April 27th, 2007

This week has been one wild roller coaster for me. I got my period and that tends to leave me on the more emotional end of things, I just feel things deeper...including a couple wicked migraines. Yucko. But overall, a very good week. I worked hard and I felt rewarded in sychronicity. The chapter this week in Finding Water seemed to coincide with my life in such odd ways. I picked up a random arts and culture magazine at an art supply store, one of those free ones with big colorful pictures. It was full of art show reviews. Long articles in the front with some pictures and then smaller blurbs in the back. I sat down with it as I ate some lunch earlier in the week. And one of the reviews was just so awful. The writer was down-right mean! Talking about the artists in the show he wrote something like, "Haven't these artists studied art history?? If they had, they'd know that's been done before." Oh puh-leeze. I was all irritated with the review and thinking about those poor artists he tore to shreds when I remembered that I was mid-way through the Finding Water chapter and there was a bit there about reviews. I went back to it. "It is an artist's job to survive reviews and live to work another day." Mmhmm, yes it is. But oh, I just hate mean-spirited reviews!

Cameron advises, "If we remember to keep our own counsel - 'How did I like the work?' - then we are less likely to be blown apart by the judgment of others."  Judgment.  Yes. I don't do too well with people critiquing my work. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, but it's true. I've had plenty of practice, so I know how to turn on the open-minded, non-attached self to take it in and learn and then use what's helpful and discard the rest, however, I very easily slide into feeling hurt and defensive. And well, I just have no tolerance for comments that aren't constructive. I might get angry, but it's more likely that I'll just start crying my eyes out. And man, do I look rediculous when I cry. Big red splotches all over my face that stay for's not pretty. Maybe more on that another day, but for now, feeling judged is one of my big fears. Art is personal, so it's hard not to take criticism personally. But I fear being judged in all sorts of ways, not just about art.


This is timely because I finished a commissioned piece this week.  I had done one for a friend last year and her friend saw it and wanted one like it of her family. And I agreed. I did it for what she could afford and then spent way too much time on it. See, the tricky thing with a commission is, you don't know if someone is going to like it til it's done. And then what if they don't? I put a lot of effort into planning and doing this piece and if they don't like it...well, then, I don't think I have any energy left to change it. This is the worst part and probably why I've stretched the darn thing out so damn long. I've sent a photo and I'm waiting to hear the judgement. Do they like it or not? I have to try not to think about it.  Ugh.  I'm also all anxious about an art workshop I signed up for this weekend (which I know will be great fun, I just get all anxious before stuff like this.) Deep breaths.

The next parts of the chapter also really resonated with me. Tammi told me that the lotus flowers I've been seeing everywhere have to do with opening up to more spirituality in my life and in my creativity. This rang true for me. I was asked about the meaning of my Fishing piece below and it came out long and meandering and probably didn't make much sense (I have trouble saying things succinctly), but then Eliza told me what it felt like to her and she managed to say it in one sentence: " makes me think of how we strive and seek for the spiritual yet are actually surrounded and supported by it at all times." Exactly. I didn't quite understand it until after, but then I realized that she was fishing, looking, searching, reaching out. She's not alone, but the whale sees that she's looking and sends out her tail to remind her that she's not alone and that even though she can't see into the depths of the waters below, she is held and supported. Her boat floats after all. And that sounds all ooey gooey, but there it is.

I loved Cameron's discussions about her friends experiences with spirituality. After writing my post in the FW blog last week, I'm glad to hear of others experiencing doubts. I don't love the word "God" because of the connotations it has for me, but whatever you call it, my belief in a loving Universe comes and goes. Cameron's friend says that his ..."faith does not stay comfortable." Yeah, growing pains. Opening. It can be a little...uncomfortable. But here's where I have little doubt. In art. One of Cameron's friends says, "I think of painting as prayer and meditation." She talks about being guided. I call it intuitive art, being open.

Cameron writes, "We write not to display what we think but to discover what we think." Yes, that is my experience.

I have other odd experiences to share from this week, but I think this is long enough already, so have a beautiful weekend! I will be covered in art supplies up to my elbows! :-)

Good art is a form of prayer. It's a way to say what is not sayable.
-Frederick Busch

p.s. While writing this, I got an email from the happy new owner of above painting. They love it. :-) I had this weird feeling that if I wrote about it, I'd get an email. Heh.

18 Responses

Wow Leah, what an incredibly full post! I liked reading what you had to say about doing commissions. It’s an interesting topic, to be sure. One that I also gave a lot of thought to while reading this chapter. Commissions can be so rewarding and so frustrating all at the same time. But, I must say: YOUR PAINTING IS INCREDILBE!!!

I hope you have an incredible time at your workshop! :)

I love the painting! The cat in the painting looks JUST like my cat. Beautiful! :) Sounds like you had an interesting – but profound – week.

I loved this post because some of the same things I’ve been questioning this week…When reading this chapter, the quote that kept resonating with me was “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” I would love to think that the universe is supporting me and loving me much in the way that the whale was for the girl in your picture….I think that is one of my favorite paintings of yours so far, besides the girl with the stars…Hey, are these for sale yet? take care my friend…

How could they not like that painting? It exudes joyfullness. (is that a word?) It’s just yummy. (just like you) xo d

I love the painting, there’s so much joy in their faces and I’m glad the new owners feel the same. Have a terrific art-filled weekend. Reading here made me happy.

Isn’t it amazing that art can be so full of wonder and expression and at the same time offering us room to grow into strong individuals?

Your art speaks volumes.

That is an incredible piece of work. I love your style, and someday I may want to arrange a commission! When I look at your recent work, I feel there’s a shift towards something richer, bigger, deeper. I’ve always admired your style, but I wonder if now that you’ve moved toward being a full-time working artist you’ve tapped into something else in yourself. Love you, my dear.

This is a good post.
Nice art work and I agree it’s
hard to keep our own council.

Criticism and judgment…these two things are the things that have been the hardest to come to grips with in my life. I have learned to handle them pretty well, but is anyone ever really immune from the hurt of them? I like the way you worked through it though.

Thank you for another great and inspiring post!
I love how you write and your artwork is absolutely gorgeous!
I think you should re-name your blog..”Little Lotus”

Your post and your art are both so true and beautiful, amazing work, so happy for you.


I think my favorite part of the painting is the faded dog on the woman’s shirt; though the least vivid piece of the painting – all eyes are drawn to it.

“We write not to display what we think but to discover what we think.” Yes, that is my experience.”
~ and just my experience too :)

Keep up the good work!


So much water you’ve found this week! and I am so sorry about the migraines – I kept forgetting to get the book back out of the car (where it was waiting for me to remember to take it back to the library still! Maybe I was forgetting that part accidentally on purpose, because part of me knew it was still needed?)- anyway, I’m sorry I’ve taken so long to give you that info. I just ran and got it out, so I’ll e-mail you. Hope I remember to put it back in the car and take it to the library!

Glad your friends liked the painting – I think it’s beautiful. Commissions always make me feel tied up in knots, even though I’ve been lucky so far. I love your artwork.
Hope you had lots of creative fun, ‘covered in art supplies up to your elbows!’ xo

What a warm and tender painting! No wonder they liked it :)

I am so with you on nasty critiques like that. I still remember the advice that a directing instructor gave our class. He said whenever you’re about to lay in and criticize a piece of theatre, just take a moment to remember the amount of work and dedication that was required for it to exist and respect that. I believe that applies to all arts.

i saw this necklace and immediately thought of you and all of your tree paintings!

You can find it here:

It’s located in the necklaces & is called Moonlight Tree Necklace

Oooooooh Leah, beautiful painting! I really love it and am glad to hear the new owners of it did too.

Synchronicity. My favorite word I think!

That’s your commission?? It’s beautiful!

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