Monday, October 24, 2011

Creating The Family Tree: Sketch #1

Tree sketch #1

Okay, okay!

I've been promising to post pics of one of my commissions for a while now. Here's the first sketch.

The family that commissioned me commissioned a carpenter to create a media unit that would house their A/V stuff. They had just purchased a large flat screen TV and didn't want to see it all the time in the living room (especially when it was off), and thought a painting would hide it nicely, while beautifying the living room.

I was invited to create one of my Original Finger Paintings, which would be painted on a pair of doors. It would be the largest Original Finger Painting I've made to date, plus it was on wood. We had to see if the varnish the carpenter used would mess with my oil paints, and luckily, it didn't.

Initial sketches are fascinating to me because I like to see the progression from start to finish, and to note what changed, what was kept, and what was tossed out.

Based on what my patrons told me they wanted, I sketched this oak for them. It's based on the Valley Oak, which is found in the Bay Area of Northern California.

Notice the faint line in the middle, where the doors would meet, and also the four roots which represented the four members of the family. The black rectangle is drawn to scale for the doors.

More sketches coming!

Invite Beauty,

I.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

How it's going

Yesterday, I closed down my eBay store.

Please visit my Etsy shop if you'd like to purchase any Original Finger Paintings, limited edition prints, and collectible greeting cards. 

If you're the kind of person to share my work with others, that's great, too! I consider it a high compliment.

The last paintings I moved to my Etsy shop are scattered throughout the post. Please click on the captions if you're interested in more information and purchasing any of the Original Finger Paintings you see:

Meow & Zen
I've spent a few years on eBay and really enjoyed the people I met, whether they were artists, collectors, or admirers. I sold my work across the globe and made wonderful connections, some of which have continued onto Facebook and Etsy

It's time to move on and make new connections, in places where I think it's fostered and nurtured. 

So, how's it been going in the studio?

Slow. Since the completion of my last commission, which I've been promising to post since forever (bad artist! bad artist!), I've decided to put that end of my business on hiatus, too. 

The truth is, the psychotherapy training (I'm almost halfway through the 3,000 hours I need before sitting for my licensing exam) and building of my private practice (one of three internships), is keeping me super busy--more than I anticipated when I started my grad program. 

I'd say this lack of foresight was helpful. Who knows if it might have kept me from starting the grad program in the first place? 

Death as a Maiden
The hurdles aren't over yet.

Anyway, part of being super busy has been a rise in my stress level, which was what the last post about three months ago was about--rebuilding my life in a sustainable way, and rebuilding my health.

To that end, I've continued with yoga and my thoughts on that are:

It's damn hard!!!

Seriously! I thought it was a bunch of stretching and leotards. It's not, I assure you.

I sweat and afterwards, I'm sore. It's a real workout. Keeping up with it, I notice the benefits of being more relaxed, flexible, and toned. It's certainly allowed me to work out again, which was difficult because with tense muscles, you're going to hurt yourself. 

There are many forms of yoga, but two categories I recently heard of were "yin" and "yang." Yin is more restorative, emphasizing flexibility and relaxation. Yang is more about strength and stamina. All this without weights! 

Bodies are neat. I forget about how taking care of mine is fun.

Call of Nature
I also utilized massage and acupuncture, and my thoughts are:

They take work, too!!!

I'm trained in massage (it's very handy, no pun intended) and when I get to work with a skilled massage therapist, it's magic. The end result is relaxation, but the work involved is being conscious during the massage and learning to relax and let go of tension in response to the attention the therapist places in tight and sore areas. 

Bodywork isn't something done to you if you want it to be truly effective--it's a collaborative process.

The Lightness of Being
As for acupuncture, it was a lot more relaxing than I thought it would be. Maybe the needles mislead me, but I used to brace myself for my treatments at first, but then I realized that it not only had a calming effect on me, but I couldn't do a damned thing while I was stuck full of needles! 

What I also learned was that I had to engage with the acupuncture treatment, too. I'd lie there and my mind would start wandering, and when I focused on something stressful, my back would tighten up. 

I didn't know I was doing this but hey, when you have a needle in your back that twinges when your muscles tighten, you learn pretty quick how your body is responding to stress. 

Acupuncture was like bio-feedback for me. I learned to quiet my mind (or else) and got immediate feedback whether it was working or not.

Essence of Motion
And that's about it. I'm feeling much better--more relaxed and healthier than before. I still have my stresses, and I miss painting, but my eyes are on the prize of that license for Marriage and Family Therapy for now. 

Thanks again for all your support. More news soon, promise!


I.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The rebuild

It's June and I know I've taken blogs off my blog roll if I haven't seen a new post in 3 months (5 months if I'm feeling hopeful). I'm not above my own rules, so here I am, revisiting and posting.

A lot has been going on personally and this was part of my decision to withdraw from presenting my work to the public. (Which reminds me, I've received permission from my patrons to post their commissioned Original Finger Painting online so I'll be doing that, along with posting the sketches, eventually <--see how I gave myself that vague timeline as a cushion?)

I had been trying to reduce my stress and sense of being overwhelmed, but what I forgot to do was increase my serenity and joy. Making art was part of that rebuilding, re-creating process.

Due to this negligence of "self-care" on my part, I suffered. I thought I had everything under control and when friends (who are psychotherapists) and staff (my physician) told me that my symptoms just might be anxiety related, I scoffed.

Who, me?

Sure, I run a little anxious. It's my temperament and I accept that. I do things to take care of my anxiety and stress--but then I realized I hadn't been doing those things. I had hernia repair surgery at the beginning of this year and it's kept me from the regular and vigorous exercise I need for general health, for the last several months. I haven't been producing as much art, or socializing as much, due to my psychotherapy internship responsibilities.

I was swimming (drowning) in my anxieties and I didn't even know it. Maybe it's like falling asleep on a glacier. I just thought I was stressed and that this would all pass.

Well, it didn't. It caught up with me and turned my life upside down with wondering what the heck was going on with my body.

When I addressed my anxiety, everything got better, and quite rapidly.

Here's what I did:

  • I checked things out with Western (allopathic) medical exams
  • I took my first yoga class (and plan to take more)
  • I started acupuncture treatments
  • I received a deep tissue massage (and scheduled my next one)
  • I began meditating again
  • I sought the support of friends and family 
  • I figured out what my anxiety triggers were and minimized or eliminated them

This is just the beginning. I plan to continue practicing self-care and seeking appropriate and fitting support for my well being. If what I try works, I'll do more of it. If it doesn't, I'll stop and try something else. And if whatever I do already is working fine, I'll leave it alone.

I'll go into more detail as I figure out how much I want to discuss, and probably write some articles over in my advice column (especially if I receive emails from people with specific anxiety issues!).

Given how alone I felt at times with my symptoms and feelings, I think it would be beneficial to have my own experience shared online, where people can find it and gain some sense of comfort, control, or at least a possible grasp of what might be going on with them if it's similar.

And of course, I'm not diagnosing anybody or saying that this and other posts will help somebody diagnose themselves--these types of posts are to help people begin a conversation with their healthcare providers--doctors, psychotherapists, massage therapists, etc.--about what might be happening, and to facilitate exploration of treatments.

I am much, much better now, so don't any of you worry. Having gone down this road and come back, I bring with me more empathy and understanding of what anxiety could feel like for other people. Hard won, this learning.

Invite Beauty,

I.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things Break Down

In the last three months of the New Year, I've replaced several things that have broken down.

I've replaced my scanner (it just stopped working) with an awesome 3-in-1 holy trinity machine that prints duplex. Duplex! This is almost like when I saw the first X-Men movie. I was in delicious denial that a childhood fantasy could come true. Yes, I dreamed of duplex printing as a child. I mean, c'mon. Printing. On both sides. Seriously!!

I've replaced my network router (which just stopped working) with this neat one that allows me to hook up a wired printer and/or hard drive to it so that I can print wirelessly and backup my computer wirelessly! Can you believe it? When I was a kid, we had rotary phones and texting was called Morse Code. By the way, my awesome holy trinity scanner can work wirelessly already. I just want to dance with my laptop, while sending bits of data through the ether that make machines around me do my bidding. Drunk with power, I tell you!

Additionally, my mouse, which was part of a graphics tablet, stopped working. It just stopped. I had stopped using it as a graphics tablet years ago (it ended up being too small, but I'd occasionally use it as a tablet just for fun--until the fun ran out and frustration set up house), used it as a mouse on my glass desk (lasers go right through the desktop), and have now replaced it with a wireless mouse that came with--you guessed it--my wireless keyboard. I replaced my wired ergonomic keyboard with a wireless one. Whee! It is unexpectedly liberating not to have cables to contend with, especially given my insane need for inevitably inexistent working space on my desk.

I've also replaced my phone, which I guess is technically a smartphone. I was holding out for one of the new phones coming near the end of the year, after sticking with it for a year and a half, but because the charger just stopped working (and the battery couldn't hold a charge), I had to bite the bullet and get a new phone. It's very nice, faster and bigger and lighter than my old one, and I'm still adapting. I'm glad my old apps downloaded, because some of them don't even exist anymore.

Lastly, I've replaced my car. My Prius was totaled (talk about not working anymore!) and I had to get another car.

Besides my keyboard, phone, and car, I've had my old scanner, router, and mouse for about ten years. I thought about this as they suddenly stopped working. I felt okay about it--a little sad for sure, but overall, I felt like they gave good service and it was time for them to be recycled.

However, that's still a lot of stuff to replace, to let go, to acknowledge they've reached the end of their usefulness; I think I've come to this conclusion with my art, at least on the public end.

I still have some commissions in the wings and have finally finished the big commission I accepted back in August 2010. My collectors came in today, approved the image, and now I'm waiting for the carpenter to pick it up for varnishing. I'll post the process on this blog eventually.

Back to the topic at hand, I'm beginning the official hibernation of the public side of my art business. I've removed all prints and cards (except for one set as of this writing) from my eBay store, leaving only a few Original Finger Paintings available; my plan is to move everything to my Etsy shop and consolidate in the next couple of months.

For now, I think I need to replace my focus on art with a focus on getting my hours towards licensure as a psychotherapist; after this is accomplished, I will continue to increase my focus on growing my private practice. Once that is established, and I imagine it will take years, perhaps I will again offer my (original) work readily to the public, and not only accept private commissions as I've been doing the past couple of years.

That's my intention. Who knows what it will really look like? As I worked on this last commission, I was reminded as I was reminded from visiting the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco that I love to make art. It makes me happy, it makes me peaceful, and it makes others feel similarly. I'm just too damned busy (which I don't like) and I have certainly hated keeping you waiting.

Hence the announcement. After much thought, I think hibernation is the way to go.

Doesn't mean I'm shutting up! I'll still post periodically on this blog (subscribe so you get notifications, if you don't want to keep checking back here), and I plan to revive my advice column on Examiner.com (they've made a bunch of changes and it's finally an interactive site that's worth nurturing).

Thank you, again, for all your support, from the compliments to the collecting, I've treasured every transaction, and every one of you.

Invite Beauty,

I.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shameless!


I really hope people watch this video of a talk by Dr. Brené Brown, who researches about shame-resilience, empathy, and vulnerability in her efforts to help people feel more connected to each other, which has far-reaching and positive consequences for everybody, including organizations such as families, governments, businesses, schools, nations, etc.

I've watched this video several times already. It's only 20 minutes but it feels like so much important information (delivered with humor and compassion), I can't take it in with just one viewing. I actually feel like I have to take notes, and the only times I take notes are when I'm learning a topic that's difficult for me to grasp (like when I took Elementary Statistics, remember that?), or something that I get so excited about that my mind kind of floods (I think it's called "overwhelmed").

Really. It's mind blowing what the good doctor has to say about connection and the root of disconnection. And if we're here to connect (it's in our genes and species), whatever's causing the disconnect needs to be pulled into the bright light of day and staked. (Yes, I've been watching TrueBlood and I ain't apologizing!)

I also did have questions about "healthy shame" and in another video, Dr. Brown answers this question and talks about how shame and guilt are different; whereas shame is what is most likely causing the "shameful" behavior (such as violence or exploitation) and is more about "I am bad (and unworthy of belonging and unlovable)," guilt is about doing or not doing something that doesn't match up with whom we want to be or perceive ourselves as being.

There's more to learn. I plan on reading both of her books, The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't)(If you're curious or have an e-book reader, you can probably download a sample; in the interest of full disclosure, please know that I'm an Amazon.com Associate and any books purchased through my links will benefit me.)

Invite Beauty,

I.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rest in peace, handsome

The Cat Who Came in for Winter Solstice
Oil on canvas, 20" x 24" COLLECTED
The collector who commissioned this Original Finger Painting recently contacted me to let me know of Miles's passing yesterday, January 9, 2011.

He and his wife were grateful for the painting, as a way to remember a member of their family. You can see the posts documenting the painting, from the sneak preview, to the finished artwork, to the commission inspiration.

I'm saddened. I actually had the opportunity to meet Miles a couple of times and he was every bit as handsome in person as he was in the reference photograph. He'll be deeply missed.

My condolences to his adoptive family, and my own gratitude for having been a part of creating something meaningful.

Invite Beauty,

I.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Know your ETs

Insomnia is annoying.

Well, not completely. I can be productive when I can't sleep.

Anyway, I recently purchased Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials from a new and used bookstore called BookBuyers. I got it hardback and for a great deal! If you're anywhere near one of these stores (they have two), please visit them and lose yourself there. Well worth the wandering!

Barlowe's book has special meaning for me. Years ago, I considered the profession of science illustrator for a long time (you can see remnants of this in my earlier work, Portrait of a Hippo), but I had difficulty, back then, inviting beauty into my life, so I didn't buy the book.

I've corrected that now.

Besides, I love reading dictionaries and encyclopedia!

I love that his work is a fusion of science and fantasy illustration. Ain't synthesis grand? I feel like it's the philosophy behind my engine.

Invite Beauty,

I.