Category Archives: creativity

What are you grateful for?

 

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What are you grateful for this coming Thanksgiving holiday and every day?

If you’re not feeling grateful for your life, you can shift your mindset easily by making a CHOICE to be mindful and look around for things to be grateful for.

Either you bitch and moan about the every day grind or you find something to be grateful for. There is always the possibility to step out of the box that you hate.  All that is needed is a decision to do so, grow some balls, and claim a new destiny that is laced with happiness and gratitude.

I have a huge list of things that I’m grateful for. Art is pretty high up on the list since it’s my deepest passion. Lately I’ve been thankful that I can let loose and create like a child again.  Judgment is a heavy yoke to carry, so why carry it?  Young children don’t judge art.

Every moment is new, truly.

Every day is another chance to make things better for yourself and others. When you’re happy and doing well, you walk around inspiring others just by being. That is pretty awesome.

Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for today and include three passions you have but never make any time for.  Which one has the highest charge? Take a step even if it’s tiny toward manifesting that passion. Small steps create big goals. What makes your heart sing?

There is no time to waste on nonsense that other people told us to do. How do you want your life to shape up from now on?

I’m going deeper into my art. I can’t really set a creative goal since I never know in what direction the art will lead me, but I do have a practical goal: do some art activity every day!  Funny how good that makes me feel…

Feel good today. Gratitude will automatically make you feel good. 🙂  A first step, right?

Thank you all who read this blog. I’m truly grateful for you, and many blessings this holiday season coming up at warp speed.

thanksI made an art video that was supposed to be “raw” unplanned art and it turned out to be doodle mania.  Link HERE.

018This is a picture of the doodle mania art journal spread.

xo

Maria

P.S. I have some other tutorials you can check out and try HERE.

Ugly Is Okay!

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Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, right?  To me, ugly is okay.  I googled free pictures of “ugly” and there were a whole bunch of them, all wildly diverse. Who decides what is ugly anyway? I saw the toad picture and thought of the saying “ugly as a toad,” but truly, he’s kind of cute, warts and all! After all, he is Kermit’s half(?) brother…

Do we judge something as ugly because of the colors or the shape?  Opinions are as diverse as there are people. Then there are clueless people who don’t like anything, but they are not important in this post.

As an artist, I deal with “ugly” every day. Many times I judge my art as ugly, or that the result of a day of painting turned out ugly. However, a friend might come by and totally love the piece.  Who am I to judge??

I think it’s about making art in the face of fear and failure.  We make art because we love it, not so much hoping we are going to outshine Vermeer or Michelangelo.  Still, it can be painful to have your art judged as ugly, or that you hate the result.  What counts is that you showed up at the blank page.

We all start somewhere. The technical skill might be lacking but the essence of the person who made the art shines through.  Especially if it’s not a copy job.  It can be hard to fly in the face of trends. The cuteness factor is hard to compete with if you’re painting mostly in black and gray.

No one paints like you or me or Vermeer.  We are unique and we came here to share our unique gift with the world.  Share the good vibe as they say. 🙂

Artists who keep coming back to making art “has to” share  their unique vibe and it’s a beautiful thing.

The point of this post: don’t compare yourself to others. You will never paint as cute as they do, haha, but your art is important.  If you consider your art “ugly” own it and be proud of your accomplishment.  Someone might come by and fall in love with the piece, and then what are you going to say?

We share at the level we are at.  We might no be a genius like Mozart or Leonardo, but our art is just as important if in a smaller scale. If you touched only one other person, that would be enough.  Then again, as you practice your art, you may dig deep into your inner genius, and then your name will be on a plaque in a museum too. You never know unless you keep on going!

Let’s go paint some ugly pictures! I’m excited. 🙂

xo

Maria

P.S. I have a bunch of short free tutorials and a couple of paid ecourses on my other site.  If interested you can check them out HERE.

Hard work is good when it’s the right kind of work.

 

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Many of us grew up with the belief that hard work is good, but no one ever mentioned that it should be the right kind of work.  It’s more like “keep your nose to the grindstone” and don’t question the situation.

All I ever did growing up was questioning my situation. When I was about nineteen I decided I wanted to be an artist. The hard work factor had not kicked in yet, so I gave up too soon when I failed to get into a prestigious art school. Also, people were always saying that you can’t make any money as an artist.

My dilemma was that I did not see a single career on the list of possible careers that I liked. It was horrible. The only one I could possibly get excited about was art therapist, but my math was weak in highschool so I could not get accepted into the education I needed.

I spent my twenties working all kinds of jobs, and that was sort of fun in that I learned a lot.  There were some things I hated and have always hated:

Getting up to an alarm clock

The 9-5 grind

The soul killing monotony of my days and no end in sight.

Next to no vacation, and then not enough money to do anything exciting.

Bosses who were jerks.

It was the Gulag of life, a life-long sentence, and I hated every day of that.  I did learn to work hard though, and be dependable. I met some nice people along the way.

In my youth I just upped and left when I’d had enough of the grind. I did some fun things like bicycling across the country and hitchhiking around Europe with NO money. Those are nice memories, but my parents called me irresponsible. I think I was more desperate to find some meaning.

I found meaning in spiritual awakening, but that will be another post.

My passion finally ignited when I realized I could be a writer and make money at it. I was thirty years old.  I started writing fiction and didn’t end until my writing career crashed while I was rehabilitating a knee injury many years later. It wasn’t fun.  Over the years I developed an ironclad discipline. (By the way, there is nothing like writing to hone your discipline.) My writing career has crashed three times, and I had to pick up other major skills along the way.

I also returned big time to my art passion. It has run like a red thread through my entire life. That is where I should have focused my energy all along.

The point of this post? Find what really excites you in life and work hard at it. Use your discipline to keep pushing through when things aren’t going right, and there will be many days like that, most of the days in fact.  Never give up. Keep working at it when there is no sign of success in sight. Don’t listen to others, listen to your heart. Your passion is a sign from the universe that you’re on the right path.

There are many many examples in history of people who worked themselves to the bone to launch wacky inventions into the world. One of the most famous is probably the flying machine. The Wright brothers must have been some kind of good crazy!

Why not you?  What is your good crazy? You have it in you, and only you can launch it into the world.

Then “nose to the grindstone” finally has a meaning that makes sense!

xo

Maria

P.S. I have some crazy cool ecourses you can check out HERE.

When inspiration fails.

 

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When inspiration fails what do you do? I get that question a lot as an artist, and I can tell you the muse is often fickle, but one thing I have learned: you are not a slave to the muse! Maybe everything flows more smoothly with the muse on hand to pave a rosy path, but when all you can see is a creative desert ahead, what do you do?  To get to the other side, you have to walk through the desert, or do you?  I don’t believe in that but the challenge would certainly give you stamina and stick-to-it-iveness. However, art is not something we do in survival mode but more like following an easy stream.

Here are a couple of things I do when the muse refuses to be part of my life:

  1. Take a walk. Yes, it’s a great way to shake off the cobwebs and take in new inspiration. The colors and shapes are great for new ideas. Walks are always good for general problem solving as well.
  2.  Look at art books. The classics and more modern artists are always inspiring. Through the pages I can absorb the energy of their work and find myself eager to try something new on my canvas. Nothing wrong with copying elements and then make them your own.
  3. Get out of the studio and meet a friend. Lunch out is one of the world’s greatest pleasures, and if you have a good friend that does not annoy you by talking incessantly about themselves, it’s a BONUS.
  4. If you live in a city, go to an art museum. This falls in the same category as looking at art books, but it also gets you out of the studio, another BONUS.
  5. Try kickstarting your art by gluing down bits of papers at random on the surface. Let your hand and eye coordinate and see what comes up next on the page or canvas, and then take that step, and the next, and the next. Just try something new, a new angle, and new color.
  6. Use a color palette you rarely use. Example: if you always paint in cool colors, make yourself use only warm colors for the next project. Your sense of playing it safe will rebel, but it’s easy enough to send it packing for one piece of experimental art. Ugly is okay.
  7. Learn a new craft. Look through some craft books at the bookstore and see if anything pulls you in. Crafting can be mindless and meditative, and you might find yourself creating a pile of cool gifts.
  8. Let someone else paint on your canvas. Taking the pressure off the process can be very freeing.
  9. Paint with your hands. You can really feel the paint when you use your hands. It’s a more intimate creative way to paint. If you don’t like to paint throw a handful of mixed ripped papers on your canvas and glue them down where they land. It can become the start of a whole new way of making art!
  10. When all else fails buy some new art supplies! I think that is my favorite suggestion. I love (and my muse loves) a new art supply challenge. A shiny new box of pencils or crayons can light up your world. It does mine.

No matter what you choose to do to interrupt a creative drought, do SOMETHING.  The drought is temporary. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and paint the same over and over, but it’s just as easy to challenge yourself to something new. 🙂

Happy creating,

Maria

P.S. I have some freebie challenges on my website you can try to break the drought. CLICK HERE.

 

Ugly is okay!

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Ugly is okay for sure, but if you’re like me, art holds certain standards. We try so many methods and techniques; we compare ourselves to others. Some styles we like some we don’t. It’s hard to know which style suits you the best. Have you ever tried just being yourself as you approach art? Forget about the rules and be free, like kids fearlessly showing up at the empty page. Paint outside the box! To reach the true core of who we are involves a lot of unlearning or ignoring what we know. Unlearning is deeply satisfying.

Like you I make a decent painting and art journal spread, and I’m proud and happy about the results. When it comes to spontaneity however, it can be very frustrating since we’re always striving for results.

My aim for this micro workshop is to give you space to be yourself, to wait and see what will come onto the page without you pushing anything.

What I get from this kind of art is a sense of Self. I can actually recognize my own energy in the art. It has a very intimate feel to it, and I find it addictive to paint in this way. I also receive sudden insights and messages about the state I’m in at the time of painting. This particular spread turned out happy, and it’s a state I’m in a lot, but others I’ve done are dark and dreary. The tendency is to rip out those kinds of pages, but to honor myself, I also have to honor my darker, more destructive side. Usually, I don’t like showing those pages to people. They are basic and pretty ugly. It’s like trying anything new and unknown, you just have to immerse yourself in it to find out the truth about it.

I invite you to explore.

I invite you to leave all your knowledge at the door and explore you inner self.

I invite you to paint “ugly,” unfettered like a child.

I invite you to meet your inner self without fear.

Are you willing to take this trip with me?

All you need is an art journal page, or a watercolor sheet, or even a canvas. Whatever you have on hand, and you need some paint, brushes, and markers. That is all. You can even use colored pencils, pencils, ballpoint pens, and oil pastels. There are no rules.

I need to point out that your art will be completely different from mine! The video will show the process I go through and you’ll get an idea how to go about it. And then you can make your own art spread, woohoo.

Check out the micro workshop HERE.

xo

Maria

P.S.  If you’d like some more free stuff please join my mailing list HERE.

 

Process versus product.

Process versus product is a concept I have struggled with for a while as an artist. Do you paint pretty paintings that sell, or are you true to your own process?  Small kids will always be true to their process. They paint with abandon, and their art is filled with joyous energy. We lose that wild creativity because we start judging the art at some point. According to our preferences, it’s good or bad. There are artists like Jackson Pollock that I don’t particularly admire, but the energy in his dripped art is phenomenal. People pick up on the energy. Art that we would reject without a second glance sell for millions.

Artists love making a living from their art; that’s a given. I find myself always judging my own art. Is it salable, or is it junk? We would not judge kids’ art as junk, but maybe some do.

I do enjoy making crafts too, but they don’t count in this kind of dilemma. Crafting is a more peaceful, straightforward process and you know the end result. It tends to get tedious in the long run while painting never gets tedious but can be extremely challenging. Sometimes it gets to a point where I don’t want to be challenged, and I paint something pretty.

There is nothing wrong with pretty, but I want to paint from my true inner genius.

In my years of painting, I was always drawn to intuitive expression, which means standing in front of a blank canvas and just reach for the first color that comes to mind and paint something, whatever I am drawn to paint. The canvas will decide what is to come. It’s a frightening but exciting process to watch the artwork emerge on its own. It’s torture sometimes, but it’s a process I’ve never quite been able to leave. I started painting this way back in the 90s after reading Aviva Gold’s Painting From The Source. Later in this post I will display a list of the books that have influenced my intuitive painting the  most.

When I started reading Gold’s book, I could not put it down. She suggests using poster boards and tempera paint, which are inexpensive tools to experiment with. No expensive canvases to “destroy.”

Here are two pictures of old intuitive art I painted in the 90s. I have some huge paintings that are rolled up in my closet, and I can’t bear to throw them away. However, there is no wall space for them where I live.

100_0121These guys ended up being parrots in the jungle, but I probably started out with a blob of paint in the middle of the poster board. There is a lot of detail underneath the birds, and I believe that all layers add to the finished art. I still paint in many layers.

100_2289This is a huge, really weird painting, but it had lots of energy. I painted it over an old framed painting, and it sold and was shipped off.  Intuitive art is like dreams in many ways. The images are fragmented and don’t seem to make sense, but there is always an underlying message. The subconscious speaks through the art if you ALLOW it.

100_2467Here is another kind of fun variation of intuitive painting. I ended up painting my own hands all over the art.

Art journaling is also a good way to experiment. You know the art is just for you. The pressure of selling it is gone, and you can go crazy on the pages.

I admire my big brother, Ingvar Staffans, who has painted all of his life. He only uses black, white, brown, and maybe some beige in his art. He paints HUGE abstract expressions and have never even tried to paint pretty pictures. He is true to his own art. Some of it I don’t like, but some bowls me over with its amazing energy. He’s not afraid to experiment and I respect that.ingvarsart

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Hard to believe we’re related, huh?  He never read any books on intuitive painting, lol.  He is a process man, not a product man.

Anyway, here is the list of books that can inspire you to paint intuitively. I particularly recommend Michele Cassou’s books. They will tell what to do when you get stuck.  Her process is totally freeing.  The book links are to Amazon. Some you can probably find at the library.

POINT ZERO by Michele Cassou HERE.

LIFE, PAINT and PASSION by Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley HERE.

PAINTING FROM THE SOURCE by Aviva Gold HERE.

A more recent book: PAINT MOJO by Tracy Verdugo HERE.

Another book to help open up your creativity is THE TRICKSTER’S HAT by Nick Bantock HERE.

And the classic THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron HERE.

I thought I would try a grungy sort of art journaling technique since I always paint in bright colors. My brother would be proud! 🙂

008This is not pretty, but meaningful to me. At this point I just want to express myself, not necessarily paint pretty pictures. It is an evolving  journey! I made a video of this art journal spread, and you can watch it HERE.

What are you working on today?  It is important … because life happens NOW.

xo

Maria

P.S.  If you’re interested in receiving my newsletter, you can sign up HERE.