Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Only Fear Can Stop Us

"It's not the circumstances that we should feel threatened by, it's the fear of the circumstances that poses the real threat." Richie Norton The Power of Starting Something Stupid

As far as I know, I've only sold a few of the cards I've created. People tell me they make them happy, and if there is one thing we need today, it is happy. So what if, my friends ask me, these cards take off; could you continue to make each one by hand? What makes me very happy now would turn into a total burn out in no time. At this point in my life, I think the thing I would regret the most would be not following through on printing the cards I'm developing.

What started out as doodles has morphed into little jewels of cards I send out to friends, and quite suddenly I've given these cards a name, The Be Bold Collection, and a life of their own. Glorietta, who only recently told me her given name is Tiffany, stands with her huge hair afrizz, layers of beads draping neck to boobs, fists screwed into her hips and demands to know what I'm waiting for. You should see what she's wearing! She is one blatantly courageous woman showing her hot chick side who asks me what if questions. So what if you don't know anything about publishing? So what if no one knows about them but you? OK. You've got me there. I want more people to be able to enjoy them. I want more people to smile and feel a boldness growing inside them, too.

Last year I gathered together a hundred cards I've kept in various places, punched two holes in them, and created three volumes of cards: family, friends, and the ever popular miscellaneous. Some of these cards turned up in file folders I'd labeled "Sunshine." In needy moments, I'd pull them out, read the messages, and these cards helped me realize I hadn't always felt under appreciated or alone or depressed or whatever. Over the years these cards helped bootstrap me to a new day. This morning I've been mining them again. This time I'm looking at the back of the cards. Are there publishers I can contact? Do I need an isbn number? How could people contact me if they want more? Do I need to copyright them? So much I don't know. I know I can't do it alone.

So, my blogland friends, I'm asking for help. You may only know a piece of the puzzle yourself, or you may know someone who knows someone. I'd love your help and suggestions.

Baruch ata adonai...I'm beginning the first step great journey and I need help. I need to keep believing in the message of my cards, especially when I start to feel this is a crazy idea. I know if I break my journey down into small steps I can do it. Please help me to keep fear from stopping me. Amen

Monday, May 20, 2013

Accepting Authenticity as an Artist

"Most of us simply don't know how to move from who we are pretending to be to who we truly are. Every day, you either become more aligned with your authentic self or you move further away. And the difference lies completely in the choices you make." Richie Norton, The Power  of Starting Something Stupid

I still stumble when someone asks if I'm an artist: after all, real artists are in galleries, are on museum walls, are the stuff of art history classes. Now my art is in a museum, in the museum gift shop, and my art will soon be in galleries. I'm in transition as I move from someone who dabbles to someone who must own that a change has taken place. My challenge is to become comfortable calling myself an artist and become comfortable selling my art.

I can trace the change to two things: my sister and a friend strongly encouraged me to hang my canvases on the walls in my home, and The Power of Starting Something Stupid. I found this book recommended on a blog I tripped on one day. As I read, not yet connecting what I read to what I would begin to do, I thought of my son and how much this book was aimed at him, and still not yet connecting to myself, I decided to ask the manager of our local Haggin Museum if she would look at my cards and consider selling them there. She said yes, and then a new friend, a gallery owner, said yes too.

The past week I felt as though I was running rough. I think my gears had been stripped.  This morning,  I believe I am going through a realignment and am moving toward a new balance, the first of many I'm sure, as I accept my authentic self as an artist.

Baruch ata adonai...it is a blessing to accept myself as I am. Why have I been struggling? As this new path opens, help me to stay calm, to recognize more quickly when I'm stressing myself, to breathe and meditate when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Help me to love myself when I doubt and to appreciate and enjoy the journey into the totally unexpected life bonus opening to me. Amen

Friday, May 17, 2013

Staking Claim to Our Dreams

"You say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will live as one."
John Lennon

Once upon a time and even up to this very day, high up in the Sierra Nevada mountains and down a road that winds around a lake, is the place of my dreams. When I have trouble sleeping at night, I dream of our summer cabin and of hiking a well known trail, perhaps to a waterfall or another lake, and I'm soothed as if I were there. We bought this cabin when my children were young teenagers and now, during the winter months when it is closed, our grandchildren dream of it too.

How do we pass on dreams? I want my grandchildren to know there is a place they can return to where multitasking hasn't been invented yet, where people go to borrow a hammer and spend an hour talking about not much at all, where they can climb rocks and one day sit on the deck and look back and see themselves again. I want them to know when life is too much, they too can drive to the cabin and replenish their souls.

I think it might be happening. Tomorrow we drive just two hours and decades away from our daily life, to open up. It's a long couple of days of turning on the water and praying there are no leaks, turning on the propane, sweeping out mouse droppings, raking the area and burning the debris, and then it's paradise. Now our sons come up and do the tough stuff and our grandchildren come to help open too. I want to pass on my dream by creating theirs. I want them to remember when they were little and helped open. I want them to stake their claim.

We create dreams by working hard, not by spinning if onlies, and by sweating the sweat right up to wondering why we ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. I've always known the cabin was a good idea, but I've wondered about the cards I'm creating. I'm just finishing a series of Be Bold girls who have been fishing and kayaking. I love them, but I know if they sell, I can't keep making them by hand. I've got to dream the next stage and march up the mountains of another learning curve. Meanwhile I'm going hiking...

and I'm going to live the dream.

Baruch ata adonai...I am so grateful for all the blessings this wonderful cabin has brought into my life. Thank you for helping me know my dreams can come true. Amen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Secret of the Creative Life

"The secret of the creative life is often to feel at ease with your own embarrassment." Paul Schraeder

My garden goddess speaks to me. She suggests I let her inhabit me today, when I show the owner of a little shop my Be Bold cards and hope she'll see how much her clients have been looking for this very thing which comes with a built in philosophy:  Be brave, Be tender, Be curious, Be vulnerable, Be yourself.

Baruch ata adonai....by the time I'm ready to sell these little ladies, I will be brave and curious and vulnerable and tender with myself. This is going to be a great adventure. Amen

                                              BE YOURSELF FOR GOODNESS SAKE!      



                                                 WHY SHOULDN'T SHE? REALLY!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Great News: The Subject Reveals Itself

"Each painting has its own way of evolving....When the painting is finished, the subject reveals itself."
William Baziogtes

After waiting all week, I finally had time to begin painting again. I could hardly wait. For this warm up day, I pulled out a 12x12 canvas waiting for something to happen to it

and one paper that began life in some now forgotten way.

My camera was ready for me to capture the steps in my process. My expectations were low. Music danced inside and outside. The challenge was on.

Quickly George the cat appeared. But no, not exactly. I thought it was going to be Gracie, my labradoodle. It was Gracie pretending to be a cat named George. Go Gracie!

Ever since I bought Creative Illustration Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists  by Katherine Dunn, I've been wanting to combine painting with story using found materials. I haven't had time to get to it, but now with George, I have a beginning. I think I'll see what happens if I add some pastels or give him a slight makeover or write his story all around him and add earrings.

This is what happens when I don't know where I'm going and decide to use up the paint left over from George on a canvas I wanted to head in an entirely different direction. I was having such a great time, it was hard not to be exuberant with color and go way over the top.

These paintings aren't finished, but they are revealing themselves. This is so much like real life. If I have fun instead of being serious, if I go where my intuition takes me even if it doesn't make any sense at all, if I play with ideas instead deciding angst is a reasonable way to spend my time, something will evolve that has never been created before. It may be nothing at all, and a day will have passed in a most delightful way. Thanks to Leslie Saeta for reminding me to document my progress.

Baruch ata adonai...have I ever had so much fun painting in such a light and carefree way? I'm still pumped up when I think about it. You keep reminding me to be happy and grateful and this day when I painted I was both. Amen

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stretching My Soul

"Not everything you create will be a masterpiece, but you get out there and you try and sometimes it really happens. The other times you're just stretching your soul." Maya Angelou

It isn't always a masterpiece, but something happens in the writing of my blog that is healthy for me. I never thought about it as stretching my soul, but that's a good name for it. This week good intentions got in my way. I decided to resume writing morning pages first thing in the morning, but that's when I write this blog. Out of bed, to the computer, find a quote that resonates in some way and start writing to find out what it means to me. Wednesday I got completely derailed. And crabby. If you haven't read and written your way through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, it's a good idea to do so. I've done it a couple of times, but I realized it isn't what I'm about now. I'm feeling very creative, and I don't need to examine that too closely! So no morning pages.

Today I'm excited about being able to paint. After working on my Be Bold cards for a few weeks, after working on a small scale and being as neat and as precise as I can be, which leaves lots of room for growth right there, I've boxed up the Little Ladies and am changing my studio over to be able to create messes. Very exciting.

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." Kurt Vonnegut

Today I'm following the suggestion of Leslie Saeta, do check her blog, http://lesliesaeta.blogspot.com, to document my work. I'm going to take pictures all day so I can review my steps and missteps. I've done this before and in my files can see some canvases I love that are no more. I painted through well straight to badly! Today I'm all about painting. Today I'm moving. I'm putting on Al Jarreau and my favorite group from Mexico, and Force of Nature with Led Kaapana and Mike Kaawa. With all those vowels, you know it's from Hawaii and it's pure fun. I need some new go to music for painting and welcome suggestions. I can hardly sit still!

After flirting with opening an Etsy Shop, I've decided not to do that at this time for the same reason I'm painting today. I want to have fun creating. If best came to best and the cards took off right now, would I really want to spend my time in the manufacturing process and the business end of the business? And do I want to make this a business? I have ideas for two new lines of cards, and even if they aren't commercial successes, it's important to me to grow what I have waiting in line inside me rather than selling what I've finished doing. I want to try to get those Little Ladies in galleries so they can sell themselves. I know I'll revisit the Etsy idea in the future, but for now, no. 

Baurch ata adonai...I'm glad I can change my mind and bring myself back into balance. What seemed like good ideas earlier in the week don't work for me at the present time. Thank you for surrounding me with patience and support and knowing I would find way back to my current self. Amen


Monday, May 6, 2013

Go Back to Basics Over and Over

                               "A mind too active is no mind at all." Theodore Roethke

While the city slept, my mind on dreams fired off in the most extravagant ways, painting over and over my plans for the next day. By the time I woke up, well, got out of bed, I was fully in my head, buzzy and floaty. Know the feeling? Most of the day I did productive procrastination. I've got a system now and made a bunch of cards and aimed at setting up an Etsy shop mid afternoon. And I started. And I stopped. And I decided if just the thought of all the work involved had stopped my creative juices from flowing what would happen if I force marched myself through the steep learning curve and onto page 800 something in the greeting card category?

So I listened to a Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness meditation CD and let the Mountain Meditation take over. What came to me was Morning Pages. Get back to the Morning Pages. Go to the bottom of the mountain and start hiking up again. Have you read Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way? From my notes it looks like I've been reading parts of it for years. Morning pages are three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing aimed at draining the blah blah blah out of your head. Here's where you dump off your creative Censor's negative opinions and other untruths you're telling yourself even though they are certainly the gospel. When I finished writing yesterday, I felt as though I made a U-Turn just before the hitting the wall of creative burnout. Day after day of dumping will finally clear the space for inner wisdom to come percolating through the ooze. I come home to Morning Pages as soon as my mind clears space for the memory of Morning Pages to surface. And so this morning I'm back to the place of my inner grounding, I am gratefully back to basics. Returning home. Yeah!

Here's Laurel, one of the Be Bold Card series, doing the happy dance with bouquets of hearts in her hands. Not sure why she has that big grey box around her, but that's another learning curve to deal with another day. She and her sisters are going to bed for now.

Baruch ata adonai...I am happy and grateful for all the work I've done on this series. I'm delighted the Haggin Museum is buying them. I'm hoping people will love them. Now I'm putting all the pieces and parts in boxes and cleansing my brain. Help me to be willing to write morning pages for at least the next month, because I know this is what I need to do for my health. Remind me to be patient with myself as I begin to paint again. Remind me it will take awhile to get my muscles working. Thank you. Amen

Friday, May 3, 2013

You Never Know Where Your Steps Will Take You

"Art is simply a result of expression during right feeling....Any material will do. After all, the object is not to make art, but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable." Robert Henri, from The Art Spirit.

I'm blooming and sun is raining down on me! Is it any wonder last night I slept better than I have for a week. Monday I wrote about the influence the book, "The Power of Starting Something Stupid," was having on me. As I read into the book, I was unexpectedly going into production on my two card series. Thursday The Haggin Museum gift shop bought three each of six designs in my Little Ladies series. The bouncy character to the left of this post give you the idea, though they're not always bouncing! In the next few days, I'll open my Etsy shop and you can see what I've been doing.

How has this all come together? A couple of years ago after doodling through classes and meetings I began drawing little ladies who are bold, courageous, sometimes timid and unsure, sometimes outrageous, and always beaming with delight. For months a gel pen and a stack of bookmark size cards were next to my bed, and each night I drew a little lady and put her away. When I drew them, I was in a state of non judgmental inquiry. Who would appear tonight? It's interesting to me that I can't always draw them on purpose. They all want to be drawn on a small intimate scale and they all come from a place inside me I'm not always in touch with, though this is certainly the place from which all art that touches hearts comes from. Now if I could can that and put it in my Etsy shop, it would sell like crazy, wouldn't it!

Drawing night after night and through more meetings and classes created quite a stack of little ladies vying for attention. Even ones I didn't especially like at the time looked much better after a rest in an envelope with others of their kind. We never know where the steps we take will take us. Even a week ago I couldn't have said I'd be brave enough to take my drawings to the gift shop. A friend suggested I call them Be Bold Designs. I like that.

Baruch ata adonai...WOW. Thank you for helping me have faith in myself. Thank you for ensuring I wouldn't second guess myself on this one! Amen