Friday, August 31, 2012

The Circus, Creative Blocks, and Tracking Wild Animals

Margo Always Wanted to Join the Circus
encaustic and paper on birch 16x16
not quite done yet..
I was chatting with a friend of mine.  I mentioned that I'm feeling blocked and creativity just really isn't flowing like it was a few months ago.  I feel like things have gone quiet and the creative juices are just not flowing.. trickle, yes - but not flowing.  Her read on it was maybe I was making it into something that shouldn't be - that I've gone down the wrong road and all is quiet so that I will reevaluate.   This got me thinking..

What if, in fact, a creative block is a very good thing? What if a creative block is a message from the Universe that this path is no longer the one for me?  Somewhere I've made a wrong turn and ended up at a spot where I don't need to be.  Or, maybe I've misread the signs and I'm headed a direction that is just OK... but not really where I need to go.  Therefore the further I go along this thread, the farther away I get.. the more the distance, the greater the feeling of losing my way.  The more I feel that I have lost my way, the harder it is to get on track, to show up, to keep going..  Perhaps there is a point to recognize this path no longer serves me.   Its frustrating when it happens because its so easy to look at it in a negative way. - I can't (whatever) - paint, draw, write - I'm at a lack of creative ideas... all is quiet and I'm stuck, I can't seem to produce - whatever it is.. usually the vibe is negative. 

I tend to take the stance that I am going to get beyond this block and its my nature to keep running up against it thinking I will break my way through.  What if instead of trying to get over, under, around the block that has been set before me that i actually take a step back - or perhaps what if at this point i turn back and retrace my steps to the point where i last felt success in my work.  When I say success I mean, joy and happiness - that i felt like it was the be all end all and i was definately doing the right thing, creating from my heart with bliss.  A point at which ideas were more than I could keep up with... all was well.  What if i go back to that spot and take a look - carefully at all the signs that are left there.  How did I miss the trail?  It happens, it happens to the best wildlife trackers in the world.  The subtley of the way the paw print reads in the sand can be misread and send a tracker in a direction that is not correct and the trail runs cold.  You know what they do?  They go back to the last good footprint and reevaluate.  Did the tracker see the way the print was slightly more indented on one side, showing a change in direction?  Only the keenest eyes can see these things... I'm still learning, I"m not an expert, therefore I do misread the tracks.  Its OK, its not detremental unless it brings me to a halt.  There is nothing wrong with side roads.  Sometimes we find the best things when we make a wrong turn.  But, if the trail is running cold... maybe its best to turn back to the point at which things were clear and redirect from there.

UpDate::  The golf shoe painting that I did for the raffle... One of my favorite golfing friends was the lucky raffle winner - YAY!  Nice to know they went to a good and loving home :)

It's party time!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

FILM26:: R is for...

Its time for the letter R over at FILM26.  We're now 2/3 of the way through the project of following the alphabet through the year using film.  I honestly have to say that digital does not have the special factor that you find in film. Film is special - really.  Digital is easy, yes - but.. there is something about film that can not be duplicated.  I believe that film takes on an even deeper meaning for those who have darkrooms and do their own processing.  I'm not developing my own.. but many do.  However, I am a believer.. there is no substitute.
Me and R
I've come to love film over these past 8 months.  Its a pain for me since I have to think ahead.  Its more costly.  Its a bunch of bad photos with one or two good ones... but I wouldn't trade my experience so far.

 I've met some amazing film photographers.  I know some great digital photographers that took up film this year in the name of this project.
R in Neon
 We still have a ways to go.  Every photo gets better.  Every roll processed has at least one more better photo.  Its love... it is.

R is for... Rainer Cherries
R is also for Red which seems to be an underlying theme with my R photos.   I didn't post my Q photo from the past two weeks... it stumped me and I kept thinking I would come up with a great Q set, but I didn't.. here is my one and only Q photo from two weeks ago.

Me and Q 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Art of Swimming and Diving

The Art of Diving
encaustic and paper on birch 5x5
Ever wondered what art and swimming have in common? OK, well... maybe its never crossed your mind.. But, We'll take a look at this metaphorically - of course there are water safety rules that you do know, but we'll toss those aside in the name of art (or life) for this discussion. 
So, we find ourselves standing on the edge looking into the water. Sometimes, the water looks inviting with its cool surface welcoming us.  There are other times the water is a bit murky or deep and black.  Sometimes it has a swift current, and sometimes the dive appears to be a loooong drop off a huge cliff.   There are even times when fears petrify us and keep us standing on the edge contemplating.   This results in our never actually getting into the water - ever. 
So, what are we waiting for?  - JUMP, DIVE, LEAP, CANNON BALL, BELLY FLOP, SWAN DIVE- whatever - just do it and get into the water and stop procrastinating.
Sure the water may be brisk and take our breath away, but good things do take our breath away.   Once we are in the water, we may find it still and easy to paddle and glide and we are soooo happy we got in.  However, sometimes - the calm waters get a little turbulent and swift currents crop up.  This is when we start swimming hard and it can begin to be a struggle.  The harder we swim, the harder it gets.  Honestly, swimming against the current will get us nowhere fast.  We tire and most likely get out of the water dripping wet, beaten down, and in a bad mood.  This often results in us throwing up our arms, turning our backs and walking away.  That's really a heartbreaking result when we're talking art here. 
But here is the key...  if we just let the water surround us and let it give us buoyancy, we can float.  Once we float, we can turn away from the struggle and flow with the current.  Once this happens, the struggle with the forces against us ends.  It then becomes a peaceful journey floating on to lands unknown - an adventure in art, or life, or self.  OK... so, what are you waiting for - Jump in and start going with the flow.
 And.. if you ever find yourself in a rip current::
  "If you find yourself being pulled out to sea, don’t panic. You are caught in a rip current that you can swim out of. To get out of the rip swim parallel to shore. That is, swim so that the shore is either to your right or your left. Never swim against the current."

Swimming Myths:  True or False
  1. The harder you kick, the faster you'll go
  2. It's never too late to learn good technique
  3. You should always wait a half-hour after eating before hitting the pool
  4. The longer you stay underwater and glide, the better
  5. You sweat while you swim
  6. Only nerdy non-swimmers wear nose clips
See how you did:
  1. False. Kicking accounts for only about one-third of forward propulsion, and in the process, it uses your largest and most oxygen-thirsty muscles. Thus, super-hard leg work doesn't have much payoff and will probably tire you out quickly, slowing you down in the long run.   This plays into the struggling against the current thing.  If you go with the flow -there is no kicking and therefore no tiring.
  2. True.  Learning skills while your body (ART) is developing, and putting in hours and hours of training over the years pays off. But there's no age limit on skill-building in swimming (or ART), and with proper instruction, it's possible to make great leaps in ability no matter how old you are. "A lot of newcomers to the sport catch on fire," (not literally, not to worry) says Scott Rabalais, chair of the U.S. Masters Swimming coaches committee and coach of Crawfish Aquatics in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. "It's really exciting to see."
  3. False. Sorry, unless you've eaten a big meal, you should not have a problem if you dive in before the half-hour mark.  This means... no hesitation - just dive in.
  4. False. Although some elite swimmers stay underwater for as much as half a length, it's not always the wisest choice for us mere mortals. Certainly, the glide gives you the opportunity to capitalize on the power of your pushoff, but after a while you begin to decelerate. Stay underwater too long - especially if you're not streamlined - and you'll end up going slower than you would if you'd started stroking. What's more, having to hold your breath all that time might make swimming the rest of the lap a struggle.  We are striving for no struggles, so get to the surface and start floating, paddling, and swimming in the direction the flow takes you.
  5. True. You may not feel them, but there are rivulets of perspiration rolling down your body as you stroke your way across the pool. The result: You're losing fluid as you practice. Drink up before, during, and after working out.  Sweating is good.  It means that you are working it.  But don't lose focus on yourself.  Keep yourself noursished, be kind to yourself and Drink responsibly. .
  6. False. Unless you're prepared to call 1992 Pan American Games gold medalist Jane Skillman a nerd. Skillman wears a nose clip to avoid allergic reactions to pool chemicals, and other elite-level swimmers wear them to avoid getting water up their noses when learning underwater dolphin kick on the back.  Studio safety is really important.  Don't cut corners, don't wait to get the proper this or that to make your place safe.  This is you we're talking about.

 Dive in, Swim and Go with the Flow.  Happy Friday - hit the button, its Party Time!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Liberate Your Art Postcard #2

Yippy!!!  Postcard #2 of Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap arrived in my mailbox.  It is so fun to have real mail to look forward to.  Seems like my postbox is full of junk and bills and I'm only motivated to fetch it once a week out of duty.  I think my mailman is wondering what's up because I've been collecting every day now. 

Isn't this lovely!?  It's an amazing photograph by Liz Velichko.  Where did she find these iron grates on like the most picture perfect background ever?  Seriously - look at those colors.  Wondering where I can paint colors like that.  I think I'd have to live in the southwest in order to pull it off.  Waaaayyy to vibrant for where I live - but, oh my... I do LOVE them.  Thank you Liz for sharing your beautiful photo and bringing such colorful joy with it. 

Liz also wrote a beautiful note:
May you find joy today and may your eyes see the beauty around you.  Have a lovely day - ♥Liz

Want to see more of Liz's fabulous photography? - go HERE.  Many thanks to Kat Sloma over at Kat Eye Studio for putting together this fun event.
Postcard #3 is on its way....  can't wait.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Liberated Art, Charts and a Few More Leaves

encaustic and paper on plywood 12x36
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time - Thomas Merton

Seems like cutting out leaves is my deal lately.  Or maybe its just the pure concentration of cutting out something is what I like.  Have you noticed if you are trying to cut around a picture or a drawing that its pure "in the moment" concentration to keep to the lines.  Its kinda nice, really. 
We've been having some work done around the house.  Its the year of the outside projects.  We had a little deck repair work done that left me with some scrap plywood to play around with.  Plywood is a great sub strait for encaustic.  So what better subject for a long skinny board than branches and leaves?  And, also the fact I'm stuck on some kind of tree and leaf thing lately.  Do you ever get on a "thing"?  Just curious if its just me.

I used the charts  from my lucky find and cut them up to make the branches and leaves.  They are nice Big pieces of paper and thick.  I also keep whacking up that old book.  It really took an act of brave to cut up an old hardback book.  Its part of my fabric that "we" don't deface books.  I don't even make notes or highlights in them.  They are sacred or something... except for this one, I guess.  Does anyone else feel that way about books? 
I'm a little stuck on this painting.  It flowed really nicely to this point than hit the wall.  So, now its sitting waiting for the next flurry of inspiration to take it to the next level.  Or maybe I just got side tracked or something.  Imagine that!?

Yesterday I got my first postcard for Liberate Your Art - hosted by Kat Sloma over at Kat Eye Studio.   I'd like to introduce you to the art of Kim Giery.  Honestly, I have so much to learn from beautiful mixed media artists.  I mean, really... look at this card - the colors, the composition, texture - the dots (I love dots).  Super all of it. 
I asked Kim to share a little more about her fabulous art.  It turns out that Kim is exactly what Liberate Your Art is all about.  The postcard swap is the first time that she has shared her work to the outside world.  She loves collage, photography, art journaling and making handmade books.  She has made a studio space in the corner of her living room where she can work on her mixed media creations.  She even dabbles in encaustic (yay!).  This piece is what she calls a "faux" encaustic, using layers of acrylic paint, gloss medium, ephemera, etc. to mimic the look of wax.  Beautiful work and I am so honored to be the recipient of your first - get it out into the world, liberated art.  BRAVO Kim!  The lovely quote at the top of the post is from Kim.  She included that on the back of her card.

It's Party TIME!! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Perfection of Imperfection

The other day, I actually got to our local farmer's market right at 11:00AM, when it opens.  It was my first time to be there for the opening bell.  I'm ususally a late comer, like about 30 minutes before closing which doesn't always equate to the pick of the litter.  I found on this day, the benefit of being early to the market is that my favorite stall, Five Acre Farm from Whidby Island has fresh eggs.  The real, happy chicken, happy egg kinda eggs.  So, I happily put one dozen eggs in my way cool go to market basket

Living in the city in an urban life, I see eggs usually just one way.  I see them the way they come in the supermarket.  I have been programed that a dozen eggs is perfectly shaped and sized and graded and boxed and sold in a mass produced way.  When I arrived home, I opened the box of eggs from the Farmer's Market. What struck me was the beauty and the perfection of imperfection. This dozen eggs was totally imperfect compared to what I would find in the supermarket. They were different shapes and sizes and different colors. Some had perfect texture and some didn't. There was no grading system like Grade A or extra large - nothing the same as what has been programed into my mind regarding eggs, except they were recognizably eggs.

This gave my a bit of a pause.  It occured to me that maybe I had forgotten the beauty of the imperfect?  So, in what other things imperfect am I missing the perfect?  people/family, art, myself, my life.. its really an endless list. All of these are perfect in their own unique imperfect way - just like my dozen of farm fresh eggs.  Something to think about, anyway.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Brave, Bravo and Being an Artist

Mystic Tree
encaustic and paper on birch 9x12
Still playing, still experimenting and cut lots of little leaves out of book pages
Have you ever thought of the difference between BRAVE and BRAVO.  one letter, really.  When we stand and clap and shout Bravo!, aren't we in a sense recognizing a brave act by the person we are celebrating?  Brave acts come in many packages and when we look at it in that sense - it takes a brave act to be on stage, to perform our best, to be an athlete or an artist. 
So, what exactly is being brave?  What is a brave act?  I think if we give this some thought, we may come up with all kinds of definitions and examples.  But, what if we look at the brave acts that we each accomplished on our own - just today.  Being brave is anything that we accomplish that falls outside of our own comfort zone.  Just showing up and being in your studio is a brave act.  Why?  Well, because you are allowing yourself to create - good or bad, experimenting and playing and by calling yourself an Artist.  Count your braves today.  Count all of them as big or as small as they may be and in all aspects of your day.  Yes, it takes a brave act to stand up and show off your creative talent and not let it hide away.  It is brave to be an artist.  It is brave to be a Mom.  It is brave to face a challenge.  Now, give yourself a standing ovation - BRAVO!  and repeat.... every day.
BRAVO!  Brave acts, well done!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Commitments, Style and Inspiration

Style Statement
encaustic on birch 10x10
Way back in March,  I committed to doing a painting for an upcoming raffle.  The raffle is just a couple of weeks away and I decided that I needed to get on it, after all, I had committed a painting.  There's still a little tidy up work to do on this pair, but for the most part they are done.  I've been wanting to experiemnt with incorporating the style of one of my favorite artists - Wayne Thiebaud.  He often uses a plain off white background and that awesome blue for shadows.
I'm actually glad that I waited to do this because I have used some of the techniques that I have been playing with over the past week or so.  The background is done with tinted off-white shellac over the off-white background.  I just painted it on leaving lots of brush strokes horizontally.  I wanted kind of a striated line.  Its a shame that encaustics don't photo better because the background, while subtle, is pretty good.  I did start with a bright orange layer, then the off white, then the shellac, then clear wax to get what I was looking for.  I also used the exacto knife and black oil paint for outlining, like in the zentangles from last week.  I did have to tighten up a bit as all the play was really wigging out my inner critic, who has been howling with all this playtime.  I've delegated her to take a seat in the back of the bus with fear and doubt.   The three of them can keep each other company in the back seat, while I do the driving. 

I am still working on playing in the studio.  I've also been digging into books for inspiration.  In keeping with my thoughts on loosening up and stretching my wings to try new things... I signed up for an online painting class with Flora Bowley called Bloom True.  Its going to be a stretch for me, a biiiiiiiiiiiggggg stretch,  but in a good way I think.  I'm deciding whether to try it in wax or actually go for it with acrylic paints.  I have time to mull that over as class doesn't start until September 3.
Its Friday.  Its Party Time. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creative Inspiration:: Collecting Books

I seem to be collecting books lately.  I really don't know why.  All of them, I have been drawn to and had to buy.  Some, I haven't yet opened since they arrived in my home.  Others, are partially read and some, I'm not really sure why I bought them in the first place, other than I just liked them.  Do you collect books?  I find great inspiration in books.  I'm a slow reader.  I am one of those people who has to read every word.  Therefore it takes me a while to read a book.  I also like to read a book in its entirety.  However, these books I am finding that a read some, take what I need and then let it sit for a while.  I may or may not come back to it.  But aren't they pretty?

One of my favorite places to stumble upon interesting books is Anthropologie.  Seems I come home with one whenever I go there.  I've found some of my favorites at Anthropologie.  Ones that when I open the pages, inspiration just flows.  I now own two books by Sabrina Ward Harrison.  The first one is The True and the Questions

The second is And the Story is Happening.  I actually have no intention of using these books as they were intended.  Both are designed to be used for journaling.  I just love looking at them.  For some reason I'm drawn to that way she paints her background work for these journaling pages. 

Twyla - well, we all should read this book.  Its been on my list for quite a while and I found it in a local bookstore.  I'm halfway through it.  All good stuff and I love the design work of the inside of this book.  If I ever write a book, I will use this design as inspiration.

This one I haven't read yet.  But, how could I pass up a title like this.  The contributers to this book are all amazing women.  The photography is brilliant.  I'm super excited to dive into this one.

I like Danny Gregory.  His story is inspiring and his drawings are fun.  He has a lot of good stuff to say in this book and good lessons on drawing.

Finally, if you know Susannah... well, you just have to have this book.  Susannah teaches the amazing Unravelling courses.  She is a brillant Polaroid photographer and writer.  I've just read little bits so far and already I love it. 
So, what books are on your nightstand?
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