A new year in art


2011 was an interesting year. I made a lot of progress in art, mainly in setting it up on Etsy and Zazzle.. I even sold three paintings. That was encouraging.



So it’s amazing that here I am in 2012 feeling like nothing happened in 2011 and that so much more needs to be done. How many of you feel that way? Need to be more consistent in blogging, in joining etsy teams and forums, in uploading products to Zazzle, in gathering a following, in determining relevant content, updating my website…oh, and let’s not forget about doing art and growing as an artist.



I must say though, that as I look back on previous projects I have worked on, I do feel like I have made enormous strides in my art. What I once thought was amazing is now questionable, and what I am doing now seems superb!


These two are .pdf’s if you want to check them out:
Outside of a Program
Another event program

An inside page to a program.
An inside page to another program. This will be printed on pearlescent paper to give it a wonderful shine.


It just never feels like enough though, does it? Always should be doing more, putting more time into things, life, art…It’s utterly exhausting so that by the time I am sitting down to do some art, I have no energy or brain power to do it. Everybody has to be in a similar situation though. So how do you do it? How do you maintain your life and still have the energy, will and brain power to improve yourself and your art. Create art. Explore your soul. Write music. How do you find the balance in your life, to live a life, and achieve all of your goals?

Talent entrusted to you

“You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you. Go work with it.”




I just read this quote on Facebook. It’s an interesting thought…destiny of sorts. That are souls yearnings, and our natural talents are given to us so we can share them and make an impact on the world in a specific way.


I often wonder if art is a natural talent or an idea that I want to place myself into…an image, I want to become. I have this idea of who I want to be and it’s quotes like this that make me wonder if I am ignoring what I “should” be doing, or if I am trying to achieve just that. I mean, where does the image, and the drive to become that image, come from if it’s not an innate need. Or is the fear I feel telling me that I am indeed not good enough to achieve this image, that the talent isn’t entrusted to me? All the training in the world is not a substitute for natural talent. Do I have enough natural talent to do what it takes? Can I succeed?


There are people who believe in me and believe I am talented. Maybe, in this current state of confusion, I should just trust in them. Haha, I was just reminded of this song:


trust in me siouxsie and the banshees


Natural talent eh? I just want to be an artist. To explain my emotions and thoughts visually. And yet I have this huge wall that keeps me from doing it, and thus making me question myself. I have no artistic style, no idea how to transform my emotions on canvas. I mean, I am a graphic designer by day and that’s all well and cool since I am designing for someone else. It’s not me. I don’t know how to put me on a canvas. I want to put my fear on the canvas and yet am paralyzed and have no idea how to do it. It feels pathetic. I’ve even gone so far as to ask ‘K’ to draw something on a canvas that I can then add paint on. Super lame.

Stress


So I am responsible for the talent that I was entrusted with…what the hell am I talented at? And is it talent I have, or an image of what I want to become?

@Etsy shopping for the holidays


So many things to do. So many avenues to explore. Always such a long never-ending to do list. One of those things on the list, and one that I am proud to have made progress on, is my Etsy shop. I’ve only just really scratched the surface, but I’m glad that I at least have it up and have even sold a couple pieces, Yay! It’s weird, really, to have sold pieces that have been in my closet for years. One impetus for selling my art in this capacity was really to push me to create more. One of my excuses was that my apartment is small and I don’t have storage room. Clearing out pieces I painted years ago allows my art to evolve with me. That’s important. I have changed a lot, and continue to change a lot. My art reflects my confusion of life and of my sense of self. I have no real style, no real consistent approach, nothing. And the art shows that. And it seems a bit amateur because of my mental incertitude. I wish I was better, that I spent more time with it…that I could figure it out. Just another item on my to do list.


But that’s not the point of this, and I apologize for the rambling. Rambling seems to occupy my head and now my writing. So, back to Etsy. I have decided, and feel quite solid in this decision, that as I am trying to become involved in the Etsy world and trying to sell my own art and use that as a viable avenue of income and really just personal growth and exploration, that I needed to support other Etsy members. Etsy tries to create a community and I need to participate more in this community.

MSaxxy Etsy Shop


Becoming more involved in the community. Supporting the community.


So I have decided to buy as many of my Christmas presents off of Etsy this year. All handmade, personalized, and from people just like me. Not the corporations, not the already rich and dominating and powerful. People like me. Here are links to what I have purchased so far:

Etsy gift I bought for my nephew


So, that’s what I have purchased so far. The guys in my life are a bit harder to buy for from Etsy…but I’m going to figure it out. I am determined to not walk into a store or a mall this year. It just seems so impersonal. The sales people there don’t care. They didn’t spend hours making and crafting what they are selling. And you know what. I have loved the interaction with almost all of the people I have purchased from. They message me saying they have their order, I’ve responding with some light conversation, it becomes a personalized, more intimate transaction, and you know, they send their business cards with a little note or at least something hand-written, using my name and really making me feel like they cared. Like they love what they made and want it to go to a good place. It’s been amazing and I love it. Etsy is a great place to shop for the holidays, or really in general. You can find almost anything on Etsy. And really, perusing it has really made me laugh at times. Some things are super funny. I love it. I’m going to try to shop more on Etsy. It really is such a fun, warming, inventive and just all around awesome place to shop and community to be a part of.



I highly recommend, this holiday season, you support your local entrepreneur, buy off of Etsy or do something to help people that are just like me and you.

Fear of the darker parts of the soul

Yoga mama  posted this quote:

 

We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.

Chogyam Trungpa

 

 

I speak purely from myself here, but I find that when I fear facing myself, it’s not because I don’t want to acknowledge my undesirable parts. I am fully aware of these chunks of myself that are on constant display for the world. I lament on them, they consume me. I am in constant self-reflection attempting to “better” my self, and yet find I fear success. I fear being able to do something well. I fear my true artistic power. I opened my closet last night and realized I have a ton of art materials. I have some dating back to my first college class ages ago. What this tells me though, is that I have a lot of materials I am not using. My friend, has one book and a few watercolors and one paintbrush. Maybe a set of pastels. But he has portfolio upon portfolio upon portfolio of work. He sits down and commits himself to his art. He does not fear it. He knows he has talent and shares it with the world. Me? I’m so scared of trying that I am not even sure what my preferred medium is! My place is a disaster area so I am constantly cleaning. This is really just a defense mechanism to help me avoid sitting down and doing art. I even have am a graphic designer for a company and yet fear graphic design when I get home.

 

How do you get over your graphic design fears? I sit down in front of my computer, excited, inspired, millions of ideas filling my head. And POOF! all gone the minute I open Illustrator or Photoshop. And then I find myself wondering what my idea was and what program should I be doing it in. I will fail if I cannot figure out how to focus and not fear my creative energy. If you do things, things get done. And I am not getting anything done b/c I fear doing things.

 

 

Another example is bakasana, though this is a successful example (but I hope it doesn’t take me as long to get over my artist fear). For a decade, I couldn’t do bakasana. This was totally my water break. I couldn’t even try for the longest time. Well, that’s not true. The first time I was introduced to bakasana, I was tricked into doing it. Clever yoga instructor. She led the class through the movements step-by-step without us any the wiser of what we were moving into. Place your hands on the ground, shoulder distance apart. Start to really bend at your elbows finding a drishti slightly in front of you. Place your knees on the back of your triceps and then lift your feet and bring the big toe mounds to touch. I was in bakasana without even realizing it. And I was soaring. I was confident and zestful. But when I tried to do it again I couldn’t. I tumbled forward. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. I showed my friend what I was trying to do, someone who had never done yoga before, and she gracefully moved into bakasana with ease.

 

A decade later I am only once again experiencing the pleasures of bakasana and can nearly hold it for five breathes. Of course, now there is eka pada galavasana or eka pada bakasana. There’s always something new to try and something new to experience.

 

But, to bring this back to the beginning quote, it isn’t my fear of the darker parts of my soul that inhibit my ability to accomplish, I’m aware of the darker parts. In fact, my issue is that I am so aware and so deep in them, that I fear the brighter, more vital parts. The parts of power, the parts of graceful poise. I would like to not fear success. I would like to actualize the artist power I feel slumbering inside of me. I’m just not always sure how.

Finding in your seat in life – an unexpected lesson.

Shanti. A beautiful picture from Yoga Journal.

I was surprised the other day by yoga. I thought I had a decent understanding of the philosophy of yoga and had invested ample amounts of time in Karma yoga. However, I had an interesting experience that taught me a lesson I did not expect to learn from yoga.

 

I have begun a little freelancing with my yoga studio and we were going to work on a trade and in doing so I found myself in a quandary. The business side of me understands my prices, why I charge what I do and I have it all thought out and solidified. I have a solid billing system and things work for me. But when pressed with coming up with an hourly number for my yoga studio, a little voice in my head said, “Really? You’re going to charge your normal prices, really? Come on Karma yogi, really?”

 

I was struck at how awkward it seemed to charge my yoga studio so much for my work. I thought and pondered about it for a while. On one side, the yoga studio is not lacking in business, it charges me a lot for my unlimited access, and my work is quality and my time is precious. But on the other side, the humble yogi in me wasn’t so sure. It seemed to me that a discount was tolerable in this situation as I felt it would be karmically positively charged. I mean it’s yoga.

 

So, I made up my mind to charge much less than I normally would for other clients. This was going to be a special exception to my rules. So, proud of my decision, I sent off my hourly rate to the manager of the studio, a woman I admire and look up to as a mentor.

 

Her response was a quote from the Gita:

 

“The secret of karma yoga is never to accept a wrong situation, a situation in which you are exploited, discriminated against, or manipulated, because it is bad not only for you but for the exploiter as well.”

And then she proceeded with her own interpretation:

 

Not that I am an exploiter but part of Karma in the Gita is finding our ‘seat’ in what we are actually worth. This practice allows for others to step on the path to self-recognition of worth. Ya know? So please rethink what you would like to charge us for your services that is fair and worthy of your beautiful talents and that is what we will move forward with.

I was humbled. I thought I was being the “good yogi” by lowering my prices, when in fact, I was doing the opposite. I had no idea. I was so surprised by her response and the quote from the Gita.

 

In the end, I charged my normal prices, and the response I received from my yoga teacher, was that she was proud of me.

 

In the end, yoga continues to surprise and encourage me. It is continually encouraging us to find our own seat in life, and be aware of and acknowledge my own self worth.

 

You too, are worthy. Where is your seat in life?

Am I good enough?

I’ve been pondering this lately. Am I good enough? And though I have applied this question to many aspects of my life, I am currently wondering about my artistic abilities. Am I good enough? I love art, and want to be an artist, whatever that means. I struggle with my worth as an artist though. There are so many talented people out there. And so many people who deserve to be successful and to live a creative life. I’m just not sure I am one of them. I want to be, but want isn’t enough. I have to have talent, motivation and confidence…and I may be lacking in each of those areas. Not to mention how subjective art is that in terms of talent you have to wonder what constitutes talent, good art and worth.

I have recently taken the plunge and have opened a zazzle shop and an etsy shop. And it’s been discouraging. How do you get people to visit your shop let alone leave positive feedback and maybe even a purchase? And does it even matter? Ultimately it doesn’t matter since I will continue making art. I try to tap into my emotions and insanity and express myself via the canvas. But the Western-influenced side of me has trepidation over sharing my art with others. Again, so many people are way more talented than me. And who am I? Who am I to think my art matters to anyone but me? Ultimately it doesn’t matter to anyone else. So then, does it matter if I am good enough? No. And I am trying to let my ego go, and paint from  my heart and not for what may sell. I still am working on finding my own voice I shouldn’t be worried about selling anything. I guess I think some of my stuff is worth buying so I thought I would try (plus it would be nice to have the extra income now that my rent has been raised). I need to stop seeking external approval and be happy being the small, insignificant, artistic me.

Yellow and Purple Rose on Black
Yellow and Purple Rose on Black

A blue artistic attempt

I’m trying to be more free with my personal art. Not so concerned on how it looks as much as trying to find out what my natural voice looks like. I am an artist plagued with the inadequacy disease. I peruse the internet and see all the amazing work everyone else is producing, and I want to produce something similar. However, that is there voice, not mine. I’m not sure what my art looks like yet, so I am trying to just follow my instincts. I imagine that as I feel more comfortable just expressing my self, I can move on to the details (I am not really as detail-oriented as I would like, so this initial finding of my voice seems to be pure expression).I do tend to focus on the details as a designer, at work and in my job, but in my personal art, I seem to let them slide a bit.

 

It’s an interesting thought and process to find my voice. And I should say, my unique voice. The one not trying to mimic all the other great artists out there, but the one that comes from within my heart, soul and thoughts. Maybe through this process I’ll see what chaos is in my  head. Should be interesting. As it stands, here are two of my first attempts to find my voice. The base of the art is an oil pastel piece I did and brought into Photoshop. I would love to  hear feedback.

 

An attempt to find my voice.

 

This attempt is a bit softer.

 

I do get the feeling that they are incomplete. That I am telling a half story with my art as I am prone to do in conversation. Problem is, I can rarely remember the full story…seems to be the case here as well. Not quite sure where to take this and how to finish my thought. Seems to be an adequate reflection of my soul at the moment…I feel like I have just begun a journey and am nowhere near complete to self realization and confidence. So maybe these pieces are complete in their reflection of my personal incompleteness…maybe I am trying to abstractly intellectualize them though…Not sure…would love thoughts though.

A lack in artistic superfocus

It’s a goal of mine to produce more artwork. I continuously peruse the internet and see amazing pieces and get quite envious that I am not creating amazing artwork. Granted, I think my designs are great for what they are and for the conservative company I design for, but they aren’t what I see everywhere else. I’m the type of designer that gets lost clicking on links on twitter to all the “20 amazing…” “Inspiration of the day…” and whatnot. I click from link to link to link sinking further and further into my chair of inadequacy. I literally can spend hours just checking out other people’s stuff and feeling like the world’s worst designer since I am not as accomplished, and I don’t produce as much work and as much quality work as everyone else.

 

And let me tell you, I’ve been doing this for years.

 

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I do as I always do and reflected and meditated on the current state of my life. And obviously I was less than impressed with as much time as I waste in a day. I was quite disgusted in fact. So I decided that I would stop spending so much time looking at others’ work and start creating my own. Even if it’s crap to begin with…who cares? At least I am creating and trying to grow my skills instead of just wishing I was.

 

I was super stoked for the next week and all I was going to accomplish. And then that week happened, and I was decently busy at work and home and did absolutely nothing. I had so many projects planned for this weekend and nearly none of them happened. My apartment was so hot I could barely stay there let alone be productive. Not a great excuse. I know. But at the time it made perfect sense. The heat yanked all my energy from me and placed me in a dreary haze.

I was going to bring in an oil pastel and photoshop the crap out of it.

So today was going to be the day! I brought a picture of an oil pastel I had done last month thinking I could photoshop the crap out of it. And I actually started it! I was super impressed with myself. And then I had some work to do and then I saw all these amazing links on Twitter I just had to click on and articles to read and suddenly, I was back into the same old routine. And worse, I decided to blog about it instead of just opening photoshop back up and continuing to work on it. I think I am ultimately still afraid of producing the crap, even though I know I shouldn’t care. One of the articles my lack of focus brought me to was on Tiny Buddha. And I realized, that in a way, I was clinging to the want of perfection the first time I produced something. Ultimately, I lack patience and focus and just want to be good right away. It sounds elitist, really. To want to be instantly good without putting the time and dedication into it. It’s a bit humiliating to admit that, but it’s true. I’m lazy and want to be good…now. I want to produce epic pieces of work and I’m not. Mainly because I am not even trying. It does me absolutely no good to bookmark a ton of tutorials if I’m not going to do them. If I’m going to cling to the fear and the lack of focus that prevents me from trying them. It’s literally insane to expect myself to get better without even practicing or putting time into my art.

 

And while I was still bouncing around the internet, I came across this article. And I was blown away by the obvious and yet somewhat elusive idea of focus. I mean, I do think Satya speaks to more than just mental focus, although that is part of it. But an energetic focus…your entire self being focused.

Superfocus is that rare state of being, in which whatever you focus your attention on achieving gets completed with near effortlessness. In the example of writing, as in creating this post, it’s as if a divine essence is channeled through you, and the output flows easily and without resistance. ~ Satya

I’ve never been that focused before. Well, maybe I have but lacked the awareness to bring it to the forefront of my memories right now. And you know, being a  yogi teachers always talk about setting your intentions and all that. And I normally can’t even focus on one idea so end up without one. Come to think of it, that should be another goal of mine, to set intentions in my yoga classes so aid me in setting life intentions. Setting intentions/focus’s during meditation instead of just trying to quiet my mind and focus on the nature sounds I downloaded to my iPhone. At any rate, to be a channel to the divine…well that just sounds blissful. If I can become that, me and my ego don’t even matter. If I can superfocus, then I can create.

 

So now my focus is superfocus…hopefully by the end of the week something will have come from the oil pastel I want to photoshop. And hopefully I’ll start creating epic work that inspire other people.

 

Cheers!

Metal Monday Music album covers

It’s been a while since I posted some metal album covers on here. But since I just bought a new 160gb iPod and am in the process of quality checking my music, I thought I would do another album post. I am finally to the ‘B’s’ in accumulating proper album covers, so this will be a long process for me. But I am looking forward to it.

Vader XXV

 

Moonspell: Under Satanae

 

Nightwish: Once

 

My Dying Bride: For Lies I Sire

 

 

A couple design options for an event

My job consists of designing invites, signs and programs for the events my company holds, amongst other things of course. But these projects are a few of my favorites. They really provide me with the opportunity to explore new design approaches and get creative. I go through the whole process of sketching out ideas first. It feels good to be able to go outside with my iPod and sketch. I let my intuition flow and detail whatever comes to mind. This particular event is surrounding an individual, so the first step was finding out about this person so that the theme could relate to them. All the details I received were that she is a quiet lady who lives in the mountains and likes to read and needlepoint. Here are some of my sketches:

 

20110721-111802.jpg
Needlepoint idea sketches

20110721-111846.jpg
Book, life journey related sketches

Two of these options were chosen. The next steps for me were to commit the chosen ideas to the digital environment. This helps the rest of my team (and myself) see what they would actually look like. The transition from pencil sketches to digital sketches often surprises people. I usually get an, Oh! I had no idea it was going to be so pretty, or Oh! I had no idea it was going to look like that! Now, I don’t know if that says something about my sketches, or that the digital environment really brings something to life, especially with color, that alters someone’s opinion so much. Here are the options in the digital environment:

 

Needlepoint inside option.

 

Needlepoint outside option

 

Book option outside

 

I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn out, myself. Especially the needlepoint options. But I am glad to say I think they turned out relatively well. And for a conservative company, I think they are decently innovative and cool-looking. The book option was chosen so I will be moving forward with that idea for this event, but since it was such a close tie in votes, I think the needlepoint idea may become the holiday card later this September/November.

 

Overall, I am pleased with these options and am excited to see how the book option continues to play out.