Friday, October 26, 2012

Pandora, Brain Breaks, and Racoons

Into the Night
encaustic on birch 10x22
As an artist, I have noticed that I seem "in tune" with all kinds of external stimuli.  My senses seem to be on task all day long.  It sometimes feels a bit like dodge ball - being bombarded by incoming at all times.  A dance to the left, a dance to the right... by the end of the day my brain can feel a little overwhelmed. 
So I wanted to share some things today that I have recently found that allow my brain to quiet down and take a break from the whirl of stuff that flies about all day.

I have found two radio "stations" on Pandora that offer really great studio/art music.  I tried to listen while driving and it really didn't do anything for me.  I tend to like modern music that I can sing along to when driving.   But, for studio time, this kind of electronica music seems to help me find that art zone.  One is Plej  and the other is Zero 7.  Similar kinds of music, but something about the beat that works for me.  You can search on Pandora in the new station option and find them there.  For more studio music, I've discovered Kyrstyn Pixton - I stream off her website.  I also love Mumford & Sons.  Their new album Babel is on my wish list.  What do you listen to during your creative time?

Also, Deepak Chopra is offering another free 21 Day Meditation challenge, starting Nov 5.  I did this a few months ago and really loved it.  Just 15 minutes in duration and it comes in your email each day.  This is a new theme from the one I did before, so I am looking forward to it. 

Also, for you budding writers out there..  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts on Nov. 1.  Its a challenge to write a book/novel of 50,000 words in the month of November.  There are 1000's of participants nation/world wide.  I'm actually going to take a run at it.  You can follow my word count on the right bar of my blog.  I am MarjiT, so if you sign up - be sure to send me a NaNo mail so we can urge each other on.  50K words is a lot, not sure I'll be a winner - but I'll try.  I figure its my chance to get writing an e-course or maybe that storyline that has been circling my brain for a while.  This seems a little anti-brain quieting - but I see it as a opportunity to brain dump all those thoughts and words that need to get out.  I'm going to have to find a way to balance it with painting time - but the two seem to compliment each other for me. 

Thanks to all that visit here and those that leave comments.  The inspiration that you provide to me is beyond words.  It's Friday and you know what that means....  it's Party Time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Muscle Cars, Confidence and Creativity

encaustic 13x24
For some reason the animals show up in my intuitive paintings.  Here is another one - and to think I have never been to Africa.  Maybe they just need a voice.

My Grandma drove a muscle car.  It was a '69 Mercury Cougar - green with black interior that would burn your legs on a hot day.  It had a push button AM radio.  She wore big rings that rattled on the steering wheel as she rumbled through town.  She was fiercely independent and well before her time.  She had red hair, wore high waisted bell bottoms and read Prevention magazine way before the health food craze.  She ground up egg shells for calcium, she could recite poetry from memory, she wore a beret.  She always looked her best, dressed smart, and wouldn't be caught dead without lipstick.  She was one amazing lady.

She was also very creative.  In the early 70's, she self published a book by using a paper cutter, a xerox machine and a stapler.  It was a huge research undertaking of the Indian Place Names and their meanings for the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington.  My Dad did the cover artwork for her and sold the book in his gallery for $1 a copy.  It sold out, many times over.

She taught me to knit, tat and crochet.  She sewed her own clothes and she crocheted beautiful afghans which she donated.  She did almost all of her home handiwork.

But, if you asked her, she would never have called herself creative and never thought of herself as an artist.  Why is someone who is so full of creative fire so afraid of saying I am creative?  Why so often do creative people lack confidence in their talent, their art?  Its a good question i think.  One that is deeply personal to each of us.

I think that often the creative spirit in us gets wounded deeply along the journey.  There is an incident or a person that tripped things up along the way.  Somewhere, somehow the creative spirit got wounded and shrunk away deep into the soul where it is afraid to come out for fear of being wounded again.  Sometimes, all it takes is one negative comment to shut down the creative spirit.  Its easier to hide than to face fear.

Yet, I believe that the creative inside really can't hide.  It just isn't capable of hiding.  Take the case of my Grandma.  It must find an outlet of some kind even if we don't care or want to acknowledge it as creativity.  "A rose by any other name, is still a rose".
Its time to come out and recognize the things we do on a daily basis, as simple as they seem, are creative and are a creative outlet.   So no more hiding out - call yourself creative.  Recognize your art in all the things you do.  Call yourself an artist, because you are.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wrapping up with Flora Bowley, Hare Brained and Ira Glass

Vegetable Dreams
encaustic 20x30

And.. actually before this - it was a portrait.  It was a face with long flowing hair that was to be a mermaid with a underwater background.  It was one of those panels in my studio that lost its way.  It has become one more layer and makes a richer deeper painting to think that a mermaid lives under Vegetable Dreams :)
I seem to be hare brained at the moment - in a good way. 
I've spent the past 5 weeks Blooming True with Flora Bowley.  Its been an amazing journey for me and I have shared some thoughts and some of my intuitive paintings over this time.  After this process, I am not sure if I can go back to the way I was painting - at least not for a while.   For me, the journey has been fun and full of unexpected twists and turns that have helped me discover or uncover new desires in my artwork.  I'm finding color - real awesome color.  I'm finding BIG - painting BIG is fun.  I'm finding a joy in painting animals.
I do have to say that it saddens me a little to understand that some of my classmates are not experiencing the joy that I am finding in this process.  There is frustration and disappointment with results.  Art is so very personal and so very easy to self critique and compare - especially in classroom situations.  The intuitive painting process is not easy.  Its not.  It requires an open mind, open heart, the ability to really let go of everything you've been taught about structure, planning, and rules.  It is much harder than it sounds because our inner critic makes it so.  Its a little easier for me because I have had no formal training to undo.
I feel they are a little too hard on themselves, especially at this point in the game.  We are all learning and in the early stages of getting this process which is so very different than I know I have ever tried.  It takes time, patience, practice and kindness.  This prompted me to pull out one of my favorite quotes that I felt was a fitting reminder to all of us who do creative work.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”  Ira Glass

Fight On! - and remember to be kind to yourself.  Use kind words when thinking about and making your creative work.  Thoughts become things - really.  Realize that not every single thing you make is gallery quality.   But that's OK - because we make art for ourselves.  I have 6 other panels that are in various stages in my studio right now.  Some of them are the ugliest ducklings ever  - but I have faith they will grow into beautiful swans.

Monday, October 8, 2012

FILM26: U is for..

Its time for the letter U over at FILM26.  U was almost my undoing... but I pulled through.  Five letters left until the end of our journey.  The scary part about that thought is it means just 12 weeks until the end of the year.  This time of year picks up speed for me.  Its like a downhill ski slope into the New Year.  I'm ready, but at the same time, I'm not ready.  

 Summer has been lingering here in Seattle.  Its actually been unbelievable.  I think it makes it harder to believe that we are closing in on the Holiday season. 
 Yet, I'm going to appreciate the last of our late summer here.  I know I will be handing out candy for Halloween, all too soon.  But, for now I will take in the bliss of the sunshine and shoot some film.
Me and U

Friday, October 5, 2012

U2, Bravery, and Hares

encaustic 30x30

I'm ready for shuffle
I'm ready for the deal
I'm ready to let go of the steering wheel.
I'm ready
 - Bono (U2-Zoo Station) - you can listen here

We're talking about Bravery in week 4 of my painting class.  This is a favorite song of mine from the Achtung Baby album.  It seemed to work here.  When you are brave, its OK to let go of the steering wheel and face the unknown.  I'm ready, ready for what's next.

I have written about bravery in the past.  Yet, I think being brave is one of those topics that can be revisited often.  Its one that if we allow ourselves to be comfortable in how things are going, it gets harder and harder to be brave.  The farther we get away from the edge where it takes a brave act to cross over, the farther we get from our authentic selves.  Being brave is not backing away from fears, but moving into them and beyond.  When you actually do move through the fear and break out the other side, the opportunity comes for your authentic self to shine.  Being brave opens the door to an aliveness inside.  It stirs things up, gets the juices flowing, ignites a fire.  Being brave is about moving outside of the comfort zone.  It means, trying something new, doing that thing that I don't really want to do or I'm afraid to do, or facing conflict or going into the studio without a plan.  I believe being brave puts you in a position to find how far you can push yourself and then reveals how strong you really are. Its surprising and uplifting to realize the power that we hold inside.  

Its a brave act to paint intuitively.  It is starting with nothing and embracing mystery.  Its trusting the process and just knowing that in the end, a painting will emerge out of the layers.  Its a brave act to keep going, keep layering even if the painting isn't cooperating at all.  Its brave to "just know" and believe.  Its a brave act to paint BIG, especially from where I started.

This hare painting is a brave act for me.  Its not like any other painting I have done.  Yet, it is so much me.   Where do the ideas come from?  When does it seem right to paint a hare and an upside down hare?  I can't explain it.  Did I see the hare within the layers and build from there?  No, not from an image within the painting, but in my mind's eye, yes.  I just knew I wanted to paint a hare in the lower left of the painting in just this way.  I followed the thread and this is where this painting wanted to go.  So, I'm not necessarily looking for an image to emerge from the layers of the painting, rather it is just a feeling as to which direction to go.  As I do the layers, and let go of the steering wheel, its allowing the door to open to something I would never have considered before.  Its then taking that something and running with it and following its lead.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the next painting brings.  It is a beautiful way to paint by just playing and letting things go without thinking.  Its a way to let myself just dream up something without worrying about it.  If it doesn't work out, its just one more layer.   I can say, that I was not expecting the deer or the hares to show up, I wasn't expecting to paint animals, I wasn't expecting how joyful bright colors are to paint with or how wonderful it is to paint BIG... so mystery is kinda fun.  And... painting animals goes all the way back to my roots as a kid.  Its where I started and now I'm returning home.  At least for now.

Friday.. you know what that means - Party Time!!

PS - If you are interested... This is what the Hare Totem means:
Hares are connected to both the earth element and to the lunar energies of the moon. The gestation period of a hare is 28 days, the same time as the moon. Hares are quick with the ability to twist and turn. As a totem or power animal the hare teaches us to aim for our dreams and not let anything get in our path.  The hare is an independent, solitary animal that often lives alone. In modern society the loners of the world are often frowned upon, but history has proved these types of people to be invaluable and they should feel a sense of pride within themselves.

Unlike rabbits, hares cannot be tamed (although there is a domesticated rabbit which has the name hare, but is in fact a rabbit). They have a wild nature to them. They are the totem of people who like to run free.

Hares have been associated with magic and the ability to walk between worlds and connect to the other world. The hare is a totem of mystery and misunderstanding.

The hare is often seen as a trickster and to many people the trickster is seen as a negative trait. The trickster though may simply do things different to the norm. They may be the individual who stands out from the crowd and does things their way. The trickster is the one who will break rules and rebel; they are the sort of people that can create great changes within society. As with all attitude, the clue is how you use your power – the trickster archetypal can be cunning or foolish. They can be a power for good or a symbol of disruption. Tricksters often have two spirits that they present to the world. [They] can also be the hero. . . .
- Samantha Grayson

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thinking BIG and being BRAVE, thanks to Flora Bowley

love in the layers
Notes on thinking BIG and being BRAVE.

Since I've been taking Flora Bowley's intuitive painting course, I've started to think BIG.  In the beginning of my encaustic career, I painted 3x3 paintings.  I was terrified of thinking about anything bigger than that.  It was overwhelming to imagine painting big.  Over time, I grew to like 5x5, then 8x8 and graduated to10x10.  I settled in on the latter two and have painted in that size for a while.  The biggest I had ever painted was 24x30.  Now that was big... and terrifying.. and there is only one.  I easily slid back into the smaller realm, the comfort zone. 
During the spring, Dick Blick had a sale on Ampersand Encaustic panels.  I bought 4 large 30x30 squares, 4 24x24 squares and 4 18x24.  Why?  No clue.  The prices were great and I guess I was dreaming that someday I would overcome small.  They sat in the garage in boxes - It was too much for me to think about what and how I would go about using such large white panels.  I knew there were there, ready for someday.  It was a small victory in and of itself that they were even in my possession. 
Flora wants her students to paint BIG - like 40x60 or 48 square.  The thought is to give lots of space to create, play and just explore.  I prepped a 24x24 panel with the initial layers of clear wax to start.  Definitely outside of the comfortable 10x10 size.  I did decide to pull out a 30x30, and I prepped that one too.  As of today, I have completed two 30x30 panels with paintings that make me smile.  The 24x24 panel is ready to go, but unused.. why?  It's too small.  At this point, I can't think about small, I want BIG, BIGGER.  Its so much easier to get some detail, add lots of color and interest.  I used to want smooth paintings... now I want ones with all the crags and crevices, pits and holes that make wax painting so luscious.  Starting with a large white blank panel - bring it!  The process of layering in color and marks to cover all that white is so fun.  I'm ready to get started on the next one.  No plan, no problem.  The painting is not going in a direction I like - no worry, it becomes another layer.  Its a way different way of thinking for me.  I like it.
We're visiting BRAVERY this week in class.  Yep, BIG is BRAVE.
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