Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bodies in motion...

...stay in motion.

This is what went through my mind the other day when, as I was running with my little sidekick in her jogging stroller a neighbor said, "You have so much energy!" I laughed (a sort of panting, half laugh), but the fact of the matter is that I exercise in order to have energy. It's a vicious cycle, but the less I exercise, the less I feel like exercising, so the less I exercise, so the less I feel like exercising, etc.  I'm sure you all know what I mean. As I ran along thinking this it occurred to me that creativity is the same way. If I'm creating, I'm constantly inspired and ideas seem to flow. If, however, I sit around waiting for inspiration it never comes and my well runs dry.  

In painting, as in exercising, there are days when I feel like I just don't have it in me. However, I've realized I very rarely feel better because I "rested." Instead I usually feel annoyed with myself, short-tempered, off-center. So, on the days when painting seems like a monumental task (because anything you're committed to will, at times, be hard work), I tell myself I'm just going to "show up." I savor the ritual of laying out my paints on my palette; I dab at my colors, mixing, experimenting; I touch up just this tiny section. Usually, by this point, either I'm feeling better and back in my element, or I've uncovered the real source of my resistance ("I hate this subject," or, "I'm bored with this size," or often, "I'm scared I won't be able to pull this off."). 

You're allowed to walk. You're allowed to take it easy. You're allowed to have off days. The important thing is to keep moving. 

I was rewarded by a beautiful sunset at the end of my run.

*Note: I'm in the process of changing blogs. Please follow me at erinhardin.wordpress.com. Thanks!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Outside the easel

Note: Currently this post is here, on blogger, and at erinhardin.wordpress.com. For previous posts not found elsewhere, go to this post and earlier. 
This past weekend I took an awesome watercolor journaling workshop with amazing artist Marilynn Brandenburger. It’s been sort of a rough couple of weeks that have thrown me a little off-balance. So, time with other artists exploring a medium that I don’t normally work in a lot was just what I needed. Here are some pics of what I did during the two day workshop:
I’m a pretty detail-oriented artist (not that you would know if from other areas of my life… for example my messy sock drawer), but I am. So, these watercolor sketches were a great exercise in loosening up…
The simplicity of the sketches captures the moment in a way that words alone cannot do, however still allows time for added thoughts and feelings.Image
If you get the chance to take a workshop from this fantastic artist (and great teacher) I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Next Right Thing

When my husband and I were just a guy and a girl who kind of liked each other but weren't dating, we went running together a lot. These were our "dates." I remember one time when I was just about dying for the timer on his watch to go off, signaling the end of our run.
"How much longer do we have to go?" I wheezed.
"Ten minutes," Josh answered, looking at his watch.
Ten minutes! I couldn't go ten more minutes! Overwhelmed by the thought of such an insurmountable amount of time, I stopped. Sure I probably could have gone a little longer, but not ten whole minutes longer, so why bother? Thirty seconds later his alarm went off.
He had been attempting to motivate me to keep going by implying that we hadn't been running nearly as long as it had seemed. However, that's just not how my mind works. I'm not one of those that can look toward the summit as motivation to get up the mountain. I have to focus on this step, then the next, then the next, each in its own turn.

I've discovered this applies not just in running, but in other aspects of my life. Kitchen's a mess? Just do the dishes in the sink. Then just put away the clean dishes, clear off just this area of the counter, etc.  I find it especially applicable to art where every creation is, in some way shape or form, unchartered territory. This painting is too huge and I have a deadline? Don't focus on the deadline. Just paint in this moment, just work on this square inch. I have a show coming up and I'll never get enough work finished? Just focus on this step. Go to the art supply store, sit at your easel, paint, clean your brushes, block off your painting time for tomorrow, and so forth. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way and several other books on creativity calls this doing, "the next right thing." Last week when I wanted to cry constantly for the loss of my pet, "the next right thing" kept me moving through that initial pain to bittersweet acceptance and peace. From exercise, to art, to life and loss, taking one more right step will see you through. What is the next right thing that will take you one step further up your mountain?
My current "mountain." I feel like I'll never get this pine cone right!

Anyone have any overwhelming projects looming on the horizon? How do you handle them? Any tricks to share? I'd love to hear from you!

To see my last painting of a pine cone (which I also moaned over until the last coat, when I ended up loving it), click here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pockets of Joy

The Shagster- Best Dog Ever

My dog died... I had three dogs, but this was THE dog. When we got him 9 years ago as a young rescue dog I had just gotten married, just graduated from college, my husband and I had opposite schedules, and my friends had moved away. He was my only friend for a while there, and remained throughout his life my constant companion. He wasn't just a good dog. He was a dog that loved you back.

I heard a quote by Edwin Markham when I was in high school, "Only the soul that knows the mighty grief can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy." I always assumed that meant that in comparison to the bad time, the good times seem really good. While that may be true, I think that there is more to it than that.

I've spent the last week heartbroken, with red, swollen eyes. Calling friends and family members crying or looking for distraction. No one ever told me to get over it. No one ever told me, "he was just a dog." No. Instead, people who love me have shown that if it's a big deal to me, it's a big deal to them. They have cried with me. They have provided company and distraction. They have gone above and beyond for me. So this morning I realized, yes... I'm sadder than I was before Shag died. But strangely, I'm also happier. There are pockets of joy found in the love of my friends, the joy Shag brought me, the beauty of the day, the smile of my child that are so intense that I think I could not have felt the good without the bad.

The Magic Math (incredibly talented and quirky Birmingham band) is right. Their song "Living is a Miracle" is guaranteed to make you smile. Check it out (above).