Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Setbacks and Stumbling Blocks are only Temporary

1st Draft -- Every time I start an acrylic painting, I get discouraged -- They look so awful!
When you feel defeated; you often think it’s over. Whether your sadness is due to a failed romance, a rocky marriage or a business on the brink of crashing, you feel that the end is near.
Even fallout with a friend or relative may leave you battle fatigued.  By constantly dwelling on the situation, your anxiety only increases. You seem to be stuck between anger and self-pity. Sadly, negative thinking is self-fulfilling. When you’re in a dark place, the whole world seems bleak. You feel like you’re drowning, and you can’t get your head above water.
We have all been there at some point in our lives. If it’s any comfort, your situation is not new. If you reach out for help or information, you’re likely to find the solution to your problem, or at least some ideas that will launch you into a new pattern of thinking and behavior.

(With every layer of paint, it gets better and better)
The adage: “When you fall off a horse -- get back on again” is not just meaningless jargon. In fact, it’s the only way to overcome fear, to confront the mistakes of the past, and to discover a new vision for the future. If you succeed, you will be stronger and wiser.
But be careful of repeating past mistakes. Don’t be afraid of change. Find new ways of doing old and familiar things. Once you discover a new formula, and you’ve proven that it works, repeating your success will establish its effectiveness.
Beware of new ruts that can keep you from progressing. Grooves are comfortable and familiar, but you must stay abreast of current styles and trends in order to stay relevant. Drastic changes are never a good idea. “Go gentle into that good night,” as the poet penned, and your customers will go with you. Pull the rug out from under them and they won’t recognize your brand. Cool heads must always prevail when you are evaluating new methods of going forward.
Don’t give up just because you’ve had a few setbacks. Stay on track. Focus your energies and forge ahead.  It’s never a good plan to change proven ideas in mid-stream. Give them a chance to develop. If there’s substance they will float and multiply. If they don’t, they’ll fade into failure and oblivion. Knowing when to “let go” of your sinking babies can save you time and money.
Always have another plan, another baby waiting in the wings to carry you forward. Wise investors don’t put all of their eggs in one basket. Neither should you! Have enough hidden gems in reserve to keep you focused on moving ahead rather than feeling sorry for yourself. Markets change. You must adapt at each turn. Being bored with the process is a red flag. You’re either in the wrong business or you’re focusing on the wrong product. Try something new. Give yourself a break and analyze what’s going wrong.
(Sometimes you only have a vague idea how it's going to turn out)
Taking your business pulse periodically will help you gauge whether you have the stamina to continue.  Don’t sell yourself short either. What drives you? Are you hungry enough to succeed or are you willing to let your hopes and dreams falter? Take that bite out of the apple and go for it!

"Reggae Night" juried into a gallery, and won "Honorable Mention" in online contest
"Namesake" Layers of paint and a dream

Saturday, March 21, 2015

At the Heart of the Matter are Matters of the Heart

(Is it an experiment, a combobulation of paint, or the beginnings of somethiing interesting?)
Today a woman dressed in shorts and obviously wearing a wig came into the church office. She was distraught and wanted to see a pastor. The more we chatted, it became obvious to me that this was a man dressed in women’s clothing.  She (he) had attractive legs and a nice face.
I told her to come back in one hour and perhaps our Youth Pastor would be here. She insisted that she really wanted to see a Senior Pastor, and she would come back later. This situation reminded me of an incident that happened in our Art Gallery.
I was working there one day when an older looking woman in glasses came in. Her “disguise” was purposely made to look artificial: an obvious curly wig sat askew on the top of her head, and she wore a frumpy skirt with a man’s shirt. She had no makeup and made no attempt to act feminine. The minute she walked in, I knew she was male. Since this happens often in the art world, I treated her as any other art lover.
(Add a glaze or two, wipe out, and something new
and interesting appears) I will define some of the
detail and show you the next two phases. I need
to add some more color for depth.)
She stayed for over an hour discussing art with the workers and indicating that she, too, was an artist. We told her about our group and suggested she look into joining because it sounded like she had great experience and exposure.
A couple days later, she came back dressed as “himself” with a partner. I acted as if I hadn’t seen him before, and showed them the pieces they were interested in. His partner was a collector.
I believe in both of these instances, the gay person was there to establish acceptance and to see if there was any prejudice or alienation in our attitudes or treatment. The “Gay marriage vote” was on the docket in the Fall in our area. But this recent experience with a Pastor was new to me. Perhaps the individual was sincere. I have no way of knowing.
When our youth pastor arrived, the woman returned. Unfortunately, Pastor had to leave again for a meeting. He invited her to come back at 2 p.m. As she left, I asked her if she intended to come back. Her reply: “No he’s too self-righteous.”
I was surprised at that judgment call since they had had only a few words. No one should expect to walk into a business or a church and expect that someone is going to be there for them at a moment’s notice. I think Christian churches are going to be tested in the next few years. “Hate speech” is coming to the forefront and some are even implying that the Bible be changed because of the hate speech it contains.
Ironically, when the Youth Pastor left for his meeting at another church, guess who was sitting in the foyer waiting for an appointment? Either serious help was needed, she wanted to be married in a Christian church or she was simply testing the church environment.
When we meet new people, we never know where they’re coming from. That’s why everyone should be treated with courtesy and respect. There’s no need to generate animosity or ill will. Our job as individuals and entrepreneurs is to avoid making judgment calls on other human beings. How they live their lives is none of our business. In like manner, no one should tell us what to paint, who we may sell to, and when as long as we are obeying the law. Freedom of choice should be every person's prerogative as long as they are operating within the law.
(I did this painting in much the same
way, except the parrot was planned.
It's mate is on the right.)
Since when did we become a society of “busy bodies” meddling into other people’s affairs? Why must our “free speech” be labeled? Who is the authority that designates what is and isn’t “hate speech?” Did they receive our vote? Why have they been given so much power and control over us?
Hate speech can work both ways. Recipients of hate have no race, ethnicity, color, gender or orientation. All are susceptible. Each is unique with specific traits and needs.
Tolerance and understanding can bridge the gap that seems to widen when hatred and anger are used instead. Deal with your fellow human beings honorably no matter which side of the spectrum they’re on.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Put a Stop to Wheedling Behavior that Robs You of Time and Space

Martin House.  Birds spar for a room in this busy hotel! They fly in
in March and stay until May. I love to watch them.
Do you always get the short end of the stick? Do you shortchange yourself in a negotiation? Do you sabotage your own needs in order to keep the peace?

Heaven forbid there should be a rift in your relationships! But cowardice-to-confront does not make the problem go away. There’s never a good time for a dust up or a scuffle. If you’ve allowed someone else to take the reins in your life, you may be headed for disaster rather than the destination of your dreams. Sometimes you must put your foot down and stand up for what you need, even if there are those who may feel alienated.

Let the person who has power over you own their own problem. You are an artist, a professional, an entrepreneur who must do certain things each day to be successful. When you take back the reins, you also take the power away from those who are used to manipulation or anger to get what they want. Remember, it is their anger not yours. Let it go! Respect goes both ways. 

Allocation gives you control over your circumstances. By parceling out units of time to the priorities in your life, an erratic schedule based on pressure and emotion can be tamed and placed in logical sequence. So that instead of crashing into each other, your activities and interactions bend and flow.
 The “new you” will feel empowered rather than powerless. No more crashes and jump starts. You’ll transition from one project or event to the other. You’ll know where you’re going and how much time it will take. These organizational skills will help you plot a course from one day to the next.
Mimosa Tree in bloom (I should have captured
it sooner!)

If this sounds a little too perfect, be patient. Once your trajectory is on track and is repeated over and over again, it will become a habit. Experts conclude that it takes approximately one month to form a new habit. This varies from person to person because “old habits die hard.” But don’t give up. If you are willing to take control of your life and your success, the awkwardness of building a new life for yourself will soon become a reality.

Mimosa "bush" is more like it!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Time for Growing is Now -- Why Wait Until You’re Too Old to Dream?

(My African Violets)
Today, one of the things on my “To Do” list was “find pots and plant Christmas cactus and Amaryllis.” The cactus was a broken branch that I discovered on the original plant. It was barely hanging on and was shriveling up for lack of moisture. I plopped it into a glass of water and watched it not only take root but come back to life. Now it would become the basis for another beautiful cactus.

The Amaryllis was a large bulb my son had given me a few years ago. The first year it had nine enormous blooms!  I didn’t know how to preserve the bulb and mistakenly put it in a paper bag in my refrigerator (“store in dark cool place, right?”). Wrong!  Apparently, the lack of air and the interaction with other produce is deadly to the root.

When I discovered this, I pulled it out, re-potted it and prayed for the best. For almost two years it failed to bloom. I kept caring for it hoping that some day it would not only reach for the light, but flower. Last year I got my wish. We had 12 blooms from this amazing bulb. Now because of cooler temperatures mid-winter, she is blooming again. We’ll see what happens. I keep this plant on my lanai, which is Florida speak for screened in patio.

I love to experiment with plants. My African violets, a gift from my oldest daughter, are blooming in my kitchen window. My Kalanchoe Jeans were in two pots. I planted them directly into the ground (after all, this is the “Tropics.”) and they are now blooming their hearts out. You can get almost anything to grow down here. The only thing I’ve had trouble with is Hydrangeas. Something about the sandy soil and the acidic quality it lacks. Even adding nutrients didn’t work.

(Kalanchoe Jean)
 It’s fascinating the way plants and animals alike take root and thrive in places where they feel grounded and comfortable. Give me a place where I can settle in and make my nest and I’m happy. In fact, you can turn a tiny apartment into a show place or a hovel into a home. It’s all about attitude and the skill to “make do.”

When I was a young newlywed, I learned how to use an old Singer sewing machine that was once my grandmother's. I made quilted and stitched quilt squares and circles that adorned our bare walls. I would purchase fabric remnants and imagine what I could do with them. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the beginnings of my art career.

Art is all about beautifying space or making a statement. Look around at where you are right now. What could you do to enhance the space you’re in and the budget you have to work with? As one photographer said, “Find beauty in imperfection;” you can improvise and capitalize on what you have on hand.

This lovely Tiger Lily was a "jumping off" place for my imagination, and it inspired me to paint "Namesake" below, using acrylics on canvas. Let your thoughts run wild and then settle on the idea that drives you! 

 Creativity isn’t always about “selling” things or becoming famous. It’s about completing yourself and challenging yourself to become what you were meant to be and to do. 

Allowing yourself to spread your roots and grow in the direction that satisfies your long-held yearnings will make you happy. Begin creating now. Don’t wait until you’re too old to dream or imagine. Turn your “imperfection” into beauty.

(Lichen growing on a Southern Pine stump)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Elbow Grease Puts a Shine on and Turns Your Worries into Profits

"Reggae Night" acrylic on canvas
Today was a very good day for me. I sold a vintage light fixture on my Etsy Shop Anfinsen Art,, and one of my paintings “Reggae Night” was given “SR” (Special Recognition) in an online contest that will be on display the entire month of March. If you’d like to see the categories and winners go to:

(Vintage Tiffany-style chandelier)
We all need a little pat on the back now and then. Most of the time we put the hard work in and seldom see the payback. When we do it makes everything worthwhile.

I met a new artist this week. She is currently doing murals down in Key West. Her brother was working there, too, but plans on returning to the Caribbean. Mia showed me her work via her Smart Phone – Beautiful!

I shared an idea with her about incorporating jewels on a painting. I told her women in my art league discouraged the practice because then it would become more craft than painting.

Mia showed me a mermaid she had just created on a mural. Wherever the scales intersected on the tail, a small pearl accented the connection. Stunning! Her attitude is anything goes! I think that’s what I’m seeing out there also. If people kept doing the same things they were taught, soon all paintings would look alike and eventually be dull and boring. Daring to be different or to think outside the canvas is what Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali did and hundreds of other artists who were at first criticized and later embraced.

Keep pounding out the paintings people! Grind your tired fingers to the bone. Some day your efforts will be praised and purchased! Currently I’m working on one of my “boudoir” paintings. After all the work I’ve put into it I’m still not pleased. Seems too “static” for me; I prefer to have movement and action going on. I’m between painting over the canvas and doing something totally different with it.

"Sea Breeze" acrylic on canvas (The brush led me -- see the movement?)
Even though this decision has set me back a few weeks, I’m willing to live with it. When painting and creating (or whatever it is you do) becomes work, something is wrong! When the brush leads you, sparks are flying.

"Sea Swirls" acrylic on canvas (Notice the movement and 3-D scales?)
You may enjoy this music by “Jewel” about two painters who grow old together and are still painting:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Motivates and Inspires You to Take Action?

What inspires you these days: A book or an author; a famous sports figure or an actor; a remarkable hero, a friend, an unusual painting?

Nature inspires me; the miracle of seed, growth, and transformation into something extraordinary, edible, nutritious or just plain beautiful. Whatever causes you to pause, to contemplate, or to turn your head may be the beginning of a great idea.

From the book “Transform: Dramatically Improve Your Career, Business, Relationships, and Life . . . One Simple Step at a Time," the author, Jeff Haden wrote: “In the dictionary ‘idea’ is a noun. Idea really should be a verb because an idea is not real until you turn your inspiration into action.”

How many opportunities have you missed because you failed to act on your ideas? Sometimes it boils down to laziness or an unwillingness to put in the needed effort.

(These seeds inspire me. The inside is exquisite!)
I heard Mark Cuban say on the CNBC show “Shark Tank,” “If you’re not willing to work 24/7 to build your business, you won’t make it.”

How motivated are you to succeed? What pushes your buttons? For some it’s money, pure and simple. For others it’s a need to feel important or to be involved in a cause bigger than themselves. Family is an important reason for many; the drive to keep the family afloat and to provide every opportunity for their children.

Self-fulfillment and satisfaction is a great motivator for a large segment of the population. Creating something out of nothing or turning a basic idea into something meaningful is just as important as any monetary gratification.

(I gather up a few of these each year, just so I can watch them open and unfold.)
In the March Better Homes and Gardens this quote caught my eye:  “Inspiration is everywhere – Add a touch of fabulous!”

Making your own life “fabulous” or someone else’s is pretty high on my list of perks. My husband gave me these lovely roses for Valentine’s Day. I love roses, especially red ones. I photographed them because I also love to paint them for practice. I don’t sell many paintings of roses, but painting them has given me experience in shading, shape, subtle changes in value and delicate brushwork. Roses inspire me to paint.


So do People. The landscape of the figure, the detail in the face and hands inspire me to improve my skill. Right now I’m juggling the differences between oil and acrylic and how dramatically their unique features demand color and application changes.

With acrylics, skin color goes on darker and the brush strokes bolder. With oils, it is possible to portray silky smoothness and seamless movement from one color to the next. I switched from oils to acrylics not by desire, but for health reasons. I’m never completely satisfied with the look of acrylic portraits. It’s an acquired taste, and an expert development of skill that makes all the difference.

(This painting has an acrylic underpainting and was finished in oils.)
You can achieve an almost oil-like appearance with acrylics, but it requires many layers of paint to achieve. Patience is the key. Once you have reached the look you desire, leave that area and go onto the next. Overworking can ruin that just put-down freshness that enlivens a canvas.

(This painting was done in acrylics. The smooth skin is a result of subtle color changes and layering.)
Passion defines those who are inspired and those who are not. Don’t paint something just because you know you can do it. Pour into your paintings only those scenes or images that you are passionate about. Because you love what you are doing, others will fall in love with the result. 

Life is like that, too. Fall in love with your life by being passionate about what you do. If the people you are around drag you down and make you sad – choose different friends. Don’t get involved in causes that are nothing more than “busy work.”  Without the passion and the drive, you’ll end up feeling overworked and frustrated. Love what you do, and do what you love!
(I would love to paint this half-opened bud!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Magical Hot Air Balloons Send Us Soaring and Set us Down Easy

The last time I rode in a hot air balloon, I was in my twenties. I remember being surprised at how hot it was up there. Our pilot kept a constant watch on the gas levels and the flame which filled the hollow balloon with a blast of heat. The exhilaration of gliding over the pasture land below was well worth the fee we paid for the thrill.

I’ve had a fascination with these colorful “envelopes” ever since. Every year in Missouri, balloonists gather with their gondolas and designer aircraft to share their enthusiasm with other balloonists. When they all take off, it’s a breathtaking spectacle that is both remarkable and unforgettable.

According to Wickipedia, the hot air balloon is the “oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. Are they safe? Today’s balloons have an envelope that is not sealed at the bottom, the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material.

“Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.”

Shortly after 9/11 I attended a hot air balloon show at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. All planes were still grounded, including these magnificent aircraft. We walked from one gondola to another greeting the owners and admiring their colorful envelopes that were inflated and ready to fly. Sadly not one balloon was able to launch that day.

In the interim, we were fortunate enough to witness a marriage ceremony of two balloonists. They had met during a balloon conclave, fell in love, and wanted to share their wedding day with the friends who enjoyed the sport as much as they did.

Photographers and artists have discovered the magic and have tried to capture this fascination on canvas and in print. Through imagination and skill, these flyers have managed to make good use of “hot air” unlike many of their counterparts who use it to “B.S.” a crowd in hopes of impressing others or of making a sale.

With an inflated sense of self, these human bulldozers push their way to the top, to the head of the line, or any place where they feel they can shine. The illustration at left shows where their hot air comes from. 
  • The red balloon is filled with hubris from an inflated ego. 
  • The bottom balloon reeks of pride, especially from being green with envy. 
  • The plump orange balloon is inflated with arrogance and a sense of self-importance. 
  • The white balloon at the top is ready to pop from too much bragging. 
  • The last balloon is bloated from exaggeration and excessive gloating over their own skills and talents. They are really blue and lack self-confidence.

 If your personality or profile contains these poisonous gases you should try to get rid of them! they interfere with your ability to listen to others and to learn from your mistakes. But there is still hope.

Take a dart or pin and pop these pesky pimples of disgrace. Replace them as soon as possible with humility, self-confidence, hard work, and honesty. 

Once you do that, you’ll be ready to take advice, share the limelight with others, and pursue your goals independent of the opinion of others.