Artist's Way Tools

Recently, Antrese Wood, from Savvy painter, had a wonderful interview with Julia Cameron on Facebook Live. We all remember Julia Cameron from her infamous book, “The Artist’s Way”.  Julia Cameron just published a new book “Listening Path”, which revisits and elaborates further on her three tools; Morning Pages, Artist Walk and Artist Date.  Julia brought creativity onto the mainstream of conversation and wrote over 40 books, plus created plays, poetry and film.  

Morning pages are needed to be written daily. The three pages are written ideally in the morning, with a flaming pen; fast, no consideration for grammar, with a stream of consciousness. Write down anything that comes into your mind, yes even when it doesn’t make sense. When writing your pages there shouldn’t be any expectations, just as when you meditate.  Clearing your mind by doing the Morning Pages brings serenity and quiets the overactive mind. It is a great tool to help be in tune with your intuition and connect to your heart.

Julia recommends walking 20 minutes a day.  She believes that walking enables you to walk out a problem.  The repetitiveness of walking brings ideas to the forefront of your mind, as well as, the stimulation of what you see along the way can create solutions to your problem. We also hear guidance, as we walk.  We take small steps out of our block and into the creative world.

The Artist Date is done once a week.  She recommends choosing something mysterious, playful or whimsical and done alone. It doesn’t have to be Art oriented and ideally pushes you out of your comfort zone.  You want to enchant yourself; woo your own consciousness.  It is something Artist’s normally have a great resistance to.  We are reluctant to play.  Playing is absolutely necessary to fill our well of creativity.  When you go on an artist date you are filling your consciousness. Artist dates can allow synchronicity to happen. You are opening the door to endless possibilities.

Julia suggests that even during the Pandemic we can have simple Artists dates in the confine of our own home.  You can take these small adventures by doing things you normally wouldn’t do; perhaps listening to a frivolous podcast, taking a bath with fizzing bath bombs, produce silly crafts, treat yourself to a movie, create some nail art, learn calligraphy or create your own recipe.  If you need any extra indoor and outdoor suggestions for Artist dates, I suggest finding them on Pinterest. It should be fun, playful and enjoyable.

The three tools are to help us to create with more joy and explore new ideas. Julia wants us to be open to listening to our intuition, not our critic, when it asks us to try something different. As we create, Julia suggests that we create from the higher self.  She suggests, avoid being demanding that our art must be perfect and a finished product, but allow it to be a work in progress.  To paint in the present with joy, instead of painting for the future with an end in mind, creates two totally different experiences.  Julia’s mantra is “I can do it, if I don’t have to be perfect”.  

When we are too serious, our art suffers.  When we play our art grows.  May we all listen to our inner child and live a life of joy, especially during these difficult times.  Be gentle with yourself.  When you hear the higher self or inner child ask, “Just try” we can respond “YES” and allow ourselves to begin this wonderful journey to create with freedom.

*Just a note I recommend you join the Savvy Painter Community, by Antrese Wood.  Her podcasts rank among the top 30 educational podcasts in the world.  She also provides services, workshops and inspiration to all artists.

 


7 Questions

7 Questions

The New York times wrote an article 7 Questions 75 Artists and 1 Very Bad Year.  In the article, they asked 7 questions to various types of artists to discover what they experienced, during the pandemic. Some of the answers were revealing, some funny and some were profound.  The following are the questions, plus my given answers.  Answering these questions gives you a view of your “creative mind during quarantine”.

What one thing did you make this year?

From November 2019 to the end of March 2020 I had completed 120 abstract paintings.  March 9th, was the beginning of shelter in place.  We were in complete lockdown.  I had completely switched to doing figurative work.  The piece that I created is called “Grief” (shown above).  I am the model.  My painting oddly shows myself in a dress and heels, which soon became obsolete attire for one in isolation.  I am seated in my “Sacred Place”, where I pray and meditate daily.  My body looks weary and burdened; feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Not only was I feeling the loss of not seeing my family, but also feeling the collective loss.  There was a sense of despair, but at the same time a halo of light surrounding me, showing hope.  No matter what, there must always be hope. 

What art have you turned to in this time?

I don’t know if you can call it art, but I delved into puzzles.  Because of my visual memory, it was easy to put together 1000 piece puzzles.  I probably completed five of them and numerous smaller ones.  It helped me keep my mind off the monotonous days of isolation and occupy my son with Down Syndrome.  I would start them and he would finish them.  We looked forward to this togetherness. 

Did you have any particularly bad ideas?

Yes, it was sort of a good idea and bad idea.  I got rid of all my furniture in my living room.  The only thing that was in the living room for four months, until my new furniture arrived, was a chair and a rowing machine. Good idea, I didn’t have to worry about company, bad idea, I had no place to sit. 

What’s a moment from this year you’ll always remember?

It’s funny, trying to find toilet paper.  I found some online.  It was a scam.  It took me over three months to receive.  It came from China.  The size of the toilet paper was as described 40 rolls, but they forgot to mention the rolls were only 2” wide and 1” thick.

Did you find a friendship that sustained you artistically? 

My husband always supports my art.  He respects when I feel a need to create and when I don’t.  He worked during home and helped with the grocery shopping.  We became very close, although I didn’t believe we could be much closer, being married for over 43 years. We never tire of each other. We were so grateful that we had such a close relationship, during this lonely time.  We found we are definitely stronger together. 

If you’d known that you’d be isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?

This is easy.  I would have created more and also journaled daily, about my experiences and feelings.  It was very difficult to create art, during this time.  When you are in survival mode, creating seems to stop.  Even though it could have been very healing, I was too focused on my basic needs.  

What do you want to achieve before things return to normal?

I want to complete my Twelve of Twelve series, in which I enlarge 12 abstract studies to a 36″ x 36″ format.  I will be creating them on arches oil paper with cold wax medium and then adhering them to a cradled wooden panel.  There’s a good chance I have a show lined up, as soon as we are open to larger groups.

The pandemic has taught me a lot.  I will always remember that, “now is all there is” and what sustains me is my family and creativity.  It is important to make both a priority.  I would love to hear your thoughts to these questions.  I’m sure I will find them very interesting.  

 


Finding Inspiration


Little things along the way inspire us, but once in a while something big catches our eye. Inspiration can come from so many sources, but mine mostly come from people. If the inspiration is strong enough, it can carry into our own life experiences. Everyone who comes in our life, has the opportunity to help us on our journey to discover our best self.

Of course, our parents are always powerful influencers. My mother had a strong personality, acquired from her survival instincts of being a product of WWII and a widow at 37 years old. She was born in Normandy and lived most of her younger years during difficult times. She was adventurous and took risks, especially being one of the first war brides to sail to America; leaving her family behind. My fun-loving mother, had a certain joie de vivre. She taught me to always strive to stay young physically and mentally, live each day as if it was your last and most of all be curious.

Lately, I noticed a young woman on Instagram. Her name is Anna Vatuone. I briefly met her 5 years ago. She was young and discovering her self. I happened to catch her recently, when she just set off on an amazing journey. I saw a little of my mother in her, ready to take a leap and set off on an adventure. Her energy and daring was contagious and started to enliven and remind me of the attributes I gained from my mother.

Anna has the same high intuition, as my mother and as I believe I do. Anna’s intuition, relentlessly told her she needed to move from California. Instead of playing it “safe”, she put everything in storage, got in her car and began her trek across the US. She just drove; open to anything and open to any place. She had a vague idea where she wanted to go, but mostly let herself be led by her intuition, which I believe takes a tremendous amount of courage and trust.

She answered the call, as in Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. She knew she had to partake on this mission. Many times she wanted to turn around. It was only until she got to Chicago, she knew she wasn’t going to turn around and go back home. Her last travel spot would supposedly be New York, but after visiting Boston it was clear this would be her new home. She now became "Anna in Boston".

I am so glad I followed her first hand from the beginning, when she made this incredible decision to embark on this journey. I was able see first hand that Joseph Campbell’s helping hands analogy were definitely with her. “When you are on the right path, invisible hands will come to your aid.” Opportunities and synchronicity miraculously began to happen for her. The universe was responding positively to her path. It was so amazing to see this develop firsthand.

She was so inspiring, spiritually and visually validating. Everything, although she took risks and worked hard, literally started to fall in her lap. I could see her fans be enthralled by her strength and courage as Anna met her challenges with grace. I saw her business “Personal Branding”, as well as her followers, increase ten fold in such a short amount of time.

She took the action we all needed to experience, especially during COVID and the hope that it could be attained once again.

Anna’s actual life experiences flooded me with energy to raise the bar and keep moving forward with my art and personal branding. She offers such wonderful ideas on her Instagram and is very generous, with helpful hints for your business.

Some of the attributes I am learning from her example are trust your own intuition, be vulnerable, take calculated risks or just risks, be unattached to outcome, commit to something bigger than yourself, be you it’s contagious, don’t give up, be willing to learn new things, show the good and the bad in your journey, speak from the place that is whole and complete and listen to your heart.

You can find Anna on Instagram, follow her journey on Youtube, “Anna in Boston” and also her Personal Branding site. You will find her refreshing and most of all, maybe you will find a piece of yourself that needed to be reminded of who you are and what you are meant to do with your life. Invest in yourself, as Anna did and be your biggest fan; you may discover helping hands will also be there to lift you.

Above painting is the 4th painting of my Twelve of Twelve Series.  "Calm" reflects such a deep calm that comes in your later years of life, knowing that everything is happening as it should.  I have a show lined up for the summer, hopefully all twelve paintings will be completed.  Let me know if you would like an invitation.



The COVID Effect

 

 

As Artists, we are highly sensitive and intuitive people.  Although, these feelings and senses are so important to have, it also makes us vulnerable to mood swings, depression and anxiety.  Our emotions may go up and down like a roller coaster, as well. This artistic nature allows us to see and feel what others may not, especially during these difficult times of Covid it may feel overwhelming.

Creating takes an enormous amount of energy.  As we are overcome by the tremendous amount of negative stimulations from the news and social media, we might discover that there isn’t enough energy left for ourselves and left for our imagination to create.

There is a fine balance between too much and too little, which we all must control, in order to stay healthy and productive.  We thrive on stimulation, but paradoxically we need a lot of alone time to recalibrate our nervous system and refuel.  

I have found that being isolated has created a need for me to revaluate my art.  My environment during COVID has affected my art deeply, making me aware that I need to do what I love, without asking for permission.  So many rules during Covid has made me want to break the rules that I have enforced upon myself.   Isolation has made me aware of my demons along with the constant reminder that I am aging.  Time is not to be wasted or to be creating without joy.

Monotony from the lack of the ability to be with others, visiting far off places and having new experiences, in a strange way has been a force in discovering my creative needs. I needed to find stimulation and joy in my art as a substitute.  I no longer wanted to make going into the studio drudgery.  My studio now had to be a place of boundless freedom, wellbeing, pleasure and most of all joy. 

The above painting was a turning point for me, when showing it to a friend.  I could feel her tension and how uncomfortable it made her feel.  She almost appeared either frustrated or angry that I was creating in this way.  Perhaps, because of Covid, she needed art that was more soothing and blended.  She started showing the signs of agitation by asking, “Why is it so active? Not quite sure about this painting.  Is it in process?  What are you doing with these yellows and reds?  Are you experimenting? You’ve got a wild streak going on there!” It was odd, purposely exposing my truth and obviously being rejected.  

The painting previously was very dull and lacked intensity.  At the last stage of the painting, I released myself and began to overlay transparent bright colors.  It felt so good, in fact, I felt chills.  I knew then I had to always be myself and not paint for others, no matter what, even if it wasn’t appreciated.  This experience was definitely a turning point.  Oddly, now I feel that my work is more honest and most people appreciate it and are more affirming.

Covid has created chaos, and out of chaos there can also be growth for the positive.  The feedback of Covid has created big changes and small changes, but Covid has also forced us to be more aware, resilient and thrive.  What fills you and what sustains you? It is for each artist to discover what that is.  I found mine and so grateful.

 

 


A Life Of Its Own


I am continuing my Twelve of Twelve series, in which I have chosen 12 studies to enlarge up to 36” x 36”.  There will be many observations that I want to share along the way.

I believe the most important piece of creating art is the emotion and energy.  Can you recreate the original piece of art or study and still retain its essence or soul?  

I have seen artists try to copy the original by tracing, using the grid method, a projector or printer to enlarge a painting.  What happens when you do this?

It is a priority for me to not only keep the integrity of the original piece, but also not to lose its freshness and vitality.  And as I scale up the small studies to a larger format, I have to allow the creation to have a life of its own.

Some of the undertakings I considered prior to increasing the size were:

  1. Keeping the same mediums and substrate; arches oil paper, oil paint and cold wax, mixed media 
  1. Establishing the major shapes and composition, and allowing change if needed to make stronger
  1. Understanding the original and its transparencies, layers and textures; what came first, what is over, what is under, how can I increase the same effect in a larger scale
  1. Using the same tools but larger, that includes stencils, rollers, bowl scrapers, brushes , etc.
  1. And what is the mood and essence that I want to repeat from the original piece?

 As I enlarge the original, I am always focusing on improving the composition.  But, I also had to allow myself to drift off into another direction if called.  I still want to create something new and exciting.  The study is the starting off point, not the destination.

Year of the Ox
6" x 6" Study

The painting above is called “The Year of the Ox” and is the second painting of my “Twelve of Twelve” series.  I hope I captured the energy and celebration of the coming Chinese New Year, “The Year of the Ox”.   We have all had a tough 2020.  “The Year of the Ox”, brings us the opportunity to work hard and deliberate and also to acknowledge the opportunity for resetting our lives to create a more positive future for ourselves and others.