LIFE CAN’T GET IN THE WAY

ArtMotion

“Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.”

The past 12 months have been wonderful, hectic and enlightening. I’ve started a new job as a graphic designer at an amazing organization that does work I find meaningful. I moved to a new borough and Brooklyn has helped crack my experience in NYC wide open in the best possible way. I’ve travelled and eaten delicious food and drank a beverage or two. I’ve laughed with friends and cried for a variety of reasons. I learned how to play the ukulele and I ran another marathon.

But one thing that I haven’t done as much of these past 12 months is paint.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been making art, but just not as regularly as I did a year ago. And I’m here to tell you (as well as remind myself) that is okay. Not just okay. It’s GREAT!

You probably just raised an eyebrow and if I were you I probably would too, but hear me out. When friends have asked me why they haven’t seen any new work from me recently or why that mural I was talking about didn’t happen, I’ve been tempted to simply reply with “Oh you know, life just got in the way.” It’s the easy way out that I’ve heard people use whenever something doesn’t go according to plan, but I don’t buy it. At least not anymore.

If you are in a creative field, and I believe everyone is in someway, life simply can’t get in the way. Creativity doesn’t bloom in shadow. It needs light and lots of water. You need a life full of rich experience to fuel creativity. Or you’ll just continue pulling from the same well of inspiration until it runs dry.

Now it goes without saying that there can be to much of a good thing if your experiences stop you from making altogether, just like you can overwater a plant or burn it in the sun (Yes, I’m sticking with the plant metaphor). But as long as you are still thinking, still taking things in, still looking at something and getting inspired, then life didn’t get in the way.

This past week, I’ve seen a surge of creation. I’ve got watercolors under my finger nails and I almost accidentally drank my wash water because I was so into what I was making. Gross, I know. In each piece, I’ve been creating I see a bit of my year drip from the brush. The colors of houses in New Orleans. The pattern of a plant I saw at Prospect Park. The reflection of that feeling you get while sipping tea on the roof with your favorite person.

It’s all there, because it wasn’t getting in the way. It was building up. It was a seed germinating and now it’s ready to flower because I didn’t crush it with guilt for not coming sooner. Life can’t get in the way of creativity because life is creativity. So go live it.

 
 

WALL CALENDARS FOR 2015

2015-Relationsips-display

A new year means new wall calendars. I thought I would keep them up until later in the year this time around, since they were so popular last year and I don’t want to tell you how to live your life. New calendar in July? You do you. Either way, if you would like to get one of my other artworks on a calendar, feel free to e-mail me at hello [at] brownbearstudio [dot] com or request a custom item via etsy. I got you covered.

2015-geode-display 2015-Blue-display 2015-Rings-display

 
 

ON VALIDATION

Thoughts on Validation by Brown Bear Studio

“We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death.” -Leo Buscaglia

In many of the circles I float between, it is cool to be seen as aloof and uncaring of other people’s opinions. It comes from this “I do what I want,” “haters gonna hate” mentality that is currently popular. I can certainly get behind the notion that we will be criticized no matter what we do, so we might as well do what we please but criticism is only one side of the equation.

I recently put myself out there on social media and shared my struggle with finding a job. This is very much out of character for me since I like to give off a got-my-shit-together vibe, but the truth is much more messy. Of course, because I am friends with some wonderful people, the responses rolled in: “you are over-the-top AMAZING,” “Everything will be ok,” “…remember you rock,” “Oh I’ve been where you are.” etc. And I realized that was all I needed, some validation from people I care about.

So why is it so easy to say “I don’t care what you have to say” to those who bring us down, but so hard to say, “I value your opinion” to those who want to lift us up? Why is it not okay to say, “please, just tell me I’m doing alright”? Sure, it makes you vulnerable to someone who may say, “No, you should live this way” but often I find people will surprise you in the best possible way.

As an artist, I’m constantly forced to put myself out there in the form of a painting and I wait. If a piece isn’t well received it’s difficult but I can always remind myself that while they may not get it now, maybe they will someday and continue onward. To make art, you must balance between feeding off of validation and not letting it control you. This doesn’t mean that validation is a bad thing just that it isn’t everything. And while it may seem that the world is full of haters, there are many people who will reach out a hand of support if you are brave enough to take it.

 
 

WAIT A MINUTE MR. POSTMAN

Watercolor Art Card from Brown Bear Studio

There are some exciting and recent additions to the shop… Cards and Postcards featuring Brown Bear Studio art. You can help your friends and family have an artsy day by sending them either a greeting card or postcard with your choice of art piece. Each card is blank, so you can write your own personal love letters, birthday wishes or thank you notes. After all everyone likes to get snail mail!

Watercolor Art Card from Brown Bear Studio Watercolor Art Card from Brown Bear Studio Watercolor Art Postcards from Brown Bear Studio Watercolor Art Postcard from Brown Bear Studio Watercolor Art Postcard from Brown Bear Studio

 
 

COPYCAT (OR WHY I WON’T PAINT THAT FOR YOU)

Copycat (or why I won't paint that for you) by Brown Bear Studio

I’m sure you’ve all heard the Picasso quote, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Well, I’m no Picasso but I’m going to disagree with him on that, at least in certain situations. A couple of months ago, an e-mail reached my inbox requesting a custom original painting. I did the happy dance that I do whenever I get a commission or sell an original and continued reading. It seemed like a massive project, rich watercolor several feet wide on heavy paper with a raw edge. It would be a huge undertaking and I was up for the challenge. Then I saw the picture they attached and all that excitement came to a screeching halt.

‘I’m looking for something just like this…’ Attached was the work of an artist I recognized. There aren’t too many abstract watercolorists in world so I’m familiar with just about all of them. This artist is more established than I am and her work goes for A LOT more money than mine does. It immediately became apparent why I was being contacted; I was a photocopier but one that still allowed them to say the work was “original” without the price-tag.

Willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, I asked if there was any elements of my work that they would like to see incorporated; maybe there was another reason they came to me. I informed them that I didn’t feel comfortable doing a recreation of another artist work but I would gladly create a piece inspired by their creations. I’ve found out that this pickle is something that fledgling artists have to get used to. We are moved by the artwork of others and elements of them can be found in our work but we are different. Our direction is different. Our goals are different. Our process is different. So though they may look similar, they aren’t.

In this case, it came down to valuing myself and what I’m trying to do with my work. I’m certainly not in a financial position to turn down commissions, but I just can’t in good conscience be a copycat. Some day, I believe, I will get an even bigger gig and they will be excited to work with me because of the art I create. And it will be my original work that graces the walls and I will be proud because I stuck to my guns and didn’t compromise my moral compass. Until then, I have an unanswered e-mail in my sent mail folder and a reminder that there will always be people who try to take advantage of young artists, trying to get us to work for cheap (or free), but we have the right to say “No, I won’t paint that for you” and sometimes we should do just that.

 
 

TUNES TUESDAY: WITH LIGHTS BLINDING…

It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Tunes Tuesday, so feast your ears on my latest mix of musical inspiration with artist like CHVRCHES, MØ and Tove Lo as well as cover art by Amy Judd.

 
 

MUSINGS ON COLOR IN THE CONCRETE JUNGLE

Maya Hayuk Mural on Houston and Bowery, NYC

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” ― Claude Monet

I open the curtains wide every morning at 7(ish) when I wake up to greet the day. I’m like a plant that needs the brightness to survive. I know I’m not the only one who wilts a bit during these long gray winters. From the sky to the street, everything is meh. Without the trees glowing green, or flowers in their little fenced in islands that dot the sidewalks, what is a colorphile to do? Let’s just say, thank goodness for street artists.

The mural above is by Maya Hayuk and it lives just a few blocks away from where I work. Since it’s been up, I’ve been soaking it in. This, and the mural by my apartment by David Sepulveda, give me a jump start of color daily. It’s art like this that gives a city life no matter the season. But I must say that the surrounding grays sure make these colors pop. I guess its good for something, making the brights shine brighter and for that I can love it. I guess.

It’s not so far off to say that I need color to feel alive. It’s been shown through studies that individual colors can impact your mood and inspire feelings. Any artist could have told you that, but it’s nice to have the hard facts sometimes. Pink can soothe you or if its electric it can excite you like it’s sister red. Orange is energetic and says look at me! Purple is fascinating because it’s rarer to find in nature so it can feel exotic and surreal, while ever present green is so well recognized, it calms us like an old, trusty friend.

I carry these little drops of explosive color in my pocket through the day and bring it home to splash on my watercolor paper and wait out the winter, thankful for the sustenance until spring comes again. Have any street artists I should check out to get my fix? It feels like this winter is never ending. Do you have any colors that immediately make you feel things? Anything that jumpstarts your soul?

 
 

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