I can't believe I'm more than half way through!!! This is todays image and I'm kind of in love with it. I've been wanting to play with multiple exposures with self-portraits for the photos that are subtle but I'm getting ahead of myself! That's what this project has done...it's ignited something. I'm doing it again. Working. Creating. Seeing. And it's natural. That is the biggest piece. I'm not planning anything, I'm not worrying either. The parameters that I've given myself are to work on a 6"x6" piece of Bristol with a limited palette of black, white and metallic paints & pencils, an original photo, the typed quote & and wax paper collage material. I've integrated color with some paints the photos, with painted wax paper and with other metallic materials but it's been pretty easy to stay true to the plan. Mainly because within them I have actually found tremendous freedom. I am finding so many possibilities within a perceived limitation and that's major. I always thought I had to know about all the processes that were out there as an art educator. But all that misconception has done is get me on the Jack of All Trades Master Of None train...which I'm ready to get off of. I've finally found a process that is merging all of my favorites together and it's working. the fact that this work is also pouring out of me with less effort than cooking dinner is also a sign that it is time to make. Time to take all that I'm feeling and all that I've been through and let it rip. Let it inform all the imagery. Because that's what it does. All my experiences are connected to me by a thread...one tethers me to my past and one pull me towards my future. And the best way I know how to process them all is to communicate through these images. They are my language. The lines and marks I make denote that thread. It really connects us all.
So. I'm going to share a lot about my artwork and job and grief here. Because that's what I've been living through for the past year and a half so that's what I know to write about. It's a wonky crooked path that has brought me all over the emotional map. Sorry ahead of time. What I want to do mostly, is make connections with how creating artwork has helped me through my grief. So has making and playing with slime, but I'll get to that later. Here goes.
Before my mother got sick and life flipped on it's head, my own personal art production had diminished as a result of major changes with my job. The pace of teaching affected my energy and motivation as had the natural changes that come along with age. And since my job was my life, it had an effect on just about everything. As I look back at the pace I kept I am realizing how I created and instead of having a practice I had an assembly line. I was churning out work that was informed by research for my job. It was a synchronous relationship and it worked really well. Until it didn't. This feedback loop that a lot of teachers thrive on was interrupted by extra non-creative stuff that pulled on the amount of bandwidth I had. It was a change I didn't see coming and resented fully upon arrival! Yeah, I don't handle change well.
Cut to today. I had the 100 Day Project on my radar along with many, many other projects, classes, workshops and FB groups all of which were well intended to restart my creativity. I am really good at collecting (read:hoard) resources. Just not so great at choosing and sticking to one. I did know that I was struggling with how to create again and tap into any energy that inspired me. Work was draining & I had difficulty taking photographs for a while after losing my mom. It was too close. I am dipping a toe back into my photography slowly...but what until then? How could I communicate all that I was feeling, which was a lot. I'm not an illustrator or a traditional painter. My computer skills are rusty as I fumble through Illustrator after not teaching it for years. But I do draw, I layer, I glue. I mix things around and don't care about the mess. I love order amid chaos and the nuance texture creates. So, I have finally embraced that I am a Mixed Media Artist. I integrate my photography in every piece I do but I am not limited to just photography. And it feels so good. So this project really, it found me. I am posting here the 1st 25 images that I've completed as they were photographed with my iphone right after completion. Fresh off the press. I hope that you enjoy my sharing of this process as I plan to post individual pieces that have particular meaning. I've taken notes most days about what I've discovered that I can't wait to share with you. It's amazing to be in this place creatively, FINALLY!!! I'm learning a language that only I speak and it's taking my breath away. Thank for joining the class! Cheers, friends~
Lots. Lots and lots and lots has been going on. And...nothing. Depends on your viewpoint. I've been healing up the wound grief impales you with since I last posted. The scar will never heal, but I've discovered how to work it into my wardrobe. The amount of time it takes is personal and can only be determined by the person going thru it. But after it all...there are the moments when you feel strong enough to, as my friend Hannah has said, "...hold a wing out to test the wind." or something equally poetic. (Enter heart symbol here) It's then that you discover how to do it again. Your life. Because frankly, I totally forgot. I think the subject of grief is an ongoing thing for me to reflect up and has now informed my new artwork and my new outlook. I will probably be posting about it here and there, and I thank you for your willingness to go on this journey with me. The journey of healing.
To that...I've come through this school year with quite a few lessons under my belt. I went from wanting to hide under the floor last year, to walking in and being the department chair for 8 staff in one fell swoop. Daunting doesn't even begin to describe it. Plus, I was taking on a subject I hadn't taught in 8 years....Computer Graphics. A subject that updates and changes every 8 months let alone years! It's been crazy. But...I've learned a lot. I'll get specific in future posts but for now I want to share what I've found on the other side of these lessons. My art.
I committed to doing the 100 Day Project in hopes to re-invest in my work and it's been epic! I'm on day 23 and I'd like to share with you the work I've been doing. The basic premise for my 100 pieces is collage. I'm limiting myself to 6"x6" Bristol tiles integrating a photograph and a hand-typed quote in some way. Anything else goes as far as my collage material but I do find myself sticking with black, white, metals and wax paper to start. I'll be sharing daily notes as I go along as well and the plan is also to have a print sale soon!!!
Thank you so much for checking them out and I'll be here more often, I promise! Cheers!
When I found out David Bowie had died I was devastated. Probably more than the average person or fan. I was very saddened by not only the loss of this amazing & talented human being, but reminded in a millisecond of my own grief I was still reeling from after losing my mother to Cancer not 4 months prior. This was what defined my life last year and I was just barely coming out of the fog I was in. My only respite was to dive into a piece that would channel the sadness into something positive. I decided to create an image transfer from a photograph that would capture both his class and timelessness. I've named it "Starman" and it's soon to be framed and will hang in my apt. proudly as a testament to both his memory and power of creativity, but to how love never really dies.
I've been away from this space for a few months not by choice, people. Suffice it to say, Cancer sucks. My mother was diagnosed with Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer on January 29th and from that day on I have had some epic revelations.
I'm not going to go into detail because it's just too personal and heavy and we don't need anymore heavy in our lives. I do however, want to document what I've learned along the way through what has been the fastest crash course on the meaning of life ever. It's my experience that I'm letting wash over me as I write so this isn't a "How To" guide by any means. I think what I have to say is more about the unexpected capacities that we have and how we need to get out of our own way on a lot of stuff. This is what I've learned so far...
I've learned that when intense emotions come bubbling up I HAVE to honor them in whatever way is needed to let them go. Cry, purge, run, expend energy in some way that isn't self-destructive or hurtful to anyone else so that I've processed said emotions and they aren't squatting in the cells of my body setting up camp in my adrenal glands waiting to wreak havoc the next time I get stressed. I'm letting it out and as a result I feel better and things look clearer on the other side. If that makes me a crier, oh well...I'm a healthy one and that's fine with me!
I've learned that people have an enormous capacity for compassion when a friend is in need. I'm so thankful for all the support that came out of no where when this shit went down. With this support I managed to not let the shit hit me that was flying all around me and other loved ones in my life because I took a step back and was able to look at the situation with gratitude for having support...because not everyone does and that's something to be VERY thankful for.
I've learned that we are of no use to anyone else if our well is dry. Period. This is something I've touched on before and try to address with a group on Facebook. I have many friends, family and colleagues who are caregivers in some capacity in both their professional and personal life so this concept is very near and dear to my heart. People who work to take care of other people are only able to do so if they take care of themselves. This is something that isn't always encouraged in every profession, teaching included. There are tiny cracks forming thankfully in the "Work till you drop" premise perpetuated by the American Dream. Companies all over are addressing employee wellness as a priority...but it's slow going. What we need to do to make sure people are functioning at their best for the job that needs to be done is an important question for this country. Whether that job is taking care of others, or putting together components of an engine on an assembly line...it matters that they're are all there. I speak of this monolith of an issue because my own recent experience has ramped up my need to find the best ways to refill the well and often so that I am in the best place possible to be of service. Refilling the well at this point in my life is about rediscovering what brings me joy. Putting the laptop away, the phone down, and engaging without fear of judgement or criticism. Getting out of my own way and using my time to unclench from the week instead of bracing for the next one. It goes without saying that my creative practices as an artist are a part of this but it does require a mental shift for me. After years of preparing materials for others it's an odd feeling to prepare them for myself. (How dare I!) But that permission is vital. Learning to quell any guilt about taking care of ourselves is key...even if part of that means saying no to somethings, so you can say yes to others.
I will close by saying I'm writing this on a Sunday at a coffee shop where I am a regular. It's kinda my wknd routine to hang out here as it helps me shift my focus from my todo list at home to a neutral space where I'm unencumbered. But I have to get up and move because sitting isn't the answer either. So I'm going to a yoga class today and am going to make a promise to myself to get 3 in this week. An opportunity for joy in the midst of it all....how can we say no to that! <3
I always have grandiose plans for a long weekend. I'm going to clean my entire place, organize a closet, and get some artwork done in between all this remarkable productivity after yoga but before I meditate. Yeah, right. I managed to make my bed, (note, pick blankets up off floor that were kicked off!) ... put away some, not all my clothes, kept the sink empty but not the counters, and although plenty of sketchbooks and cameras are staring at me, haven't actually used any one of them....yet. But the remote, my laptop and my coffee mug have all gotten plenty of use...(heavy sigh...) Honestly,though... I'm finally fine with this because I think I'm (slowly) learning to tone down the lists and be OK with doing less, better.
I write this and chuckle because I know how many of us not only do this, but continue to do it. No lesson is learned, no recollection of all those times you had all those plans and you never got to them. Just blind faith that, "This time....I'll do it!"....which really, is kind of adorable in it's naivety. What I'm realizing about my work habits as of late is that not only can I not do what I used to do, which was amass a HUGE to do list, get myself AMPED on caffeine and loud music and PLOW through said list with fierce determination and focus.(I'm having an anxiety attack just thinking about it as I type.) WTF?! No wonder I developed hypothyroidism, chronic back problems and stress-induced anxiety. Mind you, I was doing all of this as a part of what I thought was expected of me for my job. And yes, I'm going there. We all have expectations put upon us for our careers and for the most part I believe that we are probably pretty accepting of them as a part of life. I'm not complaining about my job in general. But what I am wanting to address, now that I've emerged from the burn out the a fore mentioned work habits triggered, is that I'm no longer willing to put myself through that ringer and have consciously adopted a new pace. My brain doesn't work as fast as it used to, and to be honest, there isn't as much bandwidth to access anymore with the speed life is going and the expectation that I'm to keep up with it. Am I worried? I was at one point. Would I be seen as a failure? Would I be considered less than in some way? Natural questions when you put the brakes on and DECIDE to be less productive in the name of health and sanity.
Our natural disposition is to constantly be busy and productive. Wrong answer. The wall I hit was the best thing that happened because it's made me, forced me really to take a step back from the aggressive to do list's and unspoken urgency to produce in favor of rest and pondering. Ponder all I've collected, amassed and culled. All that pinning I've been doing? It's worth nothing if I don't make time to try one of the recipes. All the books I've gathered...I want to dive into them without the pressure of plans pulling me from really digesting the words. It's always something, but I'm at the point in my life where I want to be selective about where I put my energy and although it sounds cliche, the non-essential things can wait. I've still got a lot of clearing out to do of those closets filled with yesterdays projects and old habits. But I'm only going to tackle one at a time, while the new soup recipe I'm trying simmers. And that's enough.
By your 10th year teaching you start to feel like a Pavlovian dog, jumping when you hear a bell ring, fighting not to tell the total stranger to, "Take that hat off!" or eating your meals in record speed so you can run to the bathroom. It's habits like these that I'd imagine with any job are ingrained habits you find hard to dodge in normal life. But one thing that has ramped up for me lately is not so much the habits that come with the day to day, but the management of all the information coming at us at an epic pace. Now in year 23 of this career, it's not the same as it was when I started. Not that I'm expecting it to be, mind you, but the integration of technology into our daily lives as both a teacher and as an artist has fueled a few more bad habits than I care to have. More information isn't necessarily better.
As a visually driven person, Pinterest for example, is akin to crack. Seriously, even the terminology used around it , like, "Oh, I think I need a Pinterest hit!' alludes to it being a literal addiction! (You know you've all thought it at least once!) And to add insult to injury, there's a Pinterest App so we can be ANYWHERE and still be scrolling through the battery of images it houses. I don't mean to harsh just on Pinterest, but it is representative of the bad habits I am referring to. It is a means to collect ideas...ideas that we get all excited about because we see a beautiful picture that we are SURE we can recreate just as well, yet when push comes to shove we either bomb the project, or more likely, we never make time to execute it. I am convinced that we have all become expert idea collectors. We find something that satisfies that "Hit" buy gorging on, for example, all the drawing lesson ideas we can find, make a "Board" about it, blogging about it (read:self-mocking :) and then before you know it, we are collecting more information about drawing in different mediums, on different surfaces, etc., before...we have implemented any of the information we first collected. And then we feel bad about it! We never have a chance to integrate and without integration of an idea, all it does is float on the surface instead of soaking in. I vote for less collecting, and more space to integrate...it's hard to do because the bad habit of collecting masquerades as being purposeful & productive. But I'm pulling back a bit...I'm not pinning as much until I use what I have, kind of like the way you're supposed to reduce clutter, can't buy something new unless something goes! What do you guys think? Am I onto something here, or do I need to join PinterestAnonymous....or rather start it! :)
This week I finally bit the bullet and put up some new work for sale. I had been floating this idea around for a while but wanted a new way of reproducing my work that didn't involve me doing the printing. Frankly, the less time I spent on the computer stuck in post-production hell the better off the world was! I was not a nice person after being stuck in a chair for hours at a time, I mean really, who is?! Plus the fact that I was less than disciplined I would linger on non-work related sites instead of focusing on the work I really wanted to do. Then the work woudn't get done and I would have to be sitting there LONGER!!! It was bad. But not uncommon especially for us creative types. I am a procrastination expert and will justify anything. I'm finding the habits that block my ability to do real work include television (yes, I know!) my cellphone (again, I know!) and the inadvertant habit I've adopted post-burn out phase of numbing myself to things that feel overwhelming. It's not a unique tactic but admission is the first step to recovery, right? The reality is my procrastination is really my fear in disguise...and I'm talking trench coat, bad hat and goofy sunglasses-disguised fear! In other words, it's obvious.
Thankfully, the biggest discovery I've made these 25 days has been the beautiful freedom I'm starting to feel in place of that fear. Because this creative practice contains the disclaimer that there are not rules, only that the time is dedicated daily and that I document it, I've discovered what works for me based on my needs for that day. Do I want to do some drawing today? Done. Do I have some new images to upload and edit? Bam! Is today about reading more of that inspiring book that gave me that idea that may lead to a series? Go for it. It's really all up to me which in the past I didn't realize. I was dressed in the fear that external pressure sells. "Brand Expectation" and it wasn't a good fit. That said, gettting on the computer during this daily time has been done with more focus and purpose than I've ever had before. Basically, because of that no rules rule....it's amazing what not giving a shit does for your psyche! I've managed to get my fear in check, or at least in a better outfit! The goal now is to keep this up and figure out a schedule that works to address the various needs of my practice, the creating part, the editing part, the inspiration collection and integration part. They all add up when combined correctly....and the TV isn't on! :)
The purpose of this challenge has been to reacquaint myself not just with the act of creating, but the organization of my time around creating. It's been a rebuilding of sorts with the aforementioned burn out in my last post. To be at this point now, where I'm not only keeping up with this challenge, but sitting here writing about it is leaps and bounds from where I was but 3 months ago, so this is proof that habits can be formed when you set your intentions and make a conscious effort to shift your perspective!
My initial desire was not to create finished pieces...that's just too much pressure & I was still recovering from THAT habit so, no...not the goal! What I realized I needed to do rather was to commit to creating a new habit. By deciding that from this time to this time every day was going to be for, "This" for example, was the key to creating the space in which to develop this creative practice. Being conscious about how I spend my time has become very important to me as I get older, and the impulsive fast pace I used to keep just wouldn't cut it anymore. This also felt pretty easy and right so that alone was my indicator that it was time.
How do you create a habit? Most say it takes 2 weeks which in this case I have found to be true. My commitment to this challenge by posting daily has been just enough push to get me to stay with this for the prescribed 2 weeks. After that, it is said it becomes habit...and I now understand that. Just the act of moving into that "Space" be it physically to the worktable, mentally by looking at inspiring images or words, or reading, writing or just sitting with an idea that needs to integrate is an act of making that decision, that choice every day to use that specific time for this specific act. Once it turns into an act you do every day without having to DECIDE you’re going to do it, but you instead just glide into doing it, that's when you know it's a habit. The removal of expectation is also vital within a creative practice. I now see this time as a gift, a respite or sanctuary where no one can touch me or tell me what to do...protected and safe and all mine. That has been my discovery in just 17 days and I can't wait to see what happens next. I'd love to hear from people about how they have created a creative practice or new habit. What has worked for you? Please share and let us know what you’re doing out there!
It's been quite a few months since I've posted here as usual. I've been attempting to blog for years now, when it first came into popularity it seemed pretty daunting as I'm not a writer, (other than tons of angsty journal entries!) nor did I always feel confident enough to share any artwork I was doing, if any. But as this medium has morphed and changed I've come to realize that as a part-timer, a dabbler....the on-line community isn't as concerned as of late as to how you share your stuff, per say...as it is that you do the sharing.
I've been under a microscope for so long at my job (that's another post I'll save for later~) that I felt like if what I was, "Putting out there" wasn't perfect it wouldn't matter, or it would immediately get criticized because let's face it, that's the society we live in. After acknowledging some severe burnout this past year I knew I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and sought out support from other creative & sensitive souls both locally and on-line. Thankfully, since I've been slowly dipping a toe into this pool and that, with the support an amazing group of artists and friends I have learned that being vulnerable and revealing failures is not only a part of healing your fried soul, but it's what makes you interesting. It's not about perfection, or being infallible....it's about being real and authentic and letting people see this...then they know perhaps they are not alone and then connections are made. This is what I've learned, and what has helped me to revisit my identity as an artist and literally re-learning how to build a creative practice that honors my needs instead of what I thinks I "Should" be doing or creating.
In order to do this, to build this practice that is more about internal motivations than external pressures, I've given myself a creative challenge with the turn of the year. It's a 30-Day Art Every Day Challenge and I'm basically giving myself carte blanche to rediscover what it is that moves me, inspires me and brings me complete joy as a creator, maker and artist. By utilizing social media I'm keeping myself accountable and have had amazing support and feedback from friends near and far. It's not about creating final pieces, or anything to sell....it's about finding my mojo again and letting it take me where I need to go. Please keep checking my Facebook page (links to the right!) for the daily posts and here for my reflections and poorly written observations as I venture through this process! In the interim...here are some results of my 1st week~
Happy New Year!
This is the first summer I haven't worked in probably...close to 10 years if not more. I am astounded at the mental capacity I have regained after just a week off from school, and now...I'm a MENSA candidate! (Not even close, but it's fun to dream!)
The remarkable power of time to think, take space to breath, regroup and refill the well is immesurable. I have been able to see some new possibilities emerge for my work & life and that's exciting! Who knew an actual vacation could do that! (Read:I've been pretty bad at them all these years :) I covered a LOT of ground and will share specifics in my next posts along with a gaggle of images. For now...a fresh new look & dreams of another mini-break before school starts.
It's live in 3,2...
Recently I was interviewed for Mixed Media May.com!!! It's a great labor of love that introduces a new mixed media artist everyday for the month of May. So thrilled and honored to be a part of this community!!! Check out a whole month's worth of fab Mixed Media artists at http://www.mixedmediamay.com
So, I have a lot of journals. A lot. Like, an entire wardrobe full of them that stands in the corner of my 600 sq. ft condo...seriously. Some say I have a problem, but I say I have a passion, a commitment if you will. I love the potential of a blank page, however intimidating. I love having tangible proof of my thoughts and feelings in a particular moment. Journaling allows me to purge what is going on inside by putting it on a page and setting it free. It's cleansing, it's medicinal and it's a necessary part of my creative life.
It is also really hard! It's a practice that requires a commitment and I am always practicing. I used to think, "Oh my God, I have to get this right because I teach this stuff!!!" Well, what I didn't realize was that all the while I was comparing my work to others who were knocking their journal practice out.of.the.park. .... was that my style was just what it needed to be. Because, drum roll please, it was MY style, and that is the whole damn point! I mean, emulating another persons artwork is flattering and a common way artist try learning new techniques and can help to expand their vision. But to expect my work to look like others while strangling my own creative voice was exactly what I was teaching my students NOT to do. Exploring my own style and finding my journal, "Language" as I call it is what this process is all about for me. I believe the use of journals is a portal into so much more than visual imagery as well. At times it can be a meditation, a release, a catharsis of words that you later burn!!! Journals hold whatever power you put in them and hopefully you allow them to empower you back.
Here's a little step-by-step view of a journal spread I did last summer. I used an old planning sketchbook from school, (I always re-purpose them because the paper is just too good!) acrylic paint and gesso to cover the writing, various ephemera for collage material and my old standby, a Sharpie! I hope to post more of these step-by-step posts soon! I'd love to hear comment and am happy to answer any questions about this or any of my processes! Cheers! Amy~
Although I've been an artist for many years, as a teacher I have spent more of my life preparing work spaces for other artist rather than for myself. So when the opportunity arose for me to get my own studio near my house I was beyond thrilled. Although I am not there anymore, my experience sharing a studio with other emerging artist was a formidable period in my life, allowing me to carve out precious time to create while being surrounded by like-minded kindreds. It was amazing.
Cut to 4 years later. Thanks to social media I have been able to keep in touch with several of my former mates and finally got my act together to go visit my friend Bryan Jernigan at his studio in Arlington...a mile away from my place. Have I ever mentioned I overbook?
Bryan is both a member and studio manager for Gallery Underground in Crystal City. The studios are reclaimed offices that sprawl through the Crystal City shops underneath the bustling sidewalk above. The Gallery itself is nestled in the center of the shops at an inviting angle welcoming visitors with its well lit, balanced space that has an approachable quality most galleries strive for. After meeting Bryan at the gallery he walks me through to his space where we get to chat & catch up.
Bryan is an exceptional painter. When we shared a space he was working primarily on landscapes that explored color which have progressed over the years to be more abstract, some incorporating figures. His work balances solidity of form with a beautiful use of layered color to infuse light. Several pieces in various states of completion surround us as we talk and I snap a few shots. A foray into a more expressionist style that integrates non-representational drawing has been a recent focus in his work. Here is a little peek into his studio but for more info on Bryan & his work check him out at Gallery Underground!
I have something to admit. I'm really slow and inconsistent with my editing during the school year. I go in spurts when I have a new batch of images, find my faves, and ride the wave of those few gems for probably longer than I should. As a result I overlook a lot of other images that although not cast in a leading role, still could play another part, in another story. I am learning that this actually is my process and am slowly embracing it as ok and actually quite exciting. Here are a few understudies I've played with that although from different shoots, (From NY to Scotland) I see a story unfolding, and have found a connecting thread through all of them.
So excited for tonights opening at Killer ESP Coffee House In Old Towne!!! Heather snd I had a great time hanging to show and are so thankful to Rob and the team at Killer for being so awesome!!! More pics of the action to come, but here's a sneek peek!!
Day 2 Grid Drawing progress in my Studio Art 1 class. I am optimistic! Oh, & I found a purple China Marker! #oldschoolphoto
Back from a long winter's nap with some great new stuff happening!
Have a show going up at a local coffee shop this month! Dipping a toe back in & w good people you can't go wrong. Check it out...
I also have been accepted into UGallery.com as a New Artist. Will be shifting some work around w some limited editions available w them. Very exciting!!!
Am also starting some new pieces going back to my alt. photo/mixed media bent. Having fun...isn't that what it's all about?