Author Sally Hogshead, who wrote that wonderful book “How the World Sees You”, sent an email newsletter this week that really resonated with me. And here I am. In the very predicament she described. I am in what she calls the “throne of Agony”! Ready to throw in the towel and feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Dr. Hogshead says this is part of a five step process to a creative breakthrough-
1) Possibility 2)Doubt 3)Agony 4)Epiphany 5)Finesse
My friends and I have called it “the ugly phase”. It’s when you really wrestle with a painting and panic sets in and you question if you are really an artist at all. Really, we do! And we’ve learned that it’s not THAT bad and it really will feel wonderful when we can breakthrough and make something out of a real mess. Ah, finesse! Will this one ever get there?
I’m in a panic because there are deadlines and people waiting on me to create something they will love. Realizing that I should stop for a while, I put the paints away and chose to blog about this “throne of Agony” moment and share a little insight into the studio life with you.
Like Sally Hogshead says, “The Agony is a valuable, healthy, and necessary part of creating anything worthwhile.” (And like Scarlett says, “Tomorrow is another day.”)
We all have them. Books we love that made an impact in our lives and that we tell others about. Here are the 3 books I suggest the most.
1) “If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of The Boat”, by John Ortberg
My cousin gave this book to me years ago now. It was a time when I was nervous about putting my artwork “out there” on the market. This book is great for encouraging the reader to take risks and face your fears. You may have guessed it from the title, but the book uses the biblical story of Peter walking on water as an example throughout. Some people never get out of the boat! But like Ortberg says, “You are one step away from the adventure of your life.” I love his sense of humor too.
2) “The Creative Call”, by Janice Elsheimer
Whenever I meet someone who says they “used to” paint or put to use any sort of creative gift, I encourage them to just do it! I firmly believe that we each were created with some sort of gift that the world can use or benefit from. Sometimes we’ve stopped using our gifts because we’re too busy or maybe because we were once criticized. This book will help reignite your inspiration and help you work through anything that may be holding you back. It too is a faith based book and has suggested prayers and scriptures throughout. You can work through this alone but I think it’s great to share and discuss with friends.
3) “How the World Sees You”, by Sally Hogshead
This is a recent find. Sally Hogshead says we were all created “fascinating” and learn to be boring by being told to conform, color in the lines, and do like everyone else does. She says the trick is to un-learn boring! With her advertising expertise and years of experience, she created a test to determine what strengths you have that make you unique. (The book comes with an online access code for taking the test.) Everyone can benefit from this information. She also provides coaching and helpful tips on how to make the most of what makes you fascinating to get the best results for your business. It’s a positive approach focusing on your strengths
How about you? Do you have any books that you find yourself quoting or suggesting more than others? I’d love to hear about them!
In a recent post titled “How to Forget about 2014”, Donald Miller quoted someone who said this about life…the windshield is much bigger than the rearview mirror. I love that. People who focus too much on the rear view are less able to steer and make good decisions or changes for what’s ahead. I thought it might encourage someone if I were to share my rearview mirror story. I hope you don’t mind.
I have said more than a few times, “I can’t wait for 2014 to be over.” In January I found my mom at her home in one of those situations we all fear will one day happen. That was the beginning of an almost 6 month fight for her life and quite an emotional roller coaster. The exhaustion felt almost unbearable as did the heartache. She passed away in the middle of 2014. And the remainder of this year found my family and I dealing with grief. You hear about the phases of grief and about how time heals all wounds, etc. Indeed, grief is quite an individual thing and I am confident now that it varies from person to person.
Here comes the “but”. BUT there were jewels in 2014 as well and if I were to erase the year from my memory, or rearview, I would not have them to treasure. The ol’ circle of life kind of things, like the birth of our nephew Tucker and two beautiful weddings. Both weddings were at crucial times but in each of those times we were able to celebrate the moment. And dance. I love that! Somehow it’s like a rebellious response against whatever is trying to rob your joy. Despite it all, we knew this was good and right and we were able to set aside any pain for a moment. It didn’t go away. It just didn’t have so much power. Some would call that “surprised by joy.” And this year I traveled with my children on some pretty spectacular trips. I will never forget a breathtaking, clear and starry night when I was dancing and laughing onboard a boat in NYC’s harbor with a crowd of happy high school students and parents…
Life is so very hard. And life is so very beautiful. I experienced both simultaneously in 2014. I do believe God gives us more than we can handle. Because it’s in those times when we come to our own ends, we cry out to God to help us. He was faithful. He is faithful. Good bye 2014. I will never forget you.
Happy New Year!
Now let’s dance…
"People seek peace - you produce it."
"It is sooooooo real. It appeals to my southern side. Details, depth, subject matter colors"
"Every piece shows your awe and respect for creation."
"A deep gaze into the wonder of simple moments. An attention to detail that says - every petal on a flower and every speckle on an egg - it all matters."
"Being a nature lover and gardener, I was immediately drawn to Amy's paintings. The first painting I purchased was a nest containing four eggs with a butterfly perched on the side of the next. I have since purchased several more, but that one is my favorite. To me, her paintings evoke a sense of serenity—something we could all use more of in our busy lives."
"In Amy's work, I see a sense of wonder that has been gifted to her. She paints in a way that helps and enables me to see intricate details of creation as I've never seen them before. I honestly think that her paintings have caused me to take more time to stop and look deeply into bits of nature that surround me daily. Her art has enriched my own sense of wonder."
"While the Governor's Mansion serves as the People's House, it also becomes home to Alabama's first families. The 'Alabama Nest' features various state symbols, together symbolizing home in the private dining room. Thank you Amy for your generosity, creativity and service to Alabama!"
"One of our favorite artists in all of Alabama is Amy. We love her realistic representations and dramatic use of shadowing. But more than that we just love Amy. She's always so warm and welcoming when we see her at local shows. Come out to her next show and purchase an original Amy Crews. You will not regret."
©2018 Amy Crews Artist