Why I blog

At the end of April I will be conducting a workshop titled “So You Want to Start a Blog?” sponsored by the Dorchester Arts Collaborative. It will be a basic workshop for those who are new to blogging. I’m happy to help other artists any way that I can, because so many artists in the blogsphere have helped and inspired me by offering support, sharing their talent and revealing vulnerabilities that remind me that we all have so much in common.

In preparation for the workshop, I’m thinking back to when and why I started this blog. I can’t remember exactly why I started a blog. It could be that I discovered WordPress and wanted to try out a new tool. That’s pretty much how I am as an artist. I find some new toy that I’m not familiar with and I want to play.

My very first post was in March 2009. I laugh now when I look at it. It was not so much a post, but rather more of a headline: “Getting inspired.” I can remember that uncomfortable-what-am-I-doing feeling and not really knowing what to say–or to whom. I apparently got over that by just doing it My next entry was in October 2009, and I was off and running at that point.

I have artist Leah Piken Kolidas, the creator of the Creative Every Day Challenge blog, to thank for that. She challenges us to keep the creative process flowing as she poses themes each month for artists. We can choose to follow the theme as we make artwork, or not, and then check in for others to see, thus broadening the interactive experience that blogging provides.

The push to create something every day and post the results inspired me as an artist and as a blogger. Connecting with other artists in a virtual community is irresistible. So far, I have explored territory that I would not have explored on my own. I’ve met, corresponded and exchanged art with artists from across the world whom I’ve never met in person and likely never would have even known about without my blog.

Art is all about exchange. As an artist I offer those who view my artwork my imagination, observations, fears, hopes and dreams. In exchange, I seek their interpretation, analysis, wonderment and excitement. This exchange brings the creative cycle full circle. And with each new look at my artwork, the cycle is renewed.

Usually this exchange takes place undetected. However, blogging brings everything to light so that the full benefit of it is clearly realized for both sides.

As I create artwork each week, I post images and write about the inspirations behind the work, as well as the challenges that I faced in creating it. Blog readers comment and tell me what they think of the work, ask questions, and share information about their lives and what inspires them. Sometimes the comments even give me ideas about what I want to create next, or helps me figure out in which direction I should go on a current piece.

Since that first post in 2009, there were more than 7,000 views of this blog and looked at my artwork. That is amazing to me. I would never had been able to reach that many viewers with my work in any other way. 7,000 views?! I’m truly honored.

What about you? Why do you blog?

The art of questioning

Today I’m thinking a lot about what I’m doing as an artist—again. This is, in part, thanks to my husband. He’s very honest when it comes to my art making.

I’ve been too busy with work and life to create. I finally sat in my studio early Saturday morning determined to get back into things. I started out by not planning to make anything in particular. I just wanted to scribble on paper, move around paint, etc. And, who showed up again? One of the gown-wearing ladies I always paint.

That was fine, I thought. But when I looked at the entire piece that I created I decided that it was a hot mess. It’s out of proportion, the colors are all wrong, and the focus of attention is in the wrong place. There are so many places where I should have stopped and not overwork the piece, but I didn’t.

I asked my husband, “this is a disaster, right?” I knew the answer. “Yeah,” he confirmed. The truth sucks! It’s important, but sucks, nonetheless.

Then he went further by again probing why I keep painting the same figure. I, of course, still have no answer. He challenged me to push myself to paint something else, noting that when I do I come up with some really powerful work. I just smiled, fighting all the urges that arise when an artist feels criticized and questioned.

In my heart and head, I know that he is right. I should explore other things. Is it that I’m just  creatively drawn to this lady in the gown? Or is it that I’m afraid I can’t do anything else, so it is more comfortable to always end up drawing her?

Fear. Hello, old pal.

I don’t know the answer, but I will continue to think about it, and perhaps try other subject matter.

The images above show my  creative process leading up to my little “disaster.” (I was so sure that this would be a spectacular piece that I wanted to document it. That assumption likely was the start of the problem.) I finally cut up the piece and kept the one part I like most–the lady. 🙂

“Dreamer”

“What are you doing,” my husband asked me as I worked on this piece in my studio on Saturday.

“I have no idea,” I replied.

I had no idea what I was doing when I put together this mixed media piece (watercolor, marker, acrylic paint). One night this week I had a weird dream. (Aren’t they all weird?) These words came to me when I awoke:

You haunt my dreams, making me remember things that never even happened.

So I wanted to create a painting based on this notion that dreams take elements of our true realities and blend them with things that are not true, yet they always feel so real.

I had trouble getting the concept to unfold the way I had envisioned it. I grew frustrated with the piece and felt that I lost a lot of the textures I had originally created. But I just kept going. Some how I ended up with this: “Dreamer.”

Beautiful Birthday: Part 2

My birthday celebration continued this weekend, courtesy of friends who prepared a lovely dinner and gave me perfect gifts–laughter and love. We all had a great time, as always. The star of the evening was the birthday cake, which by chance had one of my favorite colors on it–aqua–and lovely butterflies. I kept the butterflies and used them as inspiration for  3-D handcrafted cards.

The not so Young and the Restless

I’m feeling a bit restless lately. I’m wanting something…something….can’t put my finger on it.

I was on vacation last week and should have gotten plenty done in my art studio, but I just spent time lounging around watching too much TV. No idea where my motivation went. (Let me know if you’ve seen it.)

And that lounging around, doing nothing, of course, led to lots of eating things I had no business eating. (I even ate white bread! Ssshhh.) I’m nothing if not predictable. Patterns are so easy to fall into. They are just these well worn grooves waiting for me, expecting me,  calling me….

Maybe it is because of my recent birthday. I’m not one to dwell on age because getting older is always better than the alternative. (Did I say older? I meant to say becoming less young.) It’s that annual “what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-and-what-is-my-purpose” reflection time. I still don’t have the answer. (“Ah, Grasshopper, perhaps it is not the answer that is important, but the question itself…” That’s an old “Kung Fu” TV show flashback for those too young to remember.)

Well, I’m trying to snap out of it and get going again. Getting back to my work routine is helping. And I have a wonderful birthday dinner being hosted by good friends this Saturday that I’m looking forward to. Lots of laughter, good food and mutual appreciation.

I did manage to start on this collage mixed media piece on canvas, which I manipulated in PhotoShop. I call it “Hope and Pray.”

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