Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Horizon Line Placement and It's Emotional Impact

I always think its fun when I finish a work and realize that it works both right side up and upside down.  This happened for the piece above.  I like it both ways and though after some time and an informal facebook poll,  I am going to title it with the horizon on the bottom side.  

I think it is interesting to think of titles for each orientation and how they might be different.  

Low Horizon (what I'm calling it for now) suggests a floating quality though with the horizon low it feels more grounded as a composition.  Release or weightlessness.  A passageway. A place that is more spiritual. You're almost there or maybe you are leaving.  An end or a beginning.  The future is ahead.  What does it say for you?
low horizon piece to be titled

For the one I'll call High Horizon, I am thinking of a traveler heading home.  I'm thinking of destination.  The land in the distance becomes goal.  There seems to be more distance to travel, but you're almost there. Or maybe it's the end of a day.  Or maybe the land you are leaving.  What does it say for you?
high horizon piece to be titled

Thursday, April 10, 2014


The pessimist complains about the wind

The optimist expects it to change

The realist adjusts the sail

-William A Ward

A lot of blues going on in my studio plus some new canvases for a commission I'm starting. 
I'll be honest, I started 2014 with ambitious goals for my art career.  I am working the most hours I have since having kids, but all these "plans" for growing my art business is taking more time than I thought.   I love what I do, but the day is just too short.  I find the thing that sucks the most time out of my day is the work on the computer...specifically, working on the "perfect" blog post...you know... well designed, beautifully written, showcasing my art with professional quality photographs, well functioning (complete with all the bells and whistles and social media buttons), clever, links to all the incredible artists, talks, blogs I have discovered, and perfectly poised to boost traffic...oh, and full of life changing meaning.  IKR!!! So, for now, I am perfecting my "to do" list and will chip away at all the goals I have but, without sacrificing too much actual studio time. 

This collage is a detail of a large canvas that sits against on of the walls of my studio.  I am constantly adding paint to it and one day, I hope it will feel finished.  I think what many people don't realize is that when they look at one of my "finished paintings", there might be thirty paintings underneath.   Every painting is a surprise.  Where it goes is never predictable and kind of fun (and kind of agonizing at times, especially when I paint over something that upon reflection, was actually interesting)A common struggle I have with my work is whether to develop a painting further to reach new heights even at the risk of destruction or call it finished, perhaps prematurelyBoth paths require risk and confidence in myself.  I think I will try to publish more of these progress collages...fun to see the progression.
See you soon!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fostering Creativity

It's been too long since I last blogged and this post has been in my drafts folder for a long time and its really funny because the topic of creativity and fear of not being perfect has held me back from publishing it.  So on that note, I am publishing what I have in a rough form.  I could keep tweaking it and figuring out images to add, but by holding it back it is creating a backlog of drafts in my Blogger account, so here goes...

A bird sitting in a tree 
is never afraid of the branch breaking because her trust is not on the branch but, instead on its own wings.  
Always believe in yourself.

I am always amazed at how many people (friends, family, strangers) who, when they learn I am an artist,  say to me, "I am bad at art" or "I'm not artistic/creative".  It makes me sad every time I hear this which is a lot.   I truly believe everyone is capable of creative thought and expression, and like yoga, it is about practice, practice, practice in addition to letting go of the fear of failure.  Creativity, like anything (sports, music, math, writing, etc), comes with practice.  I think what happens is people get this idea that you have to be born with a talent for art.  I disagree with this.  Of course, certain forms of art, like other things,  may come easier to some and there may be some inherent raw talent...but is it because they are more "skilled" or just more practiced and thus more confident??  When I hear one of my daughters make a proclamation like "I'm "bad at math", it gets me so frustrated!  I have seen them struggle with something and as soon as they believe they aren't good at something, the confidence waivers, the anxiety builds and there is more chance of not succeeding.  True confession, I am guilty of such statements as well.

So, when it comes to art, my mantra is just start.  Don't worry about the product.  Make art...in whatever form you can.  Build sand castles, make cards with your kids, doodle, play with clay, paint, draw, photograph, design...  When we think of creating as play, I think we can get back to the time of our youth before doubt and fear of "not being good enough" got into our heads...to a time when we didn't worry about how our art stacked up to those around us. Of course, it is easy for me to say what I should do, but actually putting it into practice is sometimes harder than that.  I struggle daily as an artist with negative thoughts...is my art good enough, original enough, worthy enough? I often think  to myself "am I a real artist"?   Even with gallery representation and a solid sales history, I still question my art.  I'm pretty certain many artists have these thoughts, at least occasionally.  I think what is key is not to let those doubts stop you from practicing.  I think a lot of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, about putting in the hours. This year has been my year to ramp up the hours after cancer forced me to take a break.

The picture is of when I finally got back to my art studio.  I decided I would feel less pressure for perfect sale ready pieces if I painted with water based acrylic craft paints on paper (as opposed to expensive oil paint on surfaces like canvas or board).  This also allowed me to make a lot of images quickly in more in a kind of "practice" way.
So, kind of funny...I ended up being quite happy with these "low stress" practice pieces...probably because there was no pressure to be perfect and I was totally relaxed.  I heard a short piece on creativity this week by Ira Glass which really makes sense!

I am also attaching two of my favorite Ted Talks about this process.  Each one is really great and has a message that will help anyone start the practice of creativity or get out of a block.  

Kelley talking about creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert on TED talking about creative genius