Flow 4


Happy New Year!  December was a hectic time for me-straightening loose ends and completing all I intended to accomplish by the end of 2016.  Emotions ran the gamut of excitement over finishing the first draft of my book to disappointment when I couldn’t work on my painting because of a cold.  I think it must be the flu because I’m dizzy and feeling no energy.

This picture above shows all  the painting I was able to do before I became incapacitated.  I’m glad I got enough finished to show some progress.

I was reading Amy Pohler’s memoir, Yes Please, and she said something about creatives that resonates with the subject of flow.  Pohler states that ambivalence is key to success.  This is my take on that statement.  When an artist or writer or actor is focused on success,  there’s no way they’re going to be in the flow.  When we’re expecting an outcome with what we love to do, we’re going to tense up big time and have to struggle with fear.

If you’re thinking about success and you’re worried about failure, you can’t let go enough to be One with what you’re doing.  There’s some pull outside of you that keeps you conscious of self, what you expect this thing that you’re doing to bring something outside to you.  This could be adulation, money, respect or some other reward.

Ambivalent would be like being on the fence.  You’re not choosing one way or another.  You may succeed or not.  You may have others like what you’re doing or not.  You may be paid handsomely for what you’re doing or not.

You are only in the flow when the experience is the only reward, is the only outcome you’re focused on while you’re loving what you’re doing.  And, from my own experience, whatever I do only excites when I’m in that space.  And the outcome always follows whatever vibrational energy I’ve painted from.  When I’m in the flow, the result flows too.

Flow 3


I’ve been painting on this portrait for 3 days, approaching the painting with Flow in mind.  I’ve never focused on the state I’m in before I begin to paint and to the question of whether or not what I’m feeling can predict if I’m gong to be in flow or not.  Through this experiment though, I’ve just realized how uncanny and reliable our emotions are at foretelling flow.

Csikszentmihaly describes how it feels to be in the flow on his video on Flow ( see Flow) :

  • Attention is focused on a limited stimulus field.
  • There is full concentration, complete involvement.

The first day of painting (See Flow 2) I was freely painting the local color, ignoring details, much like the child in us plays with paint.  This approach is always flow.  It’s play with color on some blank white material.  It’s focus on this paper with full concentration and complete involvement.

The second day, when I began the details, I battled the introduction of fear over painting.  It wasn’t so much a particular problem I can articulate, if felt more like an over-all pang of   panic, like “I have to get away from this”.  No way could I get into flow this way.  So, I’d paint 5-10 minutes tops, go rest till the panic subsided, and begin again.  This is not a particularly comfortable way to paint.

On the third day, (see the picture above) after convincing myself from the action I’d taken on the second day, seeing that, despite the fear, I had managed to paint some really good detail, I relaxed, and the painting flowed again.

My take-away from this exercise is that, in order to foster flow, I need to take the next best step, no matter how hard it may seem.  Out of each step, clear goals produce the next step.    There is immediate feedback to the action we’ve taken, so we know our next step.

In flow, there is a balance between challenges and skills (see Flow).  It’s inevitable that there will be challenges when we paint (unless we’re coloring inside a coloring book).  So, the challenge becomes the opportunity to let go and surrender to receive the answer, which brings us to another dimension of Flow:

Self-consciousness Disappears.

And we become One with God.

Thank you for reading my blogs, Doretta.

Flow 2


I had hoped to be further along when I posted the progress on my painting , but I had an unforeseen problem come up.  It’s 30 degrees outside here in Albuquerque today and my art studio is in a sun porch with no built-in heating.  I used a heater yesterday and got this far with applying local color for my first layer of the painting.  Today, since it’s so much colder, I turned on two heaters.  They blew a fuse, and, since I have to wait for someone to help me figure out which fuse it is, I probably am not going to be able to fix it anytime soon.

But, as I’ve realized, any challenge is always an opportunity.  This challenge gives me the opportunity to  demonstrate flow at its best.  This challenge, not having as much done to the painting as I would have liked, is actually a wonderful example of one of the dimensions of the flow experience:

There is freedom from worry about failure.

Because I’m doing this painting for the love of it, and, because I’ve already committed myself to exposing the painting progress, showing the work in its unfinished and raw state, not expecting anyone to love what they see, I’m in the flow.  Sharing this is making me happy because at least I did get enough paint in to show that I am making progress.  I’m doing this, sharing the progress, for the satisfaction it gives me.  I can’t fail because I don’t care about the outcome at this stage.

This is turning out to be more fun than I imagined.  I love the freedom this challenge is bringing up for me.  I love that there are people out there who are sharing this experience with me to keep me accountable.  Thank you for the time you’ve spent sharing this with me.




Dante Aligheri wrote The Divine Comedy in which he states that people feel most fully alive and are enjoying living when they can express who they really are.

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly has several Ted Talks on youtube.com concerning Flow, the secret to happiness.  He says that you can’t make yourself happy, and that no one can make you happy, either .  Flow can and does make you happy.

So, what is Flow?  It’s what you’re feeling when you are fully alive.  It’s when you’re involved with what you do and in harmony with the environment around you.  It’s something that happens most easily when we sing, dance, do sports, paint, compose–but it can happen while we work, read a good book, or have a conversation.  Flow happens when you are carried by a force outside of you.

So, why am I telling you all this when what I want to share is my progress painting a picture of two little girls and watermelons?  Because, according to Mihaly, flow depends on a balance of challenge and skill.  You’re going to get frustrated when your level of skill doesn’t produce the outcome of your expectation, or if your challenge produces so much fear, you’re unable to allow the flow.

I know myself well enough to know that I’m susceptible to either having to find out how to achieve the look I want in a painting I’m doing by working on my skills, or having fear come up which results in not being able to see what I need to see to resolve the look I’m wanting.  Fear keeps us from seeing more options.

Actually, when I was transposing the drawing for my painting onto the canvas (picture above), I did experience fear when something didn’t look right in one of the faces.  I did what I always do when I’m scared.  I tried to fix it by drawing over what I’d drawn wrong before with darker lines.  This is always a disaster.

To get into the flow again, I tried to get into a higher vibration.  Feeling love always does the trick.  I took a small step forward.  I erased the mistake but got chalk dust on the drawing.  No matter.  Now I stand back from what I’ve just done, assess that the drawing is good enough.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Sometimes, when I think the drawing is perfect, it makes it harder for me to paint over the lines, thinking I’m going to lose that perfection.

Stay tuned for the steps I’m taking beginning painting on the canvas, and for more insights on Flow, the secret to happiness.

Thank you for visiting my blog, Doretta.




Version 4

I’ve been commissioned to paint a portrait of these beautiful two little girls.  I decided to share the progress on the painting on this blog, mainly because I’ve found that other people are always interested in seeing the progression of a painting.  There’s another reason for sharing, and it’s one of a personal nature.  I want to force myself to be accountable.  Knowing someone is waiting to see the headway, I’ll be forcing myself to work on the painting.

I’m writing a book and it’s hard for me to commit to another project at this time.  I do love painting as much as I’m loving writing my book.  In fact,  I’ve been having images come into my mind lately that are so inviting, I’ve wondered if I can figure out a way to make the time to paint again and write at the same time.  Maybe that’s why this opportunity came to me on the heels of those thoughts of me in the studio, painting more freely than I have before.  This is my challenge.  This is my chance to bring into being something my heart has been obviously craving.

I’ve always been open to challenges.  They’ve always proven to be growth accelerators.  There was a time when I was drawing from live models with a group of other artists using pencil and paper.  I’d erase a line that didn’t seem right, opening more thoughts about  what was wrong.  The thoughts would escalate until everything about the drawing was wrong.  Drawing became frustrating.

Then, a brilliant idea came to me.  If I drew with a pen, something with which I couldn’t erase, I’d have to be committed to finishing the drawing.  I wouldn’t be able to go back.  I’d have to consistently move forward.

That’s when my drawings began to take on a life of their own.  Using pen and ink forced me to be attentive each moment, to commit myself and go with it.  Even mistakes became opportunities to new fresh approaches.

So, I’m intending to move forward with this project.  I appreciate this chance to force myself to become what I need to be to make something I want happen, and I thank you for helping me.

I may not be able to post the next couple of weeks due to a trip I’m taking.  Please stay tuned in to the first of my posts on my progress coming up soon.



floating flowers - 1

I’ve been a dreamer all my life.  I remember sitting out on our screened-in porch at the back of my house when I was child playing with paper dolls.  (Yes, I’m that old).  I loved to envision how my life would look when I was older as my dolls played out each dreamy episode.  I would take out my sketchbook and pencil and draw something, a tree, the bust of a woman in our living room, or a flower and let my imagination run to what it would feel like to be that.  In my classes at school, bored, I’d look out a window, and if there wasn’t one close by, focus on any inanimate object and stare at it long enough to see what emerged that I could recognize, what it became under my intense scrutiny.

The painting above reminds me of those moments.  This woman, languishing on a carpet, dreamily feeling surrounded by orchids, is conjuring up all that she is feeling lovingly surrounded by.

As a result of always wanting to take myself away from the mundane or something uncomfortable with my imagination, I learned to always look for something dreamy, something beautiful, anything else that would make me feel good.

I’m writing a memoir, and that entails being more honest than I’ve allowed myself to be in the past, and I’m noticing how I’m describing times in my life where I felt shame, remorse, betrayal, and I speak about it, glossing over it, to only focus on what good came from it.  Bottom Line, I’m having to admit more truth to myself than I ever have.

Yesterday one such experience came up while I was writing.  I’d written some days ago, describing a time when I was going through a major challenge and I’d glossed over that incident as if everything that was happening was under control.  I’d written about the event as if it didn’t affect me, and I saw through my deception.

Okay.  Now that I know this is not true, what is?  I stared at the paragraph without a clue what the truth is.  I’d been coloring over my feelings so long, I wasn’t sure what my feelings really were.  As I sat there, focusing on the written words I put there before, suddenly, inspiration struck.  I quickly wrote that truth, and, then, more truths came to help me.

What I took away from this encounter is that our imaginations work for truth as well as for escape.  By not resisting, not letting myself get anxious, not putting myself down for not being able to be truthful, not allowing fear to stop me from simply sitting there, waiting, just like I used to do as a child, for something to emerge that I would recognize as the truth, it did.


Tell Me What Love Is


The Burning Bush, the painting above, is a watercolor painting I did some time ago.  I chose it to share today along with the first two paragraphs from the book I’m writing, Tell Me What Love Is, because this painting is the closest to what I felt when I finally admitted to myself that the unhappiness I was feeling was really a yearning to recover the sense of self  I lost while married to a man I became unable to stand up to because of fear.

My memoir is about how I finally take the steps to recover what I lost, the strength and courage to “face the dragon”, and along the way, to use all the challenges and tests which come my way after that to look within.  It’s a story of how I finally am able to know that the only enemy, the only obstacle to my happiness is coming from myself.

For anyone wanting to delve into your minds, to see more about how we sabotage and hurt ourselves with our thoughts, beliefs and judgements, this book will shed the light on all that obstructs us from what we all want, love, joy, happiness, peace and gratitude.

So, here’s a quote from the first chapter of my book:

I’m feeling like a freight train out of control, like I’m heading down this steep hill loaded with all that excess baggage I’ve been carrying for at least five years, and then at blue streak speed, being forced to a halting stop. A painful stop. Bawling uncontrollably, sitting on top of the suitcases I just packed to leave him, the rage that left me headstrong and so sure of myself suddenly reverses directions, and now I’m feeling insecure, humiliated, and full of shame. I’ve become defeated.

What is wrong with me?, I wonder. Why can’t I stand up to someone who undermines my every desire? Where is the courage I always took for granted? How have I become this—a weak casualty of a domineering husband?



New Beginnings


I chose this painting to go along with sharing a new beginning that’s occurring in my writing right now.  First, the painting.  I painted Bosque del Apache right after a divorce and a move to a new apartment.  Whenever I go through major changes in my life, I find myself wanting to experience new beginnings.  This painting is a result of having bought two new gessoes, one gold, the other red oxide. The cranes are coming to nestle for the night at this location they come to every year during their migration.  I’d painted with metallic paints before, but just as decorative touches.  In this painting, the gold gesso is the predominant color.  It’s a departure from how I’ve always painted, and the first of several I experimented the new gessoes with, therefore it is a new beginning.

Now to the writing.  As I’ve written on my blog, I’m in the midst of writing a memoir.  I was almost finished when several serendipitous happenings caught my attention.  First a friend of mine texted a website for authors to me, sharing that she’d read not to write in a passive voice.  I then went on Amazon to look for a new book to read, and, somehow, I was directed on my computer to a full screen view of a new Oprah selection.  The book is a memoir and is titled “Love Warrior.”  I figured if that book had appeared in such a strange and powerful way to me, I better read it.  I loved the writing in this book so much, I felt jealous.

Then I pulled up my book on my computer to check for places where I’d used a passive voice.  I found some examples, but what blew me away is that for the first time, I saw that I’d been writing my book in the past tense, while the book I felt jealous of is written in the present.  Aha! I say to myself.

Now I’m starting my book over, tackling a new beginning.  I’m finding myself writing more authentically, becoming more honest, and getting new ideas of what to include to say what I want more powerfully.  The present tense is forcing me to “tell it like it is”.  I’m having fun, and the work feels more like play.  I’ve found my voice.

I’ll share some of the book later.  In the meantime I’d really appreciate any comments and I would love to answer any questions you might have.  It would really help me to know what interests you most.

Until later, thank you for visiting my blog,

Love, Doretta








Have you ever noticed that when something unexpected happens, or when you take action unexpectedly, that you feel your heart racing, your stomach tightens, your sense of self feels vulnerable?  That’s a good thing.  It’s an opening for more possibilities to enter your life.

That’s what was happening to me when I painted the picture above.  I had just quit a job to devote myself to painting full time.  It wasn’t a well planned move, nor was it rational.  Throwing caution to the wind, this painting turned out to have the feeling of being free from the sensibilities I wanted to be able to finally overcome.  I had finally given full reign to my emotions instead of “having to”, “should”, “must”, or any other fear based thoughts which had kept me from surrendering.

I’m finding that creativity depends on being vulnerable.  I have been writing these blog posts without any plans.  I pick one of my paintings to inspire the words and ideas I want to share.  It’s a lot like, when you want to spark your imagination, just go to the dictionary and pick any word.  That word will take you to unexplored places in your heart.

Creativity also depends on change.  If you aren’t mixing up things, you grow stagnant and what you do becomes boring.  An artist or writer or anyone else wanting to create something new always needs to find that one spark to motivate them.  You don’t have to put your whole life in jeopardy to accomplish what I did with this painting.  You can prepare yourself beforehand by making friends with change in your life, to let go of all fear by opening up your heart to trust that Divine Providence will step in to guide you, and then begin.

So what if this time you don’t meet your expectations?  Do it again.  Allow mistakes because sometimes those are the tidbits of the light that takes you in the direction of what you couldn’t know would be even better than the way you thought you should go.

More about change next time.  In the meantime, I would appreciate questions, comments and feedback.  Thanks for visiting my blog!



As I was looking through pictures of my paintings to post on my blog, I came across this one.  I painted this several years ago while my life was changing and I was facing challenges.  When I paint, sometimes I don’t understand what motivated me to paint what I did at the time.  In many of those instances it might take several years to realize what I couldn’t have before.

When I first painted the woman in this painting, at first her image was dominant, then she began fading , becoming muted into the background.  I write this as if she played a part in the actual painting of herself, and of course an image in a painting can’t do the painting, but she represented what I was feeling and it was the feelings  deep inside me that led the decisions I made painting.

I realized today that she had faded because she’d been going into hiding.  So apropos for what I want to share today, because she was me as I allowed fear to cause me to run into hiding while in the midst of a challenge.  When we dismiss our fear by hiding rather than confronting it, we lose that part of us that is alive, creative and inspired.  We sink deep into mindlessness, doing out of rote and necessity instead of out of a higher calling of purpose.

And, even more dire and harmful circumstances can evolve when we aren’t connected to our higher vibrations of love and peace.  It’s not because we’re bad that this occurs.  It is because fear creates more to fear.  In my case, each time I tried to hide to stay safe, I experienced physical repercussions.  Luckily none were severe and life-changing, but they did cause me to question why this was happening to me.  In each case I investigated, I discovered the fear that had sent me into hiding in the first place.

In the case of this painting, the fear was one of being afraid to move forward.  Actually, that was the same fear I have had countless times, but I’m stubborn, I guess, because I had to allow the fear to stop me so many times I finally was able to get the message that not doing anything about the fear would end up like this, the fear producing more situations to fear.

So, if you want to be free of fear, listen to it, tell it you know you’ve been afraid of this before but you’re no longer going to let that fear stop you.  Then take one step to confront the fear.  Providence will take over after that one step, or after several more steps, but those deliberate steps you make in the direction of what you once feared will melt the fear away.