Just wanted to reach out and say HEY and let you know what I’ve been up to in the studio. Recently, I was able to participate in a fabulous workshop, presented by my good friend and studio mate Sara Saltee. It was called “Magical Little Worlds: Assemblage” and was as super fun as it sounds. It was really interesting because even though I’m a mixed media artist, and love to glue pretty things to my paintings, I’ve never really worked 3-D. Not since I was a kid, and made dioramas. Man, I love me some dioramas. Sooo when I started making my magical little world, I found I just fell back on my modus operandi and made a collage/painting with glued on items. Below you can see what I made on the front of my box..
Then I opened my box, and did the same on the inside of the lid.
But FINALLY, on the inside, I was able to take a step into a more developed
3-D kind of space.
The piece was expressing my frustration and anger at all of the injustices coming to light - or rather, being forced into my view. I used the images of the Goddesses Kali, the Destroyer, and Oshun, Defender of the Poor and Warrior against Injustice, to express the archetypes of feminine sacred rage, and inside I created a treasure chest of the gifts that these Goddesses offer. Not only was creating this piece cathartic for me, I also found myself in a place I haven’t been for a while: PLAY. I was creating art with no other purpose than to please myself. All the work I make DOES have to please me in order for me to create it, but I haven’t made anything that didn’t also have one of these questions attached to it: What series is it a part of? Did it reflect my current style? And how could I market it?
I really liked playing. WHEEEE! So I decided to make May my 30 Days of Play! Aren’t I rhyme-y? So starting May 1, every day I am going to make a piece of work with only my entertainment as the goal. I have in my art supply stash quite a few substrates that can be used as you can see below....
.....and each day I will choose from this pile and put something on it that pleases me.
And I want to share with you my May of Play! Simply join my newsletter list on this page, and every morning in the month of May you will receive in your inbox an image of what I have created. AND as a special treat just for my newsletter folks, I’m going to offer each piece for sale, starting at $5 the first day and going up $1 each consecutive day, plus shipping. If one of them pleases you as well, just be the first to reply to my email.
Doesn’t that sound FUN? I’m psyched. And feel free to share with your friends if you think they’d like to play with us as well. Simply send them this link:
so that they can sign up for my newsletter, THE FEMIN-ARTIST.
As December has transitioned into January and 2016 has given way to 2017, we not only find ourselves in a new year but a new era. In this new era, a group of people have managed to position themselves in places of power, and the agenda they are forcing through in extremely dodgy, sneaky and downright unethical ways chills the heart of most liberal, moderate, and some conservative citizens in this country.
This is usually the time we bust out pieces of paper and jot up some New Year's Resolutions. The first on the list for most women usually is "lose x amount of weight." Well, bitches, we don't got time for that.
In point of fact, there are many things that we do not have time for. These are things that in order to fit into the ideal mold of feminity in this culture we have struggled with and also many of us have tried and tried to shed, recognizing the waste of energy. This waste of time has used up energy we could've been using to become our best and most powerful selves. And yet, we still fall back to not feeling "good enough" because we can't check the boxes of the Perfect Western Woman. There are also negative attitudes that flourish in our competitive patriarchy that do not foster the culture we need to fight the good fight.
Bitches, we are being called. I give you permission - nay, I ORDER you to let this shit go. As soldiers on the ground in this new era, the only thing that matters is what serves you and your fellow human beings. And it's not how your butt looks in jeans.
Here is the top 5 shit turds we don't got time for.
1. Losing Weight/Being "Pretty". Now is not the time for diminishing ourselves. We need to be LARGER, not SMALLER. The number on your scale is inconsequential. What matters is how strong you are. Can you run away while holding your breath, when they tear gas your march? Can you sit for long periods of time waiting for your local representative to acknowledge your presence and hear your concerns? Can you punch someone in the throat if they threaten you or your children? (Ok I can't do that one either but maybe I should sign up for some local boxing lessons....) Look for opportunities to strengthen your bod, and keep it clean, healthy and happy. That includes eating ice cream or cheese + bread. Also take care of your teeth and eyes. If you do these things, you can give no fucks to anything else: not how young you "should" look, how long and flowing your hair is, or how well you apply your make up. Also, please avoid clothing that constricts or inhibits your ability to breathe or move. Don't got time for that shit.
2. Being Nice. Now, I'm not suggesting you should become mean (remember: when they go low....). However, things like apologizing for your opinions, ending your sentences as a question, "softening" your vocabulary - bitch, we don't got time for this. Speak your truth: calmly, authentically, and as loud and often as you need to.
3. Judging and/or Engaging in Petty Disagreements with Your Fellow Bitches. We are on the same team, bitches. Comparing and competing ain't going to get us where we need to go. Take everyone at face value and for what they bring to the Resistance. Engage in debates on solutions only. And bitch, if you bring up the Bernie/DNC debacle or how your conscience is clear because you voted third party, I don't got time for you.
4. Playing the Martyr. Bitch, you are not that special. Just join your sisters and do your job. We don't got time to feel sorry for you. We have a Resistance to mount and evil to eradicate. Enough with the whining. If you are tired or overwhelmed, take the time or participate in the activities you need to recharge. Ask for help if you need it. We expect you to be fueled and ready to suit up. You trying to do everything alone and burning out, or seeking sympathy and not solutions for your woes, serves no one.
5. Questioning your Value. Are you good enough? Of course you are good enough! Don't use that as an excuse for not stepping up. You will never be ready. You will never know everything there is to know. But are you willing to learn, are you willing to work as a team, are you willing to be your best in each moment? If you are, well then. Bitch, let's get to work.
*Some of you may take exception to the term "bitch". I realize it has been used disparragingly as a term for a woman who is subordinate or submissive to someone else, or as a description of a mean and unpleasant woman. I prefer the definition "female dog" or even "female wolf". You really do not want to mess with the Alpha Female. And that bitch does not have time for no kinds of shit.
Hildegard Von Bingen, Saint of Mature Female Creativity
by Karin Bolstad, 2017
Every Goddess, Saint or Heroine has an energy or special message that connects to something within; and just for, US. I refer to this as an "activating force": which is what energies does a Goddess, Heroine, or Saint have for awakening the dormant or blossoming mirror energies within ourselves. We then can use these forces both for personal growth, as well as to make the world a better place! I read in a book once the our purpose in our lives is to "make heaven on Earth" - rather than focusing on how to GET to heaven. Hildegard's Archetypal "activating force" is that of EMPOWERING THE CREATIVITY OF THE SECOND HALF OF WOMAN'S LIFE.
Hildegard is a strong Icon for:
Hildegard Von Bingen was a German Benedictine Abbess who was born in 1098 and died at the age of 81 in 1179. She was a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian Mystic, visionary, healer, environmenalist, and political activist - all in a time when all of these things definitely fell out of the realm of what women were supposed to do, or even be ABLE to do.
The Story of Hildegard
At the tender age of 3, she started receiving visions - what she described at "The Shade of the Living Light". At the age of 8, her parents offered her as an oblate to the Benedictine Monastery of Disibodenberg, and she was placed in the care of a woman named Jutta. Jutta herself was a visionary, and taught Hildegard the bible, as well as how to play the psaltery (pictured at her feet, below the falling sheets of music). At the age of 14, she and Jutta were "enclosed", or "cloistered" - meaning they inhabited a room or a group of rooms attached to the monastery, separated from the world, to prevent distraction from prayer and the religious life. Anchorites (a title for women who were enclosed) took part in a religious rite of consecration much like that of a funeral rite, because they would be considered "dead" to the world, a type of living saint. You can see this illustrated at the bottom of my Icon Illustration. Hildegard and Jutta were the core of a growing community of women attached to the male monastery.
Jutta passed away in 1136, and Hildegard was unanimously voted the next Magistra by her fellow nuns. In 1141, when Hildegard was 42 years old, she was instructed by God to write down what she saw and heard in her visions. Initially she resisted, but after suffering an illness- which she attributed to her resistance to Gods' request- she started writing the first of three volumes about her mystical experiences. This is illustrated in the bottom left corner of the Hildegard Icon. The first book, Scivias ("Know the Ways"), took her ten years to complete. Just before she finished Scivias, in 1150, Hildegard (after resistance from the Abbot of Disibodenberg) took her nuns and founded a new monastery, Rupertsberg, in order to assert her independence. This monastery is illustrated in the top left corner of my Hildegard Icon Illustration.
Her following books were Liber Vitae Meritorum ("Book of Life's Merits) and Liber Divinum Operum ("Book of Divine Works"), started in 1158 and finished around 1172. She also wrote books about her healing practice, which was based on tinctures, herbs and semi precious stones. Her "healing garden", within which she is pictured with a basket of herbs, is pictured on the left hand panel of the Illustration. She wrote Physica, which was a volume of nine books, about the scientific and medicinal properties of various plants, stones, fish, reptiles and animals. The following book, Causae et Curae, was an explanation of the human body, its connection to the natural world, and causes and cures of common ailments. Hildegard viewed the human body as a microcosm to the macrocosm of the Universe.
Laced amongst ALL her writings was the term "Viriditas" (Latin for "greeness"), which is one of Hildegard's guiding images. In her works It has been translated in various ways, such as freshness, vitality, fertility, fecundity, fruitfulness, verdure, or growth. In Scivias, the word viriditas was used as an attribute of the divine nature. Hildegard uses viriditas as a metaphor for spiritual and physical health, which is visible in the divine word. Discussion and exultation of the natural world is a common theme in Hildegard's writings, and has been an inspiration to modern day Environmentalists.
"The earth is at the same time mother, She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human. She is mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all. The earth of human kind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power. It is in so many ways fruitful. All creation comes from it. Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God's son." -Hildegard von Bingen
The twining vines that lace the sides of the Hildegard Icon represent Viriditas, as well as the color of her nuns' habit. Also on the right side of the piece is a vine of Passion Flowers. Passion Flowers were not native to Germany, but I included them because the "Passion" in "passion flower" refers to the passion of Jesus Christ. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish missionaries associated the different flower parts and structures of Passiflora, as symbols of the last days of Jesus and his crucifixion.
Besides her writing career, Hildegard was an accomplished musician, and composed sixty nine musical compositions with original poetic texts. She also composed the Ordo Virtunum, a liturgical drama about vices and virtues, which is the oldest surviving morality play. She also wrote her own language, called the Lingua Ignota, which was a modified medieval Latin. It is believed she created this language to increase solidarity among her nuns.
Hildegard also wrote and received an extensive amount of letters, numbering 390, if not more. She corresponded with emperors, kings, queens, popes, archbishops, abbesses, abbots, nuns, monks, and laymen and women. People wrote asking not only her advice but her prophecies of the future. By believing herself to be the voice of God (and others believing that as well), she was able to be forthright in a way that women of her time would never been allowed. She considered herself to be a means of transmitting God's message which often were attacks on corruption in both church and state, and vices of her fellow clergy or of people in power. She often referred to Justice as the "daughter of God". She also took her (Gods') message to the people, conducting four preaching tours throughout Germany, denouncing clerical corruption and calling for reform. In this way she became a powerful figure in the politics, which is extraordinary for a woman in medieval times.
On October 7th, 2012, the feast of the Holy Rosary, the Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church, the fourth woman of 35 saints given that title by the Roman Catholic Church. He called her "perennially relevant" and "an authentic teacher of theology and a profound scholar of natural science and music." Her feast day is September 17th.
On a scroll that she is writing on in the Icon Illustration are the words "Trust Shows the Way" from the full sentence "Trust shows the way, with the passion of heavenly yearning, we all produce rich fruit."
Hildegard calls on us to trust the flowering of our creative selves as the divine source that it is, in all chapters of our lives, for there is no part of a woman's life that is not creative.
Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and her World by Barbara Newman. University of California Press; 1998.
Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times by Mathew Fox. Namaste Publishing, 2012
Psyche, The Goddess of Feminine Spiritual Growth
by Karin Bolstad 2016
Every Goddess, Saint or Heroine has an energy or special message that connects to something within; and just for, US. I refer to this as an "activating force": which is what energies does a Goddess, Heroine, or Saint have for awakening the dormant or blossoming mirror energies within ourselves. We then can use these forces both for personal growth, as well as to make the world a better place! I read in a book once the our purpose in our lives is to "make heaven on Earth" - rather than focusing on how to GET to heaven. Use the Archetypal "activating force" of the Greek Goddess Psyche for FEMININE SPIRITUAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL GROWTH and TRANSFORMATION from innocent young woman to mature Goddess.
Psyche is a strong Icon for:
The Greek Myth of Psyche and Eros was first written down in 160 AD in "The Golden Ass" by Roman Lucius Apuleius. Variations on the Psyche myth are easily recognizable in (three of my very favorite fairy tales!) "Beauty and the Beast", "The White Bear" and "East of the Sun, West of the Moon". The myth also has similarities to the story of the Egyptian Goddess Isis and the resurrection of Osiris.
The Greek name "Psyche" means "breath of life", "soul" or "spirit". It is represented by the image of the butterfly, hence Psyche is often depicted in art with butterfly wings (see the Blue Morpho butterfly wings I added to the piece? The name morpho, meaning "Change", is also an epithet of Aphrodite - who plays a large role in the myth of Psyche). In Greek, Psyche is spelled "ψυχή". The Latin translation is "Anima", and this term was also used by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung to describe the archetype of the inner feminine personality within a man.
So let's get to the FUN part, the STORY!
The Myth of Psyche and Eros
"Psyche was the third of three daughters to a King and a Queen. She was so lovely that people would travel from miles around to worship her beauty, and consequently the shrines of Goddess Aphrodite were neglected (much to her chagrin). In a fit of pique, Aphrodite sent her son Eros to exact her revenge: he was to cause Psyche to fall in love with the most wretched man he could find. Instead, Eros accidently pricked himself with his own love arrow while gazing apon Psyche, and was smitten.
Aphrodite wasn't the only one concerned about Psyche's power over men: Psyche was miserable, and the King himself was worried about this burgeoning cult, and sought advice from the Oracle of Delphi. Unfortunately the Oracle fortold that she was to marry a serpent, and once you ask the Oracle a question you must accept that fate. So, the bereft King took his daughter to the top of a mountain to await her new husband- and consequently, Death. Instead, Zephyr the West Wind came and took her to a beautiful meadow, where she fell asleep.
When she awoke, she found herself at the doors of a palace, which a voice proclaimed was hers to enjoy. That would be Eros, who did not want Psyche to recognize him, because he was embarrassed that he failed his mother so spectacularily. So Eros came to Psyche only in the night, under the cover of darkness, and soon Psyche was pregnant.
Though Psyche was relatively happy, she missed her family. She asked to see her sisters. Eros was not thrilled with this idea, but allowed it only asking she not tell them about him. The sisters, apon seeing how rich she now was, were jealous: and reminded Psyche that the Oracel of Delphi said she was to marry a serpent. They encouraged her to take a lamp and a knife with her that night to see if her husband was in fact a monster, and if so to kill him.
NOPE. Not a monster, just a pissed off Eros with a lantern oil burn, who then left, blaming Psyche for being too curious and ruining the great thing they had going. Off he went to Mama Aphrodite, to confess and lick his wounds. Psyche was left, heartbroken.
Psyche wanted to give up, even attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself in a river - but was saved by the God Pan, who told her to not give up but to go after Eros. Psyche eventually managed to find her way (or is delivered) to Aphrodites' doorstep in order to try to make amends and woo back her man. Aphrodite thought this was an excellent opportunity to torture Psyche for usurping her worshippers and stealing her son. First she called her handmaidens, Anxiety and Grief, to spend quality time with her. After they had their way, Aphrodite tasked Psyche with four challenges to prove herself worthy of Eros.
The first was to sort a room full of a variety of grain. Psyche wept in despair, but luckily for her an Ant took pity and he and his friends sorted all the grain for her.
The second was to gather fleece from a herd of Golden Rams, which were large strong and dangerous. Again, Psyche wanted to give up and throw herself in a nearby river, but a whispering river reed at the edge of the river gave her instructions on how to proceed. It told her to not attempt to retrieve the fleece directly, but to wait until evening and gather it from the blackthorn trees where it had snagged.
The third was to fetch water with a crystal flask from a waterfall guarded by monsters, that was fed by the River Styx . AGAIN, Psyche contemplated throwing herself in the river. But an eagle sent from none other than Zeus came to her aid, and gathered the water for her.
The fourth was to fetch a magical beauty ointment from Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Psyche went straight for the edge of a tower, to throw herself off, figuring that was a way to end these tasks and/or get to the underworld, win-win. The tower itself suggested this was not the best plan, and gave her both directions to the underworld and specific instructions on what to do in order to fetch the ointment. Psyche followed the plan perfectly: except when she emerged from the Underworld she pulled a Pandora and opened the box, wanting to be pretty for her man when they were reunited. Instead of beauty magic, it was super deep sleep magic, and she fell where she stood.
At this point, Eros was tired of his mother, healed from his lantern wound, and missing Psyche. He came to her side, wiped the sleep from her eyes, and took her to Zeus. He asked help in order to officially marry Psyche. Zeus gave her ambrosia, which made her into a Goddess, and they wed. Oh, and they had that baby she had been carrying around, and named her Hedore (Pleasure/Joy)."
So, what in the heck does that mean?
or....The Interpretation of the Myth of Psyche and Eros
Two very important symbols within the beginning of this myth are the lantern and the knife, seen in the central image of Psyche in the artwork. Psyche is placed into a situation where she can continue in an unconscious relationship/situation (with a lover that she cannot see), or take a risk to move forward. The lantern provides the illumination to see her situation clearly. She cannot take conscious actions if she cannot see. The knife is the tool she needs in order to "cut through" the situation, draw a boundary, discriminate, or even "cut off" the relationship. This is the reason she is holding these two tools in the Icon: when we are in a situation that needs changing or ending, we need the light of the lantern and the discrimination of the knife.
The aids and the challenges that Aphrodite tasks with Psyche are teaching symbols for anyone going through a time of transformation or process of growth. In the first task with the grain that needs to be sorted, the seeds themselves are symbols for all of her possibilites: and by sorting them, she is taking stock of her current situation, and putting things in order. The Ant symbolizes instinctual knowledge, determination and team work.... working with a group, asking for help, and taking one step and one "seed" at a time. The ant and the seeds are pictured in the top right corner and down the side of the Icon Illustration.
The second task of gathering the fleece deals with confrontation and timing and masculine power versus feminine power. The rams are competitive, large and strong animals that if Psyche attempted to gather their fleece in the light of day, facing them head on, would have failed the task. She could not compete with the strong fierce rams on their terms (masculine power), on their turf. Sometimes challenges we face cannot be taken head on; we need to have patience to recognize when our energy is going to be most effective and productive. In this case she waited until evening, representing a more "intuitive" time, and did not even gather the fleece directly from the rams. She received this wisdom from a green reed: a plant that roots within the water (unconscious) and yet is visible in the air (consciousness) - the reed is also a communicator (used to make pipes) - hence, Psyche is communicating directly with her unconscious, intuitive self. You can view the reeds and ram at the bottom right of the Icon Illustration.
The third task involves gathering the poisonous water from the waterfall of the River Styx with a crystal flask. The River Styx (Greek meaning "hate" and "detestation") was a river in Greek mythology which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. The River is surrounded by monsters and slippery, deadly slopes. The river, as it cycles over the waterfall and down to the Underworld and back up, is a symbol of the energy of life/death, creativity/destruction, and consciousness/unconsciousness. The crystal goblet Psyche must wield in order to gather some of this primordial liquid is a symbol for her own fragile and transparent ego: the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. When attempting to tap into the forces of creativity, it is too dangerous to get too close or to take it all in. Think of artists who go insane when they spend too much time in their inner world without being grounded in reality. So Psyche, with the aid of the eagle, an animal with a perceptive, keen eye, courage, and an overall view of the situation, narrows in on the goal (one flask of water from the dangerous river) and takes only what she needs. The image of the eagle and the flask are on the bottom left corner of the Icon Illustration.
In the fourth task, it is the tower that comes to her aid. The tower is a symbol for civilization, or the cultural legacy of civilization. Psyche is given instructions based on the wisdom of history, and it is very detailed and comprehensive. She must follow a map to the entrance, and follow very specific rules while within the realm of the Underworld and also in order to get back out. These rules involve what gifts to give and to stay focused on her task and not come to anyone else's aid. This is very important when doing the hard work of becoming self-actualized or changing one's circumstance in a profound way: we must not allow our energy to be dispersed by the needs of others. This does not mean being selfish; rather understanding we have nothing to give if we ourselves do not do the work for ourselves that we need to. Within this final challenge is also the importance of the very destination she goes: the Underworld. Here is our dark night of the soul - the dark night being the realm of the Underworld, and Psyche is the soul. This is the period of our growth where part of us must die in order for the new self to be born. This is also the moment where we may want to give up, and often we must ask for help. Psyche received aid from the wisdom of civilization (the tower) - to me, this symbolizes that part of the human experience is to die and be reborn, and not new to just one individual: so to reference the stories and myths from our history or family story is to gather wisdom to move forward. The image of the tower is on the top left of the Icon Illustration.
Psyche achieves the goal and yet, upon exiting the Underworld, she opens the box that is not meant for her, and falls "unconscious". What does this mean - when she has faced all these challenges to become "conscious" and awaken to ther true self, she still makes a choice that appears to put her back to square one? In my opinion the paths to growth are non-linear, and in fact, never ending. When we reach one level of understanding, it is only one step in a long spiral staircase. Perhaps towards the end of a process it is natural to self sabotage, to fall back into old habits, to want to go back to sleep. Perhaps after going through the first three tasks, the caterpillar self must go into chrysalis form in order to process her lessons, and be reborn. She is awakened by Eros: Love. Love wakes her from her unconscious state. Our soul is awakened by love, and love cannot exist without our soul. And this is the core message of the myth of Psyche and Eros, and the development of our Feminine Spirit/Self.
Psyche Article by Carlos Parada, Greek Mythology Link
Transitions as Liminal and Archetypal Situation, from a lecture by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.
She: Understanding Feminine Psychology by Robert Johnson. Harper Perennial, Revised 1989.
Love and the Soul: Psychological Interpretations of the Eros & Psyche Myth by James Gollnick. Wilfrid Laurier Univ Press 1992.
Psyche's Yearning by Gillian Ross. Trafford Publishing 2010.
As an artist I often have wondered what my role is, and what role art itself plays in the larger world. The day after the Election 2016 I was having drinks with friends, and someone said to me that it was my RESPONSIBILITY as an artist to keep making my work. However, I don't make political art per se, so what positive impact does my work have in the world? Especially because purchasing artwork for most folks is a luxury. How does creating a "luxury item" truly a responsibility worthy of respect and an agent of positive change?
I purchased some artwork recently - a poster of Hillary Clinton. You may or may not be a fan of Hillary, but for me she represents someone who has committed her life to a cause and no matter WHAT has been thrown at her, has PERSISTED (nevertheless!), which is something that I want to personally channel within my own life.
When I bought the image of Hillz it didn't feel like a luxury item. It felt like something necessary. It felt like a visual talisman that I needed to strengthen qualities in myself to be an agent of positive change.
I came to understand that some images have a power to awaken something within us.
That's when I realized that my work did have worth beyond simple luxury.
This is what I believe to be true: We are at a crossroads in human development where the old rules of the patriarchy no longer serve our race or our planet. The Feminine is required to take its rightful place alongside the masculine to heal and move forward for the evolution and salvation of our species and world.
The artwork that I create is to help facilitate that movement. Surrounding oneself with authentic images of the Feminine Divine and Female Power is activating to our inner heroines, to then bring out into the world to make positive changes in the name of Love, Justice and Peace. This "activating force" is the term I use for what energies does a Goddess, Heroine, or Saint have for awakening the dormant or blossoming mirror energies within ourselves.
I am creating a series of Goddesses, Female Saints, and Real World Heroines to fulfill this new focused vision. The first two of the series are the Greek Goddess Psyche (read more about her HERE) and the Christian Saint, Doctor of the Church, and Mystic Hildegard Von Bingen (read more about her HERE).
They are currently available as open edition Giclee Prints (shop HERE) and I have grand visions of other forms these women will take to help you on your journeys, as well as many other goddesses, saints and heroines to add to the series.
P.S. Do you have a Goddess, Female Saint or Heroine who inspires you? Tell me about her in the comments!
I, like many Americans, have been on a rollercoaster of emotion for - ok like a year and a half. But over the past 10 days it has been extreme. Shock, sorrow, fierce anger, hope, motivation, exhaustion. This past week's theme for Illustration Friday was "Aquatic" and this is what appeared in my sketchbook as I attempted to connect to this word. The storms are raging, and I have cried an ocean. But.
I will NOT be wallowing. I am channeling all of these emotions towards positive action. I will no longer be the "slacktivist" I have been in the past, simply casting my vote and thinking that's enough to participate in a Democracy. Full disclosure: I am not one naturally called to Social or Environmental Justice. I have been lazy about matching my actions to my values. But there are times when we are all tapped to step up, and I am answering that call. If there is one powerful thing that is positive in the current state of the United States is this: my eyes are open, I no longer take my rights and privileges for granted, and I will use these things to fight anyone who tries to take it away from me, my family, my community and those who are currently in a much more vulnerable place.
What does this mean in a practical concrete way?
I belong to a private group that is now 3.7 million people strong who are now organizing for change and to resist what is currently happening.
Specifically I now have the phone numbers of my state representatives and Senators so that I may call them DAILY if I have to, to express my strong opinions on things like the appointment of Steve Bannon, a white nationalist who now holds a position in the White House, my feelings of horror over the discussion of a Muslim Registry, and my fierce rage over the suggestion that Roe v. Wade is overturned. Sadly that is just the tip of the iceberg that threatens our great ship. But it's a place to start.
I also will be giving 50-100% of any art sales towards organizations such as the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law, Climate.org, and to people running for office such as Louisiana Democrat Foster Campbell (please go donate right now: if he wins the race this December, the Democrats in Senate will not be as much of a minority ).
I will be emailing Journalists who use words like "Alt Right" instead of "White Nationalist". I will be subscribing to media such as NY Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, and Bitch Media to support the integrity of journalism.
I urge you to, if you are feeling helpless, to find a local group of like minded people to join in the fight. We have much to do now and in preparation for the elections in 2018, and the elections in 2020.
If you are a reader like I am, you may find the book "Hope in the Dark" by activist Rebecca Solnit inspirational and helpful: www.haymarketbooks.org/books/791-hope-in-the-dark
If you enjoy listening to podcasts, NPR TED Radio Hour has an episode called "Democracy On Trial" which I found informative and very hopeful.
Please listen to the call. Do not sit idly by. That is a privilege we cannot enjoy right now.
It's the third morning of our new reality. Like many people I've been gutted by this, and am absolutely terrified. I've been glued to social media and the news, trying to make sense, grieving, and looking for hope. Looking for someone to tell me it's going to be ok.
There ARE some people saying it's going to be ok.
But what I've found is that I cannot - and will not - take comfort, even though I yearn for it.
I've been called.
You've been called.
No one is going to save us. The people who could've been heroes failed us (looking at you, Paul Ryan. You're very pretty but your soul and character need some work. Not to mention your buddies).
I am full of anger for people who definitely share some blame in bringing this situation about. However, quickly we must move past recrimination for it is a waste of our power and energy. This is an emergency of epic proportions, and if we want to make history/herstory proud, we have to move quickly and effectively.
I know many of you probably feel as lost and hopeless as I do, but there are actions to take. We must gather together. We must look to institutions that are already in place with knowledgeable people who have the tools of change. But they need US.
I'm not going to lie to you, I've been perfectly happy being apathetic - or rather, letting people who are called to work for social justice and global change carry the load. I thought things were - ok - or I let myself be asleep about how it wasn't ok. But this election is the 2X4 to the head that is saying it's not ok, it's seriously absolutely not ok, and you don't get to be asleep anymore.
So this is what I am doing. I am researching, reading, talking, gathering and planning. I will figure out what is the best use of my time and money to make sure that what I know is right and good is not destroyed. All my creative efforts going forward I am devoting to making sure the America I was raised to believe in is not destroyed.
And I will share with anyone what I am doing, if you feel like you can't figure out what you can do, or you can share what you are doing too, and together, We Will Rise. We MUST Rise. The time for choices is past: the only choice is LOVE and JUSTICE.
Hey there sports fans! If you read my last post, you know that I have decided to make a piece of artwork from my sketchbook once a week for Illustration Friday, which is a website that challenges artists to create an illustration based on a one word prompt. This week's theme was the word "steam".
So I rolled that around my head, while listening to my multitude of podcasts discussing the state of the nation and politics and what in the heck is happening. So yah, what in the heck IS happening guys? Crazy times.
Actually I'm going to be frank here. Heartbreaking times, really. What has been stirred up this election cycle is nothing short of horrific. I've found myself on an emotional rollercoaster - shocked, scared, sad, and.... MAD.
I'm so MAD. I'm so mad at the irresponsibility of certain people who normalized the hate speech that we are hearing. I am not naive: I know that there is racism and sexism (and insert all the other "ism"s here). But that it is, in a way, being celebrated and exuberantly encouraged by certain people who KNOW they are not telling the truth and KNOW what they are doing.
I'm so so angry. But I guess I'm also thankful, for the scales have fallen from my eyes, and I see where we REALLY are in terms of our evolution. I feel motivated - beyond just voting - to figure out what things I can do (don't know what that is yet but I'll keep you posted) - to make this Nation a better place. To make this world a better place. Because I think that's a pretty great way to live your life.
So yah. "Steam". My character here is both Steampunk, and pretty steamed about stuff.
As a kid, I used to draw. Like A LOT. Every day, pretty much. My brother and I would tear through reams of typing paper, drawing and erasing and crumpling and starting over. Princesses and horses/unicorns were my fave subjects, being a white middle class white girl of the 1980's. My brother: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, space ships. My sketching spot in the house was on the floor in the living room, with my feet tucked under the bottom of the bookshelf, where the heat vent was. We had a shoe box of crayons that I left there a couple times, to have them melt through the box onto the hardwood floors. My mom loved that.
I kept drawing all the way through college, where most of my sketching happened as doodles during classes. Yes, there was drawing for my degree: Illustration and Design - but oddly, my best work was my doodles. I never questioned why that was....until recently.
So first of all, somewhere along the line I stopped drawing. My paintings are very draw-ery (as opposed to painterly) - with definite line work and hard edges. I glaze to get my colors and shading as opposed to blending or brushwork. But I barely work on the drawings underneath the paintings and don't work out my idea before hand. It's just in my head, I get reference photos, and then slap up a rough sketch on my board, and then flesh it out with color.
Then at Blueschool (my shared studio/gathering/art/class space) I had to lead one of our monthly Art Socials, and the subject was Drawing. So I went online to gather some exercises I could lead the group in, and read an article about listening-while-drawing, and how drawing is not a distraction from what you are listening to; but rather allows one part of your brain to be occupied so the other can focus. So doodling helps you listen better - but conversely I found it also to make my drawing better and more unique! Having the linear left brain critic occupied while listening allowed my non verbal inspired artist play happily and unfettered. So THAT'S why my doodler is better than my strictly supervised illustrator!
So two things happened as a result of this insight: one, I switched from listening to just music while painting (which is still great) to listening to podcasts. Not only was my painting better, but I was able to finish quite tedious bits with much less resistance. My left brain is also happy, getting a fabulous dose of new thoughts and stories through an array of my new passion for podcasts (current faves: This American Life, Serial, NPR Politics, Keepin' It 1600, Revisionist History, The Big Listen). Two: I decided to join in the October Drawing Challenge "Dractober" to get back to my sketchbook roots.
Dractober 2016's list of prompts was created by Kirsten Easthope, which I found via one of my all time favorite artists Amy Abshier Reyes. I sketched every day (ok there may have been a few days of catch up) and posted to my instagram account, @karinbolstadart, which automatically also posted to my Facebook Page and my Twitter Feed. It was so much fun to find new artists this way and also get feedback from old fans and now NEW fans. My first few sketches, I have to say, kinda sucked. But towards the end I got less inhibited and had more fun.
Now I find I don't really want to stop! I've decided to keep with the sketchbook fun by joining in with Illustration Friday, where there are weekly prompts. It's less sketchbook and more of a finished piece, so I'll be posting first a sketch of my idea and then do a scratchboard of that sketch to submit to the Illustration Friday Website. I'll be posting that here, as well as on all my social media spots - so stay tuned!
For those of you who didn't catch all my October sketches, here they all are! Which is your fave?
It's rare, I think, for there to be an actual moment when you know your life has changed - not outwardly, but inside yourself, in your understanding of you and you in the world and the world itself. In January of 2010, I had one of those.
Ok so this may come as a surprise to you, whoever you are, reader of my blog, that I have had in the past a hard time calling myself an "artist".
So perhaps a little background -here's a quick(?) history of me and art:
I've always drawn well, as long as I can remember. Both my brother an I have a natural talent for art, as does our father, where we probably inherited that gene.
So I always wanted to be an artist, or rather, as a child it just seemed a given that that's what I would do with my life: art. Or a librarian. But as I grew older, a combination of self doubt and "reality" altered that "given" into what I should do that would be practical, and make my parents feel justified in spending large amounts of money on my education. They never said I couldn't be an artist, but of course worried about their daughter being able to support herself. My own father gave up any dreams of being an artist for the practical choice of becoming an architect, which could (and did) support his family.
So I chose illustration/graphic design for my degree, which seemed like a fair compromise. I had also stopped believing I was good enough to be an "artist", and was afraid of that lifestyle anyway - all that black clothing and smoking and talking about art - I was most definitely not that cool. It took a far greater degree of confidence than I, at the time, had.
However. I didn't seem to have enough confidence/talent to succeed as an illustrator/designer either. I half-heartedly pursued it, while supporting myself with a myriad of pay-the-bills jobs, without really committing to it, over a period of - ok, a really long time. And it wasn't linear: I'd give up the idea of being an illustrator or a graphic designer and look into other career choices (culinary arts, alternative health, psychology, education, retail business owner, wife and mother - still have the last two), and then swing back to spotty illustration jobs or design work within whatever other job I was doing.
Around 1997, there was a little shift back towards plain ole' art for art's sake: I started doing pastel paintings and fell in love with the medium. At the time I was working a couple of waitress jobs, and both restaurants let me hang my art in them. It was crazy, all of a sudden I had art hanging in a public space like I was an artist or something!
But I still didn't believe it, and had to justify it in some way - for example, one of the pieces was of my ex-boyfriend's dog, Nesta. I drew her as an angel, and it turned out really well. This elicited many requests for dog portraits, and I enthusiastically latched onto this: I was supposed to be a pet portrait illustrator! Until.... I could not bear to paint ANOTHER DOG. EVER. (Except my own. Those turned out super good)
That had been a recurring theme: I did a piece of artwork that was "successful", and then I would decide that THAT was the route I must go! And I would reign in my creative juices and try to funnel them down that one river, where it would quickly dry up into a trickle and then I once again would doubt that I was an artist at all....
So I continued this way, sort of having jobs, sort of doing design and illustration, sort of being an artist, and not committing to any. If I did commit to any of them over the other, I looked for signs of success, which would tell me that I chose correctly. But it didn't happen. Success.
So I decided to pursue design AGAIN as a freelancer...I had finally gained enough confidence in that skill area of my life. So I made a business card and started working on design projects for friends and family. I discovered a real pleasure in designing websites after collaborating on an online boutique with a good friend of mine, and wandered down that path for awhile. Meanwhile, I was still painting, and displaying my artwork at local cafes.
Then I had to give it all up, because Lulu was born. Oh I didn't mention that I had gotten married and pregnant? Yah that happened around that time too.
For a brief moment, I thought perhaps, this is what I am for: motherhood. I don't have to keep wondering what I am going to "be" when I grow up; here it is, my most wonderful beautiful perfect daughter. All else pales besides this visitor, this luminescent being, this all consuming relentless user of all my energy and time. And that is true: that is my number one priority, my biggest most important role of all, Lulu's mommy.
But if I'm going to be a good mommy, I have to do my own stuff. So I continued with some design jobs, and some painting, when I had a spare moment. Then this happened: a stupid, stupid dispute with a printer of a job I was working on. I had no time to paint; arguing with these chuckleheads was what I was working on. And it pissed me off. I wanted to paint. Lightbulb. I wanted to paint!
My daughter had provided me, by limiting my time, with the one thing I never could give myself: permission to give art priority over all else. (That and my husband having a well paid job. Thanks honey!!)
Perhaps you think that is the end to my story: girl decides to be ONLY an artist, finally. But that wasn't the revelation; rather that was the precursor to the revelation.
You see, I still found myself looking for life, people, the world to give me success to prove that I made the right choice. That I am "supposed" to be an artist. I was looking for validation.
I chose illustration/design in order to gain validation from my parents/family, and I looked for validation from the public in all of my other career/life choices. I would tentatively try something and look for confirmation outside myself.
So with art. I kept waiting for the sales and accolades to prove I AM AN ARTIST. When that isn't what defines being an artist. I define it. I am an artist, whether or not these things happen. Realizing that gave me permission to love my art and give it the time and nourishment it deserved.
I finally gave my art the respect it deserved: first I decided on giving it the TIME, and then behind it I gave it the FAITH.
(Cue George Michael singing "I gotta have FAITH FAITH FAITH. Man I love that guy)