I had the urge to work with watercolors again this fine, snowy morning in April (Snow in April? What the !*^#?).
Anyway, as I sketched out my idea I day dreamt of crimson flowing silk. Interestingly enough I hated myself in red for most of my life. My sister always looked really pretty in red when we were younger. I both loved and envied how she wore it so well. I think it was too bold for me because I didn’t want to be seen back then; I wanted to sort of blend in with the background.
Only recently have I embraced the rich, bold flavors of red: a bit of crimson, a touch of ruby, a sprinkle of rose to dress up my wardrobe. Perhaps now the difference is that every so often I want to stand out a bit. It’s funny how something as simple as a color can mean so much more than just a color. Even still today I only wear red on rare occasions when the mood strikes me.
So why the dead bird? This part of my artwork was inspired by a lovely story that my friend shared with me. This past week as she walked to work she saw not one, but three dead birds. Not so lovely yet, right? However, upon looking up possible meanings she found out that a dead bird can often symbolize a new beginning. So instead of seeing things in a negative way, keep in mind that things aren’t always as they seem. I’d like to think that the dead birds represent a mourning of sorts, where one has to mourn the past in order to begin again.
The only certainty in life is that things will change, over and over and over again. As important as it is to remember the past, especially those great memories, it is equally important to embrace what is to come. After all, without new beginnings life would be rather dull now wouldn’t it?
Recently I’ve been thinking about how women and men communicate with each other. Being in a “newish" relationship, I often wonder how much I should share and how much I should keep to myself. Do women question relationships way too often instead of just letting them happen as they will happen anyway? Do we ruin relationships by analyzing them too much?
Let’s be honest, men for the most part, hate to talk about their feelings. In my experience when a man likes me, he shows me, but he just doesn’t talk about it. Women on the other hand, seem to love to talk about their feelings...pretty much all of the time. We love to analyze, and question, and predict the future, and basically drive ourselves nuts. I’ve never thought of myself as an over analyzer, but here I am over analyzing what seems like all of the time lately.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to let go of the “what-ifs” and just enjoy what’s happening in the now. I was doing great for a long time, but recently I’ve reverted backwards a bit. I think I lost some of my confidence and for the first time in a long time I felt insecure.
I had to take a moment this morning to remind myself how awesome I am. Now that my self-confidence has returned, I realized that I don’t need to keep my feelings a secret, but I also don’t need to think about them or share them all the time either. What will be, will be.
Letting go of unnecessary anxiety...and, done!
Life has gotten a bit crazy these past few weeks. Between colds, house guests, and an overload of work (the work that pays the bills), I haven’t had much time for my own art lately. But as I preach over and over again, we must find time to feed our souls and go to our happy places.
I decided to take a break and make time for that which I love most. I didn’t know what I was going to paint right up until I painted it. Let me just say that it is such an awesome experience to start with a blank canvas and end up with something so completely unexpected and beautiful. I began by simply mixing my favorite colors together without giving much thought to my next steps. Sometimes you can’t overthink things; you just have to let them happen and see what materializes.
I’m going to call this one Dreaming Landscapes. I imagine that this place might actually exist somewhere in the world and I hope I get to see it one day, but for now it's solely from my imagination. Lately I’ve been thinking about how small I am in comparison to this giant world we occupy for a brief moment. We go about our daily lives and get caught up in routines, forgetting to experience all that the world has to offer. Perhaps this beautiful place that I painted today is a reminder that I need to get back to seeing the world and enjoying small moments.
Maybe we all need to just let go a little...
This week I realized that for the past few months I have been surrounded by people who seem to be going through some very big life changes. It got me to thinking about how we handle change and how we process letting go of things.
When something that was once great in your life comes to an end, it’s very similar to the end of your favorite song, especially if music moves you the way that it moves me. You want it to last forever, but as you hear the last chorus, you just know it’s over. The finality of it is bitter sweet.
But think about it this way. If you love a song and you just keep playing the same song over and over again, eventually it becomes the absolute last thing that you want to here. What was once amazing is now mundane or even maddening. Logically we know it’s not possible for things to last forever exactly the way they are in our best moments, but many of us hold onto the impossible until we’re forced to let go.
Therefore when something is indeed over, whether it be a career or a relationship, it seems that it is better for your soul and well being to let it go peacefully and without regret. Enjoy the memories and all of the good things that you got from that experience, and move into the next chapter of your life.
Eventually, the music comes back again, perhaps in a different way. So when the music stops for you, be patient, close the door and turn off the lights. Eventually it will find it’s way back to you.
As an artist and teacher, I constantly need to have my creative energy flowing. It can be a bit daunting to keep my own work going when I’m full on teaching and also trying to keep pushing my students to be self-sufficient and self-motivated in their own creative endeavors.
Most of the time, my creative side runs on autopilot and ideas just come to me. Things that I see or experience in the real world trigger something, and my artwork builds into something completely original only slightly based on my initial thought. It’s quite amazing actually.
But every once in a while, I shut down. My imagination literally looks like a blank page in a sketchbook, or sometimes like a black hole. It’s not just a creative block, it feels more like my creativity was sucked into a vortex and may never return. So dramatic, I know! This is when I go back to my previous work to figure out where my past inspiration came from.
The summer before I switched careers, I was in the final stages of my Masters in Art Education. I had just spent six years in night school while working full time, and six months student teaching without any sort of income; I was pretty much at the end of my rope. But I told myself to keep drawing, keep making art, and if I keep doing what I love I will be okay. Keep in mind that when you put that much pressure on yourself and you can’t pay your bills, it’s really hard to focus on creativity.
So I went out for a walk. Everyday. I took photos all around the city. I took photos at the park, at the zoo, at the beach, and I just kept on walking for what seemed like hours and hours each day.
Then, I went back to my condo, and looked through all of my photos. I studied all of the beautiful places that I captured with my camera. Then I fell asleep and dreamt of these places in a completely different way. They turned into one big alternate universe. They turned into the drawing above, and a whole collection of drawings similar to that one.
As I drew a sort of calmness fell over me and much of the anxiety went away. Eventually everything worked out. I don’t think I would have made it if I'd lost the ability to create. It is what got me through that summer and into my first year of teaching. It’s what got me through the most difficult times in my life really.
You may be wondering where in Chicago I took the picture that inspired the drawing above and ended my creative vortex. If you’ve ever been to Lincoln Park Zoo, there is a statue of a man on a horse know as the Ulysses S. Grand statue. Underneath this statue is a small tunnel. Who knew that the real beauty, for me anyways, was not the statue but what lied beneath it.
So now when I feel uninspired, I go out and I see the world, I meet people, I travel, I live a little more, I look a little closer and it always comes back to me. I think about all of the artists and musicians whom I’m inspired by, and what it comes down to is that I like what they have to say and most often I feel a connection through similar experiences and points of view. Art really does bring us together in the most intimate way. And for some of us, it is our lifeline.
Today I’m going to brag just a tiny bit about how amazing my extended family is. About once a month we try to get together, and our monthly outing happened to be last night. As we were enjoying each others’ company, laughing and just having a fun night out like always, I came to the realization of how lucky I am to be born into such a remarkable family.
With these very special people there is no jealousy and no judgement. We just enjoy each other for who we are. It's natural, simple and the purest kind of love. As I lied in bed last night feeling perfectly content, I reflected back on all of the times these folks have been there to support me and hold me up, if you will. When I decided to pursue my endeavors as an artist, which I’m sure most people would find to be a little crazy in my late thirties, I felt nothing but love and encouragement from these dear folks.
When my parents moved out of state my extended family, without a second thought, invited me into their homes for all of the major holidays so I wouldn’t feel alone. This artwork pays tribute to the incredible people whom, simply by chance, I’ve had the pleasure of being surrounded by. Thank you for reaching out to hold my hand when I needed you, and thank you for bringing so much laughter into my life.
Adding to my collection of work inspired by female archetypes, this week I sketched out my first idea for The Mother. A close friend who is a soon-to-be mother inspired me. I am in awe of her humble honesty and courage. I would imagine becoming a mother is one of the most magical and terrifying experiences in a woman’s life.
Not speaking from experience but purely from observation of others, when a woman commits to having and raising a child, it is the most selfless act; a choice that changes her life forever. She not only goes through great physical changes, but mentally and emotionally this child now becomes the most important priority, above all else that she once held dear. I’m sure that in most cases the joy of having a child and the love that she holds far outweighs any sacrifices, but ultimately she must know that she is losing a part of herself and her freedom. This can be very difficult to acknowledge.
What I appreciate about this very special woman is that she unpresumptuously said out loud that she is selfish. She loves her freedom, she loves to travel and go as she pleases. Ironically even though she is quite independent and free-spirited, in my opinion she is anything but selfish. She is beautiful inside and out and one of the most caring and kind persons I happen to know. I can’t remember a single time in the many years that I’ve known her that she has ever been selfish.
I think sometimes people confuse self-care with selfishness. Of course when you have less responsibility, you have more time to take care of yourself and do things that you enjoy. However, even when one’s life becomes more hectic and responsibilities seem to take over, it is still important to practice self-care by continuing to do the things that you love independently of others. These things, such as yoga, traveling, creating art or whatever else you happen to have a passion for simply feed your soul. When we do not take the time for ourselves, people seem to develop a sort of bitter resentment towards others, and mostly towards those people for whom they’ve made the most sacrifices for.
By giving time to yourself you are more likely to love and give to others. So to all of you mothers out there, I am amazed by you. You have a strength and love unlike no other. Just remember to do something for yourself every once in a while and be selfish if that’s what it really is. Being a martyr doesn’t get you anywhere but dead. (Woah, heavy! My little sick humor.) Till next time folks!
This weekend I started my second painting in my collection of female archetypes, The Inner Child. This part of my personality is probably the one that comes out most often. There are things we do as children that many of us stop doing as adults. There are also a freedoms we have as children that we can’t really grasp at the time; but when we look back we realize how special they were. Most of us get tied down with responsibilities, family obligations, and relationships; we forget what it’s like to be free from all of those adult-related burdens.
As much as I enjoy being in a relationship, the moment I start to feel a bit trapped or it gets a bit too serious, I bolt. Perhaps it’s one of my faults. I’m deathly afraid of someone taking away my freedom. I’ve seen over and over again what it does to people and I simply don’t want that kind of life for myself. There is a song from Serbia (where my parents were born), about a girl named Daniela who’s always running away. Quite fitting.
Despite my recent streak of very dark artwork, I’m genuinly a happy person most of the time. I enjoy being silly, lying at the beach all day, riding my bike, feeling snowflakes on my tongue, scaring people, and dancing around my kitchen when nobody’s watching. I make it a point to do one thing ever day that makes me happy.
In the end it is important to embrace the joy, innocence and freedom of your inner child as often as you can. Take that road trip by yourself, eat that ice-cream, and slow dance in the middle of your street on a warm summer evening. These are the moments that we remember forever. Run away and go enjoy each day!
The Blindfold; to deprive someone of sight by tying a piece of cloth around the head so as to cover the eyes.
As we move through relationships, working on building stronger ones and letting go of others, do we see them for what they are, or do we walk around with a metaphorical blindfold on to hide the ugly parts from ourselves? If and when we finally take it off, is it for the better, or does it only offer more suffering?
In the past few weeks I have anguished for dear friends who are suffering from the worst kind of betrayal in a relationship; one that I’m unable to disclose, but nevertheless has taken a heavy tole on my mind and heart. What I always thought was true and forever is no longer. It shattered what little hope I had of having something true and lasting one day myself.
In the same few weeks, I have had my own experience with a new relationship, enjoying many moments but also trying to gage feelings and interest in both parties. While I appreciate his viewpoints and blunt candor on life and relationships, I already know somewhere in the back of my mind that this will most likely not last. Does it have to be forever to be real? Can we enjoy a temporary relationship without thinking about the future, or am I blindfolding myself from what I really want but may never have?
On the other hand, perhaps the blindfold is off for the first time, and I’m seeing and enjoying the relationship for exactly what it is, without any hope or expectation.
Whether it be the uncertainty of a new relationship, or the inevitable conclusion of a one that was thought to last a lifetime, with eyes wide open we can only move forward and see what the future holds.
This morning I finished my first painting in my new collection of female archetypes, The Warrior. From start to finish, this painting changed drastically. Usually when I’m working on something it’s really difficult to know when to stop; it seems almost impossible to know when to call an artwork finished. For the first time, perhaps ever, I was certain.
While I didn’t quite know what was going to emerge from the canvas when I started, she is more than I could have hoped for. She is fierce and willful, beautifully bloodied after a victorious battle, and a force to be reckoned with.
I know I have felt her inside of me on rare occasions when I’ve been significantly wronged in some way. In real life, especially as rational adults, we learn to deal with these sorts of things in a healthy way, such as having a discussion, hitting a punching bag or running it off.
But wouldn’t it be nice if instead, for those who really deserve it, we could just beat the crap out of them and walk away? I know you are all thinking of someone in your head right now!
I was recently asked by someone why I started my collection with her, The Warrior. After giving it much thought, I believe that she is the part of us that is so often reluctant to come out. We can be afraid to be strong even when we know we need to be. And so I wanted to put her in the forefront of my work, as a reminder to all women that we have this unforgiving strength in us, and it is okay to use it from time to time.
Stories about how art inspires and changes us.