Focus, mindset, learning and taking my time…

I am taking my time with this one and totally loving it.

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I wasn’t sure if I would stay with the same color palette when I added color to the puppy. I am glad I did! I love how they are both developing. Other than the white acrylic paint I used to tone down the background, everything is done in watercolor with a bit of the Elegant Writer when I first start building shadows.

I feel like I need to talk about my state of mind the past month or so. I have made mention that I’m on the search for a new job. This is what has kept me distracted from my art and a bit off balance. It’s okay. It is important to allow our focus to shift to those things which are important in our lives. Though art is important, searching for a job and finding the right one that fits for me is even more important.

I have learned over the past few years, the importance of understanding who we are and what makes us tick. It has been an interesting deep dive. I knew I had artistic ability and I also knew I am very logical. After working in IT (information technology), I had grown to believe my logical side was the strongest and didn’t see the creative aspects I incorporated into my work. Since taking up pencil, paper, paint and pen again, I have come to realize I am equally creative and logical and have been using creativity to help me in my work. It is so easy to mistake creativity as just a product of what our logical mind is working on and not thinking of it as being creative at all. We can so easily overlook that our creativity is really supporting our logical thinking to help us find solutions or build new concepts.

I use logic to work through problems and creativity to find alternative solutions. It is an interesting balance. Logically, I step myself through a process of asking myself questions to hopefully reach a conclusion. If I don’t know something, then I know I need to do some research. Sometimes the research doesn’t follow a linear path or logical path. Creatively, I know I can explore this even deeper by experimenting and exploring things which may appear to have no connection whatsoever to what I want to learn.

Something I found interesting is, what happens, when I step away from an issue or something I am trying to learn or understand, with the intention of going back to it later. All I want to do is give my mind a bit of a rest, so I get involved in something that isn’t related to what I was working on. Then out of the blue, a connection will be made, a solution found, or an answer is given for that problem I had set aside for a bit. I have had this happen quite often and my brain does this happy little neuron dance when it does.

I have this pension towards learning. It surprises me sometimes, when I look back on all of my skills and the amount of knowledge I have. They were acquired through alternative learning. In other words, I didn’t learn them in the typical classroom setting, or through typical training through the company or companies I worked for. I found alternative resources, sometimes reading a book, sometimes watching a video online, sometimes just playing around with an application to see what I could discover and other times just talking with people. Then there are times when I’m playing a video game with my daughter, I discover something new which can send me down another avenue for learning something unexpected.

It frustrates me sometimes when businesses or potential employers filter out applications all because a person doesn’t have education credentials. I have taught my daughter that she can learn anything she wants to learn and she can do it on her own. She can choose to take a class, or read a book, or explore the various options available which provide the information she wants to learn and understand. For us, everyday life is an educational resource and education is a life long endeavor.

Why is it potential employers don’t see what this means for them in the potential employee who applies for the position they have advertised is available? This question has baffled me. When things baffle me, I research. I have also come to this conclusion. If a potential employer doesn’t recognize the brilliance within a person who is constantly evolving and learning through alternative methods, then we would not be a good fit anyway.

This just means it might take longer to find that perfect fit for us both (employer and employee) in my job search. That is okay. It means my focus might be shifted a bit and I might not progress as quickly as I have in the past on the pieces of artwork I am working on. That is fine. In fact, I am finding with this change in focus, I am not just more thoughtful in regards to my job search, I am also more thoughtful in regards to my artwork.

In learning to take chances in my job search, I am also learning to take more chances in my artwork. I love how changing my mindset in one area bleeds into my mindset in other areas and allows me to expand in ways I never dreamed possible.

What ways do you like to learn? Do you find your interest to learn is widespread or narrowly focused? I have to say my interests are widespread with no boundaries on what I like to learn and I learn through all my senses.

 

Something different…

Since writing my last post I decided to try something a bit different. I’ve said many times how I am drawn to drawing mandalas. I prefer using a ruler, compass and protractor when I do draw them. I started by drawing a grid for a mandala, then added some additional lines in the grid to create the square border and the inner diamond shape. Then other shapes started to emerge.

I didn’t take any pictures while creating this design, so the only pictures I have are after its completion.

Once I had the design drawn in pencil that I wanted, I went over it with Pigma Micron pen so I wouldn’t lose the design the subsequent steps. I then used Prang watercolor paint to color in the shapes and the background. I truly love working with watercolors. I love making gradients or just letting them bleed and blend together. Next, I took my spray bottle with water in it and spritzed water over the dry watercolor paint. I let it sit for a bit and then lay a clean paper towel over top of it and pressed it down with my hands, then lifted the paper towel. This created a mottled appearance to the watercolor paint. I let this dry.

I selected my one set of Tombow markers. The set I have is the primary palette which meant I didn’t have all the colors and had to select a complementary color if I didn’t have one the same color as the watercolor paint in the area I wanted to use them. I wanted to define the outlines more for the shapes so I used the markers along the edges following them with my water brush to soften the lines. I used the black around the outside edge and softened it as well.

My next choice was to use a Uni-ball Air black pen to create some patterns in some of the shapes. Then Prisma colored pencils, using black, red, yellow and white for the circles to add shading and highlights to create depth. I used white, magenta and hot pink for the leafy patterns inside the diamond shape. Using a white gel pen I added some white dots in the background and some highlights throughout the piece.

I’m thrilled with how this came out. I enjoyed working on it. I’m pleased that this is my own design. The shapes thrill my logical brain, and also please my artist’s eye, as do the colors.

The last thing I did, which was done after I took the pictures, was write in white gel pen around the black border those things I want to bring forward with me or manifest in 2018.  This then became my alternative version of the garden fairy for Week 1, Tending Your Dreams, lesson with Tamara Laporte for Life Book 2018.

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With this addition the page feels more complete than it did before adding the words. This is what I was talking about in my previous post about using Tam’s methods but altering it to fit my style or the things I love to create. I think this works well for me and I may see if this will also work for the compassionate bear bonus lesson. Of course, it won’t be a compassionate bear at least not in the way Tam created hers.

A Logical Analytical Artist

After my previous post, I was led to check out a couple Facebook groups I have been a member of over the past year. I am sorry to admit that I haven’t paid much attention to them over the year. I needed to revisit them to try and understand why.

One group I revisited is called “My Year 2017”. It is run by a lovely group of ladies who provide art videos every month. I believe they are based off of the monthly prompt they provide. The videos are meant to help give people different ideas of what they can create artistically from being inspired by the prompt. After reviewing the group again, and working on November’s prompt, at first I thought it would be up my alley, but after doing it I realized that isn’t the case.

First, let me explain that November’s prompt in the way Gina explained her approach, the words she picked and how they connected for her helped to give me some hope. For the past few weeks I’ve been contemplating my purpose in life. I knew this would come at some point because of my new job and would make me question my choices. For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling like I have no purpose and I have just been biding my time here until the next phase in whatever may come. Gina’s video and the five words she chose were very meaningful to me and helped give me hope that I will find a new purpose in this life.

You can find Gina’s video here.  I won’t post what I created or give the prompt or description of what she created because I don’t want to take that away from her. She worked hard on the video and I believe it is worth viewing if you are interested. The reason I mention it here is to try and give you some insight into the way my brain works. I am vain enough to think someone might be interested in the workings of my brain. lol Besides I just copied what she created because I wanted to have it to remind me of what I learned from her.

Let me explain something else, following art instruction videos takes the pressure off of trying to come up with my own idea for what to create. For a very logical and analytical mind, this process gives my brain a time to stop all its analytical mumbo jumbo and just do what someone is instructing me to do. I don’t have to think of what will work or not work together or how I need to prep something so what I want to do next will work. It takes the pressure off. For my learning mind this is great because I get to experience without having to think much about it and most times I end up with something I’m very pleased with.

Now… if you don’t have an analytical mind like me then you might not understand just how wonderful it is for me to take an art class like the ones I have been taking this past year. This past year which is actually coming up on two years in January, has been a time of great mental strain. My brain has been analyzing, over analyzing, painstakingly logical in trying to find solutions for me that would create the ultimate solution for the situation I found myself within. I had to find something that would be a safe haven for me and allow my brain to just STOP. To just LET GO. This is what the art courses this past year have been about, as well as, the wonderful part of also learning and experiencing different techniques and supplies.

Now… think about what it means to try and create something from a prompt, whether it is a one word prompt or a quote or something in which the artist is to dig in deep to try and discover what meaning or relevance it has in their lives. This was too much for me. I was already analyzing every single thing in my life, so trying to take a simple word and do what I’ve been doing every minute of every single day for a year, well, it wasn’t going to happen. Not when art for me was supposed to be a place of refuge, a place that brought my mind and my heart peace.

So when I first thought “My Year 2017” was going to be something I would enjoy, instead, it turned out to be something I avoided. When I reviewed the group a couple days ago, and though I found November’s prompt had meaning for me, I realized, it wasn’t the prompt as much as it was Gina’s message in her video in regards to how she approached it, the words she chose and her explanation of how the words connected for her, that had meaning for me. I accepted this but also knew it was a message to not avoid the videos. When I have time I will view the videos provided by this group to see what message they may provide for me. Who knows maybe when my mind has had enough rest, it will work on a prompt or two.

One of the ladies from “My Year 2017” group also does a Pick 10 challenge. The Pick 10 challenge is about picking 10 prompts and using them to create an art journal page. This is different from the prompt I mentioned earlier. These prompts are either art supplies, or art techniques or simple instructions, like use the color red. You do the prompts in the order they are drawn. These are the types of prompts I can get into right now because you don’t have to think about it. When you first see the prompt you go with what first pops into you head and just do it. The fun part is seeing what happens. Here is a picture of what I created from November’s Pick 10, you can see the video here, of what Cindy created. I used the same prompts she pulled for November. I just added the words which wasn’t a prompt just something I felt drawn to do after the page was completely dry. I also added some white highlights which wasn’t a prompt either. I needed the white to help bring the words out more and some of the elements.

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When I work on faces or try and create my own art journal page, for me, it takes a lot of thought, mostly because I haven’t been doing this long enough to give over completely to my intuition. This is why, for now, art classes are so important to me.

The past week was physically draining on me. I worked seven days in a row, most days were only four or five hour shifts, with the last day being an eight hour shift. I was exhausted by the end and was glad I had three days off to recover. Each day when I was home trying to rest my feet and body, I would work on something, usually I like working on mandalas. However, I’ve been challenging myself to try and go beyond mandalas and try my hand at abstract floral art.  My previous post shows one I completed recently. This is the one I started next and is a work in progress.

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I’m still rather basic in the layout for this type of work. I find it very difficult to figure out how to do overlapping elements. This is why I’m challenging myself with this type of art. For years I allowed myself to be held back by my lack of confidence in my ability to create what I want. Faces was one of these things I didn’t have much confidence in being able to do. I let that stop me for years from doing anything art related so now when I find something that makes me feel like I can’t do it, I now want to challenge that mentality and break through whenever possible. Here is an example of doing just that:

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This piece was created from Week 28 of Life Book 2017. Yes, week 28, I just finished it today. It is a bonus lesson given by Jamie Dougherty. I avoided this lesson for months and I let myself think I was doing so because of all the stuff going on in my life. Indeed, part of the reason was that but another part of it was because it challenged me. The class was about facing your negative thoughts about yourself and incorporating it in a fascinating way by using ash and mixing it into the portrait. I won’t give any more details than that because it would give too much away about the lesson. The lesson is called “From the Ashes”.

What held me back was facing my negative thoughts. Oh, I know I have them, but it is very different to know you have them than it is to purposefully focus on them. This was daunting but once I got started I wanted to see it through. I like how she turned out.

I don’t exactly call this a block when I avoid doing a lesson or something I find difficult to face. I’ve heard other artists asking how other artists deal with this type of situation and ask how they get through it. A good many of those answering tend to say just barrel through it. One person actually said she sits down in front of a page and just sits with her feelings. She might sit there for a few minutes or an hour or whatever it takes before she is ready to start working on it.

That isn’t how I approach it.

In fact, whether it is my art, or something I need to do in life, I approach it the same way. If when I think I need to so something, whether it is a lesson, a task, or even something like renewing my passport, IF, at the time I’m thinking about doing it, IF, I feel a strong compulsion to NOT do it, then I DON’T. I will revisit it after a period of time and if the feeling is still there, then I wait and revisit it again and again and again until that compulsion to NOT do it is no longer there. I wait until I feel a strong compulsion to DO IT. When that happens then I know the time is right.

I know, I know, there is the risk of this approach creating serious issues. Let’s say this happens when I know my passport is about to expire, this could cause me problems with other things in my life if I don’t do what needs to be done. I could possibly miss out on a trip I wanted to take. So you might think this approach could end up very bad for me in some situations, BUT, I’m here to tell you it has never caused me a problem. IN FACT, it has saved me in more situations than I can count and in more ways than I can ever tell you.

In the past, I have tried to push through the strong compulsions I feel and go ahead and do what I felt needed to be done regardless of how strong I felt about not doing it. This either ended up with me in a very stressful situation, where I was overwhelmed and battling situations that would not have happened if I had waited, or I ended up frustrated because of roadblocks, unbelievable roadblocks were thrown in the way. In some cases it has helped me avoid situations I didn’t want any part of.

Take my art for example, if the next class up in the schedule of classes is one I feel strongly compelled to not do and I try and push my way through it, I very often regret it. I regret it because I become frustrated over it and what I’m trying to do doesn’t work out the way I want it to because I’m frustrated and trying to force something that should otherwise have been enjoyable in the doing of it. I have learned it is better to wait out the feelings and then do the class when I have felt that compulsion switch from not doing it to doing it. I then have a much more pleasant experience with the class and working with the products.

This same thing happens in other things in my life if I follow those feelings. I consider this following my intuition regardless of how illogical it may seem. For me, it is quite logical.

Maybe this will help explain my mind to those who understand and are a bit logical in their own thinking. In most of the courses I’ve been taking this year, there is only one which should be done in the order specified. All the others can be done in a random order. Even so, my mind is one that really wants to do things in the order they are given. This benefits me in so many ways even when it isn’t necessary to do it that way. I know I don’t have to do them in order, but even so, I have not jumped ahead in any of the courses. When I try, it feels wrong. Learning to follow my intuition is about following what feels right.

So there you have it, my mind in a nutshell, so to speak. Take me down the path step-by-step in a logical linear fashion and I’m fine. Take me down a path that jumps from thither and yon and then back again and though I have a wonderful sense of direction, it will feel all wrong. Maybe that is why I find mandalas so easy to draw and the abstract floral drawings such a challenge.