In the midst of finishing my summer job, getting ready for the start of school, and moving in a month, life is a bit hectic to say the least.
This morning I decided to put everything else off to the side and work on painting that big, beautiful tree in my courtyard again. I was hopeful that I would finish it, but alas, four hours later I didn’t get as far as I thought. It seems to be the ongoing theme with everything in my life at the moment.
Sometimes I have to slow down and remember that with art, it’s not always about the finished piece of work but the experience of creating it. I suppose that this logic can be applied to most things in life. About half way through painting, I took a small break and came back with the intent not to finish the painting, but instead to take in the moment of painting it. And would you believe that everything started to flow a little bit smoother?
When we are set on finishing things with only the intention of finishing them, we lose the most important aspect of doing something. We lose the pleasure of the moment, the pleasure of the process, and the pleasure of being present.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who nods their head while your talking, smiles and seems like their listening, but you know that their mind is completely somewhere else? I realized today that I was ignoring my artwork. I was not giving it the attention it deserved until I changed my goal from finishing it to being present during the process.
Our lives are so hectic, we often unintentionally and perhaps subconsciously tune out a lot of what is happening in the now. I think today was a reminder for me that I need to take a step back and just breathe.
Some might consider Uptown to be a little sketchy at best, but I’ve come to enjoy living in this neighborhood the last few years. My balcony faces this beautiful, giant tree centered in a very lushly landscaped courtyard. In the summer I sit outside almost every morning, listen to the fountains, drink my coffee and enjoy the view. For being in the heart of the city this place is a hidden treasure of serenity, tucked away from the crowds and chaos.
After only four years, our building is being bought out and converted from condos into apartments. And while we are receiving well above market value to leave our homes, I have come to love this place more than I could have imagined.
Therefore this week, about a month before we part ways forever, I’ve decided to make my final painting from this balcony of the beautiful, majestic tree that stands in front of me each morning. This will be the piece of my home that I take with me to remember my time here.
And while I am looking forward to my new place with central heating and air, an extra room for a studio, and parking (what?!?), this drafty old condo is the first place that has ever felt like a home. I’m taking in this bitter sweet moment, enjoying the little time I have left here, and looking forward to new beginnings.
Stay tuned for the final piece...
I’ve started this new collection of watercolor pieces that I’m having a lot of fun with. They are simply about the heart; this beautiful, fragile, giant part of us that gives us life, both emotionally and physically.
These art pieces explore the idea of love in a playful and slightly dark way...completely fitting with my quirky personality. They are literal expressions of figurative ideas. What does it mean to give your heart to someone? Isn’t it so great when it’s with someone who also gives his/ her heart in return? Can someone really break your heart?
Some might say to love is to live. Love yourself, love others, be kind and good as best as you can, and you will be fulfilled. Let’s get right down to the heart of it, shall we?
As an artist I’m always noticing and observing. Most of the time I think that I’m being clever and quite sneaky about my observations; I am solely in the background, not part of the story. This week however, I was in the midst of it whether I wanted to be or not. The forces of nature took over.
For the last three days, every time I stepped outside, I was surrounded by butterflies. As I walked down the street they playfully circled around me. As I laid at the beach they fluttered about my head like little fairies. At first, I just smiled at these beautiful little creatures and let them become an afterthought. But everywhere I went there they were, secretly whispering into my ears, “see us, notice us, dance with us”.
So of course I researched the symbolism of a butterfly and found that most often it is associated with change or transformation, and in many cases this change is connected to one’s soul. Most importantly, as far as I can tell this change tends to be positive, full of hope and life.
Although I’m not completely whacky where I believe that everything is symbolic of something else, I’d like to think that occasionally there are earthly signs that guide us if we are open to them, and this one seemed to slap me in the face.
Who knows, maybe nothing will come of it, or maybe I am now a bit more prepared to embrace whatever grand changes unfold.
As a child I was deathly afraid of dogs. Even if a dog was on the other side of the street, I would start crying and make my mom pick me up until the dog and the fear passed. I’m not exactly sure why I was so scared but as I reflect back, I was pretty much afraid of everything all the way up until I left home for college. Perhaps it was a combination of overprotective parents along with my quirky, introverted personality. Anyways from that moment on nothing scared me anymore...I still can’t quite figure out what prompted the change, but I imagine that the freedom of taking care of myself and meeting new people opened my mind to endless possibilities, and fiercely confronting everything I once feared.
Somewhere along the way, I went from deathly afraid of dogs to loving pretty much every dog I have had the pleasure of meeting. I no longer saw their wolf-like qualities and large fangs, but instead saw their kind demeanor, warm hearts and instinctive, protective nature.
Most of all, I LOVE Bear! He’s not even my dog; he’s my sister’s dog. We have this special connection that I can’t really explain. I babysit and visit him often enough where now my life would be empty without him. He is playful and loving, wild yet calm, and brings me an inner joy unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. Perhaps for the first time I understand what it means to be unconditionally loved.
The artwork above is silly and simple and just popped into my head as I was thinking of Bear this week. Just like me he enjoys the simple pleasures found in nature. One day I might commit to adopt a dog of my own. But till then, I’m lucky that I get to spend so much time with this big guy, who is now over 100 pounds by the way!
As we get older, we tend to live the same year over and over again, and still call it living. It’s usually not intentional and it’s a common habit for us to fall into. I think some of it stems from fear of change, and some of it stems from a sense of responsibility. However, I’ve come to realize that we only have this one life, and I don’t want to waste it falling into my own version of the movie, Groundhog’s Day.
One of my absolute favorite things to do is to take road trips. Each summer I try to travel to a new place. I love the experiences that happen along the way. I love the intimate moments of meeting strangers, and running into beautiful places that I couldn’t have possibly imagined exist in real life. And most of all I love the inspiration I get to continue creating my artwork.
I truly believe that life should be an adventure. If we make the mistake of looking back all of the time, we miss what lies ahead. As many of my readers know I’ve come to embrace change instead of fear it, and let me tell you that life has been infinitely better.
So this summer as soon as the school year lets out, this art teacher is dusting her feet of this big city and heading out to Virginia. I’m packing up the Jeep full of art supplies, crappy food and loud rock music, and hitting the open road.
Why did I share this story with you? I suppose it's a reminder that you too have the power to create your own adventures and only you can make them happen. So if you’re stuck in a rut, snap out of it for goodness sake, and go experience something amazing!
"I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me."
I must say that this has been the darkest of winters as far back as I can remember. Never have I felt as surrounded by ill will, suffering and anger as I have these past few months. There were loved ones going through the most difficult kinds of heart ache, I experienced broken relationships with those closest to me, and at work I came across some of the most challenging behavior students I have had thus far in my teaching career. It seemed as if the light would never return.
But something amazing happened this week. It was almost as if some sort of magical door opened and brought the light back into my life. I didn’t even try; it just happened. It was one of those weeks where I made it through every green light on my way to work. I have a new group of students who are once again amazing, fun and kind. Relationships are slowly repairing themselves and others that are not-so-good are dissolving naturally as they should. It feels as though balance has been restored, along with my sanity.
I suppose it's good to go through these dark experiences from time to time so that when the light comes back, we appreciate it that much more. And as always with every experience, good, bad, or absolutely terrible, we can learn from these situations if we choose to reflect on them.
So the moral of this story is just when you think you can’t take anymore and you’re sitting in a dark, empty room with no way out, know that with absolute certainty, the light will find its way back to you.
Spirituality means something different to everyone. For some it means being part of an organized religion, for others it may be a personal connection through meditation, private prayer, quiet reflection, yoga, etc., and for certain folks, it’s a combination of practices.
For me the journey is ongoing and forever changing. While I know that some things will forever remain a mystery, I still question instead of follow blindly. I believe in miracles as much as I believe in science. Every so often something happens to me or I meet someone who makes me question my beliefs all over again.
What I do believe is that there is something greater beyond what we see and know. I like to call this entity God, even though it may not be in the traditional sense. I feel closest to God when I am surrounded by nature, especially bodies of water; and trees, I love trees! I love how each tree leans a certain way, and how some are weathered while others are newly born. I love how majestically they stand and how they protect us from sun and wind and other elements of nature. I love how each branch twists and bends in a different way, sometimes intertwining with other branches and sometimes all on its own. I love how trees shed their leaves in the darkest, coldest of days and then spring to life once again. I could paint trees the rest of my life and be perfectly happy.
On a side note, I was dating this fellow a short time ago and during our brief relationship we had taken a few road trips together. As we drove, I would point out how much I loved certain trees along the way. Being the angry, bitter little man that he was, he grew exponentially annoyed with me, finally exploding, “they all look exactly the same!". I kinda knew right then and there that it wouldn’t last;)
Meanwhile on this past Easter Sunday, I chose to be close to God by surrounding myself in nature and doing what I love most...painting, of course! I sat by the lake, found a fantastic tree with a little shade, and I tried to capture a little tiny piece of this miraculous world in my painting. It actually ended up not being a very good painting, but the process of it made it all worth while.
For me my spirituality will always be connected to nature and often expressed through my art. Wishing everyone a very happy Easter and a hope that you’ve found your own connection to your spirituality on this Easter Sunday and in each day that lies ahead.
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?
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...
ART INSPIRED BY LIFE