Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Do What Makes You Happy!

I am learning over time to harness the power of that voice inside that tells me, you know you should do that it would make you feel happier, better.  We have an inner wisdom, sometimes called intuition. 

Intuition- a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

I am really learning to love this fluid way of life.  Of course, I set goals like a mad woman and I spend a lot of time questioning, writing and working like mad to achieve my goals! In the past, when this little voice said- "hey, you need a day off, or you need to take a walk or you need to plant some flowers"... Often, I would not allow myself to do these things and think, no ,no gotta keep working!  However, sometimes your mind needs a little downtime and there are so many things that will recharge that battery and help you to approach the next day with more Energy and Enthusiasm than what you would have had if you pushed through.  

Enthusiasm! Passion! Aliveness!
Whatever the word is, this feeling is one of the keys to doing all things exceptionally.  I don't know about you, but when I am feeling drained or sad I sure as heck don't feel like creating art. And have you ever noticed that the more you are fascinated by a landscape scene, still life, a model- the more you are able to let go and just enjoy the creative process? 

The fabulous thing is, the more I have opened up to this experience the more they start to come to me and the more inspired I feel. Sometimes I can just see the colors on a pear and I just can't wait to try and capture that beauty after trying so hard to set up some magnificent still life and failing miserably. 
Here's the other thing: the more frustrated you feel the more you need to do something that makes you happy to break the loop of negative feelings. You can't get inspired from frustration, so you have to change your emotional state first!  Go take a walk. Smell the Roses. Dance naked in your living room with a glass of wine to disco...okay, okay you get the point. Find what works for you.  Much Love.

After a couple of months of trying to push myself artistically resulting in the below gallery pieces, I needed the pendulum to swing the other way. So I decided to take a couple of days to just do some 1 hour mini sketches just for the heck of it, and it was fun and a good break!

Larger Pieces completed in January & February:

A Few of the Fun Mini (4"x4") 60 minute sketches:

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons Learned from Demonstrations

One reason that I love plein air painting and doing demonstrations for classes or public events is that it forces me to work quickly.  I usually have 1-2 hours for this type of work versus when I'm in the studio there is really no time limit and I feel I have plenty of time.

The challenge of demos is the nerve-wracking feeling that #1 people are watching! Yikes.  #2 I have to explain what I'm doing while I'm doing it!  #3  I've got to get this to look like something in 60 minutes!  Trust me folks, it is scary no matter how many times I do it. At least with plein air you have the security of knowing if it doesn't go well, nobody has to see it. :)

However, the biggest lesson I have learned from doing this type of work is the benefit of FOCUS. I must prioritize! Going for the main role of each object and letting little details go.

I really have to decide quickly: What's the point of this painting? What value is that? Color? Saturation? Warmer, Cooler? What's the best shape? What kind of brushstroke? Harder or Softer Edge? Thick, thin? I have to push the painting to "finish" with every decision, every brushstroke. 

It is such an exciting problem solving game where you have to put something down and see how it works. Some turn out better than others, but in general there is a freshness, a spontaneity, a mystery, a movement  that I sometimes miss out on when I have 2 days in the studio.

So, if you have not tried setting a time limit for yourself - give it a shot! Grab a smaller panel, set a timer and paint with the most focus you can. I suggest 60 minutes as your brain will get tired.  Take a break...and do another!  There is a lot to be learned that I think we can apply to our more "finished" studio work.

Here are some examples of some 60-90 minute demos:

You will get faster and better the more you do. Give it a Go and let me know your thoughts. Best wishes.