Above: Campbell House Workshop in January - see participants working in the mirror!
Today, as I look out the window, I see over 100 Joshua Trees, and gratitude spreads over me like the sunshine on our beautiful Mojave! We expect a high of 67°F today. If you live in a less temperate zone, I hope you have your February creative vitality flowing!
Weather changes, but our creative spirit can be nurtured in every season! Last year, on this date, we had snow! Beat the winter blues with creative choices.
With a number of ongoing projects, it has been essential to reevaluated my practice and reset goals this year. For me, it means fewer outside commitments and new personal directions. Each of us may need to re-focus on a different aspect of our art practice.
As you approach spring, may I suggest some spring “cleaning” and a review of your resources?
TIME - Each of us has only 24 hours and 365 (1/4) days per year. A portion of your time may be obligated to work and family, making your own creative moments even more precious. Are you giving away time? Are you volunteering? If so, examine this activity. Volunteering is a wonderful activity that can build friendships and share ideas. It supports the culture of your community. Plan your schedule carefully and reserve time for your personal creative practice.
ART SUPPLIES - If your creativity involves the visual arts, supplies can be expensive. Take inventory. If your medium is acrylic, you may want to try gessoed watercolor paper, a lovely surface for all water based mediums! Watch for sales. Whenever I hear of someone clearing out art supplies, I jump and have been gifted paints, mediums, and more. Although working large can be freeing, working small allows you to travel outdoors being inspired by what you see. When traveling, I carry a small kit of watercolors, a small watercolor pad, 2 favorite brushes, 2 mechanical pencils and a fine point sharpie. I am learning to keep my plein air painting kit more compact so I can carry it easily. Talk to friends about art supplies. You may even want to host an art supply swap. One person’s trash is truly another’s treasure. Have you learned to stretch your own canvas? Interestingly, I find very few do this today. In my youth, my dad built wood frames and I stretched canvas - using a staple gun. Consider other do it yourself art supply projects.
ENERGY – How much can you effectively accomplish? Often less is more. (That being said, stretched canvas may well be worth the cost.) A trip to a gallery, library or museum can be well-spent visual inspiration. A walk outdoors or a drive into beautiful surroundings can trigger creative ideas. Plan time in your studio (even if it is the kitchen table or small closet). Unplug the phone, eliminate distractions, feed the pets, or wait until the kids are at school. Don’t expect a masterpiece! Allow yourself to play; enjoy color and design. I must complete project commitments, but when I start painting just because the paint on my palette looks so delicious and an image pops into my head, the real magic happens!
PAINTING PARTNERS - As in many realms of your life, with whom you spend time is important. Some friends encourage. Others leave you exhausted and drained. The energy created by a group of joyful, enthusiastic creatives can act as a positive cheerleader. Choose carefully. I love people, but I have really learned to enjoy solitude and getting to know myself. Do not hesitate to let your creative guide be yourself!
SPACE – The key to a good creative space is organization and careful choices. This does not require pristine neatness, but an orderly plan. As you work, supplies are tossed around or grabbed quickly. Create your workspace: the kitchen table or a desk in a closet can serve beautifully. Collect needed items and move the rest to another area. If you must, place items not required in a hamper. Remove it from distracting sight. Locate good light—next to the window or a lamp. I like carefully staged inspiration—a painting or print, a scented candle, an item reminding me of an artistic loved one. At the end of each session, clean up! Clean your brushes thoroughly. For acrylics, I find plain water to be the least wearing on brushes, but I use a scrub brush and get ALL paint out! Neaten up your creative area making it ready for your next session! If you must pack up, place items in a carrying container (a bank box, basket, hamper, tool chest) and create your own traveling studio!
This month, the famous groundhog predicted an early spring, and although I appreciate beautiful winter light, my mind is moving ahead to spring! Each season provides something to anticipate – just as each season of our lives and art practice help us to look forward!
Remember advice for the New Twenties:
Nurture your creative practice!
Plan new experiences and exploration, ever seeking inspiration!
Let your inspiration drive your art!
Remember to encourage others!
Wishing you all the best for an artful year!
Below, pics of my Workshop at the lovely Campbell House Inn in 29 Palms: plein air painting, fabulous student work, group photo, initial sketching, my demo.
.Workshop News 2020:
March 21 at Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley, CA (currently sold out, but you can sign up on the waiting list)
Desert Institute Field Class in Joshua Tree National Park: April 4th, Black Rock Campground, Yucca Valley
Capturing Joshua Tree landscapes with Acrylics (beginners welcome!)
Art Groove - Camp4Grownups! August14-19 Landscape Painting as a Creative Process. I am delighted to teach this summer at Camp de Benneville Pines summer Adult Art Camp! My class will be one module at a full 6 day art camp experience in the beautiful mountains near Angeles Oaks, CA. Sign up early! Description below.
October Desert Institute Field Class in Joshua Tree National Park - date TBD
New Online Shop Last, but not least, I will be opening my new ETSY Shop on March 1.
Ooh La La! I love the new items soon to appear on my online store, including these adorable stickers to match notecards! ArtbyJanisCommentz: French Press, will feature my first spring collection! After many years of painting and teaching, I fell in LOVE again! With France. Everywhere I traveled, I discovered beautiful buildings and villages to sketch. I want to share the beauty of French design with these lovely paper products and to invite you to bring a bit of France into your home.
Note: The last 15 months have challenged us! This month I encourage you to learn from the isolation and I wish you a cautious, but joyous June reopening!
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