Friday, November 22, 2013

why is she successful and i'm not?

hello folks!
I want to talk about something
that's been on my mind lately.
The importance of making art
for the sake of making art.
Regardless of credentials
or recognition
or career path
or sales
or gallery representation
or status
or success
or failure...
Making art for the joy of making art.

Writing to write.
Painting to paint.
Singing to sing.

Many moons ago, 
whenever i would look at the artwork i had
just sitting around the house in boxes,
i would see this as confirmation
that i must be a failure as an artist.
I knew many artists who were selling,
who were in galleries
who were chosen to be published
in the art book of the year.
But i wasn't one of them.
So i was a failure as an artist.
Or at least i thought of my work in this way.
Still - i kept painting.
I kept writing
and sketching
and doodling
and drawing.

Many moons later,
i realized the importance of these
finished, unsold artworks
lying around the house in broken boxes.
I began to recognize the value of my work.
All my work.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
It is necessary for an artist to make art.
A lot of art.
Bad, good, ok, crappy, beautiful, embarrassing, exceptional art...
ALL of this is necessary
to one's growth as an artist.
To developing your skill.
To finding your style.
Your comfort zone.
To knowing your happy place
and becoming more comfortable
in your not so happy places
if that's where you must go
to make the art that must be made today.
To write the book that must be written,
to play that song in your heart
that wants to be set free into the world.

I no longer question or doubt myself as an artist.
i am an artist because i make art every day.
I face those nagging fears
and dark doubts
about whether or not
my work is good enough -
and simply squeeze more paint out of the tube,
and continue painting.
My work is good enough.
And what makes it good
is not the quality of the final product
but the process itself.
The fact that i AM painting.
The purpose is not for me to paint a masterpiece.
The purpose is to paint.
To keep working.

Don't let the success of others
get in your way of making art.
Just make it.
Trust that it needs to be made.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

how art and Leonard Cohen heal my heart

hello everyone...
I am not a big fan of social media
and neither is this little bird,
even with the tweets. ;-)
This past Sunday was a difficult day,
but when evening came,
along with it came relief
that day would soon turn to night
and night into a new morning.
During the early evening,
I found my way to the blue room,
and played with paints and paper for a while.
(a great remedy for a sad heart)

If i was a doctor,
this is what i would prescribe to patients.
Solitary time
in a room with a view,
pens, paper,
and a box of Crayolas.
Maybe some music.
And some wine. ;-)

was all over the place
with sketching and collaging and painting.
Like i had a thousand images in my head that wanted out...
Then i opened a book i had nearby
and landed on this page
and it was fucking poetic.
Don't you love it
when something comes together?
When you read something
or see something
or hear something
at what feels like exactly the right time?
Then i read this one...

What do i do?
i paint.
i write.
i listen to Leonard Cohen.
i count my blessings.
i see miracles in the every day.
Not in heaven,
but here.
In the every day.
i light a candle.
i pay attention to my breathing.
i walk along the ocean.
i read.
i remember.

i look at the moon & stars
and consider how minuscule i am
and how vast the universe is
and yet...
and yet.

(what do YOU do?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

we miss you mom...

A year today since mom’s been gone.
At this exact time
one year ago
I held her hand
and reassured her
that she could go
and that we would all be ok.
A year ago at this exact time
it was sunny,
with a gentle breeze
and crisp autumn air
just as it is today.
One year ago,
as my father and I
walked back towards the car
with slumped shoulders
and tear filled eyes,
I saw two students from the nearby university
walking together with coffees at hand
sparkling eyes
smiling faces
and the contrast flooded my heart
with sadness
and wonder.

We made it past
the first Christmas
the first Mother’s day
the first birthday
the first death day,
and now,
we begin all over again.

Life is now fragmented
into before and afters
and when I look into someone’s eyes now
i can see they also have
a before and after
to live with
and it makes me feel
less alone.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

write into the heart...

hello out there!
I am taking this e-course on writing
so i'm spending more time
with a pen in my hand these days
than a paintbrush.
It's all good.
Yesterday, we had to write about why we write...
here are some of my reasons:
I sat at the wharf this morning
with my notebook and a coffee at hand,
and i thought about the importance
of doing something we love every day.
And yet,
i realize this is a luxury. 
Many people in the world
are too busy surviving
to even think about what they love
let alone do it.

When i was younger
i used to feel guilty about having 
such a life of abundance.
About having so much in my life
when others in the world had so little.

At times, I purposely avoided too much comfort
because of the guilt i felt
at the unfairness of it all.
If there were 2 coats to choose from,
i took the uglier one.
The one that wasn't so warm.
When i ate dinner at the table with my family,
i always left a bite of food on my plate,
feeling guilty for having so much,
thinking that my intention to feed the world
would somehow reach the powers that be
and that the starving children would be fed.

I've grown since then. 
I no longer leave food on my plate
and i no longer believe
in the powers that be.
I believe change happens
when human beings decide
to make it happen.
When we decide to be less greedy,
more compassionate
less judgmental
more honest
less hypocritical
more loving to one another.


This past May, the world lost a wonderful poet, George Moustaki.
This song was written in 1969, and the video is not the greatest quality, but i wanted to share nonetheless. I included the english translation below the video.

With my face of a foreigner
Of a wandering Jew, of a Greek shepherd
And my hair to the four winds
With my eyes totally waterlogged
That give me a look of a dreamer
That never dreams very often
With my hands of a petty thief
Of a musician and of a prowler
Who has been caught in so many gardens
With my mouth that drank
that kissed and bit
without ever satisfying its hunger
With my face of a foreigner
Of a wandering Jew, of a Greek shepherd
Of a petty thief and of a vagrant
With my skin that rubbed
With the sun of all the summers
and with everyone who wore underskirt
With my heart that knew how to make
Suffering a lot whom has suffered
Without making stories for that
With my soul that no longer has
the least chance for salvation
To avoid the purgatory
With my face of a foreigner
Of a wandering Jew, of a Greek shepherd
And my hair to the four winds
I will come, my sweet captive
My soul mate, my living source
I will come to drink your twenty years old
And I'll become the prince of blood
A dreamer or even a teenager
As you will like to choose
And we will make of everyday
all the eternity of love
that we will live till we die
and we will make of everyday
all the eternity of love
that we will live till we die.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

get yourself a beverage...

Does anything in nature despair except man?
An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.

- May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

When I lost my job as a senior graphic designer

almost 10 years ago now,
it forced me into life’s deep questions.

why did this happen to me?
how could they do this?
where do I go now?

I wrote a lot
to try and appease the anger.
I cried.
I met with friends
who kindly reminded me
that I had so much going for me
despite this loss.
Friends who told me
that this may indeed
be a good thing, somehow,
and that there may be a light
at the end of the tunnel.

I made art.

I wrote more.
i considered my options
and then got angry again
at being forced into this new life
of financial instability
and insecurity
and fear.

The anger came in waves,
along with the hurt
and the relief
and the sadness
and the worry.
I was bitter

and swore that I would never work
for a large corporation
I would find myself
another way to make a living.

I no longer knew
if I even wanted to continue being
a graphic designer.
This is what happens
when we experience change –
especially when the change
is not our choice.
We question everything,
including ourselves.
And through those questions
we often discover
our own truths.
Months later, I began to realize

that losing my job didn’t define me.
My reaction defined me.
How I chose to deal with it defined me.

I could wallow in my sorrow for years
and slowly disintegrate –
or I could put on my big girl panties
and get on with my life.
With MY life.
I slowly found my bearings again
and I began to discover
a sense of wonder for the world.

A deeper gratitude
for the simple things,
like a good book,
or chicken noodle soup in a beautiful cup...

 ...or rainy days.
I scattered my eggs

in different baskets,
and found a balance
between graphic design
and illustration
and office work
and painting
and writing
that allowed me to make a living.
To make a life.

I make less money,
but have more time.
I have less financial stability
but have more freedom.
I buy less things
but I lack nothing.

I love Mondays.

The idea of doing the same thing for 25 years,
all for the sake of yearly 5 star vacations
and a pension plan
makes me wanna shoot myself in the face.

I do not live my life for tomorrow,
because i have known too many people
who have not made it to tomorrow.
My friends were right.
Losing my job was a good thing.
(even if it felt like the opposite at the time!)

For those of you out there
who are going through difficult times…
take courage.
Trust that there are better days ahead.
Eventually, slowly, carefully,
the scattered pieces will mend themselves together again
and although your life will never be the same
it can still be a good, good life.