Garden Party

“We’re all mad here.”
“But, I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
                                                             
                                                       ~Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
 

Mad, Fearless artArtists are an insecure bunch. Not all, but many seek constant reassurance and direction. Newer artists may do it incessantly. They’re liable to make a career out of “what do you think?” and lose the spirit that had them fearlessly making art in the first place.

Some time ago, I made a vow to liver fearlessly…Freudian typo.
This was not entirely possible without reconciling myself to a certain degree of madness. While the decision to live fearlessly included putting myself and my art “out there,” it did not preclude the insecurity that would accompany “spreading my wares” before the masses, showing artwork publically, and the challenges of defining and refining my artistic “voice.” I also didn’t count on the Ego voicing Her rather paranoid concerns. As the stakes got higher, Her inflated decibels were on a mission to drown out reason. My motto – Starve the Ego, feed the Muse. (click to Tweet) Continue reading “Garden Party”

The Middle

(I’m on summer vacation! These posts are re-posts. I have discovered a need to re-fill my creative cup. Looking forward to bringing you new and improved posts in the fall. I hope you enjoy these selected writings! Search topics of interest on my site for more related articles.)

“Every giant redwood was once a seedling. They don’t get to skip that part.” –  Sue Fitzmaurice  (click to Tweet)

There’s a recurring theme lately. People are in transition. Life is full of cycles and we’re sometimes called upon to reinvent Life transitionourselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to growth, breathe life into our dreams, be a catalyst for positive change…but let’s face it….it’s more than terrifying to be a seedling.

You. Don’t. Get. To. Skip. That. Part.

Seedlings are itty bitty small in a big, big world. Seedlings get stepped on, drowned, and their tender little stems are pickings for things like…well…wild pigs. Seedlings are vulnerable. Not all seedlings make it but they try, because  the prospect of being a giant Sequoia is quite enticing. Sequoias are strong, long-lived and have a fabulous penthouse view.

I’ve had a fairly varied and interesting past. (Notice I did NOT say “colourful.”) Every decade has brought transitions – new places, new relationships and sometimes, new careers. Interestingly, what was learned from the old situations bolted onto the new transitions quite nicely, kind of like Legos. Just because we leave a job or relationship behind doesn’t mean the skills and knowledge we have aren’t transferrable – THEY ARE!

I will tell you a secret. Often, during transition, there is a long expanse of time that is the “uncomfortable middle.” (click to Tweet) It is not the creamy, fluffy, goodness. This is the place where you lack direction, uncertainty becomes a way of life, the answer or direction often does not reveal itself as quickly as our fast-food appetites would like. This is not a happy place, but a place of exploration, possibilities and change. It is an uncomfortable crevasse. It’s the very thing that can send you running and screaming back to the comfort…back to the known. To get past the middle you need a serious dose of courage. You have to trust the process, your God and your gut. Continue reading “The Middle”

Weed Farmers

Insecurity and DoubtSome people are just weed farmers.

They plant seeds of doubt in the fertile manure of your brain, and then carelessly leave them to germinate and grow weeds in your happy little garden.

I don’t like that. I hope I don’t trip up and plant the occasional weed, because it’s noxious.

Sometimes the evil seeds they plant are composted…er…composed entirely from their own faulty thinking or assumptions. Sometimes, it’s a thorny opinion that cuts and stings. Some weed farmers do it on  PURPOSE. Yep, for some reason, they plant their dirty little seeds and even spritz a bit of water as they take leave. Continue reading “Weed Farmers”

It’s Called ArtWORK

art is work artworkOnce, in an art class, the instructor proclaimed with conviction, “Art is NOT supposed to be fun.” She snarled sternly, “Art is WORK!” and at that moment, I decided I didn’t like her. At least one student was chastised for smiling while painting. Seriously, she was over the top.

Today, as I was thinking about blog topics and how I’m struggling with some elements in my own studio, I realized she had a point….sort of….in a much gentler way. Art is work, or perhaps more accurately, persistence. Continue reading “It’s Called ArtWORK”

Chills and Thrills – Why You Should Do What Scares You Most

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 7.00.23 PM
The Scream by Edward Munch

Cheap thrills, chilling thrills, new thrills, known thrills…I’ll take ‘em all.

Sometimes you have dreams of thrills, sometimes thrilling dreams – but stepping off the edge from time to time makes us feel ALIVE.

It’s fun to push your boundaries. If you’re not a risk-taker, you still might stretch just a little – in a “mostly safe,” but somewhat thrilling way. Safety is a drug that stifles fear AND creativity. It feels cozy and comfy and s-t-u-c-k. Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

We rest quietly in the clutches of comfort…letting it seduce us into its predictability, and as we marinate there, we find it ever so more difficult to venture out. We get stuck in a rut, become depressed, agoraphobic, stagnant. We know it isn’t right, we can feel the rub. Still, that fear will stop us in our tracks and we don’t forge new territory – at. all. Do you have a safety habit? Need a 12-step program?  Continue reading “Chills and Thrills – Why You Should Do What Scares You Most”

Noticing the Difference

Finding possibilitiesIf there are keys for getting from where you are now, to where you want to be, one of them surely is ‘noticing the difference.’ (click to Tweet)

Noticing the difference is like peeling an onion. Differences, nuances of shades, exist on so many levels. Sometimes, for me, the awareness is fleeting. I get a glimpse of where I want to go and then it fades, that’s how I know I have so much more to learn. Other times, in areas where I have more experience, it’s clearly noticeable. Finally, when we’re accomplished at something, the difference shows up as a fact; the level of competence or mastery easily discerns the level of the novice. I’m not just talking about art. This “difference” also shows in how we behave in personal relationships, leadership situations, golf or any sport, even parenting. Not that parenting is a sport…though sometimes, I guess, it can actually feel that way. Continue reading “Noticing the Difference”

Bone Tired

Bone TiredThis is a re-post from May. I’m not “Bone Tired,” but this time of the year, I reckon some of you are. I hope you enjoy and take a deep breath ~m

I’m bone tired.

It’s been a crazy couple months doing the thing I love most…and I am still bone tired.

It feels like August. You know about August? After the dog days of summer you just don’t have it in you, no piss, no vinegar. Plants are turning brown…who cares? Dog-hair dust bunnies on the floor…keep on shufflin’. Bone Tired is the kind of tired where you send out a search party for your energy and your sanity. (click to Tweet, if you’ve got the energy) Has anyone seen my memory? Thirsty, but too tired to fill the cup. Yep, parched and I guess it suits me. That’s the kind of tired I am…bone….tired. Continue reading “Bone Tired”

You’re As Good As Goaled

GoalsMany years ago, I opened a volume of poetry and prayers and a colourful, folded, Post-It note fell out. On this paper I had written 5 things I wanted to accomplish. I’d written them, tucked them into the book and forgotten all about them. They incubated on the bookshelf for 2 years, then, voila, were rediscovered. DONE. COMPLETE. FINITO.

Has this ever happened to you? When it does, it feels like there’s some divine purpose behind it. I’ve experienced this phenomenon multiple times and when it happens, I’m always surprised at how my life has moved in the direction of the intent. The simple act, the intention, written on a piece of paper has a kind of power in itself. It works. Continue reading “You’re As Good As Goaled”

6 Steps for Surviving the “Angsty Middle” of the Creative Process

Creative process, change, transitionChange is like an Oreo cookie. There’s a crispness to the beginning and end…but the middle is sticky and gooey.  I suspect it’s the same with the creative process.

It doesn’t matter what you create…

There’s that angsty little bit in the middle. It’s sticky and gooey,  but it isn’t all that sweet.

Our creative processes, like the muse that drives us, are uniquely ours. We can mould, form, write, compose, paint, sculpt, but for most of us, there’s that little bit in the middle where our hearts are stricken with fear and we think we’ve effed it up.

It’s a little eerie and quite coincidental that a year ago this month I wrote a post called “The Middle.” In it, I offer tips for dealing with change in one’s life. As someone who has worked extensively with human behaviour, I‘m waaaay more comfortable with managing life transitions than creative ones. In “The Middle” I explored how our takeaways from  life transitions are transferrable to other events in our lives. Now, I’m thinking they may be scalable, too; scalable down to the creative process. Continue reading “6 Steps for Surviving the “Angsty Middle” of the Creative Process”

Illuminate Your Fear

Donald Neale Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Several years ago, I began a quest with a pledge of fearless“fearlessness.”  When I segued from the corporate world to work full time as a writer and artist, I made a pledge to do my work courageously and without care for what people might think of me. It’s easy to be fearless when you feel you have nothing to lose. (click to Tweet).

Next month I have an event and am fraught with insecurity and doubt. This is the polar opposite of fearlessness. I’m not sure when I decided I have “something to lose” because clearly, you all know, I’m out of my mind and might as well put it all out there – there IS nothing to lose. Today a friend gave me encouragement to move forward fearlessly, and that’s when I realized I had, once again, breached my pledge to myself. Continue reading “Illuminate Your Fear”

Lessons from the Classroom

Lessons come in all forms. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and occasional breaks, so we can recharge. I  believe we should pursue “continuing education” no matter what type of work we do. Here’s a repost from a time I spent at an art retreat – when I learned so much more than art. Since it’s “back to school” season, I figure this is worth a revisit. 

art retreatsLife can get going pretty fast. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, partake in the same old activities, see the same people each day and do the same old thing. Some people call it the “Grind.” Well, you may be stuck in the grind, or you may be enjoying the way things are…no matter, you could probably use a break.

Retreats are a nice way of taking a break. I recently took one and found it was not only good for my head, but my soul benefited as well. Here’s what I took away from a break in routine: Continue reading “Lessons from the Classroom”

Don’t Say It! – 10 Things NOT to Say to Artists

Insulting Artists
Insulted Jewish Boy Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy

Artists are a sensitive bunch. Recently, the following list of “10 Things NOT to Say to An Artist or Crafter” has been circulating on the Internet. These comments may be considered insensitive or crass to those of us in the art field. If a potential buyer were to say some of these things to you, you might have a less-than-polite reply. Take a gander: Continue reading “Don’t Say It! – 10 Things NOT to Say to Artists”

What’s Your Problem?

What’s your problem?Art Problems

Yeah, I know you have one. Or you ought to. I currently have an issue I’m working out….more often than not, I work on it in front of you all! Not this one…not yet.

Cat got yer tongue?

Truly, we all face different challenges at different times in our lives. Full-time artists have different challenges than part-time artists. Self-employed artists find various challenges, but so do artists who work for design firms or studios. The challenges we face are unique and personal. Continue reading “What’s Your Problem?”

Just One Thing

Just One Thing.

That’s not “just one MORE thing.”  It’s just one thing. That’s all you have to do to kick off marketing your art.One more thing

Last week I taught a great group of artists a workshop called “Marketing and Self-Promotion for Artists.” I offer an art business workshop each month through a local art venue. However, there’s a problem with marketing. The problem is there are so many ways to market, so many tried and true ways, that, if you’re a beginner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Continue reading “Just One Thing”

Mad Monsoon

Inhalation.Inspiration

Deep, exhilarating, thoughtful, inspiration.

As I consciously decide to take a break on my series of Villages, the possibilities on new work pour in…like torrential rains. A mad, invigorating monsoon of ideas, mental snap shots and dreams begging to spring to life.

It’s like drinking from a fire hose. It’s like digital information that floods your mind and you can’t get mental a foothold. “I’m drowning in inspiration…possibilities.” (Click to Tweet that).

Have you had this experience? Have you had the sheer joy of waking in the morning, rippling with excitement of what you might explore and discover that day? Have you felt like a 5 year old in your adult body, ready to pack a day full and explore every corner of God’s creative earth?

It is this little break, between creating, doing and delivering that is the sweetest space for me. (Click to Tweet)  Faced with the openness of possibilities, no searching for inspiration, but trying to catch the pouring 7 Sacred Pondsideas in a teaspoon…abundance.

How do you assimilate this? Here are some ideas to help manage muse in a mad monsoon:

  • Capture ideas in sketches – Do small studies that can become larger works in the future. Carry an idea book with you.
  • Balance new skills with existing competencies – Know which skills you have nailed down, and which ones you need to work on…use each…stretch with new ideas and skills, but anchor them to existing competencies – that way you can get a foothold and minimize epic disappointments. Epic disappointments squelch the joy of inspiration.
  • Identify ways to leverage your ideas – Can you string them together? Find a place where they meet in the middle and build on it? If there is no junction, don’t force one.
  • Work in series – You will create a comprehensive body of work and deepen your understanding of the subject matter and skills you are working to improve along the way. Learn more about series work here.
  • Let your imagination run wild – Consider the design elements and your ideas. Work through them all, consider them again and again.
  • View lots of work – by other people, by Mother Nature. Become a keen observer.
  • Find a mentor or trusted friend –  Have someone to bounce ideas off, give you gentle guidance and feedback. It’s a huge asset to have a critique group or a few trusted allies. Make sure they are people whose work and judgment you trust. They should be honest, gentle and supportive. Mean mentors will not only ruin your day, they can ruin YOU!

Munds MountainSo this spring, in the season of renewal and rebirth, I encourage you to welcome ideas as they flow, too fast to catch in a teaspoon. Mop them up with journals and sketchbooks. Catch them in a voice memo function on your phone. Drink from the fountain with trusted kin and feel free to share how you find and capture inspiration in a comment below. I welcome you to the conversation.

 

Enjoy the Monsoon!

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy Writer, Artist, Coachmore success in their lives. 

                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Shifting Gears

Better LivingI’m changing gears this week. This post is not about art business, it’s more about “life business.”  It’s a glance in the rear view mirror where I see a road behind that’s strewn with worry and angst. I realize, like a finely woven tale, it evolves into a road of purpose, goodness and gratitude.

Yesterday was rife with challenges. It began with too much coffee, which was quickly followed by a “pirouette” that resulted in coldcocking myself in the face with the edge of the bathroom door – hard enough to leave a mark. Don’t ask…the toilet paper roll was too big and that’s all I’m sayin.’ If you ever ask my husband he will tell you, “She’s not clumsy, she incredibly athletic.”  That’s his gracious way of saying I haven’t yet broken a hip.

All amped up on the crack-Kona coffee, I stole away a few moments in the studio and quickly realized small motor skills are degraded by a good cup of joe. My car was in the shop, but I had my husband’s car, so I went to meet a friend. Surprisingly,  the key I was using worked in the ignition, but wouldn’t allow me to lock the vehicle. I ran some errands and left the car unlocked; interestingly, things went smoothly.

Mid-afternoon a nice man from the garage drove my freshly and partially repaired car to my house. He took me to his shop to finalize the repair paperwork. There was one more major repair to be made at the dealership. To my surprise, but not really, I couldn’t persuade my car out of the parking lot. It gasped, and lurched and died. Admitting defeat I summoned the tow truck, which hauled it to the dealership for its “final final.”

I was able to get home from the dealership because, in my past, I had the good sense to have children and marry a man who also had children. I’ll bet you’re surprised that my husband had children…sounds sort of painful…and I’m sure it had its moments. Anyhou, he raised a lovely daughter. She and her little yorkie fetched me up to take me home. After a brief visit, a Mexican payoff and a 10-dollar bill, she left. She took her yorkie with her, but in his customary regalia, Better Livinghe left behind little yorkie turds in my studio. Every. Time. He. Visits. Little shitter.

Because of these mis-adventures, I missed an annual charity event I’d been looking forward to attending. Sitting home hungry and tired, it dawned on me.

I have shifted gears.

Years ago I would have focused on each thing that “went wrong.” I would have dwelled on the string of imperfections that formed my day. I would’ve complained about the inconvenience, the heat, the loss.  While it sounds like I’m doing that now, that’s not the case.

I find myself grateful at the close of this day. Grateful for the good will of strangers. Grateful they cheerfully went out of their way for me. Grateful the dealership went beyond their call to see if the high dollar repair would be covered under warranty – and it was! There was value in the interesting chat with the driver from the first garage.  I’m touched by the tow-truck driver’s positive attitude and careful attention. I’m blessed by a daughter who is responsive and generous – and her little dog, too, for he is WAY too generous. I’m delighted friends at the charity event said they missed me. An additional wave of gratitude is for my husband’s car, which served me well, escaped a raping, and didn’t end up street-side on blocks, despite being unlocked. I’m even happy with the unseasonably warm weather. I’ve been deeply touched by the kindness of those who don’t know me, but were willing to give to me nonetheless. Mostly, I’m thankful for the personal growth; the ability to shift perspective without clawing my way through old habits to do so (click to Tweet that). It came naturally – today.

You hear people say things like, “You can’t change the world, but you can change your attitude about it.” “Look on the bright side.” “Happiness is a choice.” Blah, blah, blah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know these things. Sometimes, some people would like to haul off and slap these sunny-side crusaders – I’m not absolutely sure, but it’s an educated guess (click to Tweet). But, the day you have a potentially tough day, put your feet up and count your blessings, that’s the day you really know it. The day you don’t consciously reframe your life, but it instead falls into a frame of its own, and you’re happy with it, is when you know you’ve really shifted gears.

Just Cruise Along!

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy Writer, Artist, Coachmore success in their lives. 

                          Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!