Sunday, July 9, 2017

What Gives A Person Real Style?

Basically, I think this quote is just so cute! Even though I never thought that I would ever use that word to describe anything from Picasso!

Style. It boils down to who you are. You cannot manufacture real style. Oh sure, you can try. But if it's not coming from inside of you, if you are trying to force it out or paste it onto yourself, it just doesn't have that aliveness that radiates when one is being truly authentic. The best style for any of us is the one that evolves and appears as we each become our true selves. 

This takes time........and courage. Being oneself is an inside job. There are so many outer forces in life that make it easier to go with the flow around us. Going with the flow at times can be part of our style, and it can be a part of the path while developing personal style. Still, mining and cultivating oneself, so that style flows out of authenticity.......that takes courage, tenacity and curiosity

Yet, as Picasso implies here, it is simple. As simple as a circle. And as simple as bringing your true self to the drawing of a simple circle. Of course this can be applied to anything we do. Whatever creative endeavor we are drawn to pursue, we make it our own by bringing our purest selves to it.
What a great idea to remember whenever working out something new. It might not look like a perfect circle the first few times we try something, but staying curious about ourselves and what is showing up, as we keep at it, is the way to get to our best style.
I hope you are enjoying your summer in style!

Have a beautiful week!


Friday, July 7, 2017

What Am I Proud Of?

Painting of beautiful June, a tortoiseshell cat with ginger
and white patches.  #petportrait  #memorial

Okay, here it is.....
I have been an artist my whole life, since I was three years old, according to my mother. After finishing art school, I was an illustrator in some high visibility positions, such as creating information graphics for the Associated Press and also as a news graphics illustrator at WNBC-TV. The images that the artists at these companies created were, essentially, answers to a problem. Often these jobs required quick solutions, and certainly one did not feel that one's personal being was exposed. And while there was always a credit line somewhere, most people had no idea who created the work. The nature of the news, whether on television or in newspapers, means people saw the work for a few minutes at most, and then it was onto the next thing. It was exciting work and I loved it. Then, years into my career as an illustrator, a hand injury sidelined me from what had become pretty much a totally digital industry. (There's more to that story, but lets leave it at that for simplicity's sake right now).

So with this hand injury, I decided to go back to the kind of art I had grown up on, art done with pencils, paper, paint and canvases, as opposed to the mouse and monitor of modern news illustration. It took quite a while to get that going again. I was to experience that it's a different thing altogether creating an art practice after you've been out of art school for years and now have to work and handle other responsibilities. However, I just kept making work. I was drawing and painting and pretty much not showing anyone for many years. And here's the thing I'm proud of....I kept making work, even though I had always thought of myself as an illustrator, I was becoming a fine artist. And not because I was learning to draw for the first time. I knew how to draw and had many, many years of practice under my belt. Although letting go of that "I already know that" mentality allowed me to go back to doing some life drawing again and had the glorious experience of seeing my drawing continue to evolve and get better.

What was also changing was how I thought of myself. I came up against many internal blocks and limiting ideas about what I thought I was doing. These internal challenges were coming up because, to me, the work I was doing had no reason to exist except that I wanted to create them. No one asked me to do them. Even though my work would be considered "good," I didn't feel an internal comfort with this situation.

But here's the thing.....I kept doing it. There's more to this part of the story as well, which I hope to be able to delve into and explain in future posts. I think there may be a gold mine of inspiration in some of the deeper issues that came up during this long period of gestation and experimentation and incubation. 

Okay, still, here is the thing that I am proud of these days. In March of 2016 I made a commitment to show my work, somewhere, every month. It didn't matter where: a cafe, a library, an office. I wasn't sending my work out to galleries, and still don't right now. But I committed to show my work in this do-it-yourself way, and I think part of why that was most comfortable for me, was that I was and am still finding my voice. Showing the work in this low pressure kind of way was enough. It was a challenge actually, to make sure I had enough pieces to fill some large wall spaces. And then to be able to speak about the work, which I did for each exhibit.

So yes, starting with March 2016 and going through to May 2017, I had my work up somewhere in my small city. There were some successful exhibits where I sold quite a few pieces and some venues were quieter with less exposure, and thus less sales. A lot of people saw my work, and that was a challenge for me to get comfortable with. But I did it. During this period, I started promoting myself as a pet portraitist, which has been a success as far as I am concerned. I haven't found that sweet spot yet, where the people find me and just have to have a portrait, but I am preparing for that possibility! Till then, I just keep hustling and promoting my portraits.....It may sound silly to say, but I like my pet portraits! I also like the direction that some of my other work is going in, less portrait but definitely inspired by animals and nature.

So I am proud of myself for up-leveling myself and my business as a professional artist and for taking a chance to show my work as well as to speak and write about it. I think the real accomplishment in all of these things is having found my way to being authentic, even if I'm not feeling so sure of myself. There is definitely a place for uncertainty and insecurity when being authentic! I am far from finished with this journey, but to have plundered and blundered through through years of the internal as well as external challenges of pursuing a painting career is turning out to feel like it was worth it.

Thanks for reading! Please follow my blog (the button to do so is to the right. If on your phone, it may be at the bottom) and be sure to visit my website to sign up for art and inspirational writing about creativity, productivity and authenticity delivered right into your inbox.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

How To Figure Out What Would Be Exciting To Do Even If I Wasn't Paid

It seems like it should be easy to answer this commonly asked question, and perhaps for some individuals it is. For me, it has always been hard and I haven't really been sure why. Although as I sat down to write with this prompt today, I think I finally understand why. My first inclination was always to give an answer that was actually not that authentic.  When considering this question, I would feel a strange internal pressure to answer with "make art!" I have been an artist since I was a little child. It's a calling I have always had and have spent plenty of time doing it, both with and without getting paid. It's funny, but I think I didn't know myself well enough to feel the real answer to this. Creating art must be what my great passion in life is, right? Nobody on planet earth could argue with it. Artists through the centuries have always been admired for their great passion to create, to sacrifice their time, sometimes their own health and often other aspects of their life.

What I have actually spent more time and energy on than art has been healing from deep and traumatic abuse from my early life. I can't say it's been exciting to do, although whenever I had a big insight or shift in my inner self that gave me freedom and inner space to be myself, that was very exciting. Sometimes when there has been a big healing shift, I have wanted to share it with everyone.....but I did not want to share the back story. So I have kept this big part of my life a secret. Still, I always thought that the things I have learned and continue to learn through years and years of reading and studying many teachings and healing methods could help people so much! I also knew deep down that most people wouldn't put as much effort as I did into this deep work that I've done. Not even a fraction of the effort. This may sound cynical. Perhaps it's just a way that my inner self is being protective of still vulnerable parts of myself.

At any rate, I feel that a more genuine answer to this question is to say that I really enjoy helping people. More specifically, helping them get a bigger perspective on things when they are stuck in their paradigms. I have always had another gift, but this one has rarely been recognized. (although when it is, it is always exciting) That is, I have very keen observation abilities. I notice things that others don't notice. It could be an emotion that a person thinks they are hiding. Or some slight signal that indicates there is more going on in a situation than meets the eye. This is a gift that got me into serious trouble as a child. I mean,seriously punished for it. Even though I didn't even know what I was doing. There have been a small number of occasions as an adult when I allowed myself to honor this gift and said some small thing to another person that ended up giving them some relief. And while it all sounds very small - small gesture, small result - it actually had a quality of being huge. Like a small cork being removed so the tank of stagnant water can empty and be refilled with fresh water. Maybe I do that with my art too. Since I like to paint inspiring quotes, it creates a new way of looking at an a painting. I have been acknowledged, and thanked, by individuals who felt that the quote came along at just the right time and that it gave them a boost that they really needed. And this has mostly happened through the emails I send to people on my list. I don't get financially paid for it, but I get a great deal of satisfaction from hearing that people have been moved by the choice of quote and my written thoughts about it. Beneath the gratification I get from creating art, is a fuller gratification of touching people that helps them heal, if only in that moment.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Cool, Aloof And Independent Day!

Hey! Look at that! Three cats that are practically red, white and blue to celebrate this July 4th! Even though this greeting is poking a little fun at the reputation that cats have for being cool, aloof and independent, all cat lovers know that they are actually very warm, loving and expressive and love their humans very much!

This holiday needs no explanation even to those who do not live in the United States. I'm honestly not really crazy about traditions, (I'm just kind of tired of most of them) and yet I like the idea of celebrating things. Mostly because it gives me a jumping off point to make punny art! With cute animals!........which is more fun than anything!

To me, this holiday is about celebrating people who left their homes with the hope of creating a new life in a place they had never seen. And back in the 16- and 1700's people had to travel in very dangerous ways for many, many months to arrive at some promised land that they could only dream about. It was extremely hazardous every step of the way and many individuals did not survive the trip in those days. Even when they arrived, they had to actually cut trees down to build houses from scratch. Can you even imagine this? Then they had to actually fight off the people they were escaping from, who had come across the ocean after them. Today as well, many people travel long distances to escape tyranny and persecution in their home country.They also face grave dangers on the trip and often they never see their homeland again, which must be very difficult. I remember traveling in Europe several years ago for about 11 months and by month 10, I was ready to come home. And fortunately, I could.

I am American, but my grandparents were immigrants to this country. Even in the early 1900's, when they came over, it was by rail and then a long ship ride across the ocean. Very arduous. My heart goes out to everyone around the world who is trying to escape tyranny, violence, persecution and danger of all kinds and who are looking for a new home. These are some of the things that July 4th makes me think of.

Whatever you do for the holiday, be safe, have fun, don't over eat and pass up on the barbecue. Because........ oh yeah, that's another thing. Why do we celebrate a holiday that is about independence, freedom and liberty by eating the carcasses of animals that never saw the sun, felt fresh air or knew freedom in any sense of the word? Go vegan this year and really set yourself - and the animals - free!

Wishing you love, freedom and joy this week.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

This Post Starts Lightly About My Tech Solution For Resuming Blogging And Then Gets Serious

This mixed media piece was created several years ago. It wasn't
intended to be a self portrait, but I just noticed it actually is.
I started this blog in November of 2009. I wrote one or two times a month for five years. (amazingly) In January 2014, I started a weekly project of hand-painted, illustrated quotes and wrote about why I found the quote inspiring. In March, strange glitches started affecting the look of my blog, which I had meticulously designed. I couldn't figure out how to fix these glitches, so for a while, I just posted images, with no text. Eventually, I got frustrated with that and quietly gave up. I continued my project via email and online for a publication called The Brooklyn Reader. These two avenues have been and continue to be amazing and satisfying and challenging in wonderful ways. I get to connect with new people and, in general, am always learning a lot! Still, in the back of my mind, I was always wishing I could figure my blog out. (I often tried searching online but couldn't find answers) I visited 2 or 3 times over these 3 years to see with fresh eyes if anything had changed or if I would find some kind of solution that I hadn't noticed before. No dice.....

.......until last week that is! I went to try once more and YES! I finally figured it out. The formatting within the individual posts had somehow changed and that conflicted with formatting for the whole blog. It required hitting an "undo format" button, which was the last thing I had wanted to do. But once I understood that the two formatting situations existed, they could now co-exist. So, I am happy to is done and I will be resuming writing and posting art here.

What is most interesting about this time table of events is that during the period between January 2014 and now, July 2017, I was going through challenging times. There were so many experiences that made no sense on a lot of levels and yet, did make sense because, now I know, they were the fruit of deeply embedded roots of very painful, destructive and even dangerous experiences I had as a child.  Experiences which were still, until recently, out of my range of conscious awareness. Some parts of my story are frightening. But while it has been an amazing time of uncovering deep wounds and old frozen feelings, I believe that the work I've done to recover myself is something that has, even more importantly, allowed me to understand very deep truths about reality, about the mind and emotions, about belief systems and about how much power we actually possess inside.

I hope you will check back. There will be a whole lot more art and what I hope you'll find to be inspiring writing coming your way here on the blog!