How to be a Fearless Artist

I love the feeling I get when I’m ready to make some art. I gather all my colorful supplies and make sure I’ve got plenty of light. Then, I look down at my clean, stark white canvas and suddenly I go blank. Blanker than the empty canvas. Fear suddenly enters into my heart. Like a lil’ wimp, I let that fear take me away from the art to go snack, rake the leaves, or (seriously?) clean the toilet.

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The Scream, Edvard Munch

Creative Courage

 

Writers do it too. Staring at the blinking cursor against the bright white background of the empty document, has the power to traumatize more effectively than a terrorist in war. Before you know it you’ll be laying in a fetal position hugging your stuffed animal and wondering how you ever thought you could be an artist.

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Lucas Scott, from One Tree Hill, experiencing writer’s block and typing, “I Suck.”

How to Develop Artistic Bravery

Artists like Bob Ross make it look easy. He fearlessly slops some paint down and creates a beautiful work of art. Below are some helpful tips to overcome fear:

1. Sketch -Before you start the finished piece, grab some cheap scratch paper, do some sketches and work out your ideas. It’d be awesome to create the masterpiece on your first try but that’s also a lot of pressure, and not always realistic. (It’s not impossible though.)

Constantly sketching and drawing will help you improve, which will build your confidence and you’ll be saying, “Goodbye Fear.”

2. It’s NOT permanent – Some art supplies can’t be erased like graphite pencil. So it feels like your marks will be permanent and if you make a mistake, what do you do? First, relax. Start out with a lighter touch and build gradually. Oil takes forever to dry so if you make a mark you’re not happy with just wipe the paint away and cover it up with more paint. Remember that many art mediums are forgiving and workable.

Or, like Bob Ross, you might get a “happy accident.”

3. Act Brave – Being an artist requires bravery because you’re doing something that cost you. Your art comes from inside of you. And what if people don’t like it? What if they put it down? Just be brave. And if you don’t feel brave, then PRETEND.

Do the opinions of other people strike terror in your heart? If so, be inspired by the war hero. Look fear in the eye, be strong and stand up for your artwork. Allow the reactions from people to be constructive criticism to help you improve.

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Hide the Knives! Van Gogh Self Portrait with bandaged ear

The Tortured Artist

Artists are sensitive and have to develop a thick skin. It may seem like I’m being a drama queen but I think fear is a common problem for everyone . . . not just the creative souls. Remember . . . feeling these raw emotions is a big part of art. And for me, overcoming fear makes me feel like a BOSS, and gives me the power to overcome whatever obstacles I might face.

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Bob Ross!

Being Your Own “Worst” Critic

Do you like your art? Are you conveying your message? Are you giving it your all? Maybe bravery in art, is really in facing yourself.

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National Kolache Day

“Kolaches have always been the underdog in the pastry world, and National Kolache Day will pave the way for this overlooked pastry to gain its much-deserved recognition.” – Vatsana Souvannavog, the owner of Koala Kolache.

The Houston Mayor declares March 1 National Kolache Day because the owner of Koala Kolache wanted the pastry and the Czech people in Texas to be recognized.

Voyage to Texas in 1852

Texas has a large Czech population. I know this because my dad’s side of my family immigrated from there to the United States and settled in Texas. My granny was a first generation Czech-American.

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My Granny near San Antonio, Tx 1947

She lived on the coast for a while, where a lot of Czech families lived. All of her brothers joined the military and were very proud to serve their country. Then she became a farmer’s wife and moved to East Texas to pursue a career in cosmetology and to raise her son, who also joined the military.

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I guess I’m not the only person in my family who photographs Cows

My Czech Heritage

Being half Czech is pretty cool. I remember going to South Texas and visiting my granny on holidays. The sounds of a thick language I didn’t understand echoing from the kitchen, where there was around the clock cooking. And you never saw the woman sweat! . . . seriously. Her clothes were always perfect, and her hair was always in place. Thanks to Aqua Net.

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I really like this picture. Granny 1949 East Texas

Czech Food

The smell of food was always wafting through the house. I was accustomed to a variety of foreign food because I grew up on a military base and met and ate with people from all over the world. And I wasn’t afraid to try stuff.

But the one thing I wasn’t crazy about was sauerkraut. Always cooked in brown sugar and beef drippings. They put that nasty stuff on their Thanksgiving stuffing, and it’s served with so many meals all year.

I love it now, and crave it. Just last night I had a roast beef sandwich on rye bread with mustard, pickles, and sauerkraut.

The Mouth-Watering Czech Kolache

I was already craving my granny’s food but now . . . thanks to Houston declaring March 1 National Kolache Day, I NEED the original Czech Kolache. The East Texan “pig in a blanket” version just won’t do.

2002

My Granny with her sis, sis-in-law, bro, and nephew- the guy in black was the Kolache Baker, 2002

I remember walking into the kitchen when the uncle who made delicious kolaches showed up, his arms loaded with peach filled, raspberry filled, fruits I couldn’t identify filled. It was heaven.

1968 holiday meal kolache on plate

1968 A plate of Kolaches are on the middle of the table to the right of the candle. Looks like peach flavored. My dad is the kid looking at the camera with the ketchup bottle in front of him. 

I don’t know about you, but my heritage is so important to me. I love knowing where I come from and embracing and learning about it. And I was really happy to hear that the delicious Czech pastry get’s it’s own day.

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The last two Kolache pastries on the plate, to the right of the candle. 

Proud to be an American

So if you haven’t tried them yet, go enjoy a Kolache and help celebrate the true spirit of America. A nation made up of immigrants who all love this country and add to it’s diverse culture.

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My Great Grandparents – My Granny’s Mom, brother, and Dad

Finding Inspiration in Portrait Painter Kehinde Wiley

Until recently, I never really noticed the official portraits of the president’s of the United States of America before. Did you know that former President Richard Nixon’s portrait was painted by Norman Rockwell? That’s actually pretty comical. You might recognize the name of painter, Chuck Close, who did the scary pixelated portrait of former President Bill Clinton.

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Douglas Chandor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1945). Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

And my favorite is the portrait of FDR, painted by Douglas Chandor. I like all the hands, the pencil drawing in the corner, the simple background, the rich depth of color, and how the suit was painted.

Portrait Painter Kehinde Wiley

The most recent presidential portrait of former President Barack Obama was painted by the talented Kehinde Wiley. I read an article on variety.com that said the background is made of foliage representing his Chicagoan, Hawaiian, and Kenyan roots. This colorful 7′ tall portrait made me curious about the artist.

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Kehinde Wiley, Barack Obama (2018). Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

A Combo of High Renaissance, late French Rococo, and the 19th century

I looked him up and discovered some really impressive artwork. His skill shows that he has a lot of training. He often recreates artwork from historical master painters, and updates them according to the statements he wants to make. I like his version of Jacques-Louis David’s painting, Napoleon Crossing the Alps

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Jacques-Louis David’s version

He used the same composition as the original but with a few changes. In a detail, you can see his humor represented through little sperm swimming around in the background. I love the clothes his random and anonymous subject is wearing. And the gold frame is so impressive. I would hang that in my house. 

While his statements are interesting, thought provoking, powerful, and contribute to the final look of his art; I’m really attracted to the visual part of his paintings. Just stare at the two paintings and study them for a while. 

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Kehinde Wiley, Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, oil paint on canvas, 274.3 x 274.3 cm (108 x 108 in) (Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York) © Kehinde Wiley

His work is intricate, bold, strikingly colorful, powerful, and beautiful. He’s definitely a contemporary artist worth studying. He shows you how to be inspired by other artists and also how to make it your own. He started making strong statements through his artwork while studying at Yale. And he gets to go down in history as a portrait painter for an American President. Check out his confident self portrait of him in his studio at his website.

Controversy

As always in art and anything really, controversy follows Wiley’s portrait of the former President. I think that’s what makes art great though; it stirs up conversation and ideas.

What do you think about Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Mr. Obama? The former President seemed to like it, and was his usual joking self poking fun at his ears and gray hair, while complimenting the integrity of the painter. 

How about that? Pretty sharp. – President Obama, upon viewing his portrait

Tell ‘Em That It’s Human Nature

My town has terrible radio stations that play the same old boring playlists. When I’m in my car I go ahead and torture myself by relying on the local stations to provide me with something good. And since I can control the radio on my steering wheel, I end up surfing non-stop. (I’m an annoying tv/radio surfer and proouud of it.)

Every once in a while on a cold night, I can pick up far away radio stations. As I get a little closer to Louisiana, I pick up cajun and jazz stations. As I get closer to Houston, I pick up really good rap and rock stations.

The other night I was going next door to visit my best friends. They’re only about 2 acres away but I decided to drive so I wouldn’t have to be in the cold for too long. Not sure where this station is from but I endured the static of 102.9 just to see what song they’d play next. That night, it was Michael Jackson.

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performance at Wembly, July 16, 1988

I find it interesting how certain events or details in our lives are impossible to forget. Most people remember where they were when they heard the news of his death. I was in college working at a call center. One morning I got to work and received the news that Michael AND Farrah had died. I felt so impacted by it then, and still am today. Michael sure did have an affect on human nature. Starting back when he was that cute kid singing, “Look over your shoulder honey.

Sadly, Michael always had all that controversy that went with him and somehow, I was always transfixed. I’m not really a star struck kind of person but I loved Michael and I always felt like he was just so wounded that he didn’t actually mean any harm to anyone. Was it just human nature that made everyone so curious about him?

Anyway, aside from all that, his talent was so amazing. The way he moved. They way he controlled his vocal range. His music videos set the standard for all music videos. Even that strange glove and screaming while grabbing his crotch. It was awesome.

If They Say Why, Why . . .

I’ve been enjoying this underplayed song of his from the 80’s, Human Nature. It’s so beautiful. His voice is so breathy through the whole thing and I think it really highlights his vocal range and control. I’ve been hooked memorizing the words and immersing myself in the music and dissecting every part of it. If you like doing that too, then I highly recommend that you treat your ears and your soul to this hit.

lane kim music is my life

I understand Lane Kim from Gilmore Girls when she says, “music is my life” 

This video from July 16, 1988 is a good one. I love towards the end when he lets the audience sing. His signature movements, his pelvic thrusts, his interaction with the audience, and his inflection of the word, “girl,” and everything else beautifully portrays the sentiment behind human nature. I’m reminded of what I heard in an interview that the woman in the short film, “The Way You Make me Feel,” was so nervous flirting with Michael and that he was nervous too.

I checked out wikipedia and learned that Human Nature was written by Steve Porcaro and on Michael’s Thriller album. Apparently inspired by his daughter and the weird way boys show they like girls. He ended up explaining to her that it’s human nature.

I hope you immerse yourself in this song and I hope that you also spend some time thinking about the nature of humans. Maybe you’re reminded like I was, of someone who made you feel the way this song feels.

 

 

What Is The Ghost of Xmas Past?

I don’t have much time to live in the past when I’m living in the moment. Growing up, I hated to watch the older people in my life cry in their beer over the past and whine about how much today sucks. I didn’t understand . . . especially since I was standing right there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love remembering the past. I live in the house my grandpa built. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him since he died when I was almost 2, but I love hearing my parent’s memories of him. I’m living on his property in the house that he built when my mom was a teenager, so that his family would always have a home. It’s a great way to remember something we don’t have anymore.

Feeling Nostalgic

Most of my memories are vivid because I was living in the moment and actively storing them in my heart and in my memory banks. I wanted to fully experience it right then and always remember it. And I often go back in my mind and re-experience those moments and it’s awesome.

I’ve never actually longed to go back, or felt such a strong sense of loss that I desired a time machine. BUT these past couple of months I have been haunted by strange feelings of nostalgia. It’s not that awesome. Or is it? 

Nostalgia – a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Like when a child becomes a teenager. It’s beautiful to watch and see who they’re becoming, but at the same time I experience loss because I’ll never be able to be with him as a little child anymore.

To be able to hold him and watch him experience everything for the first time. I can go back anytime and experience my vivid memories and photos/videos but now, in the moment that time is gone forever.

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I recently heard from a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years. We’ve known each other for 22 years and she sent me a picture of her wearing these xmas earrings I made for her in the 6th grade. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them in that pic and they triggered so many memories that I haven’t thought of in a long time. 

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The earrings 

Photos and Memories

It made me wonder about these moments we experience and the effect photography has on them. Some people say that you’re not really living in the moment when you’re so concerned about taking a picture. It’s possible to do both. I’ve managed to photograph moments with my camera and my mind . . . and sometimes photos will trigger memories so strongly that it becomes easier to remember.

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Rd Trip through Louisiana

What about in psychology where studies show that memories aren’t really that accurate? Humans tend to remember the past better than it actually was. Or what about when memories have been tainted by time and discussion?

Maybe that’s why they cry in their beer and long for that old relationship or wish their children were young again. Maybe the changes or lack of changes a person has made, creates a rift in relationships and makes you feel an unreasonable longing for the past.

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Box of Photos

I guess a healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t so bad. The passage of time exists and we gotta embrace it and enjoy it. Like that Doris Day song says, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

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Disney Version

If we fully embrace the good, the bad, the neutral, the everyday we can experience life in it’s rawest and purest form. How about you . . . are you being haunted by the ghost of xmas past? Maybe it’s not a ghost at all . . . maybe it’s just a little bit of wisdom about life.

Why Does Pope Francis Want to Change a Verse in The Lord’s Prayer?

I heard this morning that Pope Francis wants to change the wording of The Lord’s Prayer. He said that God does not lead us into temptation, but that is Satan’s job. He said this verse implies that God leads you into Sin and a father wouldn’t do that but that a father would help you get up immediately. Instead he wants it to be, “do not let us fall into temptation.”

I enjoy digging deeper into the Bible and getting a better understanding of what it’s teaching us so let’s jump on in.

First of all, temptation isn’t actually sinning. Temptation happens before you sin or don’t sin. It’s important to distinguish between temptation and sin because, come on, who isn’t tempted to do something they shouldn’t? I know that I get tempted but I don’t always follow through on the temptation. And it’s God, and the things I’ve learned from His word, that helped me overcome the temptation.

Pope Francis is using the KJV, so I wondered what the original Greek translation is actually saying. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “lead” (1533) could be better translated as “carry” or “bring”.

So, instead of “Lead us not into temptation,” it would be more accurate to say “please don’t carry or bring me into temptation”? I wondered what the original word “temptation” is actually saying.

The word temptation here could be better translated as “trial” (3986) So, we would be asking God, “please do not carry me or bring me into a trial or test, but deliver me from evil”? This reminds me immediately of Job, who God actually brought to Satan’s attention.

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Job 1:8

God said to Satan there’s nobody on Earth like Job, who is upright and blameless. Satan replies that God blesses Job and if God took away all those blessings then he’d surely curse God.

“The LORD said to Satan, “Very well then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:12

God is outright testing Job, carrying him or leading him into temptation. The heading over this section is even titled, “Job’s First Test.” Even though He is allowing Job to be tested by Satan (who God created) He also ordered Satan not to lay a finger on the man himself.

Hmm . . . in the book of Job, I see no implication of God leading him into temptation. I see that God outright carries him into temptation which is directly brought about by Satan. So, Pope Francis is partially right that it’s Satan’s job to tempt humans into sinful behavior. But, who created Satan and gave him that job? God did.

It might be hard for some people to look at God as being in control of everything, including Satan, or whomever else he created. I feel comforted because I know that God is in charge, and I personally don’t want to be tested the way Job was tested. God allowed him to go through some pretty bad stuff. But God also protected Job while he went through these tests.

I was reminded of another verse:

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23,24.

Many verses in the Bible let us know that God will get us through difficult situations that will surely happen, but he won’t let us fall. So, the Pope’s concept about asking God to not let us fall is definitely a common concept in the Bible. But I still wonder if it is an appropriate or necessary translation for this particular prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer was given by Jesus as instruction on how to pray. And if we study it carefully, and combine this one prayer with other things the Bible is teaching, I believe we can continue to deepen our understanding until the cows come home.

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Let’s look again at Pope Francis’ proposed translation “do not let us fall into temptation.” Is this a better translation? Does it give us a deeper meaning of what the prayer is asking for? Does the Pope’s reasoning behind the change make sense? Are his reasons consistent with the rest of the Bible? Does it actually water down the truth? 

I’m glad I looked up the original meanings in the concordance. Gives me a little more wisdom to chew on.