Sunday, January 27, 2013

Unafraid of Change

Unafraid of Change
Every day I'm growing, transforming. I learn to compromise, yet stand up for what I believe in. I learn to speak and also when to keep my mouth shut. I learn to take more risks - like with this painting. It's the same one as shown below but I've since changed it. I always thought it was too dark and so today when I was taking down and re-hanging all the art in my studio, I decided to change it.

There is a moment that occurs in my mind whenever I take something I had previously declared "finished" and start to tinker with it. It's something along the lines of "you are going to wreck it so what do it anyway I am about to do something stupid no, you are about to do something great seriously, what's the worst that could happen? I'll just paint over it but you will have wasted all that paint so what you've got to break a few eggs if you want to make an omelet" Whew, I exhaust myself. Then I do it. But until I officially call the changes "over" I struggle all the way- hoping I've made the right decision.

042811 029
This piece was previously called "Measure of Will." It was one of four pieces I created as "practice" prior to competing in the 2011 Lehigh Valley Art Wars. This was a live art competition where I had two hours to create a finished piece and since I had been fairly new to working with acrylic paints, I wanted to see what I might be able to accomplish within 120 minutes.

The now finished "Unafraid of Change" was originally painted with artist grade acrylic paints on a canvas panel. A white gel pen was used for the small detail work and a spray sealant applied over top. The "changes" included additional red paint and the use of Posca acrylic paint markers.

This piece is currently available for purchase - please contact me for pricing and additional details.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to be Yourself

Don't be afraid to be yourself

Just be you.

Acrylic paint and Posca markers on matboard. This piece is unavailable for purchase.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Grass is Greener

Untitled

October of 2008 was when I finally made the decision to quit my day job and pursue a a full-time career in the creative arts. When making a decision such as this, I can't stress enough how much it helps to be surrounded by people who will be both honest and supportive of your actions  - because I don't know if I could have ever done it without them.

I can clearly remember the phone call that finalized my decision. I was discussing my tentative plans to quit with someone who cared about me but who wasn't really a part of what I would call "my support team" when they said to me, "You know... the grass isn't always greener." 

This comment made me furious! My response? "Sure - you could end up in lush green pastures or a barren desert - but YOU WILL NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON'T TRY." That was my breaking point. I had been going to work every single day to sit at a desk wishing I was dead because I didn't have the courage to get out - and because of someone else's fear of living, I was being warned against fulfilling my purpose and utilizing my god-given gifts? No way. No more. Not now, not ever. I will NOT subscribe to your self-limiting beliefs.

Is it easy to work independently? Hell no! Does it make me feel like I have a purpose? Hell yes!

Will I do it forever? Who knows - this path seems like it could lead anywhere I build it. I look at the words I write, the art I create, the participants in my workshops and I still feel like I'm doing the right thing so I continue to move forward.

The image above, entitled "The Grass is Greener" is another piece that started out as one thing and continued to evolve until it reached its current state. This was one that I chose to completely obscure and begin anew because I saw no need to hang onto something I wasn't comfortable with.

It is currently available for purchase unless I decide to paint over it again. :o)

The Grass is Greener
The Grass is Greener  - in its current state.

The Grass is Greener - prior to final details
The Grass is Greener prior to the final details.

Under The Grass is Greener
What is under/obscured by "The Grass is Greener. I do not believe I ever gave it a title.

Under The Grass is Greener

Under The Grass is Greener

Under The Grass is Greener
I remember being so furious at using (wasting) all that yellow paint and having it not turn out the way I intended.

Under The Grass is Greener

Under The Grass is Greener

Under The Grass is Greener

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Red Man: Art and Judgment

Red Man

One late night in my studio not long after I had moved in, I placed a new canvas on my easel and started painting when my feelings about what I was doing started to spiral out of control.

I used the wrong paints and the wrong colors. I tried to paint one of my female figures in red but it came out hideously deformed and ended up looking like a twisted man. Looking at the mess I had created, I quickly closed the door to my studio and cried. Just who the hell was I to think that I was any kind of artist at all? I felt so foolish and I felt like a fraud. As a self taught artist whose works are a spiritually based expression of my soul, it is all too easy to feel intimidated by the quality of work being created by my peers - mostly because of my assumptions that the rules they've learned about artmaking somehow makes their art better than mine.

That night I pulled that piece from my easel and hid it because it was just to painful of a reminder of all the things I felt I was lacking as an artist.

Pushing Out.

Then one day, I decided to pull it back out. I could have easily painted over the whole thing but decided against it. The only thing I painted over was the Red Man because I was determined to not let him get the best of me. The blue circle came first, and then the white hand. I can remember two older women poking their head into my studio as I was pulling my hand away from the canvas. They did not seem very interested in my work and quickly moved along down the corridor. At times like this, it makes me feel as though the vulnerabilities I reveal through my expressions have no value. (Gentle Reminder To Ego: Create for ME and no one else! Also, try working with your studio door closed.)

In every workshop I teach, and with every person I coach, I talk about creating without judgment. Creating art because it feels good and resisting the urge to judge the final product. People often put a great deal of pressure on themselves with regards to quality - that something isn't worth doing if it's not done well.

At times, it feels as though I am at constant war over my wanting to create and wanting to please.

Back to working on this piece

The hand felt significant. As if it somehow represented my my willingness to reach out and touch the most challenging parts of my existence. Some time later, I added the black.

Red Man

More time would pass and I would add the red - a reminder that the Red Man lives within all of us.

IMG_0480

Lastly, I added all of the tribal elements and called it complete. This piece is currently available for purchase.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Embracing my Insecurities

Today's Revelation Mandala

I would often find myself saying something along the lines of, "I don't know what to do with this" when I would feel a certain way about something. I would go on and on and on in my head and to anyone who would listen seeking to rationalize with the way I felt or attempting to intellectualize the situation. I would walk around feeling as though I were wrapped up in a tangled ball that I might never break free from. This would cause great pain and much suffering.

What was happening to me?

Resistance.

Not resistance as in being afraid to move forward, but resistance as in not knowing or understanding how to deal with a particular feeling/emotion. (And also maybe being afraid to move forward.) 

Today, I was feeling the familiar ball starting to wrap around me as I was thinking about a particular situation I have confusion/mixed feelings about. I felt myself starting to fall back down the dark hole when a voice in my head clearly said, "Just be confused." Whoa, what? Right. I was resisting moving through the feeling of confusion by fighting with it - asking questions such as, "Why am I confused? "I don't like this thing, I don't understand how this situation should work"  - so okay, be there. Be in that. It's okay to not know. It was at that moment that I made the decision to embrace that feeling: "Confusion?  I love and honor you. Welcome."

I'm getting the sense that fighting one's feelings do not make them transform any faster. In fact, I'm guessing that it actually prolongs the experience because we waste energy by not simply accepting that it's okay to be where you are.

This revelation makes me wonder how in touch with my emotions/feelings I really am. Is it possible that I've been stuffing my emotions? Perhaps, but it seems as though I'm so emotional all the time! I cry easily, get angry and feel resentment and sometimes feel depressed. Sometimes I'm happy but it seems fleeting. I seem to feel more serious than anything. I express myself in a million creative ways and perhaps I think that's enough - that my writing and art allows me to move through how I feel- but if I never really acknowledge and accept where I am, it might not be enough.

Am I alone in this? Do you ever experience frustrations at not understanding your emotions/feelings?

Friday, January 4, 2013

A part of me left behind?

From Nowhere

This is going to be difficult to explain, but I'll try.

Tuesday, July 31st- the day before I'd leave for the Summer Rhythm Renewal. My husband and I had just finished lunch at a local restaurant and we were walking back to my car (which was parked on the street next to this parking lot) when I saw this. Strange as can be, these footprints started just on the other side of the sidewalk where my car was parked - as if this person had exited the passenger side of my car.

Odd, oh yes indeed. I felt a strong urge to check this out since I was pretty darn sure they weren't there when we first got out of the car. I rubbed at one of the footprints with the toe of my shoe - it dispersed easily yet I couldn't figure out what it was made of. Chalk? Cement dust? Flour? It wasn't sand. I even wondered if it could be ash but it was more white then gray. And where was the origin of the "dust?" The footprints were not on the sidewalk next to the car or in the street- they seemed to just be contained to the parking lot.

The footprints crossed the entire parking lot with almost the same amount of "dust" on each footprint until last few when they finally started to fade - and even then, just a bit.

What kind of "shoe" would disperse the same amount of dust for over 40 steps? I started playing CSI looking at the size of the shoe and the distance between steps and my guess was that the shoes belonged to a small woman or younger girl.

I kept saying to my husband, "I don't understand, I don't understand... is this a joke?" The whole thing was just so strange... so surreal. For what it's worth, I was borderline obsessed with trying to figure out  the origin of the footprints while my husband was almost completely disinterested in the entire situation.

I would walk back and forth across the parking lot parallel to the footprints three times trying to understand how they "appeared" there. All the while, I couldn't stop thinking if it was part of me that I was leaving behind... Maybe there are some things I'm just not supposed to understand.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

In choosing a word to represent my 2013, I selected "Evolve". This is my 1st mandala of 2013, created on 01/01/13 - also marking the start of my 7th year of mandala making. (My first ever was back in January of 2007.)

1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

The first element of my 2013 evolution includes the way I created this mandala -one I'd never done before - which might strike you as odd, since I've created thousands...

In the very beginning, (and for a very long time) I would start with a blank page and work from the center out. The one thing I've never done until today (at least that I can remember) is to work within a pre-determined circular space. (I used a cereal bowl as my template.) I never wanted to work this way before because I didn't like the idea of be limiting possibility. And while think it can be wonderful to work with endless possibilities, but I thought it also might be time to experiment with setting boundries.

(I had also divided the circle into 8 slices, as I wasn't initially sure what I was going to do with it. That's two new things in one single piece!)

1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

I never intended to work this piece to this extent - I think by limiting myself to keeping the mandala within the circle, it allowed me to get creative with the remaining space.

I used a single blue colored pencil and a torn and folded sheet of black paper. I think it might be Rives printmaking paper  - I got it at Blick a while ago. The surface texture was great with the pencil.

The pencil by the way, is from that set of Colleen brand pencils I bought on Ebay. They are made in Thailand and I like them because they are very smooth to work with - though I'm pretty sure they are not artist quality. The lead kept breaking as I tried to sharpen it - which is why I was left with such a tiny stub.

1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

Since I set such intention with the mandala and my chosen word for 2013, I decided to create something on the reverse as well. "Om Amogha Vairocana Maha Mudra Mani Padma Jvala Pravarttaya Hum" is the mantra of light. See the way I put her inside a pointed circle with rays (of light) emanating from it? A halo that surrounds an entire figure (rather than just the head) is called an aureola. When this almond shaped surrounds Christ or the Virgin Mary in traditional Christian art, it is known as a mandorla.

IMG_0906

 I created a similar image last year with the same words, "She is adorned in light."

1st Mandala of 2013: Intention :: Evolve

What is your word for 2013? Will you immortalize it within your journal/sketchbook? Hang it on your wall? Make copies to hang at work or in your studio?

Wishing you all a year filled with abundant blessings. Happy New Year!
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