Monday, February 18, 2019

You've got this

Mom lives just a short distance from Eaton Canyon, which is one of my all-time favorite places. 
The first morning I was there, I got up early and went for a walk in the canyon. 
My phone buzzed as I picked my way down to the canyon floor. It was Ryan with a question about whether or not he should brave blizzard-like conditions in my car. I told him to stay home.
Then I sent him a picture of what I was doing.
Ryan loves Eaton Canyon almost as much as I do. His reaction was immediate and emphatic.
I told him that I was planning to walk to the waterfall, but given the amount of water in the canyon, I wasn't sure I would make it.
He encouraged me to try.
I wasn't convinced, but I really did want to see the waterfall, so I let Ryan's enthusiasm guide me. I walked under the bridge and up into the narrow part of the canyon.
This part of the trail criss-crosses the creek over and over again. It's not usually a problem since the creek is mostly dry. On this day, however, it made for a lot of precarious crossings on slippery rocks and wobbly logs.
Progress was slow, and I got discouraged. I told Ryan, and he said, "You've got it, Ma."
Somehow, those four little words made all the difference. I put one foot in front of the other and made my way up that canyon.
My feet did end up getting wet...
and, in the end, the destination wasn't quite as glorious as I'd hoped for.
Still, I was glad to be there. I took a selfie for Ryan - and myself - and spent some time enjoying my achievement before I headed back down the canyon.
There's a reason why NaMoPaiMo is a community event. 
Painting a horse is hard and the pitfalls are many. It's easy to get discouraged, especially when you're working alone.
Fortunately, no one has to go it alone during February. Help is always just a couple mouse clicks away.
So is encouragement, support, enthusiasm, humor and empathy. 
We are all in this together, and when someone tells you, "You can do this, " what they're really saying is "You're not alone," "I'm rooting for you" and "I care about you."
There are ten days left in NaMoPaiMo. This is crunch time. Some of us won't actually do it, but all of us can be there to support each other as we put one foot in front of the other and try our best to reach our goals.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The struggle is real

The "I did its!" are coming fast and furious now.
And some of these models are just amazing.
model and photo by Jennifer Scott
With so much awesomeness on display, it's easy to believe that your half finished, ugly stage model is not worthy.
photo by Silvia Perez
From there, it's a quick jump to, "I'm not worthy."
photo by Wendy Basinger
Trust me, I know. The struggle is real.
photo by Maria Hjerppe
But here's the thing: The struggle is also universal.
photo by Amanda Brock
Almost every artist I know struggles with feelings of inadequacy.
photo by Chloe Jeffery
Shauna McDaniel writes: Day 15 is doubters day... or the day we discuss finished vs "dun." Are we ever actually finished or do we just hit the screw it point and move on before we lose that last marble still rattling in our heads? So yes, Shauna, it's time to move on. Hooves, final repairs, re-gloss those eyes... It will never BE perfect and that's just fine.
photo by Shauna McDaniel
Lauren Hoeffer agrees: Day 15.... Everybody doubts... I've been waffling all week between: "Awesome! She's going to look *exactly* how I saw her in my head!" and "Ugh! She's not right. I should have shaped the stripes differently. I shouldn't have put that layer of color on. I'm not happy with her." Even with friends and members of this group telling me she looks great, I'm still not 100% convinced. 

But with every new layer of dust, she changes. Sometimes subtly, other times more dramatically.  I added color to her tail this time and worked the same color into her mane and neck, and once again I'm happy with her.

Even those of us who have been at this for YEARS... still doubt ourselves. Well, I do anyway. Sometimes all it takes is to just keep "swimming"... and see what that model has to tell you. I've generally learned to listen and learn from the process every time!
photo by Lauren Hoeffer
Sue Rowe elaborates:  NaMoPaiMo is becoming less of a painting adventure and more a long silent dialogue with self. Accountability. Deciding to be okay with mediocrity vs getting to excellence. This during the insane hours trying to create a “living” Thoroughbred’s head on an old Breyer Swaps.... I no longer make my living in the model horse hobby. I will never be a professional equine sculptor. Some days I wonder if I’m “wasting” my time. Once in a while, though, the “living” horse peeks through - and, wow, the brain gets a jolt of Happy. Guess this is a long-winded way of saying that if you have a vision, goal, or end plan for your pony, you need the courage to keep slogging on. The rest of us have got your back. Please know that “You can do it!” Me? Still trying to see that home stretch from the backfield -lol. Carry on!
photo by Sue Rowe
Finally, there's this from Karen Lloyd: Every single art project is a struggle with perfectionism (which in turn is a struggle with anxiety and self doubt). I felt very burnt out after a string of Christmas ornament commissions in December. Their owners loved them, and they were all great to work with, but the voice of perfectionism put me through the ringer. I never want to let anyone down. I rarely feel like my art is good enough, and sometimes the higher price tag only makes it harder as I think, “Gosh I hope this person won’t feel like they wasted a couple hundred dollars.” 

I almost didn’t sign up for NaMoPaiMo because I felt broken going into it (not just as an artist, but my heart hurts badly that my heart bunny has cancer). I’m so glad I did though because I feel like the support in this group has been invaluable. Moments when it was tempting to say I wasn’t good enough, others here have cheered me on to keep going. Last night I finally arrived to the place of understanding that what I am doing with Kilimanjaro is my best in this moment. I am giving him my all. He won’t be perfect. He might not be as good as someone else could have done. He likely won’t be as good as what I will be able to do in the future. But I’m trying to accept that by giving my best in this moment he will be good enough. 🙂

I think sometimes this translates to do we think *we* are good enough and that’s something from my childhood I am still working on too.

Sending hugs and encouragement to all of you who also struggle with perfectionism and self doubt in some way! 💜
photo by Karen Lloyd
We all want to see our horse in the "I Did It!" collage, but it's okay if that hasn't happened yet. There's still a lot of month left. Be kind to yourself. Trust the process. Just keep painting.

The naughty corner

For the first two weeks of NaMoPaiMo, Bubbles was a perfectly well behaved little pony.
Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse a couple days ago. Bubbles is now banished to the naughty corner while I plot my next move.
This isn't unexpected. NaMoPaiMo is rarely a success only journey, and most people are going to struggle - a little or a lot - sometime during the month. With a lot of work and a little bit of luck, I fully expect to have her finished by February 28.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Alamo Pintado tour

Barb's beautiful flowers are a reminder that I still haven't written much about my wonderful trip to California. I blame NaMoPaiMo, and I promise I a full Super-CALI-Fragilistic report is coming. 
But not today.
Today I'm writing about one of the pre-Super-CALI events, specifically, the hobbyists' tour of the Alama Pintado Equine Clinic.
Kylee's husband, Greg is one of the veterinarians in residence at Alamo Pintado, and Kylee used to work there herself. She used these connections to set up a tour, which was led by her knowledgeable -and patient - friend, Christina Barnes.
Because of patient privacy rules, we weren't allowed to take photos of the horses at Alamo Pintado. 
Instead, Christina used Barb Ness as a horse substitute to show us how some of the things worked.
Of course, then we realized that a couple tubs of Erin's models were on the premises...
and Barb was replaced with Toshiko.
Yes, that's a super-rare Breyer getting an x-ray.
Praise be! She doesn't have an impaction!
This set the tone for the rest of the day.
We saw all kinds of high tech veterinary equipment...
and then we used it on Toshiko.
Enjoy that hyperbaric chamber, little pony! See you in half an hour!
Oddly, the cadaver room was one of the most popular parts of the tour.
Professional artists, Melanie Miller...
 and Amanda Brock couldn't wait to get their hands on dead horse parts.
Look! A hoof!
Look! A hoof on Toshiko! 
The tour ended in the Alamo Pintado lounge, which has an impressive enterolith display.
All these things came out of horses. 
For real.
This was such a fun and informative day. Thank you, Kylee, for making it happen. 
I know NaMoPaiMo has taken over my blog (and my life), but I promise, the rest of the Super-CALI posts are coming... Eventually!