Hope On A Paper Towel

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Fear has been reaching out for me lately. While I believe that good wins out in the end—there are days when I struggle to stay hopeful. And then I found a pocket of hope in an unexpected place, a roll of paper towels.

 

I’m trying to cut back on paper towel usage—the environment, you know. But I haven’t been able to go cold turkey. So I picked up a three-pack of the cheapest towels on the shelf. Each role had a design. I can’t remember what was on roll one except for the fact that it was pink and baby blue. Not my colors. Roll two had butterflies. Who doesn’t like butterflies? Roll three was special. There was a message running over the first two squares. This is what it said: “Each MORNING is an Opportunity to SHINE, a CHANCE to give the past a KICK in the pants, and the future a BEAR HUG.”

Sometimes I find meaning in the strangest places. I remember the paper towel message every morning when I sign a petition to honor freedom of speech and religion, make a phone call to protect the environment, or send a letter to the little girl I sponsor in Rwanda. I think of it now and then on my way to work where I teach young children with special needs. I’m helping them give their future a bear hug. I just need a reminder now and then that what I do matters.

But wait! There was a second message on that roll of paper towels. The second message said: “Love BIG, play HARD and eat DESSERT. Savor the simple things and DON’T WORRY about the rest. CHOOSE today to be AMAZING.”

Worry is not proactive. It weights us down. Even in the midst of great challenges, it’s OK to play and eat dessert. It’s the moments of fun that rest our minds and feed our souls. All work and no play wears us down. So I dance. I spend time with good friends and supportive family. And I continue to hope. I hope for a future that works for everyone. As Tiny Tim once said, “God bless us, every one.”

Anatomy Of A Painting

I posted recently that I was working on a new painting and worried that it wouldn’t be finished in time for the upcoming art reception at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery. Well, I got it done, but lost a lot of sleep doing it.

People often ask me. “How long did it take you to paint that?” Or they want to know something about the process. So, here’s how this particular piece came together. Keep in mind that every piece is different, and my process is not necessarily typical. Every artist has his or her own approach. Here’s mine.

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Day 1—Roughing in the subject

First, I painted in the background. I use acrylic paint. A discussion of acrylic versus oil may be a subject for a future blog. I always start with Indian Yellow. It gives a nice underglow. Next, I sketched in the subject. I don’t always start with a drawing, but this is a portrait of my granddaughter, Elise. When I’m doing a portrait, I want to make sure that the proportions are correct and everything is right where I want it. So I draw.

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Day 2—Face first

I don’t always start with the face, In fact, I usually start with the background. I enjoy figure drawing most and tend to save the best for last. But I wanted some assurance that this painting would bear a resemblance to my granddaughter. If I didn’t get that reassurance would i have quit? Probably not. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

 

 

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Day 3—Move back

At this point I moved to the background and starting roughing in the color, simulating wood grain in the flooring, painting the carpet background, and placing a design on the curtain in the back. I worked on the walls as well. The background colors are very close, but there had to be differentiation. I found this stage to be a bit tedious. It doesn’t look like a lot happened here, but many more hours went into this phase.  I’m going to keep an actual count of work hours on the next painting.

 

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Day 4—More background detail

Longing to get to the figure, but I wanted to keep working on that background. Since Elise is placed in the actual environment where I snapped her photo, I wanted it to be accurate. Elise loves to get out all my hats when she visits and model them before the wall of mirrors in my room. I’m painting what will one day be her memory. Keep going…

 

 

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Day 5—Rough in the figure

At last, I’m on to the figure! That pink hat is Elise’s favorite. It’s also the one I wore to the women’s march. It gets around. By now the painting has a title, The Pink Hat. I gave Elise the dress she’s wearing in the painting. It actually has a western theme. Goes with the hat…

 

 

 

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Day 6—Details details

There are two figures here, Elise and Elise’s reflection. The mirror element is a challenge. I started the dress pattern at this stage. The dress has horses on it. I needed to just suggest them. If I covered the dress with realistic little horses people would tend to focus on them, not the painting as a whole. I’m not happy with the face but I still have time. It was a work day so I started painting after dinner. I painted until 3 AM with a raging storm in the background. Another work day tomorrow. Tired!

 

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Day 7—Almost done

After staying up late the previous night and working all day, I had a hard time dragging myself back to the studio. Lack of sleep sapped all my energy. I just sat on the couch and dozed in front of the TV when I should have been painting. Getting up was REALLY hard, but I knew I had to in order to be ready for the show. I finally entered the studio at 11 PM and painted until 5 AM. It’s hanging day at the gallery. Finish!

 

 

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Day 8—Close-up & done (maybe)

Got up at 7 AM—not much sleep—and painted finishing touches until 10. So much for sleep, or lack of. Not sure the photo shows the actual color palate accurately, but you get the idea. I’m still not totally happy with the painting, but I’m my own worst critic. I’ll probably  do a bit more work in the future. In the meantime, you can see the painting at the Cloverdale Gallery.

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Why I Procrastinate…

This week I am a casebook study in extreme procrastination. Case in point—there is an art reception at my gallery this coming Saturday. We hang the art on Friday, just five days away. I have nothing new. I am working on a painting that I hope will be done in time, yet I have come up with a long list of reasons not to paint. Today, I have soaked in the tub, taken a lovely walk (such a nice day), watched reruns of Fixer Upper on TV (I’ve seen them all before), cleaned my kitchen, viewed my email and even played a few games of solitaire on my phone. What I have not done is paint.

To be honest, I’m in more of a writing mood this week. I just finished a fan fiction story for an upcoming Redwood Writers contest. I’ve done some research on a story about Sonoma County for the next Club anthology, and attended a workshop yesterday morning designed to facilitate writing said story. I’ve written a few pages about an ugly little man who turns women into flowers (I’m working out a few logistics on that one), and started a memoir about the man who broke his thumb over my head. Yet, I admit, I’ve procrastinated a bit on those stories as well.

zebraartwIn addition to all the above, I desperately want to publish my children’s book, Amazing Animals! Fun Facts from A to Z. Everyone who sees it claims to love it, but no one (yet) has been willing to publish it. So, I’m considering self-publishing. All I need to do is finish the art—four paintings done, only twenty-two more to go. Procrastination!

A peek at Amazing Animals!                                                                 Z is for Zebra…do you know why they have stripes? It’s not just for camoflage.

Getting back to the painting I should be working on today— I love the subject matter, but find working on the background a bit tedious. It’s a portrait, and painting people is my thing. That’s what I really enjoy…people and animals. Still, I have resisted doing the work all week. Oh, I’ll probably finish in time, although it will likely involve some serious sleep deprivation, the price I will pay for my procrastination. And, actually, writing this blog could also be labeled procrastination. I have promised myself I would write one blog a week, but finishing the painting should take precedence. After all, I have a deadline.

I’d love to show you where I am on the painting thus far. However, it’s a surprise for someone. Showing it here would likely ruin the surprise. I will publish it if/when it’s done.

All this brings me back to the title of this piece, Why I Procrastinate. Let me admit that I really have no idea what causes me to procrastinate. My mind is spinning with so many great ideas. Or maybe they aren’t so great. Is that what stops me? Fear of failure? Or, maybe it’s fear of success that puts up roadblocks. What would my life be like if I succeeded?

You might ask yourself, “Why would anyone be afraid of success?” Mark McGuinnes addresses this interesting question in his blog, Are You (Subconsciously) Afraid of Success? Check it out.

Perhaps Marianne Williamson penned the most famous quote about fear of success…“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Fear of failure, fear of success—the end result often looks exactly the same. With that in mind, I’m drawing this blog to a close and returning to my painting. I’ll let you know what happens. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Why do you procrastinate?

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You’re Invited! Reception hours are 5 to 7:30. Wine, food, art and brief presentations by the participating artists. I’ll be there. Join me at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery.

 

Sonoma County, California: Hotbed of Culture

 

a-street-copy“When I retire, I’m going to move to an art community.” That’s what I used to tell myself. I actually looked into the artists’ colony in Sand City, California, as well as a number of other locations that attract the art minded. Then, one morning, I woke up and asked myself, “Where would you go that has more artists per capita than Sonoma County?” The answer was, “Nowhere.” So, this year I’ll be blogging about all the art opportunities here in Sonoma County—for artists and supporters of the arts. We have amazing galleries and museums, art enclaves (think A Street and The Barracks to name a few), plus many venues that offer art classes in every area imaginable. I’ll be featuring various galleries and events from time to time, and spotlighting local artists. This week, check below for Art Walks throughout the County…

8tgb9ng7cMaybe visual the visual arts aren’t your thing, but you love theater. Or, better yet, you love art and theater. Rest assured, theater is alive and well in Sonoma County. You’ll find Main Stage West in Sebastopol, Spreckles Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park, and Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma. Santa Rosa has the Sixth Street Playhouse, Shakespeare at the Cannery (summers) and a great repertory theater at Santa Rosa Junior College. The Luther Burbank Center for the Arts boasts three resident theater companies: North Bay Stage Company, Roustabout Theater and Left Edge Theater. The Raven Performing Arts Theater offers great performances in Healdsburg. Up and coming Cloverdale has a Performing Arts Center too. If you are interested in honing your theater skills, check out Windsor’s Performing Arts Academy. WPAA provides musical drama experiences for public schools in Windsor K-8 and mentors many students each year at Windsor High School—all at no cost to the schools. The nomadic Pegasus Theater Company has its roots in the River Area but makes theatrical appearances throughout the County. One county away is the annual  Mountain Play at the top of Mount Tamalpais. Even though this event takes place in Marin County, it’s too special not to mention, and well worth the trip up the mountain in a big yellow school bus. I’ve been attending for the past six years and have no plans to stop until they cart me away. Mid May to mid June only.

untitledmusicCalling all music lovers! Sonoma County has a fine symphony housed in the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University. It features the 1,400 seat Weill Hall, one of the most acoustically perfect performance centers in the world. In addition to the symphony, the Center also presents guest artists in a variety of musical styles. You don’t have to look very far to find live music throughout Sonoma County: hip hop, jazz, folk, blues, hard rock, Cajun and classical—something for every taste. Most of the performance centers listed under theater, above, also host a wide array of musical events.

writingIf you love to write and/or attend book events and readings. Sonoma County has that covered too. Yes, we still have some great bookstores that sponsor events. I’m especially grateful to Copperfield Books. I’m saving most of my information on the writing community for another blog. But I will mention that Santa Rosa hosts the largest chapter of the California Writers Club. Early honorary members included Jack London, George Sterling, John Muir, Joaquin Miller, and the first California poet laureate, Ina Coolbrith. Our local chapter, the Redwood Writers Club, meets monthly at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa. The Club motto is, “Writers helping writers.”  As a grateful active member, I recommend looking into this organization if you write or aspire to write.

There’s still more! Sonoma County has many opportunities for dancers. That’s another rich topic to be explored later. Looks like there’s a lot of information to be covered as 2017 unfolds. In the meantime, Thank you Jean Shepherd for collecting information on Art Walks in Sonoma County. Some of these dates and times can change depending on the season, so calling ahead might be good idea. Where available, Jean has provided phone numbers and emails. Also, a few additional events. (From OLLI Art Club – December 2016)

COME ON! TAKE AN ART WALK…

artwalk-logoArt Walks can include exhibits, music, food, and wine and are always fun. Each is a bit different, but all are worth the walk!

BODEGA
1st Sat ~ Art in Action ~ learn about various arts – up front and personal. 11-5, Artisans’ Co-Op, 17135-A Bodega Hwy, Bodega ~ 876-9830 ~ artisansco-op.com

CLOVERDALE & GEYSERVILLE
Thru May 2017 ~ Sculpture Trail Exhibit ~ The Sculpture Trail, produced by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance and the Geyserville Community Foundation, is a year-round, outdoor exhibit with sculptures changing every May.  9 new sculptures in Cloverdale and 8 new sculptures in Geyserville will be added to the sculptures already on display.  sculwww.101sculpturetrail.com

Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery –  MIX –  January 21 through March 17, 2017                          Artists’ Reception: Saturday, January 21 from 5 to 7:30 pm — 204 N. Cloverdale Blvd. Cloverdale Featured resident artist, Terry Holleman. Guest artists, Michael Coy – painting – and Aaron Poovey – sculpture.

FULTON CROSSING
Fulton Crossing is an industrial artisan center in Sonoma County providing workshop space to local artists, crafters and makers of visual and functional art.
Open Studio at Fulton Crossing – third Friday of every month. This month – January 20, 2017, 5:00-8:00 pm

GUERNEVILLE
1st Friday Art Walk Guerneville – the HeART of the Russian River. Year-Round.
Artist Receptions, Art Exhibits, Music, Food & Wine Pairings! Art Galleries, Open Studios, Merchants open til 8:00.  INFO: Russian River Art Gallery 
16357 Main St., Guerneville, (707) 869-9099

Exhibit: thru Apr 2017 ~ Russian River Glory Days ~ A Tribute to Clare Harris. The Russian River Historical Society announces its latest exhibit regarding the heydays of the Russian River and the town of Rio Nido as exhibited by the efforts and contributions of the Harris family who purchased and developed Rio Nido into a tourist destination in the 30’s and 40’s. This exhibit also focuses upon Clare Harris, one of two brothers, who ran the world famous dance hall at
RIO NIDO which featured some of the country’s great Big Bands.
Guerneville Bank Club, 16209Main St, Guerneville.  www.russianriverhistory.org

HEALDSBURG
2nd Sat ~ Healdsburg Art Walk  ~ Music, art, food, wine. May-Dec, 5:00-8:00 pm,
Downtown Healdsburg ~ 433-6935 ~ healdsburg.com

OCCIDENTAL
Nov 18 – Jan 15 – “Art and Gifts: Toute Petite” presented by Occidental Center for the Arts.
Unique exhibit and sale  Open Fridays through Sundays.
FREE – Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The gallery is located at 3850 Doris Murphy Ct, Occidental, off of Bohemian Highway near the intersection with Graton Road.  (707) 874-9392.

PETALUMA
Art Walk – 2nd Saturday, 5-8pm (Winter hours Nov – Feb)
petalumadowntown.com/petalumaart.aspx

Petaluma Art Center
Gallery Hours: Thursday through Monday from 11am-5pm
Center hours: Thurs. through Mon., 11 am to 5 pm – 4th Monday Free Admission
230 Lakeville Street, Petaluma – 762-5600 x100.  Visit Events page at www.PetalumaArtsCenter.org Fourth Mondays Free!

Riverfront Art Gallery, 132 Petaluma Blvd. N. – 707-775-4278                                                             New Show – January 11th to March 5th – Altered Reality: Photoshopped or Not? Photographs by Lance Kuehne.

SANTA ROSA
First Friday Art Walk  ~ Year-round – Santa Rosa art galleries and studios open for monthly First Friday event. Participating galleries include (Open 5-7pm): The Art Trails Gallery at Corricks, and Annex Gallery. Open 5-8pm: Chroma Gallery, Christie Marks Gallery, Studios at 312 S. A and Backstreet Studios.  707-836-3099 – Email: melissa@ancientoakcellars.com

Barracks Artists – Now Open 1st Saturday of every month. Cutting-edge work.
Located in the Old Finley Barracks.
The Studio Santa Rosa, 3840 Finley Ave, Santa Rosa, California
https://www.facebook.com/baraart/info

SOFA (South of A Street)
1st Friday Art Walk 5-7:00pm; sofasantarosa.com/

 

 

Ten Steps To A Kinder 2017

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I have vowed to stay away from politics in my blog, but let me just say that recent events have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety as we enter 2017.  Fear makes us forget that we are, at heart, compassionate human beings and creates an “us” versus “them” view of the world. In reality, there is only “us.”

The Dali Lama recently stated that fear makes us act as if we are drunk. We do and say things we would not normally do. However, I am seeing some hopeful signs that we are sobering up. I was particularly moved by a recent speech by Canadian Prime minister, Justin Trudeau, to the UN General Assembly. In it, he advised us to choose hope over fear, diversity over division. “Fear has never created a single job or fed a single family.”

The only thing that neutralizes fear is love. Every spiritual tradition has told us so, and I believe it. Yes, there are haters out there, but most of us want to be kind. Sometimes fear gets in the way, and we become anxious. For me, the best way to counteract anxiety is to do something nice for someone else. Give it a try. You might be surprised by the effect a simple smile or compliment has on someone else, and how good you feel afterward.

The choices I make, and the things I say and do (or don’t say and do) have an impact on my life and the lives of others, and so do yours. For myself, I’ve made a resolution to be kinder and more compassionate in 2017. I knew I needed something to keep me on track. So, after careful consideration, I came up with the following  to-do list. There’s nothing new here, just gentle reminders of things I know but sometimes forget. Maybe you forget sometimes, too. If these suggestions strike a chord, use them and share with others. Together, we can make the world a kinder, more hopeful place.

  1. Do no harm—Remember the golden rule; treat others as you would like to be treated. No exceptions, including planet earth and ALL the creatures living on it.
  2. Practice kindness—An act of kindness has the ability to shift someone’s bad day into a better one. Why not be that change? Research tells us that we become happier by making other people happier.
  3. Remember, you can’t tell a book by its cover—It’s hard to look past appearances and our own prejudices. Make the effort. The book you almost rejected just might be a real page turner. I was so intent on hanging out with the “right people” in college that I almost missed a girl who became my lifelong friend.
  4. Support organizations that do good work—You can’t support every organization. Support the ones that speak to you. The homeless? Global warming? Human Rights? No one can do it all, but everyone can do something.
  5. Be a helper, volunteer—This is a natural follow-up to number four. “One of the greatest ironies of life is this: he or she who serves almost always benefits more than he who is served.” (Gordon Hinkle) Discover five surprising benefits of volunteering.
  6. Don’t be against anything; be for something—When asked why she never participated in anti-war demonstrations, Mother Teresa replied, “I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
  7. Always do your best—”Your best is going to change from moment to moment…it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.” (Don Miguel Ruiz)
  8. Be an active listener—Listening is different from hearing. Active listening requires that the listener keep an open mind, refrain from judgement and be attentive. The ability to listen to what another person is saying is essential to working through conflict. If I am formulating my  response before the other person has finished, I am not actively listening.
  9. Don’t make assumptions—We’ve all done it. When we wrongly assume another person’s motivation, problems ensue. Wars have been started by assumptions that were not factual. Number nine can often be avoided by following number eight—are you listening?
  10. If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all—Arguably the most famous line from Disney’s Bambi, Thumper’s mother was right. The negative things we say about others are like boomerangs bringing negativity back into our own lives. It’s my job to keep my words positive. A good rule is to ask is, “Will my words hurt someone?” Are they beneficial? Once spoken, a word can never be taken back. This refers to social media as well as the spoken word. Refraining from negative comments is one way to practice rule #2—be kind. Maybe that’s all we really need to remember.

Wishing EVERYONE a kind and happy 2017!

The Poem That Defined Santa and Christmas Present

I’ve known Santa for some time and he hasn’t changed a bit…

At four I knew just what I wanted, and I still do!2pamsanta

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Everyone knows that Santa is a plump, jolly fellow with a long white beard. It’s common knowledge that he circles the globe every Christmas Eve in a sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer. You get bonus points at Christmas trivia contests if you can name them all. Stomping on your roof and the jiggling of bells indicates that Santa has arrived. Hopefully you have a chimney for him to climb down—there are various explanations of how he enters homes that are lacking in that department. Of course, his suit is red. Hasn’t that always been the case? Well, actually, no. Father Christmas, one of his predecessors, usually wore green. The historical Saint Nicholas, most likely the inspiration for Santa Claus, probably wore a Grecian toga.  That good saint went through periods of favor and disfavor, taking a major hit during the English Reformation, and later in Puritan America. However, Colonial Germans in Pennsylvania kept the feast of St. Nicholas, and several later accounts have St. Nicholas visiting New York Dutch on New Year’s Eve. New Year gift giving had become the English custom in 1558 and this English custom lasted in New York until 1847). “

Washington Irving published the satirical Knickerbocker’s History of New York in 1809 in which he made numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character who smoked a clay pipe. Then, in 1821, The Children’s Friend, was published. The first lithographed book printed in America, it contained an anonymous poem in which “Sante Claus” arrived from the North Pole in a sleigh pulled by one flying reindeer. This Sante Claus rewarded good behavior with books and safe toys (no toy guns or sabers), and left a birchen rod with which parents were instructed to punish the naughty. It was S. Claus’ first appearance on Christmas Eve, rather that December 6th. The seeds of Christmas present were planted, and sprouted into full bloom with the publication of A Visit From St. Nicholas in 1823. The poem is now better known as The Night Before Christmas.

Who Actually Wrote the Night Before Christmas? moore-livingston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                Clement Clark Moore                                                        Henry Livingston, Jr.

The poem was first published anonymously and later claimed by Clement Clark Moore, a professor of biblical languages at New York’s Episcopal General Theological Seminary. However, in 1859, 36 years after the poem first appeared in print, the children of Henry Livingston, Jr. came forward and asserted that the poem was actually written by their father around 1807. They claimed to remember him reading the poem to them as children. There has been extensive literary research on both claims and opinions are divided. However, opinion seems to be tipping toward Livingston.

Regardless of who wrote the poem, the effect is the same. The Night Before Christmas has solidified the secular image of St. Nicholas, (AKA Santa Claus) as a jolly old elf who flies through the air every Christmas Eve dispensing gifts to good little children all over the world. The image was reinforced by political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, in 1881 and continues to be celebrated today through song, television, children’s books, movies, and advertising (think Coca Cola). Santa still makes my heart swell when he makes his first magical appearance of the Christmas season at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he’s looking good!

Still the Inner Critic: Read Away Debilitating Self-Doubt

I am an artist. I am also a writer. Self-doubt arises in both arenas. Today’s blog focuses on my journey as a visual artist. The fear that I was only pretending to be an artist haunted me for years. It slowed the creative flow, and prevented me from showing my art in public. What if they felt sorry for me? (“Honestly…does she really think she can paint?”)

Despite my doubts, I never completely stopped creating art. Through failed romances, a divorce, physically and emotionally draining jobs, and the demands of raising two exceptional sons, I continued to create in dribs and drabs. I painted, wrote, took classes, learned new skills and hid my work away in case someone discovered that I was not a “real” artist.

I am past that now (mostly). Every artist has moments of self-doubt. I may never have an exhibit at a prestigious museum, earn accolades from the art establishment, or become a household name. Nevertheless, I am an artist. Whether or not you (whomever you may be) like my work or not, I am still an artist.

Kenny Minear recognized that fact in kindergarten. Every drawing and sculpture of mine that he could get his hands on, he mutilated. I still remember how proud I was of my clay elephant before Kenny turned it into a pancake. Jealousy is destructive, but I knew Kenny thought I was a great artist.

My mother believed I was an artist. Every Saturday morning, through sun and rain and snow, she drove me to the Wyomissing Institute of Fine Art. I was ten when I started; twelve when we moved to the Midwest. But I still kept studying—at several universities and with various artists on the East Coast and here in the Bay Area. Why I chose not to get a degree in art is a personal matter. Degree or not, I am still an artist. Yet my self-doubt kept me from enjoying art for many years. A blank canvas gave me panic attacks. I couldn’t even take pleasure in visiting an art gallery. Comparing my art (unfavorably) to everything I saw, I told myself, “You suck,” and only produced two or three paintings a year. If I actually submitted a piece in a show and it was rejected, it was further proof that I had no talent.

self-doubtSo how did I heal my debilitating self-doubt? Enter Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way. I started an artists’ support group. We immersed ourselves in Julia’s books. I faithfully did my morning pages, went on my weekly artist’s date, and completed the chapter assignments. It may sound simplistic, but it worked. The support of my fellow artists in the group helped as well. I get juried into shows now, and sometimes I don’t. But these days, I don’t take rejection so personally. I’m more likely to say, “That was one person’s opinion,” or “That just wasn’t what they were looking for.” I no longer buy into the elitist theory that only a gifted few are “real” artists—“them” versus the rest of us. I am an artist.

Today, I’m a resident artist at the Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery, have been juried into  American Art Collector for the past six years, sell some pieces here and there, and am producing art in greater quantities than ever before. More importantly, I’m enjoying myself. When I have moments of self-doubt—and who doesn’t—I pick up one of the following books. All are designed to minimize self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, procrastination and other inhibiting forces. The next time you fell compelled to do the laundry instead of picking up a paintbrush, brush up on your reading…

Pamela’s Picks for Unblocking Creativity:

 The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

“The Artist’s Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist’s life. This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe.” – Goodreads

If her New Age approach doesn’t resonate with you, I urge you to still consider using her tools. There’s a reason this book has been a best seller for 25 years. The tools work. She expands her ideas in the following three books. Each is a 12-week program designed to enhance your creativity. I recommend a support group to keep you on track.

Walking In This World, The Practical Art of Creativity, Julia Cameron

Finding Water, the Art of Perseverance, Julia Cameron

The Vein of Gold, a Journey to Your Creative Heart, Julia Cameron

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 Art & Fear, David Bayles and Ted Orland

“Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way. This is a book about what it feels like to sit in your studio or classroom, at your wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do. It is about committing your future to your own hands, placing free will above predestination, choice above chance. It is about finding your own work.” ©1993 David Bayles and Ted Orland

 Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon

“Engaging, inspiring and practical advice on becoming a successful artist, advice that applies well beyond artistic pursuits… This is a quick, easily digestible read that is particularly relevant in today’s digital world.”—School Library Journal

 

The Story of the Humble Blackberry Poem

blackberry-bush

 

 

 

In my last blog I complained that poets who rhyme are a lot like the late Rodney Dangerfield. They don’t get much respect. There are a few notable exceptions like Kay Ryan and Richard Wilber, but for the most part, poets who rhyme are expected to feel a little apologetic.

I tend to send my non-rhyming poems out into the world in hopes of landing in poetry reviews and anthologies. I have had some success. But poems that rhyme are often kept hidden in a folder on my computer. I entered one of them in the County Fair this year. It won a blue ribbon. It wasn’t an accolade from the Midwestern Poetry Review. Still, someone liked it.

Recently I read a few of my poems to my writer’s critique group. I planned on entering a few in an upcoming contest and wanted the opinion of my fellow writers as to which poems were submission worthy. When I finished reading my “serious” poems, I had an afterthought.

“You know,” I said, “I have another little poem I wrote last fall. I was walking along a trail with my little dog, Peanut. Blackberry bushes lined the path, most covered with shriveled fruit—seasons end. Then, a spot of white caught my eye. It was a blackberry blossom struggling to produce against tremendous odds. I went home and wrote the following little poem. I’m not going to send this one out, but I’d Iike to read it to you.”

The Lesson

blackberryblossomLast blackberry blossom of fall,

most optimistic flower of all.

It’s a brave show, but tinged with regret—

there isn’t time for your fruit to set.

Nature’s lesson shows those who wait

that good intentions can start too late.

When destiny calls, don’t tarry;

be a bloom that becomes a berry.

Our group meets at a local coffee shop. People tend to come and go around us. So, I didn’t pay particular attention to the man at the next table when he rose to leave. I was surprised, however, when he headed in my direction, leaned over, and whispered into my ear, “I liked the one about the blackberry.” He’d been listening.

Suddenly, my simple, little poem felt more important. A stranger’s comment emboldened me to say, “Damn it, I honestly like this poem!” And you know what? I do. No apologies for the rhyme.

stolen-light

Gift the gift of Poetry For Christmas…                                              Stolen Light: Redwood Writers 2016 Poetry Anthology

Beautifully crafted poems by some of the finest poets from Sonoma County, California. A lovely gift for anyone who enjoys poetry in all its forms.