Drawing

I have been in between contracts with work, and while I am about to start a new one this week, I was taking the extra time I had last week to explore a drawing direction I wanted too follow. I took my older drawing style and gave it an update. Here are two of the larger pieces that I did.

I will say that make these have been a nice break. I love to draw and to feel the ink and paper. It is giving me a chance to explore white space and hints of color. Any time to push the boundaries of composition is great to take advantage of.

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

Onwards!

-beth

What's in the studio...

I wanted to share a couple of different things I have been working on.

New WIP, affectionately known as No. 88 (until I come across the title)

New WIP, affectionately known as No. 88 (until I come across the title)

I am digging the panels that I have been painting on. I have noticed that this one is even tighter than the last painting I did when it comes to the color squares. They represent the roofs of warehousing that are massive storage sites that sit in the middle of nowhere or on the edge of a community. The inspiration for these pieces are satellite images that show this mix and tension of nature and man.

Door Tour, Green Door: Palm Springs, CA

Door Tour, Green Door: Palm Springs, CA

This piece is done on the iPad. I have been playing with illustrations more, specifically digital illustrations, and I have been having a blast. I have also been using the Procreate time lapse feature to make little videos on their progress.

Check them out on my Instagram page -->

Alright, back to it and thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave comments too - I always love getting feedback!

~b

Doubt, Faith and Resolution

 

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

Photography by © Beth Ortman Studio

I am very interested in the idea of vocation. I think of vocation not as a job but more like a career. I have been a User Experience Strategist for over 16 years (in a simplification, I make websites more usable) and I am also an artist. No matter what I do for the online world of websites, navigation and usability efforts, I will always make art. The ultimate question is, "What are we meant to contribute to?". How do I align and organize my job and art output into my vocation? Is this possible or do I merge the two somehow? I am the only thing holding both concepts together, so is this even a valid question?

I am always searching and seeking for the optimal "Flow" as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about it in his work of creative psychology and research. When I am in the studio making art - whether it is a struggle to sit down to do the work or whether I jump out of bed anticipating a day of making something, I find myself in this flow and there becomes an ease in the work. I lose time and I am not 100% able to say I alone am doing the work. I find it to be a coming home of sorts. Over and over.

In the Bhagavad Gita, at the scene in the beginning of the Great War, Krishna tells Arjuna that "Doubt afflicts the person who lacks faith and can ultimately destroy him." I was struck the moment I read this. Even out of the context of this book (which I have not read, so my context has been outside of the book), I had a welling up of questions come to the forefront. What is faith? What is doubt? Is faith tied to religion while doubt is tied to skepticism? Or is faith an internal move to trust in one's instincts and doubt allows for reviewing of all outcomes and setting the path for getting things done? Can you strip the concept of religion away from faith so that it becomes an internal compass? Does it come down to a judgement of what is successful? I just launched a book last week, "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise" to a spectacular wall of silence. At the same time, I have been overwhelmed by the support of friends and of people I don't know that have faith in the book and have gone out of their way to share it and become a part of it. Now I have to look at what this book is for.

I have put the book "out there" and all of a sudden I am faced with the faith that it will do its part. That does not mean I am not utilizing social sites and pushing it and hoping for it to do well, but it also means that I have come face to face in the mirror with faith and surrender. Surrender is an active state of being, not of giving up. I have to have the knowledge that I was in the "flow" when I created it. I have to have "faith" that it will find the person that needs it the most and that all of this will happen outside of my knowledge. In other words, outside of my ego and my desire to be "seen". I have to understand that I need to surrender it to what is next and that may be nothing. But I did my part in its creation and so I am back to faith and doubt and the swirling of these two states in my head.

I have no answers and this week has been a roller coaster of emotions and questions. This coin of happy/sad has flipped back and forth for me. In the end though, I released this new piece of art into the world. I am proud of the book and I think it will make people feel a sense of hope and it supports the seeing of nature - and in these times that is a necessity.

My book on Amazon: "Zen and the Art of the Sunrise" -->

 

Some additional great reads to pursue:

Stephen Cope "The Great Work of Your Life" -->

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi "Flow" -->   and   "Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention" -->

Lewis Hyde "The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World" -->

 

A State of Flow: One of my pieces of art in progress:

 

 

Art & Ego: Are they diametrically opposed states?

 

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In reading "The New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, I ran across this statement: "If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. This spiritual truth is diametrically opposed to the values of our contemporary culture and the way it conditions people to behave."

Ok. I get it. My head gets it, is maybe a better summation. What is hard is that being an artist and working to "get my artwork out there"; it is an odd place to be in. The idea of surrender is a hard thing to get used to since I like a healthy dose of control. And the idea of marketing oneself is also a direct opposition to surrender. Now I will say, the art will get done not matter what. I am compelled to create it. I am also compelled to share it. That is what it is there for. I spend a lot of time doing it, thinking about it, defining its thesis and sharing the ideations that come from all of those exercises. That is the most amazing thing in our current cultural shift of a sharing online community - the ability to put yourself out there.

Does this run against the concept of an ego-less self?

An ego-less state is this sense of quiet. A knowing. Not a place or intent to make others hear you. Or see you. It is Being. And making art is sharing; a loud or a quiet place of 'See Me'. At what point does its creation turn itself into a place 'being in service'? There is a sense of power to make something and bring it into this world - something that did not exist before you made it. And there you have the ego. And if you create something and you do not share it, it falls to the wayside and you are in direct opposition to the muses that offer you a path to the creative spirit. No one wants to shit on that. Your state of nothingness is a tragedy since we are all meant to be here to create. It is not only music or art, it is full creation of being. 

I have no answers here and since I am writing this blog I am obviously participating in the social community and a ego-centric space of sharing. And it feels great to be noticed, to have my art liked, or hated and most importantly - discussed (right behind being bought). The only thing that I know to fall back on is that I do come from a place of curiosity, authenticity and a pure desire to 'make'. That will not change and as I strive to connect to that inner still state, I can at best, keep the ego in check and understand that it is there but it is not ruling.

So show up and create, fail and create some more...

~b