

"Love Is All You Need" acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12 inches

We have the choice to live fully and pursue our dreams no matter what it takes or we can sit back and watch and wait hoping that somehow our dreams will come to us. I am ready to create the magic for myself. I can't wait for it any longer.

the view from here

Last Saturday was spent working outside on the house and this smokey layer quickly overwhelmed our valley within an hour or so of starting our day. Amazing that the smoke came from New Mexico to Colorado.

Thankfully, it didn't last more than a day and by the late afternoon much of the smoke had cleared out, thanks to the wind.

And this evening, as has been the case for the past 15 years, I am in awe of the beauty of where we live. Very rarely does a day go by without pausing to appreciate just how incredible the landscape is here.