New Moon in Libra: Release, Renew, Get to Work.

When it comes to the practice of ritual, I find that there is a huge correlation between the rituals I participate in with both art and Spirit. The repetition, the renewed sense of worth, the connection with my Higher Self… It’s all there! At this very moment, we are (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) currently experiencing the New Moon in Libra, the bringer of Balance, Beauty and Empowerment (www.astrology.com).

I’ve been feeling a bit stagnant as of late- unsure of my future in painting, unsure of my future in education… just unsure of it all! Where was I going, if anywhere at all? Was my art “worthy” enough of my own standards, and the standards of the world? WOOO, so many QUESTIONS! AHH! THE WORLD IS ON FIRE AND EVERYTHING IS DYING.

Whew. Okay. Focus.

With this new moon, I finally took my brain into my own hands (not physically, though I’m fairly sure that it’d make for the world’s BEST asmr video…) and told it to cut the crap. Preparing my studio for ritual (cleaning the space, rearranging my altar, cleaning the litter box, etc.), I allowed myself to release what’s been holding me down for the last month or so.

I released negativity.

I released guilt.

I released feelings of low self-worth.

I released fear of failure (yes- even those of us who write posts on permission to fail still fear it. I’m only human in this life, ya know.).

After my studio was cleaned and cleansed (two different things, y'all), I journaled, meditated, and invited my intentions for this cycle to join me.

I invited abundance.

I invited good health.

I invited mindfulness.

I invited positivity.

After this (and this is the MOST important part of my rituals), I expressed gratitude. Immense gratitude. Gratitude for my ancestors (who were most certainly with me tonight). my path, my Higher Self, and those around me in this realm. I also expressed gratitude for all the negative thoughts I released- acknowledging these thoughts, thanking them, and releasing them is extremely healthy in terms of growth (at least I think so).

With this New Moon, I’ve decided that in order to fully invite these things into my life, I need to really get to work. Not just on painting, spiritual practice, yoga, or whatever else (well all of it, but I digress)- but on consistency in each practice. The best way for me to invite abundance into my life is to simply show up and put in the time abundance is asking for.

What the hell does that mean?

It means more blog posts, more considered paintings (instead of hastily painted ones), more engagement with my audience, and less mental gymnastics in the process.

Are you one to write down your thoughts/do rituals/dance around the room to celebrate the New Moon? Let’s talk about it! Leave me a comment & we’ll discuss magick, stress, and all of that other good shit.

Aho.

My Paintstory & Other Musings

My sweet angels! I hope you’ve been well. This beautiful beginning of Fall has me feeling motivated & ready to share more of my life with you, including my paint journey thus far! I hear so many artists retell their histories on podcasts, and it’s inspired me to tell mine! The story isn’t incredibly long (yet), but it’s definitely one worth telling. It’s so important to share both the ups AND downs of your career- not only does it show you’re human, but it also gives artists in earlier stages of their careers permission to fail.

See that? Permission to fail. These three words are SO important. Please- if you take anything from this blog post, give yourself permission to fail. Permission to fail = growth, sustainability in your practice, a clear headspace to start again, and (most importantly) it helps to remove that fear of failure. Falling on your face is not a bad thing, so long as you get back up.

So, let’s get into this herstory1

Make up ya’ damn mind

I was so, so lucky to grow up in a family of creative people. My dad can draw the most wonderful (and hilarious) cartoons, my mom is a drafting engineer with an eye for precision and detail, and my aunt, a graphic designer and Jane of MANY artistic trades went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh when it was cool (and still existed). Almost all of my cousins loved to create (one is now a professional blogger, and another is a professional painter), and my little sister is also a talented watercolorist and ceramicist (when she wants to be). I’m blessed, to say the VERY least. I didn’t even MENTION all of the creativity that flows through my blood- I just cut it down for length! (In short, I have an uncle that painted Bob Ross-style landscapes when he was younger, multiple uncles that work in metal after their father (YEAH GRANDPA!), a grandmother that choreographed dances for Reba McIntyre and MANY other country artists, another painter aunt.. It goes on and doesn’t stop. It’s truly ridiculous.) Being an artist isn’t just in my blood- it IS my blood, soul, and heart.

When I was in high school, I thrived on being known as “the artistic one”. I loved spending hours on projects, and the ego boost that came along with finishing projects well. Like many teenagers, I was also a bit of a shit- my ego made it difficult for me to appreciate work made by anyone else around me. I was jealous of the other students in my art class, and hated when they received praise. Man. Ouch. That was rough to type- but guess what? I’m leaving it there, because it was true at that time. I was the worst person to have an art class with, even if I said nice things about the artwork around me. I meant it, sure, but I always had this underlying feeling that I was somehow better than them, when I most definitely wasn’t. I mean, I was actually competitive with receiving “Most Artistic” in my senior yearbook. Who does that?

Oh wait, I did.

My high school experience ended on a much stranger note than what the above paragraph would lead you to believe- I purposely chose to go to school for English, Though I loved art, my higher self was clearly teaching me a lesson by dragging me away from art for a semester.

During my first semester at Penn State, I took a drawing class with a wonderful woman named Mary Vollero- she saw my talent immediately and convinced me that I was on the wrong path, even going so far as to physically create my online portfolio to get me into the PSU art department, and helping me fill out the forms to change my major. I’m unsure if she remembers me ( this was 2007 and I’m sure she’s taught hundreds of students since then), but I give her all the credit in the world for putting me back on the path I was meant to be on, and am forever grateful for her. Once I was accepted into the Art Department, I transferred to PSU’s main campus and started my sophomore year with a renewed sense of excitement and confidence. I still had a bit of that “I’m the best artist ever” attitude, but that faded when I met an AMAZING group of friends that showed me many ways of seeing art and thinking about how people make things in different styles. Finally, I was thriving!

Well… Sort of.

My artwork, though constantly changing, wasn’t getting any better. I was miserable, because I was 90 minutes from home and not ready to be that far away. Also, I was already in a mountain of debt, and just 2 years into college. It was painful, but I left my friends and transferred to a school closer to home- Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP.

My first semester at IUP REALLY opened my eyes to my ego and how it wasn’t serving me at all. I did well, but learned through critiques that I wasn’t as great as I thought I was, and that it was okay that other people were better than me. It was then that I realized just how much harder I needed to work to become a better artist. Within my first year, I dropped my Art Education major and focused on my portfolio- I wanted to get into the BFA program and make my way up in the art world.

During the time I was there, IUP provided several mentors that I looked up to, friends that I still have to this day, and the first of my two degrees. I graduated in 2012 with my BFA in Studio Art with a focus in 2D. I was privileged to work under amazing professors such as Susan Palmisano, Ben Oddi, Martyna Matusiak, and Nick Conbere. These people transformed me from an ego-fueled shit head into a humble, hard-working artist. Also- they’re all amazing artists and you should probably Google them.

The following Fall, I started my journey into earning my MFA. Though my undergrad experience had really helped in knocking down my ego, it was still VERY present.

What am I talking about?

… I went to graduate school before I was ready. My first semester was ROUGH. I had no idea what I wanted to say, and didn’t make enough work to hide behind. I had a tough transition, for sure. After a particularly harsh committee meeting at the end of my first semester (harsh, yet VERY uplifting and motivational- I had the world’s best committee and love them dearly to this day. Love you Rachael, Suzanne and John!), the weight of my ego finally crushed me. I experienced the beauty of ego death by fire, and came back the following semester with a renewed sense of who I was, and what I needed to paint about. I needed to paint about the annihilation of ego via the impermanence of life. I needed to paint about death.

Using teabags in place of people, I ROCKED the rest of my grad school experience, hitting 4.0’s every semester and picking up EVERY bit of information I could, like a lil’ paint-covered sponge. (I also gained 25 pounds because I rarely left the studio and lived on snacks, but that’s not a dig at myself. I love myself, damnit.)

After graduating with the coveted MFA (with high honors), I finally felt ready to consider myself an artist. I was awarded two residencies (Vermont Studio Center and Sparkbox Studio) where I made some incredible friends and discoveries about myself. Shortly after, I got my first “Big-Girl” job at the Brockway Center for Arts and Technology, and the rest is history…

Thanks to the education I received, I was able to kick my ego in the face, submit work to several opportunities, give myself permission to fail with grace, and so much more. I’ve been published, awarded, and now I’m able to share my knowledge with high-schoolers every single day, under a beautiful mission. The best part of all this success, failure and fire?

I’m just getting started.

That’s right. I’m only 31 years old, and am ready to keep climbing the professional ladder. I’m open and ready to receive abundance, and ready to take my career to the next steps. I’m working on a new body of work that’s WAY out of my comfort zone (recycled materials, painting on textiles rather than canvas/panel, and using… ACRYLIC? WATERCOLOR? WAT?), and finding new experiences to enjoy (I’m seeing Lisa Congdon tomorrow in Pittsburgh and I am LIVING!). 2020 is going to be a big year for me- and it can be a big year for you, too- just hang your ego on the shelf, get to work, and let yourself FAIL.

New Home, New Job, New Life

Sometimes, humans go through exciting seasons in their lives that cause them to delete their blogs, move to a new city, get a new job, and just completely turn their world on its face!

Me. Hi. I did this. Talking about myself here.

In the last 2 months, I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, started a new job, and dove face-first into the world of magick and creativity with more oomph than ever before!

I live here now? What? Rad. Image via    google

I live here now? What? Rad. Image via google

The New Home

In March of 2017 I packed my entire life into many, many car loads and moved from Punxsutawney (where I had only lived since May of 2016, when I graduated from grad school) to Dubois, Pennsylvania to be closer to my job at the Brockway Center for Arts and Technology. I found a gallery, a job I loved, new friends, and a small arts community that made the transition very easy. It also helped that DuBois is only a 30 minute drive from Punxsutawney, the town I grew up in and where much of my family still resides. For the next two years I continued to live in this small town, growing both my painting practice and career as the Youth and Arts Coordinator/Painting Teaching Artist at BCAT to capacity (for me). Though I was thriving in these parts of my life, I was more than crumbling on the inside. I needed to expand. Badly. In winter of this year, I finally started to do something about the internal crumbling (think of a dry cookie that no one can eat because not even milk can soften that bad boy up) and began searching for a new home to transition into the next season of my life that I so badly needed.

In June, I packed up my life yet again (+ two angry kitties) and took the biggest, scariest leap of my life; I moved to Pittsburgh. (Wait- scary? Claira, you WANTED to move here! … yes, yes I did. But when you’re me, big changes are terrifying.) My partner and I found an adorable place in the neighborhood of Sharpsburg, just to the East of the city proper. I was sad to leave my amazing coworkers and the friends I had made in DuBois, but excited to have the ability to expand again, and even better- with someone I love and want to share my life with. (Cue the “awwwwwww"‘s”) Leaving my job at BCAT meant that I needed to find something else- something equally fulfilling & relevant to my art career.

The New Job

I had actually started my job search back in February of this year, looking for and applying to anything that felt relevant to my abilities and experience. After many, many “no thanks” emails, interviews that faded the luster of the initial job descriptions I applied for, and even two hires, I still hadn’t found what I was truly looking for in a career.

Cue manifestation. I had really hoped that I’d be able to make an easy transition from my current job to a position within the center BCAT is modeled after, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. I already knew the staff and followed the mission- why not work there? Of course, at this time there were no openings, so I applied to other things while I kept asking the universe to provide me with an opportunity to work with the center I had modeled my entire life philosophy around. I told myself every morning that I’d work for them when I moved, even though there were no positions open. One night, I was checking my email before bed and had a mini heart-attack; a position had opened up at the Guild! Instead of going to sleep that night, I got my resume and cover letter ready and sent it in, shaking the entire time. A few weeks passed before I heard anything, and then, just like I had asked, I received a call for an interview. It wasn't the position I initially applied for, but they were impressed with my resume and wanted to interview me anyway!

Two days after moving, I started my new job as a Teaching Artist in the Design studio at MCG and I absolutely LOVE it.

Tl;dr: Manifestation works, kids. Ask(hustle) and ye shall receive.

The New Life

This heading is a little bit of a lie- I’m very much the same human, living the same life. However, the life is opening up to more opportunity, new experiences and more friends, and a fresh view of my future as a painter and creative. I’m able to spend more time with my partner (I mean… he’s my roommate now, so what choice does he have? Heh.). My mental health is improving (one day at a time) and I’m seeing myself from an entirely different perspective! I’m experimenting with new media and painting on textiles! I’ve also started exploring watercolor this year, using the medium as a means to learn about the magickal properties of plants, runes, herbs & to deepen my spiritual practice. Life’s good, and I want to continue telling y’all about it, so welcome (back) to the bloggo!

xoxo- C