Beauty Explained...Why Do Beautiful Things Make Us Happy?
It has taken me months to write these few paragraphs. I have typed and deleted more times than I can count. While the kids are in the bath, while I am stuffing my face with way too many Christmas cookies, while I am listening to podcasts & walking the dog...I have mulled over this topic and what, if anything, I can contribute. It has taken a hold of my thoughts, yet I struggle to find the right words to say, the ones that encompass everything the word ‘confidence’ evokes in me.
Why is it so hard for me to string a cohesive set of sentences together on this subject? I mean, it really can’t be that difficult...but it so IS.
I know why. Deep down, this voice inside me says,
“Your words don’t matter, someone else has already said it, done it, made it, painted it, done all of it... BETTER.”
Confidence does not come easy to me, obviously. But that’s exactly why I think my story, my words & my experiences are important to share. I can contribute something special & unique because it’s from my heart.
If you struggle with this like I do, I encourage you to bravely do whatever you love to do ANYWAY.
“You are confined only by the walls you build around yourself.”
If I waited until I felt confident or ‘ready’, I would never accomplish anything. Ever.
I’m standing in my own way most of the time. Excuses, justifications, self-doubt, & comparisons are the walls I have built around myself. Those big, sturdy walls kept me from even starting to paint for so long. I actually painted a canvas solid green and then stared at it off and on for years before I could bring myself to do any more. I just couldn’t get past the start. At the time, I didn’t have the courage to believe in myself. Starting something new can be really hard. I experience a brief moment of panic everytime I start a new painting, but then I remember that that feeling is not final and it does not need to hold me back.
So I choose to do it anyway.
This voice in my head tends to be very negative, loud and rude...it seems, at every opportunity, to tell me I’m not good enough, that there’s no point, that I will fail. Sometimes, it sidelines me, for weeks, months or years even, like with the green canvas. As I learn, grow & practice, more often now my heart overrides my head, and I am soaring above it all.
Several authors I admire greatly - Danielle Krysa, Elizabeth Gilbert & Brene Brown - speak to this fear, this voice, this lack of confidence. The takeaway for me has been - name your inner critic, invite it to ride alongside you, & vulnerability is a good thing.
In other words, Do It Anyway.
“Tear off the mask. Your face is glorious.” - Rumi
Do It For Yourself.
If you woke up everyday and asked yourself, ‘Who are you? & What are you doing here?’, whose opinion would your answer reflect?
Over the past few years I have experienced a shift from caring so much about what others think about me to what truly makes me happy.
Anytime I have tried to create what I think others want, my heart is a mess.
It’s not authentic & it’s not my best work. It actually makes me feel less sure of myself because I am trying to fit into something I am not. I believe confidence has to come from within, which is funny because as we’ve established, the voice ‘within’ can be a downer. What I mean is, when you are passionate about something, there is a well of positivity to draw from. You don’t need to be good, great, amazing or the best at something to exude passion & excitement about it. When you genuinely share more of what you love, feeling confident about whether it’s ‘good’ (whatever that really even means) tends to matter less.
“Words have the power to create worlds” - Abraham Joshua Heschel
Words have the power to ground us or help us soar. Though my inner critic can be extremely persistent with negative words, framing whatever I am doing with defeat and despair before I even begin, I am mindful to carry the good words with me, the ones that breathe life into my soul...
You are not the voice inside.
You are strong. You have courage. You are worth it.
I encourage you to choose to articulate positive words that mean something to you, to remind you of who you truly are. Practice placing these words on your heart every day.
If we frame things differently with our words, we can create a whole new space of acceptance for ourselves. We can choose words to create a world where we can freely be who we were created to be.
“Stay afraid. But - do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
To me, confidence is having the courage to try. So begin with what is sacred within you and be brave enough to come just as you are. Draw from the passion and excitement you feel when you’re doing what you love. Your unique contribution matters. YOU MATTER. Dwell on the positive words & hold them close to your heart. Keep making mistakes, growing, learning, making bad art, making good art. If you don’t like it, paint over it, take it apart and do it again, delete it & rewrite it until it feels like YOU. Just try. Just Do It Anyway.
Interview questions by Elaine Xiao, a grade 7 student in Calgary.
1. What is your artistic approach, and how do you generate fitting themes for your work that represent your personal values?
It's difficult in a way to define my approach/style because I like to try a lot of different things. I love abstract expressionism, colour, lack of colour, texture & deconstructed landscapes. I am inspired by the nature of change, & the environment around us. I think my style fits in with my personal values because I believe in trying new things even if you don't feel confident. Some of my best work has come from what I thought was a mistake, and wouldn't have happened if I had not just tried anyway. Having courage to try is very important to me in my work.
(more of my thoughts on Confidence http://www.dotemagazine.com/confidence/)
2. What was your motivation and inspiration that propelled you into the idea of mixing both environments and concepts regarding the “big emotions” within art?
No matter what style I feel like painting, my emotions play a large part in the work. Painting makes me happy & I use my time creating to work through some of the things in life that are sad or hard to verbalize or express in other ways. I often include lyrics on the back of my work from songs that speak to me or that I am listening to while I paint.
3. Is there a background or story to the formats/ways you choose to display your work in?
I am lucky to have to opportunity to display my work at various shops throughout the city (Adorn Boutique, Ollia Macarons & Tea, Pretty Sweet Bakery, Kala & Lime and Outside the Shape). I like to show my work in places like these, rather than pursue galleries, because it makes me happy to make original affordable artwork more accessible in everyday environments. It's also pretty awesome to be a part of a creative community of local business owners!
4. Was there any impact from others to the provoking of your artistic awakening?
I was feeling anxious & having some trouble sleeping. I was given advice to find a healthy distraction, so I tried painting for my own enjoyment (I have an undergrad in art & art history, but at the time it was not my passion). I realized quickly that it was exactly what I needed to do for myself.
5. Where do the emotions linked to your art come from? Have your experiences/warring changes and emotions directly impacted your artistic style?
Making art helps me process all of my emotions, especially ones as I mentioned before that are difficult for me to express otherwise. Life can be heartbreaking sometimes, and I want to create things that help us see the beauty of the world in different ways. Making art helps me recognize the sacred spaces, the glimpses of wonder in between daily life, when it is easy and when it is hard. This quote is one of my faves and kind of explains why I hope to make art that encourages the viewer to appreciate the beautiful and wonderful things of the world as if seeing them for the first time, again.
"The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things...the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less." - Joseph B. Wirthlin
6. On your website, you mention how art creates an outlet for you to glimpse “something deeper” from a Universe that celebrates freedom of expression. How does this personal belief link yourself to artistic creation and align with your own personal artistic style?
I believe we are all creative in one way or another and that expressing ourselves through whatever it is that makes us buzz with excitement and passion is necessary for our souls to thrive & make life a little lighter. Making art has such a calming effect on me as I become fully immersed in the act of creating. It feels like a sacred space, a meditation, a form of therapy...and I feel joyful and alive. I hope this belief is evident in my work & why some people are drawn to it.
7. How did you discover the stress-relieving aspect within art? Has artistic expression changed your being and view of the world?
Stress-relief was the reason I started to paint and I realized immediately that it was so good and so right for me. My view of the world is more positive I think because I feel more aware of the beauty around me. I am inspired to capture it in my own way in my artwork.
8. As a former Elementary school teacher and a mother to three, how has your environment and surroundings changed the themes of your artwork?
I have to work fast and sometimes with 'helpers'. Using acrylic is great for me because it dries quickly. I do not have a studio...I paint on the kitchen floor surrounded by lego and cheerios. I think where/how you create does not matter, as long as you make the time/space in your life to do it. Art can be made anywhere, with whatever tools/materials you have around you. And if you don't like it, you can paint over it, again and again. That's the beauty of it to me...it is not a static thing. There is always a chance it could still be changed. Nothing is every really finished, even if it is.
9. As someone who has faced multiple changes and applies inspiration from outside events into their work, what advice would you give to others experiencing/that have experienced similar situations?
My advice would be to just get the passion inside you out there into the world, in whatever way feels best for you. Your unique contribution is important! And if you don't know what that passion is, just keep trying until you do! We are always 'works in progress', always changing, growing and learning...so allow yourself to jump in & try something new, even if it feels uncertain. What's the worst that could happen? At the least you'll get to know yourself a little better...and if you know yourself, you live better too.
10. What is the message that you hope others take from your art, and what are your goals/aspirations for the future?
My hope is that people see my work and it makes them feel happy, or maybe it reminds them of something that makes them smile, even if they can't place a finger on it. I hope they take the time to explore why they feel the way they do.
My goals/aspirations for the future are to just continue to explore & learn, keeping an openness to try new things with my artwork.
Come Paint the Sky with artist Jill Paddock!
December 2, 2016, 7pm
Outside the Shape 1222 10th Ave SE
Register now at www.heartandswirl.com
Included in your night:
What makes Heart & Swirl so special?! First of all NO ONE paints the same thing, we teach an abstract art technique and you have total creative freedom from the colours you use to where you want to place them on the canvas.
Second, wine and food. Who doesn't love wine and food? During your evening you will get to enjoy three glasses of wine, and each one comes with a delicious food pairing. You will learn new and interesting facts about each wine from the varietal to the family that grows the grapes.
Third is quality. Everything at Heart & Swirl is done with the utmost quality from the paints we use, to the gallery quality canvases you paint on. Our goal is for you to proudly display your art in your home.
Last but not least is our location, we only host our workshops in inspiring, charming venues.
Go to www.heartandswirl.com for more info and to see all of our upcoming workshop dates.
Written by Kelley Abbey, Heart & Swirl Owner
Photography by Samantha Malach Verlaan
It's hard to create something on demand. Apparently I don't work well under 'scheduled' creativity.
Sometimes I don't know what to say, what to make, what colours to use.
Sometimes I don't feel motivated.
Sometimes there's just no time.
Sometimes I feel like what I have to say, whether through words or in the form of artwork, doesn't matter or its already been said before.
The time is not right for me.
I don't like feeling like I have to follow a set of rules for how to create content, when to post, etc...
I don't like feeling like I have to paint a in a certain style or with certain colours in order to sell, sell, sell!!!
I just want to make something real to me...something authentic, not forced.
The 'rules', whatever I think they are, are not right for me.
When I create with passion, freedom & intention, my best work follows. If I'm not feeling it, I recognize it and don't beat myself up over it. You can't force the genius, I always say (I don't really always say that but it's a true statement to me).
So here I am...rule breaker, rebel blogger.
Get ready for some sporadic posting, nonsense musings, possible DIY painting lessons (wouldn't that be fun!!??), & anything and everything I feel like putting out there on the Internets.
Another day, another amazing and insightful post from your fave blogger.
OK, let's discuss for a moment the uncomfortable and awkward part of starting a blog (or starting anything really, where you put your actual self 'out there') because there is this voice, at least there is in my head, that is yelling 'NO ONE CARES!! YOU ARE NO GOOD!!! YOU EAT TOO MANY MACARONS!!!' Clearly this voice is delusional, there is never such thing as 'too many' macarons, but for some reason I often listen and obey this rude and demeaning voice (aside from the macarons part, obv). I battle this voice everyday, every time I try something new, every time I stare at a blank canvas, every damn time I do anything actually, creative or otherwise. It's exhausting. Fear, you are an effer.
Over time, I have learned that I am unable to quiet this voice permanently, or even slightly.
So I've tried to adopt an attitude of 'just do it anyway, who cares what anyone thinks!' Well, I do, but I don't, but I do. It really is a cycle of crazy. If there is any notion that I create and put it out there fearlessly, that is 100% not true. I am actually losing my mind the majority of the time. I know I am not alone, so although the 'ALL About MEEEEE!!!' factor of blogging makes me feel super odd, if sharing who I am elicits a 'me too' in your heart, then that's what matters. Not feeling alone feels good. True that.
And now, some fitting photos of towers of glory...macarons by Ollia! YUM!! www.byollia.com
Starting something new is awkward right? Well it is for me, as you shall see. Let's get that out of the way and just pretend I've been a 'blogger' for like, years & years. For those of you who are new to my very established and wildly popular blog, I'll introduce myself in another post soon...I mean, I've got to pace myself here. Also my kids require food and attention. We are totally binge-watching 'Loony Tunes' on Netflix and its aws, but its time to get going...they have school this afternoon so I am going to PAINT!!!