Thursday, January 30, 2014

Back at the Easel

Work in Progress: "The Three Graces Revised"  Mixed media on cast fabric

     After an eight day trip to visit with my daughter I am back in the studio, refreshed and inspired.  There's something magical and mysterious that happens when I approach a new painting, or return to one after time away.  When I return to the easel I have a moment (or many) when I wonder if I will be able to paint anything at all.  

     It reminds me of struggling to look into a "Magic Eye" poster and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't see the hidden images that were supposed to be there.  Remember those?  One day it clicked and I stopped trying to see anything and there they were, the dinosaurs silently hiding out in a field of sunflowers...  Or when you can't remember the name of a movie, but when you're driving home thinking about what to make for dinner... there it is, "Soylent Green" creeps into your brain, acting like it was always there.  Sure you can dismiss this as a right brain/left brain switch... but just because a college class gave me words to describe what to me is one of my life's greatest miracles doesn't mean I'm going to stop marveling.   It feels like more.  It feels a lot like the moment you realize you really do love someone because when they need you to let them go, you can, and you do.  

     The process of creating is a process of letting go.  Nothing can enter your conscious or subconscious mind until you make room for it.  Have an idea?  Grab onto it, hold it in your mind for awhile and let it rest there, and let it go.  What you will create is not the idea, it is the product of the idea.  It is your mind's child, and while you may have a lot of input into the development of your child, every parent knows we have to let them grow to be themselves.  Intuition is a vine, a root system in the air searching for the sediment of the spirit to feed it.  Every time I approach the easel this alchemic process occurs, the paint sits on the brush and waits for the signals that come from a space that I can't see or know any other way except this way.  My past lessons and practice inform every choice, deciding how much pressure to exert, how much paint to load, when to start and stop each mark, but the marks themselves come from a place beyond language and beyond my these thoughts.

     One of the greatest revelries I experience in my life is the reoccurrence of this magical moment, when I think, "Maybe that's it, maybe I have nothing left to paint.  Then I approach the easel and the vine of intuition starts winding itself around me, the easel, the painting, the room.  It is as close to an ecstatic moment as I'll probably ever have, or at least have had up to this point.  It is the feeling that there is a force larger than me and it can be trusted.  I end up saying to friends, "When I'm painting everything makes sense to me."  I'm not sure if the sentence even begins to explain the experience, words always fall short for me.  And that's why I paint.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Believe in your dreams

 Today is the day I have decided to believe in my own dreams the way I have encouraged others to believe in their own dreams.  As long as I can remember I have had one consistent dream, one consistent love and one consistent passion.  Art.  And the age of 48 I have done EVERYTHING ELSE but pursue my life as an artist with all of my energy, confidence and hard work.  Don't get me wrong, I have never stopped MAKING ART.  I have been drawing, painting, collaging and constructing images almost every day of my life, while waitressing, teaching, owning my own retail store, parenting, traveling, drifting, dreaming and sleeping through life. 

For the past week I have been visiting with my amazing daughter. Yesterday we got to talking about my business plans for the upcoming year.  I starting throwing out all my ideas, various plans of consignment galleries, workshops, even part time jobs.  In short my fear based plans stemming from the deeply embedded data in my brain spelling out: YOU CAN'T MAKE A LIVING FROM YOUR ART.  I have opened and closed two successful retail stores, worked as a barista, waitress, bartender, teacher, social worker.  I have two etsy shops, one for vintage and one for up-cycled clothing.  I have trademarked brand names and been the subject of newspaper and magazine articles.  And meanwhile I run home at the end of the day and sketch in my sketchbook or paint at my easel... usually giving away the products of the late night endeavors to friends and family.

In the middle of this conversation that began like so many other my dear daughter Candance says, "When are you going to start putting all your effort into yourself?"  The question stopped me short.  Being an independent woman making my own living (often through self employment) I thought I was, but after being asked the pointed question I thought about it... I worked hard for everyone, my landlord, my employees, my vendors, my consignment artists.  Not that these people aren't very important, but I was at the end of the list, and often, because of lack of time and energy, I fell off the list altogether!

So that's it.  No more excuses.  I am starting today.  This blog is dedicated to a new beginning, a new life.  The one where I believe in myself wholeheartedly.  Where I live my dreams without fear and follow the words of advice I preach to so many others, "To thine own self be true."  I will be sharing everything here, my thoughts, progress, past work, future dreams and even my mistakes.  

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