Honing in, Chakras and Drum Circles

I have really had a lesson in taking my own advice lately let me tell you. (can I just say that I cringe when I read back over this post b/c there are so many "I"s.) I have been forcing myself to really examine what my priorities are because I don't have time for everything, in fact it feels like I don't have time for anything. Last week, every single day I came home so tired that I would just sit and quietly cry. My entire body and brain were just finished, just done. I don't think I even looked at my dogs the whole week. Poor dogs, poor husband.

This happens to me much more since I had the AF issue a few years ago, and it is accompanied by a strain in my throat that is so painful I can't swallow. My feeling is that it has something to do with the throat Chakra (that shit is for real ya'll).

"It is the mouthpiece by which you communicate your truths. Energy from the fifth chakra is rightly associated with a pure blue color – representing the ‘true blue’ essence of your soul. When you express your thoughts, beliefs, and opinions to others, you are sharing this essence through your energy."

Van G
I get this feeling when I push myself to the point of having nothing left to give. I know I should not do it, but I don't mean to, it just happens. The truth is I don't have whatever it is that most people have that let them work all day and then take care of shit at home. I can't work 40 hours a week and then come home and take care of everything, and I don't even have kids! It fills me with a cold dread thinking of adding more people to my overstuffed life. But that is for another time. Alternitavely O is like a mac truck, he can go and go and then wake up at 5am and just keep going!

helen frankenthaler, 1928-2011
But what am I actually doing that takes up so much time? Dude. Fucking thinking! I know, right, crazy. I think too much. Writing a detailed schedule for the week on Sunday nights really helps. Making lists, having "focused" time is essential (like right now I am "focused" on my work and nothing is distracting me. Not my phone dinging with messages, not the inexplicable lesbian drum circle happening two doors down, not O asking me a million questions that I totally do not respond to ((he knows this is my focus time, but he can't help himself on account of being a man, he can't help himself...))

Iris Van Dongen
So basically I have had to come up with ways to really figure out what I am good at, and stick to that. I really enjoy learning about composition and texture, it gets me all excited. I like looking for new color combinations, and creating large archives of interesting ideas in art that I want to think about. Whenever I am stuck, or feeling un-inspired I just sit back and look over my folders and it gets my gears moving. I also really like strategizing about how to make my business better, make the daily processes smoother and implementing steps to make my major goals come true.

Frantisek Kupka
 Of course I really love to paint, and I try very hard to foster an environment and a cadence to my life that allows me to paint the way I like it best: free and clear and working toward a goal for each painting to explore something new or to re-visit something dear to me. For example right now I am taking a hiatus from commissions, it is risky because commissions pay the bills around here. I am sooo tired though! I was watching helplessly as my creativity left me like a slow drip, and the joy of painting turned to drudgery. As the commissions have slowed (I still have a few to finish) I am feeling better and better, mostly because I can devote more time to what I really love, and am best at: painting to explore my ideas. When I am confident that I have a strategy for taking on more work, I will start painting commissions again.

Frantisek Kupka. Le Rouge a Levres II. 1908

When I tought about writing about "honing in on what you are good at" I thought about the many makers who contact me with this question, "I make so many different things, and draw or paint in so many different styles, how do I pick something to sell?"

Well, I usually offer the advice that everything you make will look like you made it, so just make whatever you enjoy making. Eventually if you put it all out there you will see that some things sell better than others, and as you progress as an artist, you will naturally evolve your work and learn what sells and what people are most drawn to in your creations. It goes back to my credo that you just have to quit fucking looking around with your finger in your mouth and jump in already. I personally have been making and creating for so long that I truly believe painting is just the distilled essence of creation for my brain; an immediate and tactile way to live inside of what I constantly think about. It will be the same for you. I would say I spent most of my spare time since I was a child creating art sooo....don't know what else to say on that.

All images (except for the chakra tutorial) from my art inspiration pinterest.
Also, this post is sort of all over the place, the more I write about these topics, the more I think...well what is left to say? I mean you just have to get up and and go. Like we say around here "Shoot now, aim later." But, I try, so I hope you enjoy.


  1. Michelle, I read your post with great empathy, having had to deal with a chronic disease for many years. I have found a good balance for a happy work/personal life (I'm a book editor), but it wasn't easy and took many spills. The best advice I ever got was from my neurologist: Think of your body as a car, and always, always, always leave some gas in the tank! My own private mantra, "Choose joy every day." (Like buying your paintings!) Dianne

    1. Wow, that is some great advice. I am going to remember that.

  2. Thank you Michelle. Dianne, I think the advice about always leaving some gas in the tank is such a great way of looking at things for everyone. I often feel like I spread myself so thin and then am so exhausted. I need to work on prioritizing.

  3. i love reading these recent posts bc they are so true. its stuff i think about, feel embarrassed about )getting burnt out and having no energy left for the home life)...but i dismiss. the fact that you WROTE it...makes it seem less tabu. your thinking time is obviously well worthwhile....bc you get down to the hard facts and make the right decisions seem simpler to me. thank you!

  4. You are so generous to share all of this. I am one of the ones that knows her art is too broad. I feel like I should zero in on one style. I just can't!!!! Perhaps as you say, with time it will happen. I have already raised my children and so time is what I have most of.
    Fruit still-life sells...yuk! Lord deliver me from that!! Figures are my favorite and because of that I have walls full of naked people!!

    1. Why should you zero in? You probably wouldn't' know I painted a lot of the things I have stowed away. Just keep creating!

  5. Girl, that shit IS real. And my heart chakra has been in some serious pain lately. Trying to do heart openers as much as possible.
    Having time to get everything done seems like an impossible task. Yet, when I look back on my days, I can't figure out just what the hell I did with all that time. Well, besides let the dog in and out four hundred times and throw his toys a million times. Hmmmmmm. Anyone want a dog? Just kidding.

  6. There's a lot to be said for moderation.

    The kind of work we do, it's higher impact on the mind than the 40-hour-week, work-a-day world. Creative energy is high octane. You have to give yourself rest and refuel time. I find that if I neglect to do simple things like take a day off now and then (even if that day "off" is still noodling around with the sketchpads on something off topic) my brain feels over-stimulated, trapped, and I become a sobbing howling mess.

    I have a friend who likes to say this: The difficult thing about being a creative is that when you are staring out the window you really are working. Working on that idea, trying to sort it out. Or working on the strategy of what comes next. Or working on your windy brain, trying to settle it down to let the ideas come. But it all looks the same, and can be a tricky one to explain to your spouse, your studio-mates, or even yourself sometimes.

    1. H! Maggie you are so right. My husband, lucky gets it b/c he is a creative in his own way too. You are right though, it really zaps energy to produce so much, or I guess anything. I think so hard, teehee. Do you read Jessica Swift's blog? She is a great artist, and is moving to Portland!!

  7. wonderful pieces you are writing here, michelle. thank you for giving yourself. donna


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