I’m So Disracted and My Worst Enemy!

I really wanted to learn to blog so the idea of this site was born. It was fortunate to have a son in IT( techy business stuff) and he designed this site for me. Whew! My plan was to show the world my work as an artist and drive people to my site. My son is a tech genius, although he will deny it. Steve studied marketing in college and but actually worked IT in the resort industry and later in publishing. Bored with his job, he established his own company and created this blog site for me. Remarkably, the first computer we bought him in college was an Apple2E with drop down menus. Amazed, I wonder how he learned to function in the difficult world of analytics, coding and other blah-blah-blah. Where did he get the genius bug? Definitely, it was not from me.

So who am I really?

By nature, I am a creative person of reasonable intelligence with a thirst to learn new ways to create while seeking truth about my world. I am a practical no frills woman who is comfortable in my skin. By the way, it took me a lifetime to achieve this since I was always sensitive to what others thought of me. Deep within my center is a Bohemian color-crazed artist who loves pattern, bold colors and weird things hanging from my studio ceiling that have no function except that I like to look at them. When I retired from teaching visual arts for 24 years, I inherited about 200 origami birds of all colors that were made by students in the Literature class. You can see them in the photo before I braved the ladder to get them on the ceiling! Added to that are ribbons and colorful fabric leis that I collected from a school prom I chaperoned. My studio is a smallish hodge-podge of color and memories that expresses my life experiences and fires me up to create.

My studio is well lit with natural light but small and cramped but functions. See the garland of birds?

I am a mixed media artist that likes to try new mediums to express myself (sometimes all media at once… Well, maybe not all). This goes goes with my undercover Bohemian artist nature, which I hid for ages under a conservative wrapping. I have never been wild. I never did weed and alcohol because I was wise enough and didn’t need to patch myself up with those external feel-good things that might get me trapped in a habit I would regret. Yet, the Woodstock era was mine and ‘everybody’ did weed and more. Tie dye, head bands , pink lenses on glasses and wild hair were the rage.

I envision myself as practical, level-headed and a deep thinker who likes to figure stuff out. Actually, at this late stage in my life (age 79), I find I have a powerful motivation to work on an art career then I tell myself to ‘chill’ and drop it. That ‘fire in my belly’ begins to burn again and I NEED to take up this radical business idea. Good grief!

A lot of time is spent in my studio and I have about 50-60 paintings stored in portfolios. May I reveal a hidden secret that I am risking to tell the world on this blog. I am timid to approach people, art businesses and galleries to offer my work. Taking that initiative makes my blood run cold. Yet, I KNOW I am a good artist. I KNOW my work has quality and can hold up in today’s market but I’m afraid I will not meet the business demands it all will put on me. Will I bail out when others are counting on me. Afraid. Af-raid. Afr-aid. However I say it, it doesn’t go away. I have a fear of success. My present excuse is that I am too old to reinvent myself. If you are experiencing the same emotions and have moved on, may I offer many words of congratulations. Just tell me how you overcame the fear of starting over?

Alas, I am stuck in a new era of technology I never learned in school yet a three year old feels comfortable with. I hate phones and social media that drives the world market today. I really do not want to be on Linkedin, which took forever to get off! I rarely Tweet, Instagram or Facebook unless I want to see photos of my family’s grand kids. Do you think there is hope for me in business? I would need a mind miracle.
So, what do I do with the FIRE, the challenge, the drive?

There is one sliver of hope but haven’t done it yet. The question that was put to me was, “Are you sure you want to have a business?” An awesome, motivating art coach named Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz Success .com was revealed to me. I read most of her business blogs online and had some glimmer of hope that I would take her workshop on how to start an art business. I bought her book, IRBITS which is in its fourth printing. However, as a retired person living on an a small pension, I realized that I have very little capital to invest in a new business. Formerly, I had a retail business that ran out of capital. Trying to expand, I could not continue although it was breaking even after 3 years. This experience scared me.

At that time, women were not encouraged to be in business. I tried to float a bank loan to grow my venture. I was told by the bank officer to go home and just make it a hobby. “Women are not good business people.” Nowadays, that bank manager would be burnt at the stake for slander. Go Women!. That experience soured me and I lost belief in myself. This still hangs on me like a ball and chain. I know a bit about retail but less about marketing.

Where will this end up? At my elder-ish age, business seems like futility because I do not know how long I will have on this earth. I was never one to leave something unfinished. I have this stubborn persistence to complete what I started. I am a legacy builder and am hopefully an example for my grandchildren to never quit but to keep on, keeping on.

For those of you who have the ‘fire’ also, take the risk so you will never regret having missed a great opportunity to invest in your world and to bless others with your talents. To Alyson Stanford, you are the hope of many creative women like myself who don’t know where to start. Great going Gal and thanks.

Becoming Good at One Thing

I tried every medium. I had to. If I was to be an art teacher in a public school, I needed State Certification. I needed to be proficient in all media so that I could teach it.  I had to know my art history and art movements throughout time.  It doesn’t mean that I LIKED to work in all media, I just had to know enough to teach it.  As I explored each one, I would experiment to see how far I could take it by combining one medium with another technique or using it in a way that was never done before. I came to the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun. Someone tried it before me! So where do we go from here?

I examined the progress I had  made in each medium. Which of the dozens of art supplies felt natural to ME? Which one was I more eager to play in? Which was more of a struggle? Which medium fit into my ideas of expression. For instance, if my style uses line and shape, would rough lines made with chalk speak to me more than using pen lines? Or would a thin liner brush to create line feel more like my style?  What if I like the impressionist style that uses overlapping short strokes to give me a pixelated painting? Then my natural medium would be pastels, even oils, acrylics and gouache or tempera.  I would want a more opaque medium than watercolor, which is free-flowing and transparent. If I enjoy ‘happy accidents’ where I have to pull an idea from the way the paint flows on my paper, watercolor would suit me.

After experimenting with each one, I worked in watercolors for a long time. I like the way it flows into watery brush strokes and it does its thing. I like the  spontaneity and  transparency when the white of the paper comes through the paint and illuminates the colors even more. I like the challenge of conquering smooth washes by overlaying layers of color. After I became really good at my technique, I needed to expand my ideas. The worst thing for an artist is to get stuck in the same old, same old.  I would be missing a lot more like experimenting with light and how it falls on objects at different times of day. I found that I like combining collage with my watercolors.

How do we incorporate collage in our work? I have two drawers full of parts of prints, magazines pages and even painted paper and the paper towels I used to mop up paint on my table. Yes, I dry them and save that too. It is fun for me to dig into that drawer and most of the time my selection of collage pieces, forces me to solve my problem another way.

Used when I am ‘stuck’.

Thus, the painting turns out so different than I planned it. This also frees me from my preconceived idea and sets me in a new direction.  I am using my creative instincts to solve a problem. I might correct a problem that I was unable to erase with another coat of paint, by gluing something over it. Ha! Where there is a will, there is a way, my mom used to say!

Once, I actually tore apart a watercolor I hated and used the scraps to create a new painting. King’s Garden was the result. It is in my gallery.

King’s Garden  Watercolor Collage, 24×36

Every work I do is dedicated to God. I thank Him for my talent and for Eternal Life because I believe by faith,  in Jesus dying for my sins. I am forgiven and at peace. How can I explain the JOY I have inside me except to say it is because of my personal relationship with God, not due to  religious doctrine or because I may belong to a church. Those are good on their own, but they do not replace knowing God in a personal way like you know your best friend. It is a deep trusting, true relationship that I have with Jesus. This is always available to you also. Ask Him to reveal himself to you personally then believe He will do it his way.