Posted in Art and Life, Uncategorized

Don’t Be Afraid

Someone asked me a while back, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? And I said, “Don’t be afraid.”

The advice was given years ago by this lovely lady, Karen Walton. She was my painting teacher. It wasn’t something she said once in the course of my instruction, she said it rather often. She had a sense for when that “oh no.. what do I do now?” feeling was coming up. If you’re an artist of any kind, you know what I’m talking about. It begins with the fear of the blank page, and comes up again when you’re not sure what’s wrong with the thing you’re working on but something’s wrong, or when you’re not sure what the characters are supposed to do in the next chapter or whether you’re finished with the drawing or not. Fear, it seems, is part of art. The more attached you are to the final outcome, the more the fear paralyzes you. This happens to me every time I accept a commission.

“To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do — away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that the artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot make such work. (You are correct). Sooner or later, since you cannot do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of those perverse little ironies of life, only the patterns itself achieves perfection — a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit.”

— From Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Baylee’s and Ted Orland

Maybe fear is preventing you from making art at all. Maybe you wish you could make art, but ever since Mrs. Smith the art teacher in elementary school told you that your work was not good, you’ve told yourself you “can’t draw a straight line.” But you love to create, so you make regular trips to your local hobby store and do “crafts,” by which I mean follow someone else’s instructions for creativity. Don’t misunderstand me, I am a crafter and I am not downplaying crafting, which is a vehicle for the artistic spirit, but if you limit yourself to paint-by-number and adult coloring books and step-by-step Pinterest projects, you will never discover what you can do, and you will never learn to trust yourself.

So, back to my story about Karen. She would say this, “Don’t be afraid.” When I was working on my second painting, the portrait of a horse, I meticulously painted a highly detailed and perfect eye on it… and then realized it was in the wrong place. And then I froze. Karen came over with her paintbrush, dabbed it in my paint, and then painted out my carefully crafted, wrongly placed eye. That’s the glorious thing about oil paints: at any point you can paint over the thing and start over. I did. I was so proud of that painting.

I don’t know when I realized that this was a lesson for life, too. I journal every day (I will talk more about that later), and I thought about how fear paralyzes us in doing The Thing, whatever the thing is. We marry ourselves to the outcome in our minds, and it’s much nicer as a fantasy than it is as a dream that failed, so we take the safe route and don’t try The Thing. In our minds, we could have been amazing at it but life got in the way. It’s not life that gets in the way. It’s fear.

So I’m telling you this: Do The Thing. Don’t be afraid. And when your first efforts get painted out, treat it as a new blank canvas to start fresh, whether you had to paint over a tiny aspect of your project or the whole damn thing.

The world needs people who believe in themselves this much.

Posted in Uncategorized

Renaissance Girl

Sacral, 4×4 Oil on Panel, part of a series of Chakra paintings by Deanna Lack

I went last night to the Mad Writers’ meeting at the local (AWESOME) bookstore and coffee shop, The Mad Raven.  We had a guest speaker, prolific local author Kelly Martin.  It was a fantastic meeting, and only the second of its kind!

One of the things Kelly mentioned that I found very helpful was that when you query a publisher, they want to see that you have an author social media presence even before you are  published.  Start now, she counseled, build a following.

Really good advice but I’ll admit, I groaned inwardly.  I am currently maintaining or co-maintaining active Facebook pages for no less than SIX businesses or groups, four websites, countless neglected blogs, plus Instagram  (if you want to see everything I dabble with this is the place) and Pinterest (if you want to see everything I think about dabbling with this is the place) accounts that are all over the place because I am all over the place.  I have a Twitter too but it’s lame and I’m way too wordy to get along with Twitter, so don’t go there.  Anyway the thought of adding one of all of the above for Deanna Lack, author, is a wee bit overwhelming… I have to actually WORK some time, too.

Is it possible I’m doing too much?  Nahhhhh.

Welcome to the life of a Renaissance Girl.  I take life in huge gulps, a serial obsessive, Jill-of-all-trades, polymath, “scanner.”  I do a little of everything that catches my fancy, and just about everything catches my fancy at one time or another.  Except pro wrestling.  There might be one or two other things.

The blogs are TOTALLY neglected.  It’s been rattling around in my head lately, start another blog.  Talk about EVERYTHING.  All the projects I’m working on, the crazy directions the muses are pulling me.  Because I’m going to wager I’m not the only one wearing these shoes.

So maybe YOU are also a person who can’t stick with one thing, who also leaves a trail of partly finished projects and masterful dabbling behind you.  If you are I bet you, like me, often wish you could figure out what you wanted to be when you grow up.

I love naming my businesses.  Shoot, I’ll plug them here, since I’m going to cover them all in this blog, why not?  My primary business is You’ve Got Maille, wherein I make chainmaille and wire jewelry and art.  I am also an artist, and my website for that is dismal so here’s my Facebook page, Om Is Where The Art Is.  And I’m a photographer.  Great and Small Photography.  I’m also a board member with Friends of White County Animals.  That’s really just a start, there are a lot of hats in my closet and I wear them all.

I thought about naming this site something, too.  Renaissance Girl, maybe.  No, it’s time to just be me, I decided.  This is it., maybe my own domain if I feel like paying for it at some point.

“If you could just stick to one thing,” my husband says, “you’d be amazing.”  I can’t though.  Not a chance.  I want it all.  Some people want to travel the world.  I want to travel the world of ideas and learning how to do things and I can’t stop myself.  The Internet is a dangerous rabbit hole for people like me.  You too?

When I was in high school I was the class poet.  I have written some poetry over the years that I’m still pretty proud of.  It was the thing that I assumed I’d do, writing.  But I haven’t done it, and here I am past my 25th class reunion with a 23-year-old son spreading the wings of a Renaissance man who is also wildly talented and also wants it all.  Ah, sorry about that, Bran (that’s his website there, go look at his amazing talent).  Anyway, where does the time go!?  When did I forget to write?

That’s not accurate.  I write nearly every day, with a stash of journals in my closet that would fill at least two bookshelves.  Maybe someone will care to read all that drivel some day?  There are a few gems in there, too.  And I write in the “serious” sense of the word:  I actually have an article in today’s Sparta Expositor, but for some reason I forget about the writing that I actually do.  Why do we writers not consider ourselves writers until there’s a book with our name on its cover?

So thanks to my fellow Mad Writers for the inspiration.  This is my writer’s blog and website, but I’m not going to bore you with “well I wrote this prompt today…”  Well, not much.   I want to share some of my successes and some of what I’m doing but more than anything I want to reach out to other Renaissance People, I know you’re out there!  I want you to know that you can have it all.  You can write that book, you can make that art, you can create your life and your dreams.  You can dabble with this and that and make amazing things and half-make amazing things and it’s all cool because it’s the journey that counts.  And yeah, along the way, I’ll tell you about what I’m into.  Oh, and here’s my Facebook “author page” if you want to follow that way.  There’s nothing there yet, I just made it, but there will be.

Welcome to my corner of Imagination and Internet, hope you are enjoying your journey as much as I’m enjoying mine.