Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Priorities

My life has been changing. With a growing child I have had to change more often then I am used to. I have had to learn, to make sacrifices, and re-assess my priorities. It is interesting to see that as he learns and grows he needs more and more of me in his life.

I have had to decided what things are more important to me. Of late I have had to concede that he needs me more than my work does. This means to me that I will have to change how I do things. There will be less time for me to sell and share my work online. There will be less time to write. There will be less time to create.

The thing is that I care more about creating than I do any of these other things, so my conclusion has been that I will probably do little to nothing to sell, or share my work for the next while. I don't see the use of it when I get so little in return, and when my child is so much more important than anything I could gain from the work, that I may just give up the attempts to earn from it.

I will be going back to what I do best. To the things I care about the most. I will focus on my kid, and my work and nothing more. I may come back here every once in a while to give updates but I will not be as regular as I was.

This was a great experiment, but there are things that are more important for me to be doing now. Till next time, goodbye.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Nothing to Report

I don't really have anything going on right now. I have been working on digital art again but it is slow going. I just haven't really been up to anything that I have needed to spill across the pages of this blog. I like to be regular and not miss writing here. I try to be accountable to myself to be sure that I don't get lazy about writing and stop completely. As it stands though I didn't write last week like I should have and I don't really have anything to report right now. I would like to write something but it seems that my mind just isn't in the place to do so right now.

So here are the words that mean I have written this week so I don't feel guilty about not having written last week. Hopefully I can have something more interesting next week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Transition

The hardest time for me to live in or to exist in is when I am in transition. It is at these points I don't really know who I am, or what I should be doing with myself. I don't know my responsibilities, and I don't know what I need. I am never happy in these times of shift, because I feel like I lack a sense of control that guides me through my life.

I used to hate some aspects of summer vacation as I got into high school, because I began to realize that, because of this transitional period I didn't know what to do with myself. I used to lock myself up in my bedroom and read for most of the summer. I didn't know what to do with the amount of freedom that I had, especially knowing that I would only have it for a short time.

My mom, like any other normal diligent mother, would fuss over how I had become so lazy during the summer months. I didn't know then, but I realize now that, it wasn't because I wanted to be lazy, I just didn't know how to deal with this odd time between school years. This place, where I wasn't any school year designation, of freshman or sophomore, but just a kid. Where I didn't have assignments to guide my day, only my own wants and desires to lead me.

I was also knew that this time of freedom would only last for a few weeks, and then I would again be bound by the outlines of school participation. I didn't want to commit myself to something, because I knew that if it took more than a couple of weeks, then it would have to be abandoned for my studies. My limited high school kid funds meant that I didn't really go out much, and I had become bored and disinterested in child's play. I was in limbo, a place of transition, and I didn't know how to deal with that space I had found myself.

It is this concept of transition, or coming of age that probably promotes so many books and movies on the topic. The thing is though, teens aren't the only people who have to face the uncertainty of transitional phases in life. This comes to all of us, and this may be why adults are so often attracted to youth fiction, but that thought is a side note. We are all of us growing and changing all of the time. I am passed my teen years, but find myself in the in-between place of transition again. We may see others who are older than us as being more stable, less changing, but even the elderly who have seen so much of life and appear to us to be a rock of stability, are in their own kind of flux.

These last few months have been a steady realization that I am again faced with this concept of change and transition. I am here in this place that isn't quite here or there. I have obtained many of the goals I have wanted as an adult, but am in a holding pattern before I am move on to other goals. It has been hard to feel productive, and in control during this time of uncertainty. I feel like I am done with the work, or activity of the past and wish to move on to the next phase of my life, but things are not coming together yet to make that possible.

It is difficult. Just like any teen novel, I don't want to be who I was in the past, be it a child or a young adult, I want to move on to being the next version of myself. I am tired of child's play, but I don't have access yet to the adult world. It is increasingly frustrating, and more disheartening than any other place in life I could be in.

I usually know what times of year can make me depressed, and are prepared to deal with them, but this transitional phase of life has come upon me unexpectedly, messing things up and causing me to sag under emotional uncertainty at this change in life. I wish constantly that the transition would just be over, and I can move on instead of being stuck half way between two places. I try as best as I can to do what I am able to, to move things along, but there is not much more that I can do. I just have to wait, and I hate waiting.

All of this emotional baggage has been affecting my work. It is probably why last week I destroyed that piece I was working on. It is difficult to work on things that make you happy when you are feeling so mixed up and confused inside.


I need to just fix what I can and move on. Just because I don't have complete control over my life doesn't mean I don't have control over myself. These emotions don't have to control me. It is always a choice to be happy, as hard as it sometimes it is to make that choice, it is still a choice. Maybe by constantly choosing to be happy it won't be so hard to do so later on. Then I can go back to making good art work again, instead of the sad crappy stuff.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Apathetic

Things have always come easy to me. I was one of those advanced learning students in school, and for the most part physically proficient. I always had good grades even when I didn't try, and I was pretty good at most sports. For the most part learning and gaining skills has been quite easy for me.

This has, sadly, been something that has held me back sometimes. I guess things being easy has lead me to become lazy. Since, I really didn't have to try in school, I just don't have the patience to practice things that I am not naturally good at. I give a half hearted try, because that is what worked on everything else in the past and then lose interest if things are just naturally easy to do.

All of this has given me a rather horrible work ethic. I end up being like that sad little child, who gives up because they just weren't any good the first try at something. I also can get complacent and bored over things that were too easy. The work just doesn't seem worth it, because it doesn't really require much of me. I have just taken up hobbies that sit right in the middle, things that I don't really have to try too hard on, and things that aren't too easy.

This has also lead to weird work habits. If things are too easy, and I don't use up enough of my attention I end up doing multiple things at the same time. People in school used to think it was odd that I would have so much going on while I would work on projects. I would have an audio book, or a movie playing on my desktop while working on my computer projects. At home I play games while watching television. My brain doesn't like being idle so I have to do more than one thing at a time to keep it busy.

When I do my art I like to have at least one other thing going on simultaneously. This has become an adaptation I have had to make to keep myself on task. I have learned that if something is tedious, or difficult, or just not the kind of work that I want to be doing, all I have to do is distract my brain from the fact that I am working on stuff that it doesn't really care for.

This multi tasking may seem distracting or odd to others, but it is how I have learned to function. We all have handicaps of some sort. Even when each person around us may seem to have some skill or advantage that we feel we are lacking in our own lives, we have to realize that they are having their own personal struggle.

Not everyone struggles in the same way that I do, and though I may look at professionals that I admire because of their drive and passion for something, they have their own struggles they deal with. We all have to find solutions to our own problems.

I have been having trouble with a piece this week. I had a great idea but my lack of drive and my own laziness left my work lacking. I thought it was going to be easy and I could have it done quickly. I blew through the work thinking I didn't have to try. My own carelessness and lazy disposition ruined the piece. Because I was so neglectful in my work I'm not sure that I can fix it at this point.

I forgot for a while to use all of the techniques I have learned to keep my interest in my work. I didn't practice the distractions that I normally do to keep me on task. I didn't put as much care as I should have in the work, and now I look at what I have done with regret. My own apathy has brought me only sadness.

I cannot let my weaknesses get the upperhand in my work. When I let myself fall into these traps I only have myself to blame. I have the skill, I have the knowledge, and I have the ability to do the work that I intend to do. I just need to be sure, before I start, that I am not wasting any of that potential by being laszy or neglectful in any aspect.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Admiring Others

I often get so caught up in my own world of work that I fail to notice, let alone appreciate the work of others. Everybody works. Everyone is creative. All work of any kind can be considered art. I don't really think it matters what you do, the fact that you do something is creative, constructive and in its own way artistic.

There is beauty in a job well done. It was odd really, how I started to notice the wonderful work of others. I like to look all around when I go walking daily. I like to look at the things that most people don't. Up in the sky, at the slatting of the fences, the cracks in the sidewalk. I like to notice the things that change from day to day and see how it affects the things that are constant.

Looking up this week I noticed the beauty of power lines. These are things people try to ignore, or accuse them of being eyesores. They never stop to consider that they are beautiful in a way. These long thin lines, held up by the sturdy poles. The wires expertly looped and twisted around the metal structures and housings. The skill and organization used is a monument to the creative and artistic work of all the people who spent their time to put it there. Every piece made to function properly, but also beautifully represents someone's hard work.

After realizing the fact that the power lines were not just the things that brought me electricity, but sculptural masterpiece of a community of people's work, it made me think about all of the things that surround us. They are all pieces of art too. Someone not only invented a solution to some problem, but also designed it to be beautiful.

Though making things beautiful was not necessarily their first priority, the end results were in their own way beautiful. Making something well is wonderful. I need to be more mindful and respectful in the future of the great work that others have created, and influence my daily life.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Going off the radar

I like to take pictures of my current work, and keep the people around me updated on my progress. I don't know why this is necessary, because honestly I don't see what interest people have in my day to day progress on art work. I just do this, like any other Instagram addicted hipster, to annoy people around me with my day to day ins and outs. To me documenting my progress and my work is much like taking a picture of that day's coffee and sandwich. It is more for me, than for the random passer by.

Despite the fact that I am making these records of my work, and my methods for me it gives me great pleasure to see people like and comment on my work. I don't know why I seek this kind of praise. It is like getting praise for showing up to work. This is my office job, but for some reason I look for praise from people for doing the work could just as easily have been done if a cubicle if I had chosen a different major.

I love to flood my newsfeed with all of these samples, and then check my timeline to see if people are appreciating what I am doing. It is sad really. It is a far cry from my original artistic motivations. When I was in school I made art for the philosophical statements that it made. I tried to make smart art, art that made you think, art that was inspirational, art that showed you a different perspective, but this streaming media has changed my way of making art from being intelligent to people pleasing.

I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I like to make people happy. I like to make them laugh. On the other hand I also liked to make the intelligent art too. I liked thinking about the way art could function as a way to enlighten the minds of others. I like both of these kinds of art. I just don't have an outlet for the philosophical kind of art any more. This makes me constantly worried that the people pleasing kind of art is not pleasing people.

I worry constantly that what I am making is not serving its purpose of bringing a smile to people. This is why I am so addicted to my stats. The figures and numbers are somehow supposed to tell me the satisfaction rate of people with my art. So I continue to dump pictures and updates through social media to constantly check up with people to see if they approve of my current work. It is a sad spiral, and an addicting one.

Sometimes, because of all of this,  I lose sight of the third kind of art. The art of love. I grew up in a home where for birthdays and holidays we liked to make for each other some special hand crafted gift of the heart. My parents are carpenters and so we would go out into the shop and make things for whoever. We would make works of love.

Some of my favorite and most remembered gifts I have ever been given were not purchased but made by my Dad for me. When I was 7 I got a little stool that had a storage compartment under the seat. When I was 12 he helped me build an armoire and nightstand for my birthday. He would make these expertly crafted gifts, that were beautiful, and exactly what I needed. It was also something that I got to share with him. These pieces of art were made with love.

Now, I make painted art for my loved ones. I don't have access to a wood shop like I used to, but I still get to make for them things from the heart. Those special gifts from my childhood taught me how to fill my art up with love, so that even if people don't learn anything from it, or it isn't the most pleasing to the eye, my loved ones will still feel my love for them in it when they receive it.

This leads me to my current radio silence. It is the time of year that I start getting ready for Christmas. I make works of art for most of the people on my list now. I spend the whole year thinking about them and what they may appreciate. Then come the end of summer I get started, so that my entire list will be done in time for the holiday. Since, however, most of the people I give gifts to follow my social media I will not be posting progress of my work. I don't want to ruin the surprise for them.

So what I will be posting will be few and far between as I work my way through my Christmas list.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

That Glaring Mistake

I hate that moment when things start to fall apart. That first mistake that leads to the point where you just want to throw your work across the room, and pretend that it didn't happen.

This can happen to me at any point, and about anything. I hope I am not alone in this, and that wanting to forget your work had even happened gives you more peace of mind than dwelling on the fact that you put in so much effort, and then in the end one mistake messed things up completely. Or that a mistake that wasn't such a big deal in the beginning got progressively worse and worse till no band-aid will fix the mess you have made of things.

Both of these kinds of mistakes happened to me this week. Not really art related, but I broke my kid this week. Not in the physical sense, but in the emotional sense. We had gone to a park that was further away from home than normal, and on the way home he fell asleep in the car. Normally I would still give him a nap when we get home, but he wasn't acting tired so I just let him go without.

Unfortunately, that is where things began to spiral out of control. That one, not so great decision, to let him skip his nap, lead to further, not so great decisions. So later in the afternoon he got super grumpy. Turns out he had actually needed that nap in the first place. This lead me to think that, though it was late for him to be taking a nap that I should just give him one anyways so that he would stop being such a grump. Then the nap got a little long, and I began to worry that he wouldn't be able to sleep at night. So thus precipitated another stupid decision, of waking him up to have dinner.

This train of events, and poor decision making lead to spending the rest of the evening with a child that had a horrible mental break down. A couple hours filled with uncontrollable unconsolable sobbing was what all of these mistakes lead to. That one mistake of a decision to let him skip a nap lead to an atrocious night.

The other mistake this week was on my current watercolor portrait I am working on. It is a picture I have of my great-grandma when she was young. I have always love this picture, her with her bobbed hair cut, and cute little tilted head smile for the camera. It is great.

I have never been really confident in my ability to do a good portrait picture. So when this piece went well, I was pleasantly surprised. It was amazing to me that I have improved as much as I have in this skill set. I began to feel confident that this was going to be one of my best portraits yet. The paint was going down nicely and my line work was solid. I really had nothing to complain about.

Then it happened. I had finished the face and hair, the most difficult parts of the work and decided to move onto the blouse. Since this is a picture of my great-grandma in her youth, this picture is obviously in black and white. I had decided to make it a color picture, to practice my flesh tones. I hadn't really decided at that point what color I was going to paint the shirt. So on a whim I picked a red tone and started filling in the space.

This was not a good idea. It was a mistake to take action before I was completely sure what I was doing. Many times, our greatest mistakes are not the ones where we accidently smudge a line or sneeze while trying to do some detail. Our biggest mistakes come when we act without thinking. The color I had chosen looked exactly like the way I felt about it, garish and discoordinate with the rest of the piece. It was too bright and didn't match the careful tone of the rest of the piece.

It was too late to get rid of that color. It kind of broke me in side. This part of the piece that should have been so easy was ruined not because of my lack of skill, but because I didn't take it seriously enough. I had been so concerned with the details of the face, that when it came to the simple task of making a shirt I messed the whole piece by not giving it as much attention and care as I had with the rest of the piece.

I was able to fix the color and make the blouse look okay, but it still bothers me. When I look at this piece now I will only be able to see the muddied colors of the top and the poor detail quality because the paper got over worked. My mistakes will always be visible to me.

Seeing our mistakes on display like this teach us to not make them again. The sad thing is that I cannot go back with the knowledge I have now and fix it. All I can do is make sure that in the future I use what I know now to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting Back on Track

Sometimes I can get a bit distracted. There are lots of things that can distract me from my work and my goals. It has been great to get the commission pieces that I have had the last couple of months. I always love to have something new to work on, but this meant that I had put to the side the other things that I have been working on.

Before I got my commissions, I had started work on a portrait of my great-grandma. This was a planned exercise for me to practice portraiture in watercolor. Now that I have finished these commissions, it has been weeks since I have touched the portrait. Not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes taking a break from a piece can help you to gain more insight into how to make it better. It just makes me feel bad for ignoring it for long.

I have made a list of works that I want to complete by the end of the year, but I have been distracted from those goals. It is important to come back to goals. We can get distracted with life all of the time, but if your goals are important enough for you to complete them you will make time to work on them.

I don't know if I will be able to finish all of the things that I have lined up for this year. I have quite a list of things that I want to get done, and we are closing in on the holidays where I will have even less time to work on stuff. What is important is that I work toward my goal no matter what. Even though I may not get it done, I will have gotten more done than if I had given up because I was afraid of the work. I will not be discouraged by the amount of work I still have to do on my goals. I will get it done when it gets done.

Life can happen. It does all of the time, and when it does we have to make adjustments. We cannot be prepared for everything, and as humans we have the ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of our lives. By adapting my work time line, to compensate for the time I spent on the commission's, I can be flexible enough to make my goals still realistic.

It is interesting looking back at my original goal for this year, and seeing all of the changes I have made to them along the way. We still have four months left of the year, I wonder how life will influence them to change in the future.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Have to, Need to, Want to

There are things that we have to do, and things that are expected of us, and then there are things that we want to do. But the days when the the things that we have to do and the things that we want to do are the same thing are the luckiest days. I happen to find myself in one of those lucky times.

The work that I am doing is making me so happy. I don't really have much to say beyond that. It is completely satisfying to have things to work on that I want to do. It probably the most beautiful thing in life.

In the end it doesn't really matter what you do but that you enjoy what you do.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Making Art for Me

When I decided to do art it was because I didn't want a job that was just some kind of boring task. I didn't choose art because I was incompetent at everything else. I have always been pretty good at most things. I just wanted to pick a plan for my life that would fulfill two major requirements. The first, is that I needed to be able to do it from home so that I could stay at home with my kids. The second, is that I needed something that I could always enjoy doing no matter how long I do it.

Art is something that I do for me. I love being creative and productive. I genuinely enjoy being able to work away on something that I find interesting. The free form way that art is made works well with the way I function as a stay at home parent. I can pick what I want to make, I can decided how many hours I want to dedicate to it. I get to make all of the decisions. There is nothing that can hold me back.

My art had become my personal time. I know that I still have to be a parent, but it gives me time to listen to my own mind on things. I am lucky that my kid likes his own independant play time during the day. We each get to work on our own stuff. He will build towers, and I will paint. It is relaxing for us to spend afternoons like this. I get to be there for him without stifling him and his own creative experience, all while I get to have my much needed individual time to create.

Everybody has different needs from life and from each other. Because each family and person is different we all have to make decisions that work for us. My art was a decision that worked for me and my family.

When we pick a direction in life we should only have ourselves in mind, then everything else will fall into place. The expectations of others my help us decided what is important to us, but should never decided for us. You pick what works for you, because you have to live this life. Living a life according to another person's expectations or even pace can be just as detrimental as self harm.

I love my family. I grew up in my parent's house living according to their pace, and requirements just like any other child would with their family. I was okay living that way, but now as an adult I have learned that not all of the things that worked for my parents work for me. I have learned that I function at a different pace, and have different needs than they do. They function the way that works best for them, and I am learning to function the way that works best for me. Living someone else's' life will only wear you out. You must live who you are, not who everyone thinks you should be.

We are all individuals, and because of that we have to live as individuals. With different moods, strengths, and weaknesses we cannot live like any other person does.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Taking a Nap

There was a fear that I had when I stopped working, that I would have so much time on my hands I wouldn't know what to do with all of it. For the first year of unemployment I really didn't have much to fill my time up with. I would spend the day trying to invent things to fill up my time. Some days I would take a walk, or wonder around stores, or maybe just play around in my sketch book. I didn't really have a direction.

As I have spent more and more time as a stay at home mom I have added to my plate of responsibility till now, I have filled up that void of time. I have a kid to watch. I work on my art daily. I teach art, have church responsibilities, go to play dates, and try to maintain an orderly house. It is all great. I have systems and schedules that keep all of this together and for the most part things run smoothly.

Lately though I have added too much to my day all at once. It works for a while but it kind of ends up like this ( http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html ). I like to have responsibilities. It makes me feel not only productive but also important, like I am needed. I love the accomplished feeling that I get when I have done all of the things on my to do list. It is kind of like a high of some sort. The good feeling of accomplishment can be addictive to me.

Sadly, I can only keep this up for so long before I begin to burn out. There will come a time where I will eventually have to give into the fact that I cannot keeping going any more. People wear out, just like any machine part we are not meant to run on full blast forever without repercussions. None of this is helped by my cat who seems to think she needs to tickle my face with her whiskers at 3:30am every day.

So, I have been taking naps rather than spending more time on my art. Not that I have neglected doing art all together, I just haven't been working on it as much as I could have.

Taking a nap makes me feel guilty. I feel guilty for both logical and illogical reasons. I don't like the fact that I am wasting waking hours with sleep. I could be active and productive, but my body just doesn't want to. The other reason that I feel bad for taking a nap really doesn't make sense. I feel bad, because people all over the world are working right now, and I am just being lazy here taking a nap. I shouldn't be such a bum when other people are out and being productive contributing to society.

I know that naps are probably not the best use of my time. I also know that the kind of guilt I feel for napping is ridiculous. I just need to find a balance. I need to find a way to maybe nap every once in a while, to keep from burning out, but also stay productive so that I don't feel so guilty for taking breaks.

I am continually reminded that I must find balance in my life. The only way to keep going is to go slow and steady, then I will keep from crashing. Burning low and slow is better than fast and bright, so that you don't run out of fuel so fast.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mistakes

I make mistakes all the time. Mistakes are not the same a failure, but they can be just as discouraging. Mistakes mean that you have to do more work than you originally intended. Mistakes can be defeating and are often the difference between success and failure.

The thing about mistakes is, that unlike a failure where there is little positive to be found at the end, a mistake is like an ellipsis. It is like a pause where you can fix, change direction, and even improve the finished product. Though you may not have made what you had planned on making, you have still made something, and you can still change it because you are not complete.

This week I was working on my commision piece that I started last week. I don't often paint humans and thus I don't often mix up flesh toned paint. I have always had difficulty matching flesh tones. it is much more precise than any other colors, because as people we spend all day looking at the flesh toned faces of other people, and just like being able to tell the physical differences between a set of identical twins we can discern the slight differences between the flesh tones of all individuals. This is part of why I spend so much time painting scenery and monsters, because people don't really have as vast a color vocabulary for those things as they do with skin.

So I was painting my luchador. He is for once human (as far as we can tell) under the mask, and being human has, well, skin. I mixed up quickly a skin tone color and blocked in where his torso would be, and then, because I hate painting flesh, moved onto his mask and pants leaving the skin alone for a couple of days. When I came back I realize that I had not really created a tone that matched the face of the man in the original painting. So I applied another layer of paint hoping this one would be better.

Feeling much more confident that I had done better this time, matching the skin tones, I immediately filled in the details of the torso giving him abs and pecs and belly button. I let it dry and came back a little later, only to my dismay, did I realize that I had still not matched the skin tone as well as I had expected.

This was incredibly disappointing to me as I thought I had worked hard enough to get it right, and I should just deserve for it to be right, even if I hadn't really gotten right. (If that sentence makes sense to you then kudos.) If I were to spend all day with full conviction and effort trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole, it still isn't going to change the answer. It just doesn't work. And just because I put all that effort into making it fit, doesn't mean I deserve the answer to change simple because I tried. It doesn't matter just how you look at it and how hard try, there is a right and wrong answer and you cannot make a wrong a right even if you think you earned it.

I could have just left it that way, but then would I have really put in the effort needed to make this piece a success? What would I feel towards this painting if I did just leave it? I realized that if I were to just leave it this way that I would always see the bad color matching job I had done and come in the end to actually resent this piece because of its failings.

So for a third time I attempted to match the skin of this luchador. Since I was putting in the effort to repeat my work for a third time I wanted to get it right this time. I didn't want all of this effort to be for nothing. This mistake forced me to see the skin tones of the original differently than I had been looking at them before. I started to see the layers of color, and the wonderful workmanship that was put into the original piece. This time I was able, as well as I could with my limited color pallet to match the skin of the original figure.

This taught me something about mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities for improvement. For whatever reason that the mistake was made in the first place it gives us a moment to pause and assess our work. Whether we made the mistake on accident, or due to our lack of skill mistakes are what make our work interesting. They can give us better ideas, or show us new strategies, or if anything they can give us the motivation to try harder and make it right. I had, had such a hard time matching the color of the original because I hadn't really looked at the original the right way to understand the colors that had been used. The two mistakes I had made in color were soon repaired by my new understanding of the color in the piece. I came away with a new ability to see, because of my mistakes.

Mistakes are not bad. They happen all the time and we should use them to improve ourselves rather than to prove that we are no good. They are not evidence that we are bad at something, but that we have potential for something and that we are working towards becoming great.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New School

If you have read my past posts you will know that I don't completely appreciate my college education. I learned many things that don't really apply to life; like how to pass a test and then immediately forget all of the substance, or how to show up to class but not really learn anything. Going to school also made me a bit dependant upon having an assignment. I am not very good about creating something from scratch. I rarely have completely original ideas and working with the constraints of an assignment has always helped me to form ideas.

I am still not sure how I feel about this. I like that I know how to direct my artistic thought process so that I can create something, but I don't like the fact that I have to depend on parameters and outlines in order to come up with something and that I am unable to come up with something new without them. I don't know how other peoples' artistic process works, so I have know idea if this is a common way of working, or if I am handicapping myself by my need for assignment type work. I think that this need for rules and guidelines has been part of my creative dysfunction lately. I have been trying to create something new but things just weren't coming because I didn't have any of these assignment type requirements.

I feel like this is why I love the thrift store pieces so much. I don't have to decide what size to make the piece, or what color pallet I want to use. My creativity has to work within the already established space of the piece that I find. This gives me the kind of direction that I need in order to fill the space in. The structure of the process reins in all of the half baked ideas that I may have and helps me to focus on something specific enough to actually be completed. I love working this way. It is how I function best.

So when I got a request for a custom order I got excited. I was contacted a while ago for a custom piece of art. It was wonderful. I could lay out rules and outlines for the piece that were to fulfill the need of the customer. I was givin sizing, subject matter, and even material requests. I can work with that, and I have embraced every moment of this piece.

It has been nice to be able to take a moment and relive my college days. I have been allowed to just fulfill an assignment. It is almost like taking another mini vacation. I know I just took a break to build a pinata, but this time I am being both productive and taking a mental break.

I don't know if this kind of indulgence is good for my overall personal growth. What do we really know about the creative process in general to be able understand if this kind of work is positive or negative. All I know is that has been great getting to work on an assignment again, and also have more encouragement that people like my work.


My current assignment in progress.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summer distractions

Summer is one giant distraction. I have a ton of stuff that I want to get done before we get too close to the holidays again. That means that this stuff has to get done now, because if I wait to get working on it I will not get it done in time. Much of the art I make is for family and friends as gifts. This means that I have to be prepared for the holidays. The thing is that summer is the busiest time of the year for me.

I don't work, but I do live forever away from my family. This means that while they spend the school year working and being productive I don't have as much going on in my life, so I can work on my art. This also means that during the summer when it is time for me to buckle down, and get stuff done that has building up throughout the year, I get all kinds of visits. This can become distracting. Having family in town can be fun but also, well, distracting.

There are all kinds of other things about the nature of summer that create distractions in my life. I have a rather energetic kid that demands to go out all of the time or he will drive me crazy. Then because it is summer it is hot. That is a given. This means that when I go out I have to go prepared. I must have skin protection, a change of clothes, bathing suit, towel, snacks, hydration of some sort. All of this extra stuff I have to have and haul around makes me so much more tired at the end of the day that when it comes time to get to work on my art I have less motivation.

There has been so much going on lately that even this post has come days late. I knew all week what I wanted to write about, but because of the distractions and schedule changes and stuff, it got pushed to the last minute.

I could use a little down time to find my artistic zen. Sometime I don't need a vacation to relax, I just need to return to some kind of scheduling normalicy to regain my composure.

Oh well, it only lasts a couple months of the year then I can go back to a more tame version of my life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Taking A Break

It is good to take a break. People take breaks from everything. We get breaks at work, we take a breather, it goes to show that even if we are working on things we like we need breaks. It isn't just about wanting a break, but needing on. We are living breathing creatures, and our bodies as well as our minds need a break every once in a while. Otherwise we would just burn ourselves out unable to cope with the continuous strain.We sleep every night, we take vacations, and in fact we have a tendency to schedule our whole year around the breaks that we take.

I have been working pretty hard at my art for quite some time now. I love my art, but even that has its limits. My imagination seems to be broken, (Whenever my imagination seems broken this is all I can think about:  http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail99.html  beef stew.) The other day when I sat down to think about why I have been having trouble coming up with new stuff, I realized that it has been months since I have really taken a break from work. My kitchen table has been cluttered up with art stuff for so long I don't really remember when I last saw it all cleared.

I am pretty regular at working out. I may hate even though I know it is good for me, and whenever I am working out I reflect constantly on the week I take off of my routine, and that only comes around after a 6 week period. But I don't really ever look forward to taking time off of my art. I stay dedicated and happy with the work the entire time. I really only realize that I need to take a break when my imagination starts to shut down. I would love to keep working on this stuff non stop, and if it weren't for my brain failing me I don't think I ever would stop working on my art. It is just too much fun for me to keep creating so long as the ideas keep coming.

Sadly, though I ran out of creative juices this last week. I have resigned myself to the fact that I need to take a break from my art. I don't really think I could stop creating all together. In my effort to stay active despite my artistic vacation, I have decided to start building myself a piñata for my birthday. I have been wanting to make one for ages, and with my birthday coming up it seems like the right kind of diversion to reset my imagination.

I used to have a most active imagination when I was working in data entry jobs. The work was mindless and my hands were busy so my brain could wander in infinite space creating and imagining for hours. There are now many more things in my life to tug at my brain and pull me from the world of imagination. This pinata will keep my hands busy so that my mind can get the chance it needs to wander the in vast landscape of my imagination and find new ideas to play with.

I don't have any tips or tricks to resetting my imagination, and making ideas come when things are broken down in there. What I do know is that when I take a break from my work, and come at it again my imagination comes back fully rested and ready to make something new. There is no reason to think that you are a failure because you cannot come up with something new, you just need to let your creative mind have the rest that it needs, because our minds just like our bodies need rest.

Your mind is just like any muscle, if you don't use it regularly to come up with creative ideas its creative capability becomes weak. You are never not creative, the muscle doesn't just disappear because you don't use it to just loses mass.  You just need to give it a rest and come back to it again building up its strength with use. Don't neglect the creative muscle, but also don't try to over extend it, either of those will only end in break down. The best thing to do is to use your creativity regularly but also take breaks before you completely burn out.

Now back to my piñata. I have some paper-mache to mix up.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I don't want to change

I don't know why I am so resistant to change sometimes. I have a way of doing things, and I like my little systems for getting things done. I used to get critiques all of the time when I was in school. People would push me to go outside of my box, and try new styles and techniques of work that would open me up to new discoveries in my artistic practice. It is always good to be willing to change. Making changes in how we work, is the only way we can make improvements. The only way to make things better is to make changes.

It is like that saying goes, "Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." If I use the same techniques and procedures to do all of my work forever; I will no longer be improving my work, and eventually will no longer be relevant.

Despite all of this I am still often resistant to change. I am a creature of habit and feel comfortable in my life of ritual. I have had pointers and suggestions about my work from several different sources, but I have been unwilling to change. I think it comes down to two things.

The first reason that I may be resistant to change is that I am lazy. I like the way that I do things. It is easy to repeat the same procedures on every art piece that I am working on, then that way I don't have to try as hard to produce something. Also the suggestions that I have received are more labor intensive than what I have been doing previously. Why should I do more work for an end result when I could just do it the easy way? This is no way to think because a better process cannot be found if I am unwilling to try a new things.

The second reason for my resistance is that my creative mind seems to be dead lately. I mean I have a list of projects that I want to work on, but they are all things that I have been doing. I will finish them, because they are what I want to do, but when it comes to working on something new none of my ideas have been able to come together into something that I can actually make. I get these hints of an idea but nothing that is strong enough yet to form the basis of a new piece.

I don't know what to do about this mental block I have against this new process. I have been waging a battle against the artist's block that has been holding me back for weeks. The only reason that I have been able to keep working is, because when I was still able to grasp things from my imagination I wrote them down and have stored up ideas to keep working on. The thing is that if I continue to battle with my creativity like I am right now I am going to run out of things to work on.

If I get the the point where I don't have anything left on my list of projects then I will become inactive. When I don't have any active projects I stop working, and go into my lazy depressed phase and don't work on anything for months.

What I need is to figure out a way to implement the suggestions people have made into my work. I need to take these things and run, use them to inspire my next pieces of art. This will kill two birds with one stone. I will be able to avoid falling into the lazy inspiration-less pit of depression, and I will be able to implement the changes to the work that will improve it. I just have to work harder at finding my next inspiration so that I can get onto making these changes.

Though I don't have any strategies to defeating a creative slump. If I keep working at it I usually come up with something.  If only beating your head against the wall actually worked to help you come up with ideas. Oh, well inspiration will come and if it doesn't I will just have to do creative exercises to make them come. One way or another I will keep moving forward.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Many thanks

I have quite recently started teaching art to a kid in my area. It kind of just happened, and I am making up lessons on the fly with not real curriculum. The classes are informal and take place at my kitchen table where I do all of my own art, but it is kind of fun.

Getting ready to teach each week has made me reflect on lessons I had when I was learning how to draw and do art. It has also made me thankful for all of the art teachers I have had through the years. I don't really think I would have discovered my love for art without out them.

I have one teacher in particular that I am especially grateful for. She taught outside of school like I am with this kid. I learned things that no in-school art teacher would have ever gotten to. She was and is still an actual practicing artist. I learned from someone who makes art that I admire. It was great to gain insight that is so fundamental to my own art practice.

The most important thing that she taught me was how to see. She taught me the difference between symbols we use to communicate and the lines of the real world. In our lessons she broke me out of the habit that most people never break, that compulsion to draw with symbols rather than drawing with their eyes. I am a very logical person and at times it can be quite difficult for me to see real life through the symbols that permeate our lives. Up until the point in my life where I had that lesson, I had always thought that I didn't posses the skill to become an artist. I thought the most creative thing I could do was write. I was pretty sure that I would end up doing some kind of average desk job.

I have leaned to see the shapes of things. I have learned the difference between the weird almond shape that has a circle inside it that is a symbol for a eye and what a real eye looks like. I didn't know what I was doing when I was learning these lessons. They were just assignments. She managed to teach us without us realizing just what it was that we were learning. Now that I know what she was teaching I am eternally grateful for these lessons.

With the new objective I have to teach another how to draw, I feel like I can actually do this. She prepared me so well with the fundamentals of drawing and the lessons she taught me were simple enough I feel like I could easily pass on this learning to others. She broke down the concept of drawing so well for me that I feel like anyone could learn to draw if they had the desire to.

I am so thankful for the gift she gave me, that I have learned how to express myself through art. I don't know that I could ever express to her how much I appreciate this skill in my life. Though I may not ever see her again I just needed to share my gratitude for her lessons. I would not be the person I am today if I had never attended her classes. They became the direction of my life and continue to help me as make my way through this world.

I don't know who I would be without art, but I am thankful for what it has done for me in my life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Life Lessons

I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing for my first craft show. Since actually being at the fair this weekend I have learned a few things. There are so many things I have learned, some of which don't apply to my work, I cannot put them all down, or even account for all of them now that I have time to sit down and think about it I am have listed the most important.

I would like to start with the most important thing I learned this weekend. People like my work. Having spent the last couple of months struggling with self doubt, lack of feedback from customers and viewers, and low sales has made me think that maybe I was creating a product that people didn't appreciate. It was great to have people walk past my booth and smile. Since the nature of my work is quite humorous it was fun to see people do a double take of my art laugh and then move in to see more. Even though I am for the most part an introvert it was also nice to get a little attention for my work from people other than family and friends. I didn't even care if the person bought anything in the end. I felt happy just getting to see their reaction to my art. Learning that people liked my art made me want to continue on with this venture. My faltering confidence has had the boost it needs to keep going on.

I have also learned about the cost of a craft fair. I won the booth, which was great because I had a substantially smaller amount to compensate for in trying to make a profit. When talking to the other venders I learned that this fair in particular may not have been the best place to go to get sales. Some of the people there were estimating that only %40 of the vendors there were even going to earn back the cost of the booth in sales. I got lucky enough that not only did I make up for my over head but had I actually paid for the booth I would have broken even.

Apparently you have to do research before you decide to be a vendor at a craft fair of any kind. Some fairs are better than others. Some fairs are more expensive than others. There are some that are pricey and you don't make your money back, while others are pricey but you get way more sales than you would at a cheap one. There are also cheap ones that make no money. There are topic specific fairs, I was just at the Oddmall you know for weird stuff. I also got invited to sell at a SciFi convention, and a Steam Punk fair. Before I decided to do another fair (that is if I decided to do this again) I need to be sure that I am selling in a fair that attracts the kind of people that would be interested in my product, and is also popular enough that I will get enough buyers to make up for my costs.

The traffic at a fair is different than internet traffic. On the internet I feel like the shear mast of information and product available in one place, and the number of views you have to get before you get a sale or even a "like" is vastly higher than what you have to do in person. Based on my observations of people,  (I am an avid people watcher. Being a vendor offered me a great opportunity to sit and watch people) the fact that they left their house to come see stuff in a craft fair has already narrowed down your audience to people interested in at least seeing your stuff. Also people who have left the house are more willing to spend money, and they give your product more viewing time than what they would have done online. I tried to used my numbers from my Etsy shop to estimate how much product to bring with me. It turns out that I considerably underestimated the interest I would have in my booth. I probably would have made more sales if I had come with more product. Because as it turns out people who would have made an impulse buy at a craft fair, are also the people who will not really look at your site after they go home even if they say that they will. (Though it may still be too soon to tell on those numbers. I can only base it on what I have seen so far.)

The last lesson I learned is the most specific to my work. I have been targeting the wrong audience with my blog features and reach-outs. Somehow I have been reaching out to blogs and sites that get more traffic from the teen nerd girl. What I have learned is that though they truly appreciate my art they don't really have a use for it. They like to look at my pictures online but don't really have any kind of motivation to buy. In the end I actually made more sales to adults and in particular men. Adults have things like homes that they have to decorate. They also have stuff like money with which to pay for things. Two positives when it comes to selling art.

Guys also tend to like funny things more than girls. My booth was right next to a booth decorated as a bakery selling plushies shaped like donuts and had little kitten faces on them. Girls and women would stop all day at this booth and fawn over these cute little things while their male counterparts would stand there for the most part uninterested till they saw my booth. It was funny actually to watch Dads pull kids and husbands draw wives away from these stuffed kitty pastries to look at art. I need to find these people online. If I want to draw people in without having to do another fair I just have to find where these guys hang out when they are on the nets.

Though I don't know if I will be doing any more of these fair, I have gained a ton from the experience. Much of which I can implement without having to do another fair. I hope that I can follow through with all of this new information to improve my sales and find my success without having to pay for all of the overhead that comes with working a fair.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Scared

I love my Etsy store. It is kind of a non-committal way of trying to sell my wares. It is a hand's off way of putting myself out there. I don't have to talk, I don't have to see the people who are looking at my work. It is nice because I am usually a introvert. I'm sure that this is the reason that so many people have their own Etsy shops. It is easy to just throw stuff up there, and let people look around your shop without having to be that annoying shop owner; making sure that people are enjoying their shopping experience, and that they have found everything they are looking for.

That is great and all, but if I want to get noticed, and actually make sales, then I cannot be just one of these thousands of people who haphazardly put up goods on a website, and then lean back and hope that someone likes their iPhone pic of their crocheted scarf. (I'm not trying to be judgmental, maybe that works for them, but this doesn't work for me.) The thing is that so many people are doing the same things, I need do more than that to get noticed, and find the kind of success I am actually looking for.

This means that I am going to have to go beyond the comfort of my computer chair and art table, and talk to people in real life. This weekend I have my first booth in a craft fair. (http://oddmallseattle.wordpress.com/ ) It is great that I have this opportunity, but I am starting to freak out. I haven't shown my art in a public space since college. That is almost 5 years of distance from the art community. I have been losing sleep with worry that I am going to take this great chance to get back into the art world and totally crash and burn.

There are many reasons that I feel like I am not going to do well. Most just lead back to the fact that I am introverted and don't socialize well with strangers. I get the feeling that I am going to look like this. Obviously I won't be asking strangers for their hand in marriage, but I will be asking for their attention, their opinions of my work, and in the end their money. It just makes me shake with fear that I am going to fail at one of the most basic skills of being human: communication.

My stomach has felt full of rocks and butterflies all week knowing that I signed myself up for this. I like to live a logical life, and use reason to get through my struggles, and also get out of unpleasant situations. But this time my fear of the entire encounter is getting in the way of my ability to think my way out. I know what I needs to be done, but I am worried that I don't posses the skill to be likable, interesting, and informative in a manner that will sell people on my work. I keep hoping there is a way around this feeling so that I can move on (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pspcBpqUlRY), but it will not be that easy, everything worth doing never is.

I don't know when I became such a wimp when it come to social situations, but I cannot make any excuses. I know that this is not only good for my sales, to get it out in the public eye, but it is also good for me. I need to get uncomfortable in order to make any kind of progress towards becoming better at this.

We have been learning how to interact with people since the day we were born, I just don't understand where my fear of it has come from over the years. I am old enough that all of my years of practice should make me a pro at talking to others, but at some point I learned to fear it. This will just not do, so this weekend I take the plunge back into the art world, and relearn some of those communication skills I seem to have forgotten. Despite my fear this will get done.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Skies Open Up

I have been having a rather hard time trying to feel good about my work recently. I have had some mild success selling. I have had several different features on different blogs, and I have been working hard to get the word out about my art, but have seen very little return on my efforts. I know that if I don't get the work out there no one will see it, and there will be now sales at the end of the day. I have been investing a ton of effort into networking and such, but even with all of the work and, even attention that I have had I have still been rather unsuccessful at selling.

It is funny like that. I have all of these high expectations for the return for my effort in this, but I have not seen what I had wanted. I dump so much hope into something so little. I know that I could increase my efforts, but when I don't get any reward for my current effort it is hard to want to put more into it.

So the last couple of weeks I have been contemplating just quitting entirely. I had been thinking that the money, and effort that I have put into this art, and store in the last year in a half has seen minimal return. I have not made back the money I have spent let alone made up for my labor. I was really just done with the whole thing.

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. It's the change of seasons that makes me do this. I am pretty sure every time summer comes around I get this itch to change my life around in one way or another. Most goals, changes, hair cuts, and things of that nature happen around this time of year. I think it is because my mind has been programed by the end of the school year to think that this time of year is a time for transition.

Anyways, I was thinking about shutting down my shop. It was making me sad to give up on this, but I just couldn't justify spending any more money on this venture that wasn't making any return. We are trying to save up for some big things, and my desire to sell art that wasn't selling was just going to have to be put on hold.

Then the clouds rolled back and two things happened. The first is that I got a sale, like my first one since January. Then I won a free booth space in the Seattle Oddmall. It is was an uplifting weekend. It helped my to realize that maybe there was interest in my art. When I get down on myself and feel like a failure it can be just the little things that make me feel better about life again. I really only made a $15 sale of a print. It was minimal but it got my spirits back up.

To be honest one purchase is not going to save my shop, and I don't really know just how much I will actually be able to sell at this craft fair, but we will see. I have decided that the future of my shop will depend on how this next month goes.

What I need to do now is make goals. I need to measure the success of my sales for the next month, and if I make the goals that I have then I will keep the shop open. If I don't then I will start to shut things down. I need to have a duel mind when it comes to these things. I need to hope for the best sales, but be prepared for the fact that I may not make my goals and will need to end this venture for now.

I'm not saying that I will shut down my shop forever. I think that it was a good thing for me to open this shop. I have learned a lot about networking. I have learned about how to run the finances of a small business. I have learned how to sell. I have also been more interest in making and following through with goals. It has been great, I will just have to put it on hold till we get this whole housing, and financial thing figured out. This art venture is important to me and important to making me feel productive and independent of the title of mom. (Which to be honest is great for my self-esteem to be more than just a care giver.)  It gives me a sense of identity that I don't think I could ever abandon.

We will just have to see how things turn out. But this isn't the end just yet.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Creative Inspriations

I have made a list lately of all of the art that I want to achieve this year. The are particular pieces that I want to make for one reason or another. I am going to list them for you and me so that I don't forget that this is what I want to do later:

1. I want to do an anime inspired self portrait. I have recently gotten back into anime, and the beauty and simplify of the style of drawing really appeals to me. When I was in art classes my teachers would always get on to me because I didn't like to fill in all of my shading and detail when I was drawing faces. In the end the lack of detail actually resembled the anime style of drawing to some degree.

2. The next piece that I want to work on is another anime based item. In my head anime and the styling of Mucha's art works rather well together. When I was taking art history I fell in love with the art nouveau. The line work and shading are similar to that of the anime. Mucha style also seems to be informed a bit by the Celtic knotting which I have a love for too. It all kinds of adds up to something awesome.

3. I have my brother's name for Christmas this year. I was thinking some kind of epic dragon piece for him would be fun. Though I don't really know all of the details on that one yet. I don't know what style that I will be making it in but it should be fun to try to come up with something that will work best for him.

4. The last piece that that I have been having on my mind is a portrait of my great-grandma. I was looking through one of my old sketch books and found and unfinished version of the same picture I want do. I have this great head shot of her with her cute little bob haircut when she was young. It is beautiful. I think that I want to do this one as a watercolor and try to add color the picture that is really only in black and white.

There are still many ideas bouncing around in my head right now but none of them are as developed as these ones I have listed. I don't want to forget all of the things I want to do. So often I tell myself I am going to do something and then never get around to it because I forgot. At least if it is here, I won't forget that I want to do these things.

Bogged Down

I don't take heat very well. Summer is my least favorite season.  I loath doing anything. I don't want to go out, because that means I have to put on pants and and make-up which just adds to the discomfort of the whole situation. Summer makes me want to lay on the cold tile floor in pajamas with a cool wet towel on my head, and not let anyone touch me. My body doesn't really deal with the heat very well. I get over heated, and it takes me forever to cool down. I just don't function at all in the heat.

When most people talk about all of the fun of summer, I just sit there dreading it. People talk about water parks, bbq, and sports. And I'm just over here trying to figure out all of the indoor, air conditioned places where I can hibernate for the summer. It is just not a season that gets me excited in any way at all.

Not only does the summer coming make me want to become a hermit, it also is detrimental to my work ethic. Being over heated makes me want to just lay there all day, and try to refrain from any kind of effort that would add to my body heat. I can spend hours trying to avoid any kinds of movement, or work. To be honest I cope with the heat best by taking naps, and because of that I have a record of spending most of my summers napping to avoid the heat.

It is difficult to want to do anything at all when I feel like this. I lose all kinds of motivation. Things start to fall apart during this time of year. I don't want to do art, I don't want to be creative, I would really rather just be in some kind of stasis pod on ice for the three months of summer and then revived when it is all over.

This is just not an option with the current technology of the world. So I have to muddle through like anyone else. This also means that I cannot just leave all of my art on standby till I feel like moving again. As much as I feel at the time that it is totally worth it to become a sloth for three months and not do anything, I regret it later. I feel bad that I haven't really done anything for so long. I have to make myself get back into the swing of things and I curse myself for all of the time that i have wasted. But it is just so tempting to want to curl up in the fridge and take a nap.

Summer is truly the most trying time of the year for me. I am uncomfortable, and drawn to laziness. I just need to bear down and deal with it. If it takes packing myself in ice in order to get art done then so be it. I am just going to have to be creative so that I can be just as productive during the summer as I am the rest of the year.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

scheduling conflicts

I like a good schedule. I like to know when I have to do something and when I can move on to something else. I like the guidelines that this kind of living gives me, because then it is easier for me to feel productive, and helps me to quantify in some way what I have done with my day. School taught me how to live by the clock, and for me it has really just stuck around. I can stick to the same schedule for ages. I am really good at consistency, and when things change it can be rather hard for me to adjust.

Having a kid changes everything. I know it is cliche to say that, but for me change can be quite disturbing to me. I like my routine. I like the freedom it gives me to have a routine. If I know how each day is going to play out, then I know where I can take breaks and move things around for extra activities, I know how to better accommodate for the unexpected. I know just how long it takes me to do things, to travel from A to B, and where I can make up time if things get a little messed up along the way. When things are all mapped out I don't have to worry about blank spots in my day where I waste time.

I hate it when things change and now I have to alter my routine and remake my schedule. This week we are changing the kids nap schedule, because he has not been sleeping through the night as well as he used to. I used to know how long he needed to nap, when to feed him. Exactly how long we should stay at the park in order to get back in time for his nap, and when he had to wake up so that he wouldn't be over slept. Now things are up in the air.

Since he isn't taking a morning nap his afternoon nap needs to come earlier than what it was, but he hasn't adjusted to the change so I am having to play things more by ear than I am used to. I have to give him a nap when he is tired which means that we don't go to the park at the same time and we don't eat at the same time. Because of all of this change I get to the end of the day an have run out of time to do all of the things I need to on a daily basis. So my sink is full of dirty dishes, and the floor hasn't been cleaned as I would like to have done by this point in the week. I have a schedule for all of my chores, for my work, and for how we play. Losing this schedule means that many of the things I am really good at getting done are being neglected.

What all of this adds up to, is that I am not sure when I can actually get my own art work done. I spend all of my day trying to figure out his new schedule and how to keep him happy that I haven't been able to be very productive in my artistic realms.

This is a little upsetting to me. My art is a happy place for me. It puts me in a better mood, and helps me to find a zen like balance in my mind. It is kind of like my disconnect from the stresses of this world, or my reset button for the day. Not getting to do my art, like I would want to is starting to fray me at the ends. I need that creative release, and this change of schedule is really starting to mess with my head.

I know that this is just a time of transition, but it doesn't make it any less stressful for me. I just keep hoping that by the end of the next week or so we will have this all figured out, and I can get back into my work and let out some of the pent up stress that is starting to affect my life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Tricks

Ages ago I got a drawing pad to make digital art. After a month or so I gave up trying to use it and it got put in a box and forgotten about. I lost a lot of chances to learn a new skill with that pad. If I had stuck with it I would have been really great a using it by now. Sadly, I have come back to using this drawing pad years later and I have no experience and no skill with this tool. Now, I am starting from scratch, but this time because I have been scanning my work and spending more time in photoshop, I have more motivation to gain skills in this new medium.

It is not easy at all. I like to learn new things but wrapping my head around the concept of drawing on a screen is much more difficult than I could have imagined. It is why I gave up last time. I don't think of my drawing tools the same way the computer does when I am drawing, and the disconnect is affecting my work. I can use the same brush to make all kinds of different lines and shapes when I need something different. This whole changing brushes in order to do something different is really messing with my head. It makes me feel like I would have benefitted from learning how to draw with pointillism rather than line work. Making a ton of dots to draw the picture makes more sense in this medium than trying to actually get my lines to do the same thing that I can on paper.

All I know is that it is becoming increasingly frustrating to try to put ideas down this way. It is kind of like having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to find it for weeks. You really need to use that word, you know that you have it in your vocabulary, but things are just not connecting for you. You know that you have the capability to use the word, and the opportunity to put it to good use, but for some reason it is just not there for you when you want to use it.

I don't plan on giving up on this endeavor yet. I just have to figure out what direction to come at this to make it work for me. Everyone has their own strategy for doing things. If I go to youtube and find tutorials on how to draw in photoshop, I will get a list of hundreds of people who all have different ways of using the tools and techniques. All of them have the same tools, and all of them make great pieces of work, but all of them have different preferences and techniques personalized to their own drawing and thinking styles. Just like them I need to find the function that works best for my own style of work.

I think the hardest part is that the program is so vast and the technique so new to me, that I have become overwhelmed by the possibilities. At the end of each day I find that instead of actually getting work done on the piece I am trying to make, I have spend a good portion of the day doing what kids do in paint, or that cool game kids pics we had when I was kid. I go through all of the brushes and try them out. Then I go through all of the different settings on the different brushes and test them. At the end of the day I have a series of marks of different size, shape, and texture and no actual work done.

I just wish I could get to the point where I know what each setting does, so that I will know what I need in order to get my work done. I just want to know what technique I need. I have this awesome tool and I am sad to say that I am not using it very well yet. I hope that I can learn how to appropriately use it and actually be able to achieve something. I just can't give up while I am still learning. I cannot decided that I am no good at this without giving myself a proper chance get better at it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Feeling Useless

There are many times where money is tight, or I want something we don't really have the money for, and I think to myself why did I choose to become a stay at home mom. I wonder, why it is that I decided to pick such a useless art major. I feel sometimes that I can be of so much more use to our family if I were to work, and contribute a second pay check. I have always had some kind of work throughout my entire life. If I felt that I needed a little more to get by on, I have always had the option of picking up more with extra hours.

My parents have a custom furniture business in the garage. When I was growing up if I ever needed money for something my mom's answer was always to go out and help in the shop. I always knew that if I needed something I could go earn it. If I wanted something I could go make money for it. My parents had taught me the value of money and work. I thank them for that, but sometimes I feel like they taught me too well, because I have a hard time not bring in some sort of income. 

It just makes me feel so useless when I cannot just go outside to the shop and earn what I need. It is a convenience that I miss sometimes. I may have hated to work in the shop when I was a kid, but it was something I could always go to. Now that I live in another state it really isn't an option any more. 

I have to face my decisions, and the conflicted feelings that I have about them. It could be so much more simple to just pick up a job, and help more directly with our goals, but that would mean that I wouldn't be able to be there for the kid.

Taking care of the kid and being there all the time for him is more important to me than making extra money at any job. None the less I still get these feelings every once in a while where I wish there were something more that I could do. That maybe some of my extra hours in the day could be used to do something more useful. Nap times could be work times for me. His independent play time could be my time to bring in a little income. But things are not that way and I have to learn how to live with that. 

These feelings make me restless. This is part of why I dedicate so much time to my art. The more time that I use up during the day the less time I have to brood on other options I could have chosen to take. I am confident in the decision I have made. I would choose the same things every time if I were to do it all again. There are just moments of weakness. Those days where I get to the end of the day and feel like I have not gotten anything done with my time. Those are the days where I question my decisions. Those unproductive days with too much time to over think things make me doubt myself. 

I constantly question if what I do during the day is enough. I don't have a 9-5 job. I cannot quantify just how much work I do. So it is difficult to determine just how productive I have really been. When it is harder to see my accomplishments, it is harder for me to feel good about my work during the day. It can be disheartening. 

I like to avoid these feelings whenever I can by keeping busy. When I feel like I have had a productive day I have no reason question my choices. Every day I try to be sure that I am productive enough to avoid these crippling feelings. I value my time with the kid too much to even really consider a job. I just have to remind myself of that when I am suffering from doubt. 

Sometimes I just think too much about the "what if's" and lose sight of the long term value of the choices I have made. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making Changes

Things tend to happen when you are working towards longer term goals. We can become comfortable with the daily routine of a goal like that. Wake up, brush teeth, eat, work. What can happens is that things change. What can also happen is that you change your goal. Circumstances have a way of making us want something new. I started out this year thinking that I wanted to paint a thrift store painting every month. I am however building up quite the collection of these. They are taking up space in my home and they aren't really challenging me any more. This has caused me to reflect on just how effective this goal may still be.

I have many different hesitations about changing my goals. I hate to feel like I am quitting or giving up on something. I worry that I haven't really pushed myself far enough, or that I have failed the idea in some way by not continuing to pursue it to completion. I don't just give up a goal for any old reason. But, my husband helped my to understand that maybe it wasn't a bad idea to change my goals. He reminded me that it wasn't much of a goal, if I couldn't adjust it to better fit my changing circumstances. If it is too ridged of a goal it becomes just a task or work.

So, with some deep reflection I have decided to take my already existing thrift store art in a different direction. I am not going to completely abandon my goal, but tweak it so that once again I am working toward something more than just a task. My new idea is to make cartoon like stories of my currently existing pieces. I don't know where I am going to go with these, but I want to explore this new technique of art and expand my skills into new mediums. I am sure I will come up with a new goal that corresponds to this new style of work, since I don't know where this is going yet I cannot really create goal.

In the past during art school I did this kind of thing all of the time. I would start off a project with one idea, and through mistakes and adjustments I would end up with something that could be completely different from the original idea, but still in the same vein. The process of continual adjustment adds the the final product, because you have included what you have learned along the way, you can make it better than what you could have come up with in the first place using the limited knowledge you had then.

The goals we make have to have the freedom to adapt to what we need. We don't always need in the end what we needed at the beginning. We make adjustments as we go to fit the person we are now. It is not a worth while goal if it is not making yourself a better person, so change it to a more challenging goal, then you will always be improving as you go.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Losing grip

I have a ton of interests and hobbies. When it came time to pick out a desired direction in my life it became difficult to pick just one with all of the interests that I have. It took me ages to finally pin down art as my desired degree and career path in my life. I know that many people feel the same way about life.

Consequently, I like to pursue several different interests at the same time. Currently, I am re-reading a series before the next book comes out, I am working on a new watercolor painting, blogging, building my internet presence, starting my spring garden, and raising a kid. I try to work on all of these things every day so that they don't get forgotten or neglected. It is kind of a lot of stuff to split my focus between, but I feel so passionately about all them that I don't want to neglect any of them.

What tends to happen is that, because I like so many things I keeping adding new activities to my day. I read, and then write, and then nap the kid, paint, write, eat, and the list goes on. Then as I continue to add things to my day things start to slip through my fingers.

I like to do leisure free writing. I often sit in front of a blank paper and pour all of my current emotions onto the page. It helps me to logically go over them and think things out. I also wrote a book once with my leisure writing. Words are just as much a creative outlet for me as my art work is. Sadly this has become one of those things that has slipped between my fingers in the last couple of months.

Along with many other hobbies I have enjoyed there are just not enough hours in the day for me to fit it all in. I sometimes like to imagine all that I could do with my life if it were longer. There is just so much stuff that I want to do. There are so many things that I want to experience and learn, but I am limited by the amount of time I have to do them.

This forces me to sort out my priorities. I will never be able to do all of the things I want to. Maybe in the next life I will be given a chance to do so, but for now I have to decided what I feel most passionately about doing. I have to reduce my number of activities I try to attempt doing in the day so that I can actually finish the things that I care most about.

Just because I have decided that one thing is more important that another doesn't mean that I have to all together quit pursuing that interest. Just because I don't have time to write every day doesn't mean that I have to stop writing completely. I just have to make sure that I make time every once in a while to indulge in a different hobby. I have to change my life from a daily rotation to a weekly or monthly rotation on some things so that I can occasionally get to all of my hobbies. It becomes like a treat every once in a while I get to do something different that I love, rather than what I do every day.

Maybe one day I won't have to deliberate so much over what I want to do with my time. But for now, I am still fighting with  myself to narrow my interests down. Somehow I doubt that my thirst will ever really be quenched, and I will always want more out of my time that I will be able to do. All I can do is hope that time will never run out, and that I will have all of the time I will ever need to learn grow and create. I guess what I am saying is that I don't ever plan on getting old or dying.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cows and Aliens

For an artist I lead a rather practical life. In high school I got an internship my junior year, I had a part time data entry job during my senior year. I saved money, I got good grades, I planned my life. All of that work in high school lead to a great part time job in college and savings to pay for school with. I actually escaped college with only one semester of debt. It was great. All of my planning got me what I wanted.

I have learned that when I really want something, I can be awesome at achieving those long terms goals. I take a rather logical approach to everything when it comes to goals. All of that planning is great, but for the most part it isn't what actually gets me to the end. I have learned that for me I have to give myself something back in order to find the motivation to get to the end.

I like most people love a little instant gratification. It is kind of a spirit lifter when you are in the middle of a long term goal that seems to stretch out into the unforeseeable future. I can get a little over whelmed when I look at just how much further I have to go before I get to the prize at the bottom of the box. There is just so much that I have to get through before I get there, and I am tired. That road can be horribly discouraging when you are ready to give up.

It has been like this for me when it comes to many of my longer term goals. Like my weight loss. I have been desperately trying to get to my goal weight. Like most of the world I am not satisfied with my progress. I keep to the rules, I check in, and continually try to keep up morale.

Instant gratification is my way to keep that morale up. Every week I make a deal with myself, if I keep my rules and don't put any weight on by the end of the week I get a portion size of Hot Tamales. This for me is a source of instant gratification that I look forward to every week. I still follow the rules that day and aside for that little package of sugary goodness I keep to my plan. It helps me keep my spirits high.

Long term goals can be hard. When I decided I was going to go to college I was 8. It may have been a little earlier than the average person to make this kind of life plan. It was over 10 years before I was even going to get into college let alone the extra 4.5 years it took me to actually graduate. I actually asked my mom to help me open up a bank account that year when I realized my goals and I wanted to start saving then. 

Though all that hard work eventually paid off, it was the little moments of instant gratifications that got me through all of those years and still have the savings needed to pay for school. A movie with friends here, a top there, they all helped me to keep up the morale to keep working towards my goals.

And this is where the Cows and Aliens come in. Last month was hard when it came to completing my goal for this year. I have the goal to finish one thrift store piece and one watercolor piece each month. I had trouble with my last thrift store piece. I lost faith in myself, I got down and lost some of my motivation. Then I picked a difficult subject for my water color right after. I put in lots of work on these two pieces. I have started running out of steam on my goal.

So I decided that what I needed was a little instant gratification to get back into my work again. Since I started making thrift store paintings I have wanted to do an alien and cow painting. I didn't know what it was going to be about but I did know that I wanted a farm, cows and some kind of interaction with the standard gray aliens. So this month I found myself a picture of cows to work on. I am so excited to work on this and it is renewing my excitement for my work.

Though instant gratification can be looked down on by people as being immature, or shallow, for me it is a tool. I make goals, and stay productive if I just use it as a moral builder when I am losing steam. So this month we are all about the instant gratification of doing something I want to do right now, but also letting it be a part of the end goal.

Here are the results of instant gratification 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Good Things Come to Those Who...

The saying goes "Good things come to those who wait". I believe this to be a fallacy. There is more to getting what you want than waiting. Yes, there is some patience required, but that is not the same as waiting. Waiting suggests that all you are doing is sitting there hoping that something will happen soon. It is like sitting by the phone hoping that it will ring. It is like checking your email every five minutes hoping you will get some news. Waiting is like a prison sentence. Hospitals have waiting rooms. Dentist's offices have waiting rooms. These are places where nothing happens, where you do nothing while stuff happens around you. Waiting is an action that keeps you from taking any other action. You are entirely consumed with the idea that something will eventually come to you if you just sit there. 

Waiting doesn't bring you good things. Action does. You aren't going to get a phone call if you are the kind of person who spends all of their time sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring. You have to actually go out there and make friends in order to have someone who will give you a call to begin with. You aren't going to receive an email if you haven't done anything that will get you one. 

I believe more in the idea that "You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take". Waiting requires you to miss a ton of shots, because you are so obsessed with the hope of some wind fall. I have learned this lesson the hard way. I spent months waiting for things to happen, to get sales and to get noticed to get loads of different things I wanted. That just doesn't happen. You have to put yourself out there first, if you are going to get noticed. Winning the lottery is so unlikely that putting your hope in that is misguided. You aren't going to get the good things you want that way. It is like hoping that you will get a phone call from a wrong number and it turns out they are a really nice person and want to be your friend, and out for drinks or something. It just doesn't happen that way. 

You have to do the work needed first. That is where patience come into it. I think that if you are going to use the phrase it should really go like this "Good things come to those with Patience" Patience is different form waiting. It doesn't exclude you from other action. It means that you work while you hope that things will come to you. It means that you check you email while you are sending out other emails, you make calls while hoping you will get one back. Patience is beautiful because it doesn't kill your hope that things will happen for you, but also doesn't paralyze you. 

By never giving into the paralysis of waiting you can get so much more done. You also put your self out there for more opportunities to come your way. This applies to anything you may want in your life from making friends, to job opportunities. If you want something you have to go out there and get it. Don't waste your time waiting for things to happen, you will watch you life go by with little to say for it. Waiting is a trap, don't fall into it. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Throwing in the towel

I spend a ton of time considering giving up. It is easy to give up. But at the same time it is hard. There are many advantages of just giving in. It is a lot less work to just give up. You also don't have to deal with the criticism of others over your work. There is loads of instant gratification of just letting go.

The down side? I have to deal with myself. I have to face the guilt of abandoning my work. I have to cope with the feelings of failure. I have to be able to sit there knowing that I have completely squandered my abilities, and therefore my life. Any long term benefit I might have gained has also disappeared.

When I get the inner urges to cut out and drop my work, I have to weigh the pros and cons of continuing my work. What usually happens is that I add things up and realize, that even though it is physically harder to keep working it is more mentally demoralizing to give up.

What I have learned over the years, is that even though I tend to lose steam as I work on a project, and want to just give up, because I have grown tired of it; it actually hurts more to give up than to keep going. The thing about physical pain is that after a couple of days it goes away and your are stronger next time. The mental anguish of giving up, and the subsequent failure sticks around longer. It brings you down and holds you back from trying again. And what do you get for all of that depression you put up with? You don't get anything. At least with physical effort you are stronger for it, this is not so with self pity and depression.

I have had to learn this the hard way. I have given up on things so many times, all to the same result. Not only do you have to deal with the negative emotions of quitting, but there is also all of the opportunities of learning and growth that you could have gained if you had just kept going.

If you were to break it down logically like a math equation, giving up just doesn't add up. You start out your life at a base line of 0. When you work on a project you gain confidence, strength, knowledge, and understanding. This adds to your life in a positive way so now you have say +4. This just come for making the effort to start a project. Great you are going somewhere. Now here is where things change. When you give up on something you lose the +4 you got earlier, because you didn't finish gaining those attributes since you didn't finish the work. That puts you back at your base line of 0. Then you get a -2 or -3 for all of the mental anguish you put yourself through. You end up depressed because you gave up. That leaves you below what was your base line existence, all of the bad feelings leave you more empty than when you started out.

If however you were to finish your project you have the +4 for the skills and knowledge you gained working towards your goal. Then you get a +3 or +4 for the positive emotions associated with completing a task. Though you may have expelled a bit more energy maybe a -1 or -2 you still end up with more than if you throw in the towel.

This analogy may not really make sense to you, but when I am having those days where I don't really feel like getting out of bed. It helps me to think about all I can gain just by continuing my work towards my goal.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Too much force

When I was in high school I suffered often from what I called "mental constipation". This was when I was working on a project and I had all kinds of ideas for things to be working on, but what I was working on at the time just didn't seem to flow. I would sit and look at the assignment and try to come up with ideas on how to complete it, but all of them were lame or would never work. I would day dream about all of these other great ideas I had but nothing would come for the task at hand. It was like all of these great ideas were clogged up by the fact that I couldn't use them on my current work.

These last couple of weeks I have been suffering again from this ailment. I have had a thrift store piece that has been sitting on my table forever and I have yet to come up with something to add to it that makes me feel satisfied. I sit there and look at the picture and try to force my brain to think of something. It is kind of like when Winnie the Pooh tries to think of something. (http://coub.com/view/2yrectc) It is square peg round hole moment where things just don't quite fit. At time it feels like the more I try to force something to happen the less I can actually think of. The harder I strain to think of something the more crap the ideas get.

I have made a goal for this year, to finish a thrift piece and a water color every month, but this thrift piece is holding me up. I am actually behind now on my goal, because things just don't seem to want to come together for it. It is horribly aggravating that my imagination seems to have stopped dead when it comes to this piece.

What I usually do when I get to this point is throw it aside and work on something new. I just take issue with that right now, because it was my goal to do this. I don't want to just leave this goal behind. I also don't have any other thrift pieces to work on. So in essence I have to work on this one in order to keep up with my goal. My other issue with leaving it for later is that I have a tendency to put things aside and never come back to them. The "while" I say to myself seems to mean to put it away and forget about it.

So I guess what I am going to need to do is, either be willing to commit to an idea that may not be great now and just put something on paper and hammer things into place the hard way and see how it turns out, or I need to figure out a way to set something aside for a while and put a time limit on how long I can put it there.

I just cannot allow myself to become caught up on things like this. I need to be able to keep working instead of becoming stalled on a single piece. This piece is not stronger or smarter than me. I just have to out think my thinking problem and move on.

When I get done with this pieces it may not be my best piece, but at least I will have figured out how to work my way around this "mental constipation" that I find myself with right now.