Sunday, May 24, 2009

Create with Abandon

Exhibiting your artwork is an interesting experience. Getting use to putting your artwork on display takes awhile to get comfortable with. For me the creative process is so personal that hearing opinions and comments can be uncomfortable to difficult.

When I am painting, I go in to the "Creative Zone". You know when you get so engrossed in what you are doing that time & place disappear? That's what I'm talking about. I believe that there is a connection to the Divine that happens in the zone.

It is similar to meditation. In meditation you sit in silence and listen to the Divine. There is a channeling of energy that happens. Creating is a channeling of energy from the Divine into this world.

Displaying artwork that comes from such a place exposes a vulnerability. It takes some practice getting use to showing publicly. But I believe it is important to get your artwork out there. It is how visual artists communicate. It is how we connect with others. And after all isn't it all about connection and relationship?

In the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz one of the agreements is "Don't take anything personally". Obviously negative or unsolicited comments are best not taken personally. But Ruiz also talks about doing the same with positive comments. That we need to stand on our own opinion of ourselves, be confident of our own value. Know that you did your best with no regrets.

The more artwork I create with abandon, the more confident I get. The more exhibits I do the easier it gets.

Opening the Window

Tonight my exhibit Through the Window, my first solo exhibit opened at Sea Breeze Art Gallery in Ventura. For a holiday weekend, it was well attended. More people turned out than I expected. I was very pleased. People from out of town came by. People who collect my work came by. There were even new people who came by.

I made 2 sales in the gallery and 2 sales in my studio. I think that the opening was a success. I have 3 more receptions and I hope they are equal or better than this one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It takes a village

Today the plan was to install my art exhibit at Sea Breeze Art Gallery. Being my first solo show it would be appropriate for me to be excited. But on the contrary I awoke apathetic. I was slow to get up and on the road. I did manage to get out of the house and run the necessary errands required to hang the show: Office Depot for tacks & clips; Lowes for brackets & screws. These were needed to install the artwork.
In order to get me where I am suppose to be I make arrangements to meet people at specific times... so I show up. This works 99% of the time. Nobody's perfect. Anyway, I arranged for two friends: Monteve, a mutual resident artist at Sea Breeze & Sonya, owner of Art & Soul Studios to help me with the exhibit.
The concept needed more than two hands. Instead of framing my paintings in conventional frames I used windows demo'd from old houses. This required some rigging in the hanging of the windows so that they didn't fall or tear out the wall with their weight. I was apprehensive about how this was going to happen. But Sonya was able to figure out how to hang the windows with L-brackets.
So Monteve and Sonya showed. Vonder another resident artist wandered in a little later and Monica also a resident artist stopped by even though she was exhausted from work. Sonya's husband Pat came by too... because we needed muscle to drill into the cement wall.
All these people showed up to help me. It makes me a little misty to think about it. I was feeling rather blue when I was alone but once I got in to the process of coordinating the images with the windows with the energy of my friends swirling around, my mood picked up. Sometimes it takes a village.
Everything came together without too many problems. There were a couple of broken screws, a few large holes in the walls and one of the drill bits broke in the cement wall. Everything fixable. I am very pleased with the way the show ended up. There is one window I need to re-arrange but other than that it is all ready for viewing. I did not think I would have everything up in one day. I gave myself 3 days.
And on goes the life of an exhibit...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Solo Mio

Monday afternoon I start the installation of my next art exhibit. It just really hit me: this is my first solo show. I have been invited, juried and showcased in many different exhibits but this is my first solo. Hmmm.

It's not a large gallery but it's large enough to make your teeth clench when pondering if you have enough paintings to fill the space. I have about 25-30 paintings but the pieces average between 5x7 & 6x12.
A couple of weeks ago I calculated the layout and realized I didn't have enough work. That's when my teeth clenched and my upper lip curled slightly with dismay. So last weekend I painted 5 more pieces to fill the gaps.

This has been a challenging show. My past showcase exhibits I have had a clear vision of what the concept was and exactly how to hang the pieces in the available space. This show has come together but it wasn't immediate.

One challenge to work with: my budget is presently limited so I can't frame the work. So I'm using recycled windows to hang in front of my work. The next challenge was how to hang the windows so they don't fall off the wall. Now I'm obsessing on how I will get the actual images in the right position so they show through the window properly.

One thing I have figured out: that I will figure it out on Monday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Living the Dream

Some say that it is good to know people in high places. Well in my case its good to know people who know people. My friend's niece is a dolphin trainer at Sea World. My friend invited me to celebrate her birthday by swimming with the dolphins. So Tuesday I had the incredible treat of bringing one of my life's dreams in to reality.

It almost feels like it didn't happen. Have you ever gone on a trip & come home and wondered if it ever really happened? That is how I feel. But it did happen and it was wonderful.

I am not a great swimmer and being by the water is great but I am not fond of being in water. So why one of my dreams was to swim with dolphins is a little weird.
(Other than dolphins are really cool!!) So when my friend said she wanted me to come with her I was flooded with questions... Do we go under water? Do we wear wetsuits? Is the water cold? Are we snorkling? Face masks? Fins? How deep is the water???

I like to get ALL the details before I "dive in" to something I am unfamiliar with. But on this occasion I had to let go of a lot... including my fear of water. Bogging my friend down with endless questions she couldn't answer was useless, so I let go. I put it out of my mind or put it into another section of my mind so I wouldn't obsess. I went in to this experience with an open mind.

We arrived at Sea World in the morning and were very lucky to be alone with the trainer. The water was very cold: 60 degrees. The wetsuits & booties helped keep us somewhat warm but the cold water does seep in and takes awhile to warm up.

The dolphins were so playful & friendly. We could feel their open hearts. Even though the trainer was giving them commands, nothing felt forced and the dolphins were open to sharing their playfulness with us. We interacted with 3 different dolphins: Sandy, Ridley & Chow. Sandy was the oldest. She was 30 years. There was another dolphin that was 40 years old that we saw in the other holding tank.

Each dolphin was brought over to us separately at first. We were able to pet them & hold their faces in our hands & kiss their noses. Their skin is slick & soft. The trainer said they like to be touched. They each had individual noises they made through their blow holes. We encouraged them with our giggles & strokes.

At the end of our session each one of us got to swim around the pool with one of the dolphins. This was truely a test for me. Deep cold water... with an animal... a large animal... a large powerful animal... but I trusted the animal. The entire time with them there was not a malicious vibe in any of these dolphins. So I held on to the dorcel fin and let Chow take me for a ride around the pool. I screamed & laughed the whole time! Cold water splashing my face! It was amazing! I loved it!

We went on to have a full & fabulous day with private tours of the sea lions & otters. We sat pool side watching the trainers try different tricks with the dolphins. When they got the trick right the dolphins would squeal with delight as they came up out of the water. The trainer in the pool said the dolphins were squealing with excitement underwater. There is so much joy in them!

I could sit and watch them swim for hours. Even when they were just hanging out in their tanks, they swam around and played with each other, jumping out of the water.

Living at the beach allows me to sit on the sand and watch dolphins in the wild. I can see that they are equally playful. I have seen wild dolphins jump and flip out of the ocean.

So much joy! I hope to hold this joy in my heart for a long time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Who's yer Mama

I hear that its Mother's Day today. The television ads tell me so. My mother passed away 27 years ago so I haven't had to remember to buy cards or flowers for quite sometime. Nor am I a mother so I am neither a giver or a getter today.

I had a step mother for a while after my mother died when I was in my 20's. But she was more like my father's wife then a mother. She was more like the step mother in Cinderella... I used to call her my step-monster... but I'm not bitter about it. really. She disappeared after my dad died 14 years ago. So I don't have to worry about cards for her either.

I'm not quite sure where this blog is taking me or why I even signed in. I guess I just wanted to comment how Mothers Day is for me. I'm not sad like I was early after my mother's death. My sadness probably lasted a good 8 years. Then the emotions started to let up and I don't cry much.

Although I did cry a couple of weeks a go when I told a friend how my dad sobbed at my mother's memroial. I never even saw him shed a tear before that time. There he sat in my aunt's backyard on a short wall sobbing into his hands. It was funny how the tears were right there when I pictured him. Even now I'm getting a bit misty.

As far as my loss of my mother, I have done the majority of the grieving. I say majority because I don't think the grieving is ever done. It just gets different. And my life has been quite different without her as it would have been with her. But life is what it is. It is my journey.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Long & The Short of it

Today I went shopping. Part of my job is shopping. I work as a costumer. I call myself a costumer rather than a costume designer out of respect for all of those designers who have gone to school and received their degrees in theater and paid their dues. I fell into costuming because my skill set crosses into many arenas. I adapt. My degree is in fine art with an emphasis in ceramics. Go figure.

But really, when I was in junior high the girls had to take sewing while the boys took wood shop. In sewing I made an apron & a gym bag out of gingham (that checkered material, usually white & another color.) Moving on to high school I continued to take sewing because I could make my own clothes. Fabric and patterns were cheap then... The rest is history.

Anyway I went shopping today. The local theater called me in to coordinate the costumes for their next show: a one woman play. They gave me a wad of money and sent me out to find a professional pant suit for the second act. Did I mention they wanted the suit in the color teal? or green. Oh and the actor is tall with an inseam of 34".

My inseam is 28". I'm 5' tall. I can't even reach the top shelf of the kitchen cubbards. What do I know about the Tall section. Well, today I found out how hard it is to shop for a tall woman. Even if there isn't a Petite section I can buy a Regular size pant & cut 12" off the leg and they'll fit. It's not so easy the other way around. Off the rack pants only have about 1.5 inches in the hem to let out.

I started my search at "Avenue", a store over in the "Ross Dress for Less" shopping center. Everything there is casual, nothing professional. Next the"Old Target": nada. Not even jackets. Lots for me but no professional wear. Then "JC Penney" in the Pacific Mall. Here I found a lot of things. There was an actual suit section but nothing in the right size. Oh I did find a jacket in the right size but the pants were missing.

Now I should say I knew perfectly well that I would not find a teal or even a green suit so I was going for something in the ball park. I'm creative not crazy. Maybe a turquoise or green jacket paired with black pant. But almost all the suits were black or navy. The suits with a color jacket were mostly pink or red with a skirt. And most of the suits were petites. Did I mention I'm shopping for a redhead...

JC Penney had the largest selection of blazer jackets and pretty short sleeve or sleeveless blouses. Did I mention that the actress doesn't like to wear short sleeve or sleeveless?

So I ended up with a gray blazer, gray pants that don't match the jacket, black pants both 32". 4 blouses in the blue green range. All short sleeve. It was a start.

I moved on to Sears: nothing. Macy's: this is the land of the petite suit set in nothing over size 10. I found a pair of black pants in a Tall at Lane Bryant. And a tan blazer at Ann Taylor. Both stores had very good customer service. (Having worked in customer service for 6 years in a previous life, I like to give credit where credit is due.)

I want to know where Hilary Clinton gets all those colorful suits!

I had a meeting in Santa Barbara in the evening so I went early so I could stop by Nordstroms. Nordie's has everything! They are so sophisticated. Surely I will find what I need there! They had the smallest suit section and the only colors were black & brown. (FYI: They did have the classic button up blouses with 3/4 length sleeve in white & colors. I couldn't find a one in Ventura)

Then I had a moment of inspiration: Talbots! There's a Talbots at La Cumbre Plaza right on my way to my meeting. Surely they would have professional wear. Appropriate garments!!

It's been a while since I have been up to La Cumbre Plaza and they have seriously upgraded the place. There is even a Louis Vitton store?! At "Talbots" I found a lovely selection of clothes: talls & petites. And much to my surprise when I asked the salesclerk (who was very helpful) if they had any blazers in turquoise she said yes! I was able to find a pair of green pants too.

Tomorrow we have our fitting session. I have a slew of garments to try on the actor. We'll see what fits, what matches the director's vision and what I get to return!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Night Hawk Time Zone

Here it is late in the evening or early in the morning... depending on how you look at things. Whatever the case it's 1:15 am. This seems to be the way it's going for me lately. Because I have no work obligations in the morning my body's natural time clock has switched to Night Hawk Time.

This is something I have had to learn to accept, being a Night Hawk. When most people operate on a 9-5 mentality its hard to fit in. AND God knows we all want to fit in and not be judged even if we have a rebellious nature. When your body's natural operating time is more like 12 noon to 12 midnight it can be hard to function early in the day.

Oh you might say what's the big deal? You are probably an Early Bird... but anyway... Sometimes its hard coordinating with the rest of the world. Especially if you have friends that are Early Birds. They are glazing over & making face plants right about the time I'm hitting a good pace! They also tend to call me around 9am and wonder why I'm groggy... "Oh were you sleeping??!" I have one friend who will sometime call me at 7am (!!!) yikes!

Actually being a Night Hawk can be a big deal if you have to take a job with hours like 8am - 5pm. I have had to do that in the past and I just was not very happy. My body rebelled and I was not really clear & functional until after lunch which limits the time of productivity... some thing the boss keeps track of.

Now I am self employed and my hours are more flexible. I can get up slowly and get out of the house at a humane pace. I can work on projects during hours that I am at my peak. I'm happy because my body is happy. It has taken me a while to understand that my body clock ticks to a different time zone AND be okay with it.

That's all for now. I am actually getting tired. It is after all my bedtime: 2am.

Monday, May 4, 2009

In the Beginning

This is my first entry. And it's way too late to be setting up a blog. But none the less here I sit with my laptop in bed. Legends of the Fall is playing in the background and its just so damn tragic. Everyone has died and Brad Pitt is about to dance with the grizzly bear.

Today I put together my marketing plan for my upcoming exhibit before going in to my studio to work. I maintain an art studio in a building where other artists also have studio space. It's a wonderful creative environment. The layout is open concept: no doors on the studios so it promotes community among us.

My upcoming exhibit is called " Through the Window". I'm using old wood framed windows to "frame" my work. Instead of using conventional frames, I'm hanging my paintings on the wall with clips. Then the window will be mounted on the wall in front of the paintings so the viewer will be looking through the window.

So I had to wash the windows outside to get all of the dirt off. I was able to get 6 more windows from a fellow artist at the studio. She's an assemblage artist and collects... everything. I also figured out the arrangement of the paintings and the layout of the window. It worked out that I need to paint 3 more paintings to fill the gallery. (The gallery is in the same building as the studios)

I also worked on painting a bedsheet I bought at a thrift store. I'm prepping it so I can use it as a canvas. The paint I picked up for free from Fuller Paint. They have a big bin in the back of their store full of peoples discards. I think the paint would end up in a toxic landfill. I grabbed a gallon can of primer and i assumed it would be white. But when I opened the can it turned out to be a dark red brown color. This will make an interesting background to work on.

It's 2;30 & I think I'm ready to go to sleep now.