The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Saturday, October 26

Are You The Artist?

I notice a couple looking at my art. The woman picks up a piece and shows it to her husband. I'm across the room so I'm curious, but I can't over-hear their conversation. Not that I needed to because within moments, they move towards me with a painting in hand.

“Are you Jud Dolphin...the artist,” they ask?

I'm at an art exhibit featuring 15 artists from my apartment building. We've transformed the lobby into a weekend show of creativity. Everyone is impressed by the quality of the art. I'm making new friendships and feel like I'm part of an artist community. It's great.

The prospect of the Art Show spurred me into painting more. I worked hard on a landscape entitled Winter Geese at Dawn. It was a real challenge. I never painted animals before and here, there were birds with feathers...yikes! It took me four attempts before I had what I was looking for.

Winter Geese at Dawn
Talking with other artists, I hear that it's not unusual to have a lot of paintings thrown into the scrap bin. “Do the work,” they say “and don't worry about the quality. It will come along.” Sometimes I wonder, but my mantra has become – Give it a try!

Some years ago, I came across a book entitled The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. It's a self-help guide for realizing more creativity. It's helped to open a lot of possibilities for me. In part, the Artist Way prepared the way for joining the Peace Corps and now for being more involved with art and teaching.

Cameron's approach is to follow a discipline of writing “morning pages”. They're three hand-written pages of whatever is top-of-the mind each morning. Although I often miss a day or two, the writing fosters awareness and helps to identify blocks that hamper creativity or just getting on with life. Often I'll imagine something on my “morning pages” and find a new opportunity for it later in the week.

Here's a link for some more information's_Way

I've reached for the Artist Way whenever I've felt stuck. Recently, a friend was telling me how she was feeling stuck. I mentioned the Artist Way, she bought the book and now we both are working through it – a chapter at a time. One of the side benefits is the chance we have to check-in with one another several times a month.

Both of us agree that we have become more mindful and have been amazed by coincidences and new possibilities popping up where none existed before. Ms Cameron calls it synchronicity.

So here I am at the opening reception for the Art Show. A lot of people have turned out. A cadre of my friends have come to lend support. The room is buzzing with activity. Besides the Winter Geese painting, I have two others on display.

Beach Dunes was created after a visit to my brother's home in Florida. I was impressed by the dunes that lined the beach. Realizing that they are alive with grasses blowing in the wind lent interest. And hearing how dunes actually move over time added some mystery. I hope I captured some of it.

Beach Dunes

Rock Creek Autumn was inspired by my bicycle rides along Rock Creek.  Rock Creek is a park that winds through the city of Washington, DC.  Not far from my home, there's a water falls that was part of an old grain mill.  I framed the falls and water alive with autumn color.

Rock Creek Autumn

More of my paintings are unframed in bins that line the far wall. A young woman tells me about a friend who has been having hard times. I think it's interesting how a creative atmosphere can sometimes open deeper exchanges among people. Synchronicity?

She looks at a small painting and says, “I want to get this for her.” I tell her about my visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival and how it inspired the watercolor. I hope it will cheer her friend. It's my first sale and an answer to my “morning pages.”

Cherry Blossoms 

Another sale follows. Also from the bin, it features a cluster of birch trees. It's inspired by the birch forests that are so much a part of Ukraine. After the sale, another person says, “I was thinking of that one too.” Maybe, I'll paint more birch trees!

Ukraine Birch

And then there's the couple who asked if I was the artist. They tell me about a parent who recently died after a long life. They're clearing his home near the ocean of personal momentous and preparing to make it a rental. “We think this painting will be perfect on the wall.”

The Wave

Later my son, Matthew, emails me asking how the Art Show went. I call back and tell him about the excitement of selling paintings. Two small ones and one large. He congratulates me and says with a chuckle, “I guess you're a professional now.” 

Wow, I have come a long way. And now I wonder....