Category Archives: artist

When in a creative slump

When in a creative slump, it’s easy to panic and think that the well has dried up for good. You feel uninspired, unmotivated, moody, a lack of general energy, and you look at things negatively. The last thing you want to hear is “rise above” or “do it anyway” or “buck up, it’s not the end of the world.”

While some of those expressions are true in many ways, it’s easy to dismiss them and stay in the doldrums.

When in the dumps you can make a conscious choice to change, but it’s not easy.

So basically how you feel is a choice. I can hear arguments coming at me, but let me explain. How do you “rise above”? I personally do it by meditation to feel better, and then everything seems easier, even if it isn’t.

Practice is a great fall-back.

When you’ve been in a slump several times, you know they don’t last, so experience makes it easier to bear.

When I feel a longing to create and do it, no matter what, I feel progress even if everything came out as mud on paper.

I suppose you could call it “do it anyway.” I have written about that before, and it boils down to a habit of going to the studio and make attempts at creating every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes. You feel progress, if not satisfaction.

The thing about experiencing a slump is part of the process of being an artist. It’s as sure as the sun rising in the sky. You feel it especially hard if you’re changing your art expression by trusting that an old style no longer works.

I’ve looked at my progression of styles over the years and it’s mind-boggling how many times things have changed! I get bored easily.

I especially dislike the “buck up” version of friendly advice. Let me just wallow in my misery, okay? 🙂 I guess I’d rather not admit that “bucking up” is a valid choice…

Anyway, IF YOU JUST SHOW UP, things will turn around and you’ll think you wasted a bunch of days on misery.

That said, I’ve changed a lot recently, and it shows up in my art. However, a friend of mine said, “I can always see YOU in all of your art styles.” That made me feel good as I have been worrying about changing from something that worked in the past to something new.

My clay art is much easier than painting. Check out my latest funky chicken, Elmer:

When in a slump, make a clay chicken…

And here’s Selma:

Selma, the sassy chicken

I made some mixed media art /paintings, and had a huge struggle to get past the super messy backgrounds. It was as if I threw everything single technique at them before I could see any steps forward. It was a messy slump indeed, but I gritted my teeth and moved one inch forward every day. I hated the panels!

I don’t have any process pictures, but these happy summer motifs came out of all that angst and disgust. To top it all, the art looked happy, the colors bright, full of joy. Go figure.

They are different than my previous painting expressions, but I felt good about the new direction. Who doesn’t like a happy summer day?

I also tried some wood panels, and I LOVE THEM! Painting on a hard surface is easier than canvas somehow. You have to experience it to know.

They are a mixture of messy paint, decorative papers, and in one case, scraps of lace.

The painting below ended up with loads of paper strips for hair. It was painstaking but I liked the result.

Air fairy

I have been admiring dioramas on Pinterest, and I made a couple, though I had no idea what I was doing. It was loads of fun! Something for you to try if you get into a creative slump??

The fairy in the second picture was store bought, and I created the landscape around her.

So when all else fails, try a simple collage or a diorama! Painting has been my hardest taskmaster. Crafts are more relaxing and not half as challenging. So, in conclusion, to grow we need to do more of what challenges us…

If you missed my last tutorial on funky paper dolls you can check it out HERE.

Have a great creative weekend!

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. The above items are for sale in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery.

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fear is not your friend

Fear is not your friend unless it warns you to get off the railroad tracks as the train is coming. There are so many levels of fear, and the most insidious one is the fear that stops us from fulfilling our calling (to be artists or other forms of expression.)

I was talking to a friend who said she always wanted to be an artist. I could relate to her as I’ve always felt that way too. Then I felt so grateful that I had at one point decided to commit to the idea with action.

I know I would feel unfulfilled without it, and now, after many years, I think I have come a long way even though there’s no beginning or end.

I was reading this book: Wild Ideas, Creativity From The Inside Out, by Cathy Wild, and I saw this paragraph that so hit home with what I’m saying here.

“If you want to create, you need to become an explorer. An explorer may be an astronaut living in a space station or a pop songwriter attempting to compose an opera or a former welfare recipient heading off to a first day of work. As an explorer, you must want to find out what lies beyond the boundaries of what you already understand and what you already know how to do.”

You can find the book on Amazon HERE. It’s well worth a read.

So, to be an explorer, you have to keep an open mind and be willing to come across resistance, which is inevitable. Have a conversation with it and ask why it has arrived to instigate reluctance to create.

It will likely say: “If you go down that path, you will only encounter trouble that you can’t handle” In other words, it’s spreading fear and tries to tell you you’re inadequate.

As an artist, you’ll come across that every week, or even every day, if you’re serious about commitment and showing up at your work table or easel.

Working a regular job, you come across problems that need to be solved, right? However you solve your problem, you just do it, or you get fired (worst-case scenario.) If we bring some of that determination into getting past the things that stop us from doing something we love, no problem or resistance can stop us.

Then comes a time when you have to grow out of the comfort zone as an artist. The way I deal with that is to try many different things, materials, and styles. It’s like walking through the jungle with a small machete. You don’t know what you see until you come right up to it. Sometimes you say no, this is not for me, and other times, something pushes you to keep going with the new material.

Frustration = fear = learning curve

Make frustration your best friend! When you feel it the strongest, you’re on the verge of a discovery, so keep on going, past the fear. Honor the learning curve! Anything new has to be learned, and there will be many failures, but those are steps to getting to the place where you’re happy with the result.

Whimsical dog made from epoxy clay and paint
whimsical dog
Crystal wand made with oak wood, crystals, and epoxy clay.
Crystal wand

What you see above are items I made with epoxy clay, which for me has been really hard to work with. I really love the durability of the clay and how it dries rock hard and attaches to pretty much anything. I have worked quite a while with it, and had to throw out some things that did not work out at all.

You know it’s a learning curve, so you continue.

Do not stop when the going gets tough

If you stop you’ll never know if you could master the challenge.

If you stop, you’ll beat yourself up for not going to the finish line, no matter how “ugly” the art turned out.

I haven’t mastered the epoxy clay (Apoxie Sculpt,) but I’m working on it, and every item teaches me something. I look at videos on YouTube by people who have mastered the clay, and I go, wow, I want to be that good too. Some day, I will! 🙂

My point is: don’t sabotage your dreams, don’t sell yourself short, give your dream a chance! Please. Commit and start making art. Copying other artists is okay in the beginning.

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. I have many new items in my etsy shop, Earth and Faery. Some of them are not all perfect, but people seem to like them anyway. 🙂

The struggle is real

The struggle is real when it comes to creating something out of nothing. I have yet to meet an artist for whom the art flows freely all the time. Every encounter with the canvas is a challenge, but some days are better than others! Thank God for that.

I find that crafts are so much easier, but they don’t always turn out right either, especially when created from scratch. If you have a pattern you can create something great immediately, and it’s a wonderful feeling.

I love painting, but why does it have to be such a struggle? I have written a lot about resistance to art-making. It is explained really well in Steven Pressfield’s book THE WAR OF ART, break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. It’s a great read if you’re struggling. What has saved me is persistence, “make art every day.” I wrote a post about that HERE.

In the face of struggle, keep coming back

You have to continue to make art to grow, to bust through the daily resistance. As you know, I paint intuitively so any given day, I have no idea what will appear in my art, and it’s a constant challenge.

I put down layer upon layer on the canvas, mostly hating the combination of paint, paper, and Mod Podge. I took some pictures of my current paintings, and right now they are total chaos.

Some people might say they are finished the way they are, and who’s to say they are wrong? But if they don’t feel done to me, I have to keep going. I finished a couple of paintings last week. They both looked similar to the ones above when I went for the finished layer. I saw some shapes of animals in the mess and went from there.

I love painting pets so I was happy with these weird creatures. As you can see, there’s a lot of bleed-through of the underlying layers.

More often than not, I add the paintings to the pile leaning against the wall for later work. They might get gessoed over or I might see a way to repaint them, but there’s no guarantee.

As with anything challenging, you have to face the fear/resistance/doubt/disgust as you tackle the task in front of you. The same goes for any unpleasant task in life, but art should not be unpleasant, and it isn’t, just challenging.

When I get sick of painting, I make my crafts. They might not come out the way I envisioned, but they are always fun. They also create balance in my life. These are all available in my Etsy shop. The paintings will be available too. I sell a lot of the spirit doll faces, so I always make a batch.

It’s easy to overthink the process of art-making. When I’m in the flow, I trust my hand to make the right moves on the canvas. When I think about it, or worry about the color, nothing comes out right, and I start doubting the process, doubting myself. I set the painting aside and come back later.

If you missed my post about resistance, you can catch it HERE. I think all artists struggle in the studio from time to time, but we can support each other with inspiration or suggestions.

Have a wonderful week creating lots of things!

Maria

Let go of the safety net!

Let go, I say, and everyone will have a reason why it is important to hold on to the past. The safety of the past has a strong hold on most people, myself included.

I was watching some old videos on You Tube on how to embellish a box with lots of metal and paper accents. It turned out pretty, and it could inspire me to make a similar one, but no.

Here’s why: You can buy the art supply and create at your heart’s desire, but the components are made by other people. To get the desired look, you have to buy those components. The elements are mix and match. You are destined to succeed as all the tools are geared for the already successful design of the designer.

It’s not the easiest technique to master, but it is a “ready-made” artwork; you just assemble the pieces and follow the instructions.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I got inspired by fabulous mosaic artist, Laurie Mika, through her book Mixed Media Mosaics, to make my polymer clay boxes, but I ended up making my own designs, mostly because I did not have access to her supplies. My style keeps developing, but I don’t get any big ah-has as I do with painting.

It struck me anew how revolutionary it is to create something from scratch. Let go of the safety net! You use the elements and ephemera you already have. You can also gain fodder from the recycle bin. Creativity lies in the moment.

I have said it before; the artist has to be willing to explore what challenges her the most, discover the genius, like a diamond inside a lump of coal.

When inspiration pulls, and you respond, dare to go beyond the tried and true and explore the unknown grounds of self-expression.

There is a lot of uncertainty in that, but also great freedom.

It’s safe to make art from materials that someone else designed, but how challenging is it?

Let go of the safety net.

It’s like a blind man exploring the skin of an elephant. He will get the immediate texture of the skin, but can’t see the whole animal. Practicing art that comes from the deeper levels of the soul is the elephant not yet “seen.”

By keeping your focus on the moment, more is revealed as the art evolves.

Trust the subtle inspirations, choose the color that speaks to you right now, and after that, another color, and another.

let go of the safety net
let go of the safety net

When I let go, magic happens. It always feels new and amazing, even if the art itself doesn’t look like much. It is original, and no one can take that away. 🙂

There is a lot of resistance involved, but that doesn’t have to stop anyone from moving forward.

For some inspiration on how to deal with resistance, here’s a post on that subject: Resistance, we all feel it.

Another one: Practice never makes perfect.

I would love to hear how you deal with painting and making from scratch. Any ah-has or other insights?

Love,

Maria

Trust yourself; you’re the Artist

Trust yourself, no matter what people say, or YOU say about your art. It’s so easy to criticize and compare your work with that of others.

I’m sure you have heard it before. If we follow trends, one comes to mind lately, pouring paint on canvas. There is nothing wrong with that if you feel really passionate about it. As with every trend, it will fade away.

What feels right to you today?

It can change on a dime, but what feels like lots of fun and a creative challenge when nothing else fits? I was focused on art journaling and intuitive painting, and all of a sudden, none of those styles appealed to me, but I’m sure they will return at some point.

If you have made art for a while, you’re familiar with the fact that it always changes, like life. Sometimes it can be subtle, and sometimes NOTHING works. What then?

Trust yourself. What do you see that you want to try? Watercolors? Figurative drawing? Crafts? Maybe collage?

There are no rules and trust in your instincts. My go-to is crafts (for the most part, and I like to write.) I love trying new crafts, and lately, I found some blank wooden houses that I could embellish. I have made two, and there is two more underway.

trust in yourself
whimsical house
trust yourself
whimsical house number 2

Trust yourself in the moment

If you’re in a craft store and you see some materials that spark your interest, go for it. Don’t think about it; don’t over-analyze. You are free to try things. There is no boss or licensing company hanging over your shoulder urging you to make “more of the same” because it sells.

It’s about discovery

Trust that you can move forward on your artistic path. It may take many detours from, say, painting portraits if that’s your style, but you come back to the tried and true refreshed.

Picasso is a great example of an artist who tried so many kinds of art, and it added to his strength. He was not stuck in one genre but moved boldly as his muse inspired him.

So, let’s move boldly forward. If you have a dry painting spell, knit a scarf! One thing is not better or worse than the other. It’s all creative expression.

As we wait tensely in Florida to see what Dorian, the storm, is going to do, I will continue to create, maybe finish the two houses, and I will end up with a village! 🙂

Lots of love,

Maria

P.S. You can read this post for more inspiration — Inspiration Where is it?

Or this post: No Inspiration, no problem!

My etsy shop is full of goodies, unique gift ideas! Earth and Faery

Crossroads are tough

Crossroads can be tough when you don’t know where to go next. I have found myself in that situation lately. I have so much inspiration, but what do I actually want to create?

I have been buying different kinds of art supplies that I would never look at before. Now I look for possibilities.

There is always some component missing for a project, or if you want to start a whole new creative stream, you have to invest in a lot of things, like tools and other supplies, to get it going.

I’ve been trying to use the debris in my studio, things I’ve had for years but didn’t know how to use. So what if I don’t know; I will charge ahead anyway.

Here’s an example of what I made lately.

crossroads expression
crossroads expression

I had some wire, polymer clay, and an empty “useless” box, plus an old key.

Crossroads can be tough, but you have experience.

When you have the experience, you know what your hands can do, so it’s easier to move forward. If you’re just starting out exploring your creativity, CHOOSE SOMETHING that appeals to you, and go for it! Don’t look at popular trends. That won’t work in the long run.

Do what feels good.

Which path seems the most alive? You don’t want to go backward, so it’s either going forward straight ahead or take the other road.

What is pulling you forward?

I have been making a lot of polymer clay mosaics, and recently I’ve found new tools to use for a different style of tiles. It makes an old craft exciting. I have also been drawn to sculpting more.

sculpted face
clay face

I’ve been sculpting clay faces for spirit dolls, and it has been hard to get the features right. They are far from perfect, but I keep trying, using the advice I’ve found online.

Faith in your abilities will make you take risks.

Crossroads force us to take a look at where we are and where we are going. They give us a gentle push away from the stagnation that happens if we refuse to grow.

Walking the path of an artist is a constant call to change.

People don’t like change, but as artists, we have to move forward if we want to explore the inner expansion that art offers us.

Maybe you’re called to leave an entire career…

That is a scary idea. We have all many reasons to stay where we are, in safety, and there is comfort in that, but meanwhile, the soul is calling us elsewhere. Listen closely to that call.

If you dare to follow your inner guidance, life might be tougher in some ways, but infinitely more rewarding.

At least take some steps in the direction of that call. If you lack in faith and experience, go forward anyway. There is lots of help along the way.

Take interesting live art classes and learn new skills. The teacher’s enthusiasm will rub off on you! 🙂

crossroads
Fun tag journal
Fun tag journal

I made a small journal from an old manila folder. The tags and papers are all chosen from my studio detritus. I used paper, glue, washi tape, a sewing machine to make a fabric spine and seal the edges. I ended up with several pockets and many tags.

What is your next step?

I’m going to make a mixed media house with a bird.

Have a creative week!

Maria

P.S. I have many new things in my Etsy shop: Earth and Faery.

Lots of ideas for boho gifts. If you missed my last blog post you can find it here, Gold Dust Makes Everything Better.