Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Feeling the spark

Eclipse                  12 x 18
acrylic on canvas
Artists get stuck.  Sometimes we lose focus and need a new direction to go.  It happens to all of us.  No matter how experienced or accomplished we are.  But then a spark appears.  Inspiration when we least expected.  Kind of like getting a card in the mail from a long lost friend.

I was "sparked" about a week ago.  I was experimenting with color field painting to develop lessons for my students when I was illuminated.  What I was trying to do was get my acrylic paint to flow across the canvas the same way that the wet-on-wet watercolor technique works on paper. I was looking for a way to create the same luminous effect on canvas.  And I found it.
Orbs                            12 x 18
acrylic on canvas

Night Vision                          16 x 20
acrylic on canvas
 While my work is still in the experimental stages I thought I'd share a few of the pieces I created last week.  After I master this technique I will share my step by step approach.

For today I hope to just share a little color.
Whirlpool                                        18 x 20
acrylic on canvas

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Everyone can practice meditation.

October Focus                      9 x 12
Watercolor on paper
Life is stressful.  Not that I have to remind anyone of this.  We all get overwhelmed with our daily tasks, what's going on in the news, finances, kids, etc.  If we let this stress overwhelm us it can effect our sleep, work, tempers and, most of all, our health. Today my sister sent me a very valuable link:

Numbers 6 & 7 are two of my favorite ways to meditate.  I wrote about using a journal and setting an artist date just the other day in my blog post about unlocking your creative spirit. Today I thought I'd share a little meditative painting technique I teach my students.  Gather your supplies, turn off you phone, put on some soft music and get ready to relax.

Meditation Mandalas
9 x 12 watercolor paper                  assorted watercolor paints
assorted brushes                                     water cup

 1.  Trace a large circle on your paper with a pencil.

2.  Wet your paints and your brushes with clear water.

3.  Pick up one brush and dip it in your first color.  Paint a stroke.

4.  Pick up a different brush and dip it in a different color.  Paint a second stroke. Feel free to overlap as you paint .

5.  Repeat this process changing brushes, colors and directions until you've painted 100 strokes inside your circle. That's right, I said 100!

 7.  Now paint a wet-on-wet background using either cool colors (blues, greens and purples) or warm colors (reds, yellows and oranges).  First wet the background with water then drop in colors.

As your painting dries reflect on how you felt as you concentrated on painting and counting those 100 strokes.  Whenever I do this exercise I feel tense and obsessive in the beginning , keenly aware of colors mixing and deciding on new strokes in the middle, then relaxed and meditative towards the end.

Hang your Meditation Mandala near your work area or where ever you spend the majority of your day.  When you encounter tension or stress simply sit back, stare at your picture and count the strokes of color.  Enjoy your meditative moment!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fields of Color

Helen Frankenthaler and her work
"What concerns me when I work is not whether the picture is a landscape or whether it's pastoral, or whether somebody will see a sunset in it.  What concerns me is - did I make a beautiful picture?"
                                                                                                    - Helen Frankenthaler

As I work on unlocking my own creative spirit I feel drawn towards non-objective, color field painting. This means I don't feel like painting anything in particular.  I just want to put colors on the surface and let them flow.  This method of painting was made famous in the 1950's by an artist named Helen Frankenthaler.

This abstract expressionist technique is one that offers you, as the artist, the opportunity to enjoy spontaneity.  It allows you to pour, mix, spray and experience colors as they mix themselves.  Your job is to add more paint, blot out areas, spray with water, tilt for the gravitational pull and enjoy the process.

Supplies:  unprimed canvas, stretcher frame (optional), acrylic paint, cups, spray bottle, paper towels and brushes.
1. I stapled my canvas to a 16x16 stretcher frame but could have left it unstretched.  Since I was practicing this technique I tried it both ways.
2.  I mixed acrylic paint with water to the consistency of cream.
3.  I spray the canvas with clear water.
4.  Then I began by pouring my lightest color first.

 5.  I sprayed more water to move the paint around. I also tilted the canvas to help the paint flow.

6.  I added more colors pouring, spraying, blotting and tilting.

Originally I thought this would
be the finished orientation.  But
I changed my mind after
I propped it and sprayed again.
 7.  As the colors are absorbed they would bleed and mix. I would continue to manipulate them  by tilting and spraying.

8.  I was close to declaring it done so I propped the canvas up and sprayed one last time.  I then left it alone to dry.

 9.  I  removed the canvas from the
stretcher and and trimmed it up.  I'm not sure how I'll mat, frame or otherwise
display it.  For now I'll just enjoy the fields of color.

Free Flow                    12 x 16
Acrylic on canvas

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Unlocking your creative spirit

      Sometimes my creative spirit gets locked up.  Not because it's committed any crimes or gotten in trouble. I just don't have time to invite my creative spirit out to play.  It distracts me from all the things should be doing. Life gets in the way.  And my poor creative spirit gets locked away.

A few years ago I bought a wonderful book  "The Artist's Way" by Julie Cameron.  It was recommended to me by a writer friend as a way to unblock my creativity.  I read it and put into practice many of her theories. Then I put the book on a shelf and forgot about it.  A few weeks ago I was reviewing my list of blog topics and "how to unlock creativity" caught my attention. I remembered Julie's book and found it sitting on the shelf, right where I left it.  So I dusted off the cover and read it again.  The most important tools she recommends for the blocked artist are writing morning pages and setting weekly artist dates. The morning pages consist of sitting down first thing and writing 3 longhand pages of whatever comes into your head.   The artist date is simply setting aside a time every week where you feed your inner artist.   So I decided to put these theories back into practice. Sounds easy too, doesn't it? 

I get up at 5:00 am every morning so I have time to walk my dog, pack lunches, eat breakfast and get dressed before I have to leave at 6:30.  Julie Cameron's advice is to get up 30 minutes earlier.  Ha-ha.  I am not coherent enough to hold a pen at 4:30 am let alone remember how to use it. So I worked that 30 minutes of writing time into my morning schedule after I get to school, before the students arrive.  Sometimes I get interrupted by job demands and it may take me all day to get those 3 pages written.  But I'm enjoying that writing time.  It's like spending time with my best friend or mentor.  I unload my brain and make room for new ideas to enter.

Scheduling the artist date was even harder.  Because I forget.  It doesn't seem as important as the million other tasks I should get done.  But last week I decided I had to make this date.  So I sat on my porch at the scheduled time for an undisturbed hour (I left my cell phone in the house) and looked through a book of art by Picasso.  A cheap, yet enriching, date that gave me visual satisfaction.

Sometimes I get stuck on what to write about.  So I created my own list.  Feel free to borrow any of these for your own inspiration.  Give the Morning Pages and Artist Date a try.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised as your creativity unlocks itself.

Mini Sketchbook Covers
8 x 10        Watercolor 
1.   What do I like about myself and my life?
2.   Who are my heroes? Why?
3.   Where is my place to go for renewal?  Why?
4.   If I could spend one more day with someone I loved who would it be and what would we do?
5.   When I was a child I had the most wonderful day.  Here’s what happened.
6.   If I could have a perfect room or space for being creative what would it be like?
7.   If I had one super power what would it be and how would I use it?
8.   If I just won the lottery how would I spend the money?
9.   If I could go back in history when would I like to spend a day and who would I like to spend it with?
10.  If I could start again what profession would I choose?
11.  Create a list of songs that describe my life at different stages from birth to now.
12.  Who is my spiritual guide and how do I connect with that guide?

Friday, October 4, 2013

I wish I had more time.

I wish I had more time to write.
I wish I had more time to create.
I wish I had more time to meditate.
I wish I had more time to spend with my husband.
I wish I had more time to spend with my parents.
I wish I had more time to spend with my kids.
I wish I had more time to hang out with my friends.
I wish I had eaten better today.
I wish I had more time to exercise.
I wish I had more time to . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . and the list goes on and on.

I find that I spend every day wishing I had more time to do more things.  Is this because I have too many things to do? Is this because I waste time goofing around?  Or is it a little of both?

Instead of wishing for more time I believe I'm going to change my approach.  I will set my goals to accomplish these things I'm wishing for.  I will be more productive and satisfied at the end of the day and stop wishing for what I haven't done.  Jim Bunch at The Ultimate Game of Life suggests setting 3 goals for your happiness, health and wealth.  Then create a list of actions that are going to get your closer to these goals.  And plan your day the night before with an action scheduled for each of your goals.  So at the end of the day instead of wishing you'd done more you can check off all that you've done.

So today:

1.  Happy - I will fly to DC and spend time with my son and his new bride tonight.
2.  Healthy - I will eat only healthy foods and drink lots of water.
3.  Wealthy - I will write a blog post with a meditation mandala.

I can check off #3 now and work on tomorrows actions while I'm on the plane!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The music of words.

I had just begun writing a series about finding your artistic voice when my friend Jenessa Paige sent me her most recent work.  I was blown away by her artistry and decided to share her work on my blog because it's the perfect starting point for my series.  In her work titled "True Love" she speaks about self love and acceptance.


Artists are the most vulnerable creatures I know.  We put ourselves out there for the world to critique.  We share our ideas, words and images in public for the others to experience.  Sometimes we're praised.  Other times we're not.  But we keep creating no matter what.  Because making art feeds our souls.

If you write, sew, sing, dance, paint, draw, cook, or just doodle you're an artist.  Don't be timid.  Share your work with others and enjoy the response.