Saturday, October 10, 2009

True Confessions of the Self-Absorbed

Mixed Emotions 24x36

I've been thinking a lot about a word lately: Narcissism.  I've always considered it to be an extremely negative term.  Then, last week, it was brought to my attention that perhaps I am one... by someone who LIKES me.  Ouch!  So,  Mr. Webster.... what do you have to say about this?  (Actually - who uses a dictionary anymore?) I googled it:

Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego.

egotistic: characteristic of those having an inflated idea of their own importance

narcissist - someone in love with themselves

narcissism - self-love: an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself; "self-love that shut out everyone else"

OK.... Besides the "self love that shuts out everyone else"  I guess I am a bit narcissistic.  Who - I ask you - who is not? - Especially artists!  Look at my work.  Buy my work.  Don't you love this painting?  Here's my blog-read my blog.  Artists, actors, dancers, bloggers, public speakers, politicians (yikes) - we are all a giant pack of narcissists! 

Everyone with a FaceBook page who is telling the world where they are and what thier status is....Everyone who has ever tweeted a tweet... Narcissistic!
So - is it really the negative word we think it is??? (Or is it only negative if we are talking about other people?)

This is a hard pill to swallow....but seriously isn't being an artist a little self - indulgent?  Then there is all the emotion and introspection that goes into being a painter- at least for me. (Me Me Me.)  I do tend to dwell a good bit on why I do what I do - why I feel the way I feel.  I deal with my crazy emotions in a VERY thorough manner.  So - is it narcissism?  Is it necessary to be a deep thinker and a little-self absorbed to be a good artist? Truthfully, I think it is.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Guest Post by: Josh Hanagarne "World's Strongest Librarian"

Stress Is A Teacher. The Student Is In Charge

I have seen myself react to stress in two ways:

1. Say “Well, life is stressful” and just let it be
2. Create a solution and move on…until the next stressful situation shows up

The problem with number one is that if you accept stress as the cost of living, you’ll never be able to release the pressure valve. You’ll quit fighting for calm and peace of mind.

One small stress leads to another. As minor agitations go untreated, the cumulative fatigue and frustration build and lead to…who knows what?

A Few Hard Fast Rules

I avoid speaking in absolutes whenever possible, but there are a couple of things that I believe with 100% certainty.

• If you go through life expecting to be lied to, you will attract liars
• If you expect to be stressed out, you will attract more stress
• If you are in a situation you can’t control, you have to introduce something that you can control

The best way I know to introduce control into my life is to create something. Not something good, necessarily. Just something.

Art As Therapy

I always feel clumsy when I discuss art. I’m much better at knowing why I hate something than why I like it. The tools just aren’t in my critical toolbox because I haven’t spent any time cultivating them.

But I know this: creating anything is a response to a lack of something. Any work of art was a way to release something in the brain of the artist—call it stress, if you like.

Agitation, angst, need, want, torment…anything we create is a temporary relief. Whether it’s “good” or “quality” or “total crap” is less important than the fact that it feels good to make things.

When I write an article, I usually write an article that I would like to read. I’ve heard painters say something similar. “The painting I wanted to see and study didn’t exist yet, so I painted it.”

Some people say they dance or sing or write or sculpt because they must.

This notion gets romanticized as “The Tortured Artist.” I don’t necessarily buy that. People don’t die of not dancing or writing or sculpting.

However, I know that when I write, I have less stress. When I have less stress, I am happier.

And I am happier because for the time being, I have taken steps to fill the holes in myself that cause anxiety.

A Better Way

While I believe that occasional stress is a given, there is a better way than just giving in. Each specific stress can be eliminated by creating an antidote.

Then you can move on to the next difficult, exasperating trial.

The key to genuine peace of mind is experiencing exactly as much stress and pain as you have to…but no more. Not a drop.

The tragedy is not that life can be difficult, but that we make it more difficult than it needs to be.

Now go make something. Do it for you.

Josh Hanagarne
Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne writes World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog with advice about coping with Tourette’s Syndrome, book recommendations, kettlebells buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates and Stronger, Smarter, Better Newsletter to stay in touch.

Click on the link at the beginning of this blog post to read Josh's latest blogpost.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stepping up My Game

Before My Time 30x30 mixed media and collage on canvas
I like to do things in my own time frame. Instead of re-evaluating on January 1 like everyone else. I pick a random time now. I'm doing some serious goal setting and planning now, probably because the economy seems to be trying to get back on track and art is once again starting to sell. (It was a long, DRY, summer!) It's rekindled my confidence and made me get excited again. Even, with the lack of sales, I have kept myself on pace with the art making and have built up a decent inventory. But lately I've come to realize, I need to start thinking once again about the business side of things. And while my art making is for me, it also plays a part in getting my kids through college, and paying for the extras - like travel and fun. One day (hopefully sooner rather than later) I can have the art making be my only job....while still keeping the joy in it. So - I'm working in my journal again. I'm making out wish lists - goal lists - the big plan list - the time line list - etc. I'm going to focus a little harder on my blogging and networking. I'm going to get back on track and find some new representation. I'm going to get off my butt and work it just a little harder. After all: In order to live your dreams - you have to wake them up!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Click HERE to Find This Book on Amazon

Live & Learn: Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within By: Steven Aimone

Available Sept 1st from

I couldn't put an image of this wonderful new book online because of copy write issues. Let's just say, you'll have to take my word for it: This is a beautiful book! Full disclosure: I was privileged enough to be a contributor to the book and am thrilled to have been a part of it. I do not, however, make a penny from sales of this book. So now that we have that out of the way, I'll tell you more about it.

From the back cover:

"Draw out your inner artist! This first book in the Live & Learn series from AARP gives you the inspiration, art theory, and hands-on experience that can make drawing an enriching part of your life. Unlike representational drawing, which aims to create a realistic likeness of the world, expressive drawing invites you to combine basic elements such as line and shape to create artwork that communicates internal states liked to your memories, ideas or emotions. Skill-building exercises and the author's lively descriptions of works by well known artists - from Henri Matisse to David Hockney-guide you on this exciting and rewarding approach to creative expression."

Steve Aimone has been my mentor and art coach since 2002. I have learned so much from his teaching style and this book is very much his "voice". This is an easily accessible book for anyone of any age (despite it's endorsement by AARP). He discusses the basics of art elements in a fashion that doesn't get overly technical, instead it is concise and easily translated for even someone who thinks he/she can't draw. Renew your creative spirit today and pick up a copy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Can you see the angst? Nope...didn't think so!

Continuum 36x36 2008

My art mentor/coach always teases that even my "angry" or "angst filled" paintings end up looking "lovely". I am always drawn to the abstract expressionists that fill their work with lots of tension and emotion....but for me -( and I guess I do this in real life )- I feel the need to edit it out and "make-nice". My coach and I have had many lengthy discussions about this tendency with my work. Discussing this with him is much more fun (and way cheaper) than therapy- but it disturbs me. And the truth of the matter is that I have in fact worked through some serious emotions with my painting in the last several years.

So ...present day: I have had a really anxiety filled summer -but I've also been painting and painting and painting - I have done a lot of work! And yet what I see when I look at all of this new work is the same thing I always see. Everything is soft, subtle, not at all angry looking or angst riddled. No...they are peaceful, non-tension filled lovely little paintings. Even though I really, truly use painting as my therapy. Trust me, the anxiety is IN THERE. I guess no one can see it but me.... and if they really looked "pissed-off" or "tragic" or "angst-filled" would I even like them? So I often wonder ...How authentic is this work? Deep...right?

(Can't you see it? LOL )

Friday, July 24, 2009

Escaping the Time Suck

Bridge to Nowhere - 16x16 mixed media on board - 2008

After a much needed (yet involuntary) break from the Internet, I'm back. Well sort of. Other than a little Tweeting, a few Facebook updates and checking email from my Blackberry...I have been mostly cut off from the Internet -AKA: Big Huge Time Suck. I have had a summer full of technical problems: the laptop is on a respirator-I don't think she'll make it. My Internet connection is hit or miss with no explanation. My router takes mini vacations without even letting me know....essentially I am in techno-hell. I am actually blogging right now on a borrowed computer and posting an old image from a Facebook album. It's the first time I've blogged in a long while...the first time I've seen a full version page of Facebook...the first time I've looked at a YouTube in a long, long time.

The amazingly good thing that has come from this is that I have been painting A LOT! I have churned out some good work - focused work. I have rearranged my studio to give me some great new workspace. I have (sort of ) organized my supplies. I have been a full time artist! It has been wonderful. I'm thinking that in the future, I should schedule a few breaks here and there to really focus on my art. After all - It's why I'm on the web in the first place. Don't get me wrong...I can't wait to purchase my new laptop and get my website updated, get back to blogging on a regular basis and do all the other things I love to do online. But for now....I'm headed to the studio!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Mad Frustration

I feel like I have had my right arm removed. For weeks now I have been trying to attach images to emails, add images to my blog, update my website....etc. I have been unsuccessful in every task. I have tried everything I know to try...but to no avail. It's like my photos just can't be uploaded in any capacity. HELP? Does anyone out there know what the problem could be? I am loosing it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tiny Gems

a bit of luck 9x12 mixed media collage 2009

I spend a good bit of time experimenting on small pieces. I often keep them, or give them as gifts. This particular painting was made with the idea of giving it as a graduation gift. (The young man asked for a painting - I know - an unusual request.) I didn't spend much time on it, it just came together very quickly. Most of the time the best work I do is very spontaneous - with no high expectations. The problem is, when I then try to use these little gems as studies for larger paintings-the spontaneity gets completely lost in translation. I end up "dinking" it to death, trying to get at the same freshness that I achieved on the small piece. This is a constant, CONSTANT, struggle for me. In trying to get back to a wonderfully messy, impulsive, and lively composition...I just end up with a mess. I guess if it was always this easy - painting wouldn't be so rewarding. Back to the drawing board.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Procrastination - thou art my nemesis!

Diptych 36x36 + 12x36 panels "Hanging Loose" 2009

Finishing a deadline always leaves me with the hollow question of what to do next. I am the type of person who likes fact I thrive on them! Without a "due-date" I flounder a bit. I wander from one thing to the next....sketching in the sketchbook....making little mini paintings to pin to my mini-painting assemblage...bouncing from one unfinished painting to the next. In fact I've tried to trick myself into a sort of fake-forced deadline on paintings, but I know the deal - so it doesn't work. Why do I procrastinate so? And is it- in fact, procrastination-or just part of the process? I finished the above commissioned piece just this morning. It likely would have been finished much sooner had the buyer given me a date that she needed it by. Even though I knew I wouldn't get paid until it was finished - it wasn't enough to motivate me like a : "I need to hang this before my company comes to visit on such-and-such-a-date". THAT would have kicked me into gear. What is up with that? It's certainly not because I don't need the sale! In fact, I am really trying to come up with some creative ways to boost business in these current economic times. But, alas, I dragged my feet on completing it ...and the really silly part is that the large painting was already finished and "sold"...all I had to do was make the small panel to complete the transaction. I feel like I am constantly in a self-sabotaging frame of mind - putting off things need to be done. Often times, I don't enter competitions because I've waited until the deadline and then -just can't get it together. I wonder sometimes if I'm the only one who does this? - and most importantly I wonder: WHY do I do this??? I have this quote hanging in my studio....maybe I should take it down: "Not all who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Driven to Distraction

The new "baby" - Angus T-Bone May 2009
Here is the brand new addition to the family. Casey's Angus T-Bone came to South Carolina last weekend and immediately turned the entire household upside down. We've all had to make some adjustments. My kids are big and help with "the baby" a lot...but they're busy and have sports and he is just like having a REAL baby in the house....naps, feedings, poop time, play time....What were we thinking? The household was on auto pilot! It was smooth and easy. We didn't have to introduce a new family member. But we missed our other bulldog SO much! And, of course....there is nothing cuter than a puppy! And yes, I am in love! And yes, he is a rolly-polly sweetie pie. So now, once again, I am trying to find the balance between doing the things I love (painting) and loving (and caring for) those around me. T-Bone likes to hang out in the studio with me while I try to paint. He hasn't formed an opinion yet on how he feels about abstract art. I guess we can talk about that when he's a little older.
Right now, he's busy trying to open canvases and hunt down stray paint caps and chew on the legs of my easels. I guess I'll just have to deal with the distractions for now. It's a little aggravating - but I can paint during "nap-time" and before the big kids get home from school. This only leaves a short window of opportunity to focus - but....what the heck...He sure is cute!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mini Victories

Soho No. 5 24x24 2008

An artist's life, it seems, is made up of occasional "mini-victories". These victories sometimes seem far and few between. But when we have them, they are sweet. I was thinking about this today, while "talking" to a fellow artist about disappointments. (I correspond with all of my artist friends online - one of the joys of living in a small town...there's no one who thinks like me for MILES.) My friend, Lisa, was extremely upset about not making it into a festival that she has been in for the last three years. She was really counting on it - and the potential sales it would bring. It is particularly rough when you expect a victory and then it doesn't happen. It is so hard to have no control over this particular aspect of our careers. Jurors are unpredictable. Work that seems very strong as you are creating it, gets waved away with a simple X beside the UNACCEPTED box. UGH! I have to take breaks from entering juried shows sometimes. They can be real confidence killers. On the flip side, when we reach for "impossible" goals and the X is by the ACCEPTED box. WOW! I knew when I painted Soho no.5 that is was fresh, spontaneous, and a nice little painting. But when it was accepted into the S.C. State Museum's 20th Anniversary show - only then was the wow! Victory! When my new gallery, Ellis-Nicholson in Charleston invited me in - victory! It makes all of those rejection letters from the other galleries and the "thanks for applying - try again." cards from juried shows - sting a little less. So- the trick is - learning to accept defeat, without letting it break you and bracing for the next little victory. I save all of the cards.... no matter where the "X" lies. It let's me know how far I've come - and keeps me on my toes.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Counting Down the Days 'Til Summer Vacation

A couple of my 8th grade students - and their American Gothic Parody

My fellow teachers and I have the countdown going. I don't know who is or our students. The difference is - we are planning all the WORK we're going to do over the summer. We don't dream of sleeping late and jumping off of docks... or lounging around the house... (well maybe a little). Some of my teaching friends are planting their gardens, some are attending seminars (what?), some are doing home improvements. Me? I am going to paint, paint, paint! (And clean out my horribly messy studio- sometime or another!) I am fortunate that I have the teaching gig and the restaurant with the hubby. And I am ever so grateful for a steady income - but I am sure ready for some ME time! Woo-Hoo...19 school days to go....and COUNTING!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Between Blogging, Twittering, Teaching, Working and Mothering...When do I paint?

Asheville no. 1 2005
My twitter friends and I seem to spend A LOT of time online. When exactly are we painting? It's always been a challenge for me to balance work, family and art. Likely it will be a challenge until I'm an old woman. The thing is, if all you do is paint...and you don't put it out there....what's the point? Sales (aka -dollars) allow most of us to be able to do what we love. And sales come from networking. So much of the art business revolves around who you "know". And even though through the web we only sort-of know each other - I can't help but think that one thing will lead to another and another and eventually through web-networking I will make the connections I need to be truly successful as an artist. Not only for what it might do for me financially in the future, social networking has become a very important part of my day. I don't feel so alone in my own little bubble. Making art in the past, was such a solitary adventure for the most part. I find that I'm a better artist when I'm inspired by others. Twitter has brought so many things on the web to my attention that I never knew existed. Instead of being on the outside... I gradually feel more and more a part of the art community. What an exciting world we live in! The people I'm connecting with now, would not even know my name ten years ago. I will just have to figure out: when to blog, when to tweet, when to paint and when to eat!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beginning in the Middle

hellomoto 36x36 2008

So, now that I've joined the blogging bandwagon....Now what? Do I go on and on about how important art making is for me? Do I risk putting my most intimate feelings out there in cyberspace? I guess, as usual, I'll just jump right in and start somewhere in the middle. This modus operandi has worked for me thus far. I guess I'll need to let you know why I'm here, what I do and why, and let you in on a few choice tidbits here and there. So why am I here? I'll get my thoughts together and get back to you on that. In the meantime you can check out my website: