Mindful Eating

Thanks for the Good Lunch

My friend, author and blogger, Amira Makansi recently posted an article about eating lunch alone. Though it really was less about solo eating and more about taking the time to feed yourself and enjoy your food. Taking a break from your work life to really experience your food gives you a moment of pleasure and respite from your day that is missing when we divert our attention from our meal by distractions such as reading, watching media or multi-tasking.  She advised us to slow down and taste our food. Especially if, like us, you work from home and cook for yourself.  (Here’s the link to that article.)

Sentiments I had to agree with, and, being a stay-at-home artist and writer myself, felt compelled to comment upon. I pointed out how appreciating our food can go beyond the taste if you take the time to think about it.  With a little pause for reflection, we can consider where the food came from and how it even got to our plate to begin with. She suggested I blog about this concept and this post and painting are the result. Synergy at its best!

I often start a meal with a silent offering of gratitude. I thank the food, I thank the farmer who grew the lettuce or beans or artichokes. I think of and thank the people who tended the crop, who picked the produce, who put it on the trucks and brought it to the store. Did the produce wind up going to a cannery or plant where it was processed, maybe made into something else, like the coconut yogurt I used to make my creamy vegan dip? If so, then I thank the factory workers too.  I try not to eat a lot of processed foods, but coconut yogurt is clearly in the processed food realm, along with my soy cheese and even my tofu. There are so many plain ingredients that really are part of a process, so it’s impossible to avoid all processed food. I also can’t dodge the packaging, so there goes a thanks to the people who made the can or plastic tub. I also like to remember the people who took it off the truck and stocked it on the store shelf. When I take the time to think of all the hands that were involved in making my food, besides my own, the numbers are staggering.

With every meal, hundreds of people have contributed to get the food from the farmer to my plate. Even the spices and the salt and the condiments add to the party.  Although you may eat your meal by yourself, you never truly eat alone.

In the spirit of gratitude and thanks to all who’ve helped make my meal, I went out into the studio and created, Thanks for the Good Lunch. Earlier in the week, when I had a particularly nice-looking meal, I took a picture. That day I had made a cauliflower crust pizza with artichokes, olives, red onion slivers and spinach. I added cut apple, baby carrots and snap peas. I had a warm cup of chicory coffee with soy milk and an oat flour muffin with cranberries, walnuts, dates and orange zest. See what I mean about ingredients? With each one came hundreds of workers, a veritable army of food workers who collaborated to get their goods to the store where I could buy it and create a healthy lunch. I didn’t even include the woman who posted her cauliflower crust recipe on-line, or the electricity my oven used while I was baking muffins and pizza crusts. The interconnections can go on and on, so I try to keep my thanks to the food itself. Still, there are a lot of people involved in some way.

My food ritual may be time consuming, and yes, sometimes I am thanking the people while I am chewing thoughtfully on my concoction. I’ve taken the time to make this nice meal, it would be a shame to let it get cold while I ran through my mental list. I know I don’t remember everyone, but my point is this; by taking a few moments to remember, it connects me to my food in a very mindful way, my meal becomes a meditation in mindfulness and allows me to nurture my mind and my soul as well as my body. It also serves as a reminder how interconnected we truly are. All the way down to our salt.

And that, makes for one, delicious, mindful lunch.

Gone Girl Comes Back

I’ve been thinking about my blog and how I’ve neglected it for so long.  Poor blog!  The longer I stayed away, the harder it got to make myself sit down and write a post.  I’ve been painting, and I’ve been writing, I just haven’t been putting it HERE!

So here’s a brief update:  I hiked in Sedona… and painted this:

Red Rocks of Sedona

Sedona was magical, I came home with a renewed love of the desert and so many more images to put onto canvas.  This is the first, but won’t be the last.

I hiked in the Three Sisters Wilderness with my dear friend, Amira and painted this next image. I struggled with capturing our faces and still feel out of sorts whenever I look at it.  But, I decided to add it to my blog so you can see that while I may personally have trouble with some of my work, I’ve learned that other people LOVE them!  And pieces I love, other people feel somewhat “meh” about. Who am I to say it’s good or bad?  It comes down to your own taste.

Cold July Camp

I was commissioned to paint a beloved family member.  Elkton was an older dog, and his photo’s didn’t do him justice.  I managed to shave off a few years and pounds and drop him into a regal hunting pose.  Here he is, surveying his kingdom:

Elkton the Wonder Dog

And I painted a portrait of my son and his girlfriend.  He was heading out for a job interview and Karen sent me a quick shot of their morning and a glimpse into their thoughts as she titled the photo.  I loved this selfie she took; I had to capture that smirk!

Dressed for Battle

Then I painted a view of my willow that seemed poignant, yet crisp and quietly vibrant. I hung it in the newly remodeled guest bedroom to bring a bit of the outside, inside.

Winter Willow

Followed by a few fantasy images to get in touch with my feminine side and to reflect the deep introspection I had been exploring of late.  I sustained an injury the previous fall that just managed to get worse over time. When you are dealing with chronic, long term pain, it helps to spend time listening to your body.  I kept asking that question…  what are you trying to tell me?  I think my body just wanted me to sit down for awhile.

The Hermit Girl Meditates

Connections of Love

Besides these images, I’ve tooled around with some odds and ends art projects and did some remodeling on the house.  I’ve had to readjust my life in the past year as I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury that really set me back in my activity level.  You wouldn’t know it by the new flooring and slate tile I managed to lay down, but still, 2017 has been my year of recovery.  I couldn’t ride or hike or do my normal kinds of things, so instead, I took my “Wilderness of Women” paintings on the road.  Literally.  I created a presentation about my art and hiking, how each one influenced the other and gave my lecture/slide show at REI stores from Portland to Medford. It was inspirational for me as well as for others and after it was over, I began to focus on a writing project that germinated from this dog and pony show.  I’ll devote another post to it, later, but for now, this one will have to do.

I think it’s time for this hermit girl to come on out of her cave and say  hello to the wide world of life.

Hello world!

Painting Mt. Hood

As part of my Wilderness of Women series, I decided to paint the iconic Mt. Hood.  Judy Flexer sent me a fabulous photo of Mt. Hood from the PCT, and while I liked it, somehow living in Oregon and actually painting the one big iconic volcano in our state was… well, maybe too big of a project.  I was so reluctant about the subject matter that I pretty much filed the image under “do not paint… like, ever!” in my mind and that was that.  Until I was searching for my next project.  And I kept coming back to that image, it was big, and bold and compelling as all hell.

So I wondered… why not?  I proved to myself I had the ability, so what was stopping me?  I couldn’t think of anything other than my own little fragile ego.  If I compared my work to the quintessential hero of the landscape, Albert Bierstadt, I felt I was falling short of greatness.  But why compare?  He was a great painter, yes, and while it is true that he has a particularly nice rendering of Mt. Hood that happens to hang in the Portland Art Museum, surely that’s no reason.  Intimidating, yes, but really, that’s a silly reason to not paint something. It’s not like the PAM is calling me anytime soon to ask what was I thinking?!  Damn it, I wanted to do it just because at first, I didn’t.  It may be a perverse kind of determination, but it’s how I spurred myself to get over myself and just do it already!

In Judy’s photo, Mt. Hood is bathed in sunset colors, the viewer stands between the sunset to the west and looks east at the mountain.  The eastern sky is a deepening blue, as opposing sky lines often are; the foreground is shadowed, you only know it’s sunset because of the spectacular glow of Hood.  The Multnomah Indians called it, Wy’east, and he was one of the sons of the great spirit.  Wy’east is a big beefy volcanic guy and without his deep mantle of snow, we see all his orange, golden, tan and ochre tones. You can tell it’s late in the summer and the white cape he usually sports has mostly disappeared.  Hood is pretty much naked in this picture… and something about that really appealed to me.

And now, for some other perverse reason, I decided to not only paint him, but document myself in a whole new medium to me, film.  Well, digital anyway.  Last time I made a film was in a class where we actually spliced real film!  So, not only did I have to learn the software, I had to hang up my phone on a tripod and upload, upload, upload.  Argh!!  It tested my patience and because it was a distraction, I skipped filming portions of the painting.  So, it’s not a great piece of movie making, but it is kinda fun and explains my delay at posting to my blog!

Without further ado, Painting Mt. Hood.  A digital short by Sky Evans… enjoy!

Mt Hood

Mt Hood

If you’d like to learn more about Albert Bierstadt and his amazing talent, here’s a quick link to his version of Mt. Hood:  http://www.wikiart.org/en/albert-bierstadt/mount-hood-oregon-1865

In the Eye of the Beholder

Though the artist must remain master of (their) craft, the surface, at times raised to the highest pitch of loveliness, should transmit to the beholder the sensation which possessed the artist.

~Alfred Sisley

I’ve pondered these ideas… is the art in the eye of the beholder, or in the artist’s rendering of that thing, that image, that concept?  Is it both or neither? Is it, as Sisley suggests, a vehicle of transmission?  Art being the thing that carries the sensation, the feeling of the artist to the viewer who can then somehow share in what it was that possessed the artist?

Well, lots to think about there.  And many have.  For me, art is a very personal thing… you, and only you, know what you like.  Sometimes you know right away, and sometimes it grows on you, but regardless which way you fall in the spectrum of like or dislike, no one should tell you what to like.  It’s up to you to decide. For me, I gave up a long time ago trying to please my audience, because that’s an impossible task really, and so, I decided to please myself.

The other side of that same coin is, sometimes, in my own personal work, I may not care for a piece.  If I hate it, I will paint over it so I can get some more miles out of a canvas.  (Most artists are into recycling… even the old masters did it, it’s not a new concept.)  Or I will stash it away as a reminder that not everything I do is gold… far from it!  I really should get rid of some of the old crap, but I’m rather nostalgic about the old stuff… even the bad old stuff.  So, I keep it for me, and show it to no one.

BUT, one day, a friend was in my studio and she gushed over an unfinished piece that I happened to think of as bad enough to recycle. There it was, propped up against the wall waiting for a coat of gesso so I could stop looking at it’s horribleness.  I really disliked it.  However, much to my surprise, she loved it!  Something about the colors spoke to her and when I gave it to her she was thrilled.  I made her day with something that meant very little to me, but meant so much to her.

Now, rather than focus on the part about me handing over something I had no attachment to (as if that makes my gesture less than noble and then less than worthy) focus instead on the part about Maria.  She loved it.  She was happy.  She was so pleased to adopt this little wayward canvas and give it a home.

This was the third time this happened to me.  It took this happening three times before the significance of the act held any meaning.  And that was this: for me, even as a creator of art, am not the sole person to judge the value or beauty of my own work.

While I am making it, while I paint and create, I get something intangible.  And if, at the end, that thing pleases me, then great. If it doesn’t, then that’s ok too.  I still got something from the process.  BUT that thing that I don’t care for aesthetically does not mean that it’s bad.  In fact, someone else may love it.  More than one someone… maybe even lots of someones!

Case in point,  Purple Repose:

Purple repose

Purple repose

I hated this painting.  In fact, I was planning on recycling it but while I was waiting for the paint to dry I changed my mind.  My husband saw it and liked it, so, with a shrug, I kept it.  I hung it in the house and after a while, it grew on me too.  I came to like the blue colors, the broad strokes, the way the horse’s shoulder bumped out.  Later that year, I included it (as a print) in a series of blank greeting cards.  It became one of my best sellers.  People loved it!

The same thing happened with Walker Pass, only in reverse:

North of Walker Pass

North of Walker Pass

By reverse, I mean, this is by far my absolute favorite painting (right now).  I LOVE this piece.  It only got a couple of dozen Facebook “likes”.  Granted, this painting has yet to make it out of the house, but still… my dog snapshots get more “likes”.  I didn’t take it personally, because I truly believe in my heart and soul, that art is a personal thing.  I may take it personally if you tell me you hate it and why it’s awful and say other mean things about the thing I love, but hey, I’m only human and that kind of behavior is mean spirited and small.  You are entitled to your opinion, just keep the details to yourself if you hate something (or someone!) I love.

On the other hand, my next piece, I just didn’t love so much.  It’s not recycle worthy, not by far… you’d never see it if it was.  And I still wouldn’t post or show any piece I found embarrassingly bad, or trite or derivative or unworthy.  So, just because I don’t love it, doesn’t mean I don’t like it.  I may just think of it more as a second runner up.

But, it was a challenge.  I worked hard on this one.  The drawing was complex, the details, intense.  It is the 3rd in my series of images from the wilderness, photos taken by women hikers on the CDT or the PCT.  I’m calling the series, The Wilderness Of Women.  Now, here is where I love social media.  On Facebook, I asked women hikers if they would share with me (for the purpose of painting) photos from their hikes and I got an amazing outpouring of images to choose from.  So, choose one I did (thank YOU, Judy Flexer) and got to work.

Sketch for Spectacle Lake

Sketch for Spectacle Lake

I thanked Judy online and somehow, I don’t recall how it happened, but Judy kindly sent me a high resolution image of her photo.  I thanked her politely, but inside I was worried.  All those details… how was I going to block out all those details?  “Oh, buck up, Sky… you’ll be fine!” I told myself.  But I was worried.

And so, I bucked up and promptly fucked up.  It became a horrid mess of tiny, detailed, muddy strokes of paint.  Not the sure and swift flight of color that signified I was “in the groove.”  I bravely soldiered on, slogged up one muddy hill and down the next… madly mixing, swiping, swooping, adding, subtracting and aaarrrggggg!!!!  Nothing was working.  I was in utter despair.  So I did the only thing I could do.  The thing I have never done before.  I almost couldn’t believe what I was doing.  I took it off my easel, laid it flat, and poured turpentine over the entire painting.  I took a rag and wiped it clean.  All of it.  Even the sketch.  Gone.

I waited two days to go back into the studio.  I just couldn’t bear to look at it.  I had never scrubbed out a canvas before, it felt like a failure.  But two days later, I was ready to get back to work.  I followed the faint leftovers of pencil lines that were under the first orange outline and redrew the sketch.  Instead of the high resolution image, I went back to my original Facebook clipping.  That picture, I altered to be bolder, more saturated in color than the photograph Judy had taken.  I made it small and took off my glasses to blur the details.  I needed to see blocks of colors, not every single rock and tree.  I put on a favorite CD and lost myself in Spectacle Lake.

This second go round was tricky… I still had some issues and some personal demons to slay, but it finally came together and I was satisfied.  I signed it today, so that pretty much means it’s done.  It may not be a favorite, but it’s good, I’ll say that.  And when I posted it to the woman hikers page on Facebook…. well, it got 75 likes, right off the bat.  Goes to show you… beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Oil on Canvas 14x16

Spectacle Lake on the PCT
Oil on canvas, 14 x 16

 

 

 

Getting back to work… the lifesaver!

What do you get when you mix one month of intensive novel writing with a “holiday” that requires extensive cooking by moi, (all self imposed slavery, I assure you) another upcoming “holiday” that requires more extensive shopping, cooking, as well as decorating and even some furniture rearranging, and an online workshop, and 10 acres of land with livestock to maintain as well as a new obsession that requires tons of research and gear trial?  You get an artist who can’t get into her studio to save her life.

Last night I realized that working in the studio is a life saver in many, many ways.  Mental health being first and foremost, creating art allows me to unravel and unwind my mind from the things that don’t matter and channel that energy into something productive and beautiful.

So I managed to get lost in the studio for a few hours where I made a mandala to get my brain back on track for creating art.  After finishing that last painting of Hope Pass, I wasn’t sure what I was on to next.  Drawing a mandala helped me focus and voila!  This morning I knew what I wanted to paint.

last_mandala

Here’s the magic mandala for now; and off I go, back to work!

A few words about Art

OK, I just need to get this off my chest.

The other day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine regarding  what was Art and who are Artists.   I was speaking emphatically on the topic when she stopped me with a question.  She asked me why I felt so strongly about the subject.  I had to think about that one.  It’s true, I do see edges between arts and crafts and artisans and artists.  But when someone asks me to defend my position  it occurs to me that there are two camps on this subject.  The all inclusives and the separatists.  And it surprises me when the inclusives camp is less tolerant than the separatists.  I seem to have run into the idea of “you’re either with us or against us” more often from inclusives, when what I feel as a separatist is, we are all cool doing our own thing, you don’t have to believe what I believe.

This came up because recently there is some movement in my community to start an artists cooperative where we share ideas and develop a place where we can show our work. I wrote another post about how I feel about the whole group art get together, (read here) so I won’t rehash that, but in discussing the community space, we touched upon these ideas of what/who is an Artist?  I especially dislike the notion that all of life is art and art is all things. The idea that art is everything and everywhere is irritating. I’m sorry, not everything is art. Philosophically, if everyone is special, then no one is special.  It’s like saying everything is God and God is everywhere. Okay, well I guess people do say that. Does that mean that Art is God?  Or, God is Art?  Or that Art is our God?  (lol)  Well, enough semantic double speak, here’s the nuts and bolts of what I mean when I say that there is a difference between Arts and Crafts.

But first, let me reiterate: I am an artist who paints and sculpts. I can draw and compose a visually balanced photograph. And I am a crafter who makes baskets, jewelry, what have you. I can also be an artisan who makes lovely signs, builds clever shelves, imprints leaves into my plastered walls.

flatcreekretrievers

Yes, I use my creative abilities in everything I do. So I feel more than qualified to express my opinions that these are  different facets of my artistic ability.  But, if I did only one… like paint, then I wouldn’t call myself a crafter.  Because I wasn’t.  And crafters who don’t engage in creating art for art’s sake aren’t Artists.   They are Artisans. There is a difference and this whole notion of inclusive “we are all the same, we are all artists” is simply not a truth for me.  I don’t believe I have to be on board with this notion to be a good person or to be a good artist or even a good community member.

All the wonderful things we do as humans that are creative and enriching is very important to our psyche as a whole. It’s important to our psyches as individuals as well. But we water it down when we throw it all into the same pot.  Perhaps my hang up with labeling is improper use of labels, rather than the labels themselves.  If we use the word Artist, to represent creative endeavors, than we could all say we are all artists but define our art with a fist name:  Fine Artist, Craft Artist, Fabric Artist, Food Artist, Musical Artist, Wood Artist.  Or, we could continue the practice of using the word Art to describe a unique creative project.

20140827_162723

Are chefs artists? Yes, most certainly there is a huge creative process to making delicious food. But should I invite chefs to an artists gathering? Are musicians artists? Sure, but  should they to hang their instruments on the gallery wall? If we turn it around to examine the logic, should I, as an artist be included in a creative cooking workshop? Not unless I’m there to cook, right?  Should I enter the battle of the bands competition and rhythmically throw paintbrushes at a canvas while singing?

So no, I’m not a chef… and no, I’m not in a band.  I don’t get to call myself a chef just because I can cook or a musician just because I sang in the school choir. I’m not that kind of artist.  Same goes for crafters. Craft is a learned skill and usually makes something useful. It’s reproduce-able by the artisan and  by others just as skilled in their craft.

On the other hand, Art is a unique item and generally is not reproduce-able by other skilled artists. I have my own style of painting, Jen has hers… we are not interchangeable.  Now I happen to know several very skilled artisan basket makers.  And you know what?  Two of them make the same style of basket.  Slightly different to account for their individuality, but it is really the same basket and I can make it too.  Just because I am an artist, doesn’t make my basket art. A basketmaker is a Crafter because they are recreating what someone else designed.  Make a basket out of zip ties, washers and driftwood?  That’s probably Art.   An artist makes something that no one had thought of before… it’s creative and unique and innovative.

It's a lovely basket, and nicely made but it's not Art.

It’s a lovely basket, and nicely made but it’s not Art.  However, the photo may qualify!

 

Here is a wonderful 5 minute TED talk from Laura Morelli describing the history of art and craft. She describes how we came to differentiate between the two. She wraps things up with an oft quoted truism “art is in the eye of the beholder” which, to me, is really  like saying at this point “lets agree to disagree”.  Most unsatisfying, but as a separatist, I can get behind the idea.  Along with the great history lesson was a nugget of truth that I loved: work is elevated to art by being innovative. And I’d have to agree with her on that one. Because if anyone can recreate my basket (and anyone who knows how, can) then it’s not art.  But if you are skilled enough to reproduce my painting, that bumps you up to being a Forger… and the first name of that title is Art.

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/is-there-a-difference-between-art-and-craft-laura-morelli

Want to read more?

http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-art-and-craft/

And finally, my last bit of analogy. Writing. The best works are art, but even then it has it’s own label: Literature. Great literature is unique, different from what came before.  Most likely it’s a work of fiction or poetry. That is to say, made up, and creative because it was created from the writers imagination. Even if it was based on real life. Now, there are some great cookbooks out there. And manuals and text books even! But they are not literature. The greatest cookbook in the world is not high art. It doesn’t diminish a cookbook to not be called literature. But it certainly diminishes the literature to put it in the same category as cookbooks. Yes, it’s true, they are both books, and so is the Physicians Desk Reference. But you don’t see Oprah putting that on her night-stand and my guess is, neither do you.

I rest my case.

20140827_160606

This may not be very good, but it is Art. It is not a Craft.

Hope Pass

I heard back from my thru hiker.  (She’s mine, I claim her!!)  The photo she took is of Hope Pass.  I love this name, it’s so full of promise and the whole time I’ve been working on the painting, I feel happy and uplifted by the image.  So of course I have to rename the painting.  A rainy day kept me indoors and I finally got everything right that I thought was wrong with it.  Here is the completed work:  Hope Pass

Hope Pass, Colorado

Hope Pass, Colorado

Fine Art America!!

Finally!  A page on FAA.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-muse-sky-evans.html?newartwork=true

The muse painting.  Oil on Canvas 2.5'x3'

The muse painting.
Oil on Canvas
2.5’x3′

I just downloaded one image but it was a client request… so that’s something.  Just wanted to share.  I’ll be posting more about this later after I get the whole gallery downloaded.  Hopefully this pans out. If you want to buy art and support an artist, Fine Art America is the place to do it.  Well, I know there are other places…  I keep thinking of things like Kickstarter too and wondering what kind of amazing project I could do… hmmm.   What is a muralist to do???  By all means, weigh in.  I’m willing to do community projects with fundraising venues.  Actually now that I think about it, I have done my share already.  But they usually involved teaching.  Time for something large, noteworthy and very, very interesting.  It’s been awhile since I crawled up on a roof and painted something seen from the local airport!

One should probably not bring children up there.  That would be just fine.

horseroof

Dark Shadows

Being outside heals me.  Outside is bigger than all the sadness in my head. Getting out of my head is a good thing.  I spend far too much time in there.  -Me

 

Dear readers… this next post is personal.  Since my blog is The Work and Ideas of Sky Evans it seemed time to post some ideas.  But maybe it’s more of a confessional?  Either way, if you like my art more than words, and you want to skip this wordy post, rest assured you aren’t missing much in the way of visuals.  The art I used to illustrate this post is from my early years.  Not very good IMO, but interesting to see this other side.  Having said that, bear with me while I try something new.  Not instructional, or piece specific musings but thoughtful, as in full of thought.

 

I can't remember when I did this dragon in the clouds... but I kinda like it!

It was 1983 when I did this dragon in the clouds… I never really cared for it, but for some reason I kinda like it now!

In the past few weeks I had the art show in the vineyard and summer time visits with relatives, (both most enjoyable) but lately the weather has rolled in HOT HOT HOT which makes it hard to get much done if you don’t get up early.  I like the cold, it sharpens up my brain.  Hot weather has me laying around with sweaty glasses of ice tea clutched in my paw, moaning about the heat.

Okay, so it’s not that bad.  But the day after the show I did wake up and sigh.  Not a “oh woe is me” sigh, or “damn I am about to be evicted” sigh or even a  “the world is fucked and my life is ruined” sigh.  Just a soft, weak, puppyish whimper… (I invoke the puppy image hoping to come off as cute instead of pathetic).  It was a “what now” sigh that I have come to associate with the let down after a long slog uphill.  The long slog was all the effort and energy getting ready for the show.  Which was good, and productive but definitely falls in the “uphill” category.

My display at the show.  All the hard work paid off.

My display at the show. Doesn’t look like that much hard work, but still….

Eight days later and it’s still not all put away. I seem to be having trouble getting my rhythm back after revving my engines for a week in anticipation of that 5 hours at the show. The hot weather does not help.

A thought and this post has been percolating away in my head since waking up with a “what-now-blues” feeling.  It’s about temperament. Specifically, artist’s temperament.  Somehow, somewhere, I picked up the notion that there was such a thing.  And that kind of temperament meant that artists were moody, prone to jags, hard to get along with and somewhat bi-polar, though in the old days, we called it manic/depressive.  As far as old days go, I am, literally, a child of the 60’s.  Andy Warhol and Peter Max were household names.  Jackson Pollock’s death and eccentric style was still in the forefront, and the music of the era included Don McLean’s famous “Vincent” which sparked a fresh look into Van Gogh and his famous mental illness.  (His work is among my personal favorites.)  Maybe these kinds of artists perpetuated the idea of the “artist’s temperament”.  Regardless of where it came from, I somehow grew up with the notion that there was such a thing.  And I was determined to prove it all wrong.

I Am The Endless Sky 1985

I Am The Endless Sky 1985.  Gravity defying tubes of paint and the cosmos.

Determined is a good word to describe me.  Not the only word, but a good one.  It irked me that artists were considered touchy and had to be “handled” for some reason.  Fuck that shit, I was as normal as normal could be.  Wasn’t I? With a flip of my locks, I would snort derisively.  I was determined to be happy, healthy, smart and together!  Reasonable, logical, empathetic, someone who was kind, a good person.  I wanted to be the best person I could be… I would not be a stereotype.  No dark shadows here!!

If I was reading this aloud, here’s the part where I would laugh.  Knowingly.  Maybe even sarcastically.

Because no one is really normal.  Normal doesn’t exist.  Decades later, I am finally coming to the realization that normal is an average and averages are made up of numbers that are added together and divided by themselves.  How can people be normal?  The world is a crazy place (watching the news will prove that) so normal must be crazy.  Maybe we should just embrace the crazy and applaud those who manage to cope and thrive amidst the chaos.

So then, is there an artistic temperament?  For a long time I didn’t even want to admit to being an artist. Even after I had a degree in Art, one in Art Education and had been an art teacher I was in denial.  I think I was denying the stereotype… but often stereotypes exist because they ring of truth.  Sigh. So okay, here goes.  Here’s my truth: I sometimes dance on the edge of depression.  Not a  “dancing with the stars” thing, but a little tap dance. I don’t believe I qualify for a full blown depression as outlined in the DSM-5 (not that I’ve read the description… I’d actually rather not know to what level I may rate) but little dark clouds have been a part of my life for a long, long time.

My Life, circa 1984

My Life, circa 1985

It’s my version of normal, those little dark shadows. When I was a pup myself, it was like waves of sadness.  In my childish mind, I could image I even heard voices whispering to me.  Nothing bad, but lonely and very sad.  I told my mother about it once; bless her for not minimizing or ridiculing me in any way.  I felt safe telling her about it.  But that was as far as it went.  Which may have been a good thing as it set me up to believe there wasn’t anything wrong about it and so, I didn’t worry about being sad.  My coping technique at the time was to sing.  I memorized the words to the Eagles song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and would invoke it whenever those shadows came a calling.  It always worked.  One run through and my brain was back on track and feeling peaceful and easy.

 

The inside part.

The inside part.

 

Well, I grew up and out of my imagined whispering and as life got busy and hectic, the shadows ebbed and were kept at bay with activity.  Alcohol in judicious amounts is also a tool for ignoring those small voices.  I never was much of a drinker though, I have a fine line for it’s toxic effects.  I’m basically a cheap date. Instead I hiked or rode away the sadness.  Being outside heals me.  Outside is bigger than all the sadness in my head.

 

The Zoo 1985

The Zoo 1984 In this piece, the protagonist is covered in flowers, she’s an exhibit in an alien zoo. She wants to escape her companions, the fuzzy slugs. But at least she’s OUTSIDE!!

 

But here’s the funny thing about little dark clouds.  They come back around when you aren’t looking. You wake up in the morning and there they are raining on your personal parade.  They leave you with a low grade sadness that is aptly named “The Blues”.  As a color, I like blue, but as for “The Blues”, well, they fuel my passion for leaving them behind.  If I get up and get moving and do something I can outrun them.  Maybe that’s why runners run.  I’m not a runner, but I can paint.  And when I paint, or create, I get out of my head.  Getting out of my head is a good thing.  I spend far too much time in there.

Fishes and Wishes Oil on Canvas 12"x16"

Fishes and Wishes
Oil on Canvas
12″x16″

 

In effect, I create because I have to.  So maybe there is something to this Artist’s Temperament after all.  Am I an artist because I have the temperament or do I have the temperament because I am an artist?

Either way, it’s also telling to me that I spend the most time with people who I believe fall on the low end of the crazy spectrum.  I can do edgy people, but only in small doses. But if indeed it is normal to be a touch crazy, then that puts me in the small doses band for everyone.  In other words, I can only “do people” in small doses.  Which makes me an introvert.  And indeed I do need alone time just to recuperate from normal social interactions.  Sometimes trying to stay dry under my own clouds is about all I can manage.

Sweet Earth Show

Sweet Earth Vineyard show 2014:

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I wound up with this corner to myself. Center table for my prints and cards, then sheets over cases of wine made a good display for the chairs and paintings.

Last saturday was my first show in a vineyard.  Well, actually we were in the  cold storage room at the vineyard.  Thank goodness because it was HOT as hell outside!  But only if you definition of hell is in the mid 90’s.  That works for me as my melting point is 90.  I am no good in a sauna, a sweat lodge or most hot tubs.  I am good with snow, but we won’t see much of that for the next few months.

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Art Show at Sweet Earth Vineyard was wonderful!

One of the great things about showing is getting a chance to meet your audience and other artists. It’s always nice to sell a piece or two as well as  swap ideas about technique and marketing. Making these kind of connections is worth the effort. One of my fellow artists had seen my winged chairs on my blog!  I was thrilled… looks like my work is being seen.  Which is in keeping with my personal philosophy of art… it’s meant to be shared and seen.  If you are an artist trying to make it on your own, you need to market yourself.  Not always a task artistic minds are willing or even able to do.

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Old friends and new stopped by!

My display at the show.  All the hard work paid off.

My display at the show. All the hard work paid off.

Even though the show ran from noon to 5, it was weeks in the making.  Or years if you go back to when I actually painted a few of the pieces.  Then there were days spent getting ready for a 5 hour show.  The matting of prints, reframing certain pieces, going over my inventory, creating and finishing  new work.  After which it was pack for the show, haul to the show, unpack and set up…. do the show then pack up and go home and put it all away. A mighty effort!

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The Winged Chairs got sat on! Thanks to my dear friend, Danette P. who worked on staging with me.

 

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Tot sized chair.

It was fun seeing people’s reactions.  They really got a kick out of sitting in the chairs.  The few times I demonstrated how sitting in the chair did something to the work itself  (by actually sitting down) the reactions were priceless!  Most were surprised at how I had suddenly sprouted wings.  They had to give it a try.

Just give it a try!

Great shirt, adds to the piece!

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Laurie H. makes the chair work.

I do find it hard sometimes to figure out what people want and then weigh that against what I want to create.  As an example, the winged chairs make people happy but should I keep making them?  Do I have room to store them all?  Should I take my friend’s advice and sell them or better still, donate them to a children’s hospital?  Now that the idea has taken flight, where should they fly to?

I’m currently trying not to worry about the big picture.  I think it will come to me eventually.  Having spent much of my art career considering what to create that will SELL, I am forging new pathways in my mind.  I’m now focusing on creating for the sake of my SOUL.  Creating as a form of expression, a link to my self, a personal journey.  And along the way, I’ll be happy to sell a card or print or portrait.  Monetary compensation is a form of appreciation and does much to keep the artist (or anyone for that matter!) motivated.

If you are interested in any art seen on my blog, feel free to contact me of course… I have prints and cards for sale. I’ve done Etsy in the past, but you have to really work that site to keep it going and you have to provide your own materials (prints and shipping).  But soon I’ll be on an art print site where you can order directly the size you want, including frames.  I promise to post that link as soon as it happens.

Melding the artist mind with the business mind is tough.  Right now, all I’m thinking about is getting back to my easel.  I have an idea that needs painting!