Grief and Hope in the New Year

©Dora Sislian Themelis, Pond Turtles, 4×6 Watercolor for Twitter Art Exhibit

As I contemplate the year that has just passed, and look forward to the new year ahead, I am both grateful and regretful. Full of hope, today I picked up my favorite book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, my guru, and this quote was the first page I opened to.

It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.

-Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the 5th century B.C.

What do you know?

New year’s resolutions are well and good for some, but I find that every time I make them, I break them soon enough. So why bother? It’s futile.

However, there has to be a strategy to mark the months ahead. Some grand plan to not just study “war,” but “live” it. I’ve been on the losing end, in a way.

The last year gave me a lot of grief, and plenty of hope. Early on I had my first solo art exhibit that went very well and taught me some valuable lessons. Selling some work gave me validation. No sooner was the big event over that I fell into a work slump. Dashed the blog, the painting, the creation, the Muse left my side and I let other things get in my way. Resistance at it’s worst.

Here and there I pushed through only to fall into more Resistance. Why bother was my mantra. Hence, the grief.

Then a ray of light, a commission came out of the exhibit and I got myself together to get the work done. Great! Once I finished and delivered the painting I felt a sense of accomplishment. Soon after the Twitter Art Exhibit info came out and I painted and sent off my postcard sized watercolor painting. Hurrah!

Since then the tumult of winter holidays and obligations began, and there went everything to the trash.

Boom.

The hope is that I made it to the blog today to complain about it all. Spill it out, tell the story, stop studying the war and fight it.

I think it’s a good thing.

Can’t Get Work Done

Sketching in watercolor at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY
Working at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY

As it turns out, saying I’m going to get work done and actually getting work done are two totally different things. I’m the kind of person who does what I say, but Resistance is in high gear and there’s nothing.

Since I “work” from home (art studio is in the basement) I am elected to get to the stuff that all the “working” people can’t do.

You name it and it’s been thrown my way: my stuff, family members’ stuff, house emergencies, husband’s stuff, kid’s stuff, errands, appointments, business stuff, car stuff, and everyone needs me to help in their stuff one way or another.

Hey, excuse me, I know I’m at home, but I have work to do over here.

Three weeks worth of everything but painting, has been way too long away from the easel. It becomes a bad habit. Promising myself I will ignore all forms of communication and start my work every day at a set time has not been fruitful.

Never mind blogging. Who has time for that?

An artist I follow on twitter wrote a tweet this week that read: “Hi I’m David. I haven’t painted in 24 hours.” I countered with, “Hi I’m Dora. I haven’t painted in 2 weeks.” Resistance is running high with other artists, too.

However, ending my 3 week dry spell by sending myself to the beach on a warm, sunny day with an open window of time proved just the thing I needed. Food, drink, travel watercolor equipment, sand chair, and I was golden.

After I plopped myself into my chair, I set up my supplies. I chose the shells I bring along in my bag and started sketching in the watercolors. Twenty minutes maybe, and I was done.

Let’s see how my week unfolds this time around. I’ll let you know.

The Greece Dream is Over, Get Back to Work

A view of St. John Theologos Monastery on Patmos Island, Greece on the easel
Painting of Patmos, Greece on the easel today, 9×12 acrylic on stretched canvas

So the Greece dream visit is over. Wonderful as it was, it’s done. August is almost finished as well, and it is high time I get myself back to making art. Being in Greece for any length of time and one can lose themselves in the beauty, the deep blues, the ocean, the light and white, the weather, the music, the food, the people..

Yeah, it’s all that, and more.

Work has been a struggle this past year. More than once I let my head get in my way. Life happens, yes, but it shouldn’t mean work, the blog, the whole thing, needed to suffer. Soon as my solo show was over I was spent.

Now that I’m home from dreamy Greece, and feeling a little better, days are my own for right now, artwork just has to happen. This week I pushed Mr. Resistance aside more than once to make sure I painted something, anything, to get into the process again. He wasn’t happy either.

Yes, I worked a little while I was away. No, it wasn’t any big deal, just some sketching in my Moleskin with watercolors a couple of beautiful beach days. I’ll show you soon enough. It’s more than I’ve done on other visits to our Greek island home. The plein air palette I purchased specifically for travel painting never made the trip with me. I was too stressed about where it would go in my bags that I couldn’t handle it. Next time.

All that being said, I have made a pact with myself. Posting to the blog must become a habit again. Rededicating my inner child artist once again to working at the easel regularly is the direction. Work isn’t going to happen by itself and the hustle has to pay off in the long run. The next art show is my focus and goal.

As long as I can continue in this manner we’ll be okay!

Fingers crossed..

Photos from the Art Exhibit Opening Night Event

Twitter Art Exhibit NYC 2016

@Dora Sislian Themelis Peaches Peppers, 6x4 Watercolor on Arches paper
Twitter Art Exhibit @Dora Sislian Themelis, Peaches Peppers, 6×4 Watercolor on Arches paper

How I was able to turn out some kind of artwork to enter this year’s Twitter Art Exhibit is beyond me.

My erstwhile friend, Mr. Resistance, has moved into every room in my virtual house and is making every waking hour a living nightmare.

Fun.

I have to check, but I have entered this online art exhibit and sale for Twitter users for the last three years.

The entry can be of any media, design, style, but at a postcard sized surface. The organizers clip the artwork to the gallery wall.

The artwork is donated by the artists and purchases go to a worthy charity. This year it’s being held in New York City and benefits Foster Pride.

Here’s some information from the Twitter Art Exhibit website:

Twitter Art Exhibit: NYC is an international exhibition of original postcard art benefiting Foster Pride’s “Handmade” Program, in which young women in foster care learn to create and market a unique line of goods. The entire exhibition is carried out by an unpaid, volunteer corps of organizers and artists; there is no entry fee, and artists of all career levels are encouraged to participate, making it possible for emerging talent to appear alongside seasoned professionals.

Twitter Art Exhibit: NYC is the sixth installment of an open international exhibition of handmade postcard art for charity, donated by hundreds of participating artists from around the globe.

Social media plays a major role in Twitter Art Exhibit. It is our intention to tweet, share, seed and promote our artists to thank them for their participation, and to make this event a huge success.

The event will be highly publicized and well attended by art buyers and enthusiasts, members of the press, local artists and the community, as well as by the staff of Foster Pride and the young people they support.

Foster Pride website: http://fosterpride.org/

It’s exciting that the Twitter Art Exhibit is right in my backyard in NYC. Maybe, if I can get all my ducks in a row, I can attend the opening night reception.

Just, maybe.

 

Another 30/30 Painting Challenge for September 2015

Why did I decide to do another 30 paintings in 30 days challenge? I asked myself that same question each day of this month.

So ok, I want to be more accountable, push myself to the studio, paint and process, and maybe get some good work out of it. Can’t say for sure that will happen (the good work part) but maybe, just maybe the Muse will stay and Mr. Resistance will stay away.

Day 1 7x10 watercolor on Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 1 7×10 watercolor on Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 2 7x10 watercolor, Arches 300 lb hot press paper
Day 2 7×10 watercolor, Arches 300 lb hot press paper
Day 3 7x10 watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 3 7×10 watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7x10 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7×10 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper
Day 4 7x10 Watercolor, Arches 300b hot press paper
Day 5  7×10 Watercolor, Arches 300b hot press paper

Five works in 10 days is an ok showing. Working small in 20 minute segments and pushing the process, maybe I can double up and meet the quota this time around.

Fingers crossed Mr. Resistance keeps his distance.

Greece’s Independence Day March 25, 1821

On March 25, 1821, Greece began its war of independence, to free the people from 400 years of oppression under the rule of the Ottoman Turkish government. The Turks tried to erase the people’s language, culture, history, artifacts, and Christian religion.

Sound familiar? Any relevance to present day problems? I’d say yes.

Long Live Greece!

Dupre-Salona-1821 photo credit: Wikipedia
Greek Independence Day Dupre-Salona-1821 photo credit: Wikipedia

Read a past post here: http://www.dsislianthemelis.com/march-25-1821/

A Jumble of Garden Flowers

This photo of my garden has been seeing a lot of action lately. I really like the jumble of colors and shapes in this mess of flowers, leaves, stems, petals and the structure of the urn.

Latest painting on the desk
Latest watercolor floral painting on the desk

Already I’ve painted this scene in a quick and small watercolor in my sketchbook,   as an acrylic work on a small stretched canvas, and now this one much larger at 14×20 watercolor on Arches cold press paper.

Jumbled Floral ©Dora Sislian Themelis 14x20 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper
Jumbled Floral ©Dora Sislian Themelis 14×20 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper

There’s just so much going on around here that painting has had to take a back seat, but in twenty minutes at a time work can get done. Looking at a colorful floral of summertime helps, too.

..And that’s my commentary for the day.

A Smaller Version

In an effort to keep the Muse nearby, and to avoid Mr. Resistance, I worked up another view of the rocky crags and sky scene of the photo from my author friend. Just a smaller version of the larger work to keep things fresh and moving ahead.

Believe me when I say that if I don’t keep at it, even for twenty lousy minutes a day, I’ll be toast.

Another version of the rocky crags photograph
Another version of the rocky crags photograph

It’s smaller than the other view because I was experimenting with keeping the colors, shapes and brushstrokes to a minimum. I wanted to see if I could get away with doing less by using the small size paper and a larger brush.

Never the type to paint so small it was a good exercise in discipline. I usually paint a large painting in a small space, cramming too much detail which would have been better served by a large surface.

My professors in school would say Go bigger! So going smaller is a tough one for me.

It’s a process, and I’m all about the process. In twenty minutes a day, if I’m smart about my time.

Which, if I let Mr. Resistance have his way, I’m not.