The Story of The (almost) Lost Artist


Just recently I came to the realization that I had come very close to losing myself.  Let me explain. Way before I was a painter I was a storytelling photographer.  I took photographs, made them into  art and then sometimes wrote stories. Often they were true life stories like the one you see below from Somerset Life Magazine.  Other times they were  stories I wrote  for my blog readers when I was known as Robinbird or Bird Tweets. 

How is itI had almost forgotten this vital connection to myself as an artist?  It was an astonishing discovery. While cleaning the attic I came across this Somerset Life magazine and randomly flipping through found this heartfelt, true and important story about another artist who had nearly lost herself. 

My Lovely Duck has apparently been digging around in the attic looking for red threads to present to me as needed. This one is a most welcome and inspiring thread for me to pull on. My life as a photographer was just as thrilling and interesting as my life is as an artist. Up until now I had missed the crossover journey between the two creative lives. Reflecting upon the years past I am gaining a fresh respect for the passion and love I feel for art. Although I often doubt and question my skills I need to remember and draw upon my gift of inspired history . The story below is  for  all artists who  struggle to hold space space in their souls for personal expression. 

May I introduce to you Hillary, my Golden Phoenix. Read on.....

 




Life continues to present itself as a journey with many crossroads presenting themselves along the way. Choose wisely.

Love, Robin

robin laws blogger

I Am Open I Am Gentle

Ghost  Ranch Reflections

I created the sweet image above in order to affirm my word for the year which is GENTLE. It is a word I need to keep close at all times in regards to my thoughts and actions towards myself.  I just adore the image and it goes well with the new plan I have committed to in my creative practice. My mantra is multilayered but the main gist is to manifest  a rigorous practice of daily art making that is guided by my own gentle hand. This renewal of my word is a direct result of my recent artistic adventure in New Mexico.

 I've just returned from an amazing week long creative experience that I will not soon forget. The first three days were spent in Santa Fe  with Ivy roaming the epic galleries along the Canyon Road corridor. I am truthfully at a loss for adequate words about what I saw and what was evoked within my mind and the emotions I experienced. Words like "amazing, awesome or gorgeous" fall far short of the multilayered and complex response that I had. That being said it really was amazing, awesome and gorgeous to behold paintings that were larger than life and created with an ocean of painterly colors. It seems to me it is a must do experience for any and all artists who crave the adrenaline high of intense wonder and unimaginable inspiration. All I can say is go and see, feel and experience it for yourself.

My response to the next four days at the Ghost Ranch retreat Call of the Wild Soul  created by Erin Faith Allen was no less intense.  To get some idea of what it was like for me think crazy rollercoasters, phobic fear of public performance and the darkest dark  under your bed.  Yes I know it sounds awful but it wasn't. I learned from Orly AvineriFlora Bowley, Misty Mawn and Katie Kendrick and was offered far more important and personally challenging lessons than how to paint or draw.  Although the painting and drawing were super challenging as well. The overarching theme of the  experience for me is that I need to be open and vulnerable to transformative experiences when creating art. I tend to resist the intense emotions and mysterious shadows that come up when I do art. This sum result is that I severely  limit my growth potential as an artist and stifle the joy it holds for me.

So I am taking action. Less social media, less negative self talk, more art making and self love.  A recipe for transformation. I have written these words in capital letters in my notebook and on my studio wall.  I AM OPEN TO BREAKTHROUGHS.

*** The image at the top  was created by cutting up and laying my own drawing on top of a post card I purchased in New Mexico. I took  a photograph and brought that image into my iPad and painted over the entire photo using Procreate.  The postcard is of an acrylic painting done by Matt Adrian of four seagulls playing charades.

love, Robin

 

 

 

The Storyteller's Art

Class Opens March 4th 2016

So the day has arrived and I couldn't  be more excited! I am excited to share what I've been learning and discovering about the power of using our voice in tandem with our art!

Come join me on a week long journey into the magical realm of storytelling and art! This unique class will focus on developing your storytelling voice so that you can create art that is compelling and rich with imagination! Fun and deep is where we are going in this class my friends!

We will create 3 projects that are tied together with the glorious thread of story. I am excited to watch and assist all of you in uncovering your storytelling voice in the process! You will create expressive paintings that will mesmerize and engage your audience. Storyteller's need and audience so our work need to be dynamic and engaging! 

I am especially excited to gather together as seekers and  storytellers  in our Facebook Group! It is a bit of a dream come true for me to explore new ideas and share the experience of our journey in a safe and supportive little world of our own. Please join me for this adventure if you are even a little bit tempted to open up your heart and mind to a fresh and new way of expressing yourself with your art! 

Love, Robin








Stories For The New Year

Living My Own Story! 

This year I am determined to live my red thread life by letting my mind and dreams wander at will. I'm experimenting, being brave and trying many new things. I have an abundance of projects and ideas just waiting for me to step into my courage!  The painting below is an example and I'm very excited.  It involved very little planning which was intentional. It is collage and acrylic on canvas board. I selected a very simple color palette of manganese blue, vandyke brown, yellow ochre, titanium buff, gesso and glazing fluid. By collaging for texture and mixing those colors I created the abstract background first with no plan for what would come next. When is was dry I let the horizon line guide me towards possibilities. It lent itself to a scene with it's solid ground and lots of potential for a stormy sky.

And what about the story you ask? It's me again, Lovely Duck by my side and some illusive deep dream that appears to be pulling us along through a stormy sky.  I need to leave it open ended  because I don't yet fully understand where we are going. I know it has the theme of opening up to our deepest dreams and following their call. 

The theme isn't really new for me but It became more literal in the  paintings below. In all three of these I'm using the same theme, color palette and materials.  So now it's turning into a new story series.  When I first started posting on Instagram I tended to do a portrait and write a story as though each character were a part of the greater community. I envisioned my  gridded  Instagram feed as a tall apartment building with each new a portrait moving in as a resident and neighbor to the rest of the characters. I enjoyed that form of storytelling very much and so did my followers. So once again, (I never tire of this!) what begins as one thing, (in the case of Instagram it was the commitment to drawing 100 faces along with a group of other artists) becomes something else that we don't see coming.  In this instance I was simply following along over the past two years with that  line of red thread leading me and simply focusing on what presented itself along the way. I could go on and on about this beautiful way of living in the moment and I am sure I will be doing much of that over this next year as I continue to walk through my storied life with my ever present compaion Lovely Duck!

  "Me and Lovely Duck obviously right? The words at the top are the key to this piece. WHAT ARE YOUR DEEP DREAMS? Ive been thinking so much about th  is question. It applies to all levels of consciousness. My hope for the coming year is to claim and continue to live my deep dreams. I do best with a gentle but firm hand guiding me. Lovely Duck is very gentle and the red thread keeps me on my path.   I am so happy to be living my deep dreams along with all of you! xo. "  Oh look! Lovely Duck and I have some creative visitors! First we had a little writing session regarding the question... "What are your deep dreams?" I came up a little exercise to get us started and wow fantastic art and story ideas came out of that! This one is mine.. "I dream of being with a tribe of creatives at the Gathering House. The Gathering House is safe place to connect to our own dreams and support the dreams of others. Then we do art!  This was such a fun little project! That's real red thread mind you and gold leaf too. When our creative companions come for a visit they get royal treatment here in my studio! Spirit animals and cats are allowed in the studio too! *  **The style of these  are inspired by two artists I admire.   Gabriel Pacheco  who is a magnificent artist and illustrator from Mexico who creates very dreamlike art that I adore! I've also been reading the work of  Brian Andreas  who  combines crazy line drawings with ridiculous and heartfelt words. He has long been a favorite of mine for quotes that make you think as well as laugh and cry.

I can't finish this post without mentioning that for us artists the new year is overflowing with inspiration, learning and thrilling art! So many fantastic classes have begun and many more are about to launch! I am thrilled with the start of Let's Face It and honored to have the opportunity to add in my artistic two cents on painting faces:) I have signed up for Misty Mawn's  Make/Do Art Workshop that begins February 14th and for Katie Kendrick' online course Grit and Grace that begins January the 11th.  I highly recommend them both!

love, Robin xo

Art ~ A Divine Connection

This past week has been filled with the most unexpected red thread moments!  It almost defies my ability to describe in words what it was like. I participated in an amazing on-line event along with several other artists and hundreds of  art lovers. It was a Holiday Art Auction run by Stephanie Gagos. The intention was to have a venue for artists and art collectors to gather and negotiate sales. All I can say is that it became SO SO much more than that.  It was an experience of deep connection and was a stunning surprise for everyone who attended. I don't think anyone left that auction with their heart and soul untouched by  deep emotions.  All of us who were there were simply dumbfounded with awe as we witnessed or experienced first hand the incredible power of art.  By some divine connection the event  brought forth the sharing of dozens of powerful stories about how we experience art .   I heard about the immeasurable power of art to heal and to literally change lives.  I experienced myself  and witnessed in others how it can elicit intense emotions of longing and grief alongside  great joy and happiness.

 It was so reminiscent of the painting and story  below that I wondered if I were perhaps having a vision of a real future when I created  The Gathering House a year ago and posted it on Instagram.  You can read the story of The House below along with some of the reactions of  readers. I've also included the story of one of the actual residents of The House.

The  Gathering House

The Gathering House is a place that resides within my dreams. It is a communal house of art that is filled with light, music and love. It is a restorative place away from the troubles of the world. A place to create, and provide inspiration so that when we return to our lives we find a deeper well of gratitude, peace and compassion to offer the world.

"What a wonderful place that would be. It sounds like a dream but oh if it was real how amazing that would be. Wonderful art!" , "Wow. Beautiful! And The Gathering House... I want to go there", "That's my dream right there, a house filled floor to ceiling with art!"

Karen's  First   Day

This painting of Karen is straight out of my Gathering House world. In my version of The Gathering House everyone who comes there to live is issued one pair of genuine 100% cotton wings, a crown made of craft paper in the color of their choice and a linen dress with the letter they wrote to the admissions circle about why they needed to move to The House embroidered upon it. The idea of  actual body tattoos was originally discussed however we nixed that idea when we thought about the potential for a public health scandal/nightmare and decided upon doing a monthly embroidery retreat instead. So Karen here is wearing the standard issue uniform and this painting of her was done on her first day. I'm going to try and do a portrait for each of the girls as they arrive. They are often tired and sad when they first arrive and I think an authentic portrait would provide them with an initial visual touchstone for how change happens at The House. I'll try to do an updated painting for you to see for yourselves what can happen in a place of healing and light amongst others who "get" who you are and where you are provided nourishment for the creative mind and spirit.

"My letter is in flight to the admissions circle...thro' the winter sky that is a box of wings."  "I want to live there!!!",  "Please forward the address so that i might send my letter of admission. Please?

You see? I can't even truly believe it myself that such a beautiful place can exist but in that one stretch of time, 12 days in a row on Facebook such a place was there for anyone who was longing to connect and feel heard and understood. Just like Karen I feel my creative spirit has been deeply nourished and inspired. Thank you Stephanie, thank you to every single person who purchased or commented on my own art. I will be forever grateful to have been one among the many beautiful souls who came together in our own little Gathering House.

 

Love, Robin

Fearless Friday

First order of business is a name change for these weekly posts. It's going to be Fearless Friday rather than Failure Friday. Sounds more positive and upbeat :) I stillI might post on Saturday but I'd like to set my intention for Friday.

Fearless Flying

"The object isn't to make art; it's to be in that state which makes art inevitable." ~ ROBERT HENRI

This is an ink and charcoal drawing I did last week while in Ivy's studio. I like him very much. Not because he is perfect in any conventional way but because of what I felt while creating him. It was a day when the spirit of the above quote prevailed over fear and sabotage. I like to think about it as living in the red thread moment. The red thread moment is the jumping off  the cliff moment when I let go of all my rescue gear (except my red thread), my expectations and even my mind and I'm simply present with what is right there in front of me. It's joyful. It's exciting. It's inspiring. It's fun! 

It's not so simple though.  But it is. Do you know what I mean?  Another way to think about it is to imagine what it might take in order to find out if you are able to fly. In the air I mean. You have the wings, the feathers and the heartfelt wish but until you actually step off the edge you have no idea if you will drop like a stone or rise like a Phoenix. It's that scary sometimes. Similarly to art, flying is no doubt better accomplished without intent or over planning ... except to have your wings tied on very tight.

Obviously the riding a bicycle metaphor works well here too. Over-think steering, pedaling and ringing your bell all at once and you will surely crash and skin your knee. Everyone knows this phenomena but we still do things that cause us to fail.  So how do we get  to that seemingly magical state of mind that Robert Henri is referring to?  Well the short and the long answer is the same. We don't do anything intentional at all. That's the answer. Make art all the time and just be yourself. The red thread finds me I don't find it.  The same it true for the best inspired art making. Let go of all things but the heart and the senses and you're gold. Very Zen, very spiritual, very magical :)


Love, Robin

P. S. I thought you might also like to see what he looked like before I brought him into my iPad for a make up adjustment.  The original inspiration for the inky drawings we were doing that day was the work of South African artist  Marlene Dumas. So the scared look he has is relevant to the inspiration. Taking my original work into my iPad is a regular part of my artistic practice. It is the time when I can analyze, deconstruct and experiment with various changes and adjustments. It's a self teaching process that I find very helpful and fun as well!