Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Flipping Failure on it's Head

Learn to flip failure on it's head. Artwork illustration using type and one cat image, created by ©2107 Tina M.Welter
 
Well, I’ve had two months working on the 15 min. daily habit of creating. I started out pretty great, but after several weeks of success, I began to struggle a bit until suddenly I found myself in a complete crash and burn, i.e., me cheating on my creative time with a bowl of popcorn and a classic old movie on YouTube! Sigh.
 
Looking for some insight, I searched my "helpful suggestions" file and found a blog post from 2015 that I had saved from Zen Habits which gave me the exact shift in perception I needed.
 
Basically, Leo Babauta who writes Zen Habits suggests that failure is great when we start new habits because every time we experience it, we actually have real information on how to do better the next time. The good news is that the more times we fail, the more information we have to improve! How's that for flipping failure on it's head?
 
The key thing is to actually take a moment and try to figure out what is causing your failure. Make an adjustment and try again, and again, and...you get the picture. Just keep failing and fine-tuning until you create the solution that suits you. This outlook certainly takes the sting out of FAILURE for me and that is already a huge help!
 
Looking at my own experience, I can see where my habit needs some fine tuning.  For example, I recognize that for my habit to be successful, I need to adjust to spending more of my daily 15 min. in relaxing creative play rather than always trying to create or complete something. I think I will do better with a little less pressure. All I can do is adjust and try again...
 
I do think focusing on making this 15 min. daily habit has had some success too, in that it has moved creating to the top of my priority list for each day. I do get more done on my days off when I can spend a couple hours on a project, because I have moved those ideas forward in little steps the rest of the week.
 
Here's the link to Zen Habits original great article:
 
& here's to learning how to flip failure on it's head!
 
>^-^<
 
Tina

Sunday, January 22, 2017

But I'm so little!

"But I'm So Little!" 6"x 8" watercolor on 140lb paper, ©2017 Tina M.Welter  Brown and white striped kitten with blue ball of yarn.
"But I'm So Little!" 6"x 8" watercolor on 140lb paper, ©2017


 Setting goals are out and making new habits are in! This is the message I have distilled from many of the other blogs and articles I have read recently for tips on making 2017 a successful creative year.

I think there might be something to it. If you can make a habit of doing something regularly, you are more likely to reach the destination you want. Kind of like taking a measured number steps up a mountain you want to climb. If you can keep going, eventually you will get there.

I struggle with believing that creating for only a small amount of time daily can help me move a project forward, but I am willing to try it.  

I was really inspired by Melissa Dinwiddie's blog about committing to "small daily acts" of making art. I was completely impressed by what she was able to accomplish with a 15 minute a day commitment. For example, she created a whole body of art, 150 pieces in 2011. Wow, that blew my mind!

My "mountain top" destination is finishing my seven song album, "The Upside of Down" that I started over two years ago.  All the songs are in various stages of completion and I just need to focus and finish them. I also have art-work in mind to go with each song, so those are included with this project.

Who wants to join me? Do you have a project that is haunting you that needs completion? Can you imagine a creative way you can take a few "steps" everyday? If you want some inspiration and ideas, check out Melissa's blog and podcast here.

I would love to hear about your stalled project and what habit you plan to do daily.  I will keep you posted about mine.

Here's to finishing even more beautiful things in 2017!

>^-^<
Tina  

"But I'm so Little" 4"x 5" sketch, pencil on paper © 2017 Tina M Welter Small kitten with ball of yarn.
"But I'm so Little" 4"x 5" sketch, pencil on paper


Friday, December 23, 2016

Lost your joy?


 
"A Joyful Heart" 7"x 6" watercolor on paper ©2016 Tina M. Welter Drawing of a happy cat playing with red Christmas tree ornaments.
"A Joyful Heart" 7"x 6" watercolor on paper ©2016
I don’t know about you, but I can get completely overwhelmed and burned out on all the horrible and ugly things going on in the world. 

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

Sure we may laugh, but for years I have been secretly hoping it wasn’t true! I don’t think I am alone here. Many of us expect life to be much better than it is and then feel really upset and disappointed when our lives take unexpected turns or our fellow humans keep doing really awful things.

I admit, most of my life I have been a “cup half empty” type of person. I never realized until lately that I had this negative point of view because I was expecting life and people to be better! You would think as an amateur student of history I wouldn't be so clueless.

The irony is that finally accepting that life is often hard and painful and really difficult at some point for everyone has actually helped me feel happier. If the norm is pain and difficulty, then perhaps anything in my life that isn’t painful and difficult is beating the odds and deserves to be celebrated!

I am noticing more that even on my difficult days, I have a lot of reasons to celebrate!                                                                    

Don't get me wrong, I still believe that anything we can do to ease the pain and suffering in the world is worth doing and if I look at the big picture of history, mankind has actually made some progress.

I have also learned that being on full anxiety alert all the time isn't healthy for me or anyone else. It is necessary to regularly take a break from the hard realities and lift my own heart. 
 
"A Joyful Heart" 3"x 2.75"sketch, pen on paper ©2014 Tina M. Welter Sketch of a cat playing with the Christmas tree ornaments.
"A Joyful Heart" 3"x 2.75" pen on paper sketch ©2014
One thing I like about cats is their sense of fun. They can find the most ordinary things fascinating and delightful, i.e. boxes, crumpled paper, a marble under the fridge, and the joy of joys, ornaments on a Christmas tree. They seem completely engrossed and happy in getting that shiny, swinging thing off of the tree! 

What is your shiny ornament on a Christmas tree? Have you ever thought about it?

My equivalent of batting around the Christmas tree ornaments is playing the guitar badly and singing along. Singing brings me so much joy, but the crazy thing is I often don’t do enough of it, unless I actually put in on my to do list! Ridiculous, right? 
This month I have been singing Christmas songs. I would like to leave you with this one in which I made some changes to the lyrics. 

1.     Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
        let your heart be light,
        even though our troubles are well in sight.
2.     Have yourself a merry little Christmas
        make the Yuletide gay,
        even though our troubles are here to stay.

Once again we will hold the day, each golden day is ours.
Faithful friends who are dear to us,
Will hear from us once more.

 3.   Maybe soon we all will be together,
        if the fates allow,
        until then we’ll bless the life we live somehow.
        so have yourself a merry little Christmas now!

>^-^<
Tina

My apologies to Hugh Martin who wrote the lyrics originally for the 1944 movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” starring Judy Garland. Mr. Martin claims that Ralph Blane didn't have anything to do with the lyrics...but that is another story.
 Check out the interesting history of this song on wikipedia here.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Unmotivated?



Hide and Seek, 11"x 14" acrylic on 140lb paper ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Black cat hiding behind white orchids on the windowsill.
"Hide and Seek" 11" x 14" acrylic on 140lb. paper ©2016

Do you ever feel completely unmotivated? Do you feel like I did all summer, i.e. depressed and uncertain why I felt the way I did. Disappointed in yourself, and wondering why it's just easier to give up trying to do that one "creative thing" whatever it is, that you committed to do, (i.e. painting and posting regularly on your blog) but you find yourself using your spare time to watch a movie or read a book?

Do you recognize beneath that awful "stuck" feeling that you may be really discouraged and why?

Just for fun I put "why am I unmotivated" in the Google search box and eureka, among the sludge and nonsense, I struck gold.  An article by child therapist Kenneth Barish Ph.D. titled "Understanding your child's lack of motivation and effort." Here's the link to the article...

I know, I know, most of us are not kids, but what Dr. Barish had to say made sense to both my adult self and to my inner-kid-that-was. What resonated with me was this reminder that I am summarizing here in my own words...

Basically we all want to do well and feel successful when we pursue our goals, but if we can't seem to find a way to get the results we hoped for, it can lead to feeling deeply frustrated and  unmotivated to keep trying.

This simple equation said it all for me:

Motivation = having a goal + feeling that we can achieve it.

My goal...

I started this blog in hopes that I would document my path to a successful art career. I thought perhaps I could help others on the way with encouragement and sharing what I learned about creative anxiety.

+ Lack of achievement...

I had four years to try and learn how to create and run an art business and I didn't figure out how to make steady money from making art, so...

I thought I could handle a simple part-time barista job and keep up with the same level of creating art, blogging about it and building a business, but...

the reality was:
+ I was really exhausted mentally and physically when I got home from that job, especially for the first couple of months.
+ I was struggling with feelings of being a failure. What could I possibly share that would help anyone else, I certainly wasn't being successful in what I set out to do!
+ I was trying to make my first video of how I create my paintings and I found myself overwhelmed by the editing phase. I didn't have the video ready that I wanted to post, so I didn't post at all!

= Zero motivation   Stuck.

The beauty of that little equation is that it gave me a clue on how to reconsider my problem.

+Time for a goal reset.

+Time to adjust to what I can realistically achieve in the situation I am in now.

+Time to let go of complex plans and simply share what I have learned.

If you have found yourself stuck and giving yourself "lectures" for being lazy, perhaps this little reminder equation will help you too!

>^-^<
Tina

Why the title "Hide and Seek"? Underneath that sweet cat is a first painting of white orchids done from memory that I absolutely hated. I didn't even take a picture of it, but I did decide to paint over it and try again, this time with a plan in mind. I'm glad I did.


Testing acrylic paint colors for my final palette.
Testing colors
Final Palette color choices and how to mix them.
Final Palette
Final drawing and painting in progress. ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Black cat and white orchids.
Final drawing and painting in progress.
  Trying again = Success!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Got Worry?

"Be Here Now" 5:7 digital art ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Peaceful White Cat, digital art, focus on today, stop worry habit.
"Be Here Now" 5:7 digital art ©2016 

Last November, we had only been back in the USA for a month. We were staying with friends in New Mexico, we knew we were going to visit Jeff’s parents for Christmas in Oregon and then stopping to see my Uncle in California, but we had no job, no home, and no certain plans beyond that. It was so hard not to let my mind just go crazy with worry!

After two months of feeling just awful and recognizing that I really wasn't changing anything, I made a resolution to try to do something to address my worry. The first step I came up with was to focus on what my situation was that day, and what could I do to make that day really good. This one shift of mindset did help relieve some of my distress.

In January, when we were staying with one of my nieces in Arizona, I noticed a book in their spare room/office called “Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie.  Curious, I picked it up and read sections here and there. I told Jeff  “I think I need this book!” It was easy to find a copy on-line and it didn’t take long to read. Like Mr. Carnegie says, the information isn’t really new, but being committed to putting the concepts into practice and being willing to change are the key part of addressing the problem of worry.

It was a real boost for me to find more suggestions and examples on how to stop the worry habit.  I thought I would share some of may favorite helpful insights that I learned.

Dale Carnegie’s five questions:
  1. Do I often to put off living in the present in order to worry about the future, or to yearn for some “magical rose garden over the horizon?"
  2. Do I sometimes embitter the present by regretting things that happened in the past?
  3. Do I get up in the morning determined to “seize the day” to get the utmost out of these twenty-four hours?"
  4. Can I get more out of life by “living in day-tight (24 hour) compartments?” 
  5. When shall I start to do this? Next week? Tomorrow? Today?
 
Willis H. Carrier “A Magic Formula for solving worry situations"
  1. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can possibly happen?
  2. Prepare to accept it if you have to.
  3. Calmly proceed to improve on the worst.
(Aha! An actual useful direction to take when I am awake at night imagining the worst!)
 
Herbert E. Hawkes, former Dean of Columbia College, Columbia University.

“Confusion is the chief cause of worry”…”Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision." 
 
I hadn't thought of it that way, that not getting all the facts could add to my worry.
 
Three basic steps of problem analysis:
  1. Get the facts.
  2. Analyze the facts.
  3. Arrive at a decision and then act on that decision.
I like that Mr. Hawkes added to this that you are not allowed to wallow in regret if your well thought-out choice still doesn't work out how you wanted. Disappointment in how our 4 year plan to improve our work/living situation was unfolding was one of the thoughts that was really causing me pain. I needed that reassurance that it wasn't necessary to shame yourself when you have done your best to make a good choice. We all learn through imperfect choices.
 
We often get stuck when we only pay attention to the facts that justify our desires.

“Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not puts us into a rage.”  Andre Maruois 

Boy, isn't that the truth, and this mind-set can get us stuck in more aspects of life than worrying too much!

The rest of the story...

In March, Jeff was offered a job with the Forest Service for the summer! We finally had a place to go and a way to earn money and I found a part-time job too!  There have been some difficulties, but all in all, life’s been good! 

October is looming ahead of us though, and the uncomfortable worry thoughts are stirring again. Through thinking about why I do what I do, I've concluded that my worst worry inducing habit is predicting the future. I have proof that my predictions are often not accurate. For example, last winter when I thought we had few options to hope for, places for us to stay and help that I  never imagined as possible appeared one by one, like stepping stones, through the kindness of family and friends.

Reminder: I am not a fortune teller!  

I also resist letting go of the good I have today for fear I will never have it again. Somehow I have a belief that there is a limited supply of good for me. I have already experienced that this isn't true by living in so many places, and in so many different situations, and they all have had something worthwhile for me to enjoy. 

Reminder: Focusing on "not enough" is stressful and often not true.

Even with these thoughts in mind, I absolutely needed to review what I learned this winter and it helps me to put my thoughts into words to share.  I hope it will help some of you too, my kind readers. 

One last favorite quote: 
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly ahead, but to do what lies clearly at hand” Thomas Carlyle  1871

I am not perfect at eliminating this worry habit yet, but I am certainly more aware of what I can do to worry less and live more. Sometimes something as simple as just walking around the block several times can help lift the worry vise off my mind!

>^-^<  
Tina 

p.s. Copies of the artwork "Be Here Now" that was inspired by my Worry-Less Resolution this year are available at Fine Art America. Click here to visit my FAA page

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Story of the Orchids


Dresden Window 3, 3x4 digtal art, ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Pantone pink Quartz orchids with Serenity blue background
Dresden Window 3

Back in the fall of 2011, one of the several mysterious things we found in the apartment we rented our first month in Munich was a thirsty little potted plant with large green oval leaves. I wasn't sure what it was, but missing all the plants I had recently I given away, I was happy to water it and make certain it got some sunshine everyday. We knew that the girl who had rented the apartment before us had left in a hurry, not bothering to clean up at all and apparently abandoning this little plant to it's fate. You can see it on the windowsill on the right.
Würzerstrasse apt., Munich 2011, photo ©2011 Tina M. Welter, bedroom and living room
Würzerstrasse apt., Munich 2011
The mystery of what kind of plant it was cleared up quickly when we started walking around the neighborhood and I noticed similar ones on several window sills. The difference being that many of those oval-leaved plants had beautiful blooms of white, pink, lavender and yellow. An orchid! I had always wanted to try growing an orchid, but I never expected to find them in Germany of all places, and in abundance too. When we went to the grocery store, we found them available to buy in every size and color. 

As I cared for the little orchid, I was delighted when it started to send out new flowering shoots, I felt quite guilty when I also had to leave it behind when we moved! I hoped that the new apartment owners would think it worth caring for since it was growing and healthy now.
White orchid in window, detail, photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Dresden apartments

Fast forward to August 2015. We were in Germany again, living in the city of Dresden this time and hoping to find work as English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. Another window full of orchids in our neighborhood got my attention and I made certain to take more pictures this time.
White orchids in Dresden, vertical photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter
White orchids in Dresden

Entrance to Öderaner Strasse, photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Unrestored corner building with graffiti
Entrance to Öderaner Strasse
The neighborhood we were living in was in a section of town that had been a thriving community in the 1900's but had been bombed extensively in 1945. Now these classic buildings were being rediscovered for their desirable location close to downtown and getting a second life as they were being updated to modern apartments. Compare the graffiti covered building above at the entrance of Öderaner Street that hasn't been restored yet, to this building on the far end of the same street.
Restored, Örderaner Strasse, photo ©2015  Tina M. Welter  Architecture restoration in Dresden
Restored apartment building, Örderaner Strasse
The work crews were busy fixing it up and there was a huge billboard nearby advertising the renovated apartments to rent.
Abrupt ending, photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Bombing buildings restored in Dresden
Abrupt ending
This abrupt end of the building is where a bomb went right through the original apartment complex.


Lovely restored corner building apartments, Saxoniastrasse, photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter
Lovely corner building, Saxoniastrasse
More apartments on Saxoniastrasse, the street we were living on that intersected with Öderaner. You can see the banner signs advertising the new apartments in this building.
White and Pink Orchids, photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter,  Windowsills of Dresden

There is something about those orchids that has been sticking in my mind since we came back to the USA. First of all, I think they would make some beautiful oil paintings when I get a chance to set up and paint with oils again. With the transient life we have been living, so far seven different places in four months, plus having my computer die with all my original photo resources unavailable, it's been a challenge. 

White Orchids, horizontal photo ©2015 Tina M. Welter  Windowsills of Dresden
                                                          
Second, the orchids are connected in my mind with Germany, especially Dresden. A beautifully unique city that was mostly destroyed in 1945, and yet the people who survived were so determined to move forward, they pulled bricks from the rubble and started to build again. The re-birth of that city is an inspiration to me, like the little abandoned orchid setting out new growth. We have also been essentially starting over, no house to return to, no hoped for job offer, dealing with all the things that didn't work-out how we planned, trying to find our new direction to grow in. I admit, it's been a serious struggle for me not to focus on feeling discouraged and frustrated. We are so grateful for the friends and family who have provided places for us to stay, giving us their bit of "water and sunshine" to keep us going. 

White outlines the Pink, 4x6 digital art, ©2016 Tina M. Welter   Orchid artwork
Sketch, minimalist style
In January, I was able to replace my computer that died in December, I decided instead of painting I would do some sketching and make some digital art.

White Orchids, Pink Outline, 4x3 digital art, ©2016 Tina M. Welter
White orchids with pink outline sketch
 I could at least try out some ideas that could lead to a painting later. I really liked this digital piece, Dresden Window 1.
Dresden Window 1, 4x6 digital art, ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Orchids and background in Pantone Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue
Dresden Window 1

Dresden Window 4
I liked it so much that for February, I created a card based on the original to share. Dresden Window 4 greeting card (click link to go to FineArtAmerica)

Figuring out what I could create and share instead of focusing on what I couldn't really helped my state of mind. Like the little orchid, I could encourage my creative side to keep sending out a few green shoots, even if my situation isn't ideal at the moment.

I definitely recommend this strategy if you are feeling discouraged about what you can accomplish too. Consider the story of the orchids and figure out how to keep making some new green growth, no matter how small. 
Pink Orchid bloom, photo ©2016 Tina M. Welter  Windowsills of Dresden
Bloom where you are transplanted.
 >^-^< Tina