It is now 15 days until my first art show, so I needed to do something about my hair. Using the flat iron to calm down the frizz really made it more damaged, so I've been wearing it in a ponytail for quite some time. It looked healthier that way, but I never felt polished with that big puff in the back. Plus my head would hurt from my always being up. I felt like I fell into a dull routine with no bright hair in my future.
Yes I love long hair, but I wasn't going to continue growing hair that was so damaged. And dude, I'm tired of *doing* my hair. I want the freedom boys have. I want to get up, wash up, and get on with it. So here I am. Miss Pixie once again.
I probably quit painting 3 times today. 5 times yesterday. The closer it gets to my first art show, in September, the crazier my stress, and when stressed the girls I paint look like hookers.
But then I have a sandwich and iced tea. I sit away from my painting. I calmly look at what is wrong, and then I fix it. Now my girl doesn't look like she's strung out on heroin, she looks fresh and pretty.
phew. For a minute there I thought I had to get a job.
From here to there is not an easy road when you are an artist. Just when you have mastered one thing you push yourself to master something else. I want my paintings to be in galleries. I want to create the kind of art that makes people feel glad to be alive. That is going to take work. Painting bigger is a lot harder than an 8X10 journal page. Everything is a different proportion. It's easy to get wacky eyes and too long limbs and for the figure to not look right. It takes a lot more labor to paint big. It is quite exhausting.
But I love it. I love the way paint glides across wood. I love to see my ideas bigger than the life they had in my sketchbook. I don't love it when it is not going well and I tell myself I am mediocre and so why bother.
Maybe you have told yourself that too.
We must believe in our future selves, especially when it gets hard. We have goals we can achieve, but we have to stick to them. I can't help wanting to quit after a bad afternoon, but I know better than to really give up. I need to hang out a little longer, until the miracle happens.
Today might be hard and you may not be where you want to be, but if you keep at it, the good stuff is right around the corner.
Apparently there is a Super-Volcano in Yellowstone national park that might explode soon, and living in the state of Utah just below it, that isn't good. Clouds of ash blocking out the sun, much of the country would fall into nuclear winter so a lot of places would be fkd. But Utah, super fkd. Plus there is the incurable Eboli spreading about the planet. For a good ten minutes today my stomach was clenched as I was sure this was the coming apocalypse. Again.
I asked myself, how meaningful is life when so much of mine is spent making art I can sell, so I can buy food and stuff. Is that living? Is it, enough? I love my job but I spend so many more hours alone than I don't know, kissing? Then I asked myself what other things would I do if I didn't make art so much?
And if the art I create today is only going to burn from ash and no one will see it, no one will see the words I write, why should I do it? I know the Buddhist monks make art mandalas out of sand with the intention of destroying it shortly after its completion, but they get to show it to people. There is a sharing of the experience. Perhaps monks make art alone in their rooms, then destroy it before anyone sees it, as part of their spiritual practice. I get it, but if that were only the case, would I want to spend the rest of the little time I have left doing that, or something else?
I would if it were I with the early demise, and not the earth. If I only had two more weeks to live I'd write down everything so you would read what I wrote and we could both be connected to something larger then ourselves for a time. That is why I do it. For the ultimate connection with at least one other being, even if I am not present at the time. So yes, if its me dying, I wouldn't do anything differently.
But if it's the world that will go away, and we had two weeks, would I rather go to the movies with you and laugh?
Do you know, where you're going to? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The future is going to look like today if you don't drastically do something different. TASK- Get rid of the clutter: in your mind, in your house, in all of your life.
Until there is nothing left but you and the object of your desire sitting in an empty room together, you are never going to have the life you want. You may have it, but you will have all this other crap too, piled so high you won't be able to see your beloved at all.
It's not easy though. Easy is ice-cream. Easy is cute little white dogs and Sunday mornings. Not easy is living in the Empty Space between where you have been and where you want to go. Do you want a life overfilled with the mediocre, or just enough of what truly nourishes you?
It's your choice, but you must choose. If not, life will choose for you.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." Anais Nin
The more people I know who’ve died, the greater my resolve is to live. I can easily get trapped in the depression of ‘OMG, I’m Never Going To See Them Again,’ but I won’t allow it. Well, maybe for a night or three, but then that’s it. No more indulging in long afternoons of Wishing They Were Here.
Ariana Guarino, aka Goog, died from a stroke a few days ago. She was only 33 years old. She leaves behind a husband and young son. She was far too young and vital to die.
I knew her quite well online for 4 years before eventually meeting her in person, and actually ended up moving to live near her in Cold-Ass Minnesota for a few months in 2012. I traded the bitter cold of Eden Prairie for Salt Lake City in December of 2012, and am still here, writing this post.
The thing about Goog, before I get into death, is that she created a space around her where it was okay to wear paint-smeared pajamas, eat Pop Tarts for dinner, and not comb your hair - and not feel bad about it. She was lost, like we all are, and even more so when her best friend, Tami, died from a heart attack awhile ago, but she never stressed out about it. She had no clue, and was the first to admit it, and around her I didn’t have to pretend that I had a clue either, because I don’t. The difference between Googie and myself, however, is that all of my own lostness and cluelessness resulted in hourly existential crises. OH, GOLLY ANOTHER DAY I’M NOT GETTING AHEAD, I AM NOT EVEN GOING BACKWARDS, I AM STUCK IN AN ENDLESS GROUNDHOG DAY OF PAINT-SMEARED HANDS AND WEARING AN OUTFIT THAT DOESN’T GO TOGETHER.
But Googaliscious, just as much of a self-appointed misfit as I was, not only refused to feel bad about her lack of put-together-ness, she reveled in it. She wore it all on her sleeve, with her endless selfies of bed head and sleepy smiles.
When faced with the stark reality of her death, my body shook and I cried for days, and now I’m done. Stashing my grief into a well-worn shoebox and covering it, I will allow myself to feel pain now and again, but not all the time. I refuse to die inside before I have to. I refuse to lay in bed and stare at the wall and curse the unfairness of it all. The dead would love to have a few days back, so instead of getting whiney, I am going to fucking live and smile and watch Hemlock Grove and eat Licorice and paint today. It is another day for the living, and that is what we do. We live and we go on. But it’s entirely up to us. We can choose to be the walking dead or we can be courageous and choose to live.
I’ve decided to choose life, and to keep choosing it, no matter who the fuck dies next.
It's not fun to prepare a space to work in. My mind wants to be in the future where I am touching paint and fondling paper in perfect synchronicty with the universe. That is why I get out of bed everyday. For coffee too, but not to clean. I create in a fury and than leave everything where it is and walk away. But when there is no room on my table the next day and I am painting on my lap, it's time to straighten up.
This is how I left my table last night. It's been much worse but still, there is no room to work. I have a slant table I draw on to the right of this table and what Ill do is pick up a pencil as I need it then throw it into the pile. This is how it begins. Soon colorless blenders are with blues and the browns are totally lost. I will spend more time hunting for what I need then making art. I cannot work effectively if I cant easily find what I need.
You wouldn't expect a yoga class to be cluttered with things and no one had room to move, or a church with boxes piled high on the pews blocking the crucifix. The spaces we create in are in no way less sacred. Our art space deserves the same attention.
Because I am extremely busy being creative, I excuse myself from cleaning. Like a five year old I go from one fun activity to the next and wait for someone else to take care of the boring parts. And while I can create within chaos, It feels so much better when my room is Feng Shwayed Out. I need to work with my resistance, and have things to say, statements, as I clean up before work. I want to be someone who doesn't pout when she has to clean. Bring the body, the mind will follow.
* I am blessed to have a place to create my art.
* I clean my desk so my mind can be clear and inspired.
* I am worth the time it takes to create a loving studio space.
As a person in recovery, I work regularly on the blocks in my life that keep me from being happy, such as noticing how tense I get when someone is impatient with me or intentionally hurtful, or trying to be kind to myself when I don’t think I own enough nice things. I used to drink whenever I got a resentment or felt crappy about my life, so it’s something I watch out for. Not that drinking actually made me feel any better. I felt good for only an hour before I drank way too much, and then felt really, really bad. But drinking did do something that I had a hard time doing on my own - it helped me to not care.
The block that has been keeping me from being happy that I have been working on most recently concerns what I have been doing over the last several years to earn a living - teaching others to make art.
I first started creating paintings many years ago as my own way to grieve, to heal, to express both love and sorrow, and to talk to the divine. To me, all artistic expression is prayer. If we are spiritual beings having a human experience, art is what our soul gets out of it. Art turns the mundane into the sacred, and suddenly the simplest things become the most beautiful. Even though teaching others how to express this magnificence within themselves is an honorable endeavor, I no longer had the time or energy to create the paintings my soul needed to create. My visual prayers ceased because I was simplifying techniques in order to explain them to others, something I was good at. But there is danger when we follow money instead of our spirit.
I am now a full-time artist. I pray while I paint. I never leave my beloved. Instead of focusing on the world and the happiness and acceptance of others, I am looking toward my own. My pencils are spiritual. My paper is holy. My intent is omnipresent. I am fearless. I am in love. I am an artist.