Monday, January 31, 2011

Organization or Procrastination?

Wow!  Been a long time since I apologies! 

I'd like to say that I've been soooo busy just creating sooooo much that I haven't had time to hardly breathe let alone post, but truth be known I suppose I've had a bit of an "Artist's Block" maybe?!?!  For the first time in my life (since college assignments were due), I've gotten to the point where I am supposed to be producing art, in fact just yesterday I submitted my bio and a few copies of images of my work to be listed on the Website of the Artist's Tour I am a first time participant in this June (insert scream of terror here!) so that makes my obligation very real...or so you'd think, so I need to be painting, or sketching or whatever. 

Well, I'm doing okay at the whatever. 

I've spent the last month instead doing some organizing like many are inclined to do in the brand new New Year, this included taking a picture of my messy studio and then cleaning it. rearranging it and managing to mess it all up again before remembering to take "after" photos.  (Not very good at this blogging thing yet!)   In all this sorting, I came across and needed to make decisions on so many things I've kept over my lifetime...inevitably this meant purging and letting go of things which may have held great importance to me in past creations of myself.  I needed more space, so I really needed to decide who I am, where I want to go and what dreams are best left behind. 

I have decided I'm likely much better at painting flowers than growing them.  No doubt, I will still have my messy gardens full of cut flower, long enduring perennials and a selection of veggies that cannot be rivaled in taste by store bought, but do I really need mountains of magazines displaying carefully curated garden spaces created by true master gardeners?  Not likely.
How about all the empty baby books I purchased and meant to fill with documentations of each and every breath my precious children took from birth to where they are today?  Considering the blankness of those pages and the ages of those kids ( 4 thru 11), I'm thinking it's time to face reality and simply realize I was too busy living in the moments of their lives to take time to document each one and stop feeling guilty about my inept behaviour and move on.
Likewise with the scrap booking supplies.  I will keep the papers that get called to use in occasional craft frenzies, but who am I kidding, I cannot even get my pictures organized on my PC so what makes me think they're going to end up in perfect books?

I also let go of patterns I'll never make, instructions I'll never follow and copies of business plans I'll never submit to anyone for approval.  Just too depressing to see how much I have not done.
Things I cannot let go of?  My huge stash of fabric.  I am a sewer and always will be.  I once sewed many of my own clothes, then turned to baby clothes when kids were born and my own figure was not so easy to fit anymore.  Then, since they grew faster than I can sew, I turned attention to home decor.  I sewed pillows, curtains, tablecloths, etc... and even made about a quilt and a half (the half I still owe to my daughter and she's not letting me off the hook with that one even though it may mean she's taking a brand new butterfly and bug quilt to college with her someday!)  Anyway, with a love for fabric and also yarn and knitting genetically implanted into me I will not be letting go of those stashes anytime soon.

 I did dig out left over art paper from college days, a very expensive box of pastels and numerous and varied art supplies which I've given prominence to in my space.  My hopes are that this will motivate and inspire.  Is it working? Time will tell...but it better, June is coming quickly! 

Having said that I better go get busy and I promise, I will try my very best to make it a creative, artistic busy!


Maybe an inspiration?  My garden with weeds convienently cropped!  Cheers!  Jen       

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Found my Word for 2011!

Hi All!   Well, 4 days into the New Year, I really can't say I've accomplished a whole lot, but I'm not stressing yet and actually feeling pretty phenomenal right now as I've finally figured out what my "word" for 2011 will be. 
For those of you that are wondering what word?, why does she need a word? she crazy?, well...although I'm horrible at linking (so far!) I've been reading on other's blogs how they pick a word for the year and try to live it...I like the idea and realize that in my own backward sort of way I've been doing that a bit anyway, so I've thought and agonized, tried some on for size and threw them out with the bathwater but think I've now finally found one I'll stick with for 2011! 

.................Yay!  I'm sure you're incredibly excited for me, right??.................

Anyway before I introduce you to my 2011 word, I'll give you a background on what I sort of tried to live up to in 2010 to pretty good results..."I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:13.  I carried it through to alot of activities in my daily life whether in a religious sense, the strength to climb on my elliptical each day, do an art exhibit, do my daily work or tolerate all those intolerable things, etc... etc...   it really worked and I feel genuinely stronger now, but realize that strength is not all I need to journey on my path through this life and sometimes, just sometimes I don't like always being the strong one, so with that trait not mastered but substantially improved, I will now work on my next trait.   Drumroll please....

..............F  A  I  T  H ..................

  There it is, now I intend to live it.  Faith. Yes, first and foremost Faith in God, but faith in so many other things too.  I may be a "churchy" person, but faith is something that has never come easy to me and I'm going to work at changing that.
     I will have faith in my husband -that he really, truly, genuinely loves me and supports me and I don't need to doubt this (yes, I am a little demented that after 15 years married and a long courtship, you'd think I know, but....what can I say, just one of my crazy quirks!) 
               I will have faith in my children- that even though they're far from perfect, they're growing up just fine and learning to be the individuals they need to be (and just because they don't always live up to my exact game plan this does not mean that they're the devil's spawn!)
                         I will have faith in family and friends.  I intend to convince myself that everyone is not judging me.  I read some pretty convincing quotes to that effect in the wee hours this morning like: "Never confuse thoughtlessness with malice" by Robert Charles Whitehead  Besides, I really need to get over I really think everyone has nothing better to do than examine me?
                                            And finally,  I will have faith in ME.  I will not be neurotic, obsessive, very hard to live with, controlling, manipulative and on and on simply because I don't think I can "be" anyone better. I will have faith that I can succeed in whatever I undertake, I can push my creative limits, I can continue to learn about so many things and in so many ways and I can become who I've always wanted to be.  I  will let go and give in to faith and know that whatever I strive to accomplish, even if I fall flat on my face, that it's okay, I'm still okay.

So all in all a rather pompous post all about me and nothing else!...but then again if I can't talk about me on my blog, then where?

As for my art?...well I did this picture of a tree sometime ago and talked about feeling like I was fighting the wind, maybe I don't always have to...I love this quote by Toni Morrison: "If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it."  Not sure what I'll paint now, but I don't think it will be a tree rooted firmly to the ground!

Be kind to your shadow.  ~Rebecca Lawless   ...and have a great day!  Jen

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Commissioned Paintings maybe aren't my thing?!?

Leading up to the Christmas season I was approached to create some commissioned paintings.  Awesome!, right?  Flattered due to my new found success in the "art world" I quickly and enthusiastically agreed...primarily because I took this as a compliment and then because who can't use some extra cash, especially leading up to the Christmas season? 
Well....I learned a lesson or two while creating these commissions.  You know those expressions like "pride comes before a fall"?...they never entered my mind!  My first lesson:  Don't agree to anything until you've logically thought the request through.  The second:  There are limitations to my abilities and unless I've achieved a measurable degree of success on a similar subject in the past, I likely shouldn't agree to create that subject for money! 
If there is one word that sums up the process I experienced, it has to be "painful".  Now, I don't believe I ever achieve much art or anything else, without some degree of struggle, but generally not the tearing your hair out, agonizing feeling as though you are going to be sick kind of struggle that was my experience for one such painting.
I discovered I am no portraitist, nor do I ever wish to be!  The artists that can create these amazingly accurate portraits are incredibly gifted and talented and I tip my hat to them, but I think I need to learn a lot, lot more before I even just create the likeness of a specific individual's face. 
The clients did not wish for perfect, but what encouraged them to approach me were some paintings I had done of my own children caught in a moment of some small and entirely innocent childlike discovery.  What they gave me was a sweet picture of their granddaughter caught in a similar act but unlike mine, facing front.  Well, I think that in the case of my own kids, what made the composition successful and read as "them" were the gestures which I knew well.  Whether it be the tilt of their head, just so, but not excessively or the stance of their chubby toddler legs or the way their baby bottom sat solidly on the ground while strangling a helpless daisy. 

Also, and paramount to their success was that in none did their little faces show completely! 

Painting a child I've seen only a time or two and not really knowing her personality left me unnerved and unable to create the feeling I thought was necessary.  I must have painted over that poor girl's face 30 times. Sometimes it would be soooo close I could almost justify leaving her as is, but then after a quick glance away then back, I'd realize I caught something of her, but a good chunk of the cute kid in front of me was simply not her, so again and again the plight went on.   Anyway!  Chalk it up to a lesson learned.  In the end she turned out well and the clients as well as the parents of the child were thrilled with the painting, I'm stubborn like that.  

However, if I were to "pay" myself on an hourly basis, let's just say...the rate may have been in line with what Noah got paid for building that Ark!...and no, I'm not about to get into a theological discussion about other payments either he or I received from the experiences...and in no way am I suggesting that my plight matched his...geeesh...most days I can barely manage to get out of bed without messing something up, let alone aspire to making history of Biblical proportions! 

Oh and to make matters slightly more challenging I agreed to not 1 but 2 of these not needed by Christmas, so there on my easel now sits # 2, going NO better than the first...but I will, will, will get it and then move on, thinking before I speak and challenging myself in directions that will expand and exercise my talents while not quite pummeling myself to near death in the process!  An experience to remember as I make my way timidly into 2011!

Here she is- A cute, perfect, little, elfish, sweet girl painted by a very amateur artist!

And...another commission that did not pose near as many problems! 

Regardless of my above gripe I do sincerely thank my clients who entrusted me with creating these paintings for them, your show of confidence is truly and genuinely appreciated, I thank you! Cheers!  Jen     

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New Year & The Year We've just been Through!

Well, it's a sort of dismal and grey New Year's Day here at home and in ways this is reflected in my mood.  I've heard and read many stories of how 2010 was a challenging, sorrowful and hard year for a lot of people and I know it's true because I've been witness to some of these trials.
The year for me and mine has actually been pretty sweet though....and I suspect my "dis-ease" has a bit to do with that.  Can I really be fortunate enough to experience another good year or is this coming one my turn at the bad stuff?  Scary thoughts like these plague me from time to time and I suspect it's due to just a bit too much downtime in recent days, so my solution is to get busy, but before that, some wonderful (and some just plain average) blessings that happened in 2010 are as follows!

-my 4 kids continued to grow and flourish, they drove me crazy alot, made me laugh even more and created dirty laundry like nobody's business but stayed healthy and strong and usually intelligent...what more could a momma want?
-my hubbie...he stayed!  Weaker men would have just thrown up their arms in desperation and left my sorry ass many moons ago, so the fact that he's as crazy as me has really worked in my favour!
-he also finally grasped the courage to sing...first, to me  (he's been singing to his cows for years) and then, as the year progressed, even to others...this is BIG 'cause he's finally doing something just for him!   
-my home, although not still (or likely ever) entirely finished is pretty cool and well, very much my HOME!
-my parents, relatives, friends all made it through 2010 and seem as though they are up to the challenge of living large in 2011.
-after over a decade of diapers, I finally closed that chapter of my life and did not regret it's passing!
-we planted 500 live and 1100 cuttings of cold tolerant grapevines on land we've been eyeing for to see if our fledgling vineyard will flourish or fail, a new and exciting venture!
-I participated in my very first art exhibition my mind it was a success, I sold quite a few canvases and got my foot in the door of the art community.
-I am blessed to be part of a wonderful church where we meet as extended family, laugh, cry, discuss and support each other in what we do and have forged relationships that will last through and beyond all the daily junk that gets thrown in our way if we just remember to hang on!
-I've laughed, cried and lived and hope to continue with more of the same....all GOOD STUFF!

So, nothing really all that spectacular, but in putting my thoughts to print my grey mood has just about vanished and rather than look forward with hesitation and trepidation, I'm excited to see where 2011 will go!
Some challenges and maybe sort of resolutions  for 2011 are:
-to get in better shape, not the running up and down the sliding hill a gazillion times without losing my breath kind of shape that my incredible sister got herself into over the past year, but taking the time regularily for physcial activity to strengthen body and clear my mind.
-to create enough art to successfully participate in the "Pontiac Studio Artist's Tour" which I have signed up for to take place the middle 2 weekends of June.
-to later hold an exhibition at the local Cafe of the same art...or more...depending on just how well June goes!
-to think about me and mine before I take on or agree to numerous projects...this sounds a little selfish, but as our lives have spiralled into high speed in the past few years because of decisions  made, I realize I need to strengthen the "foundation" of the family before I go out there throwing it around in high winds on a daily basis!
-to organize my time, the home, the business, the financial situation, the that if or when that wind starts whipping around we will STAND.
-to take a couple of days to just BE with just hubbie and me, no shopping list, dairy seminar, dental appointment, or renovation project tagging along, but just us...something that we have simply not done for more than a couple hours since our honeymoon over 15 years past, I cannot wait!

 I really didn't write a whole lot of exciting up there, just average, so if you've managed to stay awake...congrats! BUT!... I think average is so much better than so many people throughout this great big world ever get the chance to have that I must be truly blessed!  May you be able to live your lives fully in 2011 and also be blessed in more ways than You can imagine...thanks for tuning in and hopefully the New Year will rock!