I want to thank everyone that supported my art business and visited my website in 2021. Whether you bought a greeting card, a painting, a print, or are taking classes from me, your support means so much.
I was going to write a post about the new year and resolutions and how to keep them or should we hold ourselves to them. But as December flew by, I took winter break to slow things down and spend time in nature and prepare for the holidays. In some idle moments, I began to reflect on the month and how crazy we all get with the big end to our year. I asked myself what I thought were some highlights and what might not have been very successful. The first thing I thought about was just December. What was going on and what was happening to my students and their families? I had lots of cancellations and forgotten lesson times. And I realized that it’s okay. Life happens and we don’t always have control of who, when, and what happens to us.
As winter break came closer I enthusiastically booked every hour with creative projects, unfinished classes, and tidying up my studio. Time seemed to stand still but also fly by. I had a hard time keeping track of what day it was. I stayed up late watching movies with the family and sleeping in to almost noon and after. So those “things” that I had crammed into my days didn’t happen.
And that’s okay. It’s okay that you didn’t create all that you had hoped. It’s okay that you got so busy that you missed a class.
After my reflection on the month, I started thinking about the year. Not to see what I didn’t make happen or what I didn’t create or try out, but what worked. What was I most proud of what was are the things that make me smile when I think of them? What were the gems and light bulb moments with my students? What can I do more of in 2022? What can I offer? How can I take those things that are so stand out for 2021 and make them inspire me? I don’t like to dwell on the negative, but I do want to see the things that just didn’t work or were not very successful. I found that I want to keep my art supplies minimal. Because I don’t have a lot of room to spread into the house, I want to keep things organized and work on small art projects. Don’t get me wrong, if someone wants a large commissioned piece, I will work with you. But for now, I want to flow in and out of my creative space and pick up anything to create with there.
What are you doing going forward into the new year? Do you set resolutions or goals, or pick a word for the year? Do you have any standouts from 2021 you’d like to share? Do you reflect back on the past year and see what you want to try or do differently? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear how you go into the new year and say goodbye to last year.
I’ve talked about inspirations and creativity before in my blog here. There are many ideas about creativity and how to cope with artistic blocks. Some say you can be stuck or have a block but I think we put that block or being stuck in our heads, sometimes without knowing it. Similarly, there are many ways to inspire the artistic, some that I have been using for a while and work very well for me. One of my favorites is my sketchbooks. (click here for that post). I also like to look through art books that are about artists such as Dali, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell, Nathan Oliveira, and Paul Klee, just to name a few. I am also inspired by art magazines and the artists I follow on Instagram. I’ve also taken classes to learn how other artist use their tools or mediums. One thing I started working with this year is the mood board. (Directions to follow).
We all do it. It is what makes us such creatures. Everyone changes their mind. We do it when we are ordering dinner. We change our minds about what we will wear on any given day. We will sometimes even change our minds about more serious things. What about buying a house or car, or to have children or not? We can and do change our minds.
That’s why we are interesting humans. We change and evolve. I will change my mind about what is the best course for me to take in my business. I am changing my mind about my art and what I want to create and how I will create it. This is what I’m doing now. I was sitting at my work table and looking through the Garden Gate magazine, the other day. For those that don’t know this magazine, they have the most beautiful pictures of gardens, flowers, trees, and bushes. I use to pick up this magazine once in awhile at the bookstore. It was a treat. I didn’t have a very nice garden or yard and I loved falling into the photos. Recently I decided I needed a subscription to this magazine and it now comes directly to my house. I’ve always loved flowers, trees and botanicals. Some of my favorite paintings that I’ve created included trees, flowers, and plants. The magazine confirmed the direction in my art.
When I was in college, all my art classes listed a sketchbook as a required supply. I got kind of sick carrying around sometimes 4 wire bound books. I was so glad to find some regular book bound type and switched some of my sketchbooks over them those. In the beginning, I didn’t see the use for these sketchbooks and would rather use sheets of paper. But as loose papers do, those sheets went missing, torn edges and some looked like I dropped them in the parking lot and cars drove over them. I looked a bit like the Peanuts character, “Pig Pen,” though I had art supplies and papers instead of dirt and dust. I was into my second year when all became clear. I had my drawing board that had big clips to hold paper and such and a huge rubber band. It was easy to keep things contained and I didn’t lose so much as I hiked around campus.
To create everyday can be a challenge. Things that are not about art seem to get in the way: dishes, laundry, and even day jobs. But if you can carve out 5 minutes a day to create a bit of art, you would be amazed by what happens. Stampington has a line of magazines to be inspired by. One of my favorites is Sumerset Studio. I found this list about creating and renewing your creative spirit. It’s a good place to start.
When I started thinking about a new blog post, I knew I wanted to stay with my focus on art, inspiration, the creative process, and what helps me become more creative. What came up is what makes me an artist and what I have discovered in my art life and my journey. With all this in mind, here are the 10 things I love about making art. I hope you find inspiration here and explore your art journey and why you create.
There are themes and techniques in our work that will persist and continue through out our creative lives. Finding some paintings, drawings, collages or other art forms from years back can sometimes cause head-scratching, gasps, and overall feelings of regret. But there are learning experiences that can come out after some investigating. If you have found these old paintings or drawings and are wondering why you framed them, or what to do with them, I have ideas.
I was talking to my students and almost each one told me that they found work from other times. We talked about what to do with them, like they were some sad, abandoned toy. Do we tear them up? Do we un-frame them? What can we do with work that seems to no longer reflect the way we paint now, or that we think is not frame worthy. I too have these questions because I’ve been sorting and organizing my garage and storage room. As I did, I came across photographs from college, old drawings, and designs from my 2D and 3D design classes. I dug deeper and found paintings from not too long ago, that I created in watercolor classes as an adult. I framed some of those. Oh boy, what was I thinking? In my eyes now, they are not frame worthy.
Every summer when I was in elementary school, if I didn’t have summer school, my dad would give me math lessons from the dreaded orange arithmetic book. Back in the late 50s, summer school was for kids that didn’t have the grades to pass. I did my time in summer school and I thought that when my report card showed I didn’t have to “do summer school,” I’d have a break. My dad thought differently. No summer school meant that I had to do math problems from that orange book.
Every night, my dad would come into my room and have me sit at my desk and then he would explain what I would be working on the following day. No playing in the sprinklers or flooding the front yard with the irrigation pipes for the fields. I’d be doing math problems. He would start with the page number and what was on that page.
“Do the problems 1 though 20 but skip every other one. Only do the odd number problems, show your work and don’t cheat I’ll know if you do.” I didn’t know that there was an answer book that he used to check the problems. I also didn’t realize that in the back of the book was a lot of answers and some “how-tos” that explained some problems and also gave the answers. I suffered though each summer doing math problems that included some word problems. I thought, “who in the world would needs that junk?” Somehow I made it through.
Summer programs for kids need to be somewhat fun. I’m not saying that all summer should be games, trips to the big Disneyland, sleepovers, video games and the like, but enrichment is always a good thing. Giving kids an option to take an art class, music or try some tumbling enhances their brain. Studies show that kids that are involved in some kind of art perform better academically.
I’m an artist. I teach private lessons and workshops and I’ve been creating some kind of art for about 65 years. I’ve always been drawn to nature. I spent the last year searching for a new creative direction for my art and the resounding NATURE echoed in my head. I can’t live without plants, flowers and trees in my life.
There’s something about being in nature that brings me peace and relaxation. I feel really connected to the earth. I don’t just stand on it, but am deeply rooted here. A breeze rushing through pine trees in a forest and a nearby babbling brook can make me so relaxed, I could fall asleep just standing there. Driving through the redwood forests up north was always a joy for me. I’d roll down the windows even if it was raining and take in all the colors, smells, and sounds whipping by. Slowing way down or going into a turn-out to stop. All the sounds: birds chirping or a deer stepping on a branch would bring an involuntary sigh. The smells and colors of the fora would feed my senses.
Taking art classes as an adult can be tricky. An adult student doesn’t seem to need to be directed to the learning process. Adults choose to take a class. There is no grade to encourage you. The class or classes are for enrichment or professional development. We sometimes take classes in different disciplines of art to receive more knowledge and to learn specific techniques. This can be very rewarding but it can be frustrating when we discover that we can’t paint or draw like the instructor. We sometimes blame ourselves, the instructor, our tools, the people around us, or even that the weather was too cold or too warm. But we don’t need to put ourselves through all this when we want to take a class. We just need to follow a few steps before the class and keep reminding ourselves what this class is for.
1. Have an Intention
When I say what it’s for I don’t mean watercolor landscapes or acrylic abstracts, I mean what the class is for, for us. Each one of us takes classes as adults to hone our craft or learn a new technique and enrich our art in some way. Ask yourself why are you taking this class? How do you think this class will add value to you and your art practice? Is the class really something you think you will enjoy or can be of support to you and your art practice?
2. Keep Your Expectations Realistic
When we enroll in a class we hope it will be like no other or that we will become enlightened with the force like Luke Skywalker was with Yoda. But this rarely happens. So why are we so disappointed durning or at the end of the class that we can’t paint like the master teacher? We put so much expectation on the class and instructor and maybe we are taking the class with friends that we hope will be supportive, and also have some fun learning together. Right? But does it happen? Let me give you some assistance with this. I know it very well after living it oh — so — many — times. If anyone says that they are an expert and have the secrete to create paintings that will, “sell like hot cakes,” or be the answer to everyone’s dreams, run the other way. Why? Because 99% of the time there isn’t an art class that can do that. We hold ourselves to that idea that this will be the silver bullet, but it won’t happen. What does happen is we blame ourselves, instructor, people around us, and — yes — even the weather. But — the blaming ourselves is what does the most damage to ourselves and our art. I know this because I see it in my students. I have seen it in me, too. I shoot myself down and lose much ground in where I want to go as an artist. I lose the ability to paint for months after a long workshop. I will never get back the precious time I lose because I think I am not an artist and that I know nothing. I get so wrapped up in classes and hoping for the silver bullet that I don’t create any art.