Full Circle: What's holding you back?

Why is our first inclination to believe that we can't do things?

Is it just an excuse?

"I don't know" is a copout. I read somewhere once that when you say "I don't know" what you're really saying is "I'm not willing to grow" in this situation. It's far easier to say you don't know than to have to come up with a solution.

But when does it start being too much? If you say "I don't know" more than you provide answers, isn't that indicative of a problem?

Maybe what we believe we're saying is that if we don't know the answer to something, then we aren't obligated to figure one out. Why wasn't this situation resolved? I don't know.

I think it has to do with fear and expectation. We fear being wrong, we fear what others will think or say if we provide the truth. More than that, we want to set others' expectations low enough that we couldn't possibly disappoint them. If we dare to give an answer and it ends up being wrong, or we fail to fulfill our obligation and commitment to the answer we put forth, we will be Judged.

The truth is, we're judged either way.

Personally I'd rather be judged on my effort instead of my excuses.

EXPERIMENT: Try to notice all the times in the next week that you say "I can't" or "I don't know" and ask yourself if those answers are necessary, or how you could change them to be proactive.

I'm going to do this too. (Yay group project!!) We might all find out that we know a lot more than we're admitting to ourselves.

Inspiration Through Inadequacy

Sometimes I wonder what my motivations are for doing art in the first place.

Sure, I'm creative. I always have been. I've always been inspired to make things. I've always gotten visions of things that I think would be interesting, or pretty, things I want to take from my imagination and make into a reality.

But why?

I've noticed a pattern in my dreams lately. The truth is, I've never really been fond of dreaming, or for that matter, sleeping. Since I was a child, it's not been the restful, happy experience it's supposed to be. I vacillate between insomnia and fitful, uncomfortable dreams almost all of the time. It has improved as I've gotten older, now that I've researched various ways to aid this situation, but it's still a problem.

The best part about my dreams lately has been the consistent guest starring role of Joey, but even his presence hasn't changed the overall theme I've come to expect. (And I suppose they can't all be like this one.)

Basically most of my dreams revolve around the feeling that I'm perpetually rejected, dismissed, forgotten, and abandoned. It starts with a feeling, and then I seem to create a dream-plot that substantiates those feelings.

Lots of fun.

My art, however, has always been an effort to create a mood of happiness for me. Peace, serenity, beauty, tranquility. Something that I could wrap myself up in and counteract all the negativity that permeated my thoughts.

I started to wonder if the artistic leanings I had from the time I was a very young child was in response to the internal struggles I feel have always been in the background of my life. Perhaps art is my way of countering those ongoing fears of inadequacies I've always had. Perhaps I am creating the very feelings I wish I had more of, pushing out the negative thoughts by simply overwhelming them with positive ones.

This week, as I looked around at the many paintings in process in my studio, I noticed a very clear theme. Everything, every single one, is painted in shades of the color I find most soothing, most tranquil, most beautiful in the world. In fact, I made a conscious decision that this new collection of artwork was going to intentionally reflect what is essentially my most "happy place" in art. The colors of serenity, at least in my world anyway.

I think I'm being purposefully meditative. I've had a weird year. There's been a lot of wonderful things in my life this year, but there's also been a fair amount of sadness and chaos. I want all my work for this new collection to reflect my ideals of peacefulness. I want to be surrounded in tranquility.

Is art a way for me to create a world I often don't feel exists internally? Is my brain seeking balance for my lifelong fears? This makes sense to me actually. I have a measure of control over my artwork, and can explore my own interests and curiosities however I may choose, without threat of rejection.

I guess on some level, I am seeking to engage people though. I want to express the things I see, the thoughts I have, to you, to the rest of the world. I want to manifest my view of life in a way that exists outside of language, culture, and bias.

I want my spirit to be seen.

Artists: Why do you create? What feelings do you have that are best expressed through your artistic medium? Do you feel your art is compensating for anything?

Full Circle: The Autumn of Art

Sometimes settings goals can be practical. I'm not a big fan of lists, and I need one basic "mood" or theme to keep me centered and focused. 

Having too much to do results in getting nothing done.

6 years ago when I came up with the "Autumn of Art," my intention was to change the view I had of myself from one who painted for enjoyment into a committed, professional Artist.

I didn't actually realize at the time how well that would work out. 

The changing of seasons is a profound, undeniable way to mark the passage of time. (Although in California, you sometimes have to look at the calendar to know which season you're in.) Business types might think of them as "quarters," but I prefer seasons. 

Autumn is a season of Harvest. Time to tally up what your year has produced thus far, and run the numbers on the remainder. Where'd the time go? There's still plenty of time to finish your list of Intentions for 2011, so long as you hunker down and make them important for these last few months. 

There's something very freeing about entering the new year (even just saying '2012' is gasket-blowing) with a clean slate, and a true sense of completion. Accomplishment.

I have at least a few things that I could make my Autumn about, but I want to take a bit of time to meditate over it. What am I most interested in and committed to? Choosing something that I already have energy for is the best way to synergize my aspirations. 

I also roll everything over into the subsequent seasons/years. After that first Autumn of Art, every day was about Art. It just became a theme of my life, rather than a few months. It becomes part of you. Autumn is just a good jumping off point. 

What are you working on right now? What have you intended to do, to become, to master this year? Are you there yet or do you need a renewed opportunity? Who are you going to be when the next year begins?

Will you be satisfied with your effort?

Current Thoughts on Strength

(Kauai, 2005)

I have an ongoing battle with fitness.

On the one hand, I've always been an obsessively healthy eater. I can remember refusing fatty foods while still in a high chair. I've never really been a huge fan of sweets. I was vegetarian for 11 years, then I wasn't, now I'm eating healthier than at any other time in my life prior, and maintain a "mostly vegan" diet.

Fitness? Not so much. I am lazy.

I've always felt like I didn't have as much energy as other people. In high school, I was perpetually envious of the energetic people around me. They too were in the homework-heavy classes, did a sport, and participated in drama club. But whereas I had difficulty even showing up to those things, and tried to do as little as possible when I did show up, they did even more. They did theater outside of school too. They did two sports. Or three sports. They ran for school office. They DID ALL THEIR HOMEWORK.

One of the things I regret most about high school is not being sportier. I had an opportunity to be a volleyball player. I think I could have been a great volleyball player. I passed it up.

Nowadays when I mention my interest in working out, or being fit, I'm inevitably met with snickering, albeit good-natured snickering, because I am naturally thin. Okay. That's fair.

I'm talking about being FIT though. There's a difference. I've never stuck with any particular activity long enough to become strong and fit. I dabble, but I don't commit.

At the moment, I'm in a wonderful space. I do yoga regularly. I do workouts that target certain muscle groups. I have run a bit in the last few months. I hike 4 miles a week, and we're about to double that, in hopes of making it farther up the Na Pali coast than we did 6 and a half years ago. I've been feeling the fittest I've ever felt in my life.

But it's not enough.

I want to be STRONG. I want to actually see muscles. I don't want to be a huge, vein-popping heavyweight champion, which many people oddly assume is my goal upon hearing that I want to "tone up." Because somehow there's no distance between wanting my abs to show and being a female Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Okay, just don't get too fit." Huh? What's with that? What does that even mean? I say I want to be fit and strong, and I'm met with looks of concern and insinuations that I might be taking it too far. Wanting to be strong is taking it too far? I promise you, I am in no danger whatsoever of taking fitness pursuits too far. There is no chance in hell that I will become too muscle-y.

Is it really wrong for me to want to SEE my own results? Is it wrong that I, in my naturally thin state, want to improve upon that? Shocker: I want a 6 pack. Or an 8 pack. I do. Sue me. Should I be ashamed of this?

Now I'm at the point where I can almost nearly start to see the beginnings of a 6 pack. Almost. If I lean back. When the sun is right.

I feel awesome.

And I started Krav Maga classes this week. And it was awesome. And I learned something.

It's not about the muscles. It's about knowing that I can accomplish something physical. Something hard. I want to train for something. I want to be good at something. I want to feel confident in my physical body, in my strength and abilities. And I think I kind of want to be an athlete. (Relatively speaking anyway.) I really love the idea that I could know how to fight. Truly fight. Should I need to.

My plan is to be even more fit, more active, the older I get. Aging isn't scary if I continue to improve myself. I can hike much farther at 31 than I could at 25. I hope my 40 year old self puts my 30 year old self to shame. And so forth.

What could feel stronger than that?

Outshine . 8x24 inches . 2011

(Left to Right: natural lighting, artificial lighting, artificial and blacklighting, blacklight alone, and glowing in darkness.)

Ingredients: acrylic, beach sand, phosphorescent pigments, crushed glass, varnish, water & light on canvas.

Hooray! A new painting. :)

We were part of the 1.4 million Southern California residents that experienced an extended blackout last week, which at first seemed mildly apocalyptic in the way people were frantically buying batteries and ice in the darkened store we walked around in. We bought a bottle of wine and had a romantic candle-lit dinner of mostly salad (which we figured would be the first thing to die if the power didn't come back on soon.)

Also, to escape the heat and continue the theme of romance, we took a nice moonlit walk. We thought this would involve stargazing, since all the lights for miles around were out, but that proved unlikely. The moon, not yet full, was blinding. Rarely have I experienced the moon in that way. I think the contrast between darkness and light was emphasized due to the blackout. The moon made the stars nearly impossible to see, and that was after I shielded it from my eyes with my hand. To look at the moon directly felt almost like we needed sunglasses.

It's comforting to know it gives off that much light. :)

This painting has already been claimed by one of my favorite moon-loving collectors. :)