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Posts from the ‘Inspiration’ Category

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 do you want to be..?

My siblings and I

Hanging out with my siblings circa 1980

My daughter and I had a long conversation the other day about what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Her answer – a vet, singer, actor, fashion designer, and inventor.  You go, girl!

I was very fortunate that my parents never pushed me in any one direction.  They let me figure it out on my own and encouraged all my interests.

So what did I want to be?

Once, I contemplated being a nun (for an entire 3 hours- then realized I just couldn’t do it!).  Then for a long time, since I was a ferocious bookworm, I wanted to be a librarian.

Girl reading with a run in her hose.

Very characteristic- My nose in book and a run in my hose!

But even before I discovered I had any talent, I wanted to be an artist.

What I didn’t want to be?  A teacher.  For 2 reasons- filmstrips and vomit.  (The latter is the reason I didn’t want to be a doctor, either!)  This makes me sound ancient- but when I was growing up there weren’t DVDs or even VCRs- just these stupid strips of film on a roll that every single teacher seemed to struggle with while winding onto the projectors.  It looked like torture!

An artist- that, in my mind, equalled unbridled freedom.  I obviously wasn’t one to seek wealth in a profession.  Even then I knew that the key to success was happiness.  (Though I must admit that now, as I grapple with how to make a living in my profession, I sometimes wonder why I hadn’t chosen to do something with a few more dollar signs attached to it!)

It wasn’t until middle school, however, that I discovered I had any talent for art beyond just liking to do it.

My middle school art teacher, a man I don’t remember having much affinity for and was even a little afraid of, encouraged my mom to enroll me in a summer art program.  He must have seen some spark of talent, though I feel my work was rather average up to that point.

That class shook me awake. It was based on drawing from life through field trips to various locations- the zoo, a pretty row of houses, the art museum- and suddenly I discovered that I had a way of seeing things and an ability to draw what I saw on paper.

I had access to a language not everyone knew how to speak, and it made me feel special.

Trying to look cool but feeling pretty awkward

I was in an awkward stage for what seemed like a very long time! (Check out that awful asymmetrical haircut!)

Up to that point, I was somewhat lost.  I was the oldest of 4 kids and my parents were divorced.  We lived with my mother who struggled to make ends meet, though always made sure we had what we needed.  I was very shy and always had my nose in a book with wild short, curly hair- and for awhile I had braces and cheap plastic glasses.

I went through a very awkward stage for what seemed like a very long time.

But art became my escape pod.

At the age of 16 my mother remarried and we moved from Wisconsin to Virginia.  Talk about culture shock!  Again, art came to the rescue.  I became involved in drama, choir, and art- even managing to win a few awards and scholarships.

Winning an award for a drawing

Winning a few awards and scholarships led me to seek art as a profession

When it came time to choose my college, it was a no brainer.  I wanted to find a program that allowed me to create art to my heart’s content.

I chose The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) without blinking an eye or even touring the campus. (a visit from representatives from the college when I was a Sophomore still in Wisconsin made that much of an impression on me!)

Fast forward 25 years- I married a boy that I met on an adjoining campus after my freshman year.  (He was a graduate student at Case Western Reserve U.)  We were married 10 days after I graduated from CIA and moved to London two weeks afterwards so he could pursue a Post-Doctorate position there.  I’ve been following him ever since to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and finally, back here in Ohio.  Along the way, we’ve had 3 beautiful kids.

For awhile I was a freelance illustrator (the major I ultimately chose at CIA), then became an art teacher. (Thankfully filmstrips became extinct and no one has yet to vomit in my class!)  When we moved back to Ohio after my youngest daughter was born, I chose to put aside my art to concentrate on raising my family.

My 3 kids and santa.

I’ll never regret taking time out to raise my 3 fantastic kids!

But one day, as my youngest was getting older and about to enter school, I revisited that question:  What do you want to be when you grow up?  I had what can be called a come to Jesus moment.  I realized I had to get back to the art that I once had such a passion for, and I had to do it my way.

The question was, What is my way? Good question!  Its still something I’m seeking but this (arms held wide) is the result.  I’m doing it!

I have a lot of people to thank for helping me to answer that question- my husband for his endless support and love, my family, Kelly Dahl who became my life coach to get me started creating goals and seeing them through, and all my wonderful friends- You, who continue to encourage and support me on this quest.

Thank you!  May you have a glorious week towards realizing your own goals and desires!

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