The words we carry with us throughout the year really affect our day to day behaviors, thoughts, and ultimately, our trajectory into the future. I started selecting a word of the year to be intentional about the words I want in my life. In 2021, it was “Listen.” In 2022, it was “Trust.” In 2023, it was “Abide.” So, what is my word for 2024?
While this definition of “abide” doesn’t really cast it in a very attractive light, this is the state of being I attempted to maintain for the year. Mainly in a spiritual sense, but also relationally and artistically. Once I started working on it in one area of my life, it started showing up everywhere.
What did it look like, abiding, for a year? Here's 3 things that showed up pretty consistently in this journey…
Throughout the process of creating the body of work for "Lost in His Nature" I truly got “lost” in the creation of this work and rediscovered various attributes of my Creator that have grounded me, nurtured me, and changed me over the years. There are three attributes or qualities of God that have been my mainstay over the decades and I designed, layer by layer, three pieces in this collection to speak about them.
A common struggle for art lovers is space. “I love that, but I’m out of wall space” is a more frequently shared circumstance at festivals than you might think. Between smaller, open space concept homes, tiny homes, and folks who have been collecting for quite some time, it can make this “hunt” that you love feel uber frustrating and impossible. But what can you do other than move or stop buying art? I've got some ideas....
"Find your balance" they say..... but is it even possible? I ask because I've been searching for the last 12 years and have yet to discover a balance that stays put for more than five minutes. ha! Is it a myth? Is it REALLY what we need? Or is there something else we could capture that is less illusive than this rainbow unicorn called "life balance."
It was going to be a crazy day, but I had no inclination as to how chaotic it would turn. As I lay in bed contemplating what was coming, I asked Jesus what He wanted me to know today. For today.
“I am with you.”
I tucked that into my mind and got moving. Ethan (12) and Lucas (9) were going to be traveling back to the grandparents on their first ever solo flight. For their first leg of the trip, they would be flying with their aunt, which was perfect for easing them into the scary unknown. They were packed, prepared, and ready. We headed out at the perfect time and were all very excited for this adventure to begin. Oh, if we had known.
I’m convinced that I am so drawn to nature as an artist because my Maker knew just how much I would need it to battle and calm my type A tendencies toward hustle, stifling control, and constant stress. He knew I would want to help everyone, fix everything, and do it all yesterday and I wouldn’t feel “whole” until I felt like I had contributed to society. He knew I would have very unrealistic expectations of myself and others. I would be impatient and anxious in seasons of waiting. I would tend toward perfectionism and get completely derailed by moments of failure.
What I saw in this simple leaf was an offering of vulnerability and beauty that illustrated what my dear son had done for me. While he didn’t have it all figured out, he brought what he had in his heart and he shared it. While I wasn’t quite sure I was comprehending the whole compulsion I had to use this image, that was enough for me to start.
I was recently teaching a middle school group about how to create illustrations about growth. I talked about various ways they could approach this big idea and then encouraged them not to let unknown meanings or reasons behind their creativity stop them from starting. I’ve found through the years that I might not understand why I’m drawn to create with certain materials, design a composition in a certain way, or use certain colors until I’ve completed the piece and live with it for a while.
I know many artists that have found themselves surprised at what their art was trying to convey to them personally while they created from intuition and “gut reaction.” I’m sure there is a science behind that idea. All I know is that it happens to me time and time again and most recently while revisiting “The Gathering Tree”.
During the 2022 studio tour, I started a collaborative experiment involving love and trees. While it’s been sitting dormant in the studio for the last several months, it’s never far from my mind. It’s been brought back to the forefront again with Valentine’s Day. Messages and images about love are bountiful….almost to the point of oversaturation. Ideas, definitions and practices around this universally deep need are so varied and at times conflicting that we aren’t sure what to listen to and what to do. My experiment was to collect other’s thoughts and words concerning the question, “what is true, authentic love?”. Everyone had a different point of view and different answer, but it was surprising how similar the underlying sentiments and longings were.
Three years ago, I decided to give the whole “word of the year” thing a try. In predictable Amelia fashion, I turned it into an art project. I started with “Listen” and then moved to “Trust” last year. I held fast to those ideas all year long and they deeply affected how I moved throughout the year because they created, in Melinda Gate’s words…”a gradual change in mindset.” I found myself being more open and curious as I learned to “listen” and more bold in action and faith as I learned to “trust.” So what is this year’s word?
Can a painting become a prayer? Or can a prayer become a painting? This is my challenge for the 2022 25 Days of Minis Collection. Why? In the last 2-3 years, my work has become more and more intertwined with my faith and I was curious what the next layer of growth and combination might be.
I've been in my new studio for about a month. The studio warming party was last weekend and we had a blast. I got to show people around. It felt like Christmas, a birthday party, and an open house all at the same time. While it's awesome to be in this new space, I've found the move to be more transformative than I expected. Folks had been telling me that moving out of my home studio would change things, but I had no idea how much.
I’m a complete and whole human being without the presence of tasks and work. I can joyfully and fearlessly lay down all the balls I’m juggling and nothing terrible happens.
This is something I never would have discovered or believed had I not removed work and tasks from my life for a 24-hour period of time, once a week. I’m so glad I did. In fact, I think it has changed me in the most profound way possible. And it continues to change me and shape me into a person that knows how to trust, rest, surrender and just be.
The words we use and focus on say a lot about what is going on in our minds and hearts. In my art, I’ve found myself focusing on a lot of kinder, quieter words, but also words that are more playful. Why? Because in the day to day, I’m fighting for my soul. It's funny, I say them to my sons all the time and my friends because I know they are so important, but I don't really speak them to my own heart. If I'm not paying attention, I will get to the end of the day feeling "soul-tired" from words I speak to myself like "not enough," "too much" or "if only." Creating art from the words that I want in my life is just one way I feed my soul and fight for it. It's how I lean in to grace and love.
What does a studio practice look like? Every artist has a different way of doing their regular creating and producing in their work space. So the answer is that it looks different for every artist and often, practices changes through time. An artist learns what works and what doesn’t. My studio practice has changed through the years as my schedule has changed (becoming a mom really changes your schedule!) and as my methods have changed.
As I run down our development sidewalks, I look at all the trees….some of them are small, some are large. There are bean trees, maples, aspens, cottonwoods, pear trees, etc. Each one is different and lovely. I’m drawn to trees. It’s taken me months of introspection and thought work to figure out why, and it has drawn me back to my childhood where my love for trees started.
I’ve had a box of early 1900s newspapers for several years. A large majority of it contains news and info about World War I. Every time I would use some of the papers for a piece, I would avoid those sections because I didn’t think they had anything to say for my work or anything to say to me or to people who view my work.
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