Monday, December 30, 2013

New Skills

Every job that I have ever had asked me to learn how to do something new. This new venture is the same as any other job. In the past I have learned things as from how to run a cash register to scheduling the inner workings of an office. These were all essential to being good at my job. I couldn't function in that position if I had been unable to adapt and learn these new skills.

I am learning more and more that I have to pick up more skills in order to function as a small business of one. The only catch is that I don't know all of the roles that I am going to have to fill. So every day I have to learn something new in order to keep up with everything. 

Since I have a habit of getting distracted by things, keeping all of these roles may help me to be more interested in continuing my work. Being all of these different people is much more engaging that being just an artist. I get to do art, package, public relations, finances, everything. 

I look forward to what I am going to have to learn next. It is good to know that I will never have a life that stagnates. If I just keep moving I will not fall back.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Almost Forgot

I'm not perfect. I have been trying to be good about keeping up with this blog, but somehow this week has gotten away from me. I have to admit, that even though I have tried to keep up with everything that eventually things will get away from me. I just have to remember that everyone will mess up at some point.

I cannot do everything all of the time perfectly. That would be impossible. I will try everyday to be a better person. If you do the math all you have to do is improve yourself, .27% a day and by the end of the year you will be a 100% better person by the end of the year. All you really have to do is try  nothing more. Even if you fail the fact that you tried made you a better person.

So even though this week has been difficult to get everything done, the fact that I have fought every excuse not to write I have improved myself. Today I have defeated my excuses and have tried even though I don't really have anything else to give. I have this, and that may just be all I need to make m y .27% today.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just the Right Amount

I love me a hot chocolate, but just like anything else I must practice moderation. My love for my art must be balanced the same was as my favorite high calorie beverages. I have to love my work or it just wouldn't be worth doing. I have to have passion for what I do or doing it will become a chore and I will eventually lose any motivation for working on it and it will eventually land in my pile of unfinished projects, and well that would just make it a waste of time. 

On the other end of the scale is loving my work too much. It is like having an ugly kid. I know this is probably a really inappropriate comparison, but I have already started with so I may as well finish explaining. You love your child, and as it is right to do, you can see past any flaws in their appearance. To you they are  beautiful, but sadly there are attributes that make a person appealing to the eye. Not to say that is the way we should judge people, but there are features that make a person pleasing in appearance. Though there are these common standards of beauty, your child will more common than not, be beautiful to you know matter what. It is after all the product of your labor and love. Just like your child your view of your work can be clouded by your love for it. I am always reminded of what Tim Gunn from Project Runway calls the monkey pen experience. When you first walk into the monkey pen you can smell the stink of their feces, but after twenty minutes you grow used to it. It takes someone to come in with a fresh perspective to tell you it stinks. 

Seeing through the smell of our own love for our work takes a fresh perspective. We have to be willing to love our work to have the passion to do it, but if we love it too much we cannot see the flaws in it. We have to be willing to take a critique, and we have to be willing to see it clearly enough to make it better. If we cannot see what is wrong with our work because we love it too much, we will never see it clearly enough to improve it. Our work will never reach its true potential because we have blinded ourselves to the flaws. 

Everything in life needs moderation. There is no exception. You can over do the good things just as easily as the bad. When we have proper perspective we, and moderation in our life we give our selves the greatest chance of improvement and success. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'll Pencil that in

I love lists and schedules. They keep me in line, help me get things done. If I didn't have these things around me all of the time, reminding me of what needs to get done, nothing would. Without these reminders I would probably spend the majority of my time watching reruns, and binge eating gummy worms. I make a point of completing my lists each week no matter what may come up. This is where the holidays come in.

The holidays can mess us all up. We all have a tendency to fall off the horse when the holidays come around. I can be the most devoted person to working out, and dieting but when the holidays hit I run out of time to go running, and add that extra piece of pie to my diet. Then by the time we get to January I have gained weight and gotten so out of my routine that I have to kick my own butt to get the ball rolling again.

I have developed a series of solutions. Through out the majority of the year I try to split up my work to always fall on specific days of the week, I give myself some freedom to accommodate the holidays. I don't have to write on the same day I would normally, I just have to make time to write at some point during the week. Even if all of my work ends up being at 11 pm on Saturday, I will at least put some time into it.

My other strategy to making things work during this time of year is the amount of work I am doing. I don't have to go to the gym for a whole hour, I can do 10-15 minutes just so that I am keeping consistent and it will not be such a chore to start up again, because I don't have to start up again, I just decrease the amount I do for the holidays then bring it back when they are over. By doing less, I don't stress out, and by not stopping I don't have to deal with finding motivation to start up again.

I don't ever just stop working. By always doing something towards my work even if it is writing just a couple of sentences here on the blog, rather than a whole entry, can be the difference between staying consistent, and never finding the motivation to start working again. Keeping up momentum is key to never falling to the wayside. You can coast through the holidays, peddling every once in a while. Then when the holidays are over you don't have to work as hard to get back up to speed since you never completely stopped.

Goals and holidays can be enjoyed at the same time. We don't have to choose we can enjoy both, all it takes is a little adaptation.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When Things Happen

Sometimes things go your way sometimes they don't. Then there is an interesting place where you think that things are going to happen and nothing does, or that place where you don't expect anything to happen and you are taken by surprise. This week I was given an opportunity to spread the word about my work that was completely unexpected. I jumped at the chance to get the word out to sell more art and get things done. I  diligently gave it all I had to not only make this contact feel appreciated for the chance but also make the most of this free advertising.

Everything was settled and the ad went up. Pleased with myself I waited. I sat back and just waited for views and sales to come rolling in. I checked my accounts ever few minutes for something to happen. The whole day went by and relatively nothing happened. I had done exactly what I had always told myself not to do. I had pinned my hopes on this windfall of an opportunity. I thought that this was my big break, I will get somewhere today. I will be successful, and all without having to work as hard as I had for the last couple of months.

I really should learn by now that the old adage of "don't count your chickens before they hatch," is so true. I cannot pin all of my hopes to some off chance. I would then be just like the people who are on reality television who confess to the watching audience that this is my only chance to make something of myself, if I don't win that I will have to go home a failure. What!? Seriously!? I always question the validity of those people's stories. Are you still alive? Are you still capable of doing stuff? If that is that case then your endeavors are not completely over you can still keep working even though your windfall chance didn't pan out.

That is what it is anyways, A Chance. You gambled that you would succeed on this it didn't work out but that doesn't mean that you are a failure. Gambling is just that, it is taking a chance that you are going to get a great reward for a minimal amount of effort. Some times it pans out sometimes it doesn't. It doesn't mean you don't take a chance and gamble on your prospects, but it also doesn't mean that you have to stop trying if your gamble doesn't pay off. Is means you just have to keep plugging along working towards your goals, maybe you can gable again or maybe not. What matters is that you don't stop trying just because chance wasn't in you favor for the day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Losing Motivation

Sometimes life feels like this:

I do all of this stuff during the day and week and I feel like I am being productive, but then I look around and feel like I haven't really done anything at all. Progress can be slow at times, and I live for the little moments where I feel like I have won some small battle.

I try to keep records and documentation of what I have been doing, so that I can at least measure the progress that I have made on my work. Even though I do all of this, I still sometimes feel like I am making a futile effort at getting to my goals. That is where the documentation comes in, if I can some how quantify my progress at least then I can recognize in some sort of abstract way that I have done something. That even though the measurement may have only moved a tiny bit, at least I have gotten it to move up that far and hopefully in the future I can get that measurement to move further. The only down side is that when I get to the point where that measurement is moving so little, I check it more often trying to watch progress happen. This really doesn't help me get any more done. All it really does is make that needle move even slower. The sad things is that some days I just want to see the needle move without having to do any work. That is just not going to happen. As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

It is times like this that it is the hardest for me to find the motivation to keep working on my goals. When it feels like I am getting nowhere, I don't have a reason to make myself work. It becomes difficult to convince myself that I will eventually get there, and that at some point my effort will pay off. This is why I have so many half finished ideas and projects. I have become discouraged about my work and just give up trying. I lose faith that eventually things will turn out.

I have to admit this is the most difficult time for me. I often get depressed, because I don't see what my work is actually achieving. I try to be determined that this time I am not going to give up. I may think to myself that I will not become discouraged by the lack of progress, but it is just so hard to fight sometimes.

I don't know if there is a magic trick to overcoming this lack of motivation, but for me I have not found it. I have just learned that it is going to suck for a while. Things are just like that. They will suck, but if you really want to reach the end goal then you are just going to have to push yourself through this hard part. This is what helps you delineate between the things that you really find worth the time or the things that may not be worth it. If it is important enough to you that you are willing to push though this rough spell and keep working than you know it is worth your time. If you aren't willing to push through this then maybe you weren't as passionate about what you are doing as you thought. In the end you have to decided, is what you are doing it worth it? Is the effort you are putting in worth the value of what you are going to get out of your completed goals?

If it is then don't give up. Take a breath maybe step away for a second to realize that it is worth your effort. It doesn't feel like such a task when you stop to think the value of your time when you finally reach your goal. It was time well spent, it was effort well expended. It is all just part of taking the bad with the good.

Monday, November 4, 2013

How many fails

I totally fail all of the time. Lately I have been working on my watercolor skills and trying to paint something as a Christmas present. I have made loads of attempts to get what I have in my head onto the paper. Below are all of my sad failures.

What I have to remember about failure is, what I have written about before, that if it is a fail that means the work is not done yet. What I have to do is to innovate. Obviously my strategies that I have been using have not been working for me yet. This just means I have to keep trying new things.

I had a teacher in grade school that had a poster in her classroom that we did a lot of activities based on. It had a picture of an umbrella at the top. Below the picture was a series of ways to innovate something. One box had a picture of a branched umbrella that had one handle and several covers with at title called multiply. Another box had an image of an enormous umbrella that resembled more of a canopy with the label of scale up. Then a picture of a tiny umbrella that could easily be a drink umbrella with the title reduce. Last there was a picture of an umbrella attached to a jacket with the title of reinterpret.

These are all strategies that I like to use when I am having trouble trying to make my own work come together. Am I working too small, or too big? Should I add more, or take away from what I am doing? Answering these questions often leads to other fails, but at least I have tried that alley and have learned what options are not working for me. In stead of sitting there not knowing if some change would actually work out I can say that I have tried that angle and know for sure whether it worked or not.

If insanity is defined as someone who repeats the same actions over and over and expects different results, then this method should be the epitome of logic. If something isn't working them move onto a new strategy. No need to continue to bash yourself against the same wall over and over hoping that things will turn out differently this time.

Below are some of my fails. I have been working for weeks to try to get to the right method of work for this piece. I'm still not sure I have gotten to that point, but hopefully all of these fails will get me closer since I have eliminated many of the things that aren't working.

Monday, October 28, 2013

You Know for the Fridge

I like to do home made gifts for people for birthdays and Christmas. There are a couple of reasons for this. First I am kind of a cheap skate artist. Not that I cannot afford to get people stuff for the occasion, I just don't enjoy spending frivolous amounts of money on things I am not sure the person is going to really enjoy. This is not saying that I don't get people gifts from time to time. When I really know the person and I know that they want something that they would truly appreciate, but would never buy themselves. Then I will try to get that for them. Like one year I found a pewter punch bowl for my mom. She had been looking for one for a while and when she had seen one didn't get it and lost her chance. An opportunity she had really regretted missing. When I can do something like that there is no need to make them a Christmas present.

There are just so many times where I don't really have a good idea what bought item would capture the way I feel for a person. I have been on the receiving end of these kinds of gifts, and lets just say that for years I didn't have to buy myself lotions or body sprays, because that was just what you got the generic female. Not that I will ever argue with getting more stuff like that, but other times there are gifts that I just straight up won't use and feel completely guilty for that. I have brought home gifts at times that have built up a layer of dust on their unopened packaging, before I just give up trying to think of how I will use them, and re-gift or donate them so that they don't go their whole lives completely neglected.

I like to give gifts that tell people just how much I know about them, and that I care enough to listen to them and know what they would want. I try to anticipate their wants and needs so that when they receive a gift from me they will appreciate it and understand just how much I value them. In the past I have made sketches of my great grandparents for my grand mother. I have done paintings of places that were meaningful to people, and subjects that family and friends love. It is easier to tailor make something for a person you love if you do it yourself rather than finding a store bought item. You know the person the store does not.

This is also how I see my perspective buyer for my art. I would like to think of them as my friends. If I were to make art for a family member or friend I try to think what they may like in an a piece of art. I build a fictional person to make art for and try to please them. I try to make them feel some kind of emotion regarding the piece. Usually I go for laughs. If you look at my work it is filled with irony.

This strategy is what most people recommend when trying to sell you work any way. You can fill out little worksheets and do all of the little things that people try telling you will get into the head of your potential customers. The thing is that for me and possible for others it is just easier to imagine your audience as a friend. Your product is just like making a good joke with that friend. It is a conversation with that buyer, but you have to show them you are listening to them too, in order to provide something that they want. Making a product for your buyer, can be just like trying to pick out the perfect gift for your family member. Think about it you are making them a gift, or a gift for their friend, so what you are making must be filled with just a much love as when you are making it for your own people.

This to me is how I put passion into my work, and how I show my customer just how much I appreciate them too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I don't have the tools

I am realizing more and more that I don't have the tools I need to do all of the things that I want to do. I thought that when I went to school that they would help me to obtain all of the keys I would need to be a success. I was wrong. What I got was a general idea of what I needed to do to succeed, but none of the details, the actual know how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Being an artist I have learned how to draw, and paint, and sculpt, and all other kinds of things that pertain to the act of creation, but none of the tools I would need to actually be an artist. No one taught me how to talk to people about being an artist. No one taught me how to write proposals, or how to find galleries, or shows. I wasn't given any resources to do these things. So when I graduated and didn't really know how to be an artist I drifted.

These skills that I was missing were essential to being an artist. You cant just sit in a room and make art for your own walls, and call yourself an artist. A closet artist is, at least to me, not an artist, at that point you are just a hobbyist.

I want to be an artist. I want to get back into the creative art community. I am finding that it is not as easy as I had originally thought. Especially because of my lack of knowledge. The gaps in my learning are proving to be a handicap that I didn't know I had until recently. Maybe if I had known about this handicap earlier I would have been able to work my way around it by now, and be more successful now that I currently am.

I read all of the blog posts about how to get press, and how to make connections. I understand the theory of what I should be doing, but no one post useful places to start at. Understanding how to do something and actually having the tools to do it are completely different. I know how to make decorate a cake but I lack the tools to actually accomplish what I want to do. I know what I should be doing, but I don't know what sites to use or who I should be talking to to get to that point. I need resources that I just don't have.

I hope that maybe as I struggle through this process of discovery, I can help those that follow find the information they need to have success without having to go through the same road blocks that I do. I hope that I can be more informative than the vague blogs that I have been reading. I don't want anyone to have to go through the same things that I have trying to find their path. One person's success should pave the way for another to find their own. We should be generous with our successes, helping those that follow rather than being selfish with them, and refusing to share our knowledge.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doing ALL the Stupid Stuff

There is now way around it. There will always be work you have to do that you don't really want to. You may like what you do for the most part but there is always the part that you hate. I love my art. I love the creative freedom of doing art and making things, and just being creative in general. The thing is that, that is just not going to get the job done. I can't just make art and expect the world to gather around and buy it. I have to sell it. I have to do the work necessary to get noticed. I have to look professional, and be extroverted enough and confident enough to get out of my comfort zone and sell myself.

This is the hard part of work. It is doing the things that you are not comfortable with. It requires that kind of sacrifice. I don't really know how to do all of the work that I need to, so I am going to have to learn how. That is also extra work that I don't really want to do. I have to be proactive. I have to force myself to those places that make me feel uncomfortable so that I can find the place where I am successful.

There is also the mundane. I have to do all of the paperwork, and the writing that I really don't care about. I know that everything has to be on point in order to be a success, but I am constantly tempted to just put half effort into the details I don't care about. Descriptions of my work, and summaries of things, creating a consistent theme, or taking quality pictures, fall by the way side, because I'm not passionate about that. I am passionate about making art.

I have always sucked at details. I am more of a big picture kind of person. I just have never had the patience to make everything exact. My art teachers hated it because I didn't really ever take the time to make my lines straight or precise. It it why I have sucked at math, I get the general principle but have trouble keeping all of the details straight. It is why my house is in general clean, but the bathroom still feels dirty and I have difficulty finding things some times.

Now that I know what I want, I have made goals, and I know what needs to be done, I am forced to look at the details of my work again. I have to make sure I have consistent color themes, and banners and things that I have never felt I have been very good at. I know that if I put the work into it that I can get it right and be able look professional. I just have to be willing to put in the effort.

Effort is the key to success. You cannot ignore the little things or things will never come to fruition.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Keep Moving Forward

There are a lot of things to learn about failure. Not just about how to improve your work, but you know those pesky life lessons that your parents always told you would build character. I often, for unwarranted reasons, feel like a failure. These are unwarranted, mostly because I have felt like I have failed, but when you put my experience into context it really isn't a failure. Failure is all about perspective, and how you feel when you have finished doing something.

Perspective is probably the most important thing to feeling like a failure for many reasons. First the reason that you feel like you have failed is, you play the comparison game. I am not doing as well as this person. Or you watch some reality television, or have a favorite role model that has filled you with a false idea of what it means to be successful. How to use perspective in this case. There are several billion people on this planet. The percentage of people that end up on reality television or make it to world renown status as a person in their field is well less than 1% of 1% (FYI as an artist this is just an estimate because I don't do maths). These people that get these great break-throughs in life are more rare than the people who have won the lottery. 

You are not a failure because you didn't catch the eye of some top guy in your field and automatically rise to the top, because he saw some unpolished gem in your eye. This is reality and well it just doesn't work like that. Also, just think about how many successful careers are made by those people who didn't have to work for what they got on those reality television shows, or who got their big break with no work. Can you think of more than like 5 who have actually made something out of instant success? I cannot even think of one. So, keep perspective, these others you see around you and who you see in the news and on television are no real judge of just how well you are doing in life. Not only that, without fighting for it you can take for granted what you have earned and squander the chance you have been given not really appreciate the big break that you got. 

Another thing we need to keep in mind about perspective is, whether or not we are actually done. Yes, you complete a project or a step to a goal at some point an think I am done, my work here is finished. But are you really? Think about it. Your end goal is really to be a success. If you are not successful then you a probably not done. There is more that you can do. If you have not completed something that people see as a success, then you need to either invest time into making it better, showing it in a better light so that people can understand it the way you do, or start over and fix everything that you may have passed over the first time. It is only after you have exhausted every course of action that you can call something a failure.

You are not done until you have not other step you can take on a project. If you didn't do something and think to yourself well that should be good enough, then you are not done, and if it fails it is not because the idea or the work was bad it is because you failed it. You didn't finish. You didn't put in all of the work in necessary to get what you wanted out of it. You have to be completely done with something before you can label it a failure and move on. Like Yoda said "Do, there is not try." You can do anything, you just have to do all of it. You are not actually doing anything unless you have invested your whole self and tried every option. Don't let disappointment and momentary set backs break you down so that you just stop working towards your goal. Life is going to try to keep you from finishing your work, but if you can work passed what you thought was failure and keep going, you are on the right road.

The last thing about perspective is, is your actual work praise worthy. Have you actually made something you are not just proud of but something others would appreciate to, Or did you just take a dump and then expect the angels of heaven to come down and pretend it is gold? Minimal effort on your part doesn't deserve your praise let alone the praise of others. Did you do your best? It is most likely that you are not some kind of savant in your field. You are going to have to work for what you want, and putting in a half-assed (sorry but this is the best description I can come up with) effort is not going to garner any such praise. Crap is crap and people are not going to appreciate when you try to sell crap as something other than what it is. You have to put in the effort, and the practice so that you are no longer putting out crap, and actually making the gold you told everyone that you were. It is time to get perspective and realize that maybe you could do a little more, that there was something of you that you were holding back, and that you can do better. To be successful you have to lay down all of your cards, your blood, sweat and tears, and your whole heart. Only when you have held back nothing can you feel like you have really tried. Be sure that you have left it all out there on the dance floor. 

If however you have invested your whole self into your work. You have taken passion out onto the dance floor and danced till you didn't have feet left and your muscles gave out and the DJ refused to keep playing music, and you still haven't gotten the success you have looked for then it is time to decide. You have to decide how you are going to feel about this. It is going to be disappointing. There is no way to candy coat rejection. However, it is now up to you to decided if you are going to let your attempt to be a complete failure,  bring you down and give up, or are you going to let your failure become a success. There is something to learn from every experience in life. Even if you have failed after putting out all you got, you will have learned something from what you have done. If you are human and can learn and heal and move on, you can always come up with something new. So, turn your failure into success. You learned how to bounce back from failure, maybe you learned a new strategy you can invest into your next venture, maybe you made connections that will help you with your next idea. No attempt is ever a complete failure, you just have to find the success that was there and incorporate it into moving forward. If you let a failure be a complete failure and gain nothing from the experience you will stop moving forward and never find any kind of success you were looking for in the first place.

Just keep moving forward, find the success in failure.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things Have Changed

I have recently realized just how different of a person I am now versus what I was when I was in high school. It is nice to look back and see just how far I have come. It is like looking in the rear view mirror of a car. You can recognize all of the things that you have passed, or done in the past but you can see them from a completely new angle. They may have influenced your driving when you were on that part of the road, and brought you to where you are now but they aren't really that relevant to you any more. Looking at them you see them in a new light. Because of those obstacles that you drove passed then were important then, but now you have changed because of them, and they no longer have the influence on you that they used to.

In high school I was worried about things that I could care less about now. I was going to do things that are completely different from what I am doing now. I had different goals, some of them I have obtained and others I have abandoned. I don't think I have a single goal now that I share with the me from then. I had different interests and priorities. I had a different temperament, and after taking the Mayor Briggs personality test again I have changed from an extrovert to an introvert in the last few years.

Though I cannot separate my life now from what I was then, because we are all a result of our past experiences. I have learned that I am so different now that if I were to encounter the same types of situations that I was in then I would act completely different. Like that episode of the StarTrek when Picard ( gets the opportunity to undo the incident where he had been stabbed through the heart, and it changes his whole life. He never ends up having the same life experiences and soon realizes that he would rather have die then than change the opportunity he had to become the man he was. Though if he met another instance where he had to make a similar decision that would then affect his future he would chose a different rout because his experience with being stabbed help him to make a better decision in the future. But he needed the experience being stabbed to become who he was and to learn how to make that good decision later. Your experiences may suck but you will need them for later.

I feel that I have grown like that in the last few years. That my experiences now inform my present and that these changes have made me better. I run a life that has structure, I take care of my body, I have learned how to interact with people that would have otherwise upset me in the past. There are so many virtues that I have bettered in myself. I hope that I can continue this kind of growth for the next years of my life. I feel that these life experiences have improved me so much, that the person I was is so changed, that I doubt I could recognize me any more if the old me and the new me were to face each other.

I want always to continue this kind of progression in my life so that I don't ever stand still. Because there really is no such thing as standing still. You either go forwards or backwards, and I will always choose forwards.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The difference

Something I have been having trouble with it trying to tell the difference between being happy making art for myself, and being happy making art for the approval of others. I am constantly reminded that the only way that I can be truly happy with the work that I do, is when I do it for myself. Sadly, I am super self-conscious. I want people to like what I make. It is like when I sit down to watch one of my favorite movies with someone who has never seen it before, and I sit there hoping they will like it so that I can validate my own taste level. I want to hear other people approve of what I have already made the decision to like.

It's not like I don't have the ability to pick out things that I like on my own. I just want to be sure that once I have made that kind of decision that other people can appreciate them the same way I do. That is why it took me so long to start producing my art to put out there for the general population to see. I have been making stuff for my family for years, and they have liked it, but that really doesn't say much, because sentiment and the fact that they cannot tell me how they really feel because they have to live with me. I have always wanted an unbiased group of people to like my work, but have also been afraid that they may not like it.

It reminds me of that moment in Back to the Future, where bot Marty and his dad have made a similar comment regarding their passion. "I just don't know if I can take that kind of rejection." Marty was a musician and George was an author and it is true for me as well working as a painter and even writing here on this blog. Putting yourself out there can be scary, and make you lose sight of why you are doing this to begin with. You can become blinded to why you are doing this in the first place. When you are always worried that people aren't going to like what you are doing you forget that you are doing this because you like it not really for them. Yeah it is going to suck to. But if you give it up because people don't really appreciate what you are doing you are never going to get the practice you need to get better. Then they are never going to get the exposure to your work that they need in order to truly appreciate it.

Why was it that you picked the creative arts? What made you want to paint in the first place? Let's be honest with ourselves. It had nothing to do with what you parents wanted, or your friends were doing, or what your teachers thought. You and I picked the fine arts of one sort or another, because we just liked doing them. There is something about that world of creation that makes us happy. Yes, we want people to like them too, but like with that movie you like. It is not going to change your mind about the movie if your friend doesn't like it too. It is still going to be your favorite because somewhere  in your soul it resonates with you.

I after much reluctance have put my work out there, and I have to admit to myself that I would love for people to like what it is that I do. It does stroke my ego to get the approval of people. It would give me some sense of validation to my work. But I need to always keep perspective. I don't do this for people to tell me it is good, and give me a pat on the back, or even buy my art. I do this so that I can feel the joy of a creative outlet. I do this because my soul longs to do this, to make something. I cannot lose sight of why I am making art, or it will become job, and what made it fun for me to do will be lost, and I will no longer find the joy in it that I did before. It won't be my art any more, because I will so be consumed with pleasing others that I will lose sight of what made me like it so much to begin with.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Recognizing beauty

When I was in high school I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for nothing more than pictures of pretty things. I copied folders, discs, thumb drives, you name it with pictures of things that I thought were pretty. I spent loads of time just trying to appreciate pretty things. There were obviously some I liked better than others, but I would literally just sit there, look at the screen, and appreciate the beauty that other people had managed to capture in those little lighted pixels.

When I had learned about what Plato described as the idea of beauty, it made me think about why it was that I collected these images. Plato thought of things as Forms. Beauty is a Form or an ideal. There is really no existing object in the world that can embody all of the aspects of beauty, but objects that you call beautiful have some aspect or another of what would be considered part of the Form of beauty. It is an idea in your head of what beauty is, not an actual thing. Each person perceives the Form of beauty in their own way. Thus what aspects are contained in the Form of beauty, can be debated by individuals. For example the color of an apple can be the aspect of beauty that you see in the apple. Thus Beauty must be in part the color of that apple. Another example is the smell of a tree. If that is something associated with beauty, then the Form of beauty must include both the color of the apple and the smell of the tree. So, if a person were to try to convey the entire essence of the Form of beauty, they would spend the rest of their life trying to collect all of these aspects, and in the end, most likely have collected the entire world as a demonstration of beauty.

That last bit is part of my own conclusion. Because it occurred to me that if I were to completely understand why it was I had so many countless images of beauty collected on my computer, and yet I was still collecting them, I needed to understand the Form of beauty. When I understood that no single picture or object could account for all of the aspects of the Form of beauty, I decided to change my way of thinking. I didn't need to search for that illusive picture that I could look at and find perfect beauty. All I had to do was to recognize the aspects of beauty in everything that is around me.

This idea changes the way you can see the world around you. when you are looking for aspects of a Form in everything you will probably find it. Everything has at least one aspect of beauty about it. When you learn to recognize that aspect of beauty in an everyday object, it is harder to take that object for granted any more. It is in part Beautiful and that is really all you can hope for since nothing can personify all of the beauty.

What all of this had taught me is that even when the house is a mess, and I feel disheveled and not nearly as pretty as I want to be, I and my home at least still share some aspects with the Form of beauty. When I feel down about my own looks, I can still see that I am not completely ugly, the color of my hair is still an aspect of beauty, or the shape of my eyes are an aspect of beauty. When it feel like the house is an uncontrollable  mess I can at least say that I still surround myself with things of beauty. The dirt on the floor has some aspect of beauty, and the dirty dishes still have aspects of beauty, even if they are covered in grime.

I try not to let this reasoning stop me from maintaining my house, but I also realize that it is still beautiful in its own way. I just work to clean and keep up appearances to include more aspects of beauty in my home, but when it is messy, it is not like I have no beauty around me to appreciate. It is just a little hidden, all I have to do it look at it in the right light to find it again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Finding Satifaction

There is nothing more gratifying that making progress on a task, or a job well done. The hard part is getting to that point. There can be so much in between beginning and end, that we sometime feel like we are never going to make it to the end. I can often get stuck in a loop, where I don't really have motivation to do anything, because I know just how much work is going to have to be done to get it completion, that I just don't know how to get started. I sit there and think, I just don't want to put in the effort. This leads to my being lazy the rest of the day, and then I feel like crap, because I didn't end up doing anything with my time. Then because I feel like crap I don't feel like I can do anything, and so I don't, thus making myself feel even worse. All this leads to a sad downward spiral.

It is an interesting paradox. I don't want to put in effort, then I feel bad that I didn't put effort into anything. My laziness and my self worth fight each other on a continual basis. I have learned that you have to use logic to help self worth win the fight over laziness. Laziness doesn't use logic, it's just to lazy to do it. Laziness is made up of dreams, a crazy illogical place where you are supposed to feel good about thinking about things you want to do. Self worth is made up of achievements, where you have done the things that make you feel good, and thus you actually feel good. Laziness is an illusion of happiness, where as Self worth actually is happiness.

So, what do I do everyday to get myself going? I think about this logic. I think to myself, Will I actually be happier if I sit here on the couch today watching movies, or will I feel happier and more content if I clean the house, do some writing, and work on some of my art work? Will playing another pointless game on my phone actually bring meaning to my life? Or will playing with my kid bring meaning to my life?

When I have successfully played out the logic of my actions, I usually pull myself out of the couch, and go do something. It is at that point that I realize that, hey, this really isn't as bad as laziness has made it out to be. This work really isn't as grueling or terrible as my illogical dream world of laziness lead me to believe. I gain that sense of satisfaction of having been productive during the day, and in the end find true happiness rather than pretended happiness.

There are many ways to work out the logic that will pull you out of the people eating couch. The first step is to just do it. Pull yourself out of the black hole, and give yourself a task. This is why people break goals down into steps, because they can look at things from a different perspective, and not feel so overwhelmed by a task that laziness's argument wins. If you are looking for instant gratification, then pick a smaller task to work on at the moment, and then work up to the bigger one. The mental high of satisfaction gained from a small task well done, can help you along the way to completing those more difficult challenges. Instant gratification doesn't have to come from eating an ice cream sandwich, but can come from a clean kitchen, or a swept floor. Something that only takes minutes of productivity, can steam roll into greatness if you will let it continue to motivate you into action. Use this a positive reinforcement. An upward spiral can be just as effective as the downward spiral that laziness can create.

Self worth comes when you are done with even the simplest of goals. As job well done can boost your confidence in your abilities. It can also show you just how much you are truly capable of. Laziness will tell you every day that you are not up to par. When you complete a task you get to tell laziness that it is full of crap and it should take a hike, because you a capable productive individual full of self worth, and you don't need the crazy illogical dream world full of false happiness that laziness offers.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Me party

Being a stay at home mom is like having any other job, plus being on call 24/7. You have daily tasks and responsibilities, on going projects, and deadlines. Though they may be different from what the average person may do on the job, they are still very real and very important. The only real difference is that you don't get paid for all of your work (with money that is. Smiles and giggles can be just as much payment some days.)

Every job I have had in the past has not been nearly as consuming as being a parent. That is obvious to anyone who knows anything about parenting. Most people don't have to live with their work, look at it every day, know that this particular project doesn't have an end date, and make sure that it doesn't talk back to them. That is, unless they are making robots, and in that case they want their work to talk back to them. Still, being stuck with your work bound to your side at all times can be a bit challenging. I have found that I lose who I am to all of the time that I am investing into the kid. I get to the point that I am defining myself by how good my kid is doing at meeting developmental goals, rather than trying to define myself as a being, separate from him. I become part of him, because I am like his needed appendage that takes care of all of his bodily functions. Without me he wouldn't have food, or be able to take care of his waste, or get around. He makes constant requests of me, and I respond like a third arm that just happens to be more skilled that the two that he actually owns.

This can be come a little depressing when I look at if from that perspective. So what do I do to alleviate that kind of internal struggle? I have a hobby. I take a little time during the day, like when he is napping or playing nicely on the floor by himself, to do something that makes me happy. Something that makes just me happy. Not just him or us, me. I take some time during the day to have a Me Party ( I literally sing the song in my head while I am doing these activities.

My art and my writing and all of the up keep of these things I enjoy doing, have become my daily Me Party. Every one has hobbies outside of work. I don't think anybody is so one dimensional that all of what they are can be entirely summed up by what they do during work. Everyone I know has to have something outside of work to help them unwind, and give themselves more depth in life. Being a stay at home mom is no exception. I still feel it necessary to have hobbies, and do things that are not associated with being a mom. It has become my release for the day, and absolutely essential to keeping me sane.

It is okay to be selfish a little bit every day. I think everybody needs that kind of time to pursue things that they really care about, in order to stay sane and civil. No one should ever make you feel bad for having yourself a little Me Party every once in a while. If we didn't I am pretty sure all of us would be depressed and angry all of the time. Don't worry a little Me Party is healthy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Making it Good

This week as I have been working on getting a new set of paintings done. I was thinking about what motivates me to do this. It made me reflect on the fact that I have been investing so much time into trying to be successful at my art. It dawned on me what it was. When I stopped working to get ready for having my kid I spent a good deal of time depressed. I would literally spend the whole day in the apartment watching television, and accomplishing next to nothing. I have spent my entire life working. My parents own their own business and when I was a kid I worked for them, and learned to understand the value of being a productive member of society. I worked through all of college, and even during high school. I really didn't know how to function without a job, since it had been so long since I had had that kind of freedom.

Then it came to me. Sadly it didn't dawn on me till after I had the kid, but it came to me none the less. I had gotten a degree in art, and I had a ton of creative ideas floating around in my head. What I lacked was the confidence to do anything with it. I didn't know that I could make a job out of the things I like to do. When I worked for my parents I hated it. Honestly, I think that is how it is for most kids working for their parents. When I worked during college, and even after, I was doing things that I was good at, but not really something I truly cared about. I would get bored, and not really want to excel at it. But I realized that I had this degree, and I could actually make art.

I know that I am not famous, or even that great of an artist. (Though I am working on that.) What I do know is that the more I do this, the more capable I become, and more likely that I will create something that people will appreciate. After school I that thought that, because I wasn't automatically great at art that it was something that I really couldn't pursue as a career. The thing is that through most of history, before colleges, and before organized schooling people learned through apprenticeship, and actually practicing their craft to become good at it. I cannot get better if I don't produce, and in the mean time I can get my name out there, and maybe get some recognition along the way. The more I work at it the better I will get. I wasn't born knowing how to ride a bike. I will not be a success over night. I will have some hit a miss along the way, but the more I do it the more hit I will have, and the less miss I will make.

I just have to make it important. I cannot just give up, because I am afraid of failure. If I never get back on the bike, because the first time I sat on it I fell. Then I will never learn to ride. I cannot say to myself, "Yes I could have been a great bike rider if I had, had the time."  If it is so important, than make the time instead of living in a world of regret. I have learned from those months of inactivity, that I cannot pass up a chance to do something, and get better at it, because if I do then I will be stuck on that couch forever, and end this life with only regrets instead of memories.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Getting Started

I have had many blogs before. I had a live journal for crying out loud. I have always love to document my thoughts and feelings about things, but I really haven't been that good at consistency. I guess that makes me human. I have to suck a things, and being a blogger may be one of those things that I suck at. That is why it has become my goal to become better at this. I have decided to attach my writing to the creation of my art. By documenting my processes and new pieces I will be forced to write more often as I create work more  than I write.

Short introduction: I got an art degree in 2010 that really didn't get me anywhere. I spent the next two years doing data entry for different companies, since my degree didn't prepare me for the outside world. I didn't know how to practice my art without school to help me, and I didn't have any avenues to go down for inspiration. After two years of drifting my husband and I decided that I would just quit work, and we would begin our family.

Being a person who is completely incapable of sitting still I went back to my artistic roots and started to make art again, now that I had all of this extra time on my hands. I had to get creative to be creative. I needed to learn how work around my own impairments when it comes to art, and that is what I am going to write about today. We all hit this creative wall, this thing that keeps us from taking our creative ideas and actually bringing them into reality.

I have a hard time starting a project. There I said it. I can sit there and think about all of the different things that I would like to put down, and make into art, but when it comes to starting there it this fear that has a tenancy to take over. I look at the blank paper, or the unsoiled supplies, and think that my first move has to be genius or I will not turn out right. I have to make it perfect, and then all of that pressure builds up behind me and I freeze. I sit there looking at that blank paper and think "Oh crap! I can't do this without messing up."

This was part of why I didn't do anything with my art experience after school. Before I had motivation to actually do something, because if I didn't turn in my assignment no mater how bad it ended up I wouldn't get a grade, and I just can't handle the idea of failure. That out weighed my fear of messing up. Now without motivation and a degree under my belt I felt that everything I did had to be amazing, or that degree would be useless, and I therefore would be useless.

That is the worst lie we can ever tell ourselves when we start the creative process. Creating means that it is going to start out, and not really make sense, it also means that what you thought it was going to be in the beginning isn't necessarily what it will be in the end. If you were to look at a line on a piece of paper you really cannot determine if it will be a picture of a dog, or a completely abstract expression of feeling. They couldn't be more different but they both started with a line of some sort.

I had to come up with a way to break the fear. What did I do?  Well, I don't start out with a blank piece of paper any more. I cannot be afraid to make the first mark if it has already been done for me. That is why I have started work in the collage format. I use old thrift shop art that people have discarded as my canvas and then I paint into it what I think will make the piece more socially relevant to today.

Everyone has a creative handicap, but also everyone has creativity in them. It is not enough to just think that because you have gotten yourself stuck in a loop, where you think you are incapable of creating anything, you have to think around your issues. Deep down inside there ideas, most of them probably half baked but they are there, you just have to find a way to get them out. Don't start with a blank piece of paper, or scribbling first making as many bad marks as you can before you start, so that when you do eventually start you will see the value of that first deliberate mark.

It is just as important that you take the time to exercise your creativity as any other part of your body, because like any other muscle if you don't use it, it will atrophy and you will be stuck in a mind that has a dead imagination. Have faith in those half baked ideas, remember one wrong stroke is just the first stroke on the way to genius. Genius is made up of many okay strokes that add up to awesome, if you don't keep making them you will never get to genius and will be stuck with a couple of okay lines.