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New Painting-Tree, birds, and crystal water

Was it just me, or did that weekend go by way too fast?

I posted a new painting this morning, and I really like this one. This is an example of a painting that was supposed to be one thing, but spontaneously turned out to be something else. The water was a surprise. I just liked how it looked when I divided off the part of the painting that was going to be the ground.

8X10 acrylic on stretched canvas

This painting features a tree growing out of crystal clear water, along with a flock of birds and a stamped, textured sun. This piece is available here for $55.

Sorry for the short post today, but I have to run. Have a great day!

Talking Back to Fears

If you’ve follow me on Facebook or Twitter (hint hint) you know that I’ve recently submitted two of my pieces to a juried show. This is the Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art, which is one of the biggest juried shows in Utah. Nearly two-thirds of the entries don’t actually make it into the show, so it’s fairly competitive. Years ago, I actually had a piece in their state high school show, which is almost as competitive, and even won a prize, so I’m crossing my fingers to get into this one.

This is actually my first attempt at a real juried show, and it’s quite nerve wracking. One of my favorite artists, Brian Kershisnik, actually won this show last year. I feel like I’m playing with the big kids now. I’ve had all kinds of thoughts running through my head, some helpful and some not so much.

What do you think you’re doing? You’re not a real artist. This show is for real artists. 

Do you really think you’re going to get in? You’ve seen this show, it’s incredible! How could you hang your work on the same walls?

They’re going to look at your work and think and think it’s kitschy or something. It’s cute. It’s imperfect and they’ll see right through you. 

Just don’t even bother entering that show. Save yourself some disappointment and try again when you’re a real artist. 

Just for fun, I even had another destructive thought while typing these: Do you really think it’s a good idea to expose these thoughts to your readers? You  need to appear confident and fearless. No one will take you or your work seriously if they know that you think these thoughts. 

Interesting, huh? And yes I do think it’s a good idea to admit to these thoughts. Every artist has them. Every person has them. I’ve written about fear quite a bit on this blog, because it’s something that I experience a lot, and it’s held me back in the past. I’ve also learned to recognize it and talk back to it. I’m not perfect at it, but if I can learn to talk back to my fears, anyone can.

Who says I’m not a real artist? Of course I am! I make art, people like it, and people even buy it sometimes. Sure, I’m not a full time artist yet, but I am most certainly now and have always been an artist. 

My work is as good as anyone else’s. If I don’t get into the show, that means that the judges didn’t connect with it, not that it isn’t good. I’m fully confident in the quality of my work. 

I’m young and inexperienced, but I need to start somewhere. I’ve spent a lot of time at this museum and I feel very comfortable here, so this is a good place to start. 

Not everyone will like my work, and that’s ok. I don’t make art to please everyone. I make it to connect with the people who will connect with it. Everyone who doesn’t will connect with something else and won’t need my work. That’s fine with me. Most people who see it tell me they love it. If they don’t, oh well. 

A lot of other amazing artist entering this show are probably thinking the same things. Especially the first timers like me. 
 

So Saturday afternoon, despite the demons whispering fears into my mind, Sam and I took Galaxies Inside 1 and 2 down to the museum. Now I’m waiting. It’s worse than waiting for the cast list of any show I’ve ever auditioned for, because this is a beginning. If I get in, and I truly believe I have a decent shot, this show will be a solid line on my resume. I’ll have approval from the actual art world. If I don’t, it just wasn’t the right time, place, or piece. Or the judges just didn’t connect.

We’ll see.

Housekeeping: For the time being, Galaxies Inside 1 and 2 will be unavailable for purchase, but they’ll be available if/when I get them back.

I’m also going on a trip this week and I may blog from my phone, but I may choose to completely unplug for the rest of the week. Sometimes that is very necessary.

Have a wonderful spring week!

Painting: Galaxies Inside 2

My paintings always surprise me because they almost never turn out the way I plan them. I may go in with a plan or an idea that I want to express, but somewhere in the process, that idea changes. Once I finish, I realize that whatever the painting ended up saying was what I needed to express all along.

24X36 Acrylic on Canvas

This painting was no exception. We had a few springy days and I felt my soul stirring. I planned on painting something very gold, warm looking with lots of movement in energy. I wanted to paint hope and excitement. As the painting got away from me as they always do, it grew more white. It looked more calm than I’d wanted it to. It was misty and cold rather than warm and vibrant.

That’s how it had to be though.

After I realized that I needed to be sitting under that tree, I realized that this piece is about patience and faith as we allow things to pass.

Sometimes, the best thing to do it wait. Understand that things pass. Remember that spring comes each year. Observe things as they happen, but don’t let them sink into our hearts. Sometimes detachment is the healthiest thing in the world.

This is the second piece in the Galaxies Inside series. This piece is available for purchase here.

New Painting: Galaxies Inside 1

Even though it seems like forever since I last finished a painting, I think this one was worth it.

16X40 Acrylic on Canvas

This is the first painting in what I hope to be an entire series of works in my usual style but with more emphasis on the night sky and celestial bodies. If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed that I’ve been adding spacey pictures to my “Art Inspiration” board for quite awhile now, and I think I’m ready to work with that idea now.

I can think of two things that inspired this series:

First, a doodle I did a few months ago. I was working through Laura Hollick’s Create Yourself e-course and I had been doodling as well as taking note. I let my pen dance around on the page according to what I felt, and then I made another small doodle to “sum up” that energy I’d just captured with my “pencil dancing”. I wanted a tiny snapshot of my soul, the joyful energy that is McKella. It was a spiral with lots of little arms coming off of it, like a galaxy.

Secondly, a poem I wrote in my senior year of high school. I can’t seem to find it anywhere. It was about the complexity of being a human and the vastness of the human soul. I felt so big inside, like I could spent my entire life exploring and never understand it all. The very structure of my body and soul, the cycles that I lived by, and the thoughts and emotions I experienced seemed so miraculous. I honestly don’t remember any of that poem except for one line: There are galaxies inside. 

I may go back and rewrite that poem, because the theme has never left me.

The series will explore this idea further. I don’t know how many pieces I’ll do. It may be three, maybe a dozen. I’m going to let it unfold as it needs to.

This piece does have some significance on its own though. I usually don’t fully understand the meaning of my paintings until I’m finished, and last night as I washed out my brush for the final time, I realized that this piece is about goals, possibilities, values, experiences, plans, and how they can change or become eclipsed by something else. I’ve always been very driven, which is a good thing, but on the flip side I also have a hard time letting go.  I’ll hold onto something-be it a goal, relationship, job, or old story long after it’s lost its magic. I have a hard time moving on, letting go, and giving up control.

The figure in this painting watches the events in the night sky, but doesn’t try to change them. She observes, but makes no effort to interfere. She trusts, she is connected to something that is rooted to the ground, and that is all she needs. She knows who she is, and that is all that is necessary.

Purchase this piece here.

Painting-Contemplative

Modern life requires us to go fast. Rush from errand to errand, work hard, play hard, sweat at the gym, crunch those numbers, go go go!

We all know the importance of rest (who wouldn’t crash  after all of that?) but sometimes we neglect the need to contemplate.

I painted this in August, but I haven’t talked about it here yet. In fact, this is the first piece I ever painted with the intention to sell.

"Contemplative" acrylic on canvas 24"X24"

Back when the grass was green and I still lived in tee shirts and cargo shorts, one of my favorite things to do was to walk to the park down the street, cozy up to one of the trees and watch the world around me while I processed my thoughts and fished for ideas. Sunset was my favorite time to do this.

I was always amazed at the thoughts that would run through my head as I sat under that sky. Everything from “That is the most vibrant pink I have ever seen” to “I hope my kids aren’t into sports-I wouldn’t know what to do” to “I want to paint the sun.”

I’d always bring an notebook or a sketchbook, but most of the time I’d just think.  Just thinking is one of my favorite things to do, and I find that it’s a critical part of my artistic process (aka My Life). It’s how I recharge, it’s how I refine ideas to the point that I can start making them real.

I also get some great thinking done in the car, but that’s not nearly as fun to paint.

This piece is available for purchase here.

Where’s your thinking place?

Painting-A Fire Inside

Although this is one of my favorite paintings, I haven’t yet discussed it on the blog.

This piece was born of fear.

"A Fire Inside" 24X30 Acrylic on Canvas

We all know that feeling of being held back, whether by someone else’s expectations or rules, living or work situations, or someone telling us we can’t.  I was frustrated because I’d just started creating work to sell, and I knew I had a battle ahead of me. I had the “starving artist” myth to contend with, for starters. I had to start an art business from the ground up. I had to get people to notice me, let my work be judged, all while still maintaining my passion and creative flow so that I could produce the best work possible.

I was overwhelmed. It’s still overwhelming now, as I’m in the throws of that battle. I was frustrated that things are the way they are and that it’s so difficult to start doing what I love for a living. It felt like I had so much working against me, and that it was unfair that I had to fight so hard just to do what I love.

Then I realized what a useless attitude that was.

I could moan and whine about how hard things are, or I could let my passion lead me, find joy in the journey of connecting my work with others and cultivating my career. I could dance in that fire of fear and opposition.

The process of creating the painting reflected my thinking process, because they happened at the same time.

I began with a fiery, chaotic background of red, yellow, and orange smeared around with my husband’s old library card (I knew it would never get used) and I added the string, a motif I’ve used for years, because I felt bound at this point. As I worked things through in my mind, I stamped and painted the orbs, which are my representation of celestial bodies, hope, and joy. My trees are just as human as my figures, so I added one of those two. What would my work be without trees?

It took me a long time to decide on a figure, but eventually I settled on a dancer. It’s funny that I paint dancers so often, because I can’t really dance. The movement expresses my feelings  so perfectly though, how this girl just  leaps into the unknown.

There’s such beauty and discovery in letting go.

This piece is available for purchase here.

Painting-Take it Step by Step

I still haven’t written about a few of the paintings in my shop, so over the next few weeks, I’d like to post about each of them. They’re all significant to me and they deserve to be explained. 

Even the longest journeys begin with a single step.

The only thing holding us back is our fear, which is just an emotion. It’s not an emergency. Fear is a natural impulse designed to keep us safe.

It can also keep up trapped.

All you have to do, is take the first step. Then, take another.

Repeat until you arrive.

Acrylic on Canvas 24"X30"

This piece is available for purchase here.

New Painting: Ribbon Dancer

I actually started this one in late September, but I just finished it last week. Sometimes it just works out that way, and that’s fun. I have a few other unfinished pieces floating around,  but the time will come.

The inspiration for this one came when I took a drive through the mountains with my husband and two of our good friends. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous it was, so of course my artist brain was going nuts. I was so enthralled by the yellow leaves and glowing sunset that I forgot to take pictures or sketch anything, which is fine too. Sometimes it’s better to look and soak in the moment than waste it by trying to capture it.

I spend the week after that reading nature poetry and taking lots of walks, try to process what I’d taken in. Finally, I painted this. I usually use references as loose guides when I paint trees, but this time I wanted them to look less realistic and more cartoonish, like story book trees. I collaged red tissue paper and string, scraped the paint on with an old library card and built up the texture by adding layers of bright color. Finally, I added a poem by my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson in the red sky, written in sumi ink:

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,–
Prodigal of blue,Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.
It just fit so perfectly.
It wasn’t quite finished, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to add. There was no figure yet, so it didn’t feel complete to me without the juxtaposition of humans and nature.
Then last week, I was going through one of my pinterest boards (by the way, if you really want a thorough look at my brain, follow me on Pinterest) and I found a picture of a woman dancing with a ribbon. Something clicked in my brain, and I knew I wanted to paint a ribbon dancer celebrating her own joy and the beauty of nature.
So I did.
This piece is available for purchase here.

Painting-Blue Dancer

We all lead busy lives, and whether we enjoy what we’re doing or not, it’s important to slow down sometimes. Life can be overwhelming, even if it’s fun.

To me, this painting is about that quiet space we take for ourselves where everything is calmer, the delicious space of retreat. We can hear ourselves in the quiet, even though that  tiny voice gets drowned out amid the hustle and bustle of our regular lives.

It’s in these moments that we rejuvenate, discover our true paths, and learn to intimate with our spirits. This is how we strengthen our intuition and imagination.

24X36 Acrylic on Canvas

Available for purchase here.

New Painting-Imagine the Possibilities

My favorite thing about life is the variety. So many things to explore, so many experiences, emotions, opportunities, possibilities. So many people to meet, things to learn, places to see.

The possibilities practically grow on trees.

We can take our pick.

The harvest is ripe.

We don’t always see possibilities. Sometimes they float away before we can grab them, because we didn’t realize they were there until it was too late.

This is currently the largest painting in my collection. It’s about life, and life is big. It’s also about the abundance of little things.

Acrylic on Canvas 30"X40"

Notice the possibilities.

This painting is available for purchase here.