Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Last minute free gift...requesting your opinion please!

In the spirit of the season to share and give good surprises, i.e. you hope they are good surprises! ;p  I created a gift tag, recipe, and label to go on a large mouth mason jar that could be filled with a hot chocolate mix as a gift. 

Snuggle Up gift tag ©2015 Tina M Welter, drawing of white cat with cup of hot chocolate
5"x 3" gift tag
I plan to post the tag, label and recipe as a download on my Etsy page for $3.00, but my 'Fraidy cat would dearly love some input and reassurance from her supporters before I offer my design in the public market place.

Here is the three page, 
4 labels per page, printable PDF,

click for free download,
I only ask that you give me a review or comment here or on facebook:
5"x 3" Hot chocolate mix gift tag.  ©2015 Tina M Welter
5"x 3" hot chocolate mix tag

1. Did you like the color and size of the labels?  
2. Did it print properly?

3. Would you pay $3.00 to use these labels for a gift?  Why or why not?

Thank you!

May you find your quiet moment this month to snuggle down and enjoy some warmth and good cheer. >^-^<
To and From, 2 3/4" lid label, ©Tina M Welter Use for a gift label on a standard size mason jar.
2 3/4" lid label

ps. Remember you can copy all you like for your personal use, just please don't sell my design as your own.  :)  
Creating original designs take a surprising amount of time!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Find that Golden Moment

"Golden Moment" 5 3/4" x 7 1/4" graphite on paper ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Pencil sketch of a orange and white cat on a white fence, autumn theme.
"Golden Moment" 5 3/4" x 7 1/4" graphite on paper ©2015
This is the sketch for what was to be my November painting. This is an orange and white striped cat basking in the low autumn sunlight, with a roll of baled straw and fall leaves as a background. I love the contented, happy look on his face as he enjoys his golden moment.

With all of our changes, job hunting, packing and moving from country to country these last few months, there has barely been time for reflection, let alone time or space for painting.  I have to admit, I feel a bit disoriented, kind of like trying to find my balance while standing on a beach ball.

It's been good to be back in the States, but there has been a lot of emotion to be felt going through all our belongings to reduce them to fit in a smaller storage shed and going to the family farm to pick up my share of Mom and Dad's things. It was rather unsettling seeing the reality of the farm house empty and not having Mom and Dad there to greet me.  

One nice surprise was that my older brother, Gary, had arranged to have many of my Dad's Super 8 home movie films transferred into a digital format. What a treasure! Family Christmas parties and reunions of long ago, dear faces that are no longer with us laughing, watching myself and my brothers and sisters grow up, all in short little visual phrases, and pheasants...lots of pheasants and geese. Dad loved wildlife of any kind. I think he was making his own National Geographic nature specials.  Oh, how good it was to enjoy those moments again, sometimes wishing they were not so short!  Movie film was expensive, so every shot was carefully limited.   

All this nostalgia made me think about today. Is this moment, this "today" going to be a golden moment when I look back to it?  Will I think, wow, those where the good times...even though I feel disoriented and tired of not knowing what direction we are going in?  I know I don't have that contented look on my face!

I think those golden moments are just that, moments. I know there were sad and stressful things going on in those past times too. I think the great moments are short like the film clips, and short like that beautiful light when the sun is going down. Brief and beautiful. When the sun has gone down and the air is cool, that handsome cat will get up, stretch, and go on to find a more comfortable seat.  

We have to pay attention to catch the beautiful today or it will pass us by, leaving us longing for it in the rear-view mirror.

Tweet: We have to pay attention to catch the beautiful today or it will pass us by, leaving us longing for it in the rear-view mirror. @TinaWelter click to tweet

I am practicing to remember to notice today.  I hope this post will remind you to look too. 

May your heart be fully warm and content in that lovely, brief moment.



Friday, September 4, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Lower entrance, Wellington Botanic garden. photo ©2014 Tina M.Welter  Springtime
Lower entrance, Wellington Botanic garden
September 2014, I met Barbara at the botanic garden in Wellington, New Zealand.  We were both attending a free class on how to photograph flowers and struck up a conversation before the class started.  Since we are both from America and share a real passion for flowers, we found a lot to talk about.
Lavender tulips, Wellington botanic garden, photo ©2014 Tina M Welter
 We had a good time playing hide and seek with the clouds and the waiting for the breezes to settle down so that we could snap some good pictures. Our flower subjects kept insisting on dancing with the wind!  We spent a good deal of time around the beautiful beds of poppies and tulips. September is springtime in the southern hemisphere.

Poppies, Wellington botanic garden, photo © 2014 Tina M. Welter
A pause between dances.
Springtime lemons! photo ©2014 Tina M Welter, Wellington Botanic garden, New Zealand
Springtime lemons!

The magnolia trees were also in bloom and it was wonderful to walk through all that lacy loveliness of shadow and color.  I had so much fun taking photos of these twisty trees and their blossoms.
Path with Magnolia trees, Wellington botanic garden, photo ©2014 Tina M Welter

Magnolia blossoms, Wellington botanic garden, photo ©2014 Tina M Welter
We continued talking after the class and ended up having lunch together.  It was a good beginning to such a nice friendship.  During the next year, Barbara took the time to show me around downtown Wellington and later, she and her husband Dave generously invited us to go on several excellent day hikes around the local area.  We experienced the mysterious trails and stunning views that they loved to share, beauty we would have missed seeing since we didn't have a car to get to these trail heads.
On the Butterfly Creek trail, looking towards Wellington, New Zealand,  photo ©2014 Tina M Welter
Looking towards Wellington, Butterfly Creek trail.
Undisturbed, Beech and fern forest, photo ©2014 Tina M Welter, Butterfly Creek trail near Eastbourne, New Zealand.
Beech and fern forest, Butterfly Creek trail.
Sunset on the hills above Makara Beach, photo ©2014 Tina M Welter, New Zealand
Sunset on the hills above Makara beach.
I love going to different parts of the world and making new friends.  You never know what great people you are going to meet and how they will affect your life.  The down side of this is that when we move again, we have to say "good-bye" and it is so hard. 

"Radiant One" 5"x 7" watercolor on Aquabord ©2015 Tina M Welter, Lavender and pink tulips at the botanic garden, Wellington, New Zealand
"Radiant One" 5"x 7" watercolor on Aquabord ©2015
When I was packing to leave in July, I knew I had to do one last painting.  I wanted to give something to Barbara in honor of the day we met and I decided there might be just enough time to complete one small watercolor painting.  I got my wish and had one last day to paint, "Radiant One" was the result.  I haven't painted flowers in watercolor for a long time, but this day reminded me why I love painting them.  Sometimes it is so satisfying to revisit a past love. It can be so joyful if you get to meet again and say "hello".

Sunday, July 19, 2015

'Fraidy Gets Back on the Airplane...

'Fraidy Gets Back on  the Airplane" 5:7 digital art, ©2015 Tina M Welter, Cartoon drawing, grey and white cat, paws against the airplane window.
'Fraidy Gets Back on the Airplane" 5:7 digital art, ©2015
Hello dear readers,

'Fraidy cat is embarking on another anxiety provoking adventure. This time the issue is not about being afraid to fly, it's about making another big life decision and hoping the plan, not the plane, will fly. (Ba-da-damp!)

In the spirit of the words of Inigo Montoya from the movie The Princess Bride, "there is too much to 'splain, let me sum up!"

- We have changed countries again. We flew from New Zealand to Germany on July 12th. (Oh, the jet-lag!)
- We are starting a CELTA course in Frankfurt on July 20, 2015.
( CELTA= Certificate English Language Training to Adults) This course is part of the University of Cambridge, England.
-The course involves 200 hrs of homework, instruction and practice teaching crammed into 4 weeks.
-At the end of those 4 weeks, we will be looking for jobs in the new career of English Language teaching.

What does this mean for my dream of being an artist with a successful business?

This is where my inner 'Fraidy cat is anxious. I don't do things half-way, and having to focus on another art form like teaching will take away from my visual art creativity time as well as running a business.  What I hope is that the teaching will provide the financial stability so that when I do make time to paint, I can just focus on that and not the pressure of making money with my art.

I plan to keep posting at least one blog entry and sending out one newsletter each month to keep me connected to my kind readers and my dream.  I have found this commitment to be amazingly helpful and grounding for me, even if it is a challenge sometimes.

It was lovely to spend a little over a year in New Zealand where I was truly focused on getting my art business up and going.  I feel I was successful in many ways, even if there was not as much success in the financial area as I hoped.  Believe me, it has been hard for me to change the shape of my dream, but after all, that is what this blog is all about. 
It is truly an Artist Life Experiment.

Thank you everyone for your support and we will see where the next few months take us!  

My special thanks to newsletter subscriber Evelyn W. who bought my sketch series "Cairns of Personality" that was inspired by New Zealand beaches.  I hope she will enjoy them as much as I did in creating them!  

Yes, I do miss the ocean.



P.S. To help my Inner 'Fraidy Cat keep from having her fur standing on end all day from the anxiety, I am trying out a free 10 minute a day guided meditation on itunes by Adrian Cooke.  It does seem to be helping to keep her calmer.  
Here is the itunes link:
Adrian's website:  I like his nice, soothing British accent and the variety of focused meditation topics he offers.  I'm not getting anything for mentioning this, I just like passing on resources I find helpful.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Cairns of Personality

A big thank you to everyone who expressed your support and interest in seeing the new painting subjects I am contemplating.  Here are five preliminary watercolor sketches to give you an idea of what I have in mind for this series.
"The Watcher" 3.5"x 4.6" watercolor sketch on paper ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Rock cairns near Island Bay, New Zealand.
"The Watcher"

I tested my ideas out on sketchbook paper, this is why you are seeing the buckles and ripples of the paper.  The nice heavy watercolor paper that I use for my finished paintings doesn't do this.  For me, working small and testing an idea in my sketchbook takes away some of the anxiety of making mistakes.  Plus, painting landscapes in a small format makes learning about this new subject seem more manageable to me.

"World on a Platter" 3"x 4.25" watercolor sketch on paper ©2015 Tina M Welter  Rock cairns around Island Bay, New Zealand.
"World on a Platter"
All last winter when I was photographing these, I kept wondering about the artist who was creating these outdoor temporary sculptures.  I decided I needed to photograph them because depending on the weather, they could change completely from day to day.

"Front Row Seat" 4.3"x 3.2" watercolor sketch on paper © 2015 Tina M Welter  Rock Cairns near Island Bay, New Zealand
"Front Row Seat"
Two weeks ago, we went out to see the huge waves that arise from the winter storms.  One of the locals we have met a few times before when hiking around the beachfront, noticed me taking pictures of a cairn sculpture with a log balanced carefully on it.  He walked over and took the log off and showed me how he balanced the rock and the log.  I was so excited, I finally knew who the mystery beach artist was!  He was just as surprised to find that his work had been inspiring me. 

"Skyline" 3.5"x 4.5" watercolor sketch on paper, ©2015 Tina M.Welter  Rock cairns near Island Bay, New Zealand.
I find myself intrigued by the way these figures and forms almost seem to have personalities and stories.  The stories seem to shift depending on what angle I photograph them from and which cairn groups I include in the photo.  I wonder if that is why we humans make monuments, they create a kind of accent to the sky and natural surroundings. Like adding a new spice to a well known dish.  

"Grandmother" 4.5"x 3.3" watercolor sketch on paper, © 2015 Tina M. Welter  Rock cairns near Island Bay, New Zealand.
I am fairly pleased with these little sketches.  I kind of wish I had tried them out on good watercolor paper so that they would be finished little pieces of work in their own right.  My plan is to create the final paintings on canvas with oil paints.  I am curious to try simplifying the lines and color blocks even more to see if the painting would still have personality.

What do you think? Do you like the rocks?  Do I "Rock on" or am I "off my rocker?" ;)

>^-^<  Tina

"Jeff catching the big waves" ©2015 Tina M. Welter - Houghton Bay, New Zealand
Jeff catching the big waves.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Different Direction

"Good Morning" 8"x10" oil on panel,Gessobord ©2014 Tina M Welter, Three boats in Island Bay, New Zealand.
"Good Morning" 8"x10" oil on panel,Gessobord ©2014
My friend Evelyn here in New Zealand commissioned this painting for her husband's birthday last October.  She wanted a seascape with the boats in Island Bay. I haven't considered landscape painting to be one of my strengths, every time I have tried it in the past, I haven't been completely satisfied with the results. I did, however, want very much to please my friend.

I can never tell if this irresistible pull to please people is a positive or negative thing in my life.  On the plus side, I will face all sorts of fears and resistance to please someone or a cause I care about, but on the other darker side, I will also trample over what is best for myself to achieve this goal. Ouch! Does anyone else struggle with wielding this double-edged sword?

After taking over 200 pictures of Island Bay, stressing mightily over boat arrangements and painting ocean waves, (arrrrgh!) I felt reasonably happy with the result.  More importantly, Evelyn and her husband were happy with the painting!

I am bringing all this up because of my interview with the gallery last week. My darling cats were not a good fit there. After thinking about this situation, I proposed painting a series based around the rock cairns I photographed here last fall in Island Bay. I wouldn't have had the courage to even offer this if I hadn't completed that painting for Evelyn. The owner is interested to see them and now I need to get busy painting.

I am hoping I did the right thing.  I love my cats and I wanted to stay true to my earlier commitment to paint a monthly cat art piece this year.  I'm also excited to try the new series, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I may be putting too much on my plate again, which will result in feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.  (There is also my album of songs about grief that I promised to finish, my regular blog and newsletters to write, plus looking for a part-time job...)

It's a wonderful thing to be able to dream up more projects than I can possibly do.  It's not so fun to have to decide which ones will get to exist in reality.  Wish me luck, I realize am not very good at saying "no."

>^-^<  Tina 

Rock cairns at Island Bay ©2014 Tina M Welter
My inspiration for the new painting series

 p.s. If you are not a newsletter subscriber and you would like to read last week's post featuring"The Safety Zone", all about what I learned from my anxiety meltdown in going to approach a gallery, click through to a copy on my facebook fan page here:  Tina Welter's Artist Life Experiment

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Night and Day

"Heavenly Night" Mother cat and kitten, 6"x5.5" mixed media, digital ©2015 Tina M Welter
"Heavenly Night" 6"x 5.5" mixed media, digital ©2015
I wanted to blend together my love of watercolor and the tools of the digital world I have been exploring recently for my newest artwork.  One of the wonderful things about digital artwork is the ability to try out several possibilities without using up so much canvas and paper.  My "scarcity" 'fraidy cat definitely loves this aspect!

This may seem like a new direction for my art to take for some, but it is actually a combination of an older style of my own from art school days and years of designing stained glass art.  

While Utah State University, I had design classes from Prof. Jon Anderson.  His classes were tough and I often despaired of ever learning what he was so passionately trying to teach us.  After a particularly disappointing assignment review, I called my Dad in despair.  I will never forget how he told me to "learn all you can, take advantage of everything your teacher is trying to give you."  I was a little disappointed that he didn't commiserate with me on how difficult the class was, but he did give me a different outlook.  Dad didn't get to finish his college training and in retrospect, I think he would have liked to have had that opportunity again.  

I "girded up my loins" and tried again and again, and eventually I did start to understand the design concepts and my assignment grades improved accordingly.  I am grateful now because those design principles have served me well over the years in so many different ways.

Seeing the same problem in a new way can certainly change the outcome in surprising ways. Sometimes it is like night and day, both beautiful in their own way.

Happy creating!

>^-^< Tina

"Rosy Morning" Mother Cat and Kitten 8"x 10" mixed media, digital © 2015 Tina M Welter
"Rosy Morning" 8"x 10" mixed media, digital © 2015

  Both of these prints are available at Fine Art America, click here

For this week only, "Happy Mother's Day" is printed in white text on the "Rosy Morning" print.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tape Loop

"Tape Loop" 4x4 proportion digital art ©2015 Tina M Welter, artwork for the first song in my album, "The Upside of Down."
"Tape Loop" digital art ©2015

Grief. Stage One...Shock & Denial

July, 2013-I'm standing in my parents bedroom taking pictures after Mom's death. Dad died the year before. I have to leave to travel far away soon and I know that everything will be changed. I am taking pictures because I know it will never be the same. I am thinking of how we leave a record of ourselves, even in where we choose to leave our “stuff”. Mom always hated letting go of things and it shows. But I don't care. It's a part of a record of her, and it will soon be gone. Her plants, Her cluttered dresser tops. Dad's spare change jar, his collection of missionary name tags. 

Everything. Gone. 

I can hardly stand to think about it. This room has been my place of refuge since I was a little girl and I used to climb in bed with them when I had nightmares. I used to watch for their car headlights from their bedroom window. Waiting for them to come home from a rare evening out together. Waiting for that one car to turn down our long lane.  I would go to their room to talk to them when I came in late from high school activities. When at age sixteen, I got my first driving ticket, I came to them in tears. In college, I would come to kiss them goodnight. My room was nearby and I could hear their low muffled voices at night, making me feel so safe as I drifted to sleep. In my middle age, I climbed in between them after they had each had strokes. Knowing then that daybreak wasn't going to take this bad dream away.  No, I don't want to change anything. If everything stays the same, I can believe that they might still come home.

April 18th is their wedding anniversary.

Mom & Dad, this song is for you... and for all of us who have lost someone irreplaceable.

Tape Loop- click this link to hear the song on soundcloud 

Love, Tina

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to face my anxiety and finish the songs.
Image, lyrics and music copyright 2014-15 Tina M Welter
all rights reserved.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Twinks loves Easter

"Twinks Loves Easter" oil on gessobord © 2015 Tina M Welter  Grey and white striped cat with a happy face in an Easter basket.
"Twinks loves Easter" 10"x 8" oil on gessobord
Twinks is a pretty little cat I had the chance to "cat sit" for ten days for a neighbor.  She is a cat after my own heart, since she is shy and a bit of a 'fraidy cat too.  After she decided I was all right, there wasn't enough ear scratching possible, which is why I took my camera to catch her rubbing her ears on her basket.  I find her smile irresistible. 

This is a fairly new style for me to try, since I added a lot more elements than are in the original photo.  To help myself, I actually created a digital collage first of what I wanted the finished painting to look like.  It did help, but I still encountered a good bit of creative anxiety in dealing with the complex weave of the basket and the grass texture had me worried too.

Even more powerful was the huge dose of the discouragement tar on my soul that was really slowing me down.  This last month I have finally had to admit that financially, I need to go find another job.  I have been putting all my energy this last year into getting my on-line art business up and going. I am maintaining a regular presence on Etsy, Fine Art America, Instagram,Twitter,Pinterest, Facebook and Blogspot, plus launched a newsletter, but it just isn't enough yet.  It's been hard for me to come to terms with.  I always think if I just work harder, the money will happen, which may be true, but in this case it just isn't happening fast enough.  Since I was so focused on achieving this particular goal, job hunting feels like I failed and that is a distracting emotion. Plus, I get this awful little voice in my head telling me "why paint and push yourself so hard, no one really cares if you get it done on time or not".  This may be true, but it isn't a particularly helpful or motivating voice. 

In thinking it over, I am actually proud of myself for fighting through the discouragement sludge and getting this painting completed, even if I missed my deadline.  Twinks really is adorable and that doesn't change.  I hope her smile is contagious for you too, no matter what time of year it is. 
What do you tell yourself to get out of the discouragement tar pit?


ps. I'll be sharing my digital collage with my newsletter subscribers in the next issue. If you are interested,please sign up and get my latest newsletter about "To Fear or Not to Fear" as well.

If you would like to see an example of one my newsletters, here is one I posted on LinkedIn.  Fear Equals "Real" Artist? (click to read)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Solo vs. Duo

"A Time to Dance" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord, ©2014 Tina M Welter.  Two Swallowtail butterflies dance in the sunshine.
"A Time to Dance" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord
I really debated about writing this post or not.  Is it a good thing to show the "behind the scenes" goofs?  Does it take away the magic and mystery of art making if I do so, or does it help others to know that not all creative ideas work out perfectly?  Since I have publicly declared my desire to question my own perfectionist inner voices this year, (RE:Is Your Best Ever Good Enough?)I decided to share this even if it makes me a little anxious to do so. 

"A Time to Dance" was inspired by a lovely pair of swallowtail butterflies flying in the sun with a wall in shadow behind them.  The green bar on the left of the painting wasn't there at first.  When I had finished painting, I just felt something was off. I showed it to Jeff and he mentioned that the proportion of the photo I was working with was different than the 5"x 7" gessobord I was using.  Good grief, I couldn't believe I had missed that!  I added the green bar to adjust for my mistake.  It is an o.k. solution, but I felt the whole painting just didn't capture the movement and joy that I had envisioned.  Sigh.  I set it aside and went on to other things.

"A Time to Dance Solo" 8"x 10" digital detail of the original oil painting, ©2015 Tina M Welter  A single yellow swallowtail butterfly with sunlight on it's wings.
"A Time to Dance Solo" 8"x 10" digital detail of the original painting.
Recently I had a chance to learn how to better use the Pixelmator program on my computer and that started me thinking about this painting again.  What if I took a new photo, cropped it, and figured out how to add my signature to the new image?  It took some doing, but eventually I had something I was really pleased with.  I like the larger brush strokes and the butterfly just feels less static to me.  The other great thing is that I can make nice prints from the new image, so in essence, it is another piece of art in it's own right.

So what do you think?  Do you prefer the "duo" or the "solo" dance?  Does it ruin the mystery of a piece of art to tell the secrets about it's creation? Let me know what you think in the comments here or on facebook.

Happy fear-less creating!


If you would like to see how "A Time to Dance Solo" looks on a card, canvas print or pillow, click here to visit my FineArtAmerica site.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


"Lucky" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord ©2015 Tina M Welter- Black kitten sitting in a field of clovers
"Lucky" 7"x 5" oil on gessobord ©2015
Oh those moments, when it is hard to believe that what I do affects anything or anyone and I struggle with believing in myself. Sometimes it seems easier to freeze and not make a decision, especially when 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.

 Tweet: Luck grows in the garden of action.#feelinglucky #luckykitty @TinaWelter grows in the garden of action.

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

If you are interested in a greeting card of "Lucky", please Click here to visit Tina's Fine Art America site

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

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 

If you would like to purchase a print or greeting card of "Best Friends" for yourself, please click here to visit my Fine Art America site.

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