Friday, November 18, 2016

Still Life with Lime


It became winter. Just like that, all things pumpkin started appearing, my little town looked like an east village of foliage delight, Halloween came and went, said foliage dropped off the branches, a storm front moved in and boom, daylight savings and it was all over. Winter. Brrrr. Early days or is it early nights? Either way, it feels like evening by 4 in the afternoon and it's made for contemplative work days, more painting, more writing, more cooking, more anything to not go out in the rain, cold, wind.

I think hibernation is healthy. I used to fight it but I don't anymore. It was explained to me that creativity has a cycle. Winter to nurture and be in our cave, spring to blossom and shoot new leaves, summer to bear fruit and shine, autumn for contemplation, hard work and wrapping up projects before years end..and repeat. It's not always like this, of course, life, throws us some curveballs, but the idea of nurturing our creative souls when the sun goes down, literally and figuratively feels right for me.

I have been painting a series of still life pieces. They are objects from my home, things I have collected over the years. They bring me joy, these funny little flea market treasures. I know exactly where I was with every purchase or gift received. They make me feel good and that's what matters. Write what you know, paint what you see. One of my mantras. I see the painted world through quirky objects. Today. It's entirely possible I'll see it through landscapes and oceans next month. But painting what makes our heart sing makes painting a hell of a lot easier.

So, it's winter-ish. There are lots of balls in the air. Art shows. Projects. Commissions. Leads. Workshops. It's time to nurture them. To think about what feels right. To do the next right thing. To make the phone calls, to write the letters, paint the piece, change up the palette. It's still life.

"Still Life with Lime" 18x24"

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hacienda Rosa


Hello blog. Oh dear, I am truly terribly inconsistent bloggess…bloggeur? Just checked the date of the last post and the shame! And what to do about it? Update, I suppose. In no particular order, I have been busy and not busy. Being a full-time artist often is a game of Hurry Wait. Hurry to finish a show, wait until sales or orders come through. Hurry to get samples together for customers…wait until they make a decision. Hurry to organize a new catalogue….wait until it is done. And on it goes.

The even more honest answer why there is such a long gap between posts is that work, art, painting, small business life is hard. Hard when it is slow. Hard to hustle when you feel like you're giving it your all and your all is…not all enough. Really hard to stay upbeat and motivated. There are peaks and valleys with the creative life, I'm the first to write about it, preach about it, celebrate it and commiserate with fellow artists going through it. But when you're in it? When I'm in it? Ugh. Poo. Yuck. Blah.

And yet I continue. I am painting. I am reaching out to customers. I am keeping the faith. I just returned from a wonderful visit to Mexico, a long planned Christmas/Birthday gift from my mum and step-dad and that was a colorful palette shot in my arm. Every corner, every turn was a new inspiration. A hacienda, topiaries, hand painted frescos of Mary, lanterns, cobblestone streets, hand lettering, tropical greenery, and the color! Oh, the magnificent palette that was Mexico.

Hacienda Rosa, the pink house. Time to get out my rose colored glasses and put them back on. xoxo

"Hacienda Rosa" 8x12" available for purchase on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/listing/483504175/hacienda-rosa?ref=shop_home_active_1

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

When I Was in Paris


When I was in Paris…. Pretty much anything you say after those five words sounds dreamy and cosmopolitan. Croissanty and delicious, images of silk scarves, olive green lawn chairs, majestic architecture and outdoor cross-weave café chairs lined up like little soldiers, or bouquinistres lining the Seine.  It doesn’t matter if it’s:
“I broke my leg.”
“I was mugged.”
“My hotel reservation was lost and I spent two nights in a broom closet.”
“I ate a bad croque monsieur and had the worst diarrhea of my life.”

It is all good. Your story is already magical because you said When I Was in Paris. It is impossible to feel sorry for any hardship and it’s also impossible for even a mediocre story to sound bad. You sprinkled the fairy dust. Because it happened When You Were in Paris. Chocolate is richer. Tea is spicier. Coffee is stronger. Cream is thicker. Croissants are buttery-er. Weather is moodier. People, clothing, buildings, vehicles and art are sexier and more stylish. The city is je ne sais pas quoi because precisely that, roughly translated, I DON’T KNOW WHY! It just is.

These are a few things I did when I was in Paris.

When I was in Paris, I bought a journal and a good pen. Several pens.
When I was in Paris, I drank coffee in cafes and people watched.
When I was in Paris, I went to many museums and galleries.
When I was in Paris, I walked everywhere.
When I was in Paris, I ate delicious meals. Even the simple things tasted better.
When I was in Paris, I bought a navy blue sweater.
When I was in Paris, I walked the farmers market.
When I was in Paris, I slowed down. I savored. I noticed details.
When I was in Paris, I painted.
When I was in Paris, I wrote.

Simple, lovely.  Not all that different from what I do here minus the museum and gallery portion. I can feel this way today. As an artist, I am susceptible to the grass is greener feelings, I could create if I was painting en plein air at Le Palais de Luxembourg. Sitting on a lawn chair. Eating a baguette. Ok, that’s possible. I could. But I could also be painting right here, in my studio, drawing upon my dreams, photos, memories and passion for that city or that feeling that the city gives me. I could be writing in a café. Hemingway style. Drinking in the locals, nodding to the familiar waiter. But today I’m not. But I can still do the writing, the painting, the order packing and the business dreaming.


Because When I was in Paris, I dreamed of doing what I am doing today. xo

Monday, August 1, 2016

Do Anything


I have lots of words and ideas constantly perculating in my head. If you had a front row seat in my brain you might think, good lord, I can’t believe she sleeps, she’s written so many books, taught so many workshops and painted so many pieces. Ok, I have painted a lot. My hands and feet do a fairly decent job in doing the action part of getting to the easel. I show up, the rest is a crapshoot. Julia Cameron says something divine about artists needing to be responsible for the quantity and God will take care of the quality. I’m cool with that arrangement. In painting.

In writing, not so much. The Actual Writing v. Musing, is a lawsuit that I’m hoping to settle very soon. Or now. How about now? I paint for a living. I sell greeting cards for a living. So I guess you could say I make my living as an artist or a creative entrepreneur. Let’s be clear. I don’t make a great living. Living is great, but this three year journey has been a very rocky road no cliché big enough to describe. But I do it. I show up every day and take some kind of action towards my company and my art. My success is often, sorry, like watching paint dry. But again, there is the showing up part that proves to me, over time, all the little pieces will become something bigger. I am trusting that regular writing, and sharing, has the same effect. Practice. I practice at painting many times a week, hours on end. I share my work. I have thick skin. I bounce back. I start over. What if I could treat the writing process the same way? What if I didn’t worry what people thought? Ok, that’s not realistic because we are human beings that by nature of breathing in and out we will always always always care even a little what people think. I care a little less than I used to, I really do, but again, the human thing.

People often ask me about my life as a working artist or card company owner. I can guarantee that one of the questions I get asked is, how? How do you do it? How do you pay your bills? How did you start? How now brown cow. The answer could fill a book, and it is, but the truest answer is this. One tiny step of action at a time. Always action, no matter what. Nothing is too small. No email is useless. No sketch on a napkin is silly. No phone call goes unanswered. All action all the time. I get plenty of down time, I do. I am not That Person who’s always on the go busy busy can’t stop talk to you later. I’m very laid back, shy even. I need a lot of quiet time. But I always take action steps towards my art and my business every single day. And that includes writing a blog post. Or going to the post office. Ordering business cards. Following up with a sales lead. Packing an order. Putting cards in cello bags. All of these manageable baby steps are not intimidating. It is telling the universe, telling my company, I’m ready for business, I’m up and running and ready to roll. If I looked at the bigness of all the things I’m not doing, because there is A LOT I’m not doing (Mailchimp campaigns, photoshop, building my list, networking, going to conferences, creating a slicker website…oh lord, I’m overwhelmed already.) So I do what I CAN do. Those things on the list are valid and it’s likely I’ll get to them in the natural order of things when my action steps lead me there, but in the meantime, I do what I can. All the time.

So maybe that theory, those small action steps, can be applied to other things like, say, running? Writing? Cooking? Maybe it would behoove me to think less about the marathon and more about the 2 miles around my house. Or drop the why write it’s all been said before blues and say it anyway, your way, my way. And cooking? I don’t have to be Ina Garten to have people to my home.

Some how, some way, I have managed to live this principle with my painting. I really don’t know how I did it other than I just did it. Someone should use that as a slogan. It makes me happy. I do it with joy. I do it often with dedication. Day after day, week after week, shitty paintings became so-so became moderate became my style became sellable in stores and galleries became a company and the rest…I’m making it up, and writing it down, as I go along. xo


 "Yellow Hunters" 11x17" available at ElizabethW Carmel. Email: kelly@elizabethw.com for inquiries.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Chapter One

One.

One page. That is all I need to do and all I promised myself. I am reading, no, slurping up Glennon Doyle Melton’s first book, “Love Warrior”, and while her message is profound, mesmerizing and pay-attention worthy, all I can think is, I can do this too. But I am not doing this. So why am I not? I am not because in the precise moment I read this breath-taking sentence by her “My inhale is reading, my exhale is writing.”, I was lying on a chaise lounge in blistering heat, soggy and a little cooler post swim at my local hippy-dippy public pool where this is an actual Krishna and incense to pray to when you reach the deep end. I love it. My JCrew red one piece and lobster print beach bag are an odd fit but we belong to each other. (Jackson Wellsprings AND the swimsuit.)

Now Glennon. Or the story of What Glennon Made Me Realize Today. There is so much power in action. You can read her book to absorb her story. It’s worth it. Even if it isn’t your story, you will relate. There are gold nuggets everywhere. But my story is the story of why that one sentence, that chance meeting, that painting in the museum, stops you dead in your tracks and pushes you onto a new rail. My new rail is one page, one word at a time. One blog post, one painting, one order, one run in the woods. All of the onesies added together equal an entire wardrobe. High five to self.

None of this realization is entirely new. What makes it a little more electric today is this new font I’m writing in. Remember, I was just in the pool. There is also a shallow end. New font, ok, larger font, allows me to see what I am writing! This is no small thing. I am reading the words clearly, no longer hunching over in a miserly just-finish-it-state of most essays I wrote to finish my English degree. This feels fun! Fun enough to use an exclamation point!

The other thing that has jarred me awake is doing something different. It’s hot here today. Like uncomfortable hot did I really complain about the cold only a few months ago kind of hot. There’s AC in the house but it’s old and cranky and never seems to be that cool. I longed for a boat or a lake or lake house with a boat docked in front and because I have none of those things, I decided to go swimming at my local pool. I don’t do this very often. So many layers. A towel. A swimsuit. Snacks? No snacks. Water. Book. Back up book because what I’m reading might not fit my pool mood when I get there. Phone. Case to put phone in because it might get wet. Magazine. Stop. Enough distractions. Don’t call anyone, you don’t need to go with a friend, just go now, get in your car and jump in that
crazy sulphur wellspring swimming pool. And that’s what I did and that one little action of doing something different today made me think about things differently. And that is more than enough. That is Chapter One material right there.

Back to this writer and her sentence. “Reading is my inhale. Writing is my exhale.”

I can seriously read that line over and over and think that’s it, nothing more needs to be said. But I can also read that sentence and think, I want to write sentences like that. My story, your story, our good sentences all need to be told.

I am home now from my daytrip. I am regenerated. I swam, I lay out on my favorite white and navy striped beach towel, I wore a big straw hat, I read a book. This is all it took. I changed my radio dial for three hours. There is no doubt that the dial will find it’s way back to something crackly and indiscernible and I’ll have to press search on the radio to bring in a clear station, but today its coming in good.

The other thing, today is full of other things, is the acceptance of not doing just being. I live in Mecca for all things transcendental and meditative, healing crystal rocks and ascended masters. But for real.  Walking out the door with no plan other than to lie on a chaise for a few hours when I have a lot of work pending is reckless? Stupid? Irresponsible? Nope. I’m hanging a show on Monday morning at 9am and need 20 pieces finished, not telling where I’m at this moment, but you can assume I’m not sitting on the couch admiring my work. Leaving today felt important and right. I feel more energized to paint, to write, to cook a healthy dinner and know that my brain melt this afternoon was the recharge work and over-work does not provide. Busy-ness is a total scam.

Today I honor unexpected muses. A new writer (to me). A great sentence. An afternoon by the pool. A hot summer day spent doing a hot summery day activity. A big hat that made me happy and feel vaguely European.


Now I’ll start my painting day. Chapter One can start any season, any age, any afternoon. xo

"Chapter One" 24x24"
Available at Weisinger Family Winery, Ashland OR August 1-31st, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Red Sky


Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor's warning.

I haven't sailed for years yet I have an obsession and deep love for all things nautical. It's part of my genetic makeup being raised on an island, always around sail boats, marinas, water life of all kind. I read a lot of books about creativity and writing and I've noticed similarities to the "write what you know" adage. Same goes in painting. Paint what stirs your heart strings. Water. Sailing. West coast. Yacht Clubs and Sailing Flags. Why? Because they do and that's enough. It's enough that the muse pokes her head in the door, I don't dare ask her what is the reason for her visit!

What inspires me, and all of us, I believe, is inexplicable and unrepeatable. We are all unique. And the same. I am part of a paining group and frequently we paint the same subject yet half a dozen completely different paintings emerge from the class, all of us beaming with the unmistakable personality we have all infused in our piece. Hundreds of thousands of millions of paintings of boats and oceans and rowboats and cups of coffee and cafes and croissants are out in this world, but I believe we need all of them.

Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor's warning.

Saying that out loud, repeating it, is enough to make me happy with this painting. It's an ancient boating phrase, one I learned from my dad. The memory, the image of a big ship. moody sky and sailing flags, all part of me, all part of the patchwork creative quilt that makes up our language as an artist.

Love. That is the secret ingredient in this painting. I love that I learned that phrase from my dad before I really understood what it meant and I love that boats come through me inexplicably if I allow myself to show up and paint them. I love that a phrase as simple and time worn as this, can trigger such warm and tender emotions. I love that painting what you know, expressing what you love, is the artist's talisman for navigating our way. xoxoxo

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Red Dot(s)


I have a show up right now and I sold a painting. Scratch that. I sold three paintings. At the risk of tooting my horn or sounding immodest or any other thing we're taught as good girls to not do, I am freaking happy, proud, elated and actually did a dance, and it was happy, in my kitchen. These paintings are hanging in a beautiful venue, South Stage Cellars, for 6 weeks and they have honest to goodness red dots beside the price.

Selling my art is one part of the artistic arc of living a creative life. It's the one not many people talk about, they mumble, they ask polite questions, but we really want to know, do you make a living? Can you pay your bills? How does it all….work exactly? Because as working artists, small business owners, the road not taken path followers, we are, I am, still a little surprised that this gig is working out. There has not been one single Monday in three years that I have not woken up astounded, grateful and a little bit surprised, like forgetting you're not at home when you're traveling, that this Monday, this work week, is my play to direct.

But how exactly does it work? I am not kidding, it works on faith. I can only speak from my experience but based on the countless essays and books and ted talks and e-courses and and and….from what some pretty smart and experienced authors and artists are telling me, I'm not alone. It's faith and action. Or action and faith. This is how it works for me. There is a whole lot of boring sitting, puttering, painting, prepping and doing before there is an art show. Or a card order. Or a gift fair. The one constant variable that leads to a sale or to any monetization of art, is doing the work. It has taken me several years to really believe as this philosophy can also feel like watching paint dry, really, ordering business cards is the only thing I need to do all day? Yup. It's action. Do another thing the next day. More action. In one week you'll have seven action steps that all together are kind of big. It might even be a whole painting or essay or business plan or art show application. I'm not the one who invented this. I'm just saying, it works.

Back to art. And selling. And red dots. And those questions. Can I pay my bills? Do you make a living? How does it all…work exactly? Yes (With some debt. Not lying. Working on improving that.) Yes, in a creative manner. Day to day. Week to week. It works by swinging arm to arm on the monkey bars. Card orders, paintings, commissions. It's all momentum. Maybe there will come a day when I'll re-read this post and think ah, that's so sweet that I am so earnestly trying to make a go of this thing. I hope so. It will be worth it. I want to always know that happy dance red dot joy. I think maybe because it's the joy behind the action that makes it work. Exactly. xo

"Still Life with Louis Sherry" 8x10" SOLD

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Keep On


I am very excited to announce that I have a show up at South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville, Oregon. It is a perfect venue, a turn of the century original building, all exposed brick and wobbly barn wood and gorgeous imperfection everywhere. I hung 27 paintings…but who's counting? I know this number because when I was asked if I could fill this time slot, April 7-May 19th, it was short notice. I didn't have 27 paintings. I didn't have 7 paintings!! Ok, maybe I had seven but for the most part I dug deep, cleared the decks, completely immersed myself in creating a collection and got to work.

It reminds me of Edison's famous quote, "We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work." Ha!! I love that. I live that. My practical Canadian roots are alive and well when it comes to plodding along, showing up, keep going, one foot in front of the other. It still amazes me that if you keep going, even if you can only see an inch ahead of you….you WILL get there. It might take a while, you might know where "there" is, but action has immense rewards. Keep painting. Keep writing. Keep making things that make you happy. Keep on keeping on. xoxo

"La Vie Parisienne" 24x36" available at South Stage Cellars, Jacksonville, Oregon

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Greetings from Ashland


Greetings from Ashland. Literally. Hello from the Rogue Valley, Ashland Oregon, the Mythical State of Jefferson. I love this little town full of art and hippies and shakespeare and tourists and Priuses and healing modalities and raw food and kombucha. I love the optimistic spirit here, the supportive vibe (yup, vibes) for artists and entrepreneurs and the lack of…competition? Pressure? Never-ending drive? All of the above. There is a peacefulness here that I didn't know I lacked until I lived with such gentle pace in my life that I actually know my neighbors, I have coffee with friends spontaneously, I occasionally drop of jars of soup for friends…this is community and I never in a million years predicted that it would form around me in this unlikely place. But it did. And as an artist and small business owner, I can't recommend it enough. This cozy kind supportive way of living and working is a road I have taken. And that has made all the difference. xo

"Greetings from Ashland" 16x20" SOLD

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Home Sweet Home


I love these funny fancy parlours. I love that they are lopsided, imperfect and a hodge podge of my imagination and reality. Objects from my living room, my childhood mixed together with my wouldn't it be great list. In reality, do I live with aqua walls and kelly green velvet couches? No. But I would! If I could! And I should!

I also love doing them because they rarely (never) go the way I plan or want and take on a wily life of their own and challenge me in a way no other pieces do. Explaining and expressing the artistic process is a bit like writing down a recipe you've made a thousand times from your head…it just "is" but if I could, I'd say that capturing these rooms is a combination of herding cats and following breadcrumbs.  Not the kind of assignment I volunteer for but somehow the kind that I'm hardwired to receive. Here Mindy, this will be like wrestling an alligator. But you'll love it! Really!

Because I am self-taught, that is where the alligator comes in. I have no background in theory or depth or scale or any other technical painting processes that gives artists skill or recognizable work. I go in. That is my method. And I figure it out as I go. What does a chair look like sideways? Well, certainly not like the four times I painted it before the one you see here. Painting is a great reminder that most of us come with an artistic visual library of house, square, sun, circle, roof, triangle, bodies, stick, two stick, two more sticks and maybe some squiggles for hair. And by painting, I must unlearn this knowledge. Suns are not yellow, they are a million shades of orange and red and brown. People are not sticks, houses have angles and contours and rooms have depth and scale. And every single time, every time, I relearn and am astounded how little I know, how much I have to learn, how much I want to learn and how much I love the whole damn process. And best of all, how much I'm ok with being lopsided and imperfect. In life and in painting. Our wobbly edges are the fanciest parts. xo

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Coffee Talk


I long for coffee talk. I am missing people. My people. My friends in other cities, my family in other countries. We are geographically far apart these days. Profoundly, my beloved cousin, injured a few days ago in a horrible freak accident, now by himself in a hospital bed in Sidney, Australia with no family around him. I long to zap myself there and be by his side. I'm no doctor, can barely tolerate a head cold. But I can laugh and humor him and remind him of his roots and the goodness of two cups of coffee and family love. I am so worried and scared for him so I do what I know I can do. I text. Call. Pray. Talk to his immediate family. I'm not in a position to fly to Australia to hold his hand. But I can send out prayers, love and healing thoughts because he has to get better. I so badly want to pour two cups of coffee for us and shoot the shit and laugh and tease each other and speak our funny childhood language that has spanned the years.
You are loved. Coffee's on.
xoxoxo

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Blue & Gold Fleet


Otis Redding said it best.

Sittin' in the mornin' sun
I'll be sittin' when the evenin' comes
Watchin' the ships roll in
Then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah
I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away

I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the Frisco Bay
'Cause I had nothin' to live for
It look like nothin's gonna come my way
So I'm just goin' sittin' on the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay, wastin' time
Look like nothin's gonna change
Everything, still remains the same
I can't do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I'll remain the same, yes

Sittin' here restin' my bones
And this loneliness won't leave me alone, yes
Two thousand miles, I roam
Just to make this dock my home
Now I'm just gonna sit, at the dock of the bay
Watchin' the tide roll away,
Sittin' on the dock of the bay
Wastin' time

xoxoxoxoxoxo

"Blue & Gold Fleet" 18x24" 

Dock of the Bay Series, available at ElizabethW Carmel 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Puck's Donuts


There's a donut place down the street from my art class. It's the classic old fashioned kind of joint, the kind you find in San Francisco, Chinese family run, no frills, pink box, donuts still warm from the oven, linoleum floor, aggressively bad coffee, maybe even powdered creamer, and it is packed. There is a line up out the door on Friday mornings where I stop and buy a dozen for our class. Truth, I want the pink box. And the sprinkly pretty kind of donut. The lady is holding her prongs impatiently wondering why it takes me so long to pick my assortment and I tell her, I'm going to paint them. She nods. Smiles. Sure you are. Whatever, keep picking lady. Time is money. I look up and notice she is putting them in a white box. A boring nothing anybody can have a white box kind of donut box. Um, sorry to be a pain, but do you think I can have a pink box instead? Smile turns to frown. Pink box, you pick a dozen, ok? Okay, I say. I choose my twelve, faster than I would prefer but I'm golden, I've got the box, I've got warm donuts, I've got that fresh baked deep fried sweet and salty scent and I have a visual of an actual cop standing in line at a donut shop. Yes. I do a high five arm swish in my head.

Puck's Donuts. If God is in the details and the details are in the pink box, I am a blessed and blissed out to bear witness to how the muse arrived on this one. Tied up with a string. xo

"Puck's" 16x20" Available from me directly. Email: mcarpenter@carpediempapers.com


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Whale Watching


I love this bridge. I love this view. I love this painting. Not because its so great but it makes me happy. It has an off kilter imperfection, my "style", as it were. I think I'm ok with that now. It's a funny thing to have a style that is more known for it's childlike appeal but them's the breaks and I just show up for this gig and what comes out is pretty much out of my control. I do know that the more I show up, the more the style evolves but it's a huge relief to just be. This is who I am. I've tried emulating and incorporating other styles, techniques, still do, will continue to do so, it's what an artist does to stretch and learn. But at the end of the day, there is a heartbeat and footprint that is recognizable to individual artists and I'm good with that, wobbly bridge chords and all. I never seem to get where I need to go in a straight line anyway. xo


Friday, February 19, 2016

Joy


"Do anything but let it produce joy." Walt Whitman.

Thank you, Mr. Whitman for pretty much summing up in one short and sweet sentence, the gist of everything I believe, promote, write about and try to live by. (And, I'm sure he would have added, please show up for the joy producing moments.) More and more, as I grow my little company and connect with customers, fellow artists and my peers, I realize that doing my thing, my anything, is always motivated by producing joy. And joy is contagious. Making soup. Baking banana bread. Writing a handwritten thank you note. Reading great books. Mailing catalogues with samples. Painting boots and bridges and bouquets. Meeting a friend for coffee. I try, not always successfully, but I sincerely try every day to produce something with joy.

Today, it's yellow boots. With polka dots and hydrangeas. No reason, it makes me happy. The behind the behind scenes is this. I was in class, off track, painting something I thought I should paint, in fact, can't remember what the subject was but it was "off". I know when something is off when it's a struggle, not a good, I'm figuring it out as I go kind of struggle, but a this isn't my voice kind of struggle, put the brush down and reassess. I did. And I realized that the subject wasn't making me happy. I found an image that did. And it was joyful and easy and flowed right out of me with no purpose whatsoever but somehow shiny yellow boots with hydrangeas popping out of them was just the fix for a rainy February day. Sometimes its that ephemeral. A feeling, a thought, a wisp of inspiration and rather than question, just follow. After approximately hundreds of paintings, thousands of books and a jillion conversations on creativity, I have found this. The river of inspiration is generally flowing in the joy direction. xo

"Yellow Hunters" 11x14" available at ElizabethW Carmel. Email kelly@elizabethw.com for information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Red Royal


Guilty pleasure: I love reading about writing. I suppose you could equate that with watching a DVD workout from the comfort of your couch. (Oh come, you've done it!) But still, information and insight on the craft of writing, the procrastination, the resistance, the love and the glory of it all, I find all of it so very fascinating. Some of my favourites, anything by Anne Lamott, anything by Natalie Goldberg, anything by Steven Pressfield. Also in the notable, re-reads are Annie Dillard, Dani Shapiro and Stephen King on the art of writing.

I think what I love so much about these books is the humanness of their struggles. Not one writer claims that they woke up with words bubbling out of them just ready for the typewriter, laptop, pad of yellow paper. They all fight it. Like crazy. Each and every one of them crawls to the keyboard, has a variety of ways to stay there from egg timers to muses to praying to ultimatums. Many lose these bets to laundry and pets. But they do it again. And again after that. And that is what thrills me. Even these famous writers, these successful published people, still, have bad hair days. The overwhelming consistent piece of wisdom that comes up is my all time favorite creativity topic: show up. They show up. They write books in 15 minutes a day. They go to workshops and close the door to the world for two weeks. They get up at 5 in the morning. You name it, they are just people with lives, pots of coffee, kids to drive to school and spin classes they know they should go to. Ok, some of these people are Stephen King, but even Stephen King wasn't always Stephen King! He slogged. He showed up. He wrote non-stop and didn't  worry about where it would be published. He did it for the love it and after enough days of showing up, he had a manuscript. Manuscripts. Plural. I don't need to explain how his story ends.

So here I am. Little old unknown writer-painter-creative girl, blogging into thin air and trying so hard to show up. 15 minutes at a time. One painting at a time. One blog post at a time. It's all been said before, right? But not my me. And not by you. So write. Write in private, write for your friends, write a letter, write an email, write a list, write a post. Write your world. xo

Monday, February 8, 2016

French Press


I met a new friend, a fellow artist-writer-creative-human-being-doing-her-thing today for coffee. She gets that street cred moniker because as we started talking, comparing our lives, our daily-ness, it came to me that part of what makes an artist isn't always what he or she is producing but how we are LIVING. The living is what makes the art. The boring victories like getting to the post office to mail orders AND write, the sweet moments we can have coffee in the afternoon because we're up at 5am painting or emailing or meditating or cleaning the house, the roller coaster of financial worries that are omniscient yet don't dissuade us from joining the 9-5 schedule. All of it is thrilling and messy and, hit me so profoundly today, impossible to explain if you're not stringing half a dozen projects together and hoping that once sewed they will make a quilt of sorts. I sat in awe and respect listening to this fellow artist talk of art shows, printing promo postcards, workshops, travel, writing groups and all sorts of delightful creativity in action activities. She is walking her walk. This is the good stuff. This is the gas in the car, the joyful action steps that allow artists, myself included, to do the things we love to do. Action. Baby steps. Micromovements. The emails to potential customers. The dozen bad poems so you can have one good one. The 100 paintings so you can have 20 to print into cards. The year long out reach to cafes and wineries and galleries for nothing but no, thanks, and then a miraculous yes when you least expect it. All of it, mysterious except for the charge of energy that we agreed goes through everything we do. Faith. And a sense of humor. Faith that somehow all those wacky breadcrumbs are actually placed in exactly the perfect spot. And a sense of humor, that in this town, those breadcrumbs better be gluten-free.

"French Press" 18x24" available at ElizabethW Carmel 831.626.3892

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Garden Party


I can feel spring around the corner today. Which means it's quite possible it will snow next week. Spring where I live is fickle. Warm and blue skies on a Saturday, ominous skies and snow clouds on Sunday. We call it Fring. False Spring. But I'll take it. I'll take those now and again spring like days where I pick off my dead geranium leaves, open the window a crack, and turn down the heat. I complain about winter a little, okay a lot, but I secretly like the changing of seasons here in Ashland, Oregon. There is a definitive schedule every 3-4 months, just like a calendar's photos. White in winter. pastel in spring, yellow and green in summer and orange and red in the autumn. It's literally that clockwork with a few of these February false alarms like today.

It's early still, just the first few days of February, but the days are longer. It no longer feels like night at 4:30 in the afternoon. There are buds on my trees and patches of green growth on the azalea bushes. My paints and paintings are also infused with pastels and florals and green goodness. I hadn't planned on painting this particular still life but that's what happens when art imitates life and you show up to what's around you. Painting and writing becomes a form of osmosis. You'll know where I am if I start waxing poetic and painting landscapes of palm dreams, white sand and surf boards…until then. xo

Friday, February 5, 2016

Le Jardin


Enough about life philosophy and chocolate and showing up and when the going gets tough the tough get….ugh…enough already! How about pretty things on a rusty table? Ok. Yes, that's the topic today. Lovely things arranged together that make me happy. That is enough today.

This piece was composed in a painting class last week where our wonderful teacher had a still life on a table as an option for students to paint. What I love about her class is the option element. One table, a variety of flowers in vases, fruit in bowls and a tablecloth artfully draped over the edges and not one of us completed anything remotely close to each other or the objects we were painting. That is true art to me. There is a comfort and nurturing spirit with this group of women, a built in no compete clause, where everyone wins just by showing up. We cheer each other on. We respect the silence. We gab. We eat. We listen to music. We do not criticize. Ever. It is a lesson I can learn myself. I can be as nice to to me as this group of women is to each other. We are lovely things arranged together and that makes me very happy. xo

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bridge Mix


I love Bridge Mix. It is the perfect combination of chocolate and chew and surprise crunch and always comes in a cute box or cellophane bag and makes me feel like a little girl playing grown up. It's that special occasion chocolate treat I can rarely resist if I'm in a chocolate shop or See's or anywhere old fashioned that specializes in old school treats. My family makes fun of me that it is still my favorite, haven't we moved on to salted caramel…everything? Nope. I'm stuck in a  joyful time warp on this one and not going anywhere.

That's what I love about this painting. It feels like a snapshot in time. A moment with a friend, a vintage vase, a blue milk glass dish of bridge mix, a cappuccino to share. There is that phrase. Write what you know. It applies to art too. Paint what you know. I paint my history. My snapshots of funny moments with my parents, sweet memories of my childhood, lessons learned from my grandparents and aesthetics borrowed from my hometown. I am learning this with every piece I create. That candy dish is straight out of my Nana Mary's kitchen cupboard, right beside her hard boiled egg cups. Did I think I would paint this the last time I saw this dish? No. It is part of my visual map, my personal encyclopedia of images that is part of my soul that we all carry with us every day. I choose it, or the vase or the cups, it varies painting by painting, because it makes me happy. That's all it requires. I feel good painting it, I smile, I am connected to something bigger than me, and I know I showed up to my gift that day. Simple. Now if I could remember that feeling a little more consistently….

Painting a still life is a joyful experience for me. Especially when I have a very loose road map (flowers? food? object?), it tells me what wants to be included. I am often asked "do you plan your paintings?" Yes and no. I might have a vague theme or direction or photo I have found that gives me a general GPS direction but once the car is pointed on the highway, it has a mind of its own! My job, if I can, is to listen to the whispers for bridge mix, even when they seem banal and make me think, really, you have to have a cellophane bag of candy on this table? I really do. And I really can't paint it otherwise. It's as if someone something else in me has taken over and as long as I've got my foot on the gas, it will invisibly steer the car. (I think they're making something like that in Silicon Valley as we speak.)

Yesterday, I write about the meaning of life, the ups and downs of creative entrepreneurship and the angsty hand wringing of the "artiste". Today, I write about chocolate. Showing up for both. xo

"Bridge Mix" 18x24" Available at ElizabethW Carmel 1.831.626.3892

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Acceptance


I look at this painting, think about why I chose it to post, re-read a couple of posts and thought, honestly, sigh. I guess sigh isn't a thought exactly but the feeling was, really? Here again? Two steps forward, one step back, two leaps forward, one trip fall down on banana peel pray you don't injure yourself because you don't have insurance right now but damn it, I AM GETTING UP AND POSTING!!! Or something less melodramatic because this is just a blog post after all. In fact, as I type these words I know suddenly what this post is called, what it's about, what I'm supposed to write, not for readers but for me and that is this: acceptance. I am in an ongoing process of accepting that I am a start stop start again artist creative entrepreneur and the road is windier than a drive to Stinson Beach from Mill Valley. 

I often fall in the trap of looking at other people's progress, the quality of their work, their exposure, their innate business savvy, their….green grass. And I know, my grass is also a lovely shade of different green. I  am in the process of accepting that. I accept that I'm pretty good at some things running a small business. I stay calm, I have a sense of humor when shit hits the fan (unless the letters IRS are involved), I paint with enthusiasm and don't get too hung up on if it's "good", I am reliable and kind. I'm not so good, however, at business details, things involving cheques, numbers, spreadsheets, any information at all that would benefit from Excel, technical learning curves and sticking to a blog or marketing schedule. Some days it's all too much. I am trying to accept that.

On the flip side, "Artist Studio", above painting, is why I need to keep going. It is joy. It represents the other side of beating myself up. The side I'm half way decent at. It represents what it looks like to keep going, to keep your foot on the gas no matter what. This painting is a bunch of things that are new to me. It's bigger, it's a different subject matter, it's literally a blank page to create anything you want, it's not for anyone but my own painting pleasure and it was SO MUCH FUN to paint and that is why I am doing this. This business, this life, this teeter tottery self-employed roller coaster. Because every time I push myself a little farther or in a different direction artistically, it pays off down the road when I least expect it.  And it will! Because it has! I have the faith. Ultimately, I do this because of the art, the act of creating, the love of making something from scratch and expressing my heart. 


I am accepting that what lights me up is brighter and more important than all the so-called "failures" that I insist at muddling along with.  It's ok for now to be half-assed in accounting and business. And tech. Ok and also consistent blog posts. I’m busy getting messy on my green grass.

"Artist Studio" 36 x 36" Available at ElizabethW Carmel 831.626.3892