A Lesson in Constraint

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The start of my artist's journey 11 and 46 years ago, and during the pandemic, working under constraint underscores my lifelong experience to express as my artist-self, in finding my voice. Finding our voice through our art is synonymous with finding our voice in life. We might notice that as we identify our preferences of color, subject, and form, our awareness of other personal preferences will simultaneously emerge. It could feel disruptive to those around us, as we gain confidence in our ability to make decisions that are congruent with who we are on the inside. As we exercise these muscles in making our art, we become empowered to do the same in other areas of our life where we may have deferred or abdicated - or put ourselves last.

I chose this series of paintings to share with this post because they are paintings done under constraint. They represent what part of my artist's journey feels like to me.

Yellow makes me feel happy. I live at the base of Pikes Peak, Americas Mountain in Colorado. I love hardlines and the built environment. This bright abstract landscape is full of possibilities. And, I can now see the light at the end of this tunnel called a pandemic as my life and art move in this new direction.

The narrowing of life is often the passage to clear knowing. The reduction of options in our work as artists can also be the passage to clear knowing.

I've been on a life-long journey to find my voice. What seems like a  single week of painting that unlocked it all - as represented in my work made here is the result of a very long process of learning to be seen and heard.

When I was silent, I was hiding from the truth within - I was hiding from myself and others. But silence is a noisy place, and speaking our truth (my reality) can become a place of quiet—a place of rest as we learn this new language through art. 


If you are new to finding your voice through your art, I want to tell you to be kind and patient with yourself. Being here means that you already know that there is a part of you that longs to speak this language - a piece that wants to tangibly exist. While the ABC's of painting - the tools, principles, materials, and rules of art-making are universal, your way of expressing. - the syntax- is uniquely yours to arrange.

 

When the lockdown occurred, I transitioned my art students to online instruction. The learning curve is steep, the commitment is high, the technology can be daunting, and screen time exhausting. We don't know what we don't know, but as soon as we do, then everything changes. I had a sense of how much work it is to convert and deliver my content online, so I had not done it. I've worked more hours the last 6-months to accomplish this transition - albeit somewhat clumsily - than I've worked the previous year teaching physical classes and mentoring instructors. But now I know more about what it takes, and more fully appreciate the labor and love behind free-weeks and other courses I've taken online with amazing artists like Louise FletcherGabriel Lipper, and Nicholas Wilton

If you find that you are feeling a loss over not continuing in the upcoming  YC Classroom, 10-week course, consider what you've discovered about yourself instead. This feeling of loss might point to your need to be in a community with people who share your interest and goals. What will you do to "find your people"? How will you meet this need, if you can't join the 10-week course right now?

 There were many years of scarcity when I did not have money to pay for things like art supplies or courses, but there are other ways to meet these needs when finances are tight. Artist's solve problems of scarcity all the time. You can solve this one too! Let any feelings of desperation be fodder for inspiration.