Making Magic and Getting Organized

rise-condensedIt’s been an amazing month. The inspiration has been increasing exponentially, and I’ve been painting almost every night. The more I paint, the more ideas emerge – about texture, colors, meanings, marks – and the deeper and more layered my paintings become.

As I move towards my goal of becoming a professional working artist, I’ve also been exploring the business side of things. I just finished reading From Starving to Successful; the Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting into Galleries and Selling More Work. I’ve been taking the author’s advice to try to create at least 2 pieces a week, to set up a detailed inventory system for your art, and to explore how you are going to exhibit it in the most professional ways: framing, matting, etc. I’ve also landed my first solo show in Santa Fe, which will be opening in February. Such exciting times! If you want to check out my newly updated inventory, with all my pieces for sale, click here. Here are a few samples of recent work to whet your appetite.

 

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There are Worlds in Every Accident, Every Risk

There are Worlds in Every Accident, Every Risk

 

on creating 8 paintings in 11 days.

The internet broke today. Thank god. Its absence drove me into my studio, where I fished blindly through a stack of watercolor paper and until I chanced on a painting of sea lavender I started 5 years ago. I had intended it to be the center of something – a mandala, a world – but somehow it was lost until it emerged today as the latest candidate for the controlled symphony of accidents that sometimes makes up my painting practice.

Lately my workdays, by contrast, involve a lot of linear thinking. Google docs, grids, timelines, contracts, launch plans. I make a big chunk of my living as a web designer, and I love it, as a trade – it’s like digital carpentry, or WordPress plumbing. There’s just enough puzzle-solving to keep me engaged, enough interaction with clients to keep me connected, and enough creative freedom to keep me curious and growing.

But what feeds the heart behind all the project management is not linear at all. It is a part of me that revels in discarding rulers, painting music, assembling rain and leaves and cryptic bits of text, dropping ink from different heights to see what will bloom on a slightly damp page, mixing colors like spices and balancing all their tastes. My painting is not a 7 Step Plan for Success. It does not map things out in advance. It explores the improbable architecture of vast forces – grief, growth, spirit, space – and the particular details of living things. The tension between chaos and order is palpable. Often, while I am painting, the words that will become my poems squirt out, unbidden, from the cracks in my consciousness. I jot them down on a scrap of paper, or on the painting itself, and return to later to craft them an articulate home on the page.

In the midst of this summer’s heat and drought, my painting practice went dormant. I became very practical – canning apricots, sorting out my finances, designing pdfs, migrating email accounts, building websites, and worrying. Efficient, functional, and slightly empty. In an attempt to rekindle my art, I finally set myself the goal of beginning 7 paintings in 7 days.  The time pressure was perfect – show up and make something happen. Anything. No need for it to be perfect, or final, or ready for critique. Just create.

I had the vessels for 2 paintings waiting for me – 2 sheets of watercolor paper with black gesso arranged just so, a month earlier, when I anticipated beginning a series of works about reclaiming faith in a time of darkness. The subject was so large it intimidated me from even trying. So this time, I began simply with color, applying favorite shades of turquoise and garnet red, in soft pastel – pure pigment – pure fire – on top of all that black. And that was all it took to break the spell. As usual, when I let go of needing to be good, I was carried, and everything I hadn’t been talking about took shape under my messy hands. Knowing I had made this daily promise changed each day – instead of coming home from work and sinking into Netflix, I closed the curtain to my studio, put on music, and opened my bottles of ink. I discovered what I used to know: that I can still make art when I am tired, or hungry, or unsure; that there are worlds to be discovered in color and mark-making alone, even before metaphor and message take shape; that improvisation is its own form of wisdom; that small experiments can create huge shifts. There are worlds in every accident, every risk.

Here are the rest of the paintings:

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Why Beauty Matters (in Business and in Life)

Why Beauty Matters (in Business and in Life)

 

why-beauty-matters-graphic(Originally published on the blog for my design business, Root & Blossom Design.)

Let’s be real: sometimes living in a society structured around late-stage capitalism sucks.  Driving around the outskirts of most major cities and suburbs, through a desolate terrain of identical big box stores and giant parking lots, is depressing as hell. I used to have anxiety dreams at night that I was in an enormous Walmart and would get so overwhelmed that I would jump up on top of one of the end-caps of those vast aisles and start screaming, throwing products on the ground, until the security guards pulled me off and sent me away to get locked up.  Seriously, this happened more than once. For those of us who are thin-skinned and sensitive to the pulse of the earth, big business and its entrails spilled across the landscape or the internet can make us ill. We have never been any good at being numb.

For us, beauty is necessary. Beauty is hope and wonder and energy. It is a message against despair. It is heart and blood and complexity and miracle.  It makes us want to keep going. It connects us to spirit. It is in the eyes of our children and the first leaves of our seedlings. It is resistance against the corporate death machine. It is real.

mad_birthday_invite2As a small business owner and entrepreneur who spends time on social media, I am constantly assaulted by the same Facebook ads under many different names. Ads with the same colors, the same fonts, the same urgency and smiling white people and promises of tripling your email list or filling your webinar.  At first, I am lured by the click-bait. I want those results, I want economic security, I want all of the promises to be true. But I also want a business bigger than a formula and a life with soul.  I suspect you do too. We are not only in this to win the war against scarcity and claim our tiny piece of the pie.  We are in this to live and inspire and connect. Beauty is alive. Beauty inspires and connects. Beauty makes people trust us and it makes them curious.  It makes them want to be our clients, customers, and friends. This is why beauty is essential to my design practice. It is a gift with its own particular kind of magic.  It is my contribution to the economy I wish we had. It is a bringer of abundance and an antidote to the giant machine. It makes me want to wake up in the morning – and it connects me with other people I would actually want to know, like you.

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