Archives for category: art and the artist

I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning. I scrolled through my news feeds, and at the end of it found myself feeling a bit let down with humanity, with my own relative powerlessness in the face of the world generally, with the drama and bullshit that we allow to impede our forward progress as creatures… We could do better. I mean, obviously. lol Hell of a start to a lovely Saturday.

I push my seat back, and carry my coffee to the deck, and enjoy the rustling leaves, birdsong, the smell of freshly watered plants, the sweetness of a newly ripe tomato fresh from the vine, and a few healthy moments of other thoughts and experiences than the embrace of an office chair, and the bright white pipeline of infotainment shoved directly into my brain through my eye holes. I get way too much of that, and too little of small brown birds daring to come closer to see if maybe I have another seed hidden in my hand. πŸ™‚

When I came back in, I sat right down at my desk, and let the excess of words and pictures continue to stream into my brain. Damn it.

I get up. Again. I breathe. I do some yoga. Somewhere amidst this second flurry of activity, I have a second coffee that I’ve already forgotten now. Some mindfulness. (That’s sarcasm there.) I nag at myself about my baggage. I pause to feel annoyed with myself for nagging myself, instead of simply practicing.

I let that go, too.

I find myself, at some point, wondering about how I create the baggage I carry in life. I mean… some is picked up in some moment of trauma, sure, but what counts? Does it need to be major trauma? (You already know the answer, if you are honest with yourself; it could potentially be the most petty irritation, if allowed to fester.) I mean… hell… I even have baggage about this. Right here. Blogging. No kidding – did you not know? lol (“Do tell!”Β  “Okay, I will…”)

In December 2012, sometime, during a terribly dark time in my emotional life (one of the worst, darkest, most despairing times of my life had begun, and I was very much at risk of not making it to the other side) I began to consider starting a blog. I had mostly given up writing in a journal – a life habit of many years, that I’d found huge value in, but which had become a ruminating spiral of negativity that developed a fairly self-hateful feedback loop that supported the despair more than the woman writing about it. The saner choice, then, had been to just give it up, for at least awhile. I lost an important voice in my narrative in doing so, and I needed… something. A blog? Maybe; I’d be writing in a public place, read by anyone who cares to read my writing, which, I felt, had a chance of keeping me from falling to the demons of rumination and negativity, and maybe give me some purpose and focus,Β  a foundation on which I could… maybe… heal. Or at least feel heard.

I approached one of my partners (now an ex) at the time and brought the subject up. I viewed her as being “more internet savvy” than I was myself, and I knew she also had a blog. I suggested I was considering writing a blog, myself, and asked her for suggestions or recommendations for platforms. What I got back was… a hearty helping of ego and discouragement. “Oh, well, you shouldn’t expect anyone will read it, and you most likely just won’t keep up with it, and you’ll probably just abandon it. Most people are very bad writers, and don’t have anything interesting to write about. You should expect that you’ll get bored with the work of keeping it up. I have several followers and a very successful blog because people love my writing. It probably won’t be that way for you, and you shouldn’t be discouraged if it turns out no one cares and you’re wasting your time.” I felt astonished, first that she’d assume anything about my writing, when she’d never taken any interest in it, and also that she had no awareness that I’d been making a practice, my entire adult life almost continuously, of writing 500-3,000 words a day – entirely without a fucking blog. LOL I also felt hurt by the dismissiveness and lack of emotional support, particularly so early in our relationship (there was much about her, as a human being, I did not yet know).

…Then the insecurity kicked in. Maybe I’m not “good enough”? Maybe I lack worthy content? Maybe no one does care – at all? Maybe I am “wasting my time”? I almost didn’t start. I almost gave up writing entirely. A few more days of systematic discouragement at a difficult time in my life, and I even started considering ending it. My life, I mean. It was a dark time, indeed. Then I read her blog – looking for a clearer understanding; maybe it was “too hard” for me? (Clearly not.) I didn’t really know, and I wanted to understand more clearly what limitations I was truly facing as an individual. I read a bunch more blogs by great thinkers and writers, because it was immediately evident that little was to be gained reading hers. I looked over various platforms that support blogging. I asked myself what I wanted to say – and what mattered most about my writing, generally. Let’s be very real about this; I was attempting to do this while also wholly disrupted by mental illness, and family-life stress. I was in no shape to adult without supervision. I still needed to do my own homework; unavoidably, the advice of other people is shaped by their agenda and biases, and filtered through their own bullshit. It has limited value. Ever.

I’m smiling this morning as I sip my coffee. I value my time writing. I appreciate my readers (hey, that’s you!). Six and a half years and 1625 posts later (not quite one every day), and I’m still writing, still finding value in that practice, and still feeling heard. πŸ™‚ I’m glad I didn’t let one voice of discouragement stop me from being the woman I most want to be… or the woman I am. πŸ˜€

Baggage is a funny thing. It lingers. I did pick up some baggage that long ago winter afternoon, talking about blogging; I occasionally still question my writing. It’s fairly public. There are some things, perhaps, that would be best unsaid? Should I mention my weekend plans? What if someone might use that to burglarize my house by noting when I am likely to be away? Should I mention when I am happy? Someone who has an agenda of minimizing my happiness may use that to undermine it… What about… her? Yep. Sometimes, even now, I consider the considerable drama, bullshit, and emotional pain she continues to inflict on friends and loved ones at personally inconvenient moments, and I can’t help but wonder… did my writing drive the timing? Am I feeding information to a human being who now places me in her world as an adversary?

…Should I stop writing??

More baggage. I laugh it off, and remind myself that she has no power over me that I don’t give her, myself, and no current place in my life, now, at all. Like any bad memory, or former association ended with cause, there’s no real need to revisit that time, place, or person, other than to heal myself. Certainly no reason to give it power over me now. lol

Consequences (of our words, or our actions) are real things, though, and I do consider the consequences of my writing; I spend far longer reviewing a finished post, and refining my words, than I do writing it in the first place. Consequences matter. People’s hearts matter. Being authentic, practical, and frank, matter. Being a better person today than I was yesterday matters. Sometimes I delete whole posts rather than publish something that might cause a stranger undue pain, or “out” someone’s private experience without explicit approval. or even just fall short of adequately expressing my thoughts in a true-to-self way.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is “do you” – support yourself in your endeavors. Don’t let “the world” slow you down or change your mind – but be prepared to face the consequences of your choices (good and bad), and consider them with care. Choose wisely. Be your best self… but do be you. No one else can do it so well, although a few bad sorts may try to steal your identity, your words, your very soul – authenticity can’t be faked, and over time, those stolen facades break down, revealing the real person beneath the lies. Walk on from that drama. πŸ™‚ No direct confrontation can be sufficiently satisfying to make the fuss worth it. lol Life is too short to leave the trolls in charge. πŸ˜€

Bottom line? We really do choose – and carefully craft – most of our baggage in life. It’s okay to put that down, and walk on. Let it go. Just… let it go. Move on with life without it. It can be a choice… if we care to choose it. Yes – sorry – there are verbs involved. It may require some practice. You may have to begin again – any number of times. Still worth it.

It’s time to begin again.Β I’m sipping my coffee, well-rested, on a lovely summer morning, smiling, and content. I am enjoying the morning with the woman in the mirror – she’s a survivor, a bad-ass, and this morning? There is no other woman I would want to be more. πŸ™‚

I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about life as art. Authenticity, creativity, beauty… transcendence of pain, finding voice for those things in life for which we lack language or words… isn’t a life well-lived, itself, an artistic endeavor? Life, lived, as an art form, itself… means… what? Another day in the studio. Today, a lot of questions, consideration of the day behind me, work already started, unfinished – like life.

Who is the artist?Β A question for answering, individually, subjectively, personally. There is only one answer, for any one artist, really;Β gnothi seauton. The journey to the answer, is the life as art.

A woman told me, once, some long time ago in another life altogether, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body – I’m not an artist. I don’t do anything creative.” I took that at face value, at the time, and it fit my understanding of the world, then. I later saw her in her home. Her home struck me as a piece of fairly wonderful artistry, and the lack of paint staining her jeans, or dust under her nails, or bits and pieces of creative moments needing to be cleaned up didn’t detract from that impression at all. Her home was lovely, orderly, cared-for – each piece of memorabilia, each ornament, carefully selected, an impression exquisitely crafted – how is this not also art? Wherever she moved, she appeared to be quite carefully placed to communicate a mood, a moment, or an idea of beauty. The point I’m trying to make is that, as an artist, it isn’t really for me to define “what is art?” – only to define who I am, as an artist, myself. Those choices are not made of words – they are conveyed by my actions. By my art.

Words over coffee. It was a good day in the studio yesterday. Playing with paint – and chaos. I choose my materials with care.

A pair, 11″ x 14″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and UV. “Chaos Theory”

I did several pieces as pairs yesterday, specifically indulging my fascination with chaos theory. I started with two canvases, the same palette of colors for each, the same measured amounts of those pigments, placed similarly on each canvas, the canvases placed side by side, and worked as a single larger piece, to the same playlist. Mood, movement, brush strokes, technique – all as much the same as I can easily make them.Β  In every instance, of course, two different canvases still result. Not just different-as-in-separate-and-individual, but also just… different, as in – not the same. It was a fun day in the studio, playing with science, chemistry, and philosophy.

I spent the day in a meditation made of movement, color, and music, contemplating differences and similarities, considering the way I’ve carved up my life into “separate canvases”; the life of the artist, alongside the life of the analyst. The lover, alongside the angry woman. The professional, alongside the free spirit. The citizen, alongside the protester. I spent the day thinking about life as art, and contemplating this vast broad canvas of experiences as a single unified whole. I spent the day free of any constraints aside from those I have assigned myself. I answered a few questions – I asked a lot more.

I spent time in the garden, too. Another living metaphor.

I gardened later. I grilled a lovely summer evening repast. I meditated as evening came, and watched the dwindling twilight become night. It was the sort of day I could single out from among many and say “this is some of my best work”, as an artist.

Happily enough, it’s already time to begin again. The day stretches ahead of me, a blank canvas. You, too. What will you do with it?

I’m “taking a media break” from news feeds, streaming contact, social media – pretty much most of the digital distractions available have been paused, logged off, or shut down for the weekend. I suck at this, so it is a constant effort to be vigilant about the potential time and bandwidth drains, and to choose wisely – and consistently. This? This right here is part of who I am. If I were not writing this blog post, I would be perched on a sofa, chair, or rock somewhere, with a hardbound blank book in my lap, still writing. Probably about the same number of words. This is a thing I do – and have done so since I was quite young (12?13?).Β  No point, really, in trying to halt the flow of words, entirely; it would be an endeavor with (historically) limited success. πŸ˜‰ Gnothi seauton.

Today I’m spending the day (and likely the weekend) in my studio. Painting. Sorting through years of stacked canvases to select inventory for sale. Giving thought, too, to the installation at the gallery where I am presently showing my work. I could rotate something out, put up something different… or… not. πŸ™‚ I could paint all day, instead.

In the studio, I’ve got a couple larger, time-consuming works that I am working on slowly, with care, but today “feels like” new work…

I sometimes find it tougher to get started on new work than I expect to. I have an idea in my head of where the work should finish, what I want to see, but the “point A to point B” of that journey rarely seems to straightforward. Do I begin with a finished background, already painted? Will I “ruin it”? (Which really only amounts to painting something different than I’d planned on – which happens a lot. πŸ™‚ ) Truth is, like any beginning on any journey that seems to have a fixed destination, but an uncertain route, getting started sometimes feels… hard. So, I put a fresh canvas on my easel, much the same way I’d write an observational first sentence when I’m unsure what to write, and grab a big brush, a tube of glow in the dark, and a bunch of glitter. “My first sentence” on this weekend’s journey isn’t written in words – it’s done on canvas, in glow-in-the-dark and glitter. πŸ™‚ Just a bit of fun, loosely inspired by summer mornings, and fireworks shows, and a chill, happy place within myself that is purely okay with who I am. It’s an excellent beginning, lacking in performance pressure, crafted of coffee, birdsong, and personal delight.

…a beginning has to start somewhere… (an unfinished work of glitter and glow, begins the day).

What makes your day – or your life – “sparkle” for you? What do you yearn to make, build, or do? What do you resent your job over, that you wish you “had more time for”? I get it… we’ve got to get out there in the world and hustle, make some motherfucking money, pay the bills, “get ahead”… but… what about what matters most? What about your passion? What about that spark in your soul? Write a novel? Poetry? Paint? Sketch? Sculpt? Craft? Build? Create? Restore? Grow? What excites you about life? Who are you when you are not at work? There’s time for that, too – there has to be, otherwise, what’s the point of living? The thing is – sometimes we have to set a firm boundary, snatch our time back from those who would have it in service of their agenda, instead of our own. Don’t forget that person in the mirror – you matter. Take care of you. Live some tiny fragment of even your boldest dreams!

“All that glitters” is most definitely not gold – some of it? Some of it is actually, literally, “just” glitter… but glitter has its place, too.Β  (My Traveling Partner calls it faerie scabies, and some days its “place” does seem to be… everywhere. lol) πŸ™‚

Enjoy life’s sparkle!

Start somewhere. Begin again. πŸ™‚

 

 

I’m awake too early. It’s the fifth of July, and this means my sleep was of poor quality, started too late, and was regularly interrupted by American enthusiasts of wasteful use of ordnance for noisy colorful displays of thinly veiled celebratory somewhat aggressive nationalist posturing… Independence Day fireworks. For some folks, it just isn’t enough to go see a public display (from sundown until well past midnight I listened to the sounds of shit exploding). It is also necessary for them to indulge in a wasteful display of flexing at the world metaphorically, in a comic opera of artifice and pretty colors. I can’t bitch overly much about it, inasmuch as these were not attacks on my person or property, and were not ever intended to be such. Just a nuisance to deal with a couple nights a year. Still, it wrecks my sleep, and rather than deal with the resurrection of old nightmares, I spend much of that time in the studio, with headphones on, painting and listening to music.

To be clear, I’ve got nothing specific against fireworks shows. I’m just like anyone else, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the colors and forms, and the craftsmanship that surely must have gone into those beautiful bursts in the night sky. I dislike crowds, though, also, so I rarely go. Choices. πŸ™‚ At home, in the quiet of the night, I dislike being taken by surprise by the sound of what could be gunfire, or artillery. That just seems… normal. πŸ˜‰

I spent the solitary day on my own agenda. I even started with a list. It was fairly delightful to do so. No holiday meal to prepare. No complicated group planning for an outing. No timing for arrivals or departures. No guests. It was a lovely day in the studio, spent in part on “the business of art”, which is less fun for me, but managed to be quite satisfying. The afternoon and evening painting felt more than satisfying – needs were met. πŸ™‚

Late in the day a whiff of OPD reached me from far away. I made a firm point to let that shit go before it could ever get a foothold in my consciousness. It did manage to evoke some irritation, and a nearly audible eye-roll, before I got back to work on the painting that tedious drama-monster who is an ex has inspired; “Toxic”. (She’ll finally be able to say she inspired someone artistically. lol. I chuckle out loud every time I think about that.) A good thing to remember about artists; it is often something deeply unpleasant, unsettling, objectionable, contemptible, vile, or traumatizing, that inspires our most moving work. It is certainly the case, in this instance, that I’m working on this piece, in a sense, as a sort of exorcism. So done. lol So entirely completely over it.

“Independence Day” has become pretty personal for me, over the years. I celebrate – in an overtly positive, celebratory way – the end of my violent first marriage. I celebrate my independence from the terribly damaging entanglement with ex 3 of 3, too; it took weeks from when I moved into my own place (in May, 2015) to feel settled and comfortable, and to accept the uncertainty that existed, at the time, in my relationship with my Traveling Partner, and begin to find my own way. By the 4th of July that year, I was doing pretty well living solo, and learning to really deal with my issues more skillfully, generally, and getting a good bit of practice with that. lol My relationships were improving, too. Three years ago today was a pretty good day, generally. It’s delightful to read back and see how far I’ve come. πŸ™‚ Incremental change over time – still a really big deal, and something I can reliably count on. We become what we practice.

Are you ready to begin again? There’s a journey ahead. It’s yours. Choose your adventure. Start with one step.Β  πŸ™‚

My head is still buzzing with the distracting excitement of the show last night. My tinnitus reminding me there is value in ear plugs. My hallway is short two paintings that recently hung there, now hanging somewhere else. My “art closet”, filled with work carefully stacked by size, is one painting less full today. I am groggy. I am too much awake to sleep more, though I need more sleep. My eyes feel like they are covered in sand paper, and my iced coffee does nothing to quench my thirst (how the hell am I so damned thirsty?). I have a drive ahead of me – hours down the highway, on a weekend likely to be “a long holiday weekend” for about half the long-holiday-weekenders out there taking time off for 4th of July travels.

Between the lake and the sky, there is a distant horizon, whether I can clearly see it or not. “Lake & Sky; Infinitely Blue” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow.

Begin again? Right now I can barely just continue. lol The headache developing could be dehydration… or lack of coffee… or fatigue… or… well… I’m a fucking mammal. A being of light wrapped in a meat puppet that I think I control. lol Who the fuck knows what all the potential missteps and annoyances may actually be? There are probably a lot of possibilities I wouldn’t even know to consider. S’ok. One thing, then another. I shower. Do some yoga. Water my garden. Drink water. Drink coffee. Meditate. Post about the art show (hey, it’s the 21st century, this is a routine form of communication now). Pull myself together a bit at a time, giggling every time I pause to consider that a great many of the Friday night Party People who attended the art show – or the after party – are just finally wrapping things up and going to bed. I’m glad I got a couple hours of sleep.

Here comes the day. It’s the weekend. I’m eager to see my Traveling Partner. Eager to enjoy the day, building on this lovely moment, right here. My heart feels light in spite of the world being rather irksome. It’s something to savor, to build on, and to enjoy. It’s not just okay to feel good in dark times – it’s really rather necessary. Without the good times, emotional fatigue can set in, and then what? We’re no good to each other if we are not able to feel what is good and pleasant and right in our moment, in our day – in our world. So. Today seems a lovely one to take a breath, and enjoy this bit, while this enjoyable bit lasts.

…Then later, I’ll begin again. πŸ˜‰