Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Current Reading List

I have started collecting titles of book recommendations from other bloggers, my mom, and friends, that sound interesting to me.

Here is just a quick list - in no particular order - of some of the books I have stacked up waiting to be read, and some that I am in the process of reading.

The Art of Work - Jeff Goins 
Start: Punch Fear in the Face- Jon Acuff
The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
A Million Little Ways - Emily P. Freeman
One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voskamp
Poke the Box - Seth Godin

There are other books that I have heard about and want to look into, but I figure I had better finish these before I go looking for more. . .

Have you read any good books lately?
Have you read any bad books - or books that were okay, but don't know if you would recommend...?
Are you in the middle of reading any books right now?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Leaving Things Unfini. . .

See what I did there?

I look back through some of my posts, and I find a few projects that I just haven't finished.  I get them to a certain point and then. . . 

Interruptions like dinner, sleep, work. . .you know. . . things like that happen.

Some are so close to being finished, and just need those final thoughts to come into focus.
Some began with a strong idea, but as I started working, the idea didn't quite pan out the way I was picturing.  I might scrap the original, and start over...I have done that before...
 And there is one that is started, but not too far along yet...(that's why there isn't a picture of the canvas). 
I know it is just the beginning of the week, but this coming weekend I will try to work on one (or more) of these to get them either finished, or a little farther along on their journey.  I am making plans to organize my time and my thoughts as the week progresses, so I am ready to paint when the end of the week arrives.

Do you have any unfinished business for this weekend?

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Story of My Art - Heritage Painting

 This is a photo of my grandparents' farm.  
This is a painting I did when I was in college.  It is a view from my grandparents' kitchen, and that window faced the barns.  The chair is where Grandpa would sit to take off his work boots.

There they are on the newspapers, next to the dog's bowls.  He would hang his hat on the chair when he came in.  There was a calendar hung behind the door that had stickers for the delivery of ice cream. (The Schwan's man)

That painting was something I worked on, but never really was happy with.  It was one of those times where I had an idea, but the idea didn't quite make it onto the canvas.  I remember one of my professors saying it had a feeling of home, but seemed unfinished.  And maybe it was...

The painting sat for many years.

Then I thought I would start working on "fixing" it.  It took me quite a while to bring myself to cover over this work, even though I didn't really like it.  But I started...

Somewhere along the way, my mom gave me a copy of my grandparents' wedding photo.  I made a copy of my copy and cut it as an oval.  I had some scrapbook paper that looked like old wallpaper, and that is where I began.
The bottom half of the wall needed some help too.  The memory I had of the wallpaper and paint that was in that kitchen was accurate at the time, but my depiction was a little less than...well...it needed help.

I painted some vertical stripes which created a stripe to represent each of my siblings and cousins - my grandparents' grandchildren.
When the house needed to be cleared out after both my grandparents were gone, there was an old notebook that contained penmanship practice from my ancestors.  I used color copies of some of those pages to cover the white stripes.
I also made three small tags with my mom and her siblings names, and hung those beneath the wedding picture.  Do you see the family tree starting to take shape?

Then I needed to do something with the window.  I had a few different ideas, but couldn't really fine tune my thoughts to put something into place.  So I decided to add the barns, and remove some of the window...
There are those clouds again. . .

The life of a farmer is not just inside, and not just outside, and not just in-between.  All of those spaces blend together. . .

This is where the paintings is at the moment.  I think I want to continue to fill out the family tree idea.  There is more work to be done, more ideas to work through, but I like it much better than I did before...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Curiosity is Part of Creativity - Jump In

My curiosity feeds my creativity.  I love to learn new things, to experiment, to see what is around the next corner. 

When my girls were little, my youngest would ask a lot of questions, and as those who have toddlers know, the "whys" can get overwhelming at times.  But I told her to keep asking questions, because that is how you learn. 

I remember when I was younger, my dad would be out in the garage working on the car and I would go out and ask him about the different parts, and what they did, and how it worked with that part, etc.  He was very patient with me...  I'm no expert on car engines, but I know enough that when I have to get my car repaired, I can ask questions, and tell the mechanic the symptoms with some accuracy.
 "Creative is a verb"  - Patti Digh
I think creativity can be learned in the same way.  If you know someone that has an ability you would like to learn, ask questions.  Have a conversation about their latest project and see what information you can learn. 

I understand that fear can keep us from even trying something that has a hint of sounding creative.  I have days myself when I am afraid to work on a project because I'm afraid it won't turn out like I think it should.  Well. . . the only way to guarantee it won't turn out like it should, is by not even starting it!  I encourage you to take small steps, find someone to walk you through the process, or do some research online.  There are so many tutorials and videos out there!

Do you have a friend who makes the BEST cookies, but you don't bake?  Ask if you could help make them sometime.  Watch their method, ask if they would be willing to share the recipe, and be willing to burn a few to learn something new.  (I think things taste better when friends make them, but it is certainly worth trying for yourself!)

Do you know someone who has a living room arranged and decorated like a magazine photo?  Ask them how they did it.  Ask how they decided on the furniture, or colors, or how they found their "style".
"Creativity is intelligence having fun." -- Albert Einstein
I'm guessing many of you already ask these questions in conversations, but don't think about how to turn that into your own creativity...

Here are my suggestions:
  • Ask the questions - How did you do that, could you show me?
  • Listen to the answers - Listen to the how, the when, the why
  • Try something new - It doesn't have to look like someone else's, you are unique!
  • Look online - there are many tutorials and videos out there for just about everything!
  • Make mistakes - Things don't always look like the cookbook or magazine.  It's okay!

One of my favorite quotes is from Miss Frizzle of Magic School Bus fame:
"Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"
Jump in, find something new to learn and get curious!
What keeps you from thinking you are creative? 
Do you have any tips to add for those who might be hesitant to jump in?

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Story of My Art - "Destinations Unknown"

I took a photo of the ferry/train station that we passed through to board the ferry to Ellis and Liberty Islands.  As we walked through, I felt a sense of wonder and curiosity about the many feet that had shuffled through this space...
Because I find different structures and architecture interesting, and because my mind works this way, I thought about making it into a painting...

For. Years.

Finally I decided to begin.  

This is the point where I am just laying in some shapes and colors to begin.  There is a picture in my head of what I think this will look like, but that doesn’t always match the final outcome.  It does give a direction, though, and it is a start!
As work began on the painting, those thoughts of doubt crept in.  The thoughts that say, "this isn't going to turn out right," or, "are you sure that is how you wanted it to go?"  Those are the thoughts that keep me from starting things.  Things like paintings of train stations...  And even though I have started, if I listen too long to them, they keep me from working on the painting.

Those are the words of fear.  
I think about how I need to keep working on creative things to deal with stress and emotion that hovers over me.  So I need to push through those doubts and pick up the paintbrush and keep trying.

This is all part of the story of this painting.  I'm not sure exactly how I will incorporate that fear and processing, and I don't know where the process will take me or how the painting will turn out.  But I have to keep working on it...

Sometimes there are parts that don't turn out quite right, and need to be covered up and worked on again.  Sometimes the mistakes are necessary to learn from, and will only make the outcome better.

Just like the travelers who walked through this terminal so many years ago, I don't know what lies ahead.  Just through those gates and onto the platform next to the tracks, these adventurers, explorers, seekers stood waiting to board the train that would take them through the next part of their journey.  

I imagine them as they sped along the rails, heading West, heading North, heading South, anticipating reunions with family or the unknown of some city or town where they would seek housing and employment, they would watch the landscape passing by their window.  I wonder about the fear, the anticipation, the excitement they carried with whatever belongings they may have brought across the sea.

This painting is still a work in progress, but an adventure awaits.  There are so many possibilities, so I keep moving forward.

The trip continues to destinations unknown...