Friday, May 29, 2009

Flying Girl and the Hundred Days, or day to day today is the day

Flying Girl and the Hundred Days, or day to day today is the day
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Watercolor Pencils, Pen on Moleskine paper, 5x8"

I'm trying not to push myself yet. A few days left until my 100 in a 100 days starts. But, I've found that if I don't have a painting, I don't have anything to post about. This is a habit that I built the last time I started painting every day. I fell off the painting habit, so apparently, I fell off the posting habit.

I like this girl. She has 99 days in her dress and the 100th in her ribbon with a feather. Her reward for reaching her goal.

In order to reach my goal, and to help you all reach yours, if you so choose to take up the challenge, I am thinking about the tricks and techniques that will help me paint a whole picture every day. Please forgive me if it's rambling or poorly written, I am running out of time to straighten all my thoughts... and I kind of am doing this project to give the heave ho to my old perfectionism.

The first trick is to pick my challenge to suit me. I want to have finished paintings, not just sit down to paint every day. This is what I need to get me back on my path.

Fit your 100 in 100 challenge with your long range goals. Fit in into your life. If you're trying to discover the poetry in your soul, then choose to do a poem a day. If you are trying to live creatively as the mother of young children, then make it a crafting activity, new recipe to cook, or a personal creative project a day. It doesn't have to be one thing only if your goal is to do all around creativity. Maybe you are writing a novel. Make it a page of your novel a day. It's really not that much, but if it gets you sitting down every single day to write, it will make you A WRITER. You can raise your limit later. I also like the idea of taking a wonderful photo a day, something you want to share with others, a way to document a period of your life. Maybe you want to do a blog post a day and build your creativity that way. Maybe an art journal page a day. Whatever you'd like to do, challenge yourself to do it everyday and see where it leads you.

Another trick I have to keeping this creativity going is to set limits. The last time I did a painting a day, keeping to the theme of Flying Girl kept the "what shall I paints" from getting too overwhelming. A theme might help with the limits, or a genre, or a medium. But also, as a painter... keeping the paper size small helps me. I experimented with going a little larger, and my paintings took twice as long. I might cut my large papers in half to manage my finished painting goal. Or perhaps I'll try more ACEOs (2.5"x 3.5") or do a few inchies (1"x1") or twinchies (2"x2"). I have set my personal goals so that postage size art is not cheating. It's experimenting. What kind of limits would make you feel like you could achieve this? Paper size? Page count? Only black and white photos? A time limit? Maybe you spend 30 minutes a day writing? Small steps become the big journey.

And how do we keep these ideas going? This is very tricky. I like to use prompts. Sometimes I will go to a site like Illustration Friday or Thursday Sweet Treat, or Inspire Me Thursday. Sometimes I will pull words or phrases randomly from a book or a collection of words I have. Sometimes a quote or song or poem will inspire me. Sometimes, I am inspired from looking around blogland... inspired by a picture or an idea someone brings up. To keep those inspirations, instead of losing them when I sit down to create, I keep a notebook and sketch or write my ideas as they come. You're half way there if you already have your ideas. My last ditch inspiration is too let my medium lead the way. I close my eyes and pick 3/4 paint tubes, and then I paint whatever comes out of that combination. You could collect ephemera from the day and make poems/art/whatever out of that, too.

Timing... that's a tough one. When do you find time to work? I like setting a schedule and keeping to that, because then you end up with a muscle memory that equates a certain time of day to your creating. I sit down to watch tv and MUST paint. Maybe first thing in the morning you go to your computer and start writing. If you want to create daily, you need to commit time daily to your creating. Carve it out. It doesn't even have to be one long block of time. I'm a big fan of 15 minute increments. I've set alarms for 15 minutes in order to write the first draft of my novel. Also set 15 minute alarms to take care of business, after which, I allow myself to create... that time can go both ways. If you feel your kids or your day or your physical condition or your commitments never allow you to be creative... one way might be to incorporate those constraints into your art. Kids everywhere? Draw what they eat for lunch everyday. Stuck in a work meeting? Create character profiles from your coworkers. Do an art journal documenting your pregnancy day by day, your worries, your moods, your hopes, your name search, whatever (yes I am talking to you).

Here's a question that has already come up. What about accountability? Do I expect everyone to post updates daily?


I will admit that NEEDING something to post every day kept me painting when I was crying "but I don't waaaaant to!" but I wouldn't say it's required. There are ways to build the photographing/scanning/posting into your daily habit which makes it easier, but it's not necessary. If it works for you, you could post updates once a week or keep it all on Flickr or only write about what you've done in comments.

The way I look at this challenge, and the way I will be playing it is do what works. I will break any rule that stands in my way of my real goal.. which is to paint more finished work. If I paint two smaller paintings one day, and don't paint the next, that's good. If I do a collage instead of a painting, it's cool. If I take an old painting and redo it into something new, that will work too. Starting late? No problem. Make your own finish date. Need to take 3 weeks off because you are going on vacation? Add three weeks to the end. Or switch your product to a travel journal. I really don't care. There's no losing in this challenge, and you're the only one you have to please. I was actually thinking myself that I might do 100 paintings in 100 weekdays... and take off the weekends. If that idea makes you happy, please, steal it.

All it will take to please me is if I can inspire you to reach for your creative dreams.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flying Girl with an Imperfect Offering, or A Crack in Everything*

Flying Girl with an Imperfect Offering, or A Crack in Everything*
Golden Fluid Acrylic and Pen on Moleskine Paper, 5x8"

I come back to you with my imperfect offering.

Lately I have lacked inspiration. I have lost my painting routine. When I do paint, I don't like what I do and either don't finish it, or finish it and don't show it.

I've decided it's time for me to change this.

This way of being has led me into inaction, which makes me feel worse about myself, which makes me want to do stuff even less.

Well I've decided to be kind to myself. To allow myself to be imperfect. To allow life to have cracks in places. And I've decided to take up the mantel of a painting a day once again.

In fact... I am going to do 100 paintings in 100 days, starting June 1st.

Phew! Okay. That's scary. Seems kind of cracked to me. Maybe that will be how the light gets in.

Anyone else want to join the challenge with me? 100 paintings in 100 days. It's a biggie. I mean, who knows what life will present for us in the next 100 days. That's why it's a challenge. Even thought the thought kind of scares me and I don't really know if I can do it, I'm going to take the chance and try. And even if I don't do it, I will end up doing more than I am right now.

If you want to try 100 in 100, I'll put your name on my side bar if you want do the challenge with me. And you know what? I won't limit it to paintings, either. 100 poems. 100 collages. 100 whatevers.

This cracked painting is also Illustration Friday's prompt of "cracked."

* poem/lyrics from Leonard Cohen

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rainy Days Photo Shoot

After months of no rain, we are getting steady rain that does not let up. No Florida sunshine. Clouds. Thunder. Downpours, Drizzle, Mists. The stones beneath our feet are beginning to turn green with moss or algae or whatever it is. The walls and floors of the house are damp. All the blankets have that heavy not quite wet feeling.

I don't mind. I like the rain. I like the indoors. Bright sun burns my skin and a lot of heat makes me feel stifled.

We had a break in the rain yesterday, and I went out into the garden for a little photo shoot.
These are the Bleeding Hearts. They are rioting crazy.

I could have sworn they were going to die with the freezes we kept getting this winter. A freeze is a big deal in Florida. The green all died back and they were nothing but brown stalks. Nothing else in the garden did that. They looked done for.

But after a week of rain, they are bursting forth with these faded papery looking blooms. Just a couple of red ones full blown.
I was amazed. They are still closed, but even still, to me they look like they are moving. Flowers in action, standing in place.

Take this all to mean whatever metaphor about my life that you wish.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Unripe Lychee nuts and what happens when my son gets ahold of one.

I am an unripe Lychee nut.

Or so I feel. We have a tree in the front yard that is full of them. They are just starting to get ripe. Apparently they only come out every other year. They weren't there last year. This year, they've been swelling greenly and prickly on the tree, and we looked up yesterday to find them blushing just a little.

The boy went around collecting them from where ever he could reach and finding a few on the ground.

We peeled one down to it's pale white/gray translucent flesh and tasted them. They are extremely juicy and rather tart, leaving a puckering feel behind on your tongue.

The boy loved them, and ate the whole thing. Going so far as to crack the seed with his teeth before I told him that was not to eat.

He wants more. But the rest are still and green and sharp.

I am like this with art lately, maybe life in general. I feel it all growing into something fertile and ripe, but I am just not there yet. I try to take the fruit now, but it makes me wince just a little bit with it's sour edge.

If I let it sit a bit, let it drink in the rain and the sun of life, then maybe I will wake up and be full of pink and blush? Maybe I will be ready to pluck the results of my down time.

As for now, I think I'm going to write this afternoon, instead of painting. I think I'll be posting photos more, and looking at creativity within life, rather than just the paintings I do. I used to blog about more than my art. I think I'm going to loosen up on my definitions of myself and cast about a bit for the other ripe things in my life. Look around at nature for inspiration without requiring that I am painting everyday. Creativity is more than just painting, so maybe it's time to play with some of that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flying Girl Without a Map, or Just Breathe

Flying Girl Without a Map, or Just Breathe
Golden Fluid Acrylics on paper, 6x9"

I have not been posting regularly. Sorry. I have not been painting regularly. I try and it just comes out not quite right. I am not pleased with my work. It doesn't jibe... or nothing comes at all and I succumb to relaxing on the couch and watching TV.

Back when I was painting every day, I painted anyway. Even when it wasn't coming out right. And I posted those crappy paintings, too.

Lately, it all feels too significant to do that. I am "An Artist" and everything must be genius and inspired. Or at least I should fee connected to the work.

Well. I'm not forcing myself to paint a new work every day, although I still generally do paint something, or part of something. And I generally try to be creative in other ways, too.

Lately, I'm thinking maybe the painting needs to take a break and I should give my attention to my novel again. I have ignored my novel for most of this year. I don't want to, but it tool so much energy to open my shop and then to try to make something of it. Now I'm thinking I need to rearrange my priorities. I'm trying to figure out the new plans.

I think this might be part of why Flying Girl has been doing very little flying. I don't know where she's going. The path has gotten a bit cloudy.

Let me tell you, today's painting wasn't supposed to be clouds. It was a distant city... but the little girl decided she wanted to join in and dipped her fingers in my palette and did some finger painting on top of my work. Screwed up the background. Made Mama mad.

It took me a day before I decided to just paint over the background and give her some clouds. I mean, it fit better with the theme of "just breathe" anyway. And lately I've been craving simplicity. The less the better. I want some breathing room.

So here I am, after confusion and messes and being lost and being tired and I'm back with another painting, a few new ideas, but no decisions as of yet.

I'm still flying, although I might be a little confused. Just trying to remember to breathe.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Little Girl Playing in the Sun

Little Girl Playing in the Sun
TtV Casio Exilim through Duaflex II

We come back around.

Here we go again.

This is what I have found the rhythm of life to be: A crest where we are riding the wave, we've got it all figured out and we are moving... then a fall, where things don't seem to make sense and opportunities are lost and things stop working... then a dip, a trough, where we feel sorry for ourselves and mourn/moan about what we've lost or don't have, a place where it feels like you are stuck and forward motion is impossible... then the slow climb/swim up to the top again, where we go step by step, stroke by stroke, trying new things, trying old things, figuring out the shape of this new wave and slowly understanding our surroundings (internal and external) until we are... back riding the crest of the wave again.

I don't have any paintings to show today. I am not so happy with what I have been doing, and the stakes seem to have gotten too high for me to post things I am not pleased with anymore. I may need to revisit this... because I used to show any old piece of crap... ahem... working draft of a painting that I had to show.

But I have been thinking about this process of climbing out of a funk. I'm really glad that I've gotten to a place in my life where I can deconstruct the funk and map the road out. I am really glad I learned those skills... because I have never figured out how to completely avoid said funk.

I am finding that my defunkifying process is quite similar to my painting process. Should I break it down?

1. The Blank Page. This is when there are no answers. When there are too many questions and possibilities to put a mark on that page. "I don't know what to do." This is already at the point where I have tired of wallowing and hiding, and want to get out of the funk, but before I have figured out how to do so.

2. Inspiration. Looking around the world for beauty, joy, colors, shapes, composition, something to fire you, something to give shape to your yearning. Before painting, this could be me looking for prompts, or perusing other artist's work or listening to what other people have to say and waiting for that glimmer of an idea to appear. In defunkifying it could be trying to pay attention to the joys that are all around me (hence the little girl with her smile turned to the sun) or it could be reading inspirational words or it could be talking to someone who understands, or it could be reading the tarot for perspective. It's about looking about you and... if you're not ready to say "yes" to the world, then at least saying... "hmm, could be."

On that note... I'm going to stop.

Because, this is where I am, and I am not quite sure about the next step... or I am, but I want to see where it goes.

Plus, I just heard a baby girl crying in her crib, and I do believe nappies are almost over and I have done nothing about getting dinner started yet.

What I have is a beginning. What I have are first steps. Or even pre-steps if you will.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sunny Flowers and Shade

Sunny Flowers and Shade
Mixed Media on Vintage Book Page

Hi all. Still here. Sorry for not posting lately. Still funking over here, but that's not the only thing. The economy has hit us kind of hard and worried creep up. I also don't have as much access to the computer as I did before and not as much time to work. Plus I'm not really feeling creatively inspired.

It got me to thinking.

What do we do when we are in a time of constraint? When the motion that was happening before seems to choke up and slow down?

It would be very easy to get cranky and sulky. I can't deny that I don't do that sometimes. But it really isn't a productive way to deal with constraints. Frankly, it just makes you feel worse.

So when I was being cranky and not really liking what I was painting and not really wanting to paint anything anyway and feeling sulky that I had to share my computer time and all around just kind of grumpy, I thought I'd just try something new.

Well, not new. Old. I took out one of my old loose book pages, torn from the altered book I did years ago. In fact, a page that I had already started drawing on... if you look closely, you'll see the outline of a hand and a few words within the petals that have been circled. I drew my Mother's Day flowers on the page and fussed and fussed with it until I found it was acceptable.

So here's what I made within my constraints. Something loose. Something that wasn't defined before I went in, but was allowed to grow of it's own accord. I let myself mess up and just painted on another layer.

Sometimes, I think dealing with our constraints as they are helps us to be more creative. We have to search for new avenues to take, new uses of old things, ways to make our limits into freedom.

I have no answer for getting out of constraints that are too tight. I only have ways of making the constraints not feel quite so constraining.

ps This also fits the "Petal" prompt for Inspire Me Thursday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

A Peaceful Lily Pond to You
TtV Casio Exilim through Duaflex II

Because when you have a fish pond full of blooming lotus flowers, you take lots of pictures.

Enjoy your Day

Friday, May 08, 2009

Morning. Abstraction.

Morning. Abstraction.
Golden Fluid Acrylics on Paper, 9x6"

I am in a place of thoughtfulness, I think. I place of reorganizing life, but more so, re conceptualizing.

I thought some of you might like something different in my art. It's not a flying girl. Or a goddess girl. Or anything else with an overt message or spiritual journey.

It's just a painting and the meaning is there for you to interpret or not.

S looked at it in confusion. "Is it Hurricane Katrina?" he said. Okay. That wasn't my intention. So interpretation is up to the individual.

I happen to love many different kinds of art besides what I have been doing lately. I don't know what my style is, because it's always changing. And perhaps I have rarely given myself the opportunity to delve into one style or another. Not until this past year, anyway.

If I were to go through my life's portfolio, I don't know what it would say about me. I have everything there from faithful representations of still lifes to completely abstracted paintings. Cartoony images, line doodles, assemblages, photos, miniature figurines made from sculpee, years of self portraits, tiny watercolors of New York City streets.

What do all these things make me as an artist?

More important than trying to define me... where do I want to go next?

And what about the writing, which, were I to look at my files of my life's writing would be equally varied and experimental. No, not true. I experimented less with genre and devoted more time to single works and long term projects... like my 25 years worth of journals, or the archives or poetry, or the 3 novels I have in completed first draft, or 6 years of blogging.


What do you do when you feel yourself in a transition but don't really know what the next phase will bring or when exactly it will start?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fear and Drawing

"Robot" by Gabriel
finger paints on paper.

My boy loves art. He does. He loves to look at my paintings every day. He loves to sit on my lap and browse etsy shops. He used to read art books like story books. When we lived in Williamsburg, we would stop by galleries on our way home from the pharmacy and he would tell me which he liked and didn't.

But he doesn't draw.

He doesn't paint.

He says it's too hard.

He does this with lots of things. Telling me he is afraid when those steep stairs looked like they were too much for him to handle. Or the potty training wasn't going well. He also says he hates things that make him put an effort out.

As for the drawing and painting, I think he sees things in his head and then is unable to get those things down on paper, and feels disappointed.

I find it remarkable that he has had this personality trait forever, before he could talk or walk.

But then again. Maybe it's a natural reaction to challenges that you have to work to conquer.

Maybe all of us get scared sometimes.

We see tasks ahead of us that we are not sure we are up for, that we think are too big for us, or for "other" people. We see dreams that we really want and we do not want to find out that we can't do it after all... so we don't try. I have seen this in art, in writing, in life itself.

That blank page can be terrifying, when I see it. Whether I am trying to paint or write. But I've learned tactics for getting over the fear. I've learned to trust myself and believe that I can create something, if not perfect, then at least worthwhile. Learning to trust myself in art has helped me learn to trust myself in life.

These are some things I have learned from art.

I have learned that when I try... when I keep my mind open to what is, rather than accepting only that vision in my head, I can create beautiful works that are unexpected and thrilling.

I have learned that I don't need to know what the whole thing will look like in the end, I only have to know what I am going for in the next few minutes.

I have learned that sometimes I need to lower the stakes in order to take my baby steps forward.

I have learned that just because what I do doesn't look like what other people do does not mean my work is not beautiful in its own right.

I have learned that if it DOESN'T come out right, if I have to, I can scrap it, paint over it, turn it into something else, or just get rid of it. It's not the end of the world if I don't follow every brilliant idea to the end.

I have learned that sometimes, a picture or a story has to get ugly first, before it finds its heart.

I have learned that there are times when I need to be silent. I need to just be, to just breathe, and not try to be an artist or a striver or original. Sometimes we need to go fallow.

I have learned that inspiration and possibility is every where and many different paths can lead to beauty. We do not need to be tied to only one way.

As I look at these art lessons, I have to remember that these hold true for life, too. For, perhaps, helping my son overcome his own fears. But for me, too. In all the big things I want to create, I need to let myself get ugly, get fallow, ruin a few things, trust my intuition, trust my strength, re-envision the path, take baby steps.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Flying Girl and the Umbrella, or Learning the Dance of the Balance

Flying Girl and the Umbrella, or Learning the Dance of the Balance
Golden Acrylics on paper 6x9"

It is quite a struggle lately for me to put up my posts, I'm finding. I'm still painting, but all the computer stuff is not getting done quite as thoroughly.

Sometimes I get frustrated and think there is something wrong.

But sometimes I realize that there is a reason for not being as on top of things as I have been in the past.

First of all, the economy has hit us rather hard. And it's not the end of the world, but it does make things difficult and the mood can take a hit.

But beyond that, I'm realizing that I actually have less time to work than I used to. I don't have as much computer time, because I am sharing time with S. (I don't mention him much, because the blog isn't really about him.) And the children are changing their habits. G is getting ready to drop his nap. Horrors! And Ivy likes to keep his wakefulness company. Plus, there are a few other things that have taken my attention.

This is a new movement to the dance that I have been trying to balance and sometimes we need to recognize our own need to step back and learn the steps a little better before diving back in to just boogie away.

All right. I don't know if that metaphor makes sense, but I have to go because my various responsibilities call to me.

Someday I'll be more present, I think. Until then, I'm just going to have to pop in now and again, drop my posts, and pop back out. I have faith that this is just part of the process.

Oh yeah, this is a prompt from Inspiremethursday, and is "Umbrella."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I Love You Anyway, or The Girl Makes Peace with Herself

I Love You Anyway, or The Girl Makes Peace with Herself
Golden Fluid Acrylic and Watercolor Pencil on Paper, 6"x9"

This is her! The Inspire Me Prompt winning prompt painting.

The winners (I told you it was two people's who got the wheels turning) are:

who said:

2 girls/women
representing the light and dark
for it resides in us all
back to back or attached in some way-maybe hugging the moon.

(Can't help it-for I am a Mermaid Moon Goddess-searching for her lost soul twin)


who said:
Here's my prompt, based on my last blog post: A dialogue with your inner critic through art.

If you can see, Lissa started the thoughts going and when I read Leah's it seemed to give it context so in came my two strange circus girls. Or is it just one girl?

I really like this painting. I do not know if it will be a start of a new series, or a stand alone piece, but I don't think it needs to be set and defined so clearly.

By the way, I loved all of your ideas and many of them are starting other things bubbling, so we will have to see what happens. Sometime this week, I'd like to talk more about the prompts and all, but right now, I have to finish up and get the kids going.

Ladies, thank you all for your lovely prompts. And I do have more to say, I am just limited in time.

Lissa and Leah I will be getting in touch with you shortly to get your information.

Uh oh, kids are up. Must skedaddle.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What I See When I Stop and Look

What I See When I Stop and Look
Mixed Media on Moleskine Paper, 5x8"

I am running behind myself. So sorry if anyone was waiting for this post.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, I have been kind of funking, but I keep going. It just seems a little harder to keep things going sometimes.

To combat my funk, one day this weekend, I thought about the May prompt of "nature" for Creative Everyday, and when Jess Gonacha on Pecanoot suggested we let go of our stones, I pretty much dropped my to do list and my anxiety and took my maya*made portable art studio out into the garden and just drew something pretty... without worrying about meaning or choosing the right thing or inspiration. I just did. And I had a beer while the kids napped.

It's Pitt artist pens and watercolor pencils and a rollerball pen and a titch of acrylic when I needed some light in there. It reminds me of a Van Gogh I once reproduced in college art class. And it also reminds me of a teal oriental patterned comforter I had when I was little. I don't know why, but it's comforting.

Just so you know, this is my grapefruit tree. The one that furnishes yummy pink fruits all winter long which make a great addition to margaritas. :) Or you know, healthy snacks which you can then sketch when you are through with them.

Another reason I am late posting is that I was working on the painting prompted by my Inspire Me Prompt give away. I haven't quite finished it. But it's there. And I know who the winner is.

Actually, it's two winners. One painting, but both prompts fed into the inspiration... so I've decided that TWO of you creative maestras will be receiving prints. Yay!

You must wait in anticipation a little bit longer, though. I want to finish this painting.

I'm a little devil, ain't I?

PS Thanks Maureen
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