I have to go make dinner. See you next time.
Finding My Way 12"x18" pastel on sanded paper
This little watercolor I made, above, is of one of my favorite quotes. Edgar Degas said this - and I never would have believed him until now. Now that I am getting deeper and deeper into this painting ride, the more I know, the harder it gets.
My studio is a great space for me to create when I have a big project going on.
Sometimes, those big projects take days and weeks to complete. And SOMETIMES THE REST OF MY LIFE TAKES OVER. You know what I mean. I am talking to all the mommies out there who want to do art and those artists that have not yet taken the step to push everything else aside because they now can make a living from of their art.
I have discovered that I am not capable of balance. Nope. I am completely inept at it. However - I am getting a WHOLE lot better at juggling. I have found a little secret that helps me.
Keep a journal.
Keeping a journal is a way of keeping the wheels greased.
So how many times have you been on the web, determined to take up visual journaling again, drooling, as you oggle the mind blowing journals that some artists keep? Or when you are in Barnes & Noble you pick up yet ANOTHER blank journal - promising yourself that this one is going to be different, THIS one you are going to keep at it ... this one (insert sigh) is going to be gorgeous ... one that will be vibrant, full of juicy colors, wild and freeeee and that if you create it the way you invision it, well then, years after you are gone it might be discovered with the answers that unlock the questions from your greatest finished masterpieces?
There is only one weeeeee little problem nagging you... even as your credit card goes swiftly through the card reader.
You know, deep down inside, that you are BALANCE-CHALLENGED and you have failed, miserably, at keeping an art journal way too many times to admit to another human being.
"Oh no! Carolina has been reading my thoughts!"
I am guessing you and I might not be all that different and unique.
So what to do?
Secret For The Balance-Challenged:
GET OVER YOURSELF AND STOP BEING SO PRECIOUS
That is it. The key. Your journal is YOUR journal. You can cherry pick your entries in the distant future and share "the good ones", but if you don't just have at it, yucky goofs and all, you will never really reap the benefits of what is most valuable about keeping a journal - that is that the daily exercise of doing little snippets of creative work in your journal keeps you connected to the creative core of you, it keeps the wheels greased so that when you do finally get your dedicated chunk of longer art time, you are able to zero in and access the creative you instantly. By keeping a journal, you and your creative self have been in dialog, you are comfortable with each other. There is no more looking for The Muse. In case you haven't noticed, there is a change in my banner title and now you can access me at www.carolinaellis.com , The Muse of The Day is gone ... for I get it now, I am the muse. My daily entries in my journal prove it to me.
I promise to show you more, but, for now, lets just take a quick peek into one of my journals, yucky goofs and all.
Here is a journal entry showing a corner in my house that has these wooden shelf holders slated to go in my daughters room - these have been in this same location on the floor, next to my hiking backpack for at least 3 months. Embarrasing, but true. At every dinner party I have had, folks ask me what they are. I call it my little corner of guilt. I will get to hanging them. Promise.
Want to see a goof page?
That was where I tested out some new materials. A few days later I went back at this page, you can see it on the right side of the spread, below, you can also see, on the left side, just how much I struggled at properly drawing the tea kettle :
One day I knew it was going to be crazy busy and that time in the studio, that day, was not going to be a possibilty. On my way out the door I spotted a bag of corriander seeds, I had purchased at an Asian market, sitting on the kitchen counter. A quick painting sketch with my little Koi travel watercolor kit, a few notes about what I was thinking while I painted it, and out the door I went:
I have been teaching an Intro. to Drawing class to some ladies in my town. I don't think I am the greatest artist, but I share, freely, what I know. One day we did an exercise of contour drawing that we colored in after we were done with the drawing part, it is in my journal as well:
On the right hand side of this next image, you can see a pink page with some writing in it - I am not showing it, here, because I use my journal to scribble in my private thoughts too. Remember a journal is for you, put it all in there & later on, if you want to share your journal, you can do as I suggest and cherry pick it.
This next one only brings one word to mind - YUCK. But I am including it here for reality's sake.
This next one was done on Mother's Day, which almost went unnoticed as we had my husband's father go in the hospital that day for an emergency procedure. I managed to do this little quick sketch out in my garden while feeling the warmth of the early morning sun - that was more than enough Mother's Day gratitude for me.
I have a few points to make with this blog post that I think are worth repeating.
Don't be so precious and worry if your daily sketch is worthy or not. Put it all in there - goofs, good ones, and thoughts.
And that doing this journal keeping with sketches, paintings, testing of materials, and thoughts, will keep your wheels greased for when you have a bigger chunck of time available to you to work on a larger project.
Start your day off with it, if you can make it work that way.
At whatever time of day you do it, in whatever kind of journal you have handy, with whatever materials you have, and with a definite checking at the door of all preciousness ... doing this daily exercise will make a difference. A BIG ONE.
Hope you enjoyed the peek in my journal.
One of my favorite stories from childhood was Hansel & Gretel. Perhaps that is where my addiction to sugar began. I also learned, in that book, that the woods are a scary place - a place to stay away from, a place to fear. I must say, the woods out my door has more than it's fair share of critters; slithering ones, middle-of-the-night-birdseed-stealing ones, turn-my-plants-upsidedown-looking-for-grubs ones ... and you can not imagine the cacophony that goes on as soon as the sun goes down. Despite all of that, the woods are magical. Lately I have been spending a lot of time in the woods.
A few mornings ago, I woke up and went out for a hike out my door. I wasn't but a few minutes into it when this appeared -
It looked like the handy work of a pastry chef gone wild. It was every where. It looked like someone had put the star tip on the pastry bag, filled it with pink frosting and went on a major squirting spree. A squirt here, a squirt there.
And then ... while the racoons were hanging naughtily from my bird feeders and I was sleeping ...
BOOM - all the Mountain Laurel on the mountain exploded open at once.
Proof positive that magic exists.
Now that I am an adult, the woods hold a magic spell over me despite there being no sugar to be had. This is the view from my studio. I have lived in this house for almost 4 years now and I am constantly thinking that I want to paint the woods, but every day comes and goes and the sheer grandeur of the woods in it's crazy, haphazard perfection scares me off.
Not today. Today I stood up to the woods. I was determined to face my fears and paint ... the only difference between today and all those other days I was scared off running with my tail between my legs, is that I made up my mind that I would not paint one stroke of what I SAW, but rather my painting would be the result of me continously asking myself HOW DO I FEEL?
I set up my easel & another easel as a makeshift work station (I am too lazy to bend down to get my paints.)
Now that I have taken Flora Bowley's class, it is fairly impossible to fathom painting without my fluid acrylics.
I did try to keep my paint choices limited - it can all get overwhelming ... actually, it can become a downright cluster in a matter of seconds when one is away from one's regular painting space - even if said painting space is no more than ten feet away.
I took a HUGE deep breath, looked at the woods before me, and asked myself "HOW DO I FEEL"? Now, I did have to ask myself this over and over again for the entire four hour painting session. Most of me wanted to default to my standard of painting what I see when I attempt to paint nature outdoors. But I kept at it, only painting how the woods made me feel.
When I look at the woods, this is how I FEEL.
The woods aren't so scary any more.