The Benefits of Creating

I was recently reading an article that talked about the benefits of being creative. It was using the term crafting but I believe it can be applied to any creative/artist endeavor where we create something ourselves. It talked about how it can be a form of meditation and can help those who suffer from anxiety and depression.  This is something that I have seen in my own life. If you are new around here you might not know that I started painting and drawing again after a seven year break. It was at a point in my life when I was feeling burned out from the demands of motherhood and my husband in being in medical school. I had also just found out that my husband was going to be out of state for 6 months that year.

I am so grateful I started painting again at that time in my life because it gave me a way to take care of myself that I could do almost anytime. I would wake up early and stay up late so I could have sometime to escape from the stress of it all and just focus on how to mix paint and put it on the paper. I think the main reason I was able to make it though that year was because I had art to keep me balanced.

What about you? Has being creative helped you cope with stress? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren

 

 

 

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Being Brave and Growing Past Self Doubt

“You can, you should, and if your brave enough to start, you will”

-Stephen King

 

This quote summarizes my relationship with art. I have always loved crafting, drawing, painting, and creating. My spirit thrives on creativity. I wanted to be an artist from the time I was a little kid but self doubt and fear crept in to my mind and held me back.

I saw my friend’s artwork and felt inadequate. I didn’t feel talented enough to actually become a professional artist and worried I would become the “starving artist” I so often heard talked about. Fear of failure caused me to turn down opportunities and go down a different path.

I still created but I stayed in my “safe zone” by limiting myself to doing crafting things like scrapbooking and card making. I could create within those boundaries without feeling self -conscious when other people looked at my work. If I was only giving it to family and friends I wouldn’t feel as self conscious about whether they liked it or not.

As I got older I started caring less about what people thought of me and started pushing myself outside my comfort zone. It started with selling cards and tags online no longer limiting myself to family. Then it turned into designing the cards and tags from scratch while avoiding predesigned elements like stamps or die cutters. The more I infused my genuine creative self into my creations the more successful my business became. Then I decided to push myself further by entering a 30 day drawing/art challenge in an effort to develop my drawing skills. I started it with the initial idea that it would help me design my own unique line of cards and tags.

To hold myself accountable and let go of fear I decided to share what I was drawing on social media. I fell back in love with drawing and to my surprise strangers loved what I was creating. People I had never met started buying my artwork so I kept working at developing my skills as a fine artist. Painting and drawing took so much of my time that I ended up having to change the direction I took my business. I eventually stopped selling handmade stationary and focused all my free time to art.

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First Day of the 30 day art challenge
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Day 10 of the 30 day art challenge

 

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Day 30 of the art challenge

If I hadn’t had those moments of bravery where I put myself outside my comfort zone I would still be wishing I were an artist instead of actually being one. I have not only grown as an artist but as person. I have learned to be brave and to push myself outside of my comfort zone because that is where I have the opportunity to experience a life I never thought possible. I have also learned to worry less about what other people think because in the end it doesn’t really matter. What matters most is being my genuine self and realizing what I do and create is important. Yes, other artists may draw or paint better than I do but that doesn’t undermine what I am creating.

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First Charcoal portrait
Tom Petty - Charcoal
Charcoal Portrait of Tom Petty

When self doubt starts to creep back into my mind and threatens to paralyze my growth I remind myself of all the wonderful experiences Ive had because I didn’t let fear hold me back. Besides if there is anything I would like to do better the only way I am going to improve at it is by practicing.

-Lauren

 

Wise Lion Watercolor painting

Wise Lion Picture
Wise Lion – Watercolor

The Other day, I took a break from designing commissions to paint this colorful lion. Between being sick for a few weeks and constantly working on commissions since October I haven’t been feeling super excited to paint lately. I love doing commissions but there hasn’t been much time to do paintings that recharge me creatively.

When I realized I was just spinning my wheels and not making any progress on any projects. I decided to do something about it. Over the years I have learned the best way to cure artist block is to paint something that inspires me in a loose and colorful style while my music is blasting away. I don’t think about any other upcoming projects or my ever growing “to do” list. I just paint. I’m not concerned about whether it turns out perfect or if other people like it. I just focus on how the paint and water interact on the paper.

So I found some lion reference photos on a commercial use website that I liked, picked a color scheme, and turned up my music. It took a few minutes to really get into it but then like dam bursting, creativity suddenly started flowing through me. I had all kinds of ideas about how to use my brushes in unusual ways, how to layer paint colors, and about which direction to take the painting.

I love how the painting turned out and even more importantly the feeling of all that creative energy flowing through gave me the jump-start I needed to finish my other projects.

What about you? Do you have a routine that you do to help you get out of a creative funk? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren

I love your guts: A Valentines Release

A Mothers Love
A colorful Illustration of a mother and baby.

So over the past few weeks I have been working on some human anatomy illustrations. It started when I was asked to do a commission of a pregnant woman to give as a gift to an OBGYN. Doing this project got my brain thinking about all the cool ways I could paint parts of the human body. While I was creating these paintings my husband (who is in the medical field) and I started telling each other anatomy puns. As we were joking back and forth I started thinking about fun ways to visually represent the puns. Then I realized they would make really funny greeting cards especially, for people in the medical field. So as a personal project I decided to create some.

you take my breath Away card

Happy Bowel-tines card

Some of you may not know that before I became a full time artist I designed and made greeting cards. It has been almost two years since I really designed card other than ones that were prints of full size paintings. So getting in touch with my roots I got to work by pulling out my paints, smooth watercolor paper, and my scanner.

Your always on my mind card

I Lub You card

We Be-Lung Together card

I used Mijello Mission gold watercolor paints, sharpies, and hot press watercolor paper. I used the hot-press paper because it is easier to scan and turn into a digital file. I was a little rusty on the digital aspect of it because I typically work in traditional mediums and hardly use Adobe Illustrator anymore. After fumbling around for a bit it started to come back to me. I designed the cards to look like they were hand drawn illustrations and tried to keep them from looking overly refined.

I heart you Card

I love your guts card

I think they are a fun change from what I typically do and are a great addition to my anatomy illustrations.

If you are interested in ordering a card or a print you can do so over at my etsy shop.

You can watch a tutorial of the “Mothers Love” painting here.

-Lauren

A New Set of goals

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It is that time of year when we become reflective on the past year and become hopeful for the fresh start the new year brings.

Being the “semi goal oriented” person that I am I have thought about how my previous years goals went and what I want 2018 to look like. If you are wondering what “semi goal oriented” means, it means I swing back and forth in my desire to be a super focused driven person to the other end of the spectrum where I want to read books in bed all day while eating cookies. Sometimes times I find balance between the two forces but doesn’t always last. I’m hoping to find a more sustainable balance this year but more on that later.

2017 was filled with its shares of ups and downs. There were many goals that I didn’t quite reach because situations arouse outside of my control and I had to shift my priorities because of that. February brought with it a whole slew of unexpected responsibilities that ate up a lot of my time and then a few months later I had to shut down my business for over five months as we prepared to move to another state and get settled into a new stage of life. Even with these set backs and not quite reaching the specifics of some of my goals I was able to achieve others and kept moving in the direction I wanted to go. Some of my highlights included:

A large pastel landscape that I painted for my husbands school that was the gift from the 2017 graduating class. It was the largest painting I had ever done that wasn’t a mural. It turned out absolutely stunning and I am really proud of it.

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“Autumn Light” – The Painting I did for the university

Another goal that I achieved was to get involved in the art community in my new state. I achieved this by participating in the Montana state fair. At the fair I competed at the professional level for the first time. I entered it with just the desire to meet other artists and push myself outside my comfort zone. I ended up winning 3 first place ribbons at the fair, which is always a fantastic surprise.

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Finally, my favorite goal I accomplished in 2017 was successfully starting my business over again. I started 2017 knowing that I would have to put my business on hold for a few months but didn’t know for how long. I lost all the marketing and momentum I had worked so hard to get the previous year. With a lot of intentionality and hard work I was able to gain traction and get my business back to where it was before I temporarily shut it down. This was the perfect reminder for me that my success during the previous year wasn’t just a fluke or luck. It was hard work, consistency, and dedication that made the difference. So now when self-doubt tries to fill my mind I remind myself that I can do hard things, I can learn new skills, and the art I create is of worth.

After reflecting on all of this I spent time pondering what I wanted 2018 to look like. I then got together with my husband and we set our personal, Family, financial, and career related goals.   This may sound like overkill but keeps my husband and I on the same page and it acts as a beacon to guide us through the year. I have big plans and goals for this year and I can’t wait to share some those with you in the future.

What about you? Have you set any goals for the new year?

Star Wars Fan Art

I grew up watching the original three Star Wars movies that were untouched by CGI. I remember watching them at my grandparent’s house in their playroom.  My favorite movie was (and still is) The Empire Strikes Back. I have always loved the twists and turns in the story with its genuine surprises and plot twists.

Years later, I spent hours playing Star Wars with the little boys I babysat every Saturday. They loved the shows so much that I could always use the promise of watching the movies as a bargaining chip for good behavior.

With these shows being such a big part of my childhood I always love it when I have the opportunity to do paintings related to it.

Here are my favorite Star Wars paintings that I have created.

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Princess Leia – Charcoal
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Boba Fett- Watercolor
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Darth Vader – Watercolor

What about you? Do you have a favorite star wars movie? Are you going to go see The Last Jedi?

Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren