Monday, April 27, 2009

Catching up with myself

untitled, acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18", ©2009

Don't even know where to start here. It's been so long since I've really done a blog post, so I was going to write about what's been happening over the past month or so, but there was so much that it feels a bit overwhelming, so maybe it's just best to start with now. Quick overview to get caught up on the past month or so: Easter and all the preparations that went into it, including a new altarpiece and a new art exhibit; recovering from all that; my garden; probably more that I can't think of just now. I'm slowly adding photos to my flickr account for all these.

Of course, the most prominent thing on my mind has been my recent frustrations in the studio. I've managed to paint a few good pieces, but my creative flow feels all gummed up and it's like trying to swim in molasses when I work. In frustration, I found myself turning for inspiration to my bookshelf. After flipping through a few books, I finally opened The Artist's Way. This is the book that started it all for me, and I've read it several times since I first read it about 13-14 years ago, but I hadn't picked it up in years. Thought maybe since I am a working artist now that I'd learned all there was to learn from it or something.

After just skimming through it for a few minutes I had several "Ah-ha!" moments and I realized that there was still a lot to learn from this book. The words that really stuck with me were on page 153:

Over an extended period of time, being and artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us. Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work. Far from being a brain-numbed soldier, our artist is actually our inner playmate. As with all playmates, it is joy, not duty, that makes for a lasting bond.

I've gotten so caught up in making sure I have a good finished product, I think I've forgotten how to have fun! I've forgotten how much I love the process of painting, the joy of color and texture. The fun of making a mess! And what's worse is that I realized that I've also lost enthusiasm for a lot of other things in life too - let myself get mired down in boredom. And then I read this on page 18:

Boredom is just "What's the use?" in disguise. And "What's the use?" is fear, and fear means you are secretly in despair.


So, I'm doing the Artist's Way again. I'm doing my morning pages and artist dates. I'm only on Week 1, but I can already feel the gears turning more smoothly. And I'm already much more excited when I paint. This painting was the first one to feel the effects of letting go and having fun again. I had been working at it for weeks and getting nowhere, but when I consciously decided to just enjoy making colors and textures, it came almost effortlessly.

I'm very interested to see where this turn through the Artist's Way will lead me, how will it be different now that I've been a working artist for a while now. I'll let you know! And hey, if anyone wants to join me, that would be great!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


untitled (goldnpurple), acrylic on canvas, 5" x 7", ©2009
(available for purchase here)

"The situation of the soul in contemplation is something like the situation of Adam and Eve in Paradise. Everything is yours, but on the one infinitely important condition: that all is given."

–Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring Walk

The sun is finally shining and it's actually over 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside! After a morning spent in the studio, I could not resist taking a walk along the river. I was very glad that I'd brought my camera when I spied this heron patiently stalking something good to eat.

It's amazing how uplifting such a day as this can be after such a gray and soggy stretch. And energizing. I love the rain, but I must admit to feeling a bit waterlogged lately. I feel a renewed excitement toward my painting, a breaking out of late winter inertia.