The Art Spirit

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.

Robert Henri

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hello From The Other Side

It's been a while since I've been in New York.  I'm in the second semester at Brigham Young University getting my master's degree in Art Education.  So I am writing to you from Sandy, Utah, some 2,000 miles away from Manhattan.

I'm trying to create a new blog, but it's on hold for various reasons having to do with my poor organization and propensity to lose...everything.

So as not to waste my precious Saturday time, I'm going to go ahead and muse my first musing in response to my graduate courses, research, and daily experiences as I try to shape, develop, focus, articulate, and determine my thesis here, on this personal and outdated blog.

I have this idea for an education app to give people, especially children, access to the art world and an art education that they might not otherwise have reasons or means to pursue.  I think that creating and studying visual art can be a great answer to our need to process, problem solve, connect, respond, adore, explore, test our power, imagine, think critically and innovatively.  It can relieve stress, stimulate our minds and senses, excite us, cause us to ask questions, give us a medium through which we can express and give shape to our emotions and thoughts.  It can offer comfort, aid in beautifying our environments, give us reminders of what we love, what we aim for, what we struggle to feel and remember and discover.  Most of my impulses to create come from urges to express love.  Either I want to show someone my love by creating something that I create lovingly and while thinking of them, or I share the power that I have discovered and been shown by others that I have so they can feel that power in themselves, as well.  Or, I paint what I love, or imagine it and play it out visually in my mind.  When I draw or paint someone or something, It necessitates that I study on my subject, notice intimate details and relationships I don't have access to at a cursory glance.  I want to embrace and touch and comfort those I love, so sometimes it gives me a way to do that - both by stroking their edges with my eyes and by using my hands to caress through creating.  It also helps me feel prayerful, peaceful, close to God.  And I am overwhelmed by the love I feel when I create and try to capture the essence, the truth, the correctness, the core of something.  When I don't have words or I want to understand things, not just through words or conceptually, or when there are things I want to meditate on, I use my awesome paints or colored pencils, my Exacto knife, pretty paper, my great grandfather's compass, my knitting, and I play and I study.  Often, when I lack inspiration, not just for art making, but for understanding myself and finding a place for me to be, to feel known, to feel safe, to move and feel alive and a part of something, I go through my art books, my photo albums, my poetry books, my picture books, or my books about art or artists (sans pictures).  Or I go to my studio, and touch and look and play with my tools and colors.  It allows me to be quiet, but not get lost inside myself.  It gives me a still place to be while making sense of all the noise and information and chatter of other people or other responsibilities.  Its something I can see and hold and participate in and improve at.  It also helps me concentrate.

I want everyone to have those things.

We're supposed to figure out our methodology for our research for our thesis.  I'm still trying to understand what that means, and what the different kinds of methodologies are (both in terms of what they're used for and why, and also which types are called what).  I'm motivated by a desire to give gifts, much as I have received them.  By that, I think I mean understanding the physics and magic of creating and seeing, giving people power to recognize and make and learn what they love.  I want them to have the experience and opportunity that I have been given through my art education to have mysteries revealed, to learn and utilize power I could not guess that I had as a little girl, to find meaning and love and peaceful stillness (while also experiencing the vitality and dynamism that comes with revelation and creation).

I want people to be happy.  I want people to be informed and enabled so that they can see things truthfully and create lives for themselves that are consecrated for their learning and growth and learning about love.  Art has done that for me.  Where life is difficult, dark, confusing, painful, deadening, consuming, overwhelming, burdensome, oppressive, disorienting, frightening, and infusing us with senses of powerlessness and doom and despair, I want others to have the means to escape it, make sense of it, have power over it, use it, and feel able to imagine and reach for better, happier, higher, truer.  Where they can learn who they are, what meaning and power their life can have, so that they can find joy and peace.  I want to empower.  I want to connect.  With people, the earth, the heavens, myself, my god, mathematics, the dogs and the birds and the trees, music.

Art is hard, but so is discipleship.  So are relationships, so is living, so is feeling, so is looking at things honestly.  But what good does it do to not do these things?

I'm fascinated with the mind and what power we have to change it, improve it, take greater advantage of it.  Art also provides me with a context to learn about that.

Everyone under 50 knows how to use a smart phone or tablet.  Click on the app and navigate with your fingers.  It requires no other tools, no special physical location, only your mind and eyes and hand.  How many people never enter an art museum or art gallery?  How many people think of art as a rich white man's interest?  How many people identify themselves as "not an artist"?  How many people dismiss Modern and Contemporary art because it doesn't usually come in a straight forward beautiful representational oil-painted form?  How many people get intimidated by studios and artists and big museums and the people who seem to know things about them, or are worried they'll be judged or will disappoint themselves, so they never spend the time in front of the artwork, trying to draw the texture of a leaf or their own face?  An app is non-threatening, can be opened and used privately at anytime, easy to drop and pick up, and you can only see (and need to handle or worry about) a little at a time.  But how many would benefit from making and learning about the art they never will because they don't have the resources in school, they don't have the means to travel, they don't feel like they have a liaison or guide to take them through and help them approach and make meaning from artworks in a gallery?

This is a disorganized, vague, unedited stream of consciousness that paints things in idealistic broad strokes, but I'm publishing it because I don't want to lose it on accident, and I'm using it to try and work some of my thoughts out, so I'd like to come back to it, though.  Fortunately, I don't think anyone reads this blog, so it's more like storage for notes to myself.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Facing Fears

I have a million excuses not to paint.  Some of them are legitimate.  With so many reasons, it's become a habit NOT to paint, to procrastinate each day until it's too late.

Yesterday, being the first Sunday of the month, was what we call Fast Sunday.  There are several things we do as part of this monthly practice, which I won't go into, but one major aspect is our personal prayers and intents for our fasts.  It is an opportunity to consecrate our sacrifice of feeding ourselves for the purpose of adding power to our prayer and supplication that we make during the fast, sort of way to show God we really want an answer to this prayer, so we are trying to make a place to receive it, humble ourselves to open our hearts to the Holy Ghost and show not only God but our own selves the strength and sincerity of our intent.  Kind of a "pretty please; I need this badly ASAP."

Usually we don't share what we fast for.  It's a private and personal thing.  But I'll tell you mine for this month.  I asked specifically that this week I would make painting my priority, manifested by spending at least two hours each morning, from 9-11, in my studio painting.  Whatever I would be doing or whatever I would still need to do that hadn't been accomplished yet, I would stop and paint for that time.  Unfortunately today, my first morning intended for putting this plan into action, I didn't wake up until 9:45, upset from something last night, still sick, still tired, with an endless list of urgent MUST-do's, unable to focus, with no inclination to do anything, least of all paint: a task that is demanding of my mind and energy and comfort and courage and time, a task that I have no clue how to begin, having no specific plan or painting in mind.  I am terrified.  But now I am in my studio.  And I thank God for that.

So, even though it is now 11, the time I thought my two hours would be up; even though my laundry is downstairs and would be good to wash during my time in the studio; even though I haven't run in days, haven't had breakfast, haven't read my scriptures; I am here, my canvas board on my easel, eager to make the first brushstroke.

Art & Fear.  Game on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Phasing Out & In

I'm having a hard time quitting my job.  I've had something like 7 "last day"s.  Now I have the option of staying on with fewer hours.  Do I stay on or make a clean break?

Continued employment in position I know and feel comfortable in with sufficient pay
Established and routine schedule
Time off when family travels
No need to say goodbye to the kids I love quite yet
I get the summer off

No social security and health benefits
Leaving later will be more difficult/no clean break
Problems and challenges remain the same
High cost in terms of emotional, physical, mental demands and investment
Does not contribute to my career path or aims
No free evenings
No contract

What is the right and best thing?  Let's pray about it.

I told them I'd have an answer by Monday.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I had a great lunch outing with my friend Richard and his wife, Boo, yesterday after class.  We took the subway to Union square so I could introduce them to my favorite art supply store, New York Central, then followed it with a delicious Thai experience nearby.  I got the steamed dumplings and Spice Cashew entree with chicken.

Richard's a fellow artist from Ireland I met in my class with Gregg Kreutz at the Art Students League, and he's a complete gentleman and great human being.  I've only known him the month, plus a few weeks, maybe, but his character is transparent, and I appreciate his sincerity and passion and kind heart.  Boo, whom I met only yesterday, is marvelous.  Apparently her passion is in the culinary rather than visual arts, and she seems just as good as Richard, and both leave me with a conviction that the world is better for having each of them in it.  They're seekers and lovers of truth that live their lives according to the best truths their skillful discernment has revealed to them, and I'm impressed and inspired by their obvious lack of apathy and efforts to learn and do more, furthering and refining their own development.

One of the gifts of coming to New York has been the chance to reenter a community of other artists.  Three things inspire and motivate me to return to the studio and pick up my paintbrush: the experience of seeing someone or something in nature that overwhelms me with its heartbreaking beauty in form or mind- and heart- expanding truthfulness (a sort of a revealing glimpse of the mysteries and genius of God--it feels a lot like love/is the experience of love); coming into contact with the creative work done by other people/artists (past or present, visual, musical, writing, dancing, architectural, and almost any other form of inspired craft or labor or product); and, finally, the interaction and company of other working artists.  In summary: God's creations, Man's creations, the People themselves.  Richard is one of these peers that inspire me.

Another of the gifts of New York is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Certainly the list includes other museums like the Frick, Neue Galerie, MoMA, The Morgan, Brooklyn Museum (and 6 or 30 more); the rich multitude of galleries and studios in SOHO and Chelsea and the Village; Central Park; and even the subways.  But my most common destination for a combined sacred and artistic experience is the Met.    I had two days off a couple of weeks ago, and the very first thing I did when I would otherwise be at work was visit the American Wing.  It was shockingly as though I were taking a breath after holding it for months, even a year.  I suddenly remembered who I was and why I came here.

Would remaining at my job mean further procrastination of my life? Or can I slowly use the freed couple of hours every day to gradually return?

This weekend is going to be saturated with prayer.

All advise is welcome.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Beginnings

I just quit my job. So I could pursue my career. As an artist. Terrifying when I have a Manhattan apartment rent due each month, no portfolio, no supplemental job, no business experience, no business cards. My domain needs to be reactivated, too, and I need to build a website for it. Courage, or suicide?

Pray hard for me.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring: New Birth

I love Spring.  My birthday kicks it off officially every year.  Easter comes around, and with it, images of baby chicks, cadbury eggs, and wonderful sunday school lessons on Christ's Resurrection.  The trees bud and blossom, the grass shifts from brown and brittle to neon-green and lush.  And the Sun.

Let's take a moment to reflect on the great spring gift of The Sun.


With the sun comes new energy, more light, better running weather--> New Life, New New-Year's Resolutions, Pretty Magazines with lots of pretty covers and pages about organization and Spring Cleaning.

More thoughts are coming, but I have some cleaning I started and need to follow through on before I'm late for work.

Hopefully I won't be so long returning this time.

A visual representation of today's theme, c/o Audrey:

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's A Blog!

Bejeweled Blitz is the fruit of the evil one.  I'm wasting my few discretionary hours each day on Facebook, playing one-minute games of rearranging gems into groups of 3 or more of the same so they'll explode and make room for more gems to rearrange.  This earns me points, and my scores are automatically recorded, so I can keep track of my "accomplishments" and even measure my performance against how well my other Facebook friends are doing.  It's mindless, pointless, never-ending, single-skilled-unchallenged gaming, and its nails are in me, deep.

I'm in the Salt Lake Valley right now, visiting my family and spending 11 or 12 days resting, trying to put myself in order, re-center, heal, and strategize on ways to side-step a messy break-down.  I think it's working.

On the 26th, 8 days from now, I return to New York City.  I moved there on September 9 of last year and, before even seeing my new apartment, enrolled at the Art Students League on 57th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.  I left my family and job on a leap of faith to pursue a dream I previously thought too selfish and undeserved to give any attention to.  I gave away, threw out, stored or sold everything and, in two weeks, planned and executed a total life change 2,000 miles away.

It worked.  By the grace and goodness and will of God, it worked.  But I'm just as dysfunctional and ineffective in New York as I was in Salt Lake.  And, wherever I go, I'm simultaneously responsible for feeding, sheltering, resting, exercising, and properly medicating my body and mind, before any consideration can be made regarding what I might mean to do with that body and mind.  Essentially, I somehow managed to make it into the unlikely position where everything I need and desire for myself is available to me, but I feel too tired just maintaining my existence or too afraid and uncertain about what I should do with these opportunities, that I play Bejeweled Blitz (something that I have no confusion about how to interact with) instead.

For someone who has a tendency towards guilt, this isn't something that sits peacefully.

My proposed solution?  A blog.  Perhaps by documenting my art- and new-york-city-living- related experiences, I will be motivated to create more such experiences, and my need for some kind of measurable progress can be satiated by looking at past blogs, thus ending my dependency on Bejeweled Blitz Beastliness.

More likely than not, I'm just creating one more thing to overwhelm and stress me out, to then send me inevitably straight back to Beelzebub and his bleak world of Bejeweled Blitz.  But that will put me exactly where I am currently, so I figure, what have I got to lose?