A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Creative Surge

This is the first piece of art that I've matted and framed in a long time.  In fact, I can't remember matting and framing any of my watercolors.  That realization shocked me.  Here I've been drawing and painting off and on for decades and I rarely brought my work to completion, even with a BFA in painting and photography.  So this little portrait of a friend's daughter, which I will give to that friend tomorrow, resonates with me.  It's not quite right, needs a softer color mat, but it will work for now.  But that it has taken me so long to get to this point says a lot about me and how I haven't taken myself seriously as an amateur artist.

So obviously I've been having one of my creative surges, which is a blessing, but tires me out.  I don't want to stop, but I really do need to rest and stand back from the work each day.   Doing black pen sketches and adding gouache to them is a delight.  It frees me up to work intuitively.  I was struggling with the watercolor pencils because I don't really know how to work with them confidently.  I will learn.  I'm investing in a lot of art supplies.  I want to have easy access to as many mediums as I can get my hands on.  Shifting from one thing to another has been my pattern ever since I can remember, so this will allow me to shift with ease while I get more familiar with all the tools and techniques.  I'm sticking mostly to the standard 8"x10" piece of paper, so I can mat them and put them in an 11"x14" frame.  Though I will try out doing an 18"x24" portrait in pastels, just to see what the pastels can do.

I work almost entirely from photographs for now and I've been going nuts in a good way picking out many good photographs to work from with Google images.  Again, I can shift in any direction and I need that newness and freshness of approach.  I love color and shapes and tones, the whole deal and there's so much available with just a few touches from my fingers.  And I can also find beautiful photos of master artists.  I did a sketch with gouache of a famous Mary Cassatt painting of a mother and daughter.  I want to do more of that.  I feel grateful for this opportunity to get back into something I love.  One of my closest friends asked me to do a few portraits of her family and I'm very happy about that too.  I need the work and all that takes is a few good photographs and I'm set.  I decided to wait to set up a personal artist's website until I've created a good portfolio of my works, especially portraits.

How long with this last?  I don't know.   I've wanted to be a working artist for so many years and I continue to go in and out of it.  Perhaps I romanticize being the artist in the studio working every day.  I guess a lot of people do do that.  The truth is probably that even seasoned artists have active and passive stages.  People do seem to come into maturity as artists at all different ages, some quite young, others much older.  So I have a ways to go and right now I have the freedom to be dedicated for however long; I feel strongly about trying again.  Maybe finding a balance between the solitary work and being with others and sharing my work with them is the key.  This blog and Facebook are great outlets for sharing myself, but I need face to face contact, too.

I said years ago that I thought of myself as an intermediate beginner and that's still true and what a great thing to be discovering new approaches at age 54.  Some Buddhists would say that a beginner's mind is the best mind to have in the sense that it is an open mind.  So I'm going to do some exploring and see what I find out there in this complex world.  I'm going to find a way to simplify what I experience and learn to make it accessible to others.  That's the beauty of art.

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