art + photography

all posts related to artwork I’ve created, or photography

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I’ve Learned

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, winter lane and memories

In February I did something that I had been thinking of doing for a long time, but never had the courage to actually go and do: I exhibited my artwork at a local art show.

I have been creating artwork for as long as I can remember, and yet I have never considered myself to be an “artist”. What a heavy word that is! An artist is purposeful. An artist is talented. An artist is trained, not self taught. An artist has a defined style. An artist sells their work. An artist is focused only on creating art- they don’t have other jobs and hobbies, right? Wrong! These are ideas that I had always held about artists, and thus I never placed myself in the category of being an actual artist, because I don’t line up with what a so-called “artist” should be. But, an artist is simply someone who practices a creative art; whether or not they are paid for it, or whether they trained at an Academy, or whether anybody even likes their work. (Think of all the famous artists, who are now revered, but during their time weren’t valued, appreciated or even paid for their work!)

I have always struggled with a rather low opinion of my talents. Can you relate to feelings like that about your own pursuits? This past year I decided that it was time to start taking my artwork seriously and the first step I decided to take, was in exhibiting at one of the local art shows held in February. It was a very big step for me to start selling my work at a few of the Christmas craft shows last November and December, but another altogether to exhibit at an Art Show. I felt so intimidated to show my work at the local Art Show, and yet it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in regards to my artwork. Not only was it an inspiring experience to see the artwork of 60-70 other local artists, and mine among them, but it was just the kick-in-the-pants I needed! 😉 Here are the lessons I learned about getting out of my creative comfort zone, and I hope you can learn from them too- whether you are an artist, or whether you can apply them elsewhere in your life.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, discovery watercolour and ink

Showing my work at an Art Show forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and start taking myself seriously.

I had to actually call myself “an artist”. In the same way, whatever you are pursuing- own it! Call yourself “a blogger” or “a fashion designer” or “a photographer” or whatever it is you want. It is funny how simply acknowledging that this is a serious part of your life can make a huge difference in how you view it, and approach it.

Having a deadline meant that I was spending time creating, not just for personal enjoyment, but because I had something to work towards.

I couldn’t not create because I had to have pieces ready to show. I finally got the courage to get five of my photographs printed up on 16″ x 24″ canvases. (I had never, before this, printed my pictures any larger than 5″ x 7″- which is just crazy!) I was spending time every day sketching and painting and pottering about with my camera, but with a purpose in mind. Not that you can’t create without a deadline, but for me personally, having a deadline was a great incentive! Sometimes, finding an outlet for whatever goals you are pursuing is a great way to make sure you are spending time on them. Look for local places to exhibit your artwork. Plan a trip in order to practice that new language you are learning. Look and plan ahead for ways to put your skills into practice.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, tithe barn and lilacs after the rain

As intimidated as I was about exhibiting, there was absolutely no reason to be so. 

There were so many artists of all different varieties there. There were self taught artists, as well as professionally trained artists. There were hobby artists and career artists. There were artists who had one very distinctive style, and artists who created and experimented with multiple mediums and styles. There were artists who had been creating for years, and artists who were showing for the first time. There were artists who were young (students) and artists who were old (retired). There was artwork I didn’t much care for, and artwork that stopped me in my tracks because it was so overwhelmingly beautiful.

In short, all of the drawbacks I had about my artwork were absolute rubbish. I am my own worst critic, and the fear of failure often stops me from even trying things. I am mostly self taught, except for lessons throughout high school, and I have always considered this to be a drawback and a hindrance to considering myself a serious artist. Seeing the work of so many other artists of all different levels (many of whom were self-taught too!) and different stages of life was so encouraging. I realized that I have absolutely every right to consider myself an artist (without being vain about it, of course!). I realized that I was one of them. You are too! Whatever it is that you are pursuing, you are a valuable part of the community. Don’t feel intimidated by what others are doing, and get stuck on what you consider to be your drawbacks. Maybe, like me, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the things you are worried about are not things that should be holding you back at all, but might actually be things you have in common with the others you are comparing yourself too. And on that note- stop comparing yourself!  (Easier said than done, I know; I am the Queen of Comparison!)

I came away from the show inspired to create. 

It was incredibly inspiring to see the work of so many other local artists and art students. There were all kinds of styles and mediums.  There were pieces made with mediums and techniques that I had never thought about before. There was one collage made with magazine clippings combined with watercolour and ink. I had never thought of combining my love of ephemera and collage with watercolour and ink. It was such a simple, yet ingenious idea and I don’t know why I had never thought of it before. I am now eager to try that medium myself! Going to the show was so refreshing, creatively speaking. Seeing what other people are doing can be very inspiring. Don’t get stuck in a rut of looking at only the same thing all the time, or becoming so focused on what you are personally doing, that you stop looking outwards. Look at Renaissance artwork, if you are normally drawn to Impressionism. Follow a modern style blogger, if you love to wear period vintage. Look at things that are normally outside of your style, and be inspired by them, as even things we don’t like can be tremendously helpful in honing our own skills and styles. Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to only one hobby, or one style either. Experiment and explore.

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, hens and chicks watercolour and ink

I am now a part of the Arts community and am actively seeking other opportunities to be involved in it.

If I had never taken that first step towards exhibiting at this show (which isn’t even in my own town, but rather in a neighbouring one) I would never have found out about other opportunities. Because I went to this show, which was more widely publicized, I have found out about a couple other shows coming up, and have applied to another one in April. Because I went to this show, I also found out about an opportunity at a local library, where I signed up to display my work for March and April, free of cost. If I had stayed at home and never taken that first step of applying for that show, no more opportunities would have come my way, because I wouldn’t have even known about them. Don’t hold yourself back from taking the first step, because you might be surprised at what other things may be out there waiting for you to discover them.

I am now eager to continue learning and improving my skills. 

I touched on this in my post about creative goals. I am happy with what I have learned so far, and I do see how far I have come, but there is still so much to learn! Taking that first step to showing my work, helped me immensely and gave me such a confidence boost. Getting a positive response and selling some of my prints was a real happy dance moment for me. But, I also realized just how much I don’t know. There were some seriously talented artists at the show. I could have compared myself to them and come up severely lacking, but rather than feeling like a worm, I have instead become all the more eager to learn and improve myself. We all learn from the Masters. There is always someone who is better at something than you are- but rather than feel bad about the fact that you don’t know something, instead be inspired to learn and grow! And on that same note, negative feedback isn’t the end of the world either. Just because one person doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean it’s a failure either- art is extremely personal and it will appeal to different people.

So, those are the lessons I have been learning lately. This was going to be a quick little “recap” post and now it’s turned into a long and drawn out Dear Abby life advice column. 😉 Well, I hope that the lessons I learned through this experience can help you in whatever creative or non-creative pursuits you are working towards right now!

Have you ever struggled with feelings of comparison and inferiority in your pursuits and interests? Have you ever found yourself stuck in a “creative comfort zone”? What are your current goals? If you want to share; I would love to hear about what you are working on!

On Getting Out of Your Creative Comfort Zone, Lessons I've Learned, the artyologist, winter lane and memories

ps. All of these are pieces I created for the show, both photography on canvas and watercolour and ink.

Tea and Tulips on a February Day

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist

It is in February when I start longing for the sunshine and flowers of spring and summer. November and December hold the anticipation of Christmas and the snow is fresh and clean and appealing. January brings the promise of a bright New Year and fireside days. But, by the time February comes along, the snow is not a novelty anymore, and the days seem cold and lifeless. The weather warms up just enough to tease us with promise of Spring, only to freeze again. It is in the later days of February that we start to look towards Spring with expectation. I am not one to buy cut flowers often, but sometimes a bouquet of flowers is just the perfect thing to brighten up those long winter days. My mom surprised me and my sister this year on Valentine’s Day with a bouquet of gorgeous yellow and purple tulips. Yellow and purple are two colours that go extremely well together, and these tulips created a beautifully simple, yet elegant, bouquet.

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip vase

I love tulips as they are one of those funny kinds of flowers that seem to have a mind of their own. As soon as you arrange them in a bouquet, they rearrange themselves and completely undo all the arranging you did to them. Tulips actually continue to grow in the vase, and these certainly did as soon as I put them in the vase. I promise you that they were arranged in some kind of order, but by the time I took these photos, they had drooped and flopped all over the place. It’s OK though, as it makes them seem that much more natural and alive; and they do give me hope that Winter is not forever!

What could be more inviting on a cold February day than a bouquet of Spring flowers and a piping hot cup of tea in a pretty china teacup?

Do you like to have bouquets of flowers in winter? And tea in a pretty cup?

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, vase and teacup

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip details

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup top view and vase

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip detail

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup and vase

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, horizontal tulips

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip and teacup detail

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, top view teacup

Valentine’s Day Postcards

the artyologist, valentine's day postcards

It is February, and you know what that means: it’s time for my favourite holiday- Valentine’s Day! I know that some people- OK a lot of people- hate Valentine’s Day, but I’ve never really been able to figure out why. It has recently come to my attention though, in a conversation on Instagram, that in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that strictly celebrates only romantic love. Well, of course that is how it started off back when the Victorians “invented” the holiday. Originally Valentine’s day was a feast day honouring St. Valentinus- and there are many different legends of why that came to be (who really knows?) However, over time it originated into a holiday celebrating love, where couples would exchange hearts, flowers, confectionery and love letters or “valentines”. By the time the 19th century came about, the Victorians, who were were obsessed with everything to do with romance and courtship, helped to turn it into the holiday we recognize today- where St. Valentinus is quite forgotten, but hearts and flowers and chocolates abound!

Even though the holiday was originally a celebration of only romantic love, over time, in Canada (and the USA I think too) it has turned into a day to celebrate all forms of love. When I was in elementary school, we always brought valentines to exchange with our classmates, and often had a party too. (Because really, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pink heart shaped cookies and cakes?!) Nowadays, I hear the term “Galentines Day” circulating around, which has gotten fairly popular in the last few years; the idea being spending the day with your best girl friends instead of focusing on only romantic love. Even if you don’t have an opportunity for romance in your life right now, (I don’t) that’s no reason to dismiss Valentine’s Day as “Single’s Awareness Day”. Yes, romantic love is a beautiful thing, but having a holiday to celebrate all different kinds of love is a very nice idea too, I think. There are so many different kinds of love in the world, such as agape which is the love of man for God, and the love that God has for his children, eros or romantic love, philia, the beautiful love between friends, and storge which is familial love- just to name a few. Why should Valentine’s Day celebrate only eros, when there are so many more kinds of love in the world that are worth celebrating? I have always had that mindset about the day- and have always used it as a chance to send cards to friends and family and celebrate philia and storge love. Sometimes in past years, like with last year’s cards I’ve used the chance to highlight God’s agape love. And don’t forget that heart shaped cake too; which perhaps is an example of philautia- self love! 😉

Because Valentine’s Day is such a Victorian holiday, I usually make cards inspired by the era, so I thought I would show you all the cards I made and sent this year. Making and mailing valentines cards is such an old fashioned tradition, which is probably why it appeals to me so much 🙂

And, I also thought that since I can’t send all of you dear readers a Valentine of your own (I really wish I could!), it would be fun to share a Valentine’s card with you all in the form of a download! Just in case you haven’t gotten a card for someone special, but would like to give them one this year, I have a design I created a few years ago which is my Valentine’s Day card to you! I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know if you decide to use it too!

So, is Valentine’s Day a strictly “romantic” holiday where you live? Or do you celebrate friends and family and all of the heart shaped things? And, do you make your own Valentine’s cards?

Click here to download my free Valentine’s Day Card!

the artyologist, writing valentine's day postcards

the artyologist, stack of valentine's day cards

the artyologist, four valentine's postcards

the artyologist, valentine's cards backs and fronts

the artyologist, peony and valentine's postcards

the artyologist, postcards ready to go, envelopes

Here Comes The Sun

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, frosty day

Remember that rime frost that I posted back in November? Well, these pictures were taken the very next day. One day the cold fog blew in and froze the world into a beautiful sparkling white wonderland, and the next, the sun came out from behind the clouds and melted it all away.

Rarely have I seen as beautiful sight as a bright sky blue backdrop behind frosty white trees glittering in the sunlight. I was glad when I noticed that the sun was peeking out that day, because by the end of the day, the frost had completely melted off, and we were left with bare branches again. But we didn’t have the bare branches for long, as the area I live in is very foggy, so we are always guaranteed some good winter frosts. In fact, the frost blew in a couple of days ago and the world is encased in sparkling diamonds again. I don’t think the frost will melt off for quite a while either, as we are currently in very cold temperatures (-30 degrees Celsius right now!) so unless there is a strong wind, it’s going to last for a while. In weather like this, I’m happy to look out my window and enjoy the view, without feeling the need to brave the cold in order to get some photographs! Photos would be nice but. . . 😉

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, frosted tree tops

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, frosted grasses

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, frosted tree tops and graineries

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, chickadee friend

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, tree over the rooftop

Here Comes The Sun, the artyologist, frosted lacey grass

On the Edge of Winter: The Rime Frost

graineries-red, the edge of winter, the artyologist

Sometimes, when you get up and look out the window as you start a new day, you just think “Wow” and quickly grab a coat and your camera and run out the door to take pictures. Sometimes you are even in such a rush that you don’t grab a touque or gloves, and once you get out the door you realize just how cold that wind is too. But, the sacrifices one must make, are totally worth it on days like this. 😉 These photos are from a week ago, when we had such an incredibly beautiful few days of frost. I recently discovered the differences between “hoar frost’ and “rime frost”, and all these years what I thought was hoar frost, is actually rime frost. Rime frost is when water droplets, usually from a heavy fog, freeze to the outer surfaces of objects creating a white hard ice. It is often blown in with a wind and sometimes creates bizarre ice formations. Hoar frost is when frost grains grow larger than a regular frost, and is common around open areas of water.

The pictures I got on this day are of a heavy rime frost, when the world was white and beautiful. The fog was still in close too, and it created such a soft, quiet and eerie atmosphere. The frost has since melted off, as soon as the sunshine came out the next day, but it was amazing to see for the few days it was here.

rime frost on line of trees, edge of winter, the artyologist

rime frost on branch and pine tree, edge of winter, the artyologist

Here you can see how the wind blew the fog in from one direction, creating the horizontal ice formations.

red-shed, rime frost, the artyologist

grasses, edge of winter, the artyologist

view-of-the-valley, edge of winter, the artyologist

chicken-wire-and-red-branch, the artyologist

keys, rime frost, the artyologist

lamppost, rime frost, the artyologist

It’s Narnia! Ok, it’s not a lamppost, but close. . .

tree-and-sky, rime frost, the edge of winter, the artyologist

overhanging-trees, edge of winter, rime frost, the artyologist

rime frost on-pine, the artyologist

Here you can see that the pine tree was not completely covered in ice higher up, as the fog must have not swirled in that direction.

Have you ever seen a rime frost? Or a hoar frost?

Ps. You may have noticed that I have not been as active on here lately, or on the internet in general. I have been pretty overwhelmed, stressed, driven insane, busy getting ready for the Christmas craft sales I mentioned I would be in a few months ago, but with one down, and only one more to go (this Saturday), I am hoping that life will be back to “normal” soon. Although, then we’ll be right into Christmas time and so perhaps things won’t slow down at all. . . . 😉