Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rediscovering Creative Voice

I know I have written about this before, but as an artist we walk a fine line, between giving people what they want and need, and being true to our own voice. It’s a tightrope walk at times for me because I want to give people want they want and are happy with. While at the same time, I need to paint what works best for me. Sometimes I end up giving away a part of my voice without even realizing it.

(Indian Americans would call this a version of soul retrieval - which can happen in three ways - a) soul theft: someone taking something from us; b) soul gift: us giving a piece of our soul away; or c) soul loss: occurring during times of trauma or death, when parts of us are tied up with other. Me, I tend to give away and not even realize it.)

A few years ago I was dating someone, and while he was very supportive of my art, he had this idea that my color palette was not right.  That it needed to more match his own aesthetic tastes.

I tried to see this as an opportunity to expand my color palette repertoire. And came up with a few additional color palettes with which to paint from that would more suit his tastes, and those of similar background. So I painted a new series in his colors and continued to do so, not because I loved those colors the most, but because I forgot I had ever painted differently.

Recently I dated a guy who has a very similar color tastes as myself. As a gift I went through my paint sketches and gave him one I knew he would love. The thing is, pulling it out, I realized I missed that color palette.  I missed not painting in ways most important to me.

So today, I opened a few new canvases and painted in my colors - not someone else’s - my own. And it feels really good.

Has anyone re-discovered a part of themselves, they had accidentally put aside? 
For another blog on a similar topic see Rediscovering a Passion

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Being In-Flow

There is a stereotypical image of an artist - heads-down in his or her studio, working frantically and late into the night, working erratic hours and sometimes forgetting to eat or sleep. While I never seem to forget to eat or sleep - I do at times end up knee deep in my studio for days - not wanting to break the stream of creativity flowing from me.

I realized recently that this is actually simply being “in the flow” of things.  Some days it is only a trickle and other days it is like a fire hose has been unleashed inside my head that must be put to canvas or paper. Other days, it simply means that painting and creating come naturally and effortlessly. And on days I assigned to painting time, and it’s not happening, it’s not really my fault, it’s just that creativity doesn’t work on a schedule like that.  So while I can be productive, I won’t be half as productive as when I am plugged into the flow. 
Over the years of painting I have learned that it’s OK to take a break, go work out, etc. (as long as I stay with right brained activities) That the flow will be there when I get back. Although most times it feels way to good to stop,and so plans with friends are cancelled and the workout is put to another day.
I think the reason this activity has seemed foreign and odd to most of the rest of the population is that so many of us spend WAY too much time doing things we aren’t really put on this earth to do - and so we aren’t in flow.
Being in flow - with tons of creativity doesn’t just happen when creating art.  Last week, I was knee deep in my office upstairs. Going over work planning, social media marketing and general business strategy planning for the coming 12 months for 5 different brands that I am working on (some art, some not). The same thing that normally happens in my studio happened here. Ideas sprouted from my mind into actionable steps, and answers I had had for up to a year came to me one after another.  Every time I was evenly slightly “stuck” for an answer or next step or “how the hell will I ever get to X” - I would get an email or a call that would completely answer my question and continue me on my path to move forward into the unknown.  
I was afraid if I left my office I would miss the next great idea or answer to a question I had been trying to find for weeks or month that were now all pouring into my mind at a rapid, crazy speed. It was as if someone had unleashed a fire hose of ideas into my brain and I was struggling to control it.  For days I did nothing but work in my office creating spreadsheets, color charts and scribbly drawings of flow diagrams. Going to bed late, only to wake back up an hour later with whatever answers still need to be filled in. 
I realized this week - that that was simply being “in flow” on the left-brain side of things.  And since it was so rare I just didn’t realize it.  I could have easily taken a breath or two and it would have been OK.  It was a bit exhausting trying to get everything down as quickly as it was coming to me while also being in fear that if I paused, an answer would vanish. Had I realized it was simply “being in the flow” I could have relaxed into it, instead of fearing it would pass before all the answers were revealed. 
I remember a course I took with Matthew Ferry (insert link).  He talked about how life flowed in sets of waves, and that we couldn’t always be in flow, because it would exhaust us.  That we needed rest, the lull before the next set of waves/flow to relax, recharge and reboot.  
The other reason I think so few of us experience flow in work at regular intervals is because we are trying to fit our work into a box of 8am-6pm or so. Flow doesn’t work this way.  It goes for days.  Then stops - let’s us rest and focus on something else like, our relationship, the laundry and a workout, or nothing at all. 
So next time you feel yourself getting a few answers - embrace it - acknowledge it and see just how much more often that flow comes your way. 
Thoughts?  Anyone else out there able to be in flow while doing left-brain, logical things????
For another blog about the creative process see Keeping the Vision

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Studio Time

There are days when I need to paint (deadline, upcoming show etc.) and yet I’m not in the mood.  Sometimes this is just because I’m focused on the other left-side portion of my business and so I’m just not feeling creative.  But at other times it’s because life has thrown me a curve ball, and I’m feeling something other than joy, love, peace and happiness. 

The funny thing is - if I can buckle myself down, and just allow myself to paint.  Even if I just paint something that doesn’t / wont ever see the light of day (show or public wise) everything will fade away.  All the pain, angst, hurt, worry - whatever it is - will fade away.
And all that is left is me, in my studio, in the present.  Brush stroke by brush stroke easing away the angst and just allowing myself to be in the here and now. 

Being as some would call it - in the flow.
And it’s at these points that I’m reminded just how lucky we artists are to have a passion that puts us in the flow.  And strictly in the present. So that all the past can effortlessly melt away.
What do you think? What other passions are out there, that help you become more in flow, more in the present?

For another look inside the making of art, see Standing In Line For An Art Show

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Creation Myth:

Many creation myths and stories have been told over time.  The most common/ well known in the Western World, is the story of Adam & Eve.  This story tends to bother me because it blames Eve for everything.  And through time, some who have believed in this story, have literally blamed women for so much and have also propagated the belief that life is pain, because this story made it so. 
I would like to offer another story - one that holds no pain, and no blame of women. Once best told by Fiona Horne:
“Yhi is my favorite goddess from Australian Aboriginal mythology. She is the goddess of light and creation, a sun deity who lived in the dream time.  When she opened her eyes, light fell on Earth. She then walked the earth, and green things grew where her steps fell.  Soon the whole world was covered with plants, fruits, trees and flowers.  She next decided that, in addition to plants, she wanted to make something that could dance and move.  Insects of all kinds were created. The she explored ice caves in a mountain. She shone her light inside and fish and lizards came out, along with countless kinds of birds, mammals, and amphibians.  But ultimately Yhi returned to her own world, and when she left, darkness came back and covered Earth.  But the next day Yhi opened her eyes again from her home in the sky, and her light returned for all to enjoy.
Many millennia later, Yhi saw something strange. It was a man, alone, and she realized he was not anything she had created, and she was intrigued.  While the man slept that night, Yhi focused all here power on a flower so that it became more magnificent than anything any god had ever created. When Man awoke, he, joined by all the other animals of Yhi’s creation, gazed in awe at the beautiful flower.  The flower then blossomed and turned into Woman.  She looked at Man and found him interesting.  Man ran around doing many things to try to impress her and wanted nothing more than to make Woman happy.  She was amused and thrilled - in fact, all creation was laughing and enjoying their coupling, declaring man and woman good for each other.

~From the Introduction to Bewitch a Man by Fiona Horne
What other creation stories are your favorite? And why?
For another female inspired post, see Love Yourself Gorgeous

Saturday, February 26, 2011


As an artist, I feel that “good” art is art that elicits some sort of response. The worst response I could get for a piece of art work is no response at all. If someone loves it or hates it, then at least  the work has been noticed and felt on some level. 
The interesting thing about being an artist publicly showing work, is I get to hear what people are saying about my art (the good and the bad). It can at times be great instant marketing feedback and at other times an interesting look at our culture. 
I love this painting because it's fun and slightly provocative. To me this is a very girlie piece of art, and I love it for that reason.  I have had it, or a limited edition giclee of it, up at a lot of shows because it gets people to stop and notice my booth or wall space.  But as with any good piece of art - the opinions on this one vary drastically depending on who is viewing it. 
There is one thing, I've heard from multiple little girls that I don't understand.  More often than not, when a young girl passes this painting she will point it out as  "disgusting." Which makes me wonder, what are we collectively as a society telling our kids?  There are areas of the world where this response would not be the initial thought coming out of the mouth of babes. 
On the flip side, the funniest thing that I hear a lot is from mothers of teenage daughters, insisting that this painting is a picture of their daughter. This is interesting to me.  First, to discover that women pay this much attention to their daughters’ bodies and are proud of their fit nature. And second, because I think it’s sweet in a way that moms feel their daughters are flirty and sexy all at the same time. 
So what do you think? Does a piece of “good” art generate some type of response, even if it’s negative? Or do you only think of art that you like as “good?”

For another blog about reactions to art see Funny Things I Hear At My Art Shows

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rediscovering A Passion

Growing up, I was  a classically trained dancer. I stopped dancing when I decided that career wise it had very little up side - given the short career lifespan. But I've always continued to dance, just in my home, or on the dance floor.  A few weekends ago a girlfriend invited me to an ecstatic dance workshop.  I had never been, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Well, I really didn't like the slow, can't really dance tempo - so I started doing ballet warmups.  It felt sooooooo nice.  And this weekend, I put in the New York City Ballet's workout - which is a basic dance warmup.  And that too felt sooooooo nice.  And so right.  My body just flowed and afterwards I felt amazingly good.  
I think it's great to somehow let go of a passion, but rediscover it again.  At just the right time. 
 Anyone else had that happen?

For another blog on a similar topic see Rediscovering Creative Voice

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Step Back

Came down into my studio this morning and realized that I was much farther on this painting than I thought.  I think that life, as in painting,  sometimes if we just step back for a second and come back with a different perspective that only a little time can give us, we are actually making more progress than we give ourselves credit for.
Last night I felt like nothing was reading right on this piece. I felt the girl’s hair and her back were just not coming together.  But that was because I was too close to it.  And my brain and ego were attached.  This morning, looking at the painting through the kitchen (my studio is downstairs) I realized that the parts I had been fussing about last night, were actually quite good - and reading as they should.
Kind of reminds me of a process Jayne Johnson (http://theclearingsight.com/) teaches in her goals workshop.  That before we set goals for the new year, take a few minutes and write down all the things we accomplished in the prior year - and then tell them to someone else.  Two things normally happen - 1st I always realize that I have done more than I thought (stop beating myself up so much) and 2nd, when I read the list aloud, I see/feel even more of the accomplishments I was writing, because it just again, gives a new perspective. 
So - next time I’m struggling with a new piece of art, I’m going to try to remember what I learned this morning - to step back, take a break, maybe work on something else.  And see if it really is as bad as I think, or if I’m actually on the right track, but just too in the way to see it. 
Anyone else have a similar story?
For another look inside the making of art see Happy Mistakes