Pamela Viviano

The Struggle of Guidance

Hello struggle! Such a struggle to do a simple task that becomes complex when mental habits get in the way.

I began working on a pastel this morning when I looked outside and connected to the beauty of the leaves and trees and realized that I must draw what I see: I must connect like a meditation to the world.  As an artist, you have to have a practice, just like a yoga practice if you are a yogi. Of which I attest to being both.  But either way, you must practice on a daily basis or else you won’t learn or change or improve.

With both, the mind MUST be silent!! It cannot talk nor should it wander mercilessly intellectually. It should, be allowed to go, however, to a place of meditation which is a source of creativity and knowledge. Just as in yoga when you can wander away– unless you have a goal (and in art as well as in yoga that goal may just be to listen)- in my humble opinion your end product will not be as satisfying. I believe in intuition fueled by energy, deepened by experience. Experience is knowledge learned. Learning in advance and applying it, seeing retroactively how something turned out because of lack of knowledge, looking to the future and applying something you learned in the past even if it is intuitive: it all helps you become better at what you do.

I am honing my artistic skills by taking classes and studying topics like design and color mixing. I’ll lean on these in my own work. However, as I tend to lead with my heart, I will still approach my actual work using the skills and process that have bubbled up inside of me. And that means that I am unique–separate from any other artist. Enjoying my approach is key to having fun. And I believe that having fun is the key to happiness. Criticizing yourself is not fun, so whether in art or yoga or anything, lets leave the criticism aside and work at our craft in a fun and earnest way.

As much learning as I get from studying art concepts, I still cannot let that get in the way when I draw. I have to trust and believe that I have gifts that surpass all mental knowledge. And that must keep me going when the stories I tell myself come out.

We are all too comfortable with our thoughts. Our thoughts need to be questioned and silenced when the deeper, mostly silent voice has been called on to speak and guide us. We should not be afraid of it, but rather get used to it. It produces all sorts of good things. All sorts of hits of wisdom that can make us better all the way around. It is where our conscience lays. It can even be called a teacher. It really is worth listening to on a regular basis.

So whatever your regular habit is that draws you closer to that place, do it right! Develop an approach that you like and trust yourself. Don’t discount yourself and don’t worry when you’re working. It will push you off of your tracks. You’ll get there– you’ll have success. I worry just like the rest of you because I want to be good. But we must separate the success from the practice.

After it’s all over, we can evaluate it. Or maybe while we’re in the midst of it. But a steady stream of negative thoughts that try to guide the practice may be detrimental to the real process. Something magical happens in art when you’re allowed to let go completely. And today I shot myself in the foot, I believe. But I have learned. And I have written this post as part of that. And that’s creative too.

I sign off, hoping that this has helped you in some way.


My Roxie

When we are pet owners we are stewards. How well we step into that role will determine how good a quality of life we give to them.

Today what I am now realizing is what my pet gave to me: an undying, unmatched loyalty separate from but not unlike her step-sister who came before her.

Whereas Raja was more of a baby, Roxie is more of my caretaker and protector. More of an equal– not so much of a baby as Raja. So it is with tremendous sadness that I think about my current loss right now because I lose a friend who really looked out for me, loved me, and even seemed to like me.

Her attention was wholly and undividedly on me. Where I went, she looked to and followed. Whether wanting food, water, a step outside or a rubdown with the wubba, she really did demand my attention. But what I see is that she gave. She gave me herself. And what she was was a loyal, dedicated, protective, safe, friendly, congenial go with you anywhere companion. When shall I have such a friend as that for a very long time?


This morning I had decided to organize my thoughts around my art career and my life and how the two would interconnect, but other work pushed it aside. I wish I had written SOMEthing down, because later that day I got news going forward that meant my life would change. Having plans change means that I’ve got to get really clear on where I want to take my boat, as I have complete power.

I have no recollection of what I wanted to say to myself because the news was a shock. So right now I am taking a time out and planning for the next few days.

So many good things have happened to give me a step up and it’s from this step that I will move. I am not afraid. I have been given tools and help all along the way; now it’s my duty to show that I can use them.

Being good at what you do

Talent in art is not everything, nor can all the best materials in the world make up for a lack of talent. The best artists can can make great art with the least of materials. But talented artists need to put the work in to harness their talent. A running horse still needs to be reined in if you want to ride him. And doesn’t dressage, the most disciplined of horseriding practices, that takes hours of practice for both rider and horse, produce the most entertaining show.  So, in the end, nothing gets you further than taking your talent and turning it into skills.

I will paraphrase a quote by Pablo Picasso: to become an artist you must sweat; you cannot ride on inspiration alone. Like dressage, the final product in art is made up of hours of practice that renders it possible.

So here are three examples of color studies and a recent linoleum block print series.

Regarding Art

It can be very simple to get the point across. That’s what great writers aspire to–just saying what they want to simply and directly, in plain English. And great modern artists like Matisse and Picasso moved to that in their later years, simplifying forms and flattening shapes. Lines can be suggestions, like with missing letters where the viewer’s brain fills in the remaining ones to see the word. Even if the artwork is just implied, one’s reaction to it is still the same, with a stronger demand for observation and participation in understanding it.

Someone who has known me for almost two years, a neuropsychologist and science fiction writer, has inspired some Of my recent work He has described my art this way: (Pam) highlights the essence of something and creates a new form with it that someone too grounded in their senses would not be able to see. He also said that I softened reality. These objective descriptions are far better than mine because to me when I try to write about myself I sound self-aggrandizing. It is easier to have someone else describe his reaction to my work than for me to describe how I approach it because I really don’t know how or what I’m going for. Maybe if I described my subject it might teach me. I think that’s a very smart solution with regards to an artist statement.

Maybe I do want to soften reality. I know I want to experience the world in a playful way, which is my whole approach to reality. That I create art to make me happy and not to recreate reality meants to me that reality has already been done (don’t we have to live in it every day?), which can be beautiful if we look around. Obviously I’m creating my reaction to it in my pictures. It is not an intellectual pursuit, for sure, but the impression it has on me. That also was his point–that I can highlight reality in certain ways that gets the point across without hitting someone over the head with it. In that way, I have never wanted to recreate reality in a realistic way, but I in no way have wanted to cover it up. Maybe I help bring out something else that is meaningful and important, more palatable and enjoyable, in this thing we call life.

Assisting artists with disabilities

The more people I’m matched with at the art studio, the more I’m learning. With different diseases come different weaknesses. Some may have memory problems and others may have movement problems, but to lesssen someone’s load if they’re struggling takes away their independence and opportunity to succeed. Just because they’re taking longer to get a task done does not give you the right to make it easier for them. A job will not be better because it was easier to do or watch. Truly, the process in art is what matters and that is the same for all of us artists, whether abled or disabled. It is a messy, stop and start, fits and bumps process.

Ending Relationships and Saying Goodbye

I believe that social media has corrupted the natural ending of relationships that used to be integral to our everyday life. Moving away used to mean that a person you liked was a fond memory if you didn’t keep in touch by mail or phone. Now you can’t get away from them even if you want to. In the past, being able to close the door on a relationship in your head gave you a certain closure and allowed you to put it out of your mind and allow for other things to come into it. Now everyone is a part of everyone’s lives and your circle appears bigger and bigger even if it really isn’t, and you hold on to relationships just by the nature of their ranking on a page. Letting go is natural and normal, yet not being able to say goodbye may disturb that part of us that needs to learn how.

A friend told me about needing to let go of a marriage that had become toxic to her in its way of dragging on for years and years without changing for the better. Something in her refused to bring the guillotine down on it, even when her husband brought it up and in his umspoken actions gave her ample opportunity. Neither of them ever took action, though. Not changing the relationship, they drifted, together, on the sea of life.

Finally, learning about an indiscretion, my friend came to me with the problem. For years she had ignored signs of distress in her husband, such as moving out for a year at a time.  Piecing together the similarities in his behavior during these times, she had finally decided that the proverbial writing was on the wall and that she must take action. But how to move forward?

First, she mourned. She looked through pictures of happy times so she could cry. Because these provoked good memories, whatever confusion or anger she was feeling at that moment were replaced by regret, sadness, and joy– quite a mixture. Even if her greatest feelings up until that moment were quite the opposite, looking at happier times allowed her to relive them, which consequently brought up feelings of compassion and love towards him which she didn’t try to push away.

Then, she took steps. Severing contact carefully and creating distance were among the first that gave her a sense of control over the situation. Once there, she was able to inch forward towards independence and freedom. No children allowed less complications. She had no illusions about the emotional difficulty that might lay ahead, but hope and a sense of undeniable rightness helped her to map out a plan that was not rash.

No relationship is easy to leave. Facts show that even women in abusive relationships stay far too long. We are social animals who thrive on companionship. People come together and stay together for myriad reasons. Ultimately it may come down to a time when we have to ask ourselves whether we can tolerate whatever weights the relationship carries with it. A relationship to anything has a turning point at which whatever good we get from it is measured against the irritant it carries. When that gets to be too much is the lightening rod that is the deciding factor in our decision to walk away.