Monthly Archives: May 2014

I had a feeling

I had a feeling

…Or, art is an experience of resonating

What exactly is a feeling?

Isn’t it funny that we all seem to know what feelings are, but can you really pinpoint one? Like a color, there is no particular reason to believe two people are having the same experience named by a certain term.

Yet, for all that ownership of our private emotions, some of them can sure be scary. Why, if no one else is inside our head to insist that we feel a certain way, can’t we just change it?

You can’t change a feeling directly, because you can’t unfeel. But you can transmute it by feeling it openly, with more curiosity than judgment, giving it the time it needs in the light of day.

Some people are so good at this. I only learned the skill a few months ago by trial of fire. Luckily I had just bought a big, fat notebook to start doing Morning Pages.

Morning Pages

You have probably heard of Morning Pages, a technique by the trailblazer of creative process, Julia Cameron in her famous book, The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.

Basically, you write 3 pages every morning. No matter what. No matter what about.

Amazing things happen inside of you.

I found that out for myself, having had nothing better to write about than this humongous, uncontrollable shame that had come up in response to a sharp criticism I received. I wrote and wrote, and then collapsed into bed. (Okay, I didn’t wait for morning to do my Pages.)

I woke up at dawn and jumped out of bed, feeling like the sun was rising in my aura with birds singing in my head and a million bucks in my pocket.

Since then, I’ve become quite practiced at diving right into my feelings. It’s the first thing I do when they come up, which is so weird and wonderful compared to my previous procedure of shoving them into a burlap sack and praying they don’t make a peep when the inspector comes around.

Art is a experience of resonating

Art, like Morning Pages, can be a transmuting process. Luckily. More on that in a future post.

I tell my students that what you feel goes into your painting and can be felt by the viewer. So, be easy. Allow the paint to speak, rather than forcing it.

I think that’s why we love the work of a master. It feels so easy – and masterful! We resonate to these exquisite feelings!

Looking at an artwork is an experience of resonating.

“How does an artwork make you feel as you take the trip through it with your eyes?” 

This simple question, from my free ebook, How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, speaks volumes about why people buy art.

If you’re an abstract painter and you wonder why one of your paintings sold and another didn’t, look no further for the answer.

So, about my ebook

Have you read it yet? Perhaps it, like abstract art, is deceptively easy. There’s a lot packed into its simple language.

Let me know what you think. And, if you incorporate the ideas into your artmaking I’d love to hear your stories.

My new ebook: How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life

How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life

A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul

There must be something about Memorial Day that inspires great action in me, because it seems each year I do something bold and “out there,” for me.

This year it’s putting my baby into your hands. As mentioned in yesterday’s email, I’ve been working on my ebook all (this long Pennsylvania) winter, much to the chagrin of my dear editor.

Putting abstract ideas (couldn’t resist) into writing — forming the formless process of abstraction into words and sequences — was a drawn-out joy and obsession for me. It was one of those things, like a painting, that I had to sit with between iterations and let it steep.

I wanted to allow myself time to sink into the question: Was it true? Was each part honest and clear and clean?

It came out (I would say) breezy-to-read but hell-yeah. Like, “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?”

I believe I have taken a big step toward what I set out to do in my career: to further the dialog of abstraction. And hopefully to help abstract artists become better able to do what they are trying to do in their art.

So, get your free copy and take a look.

How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul

Let me know what you think. Really!

A time of change

It seems I’m often a year ahead of myself. Major changes that I can taste, touch, and smell in my imagination seem to happen one year later than I think I’m ready.

Well, I’m ready! Our beautiful house, on the market for a year, has finally found its buyer. Our moving date is July 14. Now we just have to find a new home! I’ll be heading to the area of Sedona, Arizona to do just that in early June.

Exciting times! I am so ready for this change. I absolutely love our home and our town of Indiana, Pennsylvania, along with the Indiana Art Association, the Indiana Players, and all of our dear friends. But my family moved a lot when I was a kid. I’ve lived in this town longer than anywhere else in my life, and my kids have never lived anywhere else.

I have always found a major move to mark a boundary line between segments of huge personal growth. And that is what I know I am walking into, with glee!

I won’t divulge all of the fantastic plans going on in my imagination (because, after all, they will probably take a year longer than I think, anyway!), but Southwest, here I come!

 

I took these photos from the airplane on my trip to Arizona in September 2013. It’s probably Colorado down there!

Bringing your art to life

What does your art mean to you?

When the subject of making art comes up in conversation, I notice three types of responses:
1. “I couldn’t do it to save my life.”
2. “I love painting; it helps me relax.”
3. “I am an artist.”

While person #3 may go on to tell me about their process or work, their eyes belie the ease of their conversation, conveying a range of emotions that says, without words:

There is no way you will ever know what I feel about my art, what it has meant to me in my life, what I go through to make it meaningful, what it means to me now.

Artmaking, for an artist, is an ultimately personal experience and exploration. No one celebrates the day they transition from person #2 to person #3. We aren’t really aware of what just happened. It’s a private sea change: from doing your art for a reason, to doing your art for You.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

My ebook

I’m excited to tell you that, after a long winter’s imagining and work, I’ve written an ebook to help person #2 transition to person #3, and to help person #3 gain mastery in abstract painting.

Free to you, my ebook is called How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul. (33 pages)

It will help you to see abstract painting in a new way, so that you have a way to move forward to make your paintings better.

Faerie Queen in Recent Acquisitions exhibit at SAMA

A year ago, my solo show, “Being Spirit,” was featured at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Altoona, Pennsylvania. At that time, the museum acquired my painting, “Flight of the Faerie Queen.” Now the painting is on view at the museum’s current exhibit in their Loretto, Pennsylvania location, titled Arriving in Style: Recent Acquisitions of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.

According to the museum’s web announcement, “The exhibition, on view April 25 through June 14, features seventy-six paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture by artists of regional and national stature.”

"Flight of the Faerie Queen" on exhibit in "Arriving in Style: Recent Acquisitions of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art." Photo by V. Scott Dimond

“Flight of the Faerie Queen” on exhibit in “Arriving in Style: Recent Acquisitions of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art.” Photo by V. Scott Dimond

“Flight of the Faerie Queen,” by Julie Bernstein Engelmann. Acrylic, latex, charcoal on unprimed canvas; 66″H x 42″W; 2009. Collection of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA

“Flight of the Faerie Queen,” by Julie Bernstein Engelmann. Acrylic, latex, charcoal on unprimed canvas; 66″H x 42″W; 2009. Collection of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA

If you’re in the area of Loretto, PA, home of St. Francis University, stop by! See SAMA’s page for more information, hours, map and directions.

Birth of Abstract Painting Mentor.com

I’m excited to announce that I have created a new website for my business of mentoring artists: AbstractPaintingMentor.com.

Several years ago, a student in my Abstract Acrylic Painting class in the Continuing Education department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, asked me whether I taught privately. Julieann had taken several classes with me and we had become friends. Another student and friend, Candace, who had also taken many classes with me, piped up that she wanted to join us.

That was the beginning of my mentoring of abstract painters, a business that has continued growing ever since.

Julieann, Candace and I still meet for mentoring, and have a great time together discussing their art (with a little gabbing thrown in!).

Candace Joseph and Julieann Knox at a recent mentoring session in Candy's studio.

Candace Joseph and Julieann Knox at a recent mentoring session in Candy’s studio.

Please check my site out at www.abstractpaintingmentor.com. The home page tells about my new, free ebook, How to Bring Your Abstract Art to Life, A Manifesto of freedom and confidence for the creative soul. Then there’s an About page and a Mentoring page that offers you an “Art to Heart” mentoring session.

I’m thrilled to have a vehicle for reaching artists who want to further their abstract painting training.

Let me know what you think!