Some Thoughts On Creativity

Creativity, where to even start. Although I am, and have always been an artist, I’ve never really thought of myself as “creative”. I see all of the things that people come up with, the different ways they express their art, and I think, ‘wow, I wish I’d thought of that.’ For many years I considered myself more of an illustrator. Shinning a light on human activities, and foibles, and in particular painting portraits.

Putting a subject in a setting that fit with them in some way, made the portraits more interesting to the viewer, but faces in particular, have always intrigued me. Eyes being the “windows to the soul” and all that. But is it “creative”?

About, well let’s say a long time ago, I started taking commissions for portraits, most often of people’s kids. At that time I was honing my skills in the medium of color pencil, trying to learn how to make them look as real as possible. Humorous fashion choices aside, with each portrait I tried to become more proficient.

Amanda and Nikki “At The Beach”
Maureen and her sister

I was commissioned to do the above portrait for a friend, way back in the day. It was one of my first color pencil portraits. (A little bit “uncanny valley”, but hey, practice and all that.) It was a bit more difficult given that my friend didn’t have one recent photo of her two daughters together. I had her give me as many photos of them that she had, and basically cobbled it together. I didn’t have people actually “sit” for me, especially kids as I was slow. Although, I often had to do things like this for commissions, most of the time, I was using photos, and this is the opposite of creativity. But maybe, not entirely. “Cobbling things together” took some creativity I suppose.

As I’ve mentioned before, art had to come after, and sometimes between life, raising kids, work, moving, (a lot), pets, etc.. But I worked on my art as often as possible, as well as finding ways to incorporate it into my life. So I guess, that took some creativity, heheh. For example, for a few years, I worked as a visiting artist at schools all around my area. I did this a few days a week, after my “regular” work, often times picking up my youngest daughter a little early from school, to assist me with the after school art classes. I also taught an adult color pencil theory class in the carriage house of the arts center near me, as well as a short class for a convention of teachers at a local hotel. That was fun. (Not sure if the sarcasm translates.)

On one occasion, I joined a group of people at our local arts council, and set up some of my work on the lawn of their site. An older woman approached me to ask if I had any paintings of old barns. Apparently she grew up on a farm locally, that no longer existed. I told her that I didn’t but would be happy to paint one for her. This turned into an extremely large painting incorporating, her family’s farm, the barn, cousins and other family riding high on a hay wagon, her mother in the garden, the “main house” across the road, and “Petunia the Cow”. Again this was done in color pencil. It was quite large for a color pencil portrait. It was 4′ x 3′. I finished it, feeling proud of what I had accomplished, and also gained a total of six other portraits for her family. The photo isn’t very good, as I took it at the framer’s and as it was heavy tried to get a photo while it was lying down, hence the distortion.

I began to do fairly well, and was getting commissions on a regular basis, including doing multiple portraits for some of the same people, as well as doing portraits of people’s pets. Though working with color pencil on large portraits, was difficult and sometimes tedious. I did feel that I was accomplishing something in what I felt was my chosen field. Yet I still had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t working to my potential, or with enough creativity.

Eventually, I transitioned away from color pencil, and returned to my roots of working with oils.

We moved often which meant that I had to find new clients. It wasn’t easy, especially as at that time social media wasn’t what it is now. I did gain new commissions, again painting multiple portraits for some of the same people. I also tried to stretch my painting chops. The above painting was completely from imagination. That may not seem like much but for me it meant a step toward more spontaneity.

I’ve noticed that there were distinct periods of my art. In between these “periods” occasionally, for whatever reason, I didn’t work on my art for long stretches of time. And after each period of time, I emerged feeling better able to “create” in I what felt was a more proficient and personal way.

At one time I was also a working writer. Nothing fantastic, I never published my fantasy mid grade reader, called Skara Brae. But I did finish it, and I had various articles published in magazines, as well as worked for a newspaper for a summer. (That’s another story).

Creativity, I have found, comes in many many forms. I realized that the book I wrote was creative. But maybe just not creative enough. After five years of nonstop work, I set writing aside for a while, and concentrated on my painting.

Along the way, after one of those break periods, I decided to try something that I had always admired, but felt that I just wouldn’t be able to do. I decided, what the heck, if I’m not happy with it, at least I tried. This was the beginning of my abstract period.

This painting is the first of what I consider abstract, that I did. After my son took me and my granddaughter to New York City for our birthdays, (both in April), I painted this city scene for him.

“Midsummer’s Night in The City”

Looking back I see now that this was creative. I did it entirely in one sitting, from my imagination. I felt really good about this, and he loved it.

I then did this painting of a Romany Cart, and a Vanner horse. It’s done in a more dreamy fantasy style. These paintings made me feel a new freedom with my art, and I was hooked. (Unfortunately, the photos I have of it are somewhat blurry.) There is quite a bit more detail on the cart. Which may make this a blending of styles.

“Dancing in the Moonlight”

Abstract art could be considered one of the most creative of arts. Having been an artist for so long, I do feel that I have an “eye” for if something is “good” or not. Of course everything is subjective, and what appeals to one person, may not appeal to another. However, I do know what I like. Throwing caution to the wind, I got some acrylics. I figured, I could work in a quicker and more spontaneous way than I was used to, while pushing myself to be as accurate and true to what I envisioned, in a more flowing, and natural way.

I still strive for that elusive “creativity”, and I suppose I always will, but I do feel I’ve gotten closer.

“Glass Longhorn” from my Glass Menagerie series

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’re interested in any of my paintings or wish to commission me to do a painting, please DM me, or check out my Esty site. etsy.com/shop/omordah

Bye for now, and stay safe, while waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.

An Epiphany of Pace

Pssst! When you’re done reading this post, be sure to check out my offer at the bottom!

It seems odd to me, that even at this stage of my life, it still takes me some time to realize things, or to have an epiphany about something that should have been pretty obvious. It could be that I’ve always been more of a leap before you look sort of person. Something that has gotten me into hot water and situations that unfortunately take a lot longer than the leap, to climb out of.

Leap

In April, due to covid19 and the situation I found myself in at my place of employment, I had decided that living outweighed the very real threat of the other alternative of staying there could. So feeling pushed to make a choice, I chose life, and never went back. I say it this way as I don’t feel that I quit, I feel I was forced to make a drastic decision. But this isn’t what this post is about. It’s about being aware. Taking the time to think.

Think

“When” I create my art, has always been a tricky subject. Life has ultimately decided for me the when in most instances. For example, as a young mom, although I would have preferred to stay home, reality stomped its often large, dirty boot, on my plans. As they say, the kids had a nasty habit of eating, and wanting to wear clothes. So I took whatever jobs I could get. For my husband’s work, we had to move, a lot. This meant I had to start over every time. From finding a home, to packing, to getting the kids enrolled in new schools, to finding new doctors, this was always on me. Add to that, finding work, and then working. Well when would I cram in art? Art which is the very air I breathe.

Doing It All

Somehow, I always found a way. One of our first apartments, was a two family flat. We were upstairs. Each flat had a bay window in front, and attached next to it was an enclosed porch. It really was a pretty little apartment. On one side of the bay window, one of the windows opened on to the porch. My boys were young then, and leaving paints, and mediums around wasn’t such a good idea. When you stepped out of our apartment door, there were stairs that led down, and a landing that led to our front porch. This porch proved to be the ideal place for a tiny studio for me to work. Most of the time, I would simply open the bay window, and climb over into the porch. Now that I think of it, I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t just go around. Hum. It must have been that once my youngest was napping, or they were settled watching TV, it was easier to just clamber through the window. My little porch “studio” worked well also because I could keep my eye on the boys while I painted.

But that nagging question, of “when”, still dogged me. When we first moved there, I set up the studio, but I had my boys to care for. My husband had a job painting overpass bridges. This job often took him away for weeks at a time, and we still needed more income. I had made a few friends, and with their help, (watching my boys), I was running around going on job interviews. (At this time, non of my friends worked, so they thought I was bonkers.) And with all of this, when would I find time to paint?

Around the same time that I finally found a job, (which came with it’s own craziness), my husband got accepted into the Post Office. However, he had to pass a test where he was required to know every address in the city, and it’s zip code. I kid you not. He was given cards to study. So we would go over them relentlessly every spare moment, for weeks. Thankfully he got the job, but with two boys, and the hope of one day owning our own home, I still needed to work. Again his job required odd hours, He had to start out working nights. This was tough on all of us, but it allowed me to work. Our oldest was in school, and that left the little one. So not being able to find anyone to watch him, (this was back in the day, not many daycares), my husband “watched” him. That’s another story.

When I got home, I cooked and cleaned, cared for and played with the boys. I had to be really organized, but I was young, and had a lot of energy. I set up lights in the studio, and would work on a painting two evenings a week for an hour or so after they went to bed. This is just one example of how I fit in the “when”.

Each time we moved, with each new job, and each new situation, and with each new child, I found a way to fit in the “when”. But I was always rushing. Rushing through getting kids ready for school, through work, rushing through being there for my husband, through family outings, through life, and through working on my art, and honing my craft.

This brings me to my “epiphany”. After I left my job this past April, I found it hard to concentrate on my artwork. I was going at my usual pace, and getting some things done, but considering I now had “all the time in the world”, my kids are grown, I’m basically on my own, and I have set up a nice studio area, it was weird, I was struggling. Not really accomplishing what I thought I should be.

Then it hit me, that the rushing and speed that I kept up for decades, that, that was my pace! It was the force that kept me going, that made it almost a desperate act to create. Not “having the time” is what forced me to make the time.

Let’s not also forget that what is happening in the world right now, the pandemic, and how the daily fight for our very lives politically, socially, and mentally, is affecting all of us.

It took me months to settle enough after leaving the job, to really work on my art and writing. That feeling of being lost and alone, (which is not new, but is now affecting the entire world), caused me to hesitate, and falter. Then of course there is “social” media, which has been and is getting darker by the day.

For what they call creatives, (a fairly new way of describing artists, and craftspeople, which for me the jury’s still out on), anyway, for creatives like myself, it can render those who have historically been the most sensitive among us, mute or frozen. That’s another loaded word, “sensitive”. It can imply that the person is weak. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Being sensitive means aware, means feeling, and caring. Its often what pushes us to create, to make others feel, to envision great things, something, anything. And that, that takes courage.

Courage

Now I have this other dilemma, to reinvent my pace. Sometimes lately, I feel like I have too much “when”. I need to balance it more. But the state of things makes that harder now. I hike or walk every day, and that’s good. But I miss seeing my family, easily, or at all. Every move has to be carefully weighed against the possible danger, as I am high risk. I also live in a small town, so there was never a lot going on to begin with. It’s gotten to where, when I stopped at my local library, (I put books on hold and they brought them out to me), it felt like an adventure. Having to have my books brought out to me shouldn’t have been such fun! I rarely see people that I don’t live with, and Zoom, or facetime is difficult for someone with anxiety issues.

Anxiety

Add to all of this the fact that for the first time in my life, I began staying in bed later and later. I was definitely faltering. And it wasn’t that I was actually sleeping more, oh, no, I was checking the social media beast. The beast that will suck up half your day when you fall down one of the cajillion rabbit holes that it opens to you. It left me feeling even worse. I couldn’t save everyone, or change hearts. I felt less productive, and less motivated. I had the “when”, but I was allowing the world to dictate my daily fate.

Fate of the world

About two weeks ago, I decided that enough was enough. I set my alarm to six thirty a.m. , not to wake me, because most days I would wake around then. No, I set my alarm to remind me to get the hell up. Out of the bed. And I have been. Over the last four months, I have actually been painting steadily. But I’ve had a lot hanging over my heart, exacerbated by social media. Which I do have to follow to a certain extent, (this blog, posting my art on IG, on Etsy and FB and trying to find outlets for my art to bring in some income, which has pretty much dried up.) Since I started forcing myself back on track so to speak, I am feeling better, and have more energy. But it is a tentative change, one that I have to be aware of every day.

…but where in the universe to find buyers?…

I know the “when” is entirely up to my whims now. This means no excuses but can also mean no pressure unless I put that on myself, say by entering competitions, or taking on commissions. Either way it will be mostly at my own, new pace. Epiphany!

Thanks for reading my blog. Please visit my gallery, and check out my work on my Etsy site, etsy.com/shop/omordah or visit susanm.l.mooreartist on Instagram. Please “follow” “like and share” here and at these sites as this helps to grow my art life.

Also if you feel inclined, you can “Buy Me A Cuppa Tea” by going to PayPal and donate the price of a cup of tea/coffee to sumor4@yahoo.com Your encouragement of my art and this blog, means the world to me! For those of you who choose to give a monthly donation of $5.00 or more for the year, please contact me to let me know, and I will SEND a piece of art to you!

Stay safe and well, see you next time!


Mother’s Day On Lock-down

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! What can I say? I’m sure we’ve all heard most of the ways to describe life during a pandemic. “It’s trying, it’s boring, it’s lonely, and many are out of work, it’s sad, it’s maybe not so bad”, (for some). For others, pretty bad. But in a lot of ways, it’s just weird. It’s weird that instead of meeting family and or friends for Mother’s day for brunch at a favorite restaurant, (mine being The BlueBee Cafe in Delhi NY.) Or bringing flowers to the moms in our lives, then going on a family hike, we’re “visiting” through online platforms. And really, that’s a lot better than people had it during the last pandemic, or how it’s depicted in most apocalyptic shows or movies.

But, it’s still weird. And again, that’s how it is for some, and for others, so much worse.

For the most part, I have been doing OK, I am blessed to have my youngest and her boyfriend living with me. We get along well, and look out for each other. We’ve continued our daily walks and that has been a big part of keeping our sanity. But after one really nice warm day in our area, we got hit with cold and three inches of snow. And although the snow didn’t last, it was a crappy day, and left behind the vicious cold. It only took that one day for my body to decide it was going to acclimate to the warm weather, so now, this feels worse than before, and I crave warm, sunny days. (Although , I tend to get more work done when it’s not so nice out.)

Now, to be honest there is a general feeling of malaise. None of us have slept well, and we’re all feeling really lazy, and disinclined to brave the windy cold. I think we may all bundle up and face it, but right now, the prevailing feeling is almost as bleak as the vista. Or just the opposite the need to “get out” is stronger, just not a pleasant thought. The kids have decided to go to the little town where he grew up, to wander around in the blustery cold. I look forward to warmer days and long hikes in balmy winds. Days when we can all venture out safely again. And even days when we will still be wearing masks. But for today, I am left here to my devises, thinking about those days that I know will come, and I’m good with that, I can wait.

I suspect that is how a lot of people are feeling today. Despite all the adds telling us to “stay connected”, there are times when we’re just not feeling it when it comes to “popping in” online. On top of that, I had just written some (what I considered) golden prose, only to have it all disappear on me. I use a laptop, and I type in the style of back in the day, having been taught in school on clumsy old school typewriters. Picture huge white typewriters, all in varying degrees of disrepair. (Which I don’t miss.) The problem is that typing in this way on a laptop, I don’t know, it seems that my thumbs hover, and wham, out of nowhere, everything will vanish. Just when I was cruising along like a virtual writing dervish. Maybe it’s for the best, as it was veering toward the melancholy, and I had only planned to post some photos of art that I’ve done over the last week or so. A little cheer for everyone. Very random stuff. Like say, a gorilla.

I am at a cross roads with my art, so am just doing whatever I happen to feel like at the moment. Waiting, and hoping that I’ll land on some one thing that I would like to do exclusively for a while. We’ll see.

I am contemplating ways for you folks to become more engaged, and to better build up my art business as right now, it’s harder than ever for artists, and we’re all looking for different ways to continue in our craft. In the meantime, 🙂 enjoy. And thanks for checking out my blog!

Stay home, stay safe, be patient.

Thoughts On Isolation, Social Distancing And Quitting My Job

In mid March as things were just starting to really come out about what was happening around the world, and how we should all be taking precautions, I had just taken two weeks off due to feeling over worked, and completely fed up with my job. It’s the kind of job that can wear you to the bone, both physically and emotionally, as well as possibly dangerous in “normal” times. We were hearing things more and more every day. As I was not getting any cooperation from those I worked for, and as a matter of fact, various situations with clients were becoming more and more stressful, and dangerous, I felt it was best that I took some time off to reassess my own situation. There was also a part of me that could read the writing on the wall, and knew that this virus was going to get worse before it got better. Where I worked, as I alluded to, on a good day, was unhealthy in every way. On the day before my “vacation”, in the community home and apartments where I worked, not only were we completely out of any kind of sanitizing cleaners, we had little cleaning supplies overall. We were expected to not only be there for the clients as counselors and emotional support people, but we were expected to clean up after them. Many extremely hazardous, and disgusting things were expected of us by our supervisor. Although the higher ups had told us that the “object was for people to do for themselves”, our immediate supervisor in no uncertain terms, yet in a very ambiguous way, (so as not to implicate herself), made it clear on a daily basis that if we did not do it, there “would be no job, and we could find another down the road.” One of her favorite things to say. As I am older, that left me with little choice. But it also left me at higher risk.

When it came time for me to return, my supervisor tried to be nice, and to placate me, saying that “it isn’t that bad.” That I was blowing it out of proportion. She actually asked me on the phone, as she chuckled, “Do you want to be sick, Susan?” It was a ridiculous question. (I had not felt well, and my doctor at that point, said that I “could not return until a week after my last day of any symptoms.) My boss was implying that it was all in my head. I asked fellow co workers later that day, what the situation was regarding supplies, and rules. The folks we worked with all know their rights, and again in “normal” times, refuse to wash, are abusive to employees, and hang out in less than ideal places, getting drugs, etc. My co worker informed me that nothing had changed. (There was also a death of a client who although he had had some physical illnesses was generally fine. But from the time I went on sick leave, about ten days later, he had become increasingly ill, to the point where he had stopped eating or drinking, and then passed.) I was told that it was from his other illnesses, but I feel he may have had covid19. But of course have no proof, and this was right before anyone in our area started testing people for it.

A week later, when I phoned to have an interview with my doctor to “clear me”, I had become worried that considering everything, along with my age, and family history, as well as some health issues, that it would be best if I took an extended leave of absence. Unfortunately, my doctor had called in for her own leave. I was transferred to another doctor, who was arrogant, and also dismissive. He said that he “didn’t feel that legally he could give me a doctor’s note for leave.” I explained the situation, and he said that he would “look into it, and get back to me”. He never did. My leave was up and I was suppose to return to work. My family knew what I had gone through with this job, and understood that it was dangerous for me to return, and urged me not to do so. And I agreed. I quit my job, and have not looked back. Unfortunately I am the main source of income in my immediate family. I do have a small income otherwise, but it isn’t enough for all of the bills. My family are doing what they can, and we are holding on.

I do not regret quitting. I believe in my heart that I was in danger, and am good with my decision. We will get by, it won’t be easy, but I’m alive.

I have been using my time probably like most, “visiting” family online, fixing things around the house, doing what is in my power to help, and working on my art.

.

I’ve done a few things recently, including a quick self portrait, (where I feel I may have been a bit too intense, heheh), and a portrait of Andrea Bocelli, as I was so moved by his performance in the empty Duomo in Milan Italy that I started on it soon after.

Do what you believe is best for you, your family, community, and the world. Stay safe, stay home, and flatten the curve for all of us. But also do something to feel better, for yourself and everyone else. I’ll catch you next time, because I’m still here and intend to be for as long as I can 🙂 .

Taking A Breather

I’ve taken a bit of a breather, as the title of this so aptly says. After Inktober, and now through some other things in life going on, as well as some overall stagnation, I need some time to think on where my art will lead now. I’m not sure how it is with other people, but I generally find that I need real down time to recharge my creative flow so to speak. And unfortunately my “other” job has been exhausting of late. Today is the first time I’ve done anything somewhat substantial, art wise in a few weeks. I’m posting it here today to show I’m still around, heheh.

Last year my grand daughter learned how to properly walk our dog Kota, who can be a handful. She did a great job, and Kota showed her respect. I’ve done a painting of a moment in that interaction. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next. I do have a few ideas, but need some time to work them out. For now I hope you enjoyed seeing this little painting. See you next time!

Cats, Work, and Changing Seasons

So I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but I haven’t been around as much of late. Truth be told, I just haven’t had the energy. Due to the changing seasons, some problems at the “other” job, i.e. people being out ill, and a general lack of employees, I’ve been filling in quite a bit. Thankfully, some awesome people have been hired, and things are easing up a bit. Time to stretch, aaahh.

With everything that has been going on, I haven’t really had time to even think about what to write. But as it’s always fun to see pictures of cats, (I know I can never get enough of them), I decided to share some kitty pics I’ve done.

When our cat gets this look on his face, well… heheh

I did this portrait some time ago, of a beloved cat named Bic. That was the name he came with when we adopted him from a shelter at the age of two. We actually thought about changing his name, but it seemed to suit him so we kept it. Bic was a very special cat, and was a legend amongst family and friends. Even people who didn’t particularly like cats, (I know, what?!) loved Bic. There was just something about him. He was smart, sweet, and playful. Years after he was gone, people would talk about him, and reminisce. So here’s to you Bicy-bear, we’ll always remember you.

Just a sketch I did of a pretty fluffers.

“Murray In Repose”

I think these ladies are going home to take care of their cats, heheh. Bye for now, hope you enjoyed this post. See you next time!