Weary of this election season and all of the rhetoric, finger-pointing and mud-slinging here in the U.S., I felt compelled to play around in my art journal with these words after watching and getting inspired by Van Jones’ video series titled “The Messy Truth.”
I decided to revisit the Emeryville Art Exhibit before it closed on October 30, 2016. I went on opening night but the place was packed and it was challenging to give the artwork the attention it deserved.
Going back, I found myself being as much intrigued by the funky industrial architecture of the gallery space as with the art itself. I felt as though some of the textured, painted-over brick walls were at times part of an installation piece.
Not surprisingly, there are plans on the table to turn this 29,000 square foot industrial complex into condominiums.
While doing some much needed organizing and clearing out, I came across a little booklet I made a few years ago where I came up with a list of 8 tips that helped me get off the hamster wheel of life.
At the time I worked as a graphic designer where I felt more like a machine cranking out project after project faster and faster instead of feeling like I had an opportunity to enjoy the creative process. I started to brainstorm and implement simple things I could do to make my situation more enjoyable and less like drudgery.
These tips are as relevant now as then and include:
- IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO
Or, at the very least, not now. Be real with yourself. Give yourself permission to think it through before you respond.
- LAUGH OFTEN
Are things really that bad? Laugh at yourself, predicament, gain perspective, watch a silly movie or YouTube video.
- SAVOR THE SMALL MOMENTS
Try not to take anything for granted. Watch a sunset, play with a pet, hang out with children.
- GET OUT OF YOUR BOX
Take a class, order something different for lunch, take a different route to work. Making a small change can make a big difference.
Don’t forget to balance work with taking care of your body and spirit. Be active, relax and have fun!
Keep it stupidly simple, or better yet, keep it simple smart! A good practice especially when you feel overwhelmed.
Go offline. Take a break, breathe or go for a walk. You may come back feeling refreshed with a new perspective.
Sometimes we forget to treat ourselves. Before you move on to the next project, do something nice for yourself, but don’t use it as an excuse to feed your addictions.
I realize now there are more tips I can add to the list including:
Taking time to check in with yourself even for a few minutes helps to clear the mind, especially when you feel overwhelmed.
A few years ago I learned of a term, FOMO, which means Fear of Missing Out. I felt I may be missing out if I didn’t always say yes to all my invites or continually check social media. Lately the term JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) has been popping up on the internet and helped me realize that I didn’t have to say yes to everything which brings me back to tip #1, it’s okay to say no.
Are there tips you’d like to share here that have helped you get off that hamster wheel of life?
My “Mixed Messages” book art evolved out of my own questioning as a burned-out graphic designer who was also dealing with a lot of loss within a short period, trying to heal and reclaim my artist-self.
I felt as though I was pulled in many directions, internally and externally, confused by the many mixed messages I received from family, friends, colleagues as well as our culture and media and had no way out.
I decided to STOP and began to spend a lot of time in solitude journaling and working through the many layers.
It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I realized that the square/diamond cutout pattern in the center represented how through building these practices of writing, reflection and meditation, I have slowly been able to carve a path through this muck and begin to tap into my authentic creative self.
This is an ongoing process for me, especially during these volatile times, yet worthwhile.
Are there practices you use to cut through the inner and outer chaos in your life?
In a recent art class we were asked to create a piece that was opposite of what we usually do. I generally work small and hadn’t worked much with acrylic paint so I decided to challenge myself by creating a large painting.
I began by building abstract layers between warm and cool colors and letting them dry so the colors didn’t become muddy. After adding a few layers, I found myself getting overwhelmed and felt perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew. I only had a week to complete the painting.
I took a break to see what I have done so far. As I stepped back, I saw what looked like an animal form emerging from the abstract brushstrokes. I decided to play up the image and incorporate a graphic style I had seen in some mural paintings I like. I used a masking technique after I worked out the animal drawing.
The result? I definitely surprised myself by allowing myself to let go and create a painting that was definitely out of my comfort zone in a style I haven’t attempted before. But I am left with a question of what exactly is this a painting of . . . A bull? Dog? Pig?
A day I spent exploring the area behind the Legion of Honor in San Francisco inspired me to create this book art and this Haiku:
on top of the world
foghorns bellow below me
timeless small moments