Mar 24 2010

Art Journaling

Published by under art journals,instruction

Creative people exhibit a continuous discontent
with uniformity. (Glenn Van Ekeren)

No member of a crew is praised for the rugged
individualism of his rowing. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Art journaling is probably only new to me. Basically, its an illustrated journal. Beyond that, the definition is open to individual interpretation. Some like a lot of text, some prefer to let the pictures do the talking. For some, the journal records dreams. For others, the journal gives inspiration or a record of events. For me, its probably going to be a little bit of all of that. Doesn’t matter. However you envision your journal, the important point is that the art journal is a playground, a place to try out techniques and limber up your creative muscles.

Part of what I have internalized in my research on the “SENSOR”, that part of me which seems to want to do anything and everything before art (suddenly, I have to do shopping or sweep the floor or … well, you get the idea), is that I need a transition from the mundane, the every day part of my life, to the creative.

If you’re as interested as I am, here are a couple of sites that provide a lot of information on art journalling basics:

Now, the site I promised. Sarah Whitmere is a mixed media artist and instructor. On her site she provides a series of prompts which show you how to make pages for what she calls a soul journal – part journal, part mixed media and entirely fun. Here’s how you get started:

I’m just finishing up my first two pages, following her prompts, but from there, who knows? Because the more I do, the more possibilities open up for me. My creative spark, hidden behind a monumental barricade erected by my very own sensor, is finally breaking free. And … its fun. Its not work, its actually fun.

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Mar 24 2010

Its Not About the Money

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.

~~ Joseph Campbell

I just finished reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. Impressive book and not just because I sort of came to the same conclusions on my own. What he calls resistance, I have called my “Sensor.” That part of me which is always ready to judge me, which always finds me wanting, which is endlessly inventive in its ways to sidetrack me and what I want to do. Mr. Pressfield does a great job of offering good advice on how to kickstart the creative process and I am grateful to him — for his insights. I needed a kick in the pants.

Here’s something for you to think about. Why is it that people evaluate anything they want to do in terms of how much money it will make. Or more importantly, if it will make a LOT of money. It isn’t enough somehow that the thing you want to do will nourish your soul or make you happy. No. You have to make money. In point of fact, you have to make a LOT of money so that you can reach the point where you never work again.

I’m abandoning that idea. Because for me, its more about constructing my life in a way that makes room for the things I want to do to be happy. Its not all about groceries and earning a living (though that’s in there of course). Its not about zoning out in front of the TV at night and wondering where my life went. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

One of the key insights in “The War of Art” is the idea that you should treat your art as your profession. Bring to your art the same degree of professionalism you bring to the job that pays for the rent and the groceries. Do it every day, whether you feel like it or not, make it part of your life. Go to your art the way you would to your job.

So, my internal sensor may have won all of 2009 (and ‘life’ conspired a bit to help with that) but 2010 belongs to me. I have life goals written out. I have a plan for getting there. I have courses that I’m taking now in art. And new projects in the works.

Tomorrow, I’ll share one of them with you and direct you to an awesome website — that’s a lot of fun.

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Jan 19 2010

Figure Drawing

You must look into other people as well as at them.
~~ Earl of Chesterfield

I’ve started what I’m thinking of as my own personal university — using a combination of books and online courses (at the moment, I’m going through Drawing Tutorials Online).

A necessity for me since I can’t find an art course in a language I can understand.  And in this first week, already a lot is happening. I’ve started working on learning how to draw the human form — and intend to do another version of this pose once I feel more confident in the technique.

Along with that, I’ve been spending time thinking about how I envision my future and working on defining goals that will help me meet that future. Its an energizing process — because I’m not limiting this vision to what I, in my current state, see as doable. I’m going for what I want. What I’ve always wanted.

In all, I feel much more hopeful and positive than I have in quite some time. Because my future, my journey, is back in my hands again where it always should have belonged.

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Jan 17 2010

Healthy Kind of Selfish

Published by under Healthy Selfishness

A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose.
It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers
in the garden to be both red and roses.

~~ Oscar Wilde

I always equated selfishness as putting my needs over the needs of others, causing harm. We all know that kind of selfishness does exist in the world. If you don’t, if you haven’t experienced that, maybe its because they are all hanging around me lately but don’t thank me yet. See, I’m in the process of kicking them out of my life which means they could all be over at your place tomorrow.

Truth is, if self-centered people had pinups, it would be me. The one who is always willing to drop everything and be there for them — listen to their stories, commiserate on their problems which are many, and accept that yes, indeed, they ARE the center of the universe.

But here’s the thing.

There’s no end to that kind of giving. None at all. The self-centered people of the world will keep taking for as long as I have it in me to give. That’s what I’ve realized. And when I finally run empty, when I have nothing more to offer, they just move on to the next person. I don’t blame them for this, its a variation on the Frog and the Scorpion fable. Its just who they are at this point in their journey.

And then there comes the day when I am empty and I have nothing left to give which is about where I was back in October when the great realization finally hit me.

As a child, growing up in a household with an alcoholic (and an older sister who would embrace alcoholism later on as others embrace religion), I understood early on that some of us are meant to be on the stage of life and others in the audience. Course, in my household, the ones on the stage all had diagnoses so I was content to be in the audience. Not being noticed was how I survived.

So, audience and pinup girl for the self-centered of the world, I am now in the process of becoming. And part of that process has to be learning how to be selfish — a healthier kind of selfish — the kind of selfish that recognizes my own needs and gives them priority, at least part of the time, over the endless, life-sucking needs of everyone else. What goes along with that, giving my own needs priority, is knowing how to demand that time from the people around me.

Because here’s another thing.

The self-centered ones in my  life, like the way things are. They resist me trying to change because they’ll have to change in response (at the very least, find someone else who will give them their undivided attention). Change isn’t easy at the best of times — we all know that.

Hand in hand with learning how to give my own needs priority is learning how to say NO. And that’s not easy because apparently the self-centered ones, at least the ones I’m in the process of evicting from my life, are incredibly eloquent. They are good at running roughshod over whatever arguments or explanations I provide.

Heard once, from a former salesperson I knew, that when he was trying to sell something, he wanted a reason why the person was saying ‘no.’ Because if he had a reason, he could mount an argument, convince the person to say ‘yes’. The only effective way to stop a salesperson, he said, was to just say NO. Refuse to give an explanation. And that works with sales people by the way — I’ve tried it. Just shuts ’em down.

Doesn’t work with the self-centered ones. Tried it with them too.

But let’s set that whole topic aside for now. Learning how to say NO  is for another post. At the moment, I want to get back to healthy selfishness.

Are you with me on this? Meeting your own needs is the way to happiness, reduced stress, and a whole lot of positive growth. As I’ve seen, the well runs empty and someone has to refill it. As I’ve also seen, that’s not going to be the ones who drained it in the first place — because those kinds of people just keep dreaming up new needs to be fulfilled. They like that. ALOT.

So, given that its not going to be the people in my life, who place their own well-being above mine, then its got to be me. In the past four months, I’ve taken a good hard look at my life. At where I am and who I’ve become. And I don’t much care for what I see. In the next 1001 days, I intend to kickstart my life. Get me moving in the right direction again, reach for the life I want, and strike a balance between giving to myself and giving to others.

Where does that begin? Looking at the big picture all the time doesn’t work — I tend to get overwhelmed by how much there is to do. So instead, I’m going to break down some of my major goals into more manageable tasks. Smaller pieces that are easier to accomplish so that I can build on success rather than failure and pain.

For instance, as I’ve said elsewhere, getting back into art could be broken down into sub-steps. An easy first one would be taking my sketchbook with me. Reading more, could be making sure that I have a book with me or, if I lived near one, getting a library card. A small, easy to accomplish first step, and from that baby step, setting another and then another after that.

As the steps get bigger and take more time, I’ll need to take my time back. Give to me first and that I’ll talk about in my next post. For today, I recognize that

  • I had dreams and plans for my own life that aren’t being realized.
  • I am surrounded by people who don’t care about that — and are happy to take whatever I’m willing to give, even if that empties me, leaves me a shell of a person.
  • Taking back my time, putting me first, meets with resistance from those around me who are used to taking everything from me.
  • Learning to say NO is hard work — and will require more study, more practice.

And finally, I commit to giving myself priority. To working on my dreams, making them come true, because I’m worth it. Because I want to be excited and challenged by life. I mean to do this. I’m not backing down … no matter what.

Books, Blogs and Articles I’m Interested in Reading on This Subject:

  • Sacred Selfishness: A Guide to Living A Life of Substance by Bud Harris (Quote I saw in the preview: “Often we end up living cover stories authored by others that cause us to avoid the possibility of creating our own stories”).
  • There is a difference between healthy selfishness and narcissism as discussed in an article by Roy Biancalana, The Difference Between Sacred Selfishness and Narcissism, (the quote that I really liked is this one: “The purpose of a relationship is the growth and expansion of the individuals in it. A truly healthy and blissful relationship is one in which neither partner is giving up anything of importance in exchange for being in the relationship.”)
  • Understanding Healthy and Unhealthy Selfishness by Jennifer Shapiro (the quote I liked most is: “If we instead are selfish in an unhealthy way, we begin to expect that others will somehow fulfill our needs and when they don’t, our emotions erupt and happiness fades for us as well as those we get upset with.”)

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Jan 14 2010

Starting the Journey

Published by under Creative Recovery

You can’t get there by bus,
only by hard work, risking,
and by not quite knowing what you’re doing.
What you’ll discover will be wonderful: yourself.
~~ Alan Alda

If not quite knowing what you are doing is one of the essentials, then I’m well on my way.  I’ve said, and more than once, that my mother sold me on the idea that one day, some one would come and rescue me, presumably from my life. Only no one came. No white knights. No rescue. And as I got older, I realized that it wasn’t just me, my mother was waiting too. Waiting for something that never came and never happened.

I’ve come to the realization that if there’s a white knight to be had, then its got to be me. I’m the only one that can rescue myself (sorry, Mom!). And its long past time that I got started on just that very thing. The question that kind of stopped me was — how to get started? Where to get started?

For a while, I interpreted rescue as understanding what had happened to me and making changes based on that. I learned about alcoholism and what happens to children who grow up with an alcoholic. Learned all about the elephant in the parlor. I learned about becoming assertive in work (lots of misses there). I learned that its alright to choose a different path. I learned to step away from the dysfunctional family dynamics, to make my own choices. I spent the time and did the work. To regain ground I felt I had lost as a child.

And yet, there was so much missing. And what I’ve come to understand is that the more important part of the work is only just getting started. See, for everything I’ve learned and done. All the courage that took?  What I never learned was how to be selfish now and again. How not to give 150% to the people I love every single day (because what’s been happening of late is that the people I love are demanding 150% every single day).

And you know that’s got to end.

So here’s me. Dressed in an uncomfortable suit of armor and figuring out how to do this thing, rescuing my creative self. And that’s what this site is going to be about, a record of that journey. Good and bad. Hits and misses. Failures as well as shining successes.

It starts today. I just can’t afford to wait another minute.

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