The idea of traveling through time sounds so out of reach, when really it is right at our fingertips, quite literally! Consistently journaling, by writing and drawing your ideas, allows you to reflect on them later on., The journals transform into an inspiration, by revealing what you imagined and experienced in the past!Read More
make art. transform life.
thoughts about creativity and art: live your life as your work of art.
Have you had trouble prying your eyes from the latest tweet or news report, lately?
Imagine rooms full of sculptures made from found objects. Colorful, boisterous paintings. Large. Each body of work was dealing with recent worldwide political issues, refugees, oppressive governments. Some work played with the idea that in some ways we are oblivious to the changes going on around us. I read about how the curators were chosen. As it was their first-time biennial experience and I love how they sifted through 100’s of artists to get to the 63 artist’s and collectives gathered together on the 5th and 6th floors of the museum. Additional work is placed in surprising places throughout the building.
It is not like going to a “regular” art museum or art fair. It is, at first, more like a discovery of how, this year, artists have been affected by the socio-political climate, and injustice. After investigating some of the work, I was reminded of how much the current state of the world has sharpened my focus.
So do go there.
See and walk amongst this curated world in which artists have responded to, and found respite in drawing and painting their response to the world of the past year. Eventually, you will find the “forest”, when you are halfway through. This exhibit does give me hope.
caveat: I did not participate in the virtual reality exhibit. Topic: violence.
In the middle of the night, I awoke to the cool breeze sailing through a slightly open window. The breath of the wind carried a sense of excitement by sailing on the curtains.
It was a quiet but streaming energy that entered our room. I felt the freedom in the air and allowed any weight accumulated from worries of the day, to dissipate.
The translucent white cotton curtains wafted and softly draped, creating a feeling of safe refuge in my soul.
Then I took a photo with my iPad, in an attempt to capture that moment in time, when I felt energy give me refuge from the remnants of the day.
At the beginning of his career, while a practicing artist, Berger drew his father in his coffin, he realized that, associated with each drawn line, he was also notating time with his pencil marks.
Drawing is a way to abstract or simplify an image to reveal its essence. When you draw, it can make time visible, revealing moments in your memory. Of course, drawing is always from memory because you need to remember what you see to draw it. Your hand is responding to how the head and heart interpret what the eye sees.
John Berger, who wrote the influential book “Ways of Seeing” died on January 2nd this year. He was an English art critic, novelist, painter, and poet.
At the beginning of his career, while a practicing artist, Berger drew his father in his coffin, he realized that, associated with each drawn line, he was also notating time with his pencil marks.
“each successive line on the page carries with it, its moment in time. A drawing is a summary of the acts of looking, and being with your subject. For Berger, the portrait offered “a door through which moments of a life” — his father’s — “could enter.”
beautifully written by Elisa Wouk Almino @
Think about that. Each mark can be a visceral,, visual response to what you see, remember and feel over time! Making marks can communicate in a language that is universal.
Try it yourself. All it takes is a pencil and paper. You also need a nonjudgemental mind. Just rmake the marks.
Leave a comment on here or instagram , facebook, twitter below! Very exciting!
So I noticed I had too many tasks to accomplish in one day, there were no time boundaries around daily tasks, and I was missing some of my physical exercises, like walking, dancing and organizing. Writing weekly posts are a habit that hasn’t easily kicked in yet.
When I looked around for inspiration, I rediscovered the [SMART] acronym in Michael Hyatt’s post:
• Specific Have you been specific about what you want to achieve?
• Measurable How will you know if you’ve reached your goal?
• Achievable Is this a goal that you can make happen?
• Relevant Is this goal aligned with your mission, vision, and values?
• Time Specific When do you want to achieve this goal?
After reflection I prioritized three items I then applied these with intent, using a timer to ascertain the reality, and time limits to set a maximum. I then planned physical breaks so I would feel the ned to move.
Specifically, I CHOSE this course of action!
1. 3- 5 hours in studio 10 -12 create work on sketches mind maps for refuge, time travel water, journals and how they interact.
2. Take breaks every 1.5 - 2 hours and do physical
3. Get post and social out in the morning by 10:30
Thus journaling helps before you go too far off course!
It just becomes a redirect; I don’t waste time/energy blaming anymore!
Tell me how you've resolved times like this, when your goals are far from what is actually happening! How did you solve it? You could sign up for my journal workshop today!
Oh, how I love this time of year!
The warmth and blessings of holiday gatherings keep the raw cold and unpredictable weather at bay. This break in routine gives me time to think of each of you, who, so generously invite me into your inbox each month, asking questions and responding to my art and writings with encouraging words and appreciation.
You keep me going.
I reviewed my art, writing and records from the past year.
This week, I had no plan, except to reflect on last year and plan the goals for the next! The week before New Years' has become my most effective motivator.
I found a lot to celebrate. I am creating selling my work and keeping better records. I have exhibited five shows and taught three workshops. We are just putting the finishing touches on a home addition that increases space for organization and storage of my art and supplies.
Three areas I have chosen to focus on this year:
- I need to get better at sharing my work, and writing my weekly posts and monthly newsletters consistently.
- My decision to choose themes that I am most passionate about will require more reading, dialogue with others and observation. I am excited about spending more time in the studio! Showing up each day around the same time enhances the opportunity for creative growth. Journaling, with words, images and photos and work is done outside of the studio will enrich the series.
- A flexible timeline and comprehensive editorial calendar connecting both art and the writing will coordinate my thoughts and deepen my work, help me to achieve my vision!
So how can you make a roadmap?
- Go to a quiet place and reflect on your year.
- What makes you happiest??
- Get a journal or small notebook where you can write you observations.
- Reflect on your past year.
- What makes you proud?
- What would you like to change or further develop?
- What makes you dissatisfied?
- List what worked, and what could be improved.
- Imagine now, what you would like next year to be.
- Write down two or 3 goals to achieve your dreams.
- Then work backward, deciding what tasks you need to do regularly to make those goals happen.
- Make a timeline.
- Connect it with your calendar.
Whether you create art with or without crayons, reflect on your creative life this past year. Your life is your own to create, with whatever materials you have available to you. beth vendryes williams
Does this work for you? Share your thoughts and tell me what you've discovered!
This summer when I was cleaning out my studio office, I discovered that, over my lifetime, I had shelved not 30, but 130 journals! All because I decided that I wanted to make art. I worked full time, didn’t have a studio or supplies and was actively involved and madly in love with my husband and three sons.
I decided that I would create a portable studio and carry it around in my rather roomy handbag. Over the years, the size of journals and types of materials have changed, but one thing remained constant. I never had to be without a place to put my thoughts and ideas, marks and paintings. My daily life became my source for ideas.
Why is this important?
We each have been given a precious life. Reflection on it is essential for realizing our fullest potential of who we are.
Journaling, both written and visual can do that. I will show you how. Register now and receive a free original sketch from me when you attend. Call Oyster Bay Historical Society and reserve your spot. Contact me. This Sunday will come and go. Only you can make a decision to make a difference in your life.
If not now, when?
Opening my new exhibit, Painting daily; journals at the source,
was delicious, beautiful and well attended! Delicious, has to do with homemade apple cider donuts, as well! The paintings continue to hang beautifully on the walls through January. So if you missed it I invite to go right over to the Oyster Bay Historical Society!
It was very exciting for me to see many curious, enthusiastic art explorers as they investigated my journals, finding much they could relate to in my imagery and words.
I have been searching for ways to record my marks in journals, since the 1970’s. You can read more about that here.
This show was inspired by
my casual estimate of a 30 journal cache on the top shelves of a bookcase. The number turned out to be 130 journals! The Oyster Bay Historical Society Historical Society director, Phillip Blocklyn, stopped by to see work at my studio as I was trying to figure out what I was going to do now that they sat on my work table. He pointedly made a connection with Mary Cooper, living in Oyster Bay in 1768, She is thought to be the oldest known woman diarist in New York State!
When I explored the continuity of themes,
lines, colors, and shapes that have continued to influence my work, I decided to catalogue the images and words. This way I could tag them, and within this confluence of events, the idea for this show was born.
In the Earle-Wightman House, where the exhibit is installed, I have placed excerpts on the wall about why I made each painting. A sketch from my journal, mirroring a line, color, shape or subject matter of the painting is also under the painting. Finally, many of the paintings are accompanied by comparable quotes from Mary Cooper’s Oyster Bay diaries, begun in 1768. A mural painted on canvas recently for a photo shoot creates a dynamic background for half of the paintings. I had fun using it to full effect, what with crashing waves at twilight, a spooky house and lighthouse and a cliff!
Why not stop by?
Make sure you ask to take a close look at a journal or two. And sign up there for the Journalling Workshop I will be offering On Sunday, December 4th from 1-4pm!
I have been working daily, with the attitude that it is a habit that is as necessary and pedantic as washing my face. I recognize that regularly drawing from my life in an honest way has been an impetus for change.
I am becoming more conscious of the relationship of everyday drawing/painting to my everyday journey. Painted and drawn relationships can affect reflect the course of interactions in my daily life.
As I work on a painting, I experience how forms, colors, lines, tones and patterns are all in a relationship, dependent on each other, creating the holistic effect of my work. One change in my vision or handmade mark can totally reframe my perception and then, impact the entire drawing.
I cannot help but intuitively make the analogy between the process of exploring forms, tone, line and colors choices on paper, and the process of exploring and choosing how to handle the events in my life.
My mom is 92 years old and defies many of the expectations we have of being that age. A few weeks ago, Gloria shared her newfound respect and passion for horses. Having never heard of this interest before, we made arrangements to take her to a stable where she could visit the horses. The mission of Painted Bar Stables is also to rehabilitate rescues. Erika, the current owner, articulated in her crayoned drawing when she was five, her desire to purchase her first horse at 15 and run a stable by 25. This drawing uncannily predicted her future. She also developed a compassion for rescues and learned to rehabilitate them. As stated in her bio:
Those rescue horses taught Erika the intense need for teaching trust, confidence, and patience. To teach a horse to be a trail horse, not only does the rider need patience, but the horse did as well. By training scared, abused or abandoned horses, Erika was able to gain vast experience in relationship and trust building that has extended to her horses today.
Her stories, enthusiasm, and passion engaged us all. Gloria was able to benefit greatly by getting to be close to gentle horses! We, the family who went with her, experienced that with her. All this was possible because of a note crayoned by a five-year-old, a 92 year old, unafraid to explore something out of the box for her, and the ability of our family to listen and be open minded helping to make it happen.
Can you see how the heartfelt presence of one person in a chance interaction with another can change a perception of the world? I see how patterns of behavior can rapidly reshape us. I feel the tone in a place or group, and how it can transform the atmosphere and reshape our concept of what is possible, and what is not.
To understand the power of your vision and interactions with others and our environment, gives you an opportunity to transform the course of our world, one person at a time. you just need to understand that every little thing you do makes a difference.
Use that ability to make one small change and let me know how it has made a difference, no matter how small you perceive that change to be!
Whoah! I have just come off a two-day marathon for a juried show that challenged us to produce two pieces of artwork. One piece would be chosen for the exhibit. It had to be "en plein air" , painted in Sagamore Hill National Park during two days, rain or shine. On the second day, they had to be completed and framed and delivered by 3:30 pm!
This feat was both challenging and rewarding. The extra push to work straight through under a deadline provided a finish line. I wanted to get an honest piece done and put my doubts aside, to make that happen,
And it did! And I am in the Juried exhibit on display at the Koenig Center,Oyster Bay Historical Society. See Events calendar for more info!
To sustain my energy, I asked myself what an athlete does to prepare for an event. Consequently, it helped that I walked, did yoga and pilates, daily for a couple of months before the event. I also ate for energy and drank at least two quarts of water a day. I meditated and sketched and painted daily. At times I felt like I really was an athlete getting ready for a major event.
And I am. After a break, I am continuing theses daily habits. I like the way I feel, the way I work and the art that flows within that structure of supportive practices. What a simply rewarding way to integrate my drawing life !
How do you prepare for something big in your life? Do you have to determine how to sustain your energy level and strength to reach your potential?
How do you become more creative?
Honestly, I keep asking myself that.
When I become dissatisfied with a previous decision that suddenly limits me, I choose to watch how others have accomplished the same thing. When I become dissatisfied with a previous decision that suddenly limits me, I choose to watch how others have accomplished the same thing.
When I become dissatisfied with a course of action that suddenly limits me, I choose to observe how others have accomplished the same thing in their lives.. beth vendryes williams
Reading Madeleine L’Engle helped when I had trouble balancing my family, spirituality and art. I saw that she effectively found a way. So I kept reading her books, especially, “Walking on Water”. Then because she was on my radar, I took a writing workshop with her, even though I was a visual artist, not a writer. What a life changer that was and still is!
I encourage myself to be fearless and free, to sit with ideas that are out of my comfort zone, and then curate them,to integrate them effectively into my life..
What helps me to remember where I am now and where I want to go in my life? Writing and drawing ideas. By hand. On paper.
Writing and drawing ideas, by hand and on paper, help you remember where you've been, are now, and where you want to go. beth vendryes williams
Thank you, Madeleine!
So that has become a habit.
That habit has become 130 journals.
Those writings and sketches have become a map of my journey so far, bringing vision to my art.
What do you do to help your ideas become your reality? Let me know how you are creative in your life?
Which ways do you allow creative thinking to transform what you envision?
I think journalling found me.
Actually, I really liked the idea of drawing pictures in between writing, as it seemed to capture the essence of the moment better. I don’t remember ever having a rule about writing in my journal every day. And I felt no compunction to limit my page use if I had a particularly impressive, or failing day.
There has been some research done on the surprising value of making notes about your life in a dedicated way. The process of journaling benefits creativity as well as achieving your goals and strengthening your emotional resilience, according to 10 surprising benefits you will get from keeping a journal. To improve your health follow the tips in "Why journaling is good for your health"
Have you ever wanted to remember those shiny moments in between the ordinary chores, when you had tiny bits of inspiration? beth vendryes williams
Me too! And how many journals did I fill?
And a few months ago I reached up to clear out my journal shelf so we could renovate part of our home. Well, I thought I had about 40 journals , but I actually had about 130! I cannot believe I wrote and drew that persistently…. but I did.
What to do with a journal?
Having a treasure of reflections and memories can give you a perspective on your life. In my series of drawings and paintings and writings i now recognize repeating themes in my life and concurrently, in my artwork. Journaling can give you a broader perspective on the each day. You will have a greater understanding of the moods and seasons of your life. You can plumb the depths of your journals to bring greater richness to the art of your masterpiece, your life.
In my case, they have become a point of reference for reflecting on and transforming my life!
What could happen if you kept a record of your thoughts about your life with drawings or writing, photographs or letters?
If you have ever kept a journal, what did you like about it? Did you stop finding time for it?
Let me know your thoughts in comments below, twitter or facebook .
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter which includes links to my most recent blogpost.
Believe it or not, whether you are creating or just looking, art, it can change you.
I discovered this most recently when I was looking in my backyard for inspiration. There is always something outrageously interesting to paint, because my husband is an artist with gardens.
I was frustrated with a rather unappealing view of a neighboring yard. I suddenly noticed that when I looked at that section with new eyes, I found a splendid sunlit refuge. When I peaked through the foliage all I could see was sunshine glittering. I started to notice the opportunity I had to transform old trucks and equipment into beautiful forms, colors and relationships. Later on I also began to compliment the owner on his efforts to plant tomatoes and flowers. Making this painting has transformed my ability to see the sacredness in things that have fallen into disuse, when their physicality begins to disintegrate, and is worn away by time.
This is an experience I often have when drawing or painting. As I begin to observe more closely, I start to notice more striking connections in what before seemed uselessly ugly or nondescript. One just has to take the time to look. It is sort of like meditating.
When observing a painting, it happens to me also. I discover inspiration when I see a painting that compels me from across the room. I see from the artist's perspective, and then I add my own..
From Pierre Bonnard, I learned the beauty of bathrooms. Before that I thought the most exciting thing was a clean sink and commode. Since seeing his paintings, I consider my bathroom, my spa, and look forward to it as another beautiful room. to surround those who enter, with beauty. Sparkling clean, of course!
I would love to know what art has transformed your ideas or perspective? Please share in the comments section, or click on the twitter, facebook, instagram icons below with your response, and if you have on a picture of the art! Oh yes and please subscribe to this site. You will get a newsletter once a month with links to the posts from that month. Looking forward, beth
All of the above played a part in pulling my work together for my Open Studio '16. It is a great way to share my work with friends and supporters. Thank you to all who helped to make it happen!
Last weekend, it became a dynamic gathering of art, ideas and conversation. Much of the exchanges were concerning two current projects, journals and finding refuge. Thank you to all who were able to come and see the art and contribute to the exchange of ideas !
This response is just what I hoped for! At the heart of my art is a desire to share and exchange ideas, creating a catalyst for understanding.
Because of my painting series on “finding refuge”, I requested that my guests write a few words about “where, who, and what is your refuge or safety". Dialogue is now continuing beyond the show. The variety of thoughtful, proactive responses is heartening.
Many online supporters can contribute their thoughts, by
- Using hashtag #findingmyrefuge on Instagram/ twitter/ Facebook.
- Joining in on the conversation, with images/ statements!
- Subscribe to my free newsletter, which contains links to my posts and my latest updates.
Your responses are expanding my personal understanding of refuge. I am now musing over how I can incorporate your ideas and images to inspire new perspectives in my refuge paintings. Please feel free to join in the conversation. And keep watching for my new work!
If you missed the hands-on exhibition, for a limited time, you can still browse at the Virtual Open Studio ’16 Shop on this website.
Take a look. Feel free to contact me with any questions in the contact section or on FB message, Instagram or Twitter. Of course to get the latest news in your inbox, subscribe for your free monthly newsletter!
I am SO looking so forward to my open studio this weekend!
The studio is scrubbed clean and with a fresh coat of primer, courtesy of Ross and Allen.
I am asking for your help in expanding my perspective for “seeking refuge” project. My research, defining refuge and where and why we seek it, has allowed me to explore my own need for safety and freedom. You could help me by sharing your succinct thoughts and related images/photos:
What, who or where you go to to feel safe? A place, person object or some combination?
Is there a cup of tea that you always sit down with or a place in your garden? Or is it a person who always seems to know how to listen?
I will collect all of your responses and choose some to explore further in my work. I plan on having an exhibit on the topic.
Please respond tagged with #findingmyrefuge in the comment section, instagram, twitter, facebook or my email using the #findingmyrefuge tag so I can collect them all to reflect on and share. You can certainly post comments on the wall at my open house!
Thank you for your help! I hope to see you this weekend!
Listening to my inner voice during the process of art making
begins with wondering about how to deal with my heart, my art and what is happening around me. The daily patterns of life that I inevitably engage in a call to me for exploration. I find they provide moments rich for reflection. The hours of the day progressively transform my bedroom, and the effect of light and shadow change me, too. Holding a cup of steaming café or tea stirs the senses with warmth, aroma and sharing thoughts. Taking a walk can allow me space to carefully observe in an open, non-dualistic way. Simple objects contain the history of the souls who touched, created and used them; the insistent patter of raindrops creates a cadence, inviting a meditative state. These are just some of the experiences I plumb to investigate the unopened treasures that we have strewn before us, every day!
I am strongly affected by the plight of the refugees in the world right now. My heart goes out to the souls who risk their lives as they leave a place that is unsafe for them. I wonder, can we even truly understand the depth of their fear, the sorrow of leaving a home, the pain of being hungry, the danger of running away? If they are lucky enough to make it out, many are turned away by a country or segmented in tents living in temporary camps for years!
Can I ever understand? It certainly is easier to say they were “turned away by a country” rather than" I turned them away." Maybe, I could help by holding them in my heart and thoughts as I learn more about what it means to be in need of refuge.
I do need to make art. Is that where I seek refuge?
Is that also where I can offer a place of refuge?
It appears so because I am compelled to return to my practice day after day. There is a source inside me where I go to create imagery that resonates with my soul. Now, I imagine the experience of finding “refuge” in my life. What would I do if I couldn’t create time and space to paint and draw? For me, creating is a “basic” need.
Without the opportunity to paint, I would feel bereft. I need a place to shout with joy, to feel empathy with others and express it, admire beauty, recognize pain and sorrow, search for evidence of meaning in this life, far beyond manmade laws. I cannot hide this or pretend it is not there. It is my work, and I need to share it.
My art is saying “Look here, what you thought was nothing important, like sleeping, opens up worlds to you!". Deprived of sleep, you cannot concentrate. Taking time to assimilate your day and to allow your spiritual and physical body to rest, is essential for your sanity. The idea of restoring yourself, letting go, being quiet, recording dreams, creating patterns to invite sleep, deepens you to nurture a contemplative life.
My practice involves observing such a simple habitual act, as if for the first time! I paint to discover, then honor, the dignity in an ordinary moment.
My dear readers, has something ordinary ever suddenly taken on a surprising beauty that you never noticed before? I look forward to your thoughts!
I got so excited when I read this headline and even mOre so while watching this TED video! Oh my gosh, this is a natural for me! My husband is a precrastinator, and yes, that is a word that means “the tendency to complete, or at least begin, tasks as soon as possible” from [science of us magazine]!
There is one caveat, though, that you ned to be careful of. Too much of it and the creative advantage disappears. Watch this to find out how and why being “late to the party” can allow you to be more creative. Why allowing yourself to doubt and feel fear can fuel your creative juices. How to increase your creative ideas even more!
So stop apologizing and start allowing yourself the privilege of putting decisions “on the back burner”.
Oh, and let me know if and how this works for you in comments or on social media!
One thing to do to learn more about being more creative is to sign up for my monthly newsletter which also includes links to my blog posts written weekly. Don’t miss another one!
A new beginning!
Aah, the daffodils are up, and there is a delicate fragrance hovering. Spring is in the air. It brings hope, inspires me, and now I am in the studio beginning a new project! So I start by drawing. My drawings will lead me through my next body of work.
Sometimes I look for the logic in that… why I am in the studio.
Intuitively, I just feel like it is my “work” to be witness to what I see. I like the challenge of defining the spaces between objects, the interactions between positive and negative spaces and how the “point of view” is only that of the person drawing. It changes every time I change…my physical position by sitting or standing, and even how I look by using my left eye or my right. How I feel emotionally and spiritually affects how I interpret what I observe.
So drawing helps me to understand the effect of all of these things. It makes me more aware that life is very different for each person because we each look through a different prism.
> You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. --Harper Lee (1926-2016), To Kill a Mockingbird
So I guess I draw to keep myself honest and to check and recheck my perspective. For both my art…and my life.
Ultimately, he actual object, “the drawing”, is like a map describing my vision, and it will undoubtedly be interpreted very differently by each one of you as you view it. How intriguing is that!
So I will get myself in the studio to work on my project, "finding refuge" .Now if you could share with mw what makes you feel safe and embraced in the world amidst its uncertainties that would be incredible! I would love to understand what's important from your point of view. Comment, emaill, fb, tweet, instagram, etc.
Come see my art inspired by spring at Dolphin Bookshop in PortWashington. It is a rare opportunity to see refreshing work while enjoying a cup of green tea or a latté. You also have a diverse selection of books and toys at your fingertips in case you need to purchase either. You are right near the park that borders on Manhasset Bay, and you can walk outside by the seawater! Imagine, ALL of this in one short trip! The exhibit will be up until the end of March.
Perhaps I will even be there at one of those sunlit tables. If not, I will be in my studio beginning my next project and reviewing my 120 journals which I have created over the years! But more about those two things in my next post.
I am beginning to get work ready for my Open Studio in June. The date will be announced and listed on the Events page. Or you can sign up for my once a month newsletter, right at the bottom of the page!
I do love to hear your thoughts about my work, the exhibit or a specific piece here in comments or on my contact page. Looking so forward to hearing from you! Oh yes, and to keep up with what I am making and showing, please, subscribe, below!
Come see my exhibit
"landscape, up close/ personal"
299 Main St., Port Washington, NY 11050
opening reception is Sunday, March 6th from 2 - 4 pm
on exhibit from March 1 thru March 31, 2016
I look so forward to you coming by to the reception. If you can't make it then, absolutely stop by anytime the bookshop is open , by the end of March.
The work reflects the kind of intimate and expansive views of the natural surroundings you see on Long Island's North Shore. A lot of my observations are from Oyster Bay , sometimes even in my backyard! I hope it inspires you to see the beauty right in your own backyard!
Shhh...click here to see some of the work on display....