April 28, 2008

Fertile Emptiness

"Crisis, change, all the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping - they aren't voices simply of pain but also of creativity. And if we would only listen, we might hear such times beckoning us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness." - Sun Monk Kidd from When The Heart Waits
Waiting is not something I'm good at. Waiting has always seemed to be a huge waste of time. For Pete's sake, I'm an American. We don't have to wait for anything anymore. But now, I'm in a time of forced waiting. It's uncomfortable for me and a fearful place because I might fall behind, get passed up. Standing still is not normal, I'm always racing towards whatever I think I need to get to next. In an effort to embrace the waiting I'm re-reading When the Heart Waits. (Every creative person needs this book by the way) It's not easy to be still in heart, mind and body. I have found that sitting under a pink tree has been one place I can sit still. Right now, I do my best to be still, to just be, to breathe, and to not worry for just 30 seconds. Trust me try a pink tree - sit under one. Breathe. Be. Wait.

April 24, 2008

Winslow Homer in Chicago

I just got back from the Winslow Homer exhibit showing at The Art Institute of Chicago. What an amazing exhibit, well worth the $20. What an extensive watercolor show! He didn't start working in watercolors until he was 37 years old and after nearly 20 years of working as a professional artist - and, the best part of all, he was a self taught artist! His extensive work in watercolor had a great deal in making the watercolors an art form in and of itself and not just a precursor to an oil painting. His use of watercolor is confident and certain. But beyond that I'm blown away by his subject matter and how he uses color and light to create an emotional impact. This is one of my favorite watercolors...
After the exhibit and seeing such masterpieces, I wonder, do I dare dip my brush in paint again? How does one get to be that good? That confident? I want to be there now and not 20 years from now. Patience. Painting. Seeing. They're all important and maybe equally so.

April 16, 2008

Orange Ranunculus - All Day!

Ranunculus are back!!! And that always makes me happy until I paint them ... ALL DAY . Then they become pesky little buggers. Still it was good to have the time to work on something for more than an hour. I wasn't pleased with the oranges I was making (No I don't own a tube or orange paint - I mix my oranges). Finally I took a break from them and decided that that I needed to look at them with fresh eyes. The whole fresh eyes thing is essential. What really is happening is that you're looking at it with a fresh mind which is a less critical mind - a kinder, gentler mind. And you thought movie critics were tough - you should here the critic in my head! So here you have an afternoon of work... and I'll go at it again the next day. But don't worry I'll always love ranunculus.

April 7, 2008

Another Door Closes or Rather - SLAMS!

I was in Nebraska last week with my boss. The meeting went well. And as I'm driving my boss back to his car, I was informed that
"due to economic difficulties your position will be eliminated."
I can't see straight and here I am trying to navigate in the rain while tears of unbelief and shock run down my face and in my head is this stream of random thoughts.
... but I just moved to St. Louis for this position how will I pay my bills and the house I wanted to buy - this means NO HOUSE (more tears) I'm going to miss my flight back to St Louis in this rain (I have a 3 hour drive back to Omaha airport) stop crying just stop it now! I hate Nebraska you can paint but I'm not good enough yet - but I want my own house no house ... and around and around this tape plays
Perhaps it's time for me to delve in with all I have and take this artistic risk and do it , just do it .
I'm taking the week to NOT think about it. I will spend some time at the botanical gardens and paint and just try to take a break from work, travel and decision making to just BE Amy the artist, not the sales rep or the single gal or an unemployed person.

Sheep pictures always seem so peaceful to me. I've painted a handful and let very few go just because I like them. I set this one out so I can see it more and when my spirit gets fluttery and nervous I look at it. Yes, art can calm a worried heart.

April 1, 2008

A Closed Door

At the end of February, I entered a featured length film script in a screen writing contest. I just found out that I did not even place as a finalists. Being that there were only 25 entries in this local contest, I felt even more down than usual by this rejection. For Pete's sake, I studied and went to grad school for screen writing! After the disappointment wore off I needed to be honest with myself. I don't like script writing anymore. It's torture. I could paint everyday but working on a script doesn't bring about the same drive in me like painting does. For years I've been trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
Was writing really this hard for everyone, or just me?
Did I just get burned out from living around the Hollywood stuff for 5 years?
Why did I do well in school but not afterwards?

Was all that time and money for nothing?

No answers.
I just know that I don't want to write scripts anymore. Perhaps I'll tell theses stories in a narrative format at some point. I do love the stories and they won't let me go. I never tackled prose writing because I just never got very good grades in English class so I always thought I wasn't good at writing. It's funny what a high school letter grade makes you think about yourself and your abilities. Come to think about it, I only had one English teacher I really liked. She loved writing. The rest of the time, English was a chore. For now I've put away the scripts in a box - to be free from the pressure and the reminder of all that I've left unfinished... for now...
Guilt is never a good emotion, and the least useless in creating. You really can't be free if you're working on something out of guilt, because it then becomes all about the outcome and not the process, the struggle and what you learn. It's just finished and you feel relieved. Still this honest look at my time and my skills doesn't change the face that I secretly long to be a famous writer who knows how to manipulate words like I do paint and water.

"How we spend out days is, of course, how we spend our lives." - Annie Dillard

True - and this is what I did today..


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