Well friends, I am struggling, and I have come to a realization...I am still allowing fear to drive.  I signed up for an online art class, Ever After, with Tamara Laporte (creator of LifeBook), and I haven't started it yet!  I admire all of the work, and I have done the inner work a couple of times, answered the questions to the best of my ability, but I just haven't brought myself to do the art.  So after watching a video about finding my True North, it clicked in my head...I have a need for acceptance, and I have always strived for that through perfectionism.  The Abstract Landscapes class with Donna Downey that just began, I was right on doing the first lesson, the first day, and yet I sit and stare at the computer but don't do Ever After, which is a course on development of personal style...an amazing course!  Ok, BOTH are amazing for different reasons...I just didn't "get" why I started one so easily and am still hesitating to start the other.

 

Here it is.  Abstract Landscapes starts out teaching colour mixing and values.  And its all experimentation, and you really can't do much wrong.  The first step is supposed to be messy and loose.  It is fun and freeing, and doesn't require much thinking, just almost intuitive painting.  And repeating the process.  Ever After asks a lot of deep questions, and requests thoughtful reflection on each lesson.  There is the expectation to do the lesson as the teacher does it, rather than taking your own path, in order to learn.  It all makes perfect sense.  And I like the lack of pressure to be original at this time.  However, I fear that I will not do a good enough job copying the teacher's instructions, and that I will get hung up on the outcome rather than the experience and what I can learn from doing it, despite the outcome.  Because the final piece isn't what matters, it's about the journey.  It always has been for me in art.  And yet that little perfectionistic gremlin is at the wheel, preventing me from enjoying the scenery, only focusing on the final destination and it not being enough.  Will this ever stop?  This thought process? 

 

Elizabeth Gilbert has a great letter to fear in her book, Big Magic.  She writes, "There's plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only one's who will be making any decisions along the way.  I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still---your suggestions will never be followed.  ...But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."  And this is where I find myself...somewhere along the road, creativity and I stopped for a break or a brainstorm, and fear took the wheel.  Alright, old friend, it is time for you to get into the back seat again.  By fearing the outcome, I am paralyzed to even take the first step, because what if I fail?  Well, let's answer that...what IF I fail?  Firstly, how is failure measured in art?...there is no such thing.  So I cannot fail.  And if I were to fail, to be disappointed in the outcome, well then, perhaps that means the piece isn't complete, but it needs more work.  Because all art goes through an ugly phase, and if I don't love it, it's just not finished yet.  There's a John Lennon quote about happy endings, and if it's not happy it's not the end...and doesn't that just speak to this topic so well? 

 

So here I go, arm in arm with creativity, and fear in the back now.  Let's get messy, and see where things go from here. Let's focus on enjoying the journey and the process, for that I believe is the secret to happiness in life.

This is my most recent completed piece.  Sorry for the low quality photo...it was taken on my cell phone. 

 

This is a friend of mine, riding a horse...in case you couldn't tell.  ;)  It was a new colour palette for me to work with, and I must admit, I am in love!  The vibrancy and energy of these colours were so freeing to use!  I often mix warm and cool colours, and so it was a big challenge to stick with just warm colours.  It turned out fantastic, I'm quite pleased.  :) 

 

So this got me thinking.  What other silhouettes would people like to see on a fun, abstract background?  I have biking and horse back riding.  Maybe dancing?  Send me suggestions, and I will give it a shot!

 

My postcard for the #twitterartexhibit.  I'm so excited to have found this and to be a part of it.  Basically, make an original postcard, send it in, and it gets put on display and viewed by potential buyers.  Ans more importantly, the exhibit raises money for Foster's Pride Handmade Program...http://fosterpride.org/programs/#program1.

 

So my thought was that since it is for a Foster children's program, I wanted to do something fun and child-like.  And I wanted it to be meaningful.  So I shrunk my idea of Reilly's Wheelie, and changed it up to use the colours on Avery's bike painting to make it stand out more and a bit more fun. 

 

What I learned...drippies are HARD to make on a 12x16 cm card...it likes to turn into a wash of colour rather than nice drips.  Splatters...also not quite as simple as just use a smaller brush.  lol.  But after 5 backgrounds worth of experimenting, I got something that makes me happy.  That's really not all that bad.  And now, I just need to choose a name and mail it off into the world!  So exciting! 

 

And that's the point when my work with Brene Brown in her Living Brave Online Semester comes into play.  Because this, for me, is vulnerability.  I'm putting something of mine out into the world.  It may make it into a book.  It may be purchased!  It will be displayed with many other wonderful miniature pieces of art.  It may be admired.  It may be looked over or past and ignored.  It may help be to be noticed.  Or it may do nothing.  I seem to fear it drawing attention as much as I fear it being completely over looked and not considered good enough.  There's an interesting thought.  I must look more deeply into that feeling.

This is my first page for my first Life Book, Life Book 2016 week 1 warm up with Tamara Laporte.  (See the button link below for more information about Life Book...I don't know why I can't get the image for it to stick, but the link works).

 

My theme or word is "acceptance".  It's interesting to me that the meditation lead me to this word...I have an affirmation "I accept my limitations and imperfections"...and I was forced to do a lot of accepting with the materials I used and how it turned out.  Note...Daniel Smith watercolour sticks activate every time you wet them, even after they dry, so be careful layering them with mixed media.  ;)  I needed to come to a point where I accepted that this piece was not going to meet my vision, AND it is still beautiful and I still love it even though my expectations were not met.  And this is true for me in life.  I need to accept myself, as I am.  Accept my situation, my limitations and imperfections.  It doesn't mean I have to like them, or stop trying to change or improve.  It means I need to acknowledge where I am and who I am right now, in this moment, and then respond gently and with kindness in order to move forward.

 

Dialectical behaviour theory discusses how two opposite things can be true at the same time.  Replace "but" with "and".  I am imperfect AND I am enough as I am.  I accept my limitations AND I am striving to improve my functioning.  Radical acceptance is not about giving up or giving in.  It is about channeling energy into recognizing what is and then moving on from where I am right now.  It all begins with acceptance.

Happy New Year!!!  I thought it would be a nice way to begin my journey into 2016 by first reviewing 2015.  In March of 2015, I attended my first social paint night with Cocktails n' Canvas (https://www.cocktailsncanvas.com/).  This is the first painting I had done since elementary school, 24 years ago.  It's called Lavender Fields Originally painted by Olivia Wodziszewski

 

I was completely amazed at how much joy and freedom I felt while of painting.  How I was able to let go of the outcome, and really understand what it meant to be present in the moment...to really understand the meaning behind the phrase "Life is a journey, not a destination".  And it was so amazingly fun mixing my own colours, I couldn't (and still can't) even put it into words.  I was so happy I wanted to cry.  And it was such an amazing experience that the next day I went out and bought paint...red, yellow, blue, white and black, just like I was given at Cocktails n' Canvas, as well as a few brushes.  I signed up for a number of paintings, and began going by myself when I liked a painting and no one else wanted to go with me. 

 

I had discovered completely new part of myself, and I was addicted.  I also started decided to sign up for Kelly Rae Roberts' online class "Hello Soul, Hello Mixed Media Mantras" (http://www.kellyraeroberts.com/).  Through this class I did another of Kelly Rae's, and then another.  And I met other artists through her private facebook groups.  One of which is Jane Davenport (http://janedavenport.com/), of whom has a number of amazing online classes, a few of which I have taken.  I also attended a hypnodoodling class with Renata Donnovan (www.emergencehypnotherapy.com) which was spectacular, and lead me to the purchase of a few books.

 

What I noticed through all of my experimentation and "play" was that art can be useful therapy.  As a form of active meditation.  As a form of play, which is so important to maintain in life.  As a form of expression.  As a way of digging deep within and discovering what sorts of thoughts and feelings may be holding you back, and what it feels like to get past them.  For example, every painting goes through an "ugly" or "awkward" stage.  Just keep moving and working with it until you love it...such a relavent life lesson...there are ups and downs, pretty and ugly parts to life...just keep pushing through!  Or the practice of letting go, and not being attached to a piece or the outcome, to be bold and brave in creating, and to trust the mess.

The bottom image is the most recent painting I completed this year, around Christmas 2015.  It was a part of a 30 Day Challenge to paint on one canvase every day, and see where the journey takes you, inspired by Judy Wise (http://judywise.blogspot.ca/), who was the first to do it and blog about it.  This pushed me to do something without a plan or forethought, to let go of parts of the painting I may be in love with in order to experience what was to come next, and to trust that it would work out in the end!  Early on I was drawn to putting a face on it.  One thing lead to another and here it is.  So some of it is in mixed media texture style, and some of it is carefully painted with a brush. 

 

What a long way I have come creatively in 2015.  I still have a long way to go, a lot to learn, and a lot to practice.  And yet, I am so amazed at how far I have come already.  And I am so grateful for every single person I have interacted with along the way.  I have a number of new friends, from around the world!  There is so much love and support out in the world, if you look in the right places.  In 2016, my goal is to learn to look inward for love and support.  I can learn to silence my inner critic, my gremlins, and I can focus on loving kindness and being gentle with myself.  My goal is to reconnect with my inner self, and learn to trust my inner voice.  And art is going to help me through it all.

 

Thanks for reading.  May you find all that you wish for in 2016!

 

Sincerely,

 

~Liz

 

My First Blog Post

Hello!  I am pushing myself to test out blogging, as a way of really making sure that I am aware of the personal development process and what I am learning on a deeper level with my art experience.  I am learning to let go of perfectionism and embrace the beauty of what is, and the freedom of trusting the mess and happy accidents.  Over the past year, I have been inspired by Brene Brown (www.brenebrown.com), Kelly Rae Roberts (www.kellyraeroberts.com), Jane Davenport (www.janedavenport.com),  and Tamara Laporte (of www.willowing.org). 

 

In the upcoming year, I will be embarking on a new journey of self discovery and artful challenges.  It's going to be deep.  And hopefully bring about some amazingly positive life altering realizations and changes.  This is exciting.  (And this is a test, as my first blog post, to get everything set up and see how it works...so please be patient with pictures, etc.  I will figure it out, eventually). 

 

Friends, thank you for joining me on this journey. 

 

Sincerely,

 

~Liz

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Lizzie-Lou Mixed Media