About norahblueart

I am an artist, mom to 2 sassy, spunky, smart and kind girls, wife to an amazing and supportive man, a lifelong learner of anything that strikes my interest and passions, and San Francisco Bay Area native... I love music I can dance to, music I can think to, bold color, walking in nature, cooking and eating, yoga and deeeep breaths, reading really good books, getting dirty, crossword puzzles, games, mazes, the excitement of discovery, learning something new, paint on my hands and clothes, big jewelry, hats, and I especially love that, according to my daughters, "weird is the new awesome".

Composting and My Muses

To express myself, I sometimes write, I often paint (collage, draw, etc), and many times I just stare… out a window, at a blank canvas or a partially completed piece. Staring seems pointless to many people. Staring is a vital and crucial part of my creative process. The judge-y critic in me, whose voice is very strong, says I’m wasting my time, wasting the ONE DAY I HAVE THIS WEEK WITHOUT KIDS, and, in my most melodramatic moments (so many of those!), wasting my life.

Ugh, that’s so much pressure. There is nothing so effective as pressure to stifle development, to stamp down fresh work and new ideas.

Lately, I have been making very mindful, thoughtful efforts to be kinder to myself, to take things less seriously, to lighten my spirit, and to just enjoy life more. I am trying to recognize that what’s happening is enough right now, that who I am is enough just as I am.

I am trying not to try.

It’s hard but it’s full of peace and trust that everything will be ok. It will all work out.

So when I stare out the window, in the garden at the fig tree, at a speck on the floor, my kinder, higher self knows that while my body is still, the part of me where creativity resides is doing some serious sweaty grunt work. I am turning compost, checking for new growth, planting seeds, nurturing my creative spirit. I may look unproductive, but as a creative, as an artist, stillness is an incredibly profound part of work.

I would argue with anyone that stillness encourages productivity more than pressures of time crunches and negative self-talk. I am far more able to meet a deadline or paint quickly when I’ve let myself rest and compost and experiment and play… all that stored energy, like in the garden, encourages inspiration and a rush of new growth. I am creating only for myself, to make myself happy and to follow where my instincts guide me. Then I create the work that I am happiest with, that is the most meaningful to me, and that is often most well-received by others.

And look what’s been coming out of that stillnesss… so many faces! Who are these people? I think they are my muses. My strange, peculiar muses full of the spirit of nature, animals, and sacred symbolism, from deep in my imagination, deep in the compost.

(The top painting and the simple drawing it’s based on further down are very literally my rendition of my muse. I painted them in a wonderful class taught locally by Asia Morgenthaler, a lovely earth mama artist with the most generous spirit, that I had the pleasure to meet recently. Check her out at www.asiamorgenthaler.com )

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Being seen…

I am so excited to announce my website, online portfolio, and Etsy shop! I’ve spent a lot of time in the creation of an online presence and it caused more soul-searching and required more fortitude than I could have anticipated. But I am so glad to be here.

Something curious occurred to me as I was looking at the dates of the finished pieces ready for sale or already sold… I realized that I went through a few very prolific years and then it seems like I stopped making art.

But that isn’t true… I didn’t stop making art, I stopped finishing art!

This burst of creative painting energy around 2016 was preceded by many equally prolific years of making textile and fiber art (dyeing, felting, art quilting, sashiko stitching, shibori, and weaving, and lots of sewing, knitting and crochet for my girls when they were babes). I am also very passionate about textile and fiber art and will no doubt pick it up again in the future.

So what happened after years of art-making? Toward the end of those years, I slowly realized that I was doing a lot of copying of others’ art, of some very inspiring and charismatic art by creative and energetic artists. I had gone to classes and learned from artists who I consider my brief mentors for a day or two or three. I absorbed and learned (and learned and learned) from these generous people. I sold some of my work quietly, without much fanfare, almost apologetically. But I needed to explore my art using my voice, pull in all these influences and countless others, add my own hand in subjects that were personally meaningful, and let it flow out of me. I gave myself the permission to play without the pressure of my work being seen by others.

That’s a big deal for me… Being seen by others isn’t very comfortable, is it? Exposing what’s in your heart and soul, what you believe is sacred and art-worthy, and what you think is beautiful, despite popular ideas of beauty and worth, despite how messy and unfinished it may seem, exposing your self through your work is really so… very… hard. It’s scary. You need armor. You need conviction.

I am a self-taught artist. I learn from my influences and by lots of trial and error and working and reworking. And, really, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a good friend who happens to be an insightful career coach recently told me, it’s the process of making art that I love. So true. The pleasure in a finished piece can be fleeting especially when you are selling your art.  I love the process most of all.

I embrace the messy background, the rough unfinished sketch, the glue on my fingers and paint in my hair, and sometimes, even, the glitter up my nose.

Art as a process is both expression and retreat. It is intuitive, and it lays bare the soul. When art is a process, I get to know myself after decades of trying to please only others. I get to soothe myself, nourish myself.

Art as a process is physical, emotional, and spiritual. Color and texture and layers and mess…. it’s real life and, yes, I love the process!

So in that vein, I decided that my first blog entry will be to show my many works in progress and to give a peek into my art journals. This what is what I’ve been doing and where I am going… but it’ll change.

Because I trust in the process.

And I’m finally ready to be seen.

Owl is one of my shamanic spirit guides and often represents grief and keen perception. Here the owl is flying away symbolizing Owl’s medicine retreating from my life after many years of trying to see through the darkness of grief and sadness. I am currently spending lots of time in my sketchbook doing studies of owl wings… wow, are they a challenge! Lots of detail still to add in this piece.

This little 8×8 painting is so pretty… the photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m experimenting with layers of inks, mica, glitter, and a homemade beeswax-type varnish to get glowing radiant effects. Almost there.

Not sure where this one’s going, but I love the strong contrast and the peaceful quality of all that white.

I see an owl emerging in this one. Do you?

Oh, this one makes me smile! My daughters love bright neon colors and asked me to use them in a painting. It’s big too… 30×40. When I finish this painting, I’ll tell the story of furtively shopping for these crazy colors in a “serious” art supply store…

This one, still in it’s background phase (and possibly upside down, I haven’t decided yet!), is tentatively titled “Under the Golden Gate”, an homage to the aquatic beauty and cultural diversity of San Francisco.

These little 3×5 cradled wood panels were collaged with some gorgeous lokta papers and old book pages. Sometimes I just collage backgrounds because it’s so fun to do and wait for inspiration to strike sometime in the future. They’re hard to cover up!

And here are some sketches and painted backgrounds from my journals:

Now we’re all caught up!