Most artists bring a sketchbook to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to sketch the masters learning their techniques. I decided to bring my iPad instead. I found this incredible painting by John Alexander White…sat on the floor…and painted. A crowd gathered around and asked my what app I used and I ended up giving a demonstration. So much fun!
I have experienced something different about how I am painting. I never know what is going to appear on the canvas. I used to be very determined when I sat down to paint. The vision appeared in my mind instantly and I went to work in a fury finishing each painting in 2-3 hours.
I don’t know what happened to my brain but I actually am more cautious when I paint. I am in slo-mo mode. I have no vision. I am not inspired. But I have to work to keep up and improve my skills. So this painting began on Wednesday. Still working on it.
However, I noticed that the style is not my usual style. People always say my work looks like Van Gogh. This painting reminds me of Henri Rousseau! And I’m not a fan of Rousseau. Go figure. It’s still a work in progress. Who knows what will happen. Kind of fun.
Here’s me and Rousseau.
So again I have been in a creative block. I was reminded of the quote by artist Chuck Close regarding artistic inspiration.
“AMATEURS LOOK FOR INSPIRATION, THE REST OF US JUST GET UP AND GO TO WORK “
Can’t argue with that!!! So I called upon my formula for breaking paralysis… START WITH A DOODLE!
I have a wonderful portable watercolor kit created to take anywhere. A pouch filled with portable brushes and an assortment of wonderful pots of special paints. An inexpensive set of watercolors. Tiny tubes of gouache. Paper towels. And a 9″ x 12″ pad of cold pressed watercolor paper. Easy travel and easy clean up.
Here is the doodle and I really got into working and playing the colors and the liquid flow of the medium. And from the doodle two exciting and free expressive paintings.
So we all know Grandma Moses as being the most famous woman artist over 50. We respect her talent and giggle about her being a grandmother who was a self taught artist whose art hangs in many museums and auctions for big bucks. I don’t know of any other woman artist so celebrated in this age group. Please feel free and let me know if there are women artists who were successful after the age of 50.
I began showing my art at the age of 56. I came out of a 30 year artist block then. I went back to the Art Students League in NYC to study. The first thing I noticed was some of the male instructors would ignore me but were very helpful to the younger women. Most of the monitors were young men. So I became aware of being a second class citizen. I want to say that I did get enormous support from a small group of instructors with integrity. Thank you Michael Burban, Oldrich Teply, Dean Hartung Max Ginsburg, Barney Hodes.
I did my first group art show of my paintings in the Chelsea Room in the infamous Chelsea Hotel in 2010. That night was very exciting and as I looked around I noticed that I was the only woman artist in the show. And the only artist over 35! But I engaged the younger men and I never thought I was too old. After all an artist is an artist. Now after many years of showing my work I still am the oldest woman artist in group shows. Some of the young artists ignore me and some engage me as another artist. Sometimes they talk to me like a mother.
But the idea of being a creative woman of age has been a bee in my bonnet (talk about an old phrase, yikes!). There is a lot of age and gender discrimination in the art world. However, I push through it and have been successful for 10 years as a professional woman artist (of age). I don’t feel any difference because I’m good at my art and I don’t feel old next to anyone. We are equal with respect to being artists. And I do command respect for my talent. I also respect the talent of any artist.
I will continue to celebrate who I am: a talented ageless woman artist. Never stop pursuing being the artist you are.
Thank you Grandma Moses.
In another galaxy away from my blog for many months, I have been reclaiming my true self mentally. I had to withdraw from the world in order to get off a very powerful and destructive antidepressant I had been on for 16 years.
DISCLAIMER: This is my story and I am not endorsing that antidepressants are bad and everyone has to stop talking them. Please follow your doctor’s advice. Never stop cold turkey. It’s extremely dangerous.
Okay so I have been on psychiatric medication since the 1960s off and on. The reason was I had childhood trauma. They have been helpful for many of those years. However, I’m 65 now and many things physically are different. The last 16 years on the last medication was actually too long and I was becoming less productive in the last year. I started to experience more fear and anxiety. Less creativity. Withdrawal from people. More drugs were added and I got worse. I was under the drug spell. Believing that the drug was better than no drug. Until I went to pick up the latest drug and the pharmacist said the co-pay was $283!!!! For one month!!!! Faced with maintaining the suppression of depression or paying rent and eating I pushed the drugs back to the pharmacist and said “I don’t need these thank you “. Called my psychiatrist and said I’m over all these chemicals that are making me feel numb. I m over being dependent on meds that have me spellbound. So she didn’t try to change my mind and she agreed to wean me off.
It took 5 months of being dizzy, having brain zapping, leg pain, insomnia, anxiety, days when I couldn’t leave my house because I was not able to feel grounded. But today it’s 46 days clean!!!
46 days and I am seeing that I am not a depressed person. I stopped being depressed after I went back to doing my art. I do experience down times which is life but I embrace them. I am using exercise, diet, mindful practice, and walking in nature as my antidepressant. Another thing I became aware of was the depression I experienced had a lot to do with the anxiety of my untreated ADHD. So now I’m just treating my ADHD with less medication since I have stopped the antidepressant. I’m a different person today.
I did accomplish some wonderful things last month. A successful art show and sale. Preparing a iPad art workshop for the National Association of Women Artists for June. And this summer I am mentoring a 10 year old girl in art. And I negotiated a workshop for young men leaving prison to learn to create art on their iPads. The organization is called Getting Out and Staying Out.
I am the Jedi Artist who has returned!
THE ART SHOW
THE WITHDRAWAL PAINTINGS
In the past few weeks my painting has morphed into an abstract landscape that is a new style from my impressionist one.
The truth is that in the last 4 months I’ve been withdrawing from a very powerful antidepressant after being on it for 16 years. Last year I realized how it was making me worse and I am not depressed anymore. So powerful is this drug that my brain has zapping which feels like electrical shocks are piercing the cells. I’m dizzy, have brain fog and my legs cramped so badly I couldn’t walk for 3 weeks. But now the real me is emerging. I can finally feel myself coming out.
So I actually did this painting in withdrawal. And I also did the previous painting in withdrawal. And the experience was a struggle to focus my vision (blurred vision was a part of withdrawal). But here it is. I believe the real me is finally emerging.
THIS IS THE FINISHED PAINTING!!!
I became aware of the Russian artist in 2005. His paintings were hypnotic and colorful. Modernist for the time of early 20th Century. I posted many of them on my Flickr site as images that I admired in their strength and power.
But his story was more intriguing than I could ever imagine. His artistry included more than painting. He was an architect, a theatre set and costume designer for the Russian ballet including the infamous Sergei Diaghilev in 1898. He also studied law and history. His painting “The Messenger” 1897 earned him the title of artist securing him a place in the history of Russian art.
But it was an article on the website Atlas Obscura titled “Why the Soviets Sponsored a Doomed Expedition to a Hollow earth Kingdom “. How a search for the hidden land of Shambahala turned into a geopolitical power play. By Dimitra Nikolaidou.
I learned that Roerich was a believer in mysticism and upon arriving in America joined the Theosophy Society. He became famous in his mystical theories and had many important political followers who participated in his teachings in New York City during the 1920s. He and his wife Helena and his 2 sons were eventually sponsored by the U.S. to search for the underground city of Shambahala in Asia in 1923. That expedition would take 5 years and the Roerichs would be followed by Soviet spies as well as British and Mongolian spies in what became the “Great Chase”.
Shambahala was believed to have special weapons that would make the finders able to survive apocalyptic future.
I am not going to give a spoiler alert but Roerich ventured again in 1934 to find the hidden city. Check out Atlas obscura for more. Here are the incredible spiritual paintings that are actually at the Nicholas Roerich Museum (his home) on West 107 th Street NYC.
A painting I am working on in my escape into landscapes theme.
The original acrylic on canvas
The iPad experiments
The first painting of the year is a prediction of where I am going. After a break from painting this is what appeared.
It was done in acrylic. 18″ x 14″