Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

"Grand County Sunset"
Oil on Panel

So, you know how my last post had to do with needing a break? Well, shortly after arriving home from our weekend in Aspen I came down with a really nasty stomach bug that kept me in bed for two days and prevented me from eating anything other than toast for about five days. Not fun at all, but I suppose it forced me to rest for a few days. I said I needed a break and I got one, right? Apparently God has a sense of humor!

Before we left for Aspen I was having a really bad week in the studio. Nothing was coming together the way I intended, and I was really struggling to do anything decent. I thought taking a break would help, but when I finally stepped back up to the easel at the end of last week, I had another rough day, and started to get really frustrated.

Luckily, I was able to get outside and hike a bit this weekend, and the time outside restored a bit of my landscape painting mojo. I started five paintings today, and almost finished two of them. With a few touch ups, they should both be decent, thus ending my streak of unsuccessful paintings. Thank goodness!!

It's funny how I forget time and time again what I can do to recharge my creative batteries, so to speak. For me, spending time outdoors is a must. If I'm not outside enough, I get grumpy and stressed out and since I paint landscapes, my painting suffers. Nate's been married to me long enough to know to send me out for a run or hike if I'm being completely intolerable. You would think I would know this too by now, but I never learn.

So, that's the point of this post - to remind me at some time in the future when I'm frustrated and cranky and struggling that I need to get my butt outside. After all, that's why I live in the mountains.

How do you recharge? I'd love to hear what others need to stay productive and keep the flow going in the studio!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sometimes I Just Need a Break

"A View from the Top"
Oil on Canvas

Being an artist and working from home is great - my schedule is flexible, I do what I love, and I get to spend lots of time with my daughter. But sometimes working from home has it's drawbacks - when things get busy and stressful, there's no escaping the "office".

Back in my engineering days, if I had a stressful day at work I could at least come home and sort of forget about it for a while. When I've had a long day of painting, I come in from the studio to a house full of more work stuff. I've got framed paintings in the front room, works in progress on the mantle, my computer on the kitchen table, etc etc... Same goes for Nate since he works from home, and it's all magnified by the fact that we're living in a condo while we build our house, which means no dedicated office space for now.

Anyhow, the point is that it's been a busy month, and I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with various committments and just needing a break. I had some deadlines to meet this week and just felt like the paintings I was working on were a complete struggle, and I realized I just needed to get away from it for a bit. I think it's important for me to realize that my work can suffer when I get tired, and that especially in art, it's necessary to recharge sometimes to continue to do good work.

So, we booked a hotel room last minute and took a little drive over to Aspen to relax for a couple of days. It seems kind of funny to take trip to a resort town when we already live in one, but I just wanted a change of scenery, and Aspen is a familiar town where we can just hang out and chill for a couple of days.

So far, we had a lazy dinner and took Aspen swimming in the hotel pool. Plans for tomorrow include more of the same, and maybe a short drive or hike to take in the scenery. I'm debating whether I even want to visit any art galleries while we're in town, but I'm feeling the pull - that's why it's hard for me to actually take a real break from art!

Oh, and btw, it's funny to be here and have to explain to everyone that no, I did NOT name my daughter after the TOWN of Aspen, thank you very much. I mean, it's nice here, but really...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

July Goals Update

"Fall on the Yampa"
Oil on Panel

Phew! Last week was completely insane. I painted outdoors all day each day, then there were artists dinners to go to at night, followed by the opening on Friday night and the quickdraw and other events on Saturday. Needless to say, there wasn't much time to be updating databases and checking on goals!! The funny thing is, it really bugs me now if I don't do this status check at the end of each month - it's become a habit that I depend on to gauge how my career is progressing. So, here we go for the month of July:

1. Get my work into three more galleries.

Same as last month - two down, one to go, and I'm taking a break from the gallery search for the summer. Right now I'm letting things settle and seeing how things go with three galleries.

2. Complete 100 paintings.

Painted thirteen this month, which had to be a personal record. Seven of those were plein air pieces I completed for the RMPAP show last week, but the others were all decent sized studio paintings, so this was a productive month for me! That makes 59 down, 41 to go.

3. Sell enough work to pay our mortgage.

Done for the year - yay! My new goal is to earn enough to pay the mortgage (well, rent) AND our health insurance (not cheap - the joy of being self-employed).

4. Update painting database and financial records monthly.

Done. I might have to start doing this every couple of weeks as I get busier - it's hard to remember where everything is when I only update at the end of the month.

5. Race in a minimum of three 5k's.

Did a 5 miler last month, and I'm officially registered to do a sprint triathlon in September. My sister-in-law talked me into it and I'm sort of questioning my sanity given my current workload. Oh well - I know I can finish it as long as log some time in the pool this month!

So, that's it for this month. Sorry again if these posts are totally boring to everyone, but this has been such a good motivational thing for me this year that I'm making myself stick with it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I *HEART* Clyde Aspevig

"September at the Pond"
Oil on Panel

I could be the president of the Clyde Aspevig fan club (seriously), so I was totally excited to see an interview with him in American Artist last month. You can read the whole thing here, and he gives some good general advice to painters, but it was his last statement that totally resonated with me as a landscape painter:

"I’m trying to be the best that I can be as a human being. Art is the vehicle with which I have the best chance of leaving behind something of worth. I hope my paintings will always inspire people to become a part of nature rather than a force that manipulates and destroys it."
Sometimes I have a hard time verbalizing what I'm trying to do with my art, and what it all means, but he says it so effortlessly here. Not that I'm surprised!