stop spinning

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I painted this statement on a piece I did years ago because I wanted to remind myself what was at the core of my work. And with the pace of life right now, I can use all the reminders I can get. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out and when I do, my focus goes out the window along with the connection to my creativity. My productivity flat lines and my energy level drops—there’s no spark left to carry me forward. 

This statement is my prompt to ground my feet, inhale a deep breath and recenter myself so I can move on with focus and clarity. It reminds me that when I work from a place of love, solutions are endless—there is always a step forward. But, if I let stress and chaos drive all I see is what’s not possible, everything else fades away.

It also connects me to the larger purpose of my work—to create change in the world so that everyone can experience love, peace, and acceptance. 

It’s important for us all to find ways to catch ourselves when we begin spinning from the overwhelm. What works for me, might work for you, but it might not. There’s no one size fits all solution, we have to be responsible for finding our own way. Try something, tweak it, try it again. Keep testing, refining, moving forward. Your life is your art—make it work for you.

pausing...

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Those days when the minutes slip through your fingers like sand. When you look up and notice it’s 1:30, yet you have barely gotten started on the list of things to take care of. Those days when the chatter of what needs to be done overwhelms the peace of your morning. 

It seems to me that more and more, these types of days are becoming the norm. We have gotten used to the speed of instant-response and we feel that all of life’s activities need to run at the same pace. But, it’s just not possible.

When we move so fast we can barely keep up, we sacrifice the pause between projects. We move so quickly from one thing to the next, just to get one more box checked off the to-do list, but if we fail to appreciate and acknowledge the work we have completed, we fall into the trap of not recognizing how hard we are working. It’s seems easier for us to see the work we have left undone than all we have accomplished.

While speed can help us plow through some piles of work, it is not a long-term solution because it is impossible to nourish your creativity and imagination at breakneck speeds. Creativity calls us to meander, to wander, to slow down and stare at the dust mites floating in the stream of sunshine. 

When we allow our days to zip by with no pause to collect our thoughts, we are dampening our creative flow and our work becomes even less productive. 

Give yourself permission to take 5 minutes away. Stop what you are doing, feel your feet against the ground and take a deep breath. When I stop during the day, it’s as if I am giving my body and my mind and chance to re-sync. This is the moment I can take to re-assess projects, to make sure I am going in the right direction or if I need to make a shift. 

Pausing more often helps you stay on track and connect with your work. It is hard to connect with your projects if you are always racing through them. 

Remember to connect with the why behind the work you are doing, no matter what the work is. It is the why that will feed your creativity and keep you moving forward with strength and vitality.

finding your voice

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The most important take-away from time experimenting with art is the ability to distinguish between what you like and what you don’t. This simple knowing is what will serve you in every other endeavor you take on in your work. 

Being able to differentiate between what drives your work is key—are you seeking to express an idea that comes from inside you or are you seeking to make something everyone will like. This can be hard when you are just starting to make art and your work might not be as polished as what you hope it could be. But when you follow someone else’s standards, you are stuck seeking approval from outside yourself and your unique creative voice can never fully develop. 

The practice of making art is all about discovering and developing your voice—it's that voice that will impact each and every work project you tackle, bringing insight that only you can offer.

When you make a piece, take a few moments to assess what you have done. Notice what you like and notice what you would do differently next time. Then, make sure to pick up your supplies and make those changes. Reassess and do the process again. Creating takes practice and effort.

The more you give yourself time and space to go through revisions, the more confident you become in your skills and vision. You begin to understand what you like and what feels good as you create, then you build more opportunities to focus on those aspects.

When you focus on what you love, you bring your whole attention to the project. You can begin to draw ties between seemingly disparate subjects and reveal entirely new perspectives. 

Your voice and vision is unlike anyone else’s. This is why creative work is crucial—you have important work to bring to the world. You can create anything—now get busy.

play leads to solutions

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Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking play is a waste of time.

I know there is time on your list to fiddle and wander, even if that time amounts to only a handful of moments. Everyone has a handful of moments hiding somewhere.

When I don’t give myself the space to play, I feel weighed down by everything I need to accomplish and I move slower. The slower I move, the more drained I feel as things pile up...  

When I give myself permission to step outside my to-do list and soak up a few moments of purposeful play (the kind that helps me grow, not the staring at my phone!), I feel energized. That energy helps me tackle more of my list and usually helps me come up with solutions to problems that I didn’t even mean to tackle.

And even if problems aren’t solved, being able to laugh helps everything. If I hadn’t taken a small walk, I would have never seen the deodorant bush hiding in my neighborhood. Who knew!

simple is okay

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About 15 years ago I painted this little graphic on the wall in my kitchen. I painted a dark teal stripe to break up the space on one wall and wanted to add a little extra something to bring the spaces together. Since I love circles, I decided to play with them. My favorite shapes and favorite colors both came together so effortlessly...

It seems like that graphic would have been a perfect jumping off point to investigate further, but in my mind the ease and effortlessness only meant that I wasn’t pushing myself enough. Once, I had a design teacher that upon reviewing my portfolio said, “Ah, yes, I know you are used to getting A’s, but I am not sure you are working hard enough.” At the time, I was not very skilled at speaking up for myself, so I quietly soaked up her words without any question. From that day forward, I made it a point to work even harder, making sure I didn’t reach for the simple solution.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about simplicity and effortlessness in a new light—curious how these terms have gotten a bum rap in my mind. I’ve noticed that when I am working with a mindset of ease, all my work flows. It doesn’t mean that I am trying to rush or cut corners; rather it’s a desire to work with my strengths and be in a state of ease rather than stress.

Part of my turning away from the simple, graphic style I painted in my kitchen is that since it came so easily and naturally, I felt I was cheating somehow. I thought I had better dig in and find a more difficult way to make my art—I needed to experience some sort of struggle with it to prove I was working. So I walked away from the simple graphic color in order to try other styles.

Of course in the effort to make it more difficult, I was squeezing a lot of the joy out of my process.

Over the past few months, I have been working to reconnect to the joy of making while I am knee deep in creating. I am realizing it is more important to be full of joy rather than full of struggle because joy is what I want people to feel when they view my art. And the feelings that I create with are what will last.

I am realizing that simple doesn’t mean a lack of skill or attention to detail. Nor does it mean that I am not continually searching how to stretch my skills and grow. I feel that aligning with simplicity is helping me distill my skills and my voice by clearing out the clutter and distractions..

Simple is perfect.