ast weekend I went to a concert of someone I’ve technically known since I was five, and despite the fact that she’s fairly popular, I was woefully unfamiliar with her music and had never seen her perform (unless you count living room karaoke.) It ended up being pretty incredible to watch, not just because the music was awesome (which it was) but because I was witnessing this person that I’d interacted with in a casual way perform as she does best, in her element, in front of her fans, in the spotlight. She displayed a great command of experience and talent in exactly the moment she needed to.
As artists, we’re familiar with this situation to varying degrees. Any time we’re at our own shows, or even doing something as simple as releasing a painting for public view, we summon all necessary skill and confidence into a fixed period of time in which we allow ourselves to be stars, to lead the room in a chorus of our own making. We understand the necessity of doing so, at least in short bursts, especially when we’re promoting something specific.
But what happens the rest of the time? Why do we tend to put our public selves into stasis when we’re not attached to the art? We still have a duty to be artists, which is doing more than making art. We have a purpose to live artistic lives, with intention and passion. Our lives should be as interesting and inspiring as our art. Being an artist is an action, not a title.
Sometimes I just want to slap myself.
I have terrible mood swings regarding my art. One minute I think my work looks great and my career is going to be swell and everything is awesome. The next, I downward spiral into despair that nothing looks good, nothing is working, I’m a hack, it’s going to fail, people will laugh and mock and cry.
It’s all part of my process.
Generally at some point during every single painting I’ve ever made, I love it; I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done. At another point, with every single painting I’ve ever made, I hate it. It’s trash. It’s not worthy of continuing. And I do this back and forth throughout the entirety of creating each piece until I’m finally happy and satisfied with it. Continue reading
Well since my master plan of getting a tree and making things semi-festive this year has not panned out due to our house being infested with illness, I thought I might do a little dreaming instead. If I can’t decorate, I can still use my creativity!
Here are five things I dream of doing, some easier to accomplish than others, but one day I’ll have done them all.
1. Throw a big festive dinner for friends and family. Vegan options, not-remotely-vegan options, wine flowing like wine. In a big decorated house.
2. Spend all of autumn in a place that really shows its seasons. I’ve always dreamed of renting out a nice house from maybe September through December, somewhere like Vermont, where I can watch all the leaves turn colors and then fall off while the world around me morphs into a giant snowglobe. And everything will smell like apple cider, and people will walk their dogs through piles of leaves and the dogs will be wearing scarves and sleigh bells will jingle in the distance. That’s how it is there, right?
3. Make hot white chocolate for my husband. I’m not a fan of white chocolate either (the darker the better) but the poor kid is allergic to regular chocolate. It’s so sad.
4. Buy mistletoe and hang it somewhere.
5. Go stay in a shnazzy hotel in a big city that’s all decorated and bustling for the holidays, with window displays and people running around and lights hanging from everything. Like Paris. Or New York.
Despite not yet having a tree or even knowing if I’ll be able to get one, I know I have a few things to look forward to this year either way. Hanukkah party at our friend’s house. Sushi on Christmas Eve. Driving around looking at lights with my husband. Mulled wine and watching Downton Abbey with my mom.
But in the meantime, I’m gonna keep dreaming of a healthy weekend.
—Written by Shayla Maddox for Art & Musings
So I’ve learned something.
I went to Kauai to find answers, not really even knowing what my questions were, but feeling like there was something I was missing that I needed to find. Or maybe I needed to be found. One of those. I don’t know.
I wait for answers too often. If I want something to happen, I assume things are simply going to work out, eventually. Someone or something will swoop in with neon signs and arrows showing me every step of the way.
But clearly, for awhile now, I’ve been unhappy. I’ve felt unsettled and awkward, almost like I was intentionally avoiding something. And for the first few days in Kauai, I wasn’t settled either. I was thrilled to be there, of course, but I felt a little like I was phoning it in. The truth was, I was starting to panic. What if I didn’t find answers here? WHAT IF THERE WERE NO ANSWERS?! Gack. Continue reading
Relaxation doesn’t come easy for me, if at all. I’ve battled severe insomnia since I was a child. I’ve always had difficulty shutting off my brain. Over the years, I’ve developed pretty good skills at hiding it from the outside world, but internally I’m usually worrying over something. I like to drum up things to fret about if otherwise there’s nothing.
Working for myself is both a trigger and a relief in this regard. Since I’m obsessing over details anyway, I might as well direct that energy toward my own business. I work excellently on my own. I don’t need anyone to point out all the various nuances of business that I should be watching. (Even if I’m conversely too lazy to take action on them.)
Occasionally I must take drastic measures and run away somewhere. Travel is my drug of choice lately. It’s the only thing I find just as exciting as art. Sometimes more so. Sometimes it’s exactly what I need to inspire me to do more art. Often, while I’m gone, I still try to work. I answer emails, renew listings, send out invoices, keep everything moving along.
I think I’m afraid to let go. Continue reading
Do you decorate?
I’ve always adored holiday decorations. Or, at least, I used to, before I had adult responsibilities and recognized that I was short on space. (Clutter didn’t bother me as much as a child.) Even the holiday decorations in stores made me giddy, and I dreamed of which “style” I would put up if I were grown up and had my own home.
Now I am, and I do, but I’m not very interested in decorating. Which makes me sad.
In fact, I’ve become less interested in decorations the bigger my home has gotten. I put more effort into decorating when I was 21 – and squished into a small apartment with 3 other people – than I do now. I don’t know why.
Well, yes I do. Now my priorities are different. My business is my focus. My studio has expanded exponentially with each move we’ve made, thereby rendering any “bigger space” irrelevant. I also grew to hate clutter, in part because I spend all my time in a messy studio. It doesn’t help that I try to be all minimalist and Zen. It’s hard to fit multicolored lights and reindeer into that. Continue reading
I wasn’t always a painter. Sure, I’d dabbled before, but it was never something that had any sort of hold over me. In fact, I found it boring. Then one day, out of the blue, I had this terrible, burning, incredible need to paint. To really paint.
So, I did the only natural thing to do. I found this awesome painter I was acquainted with, who had a long and successful career as an artist, walked straight up to him and said,
“I want to paint.”
He didn’t blink. In fact, he told me exactly what to do.
The most important thing, he said, was not to spend too much money on materials. Specifically, he told me to start out with house paint, preferably the “oops” paint (the cans that had been messed up at the hardware store), because it was cheaper. At first I thought this was in case I decided I didn’t like painting. A good point, to be sure, but in actuality he didn’t want me to feel guilty using up anything I’d bought. Which I would have.
Then he told me what continues to be the best advice I have ever received about art, ever:
“Don’t make it good.” Continue reading
The first is called Peter Pain and the one below is a family of spooky eyeballs just in time for Hallowe’en! Both measure 10 by 10 inches (25cm by 25cm). I’m hoping to complete them both this weekend. I’ll expand upon the significance of each illustration once they are done, scanned and blogged individually.
Hope you are all having a great weekend!