We stood there for an hour talking art and creativity and purpose and pain and burnout and big cities and rural childhoods and it was the kind of convo you don't realize you're having until it's over and all that's left to say is this: Surround yourself with people who bring out the YES in you.
"A significant part of the artistic challenge is to go beyond interpreting human experience to be an interpreter of human possibility. It is so much easier to create an authentic work of art informed by despair, so much more difficult to create a true masterpiece informed by optimism and hope. Yet these are the most compelling people—the ones who have overcome tragedy and found beauty; the ones who should have drowned in despair but found hope; the ones who should have forever remained trapped in this rubble of their failures and yet found courage and resolve to rise from the dead."
from The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus
Hello, how are you? And how can we connect outside of this digital and backlit world?
Art is a way to connect, a way that my soul can reach out to your soul and say hello. It brings encouragement, messy beauty, physical presence that extends beyond smartphones and social media. Art is meaty. Real.
Sending these MandyGrams postcards into the world is my way of saying you're real. And I'm real, and the notes on the backs of these cards are very real and honest moments of my life. The 5:30am stuff that often doesn't make it to my twitter feed. These Mandygrams are "real" ways that we can connect beyond comments and likes. Handmade one-of-a-kind hellos from my world to yours.
So if you're real, and you'd like a little art hello, drop your address here. This will go straight to my email and then onto the back of a Mandygram and hopefully into your mailbox!
I'd love to say hello. :)
Sometimes we just need to be seen -- to be understood and acknowledged and stood beside. There's so much power in being able to do brave things when we know others are cheering us on from the sidelines. That's what the word "inspire" means -- to put air, inspiration, courage into someone else.
This: An early morning rant in my kitchen, spilling out and spelling out all the adventures and misadventures and exciting mountains climb. I'm learning the life of the entrepreneur. It's a cost worth paying in order to live the life of an artist. This is how I fight for my art:
- Inventory database
- Business banking account
- Systems for communication
- Systems for connecting
- Paypal headaches
- Marketing courses
And then this little image comes to me through a patron and encourager who breathes life into my artistic soul. On a day like today where I want to cry over the things that are not the act of painting.
You never know what a difference little gestures like that mean to your artist. Thank you for encouraging me, Jennifer. Thank you for seeing me.
We just might make a little video! :) Tamela Buttrey, a beautiful giving soul who runs a catering business in order to support underprivileged children in Guatemala, came by my studio to share about being creative in the midst of parenting, how to interact with others' artwork, and the foundation of our friendship being the conversation of art. [embed]https://youtu.be/w__f8s4c53Q[/embed]
And part two, on mail art, the inspiration for my postcards, and the connection between the artist and collector? It's a fun one!!
I'm so grateful for Tamela's support and influence on my art. True collectors don't know how significant they are to me, but I'm determined to change that. It takes a village to raise an artist and I can't do it without you.
We are the brave ones, the ones who wake up. Who face the day. Who reach and stretch and run. Who are running and living as best they can. Who find their brave every day and find it again the next.
Here's to the brave ones. You, in turn, make me brave. You make me a better artist.
People are moved to wonder by mountain peaks, by vast waves of the sea, by broad waterfall on rivers, by the all-embracing extent of the ocean, by the revolutions of the stars. But in themselves they are uninterested. --St. Augustine
There is a deep place in my soul for those things that move me to wonder, that call out from a bigger Existence—the Greater Than. I've never truly felt that I had eyes to see or ears to hear, but I long for my senses to reach past the stillness and silence and detect a small whisper of a Something.
Do you know this feeling? This deep wanting, waiting, watching?
I can see It and hear It most clearly when I am taking in those mountain peaks and vast waves and broad waterfalls. These things speak such a strong language of Createdness to me. It all works. It all dances together. How else than by some Plan?
I'm not the only one drawn to such a wonder.
“The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Nighttime is womb- time. Our souls come out to play. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. We rest in the night.” ~John O'Donohue
The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle - those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn't make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn't live without them. ~Wendell Berry
Some part of my soul relaxes when I see the “universe of nature”, and I’m reminded that it doesn’t need to be much, or for very long, or even very far before nature touches me. ~SARK
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." ~John Muir
"Whatever peace I know rests in the natural world." ~May Sarton
"The closer you get to real matter, rock air fire wood, boy, the more spiritual the world is."~ Jack Kerouac
This kind of seeing, hearing, and touching can only come from a stillness of heart. I am learning that. I am learning to quiet myself enough that my soul has a moment to wonder.
And in all that wonder, a light flicks on in me. A yearning to put that light into something that others can see and take in.
This is the call for you and for me: To receive what we've been given then pass it along, compelled by our own abundance and gratitude.
Have you "wondered" lately? Have you heard and seen and felt? Have you allowed yourself to sense some other Bigness? Have you taken in your abundance lately in order to share it, passing it along like loaves and fishes?
If not, I challenge you to be moved to wonder. To come to the place of open-heartedness and receive what the world has to give you. Take it all in, what is coming and what is already there. And then pass along as much as you can.
This is the call to life. This is the call to creativity. This is the call to stewardship.
I believe in accessible art. Art that speaks. Art that brings a little inspiration and beauty to our lives. I believe in helping others find creative ways to fill their lives with inspiration and beauty. Issa, one of the great Haiku masters, made haiku human and accessible for many people. He presented poetry that was accessible, that spoke a common language and brought inspiration and beauty to many people. So I recently created a series of small "Issa" paintings, that are affordable, simple, and hopefully inspiring.
I also believe in giving—in saying thank you to everyone who has cheered on this little artist, who has helped me believe in myself and believe in my art.
This is the part where I want to say something silly like "turn your smartphone into an ARTphone" but gosh that just ruins the mood, doesn't it? :) This is the thing: I look at my phone constantly, and it helps me when I'm greeted by a little art that says "be inspired" in some way or another.
I made another round of lock screen wallpaper for us, for a little accessible Holiday art.
Here's a few sizes for you. If your size is missing and you want it, let me know!
If you were to ask me where my heart is right now, I would say it is here. In this little year long journey that represents relationships and conversation. In this opportunity to not only support, but speak deeply into my experience as an artist.
It is more than six signed prints of my favorite pieces, more than prints plus an original painting. It is an invitation to slowly sip art for a year... To witness the beautiful scary light dark side of being an artist. It's my commitment to inspire you and share a deeper side with you. It is my commitment to call you and me both to greater creativity and inspiration.
And by throwing your name into this group, you are committing to be a part of the art in 2015. You will play a real role in my creative development, with your feedback and suggestions. You will be my collaborative partner, my cheerleader, my witness.
Want to go on a long walk with me in 2015?
Sign up here.
Do you pack your mind full of everything but what is happening right now? Me too. No wonder we're so overwhelmed. We're trying to think about today, tomorrow, and yesterday all at the same time.
But, oh, it doesn't have to be so...
One of the ways you can pull yourself back into the present is to use a mindfulness system that looks at what's happening in your external world *at that present moment* and then looks at your inner world *at that present moment.*
I created a little system to live with mindfulness, to help myself return to the present regularly.
So I made this card for us to use, that we can print out and have in our journals or stick somewhere that you look often.
If you want it, click it and download it!
Oooh and I also made them for our smartphone lock screens, because that's really what we look at all day, isn't it?
Here's a few sizes for you. If your size is missing and you want it, let me know!
With all the landscapes and natural subjects in my work, it's clear that I love nature in its purist form. With that in mind, I'm beginning a new series that places the man-made against the natural. One of the pieces will feature a beach-scape with faint sketches of a cityscape on top of it… It would be powerful to fill the structures with dialog, symbolic of the people-noises that can drown out the purity of nature's voice. Could I enlist your help in collecting a chunk of chatter to include? If you're in a coffee shop, at a meeting, listening to the radio, or can record/annotate a few minutes of dialog, please send it my way. And, also, mention note your city/location. I'm thinking about incorporating a list of source locations; let's give this piece a "far-reaching" feel.
"Art is important for it commemorates the seasons of the soul, or a special or tragic event in the soul's journey. Art is not just for oneself, not just a marker of one's own understanding. It is also a map for those who follow after." Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Oh the beauty of the questions that have been presented to me since scheduling this upcoming art show. And one that keeps swirling in my mind is "Why?"
Not "why the show?" but "why the art?"
And, there's much to the answer, but lets start with the basics of what you will see in viewing my work: color, words, texture, open.
COLOR: I returned to painting near the end of my recovery from a couple of years of depression. With that in mind, you'd expect my work to be gloomy and a bit downcast. But in fact the pieces all end up packed with color and vivid energy. This, I believe, is my inner voice saying that there is good and light and energy and excitement to be had.
WORDS: You might see scrawlings of words and confessions—some legible and some more hidden, but engaging nonetheless. Sometimes these words carry a clear message, sometimes they subtly contribute to the overall form.
TEXTURE: You will find an unmistakable background of heavy texture. I happened upon the power of texture quite subconsciously. I do remember wanting it, and finding ways to create it, but I don't remember thinking it through until I noticed the texture kept returning. The texture, I've discovered, is my way of saying that there are many cracks in the logic of life, many bumps and scratches and dents in our journey, but we are on a beautiful and lively road. And traveling in distinct and unique ways.
OPEN: The subject matter comes from my own affinities: landscapes, seascapes, sunsets, symbologies, birdcages, words, forms. This is the most varied element of my work, the actual subject matter. But in all of these representations, the pieces have a sense of openness and honesty. They are not packed full of overwhelming imagery, but the imagery remains simple and relatable. My hope is that the imagery engages a dance of familiarity and surprise, asking you to think about what the imagery represents in your own life.
The end goal, the "why" of my art, is a dialog of questions and discoveries within the mystery of life. It's the dance of pain and purpose. Beauty and brokenness. Hope and hurt. And my desire is to show you that these things can in fact coexist to create something meaningful and inspiring.
- Joy and Sorrow.
- Pain and Contentment.
- Light and Dark.
And The Shadow Side Series reflects the darker side of what I have struggled to accept in faith and life. These are not declarations as much as they are admittances. The truths sit on a dark watercolor paper background, with the high contrast of red, blue, and white pushes the truths of these darker sides to light. They are simple, but strong. Much like truth, when it stares us in the eyes in an undeniable way. It's there. It's not ornate or flashy. But it's so very unmistakable.
At seven, I feel that this series is at a place of rightness. I am not sure if I will continue to create more "shadow sides," so I wanted to offer a collector's cut for this piece: 25% off the purchase of all seven prints. You can see the full collection HERE.
Just let me know and I will set up the purchasing details for you. Comment or email works for me: email@example.com
I take pieces of my life (and self) and smatter them on canvas. I arrange the chaos in a fashion that feels often wandering and haphazard, but often comes out grittily "right." Resolved.
Even with all the questions and confessions and shadows—scratches, tears, smudges, stains, splatters, and drips—there is harmony. There is light and grace and acceptance and some strange roaring beauty.
I see it. I stand up and step away from the work feeling resolved, as if the troubles of life have been set down. Placed aside. Moved past.
Then those canvases, they are transferred from my life to someone else's life. Maybe the patron sees a bit of her own shadow and turmoil in all my mess. Maybe he sees some way to synthesize his own questions in my questions. Maybe they can even rest in the midst of the storm after seeing a path of peace in mine.
Often it's just an awkward sterile exchange of money. One hand to another. Payment to painting. And then a piece of me is gone. And I don't know where it now rests. I don't know where I am.
The treasured moments come when they say, "Tell me why you created this one. Tell me what you were thinking." I oblige with as much vulnerability as I can afford; and I delight at the chance to ask them, "Tell me why you want to take this one home."
And the beauty of their story mingling with my story, it is a powerful work of art in itself. I walk away with the illumination of knowing these pieces will hang on the walls of their lives, bringing some light to their shadows. It is the full circle of resolution—knowing the further purpose of that piece of my life. And knowing: I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
So today I want to offer a unique giveaway: a chance for those who can feel deeply the light and darkness of this painting, to win a print of it.
Just email me with a name and address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The first three who do so will have a 5x5 print shipped directly to them.