Useable art


By day, I’m a graphic designer. And that is an applicable use of art these days. I design programs, invitations, email marketing, direct marketing, all sorts of stuff that is used. It’s not something that is hung up and looked at. Which also means it has an expiration date and is quite transient. I’m okay with that actually. But at night, I try to paint, and my SO is an AMAZING artist. You can visit his site here. Together, we are trying to work ourselves into the artistic community. But it’s so hard for us. In so many ways and in just as many ways I have no idea why. One of the things we are starting to do, is create products on our Zazzle site. Again, driving traffic to this site and getting people to buy is super hard and we still haven’t figured out how to be successful with it. But it’s such an amazing concept that allows our fine arts, to become useable products. We’ve created a few products and have tons more to create. And although I may be our biggest customer (I have our calendar, cards, a coffee mug, iPhone case and just ordered a water bottle), I have high hopes that people will latch on to this idea of art. Perhaps it is the 21st century idea of art. The idea that art doesn’t need to just hang on your wall, but can grace your water bottle as well. Yes, water bottles always have had designs on them. But they aren’t from a local artist who has a day job and stays up all night drawing/painting/etc. That’s what’s beautiful. It’s not a mass produced design, but one that maybe only you will own. So. Brilliant. I hope you will visit our store, and check back often as we will constantly be creating more products. Maybe something will jump out at you and you’ll fall in love with our art.


Minaxus Waterbottle
Local art graces a water bottle

Start with something to say


I just read an article over on The Art of Non-Conformity about having something to say. Chris Guillebeau mainly talks about writing, but it applies to art as well. What is your art saying? What is my art saying? Do I even have something to say? And something quality at that?


I think this concept is why I struggle with art. I always want to express myself, to use my emotional content and portray it on canvas. To use art for catharsis. But it never seems to work out. Or at least the quality is rarely there. It’s almost like my emotions are so wild that I can’t seem to put the details into it. Or maybe emotions just are ugly.

Woman releasing anger
Woman releasing anger
Energy
Energy - protecting oneself

 

Heart and Skull Flourish
Love and Death flourish


They all seem so out of control and I’m not sure that they portray my emotional intent as deeply as I want them to. Perhaps they are just so amateur and if I could just get better, than I would be able to exhibit emotions a bit more purely and intensely. Can you tell what it is I am trying to say? Do you feel the anger? The love? The Passion? I doubt it. But I feel with these paintings I had something I wanted to say…I’m just not that articulate I suppose. My default paintings are flowers. I feel like I have nothing to say when I paint flowers and that they are just kind of there and typical. Even my Ganesha is that way.

Purple flower on Green
Purple flower on Green

 

Ganesha
Ganesha



So yes, starting with something to say is a perfect start. And knowing that clearly is good too. I usually don’t have anything to say when I am playing around with my graphic design. I’m just trying to go for something “cool” and it rarely works out. So that is an amazing thought and one I appreciate and agree with. And then the next step is knowing how to say it and being articulate…that is a struggle. What do I have to say, and how do I say it in a way that is as intense as I want it to be?

Navigating the inner and the outer

Every human being must navigate between the inner life and the outside world, just as the artist must navigate between Poetry and Craft…

We are all artists, in our own ways. We have the same struggles, the same drives…sometimes, it seems, and I could be wrong here, that artists just feel it more. Want to express it more and try to help the world via their own personal expressions of that navigation between their inner selves and their outer selves.


And for some artists, the torment is romantic.

And for some artists, the torment is romantic.


It’s an element that denotes life allowing us to scream out, I AM ALIVE! To get caught up in the mundane necessities of life is to deny an entire human responsibility. Not every one can answer this call. And that’s fine. Each of us is on our own journey and each of us on our own path. I have a path of pain, of extreme human emotion-sometimes mine, sometimes not-that cries out for expression. It dwells so deep within that it hurts. Deep in my Manipura, my personal power and how I relate to the world. It is excruciating and sublime simultaneously. Beautiful and ugly. The polarity I feel towards art, and this deep-seated feeling of needing to express, scares and excites me.


It is a visceral experience that foments existential unrest at times.


Each day is an opportunity for art. Each day a time to succeed or fail. To sit with art, to live with art, to express in art, is a curse and a gift. One that encourages you to explore your soul, you inner deep being, and somehow connect that to the world. the challenge, to not get lost in your soul universe and to remember that there exists an external community to connect with. To be a hermit, is all to easy.

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.

Blog hope via @RockablePress

After a sleepless weekend of trying to figure out how to better manage Social Media, I made a decision. I keep seeing this  “How to build a successful blog business” ebook from Rockablepress.com. I’ve been hesitant to buy this book mainly because I think I should be able to find everything I need just by perusing sites. However, this has clearly not been working for me. I’ve been trying this social media/blog business for about a year now and still have had no success, no comments, no user interaction. In all honesty, it’s getting pretty old. I’m tired of feeling like a failure. I research all the time how to make this better and I still haven’t been able to do it. Granted, I lack a consistency that is essential to success. But I think it is more than just that. An obvious answer could be that there are so many blogs out there, already established, doing exactly what I am trying to do. So what’s the point? Why do I keep trying? I’m not sure. That existential question of what’s the point when there are so many other more talented designers/artists/yogis out there has been plaguing me for a while. Put me in all out crisis really. Lacking reason, motivation…the understanding of the why. It sucks walking down a path like that. So I am attempting to put the energy out there that says, I want to figure this out. Or I’ll have to give up and decide I was not meant to be a blogger.

To blog or not to blog

And it’s not just about making money on a blog. I already have a few jobs that pay. That’s not what I am after. I am after the interaction. I want to know if others have the same struggles, same excitement and just similar experiences as I do in this world. I don’t think I am so weird that no one has similar experiences. There has to be millions of people out there that like art and yoga. Hell, I’ll appreciate an either/or at these stage. I just want to share and have others share. I guess I just want to jump on the band wagon and do what everyone else is doing, and connect with people like everyone else is. I just want a piece of the online experience/success. I don’t want to be passed by as some ignorant nobody who couldn’t figure it out. I’m not ignorant, and I am a somebody. At least I think I am. Maybe you will too, eventually. I just need some help figuring it all out.

So, I bought the @RockablePress book. I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but I am hoping it was a good investment and it will help me make my blog, my time, my efforts worthy of a good investment and a good ROI as well.

We shall see, and this blog will be the evidence. Here’s to hope.

Social Media is keeping me up at night

Social media is keeping me up at night. Seems pathetic, but it is. I tossed and turned trying to figure out what I should be doing, what I am doing wrong and how I should be proceeding.

I feel like I am failing. And I am not entirely sure what I am doing wrong.

Social media is interesting. And pretty damn self-reflective. It’s all about trying to find what is most interesting about yourself that you think others would find interesting. Determining a niche has been hard for me. Generating interest even harder. And maintaining the motivation to consistently peruse it challenging.

I just don’t get it. I’m trying. I want to. But I just don’t get it.

How do you do it?

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.

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.