World Watercolor Month: July 11-17

We are a little over half way through this month and surprisingly I am still going strong with the Doodle Wash Watercolor Challenge.

Okay! So, let’s get to it. This week was fraught with roller-coaster type turmoil. I hit a slump, was tired, and there were things that needed to get done…errands, groceries,…house to clean…which means that time got away from me and on Day 11 with the prompt being round I pulled an unfinished watercolor from my portfolio and finished it. Saved some necessary time but also made me feel guilty. Is that cheating on the challenge? or Cheating myself? Both? Without that prompt the unfinished watercolor probably wouldn’t be done….

The rest of the week was new work. some of it I am proud of and some of it …well…it will make its way to the do-over pile. My biggest struggles this week were days 15, 16, and 17. From concept to finishing…ugh.

Day 15, prompt: forgotten…this could have gone dark and moody but I eventually played it safe and it haunts me.

Day 16, prompt: machine. This one drove me crazy, I took drafting courses in school when I had exhausted all the art classes my school had to offer and although I enjoyed those courses…doing something that technical and detailed in a medium that I already struggle with was daunting and also uninspiring. This prompt literally kept me up that night. It floors me that this painting ended up being my favorite this week. I honestly thought I wouldn’t have anything to show at the end of the day.

Day 17, prompt: spontaneous. This is my least favorite painting this week. Much like machine, I had no idea what was going to happen when brush hit paper. I struggled with the prompt, concept…everything. I used up this weeks dirty palette paint, tried a new technique which went awry and the work just flopped.

The other days of the week went okay, some better than others. My other favorite work this week was day 13, prompt: twisted. I did an abstract detail of a Bristlecone Pine and I used colors that I usually don’t work with and it surprised me almost as much as “machine” did.

From top left to bottom right: Day 11, prompt: Round; Day 12, prompt: Favorite Place; Day 13, prompt: Twisted; Day 14, prompt, Green; Day 15, prompt: Forgotten; Day 16, prompt: Machine; Day 17, prompt; Spontaneous.

I am looking forward to next weeks prompts. Happy Creating Everyone!

Watercolor in July

I am now on day 10 of the Doodle Wash Watercolor Challenge and it is going fairly decently. I am still excited that I am participating and I seem to be improving…fingers crossed…. I have noticed that it isn’t taking me the entire day to paint, which is wonderful. As the Challenge continues, my confidence builds, and my skills improve, which is the reason I wanted to participate in the first place.

I am having fun stepping outside my comfort zone and trying new things and I am finding You Tube tutorials a god send, for providing detailed accounts on saving time, trying new techniques and little hacks for a slew of mishaps and foibles.

So, this is what I have done since my last blog post:

Day 4 – 10

Some of them I like and some of them not so much. Some have elements I like but just wasn’t happy with the overall composition. Some of them show the beginnings of something interesting that I would like to elaborate on…Free and Flow are two of those that I would like to explore further. Birds, animals and still life fruit have never been something I would have normally chosen outside of an art class. Fall smacked a little too closely to the watercolor version of the figurative graphite work I did when I was younger. Quiet, well, I love how the sky turned out but…um…hopefully, one day, I will be able to paint a moody watercolor landscape and be proud of it.

The challenge has given me a chance to brush up on some very rusty drawing skills that I really haven’t utilized in well over two decades and it was very intimidating to hold a pencil and draw again. By the end of this my eye-hand coordination should be spot on.

Looking forward to days 11- 17 and sharing what I came up with.

Watercolor

I love watercolor, however, I suck at it. The fact that I suck at it hasn’t kept me from trying to master it, and one day, hopefully, I will. I also have been patiently waiting for a chance to do an art challenge, you know the ones…like Inktober. Sadly, I always find out about them when there is just days left in the challenge. My luck, it seems has changed.

Last week while waiting for the new fridge to arrive (the old one stopped working) I finally stumbled across an art challenge that I could participate in. Yay! July is Watercolor month. Doodlewash is doing a World Watercolor Month Challenge and I have been trying to keep up. So far…so good…I cut it close on day one. Maybe, by the end of this I will be more confident using watercolor.

Children of the stars

Children of the Stars, by Pamela Dunning; Sharpie Marker Pointillism on Canson XL Mix Media paper

The old woman carefully wiped the child’s tears with her calloused hands, “Now hush, never mind what those others tell you. You’re no different from them.” Her tone softened as the child climbed into her lap. She pointed to the sky, “Look! See those stars? That’s what we’re all made of; stardust and water.”

She settled back into the old rocking chair, child in her lap, “Shall I tell you our story, child?” The child nodded, calmed by the rhythmic lull of the rocker creaking out a faint little song on the loose boards of the porch. “Long ago, before you, before me, before any of this world existed there lived the giants.

Stars just like our Sun, they were some of the first things the Gods created and some, nearing the final stages of their life, were asked by those Gods if they would be catalyst for new life. So those giant old stars gave up their lives and the Angels on high blessed their sacrifice and wept. Everything we see, and a great deal that we can’t, came into being from those tears and stardust. All of us are made from that magical stuff. Don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise…or…at least don’t you believe a word they say if they do. Better yet; you feel sorry for those poor misguided souls because they can’t recognize how beautiful we all are.”

She looked at the child in her lap, “Yes child, we are all beautiful, how can we not be? Shine bright baby, always, for we are the children of the Stars.”

Transcendence

Transcendence, by Pamela Dunning; Sharpie Marker Pointillism on Canson Mixed Media paper

They sat under the light of the stars for the World had gone dark. He sighed mournfully and barely managed to whisper, “I fear the world is falling apart.”

“No!’ she exclaimed, a bit annoyed that he was missing the bigger picture. She composed herself and calmly continued, ‘ It is not the world that is falling apart but our belief in what it should have been. Our systems were never sustainable. Most of us were just to busy chasing distractions to notice the frayed edges and gaping holes in the fabric of our everyday lives. We are witnessing something extraordinary; the restoration of nature and the re-wiring of our consciousness working in tandem to build something transcendent.”

He looked over at her expecting to meet her gaze but her eyes were closed, her upturned face bathed in the light of a billion stars twinkling in the night sky.

Feeling Nebulous

It was one of those weeks in the world and feeling set adrift in a stormy sea, I turned my attention to the stars. The “Feeling Nebulous” pointillism Nebula.

Feeling Nebulous Nebula

FYI: Changes

I have been a little lost since Lily Chow passed away and honestly, I was lost before her death, her passing over the Rainbow Bridge just helped me to realize and accept it. I lost my focus or maybe I just never really had one. I guess it doesn’t matter.

I loved my old blog, I liked the potential of this current one and somehow the ghost of the other one lingers; keeping me from truly moving on. I am an artist, it is in my soul and my DNA and yet I try hard to convince myself that I should be something other than what I truly am at my core. I have some deep-seated childhood issues that are at work here and try as I might I can’t get past them. I need to…desperately!

The act of creating is cathartic and spiritual for me. I need it like I need oxygen. I need it to process those raw tumultuous emotions that overwhelm me. I need it to keep me anchored in a world that I often feel detached from. I need it to bridge the gap between lucidity and psychosis. I need it for connection to the world as a whole.

The late, great Terrence McKenna, in many of his lectures, talked about the role of the aboriginal Shaman as a sanctioned psychotic; an outlier, being in the tribe but not of it. Their use of hallucinogens allowed them to experience being other; other dimensions, other life forms, alternate realities. It made them useful to the tribe but also set them apart. It broke up the monotony of everyday tribal life, helped the tribe trend/future forecast weather, prey migration patterns, intratribal relations, etc.,. The Shaman saw things differently and embraced this. It wasn’t a hindrance, it was a superpower.

As someone with a mental illness this resonated with me. I am that sanctioned psychotic (without the hallucinogenic drug use). Art is what makes me useful to society. I see the world through a different lens, that alternate reality if shared breaks up a life mundane and hopefully builds connection. I have been fighting this and it’s time I stop.

I know I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (I am used to that), but it is the lie I have been telling myself in order to abort this last frontier of self-mastery. I am miserable and I will continue to be so if I continue to censor that crazy, creative child that lives inside.

Going forward, there will be more visual art and less words (I am a word nerd but it isn’t how I communicate best). It is vital that I be true and honest with myself in order to be true and honest with all of you. Thank You!

Good-Bye Lily Chow

We said goodbye to Lily (our dog) a week ago. It wasn’t unexpected, she was a geriatric canine, but that didn’t make it any easier. I am going to miss her goofy little smile and the fact that she liked to dance although she hadn’t been doing much of that the past year. I hadn’t realized how much time went into helping Lily get around and trying to coax her into eating by tempting her with her favorite homecooked meals (or fast food chicken nuggets) until she was gone and now I just feel a bit off, like I should be doing something but….what?

I owe all of you a thank you for your patience. I have been AWOL and several of you have stuck around and that means a great deal. I will get my act together and try to get back into the swing of things sooner, rather than later…hopefully.

Creating the Life You Want: The Quarantine Chronicles

I had no idea when I last published a blog post that we were globally on the verge of a pandemic…talk about synchronicity….using a catalyst to create the life you want.

anyway…

I would like to say that I hope all of you are doing well, physically as well as emotionally. I know this has thrown everyone a curve ball, and like most of you I spent a week in WTF! mode; watching the 24 hour news cycle like my life depended on it. I had to get off that merry-go-round because it just isn’t conducive to good mental health. It isn’t that I am choosing to ignore what is going on I am just choosing to not immerse myself in it to the point of existing in a fear state.

So…we are in lockdown, isolated (I prefer sheltered) from the world (covid-19) and oddly after tuning out the media, taking a deep breath and assessing my personal situation, I found that as an introvert not much had drastically changed in my world.

What has changed…? It is quiet outside which I have to admit was a bit eerie at first, I had a few panicked moments where I thought the Rapture had taken place and my parents were correct. God left me behind! Yes, my Fundamental Christian upbringing is showing. I have to admit that I love that it is a quieter World.

Other changes that have occurred…well, my significant other is home, which has been wonderful, we don’t get alot of time together. I am cooking again instead of eating take out or quick fix meals. I have had more uninterrupted free time to flex my artistic wings. I am talking to my brother on a weekly basis and as odd as it may sound during this time of self-isolating I feel more connected.

When I started the “Create the Life You Want” posts, I was attempting to reign in the loose ends that kept me from doing what I wanted to do. It turns out that those loose ends were things I really didn’t need….distractions. Part and Parcel to a consumerist agenda. Everyone (according to the media) wants to know when we are going to get back to normal and honestly I am not sure I want things to return to normal. I can do without the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc but honestly I like this slower, quieter world.

Using a Catalyst for Creating the Life You Want

Note: Going forward on our “Creating the Life You Want,” adventure I will be talking from my own personal experiences. I am not trying to be preachy, teachy, or to influence you. My goal is to inspire you to find your own unique voice and path while hopefully entertaining you with my mis-haps and successes along my own journey.

So, Lets get started!

When I started this journey I was exhausted and I was tired of existing in that state. I will admit that I wasn’t willing to look within and figure out that my frenzied, “keep moving at all costs” motto was actually hurting me. By keep moving I mean that both literally and figuratively, I was the Queen of burning the candle at both ends. If things got tough this girl got moving…I would change jobs, change living spaces, Change myself (physically), Change relationships, change, change, change, move, move, move!

The result of all this manic moving was a nice little stay in a Mental Health facility where I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 with friendly tag-a-longs like OCD, anxiety, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and a psychotic episode. Fun Times! I have said it before and I am going to say it again, that diagnosis saved my life. It made me aware. Aware of ME! the real me not just the crazy, messed up me. It also put everything I thought I knew into a tail-spin. My reality was no longer…well…real. That was an infinitely huge mess that needed to be worked out.

That all happened in 2005 and we are just 2 months into 2020. I wish that I could say things are perfect now but we all know that there is no such thing as perfect. I can say that I have come a very long way. I learned about my disorder, so I could control it rather than it controlling me and I am happy to say that my hospital stay has been a one off. There have been a few hiccups along the way but no major melt-downs.

The hard part was and still is taking a long, thorough look at myself…all of the nitty-gritty parts that I may not want to look at, let alone deal with. Harder still is changing what needs changed after you have scrutinized every aspect. For those of you that haven’t started that process (or have but are struggling) I highly suggest taking the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram tests. They will pinpoint your personality type and explain how you function in the world.

My Myers-Briggs type is INTJ and my Enneagram type is a 1, which means that when I am not at my best I can come across as a hyper-critical, arrogant, emotionally stunted asshole. On the inside, however, is a highly sensitive, intensely private but passionate soul suffering from imposter syndrome; painfully aware of the fact that they are a living, breathing paradox, which is ironically the one thing they can’t find a solution for.

Here is what I found useful about personality typing:

It taught me about cognitive functions, which not only explained how I see the world but how the world sees me. This was an eye-opener for me, but it allowed me to grow and excel in ways that are more authentic. I basically was given a reset back to my factory settings before Life took me out of the box and started to play with me.

Life is a great teacher; we have to learn to be great students. If life gives you a catalyst (painful growth experience), use it to reset back to your factory settings and then start building what you want your life to be like. The choice is always yours; you can choose to be active or reactive. What is the difference? My “keep it moving” motto was a reactive choice. I was letting life play with me instead of stepping back, taking a deep breath and observing what was happening and why.

I wasn’t learning the lessons Life was trying to present to me. I reacted from a place of fear and thought that keeping busy and perpetually changing would somehow change my circumstances. Life, it turns out wasn’t the cat to my mouse, It just wanted to show me that we could work together to create something beautiful.

Creating and the Guilt of Dropping the Responsibility Ball.

Last week I talked about creating the life you want and I am well aware that it sounds easier than it is. I know this from experience. I have a long history of not being able to maintain the life I attempt to create. I am my own worst enemy and here is why; I am a perfectionist! I actually feel guilt (and shame rears its ugly head up now and again too) if I spend time doing what I want to do. I, have been adulting, since childhood. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t out-run, out-wit or just plain knock out my rigid sense of responsibility.

I would like to think that I have improved over the past three years but I really haven’t made much of a dent if truth be told. So, once again, this January when I reflected upon what worked and didn’t work last year…being more creative (aka spending more time in the Studio) was at the top of my list…again. Last year wasn’t horrible but it could have been better and I want it to be better. I want a daily painting practice established. To achieve this, since I am a very goal-driven perfectionist, I set a goal of doing an art series and by the end of the year I want to participate in an open call for artists. Wish me luck!

I just spent all of January and most of February getting the house in order, it is clean, organized and all the pets are on a schedule…and so am I. I have asked S for assistance with pets and home, so, fingers crossed. I even spent the day actually working on some pointillism projects. I started one while in Santa Fe, New Mexico over the Christmas holiday and almost have it finished. I started a new one last night and worked on it almost all day, still felt a twinge of guilt but seriously the guilt has got to go. It isn’t helping me to achieve the life I want. Both works were inspired by this little pointillism project I did at the end of last year:

inspired by Van Gogh’s, Starry Night but I keep ending up with unexpected birds and animals…

Creating the Life You Want

is something that all of us can do. I think that we often get so busy keeping up with the expectations that other people impose upon us (not to mention those that we inflict upon ourselves) that life loses a little joy and you start to feel like you are being sucked dry and you go into survival mode. You know what I am talking about, that point where you feel like just going back to bed, taking a vacay from adulting or bingeing on Netflix, wine and ice cream while simultaneously trying not to linger to long on the precipice of that shame spiral that is reaching out for your soul.

Every January I go through what I like to call the New Year Purge. My mother calls it nesting but to me that always implied accumulating stuff that wasn’t always necessary at the moment but might possibly be needed soon. Pregnant women nest, they start cleaning the house, getting stuff ready for the upcoming baby and the fact that they will essentially be in a sleep deprived state for awhile. You need to do that deep clean, stash and stockpile to make life a bit easier post baby.

I, however, am not stashing or stockpiling anything. I am doing a deep clean and I am organizing but I am doing so after much reflection and purging things no longer relevant to the life I want to live. I am creating the life I want. I do want to point out that this is a work in progress, mostly because I am a work in progress. We all are. As a work in progress this Create the Life I want moment peaked about 3 or 4 years ago with an epiphany where I decided that my life could be better, I could be happier and feel more fulfilled; I could be more balanced. This all sounds great but where and how do you get started? Yeah, That was my question too.

In my case it was a big jumble of trial and error which eventually resulted in a handful of questions and 3 rules which I am about to share with you.

Take stock of your life: What do you LOVE about your life? What do you LOVE about YOU? What do you wish you could change about your life/you? Do you feel happy and fulfilled? Why or Why not? Is there something that you always wanted to do or do more of but you never have time?

Some of these will be easy to answer and others won’t be and that is okay. The first rule to Creating the Life you want is to accept that it isn’t going to be easy. Friction induces expansion, and you want that. Stagnation isn’t a good thing.

The second rule to Creating the Life you want is all about accepting yourself. You are a unique individual, with a perspective, value system and personal code of ethics that is all yours and yours alone. You are a universe all your own, remember that the next time you (or anybody) starts a comparative analysis. Be bold, be different, be you.

The third rule to Creating the Life you want is being mindful of others. Let’s face it you are not alone out there in the cosmos. There are other universes with their own space-time continuums, so lets be kind and respectful.

At the end of the first year (and every year after) take a moment for reflection. What worked for you? What didn’t work? What is the next step you would like to take in the areas that did work? Are you willing to let go of what didn’t work or does it just need some tweaking to once again be a viable option? How are you getting in the way of Creating the Life you want? What steps can you take to get out of your way?

Yep, those last two questions are brutal but very important, so dig deep.