This post is to celebrate my daughter’s work. This past weekend, we drove down to Valencia, near L.A., and dropped her off at Cal Arts for a month long intensive art program (one of the more terrifying and exciting things I’ve done as the mother of a 15 year old). These are self-portraits she drew- exactly one year apart. The one on the left was finished last week, the one on the right last summer. I just think it’s such a testament to our capacity for growth. That truly, we are hardwired for growth. And hard work. It is rare that Alexandra is not either drawing or carrying one of her sketchbooks around. She lives for graphite. She would probably eat it if she could. If there were more hours in the day, she’d spend them drawing. I bought her three sketchbooks to last her the month she’ll be gone. She fills them so fast, I can hardly keep up.
She inspires me.
I just have to tell you all how much I’ve been enjoying your comments lately.
I began this blog with two goals, or intentions. The first was to simply get down my thoughts and ideas as a record for myself- as a way of journaling. Keeping this blog has given me a place and reason to think deeply about what I’m making, why I’m making it, and why other other people might want to look at it. It’s been a reason for me to write it all down, and share my progress. Even though it is a digital journal, floating in cyberspace, it lends a feeling of solidity to my ideas and history for me to look back on.
My second goal was to find some community, and begin a dialogue with other artists and people interested in art. When you comment, this digital journal becomes a conversation. My monologue becomes a dialogue. I go look at your blogs and websites, and gain inspiration and insight.
So- thank you for sharing your own thoughts about what you’re making, why you are making it, and what our art is for. Your comments make my day.
Sometimes, the hardest thing is simply beginning.
And once I begin, it is rare that I want to stop. As I approach a painting session, or a block of time in my studio, or begin a new painting or body of work, my doubts and insecurities often crowd me, beckoning me toward some other soothing activity like working in the garden or reading a book. Baking cookies. Catching up on email. Cleaning the toilet.
No, really, it is fascinating to me that after 20-something years of painting, that I can still have these feelings. It’s like that squirmy, resistant feeling you get right before jumping into a cold lake or swimming pool. After jumping, I always get a little rush of adrenaline, and then have the thought that it’s really quite nice. Wonderful, even.
How do I get to the other side of those feelings with my artwork? I remind myself to just begin. Then I give myself permission to do something other than painting in my studio if I just do not feel the flow after a little while. I could tidy my studio, or do some preliminary drawings, I could go outside and photograph, make some color charts, write in my art journal. Whatever. But almost always, I find myself caught up in the riptide of creative momentum, and I paint.
“Leap, and the net will appear”
What makes a routine work?
When I first started writing this blog, I had recently been to a yoga workshop, taught by Rod Stryker, called “Yoga of Fulfillment”. One of the most powerful things I came away with was the idea of a “Samkalpa”. Samkalpa means a resolution, a resolve, or an intention. Mine is defined by my desire to have momentum in my studio time, and to feel the thread of fearless creativity running through my life, weaving what then seemed fractured, together. Since then, I’ve supervised the building of a studio in back of my home, to better integrate painting into my busy family life. I’ve been much more productive than I’ve been in a long time, and have at times felt the momentum running strong.
I’ve always gotten my household and homeschooling “work” done in the mornings, and eked out a few hours of painting in the afternoon. Most days. Much of the time, this works great, and I love the way my studio warms up in the afternoon, and the sun through the skylights. But lately, I’ve been thinking about how the first things I do in my day pretty much always get done. I don’t find myself wondering first thing in the morning, “hmm….. I have time to either take a shower or brush my teeth. Which one do I do?” But I do find myself having that mental converstation with myself over, say, painting and exercising at 4 in the afternoon. Or painting and seeing a friend. It dawned on me that the things I do first are- literally and figuratively- the things I put first. So I’m experimenting with getting out into my studio earlier (after I’ve brushed my teeth, of course!), and working a bit longer. It feels strange and different. But productive.
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of it is not checking my email before I go out to work. But if I do, before I know it, I’m reading the New York Times online, or catching up on my blog reading- and there goes an hour. Or two. Ahem.
So I’m curious about you artists out there- what habits and routines do you have that help you get your creative work done? How have you changed unproductive habits to productive ones?
Here are some pictures from Wednesday night’s opening in Walnut Creek. It was a good crowd, and I was able to enjoy some really interesting work, and talk to other artists. I’m sorry I am not able to credit the work shown in these pictures. I need to go through the many artists who are on the postcard, look them up online, and I’ll put them in the ever-growing sidebar under “Artists I Love”, so that you can go learn more about them if you are interested. A big thank-you to Eileen P. Goldberg who curated the show!
I can credit myself, though. Those are two of my pieces, above, and to the left.
Another of my pieces, off to the left, above the crackers and cheese.
I was going to share pictures from the opening last night in Walnut Creek, but that will have to wait. (Just till tomorrow, I promise- so, so much fantastic work!) First, I have to share this video, from TED, of writer Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) talking about creativity, and the possibility of re-inventing our perception of it. It’s funny, and bone-true, just like her book. And it’s worth watching if only for the description of the poem and the poet… you’ll see. It took my breath away. *Thanks to Beth for sending me this!!
Oh my. I finally made it over to Big Huge Labs and their Mosaic Maker. What a fun, fun toy. I’ve been meaning to do this forever, and just hadn’t gotten around to it. They also have a tool that generates a WordPress header image. Whoo Hoo! I am so NOT a techie, that I love it when other (brilliant) people come up with tools like this that take the headache out of trying to do something infuriatingly mind boggling fun on the computer.
Anyway. I’ve been gathering dreamy, natural-form photos on Flicker, and I love seeing them together like this. Inspiring, indeed.
1. 20090110_0109_4, 2. La belle Astrance…avril 2006, 3. …, 4. …, 5. …, 6. …, 7. Dried Seeds, 8. Untitled, 9. the shot of the day., 10. Untitled, 11. dry, 12. Bokeh Flowers, 13. Untitled, 14. Untitled, 15. secret garden of Princess thorn, 16. pass over the hedge of thorns, 17. come feel the sun, 18. We Apologize For This Interuption, 19. frost, 20. …, 21. Untitled, 22. i was thinking about hundertwasser, 23. –, 24. Untitled, 25. Nostalgia