How do You Stay Creative in Stressful Times?
I am working on a sunset beach scene in my new studio on Cape Cod. After being in a garage studio in Livermore, I am loving my new loft studio with all the creature comforts including comfy chair under the skylight. Each week I have been invited to join a Zoom painting group with Paul Schulenberg Studio on Cape Cod. Each person contributes to the fee for a model and he has several camera angles to choose for painting. Here is a photo of the model from December who was a musician. My pastel portrait isn’t ready for prime time, but it is a great challenge and amazing to see what others produce during the 3 hour session. The group has about 30 participants. Some are local and a few are from off Cape and the UK. This could be an idea for PAL or LAA to do.
What have I been up to during the pandemic? In addition to learning how to run a mental health program using telehealth, making lots of baked goods with a sourdough starter, and reaping the bounty of veggies in my victory garden, I have been learning how to do art on the app Procreate. There’s still so much to learn, but I am enjoying it thoroughly! That’s Amy’s delicious cake above.
This has been my big project while sheltering in place. I had the idea of painting this triptych before the lockdown occurred, so I had all of the supplies that I needed to begin. It was a wonderful project to keep my mind off of the current events and have a focus to my days. I selected three photos that I took while in Giverny in 2018….and tried to have them flow together…. they were three separate areas of Monet’s garden. As it progressed, I needed to have a space where they could be side by side, so we moved the kitchen table out of the eating area, and I took over that area for about a week to finish them up….. very sweet husband to roll with all of that! They are painted in oil on linen, 10”x 30” each.
Rolleen Carcioppolo: I have been very busy continuing to learn an art skill using my photographs and Photoshop to create art prints on canvas that look like oil paintings or watercolors. I display all of my artwork on my Facebook Art by Rolleen page: http://facebook.com/artbyrolleen. Also I display them on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s my latest that I just did. It’s called Yellow Purple Iris. I am selling my artwork as limited art prints on canvas. I also have 3 of my canvas prints now hanging in the side room of the Terra Mia Restaurant in Livermore. Hopefully soon the COVID-19 virus will end, restaurants and art shows will open up again and I can show my work.
Rhonda Chase: I’ve been making a lot of masks and having fun with creating some pretty special designs. One really cool mask is an outer space galaxy design, which has been dyed and beaded. I’ve written a tutorial for creating the artwork and posted it for free. Here’s the space mask tutorial link: https://www.instructables.com/id/The-Great-Space-Face-Mask/. And if you don’t want to make your own masks, I have a listing just for the Tri Valley which discounts all regular handmade masks: www.rhondachasedesign.com/products/handmade-fabric-face-mask-pleasanton-residents-only-pick-up-only?_pos=1&_ sid=560328a02&_ss=r
My artwork has been chosen as one of this year’s Utility Box Art Projects for the City of Dublin! My chosen design was inspired by driving down Tassajara and seeing colorful kites being flown at the park and soaring over the hills. My artwork showcases a variety of cheerful kites, each one depicting a different image associated with Dublin life and culture. Painting will be scheduled for this summer and I’ll get Ashley and Adam to help out.
Karen Fleschler: Phil and I are hunkering in and not going out to eat. But we have enjoyed having a couple of friends over for dinner for warmth and conversation. We try to stay optimistic and positive and finding joy in just being alive, knowing our family and friends are safe and well and staying connected. Of course then there’s always alcohol.
Linda Garbarino: “My latest artistic challenge takes me back to my mother’s early days when young ladies were introduced to local society requiring a formal studio photo in a gorgeous gown to be printed in their local paper. I have that lovely framed, original studio photograph. It’s a tough challenge because I have to get the likeness perfectly rendered of her when she was younger than I ever knew her. It’s a lovely challenge and one that you might consider, yourself.”
Marge Haggin: Georgia, Joyce and Christine and I meet for art play days—but we won’t be doing that for awhile. But I challenged them each to produce a piece of art with a flower on a pink background. Then next week we will send a photo of our piece of art piece to each other.
I am still working on the art to enter in the Spring Show, but since the date is now moved to November, I hope to still be able to add a new piece to it. Collage is a great way to get involved in a piece of art that is relaxing. Find colors, shapes, themes in junk mail, magazines, old love letters–use your imagination. (You don’t have glue? There is always flour and water.) One of the best ideas is to call another artist and just chat. Maybe someone you haven’t had time to visit in awhile. Art has opened so many doors for all of us–now is a good time to explore and find ways to expand for ourselves and I hope to pass on to others.
Kathy Hill: I found this quote in my travels and it spoke to me. “Only by dealing with the difficulty does the creativity come forth.” Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. It reminded me to have patience when I am working because painting is problem solving. There usually is a place in a painting that is what we refer to as the “ugly” stage when we would like to take it and throw it in the garbage. Charles Sovek wrote that he got so mad at his painting one day that he threw his whole easel into the Saugatuck River…the whole thing, painting and all! But if we put the painting away for awhile, even a few hours or over night, or look at in reverse in the mirror, we see it with fresh eyes and can usually identify the problem and work on correcting it. We have all been there!!
Linda Hopwood: Over the years I have worked in many mediums. Most of you are familiar with my work which has been realistic images in colored pencil. Recently I decided to go back to one of my favorite styles and that is doing abstracts in acrylic. Attached you will see one of my latest paintings. They are acrylic on canvas. “Red Rose in a White Pail” is 36 x 24”. Since it’s been over 10 years since I’ve done an acrylic painting, it’s been challenging for me to create a something that reflects the image I see in my mind.
“I was asked to paint 5 small images of specific flowers as gifts for Christmas. Since my painting skills are rusty, I instead “painted” most of them with colored pencils. These four of five artworks are approximately 7” square. The fifth one is a 9” square watercolor of a rose, ‘French Perfume’. This was done a few years ago when my talent was still fresh.”
Jennifer Huber: The 2020 Promotion committee at John Green elementary in Dublin wanted to do something with the money they had collected for the 5th grader this year. Since there was no gathering, party, or ceremony, they decided to buy the school a shed. Hanh Vo San contacted me and asked if I could paint the doors. They wanted the John Green Logo, “Class of 2020” and the phrase “Don’t stop believing”.
I came up with three designs and they picked my favorite: the sea turtles & bat rays. I only charged materials and spent a week prepping, painting, and sealing the doors. I tell you with all the change and upheaval going on in the world right now, it is great to give back to the community so directly. I hope to help out schools and businesses more in the future. (The angle of the photo is awkward because it is in a gated corner of the school: not much room to shoot.)
Georgia Jacobs: 12 Museums From Around the World That You Can Visit Virtually | Travel + Leisure
Barbara Johnson has been extra busy!
Christine McCall: As for staying on the creative path, my path is stunted the last few months from the SAS and work at Walter’s company. I am hoping that this breather will let me do some of the ideas I’ve had in my head for awhile. Being stuck at home like this could be the perfect time to do a project. Right now I’m just catching up on email and bills and paperwork!
Mark Mertens: Attached is a picture of me being busy. It was taken by a photographer and was in the newspaper. As you know we now live in Arroyo Grande on the central coast and also have a condo in Danville. The dry January and February have given me the opportunity to get out and do plein air paintings in oil along the coast. I’ve also been busy working in the studio. My philosophy has always been, “life is short, so why waste any of it not painting.” I work regardless of how I feel about it at the time and magically get lost in the process after about 15 to 30 minutes. It is like exercise. Many of us do not feel like getting regular exercise, but when we do, the good feeling about exercise falls into place.
Meghana Mitragotri: The last few weeks, I have really enjoyed making these scented 3D cards for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each card contains a print of my watercolor painting, embellishments, and flowers that I made using foam. I die-cut the edges of the card for a delicate look and added a drop of essential oil for an elevated experience. I am glad I was able to debut this item at Livermore’s ArtWalk Light! www.daintlymade.com.
Beth Okurowski: Many famous artists throughout history werealso gardeners. Monet comes to my mind first, but there are many others. I recently came across this interesting article: From Frida Kahlo to Claude Monet, 8 Artists Who Designed Enchanting Gardens. Take a look!
Maitrayi Pithadiya: “The beginning of this year was a bit stressful, but I always try to be positive and learn new things. Due to the current conditions, I get more chances to spend time with my family, gardening, and my studio. My studio time is pleasant and relaxing. I cleaned and rearranged it, created my website, and I learned how to teach online via zoom! I have taken lots of pictures of diverse plants from my backyard, ranging from juicy plums to gorgeous flowers. I have much more time to paint, giving me countless chances to improve my skills. Also, most importantly, art gives me happiness and relaxation.”
Judy Rice: All of these paintings were done at home with my photos as reference. The abstract painting is acrylic; the others are watercolor. The poppy pic was finished during COVID and the one of my grand-daughter (I called it “Thirsty”) was painted during COVID. These paintings will be in the LAA Gallery when it opens. email@example.com.
Monique Rardin Richardson: Our temporarily new way of life has given me much-appreciated freedom to explore more with the camera in hand. When the air and weather are in sync with my health, I like to travel around the Tri-Valley to new places I’ve yet to see. Never disappointed while searching for all the beauty that remands to thrive despite the things we’ve lost. It’s what has been keeping me healthy, strong, calm, and believing in these uncertain times. My camera is where time stands still. This is a photo of a kitty I met named Luna enjoying the fall. And the other is a peaceful sunset viewing. https://foreverpresent.format.com
Lisa Rigge: I’ve been taking a lot of hikes and walks since SIP started. We are so fortunate to have the East Bay Regional Parks to explore, and these many hikes are keeping me feeling sane. At this time of year, the birds have been nesting and the little ones are out and about – mallard and wood duck ducklings swimming in the arroyos, cormorant babies and young red tails in their nests, swallows and their chicks under the freeway passes, and the great blues and egrets gracing Shadow Cliffs. I take photographs of them because that’s what I do, but I also love watching them through the binoculars. I feel as sheltered as the birds these days.
“During Shelter- in-Place, I have been spending more time with my photography. Early on, I accidentally restored about 3,000 photographs from my back-up disk back onto my desktop computer. Suffice it to say, it took several weeks to find all the duplicates and delete them. But the good thing that came out of it was that I saw photographs I hadn’t seen in years. I had the time to appreciate the better ones and delete the rest.
Meanwhile, I learned about The Sun Magazine about a year ago, and the first time I submitted some photographs, “Mystical Hatchlings” (page 1) was accepted! There is a caveat, though. One’s work doesn’t get published until the editors have an article to pair with your photograph. Then it gets published, and you get paid. There’s no telling how long that will take!
So, after reviewing all of my “restored” photographs, I reentered a second batch of about 20 images and was rejected that time. But I managed to gather another 20 or so more images to submit a third time. And, indeed, they accepted “Spirit Birds”. That being said, The Sun Magazine receives over 1,000 photographs a month. So, to have 2 of my images accepted in two different months is indeed an honor! And I’ll let you know if and when they do get published!“
Ron Rigge: It was a wonderful spring, at least for our local flora and fauna. Oakhill park in Alamo was a wonderful place to view several ancient valley oaks as they broke out in their new growth in late March. I finished a small body of work including about 8 photographs of our resident oaks.
Another virus era photo from a cool summer morning in the park.
In that pleasant year of 2019 I took an extended hike through the bristlecone pine forest having the world’s oldest trees in the White mountains. As I had never made a photograph that was able to capture the essence of these sculptured giants, I then concentrated on close ups of their exposed bark and inner scars from their eons of existence. I was happy with these results and have now expanded this body of work to include lodgepole and white pine trees in the Sierras. www.ronrigge.com
Helene Marie Roylance: A few weeks ago I was struggling to get back in my ceramics studio after a busy holiday season. I had finally shed my winter burnout and felt the pressure to start filling the kiln. Post holiday, I always plan on making January “Watercolor January,” since I love painting, but I always feel like I run out of time. Now that my ceramics show dance card is unexpectedly free…I’m going to take advantage and use my studio time for those things I never have enough time to do!
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a stack of art books we always meant to crack open. “One of these days I’ll set aside a day to just follow along some tutorials!” “I’ll get myself to do some color studies!” We all have a project we put off because we didn’t have time…right? For me, I have a wonderful stack of watercolor books that I have been wanting to savor. You know, that mythical time where you put away the other noise and just dig in, painting to explore and experiment, not with such purpose? Now is the perfect time!
Just because we need to restrict our travel doesn’t mean we can’t have inspiration from around the world! I thought I would share a resource that I love for those artists looking for inspiration. I discovered an incredible website, PaintMyPhoto (https://pmp-art.com/). According to their website, “Paint My Photo (PMP) is a social networking site dedicated to sharing photos for artistic inspiration without fear of infringing copyright.” Once you register an account, and agree to the terms (not to make unauthorized prints of others’ photos), you gain access to a gigantic online resource of photographs you can legally use as reference photos without fear of copyright infringement. This is an amazing group of people that share their photos – from Copenhagen to Japan, New Mexico to Brazil. These wonderful photographers from all over the world submit their photos so that registered users of the website can use them as reference for their own original artwork. You are free to make copies of the resulting works you create and sell them. They have helpful guides to help you learn how to search using key words, and how to add photos. I have found the users on the site to be extremely warm, gracious and supportive. What more could you ask for!
Lynne Shephard: Things I like to do were taken away from me all of a sudden. I have no more classes. The shows I had gotten into were cancelled. My only solace is my studio away from home. I can go there, because I’m the only one there at the moment. I haven’t recovered enough, yet, to begin creating some art. Slowly, I’m feeling more joyful at the chance to start a new painting. Those thoughts turned into wanting to go for a new medium. I want to go back to my printmaking for awhile. I have a new process of using solar plates to create block prints, intaglio, or relief printing. So, when the sun comes out again, I will be fully prepared to start that process.
Usha Shukla is part of the Global Art Project Organization comprising of 30 international female artists from 16 countries. Their all-women exhibit “Gender Gap” is installed at Gallerie Renee Marie in Benicia, and can be viewed online by appointment only at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Usha also was recently interviewed by artist Katie Korotzer for her series In the Artists’s Studio published in the Piedmont Extra Magazine. Here is the link. https://piedmontexedra.com/2020/05/in-the-artists-studio-usha-shukla.
Pat Smith: “I have had to isolate myself, so no stores etc. for me. But I am not bored yet. Thank goodness for the new technology. Sometimes I get frustrated but I have learned to like FaceTime, Zoom and real phone calls. However, my time to paint was suffering. Something had to be done! Thank you Meg Mitagotri for showing us your cards. I went into my supplies and found a box of watercolor paper cards and envelopes, then I went out into my garden full of flowers that I had planted for Easter and began to paint. No hiding eggs for the great grandsons but now I can send cards to them. I was more than surprised at how rusty I had become. Serious brush hours now for me.”
Barbara Stanton: I consider most of the news as nonsense. You have to ask yourself “Is there anything I can do about it?” Most likely not. Get back to work! Besides, painting is my escape from the “real” world.
“Not being able to teach, I’ve had more time to paint. I was planning on working with egg tempera when I retired from teaching so I decided to have a mini retirement and focus on learning egg tempera painting techniques. I had taken a class a few years back and I had all the supplies I needed on hand. I dove in and was happily surprised to find that it wasn’t as hard as I remember it being in my class. My paintings turned out pretty awesome! So here are some of the pictures of the paintings both oil and egg tempera.(The ones with the $100 bill are all egg tempera; the others are some oil.
Fair News fromBarbara: “You Have My Attention“ was entered into the fair’s virtual show and I got best of class under water-based medium! I also got the award ‘Best of Class’, under the category computer generated images for the third year in a row with one of my life drawings, ‘Lisa’s Back.’ I am hoping some of my fellow artists who are drawing on their iPads will enter the fair in the future so we will have some more competition. There weren’t that many entries in that category.
Our vulnerability has been highlighted in no uncertain terms in the current pandemic and rapid and complex changes have placed us in extraordinarily stressful times. Yet in the midst of it I am recalling quotes that have inspired and motivated me and I hope that by sharing them they can lighten your load a bit as well.
Quote 1: The first was shared by my artist friend, Sawsan, who was making some jewelry and found an inscription on a piece of metal which read: “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” (Richard Bach) When I set aside my anxiety and looked for a gift in this unprecedented situation I came to realize that there were indeed gifts – closeness of family that I don’t usually get to enjoy, stepping off the hamster- wheel of meetings and events and finding quiet spaces to connect with my passions of writing and floral photography.
Quote 2: “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that your own way can illuminate the world” (Oprah Winfrey). There are few things that excite me as much as discovering a beautiful bloom. It has no expectations of the world but revels in the elements whether it be sunshine, wind or rain. When it is at its peak the glorious light of living shines forth spreading beauty where it finds itself. In this trying time I am still able to enjoy walks and admire the beauty of Spring’s arrival (and we know there are always flowers for those who want to see them!). This photo was taken in my neighborhood.
Quote 3: “Each new day is an opportunity to try again! Embrace it!” (Vanessa) I never realized how often I touch my face until I was told not to! I don’t always succeed and I don’t always feel that I am in tune with my muse when editing a floral photograph and on those days the images never quite seem to look the way I intended them to – but that’s ok – the joy is in the process and each day that we are granted is chance for us to try again.
Quote 4: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). The joy that artists bring to the world are seldom deemed essential but we can see the vitality that an engaging creation brings when there is a deluge of negativity and unhappiness. More and more people have been asking me to please post my floral images to add an uplifting moment to their sheltered days. Museums have made virtual tours available and artists have been sharing stay-at- home creative projects. If your work can brighten the day of just one person (even if it’s you) then it’s all been worthwhile.
Quote 5: “Bloom with all the enthusiasm you can muster!” (Vanessa) Some buds never flower, if we are fortunate enough to bloom – we should do so with all the enthusiasm we can muster! Persist in your creative journey – it will fuel you and create new opportunities to connect.
Introducing Joa Jerboa in a self-illustrated Picture Book: This is an introduction to the lead character of my recently e-published picture book – Joa Jerboa. I wanted a character that was African, friendly, kind, adventurous and that mixed raced kids like my own could connect with — so Joa was born. Joa has her own unique style and like the typical jerboa looks like a mixture of a mouse and a kangaroo. What makes her unique is the addition of a magical tail which has a story of its own.
The picture book is called “Days of the Week with Joa Jerboa” (Kindle Store on Amazon). The rhyming story was originally written while we were in the United Kingdom when
my son was little and learning to read. I then posted a narrated video on YouTube just using some free clipart to illustrate it. It had always been my plan to illustrate it myself one day and with my early birthday gift of an XP-PEN drawing tablet from my husband, that plan reached fruition in September.
A closer look at the cover art on the picture book reveals the little blue flowers inspired by Forget-Me-Nots. Whenever I look at Forget-Me-Nots my thoughts go to those who have passed on and I whisper a prayer acknowledging what they meant to me. It’s no surprise that Forget-Me-Nots are associated with remembrance but interestingly their genus is Myosotis derived from the ancient Greek word for “mouse’s ear” because of the shape of their leaves. Forget-Me- Nots are scattered throughout the picture book and paying homage to all those past and present, near and far, who make my life more meaningful, purposeful and beautiful.
Today is a gift, tomorrow is not guaranteed. So today I hope you dance with your being and hold those you love close in your heart. There is no time like the present to be kind to yourself, to honor your journey and what you’ve overcome and to keep on making your ruckus!
Dianne Varden: I get creative by looking through my collection of art books and personal photos. It stimulates my imagination. I also like to look at various photos of paintings on line. I Figure out what attracts me to that particular painting and try to do something similar but using my own subject. Once started, the painting somehow develops and I might end up with something different but satisfying. I also like to watch various artists on YouTube who do interesting work. i.e. I tried acrylic pour painting for the first time and had fun. I probably won’t continue for long, but learned some helpful painting tips. Most important though is getting into your studio even if you just tidy up and clean brushes etc. Being amongst your “tools” tends to put you in a painting mood!
Craig Varden: For artists and photographers …Travel vicariously…to Italy, Wuhan anywhere in the world. Go to Google photos or a major photostock agency (mine is superstock.com) and enjoy the travel photos, plan future trips and get art ideas.
I was 16 when I sold my first photo. I took it from my roof in New York. I initially moved the photo once and showed my father who suggested a multi movement exposure. I did four exposures. It was published by Ferrania Photo Magazine in Italy and separately, Photo Holland. I made a bundle, $1 for each of my years ($16). It took another 10 years to sell my next photo. www.superstock.com, search for Craig Varden.
Christine Watters: “I thought I hadn’t done much over the pandemic, but looking at my photos I realize I’ve been busy – just not making a lot of art. Just when everyone slowed down I started working again (not at art). I’ve also made a pile of masks for family and friends, some with my own bespoke fabrics. I grew a container vegetable garden for the first time and tried a pile of new things in the kitchen, bagels, donuts, focaccia, figured out sourdough (along with everyone else, except I’m still making bread), and very pleased that I learned how to make peameal. The online world has taken off and I’ve taken advantage of some of it; I took a great course online about shading and attended some online dye lectures. Marge Haggin, Joyce Moulden and Georgia Jacobs and I have been doing weekly online happy hour; we were doing weekly challenges for a bit but as with all good groups, it’s now all about a good chat at the end of the week. This photo is of the family on our only outing this summer, to the beach. We are wearing masks I’d made (mine and hubby’s from my own fabrics). The paper poppies are a result of one of our weekly art challenges.”
Jan Watling: Jan submitted several pictures of her process for cutting paper strips for her curling art. She doesn’t have a website but you can go to her Facebook page, or email her at email@example.com to see the other photos. Pictures of her Quilling:
Norma Webb: This scene was on San Ramon Road near Pine Valley Road. Unfortunately it is all houses now, but the good news is that I have all my old photos to inspire me. I live a mile or so from this spot and when we are lucky, on some hot summer days, the fog comes over the hills to start a wonderful cooling spell!
The Portfolio is creative in its own way, but not as fulfilling as a painting when it is going well. Then there is gardening which I enjoy a lot, even though bending is getting harder all the time! Beautiful music is always inspiring. And I have a stack of beautifully written books from over the years that I loved and saved to read again “later.” Well guess what?– “Later” is here!