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My 2020 “Acrylic April”

AA_2020_week1

I’ll give a brief synopsis for any not familiar with what “Acrylic April” is.  Cinnamon Cooney, whom I discovered through my kids, is a YouTube Acrylic Art Phenom!  (It was with her online tutorials I rediscovered my love and need to emote through painting.)  “The Art Sherpa,” as she is known, teaches acrylic painting techniques for beginners and more recently, advanced artists.  It was her 18+ Online Facebook Challenge that encouraged my art business.  (You can refer to previous blog posts for more details.)  Her mother, Ginger Cook, is an esteemed pioneer of acrylic techniques.  Ginger’s paintings would have you believe she uses oil, they are amazing. (think ‘old dead guys and gals’ good!)  Combining information from both of them has helped me develop my own style of painting and I LOVE IT!!!  Last year, Cinnamon offered a painting a day during April with instruction; introducing more people to the wonderful world of acrylic painting and how daily painting is beneficial for more than developing skill, but our mental health, as well.  She has since copyrighted the term “Acrylic April” and evolved the event by creating tools and collateral for those wishing to participate.  Her mission, teaching skills and spirit are beautiful.  As an acrylic painter, I will participate in this annually to inspire creativity within myself and improve my own skills.

Now that you’re up to speed, you can see I’m off to a great start one week in.  Who would’ve thought that a pandemic’s timing could actually be in line with what I am doing.  I’m thanking my lucky stars I can use this time to create.  The images I’ve chosen are aligned with what we are experiencing.  April has 30 days, 30 opportunities to grow, show and reflect my life into images.

A word prompt is available to all who participate.  Week one consisted of the following in order from left to right and top to bottom in the photo above: “Glow,” Unexpected Journey,” “Fire and Ash,” Innocent,” “Lighter than Air,” “The Art of Zen,” and “The Spirit of Hospitality.”  I take time to reflect and think about each phrase and how I can relay a relevant message.  (Skills I often use when doing commission work.  It’s important to know and understand your subject work in order to create pieces that are successful.)

Emotions have been running a muck as of late.  Up, down, up down, sad, mad, happy, unsure and on and on.  Of the emotions, optimism has been a difficult one to grasp.  I’ve turned off unnecessary news and media updates of the negative aspects of our world, yet they seem to make there way into our social media sources.  I prefer to see and share messages of love and support rather than doom and gloom.  Thank goodness most of the people I follow are of the same mindset.

My body is emotionally tired, I know that sounds strange, but emotion manifests itself in our bodies in physical ways and this week it is breaking me.  My response currently to our new “normal” would be to go outside and scream at the top of my lungs and release the anger, then I’d like to paint ferociously on a couple large canvases.  Then I can focus on how to keep bills paid and build this little art business into something more that can offer an outlet for others who are feeling the pressures as much as me!

Feel free to share your paintings, if you are also doing “Acrylic April” with me.  Share how you are approaching this new “normal”, and how you take time for yourself in spite all of this.  Stay safe and well.

Big Art Hugs to all you Be-you-tiful peeps! ~ Tammy

 

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Green Flash

It’s 6 O’Clock on what I think is Monday.  Both my girls are back to being freshman today.  (One in high school and one in college.)  Our new normal has brought insight to each of us as we navigate our days together; schedules aren’t necessarily parallel, but we’re making it work.

My brain is in overdrive and I’m struggling to manifest ideas into reality.   My in-house makeshift studio table has officially cluttered the space between our music/sitting and dining rooms with loads of “essentials” and mediums (from my studio) for small journal work, Acrylic April and mixed media playtime.  It has been my outlet space for now.  The word prompts for AA are producing introspective work, albeit they are only 8″x 8.”  Even with all of this, I cannot completely immerse myself in the process; the distractions are abundant which try my focus.  This week I WILL venture to my studio (In a building we own 30 minutes away) to get messy! I’m hoping it will help sort out the brain clutter a bit.

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“Green Flash at Dawn/Dusk”,  12″ x 24″,  Original $285

My artwork is very emotionally driven, so all of this Covid chaos surrounding us has really affected me more than normal.  Over the years I’ve learned to use meditation, stretching and deep breathing for focus.  I go for a walk or bike ride to sort out my thoughts, sometimes listen to classical music hoping to clear out my head, yet there is an underlying feeling that I cannot seem to extract no matter what I do.  It is troublesome not understanding what and why it’s out of reach.

It is taking quite a bit of time getting my online store up and functional.  I will update it with prints soon and streamline how it shows.  What a learning process!  The good news is I will be able to use that knowledge for my hubby’s business, as well.

I wish you all a wonderful Monday evening, may it be spent doing what you love to do.  Stay safe, wash your hands and get creating (that goes for me, too)!!!

Art HUGS to all you be-you-tiful peeps!  ~Tammy

 

 

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SLOW down, a bit!

Currently I’m telling myself to slow down as I rush around taking kids to appointments and commitments, helping organize and attend art events, get work ready to sell and continue to work on my goal of 100 pieces of art.  (I think I am in the ballpark of 75 now!)  Tuesday night amidst a Menard’s run, my husband and I attempted to take some much needed down time; while he is also busy cultivating the expansion of his business.  Hopefully we will get some tonight, as well.  Drive time seems to give us the best opportunity to discuss current life events and work out future plans.

I recently discovered a wonderful training resource for artists to help them grow emotionally, and although I’ve been following along with others’ creations, I’ve yet to finish any of the creative lessons to completion.  (See paragraph above)  It certainly has set my mind in motion as to a direction that I wish to pursue for the studio space.  (HINT: it will involve mixed media and creating art from memorabilia-good, bad or otherwise!)  My desire to help others as they deal with grief and raw emotion in a positive way, I believe is getting a foothold.  Each time I give myself quiet reflective time, the vision becomes more clear of what it is I need to do.

I continue to pursue avenues for selling my original art and getting my work out into this great big world.  It is taking up more time currently than I have time for, lol.  All good things come to those who wait, they say.  Slowly these opportunities are coming at me, now I need to navigate which are the best choices for audience and personal lifestyle!!

This brings me to an update on the studio situation.  It continues to be a project that is getting very little of my current time.  I am fixated on an opening date of Spring 2019!  I’ll be more diligent about posting updates between this blogsite and my Facebook page, TJF ART studio.  Live updates, and short studio time videos are happening more often; I’m just figuring out how to use all of this social media most effectively!

I look forward to being at the “Ladies Day” event at the Edge Pub and Eatery on November 17th from 11-4 with some new paintings and prints of some of my popular ones!

Thanks for stopping by and

Happy fall, y’all!!!

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Spring into action

Well, its been awhile and I think its time to update.  Spring arrived late as ‘sprinter’ and we now seem to have fast forwarded to summer weather in May.  I’m thrilled to be out in my yard planting flowers; making my place of grounding and solitude even more beautiful to look at!  So much joy in prepping the earth every year for beautiful and good things to grow.  This year I didn’t ‘kill’ the dandelions popping up in the grass; the bee population is waning and these can be some of the first flowers to pollinate in the spring; I need those bees to pollinate all the beautiful things I planted!  Birds are chirping and I’ve seen the two Cardinal pairs back in the yard, hopefully nesting somewhere.  The lake is breathtaking and one of the reasons we live where we do!  Our kayaks have been out already and we are close to getting the dock and boats in for the complete summer experience.

I finally purchased my first ‘real’ TREK bicycle and have been enjoying perusing the neighborhoods via pedal power!  It hasn’t been an easy thing to get active and keep active since my back situation several years ago, but I am making progress.  Golf season also started, but I haven’t yet.  Some may know that I purchased my first set of clubs last year when my 16 yr old started Chi Hi girl’s golf.  She has been chomping at the bit to get to the course and encouraging me to do the same.  I will admit I can swing a club but have little control yet as to where the ball ends up!  I have a feeling the driving range and I will become good friends this year.  Only one place to go from the bottom, lol.

I am still enjoying the break that I took from the salon environment.  It has allowed me time to re purpose my dreams from my youth and I’ve been able to set some short and long term goals regarding the outcome I desperately desire.  So far I’m staying close to ‘on task’ and periodically get distracted for small periods of time from my painting, studying, sketching and research.  My planner is helping me, so long as I update it regularly and NOT forget to enter important appointments and dates in it. (sorry if you were on the back end of that, SQUIRREL!)  Those who are close to me know what my current goals are and how close I am to achieving them.  I’d like to thank them all for being my cheerleaders in this grand adventure of life.  I would also like to thank my family for putting up with me being a total art geek about subject matter and my girls for allowing me to do their portraits.  (A totally scary adventure, but I was thrilled with the outcome, Faith’s isn’t quite finished yet.  Turns out not using my skills for years did NOT mean that I lost my ability to read and discern images!  I just need to keep practicing the physical skill of drawing and painting.   SHWEW!!!)

I am hoping Chippewa Falls has room for one more passionate and quirky artist.  I’m looking forward to attending some of the local events to mingle with other artists and artisans as the confluence in EC gets closer to completion and summer festivals pop up everywhere.  I came as close to submitting artwork in the Heyde Center for the Arts Spring Art Show as printing off the forms; I chickened out last minute and decided next year there is no question about doing it, it will be done.  There will be a gallery show in my future, I just keep telling myself baby steps.  Sounds like there will be a similar gallery venue as Artisan Forge of EC located right here in Chippewa Falls near the river.  That is encouraging to all of us creative folk.  I feel as if we are physically together, exposure is magnified!!

Determination is as beautiful as it is scary and has been a staple lately in my daily affirmations.  I have my down times when I revert back to that old self who doubted her abilities; as a perfectionist and a recovering pessimist (we like to refer to it as realism) I struggle daily to move past walls that were devised to cope with negativity, disappointment, pain and hurt.  We are human and struggles are the stuff victories are made of.  SOOOooo, onward I go; marching into my middle years pursuing dreams and building a new and improved me.  I’m not holding anything back.  If you don’t try, you won’t know.  No apologies for becoming who I was created to be, and I sure hope my girls learn to do the same.

Poursuivre la joie de la vie!!!

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Finding Means Seeing

WHO AM I?

Seeing who we are really isn’t easy because the mirror often eludes us.  My perception versus personal vision of myself were not the same and this inner conflict has paralyzed me for a minimum of two decades.  All this time I thought the fear of failure and the acceptance among my peers held me hostage when it was merely my view of the former that kept me from progressing toward my goals and dreams.  There has been a discord between what I want to be and why, and actually achieving my dreams.  Only in reclaiming ownership of my talents and gifts will I be true to who I view myself as.

We are uniquely created by a divine source that yields us special talents and gifts, yet many of us during adulthood, including myself, struggle with conflict in knowing what we are to use them for and why.  I believe they are overtly evident when we are little but as we age the visions we have of our self, our talents and our gifts changes because of the unintentional perception afforded to us by others; somehow, we regress our gifts instead of growing them.  I feel it is exceptionally rare for those perceptions to not affect our personal vision.  We hear criticism and doubt or skepticism and jealousy; diverting our map to greatness along the way.   So many have grand dreams and hopes leading into adulthood, then BAM, it hits…reality.  Why do some stop believing that their dreams cannot be their reality?

I dreamed of being an artist.  Drawing, painting, writing, singing, creating in any way that I could and inspiring others to discover the beauty they have within.  That is my gift, my talent.  When I was in high school I was encouraged to choose a ‘career’ based on my interests, gifts and talents only to be told later that what I wanted to do wouldn’t make me money.  It was a dead end career choice.  But I was bold and pig-headed and started out with a passion.  I excelled in college, for one semester only, because that is all the longer I could stay.  Private college, although small and resourceful for my needs in the arts, was too costly to continue.  It also occurred to me during that time that  I would have to travel and move across the country to achieve any sort of accomplished wage if I continued this course of education elsewhere, in addition to leaving my family and my boyfriend (now husband!) to do something I was unsure of.  I moved back home and chose the only other option I knew to be creative and that was becoming a cosmetologist.

I have no shortage of passion when it comes to being creative, it changes my demeanor and fills me with such joy sometimes I think I may explode!  It literally needs to get out onto paper.  There is an age old saying though, that resonates with me about being an artist, and it has stayed with me forever…”starving artists get paid after they are dead.”  GULP!  How in the world can I take the single most fulfilling gift that I have and make money before I’m dead!?!?

I found no way other than to watch, listen, educate and persevere as a nail tech and stylist.  This became my source of income, limited by the amount of guests I served and the amount of hours I was willing to work during the early stages of my career, which  could be endless at that time.  This continued until my husband and I had children.  Suddenly there was this new desire to be the very best parent I could be, so that is what I chose to do for several years.  It was rewarding to be able to be a stay at home mom and really all I did was exchange my income for that opportunity.  I used any extra time I could steal and spent it at our church volunteering in any way I could be creative.

The crazy turns of life really can divert us from seeing ourselves as we want to be instead we are who we think we have to be.  I really desired to be creative but was still being met with the opposition of failing to make a living doing what I truly loved.  To this day, I am dumbfounded that those of us with artistic gifts often make money for others with our talents and not ourselves because of lack of knowledge in understanding how to brand and market ourselves.  Many examples exist including executive producers of music, theater and dance, visual art, photography or sculpture.  The artist often receives a sub-par wage or volunteers time or efforts in some cases and it most certainly is not an esteemed profession like a doctor, or a lawyer or a professor.

To say I wasn’t blessed to have the opportunity to remain at home during the formidable years of my girls would be a lie.  I was able to set up a painting/drawing studio in a former office space in our home and dabbled in my arts until life got busier with the kids’ activities and my husband deciding to leave his job and go into business for himself, manifesting his dream.  He worked all hours of the day and night and to say he was exhausted would be an understatement.  Money was tight and I went back to being a hairdresser, both for the money and for my personal satisfaction of perhaps, finally, ‘making it’ in this career.  I chose a salon, that I thought would benefit me in growing a clientele because of all of the advertising and I was able to make a living (sort of) again.  I found I had really missed this profession while away and found the passion to be creative and gain more education.  The salon, as much as it advertised, however, was not the correct fit for me.  I heard of a new salon being built by a former co-worker and was soon on my way to finally making this ‘career’ thing work.  It was my dream salon.  Beautiful inside and out, a day spa that catered to body, mind and spirit with a great culture and team of co-workers.  I loved it, and was finally able to make a great wage being creative.

Life has a way of bringing us back to ourselves, though.  In this newfound illusion of success and making money in a ‘career’ that was more esteemed than being an ‘artist’ I inadvertently extended myself too much.  Nights, weekends, split-shifts, education, community events and soon I was missing out on my girl’s events and spent less and less time with family and friends.  I experienced a life changing car accident, lost my mom to dementia and my aunt whom I cared for during that time.  My kids were needing a parent to be around as my husband’s business grew larger and he needed me to assist in the business.  Life is about the choices we make in the situations we are given.   I grew cold, resentful and angry.  I had pushed away most everyone that I cared deeply about, but most disturbing of all, I lost myself and the ‘why’ in regards to my talent.

So, at my husband’s persistent suggestion (nagging), I’ve been given a great opportunity that I sometimes still think I don’t deserve.  He has grown a successful business that I  participate in daily through bookkeeping, errand running etc. and his success has afforded me the ability to take a leave of absence from this career and rediscover myself.  Giving hope to my dream that I thought was lost and it sure feels amazing to be creating art again.  A gift and passion that is family friendly and comes from within.  Ahead of me is the task of creating an income revolving around this passion, before I’m dead!! (starving artist reference)

Too often, especially for those of us who are creative, putting our gifts aside to assume reality seems more important.  I needed to find those who were successful in what I wanted to do and simply ask questions and do some research.  In my nine weeks off, I have made some definite discoveries within myself and the torch has been lit.  I have a fire again, my personal vision is re-appearing.  Now comes the difficult part, having the faith to sustain me through the obstacles of achieving my dreams.  Resisting the urge for complacency and replacing it with the enthusiasm.  Forgoing opposition to complete what has been inspired from the beginning within ME!

It is true that life “happens.”  Somewhere along the way we need to make the choice of what that life will consist of.