When Creativity Visits, Part Deux

Classic literature is my favorite genre to read; My current pick is Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Mike took an interest in the title, but he’s not an avid book reader. We decided to watch a movie version, which we both enjoyed. But it got me thinking…

Jules Verne wrote that book in 1870, in French, and an English version followed in 1872. Amazing, an idea, a tale, that Verne articulated nearly 150 years ago is still reaching people – and will continue on for how many years beyond? This idea got me thinking about ideas, and creativity, and their reach.

I’ve always imagined creativity like a mystical bird,
flitting around, landing on curiously open minds
like bright flowers…

I’m amazed that we appreciate art imagined hundreds, possibly thousands of years ago – or, even that when we use a device, such as a telephone, that was imagined so long ago, we are interpreting an idea, a manifestation of creative energy. I’ve always imagined creativity as an energy in the form of a mystical butterfly or bird, flitting around, landing on curiously open minds like bright flowers. An idea may come but it won’t necessarily stick, or it may change. Some fester and die. But I like to think of the world as full of this creative energy, flowing all the time.

I think an artist’s greatest hope is that their work engages someone, touches them in some way. Even if that moment is simply to evoke the briefest happiness — like a tactile sense of appreciation, that hope is enough to finish what was started. Painting is no doubt a selfish reward, for all the intricate joys it produces. But back to Jules Verne, or Edison or anyone that receives and engages their creative muscle – you never know who that act will reach. It may not come in your lifetime. How many artists suffered penniless humiliation only to be lauded long after they’ve passed?

It’s an endless curiosity to never know, to not particularly care, who that energy reaches, but rather that it reaches someone. Create for the sake of creation, to fulfill the quest of the mystical bird, bounding through the universe.

New Artwork & New Scenery!

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We’ve just relocated to Albuquerque, NM, from Tampa, FL.

It was daunting to leave Florida: my roots: my friends and family, my love of the water, everything. But, change can be a good thing, and it will be what I choose to make of it.

Before our big move, while Mike and I were house-hunting, one of the items on our wish list was a space of some sort for my artistic endeavors. About a year ago, I decided to dedicate myself to painting, and made it a priority. I had not anticipated how much art I’d be making, and before long, one small easel was joined by two large, free-standing ones. (Being that I work in oils, I usually work on three paintings simultaneously because of the time it takes them to dry.) Well, before long, my canvases and materials took over the living room, and beyond.

 

My beloved husband has always supported my artistic endeavors, but I was still flattered that he made my art a priority in our house search. (I still have a hard time referring to myself as “an artist”. Mike’s endorsement gave me a much needed infusion of confidence.) Anyway, we ended up finding the perfect home with the most amazing loft space! A few weeks later, in the tedium of unpacking, I had an “a-ha!” moment, realizing how art has both carried and delivered me. About six months ago I learned that my artwork was selected for use in a very unique, public memorial that will debut in April of 2019. Furthermore, the loft in our new house is the most wonderful studio space! I’m beyond thrilled!

But — I didn’t set out for this — and I initially fought the change from corporate career woman to independent writer and artist. Of course I did; what foresight could have told the twists and turns to come? But alas, here I am, feeling as if I’ve found not only my groove but something that is congruent to my soul. In many ways, this journey has been a spiritual one, teaching me to believe in myself and to trust. About two months ago I heard a saying, and it has uplifted and empowered me ever since:

Let go
and Trust
that you are
Always Guided.

May it bring you the same peace. ❤

Eight new paintings have been added to my Etsy shop. A preview is above, or you can view at the Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/poeticflight

As always, thank you for visiting! – Julie

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New(er) Pictures

Roses in glass vase, oil on boardIMG_2773

This painting was a blast! I used a palette knife instead of a brush for a good portion of it, which is a new technique for me.

Below, horse is also oil on board

IMG_2201

 

IMG_2874Here comes the next feather! (Incomplete as of this posting.) This is the largest painting I’ve attempted yet, with a dimension of 36″ by 18″ — so, it’s not like the Sistine Chapel by any means, but a definite step in painting in the larger scale for me.

The name of this painting is “The Source”. When I think about creativity and from where it comes, I imagine a cool, dark place where earth and sky seamlessly intersect. There is a soft, chilly and audible wind that moves across the land, bringing beauty and invention to the seekers. This place is called “Inspiration”. While it may look like a place of endless dark, there is much to behold. When I visit this magical place, I am sometimes gifted in feathers, which float down from the starlit heavens to land softly upon my offered palm. But this particular feather emerged from the clear inky sky, softly backlit by stars. This painting is many layers, many colors, from navy to lilac and sepia tones and a lot of gray. Being that it’s not yet complete, I don’t know quite where it will end up yet, but it has been a blessing and joy to make.

When Creativity Visits

The welcome mat is always out, inviting inspiration. I believe that the creative process is a unique experience for every person. I’ve read stacks of books advising how to nurture the artist within. One of the best is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert; Her conversational format was enjoyable to read and her advice something like practical and sisterly. I really identified with her bit about ideas coming to us by means of us inviting them – but if we don’t act upon them, they will move on to someone else. This explains how someone may have had the idea, only for someone else to bring it to life at a future date. So, when we have a wonderful idea, we must act upon it, or at least explore it, lest it be lost to the sands of time.

I gather a lot of inspiration from magazines: rich colors, glossy paper, the effort that goes into the photos with all the styling and originality. Heeding the advice of one of my favorite authors, Julia Cameron, I indulged my inner child and started cutting out photos of my favorite things and rubber cementing them into an oversize sketchbook. The result is a “diary” brimming with color swatches, extravagant floral arrangements, sweeping landscapes, photos of horses, and other creative “knick-knacks”. The result is two-fold; I find it creatively stimulating to indulge in the simple act of focusing on interesting objects; the other is a “tangible Pinterest”. These pages have inspired several dozen paintings, some successful, some tossed in a pile to be gessoed over. Either way, it has been fun. I think that’s the most important part of the creative process. Julia Cameron talks about this extensively in The Artist’s Way: she recommends that we allow ourselves the freedom to explore the fun and/or beautiful aspect of art with child-like delight, giving ourselves permission to simply enjoy ourselves.

creativity 4

I’ve employed these tactics for about a year now and my creative process has evolved from intermittent and somewhat forced into a garden bearing fruit. I’ve learned about my own creative “triggers” (I’m obsessed with color and design) and that I need a fair amount of privacy. I’ve heard this often, in various forms; contemporary artist Brian Rutenberg unapologetically stresses the requirement of aloneness in his book Clear Seeing Place.

creativity 1

This “new-school” way of thinking about the creative process is terrific in the sense that it strips away any pretentiousness about art and focuses on the why: why do we create? It’s like the cool art teacher you may have had as a child, the one that always encouraged you and saw the good about your invention, no matter the level of artist you were. It’s the freedom to dream, to put your brush to canvas without fear of flaw or failure.

Thank you for reading. I wish you that freedom, wherever you are in the creative spectrum. – Julie

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Perfect Design

I had a bit of an epiphany today while walking one of my two adorable dogs, Stella Mae. In Florida, where we reside, this time of year brings lots of falling leaves and foliage. The sidewalk was littered with heaps of brown leaves, sticks and other plant matter. It had rained recently so I was trying to avoid the squishy and slippery globs of leaves and didn’t pay them any mind until one in particular caught my attention. About twelve inches long and a camel-tan color, it’s like a smooth, elongated pinecone. It was absolutely beautiful and reminded me of a textured leather bracelet or the handle of a well-made handbag. And so, the epiphany is that my love of art comes from my obsession with design, and more particularly, beautifully designed objects.
Perfect design

My great uncle Eugene Lux was a fairly successful packaging designer during the 1940’s. Compact cases were one of his specialties, and this was during an era where little compacts and mirrors were a trademark of luxury and class. He made other things as well like packaging for children’s toys, but I’ve always regarded compacts with a special fondness. What an elegant and lady-like little luxury – a beautifully designed little piece, like jewelry! They’ve been out of style for many years now, but a few cosmetics companies still carry beautifully designed compact mirrors, meant as a special treat and a nod to an era of supreme elegance.

Eugene was an avid collector of art and even collaborated with some very chic artists of his time, including the incredibly famous Piet Mondrian. His rubbing elbows with the likes of such incredible fame and talent were as natural as any peers that you or I have in our lives today. As a designer and art collector living in New York City during the 1940’s, they all ran in the same circles.
The 1940’s are an era that have always fascinated me; we took our time, we made things with quality and pride, we made things just to be special things. I do get a thrill when something comes in great packaging. Side note: I’ll hand it to some of the present-day cosmetics companies, as I feel there has been a noticeable shift toward elegance with some of the new palettes at Sephora and Ulta!

Nature is the master of utterly perfect design. Nature is the creator and root to many artists’ inspiration. Artists toil to replicate soft petals, their delicate shape and sumptuous colors in perfect balance. The colors we name things come from nature, such as rose, peach or avocado. As an artist, I’m always looking at beautiful things, which are everywhere. I started seeing how we replicate nature in design in nearly all things, ranging from our clothing to home design and so many other things. I believe our pursuit of beauty leads us to make great things, and those that resent or reject the notion of beauty are missing a sensory opportunity that’s unparalleled.

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Turquoise Everywhere

Do you ever feel compelled by a specific shade of color? It could be a piece of jewelry made out of a colored stone that you cannot get enough of wearing, or your favorite flower in a distinct hue (periwinkle!). Over the past few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with turquoise, especially in painting. I have several projects going, as usual due to the long drying time, and they’re all featuring the color to some degree. It began with the panes of glass in the window with the roses (unfinished).. I felt that contrast to the reds and ruby shades was really nice in a subtle way. Turqoise floral

Next up, a blank canvas that I’m not sure what will come of it. I really love making subtly complex backgrounds. At first they appear to be a block of grounding color, inferior to the main composition. The background doesn’t compete for space, but tells its own story — for those that are willing to look for it. Anyway, before I knew it, I was mixing turquoise (relishing the smell of the oil paint as a new shade came to life on my palette).Turquoise oil

A subtle backdrop should contrast nicely with the vase of flowers, which will be slightly abstract in white and pink hues.Turquoise acrylic flower outline

.. and…Turquoise acrylic

Yep. I’m ate up! Turquoise can be pure, like a Colorado sky, or moody when there’s deeper colors aside, or fun if purple or pink wanna come hang. Regardless of how any of my paintings turn out, working with color brings me an of-the-moment sort of satisfaction, that embodies the joy of working with art materials and the overall aesthetic gratification.

A Little Lipstick

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The painting featured was created by my talented grandmother.

My grandmother introduced me to beauty, a fascination that grew along with me. She had a wonderful seated vanity, a classic old-Hollywood-esque station with a large, wall-mounted and three-sided mirrors surrounded by exposed, round light bulbs. A glamorously upholstered chair bellied up to a generously-sized, three-sided countertop. Three drawers rose from the floor to the counter on either side of the seating area, which were filled with all kinds of cosmetics. From a young age, my grandma let me play to my heart’s content, but there was one drawer that was just for me: the one containing all her samples from Estee Lauder, Avon and others. Wonderful, pint-sized lipsticks, blushes and scented lotions galore just set the hook; the mold was cast; this began my lifelong love of all things hair and makeup!

She was the type of lady not to leave the house without a little something on her face, a little pulled together. She had wonderful taste and her own signature style, sometimes colorful and a little bohemian, sometimes refined and glamorous in pearls and red lipstick. A gifted painter, I would assume that she was naturally drawn to pretty things. She often made her own clothes and was an artistic and truly beautiful woman in so many ways.

For me, makeup isn’t something I have to do, it’s something I want to do. It makes me feel pretty and more confident, especially when I wear a bright lipstick. I am grown and my youth is quickly becoming middle age, but I find myself reminiscing about my beloved Nunny each day as I reach for my own stash of cosmetics. It’s so fun to wear winged eyeliner or try a new product. (I find that the packaging is half the joy of the cosmetics experience!) However, I’m yet to have the vanity of my dreams, which looks just like the one my grandmother had. Someday, when I sit in front of my dream vanity, it will all come full circle, and hopefully, perhaps I too shall be remembered for my love of beautiful things.