Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Lure Of Pure Color

Color is intoxicating to me. Like many artists I know, there is an attraction to color that is difficult to describe. Often, I tend to believe that our brains are wired differently, especially when it comes to our eyes. For the past week I have had the flu...then pink eye...and still, the energy is completely zapped from me even though I am on the mend. During days like this I don't quite feel up to tackling a huge canvas so I turn to writing and photography. It is much easier to stay in bed, paint with my pen, and use my camera phone to capture color and light when it floods in my windows.

This particular morning the sun was glorious, I was pretty wiped out, so I just sat for a few hours watching the light dance in and out of my window. Words really didn't come freely at first so I took a deep breath, honored the fact that I felt like road kill, and gave my brain the freedom to move my pencil without much thought. The writing below is what flowed and after I stopped to read, to consider, to pray with gratitude, the magnitude of how much color affects my spirit became obvious. 

"I succumb to color, and light, and the wind dancing them from petal to petal to petal on any given day. It is not the paleness that attracts , that seduces, that lures , but the bold, unexpected flood of hues and light which rush my senses, overcomes me, rattles my core and its core. There may come a day or time or reality where this reactive pull and pull no longer takes hold and on that day, that very moment in which it arrives, my spirit shall dim. For if I am not allowed the deliciousness of color and light and the marriage of the two, to wreak havoc on my soul, my spirit, my very life, then life for me would darken. I would become but a cog in the wheel of an unbearable life." morning pages of Ardith Goodwin

As much as I love to paint, I also love to paint pictures with words, and this reminds me to be grateful to not only enjoy color, but appreciate being able to express myself creatively with words as well. The big guy upstairs gave me the gift of creativity, but when I see images such as this, I humbly stop and with a big ole grin, realize He is leaps and bounds ahead of me on that one. 

Regardless of the body, my spirit was jubilant this morning because color and light flooded my world. These images are of the bottles that line my window. When I feel gloomy I can't help but be reminded of the intoxicating, healing vibe that color gives me. Hope they make you smile too, :) 

Here's to healthier days ahead! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Know Your Bone Art Journal Page

I had an entire blog post written about bones and something inside me said it was just to damn wordy. Most likely, it was my bones, ;) 

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.

This page below didn't speak to me. The images, the text, nada. The only thing I decided to keep were the white faced figures, some of the reclining nudes, and the ladies face on the right page for my journal entry. You can view the finished page below. 

As an artist, what is your bone? What is that thing you love to do over and over and over? Is it the use of a color, a mark you make, the layering of words, the expression of text? What is the one thing you LOVE to apply to your artwork? If you can identify that as one of your bones, you are one step closer to finding your own artistic voice. 

Once you learn how to find your first bone, you become more adept at finding your other bones. Through practice, you will discover more bones. Sometimes they will be obvious, but other times they will show up more subtly and appear repeatedly. 

When I art journal my 'BONES' are praying, making marks, using transparent layers, strong value and contrast, drawing weird figures, and writing. An art journal page without those bones would not connect to my heart so I use them: 


Give your bones permission to learn what your heart wishes to say and express that on canvas. The world needs YOUR VOICE, not your copy of someone else's. 


Pray,Paint, Practice,Play, Repeat. 

Pay attention to the techniques that you use without thinking, the marks that show up over and over, and then consider adding in a few unexpected ones to see how your heart responds to them. Most importantly, look for these bones when you are not mimicking or learning a specific style. YOUR bones show up more often when you turn the computer off and paint from your inspiration and yours alone. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wear Your Own Crown

I am beginning to wonder if we are spit right out of the womb with the need to compare ourselves to others. Now, I know that isn't the case, but even in my young 3rd grade students they ask all the time, "Is it good Mrs. Goodwin?" "Is it as pretty as hers?" It stops me in my tracks...cold. Adults do this too, heck, we all do it to some extent, but especially new artists who are just beginning to get their brush wet. 

10 years ago when I started to teach myself to paint I wasn't as involved online as I am now. I didn't have all the images of beautiful artwork rushing through my stream each day. I can honestly say, I didn't have the urge to think if it was better than so and so's or not, I just wanted it to look good. But wanting it to look good was a desire connected to my internal voice of needing to be valued, needing to be significant, needing to know that my effort was worth it. 

I can't say when or how, but at some point I figured out that for me, it wasn't as much about getting it to look right as it was about the process of making the art. I wish I could share this ability with new artists, and children, so that they could reconnect with just having fun, just making marks, just enjoying the gift of creativity. As a teacher, it gives me a ton to mediate pray about, and to send forward. 

This morning, as I started my journal page, the section in this book that I chose to work on was Figurative Painting. "Perspectives on the Arts" was written in 1961 and the very first sentence of the chapter written by Stephen Tillman reads as follows, "Young artists today live with a very strong sense of who is in and who is out." 53 years ago, in regards to painting and being a professional artist the same stigma applied and it makes me wonder if the cave men felt jealous over who was making the better, bigger, or prettier marks. Comparison steals our joy. It turns those negative voices in our heads on full blast and turns off the ones guiding us on our best path. 

Crowns seemed to fit these pages, the figures appeared to be powerful, and the juxtaposition of the two figures picking flowers beside the male figures of prominence gave me a twinge. As the marks flowed I felt inclined to consider how we wear crowns, how we strive to wear other people's crowns, and what can I do, as a teacher, to help those caught in the vicious cycle of comparison. The concept is complicated, it isn't easy to solve, but I believe in my heart it must be dealt with. Our true gifts and hearts are worth fighting for. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Whispers In The Wind

As I have aged I have learned to quiet my spirit and listen to the wind. Whispers are found there, of deep longings from my spirit, of answers to questions I refuse to ask, and of gentle nudges directing me in ways that I am blind to when my noise meter is on full blast. In the moments that I choose to slow down and listen, my maker sends the language of love and compassion my way, for that I am truly grateful. Lately, I have been spending more time listening and less time talking, and I can tell a huge difference in my serenity. 

Artwork is like that some times. When I rush through ideas or pieces because I can, the heart is more silent. It doesn't mean that what I think or create is wrong, it just means that it isn't connected to my heart as much, and the further away from my heart I go, the more I know I am spinning my wheels and pissing my bones off. I am convinced that my bones have a direct line to my heart, like they are on Twitter together or something because it never fails.... when I am doubting myself, being careless, or acting on disconnected information my bones get royally fed up and let me know that. When I am creating for any other reason than being altruistic, I feel it in my bones. 

One way I practice staying connected is completing what I call Quick Paints. I take 15-30 min, use paper that would ordinarily be discarded, and I create a painting from my heart, not my head. This practice does two things: It keeps me creating from a sense of flow and it keeps me loose in my style so that I don't over think a piece and create from redundancy. Over thinking is the black widow of the painting process and can be lethal to a pure creative event every time. Here are two pieces I created in this way and both characters have been with me under the shadows, waiting to see the light of day, and longing for me to slow down and give birth to them. They came from my heart, not my head...and I trust that. 

"Mr. Boudelaire's Hair Is On Fire" (sold)

"He Plays Jazz On King Street" 5" by 11" acrylic on paper, matted 

Because professional artists create to sell the majority of the time, we often get caught up in painting for purpose rather than painting from passion, or at least I do. Bills must be paid, supplies purchased, and marketing explored, but for me, that can't be an excuse to bail on why I paint. My soul speaks through the wind, it says, "Paint through me, not in spite of me." Painting from this inspiration, not matter how different or weird, will always ground me in being true to my gift, self, and God. I sit here with the deepest understanding that it is His voice whispering in the wind.... He speaks through others, and he speaks with strength. I am grateful today for those who spoke to me with encouragement, with support, and with nudges of staying brave and bold in my long term art goals. 

The artists of HeArtspace on FB are my whisperers as well, they speak the truth from a place of love. :) The incredible Jeanne Bessette curates this group! It is not a group for artists to share pics, although occasionally we do. Rather, it is a group for artists to share the journey of being and becoming an artist. If you are interested in joining, in actively sharing your experiences, good and bad, of living a life as an artist, then friend her and request to be added to her secret group. Best decision I have made!