"I wish I May, I wish I Might" -mixed media on cradled board, 12" x 12". Ready to hang. Available on Artfinder.
Only TWO MORE DAYS! Another 30 Paintings in 30 Days September is nearly upon us. And in the studio, that means wild chaos and piles of supplies everywhere. Because you never know what you're going to feel like painting, and a girl's got to have art supplies.
So just in case you aren't aware of this particular phenomenon, here is a recap: twice a year, artist Leslie Saeta (check her out here) hosts a creative challenge - create something every day for a month and post it online. Simple, right? An each time this event comes around, over a thousand artists worldwide sign up. (you can peek at what they do each day on the official page: www.saetastudio.com/30-in-30-blog) This is an extra special treat for art enthusiasts, as it's like extreme arting every day for a month. You might need an art detox afterward . So many goodies!
But for artists, this challenge is a game-changer. First, it makes you create every day. Now that is a big hurdle in a busy world. Most people will find the more they create, the easier it is to fit it in. It's like magic that way. Secondly, the challenge makes you post your work to the public daily. This is HUGE! Over time, your fear of what others may think disappears as you rush just to get it done. And once that inner critic is quiet....you art begins to soar. And this leads to number three: by creating every day and putting it out in the world, it changes you whole discipline, your practice, your pace and your approach until you very art itself begins to change into something you never would otherwise have achieved. That Leslie...she's a smart one.
This time around will be a particular challenge for me, as September's schedule includes special events and a bit of travel that will eat up a ton of time. For me, this is ideal. Because it forces type-A me to relax and go with the flow, maybe miss a few days (feel my face freeze in a panic grimace? MISS DAYS? aaaaack!) and be less than perfectionistic. Hmmmmm.
Let's give it a go, shall we? On your mark, get set....PAINT!
"Some Pig!" mixed media on paper, 22" x 30". Ready to frame. Available on Artfinder.
My studio has gone to the pigs. Not just any pigs, mind you, but the kind who feel unlimited by their earthly bodies, who never give up hope of being gracefully airborne and gliding through clouds. This piece, inspired by a professor at NSU, is my new favorite. She is SOME PIG!
When I was two through four years old in Minneapolis, we had a babysitter called "Wessie". Her last name was "West", and I couldn't pronounce her first name, so she was always just Wessie to me. She was quite old even then, and took me for walks in the neighborhood on a harness and a leash (oh yes she did!) because I was known to run at the sound of thunder. Just so you know, I don't do that anymore. :) We moved away shortly after that, and I never saw her again.
But every year, on Christmas and on my birthday, she sent me a book. I believe those books came until I was twelve years old (which would have made Wessie very old indeed). Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Pilgrim's Progress...it didn't matter what my actual reading age was, she sent books to challenge and delight. We didn't have cell phones, color t.v.s or the internet then, so reading was part of every day. I never would have willingly picked out the books Wessie sent to me, but I read every one of them anyway. And thank goodness I did! Wilbur and Charlotte were my favorite pair of characters, and remain forever the gold standard for an example of encouragement, friendship and the power of words.
I was too young to know whatever happened to Wessie, and also too young to ask why she was so kind, all those years after we moved away. Other than writing a perfunctory thank you note for each gift, I never asked about her, about our odd and lasting connection and about her choice of books. I wonder if she knew how magical those books became, how lasting the impact on my life, and how that kindness lingers as a sweet memory all these years later?
Today I am going to pass it on and send someone a book. Who knows? It might even be a book about magical pigs.
"Out on a Lamb" - mixed media on reclaimed wood, 18" x 30". Ready to hang. Inquiries.
It's time for some mid-week malarkey. We've got a ton of transitioning going on over here...baby boy is off to school, husband is off to start a new job. Except, wait...he's still here. That's right, he's working from home. Holy bumping into one another, batman! Fortunately, his new office and my studio are at opposite ends of the house. We can meet in the middle for lunch and a friendly (or not so friendly) game of backgammon. He now has the ultimate commute.
We are in the countdown until 30 Paintings in 30 Days begins on September 1st. Which means it is time to prep some substrate, clear the decks and get ready to double down on studio time! And choose a theme. Hmmmmm. Meanwhile, the fall and winter art calls are slamming into my in-box and someone had better figure out where she's going to be and when. Am I stressed out? Nope. The fun is just beginning.
Which brings me back to this painting. Full-on malarkey. Inspired by a video about rabbits hitchhiking on sheep (no, really! check it below) and an artist friend challenging me to paint it. Apparently, these characters were a little put out by posing for this scenario, which they called "a ridiculous stretch of the imagination" despite the video proof. If you've ever argued with a rabbit, you know how impossible they are. And don't get me started on grumpy sheep. But the really interesting thing about this story is that rabbits are considered pests in New Zealand and are being eradicated. The farmer thought these scrappy little wild ones were so ingenious, however, that they deserved to live so he let them surf on. Awwwww. Lucky rabbits.
"Love, Sweet Love" - mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas, 36" x 36". Ready to hang. Available on Artfinder.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It's the only thing that there's just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.
- Jackie DeShannon
Contemplating eclipses and the perfect timing of this one today. In the Lakota tradition, the eclipse is called a "fire cloud". According to one source, "a great creature in the sky swallows the sun, and the sun...with his headdress, burns through the cloud...and is victorious." A time for quiet meditation, and asking for the return of the sun. Not just in the sky, but the light and love within ourselves. What a perfect pause in a world of heightened emotions and unrest.
In Navajo traditions, viewing the eclipse, or even being outside and partaking of activities in it, is taboo. Instead, it is a time for reflecting on the sun and the moon. Their beliefs stem from watching animal behavior during eclipses, which was to stop eating, huddle up and rest. Some schools in western U.S. are closed in respect for this tradition.
The Batammaliba people in Africa believe the sun and the moon are fighting, and people are to join together and ask them to stop. It is a time of resolution and healing of old feuds. Hmmmmm. I think they are onto something.
This piece is one I've painted versions of again and again. Something mystic and magical to me about this girl in the sky, whether she is reaching for stars or for love. It is a large piece this time, three feet in each direction. A piece of art from the heavens on a day when the heavens perform art.
"Bovine Malarkey" - mixed media on paper, 22" x 30". Available on Artfinder.
Boy, you turn me
And 'round and 'round
- Diana Ross, "Upside Down"
Mercury retrograde is back! Can you feel it? Is your technology wonky? Are you struggling to be on time? Is your car acting squirrelly? Does accomplishing the smallest thing seem just a wee bit harder than it has to be? We spent 36 hours without internet as soon as the retrograde began. Then the world went crazy with nuclear bomb smack talk and racist rallies. This is shaping up to be quite a doozy. So what's a girl to do?
The best thing about being unplugged is not hearing the news. It allows a little space between hither and yon. But eventually the lemons pile up, and it's time to make the lemonade. When I can't control the wide world (which is every day, of course, but some days it seems more significant than others) then I just control my own world. I start cleaning out closets, organizing, making labels, sorting files and making sense of little things. Several trips to Goodwill later, I find myself saying "What's next?" and looking for projects.
Selected works up to 40% off on Artfinder this month as we make way for a menagerie of new characters in the shop. Grab 'em before they get away!
"Homage to Van Gogh" - acrylic on reclaimed wood, 7" x 13". Ready to hang. Available on Artfinder.
"Each time that a student who devotes himself to painting arrives at school for the first time, he should be given a volley of blows by a stick and after to lead him back to his home and he will see if he wants to begin again. If there was a test like that there would be a great many who would not return. "
- Henri Matisse
I was struck by this quote while reading a transcript of an interview with Matisse. It made me chuckle. Not because I believe artists should be beaten with sticks, but because life already delivers "a volley of blows" to creative people on a regular basis. I think that's a part of the whole process. Leave it to Matisse to suggest additional beatings for new students. (Read the full interview here.)
This week the universe is whispering about gifts. Finding gifts in suffering. Seeing gifts in problems. Diving into adversity in search of treasure. Not running from pain because there is gold in them there hills. Alright. Message received. Sometimes leaning in to what pains us brings us closer to aha moments.
Outside my studio door is a painting by my dad. A Van Gogh tribute (nearly 99% of his paintings were inspired by Van Gogh) filled with spritely brush strokes and vivid colors. And I have the book of paintings dad consulted before sketching his designs. So I grabbed it and paged through. Tucked in the middle was one piece he hadn't touched...a darkened forest with a vague couple in the trees. It beckoned. Seeing the painting through my dad's eyes, I can understand why he dodged it. He was a widower, and the shadowy couple likely made him miss my mom.
But now, skewing this Van Gogh painting, I feel a lightness and sense of completion. A full-circleness. Like my parents reunited in a painting that foretold things to come. Painting in the style my dad revered, touching a piece that was still waiting for him - an homage to the master and to his devoted fan.
So this made me curious. What happens if we make this next part (or something like it) our internal dialogue today?
All you bellies, butts, thighs, wrinkles, stretch marks, moles, scars, bunions, gray hairs, crooked teeth, eye bags, chicken necks and saggy bits: you are PERFECTLY FORMED....a miracle, a spirit house, a warrior, a gorgeous human, a kind soul, filled with love, playfulness, curiosity, street smarts, wisdom, sweetness, sass and humor. You are a shining star! You are BRILLIANT!
Now go out there and shake your groove thing.
Jen Walls and her imaJENation