I spent the better part of the day last week at the aquarium in Newport, Oregon looking for inspiration for future artwork. The Jellyfish tanks were hard to pull away from. I lost track of time mesmerized as their twisting bodies gracefully moved in their fluid world.
I’m a master of avoidance. Once I’m in my studio I”m ready to roll but getting there past all the distractions and excuses can be tricky business. Really, does laundry need to be folded and put away first? The “Thing” that needs to be manifested from your psyche in words, paint, ink, or whatever medium you work in is the priority. Here is a system that works well for me…
- Make an appointment for an assigned studio time. The earlier in the day, the better. Your cell phone is not invited.
- Enter studio, close door set timer and say to yourself “for one hour I will focus on nothing else but THIS.”
- Do not answer the phone, check email, or do anything not essential to your project on your computer- NO EXCEPTIONS!
- Work, work, work for one hour and then STOP. Continuing for more than this often leads to overworked material.
- Take a break for at least a half an hour and do something mindless like weeding or doing the dishes. Stretch and get outside for a breath of fresh air. This acts as a reset for the creative part of the brain that’s been working hard.
- Repeat steps 1-5 if needed
Most of the time I can get an amazing and satisfying amount of work done in a focused 60 minutes and I’m good for the day. If I have more to do, I find that by taking a break I come back to work reenergized with “fresh eyes”. I also use the timer method for unpleasant tasks around the house in 15 minutes increments (ex. cleaning out the fridge- ugh). You can accomplish great things in a small measured amount of time!
I have been pondering what the “it” is after reading a post several weeks back from a fellow blogger. We all wonder at times, what is life really about anyway? I wrote the following poem with how I respond to that question…..
She wanted to know what the “it” was
A fair question to be pondered on a blog
Several commenters responded “YES, YES, where is the It?
It escapes me!
The same question dodged me in my younger years
But with six decades behind me, I know the It
For it is hard to recognize and often takes the passing of time
It can pass right under you like a tsunami in the open ocean
A lulling swell that will gently rock your boat
As it heads toward land to release its energy
Children know the It
It is in curiosity
In friends and in family
In greeting each day like an adventure
It is in nature
And the spirit that resides there and within
It is in risk
And creative expression
It is in the individual footsteps one’s journey
Not the destination
Look up from your feet
Several weeks ago a friend apologetically said that she could not join me and friends on our annual creative trek to Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in N. New Mexico this July. I started this tradition about 9 years ago when I felt I needed to escape my daily life and focus on just art – no other distractions. Since my initial trek, numerous pals have joined me in the fun.
This particular individual, who had not been there previously, remarked that she had too much work to do on her house, specifically remodeling a bathroom, to take up an artistic pastime at this point in time. I remarked to “Honey, your work on your house IS an artistic pastime and to recognize it as such! Your house is your canvas”.
Too many people separate ART from their daily lives ( I wrote more about this in my post There is “No Word for Art in Their Language”. It does not have to be a sanitized framed rectangle celebrated with appetizers and wine. Anytime a room is decorated, an outfit is planned, a garden designed, or a tasty meal is prepared, one has to think about combining different colors, shapes, textures, (and tastes in the realm of food), creativity is being expressed. There is art in all of those endeavors. I have to say that after remodeling two bathrooms, one kitchen and redecorating my living room, this is some of the work I am most proud of.
No Ideas? Simple…just go on Pinterest, Houzz, or similar websites and steal a few! Below are some of the touches I’ve added to my home “canvas”.
When I am being creative I feel I am in my place in the world. Be it writing a poem, printmaking, painting, or creating something out of clay that’s when I feel the most “in my skin” no matter where I am at. This is my upstairs studio in my farmhouse in rural Oregon.
Being a creative type can be a lonely affair as one toils away at their desk and/or in their studio. To combat the negative, yappy little voices in my head that say “this sucks” I keep a good supply of reading material on hand to feed my “inner cheerleader” so that I may merrily stay the course. I just finished listening to a very good book that I would recommend to any person that needs to keep their inner critic at bay which is…
Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative, by Danielle Krysa and Martha Rich
This 136-page gem is packed full of wise advice and anecdotes gleaned from the author’s interviews with other artists and from her own experiences. She covers such topics such as facing the blank page, dealing with criticism, jealousy, excuses, and blocks with humor and sensitivity. You’ll get advice on how to navigate through roadblocks with various exercises designed to make you stronger. Though I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the book and will listen again, I will be buying a hard copy so I may mark it up and enjoy the great illustrations by Martha Rich. Put this one in your toolbox!
Although I consider myself primarily a printmaker, I like to do whimsical illustrations from my imagination with black India ink lines and brightly colored watercolor. It’s like creating my own coloring book without the concern of color splashing outside the lines. These little paintings are usually based on something out of my life. The piece below is a composite of fond bath time memories. Emmy Lou, my beloved long hair tabby (RIP), would often come sit on the edge of the tub and watch me as I languished in the water. Then we would be joined by a dog, or perhaps two who would take a nap on the rug beside me.
Another example of ink line and watercolor is the piece below I recently published in my post, “Daily Visitor”. It is of the stray cat, Lizzie that comes to the door every night to be fed. I like to exaggerate the features of animals and people to add to their personality
Simple pleasures recorded with ink lines and colored water.