Ordinary People Create Art

art, artist, ordinary, create, creative, quit, work that matters, artwork

Imagine the ideal artist.  What is he like? What does he care about?

The ideal artist, in my mind, cares about internal things. He’s more interested in expression than interpretation.  His heart is in the process of creating, not in the response to his creation.

He’s slightly eccentric, seeming to give little notice to the whims or attitudes of others in regards to his artwork.  He doesn’t need outside approval to fuel his passion to create.  He needs only the space and time to look inside.

His art is never finished, only abandoned when it no longer suits his purpose.

Some people love his work.  Others find it foolish. It doesn’t matter to him.  His work is oxygen.

Bad art doesn’t make him a bad person any more than good art makes him a good person.  He is an artist.  An artist creates.

Sometimes he creates with a plan.  Sometimes with reckless abandon.

He is not a genius.  He is not a perfectionist. He is flawed.

His flaws find their way into his artwork.  Some flaws can be covered up, others can be worked around.  Some leave empty spaces where his mind sees a masterpiece. None of them are worth quitting over, even if they stop his work.  Stopping is only temporary because his inner desire is to create.

He creates original art.  Distinctive art.  Not perfect art.

When I imagine the ideal artist, this is what I see.  Yet, when I think about myself as an artist, I expect perfection, acceptance, and praise.

The truth about being an artist is that there is no good reason for anyone to really care about the work you do.  It matters to you because it’s your conception of an idea, birthed through your hands and sculpted by your virtues and talents.  There is no way to possibly convey that depth of meaning to a general viewer. They only see the final product. Not the late nights, the calloused hands, the mad frustrations, or the inner turmoil.

The expression of one’s self is the core reason to create art.  But if this was truly believed by artists en masse, then there would be fewer artists quitting their vocation.

When there is a lull in praise and admiration of an artist’s work, you feel it must be caused by your lack of talent.  Suddenly your work is irrelevant and unwanted.  This quickly translates into a personal interpretation. You are irrelevant. You are unwanted. (Artists are always looking for a reason to beat themselves up.)

This happens often when an artist graduates, concludes their gallery show, or concludes a series of works. The climactic end has a dangerous drop off on the other side. You’ve worked like mad and met every deadline and expectation and then, suddenly, the audience is gone.

Artists call it “drying up.” 

If you’ve stopped creating because suddenly there is no audience to praise your work, remember that YOU are not dried up.  Neither are your talent or your abilities dried up. Only your audience of praise.

Your job as an artist is to continue to create artwork that teaches you how to create artwork.  Most of what you create doesn’t mean anything to anyone but you. But something at some time will.

The key is to NEVER quit.  And if you’ve stopped creating for whatever reason, remember that stopping isn’t quitting unless you never start again. 


Continue Reading

All We Need Is Time and Grace

time, grace, art, art journal, perfectionism, therapy, creative

Many of us have said things like, “I’d create it if I had the time and space.”  I’ve found over the last few weeks that time and space are not what’s needed to create.  It’s time and grace.

When there’s something nagging at you, a dream or a desire, sometimes it’s hard to give it an honest look.


Whose got time for fanciful dreams of peace and fulfillment when there’s work to be done and things to take care of?  We often cast it off before we’ve even given it a thorough examination.  It’s so unrealistic.  Why bother?

It’s a wall we all face.  Over and over again.  It’s a wall that creatives are intimately familiar with because we spend so much time bouncing up against it.  We just can’t help it.  We’re drawn to using our creative talents to make a better and brighter space around us but then we get knocked back with a hard dose of reality.  There are more important things than making art.

It takes up too much time.  It doesn’t pay the bills.  You don’t have enough training.  No one would understand it.  You’re a nobody.  No one would ever buy it.  It’s probably not that good anyway.

But it makes you feel so good inside. Like you’ve finally found a slide of chocolate pudding that never ends. (Awesome visual. You’re welcome.)

Except, it does end because you talk yourself out of it time and time again.

Recently, I’ve started looking at art as a practice of self-love. Therapy, really.  It’s grace that I’ve started to offer myself.  It’s an opportunity to be free, to stop judging, and just feel.  To be me.  Authentic and pure.

I don’t consider myself an artist as far as canvas and paint, but I am creative and a dabbler in many arts.  I’ve decided to give myself permission to be unrealistic for a time and practice art.  Because it’s nourishment for my heart and soul.  And it’s a reprieve for my mind.

I’ve started art journaling and I invite you to join me in the process.  I created a 30 Day Art Journaling Challenge.  It’s a daily practice that only takes a few minutes each day.  It can be as simple or involved as you want to allow. Think of it as an open door. A breath of fresh air. An invitation to be real, unfiltered, and whole.

You’ll be surprised how much making art a daily practice can change your outlook and feelings about your life.  Suddenly, you see things in a new light.  Your perspective broadens.  Your heart grows bigger.

Growth and learning are natural products when you give yourself the grace and time to just do what you love. You allow yourself to be imperfect.  You accept your art for what it is.  You connect with your heart.

You don’t have to be great.  You don’t need a lot of time and space.  You just have to be you. And be okay with that.

So, no matter what your dream or passion is, give it time and grace.  Make it a daily practice of self-love and nurturing. Release the potential that you’ve been ignoring.  Go make some art.

If you’re interested in joining me in the 30 Days Art Journal Challenge, please connect with me on Facebook or Instagram and share your art with me!  Just use the hashtag #30DayArtJournal!  And leave a comment below telling me what dreams you’ve been putting on hold because you haven’t allowed yourself the time and grace to do it.  

Continue Reading

30 Day Art Journaling Challenge

art journal, challenge, artist, art, creative, journal, sketch,

I’ve started an art journal a few days ago.  It was inspired by some artsy types I follow on Instagram.  I love to write to get my thoughts out on paper, but sometimes I want to add some color.  Art journaling has given me the space to produce a snapshot of a thought, dream, or instance in my life in full color.

The daily practice of creating something meaningful and personal has proved therapeutic.  I look forward to the time with my art journal like I look forward to a conversation with an old friend.  There is no judgement.  No rules.  Only an abundance of space and time.

I’ve shared my first few art journal entries on Instagram and Facebook, not because I want compliments or affirmation, but because I want everyone to see that art is a safe place.  People who don’t believe they are creative at all can write down a few thoughts, doodle, add stickers and washi tape, and open their minds to a side of themselves they don’t even realize is there.  They get to enjoy the benefits of color and freedom like every artist.

I’m new to this type of creativity but exploring and trying something new keeps my inner artist happy and excited.  It may not last.  My artist is a child who hops from one obsession to the next with no warning.  But I wanted to share this experience with you and invite you to join me.  So, I’ve created a 30 Day Art Journaling Challenge to be our guide.

30 Day Art Journaling Challenge RULES

There are no rules.  Only a theme for each of the 30 days.  But feel free to jump around if you’d like. A different theme may be more intriguing or fitting than the theme for that day.  Do whatever feels right.

Use any medium you want.  Watercolor, acrylic, Sharpies, graphite, oil, stickers, papers, ModPodge, you name it.  Stick it in there. Make it unique.  Make it yours.

You can start any day.  And if you can’t journal every day, oh well.  Just get back to it when you can.  But don’t skip.  Try to get 30 days into your art journal, no matter how long it takes.

Use the hashtag #30DayArtJournal.  If hashtags are your thing and you’d like to share your art journal on social media.  If you want to keep it private, more power to you.  I want you to enjoy the process completely.

I hope you’ll give art journaling a try.  Tap into your creative side.  Let’s play!

Print, pin, and share this image with your creative friends.  It’s more fun to play when you’ve got more people involved.

Do you already have an art journal?  What’s your favorite medium?  Leave a comment below and let me know how your art journaling experience is going. 

Continue Reading

The Duty of an Artist

America Martin, artist, duty, create, hope, light, art, dream

The life of an artist is often romanticized but the truth is that it’s full of uncertainties and doubts.  Sometimes we wonder about purpose.  Sometimes we doubt the direction the creative path is taking.  Sometimes we ask, “What’s the point?”  Sometimes we wonder if it’s worth it or if anyone cares.

While reading the autumn addition of Where Women Create (a beautiful magazine about and for artists), I read a quote by artist America Martin that struck me with such truth that I had to read it again and again.  And I wanted to share it with you.

She said,

Being able to live as a working artist is my most significant personal achievement, but “success” and “disappointment” are what I call “outside terms,” which cannot be let into the arena of being an artist. Those words represent intentions that mar and are counter to the true purpose of being an artist. For any true love there is neither success nor disappointment.  When you really love something, I believe there is only duty.  The artist’s duty is to make his or her art, to do it any way he or she can, small or large scale.  When you do what you love most, it is like a small light of hope for other hearts; it creates encouragement.  It creates a community, a tribe of others who dare to dream.

Wow.  The truth in those words took my breath away.

Your art matters.  It matters to you first, but it matters to those around you who have a dream, even if you don’t know it.  They have a passion.  They have a desire.  They have a longing that is yet unfulfilled.  And they see you doing what you love.  You are an artist because you create art.  Without art, the light of who you are fades.  The artist is nothing without her art.

Your art is beautiful.  But what’s more beautiful is the beauty of a realized artist.  You have no idea who you are inspiring.  No matter what your perceived level of success is in the business of art, you have a duty to continue.  Full time, part time.  Large scale, small scale.  You and your art, your persistence and your perseverance may be the thread of hope on which someone else’s dream hangs.  You become his or her motivation and inspiration.  You. The artist.

Don’t stop.  Don’t waver.  Don’t doubt.  You have a duty to create.

Continue Reading

Take Yourself On An Artist’s Date

art, create, creative, artist, date, introvert, ideas, inspiration

art, create, creative, artist, date, introvert, ideas, inspirationThis past week has been super busy with lots of travel and events.  We took the kids to two agricultural fairs, went on a whale watching tour, spent a whole day sewing with my daughter on her birthday, enjoyed a production at the theater, watched the kids in a parade and re-designed a bedroom.  Wow. What a week.

Although it was crazy busy and exhausting, I’m so excited for this week.  I’m fairly busting at the seams with new ideas and can’t wait to get started. Every part of last week was perfect for feeding a creative mind.  Maybe even a bit much to take in all at once.  I feel like I gorged myself on filet mignon, cheesecake, and fine wine.  (All of which is a metaphor since I don’t consume any of it. But you get the picture.)

The fairs were full of vendors selling things they love to make.  There were all kinds or artists selling their pieces; garments, pottery, hand-bound books, paintings, carvings, wool, yarns, bags and purses, furniture and toys.  It was amazing to see all the beautifully creative things that were there and refreshing to see artists doing what artists love.

The whale watching tour was a great way to connect with nature.  To enjoy the ocean air, the wind, the salty waves, the birds and the marine life.  Apart from the absence of whales and the seasick passengers, the trip was incredible.  Porpoise and dolphins.  Tuna and jellyfish.  Puffins and Gannets.  For a few hours, I was part of the vast expanse of the ocean and nothing else mattered.

The day spent sewing for my daughter’s birthday was so much fun.  It’s been forever since I spent an entire day doing something crafty.  We invited a friend over who showed us how to make some little sewing projects like a small zippered travel case, felted mittens, and pillowcases.  I was left with tons of ideas for Christmas gifts and projects for my Etsy store.

Perhaps my favorite creative time this week, though, was spent re-decorating my daughter’s bedroom.  She just turned 11 and has found a passion in doing hairstyles.  A few months ago we gave her a mannequin head to style.  Now she has an Instagram account where she shows off her styles and some tricks she’s learned.  I wanted her to have a nice place to take her pictures.  (Background is everything.) So I found some inspiration from Pinterest, got clear on the needs of the space, set a budget, and went shopping.  By myself.

This excursion had two objectives.  One: find the perfect items for the bedroom makeover and Two: take myself on a date.  

It’s so important for creatives to spend some time alone.  To think, create, read, shop, or whatever you enjoy and fills your creativity tank.  We need time to fill up on the things that inspire us and make us think deeper.

The “artist’s date” does just that. 

Many artists are introverts.  They have no problem with going out alone and immediately see the benefits of taking herself out on a date.  Others may find this awkward and be tempted to take someone else along.  The problem with that is your focus is moved to your company.  Conversation is led in other directions.  Whims of someone else may steer the course.  The time to mull over ideas and take things in is rushed.  The creative mind needs its own space to play.

Many times, plain old guilt will keep you from taking yourself out.  You might feel like you’re leaving someone out, shirking your duties, or being selfish.  Of course, it’s not, but that doesn’t always make a difference in how you feel.  So let me give you some advice on taking yourself out on an artist’s date.

  1. Put it on the calendar.  – You decide how often feels right.  Some can go out every week.  Some once a month.  I suggest you don’t let it be longer than a month between dates.
  2. Do something that only interests you. – I went shopping.  And since my daughter happened to be visiting with friends and my guys (son and husband) don’t really enjoy the process, I was free for a few hours to wander as many stores as I wanted.
  3. If you can’t physically go out, go out in your mind. – Read a book, listen to a podcast, watch a tutorial, scroll through Pinterest.  This might be helpful for moms with little children at home.  These don’t require a lot of time and some can be done while folding laundry or washing dishes.
  4. Take a small notebook with you. – Write down all the ideas you have while you’re out.  Whatever inspires you and what you’d like to do with that inspiration.
  5. Be consistent.  – You may not be able to go on an artist’s date every week, but don’t let it go too long.  You must keep your creative tank full.  You do that by having a regular flow of ideas and inspiration coming in.  Otherwise, you’ll dry up and become blocked.

Creative minds need a little extra care.  It can’t be left idle or under stimulated for too long.  I suggest you put your next artist’s date on your calendar right now.  It doesn’t have to take hours and it doesn’t have to cost anything.  It’s the quickest and easiest way to fill up.  Be good to your creative self.

If your interested in some more inspiration and perhaps a peek at the tween bedroom makeover, join my email list and I’ll send you a little something every month!

Continue Reading

Believe in Magic – Words of Wisdom

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passion

magic, perseverance, art, create, success, show up, work, simple, passionYou know what the problem is with your life?  You want to go after your passions but you refuse to believe in yourself.

There is a process in achieving success.  You have to create it.

You will never become a writer if you don’t write.  You won’t become a painter if you won’t paint.  You’ll never record an album if you don’t have the courage to sing.  You’ll never be anything if you don’t show up.

We try to make things complicated sometimes.  We want the answer to the question of life to be complex yet easy to accomplish.  Alas.  The opposite is true.  Achieving success is very simple.  And it’s hard work. That’s all it takes.  Simple? Yes.  Easy? No.

Success doesn’t fall into your lap.  Fulfillment isn’t served on a platter. If you want to create a life of meaning and purpose you have to run, stretch, and push yourself to progress. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort.  And then come back and do it again.

That’s where the magic happens.  In showing up time after time.

Imagine you have to do as many push-ups as you possibly can right now.  Suppose you can only do 5.  What if you did 5 push-ups every day for a few days?  All of a sudden you’d be able to do 10 push-ups.  And if you continued to do 10 push-ups every day, suddenly you’d be able to do 20.

It’s magic!

Actually, it’s work.  The magic is in your perseverance and belief in yourself.  Don’t go looking for the easy way out or complicate the process.  Just show up.  And show up again.  The magic will follow.

Do you believe in yourself enough to show up?  What are you going to do this week?  I’d love to see your comments.

Don’t forget to join the email list to get extra creative inspiration in your inbox every month.

Continue Reading

Terrified? Good.

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotion

art, show, share, create, easy, fear, progress, emotionYou keep waiting for it to get easier.  The writing.  The expression.  The honesty with yourself.  The accepting of who you really are.

You show up, day after day and do the hard things.  You feel with all your heart.  You work with all your might.  You do the next right thing.

Show up.  Create.  Share.  Repeat.

It should get easier, right?

The process eventually becomes routine.  But sharing is always scary.

Art is just one way of baring one’s soul.  It may be with words, music, or color.  But art is more than just sharing thoughts and ideas.  Art shares emotion.  Raw and unrefined emotion.

There’s no way to tame your art.  If you try, it becomes watered down and unappealing.  Like iced tea left in the sun too long.

Art that resonates with people has a shared emotion with the observer.  It portrays a deep emotion that can’t be explained without an experience.   Real, raw, emotional art strikes a chord of understanding, empathy, and insight.

There’s nothing easy about being real.  Real means vulnerable.

That’s scary.  Your human nature is to protect yourself from harm and painful experiences.  So you hide and try to blend in with the scenery.  But your spiritual nature is to be whole and understood.  And so, there is a constant war of revealing your soul and hiding your heart.

It takes both soul and heart to make art.

I don’t believe it ever gets easier.  It just becomes a necessity.  Like breathing.  The artist must create and connect.

Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  It means you do it afraid.

Be strong and courageous.  Don’t give up.

Show up. Create. Share. Repeat.

What are you doing every day to show up and do the next right thing?  Do you find it easier to share your art as you become better at it?  Share your comments here.

Continue Reading