Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Is Your Heart Trying To Tell You?...



A new painting completed! Yeah -
I have been so busy with other things that it has been a long time since I have worked on a "painting".
It felt oh-so-good to complete this yesterday.

I am going to go out on a limb here and be really honest . . .and I hope I don't offend anyone. If I do - that is not my intention, I am just venting my personal frustration  -

Recently, I have been engaging in a discussion with a variety of artists on Facebook about how difficult it is to find time to create when you have a full-time job as well.It really helped to follow this particular discussion, but it is an issue I struggle with every single day. As I have said before, many, many times - I would like nothing more than to do art full time. However - things like health insurance make it a necessity to work at my day job.
And I am ok with that.
Most days I am finding ways to negotiate through the balance.
But on days when things are particularly stressful or I am exceptionally tired,
I find myself resentful.
And when I escape to places like fellow-artist blogs or Facebook,
I read about how many hours other people are spending on their craft and their business accomplishments and I begin to feel a whole rush of emotions.
Envy, resentment, frustration, anger, sadness . . .
And then the proverbial question "why?" starts to haunt me.

But here is the thing -
I know that every artist struggles with finding that balance.
Every person! - no matter what their passionate direction is - struggles with that.

I know that for me - I am very grateful for my studio space.
I waited for years to have a whole room to myself.
With four children, spare rooms were not available.
I remember the first time I carved out an official space of my own that was not on the dining room table.
My husband installed a small work table in my laundry room. It was 2ft x 4ft.
Now if you could see my laundry room, you would understand just how ridiculous that was. My laundry room can hardly be called a room - I know people with larger walk-in closets! But - it worked.
That space gives me permission and the gentle probe needed to keep at it.
It truly is my space of refuge.

As a creative of any type, I have learned a few very important lessons that I try to live by every day.

1. Do NOT compare yourself to others - especially when it comes to timelines or age or abilities. We are all on our own journey and there will always be someone who is younger, or better or further along than we are. To compare is very damaging to our journey.
2. Remember that the little steps matter - even it is just a simple phone call or email. If it is in relation to the creative progress, it was not a step wasted and it takes you closer to your goal.
3. Recognize what it is you do well and leave the rest to someone else.
 I paint.
 Others do mosaic or glass or pottery. I love those crafts and would love to learn them - but I can't afford to diversify that much. So I will perfect what I do and love appreciate the work of others who do other forms of art.
4. Create a space that you can call your own - no matter how small it is - where your supplies can be gathered together and at your disposal.
When I step into my studio space, my creative side is ready to come out and play.
Before I created a space for myself, I needed large blocks of time to paint because I needed to get everything out, prep the table and then set up my supplies before I could start. And then I had to clean up and put it away . . .
now I walk in the room and I am painting within minutes.
5. Touch your art EVERY SINGLE DAY! Even if it is only for a few minutes. This keeps the creative brain awake and engaged.
6. Enjoy the inspiration of others - look at blogs, attend art festivals, read books, take part in a retreat, etc.
7. When someone asks for something, invites you somewhere or wants you to participate in something, ask yourself - "Will this take me closer or farther away from my goal?" If not - "is it worth the diversion?"
If the answer to both of those questions is "no" - then I feel no guilt in declining.
8. When you think you have no time for your creative endeavors - then it is time to take a hard look at how you spend your time.
Children and family will not wait.
My day job is non-negotiable.
But television and playing on the computer and games on my phone are not a productive use of my very precious time.
9. No project is ever wasted - even if it didn't turn out the way I had hoped.
10. Give yourself permission to take a break.
I am always working on this one! Sometimes I do need to watch a mindless television show or read a great novel or do something that has nothing to do with the creative business.

And in the end - to quote Mr. Abe Lincoln -
"it's not about the years in your life, but the life in your years."

Friday, June 17, 2011

A timetable for DREAMS


Some days I feel like I am living in a state of panic -
Time is slipping away.
If I haven't made it to my "goal" by a certain day, a certain date, a certain age - then it will be too late.
Am I the only one that feels that way?
This statement really hit home for me for just that reason.

I have to remind myself that there are soooooo many things that I want to accomplish in this life.
So many things I want to try.
So many adventures I want to go on.
So many different ways I see my life playing out.
For example - some days I see myself living on a large piece of property with an enormous garden, chickens, maybe a cow and some goats and within the same week I prefer the idea of a high-ceiling artists loft in the middle of the city with everything in walking distance.
Could you get any more opposite?
I want to get some of my art work licensed; I want to increase the availability of it in stores and catalogs.
I want to see my Etsy site take flight!
I want to sky dive; hang glide, paraglide - anything that involves flight.
I want to scuba dive - I've done it once and I can't wait for more opportunities.
I can't even begin to list all of the places I want to see in the world - but a few of the top sites are Belize, Italy and Bali.
I want to learn a foreign language - preferably Spanish.
I want to take classes in cooking, art, calligraphy, life drawing. . .
I want to own a cottage somewhere that I can escape to on the weekends and paint. It could be in the mountains, on the coast -I'm not picky. Just somewhere "away".
I want to sing in a choir.
I want to sing with a band.
I want to perform on stage in a musical -something I haven't done for over 20 years.
I want to live in a foreign country for a year.
I want to learn how to make artisan breads.
I want to go on a silent retreat and spend my days in prayer and meditation.
I want to live fully every second of my life.

It makes me overwhelmed thinking about it- partly with anticipation and partly with sadness - because I know that I will not be able to accomplish everything on the list.
But the reality is this -
they don't all have to be done at the same time or right away.
Life is a journey.
The process itself is part of the adventure.
And as long as I am always moving forward, then I am on the right track.
As long as I am dreaming and longing for new adventures, I know that I am alive.




Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is "NA" word?

A new mirror celebrating the seasons . . .
So another week has passed and we are beginning to have a few more glimpses that there is hope that the gray and dreary days of winter are leaving.
After a long week of work, I was grateful to face the weekend head on!
I spent my weekend painting in the studio and catching up on household chores.
Really - how can things get so out of control in just 5 days???
But it sure feels good when the cobwebs have been evicted from the tops of the ceilings.

I worked on several items in the studio as I continue to build the inventory.

And then came the errand running and things went downhill from there.
After our son moved out and opened up a room in the house, my husband laid claim and has been preparing to take it over. A fresh coat of paint, some general repairs and he is ready to take over.
A desk is needed - because not only will he be using this as an office/music studio/mancave - but he will be using the space to make prints and other general production work for the business that need to be done in a clean environment.
We scanned some desks on Craigslist - but they were too deep. He wanted a longer and narrower work surface.
So we talked and measured and thought and decided to create a custom work space with 2-drawer file cabinets and an old door.
Where to find a unique, inexpensive old door?
At our local rebuilding center.
So it was time for a field trip - after all, we could go to the rebuilding center, stop by some thrift shops to look for file cabinets and then wrap things up with a trip to the nursery to buy a few plants for a totally seperate project.
What could be better?
So off we went . . .
We drove across town to the rebuilding center only to find out that there was a biking event that had closed off the streets and there was no parking anywhere. We are in Portland, afterall. Strike 1.
We stopped at three thrift stores - nothing! Strike 2.
We drove to GoodWill - it was on the way.
They were closed (long story). Strike 3.
OK - last attempt to redeem this trip - the nursery.
We drove to the nursery, pulled in the driveway and watched them lock the gates.
A total bust of a trip.
We went home - maybe dinner and an outdoor fire around the fire pit would make up for the waste of the afternoon . . .but alas, Mother Nature mocked me and it started to rain! 
Seriously????
OK - not to be discouraged - I made dinner and after, my son and husband and I played a game of Scrabble.
Not on the computer or on my phone -
but at the table with a real board and real wooden tiles!
I made a wonderful play that utilitized touching tiles and created a secondary word . . .and it was on a double word score.  The word???. . .
"na".
My son challenged me.
Although Merriam didn't agree - the other online dictionaries said it was legitimate.
I even wasted a move on my "Words With Friends" game on my phone to make the point that I could use it.

And so . . .due to the little 2-letter word "na" my evening was properly redeemed. Because quick frankly . . .
I kicked both of their butts!!!

And if you don't think "na" is a legal Scrabble word - just remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion. And the utter demise of my entire weekend was dependent on that word.
So - "na" IS a word!

How bout you? Good weekend? What was the high point for you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Aaaah . . .Vacation!


I took a week off of my day job.
How wonderful that was.
It really is true - we need to take time to decompress, refocus, and reboot.
I mean - even our computers need to be shut off once in a while to clear out the hiccups (yes - that is a technical term :)
I found myself thinking about things like Facebook and this blog - and I didn't feel the need to get on the computer. I pretty much "checked out and unplugged."

Although I still worked hard all last week, it was a change of routine.
We had our sale at the Coast and I drank in the sun, the salt air and the sound of the ocean.
I worked in my yard and planted flowers and cleaned up our outdoor living area.
We ran errands and bought raw materials to rebuild our inventory.
I grocery shopped.
I visited with friends and family.
I went shopping . . .for me.
I went out to lunch . . .and dinner.
I went to the art store and drooled over all things creative.
My husband and I went for drives in our little Mustang and felt the wind blow through our hair.
I sat in the backyard hammock and listened to the birds and the windchimes.
I finally got the shelves in studio hung.
And I painted.
Oh how good that felt.
I finished up projects that were "almost" done. 
Like this chair . . .it's been waiting to be finished for . . .I forget how long.


And this painting that has been waiting for a frame since October . . .


And a few new projects were created - like this large mirror. . .


Yeah - it was a good week.
It makes facing a Monday that much easier. . .

So now that I have caught my breath, it's time to roll up my sleeves and get busy. The summer show season starts in less than a month!
Stay posted for dates and locations.
And keep an eye out for new prints with new themes.
What are you up to?