Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing for Your Own Sake

I've noticed that my primary reason for sitting down to write lately is to share some fantastical piece of wisdom that had been circulating around within me for the few days prior. Some days, the material does not pour out as easily. Today was one of those days.

Instead of trying to write something heady and grandiose, I decided to just write about what was on my mind. I wouldn't put it on a blog, I would just get my thoughts out. So that's what I did. I wrote about what had been weighing me down lately. When I feel overwhelmed by a lot of things, this approach to releasing the thoughts that continue to swirl around in my head seems to help.

Then I thought (in addition to all the other things I was thinking), why don't I write about writing? So that's what I'm doing now.

I started writing for my own sake last summer. I'd get up early, and spend the first 30 minutes of my day just brain dumping. It was so much more therapeutic than I had anticipated, so I continued doing it. While I prefer to write that way, I've noticed that it's more effective for me to get my thoughts out toward the end of the day, so they won't bother me while I sleep. My writing isn't always coherant in the evenings, but it definitely helps me work through the issues of the day.

But if you can write in the morning (before you check your facebook feed), do. There's something really special about getting up and creating something. We so quickly and easily move into consumption-mode, that by the time we sit down to write or draw or whatever, we've lost the energy needed to produce. There's more science behind it, of course, but that's the gist of it. I've noticed a huge difference in the work I produce in the mornings vs. the evenings. So play around with it, and see what works best for you.

Writing, regardless of the time of day, helps bring clarity to whatever issue I'm facing. If I'm able to write about it, and actually see the words on the page (or in this case, on the screen), I'm able to see just how insigificant (or monumental) those thoughts, feelings, and insecurites are. I've unlocked so much about myself just by writing. While most of it is nonsensical (and should avoid a social platform by any and all means), I'm able to uncover the key pieces that I would like to share publicly. Most of my blog posts were derived this way.

Regardless of whether or not you publish your work, however, it's critical to write or journal in some way. Sharing your thoughts (even if it's just with your computer), is essential to understanding them. If you let them roll around in your mind for too long, they'll end up all lumpy and out of balance. Or, they'll end up perfectly round, and then there's no chance in breaking them apart.

Okay, I'm getting philosophical again. Basically, if you feel yourself getting too heady - or where you're trying to create something out of nothing, write about what IS happening. Write for your own sake, and soon enough, your idea for your next blog post, painting, or design will present itself.

Introducing, Painting #12: Cloud Study (4x4 inches, watercolor) - I wanted to give it some awesome name like 'Get Your Head Back in the Clouds', but sometimes it's just fun to paint something for no reason other than to simply enjoy the process. :)

Original Instagram Photo:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pulling Back the Curtain: A Closer Look At My Process

Recently, a lot of people have been asking me about my process. Having just finished my 11th painting, I think it's the perfect time to pull back the curtain and show how I get from point A to B.

Here goes...

It's 7:30 on a Wednesday night. I've just clocked 9 hours at work and I'm beat. All I want to do when I get home is gorge on corn chips and hummus (my go-to comfort food). I haven't written a blog post yet, or chosen the image that I plan on painting that night. Dishes are piling up in the sink. My gym bag stares at me from across the room, asking to be unloaded and packed again for the next morning.

The things that I am pulled to 'tend to' linger, but I know there is an audience that will expect my work to post online that following morning. This is something I've committed to, and I have no choice but to show up and do the work.

I wolf something down, switch into my pajamas and plant myself at my desk. I browse through my gallery of pre-selected Instagram photos (the ones that I determined were appropriate for watercolor paintings), and land on one that has some sort of resonance with what I'm going through at the moment. Because I include a blog post with each painting, I want to write and paint about something relevant. It amazes me that each time I sit down to do this, there's always an image that fits within the topic of choosing. Funny how their purpose is manifesting in this way...

I then turn on an audiobook or podcast to occupy my left brain. I've discovered over the years that I produce much better work when I'm not constantly judging it along the way. If I'm listening to an audiobook or podcast (not music), my left brain has something to analyze and think about, while my right brain is freed up to simply create. It's a crazy unscientific phenomenon, but it works. And I can't produce without doing it. When it comes to writing, however, I have to play instrumental-only music. It's just easier to come up with my own words when I'm not listening to someone else's. (Lately, I've been listening to the Steve Jobs biography and After the Jump when I'm painting).

Once all that's going, I fill a jar with water and get to work.

1. I start by quickly 'blocking in' my painting area using a coaster and masking tape. It's roughly 4x4 inches, and an easy way of measuring it. It doesn't have to be perfect. Again, this is a project of producing work, not perfection.

2. Using a basic mechanical pencil, I then sketch in the image I've chosen. I use a gummy eraser to extract any graphite I don't want in my final painting. I try to keep my sketches light enough that it doesn't stain the page if I try to erase, but dark enough that I'll be able to see certain outlines once I start laying down the paint.

3. I then prep my paint colors. I use two cheap plastic palettes to do my mixing. When I first started, I was much better about cleaning off my paint palettes after finishing a project. Now, I just leave them be on my desk. I need to start washing them off right away, to make it easier to start the next project. It's so much better having a clean surface on which to mix paint. What a concept!

4. Once I've landed on a matching color, I start to lay it in. I'm no watercolor expert, but I've noticed that by starting with lighter colors (and reserving spots on the page for extreme white), it's always easier to go back in and apply the dark. (How to paint with watercolors is an entirely different blog topic, so I'll keep this part short.) The entire painting process takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes depending on the complexity of the image. I've made a point of keeping my paintings small so I can stay within these time constraints. Some paintings have taken me longer than that, but it's a good parameter to try to stay within.

5. After the painting has dried, I peel back the tape to reveal the final image, and sign it with a pen.

6. I then start photographing the image. I have to prop it up in such a way that my desk lamp shines on it evenly, in order to get the best representation possible. I could go crazy here, and I probably should, but I at this point, I just want to get my work out there. It doesn't have to be perfect.

7. I upload the photo to my computer, and do any minor tweaks in iPhoto. My iPhone's color calibrator is pretty crappy, so I choose to make adjustments in order to get it back to it's original look and feel. I then re-export the image to my phone for Instagram.

8. After the painting and photographing process is over, I get to work on my blog post. Ideally, I would have been jotting ideas down during the past couple days, but I've been so busy, that most of the time I'm starting from scratch. (By this time, it's closer to 10pm). What usually ends up happening is me starting half-lidded at my computer screen typing whatever makes sense at the time out onto the page.

9. As soon as I get all of my ideas out, I break away from my computer, clean my brushes and my workspace, wash my face, and crawl into bed. Working this late at night is not preferable, but it's the only time I have right now, so I'm making it work. Ideally, I'd spread out the work over a few days, so I'm not trying to cram it all in the night before (or morning of) posting.

10. I go back in the morning and have trouble deciphering what I had intended the night before, but it's a good time to edit work. In the morning I'm always more refreshed and clear-minded. I upload my work to blogger, and continue editing, switching from preview to edit modes until it's just right.  Once the post makes (enough) sense, I upload my painting, along with the original Instagram photo, and publish it.

11. I like to post my work to Instagram first. I feel like my followers there just want to see the image as quickly as possible. I also like to use Instagram to share some behind-the-scenes photos during my process. It helps bring transparency to my work.

12. I then go and share the blog post on Twitter. I've learned to leave a nugget of information - a tag line, if you will - to represent what my post is about. I don't usually use this platform to share the painting, however. Just a cool, quick message, and the post link, and I'm out.

13. Finally, I post to Facebook. I like to include whatever insight I had during the writing process, and share that along with my painting, and link to my blog. This platform gets all three. I've chosen to limit viewing access to just my friends, but if this blog/following grows enough, I'll create a separate Facebook feed for anyone to follow.

And that's it! That's my process, start to finish. Not glamorous, just simple. The hardest part is letting go of all the other things I feel like I 'should' be doing, and let myself create artwork. It easily fell off my priority list, but when I started putting it at the top, I realized that everything else got done, too. And I'm so much more happy, content, balanced and satisfied as a result.

I hope this helps bring some clarity to what I do and how I do it. :)

Introducing Painting #11: The Red Curtain (4x4 inches, watercolor)

Original Instagram photo:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Act of Setting Bigger Goals

This concept of reaching for the stars isn't new. It's as old as the day is long. So why don't more of us do it? Do we assume that because the stars are out of reach that we can't catch anything? What if the stars were within our grasp, would we go for them then?

If you know me, then you know that I like to set huge lofty goals - and reach them. There are few things that I feel are beyond my grasp, and if I believe they'll happen, they usually do. Obviously, the journey in which I got there was not so cut and dry (I was tempted to give up several times), but trusting that I'd end up at my destination was the reason why I ultimately arrived.

Over the past few years, I've been inspired to start a blog of my own. Currently, I have this existing blogger platform, which is a great starting point, but I have dreams of turning it into something bigger: a brand; a business -something that serves others by consistently delivering high-quality content.

Not only have I set big goals with regards to my career, I have embarked on other so-called-impossible journeys, such as getting out of debt and living with out credit cards. As a vegan (or, as my friends call, vague-an, when I sway and have eggs or fish), I've tried numerous kinds of diets, avoiding meat and dairy, and now soy. From managing my checkbook to regulating the foods I'm consuming, my life has become more and more restrictive.

It's within these boundaries that I've often felt stifled and frustrated, but as a result, I've become more passionate and creative. Okay, so I only have 'x' amount of dollars coming in? If that's all I get to spend this month, what are my priorities? What can I cut out that I no longer need? Okay, I can't eat meat or dairy? Time to experiment with all the other kinds of foods out there (and there's a lot!).

Having started this most recent 'creative constraints' painting project, the lightbulb went off. I finally made the connection with just how easy it is to produce work when there are restrictions at play. When we set up boundaries and constraints, we're forced to think outside the box. Sometimes, without even realizing it.

In addition to craving more areas of creative expression, I've also been struggling with maintaining a healthy work/life balance. During my day job, I work between 45 and 50 hours per week, so the time in which I have to work on outside 'projects' (or even cooking dinner at home) is minimal. I want to change that. I want to break down the barriers between a busy life and a healthy lifestyle.

Naturally, my mind has started wandering to new possibilities. Where could my project and blog go from here? What else can I produce and share each week? What are my followers craving? How can I serve them, while still working towards my bigger goal?

I envision my blog expanding to not only sharing my thoughts on creativity, but on living a balanced life on all fronts. From managing a budget each week, to picking affordable, healthy recipes that can be prepared at home for the week. I've been trying to live this way for the past few years, and it's time to pass on the wisdom and the knowledge I've gained thus far.

Just because I've been doing this for a while, doesn't mean it's easy for me to stick to, though. Living within restrictions is hard, and I struggle with it on a daily basis. Though, if I turn my attention to helping others through their own frustrations, I, too, will feel inspired and motivated to stay on track.

I'm planning on rolling out these changes slowly. I want to take the time and energy necessary to really create a space that will allow me to share high-quality work, as well provide a top-notch user experience. Making these ideas and philosophies (as well as failures) public is extremely important to me, and I plan on letting it grow at its own pace.

If you're excited to hear more about this next step in my journey, please let me know what areas you'd like for me to touch on. This is about helping you, the reader, and I want this experience to be valueable and uplifting. I need your help in getting me there.

Introducing Painting #10: Dinner for One (4x4 inches, watercolor) - Also known as 'healthy living on a budget'.

Original Instagram Photo:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Staying Motivated by Recognizing Your Audience

This week, it's been hard for me to stay motivated.

• Am I doing something that people actually like?
• Am I resonating with an audience?
• Do I even have an audience?
• Does any of this even matter?

The truth is, I should be doing this regardless of whether or not I have an audience. My goal in starting this project was to produce more content, to get myself back on a creative routine, and to actually stick to something. So far, I've been pretty proud of myself. The work I've done has been humbling, yet solidifying in the fact that I need to continue.

There have been days when it was clear that I was making a difference. That I did, in fact, have an audience, that they were paying attention, and that they were inspired by the work I was doing. This by-product of a somewhat selfish goal is actually the most rewarding part. But when the days come that my work doesn't seem to have an impact, I can't help but feel let down and unmotivated.

But what's truly in my control and what isn't? I can't force anyone to like my work. I can't force it to be inspiring. I can, however, continue to create it. I can continue to publish it, to write about it, and to keep doing it over and over again, because it's true to me. It feels in alignment with what I should be doing now, whether or not it resonates with anyone else. If it does, then wonderful! But if it doesn't, I have to ask myself if the work resonated with me at all. If it did, then I succeeded. If it didn't, then I need to re-evaluate why it is I'm doing the work, and how I can dive deeper into it.

On the flip side, the amount of 'likes' I get on facebook or instagram can actually keep me motivated to create work. Any lack of responses, while at first can be crushing, ultimately gets me fired up to create something even better. If my audience didn't respond to something, then I just have to make something that will. But it's important to remember, though, that even if it rings true for me, doesn't mean it'll ring true for others.

It's also important not to get caught up in the 'like' cycle. This can be rather addicting, and posting work simply to see how many people 'like' it, isn't a healthy intention. The 'likes' can be a gauge, but it's relative. The more followers you have may provide more likes, but percentage-wise, there won't be that much of a difference.

When you create work that's true to you, your audience will grow naturally. Instead of focusing on gaining followers, focus on the ones who are already following. They're following you because your work or voice resonates with them. Earn their loyalty by consistently showing up and providing high-quality content. The more you focus on the ones who are already 'sold', you're staying true to your artistic voice. When you create work simply because you think someone else will like it, you're selling yourself short. Be true and honest not only with your audience, but with yourself.

The work is derived from passion; from the need to create and produce based on your own voice and perspective. But to stay motivated, you must remember that the people who are inspired by your work, are counting on your consistency. You may not touch or reach everyone you know, but the 4 or 5 or 500 people that are influenced in some way by it, those are the ones you are creating for. Think about them when you're producing your work, and your motivation will manifest from there. Think of your audience and the words of admiration and appreciation they've expressed. Think of the ones who have followed you from the beginning. Think of how you feel when you follow the work of artists you admire. You get up in the morning to see the work they've published, simply because you know it will brighten your day. Your work can brighten someone else's day, too. Someone you may not even know, or may ever know.

Again, you can't control how people will feel about your work. But, if you create from a place of truth, honesty and passion, you will attract those that are longing it. You will naturally inspire and influence others in ways you never thought possible. You are doing this for you, but you're doing this for them, too. It's as if both parties are sharing in a dance of motivation, inspiration and creation.

Introducing Painting #9: 'Repurposed' (4x4 inches, watercolor).

The earrings featured in this piece were ones I created out of vintage beads, found amidst my grandmother's costume jewelry. I love how retro, yet glamorous, they look. 

I've decided to donate this pair, along with several others I had designed over the past year or so, to a work-sanctioned silent auction, supporting a colleague's daughter, who's fighting a rare disease. You can read more here:

Original Instagram photo:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Appreciating Where You Are in Your Journey

It's important for us to slow down and take stock in where we are in our lives now. 

There's a lot that I want to adjust in my life right now, causing me to be completely consumed with growing and expanding and reaching and dreaming. All are great experiences to have, and necessary for evolution, but the need for these things has clouded my thoughts. My mind has been racing, jumping from thought to thought, but in reality, nothing was changing. I'm still here. Still in my life situation. 

One recent night, I sat at my kitchen table, typing away on my laptop. I felt compelled to write, a new outlet for me, and the words just poured out onto the screen, uncontrollably, like a fire hose. There was so much thought that needed to manifest into something, anything, really. It didn't matter what it was, it just needed a release. 

It was in that moment that I realized how far removed my mind had gotten from my body - from my present situation. It was reeling and turning and twisting and growing - expanding so fast I could hardly keep up with the typing. And the second I realized this, I it all came right back to me - sitting at that table. I took inventory of my surroundings. There were so many ideas I had about my future, so many things I wanted to try, and places I wanted to go. I wanted and wanted and wanted. But looking around me, I realized that my life is most certainly here and now. While I believe it's absolutely critical to know what we want out of life - our dreams, desires, hopes, and aspirations - it's also just as important to recognize and appreciate what we have available to us now. 

If I want to achieve x, y, or z, it may not be possible right this second, with the resources I have, but it could be possible a year from now, or in 10 years. If I'm certain about where I want to 'end up', but choose to honor where I'm at in my life currently, it changes my perspective. I look at my situation in a way that allows me to see what opportunities I do have, that can foster growth and prosperity. There may very well be true obstacles standing in my way, but if I've actually taken account of what they are, chances are, there's a solution available that can help me work with them. It's all about creative constraints, right?

Ever since that moment in my kitchen, I've realized that my present situation is quite a blessing. I have so much to be grateful for, even in the areas that seem less 'fortunate'. Each limitation is an opportunity to problem-solve and therefore, evolve. Whether it be time, finances, energy, etc, it's about how we choose to use those resources, that shapes who we become, and how we get from point A to point B. 

For example, it's taken a while for me to warm up to living in Oakland. Having moved from Walnut Creek, where everything is beautiful, safe, and secluded, I'm now in a more urban setting. It's not as luxurious as I'm used to, but there are definitely some wonderful attributes to acknowledge. I'm closer to work, closer to friends, and closer to just about everything in the bay area. I feel like I can take advantage of so many more things that I've wanted to experience while living out here. I look forward to the day when I can move back to Walnut Creek, though, but I can't get caught up in that need. It's not in the cards for me right now. But when the time is right, you can bet your breeches that I'll be back there. In the meantime, though, it's critical that I stop, take a deep breath, and really appreciate what I have in my life right now. There's much to enjoy and be thankful for. I get to live in an incredible part of the country, in my own little apartment, and commute to a super cool job that I love going to each and every day. 

This realization helped calm my mind. It doesn't mean it hasn't taken control and gone reeling again, but now I can recognize when it's happening, and stop and experience my life in the present moment. I can say to myself, 'Okay, you're excited about x, y, or z, but what's going on in your life right now that you can apply this to? What changes can you make today? What is in your control, and what do you get to relinquish?' 

Trusting that we're right where we need to be - always - is the key to reaching the bigger goal. We have to appreciate where we are right now in our journey, or else we'll never make it to our destination. Our 'why' is our driving force, but our direct experience with life is what allows us to realize just how far we've come, and how much more traveling we get to do. 

While we're here, let's stop and take some photos, eat some food, and just soak it all in. We'll get to where we want to be, but this moment is our only opportunity to experience, appreciate, and enjoy where we are right now. 

Introducing Painting #8: The Golden Gate (4x4 inches, watercolor)

Original Instagram Photo:

Monday, March 9, 2015

In Memory of a Loving Friend

This weekend, my family had to say goodbye to one of its members. Charlie had joined us in early 2000, after a sudden loss of one of our former goldens. He hailed from Phoenix, and was the sweetest dog we had ever encountered. He never complained, and always come to our side if he sensed unhappiness or distraught. He always wanted us to be happy, and took it upon himself to make sure of it. He never once wanted to be a burden or inconvenient. He internalized so much so as to make us pleased with him. Of course, we loved him no matter what, and his ongoing health issues (triggered by our emotional fluxuations), were a constant struggle. Regardless, we'd do anything for him, but as time wore on, so did his body. He lasted over 15 years, unheard of for most golden retrievers, and definitely longer than any of our prior ones.

We learned so much about dogs over the years with Charlie, mainly regarding how tied they are to their owners emotionally. Their loyalty is unparalleled to that of humans', and our emotional state has such an impact on theirs. As a dog who never made a peep, never once fussed about anything, even in his later years when he couldn't go on walks anymore, and had to stay home, Charlie never once complained.

On his last day, a giant tumor was discovered occupying his gut, pushing all of his other organs out of the way, and hoarding blood. He was acting spacey and lightheaded, and was so lethargic, he had to be carried out of the house. The tumor had been growing for years, unbenounced to any of us. He seemed to act normally, never in pain. He had trouble standing, but we assumed it was from old age, not due to a suffering abdomen.

The devastating diagnosis came as a surprise, but also provided relief. Knowing what pain he was enduring could finally come to an end allowed us to make the call. There was little chance he'd even survive a surgery, so the answer was clear. Charlie's suffering was brought to an end Saturday afternoon, and was released to run free with his late friend, Bucky, who passed away almost six years ago.

What's ironic, is that the tumor that brought Charlie's life to an end, also caused his successee, Molly, to be put down. It's a common cancer that golden retrievers face - their one and only flaw. What's more interesting, though, is that both dogs shared a similar personality. They internalized. They didn't want us to be unhappy, so they would take it upon themselves to be by our side, never complaining about their own pain, their own suffering. They held it in, and it manifested in their gut.

It's an important lesson for us all. We have to be vocal. We can't internalize for the sake of making someone else happy. We have no control over someone else's emotions. Their reactions to us are rooted in their own experience, not our actions. We have to complain, we have to express our feelings, even if it's inconvenient for someone else. The body alone cannot digest these powerful emotions.

Let us also recognize the ones in our life that are less likely to be vocal. Just because they aren't complaining, doesn't mean they aren't suffering. Ususally they're the ones who are suffering more, but don't want to displease us by talking about it. I know I have these tendencies. I am much more likely to internalize (and get sick), than to confront the issue head on. I've noticed that when I get sick, it's because I haven't dealt with some deeper issue, and it isn't until I recognize and honor what's going on below the surface, that I begin to heal.

Our animals can teach us so much about ourselves: how to live and love unconditionally, how to live in the present moment, and how to face the emotions that our evironment evokes. The joy brought on by having dogs in our lives has far outweighed the hardest moments when we have to say goodbye; when we have to unclip the leash and release them to God. There isn't a day that goes by where we aren't more alivened, awakened, and present, as when we're in the presence of dogs. They are a gift, that each person should have the opportunity to experience. We should remember, too, that a heart broken by the loss of a dog, is quickly healed by the love of another.

Goodbye Charlie, may you run wild and free through the fields of heaven.

Painting #6: Baby Charlie (3x4 inches, watercolor)

Original Instagram Photo (original photo taken Jan, 2000):

Friday, March 6, 2015

Do the Work Anyway

There's nothing harder than muscling through work that you just don't feel like doing. When you get home, and the domestic responsibilities scream out your name, like laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc, there's no left-over energy to devote to your creative commitments.

At least that's how it was for me this week. After returning home from my vacation in Las Vegas, where I proudly produced work despite of my busy schedule there, I found it really hard to get back into my routine. I was still pulling clothes from the suitcase that I had yet to unpack, and last night was finally a time when I could get sorted and do my housechores. Painting was the farthest from my mind.

And then I turned on the Seanwes Podcast, and listened to episode 154, called 'Perseverance and Sticking with Commitments'. As I was folding laundry, what he said reminded me of how important it is to just do the work, regardless of what excuses I'd laid out in front of me (literally, and figuratively). 

So I put my clothes away, and pulled out my paints. It was 9:30 at this point, usually when I start get ting ready for bed, but that didn't matter anymore. I had to follow through with what I set out to do. I was a day late at this point (I wanted to post every Monday and Thursday), so I was ready to throw in the towel. Do people even look at what I do? Will they even know the difference? Does it even matter?

The answer, of course, is YES. It does matter! It matters to be consistent and to show up with quality work, as much as possible. If I feel like doing two paintings a week is overkill, that I really don't have enough time or energy, that's fair. I can scale back. But I truly believe that I can do it. It's just a matter of making it a priority. 

So I started painting, and here it is:

Painting #5: Rainbow Sprinkles (4x4 inches, watercolor)

Original Instagram Photo:

I probably picked an image that was way too hard for me, especially when it was so late in the day, and I was frustrated already, but maybe it wasn't by accident. Maybe it represented something greater. Maybe it meant muscling through even the toughest challenges, when I could have easily selected something easier.

It's about putting ourselves out there, despite the complexity of what we're doing. It's not going to be easy. There will be times when it lets up, but it's going to take a lot of time and practice to get to a point when it is easy. I look back on the days when I was training my late horse Tucker, and it was  so easy to get frustrated. Neither of us really knew what we were doing. He was young and learning things for the first time, and I was learning how to cope with that. I wanted to give up so many times with him. I had no more to give, but I kept showing up anyway. I knew I had no other choice. So, we muscled our way through the tough parts, and slowly we began to understand each other. When we finally 'clicked', there was nothing we couldn't do. I no longer needed anyone else's help with him. What we had was so powerful, that we accomplished things I never dreamed of. 

Looking back on those moments will help me overcome the struggles I face today. And I don't even have a 1000 pound animal to work against. This is all me. My energy, my impostor, my insecurities, and my stubbornness. I can't improve if I don't continuously show up, despite the circumstances I'm facing. 

Sweat it out. Cry it out. Punch it out. It's not going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it. Do the work, anyway.

Oh, and remember, you're painting. Or riding a horse. It's not that bad... 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Your 'When' and 'Where' Are Not Excuses

Choose to work from anywhere, be it an airplane, or your mother's dining room table. 

As I embarked on a weekend trip to Las Vegas, I was worried about getting my posts out on schedule. I knew that I was going to be pressed for time, and I started to get overwhelmed. I was preparing for a talk I was giving at my mom's school about the inner-workings of animation production, which left me little time and energy to work on my painting project, (or anything else, for that matter). I didn't want to delay 'showing up' altogether, though, so I made a quick sketch of me and my friend Kirsten, holding playing cards (an image I had shared last spring during her birthday party), to commemorate our upcoming weekend in Vegas. But I had yet to make a post or create a painting, despite my public announcement of posting twice a week. 

Staying consistent is hard, and creating quality work in a short time-frame is even harder, but I didn't want to sacrifice the quality of my work for the sake of getting something out on time. I knew it would be a challenge to get something I was proud of sharing out into the world, especially since I enjoy coupling my painting posts with a thought-out blog post.

Visits at my mom's house, while usually low key and fun, are not always conducive to creating original content. We usually fill our time with going to the movies, walking the dog, vegging out on the sofa, etc., but I wanted this experience to be different. There was an hour where I knew I could just sit and check social media, or I could whip out my mom's water colors, and make a quick painting. I usually only give myself an hour anyway, so I knew I could (and would) turn something around quickly.

I chose an image I had taken about a year ago of her dog, George. He's allowed on her leather sofas, and chooses to perch on them almost all the time. He'll typically fall asleep on them when she's out of the house, or home watching tv. It's quite amusing, and I try to capture as many pictures of it as I can. You can see a lot of these by searching #georgeisgolden on Instagram.
It was also my mom's birthday this weekend, and I wanted to use one of my weekly paintings as a gift for her. I chose to create this one of George because he had yet to be a subject of fine art, and plus I figured she'd love it. I was right. :)
Here's painting #4: Couch Potato (4x4 inches, watercolor)

Original Instagram photo:

I'm proud of myself for sitting down and just doing it. Setting the goal of producing two paintings a week has helped me make it a priority, even when I'm on 'vacation'. It's proof that you can make it work wherever you are, whatever you're doing, using whatever resources you have. I lucked out, because my mom had watercolor supplies (she's a high school art teacher), but I would have brought them with me had she not been equipped.

When we set goals, declare them publicly, and choose to show up (while maintaining quality), amazing things happen. We create work we wouldn't have otherwise created. The images I'm choosing for my project aren't what I would consider 'easy', which is why only giving myself an hour to paint them is actually thrilling. I don't have the luxury of perfectionism (in high school, it would have taken me two months to finish a painting). I can't over-obsess about how hard the image is to paint, because there is no time for it. I've made the decision to show up and create, so that's what I'm going to do.

Even with this blog post, I'm using my flight back from Las Vegas to Oakland to write it. I've got my iPad out on the tray table, intermittently typing in between bouts of turbulence. This is my time, sans distractions, and I'm choosing to use it this way. It's important to me to consistently produce quality content and to share it with my followers. 

This is a process for me - a new experience - and I get excited by new ideas and 'aha' moments, primarily because I get to write about them. I'm choosing to show up and create, regardless of where I am and what my circumstances are. It's never going to be easy, but it's a challenge to take seriously enough to follow through. And you know what? I'm having a ton of fun! It's a purpose I never thought I'd have, and I'm truly enjoying the process, especially when I'm on vacation. 

Who knew?! :)