Day 10 of #100DaysofUnfinishedStories reminds me of many times I've stared out plane windows wondering where I'm going. With all our differences, we are the same in our hope, our desire for belonging, in our quest for home. Inspired by an image by @francescatrianni who is documenting the journey of refugee families for @findinghome #estonia #syrianrefugees #the100dayproject #watercolorportrait
Day 9: Just saw the Goddess Project at the Tivoli care of @hillymurph and @ambrowne. Definitely inspired encouraged and also still processing my own experience as an artist/creator. I know that I am not alone in wondering and feeling if my work is good enough or worth doing. For me it helps to be committed. Even if those thoughts are unrelenting, doing it anyway is a non-negotiable. I'm just going to show up for my art. Everything else is not my concern. . #100DaysofUnfinishedStories #the100dayproject #thegoddessproject #watercolorportrait #tulummexico @songbirdstudio
Looking for a great grad gift? Animal guidance pendants can be purchased at @phoenixrisingstl and @meshuggah_cafe in The Loop #stl or on RiaSharonArt on Etsy. . Owl says, "LET YOUR HEART GUIDE YOU. YOUR GIFTS ALLOW YOU TO PIERCE BEYOND PRETENSE AND ILLUSION TO THAT WHICH IS DEEPLY TRUE." Each pendant is hand-illustrated by me and set into an antique bronze colored zinc alloy pendant. The 100% linen vintage ribbon makes this a lovely wearable talisman. Wrap it around your wrist, wear it as a necklace, or attach your power animal to your keychain or bookbag. . #graduationgifts #graduationgift #soontobegraduate #graduation2017 #graduationday #graduationday? #animalguidance #animalillustration #animalguidanceproject #owl #owlsofinstagram #animalart #owlart #giftidea #giftforgraduation #handmadeinstl #stlartists #stlartist
Day 1 of #100DaysofUnfinishedStories This year, I'm leaning into discomfort (painting people) by allowing myself to be inspired by the stories written on their faces. Each of these captured moments is just one moment in a story. Who knows where this one will go and whose lives it will touch before it's finished. #the100dayproject
For the last six years, I’ve picked a theme word for the year, a mantra. Inevitably, the word was both a gift and lesson but regardless, the perfect one for that season of my life.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, I wrote MIRACLE on the sand. In 2013, I found a new home against all odds, on the street a dreamed about months before and was able to secure a mortgage despite my feast or famine self-employed status. In the last four years later, there hasn’t been a single property in the entire zip code that would have worked!
For 2016, my word was PLAY! It was a year that was busy with work — I published seven classes on Skillshare, launched a real collection — my Animal Guidance Collection on RedBubble, was selected as a VIDA Voices artist, and painted lots and lots of pets (!) but somehow, it seemed like play.
If you would have told me, in 2015 when I started this “making art every day” practice and the 100 Day Project that in just two years I would be here, I would have smiled and nodded sure but I wouldn’t have believed it.
It’s 2017 and I’ve picked this year’s word. This time, I invited my students to join me in the process. Here’s what one student said…
How can that not make me smile — a lovely way to start the new year! I do hope your year has started off with a smile as well.
p.s. So far, almost 300 people are enrolled in Finding Your Creative Mantra. If you are looking for some guidance for the coming year or just intrigued by the process, check it out with this FREE ENROLLMENT link good through the end of the month — there are 8 free spots left, first come, first serve.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the Artist’s Sketches.
I feel so much comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in this crazy train of art making! It’s a rollercoaster over here, I tell ya… with my mood and outlook on the artistic process changing by the hour. On any given day, my monologue sounds like this…
Hour 1: So excited about this idea
Hour 2: This is crap…
Hour 3: Oh, it’s actually cool…
Hour 4: But it doesn’t look how I want it to look…
Hour 5: Wow! I kinda like it!!!
Teen girl walks in the studio and says, “You’re the only one who’s surprised, mom.”
So yeah. Rinse. Repeat. Every. Day.
But of course, the corollary of this daily occurrence is that I am, in fact, making art every day. This is a true blessing.
When I started out on this exploration back in January, I don’t think I was aware of how important this process would be in my day to day experience. Regardless of what happens, I know this is A THING. This is MY thing. Some people run marathons or ride horses or whatever. They key to my mental/spiritual health is making something. Every. Day.
I’ll have to apologize ahead of time because I’ve found that I’m not a very good blogger. I’ve come to realize that it’s hard for me to concurrently make art and write about the art that I’m making.
The piece above is a recent page from my sketchbook. I’m really loving the low stakes, non-planned exploration that I can do there. They don’t have to hang together in a series or collection. They are just my way to unwind at the end of the day. You can see the progression of layers I built up over a few days.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
For the purposes of accountability and documentation, I do post daily on Instagram so if regular touches are important to you, connect with me there. I’d love to see what you’re up to as well.
How do you know when something’s good?
The bad news: you don’t.
The good news: you don’t have to know.
I was asked this question recently and it got me thinking… do you EVER really know?!
I mean, I’ve talked to published New York Times best-selling authors who still feel like they’re “faking it.”
I’ve listened to well established artists who still describe that feeling of total panic as they sit in front of the blank page.
I’m coming to the realization that there’s no there there.
It’s so trite but true: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. For reals.
What would happen if, instead of looking at your last painting/print/picture and asking, “Is this any good?” You asked yourself, “Did making that feel good?”
Because guess what? You absolutely know when something feels good.
If it felt good to make that thing, make another one.
I know, I know… one more thing?!
I’m telling you, I’m serious about #CRAFT!
What Leigh of All Creativelike said on her blog post really resonated with me:
I learned that sometimes when you really, really don’t feel like making anything, you make your best work. I learned that the combo of consistency and visibility lead to greater prosperity. I learned that creative devotion allows for new ideas to bubble up and new threads to be explored. And, I learned that just showing up and starting was a huge part of an artist’s job.
So, I’m in. This is actually DAY 2:
This week you tackle a major creative block—money. You are asked to really look at your own ideas around God, money, and creative abundance. Th essays will explore the ways in which your attitudes limit abundance and luxury in your current life. You will be introduced to counting, a block-busting tool for clarity and right use of funds. This week may feel volatile.
There you have it. Week 6 is rich!!!! ;P
Our morning pages assignment is to write about the God we believe in.
Who is the God I believe in?
I believe that God actually does listen. And that’s what freaks me out. I feel like God answers prayers and it’s my own limited perspective and/or limitations or brokenness or whatever that messes me up. God gives me what I ask for sometimes… that’s the problem… I get enough rope to hang myself! 🙂 … which is why I am so gun shy on wishing. Be careful what you wish for, and all that.
Of course, there are times when I’ve prayed so earnestly for something and have NOT gotten what I’ve wanted. In those times, I wonder if that’s because God knows better (see above). So my issues around God are not exactly the ones Julia talks about in Chapter 6 re: God’s will and ours being at opposite ends of the table.
What kind of God would I like to believe in?
The kind that has my back, that isn’t just going to let me all crazy in the candy store. You know, Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you….” one that reassures me all I need to do is keep showing up in the world as myself, staying true to my values and that somehow, the lights will stay on, I can put food on the table, straighten my kids teeth and buy them both ponies! Just kidding about the ponies.
I want a God on my side. I wonder what what choices I would make if I believed this, for reals.
1. Counting: Write down every. single. penny you spend. See how long you can do this… maybe for the next month. Notice the patterns and what this reveals about you to yourself. What do you value in terms of your spending? How does that align with your values. Remember your boundaries… what’s inside and outside of your circles? Are you surprised that you spend money on things that you don’t cherish? And deny yourself things that are important to you?
2. Luxury: What feels luxurious to you? A bath, a piece of chocolate, clean sheets, listening to music? I listened to an interview with one of the richest men on the planet who, not surprisingly, lived very simply. He said something along the lines of the things he enjoyed most of all were free: reading a book, listening to music, engaging in interesting conversations.
Along these lines, one of Julia’s tasks for us is to receive some natural abundance: find an interesting rock, one each day. It’s winter so flowers won’t be easy to find in most of North America right now but maybe seed pods or acorns. Send cards to five friends you’d love to hear from—yes, with a stamp.
We cling to our financial concerns as a way to avoid not only our art but also our spiritual growth. Our faith is in the dollar.
p.s. A scan from my sketchbook. I little preview of things to come…
The Artist’s Way Posts
Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety
Week 2: Recovering a Sense of Identity
Week 3: Recovering a Sense of Power
Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity
Week 5: Recovering a Sense of Possibility
Week 6: Recovering a Sense of Abundance
Week 7: Recovering a Sense of Connection
Week 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength
Week 9: Recovering a Sense of Compassion
Week 10: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
Week 11: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
Week 12: Recovering a Sense of Faith
Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.
When I make this point in teaching, I am met by instant defensive hostility: “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?”
Yes… the same age you will be if you don’t.
So let’s start.
~ Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
At a New Year’s Eve party last night, a friend of mine casually mentioned that she had picked up The Artist’s Way and thought of me! This is the third time that the book has entered my awareness in the last six weeks—a sure sign that I’m supposed to do something with it.
The Artist’s Way has been around for years. I received it as a graduation gift 20 years ago but at the time, my artist was in deep hibernation. Like, really deep! Like, the book may as well have been written in a foreign language! And, I have to admit that I’ve never finished it all the way through but realize now that many of my own practices as well as those that I’ve prescribed for others who I’ve coached were inspired by this book.
If the book intimidates you, I’m thinking of boiling it down to it’s essentials here and see if that works better for you.
What a perfect way to kick off 2015! 12 weeks of nurturing creativity! Who’s in? If this feels like just the right thing for you and you want a little accountability, join me. This is my accountability!!! ;P
I’ll do weekly check-in’s on Mondays—for Chapter 1 on January 26 (…to give you time to decide/get book/get acclimated etc. to join the fun.)
Bare Essentials for Chapter 1:
1. Morning Pages: This used to be killer for me. Now, it’s not. For a) I use my Moleskin journals which are 3.5 x 5.5! 🙂
If all you do is fill 3 pages every day with all the reasons why you feel wobbly and inadequate as an artist, it has served it’s purpose. For reals. This a great place to contain your Inner Critic.
2. Artist’s Date: If you need ideas, click the link. But simply and most importantly, spend at least 2-3 hours 1x weekly doing something you absolutely love, that brings you joy, that fills up your creative well.
3. If you have the book, pick any one of the tasks Julia describes for Chapter 1. If you don’t have the book, do this one that has worked really well for me and my artist friends:
A Day in Your Dream Life
If you could do/be anything, what would it be and what does a regular day of that life look like. Paint the picture for yourself, use descriptive words! 😉 What time do you wake up? And what time do you go to bed? What’s the first thing you do? Where are you? What do you do for most of the day? Describe how it feels to live this way. Describe how you are in this life.
You can add a comment below—what you did for your artist’s date. If you feel like sharing your dream life you can or simply write “done” if you’ve completed your tasks or “2” for number of hours you spent nurturing your artist child.
Happy New Year!
Nothing stays the same.
That’s the truth that Jen speaks out loud here.
I’m amazed at the tug of certainty, at the lengths I will go to in order to land on some conclusion, to be able to weave a story that makes sense, even if I’m aware that the knowing is only for now.
As a little girl, I would spend hours and hours reading The Picture Bible. And like all the other little girls and boys in Sunday School, I would scoff at those Israelites when they convinced Aaron to make them a golden calf because Moses had left them at the base of the mountain to commune with God.
But now I read the story with different eyes — through eyes of compassion for the poor souls who were left without a guide for forty days and forty nights. Who could stand it, after wandering all that way from Egypt already? Even though he sent the plagues, even though he parted the sea, who was to say that God would not abandon them in the desert after all… isn’t that what they grumbled amongst themselves?
Certainty is a golden calf. It’s a thing that, although it will not last, is at least something I can feel and sense, that gives me comfort and lifts the burden of an unknown tomorrow.
Certainty. How much energy or or money or time have I invested trying to secure it? How much of my life have I wasted running from ambiguity?
I’m beginning to understand that it, along with peace, and ease, and a stress-free existence — these are the idols that I bow too. They are not real. They are phantoms that disappear as soon as I think I have them in my grasp.
When I think I know, when I am absolutely certain… everything changes.
What are your golden cows? Feel free to send them to me. Let’s put them all together and build… a piñata! 🙂
And then the sun rose, without my willing it to.