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Invisible Fences

“You learn something everyday if you pay attention.” Ray LeBlond

Recently, I was talking to a friend about her great designs and how she had incorporated pencils, inks and textures into her altered art. As we got talking, she expressed curiosity in my use of paint mediums, brushes and tools. She never thought she could use them in her art because she was confused and fearful of the results.

Our conversation got me thinking about how we all put up these invisible fences in our lives and make them absolute. It is difficult to get outside this thinking and I thought it would be a good artistic exercise to come up with ways to curb this type of thinking.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

Let it go! ( Unclench your teeth and stop kicking and screaming!)

I am the first to admit that I like things to be a certain way (ok…my hubby uses the word perfectionist), but sometimes you just gotta “let it go!”. I remember times when I just played with art for the sake of discovery, fun, and experimentation and had great results because I was not looking for the perfect result, surface, or color combination. Using new and differentmediums in your art seems to give most of us “permission” to not be so perfect and also introduces us to new ways to do things. This experimentation opens the floodgates to new thinking and creativity.

Exercise: Spend a little time this week digging through the art supplies you have organized/stored in closets, drawers, storage containers, boxes and cups, and use them!

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton

Disregard the rules-Jump the fence!

As artists, we have done research on color, tools, surfaces, etc. and occasionally we will stray from what feels comfortable to us. When was the last time you painted with your fingers, flyspecked with alcohol, added acrylics to caulking, or painted with PVC? I am lucky that I have students who ignore the rules and share their successes and “failures” as it leads to a greater understanding of how and why products or techniques work (good or bad) and what kinds of new possibilities arise from jumping the fence. Lessons learned will stay with you longer than someone just telling you.

Play without pressure: Take out a piece of watercolor paper and paint on it with oils, inks, boiled onion skins, or spices, you just might find a new technique that you love.

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Sven Goran Eriksson

Freedom from fear

Honestly, what is there to fear about art outside of bad results? And if you really look at it…who is to say the results were “bad”? Have you seen what “some people” call “ART”? Stop focusing on failure, or what others think or say about your art and create for yourself, using whatever you want. Van Gogh did- and he has a pretty strong following! Art can be as simple as putting your outfit together for the day or decorating a room in your home-what is more fear provoking than that?

Create without a plan: Take out a pen and sketch a snow boot on a piece of scratch paper- IN 60 SECONDS, without lifting the pen from the surface.

Or….Take out a kid’s watercolor palette and paint with your eyes closed while listening to music!

"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become." Anonymous


Recently my daughter took apart her office and painted it red and rearranged all of the furniture and wall décor. Then she put it back together and left on a trip. When she returned home, she worked in the office and had “the best day ever”. She felt fresh, new and more profitable and said that she had an incredible business day. She credited it to her new office and the way it made her feel. I know that when my studio and life are cluttered and I am feeling overwhelmed, a simple cleaning, rearrangement or uncluttering opens my creative tunnel too. January is always a great time to begin again.

Transform and assist: Set aside some time to clean out magazines, old art supplies, organize your workspace or go through your surface “stash”. Many of the items that you are no longer enthralled with can be donated to programs in your area and free your space and outlook while making you feel pretty charitable about helping someone else.

"We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." Japanese Proverb

Get outta there!

Inspiration surrounds us in our everyday lives and I believe that we all need just a little focusing to get us to appreciate it and tuck it away for future inspiration. From the colors in the produce department, to the fabrics in quilt store, to the hardhats worn by the street workers, inspiration abounds. One of my favorite haunts is our local Anthropologie store. They are known for their window displays and the innovative ways they display their merchandise. On my last visit, I saw that they had used coffee filters dipped into thin paint to create a wall installation that was amazing, and their front window had been decorated with silver duct tape circles that created a chain that decorated the length of 3 windows.

Color inspiration: Put on a jacket and pair it with a scarf in a color you don’t generally wear. Add an accessory that is opposite the scarf on the color wheel. Add some funky socks or red shoes (I love red shoes and own 3 pairs!) and hit your local thrift shop to see if you can find 5 items that are the same color as your accessory or socks. Just the hunt can bring new ideas into focus.

Creativity will always find a way to sneak under your invisible fence if you just change your perspective!

In the April 2012 issue of Paintwork’s magazine, my business partner and friend, Nony Housh, and I will start sharing ideas about how we get inspiration outside of our studios. We love sharing our ability to see Art everywhere we go and hope you can join us.

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