So this is it- 2019 is upon us, the year has spun another circle and brings us once again to a new starting place. What will you do with this clean and fresh place?
For this IS it. The beginning of a new year of our lives, a finite period of time we are gifted with. Maybe this is the year to make your dreams come true!
People in the arts- could this be the year where you measure your success deep within your heart and feel truly happy?
Visual artists- will you take a huge leap forward in expressing the creative work you dream of? Attain the skill or ability to paint the perfect painting you know you have within you, the one that thrills you (and hopefully others) to your very core?
Writers- will you reach deep inside to express the novel or poem that speaks to the soul of an audience, edit it to perfection and then publish your first novel?
Composer, dancer, actor, sculptor, will you bring forth your sparkling creation that moves people to tears?
This is it, this is the year for you to make a giant leap! Put in the time, do the work. organize your obligations and time better so that your creative time is there for you. This is a big challenge for all of us, including me!
Then use that creative time better. Work the practical aspects if the Muse is out to lunch that day. Give yourself totally to the amazing experience when the Muse is there.
Set goals, modest or large; visual yourself meeting them. Put positive energy out to the universe, for the world responds well to the positive!
Do your best, honestly, and you will know you have. One step closer to the dream is a huge one, and time is too precious to waste. The world deserves your beauty in these troubled times, so give yourself to it and craft your talent to its maximum.
All it takes is everything.
Happiest, most successful New Year ever to all of you, and I hope for me too.
I was at one of the lowest times of my life . Alone, sick from pneumonia and still in intensive care in the hospital when I got a phone call that my mother, who had been doing very poorly for a time, had just passed away.
A snowstorm was icing the street outside, ambulances arriving with accident victims pouring into emergency, and I had told my family to stay home that night to be safe. I felt about as alone as a person could feel. Hospital nurses were so kind, but the huge demands on their time did not allow long talks and I needed a friend; when they offered to call the hospital chaplain for me I said yes.
The Chaplain. So a knock on the door and a presence filled the room, bigger than life. A blinding white smile, and a warm hello Ms. Patricia. He walked right up to me and took my hands in his and introduced himself as Chaplain Chris. He asked what I needed and I told him I needed to pray with someone for and about my mother’s passing. Chris asked me if I was of a faith, and when I told him Christian he asked Catholic? No, non denominational, and respecting of all good people of their faiths. Chris said his order too was non denominational. We sat down and prayed, taking turns, and it was a good thing. Next we spoke of some personal, unresolved issues between myself and my mother, and he made it easy to speak freely. He had responses that were helpful to me, mostly about love.
Then Chris asked me if I knew of the book of Job of the Bible. He said his own story had many parallels to the Biblical story and began to tell it.
When he was just beyond his teens Chris left Africa for Maryland to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. He had worked hard and managed to come up with $60,000 to pay the for the flight school, arranged to move in with a cousin and flew here to the US. The day he was to start the school closed doors. All of those who had paid for tuition were left without. No refunds were ever made. The poor young man was devastated. The money was more than anyone in his poor area had ever had or spent and it was gone. Legal recourse was sought by all, for nothing.
After that Chris had nothing to do. His cousin was pressuring him to take up with her girlfriend, to marry her, but Chris was engaged to a girl in Africa and was trying to stay true, tho he liked his cousin’s friend. That pressure increased and led to a big fight; the cousin told Chris in disgust she wasn’t driving him anywhere anymore, even to church.
So he was wandering around, depressed and came to a church by a field. He went in to a service then met the Pastor and asked if he could stay and pray by himself after. The Pastor agreed and showed him a room. Chris went in and poured his heart out. He wailed, wept, asked why, asked the Lord for help. In Africa the buildings were all made off concrete block, mostly sound proof. Here they were wood and dry wall. The Pastor had heard his loud crying prayers clearly, and he was very taken by the Chris’s honest and open approach to God. He told Chris he loved how he prayed, and asked him to pray with his congregation. Chris became a regular at the church. He was shocked tho when the pastor and elders called him to a meeting and offered to pay his way through seminary school. A full scholarship.
It was a best case scenario, and Chris took the schooling. It also got him away from his cousin and the girl he liked a bit too much and had been seeing too much of- he left town suddenly but was ashamed of his actions. Chris went through the school but sort of thought now what? He really wasn’t that sure he wanted to be a Pastor. He was sure he wanted to be a pilot. But he returned to the church, joined the congregation and worked there for a while. Then he had a dream or vision of a bunch of Pastors in a group. They were telling him, come to North Carolina, we want you here. He had the dream several times before he told his church leader. The elders got together and discussed it, and decided he did have to go there. God was calling him. About that time another cousin he thought was in Texas got in touch. He said, Chris my wife and I want to buy a house, but we don’t have enough money. Can you help? Chris did, the cousin bought a house in North Carolina and asked Chris to move in too. So he went there next and began to seek a church that needed him. About that time he was led to a church that wanted him to start a new branch, he was led too by his pilot craving again. As he halfheartedly began working on establishing a new church he also enrolled in flight school for some air training. He loved it so much. Chris worked hard at the church, and did very well. But he still did not feel that was what he wanted.
During his first air training flight Chris was assigned to an instructor he did not like too much, but up they went, each working a separate part of the controls. Chris got the plane up and the pilot took over as they were heading down. The controls froze. The pilot tried everything he could, but the plane was not recovering. He told Chris to brace for a crash and Chris was terrified. He began yelling to God- you want me to be a Pastor I will! I will stop fighting you Lord I will do anything just save us! And the plane recovered, the pilot brought it down. Ashamed, Chris went to the head of the flight school. He told the man that he either wanted to never go up with that trainer again or he wanted his money back. He was denied both. He went back to the church. Meanwhile, the church elders had decided to send Chris and another young church leader back to Divinity school, offering him a full scholarship to get his masters degree. And so he did, while working at the church.
Now Chris had a masters, and career choices were opening up to him. He should have been content, but just was not. He was also mad at himself for his pilot dream and tried to ignore it. Then he had another dream, of a group of Pastors calling him to come. He tried to ignore it, but it was there. He did not want to listen. But it turned out that his church had further plans for him, and wanted him to get his doctorate, with them sponsoring him. And he went with that, back to school.
The remainder or this story is not as clearly remembered, but the basics are as I heard from the man. Chris got his doctorate degree and was offered a leading position. He tried to get out of it. He side stepped and said other people were more worthy, and was just doing everything he could to avoid this role and committing to it. Secretly he enrolled in flight school again, and was very glad. He was also ashamed of himself again, could barely stand himself. The morning of his first flight session, he woke up in his house on fire! Everyone but Chris was out of the house, but Chris was trapped in a burning foyer by a door. He was being badly burned and screaming when he was rescued, and spent many months in the hospital after that. His face, hands, arms and feet, legs were all damaged, and recovery was very difficult. During this time he met a hospital chaplain who was wonderful to him and helped him through the agony so much. Chris slowly began to think he had found his own calling; ministering to the sick and fearful patients in the hospital and helping them and their families in their times of crisis. When he was almost healed, he had strongest and clearest vision of his lifetime and it changed his world forever.
In his dream/vision he was being called outside. He went out and saw a long pathway, and began to follow it. He looked at the other people on the path and saw that they were all shining white. Looking down t his own body, he saw that he too was shining white! Whiter than white, whiter than silver or white gold, but so beautiful and valuable as to beyond his imagination. He saw that all of the people were the same shining color, no matter their ethnic background.
All were walking toward a huge gleaming structure, like a soaring cliff. It was perfectly flat fronted, with no openings, yet as people in the distance approached it they appeared to go inside. and when Chris got to the walls, he too saw an opening and went inside.
Inside he saw huge people- tall and shining white. they motioned to the small newcomers to join them in groups, and though no one was talking, Chris was unafraid to realize he was in heaven. It was all whiter than silver,radiant and too beautiful for him to even comprehend. All giving love, peacefulness and knowledge filled him and all those who were there.
(My own memory becomes even less clear on the rest of his story’s details. I had been listening for 45 minutes to his tale, and was sick. I was also very full of grief and weariness. My excuse, but there it is.)
Chris felt he was given a choice to stay in heaven, with the perfection of the tall beings and God, or to return and live his time on the earth. His choice was not easy, but he felt it was clear, that God had plans for his time on the mortal planes. So he returned.
Like Job Chris was tested over and over. When he followed his own will he was led back to the will of God, over and over. He was led to where he was supposed to be, and he showed me the bad burn scars on his arms like a blaze on his path. He became a Chaplain for the Hospital, and was much valued in the position. Chris had found his place.
His eyes were clear and warm as he looked at me at this story’s end. He told me that he was sure that my mother was with God. That she was with the spirit of her beloved husband again, even if she had her own doubts about God, heaven, religion. Chris told me he knew this because,” God loves us all so much! He just Loves us!”.
And Miss Patricia, he said, He loves you and He will help you with whatever issues you need help with. And I am sure of that.
I asked him then if I could tell his tale in my blog, and he said of course. Chris took my leave with a warm handshake, said goodnight and left.
I was as full of peace as I could be. I felt that I had just been with an angel.
So this was a story I promised myself I would tell when I could; it took me a while because it was difficult to express. Some people are so filled with their faith, have so given themselves to their God that He just shines right back out of them. I was very fortunate to have met this man, and spend an hour I very desperately needed in the company of someone so kind, so full of faith and love.
What does this have to do with an art blog you may ask? well, if art comes from the artist, their life, inspirations, who they meet,and what they experience, then I have just shared a piece of where my art may come from.
By the way I made a good recovery, though I still miss my mother and always will.
It was a fine festival weekend, a local Renaissance faire, and I set up my stand in the “castle” barn.
At shows and festivals it is always a great idea to befriend your vendor neighbors; encouraging and helping each other out is so beneficial and making new friends is a bonus. So my fellow vendor author Patricia Hughes and her friend Roxanne listened as a man in a friendly group entered my stand. He was an enthusiastic guy, told me how much he loved dragons, and even showed me the site on his arm of a future dragon tattoo. The happy guy made a big effort to tell me how much he loved my dragon paintings and that he planned to return after touring the faire to make a purchase. Yay, thought I! I love dragons too, which is why I paint them!
My neighbors heard the entire exchange, and we all hoped the “Dragon Man” , our assigned nickname, would return to my stand later.
The faire went on, recorder music playing, knights and ladies strolling, entertainments ensuing, and later the Pyrate sword vendors next to us set out to have their big event- a prize drawing and auction. The rowdy group began with an ARRR! then drew tickets, made pirate quips and put on a crowd drawing show. It was fun to watch, till my friendly neighbors Pat and Roxanne noticed “Dragon Man” in the crowd there. They gave me a detailed report as “Dragon Man” proceeded to pull out a roll of cash and buy a sword, two swords, …eventually Seven Swords! We feared “Dragon Man” had spent all of his discretionary funds, confirmed when Roxanne saw him leaving the faire. The Pyrate auction went on.
Oh well, ya win some, ya lose some.
I busied myself with something else when Roxanne yelled- Pat, that’s your ticket! I threw down what I was doing and hustled over to the rowdy front- yes, they’d pulled my ticket for the drawing!
There the head pirate was waving a large sword about and he peered at me and told me to say ARRR! So I Arrred. Again, he yelled- So I ARRRRRRED! He handed me a very large, heavy carbon steel and brass and leather handled sword, and I turned to leave with a stunned Thank you!
Now, I wish “Dragon Man” had made a dragon painting purchase instead of spending all his money on swords, but it seemed the fates had decided to give me a reward for that loss, a beautiful sword- LOL!
I so enjoy painting this beautiful bird in watercolor! This is the fourth one I have created over the past 25 years, and I have reached the point with him, as I often do, of asking
Is It Done?
As you work on a new painting, you become very enmeshed with it, intertwined with its creation, its subject, the process…you can lose almost all objectivity. You can take it to the pinnacle of perfection only to look at it the next painting session and say NOT THERE. And worse yet, you can add a bit more, a little bit here and there and Ugh! It is overdone!!!!! In watercolor this is a special danger, as all water colorists know.
Through research, talking with other artists, and my own ideas, here are some ways you can access if your painting is indeed done.
Take the painting way across the room, walk away, turn around, wait a few minutes and then turn and look at it. You may see it with a different eye, see perfection or see a glaring area of need.
Turn the painting upside down and then repeat the above process. This can help with compositional flaws, dark/light balance problems, color needs.
Take the painting into the bathroom or any area with a decent sized mirror and hold it up to the mirror. You will see it reflected backwards, and be able to look at it with a new objectivity. This can really help.
Put the work across the room, walk away and block out the left side with your hand. Analyze what you see there. Bland? Too busy? Not enough dark, light, detail, etc…? Then do it to the right side. This can help too.
Use your camera to take a pic, then adjust it to a black and white image. Doing this can really help you with color values; you can see where it pops, see where it is boring, see how the dynamics match what you want for your work.
Ask a friend or family member for an opinion of your work. This is really helpful at first, people who care for you will offer their genuine ideas about your painting. Unfortunately after the first 50 times you ask them, it gets old, they get less objective too, this is your thing, ultimately, not theirs.
Set up an alliance with a fellow artist. This is a biggie. You critique for them, they critique for you. Invaluable! Of course you will differ. Of course you may not agree all the time. But a person who knows artistic principles and what you are trying to accomplish and convey with your work can be exceedingly helpful. Be a good art friend to have one.
So there you have it, my best ideas to help you help yourself. I have been through 1 – 5 already, time to bounce this one off of my friends and my artist buddy.
The stream meandered through woods and fields, came to a place with gently sloping hills and lush growing greens. Life was abundant there, and was drawn to the place. Animals played, had their young, and birds nested in the tree limbs and hollows.
Storms brought flooding brown waters and dropped their silt on the bottom as the ages passed; the silt layers deepened and became shale layered with the many colors of the storms.
People came and found the place good; food was plentiful and the hills rose above the waters when they rose in flood, fish idled in them when they gently flowed. Transient camps with quickly erected shelters were perched on the hillside, fires glowed at night. Children and hunters, women gathering food crossed the place on the rocks above the waters.
The place by the stream took in the life, the energy, the light of the sun and the rage of the rain, and slowly became imbued with power.
Years passed and war came to the people who had settled there and to a nearby village where hats were made and sold to provide a living for the villagers. A huge conflict between two nations had risen in the affairs of man, and soldiers marched by with their weapons, camped by the stream to rest at night and on their way to battles. The village was the unhappy host of a grand conflict, and lives were lost, perhaps the stream took their blood into its flow.
The war ended, the victors had their own rule and time passed on. New families came and built homes by the stream. A small house was completed atop the hill, and others joined it. The people of the small community sought the place to build a bridge to join the sides together so that they could pass over the waters on their daily pursuits.
They found the place where the stream gave a rare charge; the energy of the years had concentrated there and it felt special. The bridge was built, fine and sturdy and many passed over it in its time.
When the rain times came and the waters rose, they gathered on the bridge, umbrellas in hand, to see the rise of the waters, feel the energy of the floods charge through. Laughter and excitement from witnessing the drama of nature rang through the roar of the waters. Those who built too near the stream found the waters inside their home; the bridge was strong though and withstood the flood times.
Time passed, new families came, some houses were taken down and bigger ones on divided land were built. And the bridge was taken down. The new people did not know of the energy, the special history of the place, nor did they cross the waters on their daily paths. The waters were now crossed by car on the service bridge of the road.
But the bridge has its memories, its own power that it has gathered, and it stays by the stream and dreams in sun, shadow and falling rain.
I am a wheel; I like to make things turn.I spin ideas. I love to affect change and movement. Set ideas and actions into motion, spin life forward and dream backward through time.
I can be the horse who pulls the cart; I will work hard and persist with all my strength to move the cart forward. If needed I will bear the weight of many and much upon my back. This is the way that I am built, the way that I am.
I am the cart. I will load up the carrying place, help you load up your things you need to journey with, and ask for help to load up mine. But I will carry my needs and yours whether you help on not. And I must move them all forward to be right for myself.
I am the harness- but may be an uncomfortable one at that! I tug hard, can bind too tightly, and sometimes , most unfortunately, jab those I try to hold together. But I am a tenacious one; will hold on, as hard as I can, to unite together what I am able to unite. To to move the whole rig forward, horse, wheels and all toward better places.To the places where I see dreams coming to fruition, and adventures waiting, dreams to be realized.
I heard a tale from a 16 year old art student recently, and it disturbed me. He said he’d brought an artwork of his to class to show his art teacher at school. The teacher gave him very little reaction; nothing negative nor positive. Just the barest acknowledgement that he’d shown her his work.
I asked how this made him feel, and he said ,causally, not so great.
What he did not say- it hurt him badly. He had created a work that he was proud enough to expose himself to an adult opinion. This made him extremely vulnerable; a turtle out of his shell. The teacher’s lack of response was like a harsh wakening. It said you are not a good artist. You stink. And many other things the teen made up to himself.
This is not what you want to do when a child shows you his creations. Absolutely wrong.
This age of a person generally holds a secret self, one guarded carefully to not appear unacceptable and “normal” to others his age. Talents and intelligence are sometimes covered up just so as not to stand out. But the secret self dreams of being successful and fitting into an adult world someday because of those talents and dreams.
Teachers, parents, trusted adult friends all have a duty, an obligation to support those dreams. To uphold the hidden secret talents and support the talents as they emerge. If the adult is too busy at that moment, he should say so to the teen. And to state that he is very interested, could he see later? After class or other time? And follow through.
If the trusted adult is indifferent to the very vulnerable teen, it can have devastating consequences to the child. A more confident child can fall back on his own core; while the most fragile can just give up on a dream as a result.
But what if the presented work of the teen, is apparently of poor quality? Find something in it good. A thought, a line, a color combination. An original aspect, an interesting point- find it and tell the teen.Then give him some ideas to improve the work. And thank him for showing you.
I believe this is a more general position as well. A talented dancer, an invention presented with some thought and planning, a technical skill or handcrafted item, a story or poem; all deserve the attention of the trusted adult they are divulged to.
Across the ages as well- a young adult or an older one learning a new skill both deserve attention for their aspirations when presented to an instructor. Opening yourself up to scrutiny for an other is always a difficult position to place yourself in, and consideration is a kindness that is much needed.
Putting yourself in the position of a teacher or mentor brings this responsibility. And that is that.
Vulgar! When this expression first became mainstream in our area I was appalled. A little boy was over our home on a play date with my son, and had just exclaimed that he sucked at basketball. I prissily told him we do NOT use that expression at our house. Ok, he said cheerfully, I stink at basketball.
The term did become very commonly used over the years, and my prudish nature gradually became enured to it.
Recently I began to use it myself. Because sometimes it is so appropriate.
I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa
Life deals some harsh blows sometimes. Frightening things, bad things, depressing events, losses, failures. We have no say, no control over many such events; our only recourse is prayer and positive attitudes. And maintaining a positive attitude is hard too. So sometimes you just want to say- That sucks!
You can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far. ~Uncle Remus
We all turn to pressure release outlets at such times; exercise, meditation, faith, or for artists, art expression. If you are an artist you probably drew some mighty sad and angry weirdo doodles as a high school student, right? Because the turbulence of adolescence often made life suck.
As an adult I have often felt the need to express my negative or sad emotions and thoughts in my paintings. Even as I paint out the sorrow, I process my feelings and resolve my future actions. It helps.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn. ~Author Unknown.
A problem is a chance for you to do your best. ~Duke Ellington
So if something happens to you that sucks- I am sorry. I offer my support; we have all been there. If something happens to your friend/loved one that sucks- give them your love, your help, and be there to listen. Even when they aren’t talking. If you pray, do so for them, for yourself to have the strength to get through. Pray for the world- it needs it.
And have faith that it will Get Better.
This too shall pass.
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden