A belated Five Things Friday post.
- Getting ready.
We´re going to France for a month. My feelings: I hate the airplane, I love France. Life is surprising. Time for delicious coffee, bread, wine. The challenge in France and particularly in smaller towns is to maintain a plant-based diet. Too much cheese! I hope there is a farmer’s market near where we’ll stay.
- I purchased Mark Taro’s latest book. The second I saw his direct watercolor paintings a couple of years ago I was obsessed. He’s my favorite watercolor artist, period. Take a look at his mastery. Thanks to him, I think I’m ready to graduate to fine artist grade paints. One of the biggest myths about watercolor is that you shouldn’t use pigment direct from your tube or paint, that you should mix everything. Well, not if you use paints that are made of two or three pigments. Most fine artists will say, noooo! you can’t you have to use one pigment and mix your own colors. But Marc has taught me (through his blog obviously) that you can use paint direct from the tube, but not just any paint.
- I read The Human Predicament by David Benatar. This is the most important book I’ve read in almost twenty years. However, it is a heavy, dark, pessimistic philosophy and not for everyone. After I finished it, the crack in my heart had become a fault. But there is comfort knowing that someone else out there can eloquently say what I’ve been thinking for more than twenty years. After a few days after finishing it, recognizing moments of beauty and spontaneity became easier. This, coupled with my MBSR is giving me a different perspective altogether. Still have a long way to go though.
- The second discipline that inspires tremendously besides visual arts is dance. I had the privilege of seeing Margie Gillis’ Viriditas last Friday. I’m still under the enchantment of seeing three women of different ages, express every possible emotion just with their bodies. I sustain that I am a frustrated dancer.
- A meditation retreat, though technically this was on Saturday, I’m writing this on Sunday. As an introvert I have no problem spending hours or even days in silence. In fact, that’s how I enjoy being with people the most. The year I did NaNoWriMo, the most productive days were when I joined a writing group where everyone was hunched over their laptops typing away. There is an energy that covers everything when a group of people are doing the same thing in silence.
Little by little you climb the mountain. Or something like that. As much as it feels like the weeks are like a sneeze and you can’t see them go by, making this Five Things Friday recap will definitely give me some perspective. Especially when it feels (so often now) that I work so much and see so little results. It was comforting, as misery really does love company, to listen to a well known illustrator admit to not having had inquiries during the month of January. She is someone who has gained a lot of popularity on Social Networks.
Is January just slow?
Or am I climbing the wrong mountain?
- I confirmed the opening date for my exhibition! It is the first time I will show my work in person. I’m really nervous. All the self-doubt monsters are chanting loudly. It is never easy despite knowing that I’ve made progress that I can allow my work to hang on a wall. It was a wonderful surprise to be asked by this small café in my neighbourhood.
- I bought a box of Prismacolors a year ago and I hadn’t used it. See previous post about my clean-up. I decided to give them a go. Be a beginner again. I know nothing about colour pencils and it felt like I was wrangling them into submission. I had a hard time blending and shading. Portraits are becoming a thing for me. I love doing Sktchy portraits in the evening. I love I can sketch real people instead of models from magazines which I started to do waaaay back in 2014 I also prefer Sktchy instead of creating from my imagination because I usually end up drawing the same face over and over.
3. A weekend at the cabin. What luxury. No internet, just silence, light and painting. Lots of watercoloring, lots of experimenting in joyful flow. My first incursion into recipe illustration.
- I created a set of four printable Valentine’s cards. Though I know Valentine’s is a double sworded holiday as most holidays are. For some, they are painful reminders to what is missing whether it’s Mother’s day, Father’s day and all the rest. I was inspired particularly this year because of my tenth wedding anniversary. I feel it’s a milestone and as I painted these hearts in different colors I thought about the little things that show love day in day out as opposed as the grand gestures that movies, media and society keep showing us. A simple printed colorful card to acknowledge what we truly value is enough. And it applies to friends, family, significant other, co-workers etc.
Week three of MBSR showed me how truly one single sitting can leave me feeling refreshed. I tried the meditation stool which is definitely my preferred way of sitting in a “dignified” position as my instructor says. I haven’t practiced as much as I should, I italicize because obviously that is a thought that comes like a Pacman to eat at my experiences.
I spent six days almost completely at home, except for a few hours on Tuesday when I went to my MBSR session. That’s a record even for me and my solitary tendencies. Though my husband works from home often and we’re in our respective offices, not leaving the house for so long seems unhealthy, but is it really?
Or is it one of those things that most people find difficult and strange and so they advocate for “leaving the house” even if the entire city is a block of ice and walking is hazardous. I’m not exaggerating. The temperature went up, it rained quite a bit and then the temperature plummeted and so cars, windows and houses woke up in a shell of ice.
So here we go.
- I did my Body Scan meditation in the subway. I never thought I’d be able but I did it. I felt every inch of my body, I saw my thoughts as bubbles. Ten minutes is all it took. It is quite a feat to manage not reading, not looking at the phone,
- I opened my commissions page. For the moment, I’m offering personalized scarves, but soon I will offer other items. I’d love some suggestions!
- I spent a good part of Thursday building color palettes. Sometimes I get the feeling I’m trapped in the same combinations or influenced by other artists a bit too much so I turned off the internet, grabbed a stack of magazines and created a few mood boards. Up until now I’ve relied heavily on Pinterest, but as we all know, it can be quite unproductive and directionless as it’s the algorithm that suggests similar pins, you are not really choosing and observing.
- I watched M2M documentary about Fashion in the 90’s. The documentation team did an amazing job. It’s so good in every level: it allows us to see creativity from every angle, from trendsetters to followers. For example how at one point all the luxury brands had to turn to the street for inspiration. Even Valentino! I’m not a fashion consumer, but I love the creative and historical aspect of it.
- I cleaned my office/studio. This might seem like procrastination but I was at a point where I couldn’t function. I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that kept piling up. I don’t allow myself to use the common spaces of the place I live in. I tend to claim a space/room for myself and I jam it with everything I consider mine. So at this point I was drowning. I did it the Marie Kondo way and I battled quite a bit with shame in the process when I saw right there in front of me, how much money I had spent in art supplies that were going bad because I wasn’t using them. How I bought another mechanical pencil when I had eight already. But also, I recognized how much work I’ve put into my development as an artist. Piles of old sketches showed me that I have come a long way.
This weekend we’re going back to the cabin. I will bring fewer things this time. I’ll attempt to keep up with meditation and I will try to write a little bit.
- There are words in the English language because they are so precise. You don’t need additional articles or pronouns to illustrate a state. One such word is “disarray”. I sit here on Friday afternoon looking at my office/studio, the mess, the chaos. Simply untameable. Every time I get up from my chair I look around and the feeling of impossibility takes over. How will I ever be organized or get everything done?
- I started the MBSR program. I am going to be meditating each week. During the first session they asked us to reflect on Why we were there. The instructor kept repeating the question and every time I had a different answer until one floated in my mind and stayed there: To stop battling with the way things are. Especially in the world and my surroundings. Like getting angry at my neighbor because he loves to use his snowblower. This ties into what I wrote recently in my newsletter about attention.
- Transitioning into plant-based eating. Thanks to Veganuary I am now really making an effort. On Sunday I walked 50 minutes in the cold to go get diary-free products like “yogurt” and cream “cheese”. Made a fabulous soup and a vegan bolognese pasta, despite my cooking challenges. The change has made me feel so good emotionally.
- I flipped through the pages of a sketchbook I started at the beginning of 2017. I’d used about 15 pages only and I drew a portrait on page 16. If you ever doubt that you are getting better at your art, try that. Get an old sketchbook and draw in the next available blank page and then flip through it. Boom! Confirmation that you have made huge progress.
- I lost my Photoshop Presets, my Spotify playlists, my favorite podcast app stopped working… so I make new playlists, new presets and I discover new podcasts.
Do you do #fivethingsfriday?