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Shedding Leaves of Change

Quote by Nora Roberts

One of my favorite quotes by Nora Roberts

We could learn something from the trees.  They gage when the season is changing and know it’s time to shed their leaves.

Do they fret about it?  Probably not.  It’s just what they do.

Humans, on the other hand, have a much harder time with it.  We fear it.

I have my own confession to make.  I’ve got perpetually cold feet.

Every time I am about to put myself out into the world I act like a 5 year old.  My mind says, “I don’t want to” and my brain racks itself, trying to figure out a way not to.

Usually I say to myself, “you’re being childish, snap out of it!”  Then my inner voice (who is very honest!) says, “But I’m afraid”.  This begins the internal struggle to figure out why and calm those doubts and fears.

George Bernard Shaw quote

I’m no stranger to change.  I’ve navigated through many moves, had children, and buried my father.  As I’ve been creating my business these past few years, I’m being forced to jump countless hurdles, and I know that there are an infinite more waiting for me.

What I’ve learned is this.  Change is necessary for growth.  No one has succeeded by remaining an innocent bystander in their life.

Neale Donald Walsh quote

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. How true!

Change is not easy (unless you’re a tree!).  It requires soul-searching, risk-taking, and putting yourself out there again and again.

Want to hear some of my strategies for facing challenges, head on?

1.  Begin…somewhere– Often the task seems overwhelming and it can be hard to know to start.  That, in itself, can lead to procrastination which impedes progress.  Just start somewhere.  Make a phone call, research on the web, tell someone what you are doing- take the first step and often that will begin the process.

2. Be kind to yourself- Allow the 5 year old inside of you to voice it’s opinion but then calmly and firmly state your intentions and follow through, promising ice cream and a bubble bath when everything is said and done!

3. Be Patient- Realize that change requires time to take root and grow.  Know that the earth under your feet may be a bit unsteady for awhile.  Persevere.  Or, as I like to say to my friends who are facing challenges, Hang in there!

JD Houston quote

If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something, you’ve never done. Tough but solid advise!

4. Seek accountability-  Facebook is great for this.  One friend of mine has been on a journey to lose weight and has set up a Facebook Page for friends and family to encourage and support her along the way.  Another friend has just moved to New Zealand and is posting her observations and travels as a means to bring us along with her during this enormous transition.

5. Learn from the trees- Shed those leaves of negativity, self-doubt, and anything else that is hindering your progress.  Sometimes that also means shedding old ideas or attitudes that impede growth.

Quote by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

And speaking of changes…I have some of my own!  You may recall that I’ve been taking an online web course in an attempt to learn more about WordPress and revamp my own site.  I’ve decided to take some time out to implement what I’ve learned.

Therefore, I will be taking a break from writing this blog for a week or two until I can get those changes in place.  Feel free to check in to see how things are coming along, but beware of all the construction dust!

When I return it will be on a Monday, instead of my regular Friday slot.  I’ve realized that I would rather contribute my voice as the the week is gearing up instead of as the week is winding down.  How’s that for changes?!

Please be sure to sign up to receive my weekly posts in your inbox so that you don’t miss out on my big reveal.  I can’t wait to share it with you!

Have an Evolving Week!  I’ll see you soon!!

What Are You Reading?

The Reading Head in La Rochelle, France.

The Reading Head in La Rochelle, France.

Do you sometimes find yourself in a book slump?  You could have a truckload of books at your disposal, but just can’t seem to find the right one?

That was me at the end of this summer.  I was stuck in a rut and searching for a good book to pull me out of it, but nothing seemed to work.  What I often find, after these slumps have passed, is that I discover a multitude of books to feed my craving.  Then the problem becomes finding time to read them.

Currently, I have a rotation of three wonderful books on my nightstand, each very unique and satisfying.  If I could read them all at once, I would!

The Road to Wellville

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle

The first is T.C.Boyle’s The Road to Wellville.  I really enjoy this author.  He has a dry wit about him, and I often imagine him telling the story with a wink.  His stories lean towards exaggeration and sometimes fall into the extreme.  (I’ve also read his book Tortilla Curtain, which has more of a social justice slant, but was equally satisfying in it’s extremism.)

This novel tells the story of the real life character, Dr. John Harvey Kellog, best known as the creator of cornflakes; but in this novel it appears as if he would rather people remember him as the purveyor of healthy living.

It centers around his Sanitarium in Battle Creek, MI, which he runs with precise attention to detail using his holistic methods of nutrition, enemas, and exercise.  Many of his methods are highly experimental, and his vegetarian concoctions are enough to drive any Vegan back to carnivorism!

There are a cast of quirky characters surrounding him:  a married couple who attend the sanitarium and begin to stir up trouble, as well as a group of “gentlemen” who arrive in Battle Creek to promote their new breakfast cereal, backed by Dr. Kellog’s estranged son, George- who is up to no good!

T. C. Boyle’s novels are like riding a roller coaster.  They begin with a series of wild twists and turns, followed by a gripping climax and free-falling ending.  I must admit, I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, but from all the book reviews I’ve read, it promises to be quite a ride!

What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz

What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz

Next on my nightstand is the nonfiction title What are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz.

The author is a former board director of the Tate Gallery in London, and now a commentator for the BBC.

I find his take on art refreshing, not stuffy and pretentious like many art history books I’ve read.  The author is a little geeky (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and academic, but his tone is friendly and he seems to revel in showing us all the hidden nooks and crannies of the modern art world.

There is a plethora of art, artists, and the stories behind them crammed into this novel.  I would hate to be a student forced to remember it all.  But I’m not, and therefore can let it all run through my brain, grasping at interesting bits and pieces.  (Which are abundant!)

What I have been enjoying the most is how he ties everything together.  He gives brief historical references and reveals how the artists are interconnected; what the artwork meant to that moment in time and how it is still relevant today.

My copy also has full-color plates of some of the art mentioned throughout the book.  I’m glad I decided not to buy it on my Kindle!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Lastly, I’ve enjoyed sinking my teeth into the historical novel, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  It feeds into my obsession with the English and, in particular, the fascinating King Henry the VIII!  (Are you like me?  Have you streamed the BBC miniseries, The Tudors?  Love.)

This is one of the most well-written books I’ve read in a rather long time.  I feel as if the author is weaving a tapestry as she writes.  The characters slowly begin to emerge with each scene, in rich threads of dialogue, innuendos, and description.  Yet, the author is very cunning and only bestows enough to leave one wanting more.

That, coupled with the fact I know some of the history behind the characters and their eventual demise (i.e.: when King Henry falls madly in love with Anne Boleyn, I know it won’t end well!) makes this a page-turner!

That this novel is written from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell makes it even more fascinating.  Thomas Cromwell, you may recall, became one of Henry VIII’s closest confidants and a devious conniver of the royal court.  He started off as the son of a blacksmith, so his journey to prosperity is quite captivating; and Hilary Mantel’s portrayal of his developing talents and skills to become so powerful is masterful!

Ahh, how I love to read!  Yet often I only manage to squeak in a few pages at the end of the day.  I need a book club where everyone gets to read what they want, dishes out recommendations, and keeps each other accountable.  (i.e.: makes sure we are all reading!)  Would you like to join it?

What are you reading and what is your favorite book from the past 6 months?  (and what is it about?)  I’d love to hear your book recommendations and add them to my list.  Perhaps I can prevent my next book slump from happening!

Have an Engaging Week!

Top Lessons Learned on this Journey

Sunset over Rocks

Inspiration is everywhere!

Top things I’ve learned since becoming Art At Dawn

1. Inspiration is everywhereEvery waking hour is fodder for my art.  Sometimes it trickles up from my memories and other times I know it the moment it occurs.

I felt that very keenly this summer when my family and I took that trip out West.  Inspiration enveloped me and penetrated all my senses.  Look for upcoming posts on how it has begun to influence my work.

2. Consistency is key– I’ve found that I’m most productive when I keep myself on a schedule and hold myself to self-imposed deadlines. The times I flounder are when my goals are unclear or vague.

As I wrote about it in this post, I have developed a weekly schedule that helps to keep me focused.  I feel lost the weeks that I skip it.

I wish I could say that all this consistency allows my creativity to flow abundantly.  Not so.  There are times that I have to force myself to keep at it.  The important thing, I’ve learned, is just to show up and keep stoking the fire.  If the fire goes out it takes a lot longer to start it up again and feel the warmth of its glowing embers which feeds my art.

3. Time is precious– There are only so many hours in the day, and only a portion of them can be used for my art.  The trick is to use the time I have to the best of my ability and not kick myself when I run out of it.  (The best way to estimate my time?  Take the amount I think it will require and double it!)

But there is another side to the coin.  When I lose myself to my art, I often lose track of time as well.  I get in The Zone.  It is a great place to be in but requires the freedom of time, as well.

I've learned some tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

I’ve learned a few tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

4. Art supplies need not be expensive– that goes for studio furniture, too! Over the years I’ve amassed a lot of art supplies and learned some tricks on how to maximize the supplies I have lying around the house.

That goes for studio equipment and furniture, too.  I’ve also found some great deals at consignment stores and Craigslist, and am always looking out for discounted items to supplement my studio wishlist.

5. My talents are valid– It’s easy, in this field, to look around at my highly talented peers and convince myself that I don’t possess the skills and creativity that they have.  But I can’t do that to myself.  I can’t discount the feelings of excitement and happiness that often overwhelm me while creating a drawing or painting.

If I am passionate about my art and business I need to trust that others will see it and want what I have to offer.  (The trick is getting it out there where they can see it, too!)

6. Feel the fear and do it anyway– At times I am unsure of myself; where I am going with my art, and what I am doing.  I must allow myself to experience those feelings but then forge ahead. What other choice do I have? Giving up is not an option!

Sometimes I feel fearful when I am in a new situation or approaching someone about my art. I’ve found that what helps ease my anxiety is to think to myself, What’s the worst that can happen? Perhaps I‘ll get rejected or feel out of my element, but the world will still spin and life will go on. So I swallow my pride and keep going- because I must!

Friends-in-front-hollywood-sign

I am so thankful to the friends and family who have encouraged and supported me along this journey.

7. Make time for family and friends– It is so easy to lose sight of the things that matter, if I allow it, especially if I’m wrapped up in a big project or preparing for a show.  I’ve learned that I constantly need to take a step back and look around me.  I need to take in the big picture and remember what my core values are.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to be using my God-given talents, but I cannot forget those who encouraged and helped me along the way.  I am so grateful to them, and I never want to forget to be thankful!

8. There is an answer out there for everything– I’ve had to forge many new streams in creating my business. I’ve had to find resources and learn to navigate them. Sometimes I’ve even had to learn new skills by watching tutorials or taking an online class.

I may have to dig for it, but the answers are out there. Thank God for Google!

9. Make a decision and stick with it–   This has not been an easy lesson to learn. Everywhere I turn there are decisions to make, and it can get overwhelming.  From what kind of art I should do, to where I should show it; decisions about what my art and business is about, and how I should run it.  Only I can decide and stand my ground- otherwise it would all get washed away in the current.

But then there are times when something doesn’t work and I need to let it go. That’s not an easy decision, either, but a necessary one to keep developing my art and business.

10. Prioritize– It’s remarkable how long its taken me to figure this out. There are so many things that need my attention and if I don’t prioritize, I wind up taking little nips but never finishing anything.

I’ve learned to choose 2-3 things each day that need to get done and then fill in with everything else. Often, I find that it’s better to get the more dreaded things out of the way first, as well. (ie: book-keeping!)

11. Make Connections– It can be hard to get myself out there and approach strangers- even if it’s in the name of my art.  I literally have to push myself to do it.  But 9 times out of 10, the people on the other end are friendly and helpful, and have led to more connections. These contacts have been invaluable and make it easier to go out and do it again.

Colorful-Paint-going-down-the-drain

Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

12. Don’t be afraid to fail– Not that I set out to make mistakes, but they happen anyway.  It would be easy to curl up and have a pity party every time they occur.  But I can’t.  Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

So bring it on!!

Do any of these lessons resonate with you?  What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your own business and/or creative pursuits?

Having a Learning and Growing Week!

Pearls of Wisdom

Little Pearls of Wisdom- Art At Dawn

At a recent show it wasn’t my painting, or cards, or frames, or even the magnets that got the most attention…

It was my little Pearls Of Wisdom.

Sure, they seemed to like all my other items, and were interested in learning how I created them, what my inspiration was, and how long it takes to make them…

But these little guys stole the show.

So what are they?  A little side project of mine.

I am self-reliant and capable- Art At Dawn

They start off as pistachio shells.  I’ve been embedding them in some of my newer paintings and therefore have a lot of them lying around my studio.

I also started embedding aluminum foil and, if you’re familiar with my work, have a lot of words cut out from magazines and junk mail that I’ve used in my Word Paintings.  (Though the words needed to be smaller, so I dissected an old copy of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.)

Put them all together and this is what you get.

I can see you’re still bewildered.  Why would someone put all those together and come up with this?  Even if its kinda cool looking- Why???

Be Sincere Yet Decisive- Art At Dawn

Because I wanted a little something to give to people who visit me at my upcoming shows and events.  In the past I’ve given out pencils and chocolates- but I wanted something a little more special and personal.

This is one of those ideas that came to me as I was running, when creative thoughts seem to bubble up from nowhere.  My rumination was, What little thing can I give others to show my gratitude for their support and encouragement?

Be a light, not a judge- Art At Dawn

Somewhere around mile 3 this idea popped into my head.  I couldn’t rest until I created a prototype- and once I started, I couldn’t stop!

Would you like one of my pearls of wisdom?  If you’re in the Columbus area come visit me at an upcoming show (download and print a copy of upcoming shows here.), or order something from my online shop and I’ll include one,  AND/OR… Leave a comment below of one or more of your favorite pearls of wisdom and I will send you an actual pearl of wisdom along with my latest postcard of new images.

I wish you a week full of wisdom and inspiration!

What Didn’t Make It

Sleepy Reader

A precious photo of me as a child revealing a habit that I still fall victim to that didn’t quite make the cut for my blogpost, What do you want to be..?

Today I’d like to share some photos that didn’t quite make the cut in my previous blog posts.  I wanted to share these because I find sometimes what was not shown or talked about is as revealing as what is.

Girls in studio

These girls blew me away with their talent and creativity in my studio this summer

This was a photo I wish I could have included in my blogpost, The Wonderful World of Kid’s Creativity.  Alas, this was taken later in the summer.  These girls are the older sister and friend of the kids I instructed at the art camp in the beginning of the summer.

Boy, were these girls ever enthusiastic, talented, and creative!  They took my assignments and ran off with them.  It was a joy and honor to have them in my studio for a few sessions!

Studio of Georgia O'Keefe

O’Keefe’s studio set up in her museum in Santa Fe.

This was Georgia O’Keefe’s studio table and easel (with a canvas in its very early stages) reassembled at her museum in Santa Fe, NM.  I had wanted to share this photo after I visited the museum last summer, but my desire to include her beautiful artwork won out.

I don’t know about you, but I have a fascination with looking at and reading about other artist’s studios and workspaces.  I love to see what inspires them, how they organize their supplies, and how their space influences their work.

O’Keefe’s set up exemplified that perfectly.  Above her table was a picture of what she would have seen out of her studio window and scattered among her paint supplies were bones, soil samples and other natural materials she used as inspiration.

Here is an article on O’Keefe’s studio and several other famous artist’s studios.  Pinterest is great for this, too!

Beautiful Stormy Sky

One of the original photos I took and re-edited for my blog-post, Letter to my 18 year old self.

This photo was reproduced many times in my blogpost, Letter to my 18 year old self, but not in its original form.  It was taken from my front porch one early evening when there were storm clouds brewing while the sun illuminated behind them.

It was also an evening where my husband was away and I desperately needed a time-out from the kids.  So I grabbed a beer and snuck out to the porch, observing the approaching summer storm for a good half hour until one of the kids finally discovered me.  It was heavenly!

Chinese squat toilet

A Chinese squat toilet

Finally, a picture that just didn’t make the cut from our travels in China, two summers ago.  Its an example of one of the many squat toilets we encountered in Beijing.  (This one is relatively cleaner then many of the others that we came across!)

All I can say is that I would have amazing thigh and calf muscles if I lived there!

Are you like me?  Do you like watching the out-takes and blooper reels of movies?  Are you fascinated with the backstories (sometimes maybe more so) then the front stories that you see in the news and tabloids?

Have an amazing, revealing week!!

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