28 February 2009

Canvas Progress & Workshop Photos

I've been working on the canvas that I started in Kristy's workshop. Here's the progress so far. She looks lopsided in this photo, but she doesn't actually look like that. Not sure what will happen next ...
Sandra working on one of the background techniques.

Kristy before the workshop started. Luckily, she was still smiling when it was all over!

Kristy's Class Today!

This is actually a 10x10 canvas, so it's a little more square than this shows. I scanned this in, and my scanner bed is 8 1/2 x 14, so it doesn't show all the yellow on the right. When I'm done with the canvas, I'll take a photo of it to get the whole thing in.

Class today was too much fun! We learned three image transfer techniques, a couple of background techniques and painted deli paper. We broke for lunch for about half an hour (we got take out from Gourmet Pizza down the street). Everyone did really awesome -- but really different -- work. It was exciting to watch people who are new to mixed-media collage put together their first piece. Kristy did a great job.

25 February 2009

I Won & Upcoming Book Review ...

Tuesday night was Kristy Christopherson's program at the Redlands Art Association. She did a really good job. She offered the above piece for the opportunity drawing, and I won! It didn't hurt any that I bought $20 worth of drawing tickets! LOL! I was so pleased to win it, since not only is it a beautiful piece, but she's a good friend of mine. 

After not checking our mail for a couple of days, I was treated to a real treasure in my post office box when I opened it this afternoon. A review copy of Kathy Cano-Murillo's Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing: Fabu-Low-Sew Projects for the Everyday Crafter was sitting there, waiting for me. I haven't started reading it yet, but I have glanced through it. The book is beautiful and I can't wait to dig into it. Of course, I'll let you know what I think of it!

21 February 2009

Must See TED!

Lately, across several blogs, I've been seeing references to Elizabeth Gilbert's talk on TED. I had no idea what was being referred to, but I can take a hint from the Universe. You've got to check this talk out! Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, talks about a new way of looking at creativity. Actually, it's an old way -- an ancient way. Listen to Gilbert talk about being a conduit for the creative spirit. I was moved to tears ... literally.

Secret #7 -- Consulting With Guides

For several weeks now, I’ve been participating in The Next Chapter, a book discussion blog group, hosted by the amazing Jamie Ridler. We are reading 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. This week’s secret has to do with Consulting With Guides.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write about this secret. McMeekin has the reader take a history of Your Creative Heritage. That was so difficult for me. While I didn’t grow up in a creative prison, I wasn’t raised in the most nurturing environment, either. Like most parents, mine did the best they could with what they had. And what they had included one son who is immensely talented at realistic drawing and a special needs daughter who died at 12-years old. My mother and father didn’t have the time or energy to be creative themselves or to nurture creativity in their children. Well, that’s not altogether true. My aforementioned older brother got private art lessons for awhile, until he decided that art wasn’t cool anymore. But as the sister closest in age to the special needs child, I often got lost in the shuffle. I have no idea if I had any natural talent as a child. My mother has since told me that I loved to draw and color – and that I would color on anything that didn’t wriggle away. In fact, as a young child, I “enhanced” the print that hung in the living room behind the couch with crayon (my first “mixed-media” piece!).That piece hung there for years.

As I got older – and children left the nest – my mother took more time out for herself. I remember trips to the craft store every Saturday, and then a week playing with whatever technique had been demonstrated that day. She sewed beautifully, and began to get more creative with both that and her cooking. I was just along for the ride. No particular interest was paid to whatever I might have been good at, and no one thought to inquire about what I might have especially enjoyed. I had no concept of process, or getting lost in my creative endeavors.

For years, I let my creative efforts lie fallow or in the void. But when I was ready to explore my creativity, the Universe sent me people who encouraged me, taught me, and guided me. Just at the time my creative energies were starting to stir, I was sent a highly creative friend, and Diane has encouraged me so much and shared several of her own techniques with me. I currently have a real, honest-to-Source mentor, who encourages me, while also telling me just how it is. She lifts me up, teaches me and supports me. We don’t create the same kind of art, so I’ve never felt any envy about her process or her product, even though she’s a highly creative artist. Sandy also got me involved in our local art association, supported me through a Featured Artist Show, to the point of hanging the show for me! I’m also blessed with an amazing artist friend who is also encouraging and supportive. We relate more as contemporaries, not as a mentor/mentoree. We often make art together, and we delight in the other’s success. Then, of course, there is my husband, my best-friend, and my family - all whom are terrifically supportive and encouraging. I also belong to a group that meets once-a-month to share and make art together.

I’ll be moving in the next month-to-six weeks. I wonder what kind of community and support system I’ll find in my new home. I’m hoping that I’ll find (or be able to create) an artist group that meets once-a-week. That would be delightful.

What kind of guides do you have? I hope you have wonderful encouragement in your creative life!

18 February 2009

Shopping and Organization

Today, Kristy Christopherson and I went to Palm Desert to shop at The Art Colony. What a wonderful day we had! The Art Colony is a wonderful store, full of everything you can imagine for the serious artist. This is no Michael's or JoAnn! They carry Golden Artist Colors, Copic Markers, and all kinds of other goodies. Shopping was a great experience -- I could have bought one of everything! As it was, I spent WAY to much money (luckily, I have an understanding and supportive husband), and I didn't buy close to half the store! The best part of the experience, though, was getting to know Kristy better. We talked and laughed for hours. 

When I came home, I realized I had no where to put my new treasures, so I started organizing. I got my dining room table mostly cleared off -- and I found my long-lost blow dryer -- and started organizing my supplies. I still have some things I need to do, but it felt good to take a step toward getting this under control. Andrea Scher, this week's featured interview in The Next Chapter book blog, says that real courage is in hearing your gremlins/saboteurs and taking some action anyway. If that's the case, I was very courageous today!

17 February 2009

Secret #6 -- Conquering Saboteurs

This week's dicsucssion in The Next Chapter online book blog is secret #6 of Gail McMeekin’s 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is about “Conquering Saboteurs”. I’m really fortunate that I’m in a place right now where I’m not spending a lot of time with my gremlins and personal saboteurs. I wish I could say that this was a permanent phenomenon, but I’m fully aware that this is part of a cycle, like so many other cycles in my life.

Because I’m not currently being visited too much by the gremlins and saboteurs, I was able to enter my first juried art show over the week-end. None of my three pieces were accepted, but I truly feel okay about that. There was one juror, so the show is a reflection of one man’s opinion. My art didn’t resonate with him; that’s fine because there are plenty of people whom I respect that my art does resonate with.

Unlike Andrea Scher, I’m not currently being visited by voices that talk to me about my work or my worthiness – but I have been, and won’t be surprised if they come back. She makes a great point that the voices quiet down sometimes and get louder at other times; the best we can do is manage them. One saboteur that is currently making its presence known for me is Disorganization, one I know well. I do my arting and crafting at the dining room table, where we rarely eat. However, as the largest flat surface when I first walk in the house, it’s also a repository for mail, packages, and papers that don’t seem to have any other home. As you can imagine, my work space is in total disarray. But that’s okay, because it goes along with my supplies, which are also in total chaos. We are moving soon, so it’s difficult for me to find the energy to do much toward reorganizing my supplies. See how the gremlin of Disorganization has got me in its clutches?

McMeekin writes early in the chapter that, “For creative women, self-sabotage poses a serious risk to the completion of work. To become a woman who expresses her creativity, as opposed to a woman who just dreams about it, mastering these nasty gremlins becomes an essential competence.” This quote reminds me that it’s imperative that I make time and energy to organize my supplies (besides, won’t organized supplies be easy to pack?) and clean off my table/work surface. Not simply because my home would look better and be more comfortable, but because it’s important for the sake of my art!

I have a loose goal of developing the discipline of engaging in my art everyday. I have colorful calendar that helps me chart my progress, with too many blanks as of late. The gremlin of Disorganization is effectively keeping me from my goal!

Hmmm, I guess the saboteurs are more active in my life right now than I thought they were!

09 February 2009

Secret #5 -- Committing to Self-Focus

This week’s discussion in the Next Chapter book club is Secret #5 of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, by Gail McMeekin, is “Committing to Self-Focus”. Jamie, our amazing hostess and facilitator, challenges us to not just read about self-focus this week, but to experience it.

Because my whole life is patterned in cycles, so is my self-focus and self-care. Sometimes I am all about self-focus and other times, I’m very outer-focused or other-oriented. Times of self-focus tend to coincide with times of high creativity, while times of other-focus tend to align more with the fallow times I wrote about in my last post.

Lately, though, I’ve tried to be more systematic with my self-focus. On 15 January, I joined the 100 Day Reality Challenge. The intentions that I set all had to do with being more present in my day, or being more focused on my self. To support my intentions, I’ve adopted the daily practices of taking a daily walk, writing my morning pages, and keeping a 100-item gratitude list each day (because today is Day 26 of the Challenge, I’ll be adding a 15 minute meditation to each day). Okay, so I haven’t done such a good job with the walk – and I haven’t done the other practices for the past few days – but mostly I’ve been doing okay. Since I’ve been participating in the 100 Day Reality Challenge, time seems to have slowed down for me, and I’m more focused on my day. Eckhart Tolle teaches us to periodically stop what we are doing, taking stock of the moment and realizing that this is it; this is my life. I’ve been doing that more often and able to feel appreciation for where I’m at, at any given moment. I consider that pretty good self-focus.

Because my husband and I don’t have children, I don’t have that element of other-focus in my life. While I was initially heartbroken at not being able to have children, I’ve come to love our child-free lifestyle. John does demand a certain amount of attention and focus as does our apartment, but he takes as much care of me as I take of him!

07 February 2009

Secret #4 -- Surrendering To Creative Cycles

Up until just recently, my times of creative inactivity were viewed as voids, making me very anxious. I worried that my desire to paint, to cut-and-paste, to simply create would not return. I have experienced years, literally, of the void, and I’m not eager to do that again.

Lately, however, I’ve come to see that not all periods of creative inactivity are, in fact, voids. Some are times of creative synthesis, of rest and rejuvenation. Thanks to Marilou Awiakta in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McKeekin, I’ve come to see these periods as fallow times rather than voids. There is a difference; it’s not just a matter of semantics.

Void implies a certain darkness or emptiness, a stillness beyond normalcy. In my experience, voids are not purposeful. While there is much to learn from entering the hollowness, we rarely enter it with deliberation. When I think of the void in terms of my own creativity, I think of a time when nothing is happening, internally or externally. Not only am I not actively creating anything, but I am not growing creatively either. I am not continuing to fill the well, as Julia Cameron would say.

To lie fallow, on the other hand, is to purposefully lay idle in order to conserve or rejuvenate. Think of how farmers let a field lie dormant for a season in order to increase later productivity. I may not be actively expressing my creative side, but I’m still taking care of it. I’m nurturing my creative self. Instead of looking at this time of inactivity as a void, I’ve been trying to turn it into something useful.

To be in the void is to be stagnant, creatively. Not only do I find it difficult to express myself in new ways, I find it difficult to even revisit and rework old ideas. There just isn’t any motivation for creative endeavors. When I’m fallow, it may look similar to an outsider; however, it feels very different to me. This is when I catch up on my art reading, reading about new techniques and drooling over the eye candy. Perhaps I don’t have the creative energy or motivation to tackle a completely new project, so this may be a time when I approach a previous worked idea and tackle it anew. I may play with new products, simply following someone else’s directions to the letter, not really creating anything new. This may be a time for experimenting with a medium previously unexplored.

What I’m learning about myself is that by acknowledging these periods of inactivity as fallow times rather than assuming they are voids, they rarely make it that far. I’m able to stay a bit creative, if not fully expressive, and these periods don’t seem to last as long as they did when I saw them – and treated them – as voids.

Then, when the bright spots appear, I’m able to indulge myself! I certainly do celebrate them and create as long as I have the motivation to do so. I don’t have any children; I have a supportive husband and I don’t work, so I’m able to create with abandon, for as long as I have the energy to do. It’s not unusual for me to stay up all night, sleep for a couple of hours and then stay up all night again, a few nights in a row, when my creativity peaks. I know it’s especially unhealthy for me to live that way since I have bipolar disorder, but I seem incapable of restraining myself when the urge hits. I get lost in my creative process and time slips away. When I do try to force myself into bed, my mind is racing and my body is energized with the possibilities of what I’m creating that it’s difficult for me to just lie there long enough to sleep. The creative frenzy is such a delicious feeling that I don’t want to dismiss it for sleep.