Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Artistic Evolution

My thoughts are on my drawings and how my style is evolving. I woke yesterday thinking about the current in-process on the drawing board and the need to get it finished. This one has been a struggle and it dawned on me that I sometimes have this – habit – of having a tree or part of a tree on the side edge of the drawing … but not enough of the tree to make a statement or even really look good the drawing.

I question myself: Why do I do that? 

There are a couple of reasons. One is a photography teacher once telling me a good photo needs to be “framed” by elements on the side. My interpretation of that statement might have been a little skewed which, as my photography is evolving, I look closer at how I’m cropping and editing.

Another reason is I like trees, but I’ve discovered throughout the years that often what looks like a good shot in real life is not always a good photograph or will work in a drawing.

Then there is the fact of the medium in which I work and what will determine a good drawing in this style.

With those thoughts, I went back to the drawing board and made the tree on the side of the drawing extend more into the drawing itself. What a difference that extra added! I felt comfortable in calling the drawing finished with 15 more minutes of work. The drawing is happy and I am pleased with the outcome.

So, what am I learning from these thoughts, statements, and older beliefs?

I need to listen more to what the drawing wants.
I have to allow that the drawing is not going to look exactly like the photograph. 
Sometimes I have to look with “soft eyes” to see elements in a different aspect. I have to stop, stand back, walk away for awhile.
The medium I work in (charcoal and pastel sticks) does not lend itself to crisp, sharp lines and minute detail and that means I have to compensate for that. 
I have to remember the photograph is just a guideline and trust my own intuition, allow free-flow, and let the drawing happen. It’s similar to my writing when I let the writing free-flow. When the words pour in and then out, I can’t stop to edit or it breaks the flow. I’m discovering a similarity in drawing.  Let it flow and when the flow stops, then I can go in for details and adjustments.

I am excited about these discoveries and my artistic evolving. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Attempting to Maintain My Cool

Today it hit me that this coming Thursday is my next dentist’s appointment and I have all I can do to keep from freaking out and calling to cancel. This appointment is the first of four in the series of cleaning. We decided to break it up into the four quadrants because it is so difficult for me.

He says I have a little bone loss in left front and the tooth to the side and the deep cleaning is necessary to prevent any more bone loss and save the rest of my teeth. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about this. My teeth are so sensitive! I’d almost rather have a toe amputated than have anyone put sharp pointy objects in my mouth.

All my training in various techniques fall by the wayside when it comes to the dentist. I am attempting to talk about it more to, hopefully, exorcise these deep rooted (pun intended) issues so I can get on with it.

But I will get through this!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Saving Myself from the Mental Chaos

Yesterday my energy felt up and so were my spirits. I didn’t get everything done that I could have, but I am satisfied with the day. 

Today I’m dragging. I had a hard time with my morning exercise routine and it didn’t dawn on me until I turned on the computer to check my messages that I realized all the negative messaging regarding President Trump is affecting me and my spirits. This has gone beyond negative and has turned into down-right nastiness.

It isn’t about whether I personally believe in what he is doing or not, and it’s certainly easy to get upset up when reading all the horrible things he’s doing. (But is it only one side of the story, one small piece? I don’t know because I have researched the entire story, so I can’t judge.)  The issue is what all this negativity is doing to America, what it’s doing to people! It’s almost like it’s turning into a witch hunt – that same mentality of the old witch hunts back in the middle ages and later – only it’s directed at one person and what he is doing or what people are afraid he’s going to do. And it doesn’t matter what he says or does at this point, people are so filled with hatred at this guy that they will not accept any good coming from him.

There has always been controversy. There have always been disagreements with policies and beliefs, but never have I seen it so ugly. I find that this hatred and fear only creates greater hatred and fear, and as much as I try to not listen to or read any of the news, it seeps in. And it’s sapping my energy and I don’t like it.

So, what can I do about it to take care of me? And I have to take care of me because the minute I let up, I fall into depression, begin to hate life, the world, and what mankind is turning into. I don’t want to give in to that. I am determined to be positive and love life. I am determined to have faith in human beings! Here are some of the things I am doing to not get caught in the trap:

I can avoid Facebook (and I do as much as possible), but Facebook is my connection to friends and family, and I like to know how people are doing (personally, not their politics). I enjoy the connections when a positive word of support can help each another and where we can celebrate our joys and accomplishments. I love that I can post a question and get answers and suggestions. But, as of today, I am hiding all Facebook messages that are political.

I also avoid commercials and the shouting-at-you hype of how this product is going to save your life, be the best thing for you, and blah, blah, blah. All this constant chatter is just brainwashing you; telling you what is best for you when the bottom line is they just want your money. They don’t even have to tell the truth!

Another thing I do to keep my mental well-being positive is to have affirmation cards all over the place so almost everywhere I look there is some kind of a positive message to read. “Pump up the enthusiasm to be creative,” “Focus on the present joy of creativity,” “I am filled with Spirit and Light,” “Joy and love surround me,” “Center and Ground – Breathe in … Breathe … out,” “Love and Success,” “I am good enough,” and so many more. 

I also try to spend time outside paying attention to the beauty around me. Sometimes it’s in little things seen on the ground; how the ice melts around a leaf, flower stalks sticking out of the snow, how the ice changes in the brook, and, of course, I love the little birds.

I watch clouds, notice little intricacies about trees, rocks, how the land around me curves or is sharp. I talk to the neighbors’ cats and dogs (and the neighbors when I see them). 

And I focus on the love of my work be it editing, a writing project, photography, or a charcoal-pastel drawing. I take time to play Spider Solitaire and play and pat my soft, fluff-ball Pele. If I don’t get everything done on my to-do list for the day, then I am OK with that. I am good enough.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Did You Take the Blue Pill or the Red?

My mind has been on the state of affairs in the U.S. I am distressed over the hatred and violence. I’m trying to understand; trying to see other points of view. Right now, I feel shame for America if this is what we’re dissolving into. Our enemies must be laughing their butts off!

This morning I heard a story about a woman on an airplane who went off her rocker because the guy sitting next to her voted for Trump. When the plane landed, authorities had to take her away. (I heard this, but I don’t know how true it is.) I avoid the media because they are so into getting people hyped up over the littlest of things and it’s hard to know the real truth. Unfortunately, people “buy” into every little story and get upset.

I understand fear. I understand that people may be afraid for the future. But is this mentality of violence the answer? Did the American system work? If so, then be American and give the new president a chance. If you think it didn’t work, does that mean the system needs to change and how can that happen? If you don’t think the elections system is fair, what can you do to help bring about changes?

Will this hatred and violence make people listen? No, it only makes more people afraid. Will the nasty demonstrations and people acting out of their minds make changes? No, it will only make the rioters look like idiots (sorry, no offense, but my personal opinion) and will end up taking away more freedoms with the enacting more laws to “control” the masses.

The riots, demonstrations, and violence only promote more of the same. Where has logic and common sense gone? Where has democracy gone? Human decency? What is our wonderful country turning into?

Again, I’m trying to understand. Some of the nastiness going on is so out of control that it doesn’t make sense at all. The individuals participating – is this who they really are? I bet most of them are really nice people, but to see them with all that anger and hatred – makes me wonder where it’s coming from. Did they take the blue pill or the red pill? 

Part of it feels like a big act. Yes, I heard a rumor that people are being paid to demonstrate and cause riots. I don’t know how true it is, but seeing how people are acting, makes me wonder if there is truth to the rumor. There’s a falsity to it and yet, when people amp up the anger and fear, it continues to escalate and others catch the “anger” bug. I find it hard to believe that people could act so horrible! Is that the kind of person to admire? If you’re one of those hate mongers, is that how you want to be seen?

It’s also the mob mentality and how if one person starts getting upset and “getting on a bandwagon,” others join in. Sometimes they can’t help it. It’s part of the connectedness of being human.

Then, as I mentioned earlier, part of it is the media and what they feed the public. We have to ask what the real truth is. The media feeds us a lot of hype to sell their stories. Sensationalism sells and if they can get the public worked up then it’s good for sales. And, unfortunately, too many people buy into the hype (look what happens when a bad storm is predicted). 

I am also thinking about demonstrations of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I don’t remember it quite this bad. Yes, there were some horrible incidences, but this doesn’t feel the same. Back then, it felt like people were fighting for something -- something great. This just feels like someone is behind the scenes stirring the pot, pulling strings like on a top then letting it spin out of control.

Those who are protesting, does this mean they don’t believe the government works? Do they think it’s impossible to work through their state and county reps and senators? What are they really looking for?

All I’m asking is that people think about what they are doing. There’s nothing wrong with holding onto a belief if it’s to the good and will help others. There’s nothing wrong with standing up for your right. Just don’t buy into a lot of hype and sensationalism if it really isn’t necessary. Violence and destruction is not the answer.

I don’t know where all this is going, but I’m trying to have hope in the future of America. I am an American and I want to be proud to be American! It doesn’t matter if some of my blood is from Irish, Canadian, English, Native American, or whatever descent. I AM AN AMERICAN! I want to be proud of my country! 

Learning to Work in Shorter Intervals

I have been extremely busy and it’s exciting (exciting has been my favorite word of late). My other projects are keeping me away from more free-style writing which is why I haven’t been blogging. It’s all good.

What turned out to be important for this month is the fine-tuning of work schedules; becoming aware of how I need to work. More and more I am learning that it helps to work in shorter time frames. This prevents me from getting frustrated with the project or getting to a point where I want to destroy it and start over. Yes, this means it takes longer to get the project finished, but it allows me to be kinder to myself about the processes, and I find I am happier with what I am doing. Plus, as I often work on multiple projects at time, this allows me to do something on many of them.

Here are some examples of how I work:

When The Muse comes, it isn’t for very long. If I try to force any more, I get frustrated and upset with myself. However, if I walk away for a bit, do something else, then come back, I am more inspired and feel new energy.

The writing muse usually strikes (yes, often it is like a strike) first thing in the morning. She doesn’t stay long and this writing is very inspirational (not so much in a spiritual way, but a life/emotions/lessons way). Words and feeling gush through me and out of me, then suddenly stop. I might get fifteen minutes to an hour.

I get out of the chair to do some physical movement and chores around the house before sitting back down to respond to emails and Facebook messages. Again, no more than an hour and I’m up again moving. This time might find me on the air walker and as I’m doing a workout, I’m studying the drawings on the easels.

Fifteen minutes to half an hour is next spent handling charcoal and pastel. I can’t work very long at one time on a drawing. I have to stand back and walk away – sometimes until my next break from the computer and sometimes a day or a couple days will go by before I feel the urge again.

And so my day goes, in short intervals. I keep a log of what I do so at the end of the day, I can look at my list and see how much I got done. And I feel good about it!

It was hard getting used to this. I wanted to jump into a project and get it done. I’d get frustrated and beat myself up when things didn’t go as planned. I’d get depressed that I wasn’t good enough to call myself a writer, photographer, artist because I’d get angry when the work wasn’t going the way I wanted.

This new attitude has brought renewed energy and joy into all that I’m doing. No, it’s not always perfect, but when I run into a stumbling block, instead of letting the frustration pile up, I just walk away and work on something else. I have been so happy and thankful!

The other day, when I was talking about my new work ethic, someone told me studies have been done where they’ve found people do get more work done and are happier when working in shorter intervals. 

I’m onto something, for sure. Of course it isn’t always possible depending on types of jobs. For instance, when I’m working on weekly deadlines for the newspaper, I can’t be so free with my time.