If you were to look at my art and try to guess my favorite color, you’d probably go with yellow. My favorite color is actually green, but it doesn’t seem to show up in my art very often.
Anyway, I thought I’d give my favorite color some attention and show you some green things I love.
(Visit my friend Rachael‘s Etsy shops!)
Ok, sharing time. What’s your favorite color? Is there anything fun that you associate with that color?
I haven’t touched my paintbrushes in about a week.
A few weeks ago, I would’ve completely beaten myself up over that.
As I sit on my studio floor writing this, the canvas I prepared last week with a base coat of blue-black lays in front of me, unmoved from that spot since I laid it down to let the paint dry.
You might know from my post last week that I’ve returned to work full-time, and I believe that’s a great thing for me right now. If you’ve been reading Handprint Soul for awhile, you also know that I believe that every challenge offers precious wisdom.
I’ve always struggled with full-time work, mostly because I’ve had a lot of demanding jobs, but also because I don’t like being on someone else’s schedule and 40 hours or more every week just tends to wear me out sometimes. I need a lot of time to think and reflect, and sometimes that’s hard to do when I work full-time and try to do a million other things.
So, the wisdom here is to learn to take exquisite care of myself while working full-time and starting my art career. At least I have a head-start on this job because I really do love it and I’ve been working there for a few months. It’s not like I’m throwing myself into something completely new, but any big schedule change requires some adjustments.
While I’m settling into this new situation, I’m clearing a lot of other things off my plate. I’m taking it easy and making sure I have meals and snacks prepared for work, that I get enough sleep, journaling, and keeping things maintained. I’m even adjusting my sleeping schedule so that I have more time for creative stuff in the morning before work. I’ve been thinking about art, but nothing is pulling me into the studio right now. I don’t see art when I look at trees or the sky right now.
However, I wouldn’t call this a block. I’m not concerned at all even though this would have terrified me a few weeks ago. I know that creativity needs to be nurtured in order to flow, and once I settle into things and things don’t require as much consciousness to maintain, I know that my imagination will start wandering again and I’ll get that itch. It’ll come back. It always does.
I’ve been working through The Artist’s Way and early on it talks about the vital importance of filling the “well,” which is our internal reservoir of images and ideas from which we draw our inspiration. Laura Hollick’s latest video expresses the importance of tending our “inner garden.” I’ve understood this concept for awhile, usually thinking of it as a process of “creative intake” and “creative output,” but I feel that receiving two reminders in one week is a gentle nudge in the right direction. I need to fill my well. I need to tend my garden. I’ve been so busy keeping the rest of my life together that I haven’t had room in my head or my schedule or the openness to keep my inner creative shelves stocked.
Maybe I should stick to the well and garden metaphors, yeah?
But how to we tend that garden?
It’s different for everyone, but to water our creative hibiscus flowers, we simply need to do things and visit places that inspire us. Read a good book. Go window shopping. Visit an art gallery or a museum. Go hiking. Listen to music that stirs you. Drive. Mess around with a new art medium. Whatever fills your soul with electricity, or at least that’s what inspiration feels like to me.
So, with things settling down, I’m working on tending that garden. When it’s flourishing again, the art will come.
This is the first time I haven’t felt uncomfortable with creative blockage, to say the least. Isn’t it incredible how life sends us the messages we need? We just need to hear them.
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.
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?
Sometimes the best thing to get inspired is to take a walk or a drive with a camera and a sketchbook.
Last week we drove to a family Christmas party two hours away to Redmond, a tiny town in central Utah near where my mom grew up, and where I spent quite a bit of my childhood. It’s in the middle of nowhere and probably has more horses and chickens than people. I love the rolling hills and wide open fields.
Recently I realized the the surreal landscapes I often draw and paint are my own versions of this landscape, so I made sure to take a camera and sketchbook to hopefully catch some inspiration as we drove.
Winter and I aren’t the best of friends, but I love the way trees look without leaves, and I love this landscape any time of year. I watched these same hills in the car growing up as we drove down to Redmond to visit family, go to parties, or to camp.
It’s hard to get good pictures at 50 miles an hour (don’t worry, I wasn’t the one driving) but I did manage to get some decent ones. Please excuse the blurriness. I hope you can see what I see in these tangled trees and speckled hills.
I think I need to drive down to visit my aunt, and this time actually get out of the car to take pictures.
Most of my blog post start out as journal entries. Unfortunately, this means a lot of them end up sitting on paper for awhile until I get around to typing them up and polishing them to show you.
I just found this entry, and even though it’s a little out of season, I really wanted to share it with you. I wrote this on my trip to Lake Powell this last summer.
One of my greatest struggles in life is allowing things; letting things happen naturally instead of forcing them, being taught instead of plowing through experiences with a machete as if they were tangled jungles.
I’m an artist and a writer, and I used to think that everything should inspire me to write or create art. Too often I wouldn’t even do that because I was too busy waiting for the urge to strike instead of accepting what the situation gifted to me.
This trip to Lake Powell for instance. Most of the time I sit on the deck and read. I expected to write here, to be moved to sketch the beauty of the landscape or capture its grace in a poem. Instead, I’ve been hiking and swimming and kayaking, paddle surfing and wave running and cliff jumping. Neglecting my body’s hunger and fullness cues a little but sleeping like the dead at night. I feel alive. Amazing. Despite the sore shoulders and arms floppy with exhaustion, I’m invigorated.
This landscape inspires me to connect with my body, to physically explore the space around me and my own body and mind. I’m connected to my child-self, to uncover the long-buried imagination like an ancient artifact from a place I lived in another life. Were I here as a child I would have climbed rocks pretending I was a Native American, swam like a mermaid in my magical realm, that this houseboat is a ship taking us to a magical place to search for an unknown treasure, something I’d recognize once I found it. I build on this story each day I’m here.
I know this will inspire me to write or make art later, but now, in the moment of being here it inspires me to be and explore, and that’s just as beautiful and creative as art and poetry. I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of artist who’s inspired to draw every beautiful thing I see, or to write an essay about every sunset as it happens, but I’d rather watch them, be there with them and store those feelings and images in my treasure box, the well deep inside my soul that I dip into each time I create. The feelings will come out eventually in some form. They’re never lost.
I promise I’ll try to be more prompt with turning my journal entries into posts. The summery post is kind of nice while it’s cold outside though.