two great paintings, one’s owner sees a masterpiece, the other, a failure;

I taught a rather simple painting tonight. a feathery light blue background with grey and two rows of minimal trees in black and pale grey. from the stage i explained the steps quickly, showing each branch with a flick of the wrist. i heard some people sigh, and begin to doubt themselves. i heard a few negative comments people made jokingly about their own trees being awful. i got off the stage and made a lap around the room, expecting the worst from the corners of the room that i had heard complaints from…but the tress were all there,  and lovely, though each one different.

it is a familiar happening. we are our own worst critics sometimes i say that almost every time i teach a class to beginner artists…then proceed to go home and be mean to my own reflection with negative internal dialog.

often ive seen two equally great paintings, one who’s owner calls it awful the other who’s owner calls it a masterpiece. ill see an AMAZING painting, but out the eyes of the person who made it, an epic blunder is all that appears.

ill tell them “you are focusing on the little details because its in your face for so long. try taking a photo of it with your phone, or taking a step back, or even flipping it upside down, that will help you see how it actually looks, instead of how it looks in your minds eye.”

and, “don’t be so hard on yourself “i often say

yet aren’t i hard on myself?

its ironic.since sometimes when i look in the mirror all i can see are crooked teeth, a big nose. and wide hips…but a different person,a barbie like person appears in a photo. i will often say the photo was the untrue thing, that it was merely a good photographer, a kind lighting or angle, or even that I myself, was simply more photogenic than pretty.

im not kind to myself in many ways.

Like when i stay awake half the night to finish enough pieces for an art show. Or when i go hungry because i do the math in my head, and think i ought to put less things in the basket in favor of more art supplies. if i don’t try harder it wont be good enough. i wont be good enough. i say.

i’m not sure  why we are so hard on ourselves as women. maybe the standards we see everyday in beauty and success are so unattainable that we fail to see the truth anymore.

Maybe it is a bit like looking at the instructors carefully planned painting then at yours (done by a newbie) and expecting it to be exactly the same. feeling like anything less is a disappointment,

Here’s the truth: Even a very talented artist will tell you, the painting you made has value because YOU made it. even if it is not perfect, it is yours. Not something from walmart or ross, mass produced on a piece of cardboard with inkjets the shell of what was once an artists image that was altered on a computer a thousand ways…a mass product without the soul your original handmade thing has. Even if the printed image is great…there is.no comparison! one is real and one is not.

Maybe we all need someone leaning over our shoulder saying, this is beautiful, don’t be so hard on yourself.

i don’t understand why i can be that person to others so easily and sometimes have a tough run applying it to myself. one day i feel flawless, and the next, i look in the mirror and feel complete disappointment. That feeling like we aren’t good enough isn’t reality.

i’m good enough because i’m me. i’m the only one. and you are the only you. no comparison.

I’m trying to remember, as i fight for my dream, even on those days when my best just isn’t good enough for a full cupboard. on those days when id rather spend time on ways to make my reflection better than spend time appreciating it for how it is.

a simple turn of phrase can provide encouragement…so lets turn the phrase,

“i’m only me”

into

“i’m the only me”

.

where art life meets love life, arguments cloud the picture.  

To describe myself I will always begin I firstly, “I am an artist.” Secondly I might say crazy, cartoonish, or demanding. And I know who I have to thank for nurturing that.

As a kid my parents always let me express myself. vibrantly. freely. even when it was against the norm. 

When I wanted all the ornaments on the tree to be made from recycled garbage by mom cut down a second tree just for me to decorate. 

When I wanted to wear only purple everyday for seven years, my parents never once tried to suggest another color. 

When I wore a full face of bright makeup in the 5th grade, my mom schooled my teacher who had the audacity to ask “Why does she look like that?” 

I was spoiled! It’s not that I was spoiled financially, or that I was a spoiled brat who was allowed to do things that harmed other kids in anyway…I was spoiled with understanding, and love, in the form of acceptance and praise despite being a very (albeit creative) odd kid. 

A serious problem arises in my present life though. I associate being creatively stiffled, with feeling unloved. 

My husband is an extremely strong willed person. On the upside, He knows exactly what he wants and he will fight tooth and nail to get it. He’s an only child syndrome type who could talk you out of your last candy bar, before you realized it wasn’t your idea!  

My whole life is art. I worship with art, volunteer doing art, sell art for work, teach art for work, and make art for fun. Everything I love about life and each new step,  is tied in with being creative or inventive somehow. 

Once I was in a serious relationship, Ibecame more troubled at any response to my ideas that wasn’t the encouraging chatter I grew up with. In my young brain perhaps, synapses had formed showing me that love was paved with acceptance and appreciation for my creations. That love of my ideas was an extension of love for me. 

everytime he dislikes my goals or creations,I feel like he isn’t showing me love. Everytime he pulls the reigns on my wild ideas and inventiveness because it’s “too out there” I feel stiffled and rejected. To his credit you can’t blame someone for honesty, and I didn’t feel hurt the day he once called one of my art pieces “a fart” however complete meltdowns ensued on the days I was told “no” to building ideas. 

Our first Christmas being engaged for example was full of terrible arguments. I was denied a Christmas tree, in part because of my outlandish ideas that couldn’t be tolerated next to his traditional ones; and money was tight. I stood passionately yelling, that, “I would rather die” in a Walmart isle, at being told I would have to have a red and green normal tree with standard lights, or NOTHING.  After being taken to the store by him unexpectedly with the express purpose of looking at decorations. 

This past year he caved and let me Have my odd tree (I compromised on a few things but it was far from traditional)  and in the end he actually liked it. Thank goodness, because Christmas is as much about creative expression for me, as everything else is!  A tree full of cupcakes next to glittery chartreusse dinosaurs, seemed the embodiment of my” bizarrely decorative childhood Christmases. 

Flash forward to present day. Now we are on the cusp of something new: attempting to buy our first home. As usual, all I’m excited about really  is the prospect of paintjng, muraling and artististically styling a new space. For once. The initial deal he presented of own free will, was that he would have a man cave all to himself and I could decide the rest. 

But now it’s already sizing up to be a potential battle ground in my head. I said a few ideas and he suddenly, offered ways to change it, saying brashly don’t worry “you WILL like my idea.” telling me I can have something, then yank it away haphazardously or even tugging it on your own direction feels like theft. 

theft of the creative spirit is a grave crime. 

It’s tough for me to be so inistant on my ideas. If I could be different I probably would…fact is, I’m in a perpetual state of needing to express and have those expressions be accepted or understood. People often overlook this hard aspect of being creative. Don’t assume its a walk in the park to be an artist . The truth is its wall after wall of difficulty.

Once I heard an art mentor from my past say “Half of me is married and the other half is an artist.” It resonated with me even when I was single. 

I look at every new venture with hopeful eyes, I see a chance to create. but when half of your life belongs to someone else you have to realize many of your ideas will be shut down, or not agreed upon. It feels like being stolen from. I hope someday I will be better at that. 

I’m difficult. I never said I wasn’t.  Happiness

 is essentially a choice. I want to chose a life full of focusing on the positive things, the ways Im lucky enough to express…instead of being filled with angst over the times when I feel stifled.

Attitude is everything. Here’s to hoping mine stays in check. Along with hoping that my husband’s mind stays as open to my ideas as he promised. 

Ghosts of paintings past 



Here I am trying to sleep before my next art teaching shift…but all I can do is stare at a painting on the wall in my room and contemplate its execution. When I say execution, I mean not only how it was made but also how it will be destroyed. 

This work, titled “growing out of it?” Was to me, a lovely thing, though moody compared to most of my pieces. The painting, marching towards death, has already  “had its day” so to speak. Already it has been shown at a few different places and never found a home in anyone’s heart but my own. 

Unfortunately, as a full time artist, if a piece never sells, eventually I have to think about repurposing it; painting over it, letting it be reborn. 

Sometimes I have to destroy the things I love most. in the end I didn’t create art for my own self to hoard on every inch of my walls anyway. I created each piece hoping someone would relate to it and love it, a kind of conversation, or emotional exchange, (albeit with small price tag).

If a work remains homeless, it ultimately becomes something new. Yet, Upon seeing the new creation, an image lingers in my head of what’s underneath, like a ghost. 

Not so different from an after image. burned into my retinas…much like staring at an Eric carl children’s book illustration…then looking at the dot on the next page as the faded image transfers over. 

Though the art has been Reincarnated…something still  remains. 

Take A long walk in my shoes: lets talk about catcalls

Due to my car not working lately, I opted to walk to work today. The tough thing is, I have loads of anxiety about walking by myself in the area I live. Also where my work is located is a rather bad neighborhood, a girl I know got mugged last spring walking in broad daylight on one of the cross streets. Police are around my building or called every few days over something or another.

Lots of people walk though, in broad daylight…it’s said to be “safe enough”

I would feel okay, if it weren’t for the frequent cat calls that cause me to be embarrassed and sometimes afraid. Some women see it as empowering to walk alone, In spite of being bothered. I could see that, in an ” I won’t let you make me feel afraid” sense.

I suppose maybe it’s all how you look at it. These are things I said to myself in the doorway, trying to be positive since I had no other choice. My anxiety rising the more I thought about the long walk through downtown, a fragile creature, alone.

My attire was carefully chosen. I donned huge shades, and ear buds to drown out some crude phrases and also cover the embarrassment My face would wear upon hearing them.

I dressed a bit differently. I chose Jeans, flats,and a baggy jacket to cover my fitted tank top, though it was a warmish day. Fully aware that my usual: bright fitted clothes and shorter dresses would only draw more attention to my womanly shape. I prepared methodically… Thinking that would help matters.

From the man who drove along side me in his truck asking where I was going…to the street people who taunted me…to the well dressed older man in the fancy car who yelled out “ooow ooow neec a ride?” At the cross walk, it was made abundantly clear that my clothing choice wasn’t ever the cause.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hardcore feminist. I understand that men will be interested in women and act on it, and that’s only natural since cave man times. In fact If I get a polite compliment from a man I always say “thank you”and accept it kindly and gracefully, regardless of the giver of the compliment. But sometimes, when rudely yelled at… I can’t help but feel like I’m treated like a second class citizen…or somehow less than a person because of my gender. Why is it acceptable for men to  embarrass me or frighten me because I do something as simple as walk down the street? Is it in the name of appearing manly somehow? It often seems like any cat call or crude phrase, accepted poorly only aggravates the person and causes them to lash out in anger. It can be frightening, or at least unsettling to go for a walk in my shoes.

Anyway, I made it, I walked the entire way. When I got there, sweat pouring  from my temples due to being stressed by my anxieties,  and walking with too many layers in a pitiful attempt to cover myself, I threw off my extra layers and sat down to begin painting. After a few hours painting, my husband showed up to get me. Fortunately with my,car that was just back from the shop.

In the front seat,  I ran my hands through the back of my hair taking a deep breath at a red light. My eyes closed for a minute, thinking “Thank God my car is fixed” Just then, a man sitting close by yelled, “Yeah baby, that’s how you do it, keep going.” as another man next to him laughed and nodded fervently.

Car, or no car, walking or driving, wearing a short dress, or slouchy clothing,  I cannot change who I am, and I cannot change society.

As an artist, and a person, all I can do is keep on.

In my heart storms often brew at the onset of spring

I get very restless in the spring. The sun begins making an appearance and everyone moods lift, yet mine unexpectedly shifts a different way. although I should learn to expect it by now.  i’m an hsp. hyper sensitive person. change positive or negative, is hard for people like me. Even the onset of spring can make me feel funny and out of sorts.  it’s mostly a subtle tugging feeling that something is wrong. Or that something unsettling lingers beneath the masks that make up life as i know it. sometimes I have to word vomit copiously to anyone who will listen until I eventually reach the real cause of the problem.

I found myself feeling rather sad and melancholy a few weeks ago. I couldn’t articulate what was wrong but whenever I tried to explain I ended up repeating/stemming on one mundane memory from years ago. I  was in my husbands old apartment, i opened the door and he was siting on the dilapidated couch inside the small  and untidy space. he would always look at me as i opened the door and open his arms gesturing me to sit with him. there would always be a steaming pile of food ready for me, as i returned from work. We would sit together and watch something silly at days end. During that time i remember an odd feeling creeping in like i was “home” a strange feeling to me because we weren’t even serious then, it wasn’t my home at the time.

My home was the attic in an old building,a hot room with low ceilings you had to slouch to walk through. furnished only with  a mattress on the floor where i slept mice gnawing and scurrying round my room in the dark. below i would hear my roommates, strangers i had found on craigslist, pacing around discussing the lack of food in the cupboards.  Never had i been so sure what “alone” really was, and i would pray quietly on the verge of sleep each night for acceptance and improvement in my quality of life. though i worked hard, it never seemed to be quite good enough for me not to go hungry. and though i tried my best i didn’t have much in the way of close friends to confide in or feel supported by.

Yet here was this person, suddenly, who wanted nothing more than for me to be around always. he never gave me a reason to leave, and always gave me a dozen reasons why i should stay. My plan was always to be single a life devoted to other achievements instead. so far, in my early twenties id never been in love even really believed in it. I felt a strange twinge in my heart, an ache in the back of my throat really…at the thought that when i was with this person, in this room,  i was home. it was both a startling and stunning revelation.

Gradually my things moved there over time one by one. each object welcomed by the inhabitant. one winter day i walked through the doors to find my art easel set up in a corner of his tiny apartment with drop cloth beneath. i cried a little, as it was a grand gesture to me for someone to accept even my art mess into their dwelling. id always been frowned upon in my life for being  rather messy, and id been through long bouts of being antisocial due to giving time to art instead.

We were engaged by that fall. after getting married we moved to what was a better apartment. though i cried my eyes out upon leaving it for the last time. the place being gone symbolized the time being gone for me. Eventually recalling all these things stemming from the the memory of the daily sitting on the couch, i realized i was upset because the couch was gone.

Such a silly thing, the couch with broken boards, paint stained back, and gaping hole. It represented a precious time to me, the  beginning of things. Somehow i felt the couch being gone to be an epic loss. Of course it was an unexpected feeling that took me days to track down. My husband laughed and said ” i was waiting for it. i knew you would get upset about the couch.”

That’s the trouble with being transparent, sometimes people close can know how you feel before you yourself know it. change troubles me. Yet i always think it wont. I’m not sure why spring of all seasons is worst. The fall moving slowly seamlessly into winter, with the distraction of holidays never harms me. Even summer doesnt phase me, a season i don’t particularly like, since  i have to be laden with sunscreen and carry and umbrella.

Only Spring…all i can do is realize that i have the blues because of the season. Maybe also because we are in process of buying our first home. On the surface i am happy about it. i am in fact, happy about it. but i know i will ultimately feel melancholy because of change and time passing yet again.

I’ve got a rather stormy and unpredictable heart, and for some reason, storms always seem to brew with springs new rain.

“Are People Their True Selves When They wear a Mask?” Pondering the Importance of Strangers

Okay I’ll admit it, I love talking to strangers. It’s an addiction really! I’m one of those people who never runs out of things to say, and talking to complete strangers feels freeing in an odd way. I use use apps to feed my talking addiction, random chat apps where you are completely anonymous and have no page name photo or anything. You just send phrases into the wild blue yonder and see what people say in return. You will find everything from inspiring words of kindness to the straight up bizarre! Are people their true selves when they aren’t themselves at all?

Some famous person said “Give a man a mask and you will see his true face.”  I feel at home among the blatantly candid, because I’m a terribly transparent person. Often i’m saying something out loud before I was even aware it was a thought. You will usually know how i’m feeling and what i’m thinking from across the room. Other people have the luxury of holding that stuff in…yet they will tell it freely in places where they are anonymous, with nothing to lose.They are like me, beneath the exterior they present. Suddenly we are on equal ground, and my candid confessions and showings of emotion no longer seem unusual.

Even in real life, there is no filter on who I befriend. I subscribe to the idea that I can look into someones eyes and see if goodness is dwelling there. A little light flickering. As crazy as it may seem, it has been true so far. When i was younger I turned to craigslist to find roommates. Most people would think that to be a dangerous idea, especially since the person who responded was a man. I met with him briefly the day before lease signing, looked at his eyes and knew he was of no danger to me. He ended up being wildly eccentric, but kind. later on another stranger moved in too, an equally odd young man. And both worked out quite well.

Similarly, i posted on an anonymous app about needing someone to sing at one of my events. A young woman replied with  a beautiful voice and talent for music. An immigrant from morocco, she opened my mind about appreciating music sang in other languages. After phone calls and connecting through other forms of social media we decided we  will one day do a live art/music performance together. All due to having a open heart in regards to new people, whichever way I find them.

Strangers are merely people we haven’t found common ground with yet. Reaching out to strangers, for me, is as normal as breathing. If i want a real opinion on an art piece id rather ask a stranger than someone i know. better yet a stranger with no clue what I look like or knowing anything else about me. It’s so much more impartial. Likewise compliments from strangers mean more.

Recently someone wrote to a local paper about me in the “i saw you” column, where folks leave descriptions of people they didn’t get a chance to talk to or meet, hoping they see it and reply back. most of my friends find these creepy, but i read them religiously and find them beautiful. Even the weird ones. The description this stranger wrote of me described me as this completely stunningly beautiful  creature and ended saying” I would like to buy you coffee, but if you aren’t single, I hope you have someone who makes you feel truly appreciated and admired.” It was so lovely, and so far from my image of myself, that I burst out crying after thinking about it later that day.

Whatever we look like, the way we see ourselves…it isn’t  the truth. It is our distorted perception. The way our friends depict  us is often distorted too.  because I cannot help but blab my  opinions, i’m always questioning why others aren’t. Will a friend really tell me if my dress is ugly?  Are they truly telling me what they really think of my art, or are they offering a positive spin because they are worried about being nice? And the even more awkward, is this flirtatious person buying my art because its awesome or because they think I’m pretty?

Surrounding myself with candid people,whether what they have to say is wonderful, or bizarre, makes me feel less alone in the world. Through modern technology, I  will never run out of people to reach out to in some small way.I also wont run out of people who will bluntly tell me what they think. For someone as transparent as me, that form of connection isn’t daunting, but valuable and comforting.

Hard earned Offerings: A Parade in the Rain.

When i was a kid I constantly said “You are raining on my parade!” So often, it was practically my catch phrase. You can bet, if things weren’t going my way, i was probably crying about it.

Once you grow up the fact that life isn’t fair becomes obvious. And that crying about it solves nothing. Still, Sometimes it rains on my parade and I go home with a heavy heart. I’m often forgetting that the best  thing to do is have the parade BECAUSE its raining.The life of an artist is full of rain…In fact, the past few weeks have been walking through a mud bog during a monsoon, at a time that I expected a perfect day at the beach!

Sometimes you put forth twice the effort and planning, but get less than half of the results you had hoped. Much like pacific northwest weather…Success Cannot always be predicted, and it doesn’t care what you did to prepare for it.

First I cried out at my friends who I felt angry at for not supporting me in my latest event…not  one of them showing up for my challenging live performance…Despite some attending performances  that same night by other people, or showing support by attending music events by people they hardly knew, many many times. But nobody seemed to care about me…The simple fact is most people I knew rarely attended any of my my events, and there was usually such a crowd of strangers, that i rarely cared! I Didn’t know at the time, but this anger at my friends wasn’t reality…. It was merely my young self piping up,” its not fair!! Stop raining on my parade!!” less an expression, and more a projection.

To make matters worse, in the peak of the rainstorm, with my young self screaming her head off, a new problem arose. My deadline approached for supplies needed, volunteering with the special needs group. When I am able to, depending on my level of blessing with time and money for supplies, I volunteer leading them in doing various craft projects. I needed about 14 canvases, and despite working my ass off for weeks, i only had enough leftover money for 6. I picked through my art room hoping I had a few stashed away, but no luck. My heart hurt. “I’ve done my VERY best! Why didn’t you bless me with enough God?” I said.

I looked at some older works left behind from three or four different art shows of the summer and spring prior. Lovely paintings…I thought back to a time that I had sold almost all of one of the series, in the first couple weeks, leaving only a few  behind. i thought back to the successes of the other series with just a couple left from each.  I felt a little angry at having not sold more of my new work yet. I remembered the curator of my last show saying that someone had advised him to once a year destroy his best piece, as a way of lowering arrogance and pride…I counted the pieces again…eight, exactly the number i needed for my project with the special needs folks. I did have enough. many were beloved pieces that I had been glad didn’t sell, pieces i could sell in the future at one of my smaller venues…but none of that mattered now.

I used the last bit of my high pigment white to cover every one, new and clean.  They would each be turned into art once again, with my help, by one of the special needs people. The pieces would not be gone, but re-born with a new purpose,  sold to raise money for the less fortunate of the center. I felt a sudden sense of relief and happiness. The world tried to rain on me, but I had a parade in the rain.

I thought about the widows offering in the bible, she only had two cents but she gave all she had. It was worth more to God than the large donation of the wealthy, who could have spared more. Even though I had done my very best, and tried harder than ever before, I had little to give. Still God looked at my gift as success, not failure, because I gave everything I had.

I don’t know how I will have enough for more supplies, to make new art for the next month. In the rain even my venue had fallen through, So I don’t even know where the art will be. But I know, so long as the child voice is quiet, somehow God will bless me, and I will find a way to have a parade in the rain.