I've been remembering a time 13 years ago when I had tried to give up painting. I thought that buckling down to focus on a normal career, something I was good at, would be better than this creative life which can be filled with absolute highs & lows. It didn't take long before I fell into a deep depression, though I didn't know that's what it was...I'd burst into tears everywhere, while driving or at the dinner table, and couldn't understand or express why it was happening. Clinical depression is hereditary and I thought that was it, that this would be my life from then on. It was my daughters who told me I just needed to paint. And they were right. I haven't looked back and haven't been happier. Art saved me.
Lately I've been listening to some art podcasts and something that I find very interesting is the fact that so many of us want to help someone else, whether through supportive and encouraging words or through advice. No matter how well intentioned the advice, I have come to realize, both from a receiving and sharing end, that it tends to come across as a criticism. No matter the motives for the advice, I realize that we all have our own path to follow and our own form of expression that is really quite personal to each one of us.
When I think of following advice, I often bump into information that might not be directly related to what I'm doing now, but seems to connect in some way. Recently I flipped through a book at our local library called 'True Fit' which is about finding work that you love and that is true to you. I made some notes as I found it to be quite interesting:
"Play to your strengths. Keep improving what you're already good at doing. Stop trying to be someone you're not."
~ Jim Beqaj
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Understand who you are:
1. What should you pay me for?
2. Who do I work best with?
3. How do I like to resolve conflict?
4. What's my perfect day?
5. What is the opposite of your perfect day?
6. What kinds of people can you not tolerate?
7. What is the best & worst things that someone has said about you? This isn't about criticism but rather to help direct each of us to our 'sweet spot'.
These are some of my answers:
1. I'm really good at creative thinking, organizing, decorating, developing new systems, planning, researching & sharing information.
2. I like to work with people who trust me, who are organized & follow through, who give me autonomy & feeback, who I can learn from, and also with teams of collaborative people while working independently.
3. I like to collaborate and compromise in order to resolve conflict but am challenged when working with people who are loud and combative. I'm not good at staying quiet when I see a problem.
4. My perfect day is quiet & calm, and working with confident & kind people. I like planning, researching and completing a project that I'm responsible for without interruptions. I also like a beautiful, clean, organized environment with natural light and working on my own. I like to be part of a team and to have input.
5. The opposite of a perfect day is full of loudness, chaos, and disruption as well as unproductive meetings.
6. I cannot tolerate people who micromanage, who are loud, dismissive, condescending, refuse to discuss compromise or don't trust an employee or co-worker to make decisions on their items of responsibility. I need calm conversation and communication otherwise I feel threatened instead of heard.
7. The best things I've been told are that I'm dedicated, reliable, passionate, intelligent, creative, and friendly. The worst is that I talk too much as,I do tend to get excited and passionate about things but that just made me feel as though my experience, opinion and contribution weren't of any value.
"Your value does not decrease based on someone's inability to see your worth." ~ Hindi proverb
There definitely is truth in the adage that when one door closes, another opens. As one chapter of my life is closing, so many new opportunities are becoming available to me, and one is an exhibit with a new with a new local organization. I love collaborating in my community, so when I was asked to share my work in their new offices, I was very excited. The support I receive locally is amazing.
When I was invited to exhibit 62 paintings in the new facility at the Airdrie & Area Health Cooperative, initially I was uncertain as to how to get enough work together. This is such a wonderful organization which is working towards a healthier community by focusing on mental and physical health as well as the necessity of beautiful and accessible spaces for everyone. The paintings include wildflowers, canoes, landscapes, animals, and portraits to represent community and health and are available to be purchased at the Health Coop.
When I was in high school my teacher, who was an amazing art instructor, highly recommended we review the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I bought the book then but didn't actually go through it, then lent it out and it wasn't returned so I recently decided to invest in an updated copy. I haven't begun working through it yet, but I am planning on making it part of my process this year. Over the past few years my focus has been on colour mixing and applying paint in an interesting manner, but this year I really want to focus on improving my drawing skills as well. Fingers crossed that I stay committed to this goal.
Every once in awhile I google myself just to see where I actually show up, and this time I stumbled upon this photo. It was taken during an interview I had with Discover Airdrie and 106.1fm radio a number of years ago. I'm glad I'm smiling and not making a funny face for a change. It was a fun interview as I got to teach Jeff how to paint a mug...I really do love teaching little projects. It is fun stumbling on these things as, even though I think I will remember them, daily life tends to erase these moments.
I've really been enjoying working with my new airbrush even though the end result is quite different. the patterns aren't as bold and the colour doesn't run, which I kind of miss, but I do feel better about using it versus using spray paint cans. Now that I have a new toy, I'm beginning to think that I may have to make or purchase a few new stencils as well. Let the wild rumpus begin!
With valentines around the corner I've been excited to paint a few hearts. It's been especially great adding layers of pattern with my new airbrush as I can use my liquitex inks which are perfect with the heavy body liquitex acrylics. Plus, it feels much better not to have to recycle spray paint cans anymore, and it does feel less toxic environmentally. I have to say these little 4x4's are super cute!
Last week I got to lead over 600 elementary school students through my process of painting in the Okanagan. What an amazing group of children, volunteers and teachers! When I returned home I slept so well, but already miss those little ones. The beauty of working with children is that you receive many compliments and hugs...a real treat. I really do feel honoured when I have the opportunity to work with schools, that they trust me with the children, and that the kids the enjoy themselves working in a media that I love. Here's to many more.
Awhile ago I had a great afternoon working with a group of high school students. I'm always amazed at the creativity and innovative use of materials that are made available to high school students. We worked on self-portraits, which I think is important not only as an artist, but also for self-esteem. Throughout the years I have taught many age groups and I don't know if I can choose a favorite...the youngest are fearless, the middle schoolers are beginning to be self-conscious but still full of wonder, high school students push boundaries, and adults appreciate the time to create. It's always exciting to see how what I do is translated by others and to see their joy in the process of creation.