I'm eating lot's of raw veggies this days...and juicing and smoothie making. I thought this would mean holding my nose and gulping down weird tasting swamp water, but I've found this to be creatively fun, challening, and actually quite tasty!
This weekend I discovered Mojito Juice, a recipe by Sonnet Lauberth (For the Love of Food). I liked it so much I illustrated it. Try it. Seriously. (but easy on the lemon - I think half may have been a better bet...)
Now that the "great wall" (as I like to call it) is completed, I've been a little bit all over the place when it comes to getting back into my previous groove. I promised myself before the mural began, that once it was completed I would limit the amount of freelance jobs I took on for a bit so I could focus on spending more time creating my own work. I love custom orders, especially lettering, however, I had so much going that the enjoyment of it was being overpowered by the stress. Also, I have a solo show booked for September here in Lynchburg that I want to be working on. And I need the freedom in my schedule to create freely.
So here I am, with that time. And I'm freaking out. My mind is literally exploding with so many ideas, that's it's hard to even write them down. So instead of creating, I've been doing nothing. Yes, I know, I needed some rest after 5 weeks painting outside on a lift, but "rest" to me still involves creating things.
Yesterday, I was ready to explode. I wanted to make things so bad but my mind was overcome with random creative endeavors (starting my garden finally, lettering, illustration ideas, more murals, new recipes to invent, blogs to start writing again, paintings on wood, portraits, house projects, random street art, assemblage, and dying my hair to name a few), that I was stuck. Just stuck.
I started browsing the internet for articles about overcoming the "Too Many Ideas Syndrome" but nothing inspired me.
So, I gave myself an assignment. I had to sit and write the phrase "Too Many Ideas" all afternoon. I know this sounds weird, but I was desperate. And it worked! I got so into it. I was just rolling, having so much fun, just enjoying the creative process again.
This will now be my go-to trick when this happens again. It doesn't have to be writing the same phrase a million times (actually, my total was 59, not including all the ones I threw away in disgust), but setting up an assignment that I must soley focus on for a period of time. That was what I needed - a time of focus.
Today, I'm ready to go. I have ideas flowing, but they are more concrete. I made some lists, and determined which ideas were the best ones to pursue initially. The other ideas will have to wait (if I don't have an amazing garden this year, the world is not going to end...).
So, if you ever find yourself with this creative anti-block, give this a try:
1. Choose a very specific topic, phrase, or object. It could be pelicans, strawberries, a Bible Verse, whatever. Avoid vague topics though, such as "birds" or "fruit". By giving yourself limits, it forces you to dig deep when interpretting your topic, producing new layers of creativity.
2. Limit your supplies. Too many options get's overwhelming. I used just pens and paper. You could use watercolor and pens, just pencil, whatever. Just don't give yourself too many choices.
3. Set a goal: My goal was to come of with at least 50 different ways to write out the phrase. Your goal could be a time limit - an hour working uninterupted (or like I did, almost 5 hours...)
4. Create! There is no pressure. These aren't prints you are trying to sell on etsy, or finished works for a gallery. The goal is to simply be focused on making one thing and one thing only.
I found that by just limiting what I did yesterday, helped me relearn how to focus on one idea at a time. So today, I'm choosing one of the ideas that I've had, and I'm focusing soley at that in the studio.
Here are some of my favorites from yesterday:
Happy Friday everyone!
Well, I'm back in my little studio this week with lot's of lettering to do. I missed this little room, with my jars of pens, boxes of papergoods, and piles of random stuff you normally find in an artist's studio (deer antlers in the corner, notes to myself scribbled in a fury to remember ideas, you know all that good stuff...).
Before the mural got underway, I was in the midst of a few lettering projects and I'm excited to share some pieces I did for the newly married Julie Saunders. She worked with the talented Courtney Jentzen of Swiss Cottage Designs for her invitation suite. And it was so so so lovely. My favorite part were the envelope liners...so cute! I was excited to help make these invitations extra special for Julie and Ryan's guests to receive by hand addressing her envelopes.
Some other elements I helped Julie with were her menu and escort cards. (Photos by SarahTuckerEvents.) Julie sprayed these cute little sea creatures gold for each of the cards to be attached to. Love!
Ok, back to work - happy Wednesday!
So, I pretty much can't believe that the mural has been done for 4 whole days now. It not only seems like yesterday that I was just beginning on the far right hand side, but also that I was just beginning the planning of it (more than 6 months ago). And now, if you drive down Main Street in Downtown Lynchburg, there she is.
I wanted to blog more along the way, but, well, I just couldn't. This was the most rewarding, stressful, exciting, tiring, thrilling, fun, crazy experience I've ever had as an artist. Did I mention tiring? It wasn't that painting on the lift for 7 or 8 hours each day was that physically tiring (it was at first...but I got used to it), I just could not stop from thinking about it. And that wore me out.
But wow, I could not have done this without the Lord. He was with me constantly.
Since I last blogged, I had a lot go on (besides the obvious of finishing it...). I'll try to fill you in...
1. My Mom and Dad visited!
Ok, the word "visited" is an understatement. They not only got to experience our new city for the first time, but they worked their butts off painting the mural! Dad was on the 2nd lift, gridding, blocking in sections and basically doing whatever I told him to, and Mom was on the ground level, getting the water started, keeping us fed, and, as always, entertained. I think the two of them being here turned 3 days of work into at least 10.
I loved having them here. It was too short. But they had to get back to their awesome artsy furniture business, SonRooms Art Furniture.
2. I had the help of 3 more volunteer groups!
First up, we had the staff from the Academy of Fine Arts (whose wall I was painting) come out and begin blocking in different colors for the water. These people have become my friends and support group throughout this project - because we got to see each other every day! So that was fun, having them come out and contribute to the project.
Next, we had a group from the Bank of the James come help (pictured above). Another group of people I had never met - so this was just super cool to once again have total strangers willing to come out and paint. Their building is just down the street, and the mural is something they will get to see and experience every day...and that's what this was all about, giving the people of Lynchburg this mural as a landmark in our city. Something they can drive by each day and smile at.
Lastly, a fun couple that lives downtown, Phillip and Andrea, wanted to help. So they came out and painted a section of the wall I couldn't reach from the lift. It only took them 45 minutes or so, but it was a great help none the less and cool to meet more people who wanted to invest in the downtown art scene. Thanks Philip and Andrea!
3. The mural got some more press
(photography by Jill Nance Waugh)
Woot woot! Front page of the News and Advance! (Unfortunately, this honor was shared with the Boston bombing suspect - why say suspect, we know he did it...) Darrell Laurant wrote a creative and very cool story about the project, complete with a description of my shoes. (pictured below...)
4. I basically just painted a lot
People keep saying, "You painted that SO fast!". And yes, I guess I did. But, the thing is, is I had a plan, and the plan was very detailed, and after mapping it out I said it would be done in 5 to 6 weeks. And it was done in 5. Each day I went out with a mission, and most days I accomplished that mission, somedays I didn't, and somedays I did even more than expected. But I just painted. And it was fun and joyful at times, it was stressful and scary at times, and it was tiring and I wanted to go home and take a bath at times. But, at the end of each day, I wasn't leaving until things were perfect (whatever "perfect" meant that day).
Here are some of my favorite photos from the 5 weeks of "mural-life":
A few more...
I started this mural and thought "What the heck is God going to do?" And that got unveiled before me too.
I love this photo because this represents the dedication of the volunteers we had. This is Kevin, from the Bank of the James. He said he'd paint every spot behind and under the air conditioning unit, and well, he did. Kudos Kevin!
Lastly, I love this shot by my handsome hubby via instagram. Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and we celebrated by busting out our rusting South Florida beach cruisers and taking on the Blackwater Creek Trail, leading us about a mile from our house all the way to downtown...and the mural.
So what now?
Well, back to the lettering business at the moment. But I've had some inquiries about possible mural projects which I'll be looking into as well...so only the Lord knows what the future holds. And isn't that comforting?
I never dreamed that when I left teaching a year ago to become a "full-time artist" that this would be in the plans, but God's plans are way above our own. And that doesn't mean they are always going to be as "big" as this mural was. But, we can trust Him to lead us...no matter where He takes us.
I'm thankful for a lot with this experience. I'm thankful for Ted Batt from the Academy of Fine Arts for heading up this project and doing whatever he could do to make it happen. I'm thankful for the help from friends and family and volunteers I had along the way. I'm thankful for the donors (private donors, grants, James T. Davis Paint and D.L. Bryant) for financially making this happen. I'm thankful for the people that drove by each day honking and yelling encouraging things out the window. For the strangers that stopped by to talk each day. For the facebook support, as I posted photos of my progress each day for all my friends and family from all over to see. Even for the instagram encouragement. I'm thankful for the day Andrew and Samm hunted all over town to find me candied ginger because I was nausaus from the lift, and for Kelly Allen from the Academy bringing me a cream soda on a day I felt discouraged. I'm thankful for my parents hard work helping me. I'm thankful for Brent, who was my "go-to" when it came to getting more paint, more supplies, more snacks, or just a set of eyes to look and tell me what was or wasn't working.
But mostly, I'm thankful that this brought me closer to the Lord. I had a lot of confidence going into this project - but that was veiled by a little naivity. It was bigger and more difficult than I expected. And, I know without a doubt, that God helped me paint this. He uplifted me, He challenged me, He even put obstacles in my path at times, but He did all that to help me trust Him more. And the more I trusted Him, the more things came together. And then, one day, I looked up and we had painted the whole wall. Together. Me. The community. My family. My friends. And God.
WE painted this mural for Lynchburg.
Cheesy sounding? Sure. But I like cheesy.
Otherwise this blog post would just say, "Hey, look what I did. The end." And that's not as cool.