Yes, I am. And so are you. We are standing at the edge of everything that is possible. I am tempted to be scared. I am tempted to curl up into my shell and just let it all pass me by. I am tempted to take the easy road, to listen to that voice from my childhood that niggles at me from the back of my mind saying, “Don’t try. If you try you might fail.” But, I am so way to old for that crap. It’s time to climb out of that shell and follow the voice that tells me, “I have a plan for you...” I can’t see everything. I can’t see around the bend. I just have to walk it out and know that it is going to be good. Who is with me? Who is ready? You and I are here, right at the edge. Let’s go!
Everyone loves a good party, right? How about an Art Party? Last November I decided I wanted a way to connect more directly with my friends and followers on Facebook. So, I started a private group on Facebook called Amy Smith’s Art Party.
So far we are having an absolute blast chatting and sharing our art and our faith. We are already at 131 members!
Here is the schedule for the group.
Live painting- every Monday at 10-10:45, EST- Watch me paint at the easel. I will chat a bit about what I am doing and answer questions about the process.
Tutorial videos- every other Friday- videos sharing techniques, supply usage and tool usage tips.
Live chat/Q&A- Thursday at I- 1:30 PM. I will share what is on my heart and take questions live.
Prompts/challenges- on the first day of the month I will give you a prompt or challenge to focus on in the studio for the month.
Swaps- 2-3 times/ year themes and dates TBA
Group memebership is by a $5/month subscription, which can be set up through my Patreon page. I would love for you to join us. Jump in and see if is a fit for you. You can cancel your subscription at any time, but I bet you will find it to be well worth $5/month!
We just wrapped our Valentine swap and here are the results-
As I creep ever closer to 50…It’s next week y’all!… I find a greater urgency to be more who I supposed to be and do more of what I was created to do on this Earth. I am not scared I am running out of time. I am excited to have the time freedom and the life experience to come into a place where I can be real and chase my dreams. I have spent the last 10 years raising and homeschooling my kids. It has been an utter joy and I would not trade those experiences for the world. But it is a new season now. And I am ready for new adventures.
One of the areas of my art that seems to be gaining favor is in teaching. In October I had the opportunity to teach at an event called The Gathering of Artisans in Black Mountain, NC. The event is organized by Matt Tommey who is my creative and business mentor. I had the blessed opportunity to teach and encourage about 35 students in three different classes. What I learned about myself over the course of the event is that I teach art, but what I really am called to teach is freedom. In each class there were students who were having trouble freeing themselves up to create without limits. by the end of the class they were all really letting go and having a ton of fun. So many of these ladies thanked me for helping them bust through old fears and limiting beliefs in order to approach their art from a much more playful and encouraging direction.
I just had the distinct feeling that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I am continuing to teach classes in my home studio and have begun offering limited slots for one-on-one art and creativity sessions in my studio. For more information on these opportunities, you can visit my Workshops page on my website.
Every artist has experienced this. The dreaded artist block or slump. I like to call it a slump rather than a block because it seems less daunting. I can climb out of a slump easier than I can bust through a block, at least when I am visualizing.
I have been through a bit of a slump lately. For several weeks, I just did not feel good about anything I was painting. I was overworking everything I put my hand to. I had several paintings that had gotten to a really lovely stage and I ruined them by pushing too far. There is plenty of advice floating out there in the world about how to overcome an artist's block or slump. I probably know the most common ones by heart. This time though, I wanted to think about how I got here so that I could avoid the struggle and anxiety in the future. So, let me share with you the things I do that can get me into a slump.
Comparison is a sure-fire way to stop the creative process in it's tracks. This has long been a struggle for me. I spend a good deal of time looking at other people's artwork on Instagram and Pinterest. I do love to look at art, so it isn't always a negative hobby. I am not generally looking at paintings and thinking to myself that they are better than mine. But sometimes when I am at the easel and things are not going my way, I can be haunted by images of work that I have been looking at and wonder why it is not so easy for me. Then, I can find myself going back to Instagram and feeling that jealous knot in the pit of my stomach. Bad plan!
I think it is important to remember that what we see on those apps are the very best of what other artists have created. What we don't see is the struggle and mistakes and frustration that they may have gone through to get that painting to the finish line. We also can't see the pile of canvases in the corner that have been rejected and waiting for a paint over or that the artist just can't figure out where to go with them. I also don't know how long this artist has been painting or what stages their work went through before getting to the point of being drool-worthy.
I am never going to stop looking at other people's art on the internet. I just love to see beauty! What I can do is constantly remind myself that creating is a process and what I am seeing may be the end result of much struggle.and many long years of practice. I have to know that I am in that same process and not think that I should have already arrived.
Painting for Dollars
Another trap I often find myself falling into is trying to create work that people will like and want to buy. Instead of letting my creativity lead me. I will sometimes intentionally work in a style that I know people have responded well to in the past for the purpose getting interest and hopefully selling the piece. I know that some people would say "what's wrong with that?" Well nothing inherently. I just know that it is usually a path to stifled creativity for me. That may not be the case for everyone, but I know it is for me. When I start to pursue the dollar in my studio practice it is usually based in fear. I fear that I can't sell the work that really makes me excited. I fear that nobody will really like work that I love to do. Fear is not a good base of operations for me as an artist. I know that I need to play and experiment and paint freely in a way that gives me joy. If I get caught up in what people like and are buying, it stifles me. That is not to say that I have my head in the sand about what I know people respond to in my art. It is important to know how people respond to my work. I just can't get too caught up in painting what is popular to earn a buck.
Maybe It's Just A Transition
I have often found the at the end of what feels like an artistic slump, I discover that I was really just in the midst of a transition from one point to the next. During this last dry spell, I continued to head into the studio and paint. I painted when it felt dry and daunting. I played and made ugly, messy paintings. Then suddenly one day things seemed to break loose and I painted something new. It felt like an upgrade. It was a "next level" kind of painting compared to the work I was doing previously. I realized that what felt like a block was really just my creativity working through some ideas and challenges to get to something new and fresh. That is why it is important to keep creating through those rough patches even if it feels challenging. It is also important not to be too terribly hard on yourself. Don't be overly critical about the outcome of the work and just see it as a process of moving toward the next thing.
I hope this is an encouragement to my fellow artists out there, or really anyone endeavoring to work creatively in their chosen field. This is not to say I have it all figured out. I will have to come back and read this when I find myself in a slump once again.
After my last post about podcasts, I am super excited to share with you that I was interviewed by Mat Tommey for his new podcast, The Thriving Christian Artist. I had a lot of fun chatting with Matt. It is always interesting to share my story with someone I know and surprise them a bit with details they were not aware of.
My favorite part of doing this interview is having the opportunity to encourage other artists who may be experiencing some of the same struggles that I have in my art journey. I am passionate about inspiring artists to pursue their passion and not give up. I am excited to have more and more opportunities to share this message.
I hope you will listen and be encouraged.
You can find the podcast here.
I am turning into a podcast junkie. I don't know if this is a thing. Is it just me or are other people hungry to fill their minds with inspiration and encouragement and just good conversation and information? As I get older and start to think about how much more I need to know and how much more I want to grow and change I feel like I can't waste any more time. I want to listen to people who are out the doing it and find out what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what makes them tick. So, in my daily craving around time, I listen to podcasts (well, and audiobooks, but that will be a different post.
Here are my favorites-
Makers and Mystics- Makers & Mystics is the Official podcast of the Breath & The Clay creative arts movement. Hosted by poet-musician, Stephen Roach of Songs of Water, Makers and Mystics is the podcast for the art-driven, spiritually adventurous seekers of truth and lovers of life.
Good True and Beautiful- Good / True / & Beautiful is a conversation hosted by Ashton Gustafson. He speaks and writes about the art of being human, finding beauty in the hidden places, and making music with your life, relationships, and career.
Art and Faith Conversations- Conversations about how we are all designed to be innately creative. We ask questions and explore the joys and challenges of how art and faith intersect in life through interviews, stories and sharing experiences.
The Kindling Fire- Your life is a message God wants to communicate to the world. This podcast is designed to help you live out that message. We will interview people who live out of their calling, mission, and message. We hope to add kindling to your life so you can start a fire or keep the fire going.
Are you a podcast listener? I would love to hear what your favorites are!
Hey y'all. It's Amy. I just wanted to check in. I'm in the studio today and I'm working on this painting that I ... It was looking really great the other day, and then I totally overworked it and killed it. I'm working on it again today, and I just let it sit, and I came back in, and it still looked awful, but I just pretended that was the background and went back to work on it. I just wanted to encourage y'all that sometimes that happens. It's okay to make gross-looking stuff. You can move on from it, or let it sit for a while and go back over it. Working in acrylic makes that really easy, because it dries fast, and I can get back in here in a couple hours, or hit it with a heat gun and go back over it again, but I let it sit for a couple of days until I figured out what I wanted to do.
I just hope that's an encouragement to you. Don't quit. Just keep going. Let your stuff be ugly a little bit, and then just keep pushing to the pretty. Thanks. Bye.
HI everyone! It's Amy! Some of you know me. Some of you are just meeting me. I am a contemporary mixed media artist. I live and work in rural North Carolina. My home territory is full of pine woods and golf courses. I do not golf, but trees are a great love and I adore living in the woods!
My artwork is all about story. I work in acrylics, papers, graphite and charcoal. My mixed media abstract paintings are multi-layered and rich. I alternate layers of mark making with layers of color and collage papers until piece comes to a pause, like the close of a chapter in a story. The mark making in my abstract paintings represent a dialogue. Is it a story you are telling yourself? Is it a whispered prayer. Is it a word spoken to you? I hope you will have a look around my website and enjoy my artwork. As of the writing of this blog post, the site is being overhauled and will look very different in the next few weeks. I hope you will come back and visit my blog and decide that I have something to say that you want to hear!