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I started painting four years ago. Four years ago I went to a songwriting workshop at the Americana Community Music Association with Annie Wenz. One of the books for recommended reading was Julia Cameron The Artists Way. As I was reading the stories from various fields of creativity, that small voice in my head said "I want to paint". I painted or did some form of art nearly every day and it was fun until a couple of months ago. I got frustrated with the latest in a series of representational paintings, especially potrait attempts, and with I took a session off from the Tuesday night Painting Studio class at the Lee County Alliance For The Arts and set the brushes aside for a couple of weeks.

In March 2016, Tara Leaver ran an experiment called ExpressItMonth2016 with a concept to explore feelings and emotions through art, with a daily quote and themed e-mail as a sort of guidepost. The preferred option for sharing work was to post on Instagram using a hashtag #expressitmonth2016. Participation, of course, was optional. Each day's theme was optional. I had an account but did not use Instagram much before the challenge. I participated every day and did about half drawings (watercolor pencil, oil pastel, charcoal) and half paintings (acrylic, water soluble oil, and watercolor). Two days I did a digitally enhanced (with the Paper Artist app) photograph. I also wrote two songs coincident with a Facebook songwriting group to write a song in an hour to a prompt.

What I learned is that sharing photos of art, etc. on Instagram is just fun, without as much of the self-promotion and ads that have proliferated other social media (to remain nameless). It is okay to experiment, anything can be redrawn, painted over or changed later. I chose to use a lo-fi (music analogy) approach with my very inexpensive beginners markers, paint, and paper. When I felt strongly about a concept I used a canvas. Also I learned that for me, I find meaning and tap into my emotions and  feelings more on the abstract end of the continuum than on the representational end. There was some amazing art and deep feelings expressed by many of the fellow participants in the experiment. I made some new online art friend connections and one of my songwriting friends renewed art after a long hiatus.

Through viewing and providing supporting and positive comments on my new friend's art, it helped me reach some new realizations about myself. The biggest one is that I spend too much time, and am too invested emotionally in social media. I have read online debates on the merits of simply clicking one button to post "like" (or the equivalent) instead of taking the time to comment. I realized that I spend more time looking at a piece of art when I need to put a comment into words rather than just clicking a like button, which can mean many things. In the time of further looking, I am learning from what that piece of art is teaching me.

Starting tomorrow, I will be taking the Abstractify course from Tara Leaver, for the third time. I learned a lot about my approach to art in the first two courses. The primary lesson being that I feel more comfortable on the abstract side of the middle of the representational to abstract continuum. Although know the material well, and had temporarily forgotten about the abstract thing, this time I hope to continue my exploration of feelings and emotions. I also recently bought a book by Emily Ball Drawing And Painting People. The text aligns perfectly with lessons in Abstractify and I hope to get over the portrait obstacle that my monkey mind has made. What's your current obstacle?



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