Goals are important things to set. Just because you set a goal does not mean it is set in stone…the path to reaching the goal must remain fluid and flexible. But goals need to be set none-the-less, because they give you something to move towards, and something to measure success and accomplishment by. For me, setting goals and putting them in writing is scary. I am afraid of feeling like a failure if I don’t reach my goal. I struggle with remaining flexible in my thinking along the path. And sometimes a goal can be so big it is overwhelming until it gets broken down into bit sized pieces.
So here…I am going out on a limb and sharing some of my BIG goals. Not my full big vision. That is for me and a few close friends to know about for now, because it is so huge it sounds completely crazy when I say it out loud. But for now, I start with tissue paper.
Tissue paper you ask? Yes. Above I have a screen shot of custom tissue paper that I ALMOST ordered for myself, to wrap my paintings in and giftwrap them in personalized tissue paper to say “you matter to me, thank you for your purchase and enjoy this gift from my heart”. But, I didn’t order it. I stopped myself and had a few friends help to talk me out of it…because plain coloured tissue paper is about $0.05 a sheet where as this was almost $0.30 per sheet. Or to get the cost per piece down, I had to commit to 10 CARTONS of it, which is a HUGE upfront expense that I cannot afford right now, both financially and considering storage space. So despite the temptation, I opted for a more practical tissue in one of my brand colours. This is a goal for me because some day I will be able to either buy 10 cartons and know with certainty I will use it, or won’t be concerned about spending the extra quarter per piece to try it out. And when this happens, I will consider my art business a success.
Seems silly you think? Here is something I often think about…when I was at Donna Downey’s studio, she had ribbons with her signature name logo around the sandwiches and wraps we ate for lunch every day. I was so impressed that I kept 2 ribbons, as a reminder of how a self-taught artist CAN succeed to the point where it is not considered a waste to order custom ribbon to wrap around sandwiches that will potentially be thrown in the trash. Not because it’s just plain cool to have custom ribbon…but it gives that personal touch that we so often look for in a brand. It is a small gesture of appreciation that means so much. That ribbon inspired me. I have held onto it for 2 years and have it on my vision board, as a reminder of where I want to be over time. But for me, maybe it’s not ribbon…maybe it is tissue paper!
Do you have a goal you are working towards? Something seemingly frivolous that you want to one day be able to have or use or do? Something that represents success in your eyes? Tell me about it!
This is my magnolia tree. I LOVE this tree. I have chased children away from it with swinging bats and hockey sticks, and I have chased squirrels out of it after watching them chew the buds and flowers off. I have even cut vines away from strangling the delicate branches. I have so many memories tied to this tree…I protect it like a child.
Before my parents moved out of the house I grew up in from the age of 7, my husband and I raided their garden for some of my favourite flowers and a couple of trees. This magnificent magnolia was one of our rescues. And it is a miracle that it survived the transfer. It was much smaller, but we still didn’t get as much of the root ball as the books recommended because it was so heavy. We drove 2.5 hours with it on a trailer, exposed to the elements. And then we transplanted it into our back yard, and prayed for it to grow new roots. Someone had told me to put banana peels in the hole with the roots, so I did. Actually, I believe I froze whole bananas and cut them up as we replanted this tree.
The first spring, there were no buds, and no flowers…or very few…and I was worried we had killed it. But leaves grew, and it filled out over the course of that first year. And ever since we have had an amazing display of blooms every spring.
Every time it blooms, it reminds me of my mother. She LOVED this tree, and wanted one for many years, finally purchasing this one with her accident settlement money. My father built her the garden of her dreams. And they would sit together in the back yard, and admire the beauty that surrounded them.
A few years after we acquired this tree, my mother passed away. While she was alive, I would call her and update her on the tree and it’s blooms, and post pictures on facebook for her to see. Since her passing, I spend time with the magnolia as though it were her resting place. I even talk to the tree, and my mother. Yep. I admit it. There is something you didn’t know about me. 😉 This tree brings me peace and calm in the busy-ness of life. It reminds me to grow, and bloom, and be myself. And it comforts me. It is a family heirloom that I hope to have for many more years to come.
Do you have a favourite tree or flower? For sentimental reasons? Or just because it makes you happy? Tell me about it!
From Donna Downey’s Artist Studies online course, I completed the exercises on the left of the lime, red bowl, and the striped pitcher. Paul Cezanne painted many still life paintings, with emphasis on how objects interact with one another. I had a lot more fun than I had anticipated painting a lime, multiple times. And although I am not yet a master of lime painting, I do see much improvement with each attempt. I decided that I needed to continue this study on my own as well…so I purchased a few items and bought some flowers and fruit, and I set up some of my own still life studies.
I decided to start with individual items, such as some pottery and a clock…a clock with no numbers which absolutely thrills me to no end. It’s like, there is no time limit, no rush, just this exact moment. I am sure you will see this clock in many more paintings as I get braver with my set ups.
And then, a beautiful and fun statue, flower and lime. I will admit, I struggled with the white/grey again, and the appropriate shadowing. and I feel the depth on this type of flower was difficult to obtain. But I LOVE the shadows! And the lime on this one! One benefit of painting in a basement with dim lights is that the art light produces heavy shadows, which are so fun to recreate. So dramatic!
I will admit, I got a little…ok, a lot carried away searching for items to paint at Value Village and Home Sense…Don’t ever let me say “I have nothing to paint”…for I am surrounded by piles of inspiration. Not to mention ideas that are still stirring in my head!
How do you decide what to paint? Do you set it up and take a photo, or do you paint from what you see in the moment?
As many of you may know, I am a HUGE fan of Donna Downey. I went to her studio in June of 2017, originally for a workshop with Jane Davenport (another idol of mine), and I added in Donna’s Abstract Florals class, for something new and inspiring and fun. And I LOVED it! Her style, her techniques, it all spoke to me in my soul. I had not painted so freely before, and I didn’t understand layering and abstract art at the time. I gained a whole new appreciation for acrylic painting, and began noticing natural beauty in the world around me again, as I was finally coming out of my depression.
I followed Donna online…possibly became a bit of a fan or stalker, lol…in the kindest way possible. Recently, I signed up for her online workshop called Artist Studies. The first (and free) lesson was about Van Gogh…one of Donna’s all time favourite artists. I did the lessons, and then ventured into some other paintings. One of the most valuable teachings I have learned is that it is OK to copy someone’s art…as long as you credit them and don’t profit off of their idea. It is how artists learn and grow. In Donna’s lesson, she demonstrated how she took some of Van Gogh’s style with his colour choices and brush strokes and infused them into her own work, giving an amazing painting similar to the one pictured above on the right. The one you see is my copy of her work inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I created this one evening that I couldn’t sleep. I am so thrilled with how it turned out! And I feel like I got to study from two masters in one by copying this piece!
I took what I learned in this painting experience and applied it to part of a self portrait I had started and hadn’t yet fallen in love with (pictured completed above on the left). It is of me and my first son when he was a few days old. I changed my colour palette for the skin tones, and I infused some Van Gogh like brush strokes into the background. I love this idea, and want to transfer it from my journal to canvas some day. It speaks to me and reminds me of the precious, gentle, quiet snuggle moments in the midst of the chaos of having a new born, and becoming a mother, a family. I attempted to bring Van Gogh into the portrait as well, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with it and kept resorting to my style. Which I am ok with…I think the complementary blending effect works well to demonstrate the emotion behind this image.
Until this point, I would paint for fun and use colours that made me happy. I didn’t think about my art beyond being something fun to do and pretty to look at. Now, I feel I am starting to think like an artist. And the inspiration and ideas are flowing! I need more time to paint and play and explore!
Who is your favourite artist? Or who have you learned the most from to this point in time?
After experimenting with oil paints while participating in Donna Downey’s 6x6x6 class, creating 6 oil paintings, 6×6 inches in size, I decided to use the theory she teaches for a series and make some mini series of 3, 6×6 inch images of fall flowers with acrylics. These were for sale at my bake sale for 261 Fearless, a fundraiser leading up to the New York City Marathon in November 2017. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell, but at some point in time I intend to make more minis and attend Art Crawl a monthly artist gathering on James Street North in Hamilton. I just need some seasonal inspiration. 😉
I can barely believe that running in New York was already 7 months ago. Here, in just a few days, I have the honour of meeting with Kathrine Switzer and 261 Fearless in Niagara Falls for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon. I am super excited about this adventure…hoping that I have gotten enough of my training runs, and recovered enough from the Mudcat Half Marathon, and my foot/ankle injury, to break last year’s time of 2 hours 51 minutes.
But back to the art! I kind of love making minis because they are completed so quickly! They are a very satisfying size to work with. But it is hard to stay loose when working small…for me anyways.
Here are a couple of more recent mini’s…some Snow Drops for Spring! I LOVE the one outside, in the little drifts of snow, but I also love the mini vase. FYI…white flowers are HARD! Maybe that’s because I don’t really like black, and don’t use it very often. lol. So getting a grey scale doesn’t really happen for me because of that. Hmm…giving away my secrets. 😉
Ooo! I just had an idea! I should try to make a mini a day! That would be so fun! And a great warm up before diving into commission work, and more detailed points of my works-in-progress (WIPs)
Stay Tuned!!! Who wants to join me??? We can start a real challenge…one 6×6 creation, paper, canvas, board or whatever you have or like. One mini a day for a week…let’s keep it simple. Share with me on facebook or Instagram!