creativity

The Great Imitator

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Be it a brayer I've abandoned for a brush as I work on a piece, or my favorite matte purple lipstick ("Shameless" by Revlon), this one is mastering the art of imitation at age two. He's my constant companion in the studio, quietly underfoot, his little hands searching blindly along the edges of my work tables for something to grasp while I work. Nothing is safe or off limits no matter how far I think I'm moving it beyond his reach-he finds a way to deftly, and swiftly get paint, brushes, spray bottle, brayer, palette knife, paper towels, water in his hands when my focus is elsewhere. I've begrudgingly begun to accept that if he's awake, there is no working in the studio without him next to, behind, or underneath me silently watching or working just as diligently as I am. He watches, then imitates both in the studio and around the house, spraying the walls, couch or television with water from my spray bottle he grabbed off my table or tagging his brand new shirt or wall with my lipstick. 

... 

His brothers enjoy drawing and sometimes playing in paint (Alex always always always uses a brush, no fingers, because tactile aversion), but he's the first of my children to show such an affinity for it...an intense focus on it, which intrigues me as I watch him.

Hmmm.

Come to think of it, I painted quite a bit while he grew in my belly those nine months. A lot, actually. Maybe that's why it seems so flow out of him so effortlessly, in a way that it doesn't with them. He studies my movements and attempts to replicate them on his own. I've often looked down to see him foam brush or brayer in hand, quietly painting a corner of a piece in progress, mimicking my movements and strokes with whatever tool I'm using.  

 ....

I think it's time to get him his own easel, brushes, apron, and paper. Perhaps his own brayer as well-that seems to be his favorite, which has me smiling as I type this because it's mine as well. 

Sigh. 

This kid. 

Oh you beautiful, mischievous, joyful, getting into all the things all the time boy. 

What an explosive and intricate work of art you are.  

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Black Creatives Who Inspire: Karen Walrond

Karen Walrond

karenwalrond

Who:

Through keynote speeches, booksebooksin-person and online courses, workshops and one-on-one coaching, Karen Walrond and Chookooloonks Media are all about leadership, self-determination and the concept of thriving.  Ultimately, her work is a testament to beauty, positivity, creativity and kindness.  It's a body of irrefutable evidence that there is good in the world.  And a collection of tools to help you connect with gratitude, strength and joy in your own work and life.

Where:

Chookooloonks.com

Instagram: @heychookooloonks

Facebook: www.facebook.com/chookooloonkscom/

Why:

For nearly 7 years, Karen's corner of the Internet has been my favorite place to go to-especially when I'm overwhelmed by the ugliness, devastation, and injustice happening in the world. Her words and images remind me to always "look for the light" within and around me, and her book The Beauty of Different helped me heal from the impact childhood trauma had on my self-esteem and image. Her superpowers are many, but one of my favorites is her ability to empower others to recognize theirs. Her photography is lush and vibrant with colors that contrast with the existing shadows, and I enjoy how she amplifies the light in each of her subjects. As a creative, and as a friend, she pushes me to be a better artist and person. If you aren't following her work, do your soul a favor by starting to today. 

Salute, Karen! Thank you for being a light in the lives of so many and for doing dope sh*t. Thank you for using your #BlackGirlMagic and superpowers for good. 

 

*To celebrate Black History Month, I'll be doing short features of the Black women (and maybe a few men) creatives past and present who motivate, inspire, empower me in my life and work, and create incredibly dope sh*t. I hope you'll enjoy reading about them as much as I will be about amplifying their greatness! 

Intentionality & Expression

I've been thinking quite a bit lately on how I can grow as an artist, on what would stretch & enhance my visual work. For the last few weeks I've been feeling the compulsion to grow and reach for more...to root down even deeper and excavate what lies dormant, whatever is I'm searching for that's waiting for me to unearth  it. I hear its desire for expression and I've taken to trying out new tools, and studying new techniques in videos and books in an effort to find how to articulate it. In the process I'm learning what my limits are and where my capacity & skill need to be further developed. 

I'm exploring...and questioning, and "ruining" sheets of canvas in the process. It's honestly just as extremely frustrating as it is liberating.  I'm also making a mess on my work tables, which led to the current thought sitting at the forefront of my mind after an attempt at cleaning them up: As an artist, I'm afraid to let go & go deeper, press inward, and unearth what's calling me to be expressive but...unrestrained. As bold or declarative as my work may be with color & subject matter, I still find I've been holding back. It is wild but only within my self-imposed boundaries. I'm afraid to do the next level of work necessary to free my artistic voice even further. I also think this is largely due to my desire & efforts to become intentional & methodological with my expressions. 

That is, after all, the message I was given 2.5 years ago when I asked my arts & humanities professor what she thought of my work. I had only been painting for 6 months and was questioning if it was just a hobby or something more for me. She said she liked it-loved my use of color. "I think if you could bring intentionality to your artistry, you'd really have something here." Art should be...intentional, shouldn't it? Or perhaps not. We never really arrived at a definitive answer about that, or what art actually is or isn't, that semester. (Especially in regards to abstract & expressionism) I think I took that message and internalized it too deeply as I've created since then. I've leaned too far right, focusing so greatly on intention that I've shut out intuition and being at times when it probably would've benefited me creatively. 

That brings me to my work tables. Scattered across their surfaces are what's left behind: drips, drops, splatters & scrapes from pieces I completed. They are not organized into a structured composition. There is nothing intentional about these remnants that are scattered across my tables but when I stopped trying to scrape them off and just stared at them, I saw the freedom I've been craving to convey lately on page & canvas. It made me teary eyed because I recognized the kind of visual expressions I want to translate throughout my work. I saw that I've been thinking too much about the what and how-to of expression instead of just the act itself. Instead of just being and yielding to what's there. On some level I've come to care too much if my visual work is likable, digestible, or even meaningful to others. I've been trying too hard (mostly out of fear) and as a result I've been stifling my creativity. Maybe subconsciously I'm still searching for validity as I get used to identifying and calling my "untrained" self an artist...

It was this flurry of thoughts that forced me to quit trying to scrape away what's been left behind on my tables as I cleaned up my workspace earlier today. I'm going to keep them there and add to them as I keep pushing myself to grow beyond my current boundaries, piece by piece. I need them there to hold me accountable as I strive for courage & not fear when I show up and sit down in this arena to make. I need them there as a reminder to use everything I've got and leave nothing to waste. 

It it makes me wonder what my art (and my life) would look like if I became more intentional about just trusting The Muse & my intuitive urges. 


7 Minutes

We were given this for a journaling prompt in my writing & creativity class, Story 201 tonight. One quote, 7 minutes. This is what came out. 

"Remember the deep root of your being." (The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, Christine Valters Painter) 

Go back and unearth what was buried. 

Dig. 

Dig. 

Shove heaps of earth off to each side.

Dig. 

Dig. 

Until it’s in your view.

Excavate it. 

Open it. 

Breathe it in. 

See it for yourself again with fresh eyes. 

Behold. 

Recognize it as who you are. 

Who you’ve always been underneath it all. 

Go back.

Unearth what was buried. 

Unearth yourself. 

 

I'm Here...Just Consumed By Life

Sorry I haven't stopped by here since May 20th. Life's been pretty consuming as of late, and I'm not as good about writing my way through periods like this as I was a year ago. Things are busy busy busy and I'll be honest-sitting down to write has proved to be more difficult than I would like it to be. The words are there, waiting to be given life, the stories are stacked up on shelves in my brain, the desire is there, but it all just becomes a jumbled mess when I sit down to type or even write in my journal. Part of it is because my brain is so scattered, thanks to my disorder and my recent hypomanic episodes and cycling. Part of it is because I become to preoccupied by my compulsions to clean, organize, and rearrange everything in our apartment. Part of it is because I'm fatigued and the energy I do have is poured into being  pregnant, mama, wife, housekeeper, cook, errand runner...the desire to create or give anything back to myself lingers quietly in folds of my heart, but never finds its way to execution. My mind is scattered and my hands feel inadequate, empty, unable to form the words or images that are mixed in the chaos.

Part of it is because I've become completely immersed in a new parenting approach with Alex and in implementing new routines and techniques I hope make like easier for him...and for all of us, really. I'm seeing how different and significant some of his needs are and in a lot of ways re-learning this whole parenting thing. From how I discipline, to the words and tone I use when speaking to him, to even how much pressure I apply when I touch or hug him, my whole posture towards parenting and mothering him has changed. Most of my days are consumed with being engaged with him in ways I wasn't before. Learning about sensory processing disorder, autism, and what we're learning from his therapists since April has given me new ways to engage and interact with him  that are different from how I did before. It's been quite the learning curve-there's so much more to be aware of these days! I'm more watchful, taking note of the slightest change in attitude or behavior (positive or negative), more apprehensive and mindful about how changes in routine, however slight, will impact him from moment to moment. In some ways I feel like I'm on high alert from the time he wakes up until he finally falls asleep after I've put him back in his bed and given him a deep pressure squeeze for the fifth or sixth time. I've had to become much more patient, learning to move at his pace, and how to move him along faster in a way that he can understand when we're short on time. I've found that all of this has taken an energy that I, especially being pregnant, barely have the reserves for. The simplest things from washing his hands to getting dressed to helping desensitize his facial muscles before his speech therapy sessions is all a process; exhausting and consuming, but one I'm committed to helping all of us navigate and learn as best we can.

Part of it is because I'm committed to being well during this pregnancy and am forcing myself to focus on self-care. This becomes increasingly difficult when pregnancy is kicking my ass, particularly when migraines attack, and my blood pressure is low. The migraines have been pretty frequent this pregnancy; during a good week I only get one, during my worst I've had them for 4 days straight. Functioning when I'm a wreck physically feels impossible, but I somehow get through making sure the kids have what they need for the day and that's about it. Aside from eating and taking my medications, taking care of myself takes a backseat and I have to fight to make things like taking a shower, combing my hair, getting in any kind of exercise or leisure activity a priority. Overall I'm doing better on the self-care front than I have in the past, especially during my last pregnancy.

All of this focus on concentration on these other areas of my life leave little for my writing here and painting....advocating even. I had all of these plans for my creative pursuits this year but the mental and creative bandwidth I need to execute them isn't what I'd like it to be. For some reason I can't seem to find space for those two to fit in my life as of late and this does sadden me. Frustrates me. Leaves me to wonder how I'll fit them in when there are THREE children to give my time and attention to. I'm hoping I can find a way....I'm in awe of those who've found a way to balance and navigate it all.

At any rate, while I find it hard to write and paint these days, I have found it easy to keep up with vlogging-probably because I can just do it on my phone while I'm on the go and have a few minutes alone. So I think that's just what I'm going to have to do for now because it's the one thing that I can keep up with that fits in best with everything else. It's the one thing I feel I can keep up with right now on this front. I'm hoping to write here during the summer, but know that if you don't see me here, you'll be able to find me on my YouTube channel, addyeBeesWorld, where I'll mostly be sharing the nitty-gritty of navigating bipolar disorder while being a pregnant mama. Feel free to watch and subscribe-I've done videos for weeks 15, 16, and 17 so far (I tell you what we're having in my second video for week 16!) And of course, I'll always be on Twitter :) (@addyeB)

So that's where I've been, what I've been up to, what's going on. I'm still here...I'm just consumed is all.

Maybe I just need to Lean In...anyone have Sheryl Sandberg's number?

I Miss My Paints & Artists Who Inspire Me

I haven't posted anything about painting in awhile, and I think it's mostly because I haven't painted in nearly two, almost three months. I miss it...

I'm slightly worried that my passion for it and the creativity that drove me to paint in the first place has faded away...

I've been asking myself if it was all just a fleeting fancy-just some form of manic expression that isn't really...me.

Not sure if that makes sense...I wish I could articulate what I mean a lot better, but I've had two glasses of wine so articulation is swimming in Lake Moscato at the moment.

Ahem...

What I'm trying to say is that I'm a creative person who hasn't been able to create in a few months and I'm scared this particular form of creative expression has moved on and out of my life much like dancing has....which makes me incredibly sad.

I miss my paints, and having my colorful creations adorn my walls. I gave away & sold about 15 of them, but those I have left are still locked up in a storage unit back in PA....I miss the excitement that emanates all the way from my toes to my fingertips when I sit down in front of a blank canvas to paint. I miss the adrenaline rush of the creative process and how it leaves me pregnant with possibility.

Anyway, enough lamenting...I'll save the rest of this for a time when I'm less tipsy and a little less apt to talk about being impregnated by creativity.

I'll leave you with some videos of artists I found via YouTube who are helping me keep my love and passion for painting alive....trust me when I say they are worth taking the time to watch.

Enjoy!

*******************************************************

Christopher Mathie...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxncnnFEHeE]

Nicole Hoschke...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVaQ6xvTYuk]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCDrZA5kobY]

Mel McCuddin...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3wz9wg0Dos]

I Couldn't Write But Was Feeling Restless So Instead I Painted

My laptop crapped out on me today. I was planning on spending 45-50 minutes journaling and writing some posts, but when the screen on my craptop went black for the fifth time, I gave up on that idea and wondered what to do with all the restless creative energy I was feeling. The last couple of days I've been feeling restless, wanting to get lost in being creative. Colors are dancing before my eyes-I envision their placement on giant stretches of canvas when I sleep at night. My mind is busy writing my life experiences into chapters for my memoir (more on that later), and it seems even the simple and smallest details of my daily life are the perfect fodder for blog posts. ( Don't worry, I'll spare you from having to read 95% of them. That's what the draft folder is for.) When I hear music, my body wants to get lost in movement, and my desire to take a dance class reminds me to put it on the "Things I must do once we're settled in Austin," list. (Again-more on this later)

Paint. Write. Dance. I'm craving creativity & expression in these areas. While I'm putting concentrating on dance until after we move, I plan on directing my creative energy into writing and painting this summer.... I want to spend at least 30-60 minutes a day exercising my creative muscle....I'm intrigued and excited to see what I come up with, especially as I continue to explore the world of paint, which is a new one for me. (And yet again, more on this later. I owe you at least 3 posts-remind me)

That's why when my laptop gave up, I figured the next best thing to do was grab a piece of canvas, my brushes & paints, settle into a corner of the living room and just...paint. I did this last night as well.

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The pieces I did last night and this afternoon kind of caught me off guard. I did some experimenting with thinning out my buttery acrylics with water, and here's what emerged...

This one describes how my thoughts and thought processes are when I'm hypomanic. Everything is colorful, vibrant, I feel alive, full of energy...some of it is anxious, agitated, restless energy, some of it is productive and punctuated with lots of laughter & creative projects that range from painting to cooking. Things are fantastical, special...My thoughts run & bleed into each other blending reality with the fantasies my mind conjures up. This of course makes my concentration and focus blurry at times. I haven't settled on a name for this one yet, but it will probably be "Manic Thoughts" or something along those lines.

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This one is called "Distortion" or "A Distorted Perception of Self," I haven't decided yet which sounds better. It started off colorful and very bold, but halfway through turned into a mishmash of colors than blended together to create a muted look in terms of color. I spent about 10 minutes just throwing water at it, watching the paint leave trails on the canvas. It's ugly, it's messy, distorted, and a little chaotic...but to me, it's how I see myself sometimes through the dirty lens of mental illness.

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So, I didn't get to write today like I wanted but I guess it's just as well. I did something I enjoyed, and that has me feeling pretty grounded....even though hypomania is trying to lift my feet off the ground. I'm trying to stay level. We'll see how it goes.

Themes Schmemes!

I can't settle on a theme for my blog...not for this one or my other one (http://thebrokenbeautymovment.com/)...I read so many other awesomely amazing blogs by other mommas and fellow bloggers and get so disgusted with the blandness of mine... I want something quirky, fun, pleasing to look at, something that reflects the voice and life of my blogs as well as my personality. So far I haven't found that with WP's themes, free or otherwise.

So maybe, just maybe, it's time to invest, to find a designer and create something I'll be satisfied with...

Anyone know of any?