Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

All About Babe

"Babe" 8"x 6" watercolor on 200lb coldpress paper, ©2014 Tina M Welter  Portrait of a Great Pyrenees dog.
"Babe" 8"x 6" watercolor  ©2014 Tina M Welter
Babe is a beautiful 7 year old Great Pyrenees who belongs to my friend Carol in Kentucky.  Carol is also an artist and when I shared with her my painting of Kirk (click to see Kirk), she asked about a commission for her dog, Babe, whom Carol says is the "best dog she has ever had." 

I started to feel my inner 'Fraidy Cat start getting nervous & fluffing up her fur.  I was fairly confident about painting Kirk because I was able to take the photographs myself, could I paint a good portrait from someone else's photos?  Could we communicate well enough through e-mail if I needed to make adjustments?  What about packing and shipping original art from New Zealand to Kentucky?  How to get paid? Plus, white fur!  When painting white, it means you use a lot of colors to give the illusion of white, it is tricky.

Babe at home. photo © Carol Bowles  The "best dog she ever had" Great Pyrenees dog.
Babe, "the best dog she ever had" © Carol Bowles
Here is the original photo from Carol's phone that she sent me.  This was her favorite photo of Babe.  It was quite small and I wondered if I would be able to work from it. 

What helped me calm my 'Fraidy cat the most was how much I wanted to do this painting.  A strong desire plus dealing with one anxiety at a time.  It feels like such an honor to be asked to paint a beloved pet.  I know it is a painting that will be loved and enjoyed, and that means a lot to me. 

Facing the anxiety:  I could lighten and enlarge the photo using the preview tools on my Mac computer.  Using the larger photo, did sketches to move Babe's favorite toy forward.   Looked up postal shipping rates online. Found Saachi art had a great tutorial on how to pack paintings to ship.  Did palette and small watercolor sketch tests to figure out the colors.  E-mailed a photo of the completed painting to Carol.  Carol wanted a small adjustment to the eyes, and I was able to do that too.  I was a bit anxious waiting the three weeks it took to arrive in Kentucky, but it did make it just fine. Paypal took care of the payment.  Success!

The lesson I am trying to remember when my anxiety fur gets raised is this:

Just because I haven't done it before, doesn't mean it can't be done! 
#creativeanxiety 
(click icon to tweet)
Tweet: Just because I haven't done it before, doesn't mean it can't be done! #creativeanxiety @Tina Welter http://ctt.ec/FUv9b+

This seems simple, but for some reason I often forget this lesson, even after I have been successful.   I don't know, but I hope writing about and sharing it will help me to lock it in.

Happy fear-less creating.

 >^-^< Tina

P.S. Would you like to read my 'Fraidy cat newsletter from last week, "Getting on the Airplane", which was only sent to my subscribers? Then subscribe to the newsletter on the right and I will e-mail you last weeks news letter...
"Fraidy Cat Get on the Airplane" 2.5" x 3.5" graphite on paper ©2015 Tina M Welter, illustration of my fear of flying featuring my 'Fraidy Cat avatar.
"Fraidy Cat Gets on the Airplane" 2.5"x 3.5" graphite on paper
Here's an excerpt:
Getting on the Airplane

Now this is something that is probably going to sound so goofy to some people.  Remember,one man's fear is another man's idea of fun. ;0

Many, many years ago, the year 2000 I think, Jeff decided he wanted to take a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.  Great, I had actually been interested in seeing Hawaii myself, but there was just one problem, I was terrified of getting in a airplane.  Not the flying part so much, I believed all those statistics that said flying was more safe than driving on the freeway in your car.  It was the claustrophobia of getting on the airplane with all those people, the lack of control.  Just the thought of it would send my heart racing.

Jeff being Jeff, he was determined to go.  I could choose to go or not to go as I wished, but he was going.  What was I going to do?....


Monday, January 5, 2015

The 'Fraidy Cat Appears

"Fraidy Cat-updated" 3"x 3" graphite on paper, © 2015 Tina M Welter  Pencil drawing of a wide eyed cat.
"Fraidy Cat-updated" 3"x 3" graphite on paper ©2015
 October, 2013.  It was an intense time.  My Mom had passed away in July, Dad had died the year before in August.  Jeff was graduating with his Masters Degree. We would be moving again soon, we didn't know where.  Along with the grieving, I felt very anxious. Change does that for me. 

All that year, I had been studying about how to start a business.  I really wanted to find a place for my art in the world, to do something good with it, but what?  Everything I read talked about creating a "brand", something that identifies you and your business.  Something that is uniquely you. "Good grief", I said to myself, "what could that possibly be?"  I don't really have a stunning artistic vision.  In fact, I often questioned whether I was a "real" artist.  I happen to like to paint flowers and cats most of the time. Occasionally a landscape, oh my, truly shocking, innovative stuff, I know. I thought about this question for weeks. 

One afternoon, I remember lying on the bed and just thinking about it.  What in the world do I do better than anything?  Then it hit me.  Fear.  I am the complete Mistress of Worry.  I am pretty much anxious about everything. Permanently.Terminally. Anxious. Since I was about six, the world has often seemed a scary place to me.  Anxiety attacks were standard, I just didn't have a name for them until I was 21.

I thought to myself "I am a complete "fraidy cat.".  I always hated being teased about that, but I decided I was finally going to "own it".   I did a quick sketch.  This little drawing reflected exactly what I felt like emotionally then, especially with all the new things I was facing.  I thought, I can talk to people about being afraid and what I have learned about moving forward.  Especially when it comes to creating.
 

"Fraidy Cat-original" 1.5"x 1.5" pen on paper ©2013 Tina M Welter  Thumbnail drawing in my sketch book of ideas.
My"Fraidy Cat-original" 1.5"x 1.5" pen on paper ©2013
  I can hear y'all saying.  "What are you talking about, Tina?  You've traveled all over, you've lived off the grid with no running water and built your own house for pity sake."  Yes, and I was often gut-wrenchingly frightened a lot of that time.  If I hadn't met and married Jeff, there is a pretty good chance I would have never left my parent's house.  Love doesn't completely cast out all fear, but it certainly helps!

So, that was 2013 and now it is 2015?  Exactly.  It has taken me that long to work up the courage  to open up and talk about this and maybe if I am lucky, I can help myself and some other people along the way too.  I believe creative expression in any form is a key part of being happy, at least it is for me. 

Disclaimer: Now, I know, there are truly horrible things that happen in the world when people have every right to be terrified.  I am not talking about those things.   I am talking about anxiety.   I realize I am not an expert or psychologist, but I have read and learned some good things from people who are.  I truly know that I don't know everything. ;0  Although, helpful suggestions are always appreciated.  :)

If you would like a list of the topics I am planning to cover this year, subscribe to the Confessions of a 'Fraidy Cat newsletter there on the right side of this page.

Happy Fear-less Year!  Thanks so much for reading.

>^-^<  Tina

Monday, December 29, 2014

Barriers

"Envy" 5"x 7" watercolor on 200lb coldpress paper © 2014 Tina M Welter  Black and white cat behind fence bars with grape leaves as a background.
"Envy" 5"x 7" watercolor ©2014
Have you ever wanted something someone else had and then felt guilty for being envious?  I have.  I remember sitting in a church meeting and hearing a beautiful solo being sung and wishing I was up there singing it.  I have looked at beautiful pieces of art and wished I had created them.   The best piece of advice I ever heard was to notice that feeling and instead of being ashamed for feeling it, ask yourself "is this a key to what kind of creative things I want to do too?"

The next inevitable thought after that often is, "oh, I couldn't because....and next follows the inevitable list of why you can't.  All the barriers go up.  The trouble with these type of barriers is that some of they may be real and some of them are just illusions in our heads.  We also know deep down that doing something about what we really want involves work and facing the fear of being really awful at it.  It's easier to dream.

Here's an example of my goofiest barriers: Scarcity.  The paper/canvas is so nice, if I use it, I can't get more.  Anger.  How dare you suggest I can choose to use my time differently that what I am doing?  Home Runs. Expecting a perfect result the first time.  Time. Belief that I need a huge block of time to do something creative.   All of these excuses are illusions in my head that seem emotionally real.

My painting up there of my "Envy" cat is from a photo I took in Greece in 2008.  That year was a turning point for me.  That was the year I decided I was going to stop the excuses and take my desire to be an artist seriously.  My first oil painting in over 20 years, "Purple Glow", was really hard for me to complete, it took so long and I felt so discouraged.  I repainted it twice.  I did keep trying though, step by step learning something every time I painted and after six years, completing an oil painting is a much easier process for me.

That still leaves the singing, but I'll save that for another post.  So with the new year coming on, what is your one thing you really, really want to get better at?  If you don't know, what are you envious of other people doing?  What barriers stop you?  The "Envy" painting looks like the cat could be sitting at a window with glass, but she isn't, she is sitting behind a fence with open spaces she could easily jump through if she wanted.  Think about it. 
"Purple Glow" 8" x 6" oil on canvas ©2008 Tina M Welter  Sunlight through the petals of a purple pansy.
"Purple Glow" 8"x 6" oil on canvas ©2008




 To purchase a print of "Envy" click on this link to my Fine Art America site.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Do You Expect that Home Run...Everytime!

"Partridge in a Fir Tree" 3.5x2.5" watercolor on paper, ©2014 Tina M Welter  Grey cat thinking about jumping for the partridge in the Christmas tree.
"Partridge in a Fir Tree" 3.5"x2.5" watercolor ©2014

In considering what has been one of the most frustrating "creativity killers" for me, I am reminded of a little mind game I often play.   Jeff calls this game "expecting the home run".  Meaning, I expect to perform perfectly and "hit that home run" the first time I try anything. Period.  Ok, maybe I'll give myself the second or third time, but dang it, if it isn't great by then, I get frustrated and feel like a complete failure.   Just as well admit I struck out and go enjoy some cracker-jack to soothe the nerves.   (Yes, popcorn is one of my favorite comfort snacks.)

It is so difficult emotionally to have my first efforts fall below what I can imagine in my mind.  The critic voices just line up inside my head, ready to pronounce their judgements, let alone all the internet trolls I can imagine.  It is enough to crush anyone starting or sharing anything.

Since images are a great way to tell stories and concepts in a compressed form, I designed the "Partridge in a Fir Tree" to remind myself what happens when I expect to grab that partridge way up there with one leap.  I can see that tree is going down in one tangled mess of cat and broken ornaments.  Oh yes,  I can also imagine the internal scolding for that mess!

I'm not saying that I should stop reaching for high goals, that is part of the fun of life, but I could let myself enjoy ringing the bell and tasting the cookie, which is absolutely within my reach, before I quietly work my way up the tree to get that beautiful bird.

Have you ever "jumped too high" trying to create or do something for the first time?   How do you deal with the feeling of failure or discouragement?  Was there easier "low-hanging" fruit, steps you might have tried first and enjoyed towards attaining your goal?  Perhaps you prefer the big crash, and the messiness doesn't bother you?  I hope to attain that type of non-attachment to results someday, but I'm not there yet. 

If this was helpful and you can you relate to it, let me know or share it with someone you know who is also addicted to "hitting the home run...every time!".   Thanks so much for coming along on the journey.

(By the way, this is the painting in step two after the sketch, in a tiny 3.5"x2.5" ATC, artist's trading card form.  I can see now where I need to adjust the colors for the final 5"x 7" larger painting.)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Is Your Best Ever Good Enough?

"A Partridge in a Fir Tree" 3.5"x2.5" graphite on paper  ©2014 Tina M Welter  Pencil drawing of a cat tempted by a bird in the Christmas tree.
"A Partridge in a Fir Tree" 3.5"x2.5" graphite


The sweet, sweet taste of low hanging fruit.   Do you ever allow yourself to enjoy it?  Are you wondering what I am referring to here?  What I am talking about is the concept of choosing a "course of action that can be undertaken quickly and easily as part of a wider range of choices or solutions to a problem." (thanks dictionary.com) 
It seems sensible enough, look at what you want to accomplish and take the easiest steps.   I didn't really think I had a problem with this until I started looking at what has been really holding me back in setting up an on-line business and also in sharing my paintings and music.  I want everything to be perfect and the best before I share it with anyone.
For example, this little drawing.  I have had this concept in mind all week to share on my blog, but hadn't actually put pencil to paper to create it, because I didn't think the idea was good enough and I thought I didn't have enough of the right photos to work from.   Once I got started, I didn't end up hardly using any photos.  Secondly, I didn't manage to get it painted first before my Monday blog deadline came around.   I wasn't going to share, and then I thought "this is the whole doggone point!"

You may have noticed my sign up for a newsletter on the side of the blog.  I have decided this year I want to confess and share my creativity hang-ups with the you, in the hopes that I can face them better myself, be accountable and perhaps inspire you to do the same.  Even better, it would be nice to get feedback so we can inspire each other.  I can't be alone in this fear.

If you are interested, please sign up.  I don't spam or share e-mails, and you can always unsubscribe any time.  'Fraidy Cats, unite!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Finding the Perfect Gift...

"The Perfect Gift" 5"x 7" oil on gessobord ©2014 Tina M Welter
How much we sometimes scramble around, trying to find the "perfect gift"!  I think part of the fun and pressure of the season is the anticipation of surprise and delight we hope to give those we love.  

When I think of the delight of perfect gifts, I think of the movie the "A Christmas Story".   Young Ralphie spends the whole movie thinking his requests for his perfect gift - the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing which tells time" - are not being heard or even worse, being dismissed.   Who hasn't experienced that intense combination of hope and uncertainty?

For me, it was a wish for an acoustic guitar when I was 17.   Being a teenager and shy, I don't recall being very direct about what I wanted, plus it was one of those things I had deemed "too expensive" to even ask for.   But like Ralphie, I was completely stunned when my Dad surprised me with the desired guitar on Christmas morning.  It was a second hand guitar, a bit worn, but I didn't care.  What filled my heart was knowing that Dad had heard what I wanted and did his best to make it happen.

Isn't that the key thing, the perfect gift is the feeling of having our wants and needs heard and noticed?  So my advice on finding the perfect gift is to really listen.  It may not be a "thing" at all, perhaps it is a wish for time spent together or an experience to share.   I hope I have given you something worth thinking about as well as a new painting image to enjoy.

Happy listening!  All my best wishes for a joyous season of giving and receiving.

Tina  

If you feel this little message is worthwhile, please feel free to use the links below to share, or tell me about your experience with receiving your perfect gift in the comments below, I would love to hear about your joy.

Click here if you would like to buy "The Perfect Gift" as a card or a print.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meet Kirk...

"Kirk" 7"x 5" watercolor on 140lb cold press paper, © 2014 Tina M. Welter. 12 year old terrier mix, white with brown patches.  Adorable personality.  Kirk dog is waiting for his supper with intense hope.
"Kirk" 7"x 5" watercolor on paper ©2014
Say "hello" to Kirk, he is hoping with intensity for his supper to be ready.  Who could resist that face?  He looks pretty spry and full of energy, but he is 12 years old and having some health troubles.  My friend Evelyn commissioned me to paint Kirk for her brother's birthday.   She knows how much her brother and his wife enjoy Kirk as part of their lives and she wanted to do something special for them.

I was just delighted she felt confident to ask me.  It was fun to go and meet Kirk try to capture something of his personality with my photographs.  The intense work starts when I have to decide how to get that special "something" into a painting.   I do put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right, but it is worth it all when I get to read delighted responses like this...

"Thank you very much for the beautiful painting. Kirky’s eyes are so life-like. And you captured the expression on his face perfectly. This is exactly how he looks when he knows that something is cooking on the stove, but also wants to keep me in sight in case there is something tasty in my hand and he tries to look in both directions.

George says "thank you" too. He is delighted with his birthday present. We’ll get it framed this weekend according to your instructions."   ... that kind of review completely makes my day!

This was my first "pet-portrait" painted in New Zealand, I hope I will be able to do more in the future.  I really like creating something that means so much to other people.