Thanksgiving Weekend

It is frightfully easy, especially when there are so many things going on in our world that are unjust, frustrating, or just plain scary, to only focus on the bad. I am a strong believer in the fact that without recognizing and giving due acknowledgment to that which is not so amazing, real change will never happen. We need to talk about hard things sometimes, and we need to care and allow ourselves to feel pain over events or situations that harm our own well being or the well being of others. However, sometimes the negative can consume us and cause us to forget, ignore, or just plain not notice all the good that still persists in our own life and worldwide. Thanksgiving is always a good time to step away from the frantic, stressful pace of everyday life and constant barrage of bad news to reflect on the moments of joy we’ve experienced throughout the year, because they do exist.

This year, I am beyond grateful for the now 2 full years I have spent as Program Coordinator for The Express Yourself Artshop program at Creative 360 in my hometown of Midland, MI. Artshop is an inclusive arts and wellness program open to students of all abilities, including those with physical, intellectual, or psychological disabilities. I am thankful I have a job that I can look forward to each day, which I know can be as rare as winning the lottery. I above all am thankful for the amazing people I have met, the new friends I have made, and the feelings of love, acceptance, and belonging I experience when I am with them even on the toughest days.

I learn so much that I take home to my own personal art just from experiencing so many different approaches to creating. The photos above are from our recent pre-Thanksgiving bash put on by our Cooking Class. Side note, I even learned that it is possible for me to like green bean casserole. Now that truly speaks to the skill of our Artshop chefs. 

Working with our watercolor class has lit a fire under me to get back into the medium myself in my free time and try some new approaches and styles that are less cautious and constrained.

I love seeing different creators’ takes on inspiration images. An artist’s work shows others how they see the world, which I get to experience firsthand.

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One of my former students’ pieces, obtained in an art trade (that gorgeous red tree lady up there), is the focal point in my newly renovated art studio in the new house. (Another thing to be thankful for this year – saying goodbye to apartment living and having a studio that isn’t my living room! Extensive before-and-afters will follow in a later post – it’s been a real trip.)

I would encourage everyone, whether creatives or not (though I’d argue that seriously, every one of us is creative in some way – it’s human nature.), to challenge themselves to spend more time with people who are different from them in some way. Ask them about themselves, get to know them on a personal level, have interesting chats … Though you are not going to get along with everyone, you will never regret opening up your world.

I’d also encourage you to remember that taking a different path than what you expected does not equate to failure. I graduated with a BAA in interior design, and wanted to work anywhere in the world except Midland, the same city I lived in from age 2 on. Unmet expectations for the future are such an intense fear for most people, myself included.  However, sometimes our expectations just aren’t all that great, and aren’t what we need to be happy.

Sometimes, there is something better waiting for us.
Happy Thanksgiving.
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Updates On Art and Life – Babies, Cake Homicide, and The Fear Of Yellow

I know I’ve been terrible at keeping up this blog lately. I promise to do better! Honestly though, I’ve been working on a plethora of fun projects which is the main reason for my lapse (Also, it’s the holidays. No one has any spare time right now, do they???). This post will be kind of a hodgepodge of everything that’s been going down in the past couple weeks while my blog has been silent.

First and most importantly, a new year coming up can only mean one thing … The grand reveal of Pantone’s new Color of the Year! I’m a huge dork, and honestly do look forward to finding out what the new color is each year … I hate not knowing things!

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In my opinion, it’s ok. I was kind of scared while watching the reveal video where they add one by one the different pigments to stir together for the big reveal, because they were dumping a WHOLE LOT of freaking yellow onto the palette first off. I’m so glad it’s not yellow – I am not a fan of yellow. Gold, ochre, fine – but crayola crayon yellow? Yikes. I read an article awhile ago that featured a test gauging how many colors in the spectrum your eyes could detect. People who could detect the largest amount of colors possible tended to be irritated by yellow. I did decide I wanted a bright yellow sports car in 8th grade, but that was just because I wanted people to think I was cool and glaring, eye-offending color seemed the proper type of vehicle for a devil-may-care attitude. I ended up with a silver used car with sparkly blue “gothic flame” decals on the side and a hello kitty license plate holder once I got to high school, so I was still kind of a badass at least in my own mind. This pondering over the color reveal sent me down the internet rabbit hole, and of course I had to go back and check what year the Pantone Color had in fact been a yellow. It seems there was a shade of yellow in 2009. 2009 was quite a strange and tumultuous year filled with all manner of general awkwardness and unpleasantry now that I think about it. Perhaps the color was to blame.

I have also been working on a new piece for my ongoing series I hope to show in ArtPrize next Fall.

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I must have been crazy to do another piece with more damn butterflies. Detailing the wing patterns is all great fun … until it’s not. The process can get a bit tedious, though the end result is worth it.

My other butterfly piece that was shown at Studio 23 sold after the show! I’ve never had a piece go the first time it was exhibited. I was of course over the moon excited, but also felt a bit of sadness since I’d just finished it only just a month before. We were just getting to know each other … I suppose this is how parents must feel when their kids go off to college or something.

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I also did something I never ever do … I worked all November on a collaboration with former art student and all around cool girl Heather-Dawn Deogracia. We got into the upcoming “Dynamic Duos” exhibition also at Studio 23. Look what happens when we put our minds together. We didn’t end up killing each other or getting into a fistfight, and we  didn’t even yell and rip our project in half, so I’d say it was a successful venture. How would you interpret the story in this piece? Feel free to comment! I’d honestly love to know everyone’s thoughts. This is a fun one for hearing others’ interpretations.

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I’d also been doing a lot of crafting for a holiday art fair I attended 2 weekends ago. I went crazy with inventory and have a ton of cool stuff still left, so be sure to visit my ebay store for last minute gifts! Everything is 20% off this week through Sunday at 12 am, so check it out.

I wasn’t kidding when I said a lot has been going on … in addition to all the art stuff, I had the pleasure of meeting the new baby of one of my best friends from high school last weekend! She is the first of my core group of friends to reproduce, so it’s still super surreal at this point. I never know what to do around kids. At my boyfriend’s family Thanksgiving, I was sitting next to him in the living room and his niece kept hovering around me, backing up against my knee. I hissed to him, “Why does she keep rubbing her butt on my leg?” He responded, “She’s trying to get onto your lap, pick her up.” I responded back in whispers, “How do I do that, will I break her?” I tend to be clumsy with inanimate objects like dishes, so I’m always scared of picking up tiny adorable children, though I’ve heard they’re far more resilient. When my friend passed her daughter, Darshini (Isn’t that an awesome name?), to me to hold she of course immediately started howling. She was hungry and had  a dirty diaper allegedly, so totally not my fault. I held her later and she was calm and didn’t think I was scary.

I hope you’ve all been well! I have a couple more projects to share, but some are Christmas gifts so they must remain a secret for now :). So long! Now that the craziness has died down, I solemnly swear I will be writing more often again.

 

6 Surefire Ways To Make Artists Cringe

Of all the many articles composed entirely of lists published online on a daily basis (Thank buzzfeed for that one.), “Things Never To Say To A _________” seem to be the most popular. As a society, we are becoming more conscious of the power of words and how they influence our perceptions of others we share this world with, and though hypersensitivity and searching for reasons to be offended can be some of the natural fallout from this kind of shift, I think all and all it is a good thing. Individuals no longer feel the need to stay silent about things that bother them to avoid a possible awkward confrontation. It’s like hey, I deserve respect just like anyone else in this world, and it’s actually ok to ask for it! Plus, raising awareness via the airing of grievances normally shoved deep inside just begging to be unleashed is fun, deny it all you want. Artists or anyone in a creative field tend to hear the same sorts of grating comments over and over again in their day to day life, and it can get mildly irritating at best, at worst totally defeating. I am a person who honestly believes most people are not jerks, and at least in my experience these comments are normally not ill-intended, but offered up as a lighthearted joke, or meant well and even supposed to be complimentary. Whether trying to compliment or get a laugh, these common comments really have opposite effect on the creative person in question who has spent a lifetime developing their specific skill. Hey, nobody’s perfect, but knowledge is power, right?

G.I. Joe, what a guy.

1. Let’s just umbrella this one: Basically any comment that questions one’s intelligence. “Cool! I wish I could go into art, then I wouldn’t have to go to college!” “Wait, but you’re smart, why did you go into art/interior design (or insert other creative field here, I’m simply speaking from my own personal experience.)?” Or my personal favorite, “Oh, that would be a great field for me, I hardly passed high school.” This should be common sense, but for those for whom it isn’t, it is seriously rude to address anyone, be it an artist or individual of any other vocation, with any variation of these comments. Some of my favorite artists are self taught, and some didn’t finish high school. Everyone learns differently but despite that fact, education and skill assessments are mainly based on rote memorization so some are destined to struggle. Income is also a factor: college is freaking expensive. There is absolutely no shame in not attending college if it doesn’t work for you. The issue has nothing to do with the level of education and everything to do with implying certain fields are easy or “blowoff work”. Most if not all creative people, through obtaining a degree or alternate means, had to work their butt off to get where they are regardless. Don’t assume. Also, comments like this are kind of a slap in the face to someone who did spend four years and insane amounts of money getting a degree. Not necessarily freelance but most other graphic design and illustration jobs require a degree, and in many states one must have a bachelor’s to officially call themselves a licensed interior designer (versus a decorator or something else).

2. Starving artist jokes. If a person really is starving, then it’s probably not something to laugh in their face about anyway, huh? Have some compassion and buy them a sandwich. If this is not the case then… what are you even talking about? The joke kind of loses its punchline. I (and many others sharing the field) am not some delusional crazypants hanging on to a pipe dream of stardom and fame. That’s why I teach, and also went to school for interior design so I could still use my creativity but open up the field a bit. Options, baby. Also, realize that working a creative job besides “world renowned painter” or “international rock sensation” is not giving up or settling. It’s not a failure. I love what I do and I honestly would get bored if all I did was work in my studio creating fine art pieces all day, every day.

3. “So you just get to play around with paint all day? What a fun job!” Yikes. This is the adult equivalent of acquaintances in college thinking I had coloring for homework. The reality, “Yay! Because I’m an interior design major art minor, all my classes get to be 3 hours each session instead of 1, and I get to stay up till the wee hours of the morning finishing studio projects no matter how well I budget my time, because workload expectations are completely insane compared to other disciplines!” Certain semesters, I pretty much never went out. This is one of those comments that I’m sure the person meant well, like “You have an awesome job!”, but after running around like a chicken with my head cut off all day keeping track of different jobs at multiple locations, diffusing student difficulties or outbursts, spending most of my spare time at home prepping for free (I’m not complaining, I love my students, I love my job, and I feel in some small way I am making world better place, but still.) in between finishing up commissions and keeping up my multiple online venues in which I hope the time I put in will actually pay off eventually, equating my job to “playtime” is the last thing I want to hear. “It’s cool you get to do what you love” is probably close to what you meant, and a much better way to communicate the sentiment.

4. “Can you do Project A/B/C for me? I’m not going to pay you but it will be great exposure!” when in reality the only exposure you will be getting is the precedent that “Hey everyone, this guy will work for free.” I’m not saying be a Scrooge, but there is a difference between helping out a friend/family member, doing volunteer or charity work, or supporting a small business or non-profit whose cause you want to help get off the ground and who really can’t afford to pay, versus someone who can pay but is just being lazy and wants something for nothing. David Thorne also has some hilarious insight on this subject via a colorful email exchange.

(Excuse the language, but I think we can all appreciate the sentiment)

5. “You’re so lucky you’re good at art.” Luck hasn’t got a thing to do with it. We are willing to acknowledge the part hard work plays towards proficiency in other fields, but with creative areas we act like the art fairy sprinkled rainbow pixie dust on certain people’s heads and now they are good at everything. Hours of study, practice, observation, classes learning from those more experienced (even in summer!); a lifetime of all of these things has gotten artists (and musicians, actors, etc.) to the level they are. As a kid, I wasn’t involved in after school clubs and activities and didn’t do much with friends. I came home and drew till bedtime; every day. It sucks to feel like your hard work goes unnoticed, and when others always use the words “luck” and “talent” as an explanation for why you’ve become successful, it negates all the sacrifices and sweat and tears and failures that went into the process to get where you are. This view is definitely a cultural thing. Here in the states, if we are bad at something, our response tends to be, “Well, I’m just not a _______ person I guess” and we move on to the next thing. In other parts of the world, especially in Asian countries, if you do poorly at something, your response is to work harder to improve; “I must not have practiced enough”. You can’t expect to be good at painting if you’ve never picked up a brush before. Why are you surprised when your work doesn’t turn out looking like a Van Gogh? You haven’t put the time in yet. This “you have it or you don’t” mentality with the arts is a psychological brick wall I run into time and time again in teaching, especially with students starting as adults. This attitude may seem harmless, but at best it’s simply not constructive, and at worst it’s self-sabotaging.

6. “So then do you do a lot of drugs?”