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Tag Archives | yellow

The Joy of Imperfection

color inspiration

Making art can be a lot of fun, but it’s not always easy. At times it can be down-right torturous. My perfectionist mindset kicks in, saying, “You should be able to command divine inspiration at will… You have to make a great piece of art now…  Maybe you’re not as good as [insert name of another artist here_________].”  Boy, what a creativity killer. I might have the skills, eye, and years of practice to know I can find a solution. But as a human, I have to do the work to unearth it. Every time. So how does a left-brain-dominant girl access her right-brain creativity?

I tell myself little white lies. Yep, fight fire with fire, I say. I will start by messily painting color and texture, telling myself it’s only a surface for a future painting. I will point out that whatever I’m working on today is only a rough idea of some future final piece. Or I’ll destroy an old finished painting that never sold. As I mindlessly dabble, coffee in hand, my whirlwind of frustrations quiet and I begin to hear my truths again:

• There is beauty in imperfection.

• It is most natural for me to express emotion through color and texture.

• I am only part of the process. When I let go of fear, Creativity flows.

Before I know it (and because I’m no longer thinking about it), I’m in the rhythm of making art, delighted by the happy accidents and revelations that materialize. You may be surprised to know how many bad paintings I’ve created by thinking, “I’m going to make a great piece!” I almost always avoid that train of thought. Almost.

matilija poppy ©JenNorton

I am currently enrolled in an online course by agent extraordinaire Lilla Rogers, who is known to profess, “People buy your Joy.”  While working on a recent assignment for the home decor market, I found myself having to stop and ask myself once again, “What brings me Joy?” I began this project inspired by some photos I’d taken recently at the Santa Barbara Mission and Botanical Gardens. I was going to use my hand-drawn line style with some color and texture fills (see plate #1, below). In my mind, the idea looked great. But after several hours of work, it just wasn’t bringing me joy. It was saying, “nice enough, but who cares?” I didn’t.

I tossed and turned all night, re-drawing and painting it in my mind (do other artists do that?). By morning I knew I had to return to my painterly style. Same subject, similar layout…but more fun. More depth. More emotion. And, most importantly for me, beautifully imperfect. (plate #2, below) I purposely promote all unfinished and broken edges and blocky brushstrokes because those are the things that bring me Joy. I allow myself to paint and re-paint things as a reminder that I don’t have all the answers up front, but that they will come. In the end, I am enamored with this piece for a possible plate design.

Poppy plate designs ©JenNorton

I do my best as a humble human to paint what brings me Joy so that I can share some happiness with you. And if I’m lucky, I am rewarded with divine inspiration.

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Bees in the Hive, You Know How I Feel!

The Organization of Bees © Jen Norton

The Organization of Bees

School is out today, which means my house is bursting and buzzing with about 10 extra teens, mostly girls. Energy, laughter, food on the floor and makeup strewn all over the bathroom… How do so many kids, each manageable when isolated, become such a force of chaos en masse?

Compare that with bees…also female…who buzz en masse, seemingly in chaos, but who actually live quite ordered and productive lives. They each know their job. They don’t get distracted like we humans. Like our children, our lives are intertwined with theirs. Their seemingly small movements literally support this planet’s life forms.

Bee photo and sketches

I am currently part of a group show with my Allied Artist West friends up at Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA. Our show features paintings either painted on site, inspired by the center or its philosophies, or other beautiful places in California that are meaningful to the artist. I chose to work from a picture I took of their beekeeper tending the bees on the property. When I work from a photo, I first trace everything, including the border. Then, I assign black or white to each shape I’ve traced to make a pattern of lights and darks that I like. In this case, I decided to make the background dark to play up the “hotness” of the day in the foreground. This becomes my roadmap for my painting. I refer back to it often as I add color and texture and all the other fun stuff! Like bees to a hive, I return to it to stay true to my original intent.

I’m pretty sure Presentation Center is going to purchase the original painting for their property. Prints of this piece can be purchased here.

You don’t have to save the whole world.

Today’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 4: 3-6. Well, not really. I’m afraid I got mixed up and painted for NEXT Monday’s reading. Too late to re-do, so I’m going with it! We’ll save today’s for next week.

Love Your Neighbor © Jen Norton

“Love Your Neighbor” © Jen Norton

Pope John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”

I think that statement may have been one of the truest ever uttered. In this reading the apostle Paul assures the Corinthian community that the ways of God are not dishonest or trickery and only appears so to those who are blinded by the “gods” of the generation. If their acts and words are in alignment, the truth of Christ in their lives will be apparent.

John Paul II knew something about veiled politics. He was born Karol Wohtya and grew up in communist Poland. He knew what vitriolic words, two-faced politics and neighbor turning on neighbor really looked like. He envisioned a world where people could work together, not against each other. A world where “Thy will (would) be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are bombarded daily by many trying hard to sell us hatred. There are whole TV stations devoted to keeping us scared and giving us reason to detest our neighbor. Entertainment value supersedes fact and personal responsibility. No matter what side you take, there’s a long list of blame to be found on the other. The culture sold to our children is frightening. It all makes me quite weary. So what’s a modern girl to do?

For me, it’s choosing where to put my energy and focus on the things I can influence. It’s taking time each day, even if only a moment, in stillness. It’s spending quality time with my family. I can make sure my daughter gets her homework done. I can teach her self respect and how to treat other people. I can notice the man who picks up trash along the creek path. I can welcome people to our home. I can listen to a friend in need. I can do the laundry and walk the dog. I can make choices in line with my values about what I buy or how I dispose of what I no longer need. I can smile at a checkout clerk or help my old neighbor who walks with a walker bring in her trash can. I can vote. I can travel or read or otherwise educate myself on cultures and issues. I can pick the issue that’s most important to me and share time, talents or treasures as my ability allows. I can do so many things to make the bit of the world I come in contact with a tiny bit better. God is in the details.

Most of us aren’t required to save the whole world. We just have to do the best we can to keep our words and actions in alignment with our values within our own home, and allow that light to shine to our neighbor as it may. God will handle the rest.

You can purchase this piece here.

The Heart of a Servant

“Preparation” by Jen Norton

“Preparation”, Acrylic on Canvas, 24 x 24"

I’ve been busy putting together my Open Studio show for this weekend, which is much like putting together a big banquet. Each piece must find it’s spot, hung in agreement with the work next to it. Loose artwork must be framed or varnished, dressed up and ready for the party. I want patrons to feel they’ve arrived someplace special and we’re happy they’re here! With the theme of table-setting in mind, I thought I’d share my painting “Preparation” with you today. This piece is all about doing everyday, mundane tasks with a spirit of service. It’s about the unseen workers who put their heart and soul into their work so others can experience something new and wonderful. It doesn’t matter if it’s a concert, a product launch, a benefit event or a simple dinner for your family. To make something out of nothing, someone had to put in time and effort to make it happen. And if they did it with love, they just might create something bigger and better than anyone expected. In my perfect world, we would all strive to approach life from the point of view of a servant.

 

If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked you a cake!

Yellow Cake Recipe painting

Yellow Cake by Jen Norton

My husband does most of our family cooking, but, being more of a meat guy, he leaves the baking to me. This piece was inspired by yummy yellow birthday fare. Sharing food brings us closer…especially when it involves cake! I don’t know too many people who’d rather eat their birthday cake alone, do you? It’s a sweet treat any time of day, and if someone bakes you one, you know you’re special. This particular recipe won’t make you fat…so let us all eat cake!