The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.

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I’m not going to lie, I sincerely believe I am sitting in the most beautiful place on earth. It’s been five days of sight-seeing, swimming, snorkeling and taking in the beauty of my surroundings and I am still overwhelmed with Maui. Thankfully, we still have five more days of exploring ahead of us and there is still so much more to see.

I have never welcomed in a new year in another country, so far from home — although I have been in a plane en route to my home at the stroke of midnight. Welcoming in a new year, in a new place that is this beautiful really feels like you are resetting and starting again, fresh. It gives you opportunity to reflect on the last year and really plan for the new one ahead. This year, 2013, will certainly be a very busy, interesting one with many new starts, for my family and I. I’m excited! Our eldest daughter will be starting college this year. Our younger daughter will be finishing up her last year of high school and looking at University programs. My husband will be starting a new job and we will be doing more travelling this year. I am astounded at how much older our little girls are, what wonderful young women they are and am so very grateful for how close we all are.

As with any new year, I have resolutions, hopes and goals. My friend Janet posted her own resolutions on her blog and it made me think that this public pledge was a great idea. Doing this helps keep you honest, on track and accountable. Following suit, my 2013 resolutions this year are:

  1. Put more time/effort into being healthy and working out. I need to have a more consistent schedule overall and make time for my well-being. I don’t do that enough and with heart disease in my family, it’s kind of important to me. I resolve to work out more consistently.
  2. Make more personal art. I had such a great year of painting in 2012. It was SO rewarding on so many levels (met people, sold stuff, bettered my talents, learned things) and I want to continue that trend. I already have reference material for a new series so this year I resolve to paint more.
  3. Prioritize. I try to do everything for everyone and end up exhausted and frustrated (a lot of the time). Don’t get me wrong, I like being busy and I love helping people but this year I resolve to pick my charities more carefully and give of myself more prudently.
  4. Learn/try new things outside of my comfort zone. I’m such a creature of habit. Like most people, I tend to play it safe and stick to learning things just beyond my reach but I never extend my reach out too far. As I get older, I recognize this is happening more and more. So, this year, I resolve to reach way outside of my comfort zone to learn/try new things. I’m not sure what they are going to be but I resolve to look for more opportunities to expand my knowledge base.

I think that list is a good starting point and all points are attainable. I am off to the beach to look for marine life. Yesterday morning we were lucky enough to watch a sea turtle snack on some plant life about 5 metres from the beach. With our underwater gopro camera, we managed to get some spectacular photos. I mean, I can’t imagine taking any bad photos here. Aloha!

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You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought: I release the need for this in my life.

This year ends with a toothache and a thoughtful, good dentist; the sale of two small paintings to a new friend with amazing positive energy (and big plans & ideas); and huge appreciation and thanks for the wonderful, inspirational people surrounding me — both my beautiful daughters & husband and my sister and my close relatives and my cherished friends. I have the most amazing people around me and I am truly, honestly blessed by the universe, humbled and grateful.

As 2012 ends, I feel empowered and lucky. I have had a wonderful year. I have made some great art and have sold more paintings than ever before. In turn, this has given me the courage to continue painting in 2013, spreading my wings and refining my craft, approaching a gallery with a new theme. I have made some new friends and new contacts this year and have come to really appreciate so many talented, amazing people in my life. I have also chosen to concentrate my efforts on people that are important to me and I am much happier in having made that choice. I have helped and supported people this year, more than ever, and this has truly rejuvenated my spirit. I have also been helped and supported and this has given me the courage to continue to make great strides in my own creative endeavours. Paying it forward has paid off tenfold in so many ways.

I believe now, more than ever, that I have the power to attract good things to me by being good, by giving, by sharing and by being open to new experiences. I believe in the law of attraction and that I won’t attract what I want — but who I am. What you throw out to the universe is what is going to come back to you: no way around it. With that in mind, I look forward to a bountiful 2013, full of positive energy, big changes, new starts and tremendous amounts of creativity. I know the Year of the Snake is going to be a good one for me and I am open to all the good things the universe has in store for me and my family. This new year begins with our trip to Maui — what a perfect way to ring in a new year.

Spontaneous Combustion.

I have always struggled with starting a design project. Once I have met with the client, have all the details down, the notes, the research, even the sketches worked out and my head wrapped around how to approach the design/communication problem then the struggle begins. It doesn’t matter if I am working out a logo or planning out a painting. It’s always the same (and I admit, getting worse as I get older). I’m sure I’m not alone in describing the agonizing pain that begins at this point: the miserable battle of getting the very clear vision in my head out onto the computer screen or onto the canvas and then wrestling it into something translatable and comprehensible. It is always anguish. It is never, ever easy.

I always prepare myself in the same way for the struggle. I start by inventing excuses to tell the client and wonder how I have managed to make a living as a designer/artist for over 25 years. I tell myself that this is the project that will clearly demonstrate that I am a fraud, having fooled people for a quarter century and start to consider any other talents I might have and how I could transfer those into semi-successful careers. Realizing I can’t really do anything else other than design/paint/teach, and having put off the work until the very last minute, I finally submit to the process and push, stress, struggle and brawl my way through the design/layout/underpainting process

The result is usually always the same: I am astounded at the work that is produced and staring back at me from my computer screen or canvas. I have no idea how my hands and brain were able to conspire to produce such a chef d’oeuvre and I have no doubt that this will never, ever occur again, ever. Like the Immaculate Conception, this is truly a wonderous, miraculous moment that cannot be explained and need only be accepted and celebrated.

Thus was the case yesterday morning when I picked up my web-designer friend Tiffany and we went to see a client. Prior to picking her up, I was shaking and sweating profusely as I mounted the presentation boards at home, cursing the makers of double-sided tape and wondering who had hidden all the gluesticks in my house. I was equally shaken and freaked-out when Tiffany was (only) 10 minutes late out the door and since I don’t own a cell phone (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!), couldn’t call her — although we had more than enough time to get to the meeting. We arrived with 5 minutes to spare.

I had beads of sweat dancing and singing on my back as I presented my boards, rationale and thoughts to the client while Tiffany added helpful bits to help sell my concepts. The client was (by the end of it all) impressed — and I was grateful and feeling pretty darn proud of myself.

While Tiffany took her turn with the website part of the presentation, launching into webspeak and content management system stuff and the writing of apps and drew little pictures to support what she was talking about, I sat there watching and in complete awe of her. Almost half my age, confident, answering technical questions with ease, going over her proposal with the client and listening to the client’s needs: it was amazing to watch and be a part of. I felt proud that I had brought her in on the meeting, proud that she was with me, proud to be a team. My self-doubt and fear turned into quiet admiration. I felt inspired by her and thankful that she was on my team. I felt like a damn fine designer yesterday. It was a pretty awesome day.

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“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.

I can’t believe December is upon us. It seems like I blinked and November came and went. I had planned to use November wisely, to paint and sew and make things and get new work started. Instead, I ended up making some life altering decisions at the end of October and then spent November trying to adjust to all the changes going on. Even though some changes are just lateral ones, and good for you, they take so darn much out of you that you actually need some time to recover from them. That’s what my November was for, I guess.

The start of December has me reconnecting with friends; recommitting to the gym, healthy eating and taking care of myself; taking time to appreciate what I have, practicing grattitude & awareness and being present in my life. I tend to live life at warp speed and I don’t take enough time to do the last few things I listed often enough. I was really reminded of this a few nights ago when I went to SAW Gallery’s annual fundraiser, entitled SKETCH. It was a one-evening event where artists donated artwork to the artist-run gallery and then the art was sold to the public with proceeds going toward the gallery. Both my daughter Katrin and I donated one painting apiece. We attended the event Friday night and were witness to Katrin’s art piece being picked up by two women, who were trying to decide who wanted it more. As they took it to the counter to pay for it, I commented that they had chosen “a fantastic piece” and one woman asked Katrin if it was her art and when she said it was, the woman turned to me and said, “you’re biased!” Indeed, I am. Whole-heartedly.

Katrin was beyond happy that they purchased her art and was humbly beaming, her hands up to her reddened face. I can honestly say that that moment was one of the proudest moments of my life as a mother. A loving, heart-warming moment that I cannot put into words. The sheer joy, admiration, love and pride I felt for the young woman standing beside me, at that moment, was completely overwhelming — to the point of tears that I had to blink away. It was beautiful and I was so glad that we had gone to the event together and been there early enough to witness the purchase. Shortly after, as we made our way through the crowd of people to leave, passing my colourful landscape still up on the wall for sale, I put my arm around my daughter and congratulated her. I am so lucky to live the life I lead and give thanks, every day, for all the people and things that make my life so rich.

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My gorgeous daughter, Katrin; Her painting prior to selling; My painting on our way out.

If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.

With the onset of Fall and the crisp cool weather, I am beginning to plan my next painting series. I’m actually giddy with excitement over a new series and feel like I have a great secret that I am struggling to hold on to. It’s really not that this new series is any big secret. It’s just a new genre and something that is meaningful to me because I invested so much of my summer in helping my daughter with her horse back riding competitions. I have amassed quite the photo collection and will now use all these inspirational photos and videos to paint a story of our summer together. I’ve already purchased some canvases and have made a list of paints I need to restock up on. I’ve also made a list of galleries I want to approach in the new year with the beginnings of my series. I’ve never been so motivated before to paint. I am really excited to start. I have to thank my friend Andrea S. for this. She has been a driving force in my rediscovery of how much I love painting and in motivating me to push myself. I mean, the solo show at Cyclelogik really was her idea and I am really grateful for her seemingly endless support.

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving Monday. I am so unbelievably grateful for my life, for my beautiful and talented daughters, for the loving and supportive husband I have, for my home, my job, my inspirational friends and for all the things I am so lucky to be a part of. I don’t know what I did in my last life to deserve so much in this life but I sincerely hope I am using my gifts wisely and hopefully doing a good job of paying it all forward.

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I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.

I love this quote. It’s by Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States. It’s one of those quotes that I can really relate to. I have always been a creative person and I have always worked hard. I sometimes think that being a creative person is part privilege and part curse. I cannot not create. For as far back as I can remember, I have always been creative: drawing on walls, table tops, scraps of paper, scraps of wood, under chairs and always making things. To add to this, I also believe that anything that is worth doing, is worth doing well. So I am doubly blessed & cursed.

I think that this need to create things combined with my fear of not living a useful life (more on that later), drives me forward and pushes me to explore, challenge myself and grow artistically. I love to be challenged. I love to learn and try new things and experiment. Every step I take, good or bad, teaches me something and helps me to grow as an artist and as a person. And isn’t that what life is for? To learn things and grow as a person and maybe extend a hand to others along the way? I guess, in part, that’s why I teach. I try to lead (my students) by example and I try to help others see what they are good at and what their gifts are and help them forward. Of course, it helps if they are willing participants and feel the same way I do about luck and hard work.

Yesterday I took down all of my paintings on display at Cyclelogik. I sold 3 pieces there and I am pleased that I did. Alistair Scott was so kind to let me hang my work there and manage the sales. Late last night, I rehung my cycle art and some collage work on Louisa street for a House Party that is taking place tomorrow night. It’s an amazing opportunity to show off my work to a lot of local people who may not have had the chance to see it while on display at the cycle shop. The house party is also a great opportunity to meet some new people and make some new connections. I mean, you never know who you’ll meet, right? The owner of the house and host of the party, Dean, is an amazing, open, spiritual person. I am so touched that he would consider my work and allow me to hang it in his house. I should mention it looks great in his little house, too!

Tonight I was also notified that one of my paintings has been selected by Timeraiser Ottawa. (Look them up if you are curious, amazing concept and organization). I heard about this great opportunity through my friend Daniel M., a new friend and a really great local artist who I really admire. His work was chosen, as well, although I am hardly surprised. I am thrilled, beyond measure, to have one of my pieces selected. I worked hard on this last batch of cycle-themed paintings and it is really gratifying to see something come of my hard work and determination. It helps justify the late nights & love that I have put into my work.

I honestly feel like a very lucky person. I feel like hard work (eventually) pays off.

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Chosen work by TimeRaiser Ottawa.

Final Third.

I can hardly believe we are already knee deep in September, two-thirds of our way through 2012. With school underway, I feel a tad overwhelmed with teaching and still don’t have a handle on my work-out/family/painting&sewing schedule. I keep thinking it will all sort itself out at some point, that I will somehow continue to fall down through the rabbit hole and when I finally hit the bottom, BOOM! Schedule figured out. Sadly, I am coming to the realization that I am going to have to roll up my sleeves and get a schedule figured out myself. I mean, some small semblance of a working schedule. Because let’s face it, without a schedule, I am just not going to get anything worthwhile done. And I need to do things.

Speaking of getting things done, I am finally getting around to painting a commissioned piece of Bradley Wiggins. I had started it a while back but with all the business that is my life, I couldn’t commit to doing it (well). I need to paint when I am inspired and feel good or else I can’t do a good job. Yes, I am one of those unfortunate fickle painters. Once I painted the crowd in a couple of days ago, I started to get inspired and get excited. Today I will get a good chunk of the painting done. I’m looking forward to it.

I am also working on a sketch for a new magazine called Herd that a friend of mine is putting out. It’s a design/art magazine and I am looking forward to the inaugural issue. I’m not just saying that because I am contributing to it but because I love new ventures and exciting new starts. I am hoping this is going to be one for my friend.

Here’s to a productive rest of the month! Let’s do this September!

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