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.
Why people don’t follow their dream is not a single why, but many. As many as a person can make up.
If the desire is sincere, the artist has to START practicing!
Main reasons people don’t pursue something they long to do:
lack of time
not feeling worthy
thinking it’s not important
thinking others will object
These are just a few examples. Since I’m a visual artist, I have only experience in that type of art, but I know for sure that if you want to be a good musician you have to practice A LOT.
Some artists might slap on some paint and create a huge painting in an hour. For the art to be effective, they would have had to practice and explore countless styles and tools in the past.
I’ve seen people create “sofa art” on home improvement shows. I can’t say it’s not art, but the subject won’t hit me in the gut or make me pause to really look, to absorb.
Art in any form is a life long exploration.
So what to do about the objections I posted above?
Fear: The only way to get past fear is to face it head on and start creating anyway. It will rear its ugly head time and time again, but you gotta get your brave on! Take some classes if you can’t get started.
Lack of time: If you insist on that excuse, there won’t be any time, but if you’re sincere in your desire, you will find the time. Start with 10 minutes a day. Set up your art / craft / music / dance / supplies where you can see them as a reminder.
Not feeling worthy: That is old programming of shame and guilt. Engage with your dream anyway and know that the false programming is a scam to keep you “in line” and work for the Man. Tapping is a great help. Check it out on YouTube.
Feeling inadequate: Have you ever gone ice skating or rollerblading? You know it’s next to impossible to keep on your feet the first few times. But you laugh off the embarrassment of looking like a fool and keep going.
We all look like fools when we start something new. Get over it and practice.
Thinking it’s not important: Maybe you’re thinking of the wrong dream. Maybe you’re not important.
Thinking others will object: They probably will. They want you to be the same, not grow as a person. That might make them look bad and make them remember the dream they shoved into the closet among the spiders.
The mothers of the Lewis and Clark expedition members probably said “Don’t go,” when the guys stated they were going to explore vast uncharted wilderness. The mothers’ fear didn’t stop those intrepid souls.
We have got to explore what is calling us from inside!
It is your Lewis and Clark expedition. You don’t have to face grizzlies and raging rivers, but you have to face your fears and give your passion some space.
Mortifying memories remain very vivid in my mind. Isn’t it funny how we remember the “bad” things more than the good?
It’s about 90 degrees here today and I’m sitting at my computer sweating. It brought me back to some memories of snow. Let me tell you a funny story.
I grew up in Sweden and it was plenty cold, dark, and snowy for maaany months of the year. Think same latitude as Alaska.
Skiing was something everyone did in the winter. Sometimes the snow glistened like diamonds with a soft layer over packed snow. Perfect skiing surface, and gorgeous to boot.
Around age of sixteen I got interested in slalom. I was never into taking classes at the time, but I went with a friend’s family to ski a mountain.
It started out with my dad buying mountain skis that were too long for effective use. The downhill boots hurt my ankles, but being young and strong, I endured.
The first time I went up a ski lift I fell off as I tried to get on it. My pants ripped in the ass and filled with snow. A totally mortifying experience as everyone watched. My memory is a bit hazy, but I think I fell off three times before I got the hang of it.
Not only did that happen but I had to spend the whole DAY with my undies showing through the rip and being cold from wet snow.
It took a long time to get down the mountain and I fell plenty, replenishing the snow in my pants. I realized I would have to learn how to slalom if I was ever going to enjoy the downhill experience. My ass was close to frost bite that evening. To my delight, I did get the hang of the ski lift…
Needless to say, it was a trip of mixed joys…
My folks didn’t have a lot of money, so classes were out of the question, but during dark winter evenings, after school, I used to hoist my skis on my shoulder and stagger down to the local slalom hill (converted sand pits.)
There I started low to the bottom and practiced my slalom skills. No one ever showed me how, but by watching others, I got some kind of hang of it and ventured up steeper hills.
Chicken as I was, I never dared to try the highest ones but I got courageous some evenings and went down the medium hills. It was a thrill.
The ski lift there was rough. You had to hang on to a handle and the handle pulled you up on a thick wire. You needed to have your skis aligned or you’d fall off and then you had to move sideways on skis up the hill, which was tedious beyond belief.
I almost killed myself there when my scarf got rolled into the wire and as I got to the winch at the top I had to quickly untie the scarf or get strangled and mangled. (Another mortifying memory.) The scarf came out at the other end no worse for wear…
The point of this story:
I stuck to the routine of learning slalom, almost every night, and I was sad when the snow melted and I had to give it up.
I went alone every time. It showed me that I could take initiative and do things without others’ approval.
It was frickin’ cold but I did it anyway.
One time I did cross-country skiing every day to recover from a severe illness. I was fifteen and took that initiative. Sometimes slushy snow made things difficult but the skiing made me feel stronger every day.
Something inside me pushed me to do self-care and to grow my confidence.
That something has been with me all my life and urged me on. Learn more, be curious about life, always learn more. Be a student of life.
It’s always about self-care! What do you allow in your life that is not good for you? Can you quit doing it? What can you learn today? Is life an adventure or a drag? Sometimes it’s a drag, but if you have a good foundation, you can rise above and still move forward.
The point is, question your routine and see how you can make it better. Let the years get better, not like some fading lamp of old age.
For artists: Make art every day! Learn something new. Take risks. Be bold. Enjoy the process.
I had a delightful chat with artist Trisch Rosema about art journaling. My little gift to you today. 🙂 You can watch it HERE.
Your gremlins will always be around to sneak through the crack in your door. I’m talking about the “I am not good enough,” “I don’t have time,” “I can’t afford,” “I don’t know enough,” “I don’t know how…” “I’m too old.”
You get the picture. Some of them are stronger and some are cunning. They are all opportunists and freeloaders, and persistent like sales people on commission. They lie in wait…
Every time you set a goal or set an intention to change your lifestyle in any way, the gremlins will show up like clockwork. Let’s look at the “I’m not good enough.”
Unless you have massive experience or a PhD, it’s likely you don’t know enough about something like astrophysics, but maybe you could get excited about a telescope and the stars?
Most people don’t know a huge amount of stuff, but they might know an angle that is unique.
Maybe you came across an artist making these great teapots and you are filled with a burning desire to learn how to make them and perhaps start a ceramic biz.
To start something like that you do need some classes, a lot of them maybe, but if you love it, go for it! At some point YOU WILL BE good enough and have fun in the process.
What if you have life experience? What can you teach people from your own experiences? Lots, I’m sure. People in similar circumstances want to know. People are always looking for solutions to problems.
If you have a passion and you have done nothing about it, why? We will always doubt ourselves, but once we roll up our sleeves and go for it, we find that the gremlin trying to stop us is only hot air.
Once you make the decision to start the journey, the momentum of you applying yourself daily will take you to the heart of your passion. That is the law of nature.
I meet so many wannabe artists, but the first excuse coming out of their mouth is a clear indication the gremlins have a strong hold. The “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have the right tools” or “I don’t know how,” are the most common. I know that they will never even try!
The status quo has a massive hold on us.
Don’t let the gremlins rule! Whatever your dream, don’t end up old and full of regrets. It’s never too late to start something new. If you’re breathing you can do something today.
Listen to that yearning, the little longing voice that makes you think of THAT thing you never did anything about.
Today is a good day to start! Do it even if the gremlins are screaming bloody murder…
P.S. I went crazy this week and loaded up my etsy shop with new juicy art journals and a fairy pouch or two. EARTHANDFAERY.