Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

copyright Valerie Jones
Colored Pencil
8 1/2" by 5 1/2" on Stonehenge

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas this year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Graphite Completed

"Laremi" copyright Valerie Jones
Graphite on Strathmore Bristol Smooth 100lb

I seemed to have this little jewel on the drawing board for quite awhile per the calendar. It only took 11-15 hours to complete, so that's a plus. I used the following pencils, give or take a few. Staedtler 4B, 2B, B, HB, H, 2H, Sanford Design Ebony, and a Grumbacher Willow or Vine charcoal stick. The Ebony, 4B, and 2B was used in the darkest shadows. I used the B for normal shading and the HB, H, and 2H for smoothing out the skin tones. Everything was blended using blending stumps of various sizes. At the very end, I used the charcoal stick in some of the darkest areas. To finish this off, I sprayed the work with Krylon Workable Fixative, Matte Finish. This is a surprise gift for a friend, so in the mail it goes this week for its 300 plus mile journey.

It's snowing and very cold here today. We had a high of 17 degrees F today and the low is supposed to be 15 degrees F. The wind chill is 3 degrees F. Brrr. I know it's a lot colder in other parts of the country but this is cold for us where we live.

I probably won't be posting much over the next several weeks. That's not really anything new, is it? My sister is coming for a 2-week visit beginning next week. We can hardly wait!

I'll leave you with a quote I found the other day.

The best thing is the feeling you get when you’re inspired. ~ Penelope Dullaghan

I hope you all have time to be inspired over this busy holiday season.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Colored Pencil Work In Progress

"Colors of Fall" work in progress
on Stonehenge Paper 5x7
I had a colored pencil demonstration at a local gallery yesterday. I worked on this leaf painting and have a long ways to go to completing it. I have to complete it because some of my students said they'd be looking for the finished piece to show up at class. It's a fun piece so I'm looking forward to finish it.
I'm still working on the Little Baby graphite drawing too. Life has been busy with little time for drawing or blogging.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Focus on the Positive

Work in Progress
Graphite on Strathmore Bristol Smooth 300 Series 100lb
Here of late, I have been worrying about why my art doesn’t sell. The biggest reason is because I have been creating pieces for family and close friends and I GIVE IT AWAY! I have been enjoying the process of creating that I can’t wait to share it with family and friends. I’ve been focusing on the positive elements of the process and not the end product of selling.

Yes, I still worry if other pieces will sell but while I’m waiting, I will still be creating. I have been thinking about creating smaller pieces that will enable me to get them done quickly. Quicker pieces results in more quantity. I’ll let God focus on the quality and I’ll focus on the quantity. Do you think I can pull it off?

What do you do when you run into the worry about sales?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Signatures and Lines

With the use of computers, writing is becoming a lost art. But we all sign our names. When you sign your name, you are expressing yourself with an element of art: line. On a sheet of scrap paper, write your name as you normally sign your name. Every time you write your name, you have expressed yourself in your own uniqueness. Try writing your name in three different styles. Look at the lines and let yourself respond to the nonverbal message each signature gives through the lines. A loose style implicates someone who is social, wears bright colors, and dramatic. A tighter signature says that a person could be quiet, reliable, and somewhat unadventurous. I might be wrong but a signature with sharp lines makes me think that a person is bold, easily angered, and stressed. Betty Edwards, from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain says, “Your signature, however, does more than identify you. It also expresses you and your creativity. Your signature is true to yourself. In this sense, you already speak the nonverbal language of art: you are using the basic element of drawing, line, in an expressive way, unique to yourself.” I'm more of the tighter signature type, quiet, reliable, and somewhat unadventurous. What signature style are you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Art for Sale


One of my friends recently launched a new sales blog, Art by Rose Welty in celebration of International Artist's Day on October 25th.  I think she chose an excellent way to celebrate!  Check out her work.  It's amazing.  She works in inks, pencils, and oils.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rain, Rain


It's a rainy day today. Rainy days get me in a thoughtful and creative mood. So today, I'm being creative. I am working on a design for our family Christmas card. We send over 100 cards to friends and family each year. Now, mind you, I have a HUGE extended family. I have living 12 uncles and 8 living aunts plus many, many cousins that I don't even know. I don't send to all my cousins but I sure do send to all my aunts and uncles. And I have lots and lots of friends that I consider family. I won't be posting the card until it is sent out for the Christmas holiday. So, you'll just have to wait in anticipation. ;)


How do you spend your rainy days?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wonderful Students

I have some wonderful students.  A little over a week ago, I had a birthday.  One of my dear students took a picture of me, plus had everyone in class sign a beautiful birthday card.


I've been very behind on posting on my blog and reading blogs.  Life has been hectic lately and hopefully soon it will slow down a little bit.  The word here is "hopefully".  

Hope you all are having wonderful days of painting and drawing!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Window Art


I've been busy the last couple of days painting..., painting on a window! The person who cuts my hair needed someone to paint on the window at the salon and he asked me if I could do it. Of course, I said YES! I've never done this before and found it extremely easy. The only thing it was a little breezy so the paint dried fast and left some streaks. You can't tell it unless you are standing there looking at it. In case you are wondering, I only had to paint one eye, the nose and the mouth. I guess it's a side-profile face. I had a couple of inquiries wondering if I would be interested in doing more of this type of work. So who knows.......

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playful or Serious


The first mistake of art is to assume that it is serious. ~ Lester Banks

This quote holds very true for me. I have been assuming I need to be serious about my art and promoting it. Of course, I hold myself up to a certain standard to my art doesn’t look like something I created in elementary school. So that part of seriousness is good. When it comes to promoting my art, I stink. I make it to be something very serious and end up hating every minute of it. I assume that I need to get so many pieces done so that I can launch a website, have something to sell, and so forth. This thinking gets me nowhere and all I want to do is nothing. I’ve taken all the play out of creating. So, the only time I play with my art is when I don’t have a piece that doesn’t have to be done by a deadline. The pieces I do for fun are usually the better pieces too. How do you approach your art, with play or seriousness?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Completed Colored Pencil Work

In my online absence, I was finishing up this precious little girl on the swing. She took over 40 hours to complete with many, many tries on getting her skin perfected. She is on Art Spectrum Colourfix Coated Pastel Blue Haze paper. Since this was my first try with using the Colourfix paper, I finally figured out how to work on the paper when I was finishing the painting. I probably won't use this paper anymore for portraits since I like a smoother finish. The image size is 11" x 14" and is awaiting transport to its new owner.

Happy coloring!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date - September 2008


I decided to try my luck at getting a drawing done quickly through Virtual Sketch Date . I was amazed at how easy it was and how quickly I was able to finish it.
This drawing is done on Smooth Art Drawing, 110 lb. paper. The size of the drawing is 4"x6". I used the following graphite pencils: 2H, B, HB, 2B, 4B, and Ebony. It took me 2.5 hours to complete.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I'm Here


Sorry for the no posts lately. I've been busy working on a colored pencil painting. I'll show it to you when I'm completely done with it.

Hope all is well with you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Complimentary Colors


I bought Arlene Steinberg's Masterful Color book this year. I decided to try the demonstrations she has in the book. I found the first one to be very helpful.

I was glad for the detailed instructions that took all the thinking out of what layers to apply. I look and look at a photo reference and find tons of colors to use but never the right ones to use together. She uses compliments to make her work look outstanding.

The demonstration showed what color to use as an underpainting for reds. The compliment for red is green.

First, I laid down greens for the underpainting. Then, I started layering the darkest reds for the shadows and so on until the tomato looked good enough to eat.

What I learned –

Don’t be afraid to keep layering to get rich color. I have trouble getting dark enough and paper often shows through. This technique didn’t leave room for any paper to show through. I get impatient and want the painting to be complete. When I thought I was done with this piece, I was asked to add more layers. Another thing I learned is to use compliments within the piece as well. You don’t have to use it just in the underpainting.

Monday, September 8, 2008

What Do You Do With Your 24 Hours

I recently read a publication from Joyce Meyer that talked about "What do you do with your 24 hours?" Honestly, I don't think I do very many quality or life changing things in my 24 hours.
This time of year, I do my best to try to help people with alzheimers. I have had both family and friends with the disease. It's saddening to watch someone who was once so brilliant wither away to nothing. So to help, I have decided to become an advocate for these wonderful and dear people.

I am determined to make a difference. By participating in the 2008 Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk®, I have committed to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, as well as for care and support for people already affected by the disease. Currently more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's. Unless we find a way to change the course of the disease, 16 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s by 2050. I want to do my part to fight this fatal disease – but I can’t do it without your help. Memory Walk funds help the Alzheimer's Association advance important research into better treatments and a possible cure for Alzheimer’s. And for the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

On behalf of the millions of Americans who are living with Alzheimer’s, thank you for supporting my efforts.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Create What You Want to Create

8x10 on Strathmore 300 Series Bristol, 100lb smooth paper

I was reading the August/September 2008 issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine when I came upon the article about Jane Sisco . She says, "Why do something anyone else could do?" This quote really got me to thinking. I always seem to see something and say, “Oh, I could do that!” Then I try to do that. But why try to mimic someone else when God created us to do something unique? If you haven't noticed, the word “unique” keeps coming up in my posts.

As an art instructor, I teach drawing the way others have taught to achieve a realistic look. I also teach art the way I create a drawing. But I am finding my own style of drawing that works for me to achieve what I want to achieve. My hope for my students is to learn their own style as well. I don’t want to hinder a person if their own style is showing through. If there are any teachers/artists who are reading this, how do you make sure your students let their own styles shine through in their work?

I try to let my student’s style shine through by:
- offering advice when asked
- let them experiment with different drawing styles
- let them try different pencils (graphite or color)
- have fun and enjoy themselves

There are probably more things but it’s difficult to think of everything.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fine Art Friends (part 4 of 4)

My final Fine Art Friend spotlight goes to Kasie Sallee . Kasie and I first met at an Ann Kullberg workshop and we instantly had the artist bond. Now our group of Fine Art Friends share the same bond and we wish someday to all get together to meet face-to-face.

Kasie is a very talented colored pencil artist who recently started working with acrylics. She uses her colored pencil style in creating her acrylic paintings. She has two beautiful daughters who often show up in her paintings. It’s fun to travel along with her on her motherhood journey.

Kasie’s style of painting reflects her memories of childhood story books. This painting is a classic example, Evie and Mr. Quackers Love to Swim . Too cute!

Kasie has also written a book Secrets of the Nylon Bowband. Sshhh….I think she has another book in the works…..

Her blog is full of inspiration that warms the soul. Her husband is very talented also. He runs and bicycles. Read up on some of his accomplishments here. He’s number one in their hearts too.

If you don’t have a group of artists to share with, I encourage you to find a group of local or online artists. They can inspire you and give you advice. Wetcanvas and Scribbletalk are good online resources for artists to share, laugh, and receive guidance along the way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fine Art Friends (part 3 of 4)

The spotlight is on Jo Castillo today.

Jo is an amazing pastel artist who also works in oils, watercolors, and acrylics. She also does pen and ink sketches on a regular basis. I envy her dedication to do these sketches.

She does a lot of paintings of the beautiful mountains and skies of New Mexico. I am in awe of the vibrant colors she has in her palette. She definitely captures the beauty of the moment. Look at this beauty, Cholla Cactus .

Jo also does something I don’t have the nerve to do….Plein Air painting. She makes it look so easy.

She has lived in several different countries and states and has a great many paintings of her time spent in these places. You can see these on her website, Jo Castillo Art . Maybe you’ll find something to buy!

Oh, not to mention that Jo is a HUGE baseball fan! She and her husband go to as many games as they can. They also enjoy time spent on the golf course. They love to travel too. Jo shares some of their travels on her blog. Be sure to visit her often!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fine Art Friends (part 2 of 4)

Today I am spotlighting another Fine Art Friend, Rose Welty . This lady is full of ambition and we all admire her for being organized.

Rose is goal oriented and each month she starts a list of goals she would like to accomplish. At the end of the month, she goes through her list and writes down what she accomplished. I must say, she pretty much accomplishes what she sets out to do.

She works in pencil, colored pencil, and is now trying oils. I think she’s worked with pen also. Anyway, her oils are coming along very nicely! Just look at After Degas Cassatt .

Rose has a website that you must visit, Art By Rose Welty,because she also does some digital work. Did I mention that she works quickly? So, yes….I envy her abilities.

Be sure to check out her blog frequently. She’s not going to sit around and not be learning something. I have a feeling that she’ll be trying more mediums than what she’s already worked with.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fine Art Friends (part 1 of 4)

Over the next several weeks, I want to spotlight my Fine Art Friends. For those of you who don’t know about us, we are a group of five blogging artists who gather together for advice, support, and friendship. We started this group almost one year ago and I have learned so much from each of them. So as a treat, I want to put the spotlight on each of them individually!

So, in no particular order, here goes….

Belinda Lindhardt

Belinda is from Australia. She’s a published artist who works in oils, acrylics, colored pencils, and other mediums as she feels the need. She’s the mother of two precious boys. I like her ability to be loose or more controlled with her work. One of my favorite pieces of hers is "Contemplation" .

In addition to her fine art, she is a web designer, illustrator, graphics, and programming entrepreneur for her business Steelkey Designs .

Take a peek at Belinda's work. You won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Workshop Photos

A dear friend of mine who attended the workshop took pictures! Thank you! Although we finished before the allotted time, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. A big "Thank You" to all who attended! I am glad to have met new people and get reacquainted with others.


As requested by my Fine Art Friend, Jo Castillo, I have included the painting we did on Black Stonehenge Paper with colored pencils. The original reference has an ugly duckling that turned out to be very cute drawn in with the swans. This finished piece doesn't include it. Thanks to 'luckylurker' on the ScribbleTalk image library for the reference photo!
I'm sorry that I haven't posted in awhile. I've been getting children ready for the new school year. I'm looking forward to a fun year of teaching portrait classes to adults and color theory to children. You will be seeing more information from me about those classes throughout the year!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Workshop News

Well, I forgot my camera for the workshop. We had 10 people and they all seemed to have a good time. For the first time, we finished our painting two hours before the class was supposed to be done! Good, bad? I don't know. I think I had too detailed of instructions because I didn't have to demonstrate much. I like detailed instructions in case we don't get a painting done in the time allotted. That way the participants can finish it on their own later. Happy painting!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Workshop is Tomorrow

I'm ready! The workshop for learning how to use colored pencil on black paper is this Saturday! For those of you who live in my area and can't attend....be looking for portrait classes coming soon. I'll be posting more information about that in the next few days.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Completed Drawing



I finished this today. I decided not to add color to the tulips. If I get prints made, I might add it to a few of them. Anyway, this was a fun piece for me. I might do more of these in the near future since they are faster for me than colored pencil.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Graphite Work in Progress

I decided to take a break from colored pencils and go a quick graphite piece. I started this yesterday on Fabriano Uno 140lb hot press paper. I don't remember using this paper before and am really liking it. It's perfect for graphite. What do you think about me putting red color on the tulips? Would it detract too much from the portrait?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Colored Pencil Workshop

Only 3 days left to register for the Colored Pencil on Black Paper workshop! There is still room available, so contact me at valmj2u@yahoo.com right away to save your spot.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Family Reunions

Our family had a reunion last weekend. One of my cousins has this really cool ice cream freezer. It hold five gallons of ice cream! The motor is an old John Deere motor that pops. All the guys enjoyed hanging around it!


This sauce was served at our reunion. It’s easy and quick to make. The sauce is good on ice cream, in milkshakes, on French toast or pancakes.

Peanut Butter Sauce Royale
Yield: 1 cup

½ cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup smooth or crunch peanut butter

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, milk, honey and butter. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and beat with a beater until sauce is smooth. Cool before serving.

Milkshake
Blend 2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter Sauce Royale with 1 cup milk and 2 scoops ice cream. Beat well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Amish, Ice Cream, and Birthdays


Awhile back, our family took a trip to visit family in Amish country. While there, we bought some ice cream sandwich wafers. My son's birthday was coming upon us, so we thought they would be good for his celebration.



I began by making the ice cream. It was an ordeal, to say the least. The motor on the ice cream freezer kept locking up. So, with the help of WD-40 and a little elbow grease, I was able to finally get the ice cream made.

The end result.....ice cream sandwiches and one happy birthday boy!



The ice cream recipe I used is my mother's standby. Give it a try!

VANILLA ICE CREAM

5 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 quart heavy whipping cream
½ gallon milk
Beat eggs, add sugar, salt, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream. Mix together. Pour mixture into ice cream canister. Add milk to top of dasher blades.

Yield: 1 gallon

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Interesting Thoughts on the Process of Creating

Upon further investigation on an artist's Process of Creating, most artists I have talked with have a part of the creating process called disassocation. After a piece is finished, I sometimes forget that I ever did the piece. This goes for artwork, sewing, etc. During the process of working on a piece, I feel one with what I'm working with. But once it's complete, somehow I disassociate myself from ever being involved. I'm on a quest to find out why. If anyone has answers, please let me know.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dress


Here's the other dress I promised! I won't tell you about all that happened, but let's just say an apron evolved out of part of the dress.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Process of Creating

I've been thinking a lot lately about the process of art. I am finding that I love the process of creating better than the finished work. Sometimes I disassociate myself from the process once the piece is finished. It's like I didn't create it. Do any of you fellow artists feel the same way? There are times too when I'm finished with a piece that I forget the suffering that was put into it because of all the joy that went into completing it. Let me know of some things you experience while creating.


Here's a picture of my sweet daughter in her new dress that I completed yesterday. She was so excited and proud! The colors in the fabric are so fun! Perfect summer dress for a summery type of girl. I have another fun piece of fabric to sew for her. I can't wait to show it to you!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Impressionist Artist

I had the priviledge to visit with an artist friend this past weekend who does impressionist paintings. Stephen Smith creates beautiful paintings using methods of the masters. Take a peek at his work......you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Routines

There is much to be said about routines when you have children. When a routine is changed life is chaos. If you are a parent, can you relate?

Along with the chaos, the desire to create diminishes. What I mean, the desire to create is there but the energy is not. That is what I’ve been dealing with the past several of weeks. I have deadlines quickly approaching, some passing me by. I must get a routine in place to fit my schedule.

My Fine Art Friend, Rose, seems to have a good way of keeping things in check. I’m going to try to incorporate some of her goal ideas into my own hectic life. Thanks for the inspiration, Rose!


Here's a picture of one of our cats who likes to play at the neighbors, rolling around on a driveway full of sidewalk chalk. I guess he likes art too! He came home with blue and pink fur.



Hope you are having a blessed summer!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Busy, busy, busy


Life is busy this time of year. My posts will probably be less for awhile. I'll share a couple of recipes with you that we made over the past weekend. Very delicious summer recipe! Sorry, I don't have a picture of the food to share.


TAPENADE PORK LOIN
from "How to Grill" by Steven Raichlen


For the tapenade:
2 cups drained, pitted black olives (two 6-
ounce cans) or 1 ½ cups pitted kalamata
and/or oil-cured olives
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the pork:
1 pork loin roast (2 ½ to 3 pounds)
Coarse salt and black pepper
4 strips bacon or pancetta (Italian bacon),
optional

Prepare the tapenade: Place the olives, garlic, capers, mustard, and oregano in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Add pepper to taste and the oil and process until blended.
Roll-cut the pork roast. Season the top of the meat with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt – the olives are quite salty). Spread the tapendade on the meat and roll it back into a roast. Cut four 12-inch pieces of butcher’s string and lay them out on a cutting board. If using the bacon strips, place them on the string in the opposite direction. Place the roast on top and tie the string around the roast. Season the roast on the outside with salt (if not using bacon) and pepper.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium.
When ready to cook, place the roast in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Grill the roast until cooked through, about 1 hour. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the side of the roast: The internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees.
Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the strings. Using a sharp knife, cut the roast crosswise into ½-inch slices.





from "Taste of Home"

2 lbs. red potatoes (peeled)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
2 T. horseradish
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 T. parsley flakes
2 green onions
4 hard boiled eggs
3 slices bacon

Boil potatoes 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely. Cut into chunks. In a large mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add potatoes, onions, eggs, and bacon.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Work in Progress


Here's a sneak peak at what I'm working on for a friend. Isn't she darling?
This is being done on blue Art Spectrum Colorfix paper. The size is 11X14. I've never worked on this paper before so I'm learning new things about blending!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Art and Stress


I'm sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I haven't had anything newsworthy to write about.


Stress can cause our creativity to be squashed. Days that I am stressed, art just doesn’t happen. I found in the April 2008 edition of Body & Soul magazine some ways to beat stress.

- Exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. This will help reduce anxiety and depression.
- Eat fewer carbs and drink less caffeine.
- Get out of your head. Practice meditation or yoga.
- Fine-tune your juggling act. Don’t answer emails while eating lunch, etc. Keep things uncluttered.
- Just say no.
- Know yourself. Know how you react in social settings. Do you get stressed or thrive? Know what refuels you.
- Take herbs and vitamins.
- Play “hide the laptop”. Start and end each day in stillness.
- Seek out sound therapy. Music helps a person unwind.
- Paint a picture or go bowling.

Hope some of these tips can help you reduce the stress in your life! I plan to use some of these myself!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Dignity - Part 2 of 2

This is the final review from the book Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron.

Age and Time

Like Miles Davis once said, “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” This is something I need to engrave in my head. I fear mistakes all the time and it stifles my family life and my creative life. I just need to leap, and the net will appear.

Julia Cameron states in her book, “Yes, youth passes behind us, but we are blind so often to what we are gaining and to the beauty of what we become as artists. We gain in beauty. We gain in tenderness. We gain in our creative selves.

Anyone who is learning will feel this treacherous mix of vulnerability and frustration, of hope and discouragement. There is an exciting element of self-respect: You are trying.

Practice will make if not ‘perfect,’ then ‘better.’

Clearly, it is mind and muscle and heart that must be trained. All of them must learn patience, the virtue I hate, and repetition, the idea God had the sense to use daily.”

It is the soul’s duty to be loyal to its own desires. It must abandon itself to its master passion. ~ Dame Rebecca West

Service

“The dedication of our work to a higher cause than our won self-promotion frees the work from preciousness. It becomes not about how good we are but about how good we can be in selfless service to something larger than ourselves.

Asking to be of service, and to be open to the proper inspiration to serve through our work, we then become teachable, and when we are teachable, our work always improves.

When our work is made only in the service of our hope for fame or recognition, it is hampered by our self-consciousness as we wonder, How am I doing? When we are able to work without such self-consciousness, we are able to work more freely and more fully. Our ego steps aside and is no longer a constrictive valve narrowing our creative flow and focus. We think less about ‘us’ and more about ‘it,’ the work itself.”

Love is the spirit that motivates the artist’s journey…it’s a powerful motive in the artist’s life. ~ Eric Maisel

“Our ‘best’ to others may internally feel our worst. Our perceptions must not be allowed to capsize our professionalism.

In a sense, the reception of our work by ourselves as well as others is none of our business. Our job is to do it. We work, and the work works through us.

No matter how accomplished and acclaimed we may become as artists, there is always, at core, this essential anonymity: We are in service of something larger than ourselves.

One music teacher decided to set aside all ego and snobbery, set aside how music ‘should’ be taught, and teach from a spirit of love and service. Is it any wonder that his students develop a love of music that serves them well?

Contemplating a piece of work, we do better to think Whom is this work for? Whom will it serve? rather than How will it serve me?

Art moves through us. It is colored by our individuality, but we are not precisely its origin. There is a divine spark animating each of us, and that divine spark also animated our art. When we ask to be of service in our art, we fling open a window in our creative studio. Through that opening, the greater world of inspiration can enter us.”

The gift turned inward, unable to be given, becomes a heavy burden, even sometimes a kind of poison. It is as though the flow of life were backed up. ~ May Sarton

“We are all part of a larger whole and, in acknowledging that truthfully, we move a notch closer to humility, to a simple and sheer plainness that allows the beauty of the grand design to be seen through us.”

Only the heart knows how to find what is precious. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In closing, Julia Cameron reminds us, “Art is a spiritual practice. We may not, and need not, do it perfectly. But we need to do it.”

As I began writing the review of Walking in this World, I did it for myself so I would remember what the book said. As I end this review, it has become a service to my readers. I would read for them and then write for them. Oh, I still wrote for myself as well, because I have so much to learn. One thing I have learned to do through this journey is to be more myself and not always try to live life as it “should” be or how others want me to live life. I have gotten to the drawing board more instead of thinking other things needed to be done first. That’s a hard habit to break but one I’m slowly striving to conquer through baby steps. I hope you were able to make some changes in your own life while reading these reviews.

Discovering a Sense of Dignity - Part 1 of 2

Week 12 - The final week from Walking in this World, by Julia Cameron.

I liked what the author has to say about difficult times. “Our graceful ability to encompass difficulty rests in our ability to be faithful.”

The Glass Mountain

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The book says, “Trained as we are to be mommies and daddies, and teachers and bankers, lawyers and judges, and so many responsible things, sickened as we are by the woeful tales of artists as irresponsible monsters, we may have difficulty mustering sufficient responsibility to our art and our artists, to protect them during the occasional, necessary times of hard climbing as a large project finally lurches into form – or does not. This delicate and treacherous stage, the glass mountain of creative doubt, is a slippery slope we face alone. It is on its icy flank that we must find small footholds, edging our way upward from concept to actual conception – a difficult birth, as pivotal as conquering our creative Everest – or nearly.

Landing

“In the heat of the creative moment, our thought – or flow – is hot, thick, dense, fast, and light, like good ink.

Our creative size has a tidal aspect – we ebb and we flow. When we are at the height of a creative flight and trying to land, we, too, resemble a beautiful, full-bellied parachute trying to touch earth. Lovely? Yes. But safe? Not necessarily. Completed a draft of a novel may spark thoughts of suicide rather than celebration. Creative post partum can be unexpected and deep.

Parachutes often land with a lurch. Our creative flights may land the same way. Our chute collapses around us and we stumble around blindly. Or the chute stays somewhat open and we tumble across the field, dragged along by our leftover velocity. In other words, a creative landing may leave us a little bruised, battered, and suddenly claustrophobic as our creative chute collapses and our normal life threatens to smother us.

When we are making things, we sometimes get very, very big. Or simply very, very free. In the height of the creative moment, we are not constricted and downsized by our daily rigamarole – our age, our family tensions, our feelings of being a cog in the wheel. It is hard to come back to our normal size after such a heady expansion – and often, we don’t, at first.

As we try to land back in our own life, we may shoot past our real size and feel like someone very small. It’s not so much that our head is too big but that it’s still full of very big ideas.

Above all, we can remind ourselves: The ground does exist, and we find our feet again.

While we may ‘live for our work,’ our life is, and must be, larger than our work. By allowing the dailiness of life to step forward again, we become, in a sense, our own parents, saying ‘Welcome home’ after each of our creative flights.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Uniquely Created

As I was musing over some thoughts, it occurred to me again that God created each one of us differently. When we say, "I want to be like that person" we can't 100 percent be like the person we so admire. God created that person uniquely to do what He wants that person to do. He didn't create us to be who we want to be like. That's what I love so much about teaching art. I can have a room full of students all drawing the same thing, but not one piece is the same! Each person views things differently.



I have had the privilege to sing with a worship team. I quit singing with them for awhile because the worship wasn't feeling real anymore. But that's just my view of things. To other people, it might be very real to them. God created people to worship Him in different ways. He talks to me differently than He talks to you. Each one of us is unique! I've started singing again since I've realized this.

So, when you are feeling like you aren't what you want to be, step back and remember you are who you are supposed to be in this moment, right now.

Discovering a Sense of Authenticity - Getting Back on the Horse

This is end of the review of Week 11 - Recovering a Sense of Authenticity from Walking in the World by Julia Cameron. There is only one more week for me to read, so I'm hoping to get this to you within the next two weeks. Maybe I'll get lucky and get it to you next week. :)

Getting Back on the Horse

Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~ Samuel Beckett

We probably all have said it, “I am never trying that again!” And the more often we tell ourselves this, the more convinced we become that we can never do it again.

Julia Cameron says, “There is one and only one cure for creative injury, and that cure is to make something. If we do not make some small something, our injured yet active imagination will make an even bigger deal out of what happened to us. Sometimes, the only comfort we can find is naming ourselves. If no one else will pronounce us ‘artist,’ then we must say our name to ourselves – and the only way to say it is through art. If your painting has been pounced on, paint something, even a kitchen chair.”

The way to find your true self is by recklessness and freedom. ~ Brenda Urland

“Art is made from talent and character. Adversity strengthens our character and can strengthen our art as well. It creates empathy and compassion for the adversity of others. This deepens our heart and our art. Adversity is educational, and like many educations, it is terribly hard to recover from without help.

As artists, when human powers fail us, we must turn to the Great Creator for help. We must ‘surrender’ our sense of isolation and despair and open ourselves to the spiritual help we frequently experience as an unexpected inner strength.

It is spiritual law that no loss is without meaning in all of creation.

Because creativity is a spiritual issue, injuries to that creativity are spiritual wounds. In my experience, an artist’s anguished prayers are always answered by the Great Creator.

As artists, we are dreamers, and what we fear is the nightmare of our work being shunned, mishandled, or ill perceived. Fearing this, we allow our discouragement to globalize from one person to ‘they’, from a single tough review to ‘always,’ from a stinging rejection to ‘they’ll never.’ We elect a defensive cerebral cynicism.

We begin talking about how ‘they’ will never appreciate our work. We feel alone and abandoned, and we are – not because ‘they’ have abandoned us but because we have. We have given up not only on ourselves but also on God. We have said, ‘What’s the use?’ instead of ‘What’s next?’ Rather than risk the vulnerability of moving out again on faith, we have hidden our dreams and our hopes under what we call ‘realism about the market.’ We have said, ‘Oh, they’re all like that’ rather than allow ourselves the terror of discovering they might not be.”

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Authenticity - Integrity

Integrity

Cameron states, “What if we experiment with the idea that creativity is a spiritual and not an intellectual transaction? Not so long ago, cathedrals were built for the honor and glory of God. Art and artistry were routinely put to the service of higher realms. Higher realms were routinely credited for the worldly successes of creators.

A sense of rightness will most usually mean all’s well. A sense of wrongness will also usually mean something is wrong. Listening to such gut feelings is always worth the time and trouble it takes. When we let God be God and work through us, we experience both a sense of serenity and excitement. We experience integrity – which comes from the root word ‘integer,’ meaning ‘whole’ unfragmented by doubt or discomfort. When we experience a sense of oneness with God, ourselves, and our fellows, we can safely know we are in our integrity.

If this language sounds ‘serious’ or spiritual,’ so is the matter at hand. ‘Know thyself,’ the Greeks inscribed above their temple door. As artists, we must take this to heart, working to express our inner imperatives and not just filling the form provided by the marketplace. Settling for convention over authentic self-expression, we are falling, in the biblical phrase, for false gods. In the long run, this works out no better for us as artists than it did for those worshiping the golden calf. The ‘market’ is the golden calf. When we worship it, we deaden our souls, risking, over time, our attunement to the work that would move through us. Commerce has its place, but that place is not first.”

If you don’t tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people. ~ Virginia Woolf

The author says, “As artists, we have a different kind of accountability than many people. What pays us and pays off in the long run is really the caliber of our work.

In cultures where creativity is embedded in the warp and woof of daily life, shyer souls may practice their creativity with more impunity. In this country, the artist is an endangered species. Grants are diminishing. Public appreciation is also more difficult to find. Too much power has gone into the hands of too few - reviewers stand in for viewers.”

If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. ~ Erica Jong

“Fearing this process, fearing their capacity to survive it, many gifted artists allow discouragement to darken their creative landscape. Of course they do. They may lurk too long in the shadows because they lack support – the before, during, and after friends – to help them tolerate their turns center stage. Many public art situations are toxic to artists themselves. We learn to deal with them, but we do not do it easily. Just as the body must develop antibodies, so in our current culture must the artist’s soul. Not everyone can do this. Many excellent artists cannot.”

In her twenty five years of teaching, Julia Cameron says, “Working to unblock damaged artists, it is my experience that it is not that artists lack quality but that, as a culture, we lack sufficient quality of character to nurture and appreciate the artists among us. Until we fiercely advocate and nurture ourselves, we feel stifled. Until more of our reticent artists make more art, we risk continuing to believe the assessments of those who critique but do not create. The quality of our artists is not the true issue. The quality of our critical climate is. We do not have genuine receptivity to the arts.

The people who snort about there being a lack of quality in amateur art have not seen enough diamonds in the rough. They like to buy their art at Tiffany’s stamped with a brand name and someone else’s approval. They haven’t had the courage to walk through church to hear a beautiful, if untutored, soprano, and commit cash on the barrel for her education. They have not been in a school hallway or on a sidewalk and see a student sketch that caught them by the throat with its unexpected virtuosity – and inquired enough to know how they could help and support that young artist. It takes courage and heart to make art, and it takes courage and heart to support art makers.

Our culture diminishes both art and artists. Art is secular now, mere ornament, where once it was central to civilized life. Artists are seen as dispensable or, at best, marginal types, gifted perhaps, but mere filigree.”

Good art is a form of prayer. It’s a way to say what is not sayable. ~ Frederich Busch

“We have made such a spotlight-riddled, harrowing public spectacle of the arts in this country that many people with enormous talent quite sensibly choose to live outside the limelight.

In our culture, we must consciously build safe hatcheries for our art. We must find people and establish places that allow us to flourish. We must become creative about being creative.

Dreams become reality when we start to treat them as if they are real. When we stop postponing and evading them, and when we can answer ‘Today, I worked on my dream’ with a grounded specific.

Creativity isn’t something vague that we are going to do. It is something real that we actually do do. It is the refusal to sell ourselves short by shortchanging our artists with empty talk.

Often, we are afraid to try to make what we really want to make, we will say, ‘I can’t make that.’ The truth is, we could, but we are frightened to try: Not trying, we do not really know whether we could or couldn’t make our heart’s desire. Very often when we say ‘I couldn’t do that,’ we are again embracing an ideal of false independence, eschewing spiritual help. We are embracing an idea of God as a withholding God whose intentions for us are counter to our own dreams. Believing, even unconsciously, in such a toxic God, we do not see the Great Creator as a cocreator, a partner, in our dreams. Rather, we see God as a barrier, a withholding parent who denies our dreams. Most often, we are who denies them.

It is at this point that we must muster our integrity and be honest about what it is we really want. We must take the leap – or even the small hop – of faith that moves us slightly toward our true dream. This honest motion on our part is what triggers support for our authenticity – instead of support for a false self we can no longer comfortably inhabit.”

Surprise is where creativity comes in. ~ Ray Bradbury

“As we commit to our real dreams, we commit to ourselves. As we commit to ourselves, we also commit to trusting the power that created us. We are then aligning ourselves not with false gods but with the true power of the universe, the Great Creator through whose power all dreams are possible.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Authenticity - Encouragement

Week 11 – Discovering a Sense of Authenticity

Author of Walking in this World, Julia Cameron says, “An artist’s life if grounded in integrity and the willingness to witness our version of the truth. Self-respect lies in the doing, not in the done.”


Encouragement

“Artists are people whose ‘real’ job, no matter what their paying job, is the pursuit of excellence by listening carefully and well to what is trying to be born through them.”

We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open. ~ Shakti Gawain

Julia says, “Like it or not, artists do need pats on the head. We do need encouragement. We do need praise and we do need comfort. It does not matter how accomplished we are; it is a daunting and damaging thing to have our work ignored.”

We will run into discouragements along the way, but we must not let ourselves remain discouraged. Julia Cameron says, “We know how to stay discouraged when we are discouraged. We know how to choose our best negative friend to call. Most of us have a secret number emblazoned in our consciousness under the heading ‘Dial this number for pain and rejection.’ Most of us know how, if we are really feeling bad, we can feel just a little worse by calling it.

My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best of what God made. ~ Robert Browning

“We face the choice of thinking, Actually, I ‘m doing pretty well and should really respect myself for my progress, or, as we so often choose to think, I am a spineless wonder, incapable of mustering the integrity, resolve, and inspiration necessary to address a postcard. We all have people who think we are rather nice and doing pretty well and we all have other people who think – as we do often – that we could do better and be better if we would just listen to them…”

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“For most of us, the idea that we can listen to ourselves, trust ourselves, and value ourselves is a radial leap of faith. The possibility that we can trust ourselves, our decisions, and our painstaking progress, that this trust might be enough, even admirable, requires that we muster a soupcon of optimism. Optimism about ourselves and our chances is an elected attitude. We can choose to believe the best and not the worst, but to do that we must become conscious of our own negative voice-over and decide to change our mental sound track.

Optimism is critical to our spiritual health. Is our creative glass half full or half empty? Have we wasted a decade or two not getting where we would like, or are we strong and seasoned and facing another couple of decades where our age and maturity and sheer experience may allow us to actualize areas beyond our grasp when we were younger? It’s a matter of perception – and faith.”

Perhaps loving something is the only starting place there is for making your life your own. ~ Alice Koller

Monday, April 7, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Camaraderie

Week 10 - Discovering a Sense of Camaraderie

Keep the Drama on the Stage

Julia Cameron states, “Artists are dramatic. Art is dramatic. When artists are not making artistic dramas, they tend to make personal ones. Feeling off center, they demand center stage. Feeling on tilt, they tilt at an imaginary windmill.

All of us are creative, but those of us who are for a living had better learn to create with the same quotidian grace as our cousin who works at the bank, our father who administers his department at the university, or our neighbor who manages the hardware store. When we make our creative work and our creative lives too special and too dramatic, we uproot those lives from a sense of community and continuity – and that’s exactly what we like to do whenever we get too nervous. Nervous, we create dramas to make ourselves more nervous.

You would think that someone would have the nerve to say, ‘Oh, just stop it.’ As artists, we should say it to ourselves, but drama gives us an excuse to not make art and so artistic anorexia is addictive. We get an adrenalized anxiety from not making art. We can binge on this chemical roller-coaster when work is due.

Artists become snappish when they need to make art. Artistic anorexia, the avoidance of the pleasure of the creative, is a pernicious addiction that strikes most artists sometimes and always takes us by surprise. Instead of making art, we make trouble – and we make it because we are bingeing emotionally on not making art.

As a rule of thumb, artists should repeat this mantra: Sudden problems in my life usually indicate a need to work on my art.

With our fine imaginations, artists can be drama addicts. We can also become physically addicted to our adrenalized anxiety in place of authentic creation. Too much drama is not fun, but it gives us something to do instead of making art. Until we break the code on this avoidance, we believe our dramatic scenarios.

As artists, we can be con artists. We con ourselves into thinking that our dramatic dilemmas mean more than our art, and that indulging in drama will ever-satisfy our creative impulses.”

The Good of Getting Better

In the greatest confusion there is still an open channel to the soul. It may be difficult to find because by midlife it is overgrown, and some of the wildest thickets that surround it grow out of what we describe as our education. But the channel is always there, and it is our business to keep it open, to have access to the deepest part of ourselves. ~ Saul Bellow

As a student of art, you need to make the observation as to when you outgrow a teacher. They are there in the beginning to guide us along our creative path but can later constrict our creative style. Cameron says, “Freed from outer influences, they may incubate and develop a strikingly original style. That’s the good part. Freed from outer influences, they may also hit an artificially low ceiling, having taken their work as far as they can without further input.”

Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self. ~ Brenda Ueland

The author also states, “Art, as remarked, is a form of the verb ‘to be’ and, as artists, our spiritual and intellectual perceptions often lead and goad our need for increased technique. We can see it but we can’t paint it. We can hear it but we can’t play it. We need help. We can get help – or we can give up, discouraged by the gap between our inner standards and our own ability to meet them.

Each of us learns in our own way and at our own pace, and yet someone’s excellent method will have something to offer us if we are willing to offer ourselves the opportunity to learn.

We must be open to finding our teachers and open to being teachable – while simultaneously holding an awareness of our equally valid, genuine perceptions and skills that must be protected.
It is an often repeated spiritual axiom that ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ When we ask to be led, we are led. When we ask to be guided, we are guided. When we ask to be taught, we are taught.

It is spiritual law that the good of our projects and our growth as artists must rest in divine hands and not merely human ones. While we are led to and drawn from teacher to teacher, opportunity to opportunity, God remains the ultimate source of all our creative good. It is easy to forget this and make our agent or our manager or our current teacher the source of our ‘good.’ When we place our reliance on an undergirding of divine assistance, we are able to hear our cues clearly, thank those who step forward to aid us, release those who seem to impede us, and keep unfolding as artists with the faith that God knows precisely what is best for us and can help us find our path, no matter how lost, distanced, or removed we may sometimes feel from our dream. In the heart of God, all things are close at hand, and this means our creative help, support, and success. As we ask, believe, and are open to receive, we are gently led.”

Before, During and After Friends

The book tells us, “As artists, we need people who can see us for who we are – as big as we are and as small as we are, as competent and powerful as we are, and as terrified and as tiny as we sometimes feel. As artists, we need people who believe in us and are able to see our large selves, and people who are able to be gentle and compassionate with our smaller selves.

Friends who see the glory but not its gory cost are the friends we may not be able to afford. Friends who see our success but do not see its stressors can tend to actually ask us to care for them just at those moments when we ourselves need care. This is why we need before, during, and after friends. We need those who can help us leap and help us land, help us celebrate and help us mourn. Some friends can do only one. Some friends can do only the other. We must find those generous enough in temperament and emotional range to do both.”

Remember, as artists we need to focus on the process of creating, and not on the product.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter


Along with spring break was Easter. The kids had a blast coloring eggs at Grandpa and Grandma's and later hunting them with my brother's daughter.






Spring Break

Last week was spring break from school. The kids and I went to visit my parents some 386 miles away. A long trip, but we always have fun. My mother is making my husband and me a quilt. This is a wedding present...just 7 years late. ha ha She has spent a LOT of time embroidering the design and is now hand quilting it. My husband suggested I go out there over spring break to help and that's what we did. We didn't get much quilting done, but at least we started.


The Embroidery done by my mother.

The hearts below the burgundy fabric that I hand stitched.







Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prayers Needed

I have an uncle who fell off a chair he was standing on yesterday and broke his neck. The doctors are amazed that he wasn’t instantly paralyzed. I say this is the power of God in action! They said he could still go into paralysis but we are praying for this not to happen. His surgery went well and is now in critical care. Your prayers are appreciated!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm of Hand


Some dear friends of mine moved to Canada a year and a half ago to work with the homeless. I wanted to do something for them and serving came to mind. They are reaching out to so many in need. Hands seemed appropriate. When I approached them about it, they were excited because the same thing had been on their hearts. God moves in beautiful ways. She mentioned Isaiah 49:16 - See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
This piece was done on black illustration board, 16x20. It took 60 hours to complete. It has 11 layers of colored pencil plus more in areas of shading.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Drawing the Mouth

I am studying Lee Hammond's How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs . These are my notes and drawings.



Mouth
- The darkest dark is in the corner (pit) of the mouth.
- Shadows below the mouth will be the halftone color.
- The highlight is on the bottom lip.
- The reflected light is on the upper lip, just above the edge where the two lips meet.
- The upper lip is always darker than the bottom lip.
- Do not draw the lip with a harsh outline.
- The upper lip angles in, while the bottom angles out.

Teeth
- Draw the teeth accurately in size, shape, and placement.
- The shapes of the teeth are drawn by drawing the gumline above them and the dark, triangular shapes below them.
- The upper part of the teeth has a subtle shadow cast by the lip.
- When drawing men’s lips, rather than trying to draw the “lips,” look for the shadows above and below them. The shadows will define the lips rather than an outline.
- Highlights should not be drawn around, but lifted with a kneaded eraser.






Facial Hair

- A mustache or beard has fullness and depth. It must be built in layers to give it the fullness it needs in order to look real.
- Look to see how the color of the hair looks next to the skin. Is it light against dark, or is the mustache darker than the skin?
- The nose casts a shadow on the mustache. The mustache casts a shadow on the mouth.
- Curve the hair lines along the shape of the face, chin, etc.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Resiliency (Part 2 of 2)

Insecurity

We all have insecurities. We’ve all said, “I wish I was as good as that person is”. Instead, we should tell ourselves, “I wish I was better than I am.” Focus on what we need to do to get better in our artistic ability instead of what we wish we could do.

Author Julia Cameron states, “Grace is available to us always, at any stage of the creative journey. As beginners, we need the grace to begin. As apprentice artists, we need the grace to continue. As accomplished artists, we need the grace to again accomplish what it is we can.” At all levels of creative endeavor and life, God is present and partnering us with the grace we need.

“When we say that making art is an act of faith and that as we make art we pursue a spiritual path, we are not talking loosely. There is grace in our every artistic encounter. Miracles do happen. We do not plan them. We hope for them and then we are open to the creator’s mentoring hand in improving our suggestions. What looks difficult or impossible to us does not appear difficult or impossible to God. As we set our egos aside and allow that creative power to work through us, miracles are routinely accomplished.”

“We do not know how to ask ourselves for real growth. We do not know how to realistically dig in. We make our new art a mountain we cannot climb instead of trying our luck with a small incline and then a steeper one and then a slightly steeper one. Instead of being inspired by those creative climbers who hop crag to crag, we are discouraged.”

There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith

“At the root of most insecurity is the conviction that we must somehow be better – or other – than what we are in order to be acceptable. We want to play better than so-and-so – or at least as well as so-and-so. Lost in all of this improvement and striving for perfection is the idea that there is a great deal to like about ourselves exactly the way we already are.”

There are many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness. ~ Charles Baudelaire

“So often we are focused on what we would like to change – and change for the better – that we fail to celebrate what is wonderfully enjoyable exactly the way it is. We are often far closer to our own ideal – and ideals – than we dare recognize. Self-esteem is an active choice, not a sudden given. We can choose to actively esteem our any positive traits. By counting our blessings we can come to see that we are blessed and that we need not compare ourselves anymore.”

Write down 50 positive things that you like and approve about yourself exactly the way you are.

Self-Pity

“At the root, self-pity is a stalling device. It is a temper tantrum, a self-inflicted drama that has little to do, ever, with the facts. Self-pity isn’t very interested in facts. What it likes is ‘stories.’ Self-pity thrives on stories that go ‘Poor innocent me and terrible mean them…’ Self-pity likes to make us feel the world is an adversarial place and that the odds are stacked against us. Self-pity likes to point out the way we are never truly appreciated, valued, cherished. What self-pity really wants is a cheering section and a fan club. It wouldn’t hurt either. Self-pity is not interested in our getting over it. Self-pity is interested in our ‘getting over.’ Struck by a bout of self-pity, we want an appreciative audience for our suffering, not a bout of self-improvement.”

“Self-pity is not interested in our spiritual status. It turns a deaf ear to our peppy affirmations. For an artist, self-pity constitutes a chronic and formidable creative block. Self-pity has one job and one job only: It intends to stop us in our tracks. If self-pity can just keep us mired in what’s-the-use, we will not have to do anything to find out. I am pretty sure that self-pity was a party guest in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the satanic little voice that whispered ‘You can wriggle out of this. They aren’t going to appreciate you anyway.’”

“’They aren’t going to appreciate you’ is often a trigger for self-pity. Please note that ‘they’ (by which we often mean critics or even that more vague creature, ‘the public’) has little or nothing to do with our own self-respect.”

“Self-pity focuses our attention on how we are perceived rather than on what we are perceiving. It takes us out of our creative power and tells us that we are powerless, we will never ‘make it.’ Even if we already have, self-pity isn’t interested in realistic self-assessment. It is interested in stalling us. For an artist, focusing on the odds ‘against making it’ is like sipping a poisonous drink. It weakens us. When we focus on the impossibility of the outer word and its megalithic proportions, how small and weak and helpless and thwarted we all are, well then, we feel ‘what’s the use,’ and the world doesn’t get much better than that, does it?”

“We get them – because if we don’t watch out, we are about to do something big. Self-pity is a scraggly red robin. It means that once we get over it, we are going to spring into action. In other words, used properly, a good dose of self-pity is a jump start for creative action. ‘What’s the use?’ converts quickly into ‘What’s next?’”

“The healthy part of us cannot stomach self-pity and so it will be goaded into action. The action may be something that starts with compassion: ‘Of course you are hurt. Your work was unfairly received. Cry a little.’”

“Although self-pity appears to be grounded in the lack of appreciation from others, it is actually grounded in our own discounting of ourself and our struggles. A little actual grief can very quickly take the claws out of self-pity’s hold on us. When we say ‘Of course you feel bad,’ then we are on the brink of something a little interesting. We begin to raise the question ‘If this makes me feel so bad, what can I change?’”

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“’I am tired of being talked down to by the academic poets,’ we wail, and then we start exploring master’s programs. Someone points out publicly that we have a tendency toward something unforgivable in our painting – romantic blue washes, for example, and we think, I’ll show them romance! I’ll show them shimmering light! and we dig in, perfect our technique, and get even ‘more so’ of the quality of question. We persist and persist and our fatal artistic ‘flaw’ is often revealed to be our own strength.”

“We cannot make others appreciate us, but we can take the time, care, and attention to appreciate ourselves. ‘That was really nice of you,’ we can say. Or ‘How thoughtful!’ One of the Toughlove spiritual laws advises, ‘Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.’ A more positive counterpart might be phrased ‘My own opinion of me is all that matters.’ Self-appreciation takes practice, and it is the only reliable antidote to self-pity.”

Doubt

“Doubt is a signal of the creative process. It is a signal that you are doing something right – not that you are doing something wrong or crazy or stupid.”

Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God. ~ Jean Anouilh

“When a doubt moves at an artist, the artist must learn how to step aside and let the charge pass by. An artist cannot afford to be deeply pierced by doubt and finish the tour.”

“’Feel the feelings but don’t act on them. This, too, shall pass,’ artists need other artists to tell them.”

“As the cool light of day reveals, doubt and self-appraisal are not the same thing. It takes practice, but an artist can learn the difference. Self-appraisal has a certain steadiness of character. Self-appraisal has an opinion, a thought for your consideration. It has an idea to hand you, not an indictment. It doesn’t whisper at midnight when you are alone and exhausted. Doubt is what does that.”

Doubt strikes you when you are alone, but doubt itself travels in packs. Along with doubt come its nasty friends: despair, self-loathing, feelings of foolishness and humiliation.”

“Doubt comes to the door in darkness, pretending to be alone and in need of your compassionate ear. But if you let him in, he’ll bring his friends, and doubt can be very persuasive getting in.”

“Doubt is a great seducer. ‘I just want you to think about this,’ it whispers. Out come the artist’s ears. Out comes the dagger. ‘Maybe you didn’t and don’t have enough talent after all….’ Feel the sharp piercing? It might be your creative lung collapsing around the blade.”

“No, as artists, we need lucid self-appraisal, not shadowy and sinister doubt. Self-appraisal is best practiced in broad daylight in the comfort of your own home and among very trusted friends.”

“Art is a spiritual practice. Doubt is normal. We need faith to survive it and we also need charity. When doubt attacks, we must be vigilantly self-loving.”

“When doubt darkens the heart, it is wise to think of this gloom not as ‘reality’ but as passing weather, like a badly overcast few days. During bouts of doubt, our judgments will not be accurate and should not be acted upon.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Nose

I am taking a study of drawing lifelike portraits from photographs. I am trying to make Tuesday's my lesson planning day for teaching.


How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs
By Lee Hammond

Five Elements of Shading

Cast Shadow – darkest dark, as close to black as possible. This is the shadow the object creates from being away from the light source.

Shadow Edge – This is not the edge of the object. (The edge is the reflected light.) It is where the object is receding from the light, and is on the opposite side of the light soure.

Halftone – This is medium gray, the true color of the object. It is neither light nor dark so that is why it is called halftone.

Reflected Light – This is the edge of the object, between the cast shadow and shadow edge. Reflected light is never white. It is closer to halftone in value. The value is between white and halftone.

Full Light – This is where the light falls directly on the object. The paper will remain white.




The Nose

The nose is similar to the sphere in its roundness and how it reflects light. Blending is the key element to drawing.

First locate the light source. On every nose, the darkest area (cast shadow) is inside the nostril. Any surface that has a “lip” or rim will reflect light.

Blending – Never use hard lines to draw the shape of the nose. Anything with an outline will look flat. Blend from dark to light. Pull any highlight areas out with a kneaded eraser, rather than drawing around them.

Graph the Nose – Make a graph to place over your photo reference. Lightly make another graph onto your drawing paper. Draw a line drawing of the nose with accuracy. Place all tones to the shapes within the nose. Use the 5 elements of shading for this process. Blend the tones from dark to light, following the contour of the nose’s shapes.

Nose Measurements - The nose distance is from the bridge to underneath the nostrils. The distance is equal from the bottom of the chin up to the nostrils. The base of the nose gives a reference point as to where to place the bottom of the earlobes when measuring straight across the face. The space between the eyes is equal to one eye width. This width also gives the width of the nostril area.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Resiliency (Part 1 of 2)

Week 9 – Discovering a Sense of Resiliency

Worry


This chapter is for me. I’m a person who worries. The author of Walking in this World, Julia Cameron (website currently unavailable) helps put things into perspective. “Panic is an escalating sense of terror that can feel as if we are being flooded and immobilized by the glare of change.

Worry has an anxious and unfocused quality. It skitters subject to subject, fixating first on one thing, then on another. Like a noisy vacuum cleaner, its chief function is to distract us from what we really are afraid of. Worry is a kind of emotional anteater poking into all corners for trouble.

Fear is not obsessive like worry and not escalating like panic. Fear is more reality based. It asks us to check something out. Unpleasant as it is, fear is our ally. Ignore it and fear escalates. A sense of loneliness joins its clamor. At its root, fear is based in a sense of isolation.

The more active – and even more negative – your imagination is, the more it is a sign of creative energy.” Use this creative energy in the right way.

“Worry is the imagination’s negative stepsister. Instead of making things, we make trouble. Culturally, we are trained to worry.

We are trained to prepare for any negative possibility. On the brink of opening a play, we therefore expect critical snipers, not raves. One reason Morning Pages work so well for artists is that they give a way to siphon off worry at the very beginning of our creative day. Similarly, the spot-check inventory of blasting through our blocks by the naming, claiming, and dumping of any worries, angers, and fears related to a project can also get an artist out of the starting gate effectively.” For those of you who don’t know what the Morning Pages are, let me inform you.

The Morning Pages are done upon waking each day. Write three pages in long-hand. This helps to rid the mind of all the “junk” that is in there, stopping your creativity. Let me tell you first-hand…writing these pages really help! Some days you might not want to write, write anyway. When you don’t know what to write about, write “I don’t know what to write” until something comes to mind.

“When worry strikes, remind yourself your gift for worry and negativity is merely a sure sign of your considerable creative powers. It is the proof of the creative potential you have for making your life better, not worse.”

In Julia Cameron’s experience, “Artist’s never completely outgrow worry. We simply become more adroit at recognizing it as misplaced creative energy.”

“We need not disqualify ourselves from trying to make art by saying, ‘Since it’s so terrifying for me, I must not be supposed to do it.’” Instead of running from your fears, walk through them.

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love. ~ Sophocles

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that’s your own self. ~ Aldous Huxley



Fear

We are afraid of fear. We don’t want to be afraid. Sometimes fear is a good thing. Julia Cameron states, “Fear requires action, not assurance.”

“Sometimes we feel something large and good is about to happen. We wake up with a sense of anticipation and openness – spiritual attitudes we cultivate through Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates. At other times, that very openness brings to us a sense of foreboding. If we have bought into the currently popular spiritual position that fear is somehow ‘bad’ or even ‘unspiritual,’ we will try to dismiss our fear without exploring its message.

‘Don’t feel that way,’ we will tell our fearful selves. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ By focusing on ourselves as the probable source of anything ‘wrong,’ we blind ourselves to the possibility that there might, in fact, be someone or something wrong in our environment.”

How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone. ~ Coco Chanel

“When you feel afraid, tell yourself, ‘This is good, not bad. This is heightened energy available for productive use. This is not something to medicate – or meditate – away. This is something to accept and explore.’ Ask yourself:

What signal is my fear sending me?
What affectionate name can I give to this messenger part of myself?
What grounded action can I take to respond to this fear?

“When we listen to our fears with tenderness and care, when we accept them as messengers rather that as terrorists, we can begin to understand and respond to the unmet need that sends them forward. When we employ humor and tenderness to our fearful selves, they will often stop shaking long enough to deliver a needed message.”

Lord I disbelieve – help thou my unbelief. ~ E.M. Forster

When you are dealing with fear, try affirmative prayer. “It works by singling out each negative situation and ‘claiming’ divine attention and intervention upon our behalf. Let us say the problem is fear-born procrastination on entering a creative project. The prayer might go something like this: ‘I am guided carefully and expertly exactly on how to begin work on my new project. I am shown carefully and clearly each step to take. I am supported fully and happily in taking each step into fruitful work on this new project. I intuitively and accurately know exactly how to begin and what to do to begin correctly.’


Restlessness

“Irritability is the flag waved by restlessness. Restlessness means you are on the march creatively. The problem is, you may not know where.

It is as though our restlessness calls to the very heavens for ‘something’ to happen. And something – or many somethings – does. This is why, as uncomfortable as it is, as unpleasant, even unbearable – restlessness is a good omen.

When we are restless and our lives feel colorless, it is a clue and a cue that they are about to become colorful – if we cooperate. Prayers, and especially creative prayers, are unanswered, but answered in ways we may not anticipate or appreciate. Again, this is why artists speak that spiritual-sounding word – inspiration. That is not some gauzy bromide, it is our actual experience. As artists, we are irrationally, intuitively, and insistently inspired.

When we insist on routine, when we insist on linearity, destiny will still knock, but it may have to work harder to get our attention.

Follow your strange creative cravings and you will be led into change a step at a time.”
We are never so ridiculous through what we are as through what we pretend to be. ~ Francois, Duc De La Rochefoucauld

“Sometimes, and particularly when we are restless, it is a good idea to take a rest and allow our inner leadings to bubble up to the surface unimpeded.”

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Discovering a Sense of Discernment

Thank you for going on this creative journey with me. I haven't posted any notes from Walking in this World by Julia Cameron in awhile.

Week 8 – Discovering a Sense of Discernment

Making Art, Not “Making It”

When it is fame we want, we will always want more, more, and more. We must stay focused on what we are doing and not on how we are doing.

We must stay open to the possibility of trying other venues in our creativity. We shouldn’t stay focused in one area or we will not know our versatility and the opportunities we have.

Self-respect lies in creating, not in the review of the public eye.

If we focus on art as a career we are creating for others instead of ourselves. We soon get the feeling of powerlessness and become depressed or upset. We become upset because we aren’t “making it” fast enough. We want the recognition for our efforts now instead of later.

Those who lose dreaming are lost. ~ Australian Aboriginal Proverb

Julia Cameron states, “Focused on success as a business goal, we often lose sight of success of our personal spiritual well-being. We focus ‘out there’ rather than on our own inner experience. Doing that, we can become lost.”

“When we surrender to becoming what we are meant to be instead of trying to convince the world of who we think we are, we find our proper creative shoes and can walk in them comfortably. Not surprisingly, they sometimes take us far. Moving comfortably and at a less driven pace, we also enjoy the journey, finding pleasure in our companions and our ‘view’ each step of the way.”

They do not know that ideas come slowly, and that the more clear, tranquil and unstimulated you are, the slower the ideas come, but the better they are. ~ Brenda Ueland


Velocity and Vulnerability

Julia Cameron states, “Those who covertly present their own agendas in the disguise of a lucky break for us are opportunists, not opportunities. They represent a creative crisis in the making. They are what I call ‘piggybackers,’ and they must be identified and weeded out of our creative garden.” I had never thought about these types before and I’m glad she made me aware that they are out there.

What I am actually saying is that we each need to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly. ~ Shakti Gawain

The more successful we become, those opportunists ignore our humanity. They attack any boundaries we have instead of understanding them.

We need to be conscious of where we use our creative name. Make sure you don’t put your name somewhere that could have questionable merit. You could lose your credibility and any chance of gaining ground.

Julia states, “As an artist, some risks are worth taking and some risks are not. This is not snobbery. This is not exclusivity. This is discretion, discernment, and accountability to ourselves and our gifts.”

“As artists, we are open in a way that differs from many people’s, so we are very vulnerable at being caught off guard. Inspiration can be caught out of the corner of the eye and on the fly, and so can opportunity, but this openness to creative possibility can also make us open to creative exploitation. Caught off center and off guard, we might agree to help someone do something that takes us far from our own work and priorities."

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. ~ Diane Ackerman

Slow down and don’t live life as if everything is an emergency. Julia says, “No person, place, or situation benefits from our harried pushing forward. Everything and everyone benefits from our slowing down – letting go and letting God – so that a natural pace and progression can be discovered.”


Creative Saboteurs

Don’t let anyone change your course. If you have decided to pursue an opportunity, don’t let them persuade you otherwise. They might think they know what is best for you, your artist, but in reality they don’t. Listen to your inner voice.