Blog

Absence

Hello my friends.

I am very sorry for my absence this past few weeks.  As many of you know, and some may not, I struggle with my mental health, since an incident (head injury at work) over 4 years ago.  This past month I have been in a very low place.  I don’t want to dwell on this, but I thought you should be aware.

Sometimes, as mysterious as it seems, a crash can occur following a really exciting or positive event.  And some times, a small seemingly minimal or meaningless negative or stressful thing can trigger a downward spiral.

I am still here.  I am trying to continue creating…but it has been very hard.  I struggle to paint when I am in a negative frame of mind.  It’s as though deep down I feel like if I don’t feel happy and grateful all day, I am not allowed to feel happy and grateful for even just a few moments in time creating.  But I know, logically, this just isn’t true.  Every single moment we feel happy, we encourage a greater sense of happiness and desire more joy, which when we seek and discover, turns into a spiral of chasing joy and happiness and raising our mood and energy level.  This is what I need right now.

Baby steps are so important, focusing on one step at a time, and just taking that very first step in the right direction is the key.

So I am taking some time to seek professional help, and put into place a self-care routine.  For example, I just took a class about creative writing, focusing on journaling through your thoughts, the good the bad and the ugly.  It was incredible, thanks to Darcy Patrick, the creator of the course and author of the book.  In the end, we were directed and inspired to write our own guided meditations!  The flow of the course was beautiful, and it all came together in the end.  I loved it, and have been practicing daily journaling for a few weeks now…trying to improve on it as I go in order to face my feelings more openly and honestly, in a more healthy manner.

There are other things I am working on adding into my daily routine, such as meditation, and other things that I don’t wish to share with you at this time.  But I will, when the time is right for us all.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Liz

 

Super Crawl…here I come!

Good morning friends!  Happy Friday!  I have so much excitement in my life right now, I don’t even know where to start…

In one week’s time, I will be set up inside Steel City Fab at 288 James Street North, in Hamilton, Ontario as a part of Super Crawl!  This is an annual event where artisans of multiple talents set up along a closed city street to show and sell their craft.  Live music will be available at multiple places along the street as well.  I am SO grateful for this opportunity, and so very nervous as this is my first BIG event…and second market as a vendor…ever.

What are my fears?  I am afraid of not selling and being out the cost of space, prints and display supplies.  I fear embarrassment and feeling like a failure.  I fear not connecting with people, and having art that is “nice” but not worthy of hanging in one’s home.  I fear having the wrong sizes or price points available.  I fear social burn out…as since my head injury I still struggle in crowds.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I fear selling out of original pieces and not having enough to display for the entire weekend, AND having to start completely fresh for the Artisan Bazaar markets in November and December.  However, I keep telling myself that THIS would be a really good problem to have.  🙂

Mostly I am excited.  Grateful to be a part of this amazingly well known and established market.  Excited to share my passions with more people, and BE an artist for 3 days in a row!  To tell people about my solo exhibit, Renewal.  To talk about the emotion behind these paintings, available as prints only for Super Crawl, and relate to other people’s stories.  And to share with other artists about the upcoming workshop with Donna Downey.

And so now, I struggle with focusing my energy in preparation.  Everything I currently have available is packaged and safely placed in totes, ready to transport and set up.  I have never used the particular display I am planning to use, so I don’t know how to work with my space yet.  So that gives me a little anxiety.  And my original art looks like such a small amount now that it is wrapped and packaged…so do I continue working on minis for Super Crawl?  Or do I consider myself done and focus on my commission work and solo exhibit pieces?  It amazes me how I could be painting all day every day happily, but the anxiety still kicks into gear with “am I doing the right thing?”.  Silliness, I tell you!

This pre-event anxiety is not a new feeling to me.  And this is comforting, because that means I know how to deal with it, and that I will be ok.  I feel this way EVERY TIME a run comes up.  The last 2 weeks, during my taper, I get nervous about my abilities and question my abilities, and what I was thinking when I signed up for such a task.  And in the end, I always pull through, and it is always fun and exhilarating.  I have confidence I can do this market because of the practice I have had running.  Even when I sprained my ankle, badly, during the Cottage Country Ragnar, I was able to pull myself together and complete the loop and the course.  Which proves to me that I can do hard things, and that when unexpected things happen, I can roll with the punches and get what I need to do done.  And again, the link between art and running becomes clear to me.  The lessons learned and practiced through running, DO apply to every day life scenarios, and really do provide empowerment, confidence and courage.  Bring on Super Crawl!!!

Cheers!

“To Do” Lists

 

Friends, do you write “To Do” lists?  Do you write them for the month, the week, or the day?  Or just a big list that you pick away at and never seem to get to the end of?  Do you rewrite the list every day or find joy in seeing it mostly scratched off?  Do you prioritize your lists or just go with whatever you feel like doing at the time?  Does the hard thing get done or left until you can no longer procrastinate?  Do you stick to your list regardless how you feel or do you move through your day more intuitively?  What is the most productive for you?

I am currently going through a workbook called “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy.  And no, I am not going to start actually eating frogs.  Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” -Mark Twain.  It’s a metaphor for doing the least desirable job first and getting it over with so that you can go on and enjoy the rest of your day and feel productive by the end. 

I will be honest…I haven’t actually tried it yet.  But I have been working my way through the exercises, writing lists upon lists to help me prioritize my goals and the tasks that work directly towards achieving those goals.  I have, in the past, been a chronic list writer that has not ever felt like I’ve accomplished “enough” in a day, even working from the list, because the list is ALWAYS bigger than the time available in a day, not to mention that the list is also continually growing at least as fast as it is shrinking.  I felt like I was wasting time writing the lists, but without a list I float though the day and totally forget what I really needed to get done because I am so easily distracted.  So I need some form of a list.

This book came highly recommended, and I am hoping that I can organize myself through this process so that I am more productive towards reaching my art goals!  I mean, if I am an artist, painting is a necessary part of my life now, and not just a way of relaxing.  I can’t keep considering it as an extra curricular thing to do.  And I have to let go of the guilt I feel about leaving the “house chores” in order to fit in a few hours of painting each day.

I think my frog is the business stuff…financial tracking and setting up Quickbooks, because it isn’t easy and super intuitive to me.  And I am afraid of messing it up because it is involved in my taxes for next year.  I have perfection paralysis around it.  But this is my frog, and once I am finished this blog post, I will attack this frog and hopefully get it down.  And I will NOT feel guilty for the time it takes me to research and figure out.  And even better, when I get it set up, I will be rewarding myself with painting time!!!

How do you attack your daily to do list?  Do you eat your frog first or stare at it until you can’t ignore it anymore?  I am interested to hear what works for you!  Wish me luck!

Roses are red

Sometimes, I need a reminder to stop and smell the roses.  Life can get so busy that it is hard to remember to be mindful and truly in the moment.  I work part time in a hospital, I am a mother of 2 active boys, I am a wife, and I am an artist starting my business journey.  There are a lot of items on my “to do ” list, so many in fact, that it is often overwhelming, and I don’t know where to begin.  I feel like I have different versions of “me”, literally different hats to wear, and different personalities in each part of my life.

At the hospital, I am professional.  I am a perfectionist, paying extreme attention to detail.  And I am looking after other people’s needs above my own.  I deal with hunger, dehydration and fatigue in order to keep up with the work flow most days.  Everyone and everything else comes before my needs.  I try to act confident, as I am in a position of expertise, and I do know my job well.

At home, when I am with my family, they come first.  Even as my boys are growing, I need to feed them and wash their clothes and keep them entertained and not fighting.  I feel like I need to do things my husband would want me to do that left to myself I would likely leave.  Just me, being a people pleaser.  I feel like  I am not keeping up, not doing a good enough job.  There are always things to do, and ways of doing them better.

As an artist, it is often just about me.  What do I need or want?  I can play and create freely, using colours of my choice.  I can leave my space a mess because it is MY space.  I can discover my secrets and passions.  Until…I get into my head…will people like this?  What would they prefer?  What does this even mean?!  And then…I get stuck…I cannot let my perfectionism and people pleasing intrude on my art, or the art will not happen.  Worse…it will become another item on my ever lasting “to do” list, and that is not what art is meant to be.

So I have to keep all these aspects of me separate it seems.  I can’t be vulnerable in the hospital, or I will be taken advantage of and not trusted.  I can’t be completely professional, organized and in control at home because there are too many other opinions and attitudes to incorporate.  And I can’t be free and messy at the hospital or at home, because that is just not acceptable.  There has to be a middle ground somewhere…to somehow not feel like 3 completely different people.

So, this is my reminder to stop and smell the roses…enjoy the simple pleasures in life…paint on my fingers, the ground under my feet, the sun on my skin and wind in my hair… giggles from my boys.  Pretty stones, lipstick, and flowers.  A hug.

This is a 6×6 mini rose that I painted a few months back.  And I must admit…I kind of love it and want to paint more of them!  I was afraid to paint a rose because I want to develop a loose, more abstract and relaxed style, but to get the shape of the rose I had to pay some attention to detail.  And I find red tough to work with, because you can’t lighten it easily without making pink, and I don’t want muted pink highlights, I wanted it bright and bold!

Someone told me it reminded them of Alice in Wonderland.  I LOVE that idea!  It suits me so much!  I feel like since my head injury I have fallen through the rabbit hole, and am trying to find my way back home…knowing that I will never be the same self that I was before entering.

Have you had a rabbit hole moment?  Can you see the positive that came from it, despite the pain you may have endured in the beginning?  Tell me about it!  And take a moment today to stop, and smell the roses!

 

Donna is Coming to Town!

workshop collage

Friends!  I have some very exciting news!!!  I have the privilege of hosting one of the main artists I admire and have been learning from over the past few years!  Yes!  Donna Downey is coming to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada!  (Stoney Creek, if you want to be precise).

Just over 2 years ago I attended 2 workshops at Donna’s Studio in North Carolina…one with her and one with Jane Davenport.  And I am telling you with no word of a lie, it was a life changing experience for me.  With Donna’s Abstract Florals workshop, I learned how to see and translate shadow and light onto the canvas.  I learned to paint freely and intuitively, appreciating the movement and flow of the brush strokes.  I learned to paint emotion through colour.  I left feeling alive, brave and free.  I left with more confidence…both in my art and in myself.  I felt inspired to create, and to share with other people, for I may be able to inspire others.

Donna’s workshops are so much more than just art lessons.  She enables you to dive deep into your intuition and encourages you to trust and express your truest self.  She encourages you experimentation and play with colour, which evokes joy, excitement and peace.  I believe anyone can benefit from a workshop with Donna Downey.  She teaches in a way that a beginner can follow and be impressed and happy with the experience and outcome.  At the same time, she pushes the experienced artist beyond the limits of their comfort zone, uncovering a new technique or way of seeing or transferring what is seen onto their work.  Donna challenges your mind and teaches not only techniques, but ways of looking at your own work in a new light.  She encourages you to embrace your own unique style, and follow your heart’s desire with colour and brush strokes, media and subject.  To explore something intimidating, in a friendly, encouraging and non-competitive environment.  Regardless of your experience and style, there are tips that everyone can benefit from, and at different moments in your life, a new aspect of her teaching will resonate with you.

Donna is also very inspiring.  She is self-taught, and takes a lot of pride in her experience.  One of her online courses is an Artist Study, where she focuses on one famous artist from history every month, teaches and practices techniques and then interweaves them into her own style.  It is a phenomenal course!  She dives fearlessly and passionately into new techniques, styles and art media, and is enthusiastic to share her talents and techniques with the world.

Figurative and Flowers is the name of Donna Downey’s Traveling Studio Workshop.  And it sounds so very exciting!!!  Students bring their preferred supplies, either oil or acrylic paint.  Wooden cradle boards primed with gesso and red acrylic paint are provided, as well as the use of an easel.  On day 1, Donna will instruct the class in a guided lesson.  You will paint together to develop your own painting based on Donna’s painting model.  On day 2, you begin a fresh canvas with your very own inspiration!  Donna will model techniques while you paint your own figurative composition of your choosing!  She will be there for hands-on guidance and encouragement each of the two full days of the workshop.  This course just screams excitement for me…the human figure AND flowers!  Two very expressive subjects!  And you get guidance for your very own original painting inspired by an image of your choice by Donna!

Interested in more details?  Click here.

I wish I could be a student in this course.  I would LOVE Donna’s feedback on my painting style, and to experiment with oils under her direction.  However, I have the honour of hosting the event, and I am sure I will be busy helping and making sure everyone has what they need to be able to create freely.

It amazes me how easily this came together.  No, it didn’t happen over night, and yes it took up a lot of my attention and time, but it was totally worth it.  I learned a lot.  It is interesting to me how when you open yourself up to something, the opportunities needed to make it happen just appear.  My original venue, Steel City Studio, couldn’t accommodate the large class size.  But I joined a group online of Hamilton Makers as per their recommendation.  That’s how I found the venue for this amazing workshop.  Shabby Sunflower is a new storefront and workshop space opening up in Stoney Creek in September, 2018.  They put out a post looking for people interested in teaching workshops in their beautiful space.  So I reached out and we worked out the details.  It really was that easy.  I am so excited to see the studio in person next month!  The renovation images look amazing!

I am still working out some of the details, so if you have any questions, please, contact me by email (lizzieloumixedmedia@yahoo.com) and I will happily answer you or find the answer for you.

Please share this blog with your friends and family.  You never know who could use this amazing workshop and some face time with Donna Downey, as well as like-minded artists.  Thank you!

Cheers!!!

painting4

Finding Inspiration

 

 

Inspiration flowers

Sometimes I don’t know what to paint.  I either have too many ideas and I can’t choose, or I have none at all.  Sometimes I have paintings on the go that I need to work on, but want more time to devote to them than I have to work at the moment.  Sometimes I am intimidated by what I have done so far, and fear messing it up, even though I know it is not complete.  Sometimes, I have blank canvas anxiety…but this is less often than the other reasons that I have mentioned.

So when I want to create and don’t know where to start, I look for inspiration in my surroundings.  Every day little things.  But this can also become overwhelming, because I could really paint anything at all.  How do I choose?  The flowers in my garden, photos of my kids or landscapes from trips we have taken.  Simple household still lives like a lemon or an apple, a tea cup or a vase.  Or any one of the many inspirational pictures I have saved on Pinterest.

So sometimes, when I’m shopping, I buy myself some flowers.  This makes me happy, brightens the house, and gives me inspiration to paint.  I can paint the entire bouquet, or each flower individually.  It inspires me with varying shapes and colours.  This bouquet, especially, I LOVE the colours!  And I have not successfully painted a rose or a lily as of yet, so it is a new challenge.  Even this simple attempt to focus my inspiration has so much potential and so many directions I can go.  But it helps me to focus.  And it makes me happy.

I LOVE to paint whimsical portraits, but they take a lot of time and focus and effort, and are slow to get the same gratification as painting flowers.  And I am still experimenting with colours, but find portraits a little more limiting to the palette.  Abstract florals on the other hand, allow instant colour enjoyment, and a playful child-like experience.  They are happy making.  And they look good in a loose style.  I can let go of perfectionism with florals, and just splash some paint around for a while.  Layering and playing with light.

Where do you find your inspiration?  How do you decide what to paint?  Do you buy yourself muses?  Or use what is around you?  Or do you have images in your head and stories that pour onto the canvas or page?  Tell me about your process.

Cheers!

 

A Soothing Inspirational Original by Katrina Koltes

Katrina Koltes is a woman I admire over the internet.  We “met” in an online workshop by Jane Davenport.  Katrina had an instant knack and talent, from what I could see.  There is a beautiful grace to her art…a whispy airiness, and a comforting warmth.  I bought a few prints from her journal pages, early on in her career, and thought “this woman is going to BE someone”.  And now, years later, I have managed to score one of her originals in her first online solo auction!  And she is building her art business and reputation, and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my friend.  She inspires me every day, and proves that a woman with small children CAN chase her dreams, grab them by the coat tails, and learn to not only fly, but soar.

I am SO amazingly grateful that this beautiful piece is hanging in my home, above my art table, where I feel she is watching over me as I create.  She is “The Guardian”…soft and strong, confident and kind.  I love the combination of her flawless skin and the textured background…like even through a storm she is gentle grace and compassionate freedom.  Nothing is going to stop her or those she helps on their journeys.  She is strength and courage and love.  This is MY interpretation.  Tell me about it!  Share a picture!  Did you get it?