2017 is a new beginning

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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.

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Gathering

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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

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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!

 

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Stretching Myself

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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.

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My Journey…Whispers of my Soul…

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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.

Step by Step

Happy June to you all.  This painting was a gift to my grandson for his high school graduation.  I am so proud of him and his success and accomplishment.  He had requested a patriotic theme for his grad gift art piece.  He was thrilled, which makes me super happy!

The time I spent painting his special piece gave me time to reflect on years of taking step by step to get to this point.  Not just in his life but as I learned in my life as well.  My grandson has been a special person in my life for so many reasons.  He and I would sometimes take two steps forward and one step back through his growing years.  We’ve always been kindred spirits, sharing so much together.  His communications skills have always been a strong part of his personality, making it easy for me to understand his struggles and achievements as he took those steps into adulthood. 

I’ve been so impressed with his resilience.  All those steps through that maze of life.  I’ve thought about how many times while walking through that maze I’ve hit a corner.  Many times just being in that corner gave me time to hesitate, think things through and not simply run for the finish line.  All the twists and turns in our lives bring us to a better place, a better person.  But, we do need support, we need each other, we cannot do it alone. 

I am so, so grateful for the years I’ve been able to support my grandson.  His step by step journey into life truly is just beginning.   He is heading out into the world and will be moving forward.  These steps into his future have a solid foundation and I am confident that he will handle his future decisions well.  Feeling grateful today…step by step.

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Funky Cats!

It appears as if Chico the funky cat is watching these lovelies create their own versions of him.

A fantastic group last night attending my funky cat workshop.  I love their vision and their openness to learn.  So rewarding when you see someone walk into your class and soon their day melts away as they become immersed in the creative process.  Teaching has become a wonderful bonus to my passion for painting and creating art.  Trying to allow yourself to release that perfection is sometimes difficult.  Awhile ago, in one of my young artist classes, a sweet 6-year-old said it best, “There is no bad”.  Those simple words stuck with me and I love that statement.  I’ve shared that statement since then in all my classes.  Importantly, coming from a young artist, reminding us we need to let go of our need for perfection and embrace the bliss of coloring outside the lines.  What could be more freeing!

Thank you lovelies for last night and embracing your creative side.  Amazing crazy, funky cats.  Each their own masterpieces with shining personalities!

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Keeping Up!

Keeping up is my key word for the next couple weeks.  In my home studio today working on a new steer painting.  I’m usually more organized in life but lately I’m just keeping up.  My heart is loving everything that is coming my way.  For some unknown reason I am not stressing about getting things finished but rather soaking in the moments with knowledge that it will all get done.  This could actually be a false sense of security!!  Heading into the summer months in Montana we all feel a need to set aside our tasks at hand and enjoy our warmer months playing.  I’m trying to adjust all things so I find time to play but continue to strive so my art can thrive, sorry, that did sound a bit poetic…but I like it.

I’ve had some goodness come my way recently.  About a month ago I entered a Java Doodle Challenge, doodling a plain white coffee paper cup.  Surprised, I won and received a basket full of awesome art supplies for doodling…about $50.00 worth of materials and a $25.00 gift certificate at a local coffee-house.  I never win anything so this was wonderful, smiling for sure and playing with all those art goodies.  Teaching lately as well, workshops at Crooked Line Studio.  This experience is a reward for me, sharing the knowledge I’ve honed over the past years with mixed media art.  My students have been generous and open with their talents.  They’ve complimented me as a teacher verbally but the true reward is seeing their hearts open to new possibilities for themselves in creating.  Many are returning to take a second class and expanding their own knowledge of materials and techniques of mixed media.

I have a solo show I’m preparing for in June.  The steer painting will be up for that exhibit.  I’m thinking his title will be Mr. Stewart.  Today will hopefully be finishing this painting and working on a project for a future workshop.  Keep yourself busy with goodness my friends and thank you for being here with me.

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