Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lucky

"Lucky Kitty" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord ©2015 Tina M Welter- Black kitten sitting in a field of clovers
"Lucky Kitty" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord ©2015
I have a hard time believing that what I do affects anything or anyone.  I struggle with self-trust. Sometimes it seems easier to freeze and not make a decision.  Often I don't expect to find a solution that will work for me. When I stopped and really asked myself "why" for this post, I was surprised to find that underlying all of these beliefs is the feeling that I am trying to avoid the pain of disappointment.

I have lived 26 years with a person who amazes me because his approach is so opposite to mine.  Over all these years, I've been able to see for myself whose approach gets the better results. :0  I have lost track of how many times I have heard people tell Jeff "oh, you are so lucky..."  I've tried to learn from him and for today's post, I am going to share with you some of Jeff's thoughts on luck.

Jeff''s basic recipe is:
Luck = preparation and awareness

His steps are:
-Decide what he would like.
-See what is available.
-Analyze resources.
-When the right combination comes together, don't hesitate.

Seems simple enough, but what people don't see but I do, is the hours and hours he puts into doing these steps over and over.  It's like he has all these possibility puzzle pieces in his head and part of his fun is testing out all the ways they could fit together.

Other key aspects I have observed:

An optimistic outlook.  Jeff expects success, he sees the world as full of possibilities.   I, on the other hand, can immediately see everything that can go wrong.

Flexibility.  This includes considering unconventional solutions and an ability to allow a plan to change.  I can get so fixated on only one possible solution, that this one plan is all I can see.

Accept that there will be big disappointments!  I was stunned when he said this, since this is my underlying fear that I mentioned before.  Somehow it never dawned on me that he takes that part of it into account.

Getting a step closer to your goal is great, even if it isn't your perfect solution.  I want the whole perfect answer in one nice package!

Have these two different view points ever caused friction in our marriage?  Oh baby, yes!  I think we could have lit a few cities with the energy released in some of our discussions, especially early in our marriage.  But my point of view was always considered and ultimately we made the decisions together.  I've just learned to appreciate better what Jeff so naturally does.

Obviously, I'm not saying we can control everything, and we are genuinely grateful every time a plan falls into place.  I'm just recognizing that there are actual mindsets and actions to increase the odds of finding that four leaf clover!

>^-^<  Tina



Monday, February 16, 2015

The Upside of Down

"The Upside of Down" 5"x 7" oil on gessobord, ©2014 Tina M Welter, my first album of songs.
"The Upside of Down" 5"x 7" oil on gessobord, ©2014
Today I want to share with you my scariest goal ever.  Boy, I hope I don't regret this.

I had an experience that really spoke to my heart when I was about nine.  I was a big fan of Karen Carpenter and loved to hear her music on the radio.  I was alone in the kitchen one summer evening listening to "On Top of the World" (1973) it made me so happy, I just had to go outside and sing. I used to make up songs all the time when I was a kid and I decided right then that the best thing in the world I could ever do was to sing my songs on the radio and make people feel happy.

I never completely forgot this dream, but as I got older I could see it wasn't that simple to do.  Add to that being super shy and doubting my ability, I didn't tell anyone what I wanted.  I would make up songs on the piano, but I didn't know how to write them down properly.   I was taking piano lessons, but not composition. I didn't really believe that I could learn to do such a thing. 

I mentioned in a recent post that both my parents passed away within a year of each other, my Dad in 2012 and my Mom in 2013. They weren't just my parents, I felt they were two of my dearest friends. They were people I felt really safe with and whom I knew would always love me.  I dreaded the day they would die. When that day finally came, it was just as bad as I imagined it. Worse.  I didn't know the emotional pain would be so intense and last so long.  I didn't know I would wake up in the middle of the night for months with that pain of missing them. 

Experiencing Grief is hard for anyone and it has been a long process for me. I discovered that when I was having a really hard time, writing music seemed to help, either take me out of the pain or help me process by clarifying what I was feeling into words. 
 

Last year, January 2014, I made a promise to myself, I was going to complete those songs for each stage of grief I had experienced and dedicate the album to my parents.  It was a huge goal.  I had just finished two on-line courses, one on song lyric writing and the other on how to use a DAW (digital audio workstation) to record and mix music. Years later, technology was finally made up for my limitations in music making!

The question is, should I ever share this album?  

I went round and round in my mind about this decision, and I found three reasons to share.

1-I want to show that I am not just telling people to face their inner 'fraidy cat, that I am actually willing to do it myself. I have improved on facing the fear of sharing my artwork, but sharing my music terrifies me to the core. I feel like I am such a beginner and I know I am so far from knowing what I am doing. Since it is such a personal project, being open to possible criticism feels extra risky!

2-Reading about other people's experiences with grief on the facebook page "Second Chances" has been helpful to me, so I thought perhaps I could do the same for other people in my own way.

3-I have also discovered that as I am beginning to feel better, it is easy to run out of steam on a big project like this and by telling other people, it helps me be more accountable to finish it.

It's been a year since I set my goal and how am I doing?   I have completed the painting for the the album cover and I have the title, "The Upside of Down." I have about three songs close to being finished, three more roughed out and number seven, the last step, isn't written at all.  I'm not sure I've really experienced that step long enough yet so that I can write about it.

If there is interest, I will commit to sharing the songs as I complete them with those who have subscribed to my "Confessions of a 'Fraidy Cat newsletter.  Baby steps, right?  Let me know if you are interested in hearing them by signing up, or by commenting here or on facebook.

Facing the fear...
>^-^<  Tina  
  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Got Anxiety? Find a Friend!

"Best Friends" 8"x 10" oil on gessobord, ©2015 Tina M Welter  Grey and White cats together on flowered pillow and red violet background with hearts.
"Best Friends" 8"x 10" oil on gessobord, ©2015
This post is in honor of those friendships and loves that push us to go beyond what we think we can do ourselves.

I mentioned in my original 'Fraidy Cat post  how "love doesn't cast out all fear, but it helps."  I really wanted to illustrate how much that has been true for me.

Here is a list of examples of fear producing situations I know I faced because of Jeff.

- Facing the anxiety of boxing up all my belongings.   
   (I had never moved everything I owned before.)
- Driving a stick-shift truck and facing the uncertainty of using a clutch on a hill.
- Driving all the way to Alaska with no cell phones or GPS.
- Practice calling people I don't know well on the telephone.
   (I had a terrible phobia of this when we were first married- goofy, I know!)
- How to take action when you want a really big dream to come true.
- How to face disapproval of your dreams from others.
- Selling our first house.
- Moving to Montana and living in the woods with all those trees and bears. 
   (I'm serious, the trees used to make me feel claustrophobic!)
- Learn all about living off grid and generating our own electricity.
- Facing the fear of drinking lake water.
- Practicing how to have faith and move forward by letting go.
- Learning how to make stained glass art.
- Moving to the mountains of New Mexico. 
- Learning I could drive 700 miles successfully by myself.
- Building a house from scratch on bare land.
- Learning how to snowboard.
- How to organize, produce, and perform in our own play.
- Facing my fear of flying.
- How to let go of a dream that we have worked 15 years to achieve.
  ( face the fear of change and let go again.)
- Living in a foreign country and trying to learn the language.
- Dealing with my insecurities to keep writing music and painting.

It's not that Jeff isn't afraid, but it usually hits him later than sooner and by that time I can encourage him.  The idea is to help each other and eventually both of us feel better. 

I heartily recommend to anyone who is looking to overcome a fear, find a friend or someone you trust, who is a little bit less afraid than you are that you can be accountable to. This has made all the difference in the world for me to really dig deep and get the motivation and practice I needed in facing my fears.

So, when facing anxiety, keep these three things in mind: 

1.  Anxiety? Find a friend who is a little bit less afraid than you are! (click bird to tweet) Tweet: Anxiety?Find a friend who is a little bit less afraid than you are! #fraidycat #creativeanxiety @TinaWelter http://ctt.ec/7IUAc+

2. Be willing to try.  Jeff always told me that my willingness to try always made a difference.   I know that mindset does help me. I am often frightened, but usually willing to try.
  
3. Bonus!  Keep in mind that this is one way the questionable habit of people pleasing can actually be useful!  :0


Happy Valentine's day Jeff,  

I know I would have lived a completely different life without you. 

>^-^<   Tina 

 
Why does it seem that I don't learn I am capable from my successes?  

I delve into this question in my "Confessions of a 'Fraidy Cat" newsletter from last week, "Walking the Tightrope?"  If you would like to read what my answer was, fill out the subscription box on the right and I will send you last week's issue.

'Fraidy Cat Walks the Mental Tightrope" original drawing ©2015 Tina M Welter  Cat walking over a shark tank on a tightrope.
'Fraidy Cat Walks the Mental Tightrope" ©2015



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.)