The lessons have been coming full throttle. Last week was a true test of endurance or other skills which meant there were no drawings or posts for that matter. If I could have quit my paying work I would have but let's get real everything passes you just have to rise above it at the time.
This morning I had this amazing dream of abundance here with me that I had not recognized prior to that. After I sat up and the dream was remembered I sat down again and I wrote, and wrote, and wrote until I said all I could from the experience (I finally figured out after all these years that I need to keep a journal by my bed and a pencil because when I sleep I am accessing my creative source that I forget when I wake). After all of that, what I had on the paper was both an answer and a conclusion to a week that kept me from creating, a week of procrastination. My realization is this - The work of the book illustration is essentially done. Prior to that realization I kept thinking I have to get it done, why can't I get it done, what will the next page look like, how do I start, life is challenging, work is challenging, there's not enough time - That was all self doubting self talk. I woke up with a realization today that the work was essentially done, and the sitting down to do it is my practice, my reassurance that I can do this. It is not the work that is hard. It is believing in myself, unconditionally, every waking day. That's the work. My preparation to receive success is first to believe it is already here. Mind blown. For this realization I am beyond words eternally grateful.
Complacency comes when the challenge subsides. I see in everyday things that there are these moments of opportunity for creativity that are untapped, but the idea gets shelved for later in the order of priorities of what I should do now. An idea came yesterday when I took out the recycling (fortunately I had the presence of mind and availability of technology to photograph it as my reminder before removing it from the house), and yet another idea came this morning when I saw how I had scribbled out my name on a box that I had received weeks ago (I need to photograph that too). There is form and artistic expression in everything that we as consumers have consumed, are consuming; basically everything that touches human hands has our effect on it and so it speaks to us about our presence and impact as human beings. All my ideas are crashing into one another in creative ways that stop me in my tracks to take note. I will need a better system to address these ideas - since I can't do everything at once, and I can't yet support myself full time as an artist, and I have other commitments to honour and yet I know I must find a way to honour my creativity when it calls. The concern that has my attention daily is the need to follow through on the completion of the book. However, since I have made it a concern now and removed the joy of discovery it is harder to be creative with it. I know Aldo now, and his relationship with these letters, and I must find a way to keep each page fresh with the feeling of discovery so that the reader will feel that too. Perhaps my answer is in the bits of daily inspiration that I am seeing. Prior to today as I became hung up on each page of illustration I was seeing those moments of inspiration outside of the illustration work as separate from it. In my mind the illustration work was for someone else and the other ideas I was shelving were for me and the work that would satisfy my own creative curiosity, but maybe the two things are one. When I gather children's books for illustrations as research for my own process what intrigues me is the innovation I see in other illustrator's thinking. Now that I have addressed this illustration for today I think I will keep this new merging of purpose between illustration and "Fine Art" expression in mind as I go about my day. I have come to understand subconscious mind as creative mind, working out our answers when we set our intention on a challenge and then just relaxing or shifting the focus from solving instead to "sleeping on it" as the saying goes. There are enough examples of inventors who have achieved their greatest answers in this way. This has always worked for me with questions both big, and small. The conscious mind over thinks, where the resting reflective mind just calmly responds with knowing the right thing to do...As I go back to read over this post the answer came to take those photos out on my "camera roll" and create a catalogue of visual notes to keep visible in my creative work space. I am interested now to see how one thing influences another. At this point I don't think I need to look for more answers outside of myself. I just need to put all my pieces together.
Both of these paintings were completed in March, but I revisited them last night as well. I felt that I wanted these pieces to exude joy. To do so I needed to create the effect of greater energy. I was feeling it and wanted the painting to express that too. In all the paintings I reworked last night I could see the effect I wanted to achieve before painting it in a confident clarity I hadn't had before, but still there were creative surprises so it wasn't an exact copy of what I was seeing with my mind's eye. The creative work...the process of doing, always holds surprises for the artist if they are willing to take the creative risk. Titles - Pink Poise and Summer Sun. Both are for sale in the online store section.
The days ahead are simply to do the work. I have set up my direction, mapped out the manuscript, done the preliminary sketches, established my work space, materials of choice and creative process long in advance. Then I set it aside for every manner of experience that came in between related to establishing the website to create an audience for the process and to build an online storefront for my work as an artist. It's easy to get caught up in the overwhelming feeling of how much there is still to do, and shifting back to a momentum where I had left it. I will place my attention on just creating this weekend, and trust that each single step is moving the project forward successfully. I think the challenge becomes one of clearing mental space for the nature of the work ahead when that space has been so full of divergent activity up to this point. That feeling now is similar to the end of my work year in teaching - a challenging transition when abruptly changing pace from busyness to stillness. Putting on the brakes has such an impact on a body and mind that has been consumed by working against timelines, battling learning curves, late nights, and pushing out of comfort zones at an accelerated pace. I think the quote above simply means address the pressing concern by just facing it, move it forward in importance by doing it, and putting aside all the anticipation of what needs to be done. I once heard, but don't recall the source of this idea (I have been doing a lot of concentrated learning on realizing my potential so this learning was somewhere along the way), that 'when we focus on the past - we live in regret, when we focus on the future live in worry, but when we focus on the present moment there is no place for regret or worry just attention for what is in front of you.' We can only affect change from where our thoughts and actions are in the present. I will clear my agenda of all things this weekend and just set a page in front of me and work. I will realize my potential by paying attention to my creativity now.
I was feeling stuck for a while and wanting to get back to the book illustrations - the original purpose for the website...documenting the journey of creativity through the process of co-creating the book. This page really challenged me - Aldo's moment of realization. I find as an artist when I get in that hesitant stage I need to walk away and come back to the creative work in a less fearful mindset for my creativity to be at its best. Two months and several experiences - building the website - later, I find myself back in that same place in front of the same page ready to move ahead. The dog was not a part of George's script (remember George...I know it has been a while, but he is the author, and it's probably time for us to meet again to discuss where I am at with things)...not sure if George will want the dog, but it appeared at the end of Aldo's bed. I don't know what compelled me, or how it originally came to mind two months ago, but I didn't question it. I just accepted it as the gift it was. My neighbour has a dog that seems like a beautiful gentle soul. There is something special about it that I am drawn to. Somehow I think this mystery dog looks and feels like the dog next door coming over for a visit. I know how to manifest creativity but who really knows how it works. All I know is that my sense of purpose is there. Creativity is my comfort and source of well being, and it has been a long time coming for me to recognize that it must be realized in my life.
What now - That seems to be the phase I am at. When we get so busy and busy takes a break and there's a lull, a pause, for other direction changing decisions to be made I wonder what next. I am using this as opportunity to go back to focus on my intention and needs. There is art to be done, yet. When I was focused on the business needs ideas were bubbling up on receipts and any scrap of paper but there was no time, now there's some time but there's also a need to reassess purpose and direction to make all of this viable. This must work from the business end of considerations to support the making of more art, so that means more research, and connections to be made. There are so many sources out there online that I need to look at to make necessary adjustments to address the marketing of building business and brand in a time and cost effective way. There are suppliers who handle all the details of producing and distributing that would otherwise take considerable time and attention.
The challenge for any small business is shipping costs, and getting your product to the customer at reasonable rates. Shipping rates are often the make or break on a decision to proceed with an order at checkout. I have been there many times myself. If I am in charge of production and shipping that involves costs of time and money, but I have control over quality. This is important to an artist. If I source out all of the responsibilities then I have no control over quality, but I also don't have any of the concerns. The last approach would generate "passive income" - money comes in as you sleep since you have already set up easy 24/7 access to your product through another point of distribution. This is definitely appealing, as the whole point of this endeavour was to get the process to be self supporting, freeing my time to do more of what is aligned with what I value for quality of life and over all well being. With that in mind, I must continue to address the ways in which entrepreneurs and artists achieve this for themselves. Funny thing too though, all this change and awareness in one area affects change and awareness in others. That is the very nature of making art too - one design change must result in continued work in other areas to be aligned as a whole. In this process of so much need for attention the only reasonable thing to do is slow down, calm down, and proceed again with intention - an alignment of needs, values, and sense of purpose with a strategy behind it that begins with one step in the direction of choice. Other choices from that one step will follow. That is inevitable. A series of one steps has gotten me this far, along with a "you can't stop now" mentality. There is a next stage I can't see. with that said, I need to continue to trust my own process and do more art. I think best when my brain is in that relaxed state of creativity. In that place I know I can trust myself to know that each decision I make from a place of calm contemplation is moving me in the direction I need that is best for my well being. Is that not true for us all?
Still working to get to the point where things run themselves with less effort. Yesterday's post has become today's. Instead of posting, yesterday was spent setting up the last steps of e-commerce - which involves aspects of website building to coordinate, and link information to shipping, and billing providers - those are all rabbit holes to go down, and various 1-800 numbers that are even less direct. Long story short - the advice from my son..."remember yesterday when you said to me not to work to the point of frustration...go to sleep...and address it in the morning. Well, it's morning again and I am a half our too early to get results with any of the services that I need to access by phone. Opening will be delayed until I can get all things done properly. My apologies for the delay to those who have come to the site only to see the store still "Under Construction." No one is more frustrated them me :) It's like road work; it never ends.
I continue to learn more through the trials, late nights, and hours of effort. I have learned much more about what I am capable of through the struggle than I did before I started. I realized last night also as I looked for calming thoughts...had I known how deeply invested in this process I would have to become to make progress I would have been intimidated..."Ignorance is bliss," in that sense. What a one step at a time journey this has had to be. At this point I would not change anything though. The reward has been one of tremendous personal growth and understanding of what it takes to build something for yourself from the ground up. The personal reward in that feeling of accomplishment alone, acknowledges the lonely process of long hours of commitment to learning, and tapping into inner resources for creative thinking that allow the discoveries along the way. Patience to not rush has been something I continually remind myself of in the process for building a solid foundation. Right know, I am stuck on linking the shipping provider, setting up that account through the provider and establishing the "checkout."
"Push back the date (said the teen), go to sleep...no one will care."
6:04 am - time for some phone calls :)