Saturday, September 25, 2021

On Creative Block - Too Many Ideas

What is the opposite of feeling stuck because of having a lack of ideas and direction?  For me, it's having TOO MANY ideas.  This is how I was feeling this morning.  

I probably spend about half an hour a day, maybe a little more, perusing social media.  I LOVE looking at other artist's artwork. Most times it inspires, but sometimes, I get way overwhelmed.  

From years of being a creative person, I know when I am feeling inspired.  It's like this bright spark or sense of glee that I feel inside, and it let's me know, I want to go play.  But sometimes too many creative practices inspire me and I get overwhelmed.  I want to try them all!  And then I just feel stuck, not sure what direction to move forward towards.  Have you ever felt this way?  

Currently, I am making linocut prints and mono prints of foilage with a gelli press, and collaging artwork incorporating both of these printing methods, as well as creating collage fodder with different methods of using acrylic paint.  I love all of these creative mediums, but I am also attracted to painting, mainly loose, flowing, colorful, abstract painting, AND other types of printing such as silk screening and cyanotype.  I also like beaded jewelry and macrame, and... the list goes on and on. 


For me the answer to dealing with this stuck feeling, first off, is to get off social media.  It is a great tool in many ways.  It helps me stay in touch with people like you, my followers and fans, and I love that.  I have met so many wonderful people from across the globe that I couldn't have otherwise.  But when I start feeling that uncomfortable feeling of overwhelm, it is time to put the ipad down, and do something else. 


Getting outside is quite often the remedy for me, being in nature, taking a walk.  Even better is taking a walk with a friend.  And if your friend is also an artist, talking about the overwhelm and getting another perspective is always helpful.  Or write about how you are feeling.  Writing is a good way to move stuck, blocked energy.  Why, that is what I am doing right now.  I love to write and share ideas.  One last idea is to just start creating something.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Make it something small.  Make something loose and free.  Just start something.  Play with a new medium.  Draw, sculpt, play music.  Just get the energy moving.

 


So that's what I am off to do right now.  I'm going to take my own advice and take some time to play.  

See you on the other side :)

 


Monday, September 6, 2021

On Creative Block

Since launching my last body of artwork, my print collages, I have been feeling tired and creatively blocked.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to share about this, but I've been feeling a strong urge to write lately, so I thought I would come clean.  

When I released my collages I felt like I had given birth, and in a sense, I had.  All together there were 13 pieces, all new work in a new direction.  And they were very well received.  So far 11 out of the 13 have sold.  That is both rewarding and encouraging.  And humbling.  I really enjoyed making them, and I can feel more are on the way.  But I also felt empty afterward.  Not in a bad way.  But as if I had released a big part of myself into the Universe, and then I needed to step back, and refill my creative well.  And that is what I am up to now.  

 

Another block to my creativity lately is my mental/ emotional state.  I am someone who has dealt with depression on and off my WHOLE life, or what feels like my whole life.  As far as I can remember, since childhood, it has been my norm.  It runs in my family.  I'm not sure if it is biological or a learned way of looking at life, or a combination of both.  I just know it has impacted my life, and I am dealing with it now.  A second year of living through Covid with no end in sight, the state of the world, politics, it can all be overwhelming at times.  I am Covid weary.  As many of us are.  

I think a lot of time what gets in the way of creativity is fear.  Fear of making the first mark.  Fear of needing and wanting the artwork to be perfect, even before we start it.  I am a perfectionist.  I know this one well.  I feel like I am in a grey area right now.   And there is a bit of this fear getting in my way.  I'm not exactly sure where I want to go with the next piece I want to create.  I have a vague idea.  But my vision is foggy.  

What I have been doing and what I am going to continue to do for now is make fodder for collages.  I would describe "fodder" as mixed media patterned papers that are used as bits of a collage.  They help create visual texture and interest in a collage.  I get a great amount of pleasure from making fodder because I get to use different mediums like acrylic paints, markers, metallics, etc., and the process is free form.  I am not creating a recognizable image, just creating random color and patterns on paper.  The freedom of the process is very fun.  Just loose and creative. 

So as I move myself through my creative block, I thought I would share some of my ideas that may be helpful for you too. 

Tools to move through creative blocks:

1. Take a break from social media.  It's so easy to get into feeling not good enough when you scroll past other's images of their creative expressions and get caught up in comparisons. 

2. Do some journaling.  I love to creative write.  But sometimes I just need to spill out what is bothering me on paper, not to share with anyone.  A way of releasing what is emotionally blocking me.

3. Get out in nature.



4. Read or listen to inspirational books, videos, podcasts.

5. Meditate. Pray.  Give yourself some quiet time to explore your internal world.

6. The book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, is all about moving past creative blocks.


 

7. Julia Cameron suggests taking yourself out on an "Artist's Date", a time when you take yourself out, on your own, to do something you consider to be fun.  Go to a movie, a museum or gallery, to an art supply store, etc.   This is a way of filling your creative well.

7. Just make a mark.  Just start drawing, painting, whatever you like. 

8. Try a new medium.

9. Listen to music and get your body moving.

10.  Talk to friends, family, other artists for support. 

These are just a few ideas that I can think of right now.  I will add more as I think about them.  If you have any you would like to share, I'd love it if you would leave your ideas in the comments. 


Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Reminder for Us All - Normal Day



I have had this quote nicely hidden away in one of my many journals, and I thought I would share it today.  

Especially during this time of Covid and our isolation from what we used to know as "normal" life, I thought it might lend a helpful perspective.


It is written by Mary Jean Irion:

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  

Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart.

Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.

Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so.

One day, I shall bury my face in the pillow, or raise my hands to the sky,

and want, more than all the world, your return."

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020 in Review

For me, the year actually began on December 30th, 2019.  That evening, my husband and I had to bring my eldest cat Tiger to the emergency vet because he kept throwing up.  We all ready knew he had IBD, but his vomiting had increased, and his energy was very low.  The next day, New Year's eve, we also had an appointment at his regular vet, where he had some testing done, and we got some medicine to take home.  That night, I got a 24 hour flu.  I rarely get sick, and this knocked me on my butt. 


The results to Tiger's tests hinted that he might have cancer.  Tiger was sick during January and February, and we thought we were going to loose him.  Then he made a miraculous recovery in March and April, due to a new supplement I had found for him, gel potassium  that helped reinvigorate his appetite and his energy.  His cancer got the best of him, though, in May, and he passed away on May 15th.  His passing really colored my year with sadness.  I still miss him everyday.  

January 1st I was to start a new job, hanging my first show as gallery manager in a local restaurant.  Though it had to wait a day because of my flu, we hung the show on the 2nd, and all was a success.  That job as gallery manager lasted three months before Covid came along, and then hanging art and hosting openings just didn't seem like a good idea anymore.  

In January, I did get to hang a show of my work at a local business.  It was fairly large, and I exhibited my linocut prints, and some large watercolors I had left from my painting days.  




In July, I helped facilitate, through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), teaching 12 local artists about the business side of being an artist. We held weekly workshops, one night a week, teaching: marketing, branding, social media, presenting artwork to galleries, vendor fairs, and many more topics.  The workshops lasted 2 1/2 months, and it was a wonderful experience on so many levels. 

2020 was supposed to be a year of celebration.  My husband and I had our 20th wedding anniversary in August, and I turned 60 in October.  The original plan was a BIG vacation to Hawaii, one of my favorite places on the planet.  We didn't want to take the risk with Covid, so that did not happen. 


This year was the third year in my exploration in printmaking.  Usually I do an art show at the end of the year, a nice way to look back at all I have created in a year's time.  That did not happen this year, so I decided I would share with you what I created from January to December.  Fifteen new and unique images.  With different color editions, 21 new prints.  Not bad for a year of creative work.  









I look forward to my next year of printmaking and sharing with you.  Thank you for reading about my life in 2020.  

May 2021 be a better year for us all.  







Monday, September 28, 2020

Cherish

Because I take LOTS of photos of my work as I make a print, just thought I would share a few here with you.



This is the first block I carved.  Beautiful, isn't it?  Unfortunately, the word "Cherish" needed to be reversed on the block so that when I printed, it would read correctly.  



Here is what the initial block looked like when I test printed it.  Ugh!  I was bummed when I realized what I had done.  But because I really liked the image, I made a plan.  

I knew I wanted this to be a two color print, red and gold.  And I always cut my multi-colored blocks apart like a puzzle so I can ink the different colored parts separately, and then put them back together before I print.  Sooooo...




I decided to cut the mistake block apart and recarve just the heart again, this time, reversing the type.




And then I inked it to test how the block and the type turned out.  Perfect!  




Here I am, doing the actual print in two colors.




I used my new Wood Zilla press to make the printing easier on my hands.




The finished print.  I used Calico Safewash red ink and Cranfield oil based gold ink on thick, Stonehenge paper.  The finished print size is 10"x10."










Thursday, September 17, 2020

Spirit Guide

What motivates an artist to create a certain piece of art is usually personal.  Many times an artwork carries some emotional significance to that artist.  And then when the viewer sees the artwork, they are looking at it through their own personal perceptions and life experiences.  I think when you are drawn strongly to a piece of art, it's because it relates to something in your own life that has value and significance. 

I know this is true for my black cat artwork.  I have been told many times how the work reminds someone of their own black cat, or a black cat they know.  

My own artwork is full of personal symbolism.  When I started printing black cats, I wanted the black cat to be seen more as a symbol for all cats, not just black ones.  The inspiration behind the work is my cats, two gingers and a tuxedo cat.  But as I said, I think most admirers of my cat artwork are black cat guardians.  


My latest linocut print, "Spirit Guide," is layered with symbolism for me.  The first layer of significance is my love of tigers.  They have been my favorite wild animal for as long as I can remember.  I love the beauty of these cats.  Black and orange and white.  What's not to love?  And I love their strength and fierceness.  They remind me to be brave and strong and bold.  Even in my vulnerability. 


But this piece is also about my cat Tiger, who recently passed away.  Tiger was the first cat I ever adopted.  Before I met him, I knew I wanted a ginger cat, and I knew I was going to name him Tiger, because of my love of the big cats.  My cat Tiger fit his name.  He was beautiful, but he was also fierce. He always had a bit of a wild streak in him, which I'm not sure a lot of guardians would have put up with.  But when I adopt, it is for life, so we worked it out.  Tiger was the alpha in the house, always in charge of the other furry family members, and my husband and myself.  We loved him dearly.

I learned so much from having Tiger in my life, about love and caring, forgiveness, caring for a sick pet, patience, other animals.  The list goes on and on.  He was an inspiration in my artwork for years, and an inspiration in my life.  My best companion and friend.  

So another layer of symbolism for this piece is that it represents Tiger.  I looked up the expression, "Spirit Guide," on Wikipedia, and they explain it like this: "In western spiritualism, a spirit guide is a spirit that remains after death, that acts as a guide or protector to a living human being."  I also saw the expression explained as a guardian angel, guide, or enlightened being.  An animal in spirit.  I like that.  It may or may not be true, but I like feeling like he is still with me in spirit.  He is certainly held closely by me in my heart.  I think of him every day.  

So when you view my print "Spirit Guide," you may just like it because you like tigers, like I do.  Or you might have other personal meaning that you see in this piece.  Either way, I hope you enjoy this print. 


 


Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Path Made Clear

Every week day morning, I like to start my day with a walk.  I just started listening to audio books, and what I like to listen to is inspiration.  It helps fire me up as I walk, giving me extra energy, and also inspires and motivated for my coming day.


One book I listened to recently, is an audio book by Oprah Winfrey called "The Path Made Clear:  Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose."  I LOVED it.  Oprah wrote it and reads it.  It is full of her philosophy and life experiences, as well as wisdom from others she has interviewed over the years including, to name a few, Elizabeth Gilbert, Deepak Chopra, Ellen Degeneres, Joel Osteen and many, many more.

As a child, I was in touch with my purpose at a young age.  But I was not raised in a family that encouraged me to follow that path.  I think like many people, my parents were practical folks, thinking an artist's path some magical fairy tale, and unachievable and impractical goal.  "Be an accountant," I was told, "you're good at math.  Be a banker."  Anything but an artist.  

Part of what this book talks about is how you really have to believe in yourself, believe that what you want is achievable, and that you can have it or achieve it.  Once you start moving towards that goal, life will unfold before you to help you move in the direction of your dreams.  

Oh, there is so much wisdom in this book.  My description is just one small tidbit from it.  If you like being inspired, and inspired about living the life of your dreams, I would highly recommend reading or listening to this book.  I even bought the book itself after I listened the audio version.  That is how much it inspired me.