Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How we all need a breather once in a while

Yet again an act of painting acting as life coach. I've been following my own mantra while painting - striving for balance of color and line throughout, the lights and darks, the thin and thick. It was all moving along just fine but it was somehow off.

Only six or seven hours into it, nearing the end of my energy reserve - it hit me. The painting was too cluttered. I piled up too many things into this one creation and each area was fighting for attention, unable to sit still.  I wasn't letting it breathe. I was pushing and pushing more elements into this poor thing and it wasn't letting my eyes rest. So I added emptiness, big neutral, peaceful puddles. All of a sudden, the painting came to life - it had its ying and yang. It was full of energy, captivating but not overwhelming.

And it immediately struck me that this is a direct mirror of my everyday life. I never let myself take a breather. I run at full speed, my task organizer bursting at the seams, like a hamster on its little wheel. And I set the same schedules for the kids, because I feel this pressure to keep up. And everyone is irritated, exhausted, struggling.

So as a result of this conversation with my painting, and in order to not burn out, I decided I'll take a nice long coffee break once in a while. I'll allow myself to have a relaxed lunch. I'll find time for yoga and sauna in my schedule, and I'll ease off the kids. I won't rush to sign them up for more activities so that I feel on par with other involved parents. I'll let them play and relax whenever possible. That's truly my wish for everyone this Holiday season - please take the time to breathe. Even a half hour a day helps. Invariably relaxing brings you to new solutions to old problems.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The need to RTFM

My husband is an engineer and his favorite saying when something isn't going right is: RTFM (read the .... manual).

I'm often asked to teach according to a step by step, or follow along manual, and I always refuse. It just seems to me that instructions of that sort kill any individual creativity, or ability to think outside the box and come to an unexpected, yet original solution. My motto has been to demonstrate the use of materials, give some background art history on the project, and see where imagination can take one as an artist.

Yet, with this latest painting I feel like I did what I preach against, and I can't say I'm happy with the outcome. I took an old watercolor from 1999 as inspiration, from the time when I loved the combination of nature and architecture. I thought that even if a rigid structure is there, I can let myself get to a point where I use it sufficiently, and then be able to let it go by melting it away.

But apparently this need for a manual has a strong hold even on me, not just on the engineer types. Every time I tried to lose a column or a window, or have the trees or grass spill over onto the existing planes- something within me rebelled. No matter how hard I tried, I proceeded as I'd been taught with as correct a perspective as possible, the shapes of the original building in the watercolor, and the forms of the initial trees.

So the question I guess is perhaps we as humans are programmed to follow instructions and I'm wrong to confuse myself and others with too much freedom? Perhaps creativity can succeed even within the confines of a manual?


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The relationships between

The more I delve into abstraction, the more I realize that objects themselves matter so much less than their relationships with other elements adjacent to them. What's truly beautiful is an object that is able to extend beyond itself, to influence others with its luminosity, to reflect and uncover their hidden beauty.

When you are around someone for a long time and you truly make an effort to relish the relationship - you melt into that someone. Yes, you compromise something of yours, but that makes you that much richer.

And then, just like you never know how exactly paint will behave in a given moment, you don't ever know when a relationship will take another turn. You might attempt to comprehend someone for years, and after all this trial and error realize you don't complement each other. With people this shifting of gears only causes tremendous stress and fear, and most times a certain end, good in the grand scheme of a life that constantly moves...but terrible in the day to day emotional well-being. It'd be so wonderful to approach these turns philosophically, even enjoy them like I do with paint's uncertainty, its wonderful element of surprise. You never know what new wonderful encounters will materialize tomorrow.