Tag Archives: art

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.

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.

 

Begin anywhere and anyway!

 

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Hello friends,

Begin anywhere and anyway; have you heard it before?  I’m sure you have. I have, many times, and I’ve told myself to “just do it” many times, and I do, BUT the tendency is to always fall back to the status quo of mediocrity.  I could call that laziness, but that word is like a bog of negative possibilities, all not supportive of life.  The solution to this is to strengthen the muscle of resolve.

So many TV programs and self-help books are dedicated to bettering yourself in some way, like losing those 30 lbs, or becoming a better parent. We get lost in the possibilities and the result is inaction, or in my case, boredom.

Let’s talk about the muscle of resolve. When you decide to stop smoking or losing weight for instance, you must have resolve, or that busy little devil on your shoulder will soon talk you into starting the new habit tomorrow, always tomorrow.

So, any time we take on a challenge we have to face making a decision. If you want to start exercising or stop a bad habit, you make that decision. There is usually a threat involved, like bad health that propels a person into action, but not always. I have seen people with stage 4 lung cancer wheel their drip bag stand out to the smoking room at the hospital and puff away. That is what I call giving up. The little devil won.

How hard is it to make a decision?  It’s hard unless you’re so fed up with status quo, or as Anthony Robbins says, “you’re in so much pain you have to change.” The old is no longer an option.  It’s something to pray for. Pain is good because it forces us to change, but why go that far?

That’s where the headline of this post comes in: Begin anywhere and anyway.  Say you have a dream of accomplishing something great in your life. It’s that thing that’s always bugging you at the back of your mind.  A deep desire for change.

I’m appalled at how stuck we are in the ruts and routines and the FEARS of change. But if you truly want to change, to create something new for yourself, start NOW.  You don’t need fancy equipment (well, you might at some point but not now,) you don’t need extra time, you don’t need a block of 2 days of me-time to get things straightened out.

All you need is to make that decision, and make it over and over when you fall of the wagon. As you keep dedicating yourself you build the resolve muscle you will have to re-make your decision. The trick to staying on the wagon is to get some excitement going about your project. It makes the decision easy every time.

Start with ONE thing to forward your dream. It could be as little as a phone call or email.

What can you do this week, Monday-Friday, to make strides? Make a short list of doable steps. Only you know what is needed. As you take small actions every day, your excitement will grow, and so will your commitment.

Then you fall off the wagon again…  and again.

BUT the tool is simple. Make tiny goals each day and accomplish them, and as you follow this path, your to-do list will grow because you can see the progress, and you want to get THERE, so you delve more deeply into the dream and find more possibilities for expansion.  One step can reveal a big revelation. One email can open doors to connections you only dreamed of in the past.

What do I do every day? I am an artist and writer, and those are the subjects I keep delving into every day. My morning looks like this pretty much every morning:

Cup of tea in my back yard.

Meditate to get in the flow.

Walk 20 minutes. Hot as hell sometimes in FL. I slacked with my exercise for years, but I used to be committed to keeping in shape, and I discovered that muscle memory still works! Now I’m addicted to walking.

Write 750 word in my online journal at 750words.com. I usually write more than that since writing is in my blood and I like to blog as well.

Have a green smoothie for breakfast, and after that I feel out what I want to focus on that day. It’s not always easy. The little devil will always sit there and jabber away, but he can be trained!

When I was a fulltime writer I made up my mind to write ten pages a day, and I have followed that for forever. The writing isn’t always glowing. It rarely is, but I keep going.  I have no fears around showing up on the page. Crappy writing can always be fixed.

Art is a different animal altogether. That muscle has a mind of its own… I have never been able to tame it, but my challenge is to show up at the art journal page or the canvas. I can do that, but the resistance is powerful most of the time. They say to push through the resistance and I do, and I find myself happy on the other side. The other kind of resistance is the one that says “this is not good for you.” It has a different feel, like facing a brick wall. Then I listen to that, and every day has a forward flow of small positive increments.

When I fall off the wagon I get so uncomfortable in my skin that I have to get back on, or DIE, (not really, but there is no compromise.)

To accomplish something worthwhile, start tiny and grow from there. Make that decision, dedicate yourself, kick the fears to the curb, take small action steps, and soon you’ll have something new and wonderful in your life. Grow your awesome self via the muscle of resolve!!!  🙂

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.

 

 

Because of layers.

You never truly know yourself because of  layers.  Sure you’ve heard it before.  Like with an onion you peel off one layer and find there’s another one underneath, shiny and glistening and mocking somehow.  But, an onion does not worry about its layers!

At the core we are all one, but if we look at the “baggage” there are any number of variations of bullshit that we think is important.  Let’s excavate and release!  But….

I don’t think it works that way.  You can work with layers, but where you end up is not perfection.  You can never get to the bottom of the layers, but you can experience the river of perfection that keeps you alive.  Forget about the layers; they lead nowhere.

Here’s a painting / mixed media I just finished.  It’s a good example of putting ON the layers instead of taking them off.

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Broken Dreams 12×12″ mixed media

I started out with no idea at all.  I sprayed some paint on the canvas , rubbed it around, and let it dry.  Added some more layers, but I couldn’t see a picture emerging at all, so I glued on some papers (the only one showing now is the crinkly tissue paper in the corner.)  The papers led to nowhere, so I decided to just paint a face.  Faces are always tricky because you never quite end up where you plan to end up.  They take on a life of their own.

This one ended up with a slightly disdainful expression, but also with lots of inner power, so I accepted her.  Then I couldn’t get anything to stick on the right side.  I painted birds, leaves, a big flower.  They all looked wrong, so I scraped some paint over the whole and buried them.  All the layers add energy to the painting, so nothing is lost.

I have been into square shapes lately, so I added some of those.  At that time I had some dreams broken in my life so I “saw” them there.  I had to add a solution so there is an exiting square in the corner that says Let Go.

The art didn’t turn out like anything I envisioned, but I allowed it to emerge.  These kinds of paintings are tricky.  I never know if I like them or not.

The point is:  With every stroke of the brush, or any addition of paper, I altered the course of this piece of art. I didn’t know if it would work, but I could only move forward until I felt it was done, but far from perfect.  I had to accept it.

It is what it is.

What does that have to do with layers in life?  How can you know what will emerge as you remove layers?  Is it even possible?  Aha moments can come, and they often do, but what do they change?  On a good day, we might walk in a different direction and leave something behind that burdened us.  That is all good.

But, basically, isn’t it enough to accept ourselves exactly as we are today?  Trust that you are enough. Connect with your inner flow and just “BE YOU?”  When you do, something good emerges, the authenticity and power of who you are, layers and all.  Who gives a shit about layers?  Maybe psychoanalysts do, but I say, go for it, warts and all!   Be authentic.

Be your frigging AWESOME self, right now.  I have stopped trying to change or fix myself and there’s a lot of peace in that.

Peace out,

Maria

P.S. I often look at my paintings and think aliens painted them. When we allow flow, something much greater than the little self (shrouded in layers) comes out to play.  It is a path of mystery and curiosity.  If you want to try some art journaling, please sign up for my art newsletter for a primer and a mixed media tutorial.  CLICK HERE.