make art. transform life.

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

How journaling can help develop and sustain a creative habit

A bouquet from the YFCA spring gala watercolor & ink, 6.6.19

A bouquet from the YFCA spring gala watercolor & ink, 6.6.19

Hope is in the air! Now that spring is officially here. I sat myself down with a cup of tea and my daily journal.

For the past several days I have felt unable to put anything down in writing or drawing.

Has that ever happened to you? There is a world in us, and it is vital to open the windows. To take time to rest and wait.

Keeping a journal has had a massive effect on my life

…and surprisingly, It wasn’t until I stopped teaching art to paint full time, that I realized that my small daily efforts had produced tangible results.

My strategy was this: I would always keep a journal and a small zipped bag of my favorite portable drawing tools in my pocketbook. I carried this with me at all times. I wrote and drew what I saw and felt, whenever I had a moment.

I ended up counting over 130 journals documenting my life and my growing family. I recorded places, people and events.

Expressing my struggles and celebrations in words and images

helps me to reflect on life. My only expectation? To make a mark that articulates my vision and reactions to the world!

What a treasure this has turned out to be!

Now I need to adapt my journaling method to my life as it stands now. Read my next few posts as I explore alternative ways of approaching journaling now that the previous system isn’t working as effectively.

  • Do you keep a journal? If so how has it helped you?

  • Do you find that you forget to adapt your habits as your life changes?

Let me know in your comments below.

Rediscover beauty and love, today

Trees-sketch-clouds ( Autentico 2019) watercolor, graphite, collage 9” x 9” by beth vendryes williams

Trees-sketch-clouds ( Autentico 2019) watercolor, graphite, collage 9” x 9” by beth vendryes williams

Do you sometimes feel weighted down by events on the personal or world stage?

Sometimes I forget that each morning when I awake, I can choose to look at the the world and my place in it, from a fresh perspective.

beth vendryes williams


This morning, shaking off the detritus from the day before, I make myself a cup of water with sliced lemon, giving thanks for clean water and lemons. Then I make a cup of green tea, thankful to have that luxury.

Looking up, I suddenly observe winter trees tracing their lines on the cloudy soft patches floating in a cerulean blue sky.

Aha, so this is what I want to share with you today!

On this day celebrating love for each other, let’s take the time to observe and honor the clarity and beauty in our world and the people in it. I know you can do it!

After all, we are all in this together.

I am thankful for you, your support and for your interest in beauty and creativity.

Here is my gift for you, today. You can see more on my instagram which you can link to and see most of this series on the process page of my blog

Sending you much love.! Happy Valentine’s Day!

 
Notebook - 20150819_170041 - 60.jpg
 
 





Seize the day!

 

Every artist has different ways of creating, some are impulsive, and some plan in detail,  but there is no one right way.

With that understanding, I share how my ideas come to me, and how I begin to develop them. When I see or read something beautiful, I want to remember it, so I remember and sketch it in one of my journals. Because I use journals, I was attracted to the small books , hand written, painted  and bound by monks  in medieval times. The were called books of the"hours", so that Franciscan monks and the faithful could carry their prayers throughout the day.

Inspired by the "liturgy of the hours", an ancient monastic tradition, I found myself stopping to appreciate the cadence of pausing for brief times during the day. During this time, I breathe, slowly, listen to something beautiful,  leave room for inner reflection, name my blessings or ask for help. 


I like the fact that an old tradition can be adapted to recognize our contemporary spirituality. I find it more important than ever to build the scaffolding of my day on the habit of internal reflection that acknowledges the spirit of me. When I do this regularly, I find beauty in the most ordinary moments. 

Beauty, to me, is not only about land, sky, and seascapes, nor is it about the perfection of figure or face. It can include humans in dialogue with each other animals or nature, emotions, music, sound,  interiors of rooms, recognizing the soul of someone or the invisible energy inherent in a place or an object. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

For me, beauty is also in the rhythmic movement of events during 24 hours and maintaining a sense of balance while navigating through the day. 
My interest in the ancient practice of the liturgical hours of the day, practiced by monks has become a structure on which I build a holistic integration of reflection into the daily rhythm of my life. 

That is the foundation for my upcoming series of work based on I  equivalent moments that resonate in my life in 2018.

I can’t keep from singing.. Drawing and painting of the visual equivalent Enjoy the song of the same name, sung by Enya

 
Work in Progress     hours series, prime     beth vendryes williams

Work in Progress     hours series, prime     beth vendryes williams

 
For me, beauty is also in the rhythmic movement of events during 24 hours and maintaining a sense of balance while navigating through the day. 
 
 
beth vendryes williams

energize your life, as art, with open-hearted vision

 Niagara Falls , the end of summer      22' x 30" watercolor  beth vendryes williams

 Niagara Falls , the end of summer      22' x 30" watercolor  beth vendryes williams

I am often asked how I became an artist,

which is why, In my last few posts, I shared a few of my struggles and decisions to define myself as an artist.
Their next statement is usually,
“I could never be an artist because I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler…”  Hmmm....

In Merriam Webster Dictionary,  “artist” is defined  as

noun  art·ist  \ ˈär-tist          
Definition of artist
1 an obsolete: one skilled or versed in learned arts
    b archaic: physician
    c archaic : artisan 1
2    a one who professes and practices an imaginative art
    b  a person skilled in one of the fine arts
3    a skilled performer; especially
4    one who is adept at something 

As you know, I happen to paint or draw on paper or canvas.
And I have used what I learn in creating art in other areas of my life. Gradually, I observe that treating my life with the skills and attitudes of an artist has not only transformed my work,  but my life as well!

To be an artist of your life, you do not need crayons or paint. You can just make art from the "stuff" of your life.     beth vendryes williams
 

The medium or materials that you use to create can consist of your life and any parts of it that you choose. The “work” of art is the action that you are taking. The material can be anything you can shape, like movement, fabric, words, time, food, cards, care for another person, etc. Your life can be a “work of art”!

I have done a lot of research and continued to develop my idea that you can transform your life by treating it as a work of art. I will share that in later posts.
Bur today, I share one essential skill necessary to approach your life as a work of art.

If one skill is essential for living your life as a work of art it is the attitude of being open-hearted. You choose to reveal your warm and compassionate feelings freely.          beth vendryes williams

When you remain open to ideas and people and change, you can see more options and perspectives. And you become more impassioned by your life.

Try being open-hearted.  Let me know how it works for you, in the comments below and in facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram below. Keep your eye out for my next posts on creating your life with the attitude of an artist! 

 

7 ways that journaling unlocks your heart to be creative

rushing through, time travel    

rushing through, time travel    

 

As I journey through life, maintaining creative flexibility,

I have found that most of the time, things don’t go the way you think they will. So when I earned my masters in drawing/printmaking from the University of Iowa, I was ready to begin creating full time and selling my work! Of course life intervenes and, shortly after graduating, my husband and I were privileged to have three sons, each 2-3 years apart.

journaling can weave creativity into daily life.


I decided to use my creative impulse to transform my rather large pocket book and uneven segments of time into a portable studio. I just kept writing, drawing and collecting the morsels of everyday life.( Link to Journal post fro October 30, 2016.)

1. Reflecting on these journals has been an unexpected gift, revealing my life from a intimate perspective, giving me an opportunity for reflection. This gives a bird’s eye view of the current map of my life. 
2. Memories come welling up in my heart, as I page through, nudging the past back into consciousness.
3. Details that I had forgotten are right there in my drawings and writing.
4.  Drawings and poems about  events and thoughts, that were forgotten in the midst of everyday activities are reclaimed.
5. There is affirmation of the joy and recognition of the sorrows of my life. 
6. I have an Opportunity to make a future based on recovering where I have been. 
7. Material is at my fingertips, for both writing and painting with historical and creative primary source materials: my own journals.

Now when I am working, and I want some inspiration, I include my personal journals among the literary and artistic inspirations available to me.

How to find the time? 


This is how I did it. I made a minimal packet in a small zip lock bag with a refillable ink pen, a pencil, eraser and sharpener, a plastic water-brush and a Moleskine journal, with sturdy paper that could take take light watercolor washes. As my bag and time allowed I added watercolor crayons, regular crayons, oil pastels and a portable box of watercolors. For a long vacation when I knew there would be a lot of relaxed time, I added larger paper and brushes, along with a lightweight coated masonite board on which to fasten  precut/ torn paper.

What do I do with journals when they are filled?


As each journal neared the end, I placed on a shelf, High up in my studio area. Last year when we were renovating our home, I Had to clear off my journal shelf of what i surmised, was 10 journals. Surprise, I had 130 journals. I had never counted them and barely had the time to review them through the years.

Like a garden, I have reaped a harvest that is constantly providing nourishment that is based on my life and the memories and images I have collected.

But it’s not the only way….


My gift to you is the story of how it happened. I would love to hear you own way of reflection on your life that has helped you to grow creatively, in whatever medium you work! Is your art, raising children, making healthy desserts, finding balance, managing money, training animals, making music, doing massage, teaching yoga, being a lawyer, keeping a beautiful home?
I am very excited to hear your story!

2 compelling ways art can change you

hidden oasis  #927  w/c                              599. framed                 ©bethvendryeswilliams

hidden oasis  #927  w/c                              599. framed                 ©bethvendryeswilliams

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. 

while creating

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.

 

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.
— beth vendryes williams
Pierre Bonnard  The Bathroom

Pierre Bonnard  The Bathroom

when observing

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
 

finding refuge

 
finding refuge   #0925   watercolor  © beth vendryes williams        1500.

finding refuge   #0925   watercolor  © beth vendryes williams        1500.

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!

refugees

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?

I do need to make art. Is that where I seek refuge?
Is that also where I can offer a place of refuge?
— beth vendryes williams

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 art is saying ‘Look here, what you thought was nothing important, like sleeping, opens up worlds to you!
— beth vendryes williams

 My dear readers, has something ordinary ever suddenly taken on a surprising beauty that you never noticed before? I look forward to your thoughts!