make art. transform life.

thoughts about creativity and  art:   live your life as your work of art.

Choose to be artist of your life. Be present in the now.

Observe. 

All that you understand on this earth, is discovered through the senses. Today I will just ask you to take note of your ability to observe. Don’t judge, just notice what is going on around you.

 Hours series    terce (midmorning)  by   beth vendryes williams    

Hours series    terce (midmorning)  by   beth vendryes williams    

Thoughtful perception is important because it will give me source material to draw with focus and integrity.
— beth vendryes williams

Right now...

I can feel the gentle rhythm of my fingers on my laptop and smell the fragrance of the white jasmine flowering plant on my table. I hear the hum of the refrigerator.  I taste the green the and that almond cookie. I am seeing the snow melting from our nor’easter and holding an image in my mind off how beautiful it looked in the middle of the night when snow was painting each branch.

Thoughtful perception is important because it will give me source material to draw with focus and integrity.

Why is it important?  Picasso, Matisse, Delacroix and van Gogh were passionate about getting the essence of the gesture down on paper. They would practice gazing intently. It is essential that the act of drawing be a process of discovering communicates the veracity of what you observe with all senses. So it is not just an exercise of prowess, but a way to understand what you see more deeply. Scientists, inventors, mathematicians, writers, videographers, all continue to deepen their sense of observation.

I never read that quote before, but I recognize the sentiment because my drawing is a form of communication. In the process of creating, I use the senses of what I see, hear, feel, smell, taste and intuit.  

It is essential for writers...

to immerse themselves in the language and place about which they are writing. Scientists have discovered what they do by search by looking and observing patiently to gather subtle information.

Watching, listening, touching, smelling and sensing are all ways of observing what is going on in your life. Your life is your work of art. Embrace that!

How do you improve your ability to observe?

You can increase your powers of observation... 

by keeping a journal, collecting things, listening, to music, to another person or just noting the sounds and how your body feels as you walk through your day. Be present in the now moment

 I choose to focus on the ordinary everyday things in my work and delve deeper to find the beauty and truth in them.  Every day I see something that I never noticed before!

Choose to be the artist of your life.  Be present in the now moment.

If you would like to read the book that resonates with me and holds the research, you can access it through the link below

Sparks of Genius: 13 thinking tools of creative people. by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein. Is is linked  in the reading section..

How to find light in the darkness

 0910_waiting_char_fig_15©bvw.jpg

0910_waiting_char_fig_15©bvw.jpg

Then I begin to draw with an eraser to reveal the sparkling white shining through. From then on it is a dance, engaging black, gray and white, interacting with each other! Every mark I make changes the whole.
— beth vendryes williams

01.01.15 I am collecting my thoughts, reflecting on my incredible journey this year. Painting is my language, and now I am interpreting and responding to the world with visible gestural marks and colors. Now I see much darkness. Yes, physically, because it is near to the solstice, yet also spiritually because of the enormous suffering in our world. And emerging from this inkiness, I see beams of light. When I hear the beautiful music of Arvo Pärt when I see thoughtfulness in the subway, or encounter a very patient person, online or walking down the street, I am reminded that each person is a light. We are all in this world together.

So I thank you for shining your light! The darkness only makes your light more precious and visible.

When I create this charcoal drawing, I tone the paper deep gray and then draw into it with rich black charcoal, defining the darkest dense areas and joining small areas to create a connected form. Then I begin to draw with an eraser to reveal the sparkling white shining through. From then on it is a dance, engaging black, gray and white, interacting with each other! Every mark I make changes the whole.

So too, it is, with the darkness of night, when the moon and lights guide our way. Every change of light and shadow reveals another path of possibility and hope.

I just now found a very motivating and practical post that reframes “making a resolution” as if “creating a story”! Sara also includes precise steps to create the story that becomes a recipe for your desired resolution, and it sounds like fun!

Therefore, I will be in my studio creating a story for the next hour today! Want to join me in spirit?

If you are not signed up for my newsletter, oh please do so now, as I will be painting and exhibiting a lot this year. I am letting my heart light the way, and I want you to be to be a part of it! I also am working on a new and transformed website! Exhilarating! Coming soon!

explore ripples of time, impressed in rocks... by water

Last week my family and I an hiked an extremely steep the 2.5 mile trail through the gorge at Watkins Glen near Ithaca, New York and followed it up two days later with a very rocky 5 mile hike through the Robert H. Tremain State Park. While hiking I found some time to draw, but not nearly enough to satisfy me, since I spent most of my time trying to keep up with my sons & friends and move faster than the thunderstorms. Apparently I need to upgrade my exercise routines!

Has this ever happened to you? No time to bask in the beauty of the environment because you were too busy beating traffic, avoiding bad weather, performing everyday survival tasks, meeting everyday needs?

My experience while hiking in Ithaca, may give you some ideas about how to savor  a unique and profound moment and then build on that memory. You can notice it, wonder,  allow it to motivate you to deepen your understanding beyond the surface.

While on both hikes, I observed the patterns of ripples in the water that were  duplicated in the sand and again, replicated in the rocks. It made me wonder how long it took for the ripples in the water to transpose themselves into the sand and rock. After doing some reading,I discovered that the water created patterns in the sand that were eventually transformed into rocks of alternating shale and sandstone. This began to occur in the Devonian period, 360 million years ago. Really? I am having trouble imagining that long ago! Glaciers cut through this layered rock. The splits in the rock or ‘gorge” are caused by streams that were cut off and needed to find new ways through the rock!

This makes me think about the power of time, and how, with enough time, water can slowly transform rock and even an entire landscape. I make this analogy. If the persistence of water can be so strong to shape and cut through rocks, then by applying this principle of  consistent intent in just living we can break through and transform relationships, habits and creative blocks will create a path towards your goal.And so I focus on my goal to visually represent the process of the patterns created over time.

Paying close attention to how transformation that occurs in nature can help you to transform paths in your life! When traveling through everyday life:

  • OBSERVE your environment carefully.
  • NOTICE patterns.
  • Allow yourself to IMAGINE
  •  MAKE AN ANALOGY between this physical beauty and your everyday life.
  • SYNTHESIZE by asking questions and make connections.

Oh yes, and please let me know about a time you gently persisted in your chosen path and then transformed your day, week or life,  as the water has. I absolutely love sharing this and even more, I look forward to your thoughts and ideas!

This makes me think about the power of time, and how, with enough time, water can slowly transform rock and even an entire landscape. I make this analogy. If the persistence of water can be so strong to shape and cut through rocks, then by applying this principle of consistent intent in just living we can break through and transform relationships, habits and creative blocks will create a path towards your goal.And so I focus on my goal to visually represent the process of the patterns created over time.
— beth vendryes williams
 

Seize the day….transform your life!

  beth vendryes williams

 beth vendryes williams

 

It is so good to be back! I have transitioned to working full time as an artist! It is with glee (and trepidation), that I begin this journey. I am SO excited to have all of my time devoted to drawing, painting and putting my work out there!!

You are invited to come with me on this journey and in the process learn more about supporting the creative habit in your own life! I find that small or large creative action in ANY media has the capacity to transform!

If you don’t think you are creative, think again.

Observe, ask questions, share your thoughts and/or make your own creations, stick with me as I reveal my process and motivations during the process of creating my own body of work myself subscribe now! If you are a practicing artist; painter, sculptor, writer and would like to hear and share about the creative process, subscribe now! It's free! And I would love you to be a part of the conversation! If you are an art collector and just want to see what's here, search the rest of the site and subscribe to keep up with the latest! You can always contact me if you are interested in a piece to purchase

 

I will be sharing images of my work and my process! If you would like to see more of my work, explore this website in full and contact me if you need to know more!

“With your senses (not so much your mind), focus on one single object until you stop fighting it or resisting it with other concerns. The concrete is the doorway to the universal.”Richard Rohr Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See,pp. 170-171

 Through that process of creating my work, my intention is to listen, be open, and to respond using available materials and visual and intellectual inspirations. My goal here is to be transparent and share this process of creating a body of work. You can apply what you learn about the creative process and about interpreting the universal language of the visual to your own every day journey.

In the movie Dead Poets Society, the English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams says:"Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Please DO let me know here what you do to live a creative life.  It is SO inspiring to hear from you!

 
 

Thoughts to ponder...uncertainty

IMG_8240 - 2013-06-26 at 05-01-42Uncertainty is where things happen.

072270-grunge-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open1It is where the

opportunities 

for success, for happiness, for really living

— are waiting.

by Oliver Burkeman

What do you find happens to your perception when you are uncertain? I begin to get nervous and stop believing in my ability to create.       BUT,  if I am able to let go of trying to control the results, I am suddenly free to imagine and discover new ways to accomplish something. So, what about YOU?  

why I draw...and how it can transform your life

0865  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting a pencil to a pure white piece of paper has always been exciting and challenging at the same time.I can start and end anywhere. There is no one right way to make a mark.

Drawing makes who I am inside,  visible on a surface.

I take time to reflect, to observe my interior, to connect with my surroundings.

It is centering for me.

You can do this too!

How to start drawing..

  • Get a blank journal. A Moleskine is well crafted and a nice surface. If you prefer a wire binding, just get a substantial feeling paper surface and sturdy wire. Thai way, when you carry it in your back pack, briefcase or hand bag, it will stay together. Size is totally what feels practical and comfortable to you!
  • In fact,you can even use a tablet or iPad with a program such as Penultimate or Paper 54. For these you may use your finger or a stylus.
  • Have your favorite pen or pencil at hand.
  • Draw what you see or remember in your mind's eye.

Or draw lines tat interest you. Or shapes

Perhaps write words to describe them...

Or not.

As with any healthy good habit, the practice of drawing, every day

allows you to observe and reflect on the world around and within you,

bringing inspiring connections

and quiet energy and joy at just being.

 

It is in this 30 minutes of active reflection that you will find your life transforming into the best of who you are. Interested in trying this simple habit?

Then subscribe to my blog and draw along with meI I will be posting once a week.....and I can't wait to share my passion for mark making with YOU!  Oh and please post your questions and thoughts in comments!  I will be sharing my drawings.

 

 

Be creative about losing an hour

Art making is not as idyllic as it may appear. Sure, you are your own boss, but ordinary life interferes.There is always something more impending to do.

Like what, you ask? Well, first of all, family, job, daily necessities, all require energy and time. Without balancing basic needs such as hugs, communication, making good nutritious food, exercise and a good night’s sleep and cleaning and organizing a house, a person wouldn’t be able to find their art supplies or his clothes.

I started to get a little suspicious of my intentions when I found myself searching for golden retriever fur tumbleweeds under my furniture and thinking about lining my shoes up differently. These are good cleaning practices. Not necessary to spend priority time on them though. I faced up to the fact that I could make better use of my time and was perhaps in need of a different approach.

There are only 24 hours in a day, right? I realize that for a while now, I have been having trouble achieving that very crucial balance between living life fully and making time to be creative. Understanding that time crunch is currently viral,, I scoured my bookcase and internet for suggestions...yes, I know... chewed up more time...!

How to make more time? I incorporate these changes and it seems to be helping: Think of life in the center with several different radiating threads representing whole areas of your life. The number is variable. I chose; A rt S piritual P hysical I ntellectual R elationships E nvironment R iches

Decide what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Prioritize my time. Limit my time for each item, including creative time. This sounds counterintuitive, but it works! Use an organizer to remind me of my goals. Either computer or paper will work. I use both. Allow for adjustments when needed.

Right now, my biggest problem is that in “springing ahead” to daylight savings time, we have lost an hour! looking at the bright side, we'll get it back in the fall. I’ve made time for writing and reviewing my blogs tomorrow after drawing and meditating!

Send your comments suggestions, aha moments my way. love to hear the way you balance the life.

How an unplanned storm can foster creativity

It’s Sunday eve on Long Island and we are anticipating the storm that has been traveling from the Caribbean up the coast. I checked with the older people and singles in my neighborhood to make sure that they had food and shelter. I made the run for groceries, nuts and fruits and water and we put away anything outside that could become a projectile in the fierce winds.

Now we am tucked in our home, hopefully safe and sound.

My mind begins to think of all of the things I could do with this unstructured time???

This is my list. I have done some, but not all. It is the process of exploring my options. Choosing is by its nature, creative, because it shapes who you are becoming and how you are getting there.

With electricity

Seed, cut and roast the fresh pie pumpkin that is waiting on my table Roast a whole chicken. Make pumpkin muffins Make chocolate chip cookies. Vacuum up the dog fur before we lose power. Take photos of the beautiful leaves that fell. Write this post on my computer. Make delicious leftovers with left chicken & the last Italian green beans from our garden. Check in with my strong and handsome sons in various east coast hurricane affected locations. Catch up with my two lovely sisters and feisty mom on the phone. Speak with my wonderful fiend, artist & mentor, Ben Frank Moss on the phone. Answer my cousin, Marie’s email from France, wondering if we are ok. Listening to Dave Matthews, Mumford & Sons and Jeff Buckley singing Halleluja

Without electricity

Meditate. OBSERVE the changes in atmosphere and the way things look Read Steve Jobs. Read Gerhardt Richter’s writings. Read an article in Image, journal of art, faith & mystery. Do yoga. Study my french verbs. Walk the dogs before the winds and rain get stronger. Sketch in my art journal. Draw interiors of the rooms in my house. Paint the interiors, as I meditate on rooms as physical symbols of how life is organized. Write a note to cousin Stephanie, also in France. Design my Christmas cards. Plan Thanksgiving dinner. IMAGINE myself participating in the great privilege of voting next week. Spend time just being with my dear one.

Can’t wait to hear how you decided to spend that valuable time!

Discover the creativity within you...

Waking up each day has always been a gift and an adventure for me! I find joy in the possibilities of the minutes and hours I have been given. Although each day brings with it changes and detours, the most amazing journeys that I never imagined reveal themselves. Like magic, I can change the day by changing my perspective. What was a deficit before can become an opportunity.

Being an artist, and practicing daily with pencils and paint has given me to the skills and courage to create with the material available to me each day. It can be as simple as finding something in a refrigerator or pantry that previously appeared uninspiring a moment before. Or it can be the incredible journey of creating a painting or discovering a solution to a problem that will change life for the better for many people.

Creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson recently spoke at a Zeitgeist Conference about the far reaching importance of creativity on education and on our future.

 

Making s cookies, I remember

Thank you so much to the reader, Valerie, who wrote to ask me about the s cookies that my Grandma used to make! I remembered that I had mentioned those light and delicious cookies in my last post about observation and  memory.

My grandma Marianna used to make them  with us , allowing us to help mix and then shape the cookie into an "s" shape after she pressed the dough through an extruder. I remember her kind hands helping us, patiently waiting for them to come out of the oven and finally sharing a taste after they cooled. The were simple and not too sweet.  When I recall them , I remember the the kindness of my Grandma, the sun in her kitchen and the warm fragrance of baking cookies.

Motivated, I searched for our family book of Sicilian recipes and called my dear cousin Trisha who helped me find the it! I studied the recipe, unconvinced that it was the same as the ones I had made years ago. After searching the internet, I found a recipe by Tom del Rosso that fit more closely to my memory.

I substituted organic palm oil shortening by Spectrum  for Crisco. I was especially thriled to find the combination of vanilla and lemon flavors, as I think that was part of it too. I used the pastry bag method and prefer them golden brown.  Enjoy!  Thank you, each of you for the nudge to get that recipe!

S cookies were originally made using a funnel attached to an old-fashioned meat grinder, but they can be formed with a pastry bag. Sometimes they are shaped like a figure eight. This cookie is soft when it first comes out of the oven, but crisps up like a sugar cookie as it cools. They are a cookie jar favorite, but also look stylish ona wedding cookie cake.

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup solid vegetable shortening, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until light and lemon-colored.
  • Whisk in the shortening, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  • Gradually stir in the flour mixture, mixing well to blend the ingredients. Let the batter sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Fill a tipless pastry bag two thirds full of the batter to form 3-inch-long Ss or 8s on cookie sheets. Or drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2 inchesapart, and shape each one into a 3-inch-long S, using the back of the spoon.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Watch carefully and rotate the sheets to prevent burning. Let the cookies cool slightly on the cookie sheets before removing them tocooling racks.

Note: These are wonderful with coffee or tea and make a greatafter-school snack. They can be frozen, but will be softer in texture.

I'd love to hear about times when making something has triggered a memory of someone close to your heart!

 

How to make mistakes into opportunities!

Oh yes, it is true!  Many of my best ideas have begun by making a mistake. If I am afraid of doing something incorrectly, I feel inhibited about making decisions that are unusual or different. When I prepare myself the best I can and then go forward with courage, I find I gain a new way of looking and insights. Consequently I am able to to paint in a new way! Does that ever happen yo you? Making a recipe, following directions, making decisions about moving, choosing a job ? How do you feel about realizing that you made a mistake? If you get angry or nervous or upset, it is perfectly understandable. I've been there, believe me!

It's what you do next, that's important.

I love this video about "being wrong" by Kathryn Schulz. Gets right to the essence of  "what this can tell us about human nature" and why feeling "always right" can impede us in our life growth. being wrong

What do YOU think?

2011 opportunity: reflect on the art of your life!

morning trees wake upHere we sit , on the precipice of a new year.... I choose to spend the day in reflection of last year and preparing to embrace 2011.

I reflect on seven chosen areas of my life , look at my journey last year and where I could go with them this year.                                               Art...Spiritual...Physical...Intellectual...Relationships...Environment...Riches

Imagine this!

An artist creates a drawing by holding an image  taken through the eyes, to the head, to the heart, to the hands to the paper.

To create my life, I need to image what I would like to be and do and then allow my head to organize it and my heart to feel it as I begin to shape my life day by day. Everything I do matters, even and especially, my thoughts, what I imagine and all of my smallest actions and words. So I choose some of my building blocks and I incorporate whatever else comes my way.

Why I write this blog.

Reflection is essential to the fullest development of the idea or vision. Yearly reflection gives a wonderful overview. Reflection on the small everyday moments of creating are what I write about on this blog. I also ask for your comments participating in an invigorating dialogue about how to use our innate creativity to shape our lives! This is why I love end of the year reflection!  It allows me to see the whole picture, unfettered. It is also why I write about how to live creatively. Writing is my reflection on skills and habits that can transform both our lives and art! You can check out my art at beth vendryes williams or click on beth's website link above. Subscribe to this blog for writing about creativity. Or, you may go to  the art blog fand subscribe to have  my latest art delivered to your inbox. Or subscribe to both!

What are you creating in your life? How do you approach the end of this year and the beginning of the new?

Share your ideas and comments!

Evidence of things not seen

What I did rediscover, as I reflected, is that I must create! It is as necessary to me as eating and sleeping. It is my way of sharing what is not not seen: of digging away at what is not understood; of researching using visual tools and gut level intuition. Why is this so important to me?...

Read More

Thinking tool 2: Create an image in your mind, then go!

Expanding the power of visual images is thrilling to me.

Imagine, just holding an image in your mind's eye is the way to solve a problem, create a new situation or invent something new! Do you find it difficult to believe that visualizing something is the beginning of making it real? Are you tempted to think that was the magic of a child's world?

Think again. Just one example...Years ago I developed an image in my mind of an art studio that I wanted to work in. It is getting its finish coat of paint now! Where your thoughts are is where your physical efforts will eventually go.  Creating a picture in your mind is one of the most powerful ways to envision an idea across all disciplines.

To increase your own ability to image:

  1. Acknowledge and recognize images in your mind and how you use them.
  2. Collect images in your mind on a regular basis and in response to other stimuli. See if you can expand the image into other areas of sensual stimuli.. can you smell the flowers that you are imaging? What does it feel like to have a studio that is my own space?
  3. Make art in whatever medium you like.Write, draw, sing, bake. Pay attention to your visual images when you process scientific and mathematical concepts.

This  is the way to make your ideas really happen!

In my own experience,  when I make an image in my mind's eye many times it seems to happen of its own volition. Now understand that I am not just imagining it once. It is a consistent envisioning that develops as I think about it. It also may not happen in the time frame that is what I desire at the time. I have been constantly surprised when something I really wanted to accomplish even years  years ago, is suddenly appearing in my life. Like the studio.

Hey, I wonder if I've just given myself the recipe for developing a concept in my work? To review it daily in my mind...allow it to change with my inner imaging and influences from experiences, reading and contemplation....just put pencil, crayon and paint to paper or canvas and let it become visible!

I'd love to know ...have ever imaged something and then had it happen to you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

See Zen Habits for a very useful guide to creativity and  a study the Number 1 habit of creative people.For those of you that like to nap (I am definitely a fan!), this is the perfect guide for effortless imaging at Michael Nobbs, the blog: drawing inspiration.

Also read Steven Pressfield's writings about creativity an other thoughts at his website, and this post  there about Jonathan Fields and the creative process.

[tweetmeme source="bethvw"only_single=false"http://www.makearttransformlife.com]

How to increase your observation skill in 6 steps

I know I am not the only one whose thoughts are someplace else while I am doing a task. Isn't multitasking how to  get more things done? I sit down to draw the landscape as we drove through the farmland upstate New York, from memory!  I try to recall all of the details of the look on my brother's face when we were speaking of the death of a beloved aunt and the ongoing difficulties in the lives of her surviving siblings.

Yes, I could take a photograph, but I feel the need to remind and retrain my mind to observe very carefully. I want to use, but not be dependent upon, a technical device, like a camera or computer to BE my memory.

I am using the example of painting and drawing because that is what I do, and it is so hands on that it is easy to understand. It is also a combination of physical and mental multitasking.  But there are many ways and reasons to practice and improve observation skills. No matter what you do for a living good observation skills are an important part of doing good work, don't you think? Here is how!

  • Begin by choosing one thing a day to remember: a conversation, a scene, a book or article that you read, a recipe, etc.
  • Be present in the now moment. Relax and allow yourself to use your senses to take in all of the unique qualities of what you feel, see and hear.
  • After observing the event or scene reflect on what you would like to remember about it. Make connections between what you already know and this new memory.
  • Write it down or draw it, preferably in a portable journal without judgement of yourself. Just put it down!
  • Be grateful for the gift of experiencing the moment.

Observe and record in a visual, written or auditory way, daily and it will become a habit that will increase your confidence in your powers of observation and visualization!

Let me know how this works for you. I know that if I make a concerted effort to image a detailed memory, I can gradually expand it to two or even three a day. I just need to articulate it in words or a visual to reinforce it.

This is a great way to gather material and ideas for making things and for making things happen.!

Simplifying your focus is eloquently explored by Michael Nobbs /The Blog: Drawing Inspiration. I am inspired by his simple and honest posts.

Here is an other concept about doing two things at once from Ali Hale in Productive Flourishing, by combining a mental task with a physical task.