The Journey

Focus Now, Voyager

I’m sitting at my desk watching rainbows flit across my walls and ceiling. A prism hangs in the living room window, open to the breeze. The prism was a gift to Mom from my sister Jean, so I feel close to them when this happens. I have begun to stop whatever I am doing and focus fully on the lazy twirling of this short-lived moment. Too soon, the sun shifts, the rainbows disappear, and life resumes.

My theme today is “focus”. The key, for me, is finding and maintaining a fluid, balanced, ebb-and-flow focus between meeting deadlines and watching rainbows. Like the frames of a film, our lives are constructed from a series of moments. By not being present in any one of them, it is lost, along with whatever rainbow blessing it might have held.

You might call me a speed addict. I have the flow part of focus down. Granted, my idea of flow can often be more like the force of a firehose. For the most part, the faster I move and the more I cross off my list, the better I feel about myself. Before, this just seemed the right way to live. I did accomplish a lot, but the high was elusive; it never seemed enough. It still feels rewarding to be busy like that, but I’d much rather slow down, enjoy what I am doing, and trust that everything always works out well for me.

The ebb part of this balance includes watching classic movies. “Now, Voyager” is one of my favorites. In it, Bette Davis plays a timid, mousy (imagine!) old maid who meets Claude Reins, psychologist extraordinaire. He knows that she must extricate herself from her disabling family and encourages her to go on a solo ocean voyage. Free from familial expectations, she transforms into the glam girl we know and love, meets the dashing Paul Henreid, aims her newly acquired self-confidence where it is most needed, and makes things happen.

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I felt a connection to Bette’s role in this movie. It was time to get out of my comfortable creative zone and shake things up. “Now, Voyager” began its (and my) journey as a landscaped-oriented abstract with collaged paper.


The movie title is based on the 1941 novel “Now, Voyager” by Olive Higgins Prouty who borrowed from Walt Whitman’s poem “The Untold Want”. In entirety it reads:

“The untold want by life and land ne’er granted,
Now Voyager sail thou forth to seek and find”

Sounds exciting. Just like that, sail forth? As appealing as dropping everything and going forth sounds, it also feels a teensy bit scary. I prefer my freedom within structure; I like knowing that when I do return from all that sailing forth, this voyager will find her home and life, although altered by the journey, familiar and intact.

Focus: How do we get it and how do we keep it? At the time of the opening paragraph, I had been focused on paperwork and scheduling my day. It took a rainbow flitting across my face to get my attention. Focus, of course, is key to getting what we want. But to what degree must we? Sometimes my focus gets me lost in the details, the busy-ness, and I think I miss the stuff that makes my life worthwhile (like dancing rainbows or seeing friends or simply sitting quietly).

In a nutshell, what we focus on, gets bigger. It follows that by holding focus on what we want and following the steps that are revealed, we can get to where we want to be. We are all voyagers truly, always in transition and transformation, and our focus must shift as our needs do.

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Changing focus (our theme for today): Here I pulled off some collage paper; reoriented the picture; added texture gels and pastes; and began layering color with fluid acrylics, crayons and pencils.


The formula for getting what you want is simple: Decide what that is and only think of that - not what anybody else thinks you should want or what you think you should want so others will approve. What is your hearts desire? What is your secret passion? What dreams did you dream when you were young before anyone started messing with you?

I’m telling you, magic happens when you begin pursuing your dream. Opportunities show up and stuck bits shift. Most of all, you feel really, really happy which paves the way for more good things to come. (Kinda like clearing out clutter to see what stands out).

That’s where I am now, receiving aid on many fronts - emails and personal feedback from those who love me, creative inspiration through dreams, meditations, conversations, reading materials, and inner nudges. All lead me onward, one thought at a time. I feel supported and encouraged and not alone. Because of all this, I do not mind not knowing where I’m headed. I’m just having fun and that’s a win.

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Looking at options along the way. Turn it upside down, trim off the other part and it could be a volcano...


So…how do we get the right kind of focus? One aspect is scheduling time for the important stuff. And by “important,” I mean what feels big to no one else but you. Energy leaks such as procrastination, unresolved anger, guilt or regret, or doing for others when you’d rather be doing for you, can zap energy and block brain space. Ask: What’s important to me right now? And then schedule whatever time you can for that. We’re aiming for a sense of accomplishment so even 10 minutes can make a difference.

Showing support to my creative self is vital to me. Whenever possible, time for her comes first. Creativity defines me and making time for it brings satisfaction on a number of levels. Next, I fill time slots for other things important to me like studying French and keeping up on office work, as well as reading and exercise and rest. I schedule chores as well.

This way, I am free to play knowing that I will do all the adult stuff in its proper time. Another benefit to this type of scheduling is that I feel compelled, when a particular time slot comes up, to get going. And, I experience fewer evenings wondering what the heck did I do all day? That’s another win.

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I whited out and painted over parts of this painting so many times I lost count. When it refused to look like anything else other than a melting ice cream cone, I put it away.


Always exploring, experimenting, expanding - me in a nut shell. I would venture to say it’s the same for you. Especially when we think nothing is happening, it is. When life feels stuck, most often the real action is occurring off stage. Time and again, seemingly random and sometimes haphazard events lead us to where we want to go. It’s a bit of a trick to back off and just let things unfold. I have experienced varying degrees of success with this. No matter what, I still can feel grateful for the clarity brought by slogging through a definitely not-so-fun time.

It can be very frustrating when life does not go as desired, but, like this painting, it can also provide extra satisfaction when we stop pushing and decide to see where it goes. Sooner or later, things coalesce and the end result can feel even more rewarding.

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It took a shift in focus and a classic movie to show me the ship in this abstract painting. I, too, journeyed forth to discover this conclusion. “Now, Voyager” is now beautifully framed and ready to hang in a show starting this month.


As an aside, this letter to you was also a year in the making! Everything in its own time, right?

Bon Voyager, mes amis!

Judy

Inspiration

And SNAP!

When I was little, I loved watching the movie “Mary Poppins” starring Julie Andrews. I loved everything about Mary. “Practically perfect in every way,” I would say to myself in the mirror, practicing my best self-satisfied face. I also practiced snapping my fingers, like Mary Poppins and her wards, hoping to magically clean up all my messes.

I never got the hang of finger snapping (or whistling for that matter) and the kid in me is certain that’s why it never brought results. But, my childhood introduction to all things magical still serves me well. Metaphorically, I’m snapping my fingers this very minute. And I am conjuring fun new things.

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Paisley Thoughts

An example is the painting above. I purposely chose a medium I could not control easily - fluid inks on Yupo polymer “paper” - to allow for serendipity and perhaps a truer portrayal of my emotional moment. The process starts with pouring on the colored inks, then manipulating them with rubbing alcohol applied to a brush; then a stamper, a sponge, or whatever suggests itself. It’s almost like finger painting. Fun to do. Surprising results.

To continue the theme of kid memories: Ever played the game “Boggle”? Briefly: Lettered die are held captive in a sectioned plastic tray. Pop the lid on, shake like crazy and then let the die settle. All players have a limited time to make as many words as they can from adjacent letters only (diagonal readings accepted). The one with the most words, of course, wins.

Now, swap letters and die for the roles, expectations, rules, and standards I use to define myself and my actions and you now know what I’ve been doing this past winter.

I call it the Winter of Clarity (“Now is the winter of our discontent….”) I’m glad to be on the other side of that. Grateful. Appreciative. And very much happier. Like Boggle, it feels as if all the shook up bits of me have fallen into place and I am now busy constructing new definitions.

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One new creative definition is this take on a water lily, a design I’ve carved into mat board with an Xacto knife. In this case, the mat board is used as the focus of interest instead of simply as a framing tool.



As for magic, I know that embracing my life situations with a childlike spirit really works for me. This quality, this way of embracing life, is one I’ve been busy unearthing for some time. So much adult stuff on top of it! What. A. Trip. My recent digging felt like the type of spring cleaning brother Max did one time to our garage. Afterwards, I remember Mom and Dad wondering to each other where had certain things gone? (The garage did look amazing, though.)

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Being childlike for me allows more freedom of movement, less structure in form, and sometimes a total disregard for how things are. Here I’ve done this with the background I painted for the water lily on butcher paper using fluid acrylics in a somewhat carefree application. I incorporated soft gel gloss into the paint as well to extend play-around time before the colors could dry which definitely fed my kid.


This shake up time has left me feeling a whole lot lighter, happier, younger. I’m letting myself off the hook more and doing my best to not push myself so hard to get things done. I’m actually enjoying the journey (yikes - sorry to use that phrase but it fits) and especially the time in kid mode. (Interestingly, the stuff that needs to get done, is, and I’m having more fun in the doing.)

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This is the complete water lily image with the carved mat board design layered over the painted background. A rewarding creative endeavor with the added benefit of pleasing both the child and adult parts of me.


I’m currently working on a triptych of stylized bamboo which I’ll submit for acceptance into a show later this spring (same carving method but this mat will be painted gold to cover up the rubber watch band markings I didn’t realize I was leaving on the nice white mat board - serendipity, right?)

Here’s another slant on water color painting I’m exploring with childlike eagerness: It’s the batik wax resist method. Again, a layered process that comes with surprises, but this time using paint and hot wax. Draw a design, then lay down hot wax on the areas you want to remain white. Continue alternating layers of paint and hot wax to continue creating the design. Finally, cover the whole painting in wax and allow to dry completely. The final steps are to carefully crumple and then flatten the paper and then iron off the wax. The depth of colors revealed is intriguing to me; it looks exactly how I imagine magic should look. Which makes the kid in me really, really, happy.

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Batik Method: Deep Water Dreamtime


Well, that’s all for now kids…hope you’re all having fun, too!

Judy

Inspiration

Monkey Mind

Chaos in our brains. The clatter of unruly thoughts (what my boyfriend calls “paisley thoughts”), uninvited, skittering across our minds.  One moment we are oblivious, minds happily wandering, and the next, with broom in hand, we find ourselves chasing that monkey in our minds.  Clever is he - razor sharp, lightning quick - poking where it bothers us most.  Who  better knows our weaknesses?

My brother Max brought this up recently.  Thinking about what Max said, I realized the state of Monkey Mind is familiar to me, a mental habit.  Accepting it as normal, I stopped taking note of it.  But now, as life moves on and I find more value in it, I’m ready for another shift.

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This is one of the things I’ve been up to: The start of my Kanzashi (fabric origami) dragonfly for Marti’s wedding.  Here you see the fabric tube I will fashion the body from and the dragonfly wings.


There are moments lately when I want to abandon all restraint, yell, “Yee haw!,” and take off.  Not that my life isn’t pretty cool these days, but I figure there’s always room for more.  Max also mentioned that, as he’s gotten older, he’s also become happier with himself.  Me too.  And that’s another reason to avoid whatever doesn’t feel good.

It’s so simple that it’s ridiculous.  Simple in concept and, for me, challenging in action.

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Second Phase: I used gold thread to shape the dragonfly body and am ready to glue on the wings and decorative crystals.


As I write, I see that Monkey Mind has proved helpful.  It has alerted me to what’s important, to what really matters.  It has prodded me to act.  Maybe Monkey Mind is akin to the Pueblo Indian myth of Coyote, the Trickster that sparks significant changes, most often in unexpected, disconcerting, or uncomfortable ways.

I adopted a term from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” to describe this voice in my head.  She calls it the Inner Critic and suggests that it is as much friend as not.  That makes sense to me.  When my life proceeds smoothly, I have a tendency to slip into cruise control.  Nothing really wrong with that, yet wouldn’t it be boring if that were always the case?  Talk about Groundhog’s Day ennui.

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My friend Rod putting up my new gallery style picture hanging system.  I love how my home feels more and more like a studio/ gallery.  So cool!


A constant dose of chaos isn’t what I’m after, either.  Like the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, I want my discomfort not too hot, not too cold, but just right.  C’mon, who doesn’t love having change come in easy and fun ways?  It’s just that, for me, when I have my eye on something really big, the reason the change I want does not come quickly is most often because it’s time for some mental housekeeping.

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One living room wall:  I had fun switching pictures around to find a pleasing presentation.  I have more frames and paintings ready to be assembled and I look forward to seeing them up as well.  

 

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Hey!  This is the blue wall I had an adjustment meltdown about.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  You can see more of my works in progress lined up on the new shelving unit my friend Priscilla gifted me (thanks again so much - I love it!)  Take note of the tall bamboo one - I am playing with a new method on that one which I will be showcaseing soon.  Also note the two tiny white mat board ones on the left of the line up.  That’s a new venture, too.


The next post will be the one I really wanted to write.  I thought I would dash this off so I could get to the fun one.  This post was to serve as the preamble.  Again, I am reminded of the perfect timing in my life, in all our lives, regardless of what or how we think things should unfold.  Acknowledging the thoughts I’m writing now is what I need - - spring cleaning, if you will, prioritizing, clearing mental and emotional space for more of what I want to come to me.

Shit happens.  It is what it is.  We can’t escape it, but we can choose how we respond.  I make headway when I go within - meditation or prayer, solitude, and the freedom to let my thoughts roam.  “Truth will out,” as the Bard said, and thus comes insight (if I am willing).  When I allow it, I find that Inner Critic, my Monkey Mind, has no lasting effect.  I can accept without resistance.  Sometimes the pivotal breakthrough comes as an epiphany.  Most often, though, it’s like a snake shedding the skin that has become too small.

I like that.  Of course, in those moments of complete chaos, there’s always the option of telling the monkey to just shut up, right?

To regain balance, I often ask myself in meditation: “How would it feel if all I wanted were already done?”  Immediately, I feel my body expand and my mind relax.  I smile.  I feel calm and energetic at the same time.  It’s like a booster shot.  I’ve moved nearer to what I know I want.

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Finished Product: I glued a small barrette to the back so I could wear it in my hair.  This was a satisfying and challenging project.  I appreciated the learning curve and now have yet another artistic means to fulfill my creative spirit.


Also, perhaps, closer to where I don’t even know I want go…the idea of which jazzes me to no end.  Just like my thinking this post isn’t important, only to find that it is.  That realization excites me, too.  So, how good can we allow ourselves to feel?  How content (appreciative, happy…) in this moment?  Why not adopt that as the pivot-point invitation?  Then, all we need do is step out of our own way and let God, the Universe, or whatever power we value, lead on.

So glad to be doing this with you!

Judy

“There are no wrong turnings.  Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.” From the novel “Tigana” by Guy Gavriel Kay.

The Journey

A Work in Progress - Part II

Again, I am pulled in a new direction.  My path has always been a loopy one with the zigs and zags not always making sense.  When I am centered, I appreciate this, acknowledging how right it is for me.  Like the “I Did It My Way” lyrics:  Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong, I’ll do it my way.  I’m better at trusting what my way is, caring less about explaining it.  Still, I can be confused or disoriented, my Inner Critic wanting me to stay in line, to settle down, to blend.  When facing a choice, I can feel conflicted, but just until I remember, “Oh, yeah…I asked for this!”

I talk to myself a lot: “You wanted more from your life, Judy, so here it is.  This discomfort is the means.  You’re ok here.  Nothing is wrong, old stuff is simply shifting to make room for the new.  You’ll figure it out as you move forward, you always do.”  This can help if I let it.  So can getting outdoors, having fun with friends, and basically doing anything to distract myself in my worst not-trusting moments.  Bottom line, whether I worry about it or not, things always work out pretty well for me.  I believe this is true for everyone.

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These two hair ornaments are for my sister Jean (top) and my sis-in-law Connie.  Niece Marti wanted us to make flowers for our hair to wear to her weddings using a piece of fabric from her gown and I made these with the Kanzashi method (kinda like origami with fabric).


I think we invite change every time we come to a conclusion about our lives.  I’m a big fan of change; it almost always brings better rewards than I could ever think to ask for.  My latest?  How would my life be if I embraced my full potential?  I want to be open to all of the opportunities around me.  I’ve determined I must create a vacuum for them and, to do that, I must drop all the “givens” - the ways I’ve defined myself, the labels that provide a sense of self-worth and a means of explanation.  Saying "This is who I am” protects me from close scrutiny.

What’s underneath that long-used safety shield?  A softy, an easy target, and a too-willing chameleon for those who cannot relate to my head-in-the-clouds-flit-from-this-to-that-Pollyanna-just-wanna-have-fun self.  In the midst of this, I still say, “Bring it on.”   

My sister Jean came for a short visit recently and, knowing how ready I was to make any kind of forward movement, suggested we repaint my living room accent wall.  I chose a lovely Periwinkle blue.  I.  Love. This.  Color.  It calms and inspires me.  It makes me want to immerse myself in something - anything! - creative.  It is in my creative/ studio area and I smile every time I walk in the door.     

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This is the how’s-it-all-gonna-work-out? phase - the creative start phase where the game is to gather a lot of things to see what works.  I have a number of other photos of stuff that didn’t and will show those in another post along with the hair ornament I made for myself.  Here you see the first flower petals and the pattern for a little decorative “hat” called a fascinator.  There are hundreds of styles and it was a total blast making up my own as I went along.  Marti’s totem is a hummingbird and I thought I could use the charm somehow.


The old color?  The one I’d lived with for 15 years?  Orange.  On a basic color wheel, orange and blue are exact opposites.  Uh-huh.  You get where this is going.

Translated into action, this means that, in about 4 hours, my sister and I ripped through my comfort zone.  It was as if we couldn’t cover up the “old me” color fast enough.  We congratulated each other.  She left.  And two days later, I had a total meltdown.  Fascinated, I wondered:  “Who is this person, falling apart because she painted her wall a different color?”   “Man Up!” I said to myself.  Repeatedly.

Finally, these thoughts surfaced:  “Oh, yeah.  I’m good.  I’m still in control.  I was the one who wanted this. I wanted a new identity and this is all part of that process.  Okay.  What would make me feel better right now?”

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In this stage, I have glued and sewn the satin cloth and binding to the fascinator base and have glued on the petals.  I tried a number of petal placements before deciding on this one.  The hummingbird charm stands ready.


“Help!”, I sobbed to Jean over the phone.  She reassured me this happens to everyone she helps in her re-design business.  She suggested replacing my red accents with blue ones.  She reminded me to reinforce my new color identity by painting my bedroom that dark yummy blue we both liked and by finding blue-toned bath towels.  (In order for you to get the full picture, you need to know that my space is small and that each room can be seen from the entry so visual harmony matters.)

Her understanding and advice helped.  Time with the “new me” wall color has helped.  Learning to be comfortable in the shifting of who I think I am has helped.  Meanwhile, by releasing my self-imposed demands associated with the label of ‘’Artist,” I’ve allowed other very fun creative endeavors to take front stage.  The photos you see are part of this work in progress.

So, here are the end results for Marti’s fascinator and her flower hair ornament for her Virginia wedding.  No hummingbird charm for the fascinator as this thing in person really says a lot!  Did I mention she’s putting this show on the road?  Smaller one is for Virginia and maybe Napa with the bling baby for Vegas.  Uh huh.  You’ll get to see the other design ideas in my next post.  Crazy fun to be sure.


Change brings change brings change.  In my saner moments, I welcome the unknown.  When I need to lighten up, I think of my favorite “Shakespeare In Love” movie quote: “But how will it all turn out?” Shakespeare asks.  The reply:  “I don’t know…it’s a mystery!”

Stay tuned…

Judy

P.S.  I’ll be out of the studio for the month of May.  Hey!  Check out my new paintings on the Website!

The Journey

A Good Experience

Recent adventures have brought rewards: insight, release, revision, and restart. I am rethinking who I want to be and how best to get there.  Which raises the question:  what or where exactly is “there”?  For sake of conversation, let’s assume that “there” is the place where we will feel better or be happier than where we are right now.  Big leap, side step, a hop and a skip…however near or far it feels, some of us spend a lot of our time with this search.

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Bhudda: Ink drawing on rice paper and first wash.  The gray looking areas are of melted wax applied to resist color.  I will paint wax over any area I want to preserve before moving on to a new color.

As humans, we are busy doing human things, bumping up against people and events along the way.  We process our encounters unconsciously and bend and swerve reflexively around them.  For those seeking clarity, these encounters can offer greater insight or answers.  For example,  an increased understanding or compassion for others or for ourselves, a welcome change in direction, or a resolution to a question or a concern we’ve been fretting over.  If we are willing, we have constant opportunities to evolve - to relax, to choose happy, to allow, to let go, and to trust.

My favorite definition for today’s title reads:  “What you got when you didn’t get what you really wanted.”  That definition encapsulates my life at this point:  Not exactly what I had been hoping to receive but exactly what I had been asking for (from a deeper level).

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I have wrinkled the paper and applied my “batik” color wash which is then covered with one final coat of melted wax.  (I had intended to show you more layered color passes but got so lost in the fun of the project that I forgot!) 

These moments remind me to pay attention.   I’ve discovered for myself that what I’ve been truly wanting often comes in disguised and maybe mildly unpleasant ways.  I’ve come to trust these camouflaged moments and my opening sentence encapsulates this.

Question:  Does it make sense to continue chasing “there” when where we are right this minute holds so much promise?  Do you find yourself spending a lot of energy in getting “there” instead of having more fun along the way?  Why is “there” more important than living fully now?  (Why do I feel the need to continue putting quotation marks around the word “there?”  Is that as annoying as the person who does it repeatedly using those little finger movements?)

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Buddha:  I ironed off the batik layer of wax to reveal this end result.  I never know what I’ll end up with.  But, guaranteed, it will be a good experience - ha!

Basically, we are all works in progress.  I feel best doing these two things: 1) asking myself what it is I really want and 2)  taking steps in that direction.  Both can be challenging, especially when those steps follow a meandering path and my mind starts fretting about how others do things and what will they think of how I am.

It’s rewarding to release something (like a not so healthy habit or a closed-off mindset) that no longer works for me.  The resulting surge of energy is thrilling and the improved viewpoint, inspiring.  Of note is understanding that, in order to receive this energy, I sometimes must move through some not so fun stuff.  More often than not, I now am able to appreciate and even enjoy this, as I know how good I will soon feel because of it.

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I love this piece, too…a stone temple in a bamboo garden.  (Hey, Monica - recognize this?!  Thanks, again!)

I will leave you with this:  “You cannot apply linear methods to a circular endeavor.  Creativity for some people may not be straight-lined, but it is methodical.”  Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way”.  For me this means to stop judging or analyzing and continue following my inner guidance.

How about you?

Judy

The Journey

Why Face It...

…when you can create it?  Reality, I mean.  Specifically yours.  Your way.  Why settle for what is, if what is isn’t satisfying?  If you are happy with how life is rolling, kudos and good on ya.  But, if you’ve ever felt that things could be better, this blog is for you.

Whether aware of it or not, we are all very busy creating our lives and all that happens to us.  When things go splat, a common knee-jerk reaction is to find someone or something to blame.  If you’re looking for short term relief, that’ll do.  Turning things around for the long run requires an alternate approach.  (I’ve done both and, for me, the second option brings longer lasting results and feels much better.)

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"As Deep as the Ocean" Before (left) - watercolor on watercolor paper. After (right) - The original painting float-mounted on painted canvas panel.  I embellished details with more paint and crayon and deepened the shadow behind and around the heart for greater contrast.

If you have ever played the comparison game, you may have noticed, as you looked about, a lopsided distribution of who has what.  Usually, the first response is to rationalize (or soothe) by telling ourself that some people were born privileged or lucky, some have all the right connections, others have been guided by a mentor.  Bottom line:  Though it may not seem fair, it is.  What I mean is, we get what we think about.  We create the chaos or the cure.

Good news!  If we don’t like what we see, we can change this at any stage we choose.  (And it’s easier to do than you might think.  Keep reading.)

Most of us have been taught that actualizing dreams involves hard work along with its companions perseverance, follow through, and manning up.  When it works, it works.  When it doesn’t, it can be a disaster - the downward spiraling kind leaving one to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”  This is a perfect example of using thinking to create chaos.

Chaos is multiplied when, in our confusion or frustration, we apply more of the same (hard work’s companions mentioned above) while telling ourselves, “I’ll double down this time; I’ll make myself do better!”  The pattern repeats, and multiple repetitions can become “just the way things are”.

We adapt, we compromise, we settle and sometimes we just stop trying.  The reasons are many, but the underlying factor is a sense of powerlessness.  And that’s not the truth.  We have far more control over our experience than we might realize.  It’s not we who are at fault, it’s our approach.

We’re either creating chaos or the cure.  The cure for me was learning this: Stop and look at what I’m thinking and then find some other thought or action that brings relief.  Ask: “What is the most positive thought I can find about this situation in this moment?”  Ask: “What one thing can I do right now to help myself feel better?”  I remind myself to not get too caught up in the outcome - just keep reaching for relief.  In a nanosecond, one can switch from passenger to pilot.

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"Heartstrings" Before (left) - watercolor on watercolor paper.  This was one of two hearts I started while visiting Jean.  We had a lot of fun creating together in her studio. After (right) - The original painting float-mounted on painted canvas panel.  I tried a number of different background ideas before settling on just extending the heart like I did for “Ready For It” (see previous blog).  Good thing watercolor paints don’t build up like layers of oil paint.

Anyone here a Bill Murray fan?  Do you recall a movie titled “What About Bob?” starring Bill Murray as the whacked-out patient of psychoanalyst Richard Dreyfus?  The plot centered on Dreyfus’ attempts at teaching Murray the self-help methods outlined in his new book called “Baby Steps”.  Funny movie aside, my point is that sometimes the best positive thought or action available will be just a baby step from what’s going on.  A small change perhaps, but a change from what was, and worthy of celebration, as each micro step brings you closer to your true self and to all that you want to live.

I repeat: Find “happy” in as many moments as you can, don’t get too involved in the outcome, and the rest will fall into place.

Baby step, baby step, baby step…

Judy

Or…P.S.  Sometimes the best next step is to simply drop it.  Go get busy with anything other than what’s bugging you until something shows up to give you a direction to move in.

Unfinished--Judy-Aveiro.jpeg

This unfinished watercolor painting has been on idle for about 3 years, maybe more…I don’t keep track (as I’m sure you understand).  I have many options so far (crop, collage, add texture and fluid acrylics, or cover it in gesso and start over) and none are speaking to me yet, so we're gonna continue staring at each other until someone blinks or I get an idea or I spill coffee on it…could be 3 more years.  Doesn’t really matter as I am still having so much fun doing this.  So, yay.

 

 

 

 

The Journey

Do-Overs: Paintings that Got Stuck

These are some recent do-overs, paintings that were stuck and needed rethinking. The Little Picture Show (coming up the first two weeks in September at The Arts at Marks Garage in Honolulu) is the perfect venue. 

"Ready For It" before (left) and after (right). I float mounted the original onto a canvas-covered panel board and extended the painting onto that.  The lines match perfectly; my photo here is just off.  It was a game of: Place original on canvas board, look, lift original, paint, put down original, look, lift, paint.  A challenge and I loved it.  This piece really pops. 

NOTE: Original view reflects the true colors of this painting.  I took the after photo inside the condo late in the afternoon.  I do not recommend this…”

 

"Here Then Gone" before version in progress (left) and the do-over (right). Ok, a lot changed: Cropped, molding paste applied for actual texture, more layers of paint applied and then lifted for added visual interest, and crayon for highlights and definition.  Kinda went crazy with it…

 

“Dragonfly Dream” before (left).  A quarter sheet sized painting originally and look at the first wash colors!  I used masking fluid to create the dragonfly outlines and just kept changing the colors until I got stuck.  This one hung around a couple of years, patiently waiting for me to learn another technique to rescue it. The after (right) I cropped and applied hand painted papers in a mosaic pattern.  Really a lot of fun to do.

 

"Daydreamin" before (left) and after (right). With this guy, I applied more watercolor paints, added texture with molding paste and kept painting that until I liked the colors, and I used crayon again to make changes that I could not do with paint alone.


Expect another letter soon with actual words and more photos like these...

Hope you are all enjoying the last bit of summer!

-Judy

The Journey

Kid Stuff: What Fun Thing Next!

I love it when a fresh, new idea pops into my head.  The surge of energy and enthusiasm makes me feel balloon-light and uplifts my soul.  Since I last wrote to you, I have been to France with Forrest and had the Best. Time. Ever!  Each trip becomes easier to negotiate and subsequently more fun.  (Kinda like life’s adventures, n’est pas?)  As I write and reflect, I realize that everything I’ve wanted has come to be…just not as I had expected.  (Different and improved versions I am happy to say.)

Me next to “Ancient Voices, Future Vision”, one of the paintings accepted into the Spring Hawaii Watercolor Society Show.

I talk a lot about being childlike and about the innate, expansive nature of children.  Watching a bug make its way across a leaf can become a whole world of wonder to a child.  Children are naturally open and receptive.  The feeling of connection to all things comes easily and without thought.  I hesitate to use the phrase “being in the now moment” as it seems trite with overuse.  But, gang, giving full attention to the now moment adds value to your life in the deepest, most profound way.  This is where your true self lives - your most powerful point of connection to the All That Is.

“Had Me Some Fun” first wash: Just laying down background color.

Which is where magic happens.  And it’s where I’ve been for the past few weeks.  Something shifted for me during the Sandra Duran Wilson workshop and I have been busily (contentedly) creating ever since.  I am myself again, connected to my happy place, feeling loose and free and guided in and outside of my painting play time.


Second Wash: Adding visual texture with a fabric wash and more colors.

The cool thing is that this easy flow is available anytime to us all.  The moment we slow down and let go, we open ourselves to that connection.  It’s not about making anything happen; no action is required.  Be present, be you, be quiet.  What do you want?  How do you want to feel?  What would right now make you feel better?  And then do or be whatever the answer is.

I remember as a kid being immersed in my moments and following impulses.  Left to my own devices, I pursued one desire:  What fun thing shall I do now?

Applied actual texture with paste.  You can see the first layering of colors on the sunflower.  I left the dot textures bare to show you what the paste stencil looks like.

I hear you.  What about when the “real world” calls?  What about work?  Or chores?  Or the needs of others?

I try this:  I ask myself, what would make this “have to” moment more fun?  I thought you might want to try this, too.  Start there and repeat.  Yeah, I’m nowhere near acing this; however, when I do remember to stop and ask, I feel buoyant.  And that’s winning in my book.

“Had Me Some Fun” finished!  This was a blast, let me tell you.

Feel as good as you can for as long as you can because that’s really all that matters.  (The rest will take care of itself.)  It’s all so much easier than we allow it to be.

Here’s to more fun!

Judy

The Journey

Unsteady As She Goes!

Aaccckkkk!  I’m outta control…and I’m feeling (oddly) ok.  I love every bit of it - sleep-interrupted nights, dream messages, nervous stomach, butterflies when I think about my future artist self.  I am consumed with the need to create.  I am eager to jump into the unknown, to explore its promise.  I feel recharged and ready, even though I am not clear about what, exactly.  Never mind!  Hand me those paints!

The workshop was my jumping point.  It was a stretch.  It was scary-exciting.  I heard my Inner Critic immediately:  “You don’t know how to do this.  You’ve never done anything like this before.  What if you suck?  What if you spend all that money just to be disappointed?” 

Artist-teacher extraordinaire Sandra Duran Wilson and me at the workshop

I did it anyway.  I showed up the first day knowing nothing and glad of it.  Freed from self-expectation, I was willing to do anything and then follow that lead.  I asked for help (a lot) from my workshop mates and from Sandra, the teacher.  I was in so-much-new-stuff-coming-at-me-all-at-once overload that I was buzzing inside.  In a constant state of excitement, I could feel my body vibrate.  During the week, I never could make sense of it, I never could catch up.  I just kept going.

Infinity: Going Neural has been accepted into the Hawaii Watercolor Society Spring Show.

This workshop happened at the perfect time for me.  A roller-coaster ride of uncertainty tempered with trust, it was just what I needed.  Happily, it was what I wanted, as well.  I think this is true for everyone. These flip-flop moments can be invitations to new adventures, improved selves.  Our attitudes determine the outcome, of course, but the opportunities are there. 

Phantasmagoria: This one was accepted, also.

My artist self is being re-wired and I see how all the other things that now require my attention are perfectly placed.  They will allow me space, distance, time to let the buzzing subside.  I cannot stay in this place and function.  I need sleep, if nothing else!  

Since I haven’t a choice, I’ll just relax into the flow.  It is enough to trust that this latest shake up has made room for my new self to settle in.  I welcome this craziness and I welcome her.

Ancient Voices, Future Vision: This one, too!

Hope you guys are having as much fun as I am,

Judy

The In-Between

I love standing in this place, poised between the now and future parts of me.  I just completed a workshop with Sandra Duran Wilson and I am full of ideas and beyond eager to get at them.  However, life keeps happening and other deadlines must be met.  So I do them; but, all the while, my head and heart are busy tending to this creative itch inside.  And it’s feeling very itchy these days.  I need to create; it’s painful when I cannot.

Working on 4.jpeg

Working on four paintings at once - crazy fun!

You know the feeling of a fresh new idea - that powerful rush of energy, the incessant tug to drop what you’re doing and follow it.  Lately I have been waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, my head full of dream messages and images of paintings.  My future self is calling me, urging me to stay focused on what I most want to do with my life.  I am reassuring myself that it is, in fact,  happening now, even if I am not able to be in my studio.

The Gang: Rochelle, Mary, Anita, Mari, me, Sharon, Teacher Sandra, Nancy, Holly, Barbara, and Cindy.  Everyone was so nice, friendly, supportive.  A wonderful creative gathering. 

This moment is about maintaining balance - I must support myself and I must create.  I am aware that my life is in transition and, although I haven’t a clue as to how it will unfold, it feels inevitable that things will all fall into place.  I have come across this saying: “Things are always working out for me.”  I love it.  I believe it.  I claim it as my truth.  Believing, I am free to trust that this in-between moment I am learning to negotiate is exactly where I am meant to be. 

A painting from the workshop.

I’ve mentioned before that I am my happiest when I am creating.  Not just painting, it can be anything creative, but making art does hit that spot the best.  Maybe art is not for you.  Still, I encourage you to continue listening and following your inspiration.  It’s where happiness resides and isn’t that the bottom line? 

Bought on the last day of the workshop.

I wish you all happiness, 

Judy

P.S. I saw this on a coffee cup and just had to share: “My dentist said I need a crown.  I know, OBVS, right?”   (Crown...tiara...I'm not that fussy.)

Inspiration

Seeking Balance

Will I ever feel on top of things?  Two nights of interrupted sleep have left me wondering.  My recent life, portrayed as a sports commentary, would sound like this:  “She’s up!  She’s down!  She’s up again!”  

Truly, most days feel full of fun and adventure and accomplishment.  I goof myself up when I think about all the things I want and/or need to do.  Hence, the balance question.  How to reach a place where I can celebrate crossing items off my list without feeling despair at that list?  Everybody has a list, yet mine is taking on monster-like qualities and I feel overwhelmed.  

I was taught that working harder and faster would do the trick. You can figure out how well that’s been working (think hamster on a wheel in a cage). 

Remember childhood days when you could spend a whole afternoon lying on the warm grass and watching lady bugs, looking for magical creatures in the clouds?  I long to feel like that again- expanded, timeless, accepting that the most important thing in the world was what I was doing right now. 

The child in me despairs at the demands of being an adult.  I’m reaching for a balance between functioning in the real world and having fun while doing it.  The child in me wants to feel safe, nurtured; she wants to trust that everything will always work out great.

I can hear you; I’m being unrealistic.  Be honest, don’t you secretly want the same?  Think of a less stressful life, one with less work and more reward.  When I feel clear and centered, my life runs more smoothly with a lot less effort on my part.  I find more things to be grateful about and I notice many moments of synchronicity.  Challenges become a game, a game that I have control over, and I can see how everybody plays a part just for me.  Everything seems to make sense and is done easily.

My latest motto:  “Everything that happens to me, happens for me.”  Trusting this, I do not feel threatened by current events or by what others want or feel or think.  Remembering this, I can let everyone and everything be who or what they are and mind my own business.  This is when I am most genuine, most content, most allowing.  This is when I have the most to give.  It’s also when good things happen. 

Ok, so, I feel better.  Nothing’s really changed, but I have, so, “Yay, me!”  It’s good to remember that I’ve been here before - feeling overwhelmed and unmoored - and that I’ve always come out ok.  

Now is the time to keep it simple.  Breathe.  Do what needs to be done today.  Map out tomorrow.  Maybe choose the hardest or most important task on the list and do that one first.  Celebrate each victory.  Call a trusted friend to celebrate with you.  Ask your Angels or Guides for help.  Slow down and stay alert for that guidance.  

My sister Jean gave me a Staples “That Was Easy” button which I punch every time I complete a task (especially the icky ones).  Hearing that message makes me smile every time.  I repeat the words, mimicking the inflection, just for fun.  It makes me feel like a winner.  It makes me feel like looking at the next thing on my list.

Wishing you all balance,

Judy

Inspiration

Feelin’ It vs Showin’ Up

Butterfly Dream: I painted this one with Mom in mind

Butterfly Dream: I painted this one with Mom in mind

Inspiration is a funny thing sometimes.  Quite often, I feel inspired in the moments when I’m not free to act, like when I’m training a client or teaching yoga.  It can be elusive for me, but I wonder if that might be partly due to my approach.

I have a friend, a successful and prolific writer, who works in his office pretty much every day.  He keeps regular hours, long ones, and you can figure out he’s not busy writing the whole time.  But he shows up, he’s committed, and it has worked very well for him.

I am only able to create part time, in between all the other stuff I do to pay the bills.  Sometimes my working days are long and I am too tired to feel inspired to do anything other than enjoy a glass of wine and stare out the window.  While “down time” is considered healthy and necessary to creativity, my point is that I’m not always able to call on the spirit that moves when I have the time to act.

A wise friend recently reminded me, when I mentioned my conundrum, to put aside just one hour a day and show up.  The idea being routine works hand in hand with inspiration.  Whether I’m reading about other artists, doodling, painting, or just staring at my paintings, I’ve made the commitment to my creative self.

All this coincides with what I’m learning from Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way.”  I recommend her book to everyone and not just to artists in the traditional sense.  If you are willing, this book can: 1) give you fresh eyes; 2) bring clarity to the stuck bits in your life; 3) shine light on the dreams that have been shoved to the back of your hope closet.

Faerith: She’s a Faerie Warrior Princess - a work in progress

Faerith: She’s a Faerie Warrior Princess - a work in progress

Serendipity and synchronicity happen a lot to me now.  Or, better said, I am more aware of them.  The example that inspired (ha!) this blog came from reading something in a Sunday New York Times.  I’m not sure which week it was, as I put aside what interests me, and read them when I have time. 

This particular issue is the Style Magazine titled “The Greats” and features successful people from all walks of life.  I ate this magazine up.  In fact, I started this letter to you immediately after finishing the last article about a world renown chef, Massimo Bottura.  

Except for Michele Obama and Lady Gaga, I didn’t know any of these people.  But I have fallen in love with this chef.  I want to be him.  Better said, reading about him has reminded me that I already am who he is. Under all of the me’s I present to the public, behind all of the ways I’ve learned to behave so I could fit in, I’m just like this guy.  And he’s a force - open, receptive, a yummy blend of eagerness, openness, and Pollyanna-positive.  Two speeds, basically - enthusiastic and asleep. 

He says, “Think expansively through exposure to music, art, even elegant home decor.”  Exposure is key for him.  His brain is always working, processing disparate bits and pieces into novel and surprising things. “Keep your mind open,” he says.  “Always keep a door open to the unexpected.”  That’s how I want to create.  That’s how I want to live.

Fantasy Garden: Had fun “finding” shapes and patterns to paint

Fantasy Garden: Had fun “finding” shapes and patterns to paint

I love those quotes; they feed and inspire me.  But it’s this next one that really resonates, that fills me with hope for my creative future, that inspires me to dream big and to reach long:  “Through beauty you can rebuild the soul.”  A simple statement, my purpose explained - my goal, my dream, is to paint in a way to touch souls, soothe spirits, and inspire another’s dream.

If you’ve looked at my paintings, you have seen that I don’t do brain art.  I paint from my Pollyanna heart and am driven to create fun images and beautiful, soothing, uplifting pictures.

Acting on my friend’s advice is proving beneficial.  I’ve stopped beating up on myself when I am not able to put paintbrush to paper. I now celebrate all the other many ways I do support my creative self and my business.  Interestingly, I find I am feelin’ it a lot more these days!  

I think anyone can benefit from this idea.  Do something, anything, even if it’s only for 10 minutes each day, with your eye on your dream.  That commitment will build on itself and you’ll feel good about yourself.  As my friend said, “If you want to write a book, and you get out one page a day, at the end of the year you’ll have 365 pages.”  Something to think about.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Judy

Inspiration

Peaks and Valleys

Recently, I came across an OSHO Zen card titled “Success.”  It shows a man, arms flung wide, riding the tiger of success on top of the world.  It’s a beautiful card and, of course, it made me feel great in that moment.  The written message described a balanced view of success and I immediately thought of sharing it with you.

To paraphrase:  "When you feel successful, immerse yourself fully in the feeling of being on top of the world, milk it for every moment of happiness you can.  Feel your joy fully and share it with others, because you know what's coming next:  The yin of life to balance the yang, the inevitable valley beyond the peak."  

The idea is that fully celebrating success lessens regrets when the high is over. 

Infinity Unravelling ©Judy Aveiro

Infinity Unravelling (above) and Infinity Electric (below) - A new series I am playing with

Infinity Electric ©Judy Aveiro

Good stuff, right?  Feeling high should be fully celebrated yet how many of us barely glance at our accomplishment as we turn to the next thing to do?  The better option would be to revel in the feeling of achievement and congratulate yourself.  The moment will pass soon enough.

When it does, don’t hold on. You’re wasting energy better applied to other things. This Zen card also asks: “What is wrong with the valley?  What is wrong with being low?”  I loved reading this part.  It reminded me how I was conditioned (to always be “doing,” to always be in the process of proving myself, striving, working towards a goal) and how that process mostly pushes against the natural flow of life.

To be honest, this valley bit can make me feel uncomfortable.  I still get antsy and anxious when I’m there.  My gut response is to fix it fast, to soothe the unease.  The Zen dudes say to accept this moment.  “A peak is an excitement”, they say, “and nobody can exist continuously in an excitement.”

A beneficial aid to any form of creativity is long moments of nothingness.  In the void, new ideas can surface, surprising connections can be forged.  Didn’t Einstein make breakthroughs while taking long walks?  Or was it shaving?  Can’t remember and too lazy to check it out, but you get the point.  So yay for low moments.  Time for resting your body and brain, gathering your unseen forces, catching up on paperwork ;) or being with friends, and getting to that book you’ve been wanting to read.  Better yet, perhaps hearing your heart whisper long forgotten dreams.

Just Having Fun 2 ©Judy Aveiro
Just Having Fun 1 ©Judy Aveiro

Just Having Fun 1 & 2 (above) - The theme is all about experimenting, playing and just seeing what’s possible for now.
 

BTW, I finished this letter once before.  Last week in fact, as I emerged from a valley with what I thought to be the ending.  Interestingly, here I am again in another dip.  I get what’s happening.  Metaphorically, I’m cleaning house.  I’m creating space for the improved version of me which means I am culling through old habits, beliefs, and patterns of thinking that no longer serve me.  Not being busy elsewhere helps me to focus my attention here. 

Appreciate the rudderless moments, let the current move you as it will.  Know that this is when good stuff happens.  “Jus’ chillax”, as the locals like to say here in Hawaii.   It’s all ok and totally worth it.  It helps me to remember that every time I come out of a valley, I like myself more and I am happier in my world.

Gratefully,

Judy

The Journey

Just Cut That Out!

Every moment counts, in very meaningful ways.  Your energetic savings account depends entirely on you. The math is simple and consistency is key.  So is awareness, diligence, and a willingness to put a check on unconscious habits of thinking.

I’m concerned today with energy leaks and how debilitating they can be.  Putting off a not-so-fun task, changing who we are to please someone else, or fretting over how to say no to a friend are a few examples of what I mean.  A common leak occurs when we choose to focus on the one thing that’s not working well in our lives (business, relationship, the world) instead of all the many things that are.

First Wash - Judy Aveiro

First Wash, outlining drawn with non-dominant hand, white-out still on structure outlines and waves.  My intention was to feel carefree, loose, light-hearted.  I really like how this turned out.

 

Stuff just keeps happening, right?  Our choice is simple:  positive thought, or not.  We don’t have to insulate ourselves from our lives.  It’s more about consciously choosing the thought or action that can immediately improve our mood.  This is the only moment that matters.  Teaching yourself to feel better right now helps clear the way for more future fun things to find you. 

Simply put: Something bugs you, which starts a mental downward spiral.  Whatever you focus on grows, and every force requires food.  Since you’re the closest, most recognizable resource, that means you.  Given time and the snowball effect, this negative slide can consume thoughts, rewire emotions, and deplete health.  

Fortunately, no Herculean effort is required, merely a gentle shift in focus.  For example: that icky-feeling task?  Spend a few moments to prepare the day before.  Say to yourself, “Tomorrow, first thing, I am going to take care of this and won’t that feel great?”  Take a moment to visualize how good it will feel to cross that item off your list.  Next, get everything you’ll need lined up.  Now, let it go.  You have already prepared yourself for action so you can now relax.  The self-appointed time arrives,  the stage is set, you feel refreshed, and off you go.  

It doesn’t even have to be the whole task, either.  A sense of accomplishment is what you’re after, the feeling of empowerment which comes from organized, thoughtful action.

Choosing random colors - Judy Aveiro

I’m having a blast following my impulses, choosing random colors to outline the now lifted white-out parts.  Very happy with the fun, quirky feel of this painting.  Is it a city?  A birthday cake?? Are those statues???  I’m going to follow my impulse to somehow shadow the grouping, something like a sunset-halo, so here goes...

 

Other suggestions for self-talk include:  “I won’t always work like this and it’s ok for me right now.”  “I’ve survived stuff like this before; I can do it again.”  “Things usually work out fine for me.”  “I’m responsible for my own happiness and it’s not my job to make others happy.”  Personally, I use, “Change!” and, “Judy, mind your own business!”  Both make me laugh at myself which immediately frees me to move on.  Another great question to ask yourself is: “What would make me happy right now?”

Creating anything invites chaos.  Especially at times when you reach for more.  I’m exploring, what if-ing, giving in to impulses a lot lately.  Feeling brave one moment and then, “Yikes!  Why did I do that?!”  So easy to start in on myself.  Happily, I’ve been able to switch to, “I can make this work” or “It sure will be interesting to see how this turns out.”  Sometimes, I close up shop for awhile; other times, I feel compelled to keep going, curious to see what I’ll do next.

How am I gonna fix this one? - Judy Aveiro

And…Oops.  Rats.  Sigh….I’m disappointed at this stage how the right side where I added the halo looks too closed in, too heavy.  I'll put this painting aside (as every time I look at it, I mentally kick myself in my creative butt).  My new self-talk?  “Change!” and  "Hmmm, I wonder how I’m gonna fix this one?”  (For now, it’s a mystery but I’ll keep you posted.)

 

Employing these kinds of phrases builds your personal energy account.  You’ll feel immediately better, a bonus in itself.  In addition, you’ll have freed your brain to think up other options or ideas.  In a flash, you’ve become more attractive to anyone or anything out there that might prove beneficial to you.  Positive thoughts emit positive signals which attract more of the same.  It’s magnetic, it’s powerful, and it feels great.

So, the next time something starts bugging you, remember you have a choice.  Honestly, why settle for anything less? 

Just go make a mess!

Judy

The Journey

The Big Q

My latest missive mentioned my belief in “(S)he who has the most fun wins.”  I’m a huge fan of fun, have been all my life.  Dropped many a project mid-stride because I had lost the joy of it and have been judged a quitter.  “Great starter, lacks follow through” was one comment.

Personally, I was happy that way.  My wrong turn was letting what others thought matter. A new idea sends me soaring, dreaming up possibilities, anticipating how it will take shape makes me happy.  Although I do feel satisfaction when I complete a not-so-fun-but-mandatory task, it’s just not the same.

I found this on a restaurant ladies room wall just as I was thinking about my big Q.

I found this on a restaurant ladies room wall just as I was thinking about my big Q.

Which has nothing to do, really, with what’s on my mind these days.  I’m talking about the bright bubble of joy that comes from afresh new idea.  One that lights you up inside, infects others near you, makes you feel buoyant and energetic and connected to everything - that “can’t wait to hit the ground running” sort of feeling, like the first day of vacation when you were a kid and the promise of a whole lot of summer fun beckoned.

Viewing it this way, I see I’ve been pursuing my life’s purpose all along.  My real road wasn’t so much about making the expected and acceptable choices, although I did.  I have found and still find satisfaction with pursuing a career, buying a home, falling in love.  But by making most of my choices with an eye to what was expected of me, I lost connection with myself.  Rediscovering Judy has brought insight and I really don’t regret the route taken (although I do wish I’d found the me I am today a bit sooner).

This one was accepted by the Hawaii Watercolor Society Open Show in April 2016

This one was accepted by the Hawaii Watercolor Society Open Show in April 2016

If you’ve ever felt like you were an alien among strangers, you’ll understand what I’m about to say:  I was made to make art.  I was created to create.  I thrive on the rush that comes from a new idea for a painting or a sewing project or even a house make-over.  It feels like, “Ooh!  I’ve gotta go do this thing right now!”

That’s when I’m direct-lined to the deepest part of me, the part that’s always connected to the vast resource of the universe, to God, to whatever name you use.  It’s all-inclusive.  It’s magic, it’s electric, it’s me at my happiest.  I love living in this space.

Not always can I be there, not in the manner I just spoke of.  I think the magic of those moments can and should be found in the ordinariness of everyday life.  And maybe that’s the answer to the big Q of why are we here: finding the magic in as many moments as we can; feeling joy; loving ourselves inside and out; appreciating others; making messes and trusting that from those messes comes great opportunity.  

Maybe it’s as simple as being true to ourselves while honoring others whatever they are doing.  To have courage, to trust in our connection to the universe and to have the most fun we can think of along the way.

Let’s all go have some fun!

(And Jean, drink your milk…)

Judy

PS. “The thing is to become a master and in your old age to acquire the courage to do what children did when they knew nothing.”  Henry Miller

She’s Done! "Flamenco Moment"  (Compare this with my last blog and see if you can tell what more I did.)

She’s Done! "Flamenco Moment"  (Compare this with my last blog and see if you can tell what more I did.)

Inspiration

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Cheers to the New Year (yes, I am aware this is March already!) and to our resolutions, hopes, and dreams.  The moment brims with promise and I am eager and hopeful of what each New Year may offer.  A favorite memory, the start of a new school session, with the scent of freshly sharpened pencils, pages of fresh notebook paper, and anticipation of the unknown promise to come, is what I feel each January.  I also remember how homework, exams and term papers soon dampened my eagerness.

#1: First start.

Fortunately, I’ve come to revise my perception and pursuit of new starts; I integrate them daily, during the “homework” phase of my projects.  Every morning I remind myself that it’s a new day and that I am a new person in it.  This simple mental reminder refreshes my outlook in rewarding ways. I even use this technique during the day when I need that fresh-start rush.  I can quickly drop whatever is bothering me and, in an instant, open the way forward.  

#2: Developing an idea.

This approach has proved invaluable, not only with my creative process, but also my day to day encounters.  I’ve mentioned before how creating art is a metaphor for living: You have an idea or desire, you make a mark or a move, you acknowledge where you are, decide on the next step, then repeat, repeat, repeat.  

#3: Pursuing, pushing that idea.

I find this quick mind-change helpful, especially while painting. Just as in school, the first rush of excitement as I envision the new piece often devolves into a stop-start-stop-start process (necessary for maintaining the initial vision, but not as fun).  No painting (hope, dream, wish, or desire) ever turns out as you imagined, but what does show up just might prove to be better.

#4: Changing course.

Here’s to changes!

Judy

#5: I’ve put her away for awhile to reassess with new eyes.  I’m on to something new and need to let it percolate a bit.  I’ll know when to do more; the painting will tell me.  I may change what I’ve done or embellish what is or add more.  Stay tuned, more changes always to come...

P.S.  A recent card I drew from my OSHO Zen Tarot echoes these thoughts: “EXHAUSTION is about all the ways we set up safe but unnatural routines for ourselves and, by doing so, keep the chaotic and spontaneous away from our doors.  Life isn’t a business to be managed, it’s a mystery to be lived.”

The Journey

What a Trip!

Vacations are fun, stressful, rejuvenating, and often enlightening.  Forrest and I just returned from our biking trip in Provence.  Every time I travel, I observe more about myself.

Forrest and Judy in France with the landlady's dog Syrah who visited every day.

Forrest and Judy in France with the landlady's dog Syrah who visited every day.


The Latin root of vacation is “vacatio” (exemption from duty) and the Latin verb is “vacare” (to empty).  Webster defines vacation as “a period of suspension of regular work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel.”  

A quick color sketch of France's equivalent to the US's Grand Canyon: "Les Gorges du Verdon."

A quick color sketch of France's equivalent to the US's Grand Canyon: "Les Gorges du Verdon."


Ok, so Forrest and I do the recreation and travel parts in spades.  Biking in France is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding experience (if you’re into that sort of thing).  The French are acutely aware of bicyclists, so you feel very safe on the road.  The areas we bike in are country/village-like surrounded by fields of sheep, horses, vineyards and orchards, punctuated by small villages containing little cafe/bars where you can get a fabulous lunch (with wine of course!) at a very attractive price.  Village people are friendly and meet us more than half-way when we try out our so-so French.  

Work in progress, the beginning stage, just drawing in the Leafy Sea Dragon after the first color wash.

Work in progress, the beginning stage, just drawing in the Leafy Sea Dragon after the first color wash.


We experienced many rewarding moments connecting with people in everyday transactions.  A food purchase goes something like this: We spend quite a bit of time determining what we want and then more time thinking about how to ask for it in French, then deciding to just go for it with what we know, followed by a lot of pointing and nodding or shaking of heads until the item we want is chosen.  Next, is trying to convey quantity, usually by the attendant indicating portions with a knife and us shaking our heads “no” until we get to “yes”.  

The same goes for every transaction of every day; the stress of that adds up. Figure in the 24 hours it takes to get to France, the stress of travel itself, finding your way in unfamiliar surroundings, translating all sorts of signage from roadways to train tickets to menus, and thinking and speaking in an unfamiliar language. 

Work in progress, the middle stage, starting to define LSD with negative painting.

Work in progress, the middle stage, starting to define Leafy Sea Dragon with negative painting.


So, why go?  The fearful part of me would have me not. I’ve allowed fear to limit my choices for too long.  I am so grateful to Forrest and pleased with my willingness to take risks.  Moving beyond my self-imposed limitations has enabled me to open this Website, to pursue my dream of being an artist, and to continue to create the life I’ve always wanted to live.  Everything moves forward hand in hand.  For me, that includes an increased appreciation for my creative self, a willingness to grow beyond previously accepted boundaries/expectations, an expanded view of myself and the world around me, and an eager anticipation of what’s to come.

The final piece, "Play Misty for Me" ©Judy Aveiro

The final piece, "Play Misty for Me" ©Judy Aveiro


As I first stated, the experience of travel enhances me.  I am so appreciative of the opportunity to travel; for the exposure to a different culture and country, especially one so beautiful and elegant; to find that there are other and (for me) better ways of living day to day.  I love the challenge of learning French and the reward of connecting to someone in another language.  I appreciate how the stress of travel has helped me to find my voice, to express what I want, to simply state what is best for me.  Traveling to France is amazing, but the journey inside myself means just as much.

Stay tuned!

Judy

Just Take the Day Off!

How crazy we’ve become. How many of us move automatically through our days - heads down, blinders on, eyes glued to the game plan?  Like zombies we’ve become lost in the details of our lives and overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of obligations.  

Why this habit?  What’s our reward?  Is it me, or does that reward feel elusive (or vaguely unsatisfying)?  Why do we continue to spin our wheels?  And why so quickly?

I’m guilty.  I once prided myself on my multi-tasking skills.  I raced from one event to the next, made a game out of squeezing many things into narrow time slots, and felt satisfied mostly when I was able to cross a number of items off my list.  (Ok so I still do it, but not as much as before!)

Awhile ago, I made the conscious decision to slow down.  Of course, this was only after my third auto accident, all of which resulted from my being in such a hurry.  The one that finally got my attention happened because I felt I could not wait 2 minutes for the green light in the left-turn lane.  (Yup, thought I’d just zip over one lane to go another route and did, straight into a car that was already moving in that lane.)

Slowing down brought some self-awareness.  How tense I had become in order to maintain the harried pace.  After changing my mind set, my shoulders released and my neck didn’t ache as before.  It seemed I’d acquired more space in my mid-section; I felt my body breathe.  I started fully engaging in what I was actually doing instead of thinking about the next item on the list.  My body is much happier now.

I am totally Type A and self-employed to boot, meaning I have no set schedule and the “shoulds” chatter in my head like paisley thoughts - which can make me grumpy.  (Ask my boyfriend.)  Recently, said boyfriend offered to come into town from the North Shore and treat me to a day of my choosing.  I’m used to filling my day with a long list of to-dos.  So, what did I want to do?  Instaneous panic with the usual fear-thoughts such as:  How can I make the most of this opportunity?  Will I lose out on the best ever thing to happen if I choose A over B?  

Regretfully, this is normal thinking for me.  Does it sound familiar to you?

To continue:  I decided to go to the Honolulu Museum of Art to take in two shows - Rodin and the Artists of Hawaii.  We had the Best! Day! Ever! (written on the perfect card Forrest found and sent to me afterward - he’s so wonderful).  We made crude quick sketches of some of the statues, looked deep and long at the local artist show and had a delightful time at lunch making jokes and cracking each other up over silly unimportant things. 

Judy Aveiro and Forrest, enjoying the day off!

Only later did I realize that there was nothing either silly or unimportant about that day.  It was refreshing.  It was rejuvenating.  It was perfection.  And it was the result of nothing more momentous than enjoying each bit as it unfolded.

That euphoric feeling, as if I’d accomplished something of value, lasted a couple days longer.  Then life demanded my attention and it dissipated.  However, I’ve found that I can re-create that good feeling simply by thinking about that day.  An added bonus is that I get quite a bit of stuff done when I’m feeling good. 

I encourage you all to do the same - go have some crazy fun!

Ahhhh…

Judy

“Most of American life is driving somewhere and then driving back wondering why the hell you went.”  John Updike, quoted in the Daily Telegraph (U.K.)

Judy Aveiro, enjoying my day off.

The Journey

Want to See How It's Done? How I Create.

Hi guys!  Thought you might be interested in how the whole watercolor creative process works…well, how I’m doing it right now, at least.  As with anything, there does not seem to be a straight path; there are always options and detours, flat out dead ends, and, of course, a willingness to forge ahead.  The process in a nutshell?  Do something, look at it, decide what’s next, repeat.  Here’s a blow by blow description of my latest painting:

First Color Wash 1 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

1.  The First Color Wash: Right now all I’m doing is letting my eyes roam freely around the painting and looking for suggestions or directions from the shapes and colors left by the first color wash.  It may take days, even months, or a new set of eyes (Galaxia simmered 9 months and it was my sister Jean who first saw what was in there!)

First Sketch 2 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

2.  First Sketch: Considering options.  A lot of drawing and erasing goes on here, testing ideas and letting it rest.

Starting In 3 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

3.  Starting In: Thought I’d do geometrically patterned hair strands and sketched in guide lines.  Playing with draping of the robe and sleeve openings.  At this point, both hands hold her robe.

Moving Ahead 4 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

4.  Moving Ahead: Blocked in her face a little, started to reinforce hair strands in shadowy areas only as I’m now leaning towards less hair strand delineation, not geometric patterning, and don’t want to do too much until I’m sure.  Flowing lines down front of robe at this point are sashes.

Yeesh, Just DO Something 5 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

5.  Yeesh, Just DO Something: Ok, now what?  Days passed and finally I told myself to just start somewhere and paint.  I outlined the collars and started shading and painted contrasting sleeve linings for visual interest.  Notice I also nixed her right hand hold of the robe.

OMG Will You Just DO Something? 6 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

6.  OMG Will You Just DO Something?!: Again, many days passed as I fretted over how to proceed and not goof things up.  So I took a huge breath and applied a you-can’t-turn-back-now shade of red on the front of her robe to create another layer of interest.  The sashes now became the hem of the outer robe and I followed the curvy lines from the first wash to create interesting folds and swirls.

Needs Shading 7 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

7.  Needs Shading: Started adding movement with darker shading on both the under and outer robe. More hair strand work and bravely painted in the face at my sister’s request. The painting could have gone south here if the face didn’t work out which is why you should always do the hardest bits first…learn from me. 

Finished Product 8 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

8.  Finished Product: Darkening of hair strand detail, more shading of under robe and also in outer robe to create more folds for interest.  Also added more red lining color and folds on the outer robe on the left side of the painting for the same reason.  

Close-Up 9 of 9 - Judy Aveiro

9.  Close-Up: Detail of her face.  That, too, morphed as the painting progressed!

Voila!  See how easy that was?  Now, gang, the only issue remaining - what to call her?  I’ve got a few ideas but…any suggestions?

FYI, I’ll be out of the studio for the month of October so please know that if you leave your comments or suggestions, I shall reply as soon as I can.  

Thanks, and have fun!

Judy