Signs of Life

hamsa

I spent much of last year studying and evaluating the business side of my art during my course with the Montana Artrepreneur Program.  This year I have chosen the word “discovery” as my go to focus for 2017.  I will definitely be utilizing that word over and over as I go forward into 2017 with my art and my personal journey.

Thrilling is an understatement of how excited I feel about this year already.  Almost one and half years ago my dear friend and fellow artist, Lynn Silbernagel and I wrote proposals to  the Carbon County Arts Guild and Depot Gallery.   We both love this small art guild and gallery, located a little over an hour from our home base.  It’s nestled in the beautiful mountains of Montana and is a hot spot year round for outdoor enthusiasts. The gallery itself is located in an old train depot, making it quaint and rustic.  It is rich in the heritage of how we live our lives in Montana.  A perfect setting for Montana art.

Our proposals were granted and we were placed on the calendar in June of 2017 to exhibit our work together in the Main Gallery.  At the time it seemed like that was forever!  But here it is and we are so honored and privileged to have this opportunity to display our works.   This means we have a bit of work ahead of us as we create art to fill the Main Gallery.  The task at first seemed daunting to me but as I put my mind in the mode to create, ideas starting forming.  I experienced a flood of ideas at once and well, that’s not possible to entertain so I began to narrow down and “discover” what my heart was pointing me towards for this exhibit.

Above is a painting,  possibly an assemblage if you will, of a symbol or amulet of the hamsa hand.  I get a little emotional when I think about how symbols reflect different periods in my life.  In childhood there was my first “orange” rabbit foot on a chain that I carefully carried everywhere for protection.   I felt safe and comforted at all times with my little rabbit’s foot by my side.  This  symbol goes back as far as the seventh century BCE, originating in Celtic Europe.  And as a talismanic symbol in Africa.  A portion of my exhibit in June this year will be a series of paintings/assemblages representing symbolism.  I am discovering so much as I research the symbols that followed me throughout my life.  As I start this creative process I am struck by how many symbols there are present in our every day life.  We relate with emotion to many of these and they give us a voice to express ourselves, such as the peace symbol or the pink ribbon representing hope for breast cancer.  I am so ready to discover more about this enormous influence in our lives.

I hope to complete six 8×10 paintings for my Symbol Series to display in June.  I will not be posting the series until after the exhibit so stay tuned!  And those locals, I hope you find time to stop into the Carbon County Arts Guild and Depot Gallery to view the exhibit this June.  There will be an opening reception, date to be announced.  What an amazing start to 2017…just full of discovery!

Advertisements

2017 is a new beginning

zebra

I’ve been off the grid for a few days between Christmas and New Years creating and preparing to embrace 2017.  I like to pick a word at the beginning of the year to set the tone for my goal setting.  It keeps me somewhat focused as I head into the bliss of a new year.  The new year always feels like a new beginning, a fresh start.  I like to think of placing all my past years ugliness in a suitcase and setting it out for the man in brown to pick up and take to the land of  let it go.  That baggage is gone, thank you my wonderful man in brown!

My word for 2016 was Vulnerability.  I pretty much killed it with that word. When I stepped into the Montana Artrepreneur Program I placed myself in a very vulnerable position.  I knew going into 2016 I would be facing a ton of fears with my art journey.  I’m sure that is why I picked the word vulnerability.  Many times it felt like I stepped off the edge of a diving board into the deep end of the pool.  Coming close to drowning, only to be pulled up and resuscitated by my support team.  They do good CPR apparently because I needed  their support often in 2016.  Towards the end of the year I finally realized that all that time my fear was knocking hard on me, pushing me again and again.  That is what vulnerability is about, facing your fears.  I struggled endlessly, turmoil in the depth of my soul, until finally I admitted to my peers that I was struggling.  At one point I felt I no longer wanted to be an artist.  It wasn’t until in November that I told my sister I wasn’t sure I wanted to create.  The stress of it all was becoming unbearable at times.  She said she could not imagine me ever not painting.  Imagine, imagine, again, imagine… I had to chew on fear and spit it out.  Damn, she is such a great sister to love me that much.  I needed straight forward talk and she is good at that with me.  She said a few other personal words I want to keep for myself cause I just love her that much too.  There will always be struggles but my heart tells me I’m over most of the fear.  To get to this point I needed to be vulnerable, to face my fears, to begin to heal I had to hurt first.  It’s a different hurt than a physical injury, sometimes that might be easier.  I have the MAP, all my family, all my artist friends and all my personal friends to thank for helping me pack up my baggage this year and send it off to the land of letting go.  You are amazing, you know who you are, bless you.

This years word is Discovery.  I am so excited about this years word.  Can you “imagine” what I will do with that word!  My new Zebra painting with paper collage, a new discovery already.  Happiness to each of you as you enter a new year and embrace what your world will seek.  I pray for our world and the whole of humanity.  I still seek peace and harmony.  I always have hope and share kindness when I am able.  So much of what we have to give is free so please give as often as you can…blessings in 2017.

Gathering

DSCN9108

The above photo is a small piece of raw wool from a sheep shearing I attended last spring.  My  friend, Tammy, a fiber artist, invited my daughter and myself to join her at a shearing with friends.

I loved witnessing the shearing as it brought back childhood memories of my grandparents ranch.  I loved all the barnyard animals but especially the lambs.  My sister and I were allowed to help feed the bum lambs.  These feedings were quite the task as those little creatures could suck so hard it would almost jerk our little arms off.  We giggled a lot during those feedings, Grandma wasn’t always impressed with our technique.

I gathered that little piece of wool from the ground at the shearing, tucking it into my pocket for safe keeping.  I later placed it along with all my other treasures I have collected over the years in a special tray in my art studio.

I was fortunate to have spent time last weekend with a couple friends at a cabin in the mountains of Montana.  In the morning we walked along the shoreline of the lake, a beautiful spot to enjoy some fellowship and view the beauty of mother nature.  I picked up a wonderfully weathered piece of drift wood and asked my friend who owned the cabin if it was okay if I took it home.  She smiled and said of course.  She commented that she was getting rid of things rather than collecting them.  I few steps further I spied a white rock that I had to have, once again asking if it was okay to take it.  In the end I gathered a total of 3 “things” to take home with me that morning.  The drift wood, the rock and a penny that I spied in amongst the rocks of the shoreline in the water.  It had weathered beautifully and I loved the color the copper had turned after being  washed over and over again by the tide of the water.

Later I thought about what value these pieces along with all my other gatherings meant to me.  I’ve always collected whenever I travel but most often it is something from mother earth and not a purchase from a shop that means the most to me.  I have feathers, rocks, pine cones, sand, bark, even dirt from a mission in Taos that has spiritual meaning.  My father was a gatherer, he loved nature and always felt a kinship with all earthly elements.  I have a great respect for these elements and sometimes have guilt that I take them home as treasures.  If we all did this would there be anything left?  I’ll never know the answer to that but maybe it is time I stop gathering and just enjoy.  My friends statement made me think about whether these treasures are things or earthly elements not made of man.  I just know that I love the memory each of these earthly treasures holds for me.  They inspire me in my art and give me hope that life will continue to generate for future generations. Mother nature beautifully gives us so much, I want to respect her and be kind and step lightly upon her so others can enjoy her loveliness.

I will think twice about what I gather from this point on, hoping that these small elements of nature will continue to regenerate themselves.  I can’t image there never being another pinecone or another feather from a bird but I don’t have a crystal ball…what will our future hold.  Be gentle in your gatherings my friends…

 

Montana Artrepreneur Program

IMG_0930

This will be my year to look up to the sky and shout it out…I am going to soar.  I am going to push myself beyond what I’ve thought would ever be possible.  I am going to ask for support.  I am going to have tears, laughter and emotional ups and downs.  So many ideas to put down on paper, so many visions to paint on canvas, so much to explore.  It’s going to be a time to be good to myself and share myself with others.  It will be a time to override fear, push it so far back that maybe it might disappear!

Loads of words tossed about in that first paragraph, makes me smile.  I am beginning the  Montana Artrepreneur Program for 2016.  I can certify in May of 2017, if I’m ready.  The blessing with this program is that it is self-paced.  Removing the pressure to finish as we artists have an impossible life sometimes trying to keep on track.  We get distracted with creating, which is our passion.  This course will be teaching me the business aspect of the art world.  Sounds boring but gosh, I need this so much!  It is an opportunity to take a course that is equal to two years of college in a time frame of ten months.  Taught within a small cohort of other artists (our cohort has 10 artist participating).   A coach (who is also an artist).  And past MAP artists as mentors.   All to provide that needed, valuable, individual attention.  The time frame is ten months to complete the course but that is flexible, no pressure.   Being the crazed goal oriented personality that I am I’ve set the bar high and told myself I will finish in May 2017.  It doesn’t feel impossible to me at this point.  I may have to retract that comment come May of 2017!

We had our first 10 hour workshop in February.  Oh, so much to learn, so much to absorb and that handbook.  I was told not to be fearful of this 3 inch book but at first sight it was something to behold.  Still, it gave me goose bumps, so thrilling.  The workshop  opened up my mind.  The opportunity is just laying out there waiting for all artists if we are willing to put the work into our passion.  There is a way to make sense of it all, I really like that possibility.

Looking forward to 2016 and the knowledge I’m about to receive.  Keeping my mind open and my heart ready to embrace this life of art.  I am grateful.

2016 and I’m ready!

The end of the year always brings reflection.  And, thoughts of my plans for the next 365 days.  No pressure, right!   I’ve always been a goal oriented, crazy girl.  Most of that crazed energy in 2016 will be focused on art.  The two pieces in the photo are the final works I sold in 2015.  The painting on the left, Bonnie, my mule, was purchased with the intent that I paint a companion piece of the buyers gelding.  Commission pieces are a bit challenging but going into this proposal I had no doubts.  I did not want the pieces to look similar but rather just compliment each other.  They will be hanging in the buyers home together.  The couple that purchased the pieces have rewarded me, they are happy with the finished works.

When I took on this commission my thoughts immediately went to a key word in my life lately, vulnerability.  Having learned through the fabulous Brene Brown about being vulnerable, it fit into this scenario perfectly.  I truly was feeling vulnerable but oh so ready for it!  Bring it on world!!

I think 2016 will be full of vulnerable moments for me.  By that, I mean, taking on situations that I may have passed over previously out of fear.  That is one big, nasty word, fear.  Stepping on new ground this February as I begin the Montana Artrepreneur Program provided my the Montana Arts Council.  A program to provide knowledge to artists in the business side of art.  As well as encouraging artist to take their careers to the next level of professionalism.  This program will give me so many opportunities I can’t tell you how excited I am to be accepted.  Loads of work but so well worth it.  Time for fear to be stomped out and move ahead.

What will be your word for 2016?  Whatever you do in 2016 I wish you much success.  No matter what, even the smallest successes in our lives are important.  They are stepping stones to something bigger and better.  It takes time to see those goals achieved.  And, the journey along the way holds so many experiences, be grateful for each step.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

DSCN7726

Stretching Myself

copy2lithen

Little Henry

The title of this piece is Little Henry.  Most of my titles of subjects containing animals, birds or people end up with a name, sometimes named for people who have influenced my life.  It gives me a connection to that painting.  Sometimes when starting a painting a name will come to me immediately as in this painting.  I’ve loved the name Henry for years.   This is a sweet fledgling, having been given its life as summer begins and our season changes into freshness from a dormant winter here in Montana.  Henry needs to be a Little…for more than one reason.

While painting this, close to being finished, I texted a photo to my daughter to share my new art piece.  She commented, Henry, seems shy.  We exchanged text messages back and forth, having fun with the idea that Henry evolved from an earlier conversation.  I am an introvert at heart.  I do not like to speak in front of even a small group, never enjoyed being the center of attention.  Growing up quite shy.  Although, I’ve been able to overcome much of my severe shyness, I still do not like to give a speech or talk to a group.  Much of the turmoil is hidden within so I get feedback such as…oh, you’re not shy, I don’t see you as an introvert or don’t worry you’ll do fine talking, etc.  Really people!  Ugh!  As I want to throw up!

I’ve been invited recently to do a dual show with a talented artist friend.  This show would be in 2016, requiring a lot of finished works to display, an opening reception and, yep, I would have to talk.  Okay, this could hurt!  I visited with my daughter at length about this subject of talking in front of a crowd of interested art lovers.  What kind of questions would they ask, what would I possibly talk about, on and on.   I thought to myself, it is almost a full year away so I have time to prepare myself.

Suddenly, I was noticing all these signs, articles popping up on my facebook page about speaking and overcoming stage fright.  Good grief.  Into the studio I went as painting is like therapy for my soul.  When my daughter proclaimed that Henry looked shy it just shouted…wow…this is my example piece for telling people how emotional connection comes through in my art.  I saw that Henry did seem shy, having been birthed into this world.  It’s a bit scary.  Watching little fledglings bounce around trying to find their wings…that sounds kind of like me!  Henry needs to be Little Henry to give me courage and permission to know that it would be okay, small steps, little steps going forward.  Starting out little and growing.  I’m still not convinced that I can do this but suddenly having worked through some of those emotions with this painting of Little Henry I feel better.  Acknowledging it seemed to allow me to set it aside and not worry so much about it, at least momentarily.  Worry brings no benefit whatsoever in life.

If you are one that can speak openly with confidence, you are so admired by this little fledgling!

Observation

I opened my e-mail this morning and read a post that discussed observation.  That really resonated with my heart today.  This photo is one of several little collections of shells and various “memories” I’ve placed in jars.  Three are full of shells from my visits to various coastlines here in the states and others are items I’ve found on walks while traveling.  One collection dish I have in my studio is full of items my children or grandchildren have given me, all reminders of a time we shared or a small gift they lovingly gave me.

Years ago I stopped making photo albums and scrapbooks.  Recently, visiting with a friend about a trip, I came home and dug out my scrapbook of that particular trip taken 18 years ago.  I’d written notes by all the photos, most of which I would not have remembered today.  The word, observation, this morning made me think about memories and how we go about preserving  them.   Observation and memories connect somehow for me. Possibly because as an artist I see a subject, place it in my memory and later seek inspiration from that observation to create.  It is important to have memories for me.  Even the not so wonderful memories have a meaning, a lesson, a way of changing our lives.  I’m sad that I no longer have the time to scrapbook but in today’s world of digital photography it is so easy to let go of that form of preservation.  Times have changed and our observation of our world has changed as well.

IMG_0004

Gift yourself in life…

Recently my daughter, sister and I roamed the beautiful landscape of southern Utah.  I love, love to explore our national parks and experience different landscapes across our country.   We spent five days viewing the beauty of Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell…amazing beauty to see and photograph.  I so love the red color of the soil in these areas, so different from home.  The desert draws you in with its sculpted rock formations and amazing colors threaded through the landscape.  Each day a different perspective of beauty carved out over years and years at the hands of mother nature.  I think that is one of the miracles I see when I visit, it is not manmade but natural, natures best. 

Travel is a gift I cherish.  It inspires my art and gives me time to unwind from the stressors of living in today’s world.  I’m not complaining one bit about any of my life but giving myself the gift of filling my brain with beauty cannot be taken lightly.  Sometimes I get stuck and need a new perspective.  When I do get the chance to travel I try really hard not to buy into the souvenir trappings, all those little mugs, magnets, t-shirts, etc.  My heart just is not into it but what I do seek is something that I can gift myself that will remind me of my memories of that trip.   We stopped at this huge western shop full of souvenir gems as well as what I like to call the “real deal”.  We all purchased Minnetoka moccasins…gosh it has been years since I owned a pair of these and look at that color!  One of my favorite colors  used in my art over and over…I’m going to treasure these moccasins for years. 

Don’t forget to gift yourself in life.  The gift of splendor and beauty as you witness a sunset on the beach.  Or, a hike in the mountains to a pristine lake surrounded by aspens in the fall.   We all deserve to stop and rest our eyes on the beauty mother nature has provided.  And if you find just the right gem, well, why not gift yourself that too…you deserve it, life is too short not to walk in comfortable turquoise moccasins!  DSCN1151

Stop and smell the roses

As often as possible, I squeeze in some quiet time in the morning with my coffee in my garden.  Living in a townhouse, my garden area is small.  I’d wished so many times to have my large garden space back from previous homes, missing the feel of dirt, weeding and fragrance from my flowers.  Over time I’ve learned gratitude for this small garden space I now am in charge of caring for.  This mornings coffee in the garden was different.  I took these photos with my phone and then checked my e-mails.  I usually don’t do that as it seems to disrupt my quiet morning ritual but today it may have been what I needed.

I tuned into my e-mails and came across a TED talk with Brene Brown.  A few years back my daughter encouraged me to take Brene’s e-course on The Gifts of Imperfection.  Best gift we ever gave ourselves, thank you daughter!! 

Listening to her talk was like having a little pep talk about life!  I just love her…she is so amazing.  She spoke about vulnerability and how allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable brings rewards to our lives.  It brings perspective gratitude, that was my thought this morning.  Having turned off the news and spent time in my garden this morning, feeling gratitude for this quiet time, this small garden that gives so much….I am thankful. 

My art journey has given me plenty of opportunities to be vulnerable.  I’ve realized this path is where I need to be at this point in my life.  Having numbed myself to so many shameful events in my earlier life, being vulnerable has not been easy.  But, as Brene Brown states, “I am enough”.  I really needed that reminder today as I sat in my garden, coffee and gratitude make a great combination.  I rubbed the leaves of the herbs in my little basket, their scent very refreshing.  It was a small part of this day but a necessary moment for me.  Take time to smell the roses or in my case, the herbs!!IMG_0771 IMG_0775

My Journey…Whispers of my Soul…

savewhispersone

My art journey continues as I’ve been given a huge opportunity in August.

The local gallery that represents my art, Toucan Gallery, has asked me to be the featured artist for the upcoming August Art Walk.  It truly is an honor and I am so grateful for this opportunity.

The three paintings pictured will be part of a series I am hoping to have on exhibit.  I’ve titled this series Whispers of my Soul.  When I began to create in my head what I wanted to paint for this exhibit my first thought was my go to art pieces…animals.  My Faces of Montana series has been popular, having sold all but one of the originals.

 I woke in the middle of the night with the idea of doing something completely different.  I still wanted to incorporate my techniques of using layers, recycled papers and a mix of mediums but in a different direction.

This exhibit is a step forward for me in so many ways.  I feel as those these paintings are truly Whispers of my Soul.  I want to bring my creativity deep within to the surface and express some of the joy I feel while splashing on the paint.  Art is such a passion for most artist, we paint how we feel, we paint our lives, our emotions, the whispers of our souls.

The exhibit will have other works as well…I am painting, painting in the studio!

It will all be fabulous and a bit scary, my first “big” exhibit.  Feeling ready….and above all, blessed.