Thursday, February 26, 2009

Flying Girl and the Fairy Lights, or Seek the Magical

Flying Girl and the Fairy Lights, or Seek the Magical
Golden Fluid Acrylics

Yesterday, I started my day by Twittering a message to the world:
a fresh new day. new ideas buzzing around in my head. where will I go today? Life's an adventure, right?
Which is atypical in my drink-a-gallon-of-coffee-and-put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other morning just trying to keep my kids and myself on an even keel.

And then that day, in my usual perusal of google reader, I found a million things to be amazed and inspired by. And when I put my kids to nap, strangely, I stumbled out into the garden and made a fairy house. I had no plans to. I just did. Did the fairies kidnap the ToDo list in my head? The one that keeps me on edge?

And I practiced on my baby blue acoustic guitar with the heart shaped, abalone inlaid opening, playing Love Me Tender and Ode to Joy. And I made myself a fresh picked, fresh squeezed key lime margarita. And I laughed at G's disdain for dinner saying, "I hate Fwegeghi." (that's spaghetti to everyone else.) And I enjoyed watching Ivy try to fly-- I mean jump, as she tries to propel her body into the air and dance on her feet at the same time. And I did my work and I fed my kids and a dealt with diapers and bedtime and all the other things I have to do in a day.

It was a good day, despite the tantrums (parent's and children's) and I tried to catch a hold of that magic as it came. Did I wish it into being?

When I sat down last night to paint, it was another night where I had no ideas in my head. No where to go. I knew that the fairy house had been magical, but I really don't need to paint fairies, not with flying girls flitting about everywhere. I didn't want to go there. Then a commercial flashed on the tv. A tree full of lanterns, and off I went.

If you seek it...

I think it comes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flying Girl Feels the Stirrings, or Spring Always (Yes) Comes

Flying Girl Feels the Stirrings, or Spring Always (Yes) Comes
Golden Fluid Acrylics on paper 5x8"

[Hurry before the kids wake up!]
I had no idea what to paint last night, but I wanted something light and bright. I really have been on a green and orange kick. So not my usual colors. I guess I am thinking Spring although it is still February. Granted, I live in Florida, so winter doesn't have the same bite as back in NY, but the Winter mind is still prevalent. It's easy to get stuck in that dark when the sun goes away for so long.

This thought of Spring always cheers me up, even... especially when things are the darkest.

I remember once in college, a great time in my life, but I was going through some tough things at that moment. I remember being in love with someone who was not in love with me, although he thought I was, gee, just swell. I'm pretty sure there was other sadness involved, and I'm positive there was mass quantities of cheap white wine. There was a party, and a desperate need for escape from said party.

I ran outside and slid down the building to squat by some leafless bushes and cry. One of my girlfriends came out to make sure I was okay.

I remember her looking at the seemingly dead, Winter bushes and saying:

"The lilacs will be blooming soon."

And all of a sudden, my upset evaporated. I imagined the fragrance floating through my window, and the tiny lavender florets appearing everywhere, and I knew it would all get better.

The boy never fell for me, but I got over it. I forever tried to stay away from sweet white wine and, oddly, melon flavored anything. (yegh, I still remember that bad wine.)

My life got better and better. Sometimes it got worse.

But Spring always (yes) came.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flying Girl Pushes Her Way Through, or Trust Your Instinct

Flying Girl Pushes Her Way Through, or Trust Your Instinct
Golden Fluid Acrylic on Paper, 5x8"

I am really coming to believe that most of the world's problems stem from a deep insecurity.

Why do we cause wars, start fights, hurt people, deny others, deny ourselves, cause misery, hoard things and resources, eat too much, starve ourselves, take drugs, become jealous, put others down, use people, run away from our biggest selves and all the other ills of the world?

Because we don't think we are good enough. We don't trust in ourselves or our own powers. If we have enough, are enough, believe enough in our selves, we don't need to take anything away from anyone else.

Simplified? Sure. But sometimes simple shows the heart of the matter.

It's also not so easy to trust yourself, to believe in your powers or to know that you are enough.
I painted this picture about trusting your instinct, for Illustration Friday, but I struggle with it.

How do I know when it's instinct speaking or fear of not being enough? There are fears that are valid instincts... self preservation, for one... but so many fears come out of the small place. How is one to know the difference?

I don't know. I'm all scared of the big things that I want. Revising my novel and putting it out into the world. Opening my shop. Risking the uncertainty of a small business and freelancing over the relatively secure weekly paycheck.

But i want to show you some frightening things that happened while I was painting this painting.

First of all... I really like the last one, and was afraid of the disappointment that might come from trying a new painting. It seems whenever I knock one out of the park, the next few are duds.

And then, this is what I first came up with.

But instead of scrapping it, I kept working at it. I kept trying. I kept thinking about how I could adjust and revise.
And in the end, I like what I came up with. I don't love it as much as I love the other one, but I like it and feel a resonance.

Most importantly, I am taking the lesson of fear... of facing the fear and diving into it. I am remembering that it is also about believing in your own ability to handle whatever it is you are afraid of.

My shop does not have to be perfect when I open it. I do not have to get everything right. There is room for adjustment and trial and error... in fact, it is required. The same goes for my novel. I get so confused when confronted with the pages I need to revise. I get lost in the tangled threads of plot and am afraid to dive in. I don't want to ruin it? I don't want to disappoint my own hopes, maybe? I don't want to find out that I can't do it after all? What if I'm really not a novelist because I can't handle revision?

I don't even need anyone else to tell me this is not a fear of self preservation, but the small fear, from the small place, that wants me to run away from my dreams.

My instinct says... I love stories. I love novels. This novel has what it needs to be alive. And I have the knowledge and skills to bring it to life. And if I don't have them right now, I will learn them on the way.

As for life... there is no way to get it right. There is no way to always make the perfect choices. And there is always room for rewriting your own story. So I make a choice that might make things tough for a while? Am I willing to put the effort in, to face the fears, in order to create a life of intention. My instincts say yes.

What are the small-place fears saying to you? What are they trying to get you to run away from? What is your bigger instinct saying? Which would you rather trust?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just (Don't) Do It

Stuff my kids collected from the garden.

I'm taking a little break from Flying Girl. Not to worry. I actually am in the middle of one right now, but I need another session with it to finish, and I am making the conscious decision to not do it. Not today during nap time, any way. I've decided to not rush it so I have it to post.

Instead, I want to talk about choosing to not do.

I'm not talking about laziness, here, or procrastination, I'm talking about making the positive choice to just. not. do.

That novel? Why don't we just admit it and say, "I am not going to do my novel today. I am choosing to not do it." Use our time elsewhere-- bake a cake or teach yourself guitar. Do NOT guilt ourselves all day, beating ourselves about the heads and shoulders with all the things we think we SHOULD do.

I don't believe in shoulds. They just make us feel worse about ouselves and send us into a death spiral. Phhht. We don't need.

What we need is positive action. Positive choice. I am positively choosing to not paint this afternoon.

It isn't a contradiction. Life is full of choices. Whenever we choose to do one thing, we choose to let go another, if only for the moment. Even when we multitask, we choose to let go of the focus we might have if we did only one thing. So why not just admit that we are making a choice, instead of pretending we aren't, pretending we'll get around to it?

What that means is that I will not be avoiding my painting tonight out of guilt. What that means is I will not let the stress eat at me, ruining my day and possibly anything else I might get done today. What that means is I will not waste my day thinking I should paint, but leaving no room for anything else in my indecision. Because, today, instead of painting, I am going to go up to my desk and write for an hour... something I really have been avoiding.

Instead of saying I will write and busying myself with something else, like, say painting, I will just go write. No shoulds there, either. Just a choice. I've realized I can't do everything at once, so this nap time, I am choosing writing over painting. And I'm going to pack up all the other shoulds on my list, and put them away until I write for my allotted time.

When I'm done, then I'll re-evaluate my to do list and see what else I can choose not to do for the rest of nap time.

What can you choose not to do? What space does that open up for your day?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Flying Girl Lets Go, or Trust That The Seeds You Plant Will Grow

Flying Girl Lets Go, or Trust That The Seeds You Plant Will Grow
Golden Fluid Acrylic

When I was a student teacher learning how to teach, my teaching team was working on a poem with our 9th grade inner city students. Somehow, the lesson turned into racism pouring out of the kids from all directions and I left that lesson feeling terrible, hopeless, unhappy, defeated.

My partner teacher leaned over to me and said, "Shhh. Trust the process."

And I shut my mouth and shut my fears and agreed to hold on until we could work through it all.

When next we met with that class, something had happened. And I don't know if we did anything other than encourage their interpretation and discussion. The anger and fear that the poem had brought up had transformed into thought and understanding.

They had simply come out of the other end of the process.

So when I get all worked up that something in my life is not coming out the way I had expected it to, I remind myself to "trust the process." It give me some breathing room. It eases my panic. I releases the tight hold that I have on whatever it is I am trying to control.

Now this doesn't actually mean we shouldn't take care of our projects or developments. It does take attention, work and effort to get through the process, but we don't have to go through it in fear. All we have to do is trust the process.

It will all come out okay, and even if it doesn't, we are strong enough do deal and move on to the next process.

Oh yeah, and this post counts for the Thursday Sweet Treat prompt, Let Beauty Rain Down Upon, even though I couldn't add the prompt to the title because that would make it way too long.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Flying Girl Sends Long Distance Love, or You Have Wings to Fly

Flying Girl Sends Long Distance Love, or You Have Wings to Fly
Golden Fluid Acrylic on paper, 5x8"

This Flying Girl is not so much about my own creativity, as it is about wanting to support others in their creativity. Over the course of my life, I have been surrounded by so many creative folk, female, male, young, not so young, sure in their own creativity and insecure, experts and just starting out.

Life's tough right now. Finances, job security, housing, commerce-- all shaky. Things are folding left and right. It is a pretty tumultuous time, and it would be easy to lose the faith in yourself. It would be easy to fall off your own path as you get all wrapped up in the mess of it all.

But even when it's scary, we still have the power to deal with whatever comes our way. We can still create the life we are meant to life, even if it takes detours and delays to get there. Remembering that means remembering we don't have to let the tough times keep us from flying. Maybe we fly close to the safety of the ground for a while, maybe we fly alone, or slide into someone else's slipstream to ease our journey when we need help, maybe we even land for the night, to regain our strength. It's all good. It's part of our journey. And we are still flying.

As I read Jamie's post on the 7th secret, listening to our guides (in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women) I realized something new.

At first, I thought those secrets would be my spiritual guides. I often turn to the tarot cards, the Iching, the Medicine cards and other forms of oracles. In fact, I read for others, and many times the readings focus on the creative journey.

Then as I read, I remember those people who have helped me along... mentors of sorts. My parents and grandparents, my friend's parents, my teachers.

Also it came to me that other writers and artists have served as guides, in both their lives and their writings. I don't have to actually know these people to have them serve as guides. Even fictional characters can guide, at times.

Then I thought about my friends, my peers. All the people I have talked about art, or shown my work to. All the people who have supported me and urged me on. All the people with whom I went on artist's dates, or cooked, or talked about our creative dreams, or sat in cafes writing side by side. The people who came together into creative groups, whether geared towards writing or empowerment. My online friends, too, count in this group, as I have been inspired and led by their creativity over the last year or so. In the last 20 years, it's people like you who have opened the doors to my creativity.

After reading other people's posts on guides, I have to come back to my own role in this. I'm a guide, too. Sometimes I think it is one of my most important roles in life. I used to write and paint to entertain myself. That's not why I do it anymore. I write for other people. I paint for other people, to help them along on their journeys by showing mine. I still get something out of it, but to give it purpose, I need to give it to others.

While I can't help but want to help other people, I am also cognizant of the ways in which they guide me. How we switch places as leader and follower, and that's part of why it works, just like Amy said the other day. We are guides and we are guided in return.

So while I have the faith to give, I send it to you.

Some days, I need the reminders to believe in myself, and I just might need one of you to lead.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Flying Girl Follows Her Fear, or The Wolf and Red

Flying Girl Follows Her Fear, or The Wolf and Red
Golden Fluid Acrylics on paper, 5x7

Sometimes, fear is a signal that we are getting close to our dreams. We are afraid to reach that potential and then be responsible for our own success and failures. We are afraid to have people depend upon us, because we are afraid we might disappoint them. We are afraid we really aren't good enough for our dreams. We are afraid we will be revealed as a fraud.

We are afraid that if we have something, it can then be taken away from us, or leave us of its own free will. We are afraid that what we want was not what we really wanted at all. We are afraid that we are not who we thought we were.

We are afraid of the mysterious and the unknown, and we'd rather stay safe holed up in our little cottage. We are afraid of taking a wrong turn and getting lost in the brambles. We are afraid we are not strong enough, quick enough, smart enough, talented enough, nice enough, tough enough, good enough to live up to the challenges on our road.

That way goes through the deep woods. That way is haunted by dangers and ghosts and wild animals.

Stay to the path, they say.

But perhaps, those of us who hear the howl of the wolf leading us into the shadows, are hearing the wildness of our own souls calling to us.

What power might we find if we fly to meet that untamed part of ourselves?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flying Girl Gets A Gift, or I Am Enough

Flying Girl Gets A Gift, or I Am Enough
Golden Fluid Acrylics, Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils on paper. 5x8"

This one makes me happy. Mostly because I had no inspiration when I started, not a bloomin' idea in my head, and then, once I started, I was sure this one would be a loss. It was hideous. My ideas were falling flat. The colors were not working. It was, to borrow a phrase, a hot mess.

But I didn't give up. I painted over messes. I added another layer. or two or three. I removed certain elements, changed colors, or tinted them another shade. I just kept on keeping on and then I ended up with something that made me smile when I looked at it.

So after all that, let me tell you where the inspiration finally came from. I should have learned by now to sketch down ideas in my journal as they come to me during the day, but I didn't. Instead, I turned to the internet or inspiration.

First there was the idea on Pecannoot, a new blog about abundance by Jess Gonacha. She suggests we should be using the ideas of abundance in our art work, because in this world of panic and fear, we could all use abundance. Then there was CED, where Leah has suggested "words" as a theme for the month of February. Lastly, but not least, there was the theme for thursday sweet treats, run by Natasha. Let me tell you, I was stumped by that one. The theme is "colors" and colors are so integral to my work that I couldn't narrow down an idea.

So in the end, I let the colors do the deciding. I reached in my bag of paints and pulled out a color, two, three, four, and a white. It gave me a fright when I got cobalt teal and sap green hue, but then I pulled iridescent bronze and burnt umber light and I began to get an inkling of an idea. The white was my favorite titan buff. As the colors started making sense, the painting came together. I followed the colors, mixed and layered them

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flying Girl and Thief of Hearts, or Fear

Flying Girl and Thief of Hearts, or Fear
Golden Fluid Acrylic

I like to think of this blackbird flying away with her heart as a part of Flying Girl, herself. Where is her other glove? That thing that cradled her and kept her warm and holds her scent? Oh, it flew away as a bird, taking her courage with it.

I'm thinking about secret #6 in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, and this is is my saboteur. Myself. My own doing. Giving away my power by giving my fear power.

To tell the truth, I am doing SO much better than I used to. I am recovering from my external saboteurs, and my fears. I have been working at it a long time. The more I can identify them, the less power over me they have.

The fear of being successful and of failure. The fear of criticism. The fear of being powerful. The fear of money. I am working on all of these things so hard. Often I can't address them head on, but have to go around the other side, sneaky like.

If I focus on doing my business cards, which I have been struggling with, and I go back to it 4 times, will I fool my fears into thinking each baby step is smaller than it is and I am not going to have to actually work my way up to owning my creativity, my business, my power?

If I stop revising my novel where I am stuck, and instead print it all out and go over it again, maybe with some coffee out in the garden while the kids are playing and the meatballs are on the crockpot (my first attempt at this, I'll tell you how it works out) will my gremlins get caught unawares?

If I keep painting every night, and build up a body of work, will my fears get pooh poohed away when I finally do get the shop opened, and all of a sudden have dozens of pieces for sale and I will actually be in business, instead of just thinking about it?

When Flying Girl catches that rogue blackbird and dons the power again... will she be able to use that power of fear to help her fly?

You know what? I just realized I am farther along in my process than I thought I was. I thought I was just being lazy, wasting my day and not working on my novel. But I've been doing work behind my own back.

Take that you mean old gremlin/blackbirds!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flying Girl and the Heart, or Hide and Seek

Flying Girl and the Heart, or Hide and Seek
Golden Fluid Acrylics on paper 5x8"

I believe in synchronicity. I believe that we are all connected to the universe and to eachother, and things actually happen for a reason. It may not be a reason that is nice and happy for us little people scurrying about, but it's a reason, all the same. Sometimes, if you can tap into that synchronicity, those rhythms and patterns and intuitions and alignments and coincidences, then you can make something from them. Maybe you can make some sense. Maybe you can just make a painting.

That's what happened with this one. I get the feeling there's some deeper meaning here, but really, it just came about through coincidence.

First, Ivy was hiding in her room behind the curtains, which are wine colored. She was wearing a lavender nightgown, the wall was white/shadowed, and the trim was black. The color combination struck me, and I wanted to paint it. Then, I realized it was valentines day, and I should try to make some tiny effort to incorporate that into something, despite the fact that I don't celebrate the hearts and flowers holiday. (hey, yo! you wanna buy some long stem red roses? Only a hunnerd bucks a dozen!) So I thought she should be carrying a heart.

Sometimes love seems like that, to me. Hide and seek. Pull away, go into shadows, open up in joy. Really love of anything. The up and down in and out of love. Can it just go calmly and smoothly in one line? Can it stay the same and never change? I don't think so. It's always peekaboo. Sometimes we have to go hunting. Sometimes we have to call olly olly oxenfree. Sometimes we have to end the game and say, "here I am."

Looking at other incidences of synchronicity, Karen at Beelieve points out

Forty years ago, the intuitive words of a song called Aquarius, brought the dawning of the new age into our collective awareness:

When the Moon is in the seventh house

and Jupiter aligns with Mars.

Then love will rule the planets

and peace will steer the stars

At dawn on 14th February the Cosmos actually embodies this perfect alignment to support our collective manifestation of love and peace and dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
Yes. It is finally the age of Aquarius, a time for enlightenment and inclusiveness, not the polarity of us vs them, but the holistic WE.

The thought makes me sing, "let the sun shine, let the sun shine, the sun shine in...." which leads me back to yesterday's post.

Sing it with me folks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flying Girl and the Stormy Skies, or Here Comes the Sun, It's All Right

Flying Girl and the Stormy Skies, or Here Comes the Sun, It's All Right
Golden Fluid Acrylic on paper 5x7"

It's hard to know where inspiration comes from. Yesterday, I was glancing through my photo files and saw a picture of cloudy skies over roofs and immediately got an idea. I thought a Flying Girl in a yellow sundress, looking like she was lit up by the sun would be just right.

Maybe the idea of a muse has its place. Leah was talking about muses and daemons over here.
And I can see the attraction to the concept, but I'm not really sure I buy it. It kind of takes away our own agency to say, "twasn't me, twas my muse." Do we have power over our own creativity? I think we do. I think by showing up to the work, we open the door to whatever inspiration, or, fine, muse might come.

But I also like to think that the higher power that is a muse is actually inside of us. It doesn't mean we're better than anyone else, because we are all part of that power, everyone of us. But it might mean that we're better at listening to that higher voice than other folks. By "us" I mean artists and other creative folk. And anyone can learn to listen. Yay, human nature and creative spirit!

I like to think that maybe we set up hospitable circumstances within us that allow the muse/higher spirit/inspiration to come together and become something new. Just like the birth of a baby our insides are the home to our art until we labor to get it out. To say it in a less romantic metaphor, the same could be said about poop.

Oh. Have I said too much? Just think about it, though. We put things into our bodies, like food and drink and drugs and really whatever we take in, good or ill, and then those things are processed within us, and come out the other end. Sometimes easily and regularly, sometimes uncontrollably, sometimes painfully and with difficulty, and sometimes we get completely backed up. The same could be said of art, but it wouldn't be food and drink we take in, but ideas, visuals, literature, music, conversations, walks through the woods, sunsets, or anything, really, any experience. And then, according to our own personal process and personal creation/expulsion, well... out comes the product. ta dah!

This is not where I was planning to take this post. Oops.

Anyway, this particular piece, I think it was influenced by a collective consciousness, a zeitgeist, as well as my own personal experiences lately. We, all of us, it seems, have been through some difficult times, a long hard winter, financial duress... but I truly believe Spring will come, in fact, is already coming even when it is the coldest. Just take a look at the swelling buds on the branches... proof that indeed, we do not need to be afraid that winter will last forever. Spring always comes.

Me myself, I've managed to stay positive even when things are difficult. It helps that I don't really want much, (except, you know, the world) and that I have my creativity to draw on for strength. Since I decided yesterday that I needed to stop asking such big things of myself when I was in a small place, I have felt a lightening of my tension. The whole world seems softer now. I still have a bit of agita, but it is nowhere near the spinning round in circles of before.

And while I was painting this picture, I kept singing to myself, "here comes the sun, la di dah dah, here comes the sun, and I say, it's all right..."

I like this mantra.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flying Girl of Memories and Dream, or Dirigible

Flying Girl of Memories and Dream, or Dirigible
Golden Fluid Acrylic, paper 5x7"

Meaning here? I don't know. I was browsing the internet and came upon a picture of rooftops, which reminded me of the view out my back window when I lived on Driggs Ave in Brooklyn.

Somehow, a grown up Flying Girl did not want to fly through this picture. She wanted to be a child. And she looks like my little girl, although a bit older. Not only that, but this picture did not want to be vibrant or graphic at all. This picture did not want embellishment or ornamentation.

This picture is soft. I think it might also be because I have decided to not ask so much of myself right now. I've decided to step back on the novel so that I can focus on setting up the shop. The thought still makes my stomach twitch, that I could put the novel off. But I think this needs to be done right now, if it's going to be done at all.

Another thing about this painting, I think it's a reminder of the dreams I had when I was living in that apartment, some, oh my god, TEN years ago. I wanted children, and I couldn't see where or when they would happen. So here I am now, and they are here. The dream didn't know about the hard work or the sacrifices, so much, but it's still the dream.

Also, I don't know if anyone noticed this, but all flying girls looking to the future are facing the right of the picture. All flying girls looking to the past are facing the left. This is, I suppose, my personal language.

As such, perhaps the adult Flying Girl is in that blimp... I mean dirigible, which is such the cooler word. She's taking a little voyage back into the past, and spotting that girl, and her dream.

(interestingly, this painting could also fit for the Illustration Friday prompt of time, since it's all about memories and going backward and forward in time within our minds.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time and the Flying Girl, or You Are Here

Time and the Flying Girl, or You Are Here
Golden Fluid Acrylic

The inspiration for this was the prompt for Illustration Friday, Time. I didn't want to do what I felt, what I did, because the idea of this large, looming clock scared the heck out of me. And then, when I felt that jolt, I knew I had to. This was the issue I had to tackle. My first idea was the deadline of how much time I have to accomplish what I want, but I think it ended up being more than that.

Am I here? Right here? In this minute? In this day? In this life?

This is the place where I am, yet I spend so much of my time feeling like I have to chase a deadline, run after the fleeing opportunities, capture every spare moment and wring out of it what I can get.

I have been very anxious lately. I think it's from this idea that I have that I have to start making money very soon, before my kids start school full time. Also from the idea that I have to be productive every minute of the day.

So much of my creativity is geared, now, towards somehow making money with it, although I don't seem to be able to gather all the loose ends and set up my business. I am always not doing enough.

But I think I have to accept my life as it is, and accept the time I have. I've got limitations here, with my full time stay at home mom gig, that limit what I can do with my business. I'd like to make it a full time job, but I am not ready for a full time job. I need to take it step by step and start slow.

I think I need to accept that I can't do it all at the same time. I cannot paint every night, blog every day, (twice,) revise my novel during naptime, cook healthy meals, keep my kids happy and strong, figure out the business world, get all of my shop things set up, and still say healthy myself. There's just no room in my day for all this. And the things that end up getting short shrift are the things that are hard (like business, like revising) and the things that feel "indulgent" (like time to relax and eat healthily).

I also need to not put so much pressure on myself in my productivity, expecting every piece to be perfect and meaningful.

I'm still not sure where I can fit revising into my day. It should be nap time, but the kids are sleeping less and I can't seem to carve out the time. I feel so exhausted when they go to bed at night that the brain function is tough. Maybe I am making my excuses, though, and I can break through.

That's another thing I was thinking about this. This pushing through. If I give in to my exhaustion, I won't write. But if I push through the initial exhaustion, I may very well end up writing some great stuff. I know, it's happened before.

However, if my expectations, every time I sit down to do the work, are that I should come up with the breakthrough piece that will get me a writing contract, then it seems too momentous to tackle.

So I'm thinking, lower my expectations of myself. Recognize my time limits and what I can do within that time. Perhaps let go of writing/painting/blogging every day. And the work I show up for, let go of the expectation of brilliance. Just be, in that moment, THERE. Paint for painting. Write for writing. Work for the work, not for the future burdens of making a living.

If the intention is there... somehow I think showing up for the work will get me down that path. Brick by brick the road is constructed?

What are the bricks you want to lay down? What are the small steps that you think will get you to your goals? What work are you going to show up for today?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Flying Girl Where the Wild Things Bloom, or Nature Deep

Flying Girl Where the Wild Things Bloom, or Nature Deep
Golden Fluid Acrylics, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens, White Gel pen

Movement never stops, in life. I think we're like sharks. Swim or die. However, sometimes life seems to be flowing by so fast, we don't really get to go deep into the places we need to go.

I've been thinking about the Fifth secret in the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women. This week in the book club, it's "Committing to Self Focus." As I was reading the chapter, I was thinking how this really wasn't my struggle... the feeling that art was selfish (or if it was once, I've gotten over it). The feeling that I need to take care of my duties as a woman and a social being first before I turn to my art. Maybe it's because I'm kind of a hermit. Maybe it's the luck of being born into a family of artists who always supported my artistic leaning (not always other things, but art was always supported). I have made peace (mostly) with sacrificing my housekeeping and using PBS as a babysitter when need be. I have let go of being that perfect super mom so that I could be the best me, the best artist I can be.

But then, as I got farther in to the book, I began see some resonance. McMeekin mentions "the need for mothers to find blocks of time to create," espoused in another book, and I can see that is true for me. Unfortunately the other book (A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood, by Judith Pierce Rosenberg) also "advises young women to establish their careers before they embark on having children," which really doesn't help me now, does it? If I could go back in time, I might have put more pressure on myself to get my career going, not realizing the struggle it would be when I had less freedom as a mother. But I can't, and here I am now. So I need to make now as productive as I can. I need to make it work for me.

Yes, I am working a lot. I paint and I write and I take photographs and blog and cook and raise my children and all of that, but I don't really work that deep. I don't have those blocks of time to really sculpt my work. I go on instinct and my subconscious and the many years of practice I have put into writing and art. It's those years that allow me to sit down and whip out 1200 words of new writing in an hour, or a painting while watching tv. Years of just diving in and being there. If I was unable to work so fast, I don't know if I would be working at all, to tell the truth.

I'm finding a difficulty now as I start revising parts of my novel that are already written. I don't have the space in my mind to be able to get the larger picture. I can do little bits at a time, but I don't feel like I am getting myself deep into the work.

Maybe that's where my anxiety is coming from right now. I could say, "oh this is just the ebb and flow of creativity." I could allow myself to not write, but I know what happens when I do that. I stop writing. It is the practice of showing up for the work that keeps the work going. I need to keep writing.

Maybe the anxiety is necessary. Maybe in order to get to where I want to go with my novel, I need to feel uncomfortable. Maybe I need to ask for support from those around me. (Yes, they have always supported me, but as an adult, I have to ask for that support for them to give it to me. And I hate asking for help.) Maybe I need to ask for my mom and/or step dad to take the kids one or two days a week so I can really get going.

You know, I think being uncomfortable is often necessary to art. It doesn't mean that you have to create work that is "cutting edge" or uncomfortable or shocking, but it does mean that you have to push the edge in yourself. Push the comfort. Get out of the ease and steady every day patterns of thinking. Open doors that you are afraid of. Stand up when you'd rather sit down and hide. Stop and face the things that you have been running away from all your life.

Just like this Flying Girl, I feel like I am right on the outside of that forest of deep work. It looks scary and weird, and it looks like I might never get out if I get caught up in those dark brambles, but I am convinced that inside of that darkness is the true place. I am trying to figure out what I need to do to get where I belong. I may need to go at it in an oblique way, because I have been resisting this push.

And it is also interesting that this painting was inspired by the Sweet Treat Thursday prompt, and yet it dovetailed right into the 12 Secrets chapter for me. Maybe I wouldn't gone away with the meaning that I did if I did not have the two different ideas swimming in my head. I think it was Orson Scott Card who said all of his novels started not with one idea, but with two unrelated ideas that then set up a resonance. Interesting.

And just so you know, folks, this deepness I am talking about, isn't really about the content of the work for me. I'm okay with that depth. It's more about taking things to the end and bringing them out again. This is my darkness, my fear. Finishing. Showing. Selling. Publishing.

What is your fear? When you think about deep work, what are you afraid of facing? What stops you in your tracks? How do you think you can get past those brambles?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Banner Day (and routine difficulties)

Yesterday, I spent some time working on my etsy banner. Yes that's right. For my shop that is still not opened. Which is the part of my Portfolio Project that was supposed to be easy and quick and finished first. (hahahaha)

I sketched out the initial idea and then just dove in. I painted it and got it the way I wanted to and then edited it on picnik... which I think might be the solution to my tech-idiot problems. I like the way it came out. I like that it is so obviously made my hand, not technology. I like the sketchiness of the paint, which goes along with my speedy painting a day/every other day thing. Even the lettering is hand done. And I like it. Did I ever say that my job in college was making posters for events? Not a bad part time job. I wish I had figured out this style, because it would have been so versatile. Anyway, that was 18 years ago. Today is today and I am figuring everything out all over again. It seems on a daily basis, sometimes.

I realized that I had to actually set aside time to get this done, instead of just assuming it would happen in the upswelling of my days. I have been trying to build a routine into my day for writing and for painting and for blogging and for dinner and for bedtime and for getting up and dressed, but there was nothing for getting business done.

Have to say, there still isn't. My blogging time went to this, but perhaps what needs to be done is the time needs to be divided. Every other day going blogging and/or business. Or I don't know, maybe it just needs to be switched up a little. Or maybe I need to let go of this idea that everything needs to be done every single day and find a sort of rotating schedule that allows me to incorporate all the things I want to do.

I don't know yet. Still working on this.
But I wanted to show you my version of playing with words for creative everyday's February theme of "words." Oh wait. Last month was "play." I seemed to have combined the two. Oh well.
This was one of my first versions. Then I shifted the words around, trying all sorts of other compositions, trying to keep in ming the whole time that it was going to have to be very long and narrow to fit in the banner space.
So I just flipped and flipped the letters around, too many time to show here.

I just entertained myself with the different variations.

I came in close for a different purpose and feel. I like the little flowers/lollipops this way, too.


Woo Hoo!

Ivy is still mightily entertained by the "popsiples" as she calls them. And spent some time drawing her own, or asking me to draw some "popsiples" for her to practice on.

Anyway, it was fun. And I could really use any words I wanted over the popsiples. I could do a new Warriorgirl banner-- the whole idea was inspired by the banner I have up now-- or make a poem or whatever I want. Almost like refrigerator poetry, but on a painting.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Spin Your Web Flying Girl, or Muse

Spin Your Web Flying Girl, or Muse
Golden Fluid Acrylic

Oh I have been so stumped the last few days.
I was flitting about on the internet when I came across this post from Jessie, in which she asked, "who is your inner muse? What is she like? And does she have a name? Tell me about her. I want to know."

Is it possible that our muse changes over the course of our lives? She used to be named Ravenna and she was a wild gypsy who drank espresso in Greenwich Village garden cafes and smoked cigarettes on Brooklyn fire escapes and wrote poetry in journals that she carried with her wherever she went, from the high art museums of NYC to the deep and winding tunnels of the NY subway system where music floated through all the connections. I don't know who my muse is right now. I no longer have time and freedom to hunt for her and give her free reign. When I thought about that past muse, I realized she is no longer here. So who is she? Where is she? I'm still going, so she must be here... but where?

And then I had the flash of an idea that my muse was a spider. Very different. So I painted the FG to represent her.

Here it is. I hated it. I still wince putting it up.

It took me three days and 4 layers of paint to figure out what I was doing.

I really like the final outcome... the textures and layers and colors and mystery. I have no idea why the chair is there, but I felt like it needed to be there. The words came after seeing Rosa's (no relation) picture and Leah's suggestion. Although it took me a while to figure out what she was saying, the spider, that is, not the girl. The girl is listening.

So how do I get a Spider for a muse? My life is far different from the one I lived when Ravenna was at large. Now I sit at home, clicking away on my little computer, scanning for vibrations of sustenance on the ether, spinning out pictures and stories in the shadows of sleep time. :)

I guess there's a reason why Ms. Ariadne stopped by.

And what does it mean to spin my web? It means one strand at a time, building the anchors first and then the rest. It means continuing it's upkeep regularly lest it turn into a cobweb meant for catching dust. It means having patience and waiting for what is mine to come. It means being content with the quiet life in the corner I have at this moment, because I am creating this thing out of what is inside of me.

I also came to realize that feeling sorry for myself is the whole root of creative block. So I have a cold coming on and the kids woke up multiple times last night, so what? That's no reason to wallow in "poor me" and sniffles. No reason to not sit down to do revision.

I mean, maybe there was a reason why this painting didn't want to be finished in one night. Maybe it needed the layers and time to consider. Maybe my process is deepening and my paintings are getting more complex. I'm okay with that. But I am also in the process of getting used to the new way of creating. I kept painting every day and then putting it down to consider. I would like to have more than one painting going at a time, if that's the way I am going to be working, but I can build up to that.

However, the same "considering" when thinking about my novel is leading me to avoid my scant writing time. It's really easy to "consider" what I am going to write, and then, all of a sudden the kids are up and there is no time to actually get writing done.

Also related to this is how my business goals for the Portfolio project are falling by the wayside. It all comes down to time, how little I have of it, and what I chose to do (or chose to sacrifice) in that time. I simply don't have "business" time scheduled in everywhere. No set schedule for figuring out my shop or take care of paperwork. That has to be in there or it won't happen.

How does this relate to the FG? I guess it's the spinning of the web, which is really my life, and the anchors I want to have in place. How do we put the anchors in place? What are they? What is important?

When I started the Portfolio project, I think the main initial goal was to set up a productive creative and business practice that was sustainable. Maybe I need these weeks when I get little done to evaluate what is productive and sustainable and what is not.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Flying Girl and The Seventh Wave, or Perspective

Flying Girl and The Seventh Wave, or Perspective
Golden Fluid Acrylic, white gel pen.

This is the image that came to my mind while reading chapter four for the book club in the 12 secrets of creative women. This chapter is Surrendering to Creative Cycles.

I've been working for the last few years on what I call, "riding the wave." Life goes up, life goes down, but you can ride that force and get far. Sometimes it feels like you've been overwhelmed by the tsunami, sometimes it feels like you have been pulled under and you don't know which way is up.

I've had occasional depression a few times in my life, and finally found my way out of it. A lot of it had to do with being productive, getting out and spending time with people, taking slow and steady steps to go where I want to go and writing and painting. but when I had my kids, I was hit with something that made it impossible to do my old routines for getting out of the funk.

I was in Post Partum Depression, feeling like somebody foreign to myself, someone who couldn't even write in her journal, and I couldn't get out. That made me feel even worse about myself. When I stopped nursing at a year, the PPD lifted and all of a sudden I could see that it had been there.

And in the year since then, I have worked slowly to ride that wave of my life, embracing the lows where the riptide pulls at my ankles, learning that those are the times when you need to swim parallel to shore and not struggle to make the strides you long for. And also, I have struggled with understanding that the highs, with their light and speed and joy are also only temporary. All is transitory and all gets you in the direction your life is going, if you don't struggle against it.

Another realization I made, while I painted this picture was a surprise, but fit right along with my riding the wave concept.

As I painted it, I realized that if you simply turn the painting over, she is no longer being overwhelmed by that wave and tossed about in the sea, but in fact, taking flight.

Flying Girl and The Seventh Wave, or Perspective (reversed)
Golden Fluid Acrylic, white gel pen.

And that too has been a lesson I have learned in the last year and more. Those lows can be really low, but if you focus on the lessons to be learned, or the small joys to be had, or the faith that there will be a dawn, instead of how hard it all is, then you can see that the very life that was drowning you a moment ago is in fact propelling you to your own fulfillment.

Pardon me for saying, but my painting blew me away.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Flying Girl On the Ocean Deep, or Poetry

Flying Girl On the Ocean Deep, or Poetry
Golden Fluid Acrylic, white gel pen on paper

This flying girl was done in layers. I started with a wash of transparent spring green, and then a deep turquoise and everything went kelly on me Kelly green, I mean. That was the first thing that went wrong with my painting. But then, what I've been learning is that there is no "wrong" in painting. There is only something that needs to be worked on.

I had an image in my head, but it wasn't long before that image went cockeyed. I could have fought with my kelly green sea to get it back to my vision, or I could have given up on it completely. The first would have been an unhappy place to be, for me anyway, especially since it is almost impossible to paint what is in your head exactly, and the second would make me feel bad about myself. I don't like giving up... although there is a place for letting go of your attachment to a piece. In the end, I went with the kelly green and the piece ended up being far more complex than I had planned. While it is true that the more facility you have with the medium the more control you have... there are also fewer happy accidents to follow and discover something new. Unless of course, you seek out the unexpected and allow them to take you where they will.

Writing is the same way. That novel, that poem, that essay is rarely exactly the same as the impulse that got you started. Maybe it's because art, in all its forms, is the way we interpret and make sense of the wide world. And the world is so much wider and deeper than we can comprehend. As mysterious and powerful as the sea, is our experience in the world. And whatever we put on paper or canvas or into movement or music is never going to equal the world around it. It can be moving and transformative, deep or enlightening, but it's not life. Although the more we let our subconscious take the lead, the more we follow the unexpected, the more passes we make with our tools at hand, the more depth our work will take on.

But here's another thing. The journey of art, of poetry or music or writing or whatever, is also the journey of life. Yes, I said art is not life, but the journey is the same.

As I struggle to understand my own creative process, as I struggle to learn my media, as I struggle with my inner demons that try to keep me from creating, as I struggle to be a better and deeper artist, I am also learning about who I am, how I get along in the world, how I can be happier, how I can appreciate life more and more fully.

I think different media have served to help me grow in different ways. Poetry helped me let go of my past and my sadness. Writing helped me gain self confidence and focus. Now art is helping me to live in the moment and gain spiritual strength.

For instance, I keep wanting this post to be cohesive and I want to be able to go deep for my connections. I want to be able to go over it and revise. I want to be able to search my twisty brain for just the right word (which is out of reach right now) but a little girl keeps coming up to me and-- oops! she got a boo boo. Oops! Now the boy got a boo boo.

My life right now is not the way I would write it if i had the opportunity. But it is what it is. And I need to go with the medium of my days, rather than fight against it, wishing I hadn't added that green, or wishing I had uninterrupted days to focus on work. Or giving up on my goal of being a writer and an artist.

Paying attention to my process helps me pay attention to my life, in all its boo boos and its sunny days. Watching what comes out of it, the pictures I paint, in particular, helps me understand the messages that come from my subconscious about my life.

What is that Flying Girl doing in that little boat? Looking for her words? Fishing for poetry? It's all around her, isn't it, some deeper than she can see? All she has to do is reach out to find it, even if what she catches is not what she thought she would find.
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