An Artist’s Journey -Creating My Own Fantasy

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For the next couple days I am going to share what I have been working on since September. The photo above shows the “concepts” for a painting series I am working towards. It is going to be a series of 8 large paintings called My Secret Garden.

This is a very big deal for me. For almost seven years now I have been floating and experimenting without direction. I’ve asked so many questions of myself: Who am I as an artist? What is my style? What do kind of art do I want to make? Who am I making it for? What is the message I want to communicate?

The universe is kind of cruel like that. The more important something is to you, the more time it takes to get to the answer. I’m not a very patient person, so this journey has been brutal.

I’ve dug deep.

When I first started on this personal journey, I did not have the answers. I’ve tried everything: quilting, polymer clay, jewelry, wood crafts, painting with acrylic, watercolor and goauche, printmaking, teaching, graphic design, and pottery to name a few. I haven’t been able to commit. I like them all yet I’ve always felt like I’ve been getting nowhere.

Seven years later. I’m feeling a bit older, more mature, I don’t know that I can sustain that crazy chaotic creative energy anymore. I’m tired. What took me so long to figure out is that I had to try everything and that this is ok. It’s the type of learner I am ; an experiential learner. I’m the kind of kid that has to touch the stove to learn what hot means. I can’t take anyone’s word for it –ever. I’ve beaten myself up for this because it has taken so much time, but in trying so many things I have figured out what feels right and what doesn’t.

Another concept that has plagued me is the for who? Do I paint subject matter that suits me? What does suit me? What do I like? Do I try to figure out what’s trending? What other people might want? Go where the money seems to be? I’ve spent so many hours trying to figure out the balance between my own personal interests and making others happy.

So this September my soul said ENOUGH. Time to answer the questions. You are ready.

The seed had been planted in this painting I had done in the spring:

__2019-05-08 09.31.15b

This painting came from my stream of consciousness. I started with one blackbird, then a flower, then another, then another. The painting isn’t of something real. It is a fantasy. It comes from my own world that contains the things I love. In painting this, the answers came.

I LOVE color.

I LOVE flowers and gardening.

I LOVE the animals I find in my backyard.

I do 100% what I LOVE because there in lies my uniqueness.

When I stop apologizing for such simple concepts, beautiful things begin to arise.

This September I felt the strongest sense of clarity I have ever experienced. I now can answer the question – what do I like. I decided to be as disciplined as possible and create a vision through art that represents my LOVEs.

The discipline part will come from the many stages. I usually paint something and never think about it again. For this project I am asking myself to research, sketch, try things out, analyze what works for me and what failed, and do it again.

My thought is to create these small 8×10’s (which I just completed). Analyze them. Try it again. Fix the colors. Fix the contrast. Fix the layout. Then I am going to do 8 more small studies again. In hopes of creating a stronger vision before I embark on 8 LARGE watercolor paintings. I won’t be done then, because when I am through with those, I am going to do the entire series again but in a more abstract style.

8-8×10’s studies

8-5×7’s studies

8- 20×24’s finals

8-16×20’s abstracts

That’s a doozy right?

What you will see through the coming months is the same concept -but in a metamorphosis. What I like will stay. What I hate will go. The end product should be as strong as I am currently capable and in my wake I will leave evidence of my process.

There are a few more things that I love which I will incorporate in the larger paintings as well. These small studies were just too small to add this type of detail. However, I also plan on incorporating my great LOVE of fabric and mysticism. I am fascinated with the symbols of all cultures and what they have come to mean. So, I plan on hiding intriguing things throughout the paintings.

This is a big undertaking for me. It is the journey I have created for myself. It’s the path I’m choosing to take and I actually have the answers. Boy does that feel good!

WATERCOLOR – BACKYARD ANIMALS – GARDEN FLOWERS – FABRIC – MYSTICISM

My other hope is to put on my big-girl-pants and try selling this work online. Through Etsy or something. In the past, I haven’t felt “good enough” or “ready”. But it stops here. It’s time. And hopefully after all of this work I plan on doing, my art will be something I am proud of and ready to share.

I hope so. Because on a soul level, it will be the first time I feel like I’m sharing a real piece of –well, –me.

Garden of Grackles

__2019-05-08 09.31.15bGarden of Grackles -watercolor 18″ x 24″

This painting is very special to me.

I have been blogging about my art journey for almost 8 years now.  Can you imagine that?  -8 years.  In that time I have complained A LOT. Sorry about that :)  My almost decade frustration has been not knowing what my “message” as an artist would be.

First, as an artist,  I had to figure out what art medium was best suited to me and which best expressed my talent. Second, what style felt right?  abstract? illustration? graphic design? botanicals? landscapes? still lives?  and Thirdly, most importantly, what is my message as an artist?

Eight years later I can safely and proudly say I am an experiential learner. Meaning, no one could ever tell me me the answer, I had to learn the hard way.  I had to learn by trying EVERYTHING and I’m sure I will keep exploring.  No one could say “Hey, you seem to shine when you do xyz” or “You really should stick to xyz subject matter”. I have painted with acrylics, gouache and watercolor. I have tried printmaking, pastels and mixed media.  I have painted still lives, landscapes, abstracts and everything in between.

I really struggled with my message as an artist.  Some artists don’t care. They are just happy doing what they’re doing.  But inside me all the existential questions lie.  Why was I born?  Why am I on the planet earth? What is the point of  being alive and dying?  Is there a point? What will I do with the life I have been given?  I have gifts how will I use them?  and most importantly, what can I give back to the world?  

As an artist I have always taken this last question to heart.  I was not born with a scientific brain to cure diseases.  I wasn’t born to be a world leader that will guide future generations. I wasn’t born with a medical mindset to nurture and heal others.  I was born with a particular gift of creating images.  I haven’t really seen a society who value’s this gift.  Not like they value notoriety, wealth and technology.  How do you answer the question of giving to your community, your planet and the world at large as an individual?  As a human, I can care about the earth, be politically active, raise responsible children, pay my taxes and do no harm.  But a give to the world by making images?  I’ve struggled for years with the guilt of feeling frivolous, redundant, obscure, voiceless and insincere.

With age comes reason.  Again it comes back to experiential learning.  I had to experience and search and search…. and continue searching.  And the answer is that it was always with me all along.  The school of hard knocks. I would not accept any other way than to search, knock on hundreds of doors, open hundreds of doors and close a hundred doors. I can say I’ve tried on one hundred hats and I think I’m at the point of finding one that fits.

This is a bit long-winded, I know, but now I’ll get to why this painting is special to me. It has taken 8 years of trying everything else to be clear in what is special to me.  Artists that gleam the attention of the world’s mainstream express their strong feelings about death, suicide, mental illness, sexual identity, war, human rights, activism, ant-capitalism, tribalism…. all sorts of -isms. I’ve tried them all, but I never felt true to myself.  Again, like I was wearing someone else’s hat.

My message is a lot quieter. It’s really quiet actually.  My loves are very simple and I can’t change that.  Lord knows I’ve tried.  I love my gardens, the critters that crawl within them, my bird-feeder, staring out the window, smelling nature, feeling it underneath my feet and I am obsessed with recreating it in COLOR.

This painting is special because I am owning this quiet little message.  It may not be loud, it may not be flashy and it may not get a ton of social media hits, but it’s still a message.  It’s a message to my tribe.  My tribe of flora, fauna and everyday backyard enthusiasts.  I for several years, have tried to run as far away as I could from this concept.  But  I have to own that inwardly, I am very quiet. I’m a bit of a dork actually.  I don’t mind sitting in my driveway for hours watching squirrels and listening to the birds.  And they don’t have to be fancy animals either. Blackbirds, robins, cardinals and seagulls, insects, woodchucks, skunks and bunnies – they do it for me.

Forever, I have painted what I see ( ie. a gorgeous bouquet from my garden or a beautiful scene from a vacation). This painting above is one of the first explorations from my imagination.  I simply thought about all the things I love and assembled them into a composition that does not exist anywhere other than my mind. That is very scary.  I think it’s why I haven’t really done it before.  I can’t blame the image on the circumstances or the environ. It’s on me.  I am telling the world what I love and it’s incredibly personal.  There’s the fear of what if people don’t like what they see?  But again I think that age and time give you the confidence to care not. There is so much freedom in not caring.

I made a painting and  “I”  love it because it has all the things special to me within it.  It’s colorful and happy and strong and unapologetic – in a very quiet way.

Bingo. That’s the direction I need to move in.

I’m feeling very comfortable in this hat.

LOL. So now I’ll get off my soapbox and show you the progression of the painting and some of my favorite parts:

__garden of gracklesgarden of Grackles 2

Thank you so much for being on this journey with me :)