Tuesday, March 10, 2015

above all else

“Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I make works of art." - Felix Gonzalez-Torres

So! The past few weeks have had their share of bumps and roadblocks. Several exciting and important client projects were shelved, travel was postponed, expensive technological glitches and breakdowns happened all over the place. Wedding planning isn't quite 
what I expected it would be. I stumbled upon yet another art copycat which always throws me off for a few days how do you tell someone, kindly, to stop imitating your work? Four snowstorms in a row left our neighborhood buried and gridlocked for days, and in the middle of the last blizzard, Chubby Boots suddenly became very ill, barely moving and refusing to eat or drink at all. It was so scary. He had to be bottle-fed until we could get a vet appointment the next day, at which time my car wouldn't start -- just one of many signs that it's at the end of its time.

Thankfully, CB is back to his normal healthy self, and I'm aware that everything else is totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but it just felt like one thing after another and kind of overwhelmed me. I have trouble channelling creativity energy when I'm feeling sad or upset or frustrated and all these bumps in the road were swirling around my brain and heavily affecting my work. I don't know. Any artists out there ever feel this way? Like it's hard to function creatively when bad energy abounds in other areas?

So I made an effort to take this rough month full circle, I guess, and shift my focus away from all the distractions and letdowns and extraneous non-creative parts of being a working artist and back to the very most basic part of my "road," which is just making art. Painting. I put everything else on hold and just painted, spending 8-9 daylight hours working on new pieces -- paintings I wanted to make -- and sketching or priming canvases in the evening. 

We spent a lot of time with our friends and went on a few fun excursions, but most of the last month was work. At one point I had four large paintings going at once and was hopping from painting to painting each time one had a drying period or the inspiration struck. It felt really good to spend so much time with my hands messy, rough, caked in paint and glue, busy with the basis of what brought me to this very particular point in my life. With Mike topping off my coffee mid-morning and Chubby Boots lolling around on torn paper at my feet it felt as though I was slowly slipping back into a good flow separate from all the bad energy.

And I got so much done! Five paintings are waiting at my print shop to be scanned and made into prints. But more than that, the act of creating art is cathartic in itself, and the time spent repetitively layering, painting, sanding and drying allowed for a lot of thought. I paint because I have something to tell you
 that I can't put into words, and it will always be that way whether I have a dozen clients and projects or a blank slate for months. It will always be about the painting, the sole act of describing experiences on a flat plane of canvas and nothing else, despite what distractions and hurdles abound. The simplest things are the easiest to overlook.


  1. What a great blog! Creativity has it's own ebb and flow, sometimes you can coax it back from the ebb phase, sometimes not. Listening to our own rhythms is what helps us create our unique work and you're doing it perfectly.

  2. Mae I can commiserate with you on the art copycat subject!! A woman once followed all of my Facebook accounts and every time I shared a new watercolor painting I'd see "her version" of it pop up in a week….I was livid...Sadly It is just apart of the Internet age….more exposure to buyers but also copycats. Ya gotta take the good with the bad unfortunately. I truly love the painting I bought from you and have not seen anything like it since. Hope it resolves itself Mae.

  3. I agree with Steph. The ebb and flow of creativity is normal. Like you, I have trouble painting when outside events affect my mood. Don't push yourself too hard or force the process.

  4. Oh yes, I get it too. When there's things getting in the way of creativity, it can be very frustrating. I'm very envious that you have more time to paint than I do. Before I had my daughter (3.5), for a part of my life at least, I was able to paint all day, or all night if I wanted to and that was the way I worked. I LOVED it!!! Once I got something in my head, I wanted to get it out and done! I find it difficult to just "switch it on" for an hour here or an hour there in between getting the kitchen sorted at the end of the day, work in the evenings, being tired after a day with my daughter and just generally keeping things in order. I wouldn't change it for the world as it's what I always wanted and love her more than anything in the world. I do know that will change when she starts school but I want to make sure I have something up and running before she does ... but at the same time, want to make the most of this precious time before she dash's off into the world. My creative outlet over the last couple of years has been of a different nature – painting and crafts with my daughter which has been an inspiration within itself as I'm testing out different techniques I never would have before. It's fun watching her develop but sometimes I just want to throw myself into my own work and do a painting for myself as I get so inspired when doing the crafts. Sometimes it can make for a very frustrated Mumma! Sketches are the start so that's where I'm at ... Make the most of all this time you have, even if it does seem like things get in the way or slow you down. Things get in the way of everyones life but you have more time to sort them. I love my life, don't get me wrong. I feel sooooo grateful for what I have.

    On the "copy cat" front. I have heard this from several different artist/creative people that I follow on blogs/websites. It's appalling!!! I guess in one sense the web is an amazing thing. I would never have come across your amazing art if it wasn't for Pinterest so in that respect it's fantastic but it opens our work up for copying ... It scares me but I just think that anyone who knows me and knows what I do, will buy mine, not theirs. As a graphic designer, I know how this happens and has happened for a VERY long time ... Even before the world wide web appeared. Just remember how beautifully unique your work is and know that no one can "copy" yours as well as you create.

  5. You are really creative. Your painting give pleasure to my eyes. Amazing and inspiring. I hope you will make it your profession and will earn money from your work. Will soon visit your blog again. Best wishes for you !!