Seeing what is possible

Can you see what is possible? Creative people can. They can see what resources they have right now and take action. 

I'm having a ball getting things together for the next Art Night with the Cambridge Arts Council. It takes a moment to choose what the project will be. Other projects have been Mandala Painting and a landscape of the Northern Lights. What to paint this time...

OWLS! Who doesn't love owls? They're ewoks with wings and talons. They're stealthy, wise, perceptive, attractive - just like us. We all have a furry, smirky place in our hearts for an owl.

How will an owl painting be possible? I found a reference of a Chinese brush painting that hit the spot and set out to make a sample painting.

Chinese Owl Painting.jpg

Time to create a simple process where this painting can be made in two hours by someone who may not consider themselves to be an artist and may be drinking wine.

  • A light wash for the background, making out the moon.
  • Cut in the branch
  • Spray paint maple leaf stencils in burgundy and copper (bling is a must!)
  • A few steps for a simple, impressionistic owl with a little attitude

Let's see what's possible!

Art Night at Camrock Cafe, Cambridge WI

Friday October 13, 7:00-9:00pm

It's time to break the rules

Sometimes I'm just dying under the weight of these rules. Not anyone else's rules - my stupid rules. The boundaries I place on myself. The rigid definitions and impossible principles that are holding me back in my creativity and happiness.

Elizabeth Gilbert had a great metaphor about this in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (Highly recommended!). She talks about the martyr and the trickster. The martyr puts themselves on a pedestal of principles where they are bound and tied, a clear target and easy shot. The trickster, however, sneaks around, seeks out the opening in a situation, and has fun in the process. Gilbert talks about the martyr on the front lines dying for their cause while the trickster starts a profitable black market on the sides of the battle.

It's time for this martyr to break the rules and get a little tricksy. Here are some rules I broke recently and had a BREAKTHROUGH in my art:

 1. Don't make the same painting twice.  From left to right, a copy of the tiny bamboo bookmark that inspired the paintings, first version 2014 and second version 2017.


  2.  Don't copy someone else's painting.  Top row: Robert Beer's Milarepa drawing and Faith Stone's. Bottom row: unknown Milarepa thangka and my thangka.

 2.  Don't copy someone else's painting. Top row: Robert Beer's Milarepa drawing and Faith Stone's. Bottom row: unknown Milarepa thangka and my thangka.


3.  Don't paint from photographs. My photo on left the inspired the painting on right. I have also copied a Georgia O'Keefe painting in the background ;)

How have you broken YOUR rules lately? 

Creative Flow & Plateau

Don't you love being in the flow? Smooth sailing, a sense of focus and purpose - it is the best! And then you hit a wall. BUT, the wall is actually part of a plateau that leads up to our next level of work and growth.

My dad was a professional musician, and he would say that the more he progressed at music, the longer the plateaus were between levels. I can really relate this to the process of growing spiritually in my meditation practice. My teacher describes the process of spiritual death and rebirth as we grow, and how hitting the wall is a normal part of the process. Otherwise how would we transcend?

After finishing the highly detailed Milarepa painting, I needed to prime my creative pump with a simple painting. So, I chose this lovely dancing Nepalese Shiva that I had painted before. Here they are side be side. Milarepa had been so amazing to work on, in a pain-staking kind of way. I spent about 3 hours on the nimbus, or halo around his head. Shiva, on the other hand, was pure paint-by-number delight! I could relax and get the flow going.

It is so essential for me to keep my creative momentum with regular art-making and meditation. Then the wall is easier to scale!

How do you find your creative flow?