Tuesday, January 12, 2016

to do or not to do?

Greetings earthlings! :)
Well, I've accomplished very little
in that usually wonderfully creative time
between Christmas and New Year.
Here we are, almost mid January...
all getting back to our 'normal' routines,
whatever that may be for you.
I woke up this morning,
made a pot of coffee,
and decided I would sit myself down,
and do Susannah Conway's
(you can download it here, if you're interested)
I suck at goal setting and planning
and I don't do resolutions -
but her way of looking at things...
the important questions she asks,
always seem to lead me on the right path.
I've always been hard on myself.
I am not a high achiever,
& I don't have high expectations,
but I get a LOT of shit done
in the course of a year,
and I don't take enough time
to celebrate that.
I've never been good at celebrating
my accomplishments. 
There's a disconnect between
what I DO
and what I THINK I do.
I'm surprised sometimes,
when I look back at what I've done
or where I've been.
If I want to do something, I do it,
then i just move on to something else.
Until someone says: "that's amazing!",
I don't think much of it.
Last week, someone asked me about 
the illustrations I had done in the past
for children's books.
I pulled out a few things I had done
over the past few years
and sent pics of them to her in an email.
As I was going through them, I started thinking:
"wow. I've done a lot of illustrations!" 
"wow. How lucky that I was able to illustrate
so many fun children's books!"
"Some of these are pretty damn good!"
I do things in small increments...
one little piece of art, here and there.
But I rarely ever pull them all together
and look at the whole.
I guess that's what I'm trying to do -
in art and in life.
Pulling everything together
and celebrating what actually gets done.
Celebrating the lessons learned.
Celebrating the small steps towards change.
Towards a life that feels more like "me".
I'm not gonna get all corny
and open a bottle of champagne or anything,
but just SEEING everything
I've managed to get done,
even when I feel like I'm not doing much.
Last year, I did the "29 faces in February" art challenge.
One small portrait of myself, every day for 29 days.
I did them on small index cards,
so they wouldn't take much time.
When I finished the month,
the index cards went to the corner of my table,
and I never looked at them again.
Until the other night, when I was sorting out some things
and I saw them.
I put them all on the floor, all 29 of them,
next to one another,
and I was impressed with the mosaic of color and style.
"Wow." I thought.
"I did this".
Sometimes, I actually don't remember
making the art.
But i do know one thing:
i was happy while I was doing it. :)
Because many of us as artists
are rarely compensated with money (at least consistently),
it's up to us to gather our work now and then
and admire how much we actually get done.
Money is never an indicator
of how much you accomplish (or not).
Never use money
as a measuring stick for anything.
Especially not for your happiness.
Use joy instead.
Peace of mind.
The way you feel 
when you sit yourself down
with a blank canvas & paints,
or with a new journal and a sparkly pens,
or with a good book...
Ralph Waldo Emerson only came out
of his sanctuary in the woods when his money ran out,
and he came out only long enough to make enough money,
to allow himself to go back to the woods again
and do what brought him joy - write.
If making money had been his priority,
I doubt that we would have
so many of his great writing.
The real joy for me
has nothing to do with the money I make as an artist,
but it has everything to do
with making the art itself.
So I'm setting 'intentions' for the new year.
Not plans, not resolutions, not goals.
Which basically means:
no pressure.
And also,
something you can't fuck up. :)
 ...and a little bit of art. 
Very little these days.
 I'm taking what comes my way
and making the best of it.
 Acrylic on paper...
On fire, with little energy.
That's what eating a ton of chocolate
and drinking too much wine will do.
And menopause. :)
What I'm currently reading.
The first is a graphic novel,
beautifully done about Dahmer as a student in school.
We tend to forget that there are killers amongst us.
The second is written by the author of WILD,
a collection of beautiful stories & words of advice,
by someone (Cheryl) who was basically an orphan at 21.
And John Elder Robison (Look me in the eye)
is the brother of Augusten Burroughs,
the sad memoir of how they were raised
by parents who were both mentally ill.
John's book is about his life with asperger's.
Their father was a college professor in the eastern USA,
and their mother was a poet/writer.
It always amazes to me that people can be raised in such dysfunction
and grow to become productive, sane human beings.
I guess some make it (like John Elder)
and some don't (like Jeffrey Dahmer).
I am loving each of these books.

Thanks for being here.


  1. Very recognizable! I did an overview of my creative year a few weeks ago, and I was surprised by everything I had done. I get frustrated so often because I feel like I can't find enough time to paint, but I did much more than I thought I did. It's a pity that we always tend to focus on what we can't do, and don't take the time to celebrate what we do. So if there's one thing I'm planning for this year, it's to be gentle with myself and realize that I'm doing the best I can. And yes: celebrating my achievements :-) Thanks for the link: looks interesting! And I really love that last illustration "I'm on fire". Would love to see more of your illustrations for the children's books!

    1. Denthe, you are one of the most productive persons I know. Isn't it funny how we often miss our own accomplishments? I love that you plan on being gentle with yourself in the new year. We could all use more 'being gentle'. xx

  2. This year I became a full time artist and writer--very nerve racking. Although I feel very lucky, I do feel pressure to make it happen faster. I have to say the money thing does come into play for me. Thanks for this very cool article--happy to say I am a new follower. I am also new to the blog world and glad to find art friends. Hope to see you around the neighborhood. xo Dea

    1. Dea, i think the "money thing" comes in to play for most of us. ;) Only a few chosen lucky ones don't have to worry about paying the bills. I love that you own that you are a full time artist & writer. That's wonderful! You GO girl! Welcome to the blog world, where you'll make connections with many like-minded hearts. :) Sometimes, it's all you need to keep painting. Keep writing. xx

    2. Thank you Pauline. :) I forgot to say before also I have a lobster trap Christmas tree also from the beach! So neat to see that your is different. Christmas is like a wedding--planning and planning then BAM it's all over and you don't know what hit you. Have a great day! xo

    3. Thank you Pauline. :) I forgot to say before also I have a lobster trap Christmas tree also from the beach! So neat to see that your is different. Christmas is like a wedding--planning and planning then BAM it's all over and you don't know what hit you. Have a great day! xo

  3. oh wow oh WOW! Your words and thoughts have so resonated with me this morning! I have been trying to remember every day to look at the world with joy and gratitude. This morning I was a bit down in the dumps and your post really uplifted me. THANKYOU

    1. oh, thank YOU Mary! I'm happy to know that my words lifted you up somehow. :) WE all have those rough days. There's always tomorrow. :) xx

  4. Yeah man, intentions are the way forward! And yes yes yes to seeing what you've done. I have that discrepancy too between what I've done and what I think I've done - looking back over the past year really made me feel amazing for a while when I saw it all together! Funny too how I was looking at others and thinking wow, they did SO much more than me, while receiving messages about how much I'd done! Which leads me to suspect that NONE OF IT REALLY MEANS ANYTHING, except the joy part. The joy and the painting. xx