Fun exchange with awesome artist, Amanda Wolf Hara. She is the December guest artist my free 2017 art journaling journey. The last one of the year! It is bittersweet, and I don’t know how the year moved so fast…
When I was a little girl, my grandparents (who emigrated from Latvia) watched me all day while my mom worked. From Gramma I learned painting and fine art basics- painting every week, at least, with watercolors while Bob Ross was on PBS in the background.
Other afternoons I’d spend in Opa’s (My grandfather), woodcarving shop in their basement, listening to classical music and learning how to carve on soft pine.
Both grandparents took me outdoors a lot- to the local pond, nature center or just for walks around the neighborhood where we always stopped to watch what nature was doing.
I drew incessantly, (mostly horses!) and even painted watercolors on my bedroom walls. I drew on any scrap of paper I could find- my mom always said “you do some of your finest work on the worst paper.”
I dunno, I just Arted all the time. I took it for granted; it was just something I did- it didn’t seem like a big deal at all, even as I started getting awards in school.
In college I spent a semester in the theater’s scenic design program. I had one of the best teachers who helped me advance my skills by leaps and bounds. He was amazing.
LOL, I still struggle with seeing my art as a “big” deal. I just love doing it. It’s just what I do.
What does art do for you?
The world quiets down when I hold a paintbrush. There’s something about the sensual act of painting that quiets my brain like nothing else seems to; that particular hush seems unique to that medium for me.
The “graffiti” style journaling I do is like a really good aerobic work-out for my mind and emotions. It’s cathartic and raises a lot of energy for me- which is good, because I need that process to get to a breakthrough point.
What form of art do you prefer making? Art journaling or painting?
Lol, I really can’t pick! I truly love all art mediums, I do photography, writing, sculpture, sewing, crafting, jewelry making, re-purposing/upcycling, some collaging, pastels, colored pencils, wood burning every once in s while, acrylic and watercolor… I just cycle through.
My apartment really looks like I own half a craft store. Also, I paint on any surface that holds still long enough for me.
Next on my list is picking up a soldering iron. (Insert slightly maniacal laughter.) I’ll be unstoppable! I can do metal work. I have a tin can project I’d LOVE to see manifest.
After that, working with glass; blowing it, fusing it, stained glass etc. I just want to know how to do it. :).
Do you use art in any particular way? As in healing, journaling about your life or just for fun?
Yes, to all of the above.
It’s definitely therapy, and as I mentioned, it’s my way of tapping into deeper problem solving techniques. I Art all the time. I look at something- even garbage- like packaging materials-and immediately start challenging myself to think about what it could be used for, what could it look like, what it could give to an art piece.
My love too, is in teaching creative processes to others- helping someone tap into their creative capacity and that intuitive “knowing” we all have within us.
What inspires you?
Nature, for sure. And that extends to human nature, instincts, behaviors etc..
Also, stories. A lot of my art is driven by telling the stories of things that I believe get overlooked. I love the old stories of deities and characters that I think still hold just as much relevancy as they ever did.
My art maybe gives them an update and puts them into context in a way that we Modernites can still access them and recognize them.
Getting people to see their world in a new way- that rock-back-on-your-heels-a-little-and-go: “Oh… Wow! I never…” THAT. That inspires me.
Do you have any favorite artist or style?
Ummm… no. I like a lot of different things- I guess art that tells stories, and cultural pieces. That being said, there are definitely some forms of art that I just don’t understand.
As far as artists? There are so many- even ones I’ve had the pleasure of meeting- whose names I will, sadly, never remember.
But I’ll try:
Jo Jayson. OMG. She’s INCREDIBLE. I would love to learn to paint half as well as she does. And her Divine Feminine works are utterly brilliant.
Theo Jansen and his Strandbeests- Ohmygoodness. I will never be that level of cool, and I’m okay with that. But I would LOVE to share a beach space with any of his “beests” any day.
Pat and Ken Larson of Larson Clayworks.
Ever since I first saw their work I’m absolutely captivated.
I like Picasso- not necessarily the work itself, but the fact that he could do the very realistic detailed stuff, but chose to step out, break the rules and create new ways of considering what art can be.
Da Vinci, too- the imagination and invention- oh, that’s good stuff!
O’Keeffe comes to mind too- her voice and work I deeply appreciate being in this world.
What is the advice you would give new artists?
OMG, play with your art, please!
Art is about expression, about exploration.
Make mistakes. Learn how to turn them into something new and exciting. Learn how to make them look like they always belonged there.
It should on some level always be fun; it stays encouraging that way.
And get messy.
In every sense.
Get pastels imbedded in your fingertips. Discover acrylic paint in your hair a week after being in studio.
Get (safely) messy emotionally too- open yourself up. Get raw, get vulnerable. Or, get quiet and super still. Defy the norms you set for yourself and see where that takes you.
Any suggestions to artists who are stuck in a rut or in a feeling of inadequacy?
Aside from playing?
Learn to Art for yourself.
Do it because there’s a voice in you that simply cannot be expressed in any other way.
Art as a product is always subjective.
Art as a process isn’t.
It’s personal and intimate and deeply intrinsic. It’s like a muscle that needs to be exercised; work it out, let go of the attachment to the end product and surrender to where the process of Arting wants to take you.
Oh, and OMG laugh at (with) yourself as often as possible.
When your inner critic gets too bossy, get them drunk on purposeful mistake after glorious purposeful mistake until s/he is so full they pass out. Then, joyfully create.
What is your all time favorite art supply?
Ooooh…. That’s a little like asking me to pick a favorite child. For the sake of all of them, I plead the fifth. 🙂
No inspiration? That happens to all of us creative types. There are many reasons why inspiration is absent, and I have recently been in the middle of a painful situation that has robbed me of all concentration and inspiration.
Health is maybe the most important facet of life. Without health we have nothing or we struggle. I’m a reasonably healthy person but lately I have had a shoulder pain that has bothered me for days.
I woke up at 4 am one morning and had a burning pain near my shoulder-blade. It has since spread to make life very uncomfortable.
It’s not as bad as a toothache or earache if you’ve had one of those. Wowsa!
It’s like something burning and gnawing on my shoulder. Off to the massage therapist I go tomorrow!
That is just one example that can stop you in your flow.
However, I still show up at my art table. That is my commitment. I spread on paint on my pages without enthusiasm, and let it be at that.
I can always come back to the pages. I have my artistic dream, and pain is not going to hold me back. I might not feel happy, rather the opposite, but who says you can’t paint ugly painful art…?
When I commit to something, like my art, I aim to move forward with some kind of art expression every day. My day feels wasted otherwise.
Life throws us curve balls and it’s up to us how we deal with them. You hear of successful people who have no arms and legs and still make a success of their life.
They choose to see and work on the positive they have in life
Pain won’t kill us but can become a sad excuse if we let it.
To have a purpose is good whether we carry it out fully or not.
It’s good to take action! Take action to heal, and do something you normally like to do. Every day.
Things can always get better! We may not feel better but we’ll feel better about ourselves when we take positive action.
Feeling like a victim or woe-is-me will make things worse.
Is there any part of you life that isn’t working? Are you feeling victimized by circumstances?
What can you do today to take ONE positive step forward? Then build on that. Every major change starts with a small step.
It takes determination, dedication, and courage. But that is the way out of any situation you don’t like.
Then commit to the steps every day and see some tangible change for the better.
Life can be hard work, but before you know it, inspiration will flow again.
I want to be able to say that I made the most of my gifts and talents when the time comes to check out!
Pain is a good teacher and helps me take stock of my life. Taking stock is a good thing!
The weekend is coming up. What fires you up this weekend??
I have decided to enjoy myself. 🙂
Love, Maria xo
P.S. Looking for Christmas gifts? My etsy shop is full of unique goodies, boho style! Earth and Faery.
Intuitive art or structured art is a dilemma I struggle with often. Intuitive art is direct and it happens and evolves in the moment. One step of paint leads to another and it goes on until finished.
Structured art is planned out in every detail.
More often than not I don’t like what comes out in the end of an intuitive art session, but in art journaling, it’s okay to let it all hang out and not worry about “pretty.”
As you can see above, I didn’t have much of a plan. I knew I wanted to make something around the eclipse today so I started with a large yellow circle and wove the rest from there. Is it pretty? I’d say not, but it feels good to me.
Intuitive art is led by feeling rather than a thought-out plan. It can be scary, but many worthwhile things are.
Above is another example of intuitive art. It’s raw and direct.
The above page is more structured since I put some thought into the combination of the background papers. As you will see in the following picture, the two have similar backgrounds and that was to tie the pages together.
This page I planned out. I knew I wanted to make an angel, but I wasn’t sure how she would evolve. I chose papers that added interest to the background.
I’d say that page is inspired by all the other pages people are making and posting online and offering in how-to videos. It was fun to make, but not very original.
The face was planned and the doodles happened along the way. It was fun and it felt original, not like a copy.
One artist I admire is Tamara LaPorte of Willowing Art. Her art journaling is beautiful and very structured. I have to say it bores me to copy in the long run. I just don’t have the patience. Do you? I still admire her art, but it’s not my cup of tea as they say.
The pages may be pretty but they don’t speak to me in the long run. They are satisfying to paint, but… After leafing through a bunch of my art journals I have to say 90% of them are filled with intutive art.
Intuitive art can be very frustrating, but also offer a window into my life.
So when all is said and done, follow your own star!
I have a lot of how-to videos on my YouTube channel if you’re interested in the intuitive art process. You can browse HERE.
Art is self-care, no bones about it. I have heard an excuse for not making art that baffles me.
“I don’t start painting because it might consume my entire life.”
I realize we’re prone to binge watch shows we like or read a book cover to cover in one night, but at some point you have to abandon those things in the course of a day (or night.)
We have to eat, mind children, do chores. They might get set aside temporarily and dealt with later, but I can safely say no one will be consumed by art.
It’s nice sometimes to lose oneself in a creative effort, but when the stomach growls it’s time to re-fuel and take a break.
Are we afraid of losing ourselves into FLOW of anything that pulls us? Are we afraid of letting go and experience a deeper sense of connection with that which wants to be expressed? I’d say so.
It’s hard to let go, and fear tends to creep in, not to mention the ego stomping its foot at the idea of letting go.
Self-care involves letting things unfold and enjoying the journey. SELF wants to speak, and CARE is similar to trust, to allow something that might be bigger than our everyday personas.
Art never hurt anyone. If you care about self, it’s time to heed the longing that pushes from inside. Make some art! It’s not going to be the end of the world.
Care also means to care about your art work. When you set out to create, don’t minimize the effort or belittle the expression. It might come out ugly in your OPINION, but it’s about creativity, not about striving to paint like Van Gogh.
It’s time to put some care into the art work. Make it your best and feel the sense of accomplishment.
I was into art journaling this week and asked myself how I could put more care into my art instead of slapping down some paint. There is nothing wrong with process, but what if I took it a step further?
I really wanted to come up with some angle I hadn’t tried before. What would it be like? I have painted many faces, but never used paperback page hair, so I went into my stash of paper. I really like the effect.
I might leave as is or write something on the left. It’s okay to leave and come back at some later date if necessary.
For the above spread I had planned a video, but only captured the background and how I tied it together. I work intuitively, and the recognizable parts appear in the paper background (if any.)
I put a lot of care and thought into every aspect, yet I kept myself open to surprise. To me, that is the best way to inspire and delight myself. The bird above was never planned, and the buddha became the iris of an eye.
So much fun!
Care about yourself and your desires.
Allow them to express in your life.
Care about your art.
When ego stomps all over your art, keep going and ignore it as much as you can.
Allow yourself the care of immersing yourself in your art. If you can’t, well, give it ten minutes a day!