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Archive for January, 2012

Developing my Artistic Style

A few months ago I began keeping an (almost) daily journal – in part to help me develop my creative aspirations. (I was influenced by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path the Higher Creativity – see my Resources page).  One of the statements I regularly write in my journal – as an affirmation – is, “I believe if I do the quantity, the quality will come and my personal style will develop.”  

By taking a watercolor painting class at White Bear Center for the Arts, I am beginning to see how my style is unique to me.  This painting is my version of the original created by our instructor Lisa Fertig, which she demonstrated painting in class a couple of weeks ago.  Like the water lily picture I posted a couple of days ago, one element of my version is a very bold use of color.  I am still learning how to finesse the color and work with the attributes of watercolor paint! 

I am satisfied with the strong sense of color in my paintings, though.  When I took a watercolor workshop instructed by Jeanne Carbonetti last May, I was wowed by her use of color.  I felt my eyes were open to the possibility that I could move into a more expressionistic style in my own painting.  I am learning that I still have a lot more to learn, but I am moving in that direction!  See “My Artwork” page on this site for my original paintings.

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Watercolor Painting Class

I’m at home – inside looking out at fluffy white snow – the perfect way to spend a January day.  I am enjoying this opportunity to work on my own projects and develop my artistic interests. 

On Monday evenings, I take a watercolor class at White Bear Center for the Arts.  Here is my version of this week’s class project: a painting of a water lily. Our instructor Lisa Fertig creates the original painting, demonstrating how to do it in segments for the class. When she gets to each stopping point, we paint it on our own paper.  I am amazed that although everybody in the class sees the same original, each of us creates our own version which is very different from the others. All are beautiful in their own way!

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There was an interesting segment on the CBS Sunday Morning show today about charisma.  Reported by Susan Spencer,  it was mostly about charisma in the context of assessing modern day presidents and presidential candidates.  Somebody who is charismatic can be defined as one with charm or personal appeal.  I’d rather have a strong sense of character than something so superficial. But I realize that charisma goes deeper than what we see on the surface.

The program introduced us to Joseph Nye, professor at the Harvard Kennedy School.  He describes certain people with charisma as having a “personal connection”, and ability to “project warmth and personality.”  Aha, so it is a communication thing, and I am all in favor of clear and positive interpersonal communication.

But I wonder if charisma something genuine if it can be quantified and taught?  Professor Alex Pentland from MIT and his team say the have found a way to measure charisma. (Why didn’t I become an academic researcher of charisma? It sounds like fun and probably pays well, too!)  What their device actually measures is whether a person is energetic. The show also features John Neffinger who runs workshops to teach people how to have charisma. He says the key factors are “strength and warmth”, as projected by a smile and body language.

What does this all mean to me?  I believe it all starts with what is inside, so it is up to each of us to let the energy and love of the universe into ourselves – and develop our own qualities such as humor, adventure, and integrity that define our character.  Then, when we use that energy from within to smile, look somebody in the eye, to listen and react to what they have to say, we are doing so from an authentic center.  It is essential to make this kind of connection with other people.  Character or charisma? My vote: have both, but the character comes first.

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2012 comes to us with opportunities and probably some baggage.  What will the year ahead bring? Or, maybe a better question is: what will each of us bring to 2012?  How will we navigate the highs, lows, waves, sunny skies and whirlpools?

I have taken the first step to write my life’s next chapter:  I resigned my job this week.  Am I crazy? In this economy?  At my age?  I am not ready to retire.  But I have enough self-awareness to know when I am in a situation that is not right for me.  I am ready to change direction.  And I am well aware that I am more fortunate than many because I have a partner (my wonderful husband) who supports this move.

As I pursue job openings that look like a good fit for me and my qualifications, I will spend my time working on my own projects:

  • Develop myself as an artist, doing the coursework in Julia Cameron’s book: The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (see Resources section).
  • Research what is needed to self-publish a Kindle book.  I am writing a guide encouraging midlife women to live with pizzazz!  I’ll provide more information as this project grows.
  • Revitalize and rework this blog to become the platform for my new thoughts and endeavors.  I’ll remove some old blog entries and write some new ones.  Some of my previous posts will be revised to become part of my book – along with a whole lot of new material I’ve been working on.
  • Tackle some home projects that have been put aside for too long – organize and declutter my home, cook healthy meals, commit to financial planning, and more.
  • Lest this become too much of a “To Do” list, let me add the more unstructured ways I want to spend my days: painting, dreaming, writing poetry, making connections with other people – in person and online, and learning – always learning.

What will you bring to your 2012?

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