Comment on or Share this Article >>
Happy Spring my Creative Friends,
It’s that time of year that sort of is, and sort of isn’t Spring. It’s been kinda’ warm, but then it’s cold again. The flowers bloom then the snow blankets them… There has been a lot of thinking for me about beginnings and ends. We place so much importance on those markers in order to “label” our experiences. It’s as if we are a slave to identifying “things” by their beginning and end. How important is it really to define that?
So this labeling follows us everywhere. Prompting us to start stuff, and call stuff done. I’ll bet I’m not alone when I say I have started far more than I have finished over these years. My guess is that a bunch of those things I started were left abandoned because, as it turned out, the journey wasn’t fulfilling. So why did I start it if I wasn’t sure it was going to be fulfilling? Because, I suppose, the idea sounded good at a time when I was searching for something. The beginning was the spark, the journey the experience, and the fact that it fizzled out over time leaving me with no way to label an end leads me to believe perhaps that the experience lingers still. The experience becomes entwined into the next thing I begin so really it all becomes one big journey.
So, with this in mind, when does a painting actually start? Well, when did you become an artist? Is this painting on your easel your first landscape, bird, still life, figure; or is it your second, your tenth, your hundredth? Did you slip out with a bar of soap when you were little and carve shapes in it with a stick? Did that make you an artist then, were you simply born that way?
When you step up to the easel today, take a moment to consider that because the canvas is white, the first stroke to the observer may look like a beginning. But for you, that stroke was born inside you before anyone else ever sees it. It’s your vision. It’s there already. It is an accumulation of a lifetime of experiences that all have added up to that very moment when your expression flows from your heart, through your hand and into a format that others can see. The journey of that painting ebbs and flows, frustrates and excites, energizes and exhausts. Finally when you have reached the apex of this visual expression, you sign your name to it. Is it finished? No. No it isn’t. It will never be finished. In my mind, a paintings life is forever evolving. What you saw in your mind, became some shifted interpretation of your vision on the canvas. With every person that views it, it becomes a new message, another vision for someone who needs that visual anchor for their own journey.
The painting is never finished…it will always be “becoming.”
So the next time someone asks you how long it took to do a painting, ponder what your answer really is. Why do they ask? Is it to quantify the price tag? How could you possibly charge an adequate price for something that has taken you a lifetime to achieve. And to think, it still isn’t finished…not really.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
Energy is, as energy does…
Just as I sit to begin this letter, I am still. Music is in the background, the dogs are asleep on a pillow behind me, jetlag is pulsing through my body and I wonder what the heck I have to say…
Since I wrote last, I have worked feverishly to meet the deadline on my Santa Fe ArtSmart project for weeks on either side of a demo stint in Arizona sandwiched between PSNM board meetings. I have three days home until I am back in Santa Fe for the auction of my project and two days of highly anticipated, spiritual happenings interjected with a gallery opening on one of the evenings.
Somehow in the midst of all this chaos I had the opportunity to meet Annie Leibovitz and see a body of her work in her Pilgrimage Exhibition, stay in the beautiful Santa Fe residence of adored new friends Bob and Doug who held dinner parties and broadened my circle of friends by leaps and bounds, had the pleasure of seeing Bob’s first gallery hanging in the Worrell Gallery (not too shabby for first representation!), all while finishing the project. Somewhere in all of that, Anita Louise West invited me to come and paint with her at the studio of the late Bettina Steinke. I arrived there after an extended morning in my high school class, having gotten a text from my Tubac gallery that she needed yet a third rendition of a painting she has published in an ad. I said “sure” having no idea when I was ever going to see an easel again. So I thought, that’s what I can work on, but I also wondered how in the world I was going to switch gears and paint anything and make it count in the short afternoon I had left!
Energy is, as energy does… I stood in front of the easel, and simply made it happen.
As I reflect now on all that has transpired, I realize that is exactly what perpetuates great (or lousy) things. It is putting the energy you have toward what you want to manifest. If you focus on what is holding you back, you get more of that grief in return. If you put your energy out there toward the manifestation of your dreams, guess what…that good energy comes to you in quantities you never thought imaginable. If I had dwelled on all the reasons I wouldn’t be able to get all of this done, and my heart hadn’t been open and flexible, I wouldn’t have had any of these experiences.
Put your energy into the things in life that feed your soul. The painting that I did on the easel in Bettina Steinke’s studio is one of the best I have ever done. A finished oil painting in two hours. You have boundless energy if you just allow yourself to tap into it.
Love is energy…Love what you do…
Comment on or Share this Article >>
Hi Fellow Artists,
As I write, I am in the middle of mentoring high school age kids in Santa Fe for ArtSmart and ArtFeast. The organization does a huge art mentoring project in all the Santa Fe Schools each year, complete with a big food and art tour of Canyon Road and winding into a weekend of art auctions of selected artists and of the creations of some of the classes of children. What was to be one week has turned into two, complete with politics and frustration. I still wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. This is my second year being chosen.
So what is this about? Stepping outside your comfort zone, that’s what.
I was particularly intimidated by kids...badly. But you know, when my gallery presents me with an opportunity, I bite it off and start chewing so that when my nerves kick in it is too late to do anything about it. I hated my own high school days, and I was scared of kids and knew nothing about digital art. So my project was to go into the most underfunded school in the Santa Fe Public School system, walk into a class of 26 high school students and manifest a digital art project. Three years ago, I would have run from the possibility...
Not only did I step outside of my comfort zone, my happy place was no where in sight from the middle of that classroom. So I sucked it up. Last year I had to rethink my fears. It took until nearly the end for some of the kids to warm up to me, I am sure they sensed my fear too. But when some of the guard was let down, the softness and vulnerability began to show through. I realized, they weren’t in their comfort zone either, in life. High school is not my happy-go-lucky class of ’79. The idea of self expression through art is as alien to many of them as the sea is to a cactus. A substantial number of them hardly speak english, yet they have to try to “keep up” by watching the other students or through their bilingual friends in the class. I learned far more from them than I could ever teach them.
What I was taught was compassion for our youth. This isn’t the time to be afraid of them and their physical expression of dress, tattoos and piercings. We aren’t giving them the tools to express any other way. What can we expect? We must be accessible as artists. Approachable and generous with our knowledge when there is the least glimmer of opportunities to do so.
The youth are starving...let’s feed them.
Comment on or Share this Article >>
I am so excited to have been elected to be the 2013 President of the Pastel Society of New Mexico. An amazingly well organized Society and one of the largest in the Nation. Each month I am asked to write an address in the newsletter. You can find these newsletters in their entirety along with all the information about PSNM. www.pastelsnm.org We have members as far away as Spain and I encourge anyone with an interest in pastels, regardless of what level you are, to join. The monthly meetings are a great place to learn and to network with artists in all stages of their careers. Here is my first entry for the January 2013 newsletter...
Dear Creative Souls,
Well, certainly, my adaptability from being a Program Reviewer to writing instead, a monthly letter to you, is an easy task. I am honored to be able to do it. It will give me a chance to show you a part of myself that the rigidity of time and format at our monthly meetings won’t allow. Since this edition marks a new year and a shift in many things, I thought I would take the opportunity to muse on the beauty of change…
Change. The very word makes me stop in my tracks and try to keep my fear flags from obscuring my view. I have had healthy doses of “change” over the last few years. Physical changes, environmental changes, psychological and philosophical changes… all of them woven into the fabric that stands atop these two legs that I stand on first thing every morning. I know how lucky I am to have this “foundation” to slide into my socks when I wake with the sun. It had begun to occur to me that I needed to begin considering what burden I load this foundation with. Now sure, weight is the first thing to consider for you literal thinkers. So naturally that was a start. Scary. That meant, “change.”
Before long I began to realize that the thread of change that it took to alter one part of my life, was connected to a domino scenario once I began to peel off the layers, mentally and physically in order to make progress on one area. I was met with all sorts of things I was resistant to, quit eating ice cream, ugh…exercising, and quite simply, changing my relationship, not only with food, but most importantly, with myself. My whole life changed.
What has this got to do with art? Everything. As you slide on your socks and prepare yourself to approach the easel with that burden you put on your foundation, think about the domino affect that your stresses; physical, environmental, psychological and philosophical are having on your work. Has your work gone stagnant? Are you dissatisfied with how your work is turning out? Are you bored with your subject?
Look at what you bring to the easel before you pick up color. Look at your routine. Take inventory of what the rest of your life looks like. See if you see any relationship between the dissatisfaction with your work and what your life looks like. Sometimes the key to a change in your work lies with a change in your life.
Its important to change your socks, but more important to change what you slide into them. A little food for thought, I used to only paint stone buildings, endless stairs and closed doors. Now I paint birds.
See the change?