Thursday, December 31, 2009

Finding My Compass and Direction

The Dancing Sky
In my insane cleaning ritual I located my compass… my desk drawer.

No wonder I couldn't find it when out on the trail. It certainly wasn’t close to my pack.

Half filling a sketchbook with ideas for new work and possibly a new series, I drew and imagined and drew some more. I contemplate women and myth and the wildness in my heart. The sketches do not impress or excite me.

On Christmas day I sold all the rest of the primitive ponies, the last three small ones and a triptych.

I look again through my sketchbook. The sketches that do stand out are the spirit horses.

I take out my newly found compass and contemplate my direction.

My young paint horse Miami is now green broke and will continue to need a lot of riding and training.

I decide to paint horses and ride paint horses.

How easy is that?

I put the compass in my pack.

Hoping your New Year is filled with peace, prosperity and joy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Scary not so Merry Christmas

I had a very quiet Christmas. We expected snow but only got a dusting. The north wind was howling.

A scary thing:

Dad got out in his electric wheelchair to take his dog out barefoot and in shorts. It was 18 with the wind chill. His battery went dead. Luckily someone found him quickly. He did not have his cell phone with him (again).

The flu thing:

All the people here have been sick except Dad. I am on the road to recovery but not completely well and decided not to go to the family gathering. We urged everyone to stay away from our house. I was sorry I didn’t get to spend Christmas with the grandkiddies.

The Food:

We did not do the soup/spam thing but I don’t think it would have made much difference if we had. We had a big meal and no one ate much. I did most of the cooking and all of the cleaning as I am the least sick. We won’t have to cook again for days.

Another scary thing:

My niece was hospitalized for a week last month for a kidney infection. She ended up spending Christmas day and much of the night at the ER. Family members took turns sitting with her and watching her toddler. They released her and said it was not her kidneys. We are all very relieved and thankful about that. She has to go back Monday for more tests.

The good thing:

I have more gifts to open later today.

I hope everyone had a Merrier Christmas and for us there is always next year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Hunger, The Void, The Logos and The Ultimate Gifts

If I had a gift for words this would be what I would say. Clint Watson says it for me in this wonderul article. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

The Hunger, The Void, The Logos and The Ultimate Gifts

by Clint Watson

This Christmas week, your editor sits at his keyboard pecking out a living. I am driven to write.

Some days, I write computer code that becomes software that, hopefully, artists and others find useful...other days, like today, instead of functions and variables, words and sentences flow forth and become newsletters, journal entries and blog posts. Again, hopefully a few people find it useful. It's still quite humbling to think that anyone actually reads these missives of mine.

The Hunger

Quite frankly, I would probably do these things anyway, even if nobody used the software and nobody suffered through the missives. Writing computer code and writing down my thoughts on art, marketing, inspiration and success...well...those things are just something that I do. It's who I am. It's the way that I create.

You see, you and I are the same, dear artist. We have the same drive. There is a voice inside of each us yelling "I MUST create!" You've heard that voice. That voice is why you paint, sculpt, draw, take photographs, draw cartoons, make jewelry, etc, etc, etc.

We may work in different mediums, but we're all heeding the same call. Your medium may be paint, while mine is computer code, algorithms and functions...sentences, paragraphs and ideas.

Artist and cartoonist, Hugh MacLeod, calls this feeling "The Hunger." That's a good way to put it. I HUNGER to create.

Here's what Hugh says about "The Hunger":

The Hunger will give you everything.

And it will take from you, everything.

It will cost you your life, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Welcome to The Hunger...It will never go away." [source]

i wanna create by Hugh MacLeod,

Interestingly, this Christmas season, I find myself asking, "WHERE does 'The Hunger' come from?"

The Void

To answer that, I have to back up a few years and share some very personal information. I hope you don't mind. Several years ago, I found myself experiencing an deep emptiness inside. I called this emptiness "The Void." (Interestingly, Hugh MacLeod's blog is called 'Gaping Void'. I don't really know why he named it Gaping Void, but for me that term has always represented "The Void" I felt many years ago. That's the great thing about art, the meaning can sometimes be different to the viewer than it is to its creator.)

At some point in their lives, a lot of people experience a similar sort of emptiness. We all try to fill it in different ways. Sometimes in positive ways: a relationship, exercise, travel. Sometimes in negative ways: overeating, alcohol addiction, gambling. But, you see, I've come to believe that there is only one "thing" that properly fills "The Void."

I believe this, because I had a supernatural encounter with that one "thing" that has filled my emptiness.

Now please bear with me. I haven't gone crazy. This is not an attempt to push any religious or other beliefs on you. I'm just opening up my heart and ideas and sharing with you.

Different people have different views on what this void-filling "thing" is. Some names people use are: The Universe, the Creator, Life-Force, and God.

The Logos

The ancient Greeks called this "force" Logos. Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC) established the term in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the cosmos [source]. Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) used the term logos to mean the creative principle [source].

You see, I believe that this "force" . . . this Logos is the only thing that can fill "The Void."

Now, I'm certainly not wise enough or knowledgeable enough to know all of the forms and faces that Logos takes. In my case, I had a direct and supernatural encounter with Logos where it . . . He ... chose to reveal himself to me in the traditional Christian manner. For me, at least, "Logos" is Jesus. But it could be that Logos very well may reveal itself in a different manner to other people. Perhaps Logos connects with each person in the most-appropriate and effective way to reach that person. I don't know. I only know that "The Void" that I had experienced was instantly filled after that direct encounter with the logos.

The Gifts

Now here's where it gets really interesting. "The Void" was filled, but "The Hunger" intensified. I'm both satisfied and joyful, but also intensely driven...intensely HUNGRY... to create. Hence, as I started this letter: your editor sits at his keyboard pecking out a living.

You see, the Creator is, well, a Creator. We are created in His image. Logically, if we are created in the Creator's "image", then we are creators too. Thus, just like the Logos of the universe, we have a "hunger" to create.

Your creator has given you a remarkable gift with this Hunger...and you have also been given the talents you need to feed your Hunger.

Your artistic, creative talents are a direct gift from the universe. But the gift does not come without responsibilities. You are expected to use your gift and that is why you feel "The Hunger." It keeps you from getting complacent and squandering the gifts.

That is why, as Hugh MacLeod said, "The Hunger...will cost you your life...It will never go away."

Whatever/whoever gave you this hunger to create expects you to use it. But Why?

For all the rest of us, of course. Your talents and your drive are gifts to you from the Creator. In turn, the fruit of your talents, your art, is your gift back to the Creator...and also to all of the rest of us.

Art affects people deeply. I've seen grown men weep in front of paintings and grown women brought to sheer joy from art. Perhaps people are so deeply affected because they are connecting with the logos via the hand of the artist. Don't ever minimize the importance of your art, your gift, to the rest of the world. You see, art really does change the world.

So this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Logos, think about the blessings that have been given to you. And think about the blessings you can bestow on others through the gift of your artwork.

As for me, I will thank God for our encounter, I will thank Him for you and your art .... and for the beauty that the Logos has brought into the world via your hands.

Have a very Merry Christmas!


Clint Watson

Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - Now, go change the world.

PPS - We will not be sending a FineArtViews letter tomorrow, Christmas Day. We'll resume our normal schedule on Sunday. Have a great Holiday.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Clearing The Cobwebs

I spend days and days cleaning. It’s slow going through every drawer, file and shelf. Who knew I had so much in this small space I could let go of. A box for the thrift store, a bag for the recycling, a bag of paper to start my wood stove and a bag of trash go out.

I take down the curtains and take them in the house for washing. The horses stand at the fence in their winter fuzziness and watch me in the studio.

I start forming a plan in my mind. I want to do more sketches, but wait.

I reorganize the office, my clothes and the painting equipment.

The process goes on as my mind clears and I start to look forward. The clarity comes slowly at first and then stronger.

On the solstice day I wait until midnight.

I get the palo santo wood and slice off long slivers with my hunting knife. They fall into the turtle shell. I add sage, tobacco and sacred cedar. As I light the mixture the smoke curls upward. It smells wonderful. I take the crow feather and start smudging and saying a prayer. I walk around the studio directing the smoke.

I feel at peace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Starting the Winter Solstice Ritual

The solstice is approaching; I feel it in my soul. It’s time to shift gears. Its time for change, regrouping and clearing. My space, my mind, everything. I start with a determination to make some Zen out of this chaos. It’s a ritual go though at some level every year.

I’m not sure why the mark in time affects me so drastically. Being freelance all my life has left me to my own devices as far a time goes. Or maybe it is something deeper that resonates beyond the artificial twenty first century world I reside in.

The commissions are finished, the gifts purchased and wrapped and the daily trips to the post office to ship paintings are over. I feel burnt out. I can no longer work in this chaos. I am determined to go through everything.

I start in the office. I clean and reorganize. I work all day moving, tossing, sorting and labeling. It looks like a tornado went through. I don’t get finished.

The phone rings. I don’t answer it. It’s a message from one of my three remaining galleries. They are closing and I need to pick up my work. Sh*t.

This is so not helping.

That’s the third one this year. And a big part of the problem in the studio.

The other is I am living in here with a giant puppy until the spring equinox when we can move back into the tepee.

I start back in the office.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Universe Smiles

I was cleaning out a drawer in my office There it was under a pile of sketchbooks. A notebook, a ledger I used for many years. Just lists of names, dates and progress on portraits, pageful after pageful. There must have been thousands. The whole notebook full seemed like an artifact of a life I no longer had. Before Dad and Grandma got sick and I was left to myself back in the woods.

I roll it up as best I can and light a match.
I stuff it in the wood stove with a couple of sticks.

It warms me.

I sell seven paintings.

I have let go of my security blanket.

As many times in my life I make a decision and the weight lifts off me, even when I don’t feel it there at all to begin with.

Leap, the net will appear.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Commissions: To Do or Not To Do

18"x24" charcoal "Meredith's Lovely Children"

??? I've been pondering the question lately whether to continue to do commissions or just to call it quits on that part of my business.

~As the solstice approaches and the New Year right on its tail my mind turns to re-evaluating my life and work. And just don’t see commissions as part of the picture.

$$$ I know many artists don’t like to do them but as a young artist and mom it proved necessary for me to have a semi steady source of income. I just never was employment material. Pastel and charcoal portraits have been a mainstay.

( ) My first commission was at the tender age of just 14. Heck I didn't even have boobs then. And that was a long, long, long freakin time ago.

(..) Then I grew up and grew boobs, had kids and kept doing commissioned art….and a lot of it. In the last five years or so I’ve all but quit promoting them. In my Etsy shop you can find a charcoal and pastels. I do but a fraction of the portraits I have in the past.

:0 Pastel and charcoal portraits have brought so much joy to families over the years and that is the part I will miss...But I am so bored with them and the only ones financially dependent on me are my horses. Commissions have become a huge source of procrastination for me. So I think it’s time to hang up my pastels and charcoals and pull the portraits out of my shop.

 Now don’t you freak out if you are one of my portrait clients and need more of your grand kids done. I of course will continue to help you get a matching set and accept commissions from past customers. But that is pretty much it.

I know all you artists out there have some interesting opinions on this subject. I sure would like to hear them.

And I am even more interested  in opinions from non artists.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Design Style Guide fabulous Holiday Giveaway Event

   The Design Style Guide fabulous Holiday Giveaway Event
There are 12 very talented sponsors and 12 awesome, beautiful prizes. Talk about the 12 days of Christmas!
To enter this fantastic giveaway – all you need to do is go to the Design Style Guide website and post a link to one item you liked in your comment here. One post about the listing you chose and you are entered into the drawing!!!
  The first prize is one of Kenna Fosters's wonderful photograghs and that will be in just a few days. Each day until Dec. 24 a brand new winner will be chosen.
   Now this is the spirit of giving and showcases some of the many talented artists and designers of Design Style Guide.

Christmas Portraits

Been busy getting ready for the Holidays for my family and other families. I did a pastel portrait of a lovely child Hudson. This will be a much treasured gift for his daddy. I know he will be thrilled.

I have started the charcoal portrait of theses two adorable children for one of my favorite collectors Meredith.This portrait will be fabulous, I can already tell. I love the effect of using the black and white charcoal on grey paper. It gives it so much more depth than just black on white paper.

I have time to do one more and get it out in time for Christmas and yes I do dogs.

They make such wonderful heartfelt gifts.
You can find the order info here for the pastels and here for the charcoal portraits. And they are life-size.

My sale is still going on until the 18th at Lancaster Art. Take advantage of these low prices on sale items and free shipping on everything else.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesdays With Tonka

The Dog Catcher

    Mom and the other humans have some rent houses in a town close to here. One of the people that rented is the dog catcher in that town. He always mailed his rent until he found out mom had horses. He wanted to come over and see the horses so he did.
   We have a lot of people come to our house all the time. We have nurses and aides almost everyday. Paula and her mom come to feed the horses every day. Then we have the renters. The Fed Ex guy really likes me and lets me get in the back of his truck.
    Mom was at the barn as usual and I was with her as usual. The man drove up so I ran to the house and barked for mom like I am supposed to do. Mom headed down but she was walking. The dog catcher got out of his car and I ran up . Then he backs up to the car and was afraid of me.
   Now I have never seen anyone afraid of me before. The first thing I did was bristle up turn around and see if there was an angry horse or snake behind me. I didn't see anything. So I turn back around to the dog catcher bristled up this time and he about climbs on his car. Mom gets there about this time and says "Tonka sit." And I do. Mom goes on to tell the dog catcher I was just a pup and he was scaring me. He was. We walked back to the barn and he looked at the horses.
  The dog catcher came back a few weeks later cause he was moving. Mom and I were at the barn again. I run to see him and bark just like I supposed to. He gets out of the car and tried to act like he was not afraid. But he holds his arms straight out. He calls to mom as she crosses the fence,"He's trying to get my hands." Mom smiles and answers "He thinks you have a stick." She threw me one and I leap after it.
   I think dog catcher must mean someone that is afraid or doesn't like dogs, but I'm not sure.
   The dog catcher is not coming back anymore. I am glad. I don't think I like dog catchers much.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stupid is as Stupid Does


I could blame this action of mine on a senior moment but the truth be told I have always had these lapses in reason especially when it came to numbers, zeros and decimal points.
The artist in me? Maybe, maybe not.
I needed a different snaffle bit for my young horse Miami. Looked around some and went to ebay. I found just what I wanted and the bid was very low so I placed a bid. $3.25 All good so far. I looked at the sellers other items as they were cleaning out their tack room. There was a nice bridle and I needed another one of those so I bid on it. Then I saw the reins. I had just purchased a new set and didn't really need them but thought what the heck I'll place a small bid and if I get them for seven bucks, yeah. So I placed my bid. Later I went back to see if anyone had out bid me.
And there it was, my high bid: Bit-$3.25 Bridle- $8.50 Reins $701.00
What? Seven hundred freakin dollars! And then the bidding started. Bids and bids and more bids. Needless to say no one bid over seven freakin hundred but it did go over thirty which is very high. I just bought a new pair for $28. Well crap.
I put my big girls panties on, quit whining and paid for it.
The new set of reins has never been out of the bag so I'll  take them back. And the moral of the story is....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Water Horse

Water Horse is the latest painting in the Spirit Horse series. After languishing in the closet of shame for a long, long time it has seen the light of day once again.
I had painted a small study and really loved the feel of it.This one is a 4"x5" and has sold.
The iconic horse image was inspired by the Tibetan wind horses, which were simply put a good luck or prosperity symbol.
I started the larger one in a different format. The canvas is 28"x 42" so a much more rectangular format than the study. Cruising along on it I suddenly realized that the composition was not working at all, the horse was too large the legs too short and the ground chopped everything at the wrong place. So into the closet of shame it went.
The closet of shame is a magical place where paintings can live and sometimes drastically improve not under the direct glare of an overcritical artist who keeps visions of sugar plums in her head so much she can't see a good painting when it bites her.
Anyway back to Water Horse.
 I pulled it out of my special closet but alas no improvement. I did however have an epiphany and knew in an instant what I could do. The phthalo blue paint comes out. I change the ground to all water, fade in the too short legs and it looks fabulous. Now wasn't that easy?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesdays with Tonka

To Bark or Not to Bark, That is the Question.

   Since Smokey crossed the rainbow bridge I am head dog around here. It's not because I'm ready or old enough. It's I guess just my size. The other dogs here are all very small yorkies and such. Mean but not big enough to chase a coyote or fox away from the chickens. Mom still calls me little tiny Tonka even though I'm almost 90 pounds. She's crazy like that.
   I've been trying to guard the whole place by myself so after dark I just look down the driveway and bark. I know there are deer and other things out there. Sometimes I bristle all up and run a ways down there to scare the boogies away.
  When a car comes down the driveway at night I stop barking and wait to see who it is. Mom says I have it all backwards and need to be silent unless something is going on. I'm trying.
  Mom taught me to speak if I want a cookie. It's not really a bark more like a word. We were at the bank the other day and there was a line. I've never seen a line there but sat like Mom told me to behind the man in front of us. After a few minutes I thought I would go ahead and ask for my cookie. The man turned around and accused me of growling at him and thought I was mean. The nice ladies at the bank just laughed and got me my cookies.

Who knew it was all so complicated.