As I’ve been working on my workshops for Capture the Glow (my upcoming art + yoga retreat in Mexico this January), I’ve been flipping through old art journals and artwork from my past, trying to connect with what once inspired me and looking for tidbits I can share from my life of art making that might inspire others.
I've spent lots of time thinking about all the ways memories have inspired me to create over the years. This lead me down a path of sorting through boxes and the heaping mess of art supplies and other stuff I've hoarded in the basement because... you know, I might just make some art out of it ... someday. But I’ve rediscovered old paintings. And photos of people and places I used to know. Sketchbooks and journals. Little bits of memorabilia from distant parts of my past.
I never know what to do with these things when I rediscover them, and so they get shuffled from shelf to drawer, to box, to pile on the floor. I have committed to taking action on finding homes for these things, whether it's on a wall, or in the trash/recycling bin, or sending it off to a friend from my past who might enjoy a little nostalgia of their own.
Some fun memories bubbled up, like: in high school I loved flipping through magazines and ripping out pages with images I wanted to recreate with paint. My younger artist self needed to recreate objects exactly as I saw them, or at least try to. It made starting and stopping (the definition of stopping here is completion/perfection) new paintings pretty hard. Photo-realistic perfection was always the goal and the opportunity to fail was high, so I ended up with so many unfinished, or un-started projects. This painting is a good example of life imitating art, or maybe it's art imitating life.
Once upon a time (2002-2005), I lived in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in a little house with my landscape architect boyfriend. We spent a lot of time working on our yard, and I spent a lot of time perusing home and garden magazines. Still ripping out pages for all sorts of life inspiration. I found this image of these stunning flowers I'd never seen before, and tore it out with the intention of finding and planting them in the yard. Alas, the sweet landscape architect and I drifted apart and the hellebores were never planted in our garden. As we searched for ways to reconnect, we spent a few hours together painting with watercolors. We each picked a magazine image to recreate, these hellebores were mine.
Between the breakup, packing, and moving cross country it sat unfinished for nearly two years, but it was one of the few things that made the journey west with me (purging a three bedroom house chock full of stuff you thought was cool in your twenties = very cathartic). My hope for my new Portland life was that I’d focus more on art making, and luckily I fell into a group of new artist friends. We began having weekly dinner and art nights, where I dusted off this old painting and committed to completing it. It was the first work of art I finished in my new city, and I think of it as the start of my new creative life here.
While there have been starts, stops and plenty of distractions along the way, this painting has hung in every bedroom I’ve inhabited since I moved here. A constant reminder of where I came from, and where I’d like to go. My north star, if you will. I’ve since gotten away from the need to create photo-realistic art work, and learned to be a little kinder to myself in the stopping and starting of new projects. Oh! And I finally got to plant those Hellebores in my garden. Lots and lots of them!
What are your creative challenges and fears? How do you work through them? I’d love to talk about it, if you’d like to leave me a comment.