Monday, January 26, 2015

Inspiration, Synchronicity and Stephanie Plum

So. Inspiration. A good topic. And an interesting topic for me. I get a lot of inspiration from the usual things: being out in nature, art, playing with our pets, reading inspirational books, listening to mediations, good music, etc.
Keeping Watch (Detail)
Acrylics on 12 x 12 in. canvas
However, when push comes to shove and I really need an energy and mood booster, I turn to Stephanie Plum. Yes, I admit it! Who is she you ask? Well, she's the bounty hunter heroine of a series of 21 (so far) books by Janet Evanovich.
I should say though that I don't read the books, I listen to the audio versions and after all of these years, the characters are like old friends to me. Last week, I started over with the first one! For probably the third or fourth time. They have seen me through tough days, two moves across country, many flights, car rides and are my constant companion when I clean house.

I often wonder why they are such an important part of my life. There's not much that's deep about these books, they are just pure fun and suspense. They make me laugh out loud. A lot! Some of the characters (like the unstoppable Grandma Mazur, my favorite character next to Stephanie's colorful sidekick Lula) approach life with a zest that I find incredibly inspiring and enviable: with excitement and anticipation, never worried, fearful or feeling the need to conform.
Keeping Watch 
Acrylics on 12 x 12 in. canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop

So here's where the synchronicity part comes in. Last week, the day after I started listening to the first one again, Daniel told me that Janet Evanovich was going to be the opening speaker at this year's Savannah Book Festival!!!! Yes!! I immediately checked online, got tickets and we are going to go see her in a couple of weeks. Pinch me, I still can't believe it!
Painting in Progress! 
I tell you, I've shaken hands with the Prince of Wales before and was not as nervous as I will be at this event. I'm so grateful to her and for books like that (and I have a few series that I hold almost as dear) - the ones that are light and fun and entertaining. There's a time for serious literature, but mostly in my life anymore I want to laugh and feel uplifted. Because it's from this uplifted and light place that I feel most inspired to make my art.
And another painting in progress!

And with that, dear friends, I'm going to put on my headphones and Stephanie and I are going to go paint for a little while...

P.S. They made the first book into a movie, which was ok. But the books are way better!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lists and More

Are you a list maker? Do you plan your day in terms of what you need to get done and then tick things off? I don't every day, but some days it just helps me to focus. Here's the interesting thing - the things I forget to do most are those that are important to my emotional well-being, the things that fall under the category of self-care: meditation, yoga, etc. So these days, I put that on my list of things to do - before all the other stuff and that helps!
A few years ago, I found this great daily list notepad in a sale bin at an office supply store. I wish I had picked up 10 of them! They are the best, reminding me to keep my lists short and fun, exactly what I need to not get overwhelmed.
Speaking of lists.... As part of Leonie Dawson's 2015 workbook, you get to write down 100 things you want to do this year. One hundred!!! Do you know how hard that is?! I got to item 3 without problem and then I thought: "Ok, what else do I want to do?" Anything from little to big, mundane to important, fun to earth-shattering. It took me a few days, but I got my list together. I won't be disappointed if I don't get them all done, but it does lend a focus and I included I few of those "I've always wanted to..." items (i.e. make homemade ravioli). Bring it on!! 
On my list were two things I'm already working on. One was to offer customized (in my very own intuitive, happy and colorful style) portraits of your pets.
I've painted two of ours, Louie and Winslow, and just love how they came out. I was totally able to capture the essence of them. Louie so serious and intense and Winslow just sweet, sweet, sweet! I have a couple of listings for the 11 x 14 inch and 12 x 12 inch sizes on Etsy (click here), but if you are interested in a different size, let me know and we'll work something out.
The other item that is on my looooong list of 100 things to do in 2015 is painting an elephant. I'm not sure why that seems significant, but it made the list (as did painting a snake, which I'm looking forward to).
Here it is in progress. I started it last week, but it's been sitting in my studio as we've had a fun and busy weekend with family visiting.
Today I am getting back into my studio to work on this guy. It's a bigger canvas than those I normally work on and really a lot of fun to play with. Let's see where it takes me...
I hope you are having a great week and a fantastic day - with lists or no lists. Enjoy every moment!!

With love and gratitude,


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Making Room

I talked in this post about the concept of Sacred Subtraction that I came across somewhere on Facebook and it stuck with me. When I was doing my extensive planning with Leonie Dawson's amazing workbook (click here if you want to know more or buy your own copy), there is a section where you think about and write down what you are going to stop doing to make room for everything you want to do and want to happen.
One of those things for me was to give my my knitting/jewelry Etsy Shop. It was taking up a lot of my time and not really bringing in much. Nor did I want it to do so well that I would spend my days and evenings only knitting anymore.
When I made that decision, there were two things I didn't expect. The first is how much relief I felt when it was closed. Don't get me wrong, I love to knit and will do so forevermore, but taking pictures, listing things, promoting them, all took up a tremendous amount of time. Plus I always felt like I needed to do more. So with the store being gone, the pressure has lifted.
Which brings me to my second surprise. What I really freed up with this was not so much time, but internal energy. And that stunned me because knitting is a really good thing in my life. I didn't expect that the shop was occupying so much of my creative energy.
Joy Rising
acrylic painting on 12 x 12 inch canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop
With that gone, I suddenly feel free to be a full-time artist. I don't just call myself that, but I feel it! My creative loyalties are no longer divided. I still knit, but now for me and friends and family and that has a whole different energy about it. Plus, if I don't pick up my needles for a week, that's ok.
As soon as this mental/emotional space was freed up, other ideas started flooding in! Pages of them. It was like they were all right at the door, but there was no space for them to come into my conscious awareness. This is exciting!!
acrylic painting on 11 x 14 inch canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop
And it is making me think about the whole Sacred Subtraction topic in a new way. It's not just about stuff that is negative in my life (that seems a no-brainer to me). The bigger question is: are there other things I love doing that I can re-define or re-direct into a different format (like me knitting just for fun anymore) so that I can make more room for new ideas to keep flowing? Definitely! But that's for another post or this one will get too long!

For now, I leave you with thoughts of warmth, sunshine and abundant color on this cold morning!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

On Joy

I had mentioned already that I am using Leonie Dawson’s wonderful planner to make a guiding plan for 2015.  The reason I like it so much is that it is very down-to-earth and practical while being incredibly fun, colorful and also a little esoteric, which of course is right up my alley.

For one of the exercises Leonie has you pull an oracle card for each month and make a note of the theme for the month. I loved it! For January, mine is:
With that in mind, I’ve been painting and realizing the different aspects of joy many of the animals represent to me. Not all joy is lough out loud funny. Some is deep and quiet, some moments of joy feel like you are bubbling over, others as though you could take off like a bird.
That’s what this first painting represents. Those moments of joy that make you feel light and energized and as though you could spread your wings and take off!
I find that as I get older my moments of joy are somehow becoming more intimate. That’s the best I can describe it. I no longer want to shout it all out to the world, but I want to savor every second to the fullest.
Flying High
acrylic painting on 12 x 12 inch canvas
Available in my Etsy Shop
Most of the time, I notice that I see or hear or sense something that makes me feel as though my body cannot possibly contain my joyful spirit. It’s an amazing sensation that I keep wanting to hold on to, but that’s not possible. As with anything in life, our emotions wax and wane.
And throughout all of it, I love that those moments of joy are here to lift us up and allow us a moment or two of feeling as though we could fly! I hope your days will be filled with them!!

With love and joy,

P.S. I'm adding watermarks to my digital images since I'm hearing more and more stories of images being misused and reproduced without the artist's permission. All of my original paintings will of course be without a watermark!