At the Studio on the Last Beach Day

I know, I know. Where have I been? Especially since I said I’d be all over this blogging thing again, and I haven’t.

It’s all Resistance. The summer and the beach, house stuff, a little thing I did to my finger, everything and anything not to get work done. Then I do some good work and afterwards I crash.

Believe it or not, I get some of my best work done at the beach. I call the beach my studio, my office. It’s comfortable, no distractions, no phone, and work gets done!

I don’t bring a lot of stuff either. No rolling cart for me! A chair, my bag with art supplies, lunch, and iced coffee. This time of the year there are very few visitors at the beach. People are back at work and school.

It’s quite serene. In fact, it is heaven.

A couple hours is all I need to clear my head and regroup. I survey my surroundings, drink in the salty air, listen to the waves hit the shore, watch the seagulls carefully. Once they took my lunch right out of my bag.

Usually I take some photos, maybe search the sand for seashells I like to collect. Then I have my lunch, being mindful not to eat my apple so I could paint it with the seashells. There’s nothing like a colorful apple or peach popping up against the cool pastel colors of shells and beach pebbles.

When I feel I’ve soaking in enough of my scenery I get to work. This particular day I was able to get a couple of watercolor sketches in. The dunes behind my seat are calm with green and gold beach grass, fencing and blue sky. I remembered to save the apple for my still-life.

The weather has been strange here in New York. It’s almost mid October and the temperatures have been warmer than usual.

Could tomorrow really be the last beach day?

Finished Artwork in the Process

Fall Day 18x24 Watercolor ©Dora Sislian Themelis
Fall Day 18×24 Watercolor ©Dora Sislian Themelis

With the following mantra in my head “It’s the process. It’s the process” miraculously I beat back Mr. Resistance and pulled off this latest watercolor painting.

It wasn’t easy either.

Quite a while back I visited Clark Botanical Garden in nearby Albertson, NY and snapped a few pictures of some of the landscape gardens. A couple of those photos ended up as paintings. When I went through those a couple months ago I decided to push myself out of my artist’s block and throw some paint around.

That was it, then we left for Greece. On our return I really wasn’t interested in continuing on deep, fall colors. Geez, we just came back from the bright whites and blues of the Greek islands!

I almost ripped this off the watercolor block to toss it when my head said to just try to finish it. If I hate it afterwards, by all means, throw it out.

Process first and foremost, I pushed through. It’s a finished work at the very least.

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.

Finished Artwork

The Muse and Mr. Resistance had their way with me and I hope they’re done arguing about it.

Updates to the unfinished watercolor painting were completed in a timely manner, thanks to the Muse. As for Mr. Resistance, he stayed out of my way while the work went ahead, and big thanks to him for keeping his big mouth shut.

Of Two Worlds ©Dora Sislian Themelis, 14×20 Watercolor, Arches 140b cold press paper

I delivered the painting to the book author, who seemed to be pleased with the work, with fingers crossed that her idea of this as the cover of her new book would work out well. However, it doesn’t look like it will, self-publishing templates being what they are I guess.

Positioning the artwork wasn’t fitting into the suggested space for the cover and is probably going to be scratched for something that works better.

Too bad it isn’t going to happen the way we had liked. When the book does finally come out I’ll let you know.

Twitter Art Exhibit 2015

This will be my second year participating in the Twitter Art Exhibit which is being held in Moss, Norway. Last year it was in Orlando, Florida. It’s a fun idea open only to artists using twitter. I’ve made some lovely connections with other artists across the globe, sharing ideas, our process, and our art.

The sale of each postcard-sized work will benefit a group called Home-Start Moss, which helps families in need. Artist David Sandum of Norway is a foundering member of the exhibit.

I’m happy to have done my piece and sent it out. This little painting made it safely to it’s overseas destination intact.

Three Shells ©Dora Sislian Themelis 6x4 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper
Three Shells ©2015 Dora Sislian Themelis 6×4 Watercolor on Arches cold press paper

For me it’s an incentive to get to work done, push aside Mr. Resistance so I can meet up with The Muse at my art space. And that ain’t easy, as I’ve mentioned many times before.

Now, I know I’m going to hear it, that painting is a joy, all freedom and light, happy little trees in the forest Bob Ross stuff.

Creating art is a tough job and I’m a slacker lately. Totally unprofessional.

Shhh, don’t tell my guru Steven Pressfield. He’s already pegged me for an amateur.

You’ve got to be made of strong stuff to tangle in the creative realm. Distractions abound around every corner. The Muse waits for no one. Mr. Resistance, on the other hand, stays well past his welcome. He’s pretty sly, that guy.

Yes, the crickets are chirping here.

Yes, I’ve made it to the studio to get some work done.

Yes, it may not be pretty, but hey, I’m here.



Loved Art is Happy Art

The little postcard sized watercolor painting I worked on for my twitter friend arrived safe and sound at it’s destination. How fun!

Here it is as photographed by the happy (thankfully) recipient:

Beach Shells, 6x4 Watercolor, Arches 140lb cold press paper
Beach Shells, 6×4 Watercolor, Arches 140lb cold press paper

Doesn’t it look sweet in this photo? I’m so glad it was so warmly received. I can’t wait to see how it looks when the new owner gives it a frame and a place of honor in their home.

A loved work of art is a happy work of art.

Painting Swap

After I entered the wonderful Twitter Art Exhibit in Orlando, Florida I enjoyed tweeting back and forth with some lovely fellow artists. So far I don’t think my postcard sized watercolor painting sold, but then again I haven’t been on the tumblr site to take a peek either.

The artists I virtually met on twitter are amazingly talented and ingenious. One in particular, Crystal Hover, was painting her business cards in her abstract style. Really striking work on such a small scale. Amazingly, she offered to send me one of her cards!

Crystal Hover’s painted business card

How fun was that? One minute we’re yapping on twitter, and the next couple days I get this small painting in the mail. Crystal added a magnet on the back so it could sit on a fridge.

I decided I was going to swap with her, like some other artists were doing since Crystal was offering to send them mini works, too. I painted a postcard sized watercolor painting like we sent to the twitter exhibit.

Postcard size 6x4 Watercolor still life painting
Postcard size 6×4 Watercolor still life painting

It will be fun to hear how Crystal likes this painting. I hope she likes seashells.

New Painting for Monday

Monday is my favorite day of the week. The open-endedness of the weekend is too much for me. It seems I need structure. Or maybe I like peacefulness, something I can’t enough no matter when.

On Monday, if I’ve been good, I get to show you the latest work from my easel.

Using a photograph as my starting point, I sketched a scene from our Greece visit in watercolor paint on a small size paper pad. Just enough space to work quickly and get something down.

A quick watercolor sketch of boats at Amorogos, Greece
A quick watercolor sketch of boats at Amorogos, Greece

Again, I was using the Marabu watercolor paints I resurrected. Now that I know they’re “vintage” paints, I would like to preserve them for times I feel like using something special.

At least I got some work done. Now if I could figure out this website business, I can get back to work on a regular schedule. Otherwise, I’ll have no hair left on my head.

Working Past Resistance and Something to Show for the Effort

The amazing thing about studying getting past Resistance is how it really works.

Yes, I will raise my hand here, I have been slacking on my work. I was on a roll, and now I’m at the point where something has to happen or I am so firing myself. This is no way to run a business.

Subscribing to Steven Pressfield’s newsletters have been a great resource as well as his books. The other day I picked up Do The Work and read a passage that smacked me across the face, hard. It said to read some statements about what we want to do our art, and if we chose one of the lame statements we should just stop right then and throw his book in the garbage.

Wow. But you know what? That’s the thing that made me paint something. Anything. Just do the lousy work already! Process, something great can come of  just the process.

Working with watercolors with Marabu pan paints
Working with watercolors with Marabu pan paints

At my desk looking at an old set of pan watercolors in a tin box my Pop gave me years ago, I thought I’d just try them out. Just a small Arches pad of paper would be enough for a sketch in paint, I figured. I never thought I’d love these old Marabu watercolor paints, but the colors were surprisingly vibrant. By the time I decided I’d done enough I ended up loving my “job.” The paint just flowed on the Arches paper, nice mixtures of colors mingled together within pleasing shapes. All in all, a nice, satisfying effort for the day’s work. Yeah, well, let’s say a half hour’s worth. Sometimes, if I’m in it, that’s all I need.


Red Peppers ©2014 Dora Sislian Themelis 7×10 Watercolor, Arches paper

Could it be that reading the butt kicking work about dodging Resistance helped? I think so.

Now, get to work!

Resistance is the Devil?

The Dark Apple Hides Shells ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis, Watercolor, Arches paper
The Dark Apple Hides Shells ©2012 Dora Sislian Themelis, Watercolor, Arches paper

There comes a time when working at the easel becomes a chore, rather than a comfortable experience. Maybe that’s what happens when you turn pro?

Oh, so now it’s a job? Well honey, it is most definitely a job! A happy, fun, exciting job when it all works the way it should.

For a good long while I was whistling my happy tune, sort of, and painting away comfortably. Every day the Muse came by to drop some really good ideas right into my head. Mr. Resistance was nearby, but he was busy doing his own thing, thankfully leaving me well enough alone.

Lately he’s been pestering me to do other things instead of visit the easel. Sure, he says in my ear, painting can wait. Go read another email, check the internet one more time, do some laundry while you’re at it.

Mr. Resistance is the devil. And now I have proof! Wonderful Mr. Steven Pressfield says it, so it has to be the truth. I trust that guy 100%.

His newsletter whooshed into my inbox one day and his words just smacked me upside my head! Bam! Where would I be without him? In the gutter I tell you, with my paints and brushes!

It’s title alone hit me, How Resistance Proves the Existence of God. Hallelujah! He was writing about a pianist who wasn’t playing the piano, doing everything but, and deeply feeling the pain of not being a concert pianist. Pressfield explained in the newsletter that this was the definition of Resistance, that this man was “operating as an amateur.”

Suddenly, he goes on, something snaps in this man’s head, and he does absolutely nothing else BUT practice piano, losing himself in it and every other thing he had in his life besides, like a crazy person. Pressfield says that this proves there is a God.

First given: Resistance is a universal phenomenon of the human psyche.
Second given: Resistance’s sole object is to prevent you and me from becoming concert pianists, writing bestselling novels, founding the follow-on to
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

In other words, Resistance’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world.
Ergo: Resistance is the devil. Ergo: If there is a devil, there must be a God.

I read this and it took my breath away. Not only is Mr. Resistance the bane of my own existence, he’s the devil besides! OMG!

What a light bulb moment as I read, and re-read Steven Pressfield’s newsletter. I knew it wasn’t so easy to shake off Resistance. This knowledge is powerful stuff.

My thought process on this has certainly changed with this information. I’ll be doubly watchful as I go about my work from now on.