About Young At Art

I am a SouthWest Virginia artist with a passion for family, Christ, sports, and music. My work varies greatly from one piece to another. It is my goal to use this site as a springboard for ideas and a road map to help me focus on a direction (not my gift). I hope others will follow me on my journey.

Frustration, Failure and Faith

Status

I looked back on my last post…almost 3 months ago. I had just entered my Pipes drawing titled “Interconnected” in a show that was located an hour away. A close friend of mine went with me to see the jurors big reveal as to who made it into the show and who received awards.  I was excited, as I walked through the gallery I did not see my peice.  That meant either I received an award or I was not accepted.  The juror explained what she was looking for.  “Did the picture set a mood?”  Or “did it convey a message?”  Not looking good.

This particular juror was a watercolor artists and a realist.  Typically I am a realist but I went a different direction with this one.  As each were revealed it became slowly apparent that not only did I not win an award I did not even make the show.  I put on my mature looser face as we browsed through the show and had some snacks.  Once the amount of time had passed to be polite I retrieved “Interconnect” from the closet of rejected works and headed home, tail tucked.

This rejection followed a previously dismal showing as the “Artist of the Day” at another local festival.  My ego was stomped, bruised, bashed…you get the picture.

I decided to take a break.  Time passed and the break grew.  I just couldn’t get the desire back.  My teaching job soon resumed and my time disappeared.  Lost and overwhelmed I have been battling a defeated cloud ever since.  I know all artists go through these moments.  Why is it so hard to shake.  Where is my faith?  Where is my belief in who I was created to be?

I allowed one persons opinion of one drawing to defeat me.  To completely rob me of my identity as an artist, as a person.  One juror didn’t pick my picture.  Big stinking deal.  Was I created for her?  Nope.  I was created for a purpose and I am pretty sure it wasn’t  for the approval of one person.  I was created to create.  It is who I am. It is who I was meant to be.  To be less and to do less leaves me empty, lacking purpose.

So where is my faith?  It never left me it just got a little pushed back underneath a cloud of doubt.  So, I won’t have enough art to apply for a fellowship this year.  It doesn’t change a thing.  I am still going to create just as I am being re-created everyday.

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Parental Guidance Is Suggested

I must say I am so glad to have my two kids back on American soil. They spent the last nearly two weeks in Peru. It was very hard to let them go but how can I hold them back. I remember when my church first announced the trip. My daughter was sitting beside me and immediately turned to me and said I want to go. It wasn’t too much of a surprise because she loves to travel and adventure. What was a shock was my son sought us out as soon as the service was over from where he was sitting with a friend. “Mom I want to go.”

My husband and I exchanged glances. The cost has to be huge and PERU. That is like, really, really far away. Just take a deep breath. I told myself.

My church does a number of mission trips every year so my kids see mission work as a part of the “show them Jesus” lifestyle we are trying to teach and do ourselves. They traveled a couple of years ago to Mexico without us for less than a week to work in an orphanage. Oddly, this trip also contained orphanage work. My husband and I did not go then and would not be able to go to this one either. The only thing harder, to me, than going is sending your children.

Do I trust the adults going? At the time of the announcement that Sunday morning we had no clue who was going. We agreed anyway that they could put their names in as interested. Even though they are not really kids at 18 and 15, those kind of answers mean yes to them and I knew that.

The process began, fund raising and bringing myself to the realization that this was going to happen. Personnel changed but they did not waver. Even when all the girls that showed interest dropped out my daughter did not flinch. Looks like this was going to happen. I did trust the team but they are human beings. To learn to share my kids with the world I have to trust Christ who is in them.

I remember struggling about 5 years ago with my letting go of my children. Allowing them to explore and learn even through mistakes as they grow is so difficult. I remember clearly praying about that and Christ saying trust me. I finally, by the end of the prayer told Him He could have them. That I surrender them to Him. I thought there would be this huge out pouring of Godly gratitude from Him but instead I get this emotional slap. This awakening of sorts. “They are already mine.” Next was the wow moment. I am only human. I will provide, protect, love, support…with all of my human abilities but if they are His, man. No person can provide more, protect more, love more, support more…than Christ. Why would I hold them back? You go, God! You do all those things.

So what is my role? Well, those things come through me, through my husband, through my family and friends. We supply the parental guidance. Just like the movies suggest, we steer our children and allow Christ to guide our hands as we help mold them.

So, with that memory to the conversation Jesus and I had I let them go. Sure it was difficult. I missed them immensely. My husband and I enjoyed a taste of the empty nest but we kept busy to keep our minds from straying us.  There were moments but there was an overall peace inside knowing Christ is always with them and that He’s got their back. All we have to do is provide the parental guidance.

Spot Light or Dimmer Switch

As I prepare to be a featured artist at a local festival I have finally spent some time in my studio. My biggest obstacle this week has been heat since it is not air conditioned. Our temperatures have been around 85 and humidity in the 80’s as well. When my husband and I built my studio around 15 years ago as an addition to our house with our garage I thought it wasn’t necessary. I am cold natured anyway so the added expense wasn’t worth it. However, I did heavy research in lighting. It was north facing which is ideal, having subtle sunlight all day. There were lighting systems on the market called full spectrum lighting but they were costly. I have a light on my drafting table that has a switch for yellow, incandescent or blue, florescent. Switching both on gives a close representation of natural light. So we inexpensively mimicked that by putting an equal amount of both systems in the ceiling. The incandescent lights were also installed with a dimmer switch giving me more control.
So, what is the big deal about the color of light? Does it really matter how bright it is or if it is soft or hard light. Lighting greatly effects the appearance of the colors of a painting or any use of color media. Incandescent light will warm up the picture while florescent light cools colors down. If you are a realist like I am the use of just one of these can cause an inaccurate representation or prevent you from getting the desired look you want.

This is the project I am working on under only incandescent light:

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Florescent light:

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Both type of light:

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It hit me that it is the same with how we addressing certain situations. Harsh lighting, color lighting, subtle lighting all effect how we view something. Like when we debate an issue or present our opinion on a sensitive topic. How can we expect another person to be open to hear our opinion if it is not an accurate representation or if it comes across harshly? Strong words can be like a spot light in the eyes. However, if the lighting is too dim the image, or point, can be unclear.
I guess I went through all this not only educate others of the effects of light but also to make a point about discussing tricky topics. There needs to be just the right balance of the different types of light to create visual clarity. Just like we need the right amount of tact when trying to make a point. It doesn’t require you sacrifice your principles or soften your opinion. Your words just need to have a dimmer switch to fit the conversation.

It’s Time

Writers block…erggg. normally I post early on Wednesdays and sometimes I even write my blog earlier in the week but it escaped me this week. With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer I have lost all routine.  I have all the time in the world but struggle to schedule that time.

I remember when I was in college and tried to budget my time.  It was odd how in the fall when I played volleyball and had little time but I did so much better at getting my work done.  I knew I had to get on my projects early because games, travel and practices consumed a lot of my time.  I learned quickly to review my syllabi weeks in advance to prepare myself for how big assignments fit into my volleyball schedule.

Second semester was an entirely different senrio for me.  Compared to my first semester I seemed to be loaded in free time. Without my sense of urgency I increased my natural tendency to procrastinate. I stopped looking ahead and started filling my time with “fun stuff”. Before long I was playing catch up finishing each year worse than the beginning. Too many times my summers imitate my college second semesters.

So, a week in to my summer break and my goal of spending Tuesdays and Thursdays in my studio has already failed.  I did get in a Thursday but not the last Tuesday.  I have an art show I would like to enter next week and my pipes drawing is not half finished. Next week I am teaching at an enrichment program until noon so maybe that is my new “second semester”. I guess I need to fool myself.  Head games are not my strength but I really need to look ahead and plan better.

Here is my accountability attempt. Thursday I will put in 3 hours.  At the end of that I will schedule my next time in regard to how far I get and where I need to be by next Friday when my drawing has to be at the competition. Next post I will have photos of my pipes drawing. This is now a commitment.

Do As I Do And As I Say

Today is one of those mixed emotion days.  I wake up to the first day of my summer break. I can’t put my finger on it but I am not bouncing around the house in celebration. This is my 26th time experiencing the end of a school year and I still struggle with the abrupt change in routine. Please don’t take this as a complaint. I would not mock those of you who do not have the gift of a long break from work. I have taught so long I don’t remember what it was like to go to “work” in June and July. I do know what it is like to work long hours in an effort to encourage and motivate students. I do know what it is like to speak to parents only to have a conversation loaded in apathy toward their child.  I do know frustrated passion for lives of these youth that is at times crippling.  I do know what it is like to be blamed for, well, every short coming of the national youth culture.  I see a large number of students that have one goal; to graduate, nothing more. And there is a surprising amount of them that don’t think past today. They don’t plan and they don’t dream. They don’t have a life plan at all. It is a defeated community.

I know most of my readers are from this very community but so am I. Our children need to see us dream. They need to see us live. They need to see our struggles and experience our successes. They need to be a part of the family and not outside looking in like some reality series. Families are too busy going and doing instead of being together and letting the whole family unit dream together. My students have no clue about their parents lives. Without a connection emotionally they can only model what they see so, in most cases, they see parents too busy too communicate. They see both parents begrudgingly going to work and they feel it is because of them that Mom or Dad has to work. That they have no stake in the family at all. They don’t know it is really because people want more stuff. They want more money. Or it is because parents didn’t dream, they, too, just wanted to graduate. They had to settle for a pay check instead of a path to a dream.

I guess my mixed emotions this morning come from the thoughts of the end of a school year that was full of kids without a path. So many know no purpose. They have no direction. Kinda of like the zombie craze, they just meander through life. Sorry this blog is not very uplifting today. It is more of a plea. If you have children talk to them! Spend time with each child one on one. Even if you have to do what they like to do. Be involved not spectating. They think their role as parents ends by being there as they sit in the stands or as part of the crowd. I see a culture that likes to go places but in large groups not just as a family unit.

How do we battle this cultural apathy?  One parent and one kid at a time. Talk to others about dreaming and help them plan a path to living their dreams. Set goals with them and be a part of those goals. And don’t stop dreaming yourself. Each week is not to be lived just to get through it. I am guilty of a lot of those weeks myself and find that is when my family was the most disconnected. If you don’t have children or you have an empty nest be an example to the kids around you. Remember when grandparents talked about “the good ole days”? All it takes is some conversation and a little of your time.

It is now time for me to get on my dreams. The pipe drawing and bass guitar have not been touched in weeks. I want my own children to see me as a person who dreams but seeks to follow those by making plans and setting goals. I need them to see an example of how to recover when your dreams take a set back or your goals are compromised like when my goal to run a triathlon in April was change due to the illness and death of my Dad.  I am now entering the Hokie Half Marathon in September.  I need them to see an example of how to live instead of how to just earn a pay check. And I need them to see that even now I continue to live. Maybe if you share completely yourself with your kids it will encourage you to dream as well.

To Live The Impossible Dream

Ahhh, to dream the impossible dream.  If it is impossible then wouldn’t it be a fantasy? Are dreams and goals the same thing? How are successes measured? I know a lot of this is just splitting hairs but something to consider.

I recently watched “Percy Jackson, The Lightning Thief”.  When Percy and his companions ventured into the Underworld, Hades told them it was the land of lost hopes and dreams that never come true. Dante could have made that a level of Hell.  To live an entire life without attaining your hopes and dreams would be a form of Hell.  I know all dreams are not achieved but I do feel we all have to believe we can live them.  Otherwise, wouldn’t they be fantasies?

I have the dream thing down pat.  just ask snt of my previous teachers. I was the kid staring out the window with a glazed over expression. My mind clearly somewhere else. I am also decent at setting goals even though I tend to set them too high or too many at one time.  The one that I always struggled with was the word success.  It was always such a bad word because I could never get a handle on its definition.

Success is defined on google as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”.  It is also defined as, “the attainment on popularity or profit”.  I had a distorted view of the word success.  When I left home to attend college I was going to make something of myself.  I had escaped.  I was going to get that degree and didn’t need anyone or anything.  It was my ticket to a big pay check, a classy job and proof of my success. As I blogged about in “I Believe In Me”.  I worked hard to make others proud so when I did graduate it was actually a little of a let down.  No big fanfare, no one was bowing and no job offers.  I went to a few interviews with no luck.  I was forced to take a minimum wage job working night shift in a convenience store.  It was difficult.  I barely made rent and had no money left over.  My bedroom consisted of a 4″ foam mattress, a lamp and a cardboard nightstand. This was not my idea of success.  I couldn’t tell my family that I was barely eating.  I was embarrassed that I had left home to make something of myself and here I was with my big degree making less money than everyone else.  Things continued to get worse.  I wrecked my car and lost my apartment.  I became even more stubborn, refusing to go home as, what I saw, a failure.  Next, I moved into a relatives house and worked as a waitress at a pizza place.  Most of my belongings packed in boxes in my car.  Another month went by and I had given up on a career.  I was done.

The phone call I dreaded.  I called my Dad.  “Can I come home?”  I was tired, lonely and defeated.  He was surprised that I even asked and quickly answered, “yes, of course you can.”  I tell you this whole story to illustrate this point.  All my mental suffering was at my own hands.  Not because I fought for months to keep my independence.  It was not because of my failure to begin my career.  It was not because anyone else was disappointed in me.  It was all because of my distorted view of success.  I thought it was a big pay check.  I thought it was a flashy job.  I thought it was a powerful position.  Turns out success is none of these.  Success is found in your character, in your work ethic, in your legacy.  It all cannot be summed up in a career.  It is what you are defined by as a person.

Matthew 16:26,  “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

A Weed Or Not A Weed, That Is The Question

Tis the season of sunburns, allergies and poison ivy.  I love the great outdoors and I love hard labor.  I would trade it any day for my couch and TV even with the pain I endure as I over work my muscles and expose myself to the allergen plagues.  Just something about being with nature that makes it all worth it.  However, I recently questioned it when I had a terrible bout of poison ivy.  One week, a shot and a topical prescription, I seem to be improving.  Oh, I often wonder what purpose such a plant can have so I google it.

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Poison ivy and poison oak are major food sources.  They are food sources for more than 60 species of bird on the east coast alone as well as deer.  Cotton tails also enjoy munching on the juicy stems that are poisonous to other animals and people.  Some moths use it to conceal their larvae.  Not to mention it is actually a beautiful plant that is very hardy helping to prevent erosion.

Since I think like everything was created for mankind I still question the existence of this “thorn in my side”.  I mean, other plants serve the same purpose, right?  Why do we need this particular plant.  Well, it isn’t always about the mighty me.  And beside if I had spent time learning as much about its counterpart, the Jewelweed, all could have been avoided.  God has provided a compliment to the poison ivy/oak/sumac.

I failed to remember a popular survival show I watched and failed to think about the “leaflets of three leave it be”.  Nature has provided the cure, jewelweed.  It grows usually in the same location as poison ivy/oak.  It is also nature’s antidote for other of life’s itchy’s.  It is a little harder to identify without its orange trumpet shaped spotted blooms.  But it is well worth learning how to identify it as it’s juice will counteract the effects of poison ivy.  It will also cure or lessen reactions to mosquito bites, bee stings, athletes foot, ringworm, nettle stings and a variety of other skin irritations.

Genesis 9:3 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”  Look around you and choose to learn what God provides.  Not just about the bad because “everything” is a lot good stuff.

Oh, Say Can You See

In all of my deep thoughts lately I have lost focus on my purpose in beginning this whole blogging adventure.  I had not been very successful at spending time in my studio.  So, Sunday I for went the usual veg out evening and decided to put some time in working on the next guitar. I know it was Mother’s Day. I can hear you thinking the vegging out thing more fitting but not me.  Even the most physically demanding tasks in a creative adventure are relaxing to me.
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I glued in most of the inlays on the new bass guitar project.  I just need to touch them up when I sand them later.  They are pearl stars and now replace the boring dots that used to fill the neck.  Still undecided on a name for it but it will come to me.  This one will be patriotic.  It represents “Courageous Freedom” to me because of the country I proudly abide in and served while in the military.  I know this country has it’s flaws because decisions are made by flawed people.  Sure some have agendas that are not so positive but most think they are making the right choices.  I am reminded of Francis Scott Key and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner” when I thing of this project so I an going for worn flag look.   I was going to paraphrase this article I just read from http://www.smithsonianmag.com but found it too interesting to leave parts out so I did the old copy and paste.  It goes like this:

One rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, D.C., burning the Capitol, the Treasury and the President’s house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.

A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key’s tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.

“It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,” Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of “the dawn’s early light” on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

Next time you see the flag flying try not to think of all of the turmoil surrounding the USA; the riots, the political games, the negative media propaganda.  Instead remind yourself of the freedoms we have been granted.  I once saw a Facebook post that was riddled with obscenities trashing the government and it’s military. It was extremely abusive to veterans.   I chose not to reply but I wanted to say, as a veteran, “You are welcome”.  Our government and military just gave you the right to say those things publicly.  It takes Courage and Freedom to say what needs to be or not to be said. A courageous freedom.

I Believe In Me

Before clicking on the link below I do feel I need to warn you that it is a little “risque”.

One day last week I stumbled upon the “Pretty Woman” movie on TV.  It had been a long time since I had last seen it so I watched while doing a few things around the house.  When the scene above came on it really grabbed my attention.  At first it was the fact they were in bed and it just caught me off guard but it was the dialogue that made me continue to watch.  Two lines stood out in particular.  “People put you down enough you start to believe it” and the line “The bad stuff is easier to believe”.  It stung me.  I literally said out loud, “oh, wow”.

Reflecting back to my childhood I struggle to remember the compliments.  They were there but I really have to think hard to pull them out of my mind.  The negatives, however, stand out clearly.  I was encouraged to go to college but I sometimes got the feeling that it was for bragging rights to friends not because of my merits.  My art work gained me an occasional “that’s nice” but nothing more.  One time I mentioned entering the school’s beauty pageant (I know you just giggled) but my mom told me I didn’t have a chance with “the way I walked”.  I do want to preface this with the fact that my parents were much older when they had me and had already raised two children before I was a teen.  Their life was much harder.  Discipline meant love and bragging only made a child spoiled and soft.    They never stood in the way of my dreams and when I asked if I could spend a month in London during my Freshman year, after a lot of discussion, they borrowed the money and sent me over the ocean.  I understand were they were coming from now but as a teenage girl it was hard to grasp.  Self-motivation was, however, hard to hold on to so I grabbed the one trait I had I knew I could count on then: stubbornness.

I remember a certain elementary teacher telling me I would never amount to anything; in front of the whole class.  She continued to say how I needed to grow up and some day act like a girl.  I was so embarrassed.  I refused to do math homework from then on even though she would pull me in front of the class and paddle me for not having it (I am so old we still did that).  I was laughed at by another school official when I told him of my plans to attend college after high school.  Sure, I didn’t always apply myself but I always believed I could.

The day came when I graduated high school with a wonderful class rank of 29 out of 99 and my SAT scores were barely average.  No scholarship offers there but I was accepted and attended college anyway.  Time to move away from home.  The year was harsh.  The professors heard my mountain accent and saw my horrible writing and I was again labeled. I can recall my art critiques and the papers I wrote.  I was so far behind on the very first day.   I didn’t know what the others in my class already knew.  The professors would openly call my artwork “crap” and my English professor said he could tell where I was from by my poor writing.  I would get people to proof read for me and sometimes they would just tell me “it might be easier to start over”.  Every now and then I would believe them.  When I got tired of feeling so dumb I would stubborn up and dig in again.  It was a cycle.  One that followed me into my career later as a teacher.

It was much later in life that I finally broke the cycle of stupid.  The first thing was I fell in love and married a man that has never put me down or made me feel less than an intelligent and completely capable woman.  The second thing was when I really and completely got what Christ says about me.  It ended those cycles.  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”- Psalm 139:14  I don’t think we think about ourselves as part of His works.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”- Ephesians 1:7,8 Lavish means to bestow in generous and extravagant quantities.

So I say stubborn up and believe in you.  Christ does.  He died on a cross believing in you.