When Stress Strikes

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It’s a part of life isn’t it? Stress comes in all shapes and sizes with no discrimination attached to it. It strikes us all at different times. It can take us down with a quickness. How do you handle it? Do you wallow in the thickness of it? Do you try to fix everything that is causing it? Do you throw in the towel and give up?

When I come up against stress I think of the following story, to which I am paraphrasing the best I can:

“….there are three people in a sinking boat. An optimist, a pessimist and a realist. The optimist says ‘We will be fine, help will come soon and we will survive. No need to worry!’ The pessimist says ‘We are all dead. No one will come, everything is ruined.’ And the realist says ‘We are in a sticky situation. The likelihood of us surviving may be slim but what can we do to increase that?’….”

Be the Realist.

Things are in a bad place. You cannot stop nor control everything going on. But you can manage things as best as you can. You can survive.

Don’t push away those annoying crappy feelings. It’s okay to be sad, mad, upset, annoyed, all of those emotions are normal. It’s not a bad thing to feel that way. You may think ‘my problems are nothing compared to people who are trying to survive a food storage or war’ but they are real problems in your world. And that’s okay.

Another quote for you “God gives you no cross you cannot bear”. Now, I am not religious but I do like that quote and truly believe it. Things get heavy but you can carry the load and if you are wise, lighten it over time.

I have many different things going on right now. In the next post, I will dive into that a bit more. Until I am able to sort things out a bit more, I will leave you with some ways I have learned to get through those times.

I allow myself to feel depressed, sad, mad, upset, ect. I don’t allow myself to stay there forever, you must move forward or you will sink deeper and it’s twice as hard to get out of that hole. If you already suffer from depression this will of course be slightly different, consult with your doctor/therapist on ways to move through those emotions safely.

Don’t pretend everything is fine or will always work out. Sometimes things don’t. But, as a realist figure out ways to manage things on a more level head. You will survive this, you’ve survived many things in your life.

Talk to people you trust about what is going on. For me, I have been figuring things out in my mind before I go and speak to people about my business. If I speak to quickly I get super negative and my stories are jumbled. When I take a moment to pause and sift through things I can explain myself better.

Get out! Do something active. You don’t need to spend money either. Just move around. Hang out with friends or family. Ask them how they are doing. Be the listener. Find a hobby you love to do and do it. Exercise, draw, meditate, walk the dog, read a book (yes a book!), window shop, explore the town, ect.

Life is hard. Stress is hard. Saving money is hard. Paying bills is hard. But all of this is not impossible. Take it day by day and if that is to hard, take it minute by minute. You are stronger than you realize. Keep moving forward and don’t look back.

This stress is just that chapter in your own book of when you learn another lesson. Just keep your eyes, mind and heart wide open. You Got This.

 

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Art. Sleep. Health. And Understanding

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This graphic explain my week in a nutshell. The good, the bad and even the down right ugly. Which is okay, for the most part.

The week started good leading into messiness which started stress and ended here with an ‘ah ha’ moment. This blog isn’t just about me as an artist. It’s about my work, my passions, my life and the in betweens. It’s amazing, tough, stressful and beautiful all jumbled together. I want you to come into my life a little more because I feel we are all connected in more ways than one and maybe, just maybe, when we share these stories we don’t feel so alone.

The Art

More work has been done on my elephants, yay! Slowly coming to the end but with a lot more to go through. The most difficult part with this piece is that it’s a pretty large drawing. So, you spend a lot of time on one area and it feels like you haven’t gotten anything done. But, the truth is you have. Because if you rush through any piece with detail, it’s going to be done quickly and it won’t look so great.

So the pace has been right, just a little frustrating. Which is totally fine too 🙂

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Not to mention, putting a new feature on my website! Purchase a work in progress piece, like this one 🙂 

I have a few other drawing lined up which always feels good. One frustrating part right now is focusing on the piece I am working on. With several other things going on I am re-learning how to focus on one thing at a time. Meditation is slowly helping with that 🙂

The Sleep

And when I mean sleep, I should say the lack there of. I’ve had a sleep issue for a while now. And I am learning how to prioritize it better, not easy when you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep many nights.

Although the week start well, by the time yesterday hit I was beat down. To the point of not being able to put a sentence together, wanting to eat crap food and not being hungry at all. When you’re tired, you start to lose it slightly.

Which leads into….

The Health

I am a dedicated workout chic. I know how to lift, what exercises work well for a certain body part, the best foods to eat, what to stay away from, ect. I know my health inside and out. However, I also know I have been struggling with binge eating for a while now. At least 5 months now and it’s not simple.

It doesn’t take a genius to know you can eat through any workout. Especially if you have a body type like mine that can put on weight easily. I’m healthy, I’m at a great weight but truth be told I’d like more. I’ve always wanted to have that toned athletic body and be athletic. That is another goal which I can arrive at as long as I can get my issues in check.

Which is one reason why I started therapy. It’s time, it’s been time for a while now. But taking that one step feels great. Being able to talk to my therapist all week has helped me move through this week without to much destruction. I’ve slipped at times but I also got back up right away.

The Understanding

We all have those ‘ah ha’ moments. Those times when the pieces seem to finally fit. Well, about one hour ago I had that moment. And I hope to have many more throughout this journey.

I realized this with a reason why I binge. As a kid I was told many times by different people in my life that I couldn’t do something. We all were a certain times I’m sure. However, when you are told this so often, you start to believe it. I thought I moved past it but I haven’t yet. (Thank you therapy for helping me there!)

For me, the food represents something I want to overcome or do. In this case, not eat the trigger foods. My mind (which during the binge moments is like an itch I have to scratch) are people telling me I can’t overcome or do something. Well, I started to believe that and I give into temptation. After the short lived satisfaction, I feel guilty with those old voices in my mind going “told you so”.

I do this with other things but I didn’t realize I was doing this with food as well!  Ah Ha!

The point is, don’t do something to prove others wrong. Do it for yourself. Have your reason Why and make it personal. I have my personal whys but I’m not looking at them. I’m looking at “is this what this person would want?” Not groovy.

Honestly, just do you. Easier said than done but possible. Join me on the journey. It’s scary and hard but by sharing it becomes a little easier to handle. 🙂

 

 

 

A Week of a Breakdown. What I Learned.

We all have bad days. Bad weeks. Bad things happen, can’t change that.

This was one of those weeks for me. I felt like I was losing it, quickly. Lack of sleep, stress and things creeping into my mind from my past since being triggered a few months back.

I was truly exhausted with a thickness of depression settling over me. It was plain awful. But when I looked inward I realized this was my cue to finally take a step, okay a Giant Step, of reaching out for help. I entered into therapy.

Since money is tight I went to the online option, Talkspace. Which so far has been quite helpful. To have a therapist with no connection to me, my family or anyone I know  that is there to listen and guide me is incredible. Knowing you need help is a great step, taking the initiative to get help is another.

Why am I sharing this? Because it’s a part of my journey as not only an artist but a person overall. Something I feel we all forget. We tend to put people in boxes with labels. It’s safe, easy and convenient. But it’s not always helpful. I don’t want to just be ‘an artist’ or an ‘animal lover’. I’m so much more than that. Being transparent about things makes me grow and hopefully helps others as well.

With a week of tears, confusion, discovery, guilt, exhaustion and everything else in between it’s been a somewhat humbling experience. I don’t want to go through it daily but I know I will go through it again, it’s just how things are when you open up. And that’s okay.

The desire to create has been a little difficult lately. With my schedule jumbled and my mind racing it’s hard to focus on my work. Be it drawing or the yucky business side, the drive to do it hasn’t been there. I went over this in my last post in case you wanted to take a peek.

Once I entered into therapy and started short mediation sessions on my own, I started to slowly see a shift. Not a major one but enough to acknowledge it. I was able to sit for a few hours the last couple of days with my elephant piece and work on it. I paused at times to collect my thoughts and relax. Telling myself it’s okay if it’s hard to focus, this made it a little easier to focus for longer periods of time.

Small but important.

It’s going to be a long road ahead but the journey will be worth it. If you have ever wondered about therapy, consider it. Starting with Talkspace is a great step. You don’t have to go anywhere, it’s doable as far as money goes, and it’s great way to feel safe. Don’t lock those things away, open them up with a professional. If I can do it, so can you 🙂

Elephant Piece:

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I was able to get a lot done in the past few days after starting therapy, listening to myself, meditating and getting a good amount of sleep….finally 🙂

New Website Option:

Also, I added a New option to my website. Being able to purchase in progress works!

WIP Buy 1

 

 

The Process of Christopher

The handsome Christopher of Safe Haven Rescue Zoo was the model for this graphite/charcoal drawing. This piece is currently up for purchase on my website with 40% of the price going to Safe Haven.

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As always, I make sure the lines for the outline are very light. If you press too hard, they will appear in the final piece.

After the basic outline is done, I compare it with the reference image I am using. Once I am satisfied, I move on the putting in the graphite.

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I am smoothing out the pencil with a blending stump, with as always a light hand. The paper I am using has pretty good tooth, which hold more layers of graphite & charcoal.

The first layer of graphite is never….pretty. All I am doing at this point is getting in my soft base. This is for shadows and fur build up. The stripes were put in with charcoal, using a light hand. As the build up of graphite continues I slowly add in charcoal to give the overall piece more dimension.

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I walk away from pieces a lot through out working on them. It helps me eyes focus and not be so obsessed with one area.

At this point Christopher is starting to come into focus more. I am bouncing around the image to even out the shading so it matches the overall piece. Once you bulk up one area another tends to scream for more attention. This is normal and I would say embrace it. Going back and forth isn’t a bad thing at all, it just shows you are truly paying attention to what you are doing.

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After the background is in, this is when I slowly place in small details like tiny fur around the muzzle.

Smooth background right now? Not even close! But that’s okay. When working with this medium I like to think of it as really working with basic shading more. It makes it easier to transition to color when you can see the importance of contrast and value. I place in the background fairly quick and sloppy to just balance out Christopher. This will help me ‘pop’ him out more since he is a lovely white tiger.

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Christopher; 9 x 12; Graphite & Charcoal on Fabranio Watercolor Paper $200.00 www.taylorannfineart.squarespace.com

After darkening up Christopher more and getting everything balanced, I can start working in the white charcoal pencil (my personal favorite part!). Avoid using the white right away or too soon. This is a detail tool, at least it is for me when working with this medium. Pay attention to the direction of the fur when doing detail work. Before even doing a sketch of your subject, really study it. Tedious? Yes. But extremely helpful. Get to know the anatomy structure of any being you work on. Once I am satisfied (after a lot of walking away) I spay the piece with workable fixative outside and voila! Complete.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial. Keep an eye out for more piece coming your way! I really enjoy doing these and would love to hear your feedback. Don’t be shy! What do you like, dislike, want to see more or less of?

During my next post I will be getting a little personal. I had a bit of an epiphany last night and it was rather powerful. Put many things in perspective and let me know that fear and change is okay to have. Stay tuned for more and have an excellent week 🙂

Project Warrior: Change Your Life Because You Deserve It

It’s on. How many of us out there sit on the couch and say “I wish I could” or “I want to” and never actually do anything to make those statements real? You want to run a 5K, enter one and train. You wish you could paint with oil paints, take a class and learn. The opportunities for these things are everywhere but we never take them.

And believe me, I can understand why. Time & Cost. In all honesty, I felt that why too and than I woke up. I was overwhelmed, tired, and felt like things were getting away from me. I know I don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of cash to learn things and spend a massive chunk of time to do things. You have got to plan.

“If you have a Why, you can Tolerate and How”  –Jillian Michaels

I love that quote. It’s something I remind myself daily. You gotta find your why, and it’s gotta be a solid personal why. I have many, what are yours? Share them 😀

Now, what is Project Warrior? It’s my own personal improvement journey but I urge you to join me. What am I improving and why? I’ll give you a watered down version for now but throughout my posts I’ll add more about this. As you may know, my life consists more than just painting and drawing. I have a full time job as a picture framer, which I love. I handle many historical and celebrity memorabilia for a company we work with. Lots of computer design and creativity all around, what artist wouldn’t love that? Also, I am able to frame my work….at work 🙂

I also have an amazing boyfriend (7 years and counting), an awesome dog (my fur baby), and I’m close with my mom. My grandparents are close by, I visit them when I can. Plus all of the curve balls life throws at you. Now, some may feel that’s a busy schedule, others may feel not so much (all of you moms out there, you’re warriors all on your own).

I save and make do with what free time I have to improve my life in the following ways:

1. Get up early to do a hardcore 30 minute workout (7 pounds away from my goal!)

2. Weekends = time with my art, website, and communication

3. After work I let off steam at the gym on the treadmill (1-2 times a week), kickboxing class with a friend (1-2 times a week), or go home and let my body/mind tell me what do to

4. On Sundays, I usually take that day as a day off. (play video games, draw, errands, spend time with family)

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Those are just the top 4 things, if you will, that I make sure I do. Here’s the deal, I don’t beat myself up when I can’t get to a class, sleep is awful, or my attention isn’t on my work. Things happen and that’s okay. But I get back up on that horse and keep going.

Main Goals of Project Warrior

I have been through my roads of Hell throughout my life. Rough patches have happened, and to this day I am still working on how those things affect me to this day. Over the past few months I have come to realize that not only am I still standing after so much but I deserve to continue to not only stand, but soar. Enter Project Warrior.

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I’ve always wanted to have a toned body, simply because it shows so much dedication to being strong (mentally and physically), healthy, and your confidence rises so much. I remember seeing Janet Jackson as a kid and thinking “Wow she is not only in amazing shape, she’s talented and absolutely beautiful.”

I am 7 pounds from my goal weight until Phase 2 or toning my Warrior body. Because I deserve it. I’ve never been athletic but always wanted to be. My drive for that has grown so much. When I pay attention to my health my confidence is high, my stress is better handled, more energy and my art improves. Plus, I feel I can take on anything!

“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I want to be able to do more for Safe Haven Rescue Zoo. More work, more donations, more support. I would like to be able to not only go out to Safe Haven, but also have a “Meet the Artist” event with them. I love combining art with wildlife, and to show that on a more personal level is very important to me. Planning and saving for this is underway, I hope to release an update on this later in the year 😀

Being able to be in a gallery and part of more art groups (such as the Colored Pencil Society of America) would be amazing. To be honest, this is the one I am most nervous about. Perhaps it’s because it’s a big step. But you never know what will happen unless you try. Plus, if a gallery says no I will still survive and just move on.

These are just a few things. Some smaller goals would be to be able to do more for my family (buy gas for my mom, random gifts for people, go on vacation, ect. In time, things will pan out. But what I have learned is you have got to be patient and kind to yourself. Whether your single, married, a mom, dad, son, daughter, whatever…I ask you to look at  your life and see how you can do something for you. When your kind to yourself it spreads to loved ones.

Be healthy, kind, and productive. Why? Because you can.

Wildlife is Disappearing, it’s Time to Change

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 
― Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is right on the money, as she usually is. This post is for the wildlife of the world. Another reminder of how we can destroy or how we can help. As a species, mankind has soared to the top of the food chain. We have changed the world. But not all of the changes have been for the greater good, it’s time to change for the good. We have the billions of lives to be responsible for, not just our own kind but the wildlife we share this world with.

By changing the world for wildlife, we can in turn help those people in need as well. Many countries rely on tourists coming to see the local wildlife in their national parks, protected and guarded. But with the species dwindling down and many countries in a war, no one benefits.

In a recent article I read, it’s states that we could be on a verge of another massive extinction. Species are disappearing at a rapid rate. Anytime I read things like this, my heart sinks and my anger rises. But anger, aggression, fear, and greed is what got us hear in the first place. In the words of Gandhi, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”, this is one of the mottoes I live by. Lashing out will not save the Oceanic Whitetip Reef Shark, blame will not protect the Amur Tiger. Education and Awareness will.

This is why I paint wildlife. It’s my goal to be involved in the best way I know how, through creation and education. When I paint these creatures, sure I love the process but the goal is what drives me. To show people these amazing creatures and having people realize, we don’t want to ‘remember’ them through photos and paintings. We want to know they are out there thriving. We want to be able to keep them thriving, and educate us about how beautiful life really is.

It’s hard to put into words how this is my passion, how much I love wildlife and want to help save wildlife. I don’t want to babble about this but I do want you to understand how important this is. Wildlife keeps this world in a balance. Educate yourself with all things nature. It’s so important! Recycle, don’t support animal testing, plant a tree, speak out on wildlife trade, donate, adopt, give to sanctuaries, volunteer, ect. All those little things add up.

Be well everyone, you only have one life. Make the best of it, as well as the best for every other creature on this earth 🙂

 

 

Going Through a Dry Spell in Art

Every have a day or week where you just don’t have the major urge to do anything artistic? Kind of going through that right now. Frustrating, Yes. A bad thing, No. I’ve met very few artists that go through dry spells. Most of us do and the more often we do I feel, the better we grow. Sometimes you have to look at something like this in a good way.

I usually look at as my brain needs a break, my attention needs to be elsewhere for a little while, stress or I’m growing in creativity. I don’t always know which one it is right away or at all, however, it’s usually one of them. Right now, I feel it’s a combo of all. And I’m okay with that.

After A Shy Face II was completed (below) I started a new drawing and painting but stepped back for a while. Feeling guilty I sat and thought about Why I felt guilty. I came up with a little bit of a list:

A Shy Face II; Oil on Canvas; 24x12
A Shy Face II; Oil on Canvas; 24×12

 

  • The less images of pieces in progress I post on my fan page, people will lose interest in my work
  • I’ve put less focus on my work & promotion of it than I should
  • Calling myself an artist when I don’t paint daily isn’t right
  • My focus is all out of whack

Bottom line, I felt horrible. But once I realized what my reasons were I realized a few things about myself. I shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Life is life and it can get crazy. Things come up, you discover new things and oh so much more. We all know it. Do I feel I am an Artist, heck yes. Do I know I am an Artist, heck yes.  No one should have to explain why they aren’t painting besides the fact that things happen and those things need to be addressed before you jump back in the studio.

If my mind isn’t clear, there is no way I can paint right. Plus, Just because I’m not producing art, doesn’t mean I’m not growing as an artist. I read, sketch, talk about ideas, and plan out things for the future. We all need a break, sometimes it takes more than a statement to realize that 🙂

Exploration of Prints: Which Do You Think Should Be Printed?

I love trying new things in my life. Especially when it comes to my art. What I want to explore now, finally, is prints. Just starting small for now, 8×10. For now, they will be of Safe Haven residents. They are having an up coming auction next month, that will definitely be my tester. However, if you are interested in a print, please contact me. I would love to send you one 🙂 With each print, a story of the resident will be included. Each print will also be signed and numbered. For now, they are limited edition. But I would love to have your help on deciding which ones will make the cut. Each possible print is listed below. My goal is to get 5 pieces as a print, each one will have 10-15 prints. Which ones should be done?

Relaxing in the Sun
Relaxing in the Sun
Jasper
Jasper
Admist the Trees
Admist the Trees
Tender Moment
Tender Moment
Friendship
Friendship
Sweet Caroline caroline of safe haven oil on canvas
Sweet Caroline
A Shy Face
A Shy Face
Balance of the Pride
Balance of the Pride

The Journey of Practice

It’s amazing what practice brings. It doesn’t matter whether it is art, reading, or how you answer your phone at work; practice is essential. To me, the best way to see the progress of practice is to look back on how your skills and knowledge has improved. I still have my very first oil painting and some of my drawings from when I was little. It’s great to look back at them, especially when I feel nothing has improved.

First new Oil Painting from about 3-4 years ago vs Sweet Caroline from a few weeks ago.
First new Oil Painting from about 3-4 years ago vs Sweet Caroline from a few weeks ago.
The dragon drawing was from about 2003 vs the tiger piece was done in October.
The dragon drawing was from about 2003 vs the tiger piece was done in October.

*Funny that both tigers are laying down :)*

I can’t help but say to look back on your work as often as possible. But what are others ways you can see or make improvements? Be brave (for myself it’s hard to ask this) and ask others how they feel your art (or any skill) has improved. Don’t worry about sounding to full of yourself, just ask. After all, you want to improve.

Educate yourself with others with the same interest/job as you. I live in a fairly small town, which is a little hard to find artists with the same interests as myself. To combat that I’ll find videos presented by artists, books (love love books), experiment with new subjects and just mess around with mediums.

One thing to remember is practice takes time. You never stop improving, always embrace where you are at in your journey now. If you aren’t in the moment now, the improvements will seem to feel further away. Keep creating!