It is both comforting and funny how many people I bumped into in that sandy heap on the shore. So many stunned surfers in the world. Trying to make sense of things. A mini crash tribe was formed, and I think each of us became a little less confused when we processed our experiences together.
This wearing away, eroding, shaking up and sifting out - it is a theme oft repeated in my life, and one I hear in the stories shared by others. We're becoming polished, smooth and silky, like tumbled stones (I had a rock tumbler years ago, and I can tell you, not only do they make a racket, but it takes a LOT of tumbling to make things smooth).
Maybe this is what it takes to make us both "more resilient and tender" (Nepo again) simultaneously.
This piece developed from a gesture during a recent life drawing session. To me, she depicts perfectly a woman recovering on the shore after a few rows with the currents of life.
Huge thanks to all the participants in Sunday's storytelling challenge! Your comments, emails, texts and phone calls were so very welcome. And your stories are magnificent. My amazing intern, Fiona, selected a winner from all the entries (thank goodness I didn't have to pick!) Congratulations, Dana, your story was the winner! Pongo is preparing your art print for shipping now.
Last week, my super intern worked on telling her story, which is a key part of marketing as an artist. It's a simple formula that takes all the messy complication out of figuring out your tale. A Mad Lib of sorts, from the ever inspiring Austin Kleon in his book, Show Your Work. It goes like this:
Once upon a time, there was (fill in the blank)
Every day (fill in the blank)
One day (fill in the blank)
Because of that (fill it in)
Because of that (you know what to do here)
Until finally (finish it with gusto!)
My story, for example, might be this:
"Once upon a time, there was a girl who was banned from art forever by her very own mom. Every day she went to work as a banker, one of the least creative jobs on earth. One day, a friend dragged her to an art class. Because of that, she discovered an incredible new world where no one could be banned and playtime and work time were all mixed into one sandbox. And because of that, she tackled art instructors to the ground, insisted on extreme lessons and practiced and doggedly pursued her craft until finally she became a real, live artist and lived happily ever after in a wild state of play."
It is a super simplified way to figure out the answer to the question "what's your story?" and can be used for pretty much any field you happen to pursue. Give it a try! My intern, Fiona, insists I reward one lucky Mad Libber for their efforts. So post your story in the comments below, and one inventive storyteller will be selected by Fiona to win a whimsical art print to be packaged by Pongo and delivered by pigeon (or postman) to their door. Ready? GO!
For some groovy reprinted whatnots which require no story writing whatsoever, check out my newly revamped store at Redbubble.
There comes a point along the path where you just have to go it alone.
And by "alone" I do not mean by yourself, without support, without friends, without the comfort of being with someone. By "alone" I mean without the many experiences that may have wounded you and continue to haunt you. The experiences which give you pause, make you hesitate, send you running for that thing you do to make yourself feel better, whatever that is.
What would you do if you could leave all that baggage behind? Oh sure, keep your wisdom and strength and compassion and all the positive things which that stone of sadness seeded inside you. But if you could leave the weight of it - that coil of fear and insecurity and mistrust - what would you do?
We lost Mary Oliver this week. A woman whose words touched as hands cannot. I think of her now soaring in the ever-after, a stream of unfettered words and wisdom swirling in galactic vapors, freed from gravity. I am grateful for these weighty gifts she left behind.
While the studio stockpile is being tidied and the bear is galloomping around the studio, let's chat for a second about online art sales and best practices. Artists, feel free to listen in! Collectors, thank you for letting me bend your ear for a moment.
Online galleries are wonderful places to be introduced to new collectors and to be tantalized by art from around the world. But they also charge artists a percentage of each painting sold - less than a brick and mortar gallery, for sure, but still a sizable chunk. Then Square or PayPal grab a slice of the pie. It gets whittled away pretty fast.
When collectors purchase directly from the artist (like on my website here, or in person), there is no commission paid to anyone - just Square or PayPal fees. The artist gets to keep most everything! So, for me personally, this means two things:
1. I love it when people buy from my website! It is a huge help.
2. There is more flexibility in prices on my website. This lets me work with your budget and help you get what you want for less cha-ching.
So, to encourage you to take a few minutes exploring my gallery, here is a coupon for 25% off anything on my site. It is sort of like I am paying YOU the commission instead of a middle-person. Let's be rebels together! Enter REBEL25 at checkout - good until 1/21/19.
Thanks for listening. Now go out there and cause a little trouble. :)
"Rearranged" - charcoal and pencil on toned paper, 18" x 24" "Blue" - acrylic and charcoal on paper, 11" x 14" . Ready to frame. Each available here and at Artfinder.
"Inevitably, certain experiences rearrange us."
Oh, Mark Nepo! How did you know? Rearranged. I have been rearranged. And still sorting out where the pieces fit well together.
This puddling into the new year is a bit off-putting for me. Plans? Schedules? Calendars? These have always been my crutches. They're still here, of course, but I am keeping them just out of reach. Careening through each day like a drunken bull and letting the terrain beneath my feet determine which way I will meander.
This isn't a graceful method for navigating through life. But it is something new, which leads to, well, more new things. Like an urban hike after dark with my sisters - standing on the muddy bluff of Overlook, peering down at the sparkly lights of the rail yard and the glistening Willamette river, navigating flooded back alleyways and streets. Graceful? No. Exhilarating? Yes.
For those who attended my "Once Upon an Artist" demonstrations this past fall (or anyone else who is interested), Andrew Simonet, author of Making Your Life as an Artist now has a workbook you can download for FREE here. The book is also available for download. It's a little roadmap toward making your artsy dreams come true.
If you freed your heart and mind from just one less-than-stellar habit, where else would you put them to use? Maybe toward bravery, or making home-made ramen (like my soup goddess sister, Wendy), toward understanding something elusive or maybe just daydreaming of the many things you can put your newly-freed heart and mind to use on. :)
My hands are working gently at slump softening. One drawing at a time. One leave-it-all-on-the-table-in-a-heap-of-exhaustion life-drawing session at a time. Thank goodness I now live in the land of caffeinated goodness on every corner.
This week's PDX recommendation is Sweedeedee, where you can start your day with a savory porridge and a slice of honey whiskey bread. And where the staff will dazzle you with vinyl LPs played continuously while you eat. You'll get a kick out of saying "Sweedeedee" all day long, too.
And that is truly the beauty of a well-run session. The leader carefully times, announces, forces a pose change and starts the clock again. You are at the mercy of the tick tick ticking and forced to shut out all of your hesitation and just do it. While others are watching. And there, in that space between thoughts, you are awakened.
Every fiber of your being is in the moment, in flow, observing and responding, not thinking, just being. In a packed classroom, "the sea of all beings" is right there, ebbing and flowing around you, touching but not touching as you are completely alone but not alone. Finally, finally - the monkey mind (of which I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN I am the QUEEN) is hushed. Oh bliss! Oh perfection! Let's do that again, shall we?
Jen Walls and her imaJENation