How often do I make a mistake or mess something up? Like smudge a brushstroke, drip paint on my finished painting, put the wrong herb in my stew or wear mismatched socks. Probably too often to count. The little things get brushed off as try again next time, or maybe there’s a way I can “fix it” or cover it up. The bigger ones, salt in the cookies instead of sugar, I pressed send instead of delete, I just have to own up and say I screwed up or I’m sorry. But how many times do I overlook an opportunity for something new that might be even better than I had planned? That color I thought was black is actually dark blue and I like it so much better! I can use that smudge on that perfectly clean white paper as a great starting point for my next painting. Basil instead of oregano gives this dish such an interesting flavor. I’m not a machine, I’m certainly not perfect. I will continue to make smudges, spills and goofs in and out of the studio. But what if some of them can lead to better things? I’d be happier and more relaxed and more creative. So in addition to my new year’s resolution to play more, I’m adding one (I make them all year round) to celebrate the oops moment. What mistakes have you made that turned out to be better than the original plan? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear !
Recently, I took a trip to Iceland with my husband. I brought a sketchbook and some drawing tools and small tubes of paint. I didn’t think I’d paint every day but maybe a few. Not one. Partly because we came back exhausted from our tours around the island and walking around Reykjavik but also due to sensory overload.
From the bracing cold to the whipping wind that was so strong at times that you could barely stand then, a few feet away, no wind at all, Icelandic, an ancient language new to my ears and snow. So much pristine, white snow (as a New Yorker, I’m not used to lots of white snow). All so much to absorb.
But what colors? I thought I’d be drawn to paint with the soothing blue of the Blue Lagoon against the black volcanic rock. We saw a lot of jagged black rock against pure white snow all over the island.
A few weeks after returning home, without planning, I painted a face.
Who knows what else is ruminating around my brain from that trip that may come out at unexpected times. A craving for roast lamb? An urge to stand infront of a fan in freezing cold weather? Maybe I’ll never realize the connection. What about you? What effects have you noticed in your life or in your creative endeavors after a trip or other immersive experience? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
Happy new year’s wishes have come and gone, resolutions made, declared. The last New Year’s resolution I made and kept was about 10 years ago I resolved to make no more resolutions. I have kept it so far. Until now. A few weeks ago, around the holidays, I began thinking about what was missing in my life (not a whole lot, I’m supremely happy and satisfied with my life now) and my art. And I realized it was play. I need to play more. To let go of “should” and overthinking, let it all go and and just do what feels right. Sounds so 1970’s hippie-ish. Maybe I should join a commune. But sometimes just doing what feels right is exactly what is called for. I was doing a few small paintings yesterday, and thinking about what color to use and why, what shape to use and where to put it, should I put a line here, how long, scribbly or straight, maybe with a little smudge? They look ok but not great. I had some extra paint left over so I smeared it on some previously painted paper, maybe I can use it for collage later. Immediately I felt that wow feeling. It feels so different to create without trying, without the goal of making it look good. I can forget all of the “shoulds” and just do what I want at that moment. A big splash over that careful drawing? Bright orange that clashes with that teal? Why not if it doesn’t matter? That smear of extra paint painting had elements of joy, abandon and randomness which make a painting interesting . It felt like fun. Why is it hard to play? How can I bring that feeling into my art (and life) more often? I need to remind myself, to put my shoulders down and as the wonderful and wise Rebecca Schweiger says “It’s only paint!” So I am resolving to play more, do it just because it’s fun and allow my mind to expand and let loose more often.
Please click on the menu on the left to see my most recent work. Leave a comment! I’d love to hear what you think about incorporating more play in your life!
See video below for the essence of play!
I just want to take this opportunity to wish all of you holiday season filled with happiness and joy. Here’s to a wondrous new year filled with many happinesses and successes.
Peace, love and joy,
I am so excited to tell you of two upcoming shows that will include my work. The first is at the Atlantic Gallery in New York City. Three of my paintings will be in this show. The opening is November 29th and the show will run through December 22nd.
My mother used to say “Doesn’t rain but it pours!” So it’s pouring a little bit. Another one of my paintings was juried into a show at Catalyst Gallery in Beacon, NY.
Needless to say, I’m excited, nervous (OK, a tiny bit panicked) but overall happy to be sharing my art with the world! If you are in New York City or near Beacon , NY please stop by, I’d love to see you!
Many years ago I was having dinner with a friend and I have remembered a conversation with her husband often since then. He said he didn’t understand why his taxes should support the local community theatre if he wasn’t interested in seeing it. Why pay to support art that you don’t like? I was dumbfounded. My parents were both musicians and very supportive of the arts and it never occurred to me that everyone didn’t feel the same way. I’ve thought about this off and on over the years (especially when my son argued that going to a museum was a waste of time). It’s easy to say art brings beauty into our lives when standing in front of a Matisse or Degas. It gets trickier to defend splashes of paint or what seem to be random brushstrokes. Even more so when a painting seems to have little visual interest. A square canvas, the top half is white, the bottom half is black. What is it about? What does it mean? I have often looked at minimalist art and felt impatient, insecure as I wonder, why don’t I “get” it? It occurs to me that I could be more open to new ideas in art, but what? What am I looking for?
Bill and I went to an exhibit of Bruce Nauman’s work at the Museum Of Modern Art in NYC last week. I didn’t get it. But a quote at the entrance to the exhibit helped me to understand. “For Nauman, both making art and looking at art involve ‘doing things that you don’t particularly want to do, putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, following resistance to find out why you’re resisting.’ His art compels viewers to relinquish the safety of the familiar, keeping us alert, ever vigilant, and wary of being seduced by easy answers”. So I let go of the familiar, such as “knowing what this is about” and asked different questions, knowing that the answers will be different for everyone.
Now I would tell my friend’s husband that the purpose of art isn’t just to beautify our lives. It’s to keep us thinking, asking questions and being wary of easy answers, like dismissing differences between us as inevitable or believing someone in power because he (or she) said it is so.
Nobody can do you like you. This is a quote I've heard several versions of in the past week or so. How many times do I look at other artist's work on social media and think "I wish I could paint like that." Or "Hey, I could do that!" So, I think about the painting I want to make incorporating a technique or style I see in someone else's painting and I plan it out in my head. I visualize myself doing a painting in this new style. Then I do it. And it comes out nothing like I envisioned. Bummer. That doesn't look like that painting I saw! Why can't I do that? It shouldn't be so hard! How often have you thought "I wish I could ________ like him/her."? As I think of it now, away from the studio, of course I can't make a painting like that other artist I love. If it's coming from my hand it's mine, and it will have my own style all over it. That is to be celebrated, not diminished. Only I can paint like me. (That is a direct quote - with change of pronoun - from Nicholas Wilton. Thanks Nick!)
We used to tell our son when he was playing baseball, practice technique in lessons. That's the place to think about where you place your feet, how your hands hold the bat, how to coordinate the movement of your feet, hips and hands to hit the ball. Then when you get on the field forget about all that. It's still with you but don't think. Just do what feels right. Now I need to take my own advice. Look at other work, make notes but then get into the studio and just paint. Do what feels right. How can I carry this into my life? Look at what other people are doing. Think about what I want to do but then just do what feels right. Because only I can do me. And I can only do me.
This painting is one of my favorites.
I count it as among my best work. I painted it when I was 5 years old. Probably after seeing the Nutcracker Ballet with my head full of thoughts of being a ballerina. I was thinking of that twirling motion, the tutu, arms held high, posture firm but delicate, not rigid. How did I manage to encompass all that as a 5 year old? because I wasn't thinking about making it great or how it would look when it was done. I was just remembering and feeling, letting my feelings guide my hands.
People often think abstract painting is easy "My 6 year old kid could do that" or hard " I could never do that". So which is it? Easy or hard? Both. It is easy because there's nothing to compare it to like a painting of an apple should look like an apple. Just make a mark, throw some paint down. (OK, it's not really that easy, but you get the idea.) The hardest part is letting go of the limitations we set for ourselves or allow others to set for us. A painting has to be beautiful, it should be about something recognizable, it should be "good", color in the lines, no scribbling etc., etc. The foundation for most of my work is breaking the rules. I love to scribble and make a mess. Usually the best work comes when I am frustrated (because I'm trying to make it "good") and then say "whatever" with a bit of attitude. Thats when the fun begins and the painting starts to be good. Because I stop trying to make it good. It's so hard for me to wrap my brain around that idea that I have to keep relearning it over and over again.
But there's a better reason to break the rules than to make a good painting. That feeling that immediately follows taking a risk, using a weird color or a making big fat mark on top of that beautiful, delicate painting, is exhilarating! (I often say in my head "Yup! I just DID that!) I feel like there are no bounds that can hold me (momentarily anyway), I feel a little superhuman.
So I recommend breaking the rules. Color outside the lines. Wear stripes with polka dots. Go sky diving (Well, that last one does makes me a little queasy). Do something you are a little afraid to do and go at it with abandon. And leave a comment about how it goes!
Making art is in itself scary. It's being vulnerable, showing myself to the world. It brings up fears like am I good enough? Does this suck? Will people laugh at me and dismiss me? I'm working through it. Anxiety still grips me at times and I walk in the studio, turn around and walk out. I take a few deep breaths and go back in. After taking Nicholas Wilton's course Art2Life Creative Visionary Path where he gave us specific tools and strategies, and fears and doubts were brought out into the open, as well as the continued support from my instructors at The Art Studio New York, I am ready to take the next step. (I use the phrase "I am ready..." with trepidation.) I want to introduce my art to the world . Hence this blog.
So, writing a blog. That's next on my list of fears. All of the same fears above apply. In writing this, I'm hoping to do more than show you my paintings, but to show more of me. What I'm thinking, how I'm feeling about making art. What inspires me, what's new in my life. I hope you enjoy them. If you don't, there's always the unsubscribe button. But I hope you stay.
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I'm continuing to pursue a feeling of fluidity, and looseness in my painting. In my process as well as in the finished product. Letting go of the idea that whatever painting I'm working on has to be "good" is so much harder than I imagined. But as soon as I abandon care about how the painting comes out, the results are 100% improved. And that feeling of letting go is scary, then fantastically freeing! Empowering! And so much fun. It all leaves me a little breathless.
Last Fall Bill and I went apple picking at an orchard in Connecticut. I took a picture of these trees by the road because I liked the layers of color, green(s), yellow, orange. Layers of color is something I have been exploring more. An artist I am continuously inspired by is Joan Mitchell. Her expressive use of color and the way she layers color to create depth. Without painting shapes to describe a leaf or a flower, you still know that you are looking at a field of sunflowers. I attempted to do something similar in the second painting. Using less detail, concentrating more on layers of color. It;s still difficult for me to totally leave the original image behind though. I'm still working on that. Click here to see the paintings on the website.