Artist Profile: Nicholas Wilton - Building Communities of Creatives One Workshop at a Time

Being a career west coast abstract artist would not be possible without the help of talented teachers.

When I first started this journey of becoming a professional artist, I was running solely on emotion and old, ignored art supplies.  I didn’t have a goal.  I didn’t know that this would be my career.  I was merely trying to express feelings of remorse, anger and agitation that were alarmingly amplified when I decided to quit drinking.  No longer comforted by simply burying these discomforts under the weight of alcohol, I unearthed them and then needed a tool for dealing with the difficulties that bubbled up.  

I had leftover paint, paper and some brushes and so I started.  I had never done abstract painting before, but sobriety was just about all my brain could handle.  Thinking about realistic details of a still life, or…let’s be honest here…trying to do anything with any specificity at all was really difficult.  I just began to move my brush-holding hand and abstracts are what sprung from my fingertips.  And it saved me.  

Finding art again was an unexpected gift given to me by my willingness to let go of old coping mechanisms and being open to getting to know myself.  Self-awareness had never been my strong suit.  So, discovering that I am an artist was amazing and at the same time, a “well duh” moment.  I knew it all along, I just ignored it because I didn’t think it was practical road to travel.

Guidance from an established west coast abstract artist and teacher was the inspiration I didn't know I needed.

Nicholas Wilton West Coast Abstract Mixed Media Artist
Nicholas Wilton is a Sausalito, CA based abstract artist and teacher whose workshop I attended flipped me into action.  I have been painting consistently since.

 

A year into my self-administered art therapy adventure, a good friend suggested that I take an Art 2 Life workshop taught by Sausalito, CA based abstract artist, Nicholas Wilton.  After briefly checking out his website, I was immediately attracted to Nick’s art.  His use of shape, repeated pattern, movement and vibrant colors widened my eyes and motivated me to learn more.  I signed up and drove to California for 5 days of art making.  It was the best thing that I have ever done for my art, my confidence and my career. 

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life Workshop Westerbeke RanchDay #1 of Nicholas Wilton's Art 2 Life Workshop at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma. 

Nick taught his 6 art principles which included color, harmony, value and design.  Many of these had been introduced to me in my long abandoned fine arts schooling but not thought of since, and they were important reminders, but his 6th principle was the most important and influencing….Soul.  Heeding soul was not taught in art world academia and wasn’t that what I was really working on?  Cleansing, listening, being receptive and responding to my soul?  Without knowing it, Nick was reiterating what I had been learning over the past year…to thine own self be true. 

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life WorkshopDay #4: My works in progress at Nick's Art 2 Life Workshop.  The finished version of the one in the right corner is at the top of this blog post.

Nick also believes in the importance of having a community to lean on as well as contribute to.  Over the past couple of years, he has continued to be a huge support and inspiration to me through his art, blogs, video lessons and willingness to make time for students like me.  He recently made himself available for a 15-minute interview so that I may share some of his wisdom with you. 

If you are an artist needing direction, I highly recommend his workshops and if you can’t afford those, just sign up for his blog "The Artlife".  He often sends out videos discussing his work, process and problem solving.  Read on for our conversation about his influences, challenges and maneuvering through the business of art. 

A 15 minute interview with west coast abstract artist, Nicholas Wilton.

MG: You seem to be a master of creating patterns without making the painting have a “wallpaper” feel.  Is that something that you have to work for or does it come naturally? 

NW: People always say to make exciting design, you have to have a variety of sizes and shapes and things, and you can, for sure…but you can also [work within] a pattern.  If the pattern is repeating, that can be somewhat monotonous because when we look at one part of the picture, the same kind of feeling occurs in another part of the picture, so that’s the recipe for sort of boring somebody.

Nicholas Wilton Color-Field-1 Abstract Painting Mixed Media ArtNicholas Wilton, Color Field One, 36x40, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

But if you can offer differences within that context, that can become really interesting.  So, for example, maybe the pattern repeats, but the color is different on different parts of the pattern. Then that becomes noticeable and interesting.  Or maybe the texture is different.  (Pointing to the painting above.) That painting looks like little chips of color [in rows].  That’s not a very particularly exciting pattern because the pattern isn’t really anything…just a bunch of colors…but I’m talking about colors and the conversation about color.  All of the sizes are the same and they are in a line but I’m really paying attention and offering the viewer something that’s different.  There are contrasts that happen to be in the [different] colors.  Patterns can be wallpaper like but when you change things within that, then it becomes exciting.

MG: The first artist you studied with was a stained-glass artist Ludwig Schaffrath.  How did working with glass influence how you paint now?  What was the biggest lesson that you learned from him as a new artist that you carry with you today?

NW: Well I entered into it more as a craft.  I liked making things, so I was learning how to make stained glass.  The thing about stained glass is that [you start with] incredible pieces of glass.  Some are translucent.  Some are transparent. There’s glass from Germany that’s really beautiful. What you learn pretty quickly is that maybe it’s the materials that are so amazing. 

Let’s say you pull out this amazing piece of glass that you love. It’s so beautiful just on its own. Then you cut it up and you make a flower out of it... So, I became interested in the questions of why do I keep taking this amazing material and turning it into pictures that happens to be made out of stained glass, but really weren’t very good?  When you think about a picture of a stained-glass flower, it’s kind of bric-a-brac. It can be kind of cheesy.  So, I started to look around at different artists that were doing work as good as the materials.  

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life Workshop Work TableAn Art 2 Life Workshop table.  The raw materials are just as important as the finished product

 

Ludwig Schaffrath was making these incredible modern day monastery windows…very contemporary and very much in alignment with the glass. I was seduced by the materials because of the caliber of the finished product.  The materials were so good that it upped my game to get better at designing and using it. What I learned from this gentleman when I was 15, is that the only thing you can really do is something personal and unique.  If you want to copy reality, that’s fine but you have to do it in a way that’s personal. He was the first one to press that idea that I still teach today and try to do in my own work.

MG: I recall you saying in a workshop that you can try to make your art look like another artists’ but it’s never going to.  It’s always going to look like you. 

NW: Yeah.  We can try on different ways of working.  I can copy an artist for a day and try to make my art look like theirs but you won’t stay there very long because it’s not very interesting because they’ve already done it.  But it is important for you to pull out and discover the reason why you were attracted to their work.  You might love Mark Rothko but you don’t want to be Mark Rothko.  You just want to understand the way he’s using color because that’s what you love.  I wouldn’t want to do a Mark Rothko painting because he already did them all.  People learn that eventually and they move on. 

Nicholas Wilton Bone-Yard Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Bone Yard, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery (I LOVE this one.)

MG: What is the most challenging part of being an artist at a professional level?

NW: I think there are three parts: 1. Isolation 2. Not having all of the information to do this…it takes time to have all of the information, how to paint, what to do when you get stuck, all of that technical stuff and then 3. Having the right place to do it.   I couldn’t make these paintings in a small room anymore.  I had to move to a bigger space and it was scary.  I had to pay more, I wasn’t sure I could do it… Having a practice that works…that’s something you have to learn.  They don’t teach that.  Having a good community and a solid art practice or approach and just the basic information.  That is what I teach in my online courses and workshops.  If you can give that to people, that does it…. especially the community part.

Nicholas Wilton Millwork Abstract Painting Mixed Media ArtNicholas Wilton, Millwork, 60x60, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG:  So creating a community of artists that you see regularly and having people that you talk with often…

NW:  Yeah and even connected on a Facebook group or whatever.  I’m really interested in creating community…that’s why I’m talking to you right now. We are staying connected.  We might not have talked for a long time but we’re connected and I just believe that’s a path that allows me or anybody to do this rather unusual activity and pull it off successfully. 

MG: You teach workshops as well as painting.  Do you enjoy one more than the other? Do you feel that teaching and painting complement each other?  How? 

NW: They work in conjunction.  I don’t think I could teach if I wasn’t doing the practice.  I have my own personal practice and then I’m helping people develop theirs.  I do these Sunday blog posts and those are done completely spontaneously.  I’m painting and then I learn something new or I’m getting new perspective and I just share that with people. Certainly, the teaching is derived from the painting. And teaching clarifies my own practice.  The best I ever paint is after 7 days of teaching a workshop.  I go home and I can pretty much guarantee that I’m painting more confidently and probably a little bit differently than I was before I left.  So, it’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned.  It works for me.

Also, you can’t forget that by teaching I’m getting inspired by all of these other people.  When I see your painting and what you’re doing…you’re painting larger now…I get that juice from you.  There’s been an exchange because we’ve worked together a little and I see what you’re doing and it’s bigger and it’s “wow!” and that fires me up and my day is just a little bit better and I use that energy to go do this challenge (pointing around the studio). 

Nicholas Wilton Pin-Point Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Pin Point, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG: You had a gift line business adventure at one time.  How did you feel when that opportunity came along and why did you ultimately decide that it wasn’t for you? 

NW: I created the opportunity in a way because I was tired of doing illustrations…you get paid for one and then do another one and another one and another one… I would make some really good art but it would just disappear so I thought “how can I make some of this art stay around?” and the idea of putting it on products, gifts specifically, like trays, boxes and tote bags, came along and I worked with some friends and we created a company. 

What happened though was that the momentum, the need, the desire to sell, that directed the company, of course…that’s the whole point…to make money.  But my direction was partly that, but to also make the best possible work I could.  And at one point, one of our biggest sellers were basically little tiny cheap reproductions of paintings that you could get at Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond for like $5. I saw my own personal work [reproduced] but I was uncomfortable because I’m also a fine artist and I had done a lot of work to keep my work at a premium, to keep the prices high, to make it prestigious, because it is. It’s what I do.  It’s really important.  But I saw that this was cannibalizing that and I didn’t like that.  It didn’t feel good to me.  And when something doesn’t feel good to me, regardless of the money, I know from art, from my life, you don’t do continue doing that.  You do something else. There are alternatives.

Nicholas Wilton Blue-Storm Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Blue Storm, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG: Spring is almost here.  Seeing as nature is such a big influence for you, do you notice that your paintings and pallet choices change when the seasons change? 

NW: Yeah.  I think so. My studio isn’t heated and I’m warmer now, which is half the problem.  I get so damn cold in here because these ceilings are so high so I’m bundled up in the Winter and it’s just a hard road for a few months.  Also, I think Spring is more of an opening and unfolding and Winter is a closing more.  There is an ease to it and a looseness and more color.  I think there tends to be, over the course of an artist’s career, to go from control to more and more loose and more and more exploration and an opening or broadening and I think that relates to seasons as well.

MG: What piece of advice would you give a young artist starting out and does that advice change if someone is starting out as a young artist vs. an older artist? 

NW: I just think it’s important to realize that each person, old, young, whatever, whoever, if they’re interested in doing this and if they can pay attention to what they love, and really focus on that and look within themselves, that’s really the path to making personal, authentic, sellable, desirable work that you love.  That’s the path and that’s available and they have everything they need they just may need some guidance.  Everybody’s unique and everybody can therefore make unique and personal work.  They just have to pay attention to themselves.

Learn more about Nicholas Wilton on his website.

The painting at top by me is "Original Bubble" 12x12 Acrylic, Paper and Graphite on Birch Board and was one of the pieces I created while attending Nicholas Wilton's Art 2 Life Workshop in 2014.  

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Comments (5):

Marigny on

Rebecca – Thank you so much for reading!

Rebecca Janes on

Hi great posts on Nicholas Wilton and the other ones also. thanks.

Marigny on

Judy – You are most welcome! Thanks for the comment. He is amazing and generous.

Jan – Thank you very much! Yes…I feel very lucky, indeed.

Judy Levit on

Marigny, this was a great interview. Thank you for making it available. I took Nick’s CVP online course and I am also so very happy that I found him! I have learned so much and love being a part of the continuing online community.

Jan Allsopp on

Great interview Marigny! I’m a NW fan too having done his CVP online course. I’d so love to do a workshop with him sometime. You are lucky to have such a good and generous teacher in your life. So nice that you’ve kept in touch.

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I’m a White Woman, raised in a Black City & I still have Racism within me.

White Lady Learning: Understanding My Latent Racism.

A big thanks to the Elephant Journal for accepting me as a contributor, and for moving my first piece with them, I'm a White Woman, Raised in a Black City & I Still Have Racism within Me, to their magazine section.

When I wrote this, it was for me. Then I shared it with my Black friends. They think it’s important and should be shared to a greater audience. This is for them.

Click here to read the essay in it's entirety.  

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. My creativity enables me to speak my truth and live a joyous and peaceful life. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

Anti-Anxiety Poetry: The Chase

Slow and steady poetry from an anti-anxiety artist. It's time to stop running from myself.

The Chase


It wasn’t until I stopped running

that I realized I had forgotten why I started.

Short of breath and with muscle fatigue, 

I stop. 

I listen.

I decide to walk.

Before, the roaring wind had made hearing impossible.

The focus on where my steps were landing was polarizing.

I saw nothing else.

Just one foot landing in front of the other, over and over.

Must be progress.

But is it?

The walk slows even more.

I am now still.

I hear birds, leaves rustling, a car horn.

In the distance, way beyond the twelve inches that my foot occupies,

I see how far my journey is. 

I run from fear.

But if it is born within me, I will run forever. 

I offer another option.

Stop. And wait to see what happens next.

 

Do you know what you're running from or why you're even running?  In the comments, tell me one of your worst fears.  Mine is a fear failure.  And I'm deciding to leave it behind now.

 

The painting at top is Seeing Through 2, 8"x10", Acrylic & Paper on Canvas, framed in a silver natural wood floater frame.  From my Lovely Mess series.  We can see through the chaos and find peace whenever we choose.  It is waiting for us. For more details and purchase info, CLICK HERE.

  

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Fear Eats Our "What Ifs" for Breakfast

During uncertain times, it can be easy to feed into our fear. 

 

A cat moved in the bush that I had just walked by and it completely startled me.  I almost dropped the toothpaste and felt a jolt of electric panic strike my body.  I tripped on my own foot and an intense surge of anxiety ran from my stomach up to my chest and back again.  

I think it’s official.  I’m scared.

I had been cruisin’ through this whole pandemic isolation thing just fine, until things started loosening up.  Now, I’m terrified, but the funny thing is that it’s a physical terror that seems to be rooted all the way in my bones.

Logically, I know I’m fine, my family is fine and we have been doing well with isolation, hand washing, cleanliness, etc.  But my anxiety doesn’t seem to care, and now that the freedom boundaries are being pushed, my fear is trying hard to take over.

It’s showing up places where I’m normally fine…like on my daily walk when a damn cat scared the crap out of me by simply moving.  I’m having trouble making decisions, and I when I finally do make one, I obsess over if that was actually the right decision to have made. 

I’m so tired of my fear right now.  It’s like having another person in the room with me at all times, making me doubt my every move.  And when I say “every move”, I mean EVERY MOVE. 

I question the Netflix show I’m watching.  Deciding whether or not to eat a sugary treat is filled with terror and then fear gives me more shit even after I eat the damn treat. 

Should I surf?  Should I not? Should I hang out at the beach?  Should I be scared my kid is hanging with her friends? Am I washing my hair too much?  Blah blah blah blah blah.  It’s never ending.

 

I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

 

And it’s fucking exhausting.  It makes me feel like I’m broken.  I am forever jealous of people who are sure of themselves.  Why can’t I seem to believe in myself and my decisions.  I know I’m a capable person, but this fear thing, it seems to always have its claws in my shoulder, forever holding me back.

I feel like I’m in my own way most of the time.  I think that one reason I was feeling just fine when our county was being asked to stay home, is because the amount of decisions to be made was forcibly reduced.  All of a sudden, there were way less options.

Now we’re in a weird kind of limbo, waiting for more freedom, or for it to be taken away again…. We’ll see which way it goes.  And you know what causes my fear to blow up?  Uncertainty.  There are too many “what ifs” right now, and my anxiety loves a good “what if” party.  The fun never stops.

I feel like I’m driving my family crazy because if I had my way, I be just fine isolating for the foreseeable future.  I don’t even need an end date.  I work from home.  I love cooking food for my family.  I now know that I love freezing food so we always have something for dinner out of the freezer.

I built a veggie garden.  I finished my back yard, and I now absolutely enjoy doing my computer work outside on the patio.  My work has changed with all the other changes happening, and it’s fun to see where that’s all going. 

But I worry.  I worry about my friends and family who are chomping at the bit for things to “go back to normal” (whatever the hell that is). My parents are diligently isolating and disinfecting everything that comes into the house.  I worry that the steps they are taking don’t matter if all of us aren’t taking the same steps.

 

 I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

 

And FINE. I’ll admit it.  I worry about getting sick.  I worry about anyone I know getting sick.  I’m petrified that I could be actually walking around without any symptoms, infecting others.  I’m scared that my art biz won’t survive this.  I’m scared that the life we have all worked so hard to build is crumbling away.

I’m sick over the fact that my daughter has decided to not go to college in the Fall.  Not because I want her to go, but because I know that she REALLY wanted to go, but she doesn’t want to risk having to move out of the dorms in October because of a outbreak of Covid-19.

I’m sad that she’s missing her high school graduation and I’m finally ready to admit, that I’m also extremely sad that I’m missing her high school graduation.  She’s my only kiddo.  That was my only chance to see that.  I cried when I returned her text books and picked up her cap and gown, which we’re still not sure that she’ll get a chance to wear.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.

 

I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore.  Everyone I know seems to have different opinions on how we should be responding right now.  Very few agree on all points.  It makes me question myself more, even though I feel strongly and surely about what I believe.  What if I’m the one that’s wrong?  What if, what if, what if….

My husband keeps saying that we have to live our lives.  Yes, I agree…and no I fucking don’t.  Are we so singular that we have to keep living our lives, or is it ok at times, to take a pause for the greater good? 

I’m scared that I have had a more peaceful time than I’ve had in years, just by staying home.  What if home is where I prefer being?  Would me wanting to simply be home more effect my relationships?

Aw crap.  There are a lot of questions in this blog post.  Sorry, but that’s all I have to offer this week. 

But maybe you could help me.  In the comments, I’d love to know, when you feel fear starting to take over, what’s one thing you do to keep it at bay? 

I’m going to go walk to visit my friend’s horse today and try to do a few sketches.  Don’t worry, I won’t be touching it as horses scare me…are you surprised?

 

The painting at top is Psychedelic Sea Stars, 8"x10", Acrylic on Canvas, framed in a black natural wood floater frame.  My surfboard collection makes me happy and reminds me to go with the flow and ride the wave that's in front of me.  For more details and purchase info, CLICK HERE.

 

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

 

 

How Not to Punch Friends Who Think the Pandemic is a Conspiracy

Mask or no mask?  Social distancing or hugs.  To vaccinate or not. If we thought we were a culture divided before, now we have more differences to add to the list.

 

Are you one who is listening to the recommendations of the scientific community, or are you following your own guidelines?  For me, I’ve been pretty good about doing what is being suggested. 

One of the biggest challenges for me during all of this uncertainty, is feeling how I feel about how we should be acting within our communities, while having to deal with the fact that not all of my family and friends feel the same way.  In fact, I seem to be in the minority. 

Now, I could totally spend my time this week ranting about why I think my point of view is the right one, but to be honest, that does absolutely zero good.  I think in all of the posts I made on social media encouraging others (especially surfers) to stay home, I made one couple change their weekend plans. (Thank you, Alice.)

Of course, that was back in March, and now it’s May.  Things have changed.  But exactly how much they’ve changed, and what is looming around the corner is yet to be known.  One thing we all seem to be able to agree on is that we don’t know what will happen next.  Only time will tell. 

 

We have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.

 

But while we’re waiting, it seems to me that we have to learn how to live (sometimes in the literal sense) with those who feel differently than we do.  So instead of ranting and raving, let’s talk about two things that are infinitely more helpful: Acceptance & Flexibility. 

My daughter got hired at a pizza joint two days before the school closure happened.  Within 48 hours, she lost her senior year of high school, and the new job was questionable…accept that it wasn’t. 

When the pizza guy discovered that my kiddo was wanting to work, he was ready to schedule her.  That was at the beginning of April, right when we were being told that, “the next two weeks are going to be pivotal”.

She came to me wanting to work.  I asked her to please wait the 2 weeks, kind of hoping that she would lose interest.  No such luck.  At the end of those 2 weeks, she asked to start work again.  I was against it. 

Problem was my husband supported it and my daughter obviously wanted to do it.  I called her Dad down in New Orleans for back up.  Certainly, he would support my position as he lives in a hot spot, but nope, he supported it too. 

Totally outnumbered, I had a decision to make.  I could dig my heals in, pitch a fit, stand my ground, and insist that she didn’t work.  I could then deal with the aftermath of anger, disappointment, and depression that living in isolation was causing, especially for the teenagers.  Or, I could compromise.

 

Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

Oy…not an easy compromise for me.  We made a deal.  While the pizza joint was requiring employees to wear gloves, masks were optional.  My deal was that masks are not optional for her.  She has to wear one.  We also created a checklist of things to do when she gets home from a shift.  Her close and mask go right in the washer. Shower immediately. Wipe down doorknobs and whatever she touched on her way in...

She wasn’t thrilled (mostly about the mask), but agreed.  That was about a month ago.  Now the restaurant is requiring all employees to wear masks (thank goodness), so she doesn’t feel so singled out anymore, and she loves the job.  She has been working her booty off and looks forward to her shifts. 

All better, right?  Not quite.  I still have to live with being uncomfortable about it all.  Now I’ll admit (and you know) that I have an anxiety issue.  Anxiety plus pandemic, mix in a little bit of OCD “clean genes”, and the fact that I trust my scientific leaders and want to follow their guidelines…well…I live pretty frustrated. 

 

All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.

 

And that brings me to my point.  I can’t help feeling frustrated.  I can’t help that I feel disappointment in that many of my friends and family are making poor decisions (as I see it).  I can’t help that at the root of these poor decisions, I see selfishness.  It makes me sad. 

But there’s how I feel, and there’s how they feel.  All I can do is to continue to speak my truth, respect that their truths are different than my own, and be flexible.  I also ask that they be flexible and respect how I feel, and they do.  

We are all trying our best to stay true to ourselves and supportive of our loved ones. I think that this may be one of the big lessons of the pandemic.  That we can feel differently and yet still be one community.  But it does require some give and take on both parts.

I had to call a friend out yesterday because I witnessed him give another friend a hug and then encroach on my space to get an elbow bump.  Aren’t elbow bumps like so 2 months ago?  I got pretty turned off and retreated to my own space.  He sent me an email saying he hoped he didn’t bum me out with his encroachment.  I replied honestly that he did and I explained why in detail. I also told him I loved him dearly.

I think the best strategy right now is to keep on stating how we feel and then accept the fact that we may get a statement back that is the complete opposite.  Because really, if we zoom the lens out, this is definitely not the first thing that we have disagreed about. 

 

Don’t react.  Respond. I'm working on it.

 

I will admit that it was easier before when most controversial topics paralleled one’s political lines, and we as people seem to congregate with those who have the same views as our own. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with the pandemic. 

It’s a real mixed bag, and we either have to be ok with that, or live in a state of anxiety and frustration, and that will do nothing but lead to massive amounts of resentment.  I really don’t want that to happen. 

For me, I have to stop before I react with a bunch of yelling word vomit that begins with, “What the fuck is wrong with you!?!?”  I sit for a minute and think about how I feel, and how the other person feels, and how I can best respond to what’s happening.  Don’t react.  Respond.  I’m working on it. 

So, don't punch your friends who think differently than you do.  For one, you would have to touch them for that!  Instead, practice patience and openness...and wear your own mask and wash your own hands as much as you want.

I’d like to know from you, how you’re dealing with your loved ones having a different perspective from your own.  Gracefully?  Not so gracefully?  It’s all ok.  We have to start somewhere. 

 

In the comments below tell me if you’ve been reacting, or responding to those with different views from your own.  

 

As always, I believe at the root of everything is love.  I wouldn’t be so worried if I didn’t have so many damn people in my life that I love.  I want us all to be safe and respected, and at the end of it all, I want us all to still be friends. 

 

 

The painting at top is Soaring Heart 10, 6”x6”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  
Pelicans soar just inches from the water, in long single file lines.  Each one using the energy from the ocean waves and the bird in front of them, to effortlessly fly without even having to beat their wings.  We must work together and respect the fact that we have the ability to lift each other up simply with our own energy.  Be kind to one another.  For purchase information CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

Pandemic Life: Finding Excitement in the Little Things

Outdoor visits with friends.  Reduced house wipe downs.   Hair washing every other day.  These are some of my new favorite things.  It’s amazing what we can get excited about these days.

 

Today I am filled with gratitude.  Part of that has to do with a conversation I had yesterday with my dear friend, Tamiko, who lives in Boston.  She aptly described the situation in Boston as “a shit show”.  No one wearing masks or practicing distancing. Crowds of people are walking on the river without a care in the world. Grocery stores have never quite been restocked since the beginning, and now there are restrictions on meat.

Last week, I talked about learning new things about myself during this isolated period of time.  Tamiko said, for the first time ever, she could see herself living in a smaller more rural community.  One with less people that is surrounded by farms. I get it.

Each day, I find new reasons to be happy to live where I live.  Because of how isolated we are, in general, the effects from the pandemic are “lighter” than in say, a place like Boston.  That is something to be grateful for, right there. 

But this week, I’d like to talk about how humorous I find the things that we get excited for, when we are living more boring and restrictive lives.  A few days ago, I had a friend over for an outdoor BYOE coffee date (Bring Your Own Everything).  Oh, to have company come!  You’d think I was getting ready for the first guest I’d ever had in my life. 

Yesterday, when my daughter came home from work she asked me, with exhaustion in her eyes, if she still had to wash her hair after every shift.  We decided that, at this point, every other shift would be ok.  She left the room fist pumping saying, “And we’re easing, and we’re easing…”  I’ve never seen her so happy about something so…well…uninteresting.

But that’s the world we live in right now.  We are lucky to be where we are.  If we lived in New York or Boston, there’s no way she would even be working right now.  

 

Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.

 

Last night, she went over to her friend’s house where they recently built a new outdoor space to hang out in.  Ah the adaptations of the quarantine.  She left the house with the same look in her eyes that I last remember seeing when she got her driver’s license, and was pulling out solo for the first time.  

I have also spent time on my outdoor spaces, and I’ve been hanging out there a lot.  It’s like discovering a new room in your house.  There is just so much “newness” right now.  Each time I get frustrated about not being able to do something, I think of something we’ve implemented that we’ve never done before.

For example, I have a projector that I use for art projects.  Now I’m thinking that outdoor movies sound like a great idea!  Just hang a sheet and put out some socially distanced blankets and chairs.  

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.

 

I can’t wait to see what’s lifted next or what new activities we can engage with.  I’ve never gardened much before.  In fact, I always though gardening was kind of a bore.  Well, you should see my backyard.  It’s so pretty now!  I can’t believe it took a pandemic for me to finish it.

In a way, we’re getting to know ourselves all over again.  I mean, we live our lives in the manner that we do in part because of how the outside world dictates we do things.  I’ve never really thought about that before, but now, it’s hard not to see.  And the interesting part is that we’re watching this “new normal” grow right before our eyes.  

Maybe we’ll get drive through movie theaters back.  Maybe we’ll be seeing the musicians we love continue on in more intimate ways, as they share acoustic sets from their living rooms.  Maybe we’ll learn how to comfortably sit still for longer periods of time.  

It’s hard to know, but what I do know is that I never thought I’d see a day when my kiddo was totally stoked because she can now wash her hair less.  I also recognize this feeling of anticipation in my belly.  It’s one I’m familiar with because it is one of my anxiety symptoms. 

 

I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation instead of anxiety.

 

However, after being just fine and (mostly) stress free from simply hanging at home, I’m working on feeling excitement about the anticipation, instead of allowing it to fill me with worry.  It’s harder for me to worry about the future when I don’t know what it looks like (ain’t that a life lesson…we always never know what it’s going to look like...).  Don’t get me wrong, I can find stuff to worry about, but what’s the point right now.

All my worries are on the “what if” train anyway.  The only place that train is going is to anxiety central.  I don’t think I’ll get on it.  Instead, I’ll keep coming up with the pearls of this situation and feeling excitement for our new world.   So, pump those fists.  There is light in sight.

In the comments below, tell me one thing you got excited about this week.

 

The image at top is Sea Plants 1, 12”x312”, Acrylic, Paper, and Water Color Crayon on Birch Board, natural wood floater frame included. Take a good look, then close your eyes. Can you remember what it feels like to float on the surface of the water? Sea plants drift back and forth with the current and catch the sun in reflections of the water.  The ocean sway that remains calms my anxious heart.  For more information and to purchase, CLICK HERE.

 

I am an anti-anxiety artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

How the Easing of Restrictions is Causing My Anxiety to Surge

One minute I’m in my kitchen just cooking away.  The next, I’m doubled over, yelling into my hands, trying to expel the anxiety that has collected in my chest. (Don’t worry…I washed my hands afterwards.)

 

Do you know what it’s like to feel absolutely fine one second, and the next, feel like you are exploding out of your skin with every emotion in the book?  Welcome to my Monday afternoon. 

I have been doing so good.  I have been holding myself together and (should I even say it?) have actually found some pleasure in the simplicity that isolation has brought.  I haven’t had to question what to do next within my day to day.  I’ve been cooking, cleaning, working, building a garden, tending to my yard, making art, and taking care of my family.  Life is full.

 

Monotony has its perks.

 

As much as I long to make it to the beach to surf, I must admit that not having to prepare for long weekends, and instead, spending those weekends tending to my home and family have felt, in a way, rather liberating.  There’s no juggling of schedules.  There’s no cramming two days of work into one so I can surf when the swell calls.  Everything has just slowed down.  The clearness of the days is bright.  Monotony has its perks. 

Then, over the past couple of days, it seems that things are beginning to ease up a bit.  In some states, beaches are opening and non-essential businesses are being given the green light.  Good news right?  Well…not for my anxiety.  Yesterday was my first true attack since this shit started. 

 

All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

 

I was in my kitchen making banana bread for my Mom and salads for the week, when it hit.  All of a sudden, tears exploded from my eyes and the sound that escaped my throat was something that can only be compared to terror mixed with extreme dread. 

All of the windows and doors in my house were open, and I hope I didn’t scare anyone walking by, but it could not be contained.  It was fast and furious.  I went from fine one second, to standing up crying, to doubled over yelling within two seconds.  And before I knew it, it was over.

When it happened, I managed to notice a few things.  One is that in my head, for the first time during an acute anxiety attack like this one, my brain activity went from a million topics at once to one: “It’s ok, Girl.  This will pass.  Don’t hold it in.  Let it out and let it out good.”  That’s about when the howling started.

I also noticed that it was one of the first times since we have been self-isolating, that I was home completely alone for an extended period of time.  Being alone gave me the freedom to let it out as it needed to come out.  I didn’t have to go run a shower and cry all quiet.  I could let it rip and man, did it ever.  Short, but intense.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.

 

I realize that the easing up of restrictions, and the invitations that followed, actually created more stress and anxiety than staying home has.  Within two days, I had been invited to Costa Rica (for June) and found a loop hole regarding going to the coast to surf.  Normally I would be shouting with excitement about these two opportunities.  But not right now.

Right now, I’m understanding that the easing up of the lock down, and the options that are coming with that easing, is what caused my anxiety attack.  Not the lock down itself, but the possibility of being freed.  I have to admit that I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I may not be ready to be completely free.

 

I guess this is where we are all going to have to make our own individual decisions based on our comfort level, and we should all feel completely ok with doing what feels best for us as individuals.  Members of our own families may feel differently, and that’s ok. 

This is going to be a practice in flexibility, tolerance, and understanding.  For me, I’m quite alright hanging around the house for another couple of weeks.  What I don’t want to be is part the reason for a resurgence of cases that spikes our now official state wide flattened Covid19 curve.  I want nothin' to do with that.  

I have finally gotten into a groove with work.  I’m exercising every day.  I’m meditating most mornings.  I’m making new art.  My backyard is finally completely finished with the addition of a raised vegetable garden.  In a way, I don’t want to go back to the way it was before.  The complexities of my pre-covid life was stressful.

 

I have to let this new normal bloom.

 

Things have changed for me, as it has for all of us.  But I find that I’m really quite ok with the changes.  I have to let this new normal bloom.  No resistance.  Spring is here in the Rogue valley.  It has been absolutely stunning. 

I have felt blessed during this time.  To be where we are.  To have the jobs that we do.  To be stuck in a house with people that I love and want to spend time with. I continue to focus on the silver linings and I don’t have any sort of grip on my past life, except that I really want to go surfing again soon.  Every day, more and more people feel safe doing so.  I’m waiting until I do too.

How are you feeling about easing out of this mess?  Scared?  Antsy?  Impatient? Excited? In the comments, give me one word that describes how the idea of no longer self-isolating makes your feel. 

  

The image at top is Heart Flower 7, 6”x6”, Acrylic and Paper Hearts on Canvas.  Just as Spring has sprung, we must let this new normal bloom. These heart flowers are a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.  Click here to purchase a one-of-a-kind Heart Flower painting for Mom by CLICKING HERE. I'll even write a hand-written Mother's Day card from you.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.