• Unleashed


    In painting years, I am a pup. Learning to walk, I find myself gleefully moving about, tripping unexpectedly, hearing shouts from the sidelines – “Don’t go there,” along with “Thata girl”– and wondering where these feet can take me. Now, you might question my advancement. After all, a “pup” at 4 years (how long I have been painting) can do a lot more than walk. Why so slow you might ask? Here is my defense. My earliest experience of life was touch and go with my mom and I barely surviving childbirth.  I figure this set the stage for me to have rocky beginnings. 

    Another inauspicious start showed up at age 12 when my father rudely dismissed my first painting effort. I was crushed and dumped my first effort into the bin – only decades later took to the brush.  These two events may have little to do with a slow start but just another story I tell myself. I think it is closer to the truth that it takes a lot of time to get good at any art form. Regardless of what is true and what is not, I want you to know this blog is an accounting of my truth, not fictionalized or dressed up for the public appetite. It is a journey of development and I anticipate the joy of being able to skip, and eventually run. 

    I am going to share with you what I am learning about life as I paint. And learning about design, self-expression, creativity, and of course, painting. There will be connections to my other lives as a psychotherapist, metalsmith, and art jewelry designer. The creative journey has been a big part of my life, so I am pretty much a full-grown dog in this department. Not sure the metaphor is working, but you get my drift. 

    It is my hope that my meanderings help light your creative path. 

  • Unleashed

    Shine a Light on This: Confidencing #1

    Image courtesy Pexels.com

    I think of confidence as a fluid state of mind. It changes as you work on a project. There are areas where you feel certain about your skills, and sections where you feel less sure. To build your confidence, it is important to recognize when the positive state shows up, thus avoiding the dreaded focus on where you flounder. Keeping an eye on your confidence will help you maintain a balanced perspective. And speaking of perspectives, display one of your first projects where you work. It will remind you of how much your skills have developed  gained over time. Tuning into the confident state of mind will help your brain build neural pathways for this state of mind. I think of them as freeways, easily accessible and faster than the slow side streets. 

    Never heard this word? Neither has Webster, Cambridge, Urban or Oxford. Or me. I made it up. The word, however, corrects a mistake in understanding of the word “confidence.” Confidence is a noun that implies that it is a thing. Once you get it, it’s yours, quite like a car parked in the garage. When you want to go somewhere, you can walk to your garage knowing it will be waiting for you. But the same is not true when you sit down to draw, paint, make jewelry, or create any other art form. We mistakenly think that once we acquire confidence in art making, we have crossed over to the realm of self-assurance. Making the word a noun subtly influences our thinking that it can be acquired once and for all. This error in language is called a semantically ill-formed word. “Confidencing” corrects the inaccuracy. It is a verb, after all. 

    I have certainly had a difficult time with this issue, and fortunately, less so now. It would have been helpful for me to consider these principles that I have known for a long time. Painting just picked me up and threw me around for too long. But really, the opposite is true: my mind tossed me about.

    So, a reminder to us all. Focus on what we are doing well, and we will not only have a happier time of it, we will learn even faster.  

    The following podcast, hosted by Nicholas Wilton from Art2Life, is an interview of one of my favorite artists, Robert Szot. He talks about moving to New York City to become a painter without any art experience or education under his belt. Big confidence, right? A little later he implies a dip in confidence when he says nothing has made him more excited than painting or more depressed than painting. So, like the moon, confidence waxes and wanes. 

    Watch the podcast on YouTube: https://youtu.be/JEXaiuXfF7k?si=bVonnSQ9cPwrdoLX

  • Unleashed

    Come Away With Me Norah Jones

    In this entry I am going to discuss the development of my painting, titled “Come Away with Me Norah Jones.” I’ll address choices I made and why. Also, I’ll share how the painting aligns with life. 

    This is an early stage in this painting. I have a harder time creating than editing, so I can hardly wait to extract offenders. However, I start by identifying what is worth saving. I like the dark textured areas, the desaturated yellow, the use of black and white, and warm colors contrasted with cool hues.  I especially like the dark textured area in contrast with flat paint. Now for the weeds: the textured desaturated yellow areas, the size of the central yellow shape, the smaller light-yellow accents, and the pea green shapes. And here is the kicker – I don’t like the design. 

    How does this apply to life? 
    If you have a fire in the kitchen, don’t respond first by removing valuables from the house. Having a design that doesn’t work is a fire in the kitchen. Put the fire out first! This issue is all about priorities. Effective problem solving often requires doing first things first. 

    My goal is to improve the design. Everything else will stand in line behind these choices. I recall that I like the dark textured areas, so I am going to make these more prominent. I need the eye to travel throughout the painting so dark textures get placed accordingly.  Value contrast (light vs dark) is key to good design, so I am going to create a light beehive shape and add some black and white elements. I also opt for adding more cool color sections to create a better balance between warm and cool. You might note that as I added new areas, I automatically got rid of some of the offenders. The last addition –  I changed the orientation from vertical to horizontal as it was more pleasing to me. Finally, I get to edit. Out the door are the desaturated yellow textured strips because they distract from the dark textures. The pea green elements seem to add nothing. Gone.

    How does this apply to life? 
    Recognize which of these skills you favor, creating or editing. Ask “Do I need to add something new or start sweeping?” This idea seems simplistic, yet it can be a time-saver, and make cleaning up even more fun if you have a rich source to work with. While valuable to create space for new things to happen, focusing on what you DO want pushes the undesirable aside almost automatically. 

    There is only one thing I don’t like and that is the light-yellow beehive in the middle. It draws too much attention from the flow of the painting, so I tone it down. After considering options and taking a rest from the painting, I am still unsure if the painting is done. I turn to my Art2Life Academy buddies for their input. Thus, bright yellow lines in the right upper corner. Now it’s done!

    How does this apply to life?
    I value harmony in artwork and in life. Being a harmonious part of the whole is often a more satisfying choice than stealing the show. Quieting the beehive facilitated this. It reminds me to listen to people without too much focus on my opinions. Back to the painting. When you are not sure about something, reach out for help. Other people will see your work with fresh eyes. 

    Beyond the End
    Here is the painting shown in a room. In case you are wondering how I titled the painting, Ann Artz, a lovely and talented coach with the Art2Life Academy, suggested I create rhythm in the painting by highlighting the upper right corner. She also associated the painting with jazz. This is not the first time someone has made this connection which surprises me. Honoring this influence, I selected a jazz singer I am very fond of, Norah Jones, and a song I love, “Come Away With Me.”  Reminds me of my dear husband…..

    How does this apply to life?
    I do love jazz but I am not consciously trying to paint it. Happenstance occurrences can point us in a direction. Also, our unconscious mind can be in the driver’s seat without us even being aware of it. Happenstances and the unconscious are potential rich sources of inspiration.