Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to not screw up your second marriage


]

The most difficult stage in any relationship is adjusting what's already working, trying to make it more pronounced. You feel like you're walking on egg shells. At any moment this beautiful harmony of visions and relationships can snap. It's so crucial to refrain from passing any judgement during this arduous task. You want to turn your mind off and to just listen to that inner voice that can really guide you if you let it.

Only when a new pattern becomes clear, will your mind pacify, learn a new routine, begin its new training. The path should always stem from your heart, from finding your true priorities. You want to learn your weak sides where compromises won't work, and figure out where a shortcut is possible, where the other can lead.

This does not mean I'm done for good. One always tends to step into the same traps and it's a constant mindful decision to steer into a different direction. We will inevitably make mistakes. We will ruin a good thing time and again. I might add too much drama where there really isn't any place for it. You will need to learn to play with opposites, and learn to have empty space so we can just breathe.

However, the most important aspect of it all is to not judge any outcomes until we're finished working through the problem. Just go through the motions of the task without giving it much thought. Do not overthink anything! Trust that it will all come together in the end.

Yes, these are all tips on building a harmonious relationship. But guess what this manual of sorts actually pertains to?

This was me talking to myself while working on a third layer of a large scale painting. I was trying hard to pacify my alter-ego. If  I don't calm myself down during the painting process, I will give up and not get anything out of it. I want to get something out of this practice. If I keep up, I know that every single time I will come out of a painting session with an 'aha' moment. I will find an answer to an important question in my life.

During this go around I guess the universe wanted me to rethink the strengths and weaknesses of my relationship with my husband. We're going through a difficult phase: three kids under ten, my running a business. Plus all of a sudden I decided to actually start promoting my own art. There certainly are a lot of shifting priorities and my head feels like it's about to explode. My painting practice is my way to hold on, to think through the issues, to stay balanced...My writing about the process puts all kinds of things in perspective.

If you'd like to keep up with my analysis of life dilemmas through artmaking, I invite you to join me on this quest. While you're at it, feel free to check out my art and leave any feedback.
http://www.dianastelin.com/jointhemeltingcrew.php

Friday, June 2, 2017

Confessions of a Failed Gallery Director

 I studied to be an artist. I tell everyone this story of how I wanted to be a fashion designer but my mother met a 'starving artist', Andrey Tamarchenko, who convinced her that I needed to learn how to paint everything in order to become one. She had me enroll to take classes while in high school, prepping my portfolio. I was then accepted into all the art schools where I applied, and of course without even knowing how to sew, I surely wasn’t getting into fashion schools. So I just kept going with the life of an artist. But truly it’s a more complex story.
Just like every art student I graduated with a thought that I’ll never make a living as an artist. After a number of different stints I landed a gallery director job and that surely was the dream of every art student and every parent. All that prestige: the gallery openings, art fairs, auctions, fancy clients, celebrities, worldwide travel, crazy money. It’s a perfect life, isn’t it? What more could you possibly wish for? But you know what? It’s a brutal backstabbing world. It’s a life where I didn’t sleep at nights because I knew I wasn’t honest with clients. I suffered from ridiculous bouts of depression – never knowing who my friends at work are, not trusting any information I was given. I sold my soul to the devil and I felt it every single day.
Then one day I was sent to Italy to check out the Venice Biennale and I stayed another week for an art retreat with that same art teacher I met back in high school, my one and only guide through life, Andrey Tamarchenko. Painting every day with him in the hills of Alessandria, I saw just how deep my abyss was. I was balling my eyes out again, every single night of that week. But this time it was different. I cried due to the realization that I cannot live like this anymore. I saw that no amount of money can fix the horrible damage I was inflicting on myself every single day. This art retreat was a deciding factor that finally made me leave the gallery and reevaluate my life.
Yes, it has been tough not getting a six figure salary, and building a business of my own from scratch. But at the end of the day, it’s my painting practice that still keeps me honest with myself. Every week it gives me strength to tackle all kinds of dilemmas that come my way. It’s the only way to stay balanced.
-And here's a little piece I did with Andrey while in Italy. Feel free to email with questions if you're interested. -
Hugs,
Diana

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Journey to a better you - Seven lessons to change your life (through notions of drips in painting)

What are my drips for? I never fail to see that everything I do while painting is a reflection of a real life question. Same with my beloved drips:

1. These are not random drips of diluted paint and turpentine. They aren't meant to suggest an unfinished draft, or something coming out of nothing....lesson learned: nothing you do should remain unfinished, nothing in this life is random.

2. These are deliberate divisions which step in towards the end of the process. They lay on top of four layers of paint, some partially hidden, others - uncovered to their core...lesson learned here: it's ok to be a mystery, and it's equally ok to let yourself be seen, to uncover the frail sides of you.

3. They are meant to create a grid, a helping aid in dividing various elements in one painting into sub-paintings, into mini compositions within a composition...Lesson learned: always focus on mini-issues in order to solve the big problems in your life.

4. They make your eyes focus on different areas one at a time, then leading your eyes to another drip outlined segment, and by their repetitiveness - the drips take you through the whole painting...Lesson here: all your problems are interconnected, solve one - and you might have an unusual solution to another.

5. They are abstract elements that I notice after I complete them because they frame each area into its own abstract painting....Lesson: focus your attention away from the problem and the answer might just come to you.

6. The lighter colored drips expand the light, the darker ones demonstrate the frailty of emotions. They are like musical notes, or hieroglyphs that with their presence lead to something deeper and more profound. You feel an inner voice that trembles when speaking, yet needs to be heard...A life lesson: Listen to your emotions, they lead you to your inner voice.

7. It's a way to reorganize set notions of a landscape, breaking it down, reconstructing its key areas of impact...The last lesson of today: it's your life - you control how you live it.

Isn't it fun to uncover life through painting?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How Kanye West changed my life

About ten years ago around Christmas time two fellows walked into a gallery I managed. Lots of Holiday fundraising teams have been walking around so I assumed they were another pair out on the street who were also curious about art in the window. I initially didn't even rush to get the sculpture out of our display case when asked about it by one of the guys.

I started my usual sales inquiry by asking the fellow who stepped forward: -'Are you involved in the arts?' -"Yes, but on the music side of things. I've always loved Jeff Koons though." Not knowing who was standing in front of me, I proceeded with -"Did you go to school to study art history? or fine art?". He replied with - "I dropped out, but always enjoyed Chicago art museums"...and so the conversation flowed. In the meantime, my sales associates laughed at my ignorance in the back room, knowing full well that I am perhaps making a fool of myself in front of Kanye. But this was a great, genuine exchange, and I even goofed on the spelling of his name when he gave me his direct e-mail address. His manager was a good sport keeping up the fa├žade standing next to him. Our sales relationship lasted for over five years from that point onwards. I think it was all due to the fact that I didn't know that I was to treat him like a star. He was an authentic person, with interesting things to say, and pretty sophisticated art tastes to boot.

I think about my encounter with Kanye a lot now that I am dedicating myself to my own art more and more. It is so easy to get hung up on fame and lose your genuine self. He didn't.

You turn into an obsessive attention seeker and lose that energy that births stunning works. It's inevitable that recognition puts you into a certain role for which you get cast over and over again, with your style becoming boring, repetitive and trite. Your personality suffers. I didn't see any signs of fame shaping his interactions.

You overwork things hoping others will approve. You don't do art because you simply need to satisfy that voice that comes from within. And yet, everyone can still find their voice in relation to other voices. With focusing his attention on his varied interests, he did just that.

I also think of my role as a sales consultant in that particular scenario. It was that honest interest in who he was as a budding art collector that pushed me to be a natural saleswoman.I was someone whose stomach did not churn at the fear of rejection, or of being criticized or ridiculed. I wish I could wear that hat when I make and judge my own art. I wish I wouldn't be so alarmed at the contrasting statements I put out with my melted, scratched, layered world. Thank you, Kanye, for giving me some life long lessons that help keep me on track.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

How to balance out home and work priorities

When I was little, my favorite summer pastime was building sandcastles on a beach. I'd sit by the edge of the water for hours, picking up melting sand and creating these Gaudi-like structures. They'd get washed away by the waves all the time, but it didn't matter. It was this constant transformation of sand affected by water into semi-stable castles that drew me.

This year didn't start off well in my head. I was preoccupied with all the wrong things - popularity, fame, success, jealousy. I was so down on myself that I would retreat and ignore my family, my everyday joys, my accomplishments.

It's only today that I, once again feeling this childish joy of building castles with melted wax and paint, had realized that my word for this year should be process. It's the process I enjoy while painting, teaching, parenting. It's never been about monetary gain.

It's me loving how a first layer of paint is being partially covered up in a semi-transparent coating. Or, it's the grooves of existing layers peeking through the scratched off surfaces. It's the great multitude of these fragile sand castles that I build in each painting that excite me. It's the joy of my kids saying and doing something wonderfully new and unique every single day, my husband supporting me every step of the way. My word for 2017 is process.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Let your wild side play!

There's a part of me that's buried deep inside, a non-conformist wild side, a misbehaving child who I'm afraid to let out because god knows what demons she's going to unleash this time. It's a sexual, innocent, wondering creature who wants to dance, to explore, to enjoy her own company. The only time this wild spirit gets let out is while I'm painting. It doesn't matter what I'm painting. What matters is that it's a huge weight off my shoulders to let this hidden shameful part of me off the leash.

This is why when more and more life responsibilities are weighing on me, I find this time in the studio more and more needed. I retreat more and more into my shell.

Even in the process of painting my holding onto recognizable imagery and symbols is a sign of something holding me back. When it's just colors reaching deep into my soul, and textures playing like notes on my subconscious, that's when I truly love the process. Yet, at the end, the more reasonable, calculative, bashful side of me takes over and envelops it all in form, something like a fence to hold in all the raw emotions. When, oh when will they finally become unfenced?

Two of my students accidentally came into my studio and helped me melt wax. The sheer joy in their faces was unbelievable! How I'd love to simply be fulfilled with that joy.

Friday, December 16, 2016

My Favorite Artists on Instagram

As I explore Instagram as an outlet for my art, and as part of #taaigchallenge, I'm seeing some really great work, and I feel it's important to share it as means of inspiration.
I thought once in a while everyone needs some inspiration, so here are some of my favorites:

I love patches of harmonious color like #UweKowski
I love scraped off surfaces a la #Gerhard Richter
I love ghost trees in the style of #WolfKahn
I'd love my line to be as piercing as Hiroshige Fukuhara
I think the saturated scenes of Stevnn Hall are amazing
The color harmonies are simply perfect in Julia Powell's work:
and I'd love my symbols to be as spiritual as #Wassily Kandinsky, whose birthday is today incidentally...

But god damn it, I want it to be my language that combines all those and transforms into something new, blended seamlessly, yet making a contrasting statement. It'll stem from nature but be taken to an imaginary paradise: where borders are barely visible, where sky falls onto earth, and sand can rise to meet crashing waves. It's where trees can spread their curious branches far into the amplified skies, and they can separate the landscape into mini-icons where one's eyes rest while taking a break from the whole spectacle. It's now my color theory and not Quiller's or Kandinsky's. It'll be my melted, scratched, layered world where I can fit in all my hopes and aspirations, my struggles and disappointments.