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Playing with colour

I have a new project in my mind that I am super excited to work on…so I started at 4am! After researching photos, making a basic sketch, and painting the background, I decided I wanted to test my colours before I put them all on the canvas. So I very quickly made a fun colour swatch, with my fingers of course. 😉

This is a new process for me. Usually in my art I work more intuitively, reacting to what is placed on the canvas at each step. I attempted the plan it all out and paint step by step method in the past, and it didn’t work out so well for me. It lead me to a lot of self doubt and negative self talk, because i didnt have a completely clear picture in my head of a finished product. I only had an idea, and some feelings towards colour.

So this rare image of what I want to create is in my head. But again, I dont actually “see” the finished piece…i see parts of it. So to make sure my ideas will fly together, i decided to play with colour. I think its going to look great, and I can hardly wait for the background to dry!

I’m curious…do you have a picture in your mind of the finished product before you start painting? Or do you begin based on an idea or a colour or a desire to play and just see what comes out?

It’s Official!

I am a member of the Cocktails n Canvas team in Hamilton! The top six paintings are the paintings I added to the Cocktails n Canvas library! I am SO excited to have contributed, and to hopefully see people create their own versions of my paintings. I hope they are received well by the public! Mostly, i hope people have fun with them.

I attended an event on Sunday, after a day working at the hospital, to see how set up and clean up goes, and get an idea how early to arrive before an event. It was magnificent! I was invited to paint, so I got to learn another painting. And I had the opportunity to help people around me when they were struggling, or a few that came late. It was so rewarding!

I also just plain enjoyed the experience of painting…and this gave me a reason to paint, both to create something new for Cocktails n Canvas, and to paint and complete something fun for me. I’ve gotten into painting with a lot of detail and layers, which takes time amd patience, and can be hard to get back to after a break for a few days. These paintings need to remain simple enough to complete in under an hour so tbat they can be taught in 2 hours. It was so rewarding to complete something beautiful in the short time that I had to paint. This was all happy making. It fed my soul!

Most importantly, I built my confidence up, and I am certain that this is a perfect step for me as I grow as an artist.

Stay tuned for an announcement on my first event! Likely happening in September. And thank you all for your support and encouragement.

“Why I Run”…and Why I Paint

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A few months ago, in my half marathon clinic at the Running Room, we had a guest speaker come in to talk about his book, “Why I Run”.  I bought the book before the talk, and read it.  Let me tell you, it was a hard read for me, because I could relate so much to the author, especially with being in a tough emotional place at that time.  I was in the pit of “not-good-enough”, and had virtually stopped my self care activities, including painting.  I was running, but it had begun to become focused training and no longer as freeing.  It was on my “to do” list rather than my “to enjoy” list.  I read about the tools the author was using to outsmart his depression, and how he changed his internal dialogue, and turned to running as a positive practice for body, mind and soul.  And my gremlins came up, with self doubt and so many questions.

And then, at the clinic, I met Darcy Patrick, the author of this amazing book.  He was excited to share his experiences with us in a very real way.  Depression is a real thing.  And it can be beaten, with a lot of hard work and devotion.  Darcy was open to answering any questions we had for him, even the difficult questions.  I had so many.  I admired his strength and courage.  Many of us struggle with depression, and few are willing to admit it, out of fear of judgement or of being a burden to others.  For me, I’d rather deal with it myself than bring another person into it, most of the time.  But here’s the thing…depression, and shame, don’t like to be talked about.  In fact, being open about these feelings actually helps to ease them, and make them lighter.  That’s the secret.

After the clinic, Darcy came for our 7km run with us.  I was at the back of the pack, not able to keep pace with everyone else, and trying to be fine with it.  Most of the time I’m happy with the pace I can achieve.  I don’t need to be the fastest, nor do I expect to be.  But sometimes, and this particular day, I wished I was a little faster, so that I could be included in the conversations that were going on.  But I remembered Darcy’s book, and his visualizations that he practiced, and I started saying mantras to myself…”I am strong, I am capable, I am a runner…etc”.  And it worked.  I had been using mantras for a while when the runs got hard, but not when I was just down on myself.  At one point in the run, Darcy waited for me to catch up, and he ran with me, and we chatted.  I find his story so inspiring how he began to run in the first place, and how he continued to run, changing the internal dialogue in his head.  It fascinated me that he has that kind of control.

We became friends and chatted from time to time on facebook.  One day, seemingly out of the blue, and exactly when I needed it the most, Darcy asked me to paint for him.  He was looking for a piece to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of his book, “Why I Run”.  Having just read it, I had a tonne of ideas start to flow through my head.  I got really excited about this project.  I made a couple of sketches and researched images of people running, and started to paint.  I got into the zone with this painting, and I loved it!  Man, had I missed this feeling.  And then, I had a lot of fear…”will he like it?  will he regret asking me when he sees it?”…the gremlins were back.  But I kept going with it, and I remembered to enjoy the process, because I could always paint something different if this wasn’t what Darcy was looking for.  The important thing was, I was painting again in a very true to myself way.

One night, I needed some reassurance, and I got brave and sent Darcy a picture of my work in progress.  And he loved it!  (Although, honestly, the gremlins still questioned).  I was so relieved, I kept painting, and did some more fun stuff for myself. I was returning to self care, and breaking the cycle of depression again, through art.

This past Monday, I delivered this painting to Darcy and his family.  We had a very nice visit, and I got to see the artwork he had in his home.  I am honoured that he asked me to create for him.  It’s such a personal topic, and such a personal painting.  And…in case you didn’t read it on Monday, Darcy announced that this painting will be on the cover of his new book that he is working on!  I’m so excited I barely have words!  I am extremely grateful for Darcy, for his book, and for his encouragement to do what makes me happy.  We could all use more happiness in our lives, and trust me, it’s not as far away as we sometimes think.

A New Leaf

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Sometimes in life we have a vision, and the path to achieve the dream is uncertain.  I am taking an opportunity, following a new path, in order to fulfill my goal, to share my art with people, and teach adults to play freely, reconnect with the child within, and give up perfectionism, if only for a moment in time.

It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing an end to my offering for Traveling Paint Parties.  (You will notice the page no longer exists).  I am in love with the idea of bringing painting to people and sharing my passion for creative expression and playing with colour.  I have been offered an opportunity to share this passion with a larger audience through Cocktails n’ Canvas, by teaching local social painting events.  I am so excited to be joining this amazing team of artists!

As many of you know, and some may not, I got my introduction to acrylic painting with Cocktails n’ Canvas.  I harnessed my courage and went to a restaurant with a few friends, and learned a painting.  What really struck me was the freedom of “anything goes”…”there is no wrong”.  As I focused on the experience and took pressure off of the final product, I fell in love with my painting.  I was very proud of it, and of myself, for the first time in quite a while.  I mixed all of those colours.  I may have followed step by step instructions, but it was my hand that painted it.  A sense of individual style was present, even then.  Everyone in the group had the same instructions, and yet, every painting was unique…and gorgeous!  This person’s colours…that person’s brush strokes…and another person’s blending…it all fascinated me.  I had to do more.

So I bought paint, and sought out videos online, online classes, and more Cocktails n’ Canvas events.  The experience ignited a missing flame inside of me.  It changed my life.  And now, I have the opportunity to give back to Cocktails n’ Canvas, and share this experience with my community.  I believe we are all artists when we are creating.  We all have a unique outlook, and if we free our inner child we can feel the rush of joy and excitement in our play.

So although it is sad that I will no longer be planning or hosting my own paint parties, I am excited to be traveling along this new path with Cocktails n’ Canvas.  Did you know that Cocktails n’ Canvas hosts private events as well as public events?  Held at one of their venues or at a location of your choosing.  🙂  If you’re interested, especially as the holidays approach, check out the “Create Your Own” tab for private events.  Looking for a painting event for yourself and a few friends?  Check out the events listing.

Thank you for all of your support an encouragement!  I look forward to painting with you!  Above, please find a painting that will soon be available for Cocktails n’ Canvas events, created by me!  (Sorry for the flash…)  Cheers!

Spread Your Wings

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I have been working on a secret project recently, which I cannot share with you yet, but I am very excited about.  I have been so focused on that painting, as well as my running, that with the kids summer activities, camping, and regular household duties, there has been very little to share recently.  As I look at the mess in my basement, and a stack of paintings in my dining room that no longer have homes on the walls because their places have been taken by other pieces as my art has grown, I wonder how other artists let go of their art.

I could gesso over the “old” paintings and start a fresh canvas to create something of my own.  I know someone who does this.  And yet, each painting, especially the multiple pieces from Cocktails n’ Canvas, carry a story or a glimpse of a moment of my journey, and I’m not willing to let that go as of yet.

I would like to sell pieces at Art Crawl, yet again, of the paintings that I could sell that are my own, I love them so dearly that it’s hard to imagine sending them out into the world.  And yet, that’s exactly what they are for…to express a moment in time, in hopes of resonating with someone else, and then to go out and make others happy.

The painting in the photo above is a favourite of mine.  My first large portrait, on an 18×18 inch wooden panel.  I love the colours and the way they mix so much, I wanted to make a series of her or based on this colour theme.  And then I got stuck, and haven’t done it.  This painting is intended for a good friend of mine, and must get into the mail soon, yet I keep stalling because I want her inspiration, and her confidence and playfulness.

I have so many ideas, and yet so much fear around the creation or beginning of them all.  How do I choose?  What if I choose the “wrong” project first, or forget about my other ideas?  Maybe I should do this or that first?  What IS my style anyways?

I really need to do a serious purge right now.  Last week, I purged shoes…at least 8 pairs are out of the house.  I would like to get to my clothing.  But when it comes to “tidy the basement”, I have such a hard time.  It’s mostly my art supplies, and paintings, papers and collage material, books about art and journals for art.  How can I possibly get rid of things that have so many memories of joy attached to them, or that will have a purpose once I make the time to create again on a regular basis?  Does anyone else have this trouble?  I have seen so many neat and tidy and organized art spaces posted online, and I just cannot seem to keep my studio presentable.  I am certainly not a minimalist.

But looking at this painting, I am reminded to be courageous.  To trust my wings and to spread them wide.  To allow myself to fly.  I can create whatever my heart desires, whenever I choose to do so.  I don’t “need” things around me to inspire me, I can “live inspired” (Donna Downey).  For with letting go, comes starting anew, and new beginnings are fresh and exciting!

Abstract Expectations

So, I’ve been blocked for a while now, stuck in my head with projects I ” should do” and no real passion project in my mind.  And because I’ve been away from creating for at least a month or two, the fear of not performing well, of not creating something worth my precious time, was a hinderance on me.  But I didn’t want the structure of an online class project, I wanted to paint something fun and for me.

Yesterday at work, a friend and colleague gave me an idea for fun abstract portraits, something she had been meaning to so with photographs for a couple of years.  I got excited, and butterflies in my tummy.  I couldn’t picture the outcome, which was fabulously freeing, because when I have a vision of the finished project in my minds eye, I get stuck in the perfectionism loop of it never quite meeting my expectations.  But this, was such a different idea for me, I couldn’t imagine every detail.

I loved the sketch drawing as soon as I did it, and almost stopped there, because I didn’t want to ruin a cute thing.  But then I realized that I could totally do that again, and that by adding colour, it makes it more mine.  And gives me the pleasure of painting and playing with colour, something I’ve been craving.  And this is what came out of it on my first night.  

I used watercolour paper, so as not to have the pressure of making it something “worth while”.  It was just for me.  But I love the way it looks, I also know that by building the layers and colours that I can achieve even more joy and dramatic effect, so I do believe I will work on it again, and touch up some shadows and highlights.

This was fun, and freeing.  I let one move dictate the next.  And oh yes, there were a couple of ugly stages, but I didn’t let them bother me or hinder my joy.  I’m falling more and more in love with this, and I’m excited to do more!  The key to being freely creative is to let go of any expectations you may have.  That, for me, takes the joy away, and the whole purpose of creating is to experience freedom and joy.

Cheers!

Stuck, Distracted and Overwhelmed

Hello!  I feel like I owe you an apology for being absent.  I got really excited about my new adventure, and then I got distracted, and a few days turned into weeks, and now I’m stuck creatively, overwhelmed with so many ideas I don’t know where to start, and afraid of making a decision.  Have you ever been there?

So what could have possibly distracted me?  Well, I had an injury to my right shoulder, that is healing very well and not going to cause long term effects, but that made it next to impossible to create for a week or two, because I couldn’t raise my arm.  Don’t ask me why I didn’t blog about it then.  I guess I was frustrated and embarrassed.  And I didn’t want to bring everyone else down, I want to inspire and bring you joy!  I now realize that by sharing my highs and my lows, I can inspire more people, because it’s the natural ebb and flow of creativity.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time running, and reading a book for personal development about the first woman to officially run the Boston marathon…50 years ago today.  She returned to run it again, 50 years later.  And she was heavily involved in bringing woman’s running into society acceptance, empowering so many female athletes.  I’ve had a recent obsession with Katherine Switzer, feeling grateful for her efforts and in awe of her determination and strength.  

So I find my self currently asking a lot of questions.  Like what direction am I going?  What do I want to focus my time on?  Where is my artistic desire and focus?  What is my passion?  What Toni enjoy painting?  Do I want to work on classes or my own thing?  Have I learned enough to step out on my own?  Am I strong enough?  Do I have something worth “saying”?  What would that be?

All of these questions and doubts are overwhelming.  And I just don’t know where to start.  I ave an amazing friend, Jess, who came up with the idea of a photo inspirational challenge, to help keep us inspired to paint just something.  So the photo above is my painting inspired by a bouquet of tulips she challenged me to last month.  This no th is my choice, and I’m stuck on it, because the photo is so beautiful I want to do it right…taking the fun and freedom away from the exercise.  I think I need to take Jess’ lead and just DO something!  Art journal…no expectation, no plan, and just make art.

How contoured get out of a funk?  The fear of not being enough?  Figuring out the “right” way to spend your limited time for creating?  I know in my heart there is no right or wrong, but my head is winning the battle right now, and I’m stuck.