Tag Archives: designing

Negative space


I’m getting some much needed alone time.     With music (therapy) in the background, windows open, I am painting today off an easel, a piece I had designed many years ago.  I’m not painting it the same way, nor with the same paint.   Today’s version is more realistic, and the palette much brighter than that of before.    I attribute that to high pigment paint AND my own growth as a woman, as an artist.

So I’m not using the old reference photos for anything but placement.  Basically trying to keep my life simple, because I recall the agony I had when first sitting down to design this piece.  It initially had a couple of watering cans in it, and it was too busy.   Back when I analyzed the shit out of everything, I would sometimes “fill” my paintings to the brim, instead of breathing, detaching, and appreciating or recognizing the need for negative space.  MUCH like the alone time I am having today.  I don’t mean to infer that I’m negative, not in the least today, but my alone time is crucial and vital to my peace of mind, creativity, and general health.  Therefore, I’m comparing negative space in a painting to alone time in my life because it’s needed and I’m usually pleased with the end result.

Such is true of food, as well.  I’ve been off sugar since April.   The first week was HELL.  I had headaches, quick trips to the bathroom, dizziness, and generally feeling like all I wanted to do was pick up a pop and drink it.    Anything to quiet the toxins that were being excreted from my body.    A week later I started feeling better, and stronger, and now some 14 weeks later I’m feeling SO much better, dropped a few pounds, and my goal is to remain happy and kind to myself.   The inner critic that resides in the darker parts of my mind is silenced at this moment.   When I catch it coming to forefront of my mind, I do what I was taught to do while learning to meditate.    Acknowledge it, and then go back to focus.   It helps.  And I’ve learned that it really is the smaller things that help me, not the large and drastic changes the critic sometimes pushes me to believe I need.

Music is a huge source of happiness for me.   Today, as my playlists echo throughout my studio, I acknowledge where the song takes me, the people that were in my life at that time, situations, circumstances.   And then when the song is done, I do it all over again with the next song.    I have several playlists that I’ve made, one all about my life, songs that come from the most significant times of my life.  And I’m here to tell you, “significant” wasn’t necessarily  big events like marriage, but reaching understanding, un-complicating my life from worry, finding peace, acceptance of things that LARGELY contributed to the bright side of, and improved quality of my life.

I’ve no answers for others, this in itself is a valuable piece of information.  I can’t live my life or make decisions for someone else, just myself.   And some days I have all I can do to do this for myself.    So the point I’m trying to make is, ridding myself of the clutter, both mentally and physically, in all aspects of my life have gifted me with this day of feeling happy.   I’m much looser with my painting, I’m focusing on the moment, and in the moment, and enjoying all this “negative space”.

Hope yours is going well, too!



Alas, direction


Tonight I am flying high.  No, not on sugar, though I do have it running in my veins, but because what seemed to be a very long, much anticipated and grueling time that I have been “in waiting” for direction has finally arrived.     And comically, or rather ironically, I really don’t know the logistics or to what is going to unveil itself to me, but I can tell you, when the spirit hit, a couple weeks ago, I forced myself to walk in faith.  To just keep doing what I believe I was “supposed” to do.

Like negative space in a drawing, painting, or room, waiting for direction is anything but comfortable (unless you are privy in past to “wait for it”).  But I’ve lived long enough to know in order to have peace we have to find comfort in the uncomfortable, and those things that come after the longest time, and that time feeling like purgatory (No, I’m not catholic, but my mother was raised in this religion, I also pay attention to those people that are the happiest, the most peaceful, serene, and I listen to what is beautiful in their life), so when a break comes, a ray of light, or hope really, it is so incredibly wonderful.

In youth I was quick to jump, to “find” whatever it was I thought I was supposed to experience.  Maturity has taught me, nothing worth having comes easy.  Nothing.  And if it looks too good to be true?  It probably is!

So tonight I have five paintings started.  A still life, floral (2), a rooster, and  for the life of me I can’t remember what the fifth one is.  All started this evening when I got home from a day that felt purposeful, important, helping others, others who weren’t practicing the kind of drama that belongs on a stage (or in a helium balloon that floats fastly and quickly away), but real life, illnesses, frustration, and just needing a fresh advocate come in and help.  It feels so good to me to help others.   My last therapist wrongfully suggested the reason why I help others is because I get “kudos”.  I looked straight at her, without hesitation and said “If you believe this to be true?  You have never given to another from the goodness or your heart, and RECEIVED the loving touch of God blessing you.  I feel it.  I don’t seek for permission, admiration, or for others to pump up a broken soul.  I am not broken, I am not in need of friends, and I am certainly not in need to be validated as worthy.  I learned from the age of 10 or so that to give is to receive.   It’s one of my most cherished gifts in life.  And to fully understand this, give without the other person, or recipients KNOW you are doing it, and tell nobody, not.a.soul!

Of course, as with anything, there are extremes, and there are takers out there that will rob your heart from the generosity that we’re meant to feel, to do, to be.   That’s where lives lessons kind of kick you in the teeth.   Oh how I know this place, and I have no desire to return there, but I will.   That old familiar feeling of caring or giving too much to another will shadow a day, or two, but I’ll jump back in and try it all over again.  Just not necessarily with the same person, but sometimes, YES, the same person.

So, I really need to get to bed, but I don’t want to put the brush down.  It’s flowing, and creativity is at my optimum.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful, place to be.  So grateful I struggled so long in purgatory!   Because even if I wake up tomorrow and the creativity has fizzled, tonight?  What I’m feeling tonight?  Was worth the wait.  Keep in mind, I don’t know what’s ahead of me, I don’t know ANY details, I was just given a direction.   It’s exciting that something I once thought was so insignificant can and does bring me so much joy!


May peace be with you, and may you bask in the glory of “knowing” which road or path to take.  Love to you!

Creative Conundrums


Last night (this morning) I once again faced the familiar conundrum that comes with creative flow for me.   Do I keep going?  Or do I go to bed, and do a hard start in the morning?  Not only was brush flowing, but ideas too.  I have fallen in love with DecoArt’s Tradition’s paints, the pigments are just gorgeous.    I was working on 7 new designs simultaneously.   Hey, it works for me.

So at 11:30 this morning I went to bed, had set my alarm for 2:30, but didn’t plug the phone in so it died and thus I slept away the 4th of July.   No regrets.  I’ve always slept better during the day than at night.    I just think with my history of depression and ability to isolate so well, it’s important that I stick to a schedule where I’m awake the same time as most.     Particularly now that I’m solo in the treatment department.

I have always had a different body clock than my family and friends.   It’s rather odd, but it is what it is.    I am looking around my house to evidence of yet another side effect of a creative flow.   What a hole!   I have dishes in the sink, laundry remains undone.   My saving grace this week in this department is having steam cleaned rugs til 2am the other morning.   Perhaps tomorrow I will start my day with an hour or cleaning.    I’m not going to say that too loud!

The creative flow can feel romantic.   The excitement about the connection, looking forward to the next time I can be at my painting with palette in hand.  Reminds me of the greatest love story I ever knew in my life.   It’s a high like no other, and had such intensity that my physical being could only withstand so long.   Our bodies aren’t designed to react or live  this way, but man does it feel good!  But I digress.

I have two giant boxes of various paints I need to unpack, but that coincides with revamping my art room/studio.   Last year I painstakingly made changes that allowed for just one room in my humble abode to house all my wool, paint supplies, beads, fabric, and journals.    But there isn’t enough room!    So I’ve been trying to once again, figure out how to set up my space, and possibly with an allowance to once again teach.

So many things to do, too little time to do them!

Hope you had a great 4th!!!!!!!

Today’s song:  Mazzy Star’s “Fade into you”

Post gig!


I had a teaching gig in New Hartford, CT this weekend.  Such a great group of women.  Lots of laughter and smiles.   I drove home after class today and upon my arrival home my body was just spent.  Brought my mother home who fends for my animals when I’m away, and now I am crashing.

I think there is a 20/20 on tonight, cannot remember if it’s tonight or last night.   Will be nice to relax and enjoy some quality television.

I sit in my house, paint, and am isolated particularly in the winter.  I question my existence, I question my talent, I question my career… and then after I teach my self esteem, self confidence is restored and I question how I could ever question my work.    I love seeing the smiles on faces when students are painting.  I love it when they “venture out or go outside the box” and change the design and LIKE what they did!   They have allowed their own creativity to flow.  They have put down the dagger of fear and picked up their paintbrush with confidence, with pleasure, with contentment.  

Women need other women.   No matter how “good” or “supportive” the men in our life are, we need to spend time with other like minds.   The best laughter I have ever had was with my sisters, my brother followed by time with girlfriends.   The majority of us “get” each other.  

I sit tonight, in peace, with satisfaction, with pride that I taught a great class.   After all the years of teaching I still get nervous before the class, I question whether I will succeed or fail…  Truth is, so far I’ve haven’t failed, so why do I fear it?   And if I wasn’t at my best, I should rest assured that decorative artists are so kind, caring, giving.   They would pitch in and help me…because that’s what they do.   I am grateful for my work.  I am grateful for the talent that was given me at birth, and I’m grateful to share this with others, to offer a helping hand, confidence to others.  Joy.

When I think of what I have accomplished on my own I wonder how I could ever doubt my stamina, my motivation.  I wonder how I got through the difficult years after Jim & I split, when I was teaching mere days after breast reconstruction surgery out of need.  I question how I traveled 2-3 weekends of a month, and come home to teach 3-5 classes a week in my studio.    I’m 10-15 years older, I’m tired, but my love for art is still strong.  My need to create, likewise, and the feeling of accomplishment following teaching is, indeed, still present.

Still, with all of this, it feels wonderful to come home, kick off my shoes, change into comfy lounging clothes, sit and take a big sigh of relief.   Home, home…there is no place like home.

Reacquainting myself with my paint brush


Today’s lesson:   Dump the negative connotations and insecurities that keep me from being who I am supposed to be!

Today’s gratitude:   That tomorrow I have therapy.   Missed all of last week and I feel it.

As I sat here this morning, looking over my shoulder at my paint desk I had a heavy feeling in my stomach.    I always go through this when I haven’t picked up my paint brush in a while, and every January I am so burned out from teaching the past year that I take a sabbatical from painting.    What goes through my head is…. “What if I can’t do this anymore?   What if I lost my ability?”   On and on I can go, but I’ll spare you from it.

So after much self coaching I sat down with the photo of what I wanted to paint.  Deep breaths, couldn’t get the chair positioned right, nor able to open my paints or find the right brush……MORE procrastination, more excuses to keep me from finding out if my fears have come to light.   Of course, I changed my mind a few times as to what I wanted to paint.  Hey, I reserve the right to change my mind, and because I have problems with commitment… I just HAVE to change my mind!

I reintroduced myself to my brushes, falsely told them how glad I was to see them.  Dread.  Fucking dread.    I hate this part of my psyche that I am working to change.    After I got painting, however, the brush flowed, my hands and fingers started to work and I then get excited.   You know, come to think of it, I often confuse excitement with dread….   but that’s a horse of a different color.

I think we are hardest on ourselves, I know I am.   I wish I were a fine artist… I wish, I wish, I wish.  As I tell my students, embrace your heavy or light handed painting… it is who you are.    Art is art.  Everyone’s interpretation is cool… okay with the exception of some of the contemporary stupid statues that take little if no thought… but then again, even that has it’s place in the folder of art.     We are all artists, whether we have found so or not.    When I’m asked what kind of artist I am I say… “Con”.     I wish I could draw a nude man…. hell, maybe I’m just wanting to SEE one! 🙂   Anyway, the talent that go into that drawing amazes me.  I love it.    Perhaps one day I will try it.

Phillip Phillips is playing in my background… “Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear!”    Ain’t that the truth!   I am insecure about many things including on some days, my artwork.   When I have seen fine art, I really want to go home and crawl under my bed… why?  Again, because it is something I want to be and I know I never will be… and you know what?????? That’s okay!   I am uncomfortable painting around others, comically I teach… but to design to paint a picture, I like my solitude.   For some reason I think if I’m painting alongside another artist, I’ll be doing it wrong… which is SO stupid, but sadly true.

I am working on a wildlife scene with Canada geese.   Already I see three things I would have changed, but time is of the essence, deadlines are fast approaching…   I need to produce!

Well, I guess it’s time for me to get back to work.   Still, the heaviness in my gut is there.   As a child I wanted to be two things… an artist and a writer…   I recall a couple artist friends who said they didn’t take this on as a living because they wanted a sound financial life… sighs…    Sometimes I wonder, what would or could I have accomplished if I had continued education in art.   But I can wonder all I want, it won’t change my reality.   My reality?  I love what I do, I hate the lack of financial security.    I guess that is “union dues” for being an artist… ya think?

Hope you have done something today that you enjoy doing…  For me, it certainly isn’t watching the Super Bowl.  Couldn’t care less.    Hockey?  Yes….     Have a Imagegreat day! ♥

Today’s artwork:  Hydrangeas painted on a rusty tin pocket…. probably painted a decade ago or more….

The White Gorilla….


What is intended to be a lamb is looking like a white gorilla…What was supposed to be a subtle border of greens turned into a jungle of pines, distracting from the focal point.  What is supposed to be an old car looks like I was drunk when I painted it.

Okay, so, I’m not painting well right now.  What to do?  The other night I came close to throwing the surface I was painting on across the room!   I was getting so frustrated, singing like a sailor, not wanting to give it up, though finally made the right decision…walk away, just walk away!

Creativity is such a gift, yes.  It’s nice to have talent to fall back on.  From a young age I knew I wanted to “be an artist, a writer”… well, I’m both.  Can’t pay all my bills every month, but hey, I’m using my God given talents right?    I chuckle to myself when I’m told “You’re so lucky, you work for yourself, you are so creative”.   Yah, well, it doesn’t come without a price, believe me!

To be happy, content, I need to be creating.  Really doesn’t matter what medium, but I have to be using that part of my brain or I become severely depressed.  I have been thinking lately of Ernest Hemingway.  How he took his own life after his inability to write, to produce.  I’m sure alcohol played a part in it, too, but nonetheless sad.

“Oh I envy you, you can take off anytime you want”.  Yes, I can, and I get to choose which 12 hours of the day I wish to work!    Deadlines are humorous to me now.  Really?  You want me to get this painting done and out to you by tomorrow?   Well, lets see if source is working with me today because if it ain’t?  It ain’t happening!

Oh the days and nights where the paint flows from the brush and lays perfectly on my surface.  Or when stories unfold, words are on the tips of my fingers just waiting to be placed on a keyboard, yah, those are wonderful times.  Typically evidence of a creative sreak leaves my home an utter mess.  Dishes piled up, the rugs and floors needing to be vacuumed, fast or frozen food dinners…Validated by the dark bags under my eyes that any airline would charge me extra baggage for.  Oh, the creative streak, yes, it’s wonderful when it happens, I cannot stay up long enough, I cannot paint fast enough, or write/type quick enough.

Once upon a time I would find myself in this not so nice circle.  “I can do this, or this or this or this” and sadly would end up doing nothing because my head was spinning so much I couldn’t focus on one thing.  Yep, that’s one of the drawbacks I have found of being a creative soul.  My hands couldn’t keep up with my thoughts.  Though I must say, since prescribed  ADHD meds, its been going better!  (Very big grin).  

Did you hear about the guy who had never seen a flying saucer until he goosed a waitress?  Well, Santa Claus’ may be flying in my studio tonight.   What is in my head is not being successfully produced with my hand.  How frustrating!  So I try to find humor in it.   For example, most of my earlier “noses” on Santa’s, people looked like male genitalia.  I remember having painted a Santa on an old ironing board.  When students walked in and saw it they all asked who the model was!   Oh yah, those were the days!     Makes me want to track down all of those earlier pieces and burn them!

But I digress.   My favorite thing to do is to make something out of nothing.  Yep!  Give me a blank canvas, a bolt of material, a tray full of beads, hodgepodge pieces of old furniture and I will put together a masterpiece.  It is in this mode that I am happiest.  I have learned, however, that “making something out of nothing” doesn’t work well in relationships.  Done with that one!

Last night I forced myself to go to bed early.  My creative time is 10pm-3am.  Dr. after Dr. (both physical and mental) want me to try to get on a regular schedule.  I have tried to do so over the years but I always end up back to this shift.  I love creating in the early morning, the quiet.  There are no phones ringing, cars driving by, no distractions unless I know I have something sweets in the house.    I finally said “screw it” a few weeks ago and started back on what I believe to be my internal clock…. Going to bed at 3, 4, 5am, another hour listening to the same reruns so that I am able to unwind, rid my mind of all racing thoughts because its when I’m most tired that I feel most creative.  Go figure!

Then there is purchasing things.   I would like to go buy something and NOT have to alter it.   Curtains, I have given up buying them unless they are so ridiculously priced I can use them as fabric.   Clothes, not so much, but I have sketchbooks full of clothing designs I haven’t found time to conquer yet.  I’ve dabbled, designed in crochet, a couple dozen sweater designs, etc., but its not the same as fabric.  I can get lost in a fabric store.  I will forget where I am, or not hear others talking to me, that is how deeply I can focus.  But don’t ask me to focus on a budget, balancing my checkbook or anything left brained.  Not a pretty sight.  One time I missed my connection to TX because I was trying to figure out my ipod.  Again, left brained things do not come easily to me, in fact I am electronically challenged.

So yah…I’m fortunate, I have talent to fall back on.  I am pleased with this for the most part.  But like everything, it has its con side.   Creative people need to create.  If that isn’t possible, if that isn’t working the psyche takes a major beating and things just ain’t pretty! 

Now I’m off to try to make a lamb out of a white gorilla! 🙂