Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yarn to The Rescue

I was too tired to drag myself to Holy Week services last night. Trying to keep a meatless/dairyless fast is not easy.  Maybe vegans can do it, but that's not my bunch.  This afternoon I'm definitely going.  The service today is Holy Unction and the worshippers are annointed with blessed oil for healing.  Two services are performed today and the afternoon is less hectic than the evening.  Ok, people bring their crying, screaming children in the afternoon, but I think I can block them out and be in my own zone for an hour or so.  And I could always use some healing.

It's just impossible to do much art related endeavors while my mind is busy focusing on each coming day this week.  I'm not resisting just distracted, edgy, and tired.  The way I've been able to slow down the rushing moments and float away is by looking at yarn.  I ordered some really colorful yarn for something and time stops when I look at the color, feel the texture, and play with it on my needles.  Time stands still for that moment.  I know I could look at my paints and those colors, my new watercolor paper, but then I might find myself painting and losing valuable time being lost in that!  We'll never eat dinner!

Yarn is available, within reach, and not too time consuming.  My stash sits in a big basket next to my little dream corner couch and I can take a few minutes out to get to it.  Isn't the color of this yarn delicious?  It's amazing in person too.  I had a certain thing in mind when I ordered it, but it's not the right gauge.  There's no way I'm returning it though.  I'll do something else with it.  In the meantime, I ordered another few skeins of a different brand, a better gauge, with better maintenance and great color, online anyway.  Gotta have color!  It better be great color when I get it, too.  Otherwise I'll have to order something else.  

So it's Wednesday and the week is close to over.  It better be over soon or I'll be up to my eyeballs in yarn.   

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who Could Paint This Week?

The weather is as horrible today as yesterday.  The rain is unrelenting, the sky is gloomy and the wind is starting to pick up.  It's mid-morning and if this is the way the day is going to go I won't get any errands done. Besides, this week is Holy Week for those of us who are observing the Easter holiday, and it's not fun in bad weather.

As Greek Orthodox christians, this is the holiest week in our calendar.  Many of us observe Holy Week as if we are living it.  There are church services each day and all day, if people are interested in attending.  Every day is a different service and story leading up to the Passion, and finally, the Resurrection of Christ.  It's great theater if you look at it that way.  But between attending services, the dietary rules of fasting, the cleaning, baking, cooking, preparing, it's a rough week.  Who could paint?  I'm not sure I will even get to post to this blog this week.  We will see.

Beginning the evening of Palm Sunday and through to Tuesday night is the Service of the Bridegroom, from the parable of the Ten Virgins signifying the need to be ready when the "bridegroom" calls for the brides, very symbolic.  Holy Monday commermorated the story of Joseph the Patriarch, son of Jacob from the Old Testament.  Tonight, Holy Tuesday, the church continues to celebrate the Ten Virgins, but also the Parousia, or the Second Coming, with the subject of spiritual vigilance.  My favorite part of the Tuesday service is the Hymn of Kassiani, which the music and lyrics written by this nun are quite beautiful and awe inspiring. 

Born around 810AD in Constantinople (Istanbul now), Kassiani had to be one of the earliest artist/feminists in history.  Beautiful, wealthy and smart, she spurned the advances of the byzantine emperor Theophilos, who wished to marry her, with some terse words:

                      He said: Through a woman came the baser things..
                      She said:  And through a woman came the better things..

You know that wasn't going to go well.  Pretty angry, he chose to marry Theodora instead and had Kassiani scourged with a lash and banished to a monstery where she wrote poetry and music to accompany it.  She was probably thrilled thinking, Oh great, now I can just go do my art!  Seems in those days, besides religious belief, people chose monastic life to pursue their art and were involved in icon painting, illuminating manuscripts, writing liturgical music, and the like.  Hey, why not?  Think about it, peace and quiet, time to paint, write, whatever, without distraction.  Sounds great!

Will I attend services tonight?  I'm not sure if I will.  There's a whole week ahead of us.  Just thinking of all the things that go into this week kind of makes me want to hole up in a monastery to get some painting done.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hey, Who Used my Creative Checkbook?

Gregory Waiting (c)2010 Dora Sislian Themelis Pen and Ink

I'm still moving along in the latest Artist's Way coursework with the book, Walking in This World, by Julia Cameron, albeit very slowly.  Some days I read the next chapter, do some tasks, and other days I forget about it altogether.  I blew off the morning pages Sunday morning, not because I didn't feel like writing, but because I went to church for Palm Sunday with my family. By the time I realized I didn't write my pages it was late afternoon and time to plan dinner.  Too many people were around (my husband and my son!) for me to sit in my favorite spot without having them ask me what I'm doing, what's it about.  "Just go mind your own business" doesn't work and having to defend myself gives me stress.

Today I wrote the pages.  Afterwards I read chapter 5, Discovering a Sense of Personal Territory: Caretaking vs Sexuality.  It's not what you're thinking, ok.  It's about the feeling you can't stay away from creativity, the excitement, adventure and even the dangerous quality of wanting to create, and doing it again and again.  Well, it's an interesting point.  You get the idea.  If we, as artists, are asked to "mother" our friends/family/colleages we become desensualized, neutered, and feel used.  Our relationships with others can either make or break our relationship with our art.  We need that good mirror for our art to flourish. 

As I read on there was alot of putting ourselves first talk.  Being 'selfish enough' is being 'self protective', as in saying no to invitations and situations that don't serve us.  Now things were starting to click about here.  I came to a paragraph entitled Energy Debts, and read "any relationship that risks your artist's identity is not self-loving".


Recently I connected with a "Crazymaker" who, for years, I allowed to effectively keep me from my art.  I won't go into why I made the connection, but I did.  Rather than have all kinds of bad things said about me behind my back I casually connected.  Probably won't stop talk from happening, but whatever.

While always praising my creative ability to no end, they may have been jealous of it, and distracted me from it.  I let it happen thinking we were good friends, having fun, helping each other through things, but when it comes down to it I wasn't painting or making time for me and my art while they were around. 

I realize now that I was not spending my time wisely, didn't have a good mirror in this relationship, and was not authentic to myself.  Yeah, this person liked to prop me up and tell me how good an artist I was, but it wasn't real, it was control. I started to say NO and they were put off by it. 

Slowly, quietly, I began to step back.  Did I really need to hear from them 5 times in a day or each time I logged on to the computer?  No.  Did I need to get swept up in their drama?  No.  Was it worth it losing my time to run around with them doing everything but painting?  No.  They were using me for their own agenda and when I woke up from that fog I began to set boundaries.  And I'm a bad person now?  I don't think so.

Things with a Crazymaker will never get set to rest, just pushed to the side where it belongs, not in my general vicinity or else the whirlwind of that drama-filled stuff will try to take over again.  Why "give someone without scruples, your creative checkbook so they can run willy-nilly spending it all?"  I'm not buying that cheap stuff any longer.  When you wear Manolo's, there's no going back to PayLess, get it?  Ain't happening.

I deserve better than that which I allowed myself to endure for the sake of pseudo friendship.  Done, so done.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Photos

Whatever the weather is doing, whether it's raining, cold and snowy, or warm and sunny, the crocuses know that spring is here.  Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"I'm not inspired every day I go to the studio, but you've got to push yourself. Do it every day and once in a while things will really click. That's the biggest high you can imagine."
~Jamie Wyeth, Artist

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is Your Joy?

I had a totally different blogpost planned for today.  Last night, before I closed up "shop" (the computer) for the night, I noticed a direct tweet from Mark, a fellow twitter/artist/friend living in Canada, (check out his blog/bio/links).  We were throwing comments back and forth during the evening, along with other twitter people.  The last tweet I saw from Mark was asking to see what I look like in person since my avatar is an Andy Warhol type of abstract, multi-color photo of me and a painting in the background. 

Now, the thing is this: Do people on social networking sites want to be anonymous or right out there in detailed real life?  I've got nothing to hide, but still, who are the people out there?  As an artist, I do want to have a network of like-minded artists sharing a virtual art world on the net.  With all the identity theft of late, it could be a scary world out in cyberspace.

Actually I believe artists are pretty benign bunch.  Okay, we have a different sensibility about things.  So I don't find it odd that Mark, and I'm sure other cyber-friends want to see who we're communicating with.  Hey, some people don't add their real name! And it's a human nature thing, too.  We want to connect with other human beings on a more personal level.  This computer stuff is not the same as eye to eye contact.  

Well, I offered a recent photo of my real self taken last fall when I visited the Nassau County Museum of Art for the Norman Rockwell exhibition.  I didn't add the photo to my blogpost, but it was a less unflattering photo than some others I had, you know, you want to look semi-decent, not like a hag.  I was so happy on that Artist's Date, my first.  The weather was beautiful, I had a great time by myself and the art, I found hiking trails on the grounds of the old estate and took a quiet walk.  A wonderful day and I felt happy and light. 

This morning I saw Mark's tweet: "You have the gaze of a joyfully expectant seeker.... what are you looking for? What is your joy?"

So the big question is:  What is your joy?

I was stunned by such a thought provoking question at the start of my morning.  My twitter answer: "Well, I seek to find the who I was, serene, w/turps as my perfume.." 

As a kid I considered myself an artist.  Of course, as a young person you have no responsibilities except to schoolwork, family, my art.  Once we grow up, marry, have a family, there are some things the person who stays home gives up.  As I've said before, I tried to stay in the creative world by doing creative things on the sneak, so to speak.

Snatching little bits of time to draw, pastel, knit, anything art/color related before kids come home from school, time to prepare dinner, in between loads of laundry.  I remembered my favorite college fine art professor who told me that women artists don't make it because they end up focusing on the family instead of their art. 

Well, the day I took the photograph of myself in the woods was the day I felt I was re-introduced to "myself" of a long time ago.  With less to do since my sons are now adults I'm able to take my inner-artist out to explore, to spend time re-discovering my artist voice and create, play, and just be me. 

Thanks, Mark.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Virtual pARTy Painting

Belletor in Winter, Watercolor (c)2010 The Artist

I came across a fellow blogger/etsy/artist's post a couple of weeks ago about something called the "virtual pARTy" while meandering around the etsy forums where we meet and talk about art and techniques.  Artist Kathleen Roeth, aka tapestry316, paints horses and she commented about this art party thing one day.  Well, I'm not an animal person much less a horse person, nor am I that interested in painting them, but the idea of joining in on this idea seemed like a good departure from the bagpipe work.   In fact, I was so tired of the bagpipe I had put it aside and started throwing paint on the paper with no particular plan just to get away from it.  After I saw this horse posting I jumped at the chance to paint something new and out of my comfort zone.

The way the virtual pARTy works is a photo is presented during a set time and the artist has 24 hours to start and complete the work in the medium of their choice.  When it's done you upload the painting to the blog.  When the week is over the blog owners put up the entries for viewing. 

The result of my work is ok.  I wasn't really interested in the outcome.  It felt good to clear my head and look at a different scene with new colors.  I played with color mixing, different brushes and the strokes they make.  I had never tried to paint snow and tried to keep my white spaces white.  Now that I have great info on paper quality from you helpful readers, I can see how better paper could make the difference in a work.  Obviously, I'm going to have to go shopping for paper before I start the next piece. 

All in all, I'm glad I found the virtual pARTy and decided to go for it.  Why not?  It's all good.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Done and Ready for What's Next

The Bagpipe 11x14 Watercolor ©2010 Dora Sislian Themelis

I'm finally finished with this painting of my son and his bagpipe.  I can't do another thing to it or it will be a mess.  Thanks to a suggestion from a lovely commenter, the paper might need to be rougher or stronger if I'm going to rework areas or use a lot of water.  I learned a few things about my materials and myself, how I paint, what I like to paint, and maybe how to fight with resistance.  It's a process.

Resistance was beating me with this painting.  I will look at this in the future and remember how hard it was to go to the studio to work on it with all the action.  Boy did I want to just skip it and move on to something else!  I weakened and found myself working on an area, giving up the resistance battle.  I guess that's how it is.  One day you're playing, having fun and the next it's a chore to paint.  Something clicked and whatever it was helped me get back.  Was it the reading material, the doodling tasks, the morning pages, or was it just my head being ready to try again?

John's Laouto 11x14 Watercolor
©2001 Dora Sislian Themelis

As I have said in past posts, I was primarily an oil painter.  I think I used watercolors the way they should be used in this work I painted quite a few years ago. This was done after the miserable watercolor class I took.  Can you see the difference? 

The other thing about these two paintings is that the bagpipe was painted using a photograph of the scene and this was painted from life in one sitting.  I think the life painting has a freer, more spontaneous watery quality.  When I started using watercolors, I had just ended a bout with resistance.  Since I was new at it, I had motivation in my corner and kept painting. 

The bagpipe work is dramatic because of the lighting and paint application, but maybe a bit too detailed for my comfort.  

As I move on it may be time to get the oil paints out and revisit painting on canvas.  I've been using watercolors as if they were oil paints by applying them the same as I would the oils.  Maybe it's not a great idea.  Maybe it's just how I work.  I'm not so sure.

Watercolor paints are just so easy to get out, use and clean up afterward that they're very inviting.  The transparency of the medium is what artists like, but did I work with them the way they're meant to be?  Does it matter?  Comments, questions, criticisms?

Anyway, that's my own critique.  Thanks for listening to me rant.  I'm done and I'm moving on. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Photos for Friday

1. Spring Azaleas in the Garden
2. Upstate Steeple
3. Garden Gate
(c)2004 DST

Some spring time watercolors to enjoy with the beautiful weather we're having, after that nasty winter.  Bye-bye winter!  Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday Thought

"Obliviousness strikes one in three Americans..and most don't even know it."
~The Onion News

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Din of the Light Bulb Moment

In reading the latest of The Artist's Way books, Walking in This World by Julia Cameron, I had a light bulb moment.  Yes, that weird feeling when suddenly things seem very clear.  I could feel a "pop" go off in my head.  I looked up and around me with a start.  You know the feeling when things seem to come together and make perfect sense?  That sometimes happens slowly, like a gradual awakening, the fog slowly lifting and you say to yourself, "Yeah, I see. I get it."  No, that's not what happened to me.  I had a rush, boom, clang, got hit on the head moment.  Ouch!

Before you think I lost my mind, I should explain.  As I've been stuck in resistance lately and I had put off the latest Artist's Way course book, I decided it was time to re-direct, take a U-turn and pick up where I left off.  I've been very good about writing the morning pages, not so good at keeping up with artist's dates, but here and there doing small things to stay in the loop: looking at old work, fussing with that bagpipe work, knitting on socks, ordering yarn.  Yesterday I picked up the course book and started reading again.

Chapter 3 is about discovering a sense of adventure to gain a greater feeling of freedom and open mindedness. One of the tasks was called Draw Yourself to Scale.  Interesting, I thought.  The task involves sketching.  Nice and easy, right?  To paraphrase: "Sketch each moment and enter adventure..The coffee mug, the doctor's office..Don't need to sketch well.  The adventure of life rushes past us in a blur.  Velocity is the culprit.  Velocity and pressure.  A sketchbook freezes time and is a form of meditation to focus on every moment."  And here I was thinking I had to sketch myself.

CLICK!  The light bulb over my head popped really loud!

A couple of months ago I bought a teeny sketchpad and filled my old rapidograph with ink.  I don't like to carry a large handbag for the weight of it, but okay, the one I have right now can fit a few things.  So there's the sketchbook and pen, handy and ready.  When I had some time, and no knitting with me, I'd pop out my things and doodle.  Most of the time I forgot I had them with me in my bag.

POP!  Light bulb!  I have doodled waiting at the doctor's office!  CLICK!  I drew a little girl in my teeny book after allergy shots in the waiting room!  SNAP!  I pulled out the little book last week at a coffee salon and sketched the live musicians while my company sipped their coffee!  I'm in the loop after all!  Where I thought I was out of the game, I really wasn't.  Maybe I was coasting along the whole time?  If I hadn't read this chapter I may have continued thinking I was still in resistance mode.  Talk about synchronicity!  Things were just falling into place of their own accord.  Could it be I just wasn't really paying attention to myself?

Boy, that was some light bulb.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thanks But I Need to Get Off the Computer, NOW

Surprised is not the word, when I checked here the other day and saw that a fellow facebook "friend", fan, and Etsy shop seller thought enough of my creativity to send me this Sunshine Blog Award.  Michele is the purveyor of a shop called By Your Side.  Many of us creative types have a shop at Etsy with original art, hand crafts, vintage items, etc. 

Getting exposure is not an easy task, but most everyone is involved in the internet in some way, whether it's facebook, twitter, blogs and the like.  Lately, on facebook artisans have been linking to each other's business and fan pages in the hopes of more exposure to more people with similar interests and the possibility of sales of the various items.  SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is the focus.  Many of the artisans, but not all, are people at home with children, finding the time in their day to connect with others about their craft, maybe help with the family's finances.  I've come in contact with some lovely people of all kinds.  Michele was nice enough to pass on this blog award, and in accepting it I now must pass it on to twelve other bloggers, link to their blog, let them know about the link with a comment, and finally share a thank you to the blogger bestowing the award.  A daunting task!  I'm not the most adept at computer stuff, so it will take a little work and possibly more time than I can spend on it. 

It's fun and all, but I'm trying to get myself motivated for painting and creative pursuits rather than get stuck on the computer trying to figure out how to link to this and that.  Could take a fair amount of time that I would prefer to use otherwise.  Bad enough I'm in a bit of resistance and now I might be blocked again because I feel bad not to reciprocate.  It's like those chain letters you get in the mail that say, "If you don't send out 12 copies of this letter something bad will happen in 24 hours!  Do not break the chain!"  Oh when I see those things I throw them right in the trash.  There's no way I'm falling for that one.  Have you ever received the ones that say something about holy prayers being said as the chain letter went out to all the selected people and if you break the chain Holy hellfire will erupt?  No, not going there either.  Dump that one even faster! 

So now a lovely person has added my blog to this award.  I'm really grateful, but now instead of getting on this computer, checking email, having my say here and there about art, now I've got a job.  I'm sorry to say it, but it really becomes a job and I was hoping my job would be to PAINT! 

I'm not sure I can do all the linking that's been asked of me, but I'm happy to link Michele and her facebook fan page.  Have some fun, look around at her page and some of the other wonderful creatives there.  If I'm free I might try to link up a few more people, but hopefully they're not like me and feel like this is the chain letter from hell.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Today is the Ides of March, I'll Paint Tomorrow

"A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March" ~ Brutus to Caesar, Act I, Scene II from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

We arsty types always enjoyed acknowledging the fact that today, March 15th, is the Ides of March.  Thoroughly enjoyed pointing it out.  I don't know why, but anyone I knew who was an artist made a big thing about the Ides.  So there it is, I'm continuing the tradition.  I used to tell this to my sons every year, very cryptically, "Beware the Ides of March."  They'd look at me as if I had two heads.  Was it me?  I don't know.

That said, let's get on with it.

This weekend was horrible, crazy, scary weather.  Saturday saw a nor'easter that seems to be historic now that it's over.  Sunday wasn't great either with rain, thunder, lightening and flooding in areas.  I burrowed in my cave, so to speak.  I spent Sunday photographing some new jewelry I made, a couple of older paintings, and dug up my color charts.  Looking through my work gave me ideas and motivation.  It's good to dig out old stuff every now and then. 

I had put the bagpipe painting on my easel to look at it whenever I came into the studio.  I like to do that with works in progress.  It gives me a feel for where I need to go with a piece.  The light in the studio may be out for good now, but I ignored it, turned on my desk light and did a little work on the painting. 

Each work teaches you something new.  With this painting I learned that the style I'm used to working with in oils may not be the right way to work in watercolors or I need a more durable surface.  Painting as with oils, I kept adding to certain areas with color.  Maybe it's the paint, but I think the paper is wearing on those areas and making little balls of something.  Maybe watercolor is not meant for much reworking?  Am I using too much water?  The paper is Lanaquarelle 140lb cold press and usually fine to work with, but would Arches paper do the same thing?  Answers come with doing so I'm just going to keep working.

Overall, I'm painting, and I like the mood of this piece.  Maybe I should have worked this in oils?  It's possible I will paint it again.  I have another photograph with a different position I could try in the future.  The chiarasciuro, darks and lights, is what I really like and it may be worth another go in another medium.  For now this just needs a little tweaking for me to say I'm done.

Not touching this painting today, though.  It's the Ides of March and important things are better left until another day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Photos

(c)1996 Dora Sislian Themelis
Hillside at Agriolivadi Beach, Patmos Island, Greece
on location

(c)1996 Dora Sislian Themelis
Agriolivadi Beach, Patmos Island, Greece
on location

(c)1996 Dora Sislian Themelis
Hillside church Santorini, Greece
from photographs

(c)1996 Dora Sislian Themelis
Hillside church at Santorini, Greece  close-up

In the frenzy of travel, I sometimes remember to bring drawing materials for the times I see a scene and want to capture it as art, rather than as a photograph.  Those times are few.  Many years ago I did bring pen and sketchbook on our visit to family in Greece.  Luckily, I packed these items for our beach day and drew some pretty scenery from life, which I prefer over photos. 

The blue sky, azure beaches and non-stop sun was therapy for body, mind and soul.  When can I return?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thought for Thursday

"I'm not happy, I'm cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman is one who has no cares at all; a cheerful woman is one who has cares but doesn't let them get her down."

~Beverly Sills, opera star

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Could it be Spring?

This is the last of the snow in front of my house.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed and asking the Universe to please melt it quick and send any to someplace else, not here, please.  Look, I know this is New York, and we're supposed to have four seasons, winter among them, but come on!  This winter has been ridiculous with  snowfall after snowfall.  I can be a bit of a hermit, but after a while cabin fever does set in on the best of us cave lovers.  And I love my cave.  Tell me to stay home and I'm loving it.  A blizzard?  Great day to stay in and bake, cook up something hot and good.  The electricity is going to go out?  Break out the candles and play Scrabble!  We huddle in the candlelight and tell each other stories with the fireplace lit.  No problem for me.'s every other day.  Then I can't do anything.  Stuck.  The choice to venture out or stay in is the thing.  If one day is a disaster, but the next you can get out and do your thing, it's fine.  If that continues day in and day out you can get a little crazy. 

Springtime in New York is beautiful weather, when we have a spring time.  Some years we have two days of spring-like weather and then Boom! the summer hits.  You won't hear me complaining.  Summer is real good, even better, in my opinion.  Bring on the heat and the humidity, I'm ready!  The hotter the better.  I'm not comfortable until the weather is in the 90's and I'm dripping.  Good excuse to visit the beach or be out in my garden. The colors of the flowers in spring and summer are at their best.  I try to fill my garden with the brightest, deepest colors I can find.  And I need fragrance.  Strongly scented roses, spicy butterfly blush, hyacinth and daffodils, and others I can't remember.  I just need to smell the fresh air mingled with flowers.  Even freshly cut grass is an amazing aroma. Yeah, I like the warmer days.

I just can't wait for spring and summer.  Bring it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go...

Wrapped up in the latest B.S. going around and my own resistance, what does one do?  Well, I do a couple of things.  I can't really say which one is the go-to perfect thing for me to do when I'm frustrated.  People would think, "Oh you're an artist so you'll go paint or draw something."  No, I don't go there when I'm annoyed.  Wish I did, but that's not it. 

Some people go shopping.  My shopping wouldn't make a dent anywhere.  Sometimes I go shopping and walk around the store with the things I've chosen and by the time I'm ready to check out I'm already done with the items I was holding.  No sale!

Dancing is a feel good thing for me, but I feel stupid dancing alone in my house.  Gardening is another good thing to do, but here in New York there's no gardening going on right now.  Nope, not with all the half melting snow still around. 

From what I've been reading lately on resistance, it's good to do something mundane, repetitive, or ordinary.  The Artist's Way said to do your mending!  Who has mending today?  Nobody mends socks anymore.  You pop a toe hole and toss the socks in the trash these days.  Or maybe now with the huge recession people will think twice about throwing clothes away when they pop a hole.  I mended socks until I could no longer mend them.  So there.

Want to know what I did?  I ordered yarn!  Yup.  In the heat of the moment I went online and ordered yarn.  Enough to make a kind of big thing.  I'm not saying what kind of thing in case anyone's looking over here!  And...I knit!  I took out every half knit thing I had this week and checked them over.  Then I started knitting.  Those half done socks from a couple of weeks ago?  Done.  The other pair of baby socks?  Done.  The new order has not arrived yet, but I can't wait to get my hands on it!  Yeah, yarn gets my juices going! 

Painting is hard.  Knitting is easy!  Ordering yarn is even easier!  I'm licking my lips just thinking about the mailman coming with my yarn order.  And the color is delicious.  Come to think of it, it's the colors that really get me.  Yarn colors can be amazing!  Just go visit a yarn shop and see all the colors and textures.  Some yarns are real eye candy.  Heaven can be found in a yarn shop.  OK, most yarn shop proprietors are the meanest, nastiest, snobbiest people on earth.  Oh yes they are and the shop nearest my house is a testament to that.  Yarn is not cheap by any means and they have the nerve to be nasty!  So I snub them and order on line.  It's great.  The only draw back is that you can't see it all or touch it.  It's fine and less expensive, sometimes free shipping, no tax.  Wonderful not to deal with crazy people. I've had enough of dopey, crazy people for the moment.

The other thing I like to do to escape is read. What am I reading NOW you ask?   Take a look below and let out a nice laugh, go ahead, I laughed too!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Had it in the Fun House. Now Where's the exit?

It's Monday morning and my day has been well under way for hours.  I awake most days at around 6:00-6:30AM, no later.  My usual routine is to get myself together and go to the kitchen to get the coffee started.  Must have coffee.  In an old post I told you how I like to make coffee in my old fashioned Corning Ware stove-top percolator.  Old school style, I know, but drip just doesn't offer the aroma of perked coffee.  Sorry, just doesn't and what's a morning without the coffee wafting through the house?

I get the coffee going and make lunches for the Mr. and Son #2.  Son #1 is married and out so I'm down to the three of us. I bring in the newspaper from the sidewalk and read it with my coffee.  It's the perfect time of day.  If I'm lucky I write the Morning Pages while they're still asleep.  Most days that doesn't happen and I write after they leave for the day when my time is my own. I write every day.

The Morning Pages, from the book The Artist's Way, have become a lifeline, as I've said before.  I write the date and time at the top of the page and then all this stuff starts pouring out of my head, through my arm, the pen, and to the page. Then the fun begins.  Good thoughts and ideas, stupid stuff and dopey people wind up in the pages.  Lately the focus has been on my own resistance, and the dopey people.  Every day another block.  Every day another thing from these dopey people.  The pages are supposed to help one see where one needs the most attention.  Okay, my resistance I'm working on, but how about the dopey people?

I'm being mild here when I say "dopey people."  I'd like to call them something else, but I'm just not that way.  How long can you excuse their actions by calling it jealousy?  This is no longer 4th grade no-clue stupid stuff, but real life adult dopey people. What are you supposed to do, hide in a cave?  In a previous post I was talking about reading Walking in This World, how other people try to fit you into how they're used to seeing you, but they can't now that you've become who you're meant to be.  Okay, find a better mirror, but how long does it take? When will it be over and how do you get out of the fun house?

Here's a scenario.  Let's say there's a young person who loves doing a thing, and someone a little older loves doing the same thing, that's nice.  Over time they grow older, learn more, become more talented, more interested, more adept, more out there with this thing they love, and do it better than the older person.  Suddenly, the older person is annoyed, upset, surprised, and combative.  Just because the younger person grew up and became more of who they really are, and is better at the thing than the older person will ever be, why is that a problem?  Why can't the older person say, "Good for you!  Look at how you've grown and what you've become!"  No, this previous mentor becomes the aggressor, the enemy.  We're talking about an adult with responsibilities, children, in an adult world having a tantrum, pouting, screaming, ignoring, sulking, pounding their chest like a big ape because they're surprised this younger person showed them up by doing the thing they love to do differently, better, new.  "Since you're doing it like that, now I'm not going to be your friend. He has a swelled head." Give me a break.  Who really has the swelled head?

What keeps coming up in my pages is the question, "Why?"  I know I said in the other post that people are jealous when you grow.  But, how does the word jealous cover all this dopey person's stuff?  I can't figure it out.  I'm hoping that in writing about the negativity it will dissipate and the morning pages will give me an answer.  I need to know how to react when I see said dopey person. Soon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Photo Friday

"Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains..."
(lyrics to 1920's hobo song)

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Thought

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got."   ~ Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How do You Spell "R-E-S-I-S-T-A-N-C-E" ?

Doodling at the allergists office today

"Resistance's goal is not to wound or disable.  Resistance aims to kill...Resistance means business.  When we fight it, we are in a war to the death."  ~Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

A reader left a great comment on this blog after yesterday's post and it had me thinking all day.  Go ahead to yesterday and read the comment.  I'll wait. 

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes that resistance is insidious.  It keeps us from doing our work by telling us anything it can think of.  It, and I'm assuming that's the scratchy voice in the head, will lie, seduce, bully, cajole, deceive, reason like a lawyer, or hold a gun to your head like a robber.  Resistance will double-cross you as soon as you turn around.  And, he says, if you believe any of it you deserve everything you get because resistance is full of crap.  I had better buckle up.

So, my question to you dear readers is this:  "How do you fight resistance?  What form does it take, and what measures do you use to battle it and win?''  I'm very interested the things different people do to work through all the junk and push the resistance aside. 

Please feel free to leave your comments.  I could read all the books in the world and still have trouble with resistance.  Maybe what works for you could spark an idea for me.
I'm looking forward to it, bring it on.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The "F" Word

Despite the fact that I'm in the middle of reading two books about artist's block, resistance, whatever you want to call it, I'm allowing all that to continue right about now.  The only positive thing is that I can identify it for what it is.  And what it isn't is the big "L" word: lazy.  Lazy is not an acceptable term in the Artist's Way and War of Art vocabulary.  Not acceptable.  The acceptable term is the "F" word: fear.  Why fear, you might ask?  Fear takes many forms, some of which seem like lazy, bored, tired, distracted.  All of this stems from fear.  Fear is the really big "F" word.

What's fear got to do with resistance to create?  The obvious fear is of failure.  The talking in one's brain that says "Why'd you put that color there? What's up with the composition?  How come you didn't think before you messed up that painting? It was coming out so well and you went and ruined it. Dang!" 

On the same track is the fear of success.  Now that's a heavy one!  Feeling good about a work and having others agree brings the fear of being out there, the fear of the next piece not being as good, the fear that now the artist is the focus. And that scratchy voice starts saying, "What's your big problem, you idiot?  Get your stuff out there!"  Big thing, that fear.

I can't wait until the morning so I can write the Morning Pages journal to tell the voice to shut up. 

Then the blocking comes in and all work is at a standstill.  The play stops too.  The excuses not to continue begin and that annoying voice starts yapping anew: "The light in the studio stopped working altogether.  Until I call that guy to fix it I can't  work on the painting.  I have to pay a guy to come and fix the light and money is tight right now.  I'm tired of all the snow, I may as well have another cup of coffee and watch the flakes fall.  I feel blah.  I'm annoyed at so and so.  Maybe that work is not as good as they, or I, think it is, what do they know?" Get the picture?

Oh yeah. I've become well aware of Resistance alright.  I know it, I can feel it, I've identified it, and I still can't move through it, even by the process. The War of Art, as kick butt as that book is, is not kicking my butt hard enough!  Do I need to have someone put a garbage can on my head and bang it while kicking my butt one foot after the other?

Something clicked on in my head while painting my son and his bagpipe, and I know that fear took over.  I was too happy with the way it was coming along.  Anytime I feel really happy and good, something happens to squash all the good vibes.  He began to have an issue that came to light since I started the work and I think I'm feeling resistance to continue because somehow, in my mind, I feel, I don't know if this is the right word  but, responsible for it in some way.  It's a long, stupid story, but what he's working on, and having a problem with egos, involves him playing that bagpipe.  So the primitive side of my brain says it was my fault he had to confront someone by standing up for himself and his art.

Is it realistic?  Nah, probably not, but my brain may be using that as the block of the moment,(that and my other to-do's.)  Sure, why not?  Looks like Resistance is hanging around longer than I'd like. He's outstayed my generous welcome and the time seems to have come for me to kick his butt out the door.  (Notice I've given it a male gender.)

Anger is powerful, too.  Anger is action.  And enough is enough.

The Latest Work With Permission

©Dora Sislian Themelis, 11x14 Watercolor, Patmos Sunset Available for purchase The latest work is from another person's photograph...