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When Did You Stop Making Art?

July 23, 2020

When did you stop making art? Was it in elementary school when you decided everyone was better at it than you, and you didn’t want to risk being embarrassed or humiliated? Or was it that time when the teacher looked at your masterpiece and told you that trees weren’t supposed to be purple, or to please color inside the lines? Or maybe it was on the day that you painted a picture of the most beautiful butterfly imaginable, only to have a significant adult ask you “What is that?”

If they come early enough in life, these experiences can become voices in our heads that stay with us long after we become adults. Even further along the way, we are discouraged from pursuing art because it’s not considered a serious part of our development, a viable part of a set of problem-solving skills, or a respectable way to make a living.

If you’re being honest, there was quite possibly a time in your life when you were discouraged from creating art because you became convinced you weren’t “talented.”

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the concept of talent. I know it’s a real thing sometimes, but I also believe it’s used as a way to stop creativity in its tracks. So just for today, I would like for you to eliminate the word “talent” from your vocabulary. I would love it if you would just find a way to make something beautiful completely without self-criticism or judgment of any kind. Get messy. Smudge the lines. Throw on some color. Do it for the joy of creating something that didn’t exist before. Do it knowing you don’t have to show it to anyone. Then do more of that. I promise you will discover a spark you didn’t know was there. You might decide it’s worthy after all. And because you made it, the world will be a more beautiful place.

My friend Bettye, 92 Years Young

Finding Joy in the Midst of Uncertainty

June 10, 2020

It might seem frivolous to write a blog post about making art right now, in a world full of uncertainty and fear. I’ve wanted to say just the right things that might be uplifting or helpful, instead of just making happy talk.

But it’s not frivolous at all. We need beauty now more than ever. We need the meditative healing that creativity can provide. Drawing, painting, singing, dancing, baking bread, digging in the dirt — all are things that can save us from despair at the sadness all around us. We need to practice at least some of them every day.

I haven’t done much painting, except for a large series of birds in watercolor that I had started in preparation for an Earth Day event, which was to include a solo show at the public library. I had even ordered frames and table-top easels, because there would not be any wall hanging space. Many of these are already framed, waiting for the day when we can hold the event, which is now tentatively planned for October. I have my doubts whether that’s going to even be a possibility. So in the meantime, here is part of my bird show.

Birds Exhibit

But what has brought me great joy were the flowers in early spring  . . .

Spring Collage

And sketching in the park when the weather warmed . . .

St. Florian June

And just like every other person in the country, I’ve baked bread.

Bread 2

I hope you are finding ways to create joy in your own world.

Looking for My Inner Child

January 13, 2020
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The holidays came and went just like that, didn’t they? For the first time ever, I didn’t put up my tree, and it felt so good. I still draped the top of my china cabinet and the mantel with lights and some garland, and that was that.

Then a quick trip to Florida over New Year’s to celebrate with some of my kids, grands, and greats. And here is where it gets especially fun. One of the moms shipped watercolors, brushes, and paper ahead so we could have some art time, and we did it all at a table outside. It was glorious. How I love kids’ art. They have a fearlessness and freedom that we lose at some point as we get older, and then we struggle to regain that same spark.

My favorite time of the year is now, after the holidays, when there’s not much going on out in the wider world. It’s a nice, quiet, creative time for dreaming, sketching, and just letting my inner child play with ideas.

My watercolor classes are back after a 2-week break, and everyone is glad to be back in “therapy.” We all miss it when there’s no class. I want to push them a little bit this year to try to open up and be more free. We’ve spent a lot of time just getting to know a bit about the medium, and each one has his or her own way of approaching it. It’s been interesting watching that unfold. There are the ones who are perfectly happy being loose and free, and then there are a couple of perfectionists who still want their work to be more like a photograph. I think you may know where I fit in: loose and free is my eventual goal. But it’s funny how a new medium forces one to go through baby steps before feeling brave. At least that’s what has happened with me. Please, Goddess, let me learn by watching the children.

Progress in the Studio

November 24, 2019

The last time I checked in with you, clutter in the studio was seriously getting in the way of the creative process. After ignoring it for as long as I could, I decided to take concrete action. You might not even notice that a lot of “stuff” is gone, but the space is starting to feel more calm and inviting. The one thing that I’ve pledged to do is fill one trash bag a day and remove it, starting with three full bags yesterday. I can do this. It felt good to make a start.

 

Paintings my Friday friends are currently working on.

 

This is the table dedicated to my 8-year-old student. Those canvases leaning against the cabinet  on the right need to go out of sight — just not out of mind.

 

Paints sorted – sort of. This is just one handy bin where I keep my odds and ends of acrylic paints.

 

The table to the left will get cleared off once again. This will take a little longer.

So, the studio is a work in progress, as am I. I will leave you with a closeup of the contents of my nature basket, a constant source of inspiration. If you look at the picture above, you can see it in the window on the far right.

Have a creative day!

Cleanup on Aisle Three

November 8, 2019

This studio has become unworkable. Now that I have private lessons in here twice a week, I’ve discovered there’s no place to lay out things to work on them myself. It is way past time to start tossing things.

I’ve always worked in the midst of controlled chaos, but this is ridiculous. Seriously.

On a happy note, I am having the best time with my new sketchbook, ultra fine point Sharpie, and my tiny watercolor field set and water brushes.

My next brave step is going to be sketching in public places like coffee shops and maybe the public library. It’s too cold to do that outside yet.

I strongly recommend a sketchbook. I never developed the sketchbook habit before, because my painting always involved paints and textures and materials and brushes. Now that I’m enjoying watercolor, doing lots of drawing is a necessary part of that. I couldn’t be happier.