Wednesday, December 19, 2018
We are all creative, whether we realize it or not. Every life is unique, so navigating that life takes some ingenuity, or creativity. Within this sea of creative beings, some consciously practice, or work at novelty with a purpose.
That purpose can be telling their story through art.
When I was young, I enjoyed drawing. It was one of the very few things I was told I was good at. Back then, I never could have imagined where my creative impulses would take me. Even when I was in my 20’s in art school, I hadn’t found my artistic voice. I had no confidence in myself. I was bogged down with expectation. There was no freedom to my expression. I lived in fear of doing it wrong. And so it was all wrong.
As far as my ambition, I suppose you could say that what I’m doing now is what I wished for in terms of expression back then.
I couldn’t know the specifics beforehand. That’s what I was developing.
There is an element of preplanning that goes into a work of art. You have to have something to say. You have to select your medium and tools. But art, like life, is improv.
It’s the inspiration that allows my brain and hand to transform the colors on the shelf into the finished canvas.
The paint holds surprises.
I’ve never worried about conforming to mainstream society. That might be a nice excursion for me. But I don’t see it happening. What is mainstream society? If I tried that, I would do it as a joke. I think that’s a good enough reason to try it.
I want to communicate through my visual art. And I want to inspire others to communicate their stories, as well.
If you have an urge to create something, my advice is to do it!
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
I’ve mentored young musicians, artists and photographers... international students, kids in foster care... kids from all different backgrounds.
It is a wonderful feeling when I see these kids go on to pursue art degrees, or success in music careers.
They say I inspired them to become artists. Little did they know that I was inspired by them the whole time.
You do not need to go to art school to be an inspiration. Just tell your story however you choose to tell it. Your passion will make you stand out. Once you achieve a level of confidence, you will be a leader. You will not need validation from others, because you will only need approval from one person. Yourself.
I think the majority of people lack confidence. Not in their skill, but in themselves. Your confidence will draw others to you. They will want what you have, or want to spend time with you.
When I was in my 20’s, I wanted to paint dark, disturbing images. They were usually self portraits in black and white, often with blood red dripping from them. I thought I was being deep. They carried titles of resentment like Umbrage and Imbroglio. Those morphed into oil pastels like Screaming In Your Sky and The Great Train Robbery Of My Soul when I was in my early 30’s.
When I was 36, my daughter was born. When I picked up the paintbrush again, the paintings came out in bright colors.
That is when I began to have success as an artist. When I say success, I mean personal satisfaction and sales.
Not all of my paintings are happy or colorful, but they are about more than just scaring my mother.
My paintings are moments. They’re like visual journal entries that tell my reality. My intention is twofold. I want to tell my story, and I want to do it in a way that is compelling enough to make others want to tell their story, too.
As I have said, my daughter’s birth marked a significant change in my art. But the simplest life events find their way onto my canvas. When my hat fell off into the river, and I went under the overpass to retrieve it. Driving along highway 61 at dusk.
Whatever my brain is processing, will eventually come out one way or another.
Saturday, November 24, 2018
I don’t always see the finished product in my head before I start it. It is a process. Creativity is the way I sort through the feelings.
When I find a jumble of knotted cords in a drawer or closet, I don’t see the solution. I just find an end and start unraveling them. Before long, I have separate extension cords or useable headphones.
My brain feels like a jumble of tangled strings. My emotions feel overwhelming until I start to slowly untie them. I begin to see how they are connected.
When I paint, I just start somewhere and keep going until I’ve organized the paint in a way that makes sense to me.
Honestly, the thing I do to get into a creative mindset is to pick up a paintbrush, and dip it into a color.
The message I try to put into every painting is that this is my story. You can tell your story any way you want to. Just as your story is different from mine, your method of telling it will be different, too.
You can trust yourself, because you are the expert on being you.
No one else can express your thoughts and feelings. No one but you.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
The particular culture of the small town I live in is supportive. It seems to understand the role of artists here. Some of us are lucky enough to live here. Others flock to the area for festivals, and classes.
People don’t always understand my creative endeavors, but on some level, they understand me. I think they are sometimes surprised when I talk about my work, and that dialogue can make a lot of difference.
There is no one right answer to the meaning. I share my thoughts and my motivation, but I love it when someone sees something in my work that I was not aware of.
When viewing art or listening to music, we bring our whole life along with us. We see and hear everything through the filter of our accumulated experience. Original intent is what the artist did, but that is not the whole story. Not even close. Multiply that original viewpoint by the number of viewers who see it.
The ripples go out.
Maybe I am inspired by the work of another artist. I paint my impression of something about their work. Someone else may get an idea from what I’ve done, and so on. Our influence travels out from us, in ways we will never know. It laps against the shore far away, and may bring up treasures we never dreamed of.
Monday, November 19, 2018
My hand holds the brush only because the soul uses the brain to tell it to.
I’m not sure I could be completely random at all, unless I were to paint in complete darkness without seeing the paint I use or the canvas upon which I am painting.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
That’s a beautiful and poetic thought! To me, this quote expresses a byproduct of creating art. I often say that painting is meditative for me. I compare it to breathing and dreaming. It is centering and restorative. It washes the dust of daily life off my soul... but I don’t see that as the purpose.
For ME, the purpose of art is to communicate. I don’t mean here’s a picture of a tree, and it communicates what a tree looks like.
I believe art is how we communicate what it means to be a human being.
Words are a wonderful way to express, with great nuance, our experience of this fleeting time we have in our bodies. But the reader must understand the symbols we call letters, and the language that our sentences form in order for the message to be understood.
I can’t read hieroglyphics, but I can relate to the images created by ancient people.
The images I create have to speak for themselves. I won’t always be there to interpret the pictures.
The viewer must extrapolate the meaning, whether they are looking at an image of a tree, a fish in a tree, or a complete abstraction.
What I have seen and what I have felt are in the layers of paint. These experiences interface with the accumulated experiences of the viewer, and communication happens.
You might shrug and say So what? Or I don’t get it. Or you might say Me too!
Maybe the viewer is a fellow human, alive in my lifetime. Maybe someone will find something I have made 3,000 years from now. Or 20,000 years from now. Maybe an alien being will stumble across my art long after humans have disappeared. Maybe they will have eyes to see it.
Maybe they will see that I was a human, and that I felt like this.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
I am no longer working nights. I’ve taken full time work during the day as a teacher at the YMCA!
My nursing license qualifies me to be the lead teacher in the infant room. What a wonderful thing!
This means I sleep during the night, and this has taken some getting used to!
I am fully licensed as a foster care provider, so my new work schedule allows me to have children in my care at home, too.
I look back on the last few years, and particularly the month of September, and realize that I was way too busy.
And I am not impressed by busy-ness.
I read an article today that suggested that instead of saying I’m too busy, we should just say it’s not a priority. That’s really the truth.
And it’s really uninteresting to hear someone talk about how busy they are.
We all fill 24 hours per day. We do. We fill it with whatever is a priority to us.
I work. I write. I paint. I socialize. I often do these things simultaneously. It doesn’t mean I’m busy. It means I am spending this time doing this thing. Alone, or with someone else.
Work is not time away from my life. It is how I spend part of my life.
How fortunate I am, to spend my working hours making a difference in someone else’s life.
When I nurture others, I nurture myself.
I am forming relationships with new little people who are just beginning to form their neural pathways and their trust of others.
Their mental filters will grow more and more complex over the years, but it is built on this framework which started developing in the womb, and will continue throughout their lives.
I don’t ever want to be too busy to listen to someone. To watch someone’s accomplishment. To answer a question. To play peek-a-boo.
I never want to be so busy that I say You are not a priority.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Roses keep smelling like roses, and no one rolls their eyes and says they’re repeating themselves.
I am so grateful and so humbled by the support that has come to me from my community.
The words people say to me boggle my mind. When I am riddled with self doubt, people tell me I am an inspiration. When I think I am boring people, they say I am articulate. When I feel like I am crazy, I am told that I am filled with so much love.
I am filled with so much love.
So much love that it hurts sometimes.
To those who have contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, to those who bid so generously on my paintings to support the expansion of my family, to the anonymous person who set up a recurring deposit into my bank account, to those who have voiced their support through Facebook comments, and those who give me hugs when they see me around town... I can not find the words to adequately express my thanks.
If you think I am performing some noble feat to help someone in need, YOU ARE.
You sacrifice to help make my dream a reality.
I just had the best weekend I have had in over 22 years.
Everywhere we went, we were met with such warmth and attention. Here’s that word again... such love.
I saw this town and the world through a new set of eyes.
I love you.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
At the beginning of July, I adopted a kitten. I was not looking for a kitten. I already had a beautiful cat. But I saw a picture of him and could not resist. So Poika joined Lempi and me, and has brought a lot of energy into our home.
He plays all the time, and everything is a toy to him.
Lempi hid for the first week or two, but now I think she’d agree with me that we’re glad he’s here.
Monday, October 22, 2018
These new paintings are a departure for me in many ways. They are smaller, and they are painted on illustration board. I’m using more knives and scrapers to apply the paint, building up the surface in a way that I haven’t in the past. This impasto is something I have admired for a long time in other artists’ work. So I’m using fewer brushes, and less water.
The frames are from second hand stores. After art school, I stopped painting on paper because I wanted to avoid the expense of framing.
Expensive art supplies don’t make me a better artist. If anything, they make me more cautious, and that is not a good thing. What I love about the act of painting, is the sense of fun or exploration. I don’t feel free to experiment with expensive paint. I don’t want to dirty an expensive brush.
I buy the absolute cheapest paint scrapers and spackling knives... the kind at the hardware store, in the three-pack, with plastic handles.
I remember applying paint with bits of cut up or torn cardboard when I was in art school.
What I’m doing is not new, but new to me.
I heard a podcast this week that said, Creativity is the only way human progress happens.
It went on to say that creativity is Novelty with a purpose. Expectation, fulfilled in a way we haven’t seen before.
I have to strike a balance between Regulatory and comfort vs. surprise and novelty.
Yes. I have felt that way, too.
The words I write here can inform or surprise you, but only because they are familiar enough to be understood. If I made up my own unique language, it would be useless in conveying a message.
Over the past year or so, I have been tapping into my Finnish heritage by looking at a lot of abstract art by Finlanders. They have influenced the paintings I've been producing. Here is a little collection of the type of Finnish work that has inspired me and/or caught my interest. I don't have to try to paint like a Finn. Finnish blood runs through my veins.
Everyone is different. Every single person. No two people are alike. Each one of my new friends, and every one of us expresses our unique humanity, and completes the portrait of the human race.
Society wants to tell us who and what we should be. I don’t believe anyone should be anything. Just be you. You are enough exactly as you are.
Your anxiety lies to you.
Sometimes the mirror lies to you. We are our own harshest critic. We question everything good about ourselves, while being kind and generous to our friends and loved ones.
There is nothing wrong with you.
These are exhausting days for me. I don’t get enough sleep. But my days and nights are sprinkled with beauty.
Things are changing. I might get more rest in the near future, or I might be even more tired.
Either way, hang on tight. Here we go!
Friday, October 19, 2018
pitkä ajaa kotiin (long drive home)
MY HAND PAINTS
Artist's Talk and Silent Auction
Friday, October 26 in the big classroom at Cook County Higher Education in Grand Marais.
Please join me at the Higher Ed building between 6 and 10 pm. I’ll give a talk at 7 pm about my art and my philosophy, followed by a Q&A.
A collection of my new paintings will be available in a silent auction ending at 9:30. Bidding will start at just $10.
Come by for a hug and a glass of wine, and I will do my best to entertain, inform and inspire you.
I don't labor over paintings. I breathe in and out. I ponder things, places and people. While my brain is doing this, my hand paints.
To paint like this takes some confidence. I think people expect to see a representational form in a painting, be that a landscape, an object or a portrait.
That expectation is what, for me, has made abstract painting difficult. Especially when I was in my 20’s and going to art school.
To express a feeling or thought without spelling it out for the viewer can be challenging.
In my painting “long drive home”, I tried to capture the feeling of coming up the highway from Duluth after a day of shopping. The sun sets behind the trees, and blue shadows fill in the rock faces along the roadside.
The weariness of the drive makes arriving at home that much sweeter.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
I believe that every person has the ability to be creative. Not everyone has the confidence or the drive to act on that creativity, and creativity manifests itself in many different ways... through many different mediums and disciplines. It is not exclusive, and it’s is not a competition. Since we all have a unique viewpoint or perspective, we all have the ability to teach and inspire each other.
Your strength may lie in my area of weakness or limitation, so we are puzzle pieces that come together to form humanity, complementing each other. What is a challenge to you should not be a source of embarrassment.
I think I found my creative niche because of my weak areas. As a child, I was not able to find success through academics. This was a problem, because the main thing I was judged on was schoolwork. Art was fun for me. It was easy. It was easily dismissed. Even when crowds of kids gathered around me to watch me draw, I did not consider it special. It was not important.
While I believe that we are all innately creative, I think a lot of people valued other things more.
We get good at what we practice. And I think it’s true that if we don’t use it, we lose it.
But what is lost can be found again.
I don’t think it is ever too late to learn a new skill. We can tap into a dormant ability. It might take more effort, or more thought, but I firmly believe that it can be done.
I learned English very easily as a toddler. Learning Spanish as an adult is very difficult.
Everything I have experienced influences my art. Some things are more obvious than others. The challenges I am aware of are are often the main subject of my paintings. The unnamed, forgotten or repressed challenges are just as much a part of me. Just as real, though they may not wear a label to identify them.
Artists and art teachers have certainly influenced me. They have worked out many things for me, and I benefit from all the art that all humans have made throughout our history. Even the art I have never seen. Artists have been influenced by each other, and pass that influence on to the next generation. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
I have always wanted to make art. I haven’t always wanted to show it to anyone else.
Spirituality and culture are at the very core of creativity. We have the unique ability to express our feelings and emotions like no other earthlings can. Visually, through the written word, dance or theater to name a few. Culture is our context.
Education is important, because it gives a framework to learning. Learning is a lifelong endeavor. An education doesn’t make you creative, but it supports creativity.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
They’re not a Lake Superior fish, but how could you not like a flounder? They are beautiful. Adorable. Or grotesque.
They’re always on the bottom, always looking up.
I started painting them because I felt like I was floundering. Not the kind of floundering where I felt lost or hopeless, but more like I had taken way too big a bite of something so delicious that I couldn’t help myself. My mouth was so full of this wonderful food that I questioned whether I could actually chew and swallow it.
That doesn’t sound like floundering anymore.
Ok. I was feeling frustrated about a painting. That doesn’t usually make me flounder, because I can just paint over it. But I was painting in public. People were watching. They wanted to see what I was doing. I was painting trees. As you may be aware, I am known for painting fish in trees.
When I mentioned floundering, I put the two together and put flounders in the branches.
Then I eventually obliterated the whole thing.
It was fine. It was valuable to me.
I sold the canvas and came away with flounders... the binturoung of the fish world. I haven’t mentioned them here before, but I love them. For as long as I can remember, if you asked me what my favorite animal is, I’d say binturoung.
Binturoungs to me, are like sloths are to my daughter.
I’m not sure why I associate them with flounders, but I do.
Maybe the color. Something about their facial expression. I don’t need to justify this.
Binturoungs smell like popcorn.
So why flounders? Just for the halibut.
MY HAND PAINTS
Artist Tim Young: ART TALK AND SILENT AUCTION.
Please join me at the Higher Ed building between 6 and 10 pm. I’ll give a talk at 7 pm about my art and my philosophy, followed by a Q&A.
A collection of my new paintings will be available in a silent auction ending at 9:30. Bidding will start at just $10. I am raising funds for expenses associated with my adoption of a group of siblings.
Come by for a hug and a glass of wine, and I will do my best to entertain, inform and inspire you.
While I hope people like my paintings, I really want to be remembered for being generous, open, and for helping you see, accept, express and love your own soul.
- from my blog, http://timouth.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Having a big new idea is a wonderful thing. But it’s just the beginning. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to bring that idea to life.
When I have an idea for a painting, I am often unhappy with what initially comes out. If I’m too rigid with that original concept, then it’s very difficult to improve. On the other hand, if I look at my attempt with an open mind, and am willing to change course, then the piece can take on a life of its own. It can become fun for me to work on, and fun for a viewer to see.
It can become my next big thing.
The idea is like a seed. The seed looks very different from the plant that grows from it!
Sometimes I think a picture is unsalvageable. It looks messy. Muddy. I work and work at details, and it ends up looking worse and worse. When I have nothing left to lose, I grab a big brush, and any color at all. Or black. Or white. Or I mix every paint color on my palate. I obliterate that frustration in large, confident strokes. Sometimes this brings the painting to life in a way that surprises me. Even if it doesn’t, I’ve gotten rid of the problem and have a blank slate. A quick, solid background around the subject is often all it needs to set it apart.
This is what I do when I paint. It applies to life, too.
If I feel frustrated about a situation, I try to fix it. I monkey with the details, and remain discouraged. Sometimes sweeping changes are called for. So I reach for life’s big paintbrush, and load it with paint.
I have the power to change things when I need to. Whether it is a bad relationship, a toxic work environment, boredom, loneliness...
We invest a lot of time and resources into those details that aren’t working, so it can be scary to bring them to an end. But when I am ready, I can take that big brush or paint roller, and start over! Not from scratch, but adding the latest lesson to everything that has come before.
Please. Be kind to yourself if you find yourself in the doldrums, or overwhelmed by too much stuff surrounding you.
I have done this before. I found myself in a situation where my finances were not sustainable. My credentials were not adequate.
I took the biggest brush in my paintbox and went back to school. At age 50, I set out on a new career path, and it made all the difference in the painting of my life.
Monday, October 08, 2018
A lot of my friends love fall. I love summer. All winter, I long for the warm days when I can sit with my friends around a bonfire in my yard. Fall tells me that winter is coming. We usually get snow around Halloween, but this year it came earlier. I accept that. I can't change it. Fall is pretty, but it is so short, and it tells me what is coming. Months of longing for summer again!
Saturday, October 06, 2018
For whatever harm I have caused others,
may they forgive me.
For whatever harm others have caused me,
may I forgive them.
For whatever harm I have caused myself,
I forgive myself.
What if. What if I could advocate for myself as unashamedly as I can for my loved ones?
I’m proud of you for trying. It’s easy to say to someone else, and really, really hard to say to myself.
Friday, October 05, 2018
I could not find my way around that city.
It feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone (or as Maddee said when she was little, “Toilet Zone”). Because when I thought I had lost everything, I got to the other side... woke up one day back in my own life mumbling “There’s no place like home.”
It was a wake up call, for sure.
I’ve said this before, but it is amazing how much difference a year can make.
I might flounder from time to time in the little details each day brings, but now I know. I know where I belong. I don’t flounder in the big stuff. I have a new confidence. A new voice. Contentment.
I often think back to a question my mother-in-love asked me one day many years ago.
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
Think about that.
What would you do
if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Whatever it is, do that.
Tuesday, October 02, 2018
I am a third culture kid. I am an American who graduated from high school overseas, in a third world country.
When I turned 18 years old, I found myself homeless and alone in the US. I had no one to turn to. My family was still overseas. I had no place to sleep, no food to eat, no money, no job or job skills. No plan. I had escaped what I saw as an abusive situation where I had been the ward of an institution until my 18th birthday.
That day, I got on a bus and headed to a town I had once lived in. I got off the bus with my duffle bag and no clue what to do next.
I felt guilty for being alive, and for the next year, I was a burden on anyone that agreed to help me. Furthermore, the director of the place I left warned me as I got on the bus, that if I left, I would be turning my back on God’s will for my life, and would have to settle for second best from that day on.
I never wanted to feel that way again, and I don’t want my children to feel that way, ever.
I endured difficult times after that, because I didn’t have the tools to navigate life on my own.
Over the years, I have learned a lot. I have gained new skills and confidence that have made me now able to help others who find themselves in need.
I have several titles or labels which include Artist, Minister, Nurse, Teacher, Foster Care Provider, Writer, Father, Grandfather...
As many of you know, I am in the process of adopting again. This is a sibling group of three teenagers who desperately need a home and guidance to help them transition into adulthood.
I am grateful to everyone who has voiced their support of this endeavor, and I look forward to being able to share more information with you when I am free to do so.
October 15 is my collateral meeting with the kids’ teachers, foster parents and other providers of their daily care. Coincidentally, October 15 is the birthday of my 22 year old (though I couldn’t get to her until October 16).
October 15 is also my dad’s next doctor’s appointment. He is having serious medical difficulties and I know he would greatly appreciate your prayers.
Thank you. Thank you for your friendship, kindness and love.
Monday, October 01, 2018
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
I try to keep my eyes open... my mental and spiritual eyes... so that I take in as much as I can... as many opportunities to appreciate the season of plenty... as many opportunities to hug. To make a new friend. To grow.
The time and scenery of life zip past my backwards facing seat in the back of god’s station wagon. I can’t see what’s up ahead, but I know my father is at the wheel, taking me someplace good.
That highway of life has many exits and on-ramps, so the company on the road changes constantly.
We travel side by side, or we pick up a hitchhiker. Someone who needs a ride for a while.
We share our stories, and then we become a part of each other’s story when our paths diverge.
The scribbled notes on September become real life events, and often surprise me, because the chore or obligation I saw as a speed bump actually turns out to be a beautiful excursion or photo opportunity.
Monday, September 24, 2018
Sometimes the labels loosen or come completely off.
My body is a collection of cells that interact with each other, and are contained within a barrier of skin, which is also made of cells. They all function together to make me into an animated kind of machine, or distinct entity. One day, even that label will fall off, and I will cease to be that anymore.
So what am I really? Molecules that cling together for a while. I'm an idea. I'm an expression of the universe. I'm a fleeting thought. A minute part of a particular, temporary race of beings, trying to say something about my supposed existence before the cells of my body separate again and become part of something else.
But is that me?
Am I my body, or do I just live in my body for now?
I will be the Artist-In-Residence at Kah Nee Tah Gallery (on Highway 61, between Lutsen and Grand Marais) this weekend, September 28, 29 and 30.
Starting at 11 am each day, I'll be painting and talking with anyone who comes by. I would love to see you there! Starting at 2, I want to focus on a couple of my other projects. The Adventures of Mr. Pumpkinhead is a collection of fables that deal with a variety of topics including dyslexia, dementia, death, adoption, illness, etc., in a fun, kid and adult friendly way. I'll read to anyone who wants to listen! They include digital art, and this time can include coloring, pumpkin carving, and as always, lots of talk. The Adventures of Flash Meridian is my Sci Fi autobiography, and includes topics such as creativity, self esteem and spirituality.
At around 4 pm each day, I will give an artist talk with wine available. This is where I will share the heart of my philosophy of life and art. Please come by if you can, I would love to see you, hug you, talk to you, and hear your story, too!