How to Be a Child Again

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“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Picasso

Do you sometimes question whether you’re good enough, qualified, or worthy enough?

Are you sometimes at a loss of what to say, and do you struggle trying to have ideas come to you?

When we creatives grow up, we “think” that, in order to excel at whatever we love to do, we must designate ourselves as an artist. After all, when we are older everyone asks us what we do. However, labeling a name to what we do is fraught with problems.

The title, Artist, to us, connotes that we are now fully qualified to be equal or better than other artists in our field. We now have expectations of what being an artist implies to us. If we “fail” in our estimation to meet an expectation we have, we label ourselves a failure.

We “think” that in order to live up to our expectations, we have to be perfect.  Perfection is impossible, and actually keeps us from experimenting and growing as artists.  So how could we deal with the dilemmas we face as Artists?

We could go back to being a child again.  A child is not just open to learning, a child is consumed with curiosity.  A child can’t wait to experiment to see what each action they take will produce.  A child lives in the moment, and what they love to do each moment is play.

What would happen if, instead of judging ourselves by past successes, we move into this moment and allow our inner child to play?  What would happen is that we would be opening ourselves up to receiving ideas and inspiration from Source, from God, from our higher selves.  When we let go to receive, as opposed to some agenda our thinking mind has conjured up, we are surprised, thrilled and delighted with what comes to us.  We are now the artist we have always been.

In the middle of writing this blog, my daughter, Tracy, texted me a picture of some of her students playing.  I asked her if she would teach me how to be a kid again, and if she had some wise words to share with me.  This is her answer,

“Just be yourself.  No one else can do it any better than you.”

3 Ways to Let Go

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In order to create a visionary interpretation of an object, an artist or writer or dancer or other creative must dig deeper.  Our eyes only see what we think of as reality, so in order to really be creative, we need to go past our five senses to get in touch with our sixth sense, our intuitive power.  How do we do that?

1.  Get in touch with our feelings about the subject.  Our feelings come from a nonobjective place.  They describe how we feel about the object.  When we are open to “seeing” in this way, we bring vividly to mind what is significant about the object to us.

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance.”

Aristotle

2.  Open our hearts to Love.  Love is one of the highest vibrations of the human spirit.  Love is consuming and allows us to let go of fear, meaning we receive total focus without any of the “should’s” or “cant’s” interfering.  We are free to easily and effortlessly receive ideas and inspiration.

“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

Vincent Van Gogh

3.  Let Go for the Flow.  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.  Flow happens when you are carried by a force outside of you.  Self-consciousness Disappears, and we become One with God.  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.

All artists know that those paintings that are created freely and effortlessly are the best – let it flow !

Dianne Middleton

For more information on how I used flow for a painting see:

https://dorettab.com/2016/12/01/flow/3 Ways to Let Go

 

 

Why Beautiful Paintings Capture the Imagination

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In my last post, Painting a Picture, I shared that I want to paint from my imagination instead of copying a photograph already produced from reality.  The painting above is an example of allowing 1/2 to flow from my imagination, and copying 1/2 from a photograph.

After posting my last blog post, I asked myself what constitutes art.  That’s a subject I took in college and there’s no easy answer.  There are no guidelines.  It’s more visceral.  Art can be copying (it’s allowed) or visionary (distinctive).

What I did realize is what I’ve always tried to achieve in every painting I do.  Regardless of whether it’s coming from my imagination or some picture I want to reproduce, I need to paint beauty.

Why do I think beauty is essential?  Without a doubt, beauty is a higher vibration than ugliness.  It’s more uplifting than something less attractive.  Beauty is more inviting, less disenchanting.  Beauty is Love.  Ugliness is Fear.

When we’re feeling the surge of Love, we’re connected to the sensation of pleasure.  It’s not difficult to look at ugliness.  It’s all around us.  We see it every day.  But all that ugliness serves for me is a reminder that I have a choice.  Do I choose Love or Fear?

Of course, if I tried, I could find the beauty in what others perceive as ugly.  But in that instance, I am still choosing Beauty and not allowing the fear to enter the painting.

Painting a Picture

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This commissioned painting is one of the last I recently completed.  I copied a picture I was asked to reproduce.  I did make a few changes, though.  For instance, I wanted to have the couple walking towards something, and that turned out to be the light in the background.  Everyone who’s seen the painting is impressed with how real the painting looks, telling me, “It looks like a picture.”

I asked myself, “Why paint something when all you manage to achieve is something that looks like something else?”  That question led me to question why I wasn’t painting what I really wanted to paint.  I’ve always wanted to paint something like a Chagall, something ethereal.  Or something so spiritual, it would stop the viewer in his/her tracks trying to figure out why the painting seemed to speak to their soul.

I found that the answer I was so easily able to express ended up being charged with all the reasons I haven’t painted what I really want to be able to do.  I’m afraid that if I allow my subconscious to control the outcome, people will judge me for what I painted.  If I give up control, I’m afraid that something I’d rather not see will emerge in the painting.  Painting out of my control will make me feel vulnerable.

I’m ready to tackle those fears now.  How about you?

Offering

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I’ve come to a place in my writing where I’m approaching “changing hats”, taking my writer hat off and putting my artist one on.   Even though I was in the middle of writing the book I’ve written, focusing on ideas for my story, images of possible ideas for paintings never stopped floating through my mind.  It’s as if my being has become accustomed to them being a part of me.

However, as I step into being the artist, now that I’m so full of wonderful possible images I can begin to paint, I find myself still needing help.  I thought that, since I had become accustomed to trusting and allowing my guidance system to lead me with my writing, the transition would be easy.  But the images that have occupied my imagination are diametrically opposed to the type of painting from the past.  The images are not sharply delineated, more like a feeling.  I’m so used to having a photograph to copy, I don’t know how to begin to paint something suggestive.

The painting posted above was done several years ago when I was up against a similar problem, that of how to get started with an idea.  Beginning a project is always the hardest part for me.  That is, until I let go.  I wanted to paint a vision, something not tangible enough to know where to get started.  Like my writing, I must’ve trusted and allowed my guidance system to lead me.  In this painting the idea I had was to offer something in exchange for my freedom from something that was keeping me in bondage to past generations.

Don’t laugh.  What is on that plate, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is a chicken breast.  How apropos!, I think now.  If I had brought rubies or diamonds for an offering, I would have worried that I’d be foolishly out of line for what I wanted to accomplish. The offering of a chicken breast is full of nourishment and sustenance, what one needs to get through a problem by letting go.  Though I’m feeling hesitation and uncertainty now, there’s one thing I can count on that makes all the difference.  If in the past I was able to pull off something without knowing how, I can do that again.  I’m not alone in this.  I can find answers.

 

 

 

Flow – The End

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My daughter asked me, “How do you know when a painting’s done.”  I thought about it and, at least, for this portrait I completed today, I decided it was finished because I couldn’t see anywhere I needed to make it better.

I promised in my last post I would share what I’ve come to understand for myself about how I experience flow in my life.  The example I’m going to use couldn’t be more perfect to illustrate how flow is as necessary in our everyday life as it is as we create.

Like so many others, I’ve been reeling from all of the unprecedented surprising laws Trump’s been enacting since becoming President.  I’ve never followed politics, so my becoming addicted to following all the news relating to the past few days is abnormal for me.

I noticed symptoms coming from this new obsession;  insomnia, anxiety, fear, and inability to concentrate, all disastrous emotions for creatives.  We can’t know what we want until we know what we don’t want.  I didn’t want to feel these things that had taken residency in my mind.  I want what feels good–all the emotions that help me to let go and allow my creativity to flow.

I wanted to feel love, joy, happiness, peace, contentment.  I wanted to be compassionate with myself and the world that is undergoing reactions from all these radical changes.  I wanted to be in the flow.

Again, we creatives know when we’re in the flow while we’re focused on doing what we love to do, whether it’s writing, painting, dancing, singing, etc.  We are feeling alive and vital.  We’re feeling in harmony with all that is around us.

So, now I know that anything that pulls me away from feeling my flow in my regular life,  is what I need to turn away from.  I love feeling good, so now I’m no longer going to subject myself to anything that takes me away from flowing in my life.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care what’s happening.  I do.  And I care enough to begin to trust that I, in my connection to flow, will be led to ideas and inspiration to make a difference.  It’s only in our state of the higher energy that we are able to be in harmony with something else that we’re a part of.  I’ll know when there isn’t anywhere  I need to make better anymore.

Flow 5

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It’s been awhile since I posted due to circumstances beyond my control.  I mentioned in my last post that I had the flu/cold.  Well, that progressed into an infection in my ear, causing me to feel fatigued and dizzy and utterly unable to concentrate, so I gave myself permission to rest.

I’m so glad I did that.  Painting this portrait and sharing the progress has affected me in more ways than my ability to share my painting.  It’s affected my understanding of the correlation between the flow in my creativity and my life in general.  To begin, I want you to know that when I first became an “artist”, about 50 years ago, the line between creatives and those who weren’t was definitively drawn.  Creatives were following a “different” path from normal people.  I felt like I lived in two worlds then–my creative life and the life everyone else was living.  People I knew would dismiss my difference by giving me “artistic license” to be unusual.

Dealers in art didn’t want artists to talk about the spiritual aspect of creating back then.  We’ve come a long way since then, but there’s further to go. I wondered why I was unable to paint when I was ill and about the correlation between Flow in my everyday life and my painting.  I was able to do everything I needed to do to take care of myself every day while I was sick, but had a hard time painting.

Csikszentmihaly, who I mentioned in the original Flow blog and whose talk on Flow is posted in youtube.com, says flow is what we feel when are fully alive.  It’s when we’re involved in what we do and in harmony with the environment around us.  It stands to reason that when we’re not feeling well, we can’t completely associate with the concentration needed to let go with what we’re doing.

And what is letting go?  It’s allowing Source/Spirit/ Universe/God to express through us.  It’s the spiritual aspect of creatives.  So then, I realized, in order to get to that state, we have to be able to let go of circumstances and events that would interfere with flow.  If we can do that, to let go from a state of our lives in general, why can’t we let go to be creatives in our everyday life?

The answer to this question is one I’m planning to discuss in the next blog post.  It’s the question I’ve wondered about for a long time, and now I think I have some answers.  In the meantime, the painting above shows the progress I’ve made since my last post.  I hope to have the painting completed by next week.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog.   If you’ve enjoyed this post, I invite you to receive an email letting  you know when I post again.  Just hit the Follow button on the right side of this post.

Doretta

 

Flow 4

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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

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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

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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.

Doretta