encouragement

Appreciation is Contagious. Better Catch It. by Mary Jennings

Loving The Rain! I posted a status on my FB account this morning.  I had to.  I couldn’t help it.  I really wanted to share the amazing delight I was feeling at that very moment.  I just knew that others would enjoy what I was experiencing.  Finding the right words to express my moment were also part of the fun.

It got quite a few likes, but it also made me think about how fortunate I felt to be experiencing something so simple and so impossible for me to create by my own hand or skill.  I was wholly appreciative.  I have noticed some other grateful updates being posted by some of my other friends on some other social media sites.

A young photographer friend was prompting people to make sure to take time to stop and notice the beautiful sunrise and sunsets we are blessed with daily.  Such wise advice for such a young girl.  She might have been preaching to the choir, though.  I have seen an increase in stunning sky photos on FB and Instagram with people doing just that; looking up.  Vacation will have that effect on you.  I’ve enjoyed looking at and clicking like on every last post I’m fortunate enough to encounter.

Beauty Discovered

I also love that I have several artist friends who are able to see the beauty in some not so expectedly beautiful things and are generous enough to share their discoveries (and be thankful on top of that).  This was posted by a friend and former Moore College of Art classmate who made my day with her midnight snack.

So, all of this is to say, look up, stand still, soak in and share.  Appreciation is contagious; better catch it and share.  It might just also be the cure for all that ails.

Experiencing Observation: Photographic by Mary Jennings

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Have you seen my....? You can just about insert any item into the blank left at the end of the request. As a young girl, living in a messy house and now as a mother in a busy household, I am able to provide a location of pretty much any lost item. I have the opportunity to experience observation with my skills of photographic memory. I love to use these skills but would love to get paid for the workout they are getting with my sons "help me find it" requests. In this, the fifth posting about experiencing observation in different ways, I am either going to help you determine a skill you already have or help you develop a new skill. This form of almost photographic observation not only comes in handy when looking for something that is out-of-place, but it also serves as a tool to help your art become more well-rounded. It helps create an internal reference library of regular life stills. Colors, objects, arrangements, conditions and unlikely combinations are all retained for future use.

If you've seen it, you may be able to recall and use that information to add or complete a detail in your art. It makes a defining difference.

Blessing and Curse

At times, I am called upon to help a friend recall where they put their purse, or help my husband find his keys, but every now and again I am interested in recalling a certain color I might have observed in a leaf of a tree or in the shadow on the snow. These are important pieces of information that will help 'validate' a piece of art while painting. This is real information that might make or break a work of art. It might be the piece that adds real soul to your work.

The best direction that I can offer in developing the skill of photographic observation is to PAY ATTENTION. This might mean putting your smart phone or other device down *GASP*. The world is full of subtle details and they're all around you 24/7. Pay attention at all times. Take mental notes of how things are when you look at them. Make mental note of the environment and conditions surrounding the observation. Does it all make sense? If not, why? These bits of information might help complete the picture.

Project for You

I have an exercise for you to complete. For a very average part of your day, pay careful attention to every detail of your surroundings and events. Just do this for a few hours. In a notebook or sketchbook, I want you to write or draw some details that you noticed. These details aren't the ones that would stand out to everybody simply passing by, these are details that are well, detailed.

Feel free to share some of your average and not-so-average observations in the comment section below. I would love to read all about it.

Experiencing Observation - Focus by Mary Jennings

In this fourth installation of posts on Experiencing Observation, I will cover the duty of seeking. This requires a high level of observational skills and a multi-sensory focus. It has many applications and can be a benefit to exercise, but if over used becomes a problem by causing unwanted mental fatigue otherwise known as “UGH!”

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!

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“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most” reads a plaque I was given when I was a busy Interior Designer with Martha Child Interiors early in my career. It was very appropriately given and gratefully received. This was my first job out of college and I worked extremely long hours and was always looking for fabric, furniture, lighting, finishes and yes, my lost mind. I experienced incredible focus while employed for this position. Part of my job was to head to the Design Center in Washington, D.C. to select the perfect fabrics for every piece of furniture, window treatment and pillow for the Sunrise Retirement Homes. I would comb through 3 floors of designer fabric showrooms and come home with several bags (4-6) full of fabric swatches. I was really good a zeroing in on the right color, texture and price for the potential destination of this fabric. It was wonderful and unbelievably exhausting. I was so thankful the Design Center had so much to choose from in every showroom I entered.

If you are woman who wears earrings, you have most likely experienced this kind of focused, dutiful, and quest filled observation. Finding the perfect pair in a pile of many can require extreme patients, if you don’t have these beauties all laid out and organized. As I get older, I am driven to spending less and less time in this journey. Organization and general simplification of appearance help. I won’t even go into the frenzied focus involved in finding a LOST item.

Just this morning, I created a perfectly funny joke, complete with set-up and punch. This is always a great thing for my role as a novice stand-up comedian. I was busy at the time and didn’t stop to write it down with the thought of getting back to it without any great effort after finishing my busy work. Within a short period of time, I was shocked to find the joke completely gone from my mind. I immediately began to dig in to all of my sensual memory to try to capture that joke again. I remember having the visualization of me sharing it with a delighted audience. It was so concrete and yet not. I am still mentally standing here with all my doors open, on full alert, waiting for that little treasure to blow on in. Otherwise, I might have to make a joke about the one that got away like the fisherman’s fictitious big fish.

I trust my skills for observation and will report in the comment section below if it manages to come to me. I’m working on it. Tell me if you have ever experienced this kind of observation.  I would love to hear your story. I hope you are benefiting from my efforts to encourage your experiences of observation.

 

Experiencing Observation: Restorative by Mary Jennings

Have you ever been in so much pain that you are looking for anything to relieve it?  I have.  I could be referring to physical pain and but there is also emotion pain.  I think there are more remedies for physical pain than there are for pain experienced by the heart and soul.  With physical pain you can pinpoint the cause a bit easier and treat it as recommended.  In this case, I am talking about more of an emotional ache.  I have had times when my heart hurt and I was broken down like a an abandoned ride on the side of the road.  This sounds like lyrics for a Country Music song performed on Dr. Phil. Oil on Canvas by Mary Jennings

I approach these times differently now with some experience under my belt.  There have been times when I have lifted myself up and taken myself OUT of my misery; OUT of my WOE by putting one foot in front of the other in search of relief.  I was overly humbled and looking for a glimpse of encouragement.  I think we tend to hang on to our woe sometimes until we are done with sitting in it.  It’s like poking a bruise to remember it hurts.   I think putting the mental hand out, making the physical steps to receive a new direction for our hearts and heads to go into through this use of observation.

None of this can happen at times like this without a look up, a hand out or a first step.  Take one and the others will follow.

Through this action, the pain turns to a celebration of gratitude.  None of this can happen at times like this without a look up, a hand out or a first step.  Take one and the others will follow.  Great creativity can be born from these low places, but it’s not where I  personally want to dwell.  At this point in my life, it’s nice to recognize these times and turn them around pretty quickly.

"Boasting Promise" Oil on Canvas by Mary Jennings

This is a time when you see the sky in a whole new way.  Images are etched in your mind.  The process of observing people, places and things is restorative.  It’s like that first drink of water after being thirsty for a long time.  You're amazed at how delicious it really is.  If you encounter a time like this, consider it an invitation to go see things.  Average sightings are glorious.  You will look at yourself (sitting in self-pity) in contrast with the tree that has barely one good limb and still manages to boast such promise with a brilliant display of buds on that branch, in the dead of a bitter cold winter.  You can do this.  You can.

I would love to know about any observations you may have made during a time like this.  Leave a comment below or email me to share.  mary@maryjenningsart.com

Feature Friday: My Sketchbook Project 2013 by Mary Jennings

Sketchbook Project 2012 detail

With the great pleasure I took in “releasing” my sketchbook in Jan. 2012 and creating and uploading the accompanying video in March, I have even more delight in knowing that over a thousand people have watched my (almost too long) video.  It was great to be able to show how it was made and the thought process behind all of the art. “Even though art is considered to be representational, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t very abstract messages embedded deep within those familiar images.  Artist’s statements are always very helpful to bring the audience closer to your work.

Sketchbook Project 2012

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Preview Sketchbook Project 2013

8+8=16 16+16=32.... No, I am not performing The Inchworm.  I am counting the pages that are in this year’s blank sketchbook.  Thirty-two pages are waiting for me to fill them.  The theme of my book this year is, UPSTAIRS.  You will be a part of the process, just like before with another video on it’s way.  The book has to be completed and shipped January 15, 2013.  So, I better get to work!

Think about me and if you would like, leave an encouraging word for me in the comment section below.

I will be creating a blog specifically on Brooklyn Art Library and The Sketchbook Project 2013 on one of my Spotlight Saturday postings.