Monday, February 22, 2016

Imagine a painting done in the style of pointillism.  All those tiny dots that when you view the canvas up close, it's messy, confusing and unclear.   Some of the dots are bright ,some dull, a loud cacophony of color with no apparent rhyme or reason for their placement or intensity.  Life can be like that.  When you are up close to your situation, living in it every day, the points of every encounter with others can be bright or muddy, soft or loud, sharp or smooth which can trigger a whole medley of emotional reactions from us as humans.  Some points are soft, and so inconsequential that they are hardly noticed, but leave a presence somehow on us anyway.  Some points are so intense, loud, consuming and can be even painful in a way that they overshadow any other "color" that we are trying to experience.  When one's world is consuming, messy, or unclear, there is something to be said for taking a few steps back.  To look again at the scene from some distance.  Like the pointillist painting, all the screaming dots, the muddy dots, the sharp dots and the quiet ones, when viewed from a perspective further away begin to make sense as a whole.  Gaining some distance between oneself and one's world often brings a type of clarity only provided by the space between. 

I wish for you those things that make you blissfully happy, free, joyous and alive. Only you know what produces those things for you.  I do hope you continue to seek them, and when you find them, in those fleeting moments, hold on to them, as I feel you are doing.  Then go out and seek them stronger, so they will come to you more often.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The second Start…Now.

The first Start….Now painting, on the blue green background, as it turns out, could not be touched… to paint into that deep blue green ocean of color would be to mar it… and so I began another…
It seemed to make sense…
and on this second one, I was able to invoke playfulness and deep honest mindfulness centered on the real time process of creating.
Everything here came from my imagination.. The first time I have done an entirely imaginative painting on canvas without looking at any real object or photo to paint from.   Inspired first by color, then line and shape, each object in this piece was created in response to being in the process of creating.  Starting with the trees on the rocky shore the rest simply emerged as I was working… without a plan or agenda… Every stroke, line and shape on this painting evolved from the one before, out of a need to continue in the process of the painting… Seeking visual balance and harmony I worked until it was finished.  Of course that's what anyone does do when creating something…but in this case, in the middle of working on it, I could not have told you what would happen next, or when the piece would be finished.  I just kept working until it felt done.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Start Now…

Getting over the fear of starting.

Funny how even though I have painted many paintings in the past, and am working quite well in my sketchbook…. I've had a hard time getting 'to the canvas' during this project.

Last weekend as one of my benchmark activities, I lead a group of paired adults and eighth graders in a banner making activity for the church where I attend and work.  I spent much of the weekend preparing, sanding and priming six hanging sheets of canvas - I had a seventh to do too, but I didn't touch it, interestingly -- I spent most of my time preparing, getting ready, planning what to say, the sequence of events for the two hour class time--  Thinking constantly about other people and how to get their creativity sparked--  ---All in all, it paid off, and was a great success.  Each of the five sets of an adult and a 13 year old were busily creating and painting on canvas, actively engaging their brains and energies into painting as a result of my teaching and guidance.  I was going to work on the sixth canvas I prepared and even began painting the ground color on it… but then gave it to another adult in the group who was participating but not part of the original class of 10 people.  He dove right in and was half way done with his composition within a half hour… The seventh canvas banner remains un-sanded, unprimed, without ground color… but I haven't been able to bring myself to start it either, even with an image in my mind of what to paint…

This morning, my Sounding Board Partner, Mariano, sent me an article about fear and creativity and how creativity is linked to certainty and uncertainty.index.html  (Thank you, dear friend!)
I realized that I am still stuck on product.  I am still thinking about the end result -and not focusing on the action and process of creating rather than what will result after creating.  The class this weekend was about process… I kept stressing that the end result was not as important as the willingness that they all had to show up and just try it.  They did, and it was amazing.

Now to take my own advice.

Last week I thought I needed an assignment.  That is how I have always done art in the past.  -- as an answer to a problem someone - usually a teacher or professor - sets out for me to solve.  A friend sent me an idea, a photo she wanted me to paint for someone.  I got excited, finally having a direction, or so I thought, and primed another canvas, got ready and put it on the easel and waited.

Its been a week.  Granted, a lot has been going on, but I haven't spent any time looking at that canvas on the easel or wanting to start it. I have been prepping other canvases for other people…  Uninspired, it became a chore to start.  After reading the article from Mariano this morning I took it off the easel.. quickly grabbed a canvas I had prepped two months ago, an inspiring blue and green one and painted START NOW on it.

Strangely, interestingly, I see a future in what will appear amongst that blue green surface.  I can feel my hand with a paint loaded brush stroke a thin wavy line across that space on that canvas, even now before I have done anything on it.  From that line, I feel and 'see' what will happen next, and next, and next….a strange, almost instant phenomenon is happening within me… It is almost as if the gate is opened with those words and I can feel the creative juice welling up inside being ready to pour out through my fingers on to that canvas.

Now to start… Today will be an interesting day…

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Persistance…and patience…

A friend sent me some passages to read recently to help me with a situation I am dealing with.  What emerged was this artwork.  A steel heart.. riveted together, disconnected, perhaps even shielded… a hardened heart.

In any case, it is what it is… I am not going to say much more about it.  Except that doing this piece took longer than some of the others.. The pen on the heart was slower, the imagery overall harder to come by… 
During the process I found wanting to abandon it easy.  I had to fight the urge to leave it alone, scattered, unfinished.  So I kept at it.  It was fascinating to me that after I 'found' the image in my mind I knew what it was going to be -- I knew where I was headed with it… Its like I could see it in my mind and once it was there it was almost tedious to get in out on the page.  I kept with it though.  This work taught me patience, to acknowledge my hand working slower than my mind, and persistence.. to keep at it even though my mind was already on the next thing before my hand had even finished drawing the first… 


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sketchbook wins....

And so I finished, within a few hours of posting the last entry...
The imagery came out of a memory of a very happy personal experience.  Abstraction became very freeing here - and can be a tool to gain greater confidence in creating... 
What would you title this?

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Roadblock: Canvas vs. Sketchbook


First off:  both these images are unfinished.  (duh, right?)

But, the story is about how they emerged and how they may or may not become finished.

Now is the time in my Master's Plan to transition into painting on canvas.  Or so I thought.  Six weeks ago, I developed a Process Plan for my Master's project, expecting to, by this point, create something on canvas.  Traditionally, this should not be a problem for me, I have done many paintings, many of which are hanging around my house and in friends' houses.  So, I prepared the canvases according to my plan.. with complete intentions to begin working on a larger painting for this project.  Then I got stuck.  Inspiration was gone.

 I wrestled for days.  I beat my self up over and over.  I couldn't release any of the tension or stress I was feeling on the canvas like I was able to do through the drawings in the sketchbook.  I couldn't find an image or an idea to paint.   I couldn't focus.  I could imagine myself doing it, but it just wouldn't happen.  At one point, my daughter, being on the periphery of my moderate distress, walked by the canvas to give me a paintbrush that might help.  I saw her face in the light and asked her to stop.  Then quickly sketched out the illusive beginnings you see in the above left picture.  I studied it.  I recognized it as very creepy.  I was startled that my beautiful daughter's face would generate such a creepy image from my hand.  Then I heard a voice that someone once said to me, once upon a time, in jest, that I paint creepy pictures.  I got scared.

I felt my vulnerabilities had become exposed and that exposure paralyzed me.

Do I want to be the 'creepy picture person', where the dark side of me comes out for all to see?
I stopped, in greater distress, and couldn't do any artwork for many days.  When I started this image of my daughter's face,  I didn't have time to work through it, or press past the emotions of frustration and disgust and continue to paint so the creepy image dissipated.  Instead, I listened to the fear.  I allowed it to stop me.  I'd forgotten that I'm not done yet.

I experienced what so many of my students do when they get going on something and don't like it and just want to throw it away.  I wanted to abandon this.  The whole project altogether.  But I knew that can't happen so I haven't thrown it out.  It is still sitting on the easel, waiting.  But I haven't worked on it yet, either.

In disappointment, and with a sense of failure,  I went back to the sketchbook.. Remembering (at last) what I tell my students to 'begin where you are.'  The sketchbook had been working.  Begin again with the thoughts of joyous positive emotions - ignore that creepy intrusion.  Go back to the joy.
So I did.

The drawing on the right is what I am working on in response. In contrast, I am anxious to keep working on it.  The focus on abstraction is an intentional method to be kind to myself.  With abstraction, it is only me that needs to be satisfied.

One of my eight year old students wanted to see my notebook/sketchbook yesterday because they had heard about my brain-sucking tv picture.  She wanted to see ALL of it.  I quickly responded that I will show her only a few things, that some images are not ready for people to see and are private.

So, I see that the roadblock was about control.  In the sketchbook, I have control over who sees what.  As you can imagine, I show only those who I want to subject my work to, and only those whose feedback and input I want to learn from.  I can control the interaction and my persona that I construct for others to see.  I don't have to be the creepy picture person, where the dark side of me comes out for all to see.  In contrast, by painting on the canvas, my vulnerabilities became more exposed.  Literally its bigger, more public/more people can see it. More people can also then judge it.  But safely tucked into my sketchbook, my drawn and painted images are safe and my persona that I project to others through the art can be controlled. 

yeah, there's some opportunity for growth here... It will be interesting to see how this changes the more art I create...

It will also be very interesting to see -- when I can give myself the time and space to work through -- to push past the fears of exposing the creepiness - - it will be interesting to see what will emerge from that 'creepy' image of the face on the canvas...