Friday, June 17, 2011

This is What I Would Do, Grounded Girl

What I Would Do, Grounded Girl
acrylic and gold paint pen on moleskine, 5x8"

I painted this one yesterday, inspired by this image. My addiction to pinterest DOES pay off.

Anyway, I've been very caught up in house hold duties. It is my first end of school as a parent, and I am making all sorts of plans to help my son get ready for first grade, since he was still struggling a little at the end of kindergarten. I've made a school alcove and project plans, and have started on some other things, like a paint chip alphabet set. I'll show those when I get a little farther along. I've got a star chart for overcoming challenges, finishing projects and chores and have even made a little box of treats for them when they've hit a certain number of stars.

A lot of work.

I have, however, been letting the novel writing slide. I was at a place in the rewrite where I realized I needed to delete another chapter, and it all seemed like it was going so slow, and I was realizing that I was not able to do this writing thing full time, seeing as I have a job and kids to take care of. For a while, I thought this meant that I should give up, that I would never get to the point I wanted to reach, never finish this book, never publish.

But I think that was part of the process.

When I stepped back a little and realized that this was a marathon, not a sprint, it helped. When I began to think about how everything in my life feeds into my dreams, where I want to go and what I need to do, I stopped thinking that "this" (being the life I am actually living) is blocking "that" (being the life that I dream of living).

So yesterday when I started painting, I was half way into the painting, with all it's layers and ticks and hatches, and I realized that THIS was what I would do. Remember the long term goals, and add up all those little seconds and small efforts and baby steps, and realize that these are what get me to my dreams. These are the things that build up and create the dream as a real thing, not a fantasy.

This one. This life. It's the same as that one. That dream.

What small things in your every day life are leading you, slowly, to your dreams. Honor them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tumbled, Four Self Portraits

Tumbled, Self Portraits. 1-4
Sharpie, Acrylic Paint, Recycled Chip Board

Yesterday, I had the urge to paint a self portrait. I actually painted one a few days ago that I was not pleased with. I thought, I don't really know what I want to paint... but really, I didn't know HOW I wanted to paint.

So I snapped a picture. This is it. I took my hair out of the bun, and it tumbled down. And I liked the motion in the tumbled hair, so I decided to use it as the basis for a quick drawing/painting.

Then I had some 3x4 pieces of chipboard that I had cut out, because I like to cut my recycling into useful bits. Then I took a sharpie and drew out a quick contour drawing. Moments, it took only moments, and that's the way I liked it.
Tumbled #1

Then I filled the face with titan buff, and outlined the features in black, colored in the hair, added some pink, shaded a bit with pink, buff and black, painted the background with cobalt turquoise and buff, then added the white hilights and shirt.

Tumbled #2

Then I took out another piece of chipboard and did it again. I was afraid to ruin the first one, because I liked the expressiveness of it. Thought maybe I couldn't do it again, it wouldn't be the same, I would lose whatever it was I liked. Except that didn't happen. The next painting, using the same techniques was different from the first, and in some ways better. Some things worked even better. I even went back and added some of the things I learned from the second piece into the first piece, taking from both sketches to improve the painting.

Tumbled #3

Each time I started over, I came to the painting with more to give. And I learned more from each painting. And each painting became it's own, important, individual thing, with something new to reveal about the subject. I like the swoopy feel given by the contour sketches. I like that the features don't stay the same, but there is still emphasis on the same things, the eyes, the cheekbones, the jaw and hairline. I like the way the hair changes shape each time, tumbling through the variations.

Tumbled #4

This is a great exercise to try, to lower your own expectations of yourself, to handle your own fear of not doing things right or not being perfect.

I spent twice as much time on that other portrait (which I'm not showing you) and like it have as much as each one of these. There is something to be said for loosening up, and not being so attached to a perfect outcome.

Try it yourself. Try to make small sketches of the same theme. Or take your recycling and turn it into something, without worrying that you are ruining something valuable. Or take an old story that you have given up on and chop it up, rearrange it, remove characters or throw in a plot twist. Take an old shirt that you no longer wear and make it into something for summer. Chop it up, stitch it back together, add something that is special, but not precious to it. Accept it for what it is, and then make it loved.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Not Knowing and Releasing Attachment

Not Knowing
acrylic and paper, moleskine

Life is a mystery.

It is an unknown.

Even if you make plans and believe you know where everything is going, there never is a guarantee.

But you've got to keep trying. You have to have faith that everything is going to work out in the end, or if it doesn't work out, that you learn enough to make the failure worth while.

I like art when I don't know where it is going. Sometimes, when I get too secure in my artistic vision or technique, I feel like I am stifling. I like the questions that are embedded in my creating. I like the results of chance that happen when my brush goes over the page and changes a shadow or silhouette. I like how different colors react against each other. I like being able to consider whatever is happening on my page, taking it for what it is and working to make it more pleasing or more meaningful.

It is hard to do this with life sometimes, when you are expecting certain outcomes and then you don't get them.

I think this is the Buddhist concept of releasing attachment, and it has always been a difficult one.

We think we should have THIS result.
We don't get it.
We are dissatisfied.

What if instead, we live life in the way we go about creating a painting:

Have a rough idea or sketch in mind.
Pick up a brush and take action.
Step back and look at the results.
Decide if those results work for you.
Take action to either change or accept those results.
Move on to the next step.

No railing against fate. No fighting with other people about not getting what you want. No resentment or feelings of failure. Just acceptance of what is. Action without anguish. Moving forward.

It seems like a life lived without attachment, accepting the what-is, would be a much more peaceful kind of life.

But I do believe that releasing attachment requires that you have quite a bit of faith. You have to trust that in the end things will come out all right. That you will be all right. And even if you don't have a guarantee in the results, you need to have enough faith in yourself to believe that you will be able to handle whatever happens next.

Maybe that's why releasing that attachment is so hard, because it is hard to have that kind of faith in yourself.

Oh, and I know that being an artist is not as easy as all that, too. I know that it is hard to release attachment and have faith in our ability to create something beautiful and moving. I know that some artists will burn everything that they have ever created because they are so tortured. I know that when we create, we are also fighting all our demons at the same time. It's interesting to see how creating art can be such a mirror to living life. And I'm glad I get to practice living in my creating. It helps me see the living part with just a tiny bit more perspective.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Standing Still and Dreams

Standing Still/Porch Steps

I took out my camera to take a picture of Ivy riding her bike, and when I turned it on, this is the image I saw in the screen. I said, hells yeah, and snapped a picture. I loved all the textures, the different colors of gray, the leaves, the slippers, and then my constant companions, a journal and my big honking bag.

And then when I was looking for a work of art to post today, I was choosing between two paintings, (yes I have a back log of paintings) one of which I like better, and then this one
Standing Still/Flying Girl
acrylic on paper, 8x5"

I said, it's the same thing.

Standing still, grounding oneself, and still managing to fly.

This is the tension of life, my life, at least. Finding a way to be grounded in the every day living while still letting the imagination fly, while still being creative. A balance between ideas and reality. The dance of the dreams and the what-is.

I can't say I've mastered this dance. I'm still learning the steps. And these steps keep changing. Always new ones to learn.

How do you manage to balance the real world with your dreams?

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