I was visiting with a friend a few days ago when she said something that got me thinking. I had just given her a tour of my studio and she said, “You must be in heaven when you’re painting.” My reply surprised her.
Sometimes I am in heaven and everything flows and it’s easy. Other times I’m wrestling with feelings of frustration and self-doubt. Nothing is working. I feel like a fraud. Ugh. It’s a lot like therapy. I like the outcome most of the time but it can be a grueling process getting there.
I think a lot of people have romantic ideas about artists and art in general. They don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m struggling with a piece or that sometimes it’s hard work and I doubt my abilities. But it’s true. There are moments of sheer panic when I want to toss all my supplies out the window and give up.
But then there are those moments when something beautiful unfolds. I understand myself more completely. I feel at home in my body. I’m filled with gratitude and wonder. These are the moments that propel me forward through the dark times and the fear and anguish.
So, I’m curious: if you’re reading this and you’re an artist, is this true for you too? Or if you’re not an artist, what are the things in your life that challenge you this way? I know I’m not alone. There’s a principle of proportionality that seems to be universal. It goes something like this:
To the extent that something has the potential to bless you, it has an equal potential to cause you grief.
For you, it might be parenting or writing or exercise or your career. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear from you. It will make us all feel less crazy and alone and we might just emerge a little more whole in the end.
I wondered what life would be like after my show, when for so long it had been almost entirely consumed with preparations. It turns out, it’s pretty much the same minus the nervous energy and anxiety. I’ve still been spending a great deal of time in my studio, and that’s a great relief to me. I worried that I would be so exhausted that my art-making would take a hit for a while. Not the case at all. In fact, I have a full day of art planned, and the only reason I’m writing this blog is that I’m trying to be patient while some wet layers dry.
I started an online class this last Monday that has been exactly what I needed. Pauline Agnew is an artist from Cork, Ireland, and she’s teaching a class called Expressive Faces and Figures. If you’ve been following along at all, you’ll know that my work has gone in the direction of portraits lately, and although I feel very good about what I’ve been able to crank out, there’s a good deal of guesswork around how to make the paint do what I want it to do. I’m largely self-taught, so I feel like I’m learning primary through experimentation and curiosity. There’s actually nothing wrong with that. However, I’m feeling ready to learn from someone more skilled than myself so I can stop wasting so much paint.
Pauline is a truly gifted teacher. She carefully leads us through exercises and then gives such helpful feedback via our group’s Facebook page. I feel happily surprised at how much I have learned already. If you have the opportunity and you’re in a place where you’d like to explore this, I can’t recommend her highly enough.
And now, here’s a piece that I finished this week. I’ll be hanging it in the show soon. It’s a 16×20 mixed media piece on Ampersand cradled art board. I’m pricing it at $300 if any of you are interested.
Full of Love
I am filled with so much gratitude and excitement. My art show opening was everything I could hope for. So many of my friends came out to support me. It has made me realize how truly loved and blessed I am. And it has given birth to dreams that I have never dared dream before. I’m dreaming of a life filled with art and wondering what the next steps are for me.
And you helped create this loveliness.
If you’re reading this right now, you are significant to me. Thank you for caring enough to show up and follow along on this path I find myself traveling.
So here are some pics that my wonderful friend snapped during the show. Thank you Marcia for being a constant voice of encouragement for me. I have so many friends like that. People who have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. These are just a few of those friends.
The show runs through June 28 if you didn’t get a chance to join me on Thursday.
***I forgot to mention that one of the highlights for me was that one of my online acquaintances made it to the opening and brought a friend with her. Thank you Anna! It was so lovely to make this connection from my virtual spaces.
Nate shared what he saw in one of my paintings. I love when that happens.
Patricia purchased the painting behind us. She’s a great cheerleader.
My husband Dave who put up with all the pre-show craziness, and my son Danny with his lovely wife Amanda.
Julie helped me get ready and cheered me on.
Marcia, who took all these photos and who is one of my best clients and cherished friends.
Brian runs the salon that hosted the show. He changed my life and always makes me laugh.
Brooke, Amy and Rachel.
Shelley purchased one of my first paintings ever and helped me to see what was possible.
Well, the art show kicks off on Thursday.
I’m feeling pretty dang fine about what I was able to produce for the show, and because the salon has generously decided to allow me to keep the full price of all of my sales, I think the prices are pretty dang fine too.
I’ll be at the gallery at the entrance of FiveTwoSix Salon between 5-7. And if you’re able to make it to the opening, I have a surprise for you. I’m giving away three 10×10 inch prints of this painting:
And a cute little mug with this painting on it:
How great is that?
CorAzon and Olive You are two businesses located in the same complex as the salon and they are having some fun events at the same time as the opening. CorAzon is having a trunk show featuring items from Eco Petites Line which is designed locally, made with eco-friendly materials, and sewn in South Saint Paul. Olive You will be hosting a tasting of delicious items made with their olive oils and have specials on their products.
I’m setting up tomorrow and I’ll be sure to post some pics after that. I have a big lump in my throat and all kinds of butterflies in my stomach. Wish me luck!
I set up for the art show two weeks from tomorrow and the show opens two weeks from Thursday.
I wonder if I have ever been so consumed.
Every day I’m learning something new and exploring territory that is unfamiliar. This is deeply good, but also exhausting in ways that are difficult to describe. If you looked at the art I produced prior to the last two weeks you wouldn’t be able to identify the new pieces I’ve painted as mine. I’m not sure how to account for this. But I’m very happy with what I have been able to crank out in such a short amount of time.
My house looks a little like it’s been ransacked. I haven’t been paying much attention to what I’m eating or what I’m wearing. I’m always a tiny bit disoriented. This is the fallout of intense creativity. And I’m so tired. Really so tired. But I can’t quite sleep well. My dreams are saturated with color and faces and texture. My heart is constantly thumping from a stream of adrenaline that never seems to subside.
I’m acutely aware that the chance I’ve been given is a gift that is radically unprecedented and I don’t want to squander it.
So here’s a peek at what’s in store. The opening is 5-7 on April 16th at FiveTwoSix Salon on Selby Avenue and runs through the end of June.
So here’s the story. I went to get my hair done a few weeks ago, and the stylist casually asked me,
So what do I need to know about you?
A simple question. I thought about it and since I had just started a painting before my appointment, I said,
I’m an artist.
“Oh really?” he said, and then I pulled out my iPhone and showed him a pic of the piece I had just started. He said, “That’s not done? Then you have to show me some of your finished work!” So I pulled up my Facebook page and showed him a few things. No big deal, right? But what he said next is still ringing in my ears.
Would you be interested in doing a show here?
It turns out my stylist also handles marketing and design for the salon and they like finding unknown artists to showcase their work while also filling their wall space. And they don’t charge a commission. Yes, you heard me. They don’t charge a commission. So I will get 100% of the monies that come in from the show. The salon is situated at the end of a hallway that houses a couple of cute little shops and one of them is doing a trunk show that starts April 16th so they want to kick off my show the same day.
So I’m just a teeny bit panicked about that.
The event will be held at 526 Salon on Selby in Saint Paul and the shop that’s doing a trunk show is CorAzoN. I’ll post more details when I get them, but for now, I’ve gotta get back to my studio.