My dear friend, an old friend from a distant city, can speak her mind without fear of repercussion. Maybe she doesn’t have anything left to lose or maybe it’s her innate strength of self, but it’s not something I can do without being afraid that it’s going to come back to me in a word, a criticism, or outright rejection.
I cringe at that sort of thing. And yet, right now, I suffer because of it in the present, when I’m not trying to do anything wrong to anyone. Who I am doesn’t sit right with other people. I’m not working hard enough (I’m moody). Or I make excuses (for not working hard enough to make someone’s life better). Or when I visit someone, I interrupt the going’s on by announcing myself with information I think is relevant and on my mind without the niceties of hello and how are you.
Right now there is not a lot of love coming at me from that can help counter all of the criticism that I’m getting right now. And the crazy thing is that I’m getting this negativity regularly. Whether it’s me or not, it is getting me D-0-W-N.
It’s as if my worth as a human being is somehow wrapped up in what other people think of me. And it doesn’t feel good to feel that. I guess I may be confusing behavior with self-worth. My behavior TO THEM isn’t as good as it could be, is less than standard or isn’t socially appropriate. Right now, I seem to have a chorus of spectators who are really comfortable with telling me how awful I am, nothing of which I asked for. In fact, their language is just as inappropriate as they think my actions are because, to me, they’re the bullies. I have to honestly say that this is the first time in my life that the majority of my interactions with people are negative, whereas it used to be the exact opposite. I really miss those times. According to my astrologer friend, this is the fault of transiting Saturn, which is coming down hard on my natal Saturn in the first house.
So, I say, on the contrary.
What I really ask for is cooperation, which is what I’m giving right now. What I really want is to be appreciated, which I feel I deserve. What I really want is to be understood, which is what I am trying to do for the people around me. What I really want is to be liked. What I really like is to be wanted. What I really want is some love. Does anyone have some for me?
Today I went back to the church to do more flash portraits, this time for a Christmas celebration. Two of the same kids were there, one of whom sat for me again, but there were many new, younger ones. I wasn’t paid much attention to until later in the three-hour day, but right away a 25-year married couple came to my table and I drew them, which I really enjoyed because I got to know them.
I found that I could keep up a conversation during my work, which was great because it was therapeutic and interactive at the same time. This loving married couple had fallen on hard times but they had each other and their grown children, which is more than many people can say. Anyway, towards the end of my time there the kids came up to the table fast and furious and I was able to draw them pretty quickly, which is why I was there in the first place: to test my mettle at drawing strangers while volunteering for a good cause. But the better gift was the interaction between the people who came to my table and me. And it was nice to be where people who really need other people were helped. We really need each other. And it takes a village. Even in the wild, wild West, even though some would lead us to believe that it wasn’t like that. Because if it wasn’t then and if it isn’t now, we as a species will not survive.
I gave most everyone a chance to tell me if they were satisfied with my drawings before I finished, and if they weren’t, I added to them. A lot of the simplest contour drawings were the fastest and most satisfactory, as they took under a minute but captured the sitter’s essence. I am finding that markers work the best for these “flash” drawings because they’re colorful and don’t smudge. I hope you enjoy the new ones.
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.
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?