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: