make art. transform life.

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

Think. What Happened When Your Ancestors Sought Refuge?

 
 We are all in this together (detail of panel 1) of triptych)        oil painting     beth vendryes williams

We are all in this together (detail of panel 1) of triptych)        oil painting     beth vendryes williams

 

Enjoy the last days of summer!

For me, I am back to “seeking refuge”! Yes, I keep returning to this theme because we all need to find our refuge in this world. Sometimes it is walking and meditating. Also, for me it is in making art!

I became aware of this way of seeking refuge because of my family stories...

 
The oldest of seven children, I grew up with our parents loving the fact that we were part Jamaican, English, French, and Sicilian. I knew I was related to Michael Manley, former president of Jamaica, through a common great grandmother. My Dad and his parents emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to the United States.  Eventually we discovered and met our French cousins, who are descendants of the Vendryes relatives who decided to remain in France seven generations ago.

 Both of my Mom’s parents bravely emigrated, separately, from Sicily when they were 17 and 25 yeas old. They first met in Sicily and then got married in Little Italy,  NYC. 

We all keep in touch!

Through my  family origins, the borders of my world expanded ...

...so that I always perceived being part of a much bigger world than the United States. According to a DNA testing I am 5% West African, a fact that is also supported by family lore and cousins.  I thrive in the possibilities of communicating and connecting with people from all different parts of the world..

When I read and see people  trying to immigrate to the United States, I am happy for them, because without that, I know I would not be here. In the USA there is an opportunity to be free and to have a voice and a vote in who represents us. It is far from perfect, but it gives us the possibility of living in a government that protects the individual’s rights to freedom. 

Immigrants must be vetted, of course. They also must be treated with compassion. For we are all related to one another in some way. We are all human beings. We are all, body and spirit, living in this world, together.

I was inspired to explore some of that innate knowledge by creating a visual story. That has been a journey in itself., for me. Yes, That is my Grandpa Henry and my Dad and his brother on either side, shortly after they emigrated from Jamaica.

I would love to hear your story! Tell me in your comment or instagram!

Check out the events link to make sure you get to my solo exhibit  and reception on Sunday, September 23rd. Currently, Fresh fruit & vegetable watercolors ar exhibiting at Autentico Restaurant. Come on in and have a look and have an espresso or coffee!
 

 

Four blank canvases evoke the heart to respond.

 seeking refuge/ process sketches         watercolor & ink/ rag paper          beth vendryes williams

seeking refuge/ process sketches         watercolor & ink/ rag paper          beth vendryes williams

Where do I begin?

 

The sun gently awakens me this morning as I begin my work in earnest on compiling my solo exhibit! There will be an opening reception on September 23, 2018. The show will be a collection of work done in recent years. In my newest work I have chosen to deepen my exploration of the refuge theme and am using multiple mediums in the development of this series.

 

I began by looking at four blank canvases I have in my studio. My head, heart, and hands were in agreement.

I realized I needed to work larger than before and change the medium. I decided to use oil paint for its gestural possibilities, rich depth of color and sensuous qualities.

 

Seeking Refuge is what I am calling the exhibit, and it operates on a couple of levels.

The current work underway references the 65 million people worldwide fleeing their homes in the world today, trying to find a place where they can live safely.

All of my art references the personal refuge that the process of creating brings to me.

 

I just want to begin to share my process with you, as I struggle through the daily work of pulling the ideas and images together. It is soul searching and sometimes difficult to see the next step.

 

I find your support invaluable. Walk with me if you dare, and follow my progress as the series takes form.

 
 
Notebook - 20150819_170041 - 60.jpg
 

Astonishing, how living in the now moment, simplifies life

 
 remember compassion  study       5' x 4"            pencil/ journal      beth vendryes williams

remember compassion  study       5' x 4"            pencil/ journal      beth vendryes williams

 

You would be amazed at how hard it was for me to pull myself together last week to balance creating with sharing my work, and all of my daily practices. I had been sick and exhausted and so had to allow myself a rest.

I was struggling to accomplish even the smallest thing, Everything was distracting me! I put one foot in front of the other, staying in the now moment. Eventually, I found this article about what to do each day to keep creating and sharing your work.. I put it into action.

 I remembered to keep it simple. And as my Dad used to say:

"As you travel on through life, brother, let this motto be your goal. Keep your eye upon the doughnut , and not upon the hole."       Optimist's Creed via  S. Keith Vendryes

In my case, the "doughnut" is first creating the work, documenting and sharing. Reviewing this list each day makes sure I stay on track and consistent.

  • Journal/sketch
  • Create art
  • Meet & record contacts
  • Do routine photoshoots, each upon completion of a body of work
  • Organize artist statement, bio, CV, press/ cloud-accessible
  • Create collections, categorize-type/subject/genre - send out
  • Research/document exhibits, residencies, grants past/future
  • Follow up on invoiced and customers.
  • Share inventory list with five potential outlets
  •  Update online presence with news, posts, social
  • Choose to view shows, openings, exhibits. Schedule.

The next step is to continue organizing my space. 
Knowing where to find my supplies and art labeling and updating contacts helps me to work more quickly and with greater focus. 

As life changes daily, these little guidelines serve as guideposts to refer to when I lose my way. What do you do to keep yourself on track? I am thrilled to hear suggestions that really work for you!

 

Notebook - 20150819_170041 - 60.jpg
 
 

How to make a breakthrough by watching clouds

 let the clouds in              #953                          mixed media ( watercolor, Solarprint, acrylic, Japanese tissue collage   22' x 30"    

let the clouds in              #953                          mixed media ( watercolor, Solarprint, acrylic, Japanese tissue collage   22' x 30"    

Yes, I have been watching clouds all last year, imagining their magical  beauty

is not only their appearance but also in the way they recycle and process water on the earth! They also cleanse the air when the raindrops fall. 

They really do capture my imagination. So creating Solarplate images by using the sun to develop your image on a light-sensitive coating, and water to wash away the soft film water-soluble ink to print, made sense.

Looking and working on those clouds, made me think about how I could be more ecologically minded in my art. As I began to work on top of my first artist proof (a print that looks different from the original edition), I was using watercolor acrylic along with collaging Japanese rice paper, enlarging the image by breaking through the rectangle! 

Suddenly I realize the philosophical importance of the art I am making. 

❤️“Breaking through the boundaries of the rectangle with the softness of a cloud, is how life is. All change begins with a thought. My art is to make that “idea” visible. Once visible it insists on being looked at.”
Breaking through resistance does not require violence. When you pay attention to the visual, it can bring forth, metaphorically, another way of perceiving.

Through my work process, I understand that I need to explore this concept, of “breaking through boundaries" with clouds. So I ask myself what other artists, writers, directors, dancers, musicians have done that and what can I learn from them? Now i am asking you...

❤️ Have you ever asked yourself why you are so drawn to something, like the beach or the sun, asking yourself what about it attracts you?  I love to hear what breakthrough you have had so comment  on Instagram facebook Linked In or in the comment section here!

Soar with the unexpected challenge of living creatively

 waterscape            journal sketch                         beth vendryes williams

waterscape            journal sketch                         beth vendryes williams

Being creative is defined as having the power to bring something into existence.

 Creative thinking is a skill that you learn as you grow and try to make sense of the world. It benefits both of us to understand different ways of exploring and visualizing. Specializing in one way of thinking can impede us from understanding the relationships that do exist within a diverse world.  Math, science, language, and history. For instance are all ways of understanding the same thing through different prisms or perspectives..

I remember first experiencing this when I was 14.

I loved taking art, enjoyed French, although with some difficulty and disliked the facts and figures of world history. Then one day, I learned about the same historical period in each of these three different classes. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was learning about the politics, the culture and the art of the same period! Then I began to understand the importance of each and how valuable it was to see from all three perspectives with a holistic view.

That one experience opened my mind to  see many commonalities in life. 

 I now regularly see how seemingly divergent ideas can flow together. This causes me to view of the world.in a  holistic  way.According to research done by Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein in [Sparks of Genius: there are many mathematicians, like Blaise Pascal and scientists like, Einstein, who used intuition and imaging to find solutions to theoretical problems. 

Since then, I have approached my life creatively as if I were making a piece of art.  All people, opportunities, books, places, new studies, and experiences constitute the materials that shape my daily life.
— beth vendryes williams

I consider making a meal as a work of art in how it is prepared, served and shared. That part was undoubtedly from my mom! Sewing or buying clothes, I look for beautiful, long-lasting organic alternatives. Cleaning supplies usually involve no preservatives or scents and baking soda and vinegar, so that they are sustainably able to tread lightly on our environment.

And in my professional vocation as an artist,

I  carry a journal and packet of watercolor crayons, pencils ink pens and water brushes in my pocketbook. At any time I can access my "portable studio" to work wherever I am. Waiting becomes an opportunity to see more. I now  look at my life as a work of art-in-process. 

Now, as in creating a piece of art, there are mistakes and hard times. But I learn from working on my art that errors can change my perception to discover opportunities and incentive to make something new. And when I experience tragedies and difficulties in both art and life, they can be transformative, so I end up doing things I never imagined.

I have a few tools that I utilize to keep me on track.

Keep watching for the next few posts as I begin to share them with you!

 

Overcome old failures, observe & draw daily

I have always drawn and painted, so when I was a teenager, a neighbor commissioned me to create a portrait of her child. Taking a risk, I jumped at the challenge and went to work!

That portrait was rejected. 

Over the years, I have painted only two commissioned portraits,  each well received. However, I was not satisfied. I always felt that I needed to be more confident in my ability to quickly sketch and capture the unique characteristics of any person. I just accepted that it didn't come naturally to me. Crazy, right?

 I finally got up the courage to take a portrait drawing course in November and December. Astonishingly, in those two months, I had the pleasure of reaching my challenge! Now I look forward to creating a unique likeness every chance I get! It is a joy and a blessing that has spurred me to expand my art into other mediums and new subjects.  

Check these portraits out here! 

I am so glad I decided to face my fears and try! Can you think of something you would like to dare to try again? 

How to develop creative momentum, with focus and passion_

 "swimming underwater"   by beth vendryes williams      watercolor, mylar,            private collection

"swimming underwater"   by beth vendryes williams      watercolor, mylar,            private collection

When I was in my beloved high school, I was disappointed that I didn’t receive the senior art award. So, when I saw my esteemed art teacher getting into the faculty elevator, I asked to accompany her to the next floor, so I could ask her privately, why I did not get it. She calmly responded that she didn’t think I wanted it badly enough and she felt I wasn’t persistent enough to commit to my art. 
After tearfully absorbing this honest observation from Sr.Stephanie, I reflected on her words and realized that she was not trying to be mean, just honest and wise.

I reasoned that belief in myself was something I could change.! I made the decision to pursue my dream.

I use to envision being ambitious as pushing ahead relentlessly and selfishly, pushing everyone and everything out of my way. So I was at odds with myself when I tried to pursue my work since I didn't want making art to be a selfish practice._This has changed!


_Now I interpret "ambitious" as consistently developing and sharing my dreams and gifts as I live fully in relation to my interior values, relationships and world view._

_In my art career, I have been most inspired to grow when I integrate the different areas of my life, so that work in one area is supportive of another. For instance, my habits of yoga, dance and walking and healthy eating can positively affect my energy level, and the quality and possibilities of my work.

 Nurturing relationships is intrinsic to my work. I learn a lot  from listening to creative endeavors and also explain my own, to those who ask. The dialogue, inevitably brings new perspectives to both of us. Reading what I love and learning new things supports my ability to have new ideas.

 When I align my spiritual values with my creative process my work then radiates transparency and integrity._Art initiates philosophical discussions that embrace many areas of knowledge. _
 Last year, when I had to relocate my sketchbook /journals, I estimated there were about 30. No way! I found 130 journals! I am now using them as primary source material and referencing them in my work. That is quite an affirmation of consistent habits and working with integrity. This year, in my Open Studio, I had much more work than I could show. Then, in the early morning hours of the Open Studio event, I was accepted into a juried show in NYC. and an opportunity for my work to be part of an international auction! It seems like a combination of perseverance and patience is fertile ground for my art/ Now it is giving momentum to my career.

__When I was younger I didn't realize the importance of seeing  my life experiences as a connected in one wholistic perspective. Now I do._
 I understand that the process of creating and sharing as essential to being. I look at creative process as my gift to develop, fully incorporating my deepest longings and spirit 

Just this past week, I am thrilled to find my paintings and comments featured in an article on “Ambition” this month in the 2017 October/November edition of Professional Artist Magazine. Pick up a copy on a magazine rack or here and let me know your thoughts!

What if you try but fall short of the goal?

gardens: energetic Ah yes!

Early this morning, a very thoughtful friend inquired about my 30 day challenge... the 30 paintings in 30 days that wrote about a few posts ago.

"Did you actually finish 30 paintings?", she asked? I realized I never addressed the final outcome on this blog!  So thank you my dear friend, for asking.

So for those of you who were rooting for me.....NO, although I  did finish  7 paintings.

I am disappointed that I didn't get them all done and am happy with the series of 7 that I created.

I am also invigorated by the experience of carving out the time on a regular basis to paint in oil in a limited format.

It was a challenge that I don't regret because learned a lot from the experience. Pushing myself to produce the work has yielded a fresh and deep look at the ever-changing garden in our backyard. To see them all, take a look at my latest post fresh art post at my portfolio site and at the 30 in 30 post listed under fresh new  art blog!

Now 3 of them are for sale at the Oyster Bay Frame Shop right in time for the holidays.

I'd love to hear what you think.

How do you handle changing goals when you have not met them?