Entries Tagged as: self

Finding Flow in Your Self-Portrait

July 29th, 2009, Comments (15)

sp filter

I couldn't let the month of "self" for the Creative Every Day Challenge go by without doing some self-portraits!! I did a couple quick ones today. The top one was originally done with some oil pastels which I took a picture of and then played with in photoshop with filters. It looks a bit like a mosaic to me and I like the colors, even if it doesn't look quite like me. Even if a self-portrait doesn't look quite like you, it can still be a great jumping off point for a piece of art.

sp line

I did this quick drawing using a Pitt pen and I think it captures me much better. When the hubster came home and saw it across the room, he said, "Oh, you drew yourself! It looks just like you!" I laughed and thought, yep, captured the essence of myself there.

Having taken many art classes and gone to art school, I've done a lot of self-portraits in loads of different mediums, some more successful than others. One thing I've learned is that when I get too tight and controlled with them, the portraits feel stiff and forced. But when I let go of the desire for perfection and focus on capturing the essence of what I see in myself, everything flows much more easily. I also feel more connected to what I'm creating and generally more satisfied with the process and the results. Seems like a good metaphor for most things doesn't it?

I've been a bit distracted in the last week by the heat and traveling and a bit of house hunting (eep!), so please excuse the delay in announcing the theme for August, which is right around the corner! I'll be announcing the new theme tomorrow and I hope it excites you as much as it excites me.

More fun things to check out:

- I got a little mention on the "Embracing Your Creative Self" segment from Katheryn Tidwell Bieber on Tiffany Windsor's wonderful Inspired at Home blogtalk radio show. I really enjoyed listening to the entire show that aired on Sunday, but you can also just listen to Katheryn's segment here.

- My dear friend Connie at Dirty Footprints Studio is celebrating her spiffy new space today. Take off your shoes and head on over!

- The incredibly cool lady, I affectionately call the "other Leah" has opened up her own business doing web & graphic design. Leah Creates is currently running a special on Express Wordpress installation through August 1st, so if you've been wanting to get set up on Wordpress, this would be a great opportunity to make the leap!

Creative Play Workshop: Creating Time for Yourself

July 22nd, 2009, Comments (11)

a timely message

I've been enjoying writing these posts on the theme of self for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month because they help to remind me about how to take good care of myself, how to celebrate, how to move past self-doubts, and how to meet myself where I'm at with my art. Taking excellent care of yourself isn't something that comes naturally to many of us, but it's a key part of living a creative life.

For many of us, things that we consider frivolous or unnecessary come last, so while we make time to do errands and clean and meet other obligations, we're less likely to schedule in time for pampering, art-making, rest, or play.

I believe that we are more present in our lives, more alive, and more available to those we love when we nurture ourselves and our creativity.

Sometimes that nurturing comes in the form of creating time just for you. If you find that despite your intention to make the time to play, you're just not getting to it, it might be time to make a creative date, the kind you schedule in on your calendar. You may need to ask a loved one or babysitter or pet sitter to help you out. Do that. It's ok to ask for some help making your creative date happen. I often use signing up for a class as a sure-fire way to show up for myself. (Something about paying for something guarantees that I'll show up!)

cp2 large

If you're in the Boston-area and looking to schedule in some creative time for yourself, then I'd like to invite you to join Jennifer Lee and I for a live workshop: Creative Play: An Afternoon of Intuitive Art and Creating from the Heart, happening Saturday, September 19th, from 1-3 pm. Get all the details and sign up here.

Jenn and I are so thrilled to be sharing this class with you! We'll be getting playful, creating collage art from our intuition, and learning tools to infuse our daily lives with creativity. And there will be giggling, lots of of it.

We've got an early bird price of just $40 through August 31st, but space is limited, so do grab your spot if this creative playdate calls to you!

Surviving Self-Doubt

July 21st, 2009, Comments (40)

Subway Stories: Orange Line

An artist is the one who can fail and fail and still go on. -Agnes Martin

Self-doubt is something that plagues most creative souls at one time or another. We may be going along, feeling great about our creations, and then something happens that shakes our confidence. Perhaps we get a rejection to a show or someone makes a nasty comment about our work. Perhaps we compare our work to someone else's or our inner critic gets really loud. Or perhaps self-doubt just sneaks up on you out of nowhere, whispers in your ear, and suddenly you'd rather do anything, but make art. Self-doubt feels awful, but it comes up, so how do we move through it and return to our creativity?

Be Gentle: Don't beat yourself up over your self-doubt. It's easy to go there, to think, "Ugh! Get over it already. Stop procrastinating and just do it. Sheesh!" Yelling at yourself may work in the short term, but it usually turns into a viscious cycle of beating yourself up, avoidance, more beating yourself up, followed by procrastination, some more beating yourself up, with a kicker of feeling like dirt. No fun. Instead of going to your drill sargeant voice, try going to your gentle mother voice. Try telling yourself something like, "Hey, it's o.k. that you're doubting yourself right now. It happens. I know you're wonderful. What small step could you take to feel a bit better?"

Keep a Kindness Folder: Sometimes we need to be reminded how fabulous we are. Try keeping an appreciation folder (I keep a folder in my email for just this purpose) where you can collect kind emails, letters, notes, tweets, etc. When you begin to doubt yourself, go to your folder, read a few of the notes you've saved, and soak up the love.

Write a letter to yourself: Feeling appreciation and love from others is wonderful, but we are also capable of giving ourselves love and appreciation. I've found it's helpful if you can write to yourself (maybe your artist self) from your wiser self. You'll find your kind, wise self will know just what to say to lift you up.

Begin with Baby Steps: I mentioned this briefly in the first step, but it's so important that I had to make it its own step. One of the best remedies for self-doubt is action. I prefer to begin with gentle action, action that is full of kindness and permission and playfulness. And the best way to move into action when you're in self-doubt mode is to start small. Start with a doodle on an piece of junk mail, write a silly haiku, dance around your living room, sing in the shower, or play with crayons. Let go of the need to make a masterpiece and for now, for this moment, start with something that brings you delight, one teeny tiny thing.

Remind yourself of your accomplishments: It's easy to forget all that we have already accomplished. Take some time to make a list of how much you're already achieved. Looking back over old diary entries can sometimes help remind me how far I've come. On a smaller scale, you can keep an "already done" list each day to keep track of all the things you've done instead of focusing on what you didn't do.

Keep taking risks: It's amazing to me how despite our self-doubts, we keep putting ourselves out there. And I want to simply encourage you to keep taking those risks, big and small, in your life and in your art. Taking risks helps squash those pesky self-doubts in a powerful way. Your risks may be trying out a new color, learning a new style, reaching out to a fellow artist, submitting your work to a show, posting your work online, or opening up a shop. Not all our risks will have the results we want, but every risk gives us the inner knowing that we are capable of more than we realize.

More help with self-doubt: Re-Thinking RejectionRe-Thinking Success

Celebrate Yourself

July 17th, 2009, Comments (31)

underwater tea party

Awhile back, I wrote about celebrating your creativity. Celebrating in general is something that can be challenging for many of us, myself included. For me, when I finish something, I tend to move quickly on to the next without taking the time to celebrate, but it's something I'm working on because I believe good self-care includes celebrating the good stuff, big and small, in our lives. And as it's the month of self for the Creative Every Day Challenge, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about celebrating yourself! 

Today happens to be my birthday. I've always felt like my b-day is a day to do something special for myself like taking the day off to get a massage, go to a movie by myself, get taken out to my favorite restaurant, or plan a mini-trip. But you don't need to wait til your birthday to celebrate yourself. One of the simplest ways I've found to celebrate is to think about what brings me delight.

Take a moment and write down 25 - 50 (or more!) things that delight you. How can you bring more of these things into your everyday life? What things can you schedule in this week or this month?

Some things that bring me joy are: snuggling my kitties, reading good books, wandering aimlessly in a bookstore or library, laughing with the hubster, sitting by a body of water, doodling in my sketchbook, and silly socks.

As much as I love enjoying my birthday, I sometimes get a little shy when receiving gifts or compliments. But it's so good to be open to receiving love from others and from yourself. Do you ever disount someone's compliment? I used to do it all the time. Someone would say something like, "Oh, your hair looks great today!" and I'd say, "Oh, thanks, it's kinda frizzy." It makes others feel good to shower you with love, so try allowing yourself to drink it in without trying to squash it. Try simply saying, "Thank you."

How can you celebrate the wondrous person you are? If you're a bit reluctant to celebrate yourself, start small. What's one small thing you adore about yourself? Keep adding to the list.

I think the nicest way to celebrate yourself is with fabulous self care. Here are some ways to rock out with your self-care celebrations:

  • Foot rub: Treat yourself to some yummy scented lotion and rub your feet.
  • Shower Power: Spend some extra time in the shower or the bath with some scented shower gel or bath salts. Warm water feels fabulous and taking some time to take excellent care of your body is so important.
  • Good Grub: Making yourself a great meal is a wonderful way to treat yourself. Even something as simple as a slice of lemon in your water can feel fabulous.
  • Flowers: Simple, yes, but a small vase of flowers can give you such a great lift. Bring some beauty into your space and delight in it. You're totally worth it.
  • Treat yourself: Treat yourself to a massage, a pedicure, a facial, or get your hair done (I love getting my hair washed!)
  • Let Go: Let go of something that you've been holding onto that you just don't love and don't use. It feels great to let go of stuff that doesn't bring you delight.
  • Create: Write, paint, draw, get creative. Express yourself freely, just for fun, for no other reason than because you love it.
  • Move: Moving your body feels good. I used to focus on exercise as a way to stay in shape. But now I see it as self-care. I feel better when I get regular movement, from the more intense (jogging, dancing) to the more mellow (stretching, walking.)

What are your favorite ways to celebrate yourself?

All Art is a Self Portrait

July 14th, 2009, Comments (18)

wip storm
work in progress, storm

Now there are certainly exceptions to the statement I made in the title, but I feel like any art in which we are expressing a part of ourselves is a kind of self-portrait. It is an expression of our inner life, our inner workings. It is perhaps a truer self-portrait than any traditional self-portrait could be because it shows what's going on beneath the surface.

It's like the quote that I shared in last week's CED post:

Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. ~Picasso

I think this is why so much of my art has women in it. Even though the figures are not meant to be a direct representation of me, they do represent a part of me. And sometimes they even look a bit like me. I've noticed this in the art of others as well. Their figures look a bit like them and express something that's going on within them.

The above piece of art is a work-in-progress. The idea came from a doodle that simply flowed out of me as I was listening to a podcast. I was imagining thoughts streaming from the figure's mind and emotions streaming from the heart, which combined in this sort of storm cloud that the figure observed curiously. Ideas often start off like this, simple doodles in a sketchbook and if I don't bring them to life, they often tap me on my shoulder (as this one did throughout the weekend) until I express them more fully. It's usually best to get an idea out when it's somewhat fresh because that's when it's most powerful and most relevant.

When I do bring ideas to life, I feel more connected to myself and to my spiritual side. Art is a bit like keeping a diary, yes, but it's also a way of communicating with myself, of understanding what's going on beyond the conscious everyday stuff. When I'm able to express that, I feel calmer and more alive.

Do you see your work as something like a self-portrait? How does it express your inner workings?

Wreck This Journal with Smooshy Paint!

July 3rd, 2009, Comments (32)

I've been having a blast playing with my copy of Keri Smith's Wreck this Journal for Jamie Ridler's book group. Fun! If you missed last week's update, I brought my journal in the shower and gave it a good scrub. And it did not want to dry, despite being wrapped sweetly in its own little towel, so I took Lisa's advice and put it in the dryer briefly. I didn't want to start a fire, so I only got it mostly dry in there. When I took it out, it looked like this:

wtj curledpages

Oh my. So, I spent some time uncurling all the edges and now the book looks like it had a perm, but it's mostly fizzled out. Hehe. It's still a little damp, but I've carried on with it. I actually like some of the effects that writing on a damp page has. In this week's video you can see my current favorite page and then you get to see me in action, squirting paint and ink onto the pages to make a print. So purty! I already see something in the print that was made, so I'd be curious to hear what you see there! If I end up playing with the ink/paint blot further, I'll post a picture.

Making a video could be another way to play with the self theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge this month! You could simply show yourself live, read something you've written, make silly movie, or just share something about yourself. I'd love to see you! I know the first video I did for Wreck this Journal was really scary, but it's become a lot less scary with each one I do. It might be a fun way to strech yourself!  In the meantime, I want to wish a happy 4th of July to everyone in the U.S.! Happy 4th! And to everyone, I wish a wonderful, creative, fun-filled weekend!

Meeting Yourself Where You’re At With Art

July 2nd, 2009, Comments (16)

elephant night
elephant night

Art is one of the most soothing things I can do when I'm feeling cruddy. And yet, I still forget or I putter around without picking up the paintbrushes. It's a fairly simple task to pick up your pen and write or pick up your paintbrush and paint, but the starting can be hard. Especially if you have any voices in your head saying, "I want to make something good."

Phooey, I say. Let go of the making-something-good or making-something-special voices and meet yourself where you are, right now, in this moment.

It's true, it might not be pretty. It might not be what you expect.

elephant night detail

Allow yourself to be surprised.

Simply show up and begin. Begin with simple tools. A few colors, a piece of a paper, a pen. Leave your fears of failure at the door. For just this moment, it doesn't matter if what you create is "good" or "bad." Just let something flow out. A few brushstrokes. A few lines. Where does that take you?

Last night, I started with a scrap of paper that I'd done some playful marks on previously. I wet part of the paper and grabbed a bottle of ink that my cats had playfull rolled down the hall earlier. I squirted some ink on the wet paper and delighted in how it spread and curled and formed fantastic shapes. I then squirted blue paint directly onto the paper, shapes began to develop. Orange came next, a field. And ink spots looked like houses. A figure appeared on the right side. I stepped back, looked from a distance, then peered closer. One of the house shapes looked like an elephant, so I made it appear. The sky was lit with stars.

Before I started painting I was feeling some angst about a variety of things, including the weather. But afterwards, I felt light and alive and more free. That's some of what expressing yourself can do for you. When you allow yourself to create, not what you might wish you were creating, but what you need to create now, in this moment, you'll feel more alive, more connected, more at peace.

This is what I aim for when I'm creating, this connection to where I'm at in the moment. It's the way I found myself creating in the art picnics I developed and it continues to be a magical experience that I just adore having.

How can you meet yourself where you're at in your art?

p.s. The next Art Picnic workshop has been scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd, from 1-3 pm EST. You can get all the details and sign up here!

CED July Theme: Self

June 27th, 2009, Comments (23)

ced self

The *totally optional* theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge in July will be Self

I will be posting about the theme throughout the month with different ways to approach it. If you need some suggestions, here are a few ideas to get you started. You could:

  • *Do a series of self-portraits.
  • *Get creative with your rituals of self-care
  • *Write an autobiographical essay or poem.
  • *Explore what your space says about you.
  • *Have fun with your personal style.
  • *Express yourself in an art journal.
  • *Play with your personal symbols.
  • *Write a letter to yourself from your higher self.
  • *Create a vision board about your deepest visions for yourself.

How to use the CED themes:

If you're feeling creatively stuck or blocked at any point during the month, use the theme as a source of inspiration to get you moving. 

Using the theme is entirely optional for CED participants. Use it if it inspires you, ignore it if it doesn't. I'll be sharing posts throughout the month around the theme (among other things) to get you thinking about how to incorporate it into your life. I'd love to hear how you use the theme in your creative world.

Feel free to focus on the theme in your creative activities for the entire month or as much as you'd like.

And have fun with it!

"The most beautiful art comes from our deepest, rawest selves; it rises from within like the hoot of an owl or the song of a whale." ~Jan Phillips, Marry Your Muse

p.s. The art I used in at the top of the post is from my painting, Lantern, which I modified slightly for this theme post.