What Is True

It’s been a minute since my last post because as always, life gets the better of pretty much everything.  But tonight I was moved to write because of blogpost written by Hali Karla Arts some time ago.

This was the takeaway.

That art, mine or yours, does not have to be pretty to be legit.  Or good. Or anything.

It just is what it is.

I have a shitload of ecourses I signed up for, and have not cracked open many of them to put on paper or canvas.  Watched a lot of videos, but have not done the work.

The art I did do was mostly my own.  Whatever wanted to be expressed.  And I found it freeing and for the most part honest.  While I still have the desire to learn and to grow in my technique, my soul is craving something else.

So in 2017 I want Truth to prevail in my art.  However that manifests, I want it to come from my insides.  I want to unleash.  Purge.

I don’t want to overthink it.  I just want to create.

What Is Your Thing?

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I am obsessed with the color black.  In most of my work, if I don’t have some black in there somewhere, I get anxious.  I wear mostly black.  My hair is dark brown but looks black.  So do my eyes.

And I am a Black Woman.  But this is not what I want to talk about.

If I thought about it long enough, my real obsession is telling the truth in my art.  And I don’t think I am there yet.  At least not completely.  I spend so much time watching lessons online, following steps, ooohing and ahhhing over other artists’ work, that when I free myself from that and begin to sketch all I can think about is whether what I am expressing is honest and true to what my insides want to say.  Some days, I feel I’m doing my thing.  MY thing.  But then there are days in between I feel like my stuff says nothing.

What is the thing in your art that is your non-negotiable?  And this is not just about paint colors or tools, though I’d be the first to holla about some new thing I just discovered. But if you get beyond that, what is the thing that drives you when you open that journal to the next blank page, or to the bare canvas that you don’t want to mess up?

 

 

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When Life Gets In The Way

When I think about writing this blog, I’m constantly thinking of new topics to talk about and to share. Because I am pretty creative, I can think of cutesy things to cover, the latest awesome mechanical pencil that has changed the game for me with sketching, new stuff from my latest haul.  All of that is a part of what we do as artists and as art journalers.  But I don’t feel like writing about that.  I want to write the truth.

The truth is I am exhausted.  This time last year I was on fire artistically, now I’m not. Instead of doing one course at a time I have taken on four, and can barely keep up with the lessons.  I struggle to finish pieces, leaving many to the WIP pile.  Like many of you, I work a full-time job (I work with high school kids), so when I get home all I can think about is my fattening cup of tea, toast and peanut butter, and watching talk show people gossip while I disappear under my blankie.  I purposely have something arty near me, on the off-chance that I might get struck by the art fairy and finally put a brush to the mess I’ve made.

I know this is a part of the journey.  At least that is what I hear from my art peeps.  They struggle too.  It sucks to be here.

I am wanting to believe that this is a time when something is trying to be born.  Give myself a break from saying to myself that what I am producing is crap and is not post or sale worthy.  But I post anyway…selling?  I’m not touching that one.

What do you do to get yourself out of the creative funk?  I’d love to know!

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WIP-Finding My Voice

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When I hear from other artists that I have a style of my own, I swear I don’t even know how to receive that.  As I began this journey in earnest over a year ago, it was with huge anxiety over whether I had anything in me worthy enough to be expressed through mixed media and art journaling.  I found myself copying the styles and techniques of many artists while experimenting with my own, and I absorbed every minute of it because I was an eager student who honestly loved to create.  My art is seriously all over the place, at least it is to me.  And yes, I can see the growth in my work over time, and I am pretty proud of that.

But when I ask myself now if I see a style emerging, I mean something unique to me, I really don’t know.  The last thing I want to do is to spend my days copying the styles of others, because there is safety in that you see..I also understand that it is okay to do that while I am learning, because how is my style supposed to emerge if I have no knowledge of all that is available in techniques and how to use all the supplies that I spend a pretty penny buying on a regular basis? Can you say four e-courses anyone?

A post that I saw from an artist friend that I admire very much got me to thinking.  Her art speaks not only to her talent, but to the stories she weaves through her art.  I thought about her stories, her color choices, the subjects of her work.  In thinking about her work, I thought about my own, and who I am becoming as I create and sketch every day.

I realized that as I looked through my work from the past year, every piece speaks to some aspect of who I am.  Every one.  And there are many days that I struggle with what I see. Days that I don’t want to see what is coming through on the page.  There are times when I want to impose my will on what needs to express organically, and moments when I question if the work is fit for public consumption.

Regardless of the place of origin, each stroke that I choose speaks to who I am now and who I am becoming.  It excites me, scares the shit out of me, and frustrates the hell out of me. But isn’t this why we do what we do?  To see what’s on the other side of the charcoal and paint and torn pages?  To smile when we see ourselves in the final piece?

Truth is, I am still trying to figure that out. Lately, the women I create seem strong and confident looking, and there’s this thing I see in their eyes…it’s as if they are saying to me I see you, because I am you..and knowing that makes me very eager to keep going.

Thank you Robin Laws…

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Keep Going

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This creative life is not for the faint of heart.  I mean, when I began this journey years ago, the anxiety I felt because I was not ‘properly art school trained’ sent me into a panic, especially in the classes I took that did not require drawing experience.  And no matter how many times I participated in spaces that gave me the freedom to just slap paint on paper in whatever way I wanted to, I still felt compelled to compare myself to everyone else in the class.  Eventually, I loosened up a little and just went with the flow.  The angst of working through the unknown of what I was trying to create never left me.

And I suspect you feel the same from time to time.  Or maybe every time you create.

I said this in a recent comment in one of my Facebook groups, and it bears repeating:

I use to resent early on when other artists would say keep going..now, I honor them for doing that because they knew what I didn’t know at the time…when I met myself in all of the uncertainty and frustration on the page or canvas, the last thing I wanted to do was to keep going..but in doing so, I developed a love and respect for my own pace, and for my own budding aesthetic..they were dead ass right to tell me that because I would not be as far as I am without the push…

Back then, I was content with doing sketches and leaving them alone.  Didn’t want to screw them up with paint.  To keep going is not just about taking the risk to put paint to sketches, but to kick the resistance to messing it up in the ass so that you can take the next step.  Maybe it needs color, or perhaps just shading.  Or maybe it needs to be covered in gesso to give it a fresh start.  Whatever it is, I personally feel petrified and compelled to take the next step because that’s what this creative life requires of me.

And I take it, knowing the reality is that it’s just paper, marks, ink, paint, words and imperfect images.  And if I don’t regard every mark I make as precious, then I can rest in knowing that I can always choose to begin again or keep going with the thing I’m working on.  Maddening as it is at times, I can’t breathe without it.

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From There To Here

 

2015-04-26 20.04.02    Years ago when I took the random art class here and there, I used to think that in order to be an artist you had to be this special cosmic cool entity that somehow by forces of nature inherited the ‘I can draw’ gene, that there was this special club of people who could paint and sketch the hell out of an image and have it look exactly like the thing they wanted it to look like.  As creative as I was with singing, dance, theater, astrology (even in high school I was known as the class meditator), I never once entertained the idea that the label of artist would fit who I was.

Or who I wanted to be.

I like to draw.  I like to paint.  I like to collage.  I like to write.  Even the concept of calling myself a writer, which I have been doing my entire life, has escaped me.  Somehow, the notion of owning the title meant that I had to live up to some crazy ass standard imposed by somebody outside of me or worse, my own neurotic need to be perfect.

Here’s what I know now.

It doesn’t matter how much you tell yourself, or I tell myself that I’m not an artist, I am.

And so are you.

I can tell you the reasons that I know this about myself. I get up every morning and make decisions about how I am going to live my life.  I see the magnificence of the sunrise everyday as I head east to work, taking in every shade of pink, purple and tangerine that I can contain.  I am a mother, I am a counselor, and damn if I didn’t bring my artistry into having raised two kids into fully functioning adults, and bring that same artistry into motivating my high school kids on a daily basis.

But more than that, I am an artist because I dare every single day to put some graphite onto some paper, paint to an art journal or canvas, words onto this page. I am am artist because everything I see inspires me to be a better version of what God intended for me to be.  Everything.  And in the joy of that inspiration, I can attempt to create and honor what is in my soul that begs for expression.

Does the critic in me kick my ass at times? Of course she does. But she screams a little less now. She knows her place, and even when I am feeling that something I am working on is a piece of shit, I say to her it’s only a piece of shit FOR NOW.  Wait until tomorrow, and I will have that bad boy singing.

I am an artist because I say so.  What do you say?

I’m curious to know….

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from there-february 2015

 

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to here-january 2016

 

 

 

 

On Being Perfect

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I am notorious in my perfectionism.  Perfection has prevented me from doing this blog for almost a year. I signed up for one months ago, and took even longer to come up with a name which by the way, my first name choice did not get the best response from my kids or from a dear artist friend of mine (y’all hear that???) It’s not like I have never blogged before, because I have, so how difficult could it be? I see people creating blogs everyday, without drama.

But of course, before I allow anyone to see it, to see me, it has to be perfect.

The title has to be perfect. The artwork has to be perfect. The topics have to be on point.  Yea, all of that ish serves to distract from what’s really going on.

This is about vulnerability.  Bearing a little bit of my soul onto these pages.  Bearing a lot at times.  What I do, and what most of us do when we create art.  When we dare to share a piece of ourselves to others, on Facebook, in our art communities and anywhere else.

Love this woman:

To claim the truths about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, and the very imperfect nature of our lives, we have to be willing to give ourselves a break and appreciate the beauty of our cracks or imperfections. To be kinder and gentler with ourselves and each other. To talk to ourselves the same way we’d talk to someone we care about.     -Brene Brown, from Daring Greatly

So here I am, sick as a dog, daring to finally put this thing out there.  Because like you, I have a story.  I have several stories.  Many will come through my art.  Some will come through just sharing.  However it comes, I want to live my days without regret that I sat on my courage until she could not be contained anymore.  Our journeys may be different and intersect in many ways, but what I do know is that we are all better for the times when we dare greatly to share a piece of ourselves for others to witness, and for the joy in being seen.

By the way, when I made up another possible crazy ass title off the top of my head, my artist friend loved it!  What was the title?

ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS

Really girl? Really? 🙂

Can’t wait to share more with you. Feel free to comment and share!