Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Value of Just a Little

It takes 21 days to change a habit or establish a new one. To that end, I've been rising early to paint the sky for 3 weeks now.

Feb. 16, 2012
It's just a small commitment - 15 minutes every morning devoted to painting the small section of sky outside my front window. This small change has made a big difference in the other 23 hours and 45 minutes of each day. How could this be?

By committing to painting each morning for only 15 minutes, creative momentum is established - a jump-start for the rest of the day.
With this small action, I'm reminded that first, I'm an artist. I have a sense of well-being when I remember who I am.

After I can be a teacher, bookkeeper, mom, wife, or whatever other hat I have to wear that day. Speaking of the "wife and mom" hats, when I don't paint, I get cranky. I spent years cranky and out-of-sorts because I felt that taking time out of my life to be an artist would be a selfish thing to do. I'll admit it - I felt like a martyr and acted like one. Now, I know that when I take the time to be selfish, the everyone in my life benefits.  

Feb. 23, 2012
Painting is becoming easier. I'm not "rusty" each morning. I paint the same patch of sky every day, yet it's never the same, so I don't get bored.

From this morning jump-start, I find it easier to paint later in the day. They say that whatever you keep track of gets better, so I've been marking the calendar (I love to give myself gold stars) for each time I paint. Since Feb. 5, I have awarded myself 17 stars! Some days, the sky is grey and no sky painting is done, but the habit prevails and I just work on something else. I have about 5 paintings going at a time, so there is always something to do.

One small step, one good decision, one small commitment, has led to more productivity, which generates more creativity, more ideas, and more excitement about the creative process and my place it all of it.

Take the time to create and should you be tempted to feel selfish or guilty, remember this old saying and insert your name:

"If (your name here) ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."


Friday, February 10, 2012

Early Morning Skies

 Greetings fellow art lovers who live under the sky.

Of all the habits that I nurture - the good ones and the not-so-good, 
Getting Up at 6 am to Paint the Sky 
is my current favorite.

I admit that each morning when my phone alarm starts its insistent chirping in the dark, I reconsider my decision, but I get up anyway because a week of painting just 30 minutes each morning has taught me so much.

I've learned that creativity doesn't require gobs of time! Painting the sky as it brightens up to create the day is a self-limiting endeavor.

At 6 am it's still dark. By 7 am the show is over and I'm done!

I learned that painting is what I'm here to do. Every cell in my body does a happy dance while the sky puts on a show, taunting me to paint faster - that cloud won't be there in a few seconds and that rosy orange will turn to aquamarine.

 I've learned to paint fast and in the dark. 

I've learned an easy way to practice what I preach - that to nurture your creativity, you must create something every day.

They say a habit, good or bad, takes about 21 days to form. I'm looking forward to the next 14 days, and I don't want to miss the show.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Morning Adventures

 6:15 to 6:30 am
6:30 to 6:45 am

Did you ever have a big adventure from 6:15 to 6:45 am?

Ever the early riser, I’m often at my desk checking email before dawn. I sip coffee and watch the day begin outside the picture window. I can see a swatch of sky over the house across the street and most mornings I gaze at it sleepily and say to myself, “that’s so pretty – look how fast the sky changes – I should paint that…”

During the Painting the Region: Color the Coast Paintout last fall, my artist pals, Kelly Medford, Elizabeth Ferber and I had the best of the painter’s world – a house on the beach. Each morning for a week, we woke before dawn, scrambled to set up our easels in the dark, and painted from the porch as the sun came up over the Atlantic Ocean. The wind whipped our nightgowns and hair around and at times blew the canvas right off the easels! We painted furiously as the sky changed colors right before our eyes. No fancy mixing of just the right hues – no plotting and planning the composition – just reacting with our paint and brushes to the scene before us, laughing and painting in the darkness. It was a great adventure.

The paintout ended, the artists went home and I went back to work. Each morning I remember how much fun we had that week. I gaze at the sky over the house across the street and bemoan the fact that since I have a job teaching others to paint and draw (poor me!) I don’t have time to paint.

This morning, instead of sleepily watching that patch of sky, sighing and wishing that my life were that exciting more often, I did something about it. I painted that sky – twice. Two paintings in the space of thirty minutes!

The sky outside my window changes colors as I paint – a beautiful and inspiring challenge. Hold on – that pink wasn’t there a second ago!

No more excuses – I am a painter and I shall paint. I’ll keep the adventure alive in my heart. Stay tuned for the results - a peek at the skies over Jacksonville while the sun is rising.