Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Annual Mind Meander

" I Wonder What's For Dinner "  This painting is sold, I just didn't want to repeat posting the same painting I posted on Facebook two days ago.  All my inspiration for painting right now comes from a place where I spent my childhood.  Not sure why I am doing that, aside from needing a place to go where I feel sheltered and filled with dreams and imagination. This where I am right now while painting, in spirit.



Today I am fulfilling that threat to write a blog.  The threat to whom is unclear at this moment, but after well over one year, I find myself typing in a new looking window in blogland once again.  And this one has spellcheck, how novel to have spellcheck.  I suppose this will mean I well relapse into my fear of making a spelling error.  I felt empowered by that freedom feeling of not caring I was making spelling errors.

So, why am I correctly making words here again?  I can't remember.  Right now, ideas race through my mind so quickly, I have trouble hanging onto them long enough to do something creative with them.  I don't suffer from creative block right now, no not me.  I am suffering from Hurricane Creative, where the floods of ideas seem to keep me in a daze of not doing anything but run for higher ground.  I have a million ideas, but can't seem to stick with one for much longer than a few hours.  Oh sure, I am painting, well... I know exactly where to put my brush when I get up there to the studio.  I know I am going to keep painting, I know where I stopped, and know where to start again.  I am excited with what I am painting, the flow is there, just as long as I get in the right row boat and paddle in the right direction, and so far, I'd say that the fact that I'm sitting here typing shows I got on the wrong boat again.  Paint, go paint, pull over and get on the other boat, right.

But first, let me meander a bit, clear out some of the brain clutter.  I have been pondering the creative idea thing, why we do this, why do we paint, what makes us an artist.  Time seems to be the cause of that.  Spend enough time painting, and eventually you end up with artwork.  Spend enough time at it, eventually you have nothing to add to the work except a signature.  Spend enough time repeating this act, and eventually people like it enough to buy it.  It's the time doing it that makes us an artist.  I don't believe just thinking about it is enough.  Although, I tell myself the time I spend thinking about it should be added into the value of that final piece of artwork.  Yes, I am being a smidgeon sarcastic, I know it takes more than just time, there are a few other requirements.

I am not going to pontificate on all that I know about art, so don't imagine me standing on a stage here with a magic wand in my hand, or baton, or anything that says I know-it-all, I don't.  All I know is my own story, and even tho a lot of it I wish I could go back and edit, I accept my own story for what it is.  I suppose the miracle of aging is that wisdom thing, the knowing where we were being utterly stupid, and thank God we don't do those things anymore.  I have come to understand well, that the images we need to create in art, must come from no where else but within our own thoughts and impulses.  Yet, I recall sitting in workshops, hoping to come out a changed person, making artwork as good as that instructor.  As good as.  Interesting motivation.  I recall, wanting that fast pass to fame.  I recall, watching intently for ways to skip mistakes, and being able to punch out master works like the instructor.  And, I also remember being motivated to "change" and hitting those canvasses with so much free abandon and glee, only to crash land when all I saw before me was ugly crap.  Still, being foolishly young, thought if someone else said the work was good, I'd be happy, and sign it, and ask someone to buy it.

Don't get me wrong, I know this all part of that artistic growth thing, and maybe there was an audience for those messes.  I think the reason I never gave up was because fellow artists who painted very carefully, and fearfully, told me straight up my work was garbage. I was told to stop making messes, and go back to my old way of painting.  Careful and mundane pretty pictures that looked like the photo.  I remember that being my biggest inspiration, the rage and defiance I felt.  I wasn't sure why I was angry, I didn't like the messes much either myself, but I knew I didn't want to fit in with the mundane norm.  Not saying all of those artist's were mundane and boring, they painted nice pictures, but so what if they did, doesn't mean I should be like them.

I know my work doesn't appeal to a lot of people.  I am deeply joyful for the ones who do appreciate my artwork.  There is always that individual communication thing in art, as well as in life in general, come to think of it.  We all "don't get" some things.  Just don't get it.  I look at some artwork and feel totally baffled, while someone standing next to me is in tears from being so deeply moved by it.  The personal response to things varies from person to person.  Should I go home and paint something that looked like that confusing square I just didn't get, just because I want others to burst into tears when they look at it because they were deeply moved?  It doesn't work that way.  It has to be the artist's deepest understanding of what they are painting first.  Communicating a story that someone else told would not be much fun, not for me, anyways.

Ah, a lot of words when I should be painting.  My story is not unlike many others I am sure.  We go through life absorbing experiences as they hit us, finding our own way of riding out the storms of creativity.  Human nature brings us the genetic need to be social, so it's only natural we feed off of each others stories and experiences.  I do better when I paint alone, but I admit I enjoy painting with other people.  The act of painting seems to bring out a relaxed honesty in each of us, very therapeutic, and cheaper than going to a bar.  But that remains social painting, not serious painting for me.  It is when I only have myself to listen to that I get anywhere close to a successful painting.  I imagine that is due to getting the technique mechanisms working along at the same pace as the intuitive mechanism, both mandatory elements in making good art.  Yes, it's truer than I ever believed back when I was young and stupid.  Technique is equally as important as intuitive response, you can't do one without the other.

Which brings me to a little story, might as well, we're in the bottom of the 8th of the game, I can type further instead of watching the Mariner's lose.  While at one of my voice lessons, I had that "aHA" moment on the technique/intuitive thing, the brain versus the heart thing.  I had been working really hard on my voice mechanics, and finding improvement in my singing.  I learned the benefits of how to breath properly, how to control my breath while making sound, how to gain strength in sound through posture and controlled breath, how to relax my jaw and create a larger area for resonance in my face, relax the tongue, imagine holding an orange in my mouth, raise my eyebrows to lift for more resonance, not pull my head back, or forward, don't lock my knees, relax... relax while I have all these other things in perfect order, right, got it.  I was feeling like I was really getting there, better sound, and not passing out from the tension of staying on high G for three bars.  I had my song to learn for my lesson, and got set up, ready to launch my new and improved vocal amazement.  All set, and thinking about all those physical things I needed to do, and knew the song enough to sing it, I sang it.  My voice coach looked at me... and said..  "okay, you did everything right, now sing it like you mean what the words are saying, sing it with heart."  yes, I sang it technically right, but without the heart and intuitiveness of the beautiful song, it meant nothing.  The songs were written to communicate something.  Technique and note recall alone does not do that.  When we paint, we must always listen to that intuitive side that tells us to face our own true heart.  Don't be afraid of what we already know, it's there, use it.

Okay, on that technical note from my heart, I shall go now, well.. maybe watch the rest of this game.  GO MARINERS!!

Thanks for reading!
Mary Ann

Saturday, July 2, 2016

No Logical Explanation

No photo to attach here for many reasons.  Main one, I haven't painted for a few weeks, and since Mom died, I haven't finished and signed anything worth my sense of pride. Oh sure, tiny areas and bits on the canvas window I like, here and there, but overall?  my painterly sense of pride seems to be on hold.  And, perhaps, I shouldn't be blogging at all if I have nothing to show as a painter, but for some reason, I feel a need to type-expound again, to sort, to think, to maybe recharge my tired brain.

Today, Children, we shall talk about our "sense-of-pride".  I know, I know, we have touched on this subject before, but since my own SOP is filed somewhere between "just do it" and "where do I start?", I feel a ramble is in order. 

I, along with around 50 other participants, have just come out of a 5 day singing workshop.  Hosted by the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, and under the teaching direction of Peter Butterfield, Sarah Fryer and Gary Relyea.  It was an intense immersion kinda thang.  We sang from mid afternoon until 9:30pm.  We learned Bach's Magnificat, Pergolesi/Durante Magnificat, and a few other songs.  We, were given only 5 days to learn the music, then to perform it on the 5th day in two concerts.  I think about that accomplishment that I just conquered.  If someone handed me those scores ten years ago, told me I would learn them in 5 days, then sing them in two concerts on the 5th day, I'd laugh an out loud.. " YEAH RIGHT..AS IF!!! "  But it happened, and I managed to still be singing on the last bar's note and beat, so yay me.

This isn't to say it wasn't beyond my capabilities, it well may have been just that.  I miss Mom telling me "why do you do this to yourself?"  when I gasp over the phone to her, telling her I made it.  I miss being able to tell her how I feel.  Yes, Mom, I am exhausted, and sorry I haven't shampooed your carpets yet, but I just experienced something that was beyond what I imagined I could do.  It's not just about how well I can do this kind of singing, it's a giant palette of other things that went into the final product, and I do feel like signing it, I do.  My SOP feels pretty good.

Mom's right, tho, why do I do this?  I have mountains of projects waiting to be finished.  I am so far behind, I've let Husband G go hacking in my garden.  Wow, now that's busy.  I am still in the adjusting phase of blending our kitty family, which is working out fine.  Other than Grandpa Max, my geriatric Himalayan who needs extra attention, some meds, little chairs and stools to help him jump up, next feature added to the house may be one of those motorized seats to go up and down the stairs.  Awe, poor Ol'Magzeee, he is an amazing force of kitty nature.   Both Gerry and I have become earnest caregivers, pampering and fussing over him, hoping to extend Max's long life from 20 to 25, or 20 and a half, either could become a reality.  I know that this is insane to others who don't have pets, or have had pets who got old and euthanized them before they dropped 20 grand (slight exaggeration) on extending the pet life another 6 months.  But it is really about love.  Love is not measured by logic, simple as that.

Okay, back to sense of pride, and singing.  Maybe this is the same kind of thing as why I am being so intent on keeping Max alive, free of pain and discomfort, that endless energy that happens without any logical explanation.  I admit, I nearly cancelled out of Summer Voices this time.  My logical thinking kept telling me I can't do that, not right now, don't be stupid, Mary Ann, you can't fit that in right now.  So, I got a second opinion from my husband, and he said to do it if I want to, so I did it.  Not because I wanted to, but I didn't feel like I didn't want to, so I went.  The mountain was there for me to climb, I put on my hiking boots and hit the trail, so to speak.

Right from the start, these 5 days were a blessing of joy.  I don't think I had time to listen to my SOP (sense of pride) voices.  I can't expound enough on the wonders of a good teacher.  Someone who has a vision of their own, and the energy to focus on that vision, knowing the limited time to accomplish it, and how to get the very best out of the one's who have to play the part in that vision, that being our voices.  It's a separate thing from our sense of prides, our egos.  Those things are only for us to discipline.  The good teacher gives us the direction to follow, and ways to maximize what we have brought in our vocal instrument.  An excellent teacher looks at us as equals (even tho it doesn't take a lot of intelligence to hear we aren't all equal) and knows how to guide us into a place where we feel really wonderful about what we are doing.  How we manage that within our own wobbly wagon called sense-of-pride calls us to be thoughtful and self reflecting.  I know how lucky I am to be taught by Peter Butterfield and Sarah Fryer and Gary Relyea this past Summer Voices 2016.

I admit, I have a hard time feeling like I have done enough.  I look at Max and wonder how I can do more.  I wish I could have been a better and more patient daughter.  Even knowing I committed more time than most daughters in the world would for their moms, I could have been better.  I know I could paint better.  I know I could be a better mom and wife.  I never feel like I am enough.  Even on days when I feel pretty good, am happy with all the singing I have done, there is a drop eventually, that not-enough vacuum that sucks me back down.   But I know this is all part of who I am, and if it makes me stay ambitious enough to be better, that's okay too.  There is no logic in this.  It's all about love.  The love and passion of those who compose music that has lasted for centuries, and still inspires love in those who deliver it.  There is no logic in the change in the air when I climb out of all that life stuff that makes my head ache, that sudden lift out of the ache that I quickly forget.  There is no logic in the human energy that embraces us as one when we stand to sing.  There is a lot of logic I am sure in the music notes and timing, saying the words right in other languages, those are logical things we have to learn.  But that other stuff??  That surprise of joy, that sense of wonder above and beyond our fragile sense of pride that makes life such a pure and wonderful thing to live.  It's love in the purest form.

As I type, I have the distant ring of Bach music playing softly in my inner ear.  The remains of all those moments that felt better than right, they keep replaying in my mental audio.  I long for more to sing, more to paint, more to love.  And it all waits, I am blessed!

Happy Saturday!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Committed to Committing

There's always a story.  If there was no story to tell, what would be the point of painting?  But this one says more than the obvious.  It's a tale of struggle and self analysing, and discipline.  It's a tale of taking a weary creative mind that needs to speak from another realm of reality.  Ever since finding Mom's spirit had left her body, I know I am not the same person that I was before in many ways.  That day was a turning point for me.  I have been asked if I think I am suffering from Post Traumatic Syndrome, and I say no, I have been propelled into Post Reality Syndrome, nothing speaks "REAL" louder than those moments of being alone, without warning, with our Moms in a passed away state.  That's reality.  Every second since looks differently now.  No tolerance anymore for BS, not from anyone else, or myself, either.  Today is what is REAL from now on.
Painting is the non-stop thing that waits for me, along with everything else.  Another life changing reality is how time is used around this house since my husband is mostly/semi-retired.  Gone are the days of taking to my studio from 8 at night, to well into the hours of the dark morning, with my cd player playing non-stop.  Now that he is at home, we watch tv and go to bed by midnight.  It was a tough transition for me, but now I wonder how I ever did that at all.  I am now yawning with watery eyes at 10:30pm.  How did I ever stay up painting until 4am all those years??  I suppose the good trade-off is I wake in actual morning light, but "we" still take our time with coffee and news, so hitting the studio in the early morning hasn't happened yet.
I wonder if any artist truly feels like they maximize their time with making art.  I recall guest artist speakers talking about that very thing over the years.  I recall being told years ago, stop allowing art to be the first thing eliminated from your days duties.  And one saying how the phone ringing makes us drop our brush IMMEDIATELY, that was before internet.  I don't even want to imagine how internet has effected our creative time. I type that as I ponder how I could be painting right now instead of this rambling, mmmm hmmm.
Oh, I will paint today, once I clean my brushes.  You see, I have realistically re-assessed my role as an artist, and understand well, that in order to move forward, and make decent artwork, I must do what it takes to get there.  My legs are not weak, my eyes relatively healthy, I can sleep well enough to collect a vast array of nightmares, no physical excuses to not get there.  I have a studio that is a mess,  I'm not one to worry about tidying before I create.  And I live with someone very similar to me in living style.  The only difference to my workplace is the time thing, it's different, so I have to change to match the different.  I can do this.  It is just going to take some commitment, that's all.
This painting I posted here is a result of the new schedule I live in now.  Does it look much different than my other artworks?  Not really.  But to me, this has been a HUGE change.  First one, I used an eeeelongated canvas, 12x24, I usually prefer a standard rectangle, or a square, so this dimension brought some composition problems.  I spent a good few hours cropping photos, searching for help in making it work.  Second, I insisted that I only use bristle brushes.  I always start with that, but something happens to me where I give in, and grab that way-too-little acrylic sable brush, and start labouredly placing layers of paint over paint in a dazed zone of not really looking at what I am doing.  Third, instead of that URGE to create drama by going DARKER, I forced myself to go LIGHTER.  And four, every time I go upstairs, I go into the studio first, and do SOMETHING.  And when I get that urge to do all those things while I paint that I am trying to not do, I put my brush down and leave the studio, go do something else.  I can do that, the oils won't dry up, the palette and brushes can take a breather and think for a bit with me.
The reason for making these small changes is something I wonder about.  I may not like how things change, it is taking a large sense of commitment, and discipline.  I rarely look at something I painted after a short term and think it looks DONE.  But I do like those fresh dancing kinds of brushstrokes that have more character than layers of dark paint over dark paint.  I have to adjust to my own commitment. I have to learn to accept change, and trust that the road ahead is leading to a better place.
  Oh, my, the many metaphors of life.  Perhaps this is why most of my subject matter is a road that leads somewhere, or maybe leads back to where I am.  The road in this painting is a place from childhood, one of the many lanes we walked on, learned to ride a bike on, learned to run fast on.  In my dreams, I return to a sunny road often, and try to paint that one that I walk on in my dream, still haven't quite done that yet, and maybe that won't ever happen in life.  Maybe that road, the one in my dream, is the one Mom went on.  And, come to think of it, maybe this is why I insist to stop being DARK.  Follow that sense of youth, feel that Beechnut-Fruit-Stripe-Gum sensation, let the colours be your ride, Mary Ann, and follow it. 
Whatever the reasons are, I know I have a choice.  I am thankful in so many ways.  I recognize how blessed my life is, and every second I get in my studio is a gift.  And that's a REAL thing.  Wasn't that a jingle from a commercial back in the 70s?  I think so.
Here's to today, thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

One Step At a Time

Teresa Joan Zellinsky, born March 16, 1946, died March 20, 1970.  No, this is not a late obituary, just some rambles on this fair day in March.  Not sure what category this blog should be sorted into, not sure what category any day needs to be sorted into of late, about all I am sure of lately is I have to wake up and get dressed. 
So, here I go again, after spending about half an hour trying to find myself in this site.  Be nice if finding myself always took about half an hour, not 62 years, or longer..... not sure if I've found myself at all yet.  And still, questioning that "self" thing again, not only as an artist do I question who I am,  it's an ongoing search of every role I play in this giant soap opera called life.  I realize, though, that one role in my life has changed, I am no longer a daughter.  Since Mom died in January, that role was taken away from me.  Strange feeling just typing that.
I think I have exhausted my Facebook friends with my posts on post-Mom-death, but I am consumed by what a profound change this has been on my life, all of our family's lives I am sure, but I really only know my own perspective on this one.  The way I see my life through my memories and daily goings from point A to Z, my view, my thoughts, selfish as that may be, I accept that I am allowed to ponder my own views.  Through the many many many days and hours of going through Mom's lifetime of collections, I have gone back to times I had forgotten, and that one main one is what happens when someone dies.  I found that Mom's death was a grief I recalled that I experienced for the first time in my life, our sister, Teresa, who died in 1970 at the age of 24. 
 Teresa, or "Zaz", was the eldest of our family of 5 kids.  She and Mom had an incredible bond that was not only held together with love, but a sense of humour that raised the roof daily with the sound of laughter.  I was 8 years younger than Teresa.  Between us were one brother, Stephen, then Jane, then me, then baby sis, Chris.  Larger than life personalities, pretty hard to get heard in our house when we were all together.  I think fondly of the chaos, the insane laughing that I must admit, at my young age, I didn't really get.  It takes living experience to understand humour, especially sarcastic and self deprecating humour, which Mom and Teresa and Stephen and Jane were so sharp with.  Sure, I'd find myself doubled over laughing and gasping, too, but I'm glad no one asked me to explain what was so funny, I would not have been able to explain it.
So, what happened to Teresa?  I still wonder that.  I have found bits of what Mom saved of Zaz's, the odd letter, funny cards, photos, a few things.  Those things accompanied with that familiar pain of loss that I am experiencing with Mom dying seem to have woken up some dark corners in my brain.  One might say their spirit is with me telling me things, or maybe I just blocked things out for so long, I wouldn't allow myself to think about them, that could be it.  Heaven knows, I was the horrible teenager who was rebelling at the same time Teresa got pulled off her tracks of sensibility.  Unlike my three older siblings, I was plotting how to become a flower child in the Haight/Ashbury area in San Francisco.  Bad ass, that was me.  Why, at 14, I even ran away from home.  Yes, that's terrible, what a terrible thing to do to my parents, and my siblings, selfish and for no reason, other than being totally mesmerized by flower-power ideal at that time.  I do recall, tho, thinking no one would notice I was gone.  Not saying that to inspire sympathy, that was just a fact.  The very big and wonderful personalities that lived in our house were of their own world, to get heard among them was pretty much impossible, so I didn't even try.
So, what happened to Teresa?  I wish I knew.  By 1970, I was still being a dense teenager, my poor parents.  And now, something was going on with Teresa.  It was her turn to be lost.  I think of Jann Arden saying " sometimes it's so hard just being a person " and that seems to explain my memories of that time.  And now that I am a mother of adult kids, I know all too well the worry and fear of my kids not being happy.   Mom and Zaz were struggling a lot.  Like a parent knows, frustration and fear makes us do all kinds of crazy things, hoping to fix things with yelling, or grounding, or ANYTHING to make things feel right.  I can see now how badly it all fell apart for Mom and Dad, all of us, the unravelling just seemed to be unstoppable, and one day, we were faced with being told, Teresa was gone.
How did we recover from that tragedy?  We didn't, nothing was ever the same since then, nothing ever felt right, but we survived, I guess.  Dad sat and stared, day in day out, stared into the quiet in his chair in the corner of the room.  We kids carried on with our lives as best we knew how.  I think back to that sick emptiness I am feeling now with Mom gone, that waking from nightmares into a living nightmare.  We should all have had counselling, but didn't.  We carried on.  What bothers me most now, is knowing what kind of grief Mom was going through, and still bravely, carrying on as Mom.  Once the initial agonizing chaos was over, she carried on.  She didn't wail and cry, not in front of us, not that I recall.  What pain she must have suffered, totally distant from Dad, her best friend/daughter gone, being a mom myself, I can't imagine that kind of pain.  Siblings are not children, I do not have the same kind of love for my siblings as I do my kids.  I know I would not be as strong as Mom in getting through, not over, but through those times.  I want to tell my Mom how sorry I am for so many things.  If there are spirits of the dead, I hope she hears me.
Death.  We know it will happen, but not ever when.  I think I've learned over the past ten years that the most important way to prepare for death is to live well.  Whatever that means is pretty complicated and vague, but I did learn (eventually) that I wanted to be exactly who I was to Mom.  I think I was a caring daughter, but I know I did complain when things got hard for me.  I know I lost friends with my continual whining over having to take Mom to the store, have to go to Mom's, have to... have to.... have to... did I really have to?  Now, I know why I put in the time I did with Mom, I wanted to.  Not one second was ever a waste of time, a few may have been infuriating here and there, confusing now and then, but not a waste, no such things as a waste of time when we spend it with our moms.
Yes, Jann Arden, being a person is the hardest part of life.  I sit here today, trying to put the present day into perspective once again.  I understand I am not perfect, never have been, never tried to be.  But I try to be as honest as I possibly can be.  I look a mess, I am overweight, my hair is too long, my face shows the signs of age and grief, but none of those things matter.  My soul is strong and wise and reliable.  As in life, Mom relied on me, and so I continue to follow that path.  Call me names, a disgusting cow, pathetic, unstable, sick loser, low class, I don't care.  I know who I am, and I am thankful for every ugly piece of it.
Thank you, Mom.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finding My Way Back

I haven't posted a weblog on this site since August.  There are many reasons for that, it's not entirely because I haven't painted since then, but now that I mention it, maybe I haven't, the past months seem a blur in my memory file system right now.  I am basking in the afterglow of post frantic-Christmas time, the lull after the storm.  But the main reason I haven't posted on my blog site is because I couldn't find it.  I did, however, find another account I created 4 years ago, the one I made, and promptly could not find again after one post.  SO... while trying to find this one that I created a few years ago under the title (stupid title) " Cerebral Challenges Upon My Keyboard" with all those long winded rambles that are supposed to be all about art, not sure if they are, and I don't intend on going back to read them.. anyways, where was I?  right.. found this account, I found this account with ALL those cerebrally challenged offerings, but under the account from 4 years ago, so I couldn't get into this one to write more blather, which is not the end of the world or anything, but like all things in life, I feel a sense of guilt over lack of commitment to my writer's profile.  Not really, I am being a smidge sarcastic, I doubt much of anything I put on a computer is necessary, but I do it anyways.

ANYWAYS.. so, really what this is, is a test, is a test to see if I can get this page with the stupid title back and running.  I plan on making a commitment here again, mostly because my spellcheck works here, unlike the other places where I bore people, this one corrects me, I like that.  And, even though I don't intend to paint 30 paintings in 30 days, I do intend to post a painting a week for the rest of my life, or maybe 27 weeks, or until I have forgotten my password and identity again, or something like that.  Hey, we are artists, we, as in WE, are supposed to follow our instincts and inspirations, right?

Onward to 2016 we go.  I have a mountain of ideas to paint, mostly from 2015.  I expect to find myself through the dark days of January and February without noticing them, only to wake up smelling the heavenly fragrance of blossoms in the air when I open the curtains on Week Somethingorother.  I wonder if I make sense to anyone besides myself.

So, again, this was only a test, do not run for cover, do not panic, this is only a test.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Artistic Maturity

** please note, for those who don't know me, my thoughts and words should be taken with a fair amount of grains of salt, I mean... I like to be taken seriously, but it's okay to laugh at me as well, part of my intentions here **

I have been in a thinking thread on the subject of artistic maturity these past few weeks.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that I suddenly see how I have time to think again, and not jump back on the treadmill of life, all those obligations to pursue after I absorb enough caffeine to jump start my mode.  It's August 1st, and I have nothing to do except what I want to do.  Not saying that most of my life-busy stuff is what I don't choose and love to do, it is.  But often commitments lead to fatigue, and the whole meaning behind why I commit gets lost on that metaphorical treadmill. The quiet of the house right now is actually more daunting then relaxing, there are a million things I would like to start, or finish, but instead I'll ponder type here, just because I want to.

SO.. the subject for today, Children, is something I rarely talk about, it's about competition.  Okay, I know I know, I talk about that constantly, and by the time I have finished typing, I will probably have just repeated a blog from a previous date, but I don't care to read what I wrote before, I instead will hope this will be at least slightly different in it's own way.  All we can ever hope for is to show growth in some way, slight differences from how we expressed something before.  Whether it is in painting, or writing, or whatever we place ourselves in, we want to believe we improve in some way. 

I have come to realize my biggest competitor is myself.  I don't think I understood that before as well as I do now, I may have said it, but it probably didn't come from a deep understanding in my heart.  I recall way back when, some years ago, when I once mindlessly wrote in another site, I did that freely and stupidly because I knew no one there in my real life.  Facebook was different.  I was afraid to show who I was in Facebook, well... that part of me, anyways.  I was afraid I would turn people off for acting like a show-off, or inspire critics to tell me what a bad writer I am, or annoy friends and family for being stupid, or, or...well, you get what I mean, being among people who know us does stop our creative side sometimes.  So I didn't do this, no, I kept my over-wordy showing off to minimum size in the Facebook squares offered.  Then one day, that infamous site changed, and all the wordy words I left there got gobbled up by the giant cyber monster, so I had nowhere else to put them but here. End of story.  

Seriously, there is no end of story here, sorry to say that, I can go on and on about absolutely nothing where ever I go.  But the good news is, I'm not nearly as paranoid about what anyone thinks about what I say anymore.  This is because I am a mature artist who knows the only one who is out to outdo me is probably me.  This concept of achieving is such a complicated ideal.  We are instinctively ambitious, and way too often, that bench mark of achievement only means something when we compare ourselves to others.  We are taught to compete before we even learn how to walk or speak.  Doctors measure our weight and put it on a comparative scale when we are newly born.  By the time we get a chance to breath our first gulp of oxygen, we are being measured up.  Then, if we are among siblings, more comparing happens, it's just human nature to do this.  Our progress as maturing human beings is completely based on measuring up.

Not much wonder our world is the way it is.  Every one is competing.  Politicians who claim to want the best for us, ruthlessly compete against each other.  Those who claim to belong to the right religions compete to extremes beyond any practical reasoning.  Our world is a giant mass of competition, and if we want to survive, seems like we must put on the gloves and jump in that ring with everyone else. I have to ask myself daily, what does it matter??  I think I have about 30 velcro curlers in my hair right now, and wonder why I did that.  What does it matter how my hair looks today.  What does it matter if I look older than my age, or younger, or my actual age?  Well, for some reason, it matters to me.  It's my competitor who insists I at least try my best to fight the ravages of age, so I do it.

So many people go online to tell us how they feel, what they painted, what they've achieved, so many personal stories accumulate in the lands of socializing.  I suppose that makes us feel good about ourselves when what we achieve get's "liked and cheered for", a medicinal thing from that surge of chemistry in the brain upon feeling appreciated.  I'm often tempted to never post another thing again when I've had a good response on some artwork I did that I posted.  I have outdone myself, leave it alone, the next might not be so good in responses, just never post another image of my paintings because I could never do so well again, afraid to compete with myself.  I wonder if this rings familiar to anyone but me.  And then, I wonder why I wonder if others think like me.  If everyone told me I was way alone here, would that stop me?  Or, would that make me happy because I am an individual of unique thinking, and no one, not even myself, can compete with me?

Well, my ultimate competitor is telling me to stop typing now.  It's time to take on August with a vengeance, hack away the weeds of wonders and get out there like a trooper.  So I shall...

Over and out...

Mary Ann

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Searching For Surprise

This is how it all began, an effort to be fresh and spontaneous, alla prima dancer I was for the moment.  During my 30 paintings "from life" challenge I enforced upon myself (way back when), I fooled myself into believing I'd never paint anything other than "from life" ever again.  Artist's are dreamers, they believe in the moments given to them, I believe, and even though that often sets them up for disappointment, doesn't seem to stop the dreams from continuing.

SO... here is the painting before....

Before what???  you ask.  Well, before what it ended up as.... this one...

Being that I have publicly announced the sale of this finished one at Sooke, I feel a need to explain my surprise over the success of this painting.  A sale always feels like a total success, even if we never felt that the painting reached the dream envisioned by the artist.  I speak in the third person, I know I could be the only one who feels the way I do about this, but then again, maybe there are a few nutcase overthinking artists like me out there who like to know they are not alone.  Yeah, that's it, I am offering a service here, right.

Anyways, what happened after that "one punch all prima dance with this still life set up" result was, I decided it needed just a touch of glaze.  I felt somewhat victorious that I accomplished an okay fresh one go painting that I liked, well... liked as much as I can like anything I paint.  But it needed something.  And since I don't accompany myself with overly critical artist friends while painting anymore, I wasn't hearing that infamous... "leave it alone, leave it alone, leave it alone" that I once heard for many years.  I think my balking at those demands were a bit immature, I see their point now, but awe Heck, I needed to spend the next 20 years balking and doing it my way.

It wasn't long into that simple act of "just a bit of glaze" when I realized I was into another 40 act play with this painting.  Glaze was too dark, go in with impasto, too light, wait to dry and glaze, glaze too dark, more impasto, wait to dry and back in with... well... you know, that kinda thing.  And I embraced my stubborn stupidity once again, gone the dream, gone the fresh all prima feel, now I had real work to do again in trying to make my dance look easy, and not the gut wrenching labour of lost dreams it really had become.

I threw it away.  I know that because I have a photo of how it looked before.  I admit, I like the first one.  But then again, I remember how it looked in real life, and it needed something, something pushed me to work on it some more.  I wonder what that was, and why I do this.  Is it because I am afraid of change?  That could be part of it.  Or, maybe I was fooling myself into believing it didn't need improving, only to try to sign it, and couldn't.  It needed further explaining, in my mind it did anyways, and after searching for some sense of explanation, I eventually gave up and signed it, and entered it into a juried show, thinking it would get confirmation of some sort, it did, it got accepted, and it has sold.

Yes, I am sincerely surprised at that.  But now I am looking at the finished one, and I do see more mood in it than it originally had.  A feeling of rest as the day slides away into evening light.  The top one is quite unruly, a livelier version that shows my determination to be the brave dancer on a foreign stage.  Maybe that's just not me.  Maybe I was thinking it was successful because I felt like I was looking at someone else who painted it.  Maybe I don't appreciate myself. 

Whatever the self examining case may be, this is why I paint.  I never stop finding out something new.  If not about the public, about myself. 

Been a long time since I dropped some words in here, feels good to be back.