Blog Archives

Bein’ Green

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.

Of course you saw this coming!

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(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?

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New Painting-A Mix of Techniques

I like to play with different techniques when I paint. I like using different brush strokes to play with the visual texture, I love wrapping the canvas with string to create a little “frame” right on the surface, and I like using linoleum blocks to stamp right onto the canvas.

I have a linoleum block tree and some rubber circles that I carved on high school, and I’ve used them in dozens of projects since. I think that’s where I got started with celestial bodies and trees.

Anyway, I’ve just listed this result of some creative playtime:

11X14 Acrylic Paint and String on Canvas Board

I think I like stamping on canvas because the print never comes out perfectly like it’s supposed to in traditional linocut prints. I like to mix the colors that I apply to the block so that the colors blend into the print, and by applying paint instead of ink and using a brush instead of a roller or brayer, the paint goes onto the block unevenly and leaves behind a gorgeous texture that reminds me of leaf veins. That texture really shows up here in the suns.

This piece is on 11X14 canvas board. It would look great in a frame! Available for purchase here.

10 Things I Love about Art

I love art. That’s no secret. I’ve met people that don’t love art, and I just can’t wrap my brain around it. How can someone not love art? How can someone go through life without encountering a piece of art that moves them? I don’t know.

Mixed Media, 8X10 canvas board

Why do I love art? Here’s why:

  1. It can be deep and thought-provoking, or just pretty.
  2. There’s not right or wrong way to be an artist.
  3. It scrapes to the very bottom of my soul and gets to the little crevices. It brings things to the surface that I never knew were there.
  4. It fills us with emotion.
  5. It’s a universal language. It helps us communicate feelings that transcend words alone.
  6. Art is fun!
  7. It brings us together, and also brings us closer to ourselves.
  8. Anyone can make art. Anyone can have fun with it.
  9. Art heals.
  10. Art allows us to exercise one of our most divine traits: creativity.

What do you love about art? What do you love about your passion?

New Painting-Living Ghost

All of us, at some point in our lives, become ghosts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we die, but we forget to be present. We might live in the past or the future, or another world entirely. We move through our lives like ghosts; there, but not really there.

We might watch but not participate. Maybe we go through the motions, but our minds are somewhere else or even worse, numb.

This painting is a reminder to be present. The ghost girl is there, but not really there. She is not reflected in the water like everything else. She gazes up at the moon, but seems to ignore everything else around her.

I actually painted this canvas green and black in October, but the original idea I had for it fizzled out. I’m glad I let the canvas sit for awhile. I had other ideas for it, but none of them stuck until this one. I’m glad; this one feels special to me. I also painted this because I decided that I believe in ghosts. Don’t worry, I didn’t have a scary experience or anything, it’s just one of those things that clicked for me; it finally made sense.

This piece is available for purchase here.

Have a great weekend!

-McKella

How to be Creative All the Time

Well, almost all the time.

I’ve been a “creative type” all my life and I’ve noticed that when people comment on my art/writing/singing/piano playing/acting, the often follow the comment with something like “I’m not creative. I don’t have any gifts like that.”

Baloney.

Everyone is creative. More specifically, everyone has creativity. Each one of us has unlimited creative potential, but most of us think of creativity as a novelty, a gift that some people have rather than a lifestyle. Creativity is like health. It’s our natural state of being, but it gets lost without the proper care. Like health, our precious creativity can be eroded by stress, lack of self-care, negativity, and skewed ideas of what this trait actually is. It’s about thriving, not surviving. Health is not dragging yourself from day to day while relying on crutches like caffeine and sugar just as creativity isn’t performing your basic duties required to hold you life together.

You can learn to cultivate creativity. I’ve written about this before, but here are some tips to keep your creative channels clean and healthy:

  • Let go of perfectionism.
  • Make space in your schedule for “creative playtime.” You need it. Do whatever lights you up whether it’s making a piece of art, dabbling in poetry, inventing a new cheesecake recipe, or staring that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Do this regularly. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even good. It’s just playtime.
  • Take care of yourself physically and emotionally.Deal with stress in healthy ways. It’s hard to think creatively if you’re in survival mode. Exercise and eat foods that nourish you. Get to bed at a decent hour. You live through your body, so if you’re body is dragging, your creativity will too.
  • Follow your inspiration. Notice the things that draw you in, and don’t fight them. If you’re oddly drawn to Japanese cooking, go for it. If you’ve always wanted to learn to sew, get on Craiglist and find a sewing machine. If a certain book or movie stirs something in your soul, tear that sucker apart until you find what’s awakened.
  • Accept that you are a creative being. Understanding this deep in your soul will open up a new world of possibility and adventure for you. Tell yourself that you are creative. Believe it. Allow yourself to see the world through the eyes of a creative person, and you will start to see things differently.

How does that feel? Do you feel that you’re a creative person?

Wise Words: Paint your Reality

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I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to,

and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.

-Frida Kahlo

Selling Art and Letting Go

I sold my favorite painting last week. I was happy to release it to someone who loved it so much, but it was still a little sad for me. I wasn’t expecting to let it go at that time; the buyer and I had previously discussed a different painting, but he ended up changing his mind. This one was more money than the one I’d expected him to buy, so that was nice, but that blank spot on my wall is still a little sad looking.

Acrylic on Canvas 24X48

As I drove home from delivering the painting, I thought about the weeks I spent working on that piece. I made it in October and I spent the whole time either listening to the Muppets Green Album or watching Soul Art TV. I remembered each stage of that painting; laying on the paint and peeling it back back off with an old library card, spreading the paint around the sky, dabbing the jewel red leaves, wondering what the figure should be doing and watching the piece change under my brush.

I then realized that I already had what I needed from that painting. I got my value from making it, and from seeing its new owner light up when he hung it on his office wall. I now have some money to put toward my business and an empty spot on my wall for the painting I’m currently working on.

Being the dork I am, I thought of the Doozers from my favorite show, Fraggle Rock, who live to build.

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If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get thee to Youtube.

They don’t mind that the Fraggles eat their towers  (because the buildings are made from radishes, the Fraggles’ favorite food) or when Sprocket the dog accidentally wound up in Fraggle Rock and knocked them all down. They were happy because now they had more room to build! Their joy was in the process, not the end product. Building made them happy. They also loved to see their buildings make the Fraggles happy as they ate them. One of the doozers once watched a Fraggle munching on a piece of the roof and he sighed and said “Ah, does my heart good. Architecture is meant to be enjoyed.”

As an artist, this is something I’ll have to get used to, but I don’t imagine that letting go will always be easy. I just have to remember where the joy comes from, and where it goes. It’s a beautiful exchange.

Filling your Creative Well

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.

New Painting-I’m in Awe

Sometimes, we just need to stop and drink it all in. Look out at our lives and marvel at the sheer miracle of existence, the beauty of the landscape, and know  that you can always change, this is always the first step. The rest  of your life starts now, in this moment.

I painted this piece because I knew I was standing at the beginning of an amazing journey. I just wanted to take a moment to look around, to stop and think of all the events that miraculously led me to this moment.

I believe that things happen the way they need to happen, that we are led to where we need to be. I don’t believe in chance or luck. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly meaningless events can have such a massive impact on our lives. It’ s funny how we realize this years later, that how that person you sat next to in class would continue to inspire you years later, how you’d learn so much from a situation that seemed miserable at the time, and how you happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The perfection, the possibility, and knowing that this moment will somehow propel me through my journey leaves me awe-struck.

This painting features a silhouetted figure on a bench in a panoramic, surreal landscape in yellow, brown, orange and forest green. The landscapes includes mist, four celestial bodies and three trees that are shedding their scarlet leaves into the unseen breeze.

This piece is now available on Etsy.

Acrylic on Canvas 24X48

What has brought you to this moment? Where are you going?

Autumn Walks

One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is walk. I usually walk pretty fast, but sometimes I just take my camera for a nice, long, slow walk. Fall is so pretty.

Then, of course, I feel inspired to come home and paint.