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.