"So Close," Oil on Canvas, 24x24 inches, © Lynn Goldstein $1800
Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
This quote by Picasso has always charmed me. Here's a little story that illustrates the quote beautifully.
We have a fort in our backyard that was built for our son when he was young. The fort and swing set remain, while our son does not. New children are engaged in play in our yard inside the fort and on the swings. These boys taught me something the other day that I want to share with you. Hopefully, you will get a chuckle, and maybe learn something too.
After returning from my walk in the woods, I noticed the boys playing in our backyard. We are happy to have them there, but they were moving landscaping stones from where they belonged, so I needed to go and ask them to refrain from doing that. Here's how the conversation went. Trust me, you're gonna smile:
Me: Hi guys, do me a favor, please don't move the stones, and try not to trample on the flowers.
Boy #1: Do you live here? ( stated with some indignation)
Me: Why yes I do.
Boy #1: We have permission to be here. (I knew this. Boy #1 had spoken to my husband (aka Terrific Tax Attorney) awhile back and secured permission.)
Me: Why, yes you do, but please don't trample on the flowers, and don't move the stones.
That problem solved, a redirection in the conversation took place with--
Boy #2: (Excitedly) Did you know that you have SLUGS in your yard?
Me: EWWW! No, I didn't.
Boy #2: They are so cute!
Me: You think?
Boy #2: Yes, we are going to take them home with us as pets.
Me: Okay (I didn't say, take as many as you want!)
Boy #2: I named my slug Allie, he's so cute.
Me: Really, you think so?
Boy #2: Yes! He may not seem cute on the outside, but I am sure that he is cute on the inside!
You may be thinking, what in the world could you learn from the perception of the cuteness of slugs? Well, it's all subjective isn't it?
If we can find some beauty in all that surrounds us, we may take better care of our environment, the people we encounter, and whatever comes our way during each day. Seeing the world this way is certainly seeing with the eyes of a child.
What I really know is that the encounter with these boys brightened my life, and for that I am grateful. Hope this story brightened your day. Oh, and by the way, I still don't care for slugs.
Gardon Reflections #3, 18x24 inches, Acrylic, ©Lynn Goldstein, Inspired by trip to France in 2013, Sold
While teaching a workshop in southern France in 2013, I traveled to Aix en Provence to visit Paul Cezanne's studio. For me, this visit was like a pilgrimage because I have felt transported spiritually by viewing Cezanne's work for years.
We were warned that no photographs were allowed. There were stern women standing guard. If a camera or phone was whipped out of a bag or pocket the offender was roundly chastised in a barrage of disparaging French.
I don't generally break rules of this nature. Thing is, something caught my eye that was begging to be photographed. While one of my students shielded my phone from view, I snapped the shot. There was a letter that Cezanne had sent to his friend Claude Monet, and I wanted to remember what was written. I wish I had gotten a photo of the letter in French, but realized that I should cut my losses and get what I could. Here is the photo that I took of the letter, translated into English:
As you can see, in his letter, Cezanne discloses his displeasure with a piece on which he was working. More importantly, he thanks his fellow artist friend, Claude Monet, for his moral support. This is something that we all need, and I count myself fortunate to have wonderful friends that are walking the same path that I am in making art. I receive support from them that I treasure.
Isn't it wonderful to learn unexpected things from those whose work inspires us? Isn't it even more wonderful to have the support of understanding friends?
Here are a few of my favorites from Cezanne Portraits at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Boy in a Red Waistcoat, Paul Cezanne, 1888-1889
Cezanne is best known for his still life and landscape painting. I think that perhaps the reason that this piece appeals to me so much is that, although it is a portrait, I can see the landscape qualities in the composition. Do you see the similarities to a tree in the pose of the adolescent here? The background drapery even has a tree trunk quality to it. The complimentary color scheme of green and red is utilized to great effect as well.
Man in a Blue Smock, Paul Cezanne, 1897
This painting was riveting to me. I tend to gravitate to complimentary color schemes and this painting is no exception, with blue and orange dominating. Again, their are landscape elements present in this piece. Cezanne utilized a painted screen that he had made in the past as the background.
This Way, 10x10, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $575
How many of you suffer from bouts of insecurity? I know, right? Who hasn’t?
Feelings of inadequacy are threads that have been woven throughout the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. Those feelings have stymied my success in ways that I can pinpoint, and ways that I am just beginning to understand. Most importantly, that lack of confidence has kept me from recognizing the best way to fulfill my mission.
Although I know that my moments of flagging confidence are not going to be vanquished forever. I wanted to understand a way to eliminate the feelings as much as I could. With that in mind, I spoke with one of my coaches recently, and she helped me with a trick that I think may be helpful to you if you ever suffer from self doubt. Again, who doesn't?
While unpacking the root of my feelings of inadequacy, I disclosed to her a story from my memories as a child, which I will share with you here.
How great is that little swim cap? Had to protect my hair. Here I am at 4 years old, loving life.
One of my first memories, when I was about 4 years old, was that I was on this earth to touch people in a positive way. In other words, at four years old, I knew my life’s mission. My fear of being labeled nuts at worse, or an extreme Pollyanna at best, kept me from sharing this mindfulness with others. However, since I have been carefully disclosing my remembrance to select people, their reactions have indicated how unusual that memory actually was.
After confessing this recollection to my coach, she asked, “How could you touch people in a positive way and possibly be inadequate?
A giant lightbulb went off when I responded to her question. I realized that it is impossible to be lesser-than if I am touching people in a positive way. Therefore, as long as I, or my art, are fulfilling that mission, it is good enough!
Here’s the part that helps me stay positively focused, and what you may be able to do to help yourself when your confidence wanes. I call it my “mind reorientation tool.” When I feel myself comparing my art, or my life, or even myself with others, and am tempted to let that lack of confidence rear its ugly head, I remember my mission. To help me even further, I have a picture of my four year old self taped to the side of my easel. When I look at that sweet little girl, who truly never knew a stranger, and smiled at all she encountered, I am transported back to a time when love surrounded me. This photo helps me to remember that as long I am fulfilling my mission, I am good enough, swim cap and all!
Now, here’s your task. If you are fulfilling your mission, whatever that is, you can’t possibly be inadequate. Think that over. Then, find something, it can be just about anything, to reorient your mind when the negativity starts creeping in.
I hope that this helps you as it has helped me. If you think of a little reminder that brings you back to balance, and would like to share what that is in the comments, I would love to hear from you. Who knows, we may all come away with great ideas to help each other!
Summer Solstice #2, 24x24 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $1700
My recommendation is to buy what you truly love. I have never regretted buying art that I love.
Usually the work just speaks to me, and I have to have it. Often, the image or object sparks a memory that may have faded to almost gray. The moment I see the art, the memory comes barreling back into my psyche, and I am transported. I relish that feeling, and get it every time I look at the piece I own. The painting above is one that moves me right back to the loving arms of my grandmother. Why? I have no idea.
Sparked memories occurred with someone who just purchased a painting from me, and I want to share her experience with you here. Take a look at what she shared with me. I can't improve on what she expressed!
Quietude, 36 x 24 inches, Pastel, ©Lynn Goldstein SOLD
I am thrilled with “Quietude.” In fact, I have found out that I really have two pastel paintings in one! It is hanging over my bed, perfectly, and in the daylight looks every bit as it appeared when I purchased it. But my second pastel painting came as a total surprise. I woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in bed to look at it in the dim light of the room (a digital frame with family moving along frame- by- frame casts a slight light in the room). When I turned around to look at it, I was immediately taken back home as a child when we used to take winter evening walks through our woods when the moon was out. “Quietude” had the same visual, as if evening, and somewhere there was a residual light coming through from the moon. I still can’t get over it!
I love what she shared. Hey, can you tell me about a piece of art that brings back great memories for you? I'd enjoy reading about it. Share below.
Afternoon Shadows, Oil on Canvas, 24x24 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein, $1700
The drawing below was a first effort for me at the age of 4
While someone was visiting my studio last week, a common question was posed. The question was this, "When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?" Followed by a less common question, "When did you know that you were talented in visual art?"
Now, on the surface, the first question was an easy one to answer. The surface answer was, "Since I was a kid." The second question was harder, because I still am not sure how much talent I have. I work at my art, and have questioned my talent almost as long as I have been breathing. But I was reminded of something in my past that illustrated almost exactly when I knew that I wanted to be an artist. Bear with me here. I think you will get my point.
Remember when you were in elementary school? Of course you do! Come sit with me in those tiny chairs and let me share a memory.
When I was in elementary school, we had coloring competitions. That's right, coloring competitions! Silly as they were, I found myself most annoyed that Rachel Trent (name changed to protect the innocent) won those darn competitions every week. Now, I knew that Rachel had no more ability than I did where art was concerned. After all, I could draw rings around Rachel Trent! Her winning stuck in my craw weekly. So, rather than admit defeat, I studied what Rachel did with her coloring. She was very neat, and stayed carefully within the boundaries of the coloring book pages. This felt uncomfortable and uncreative to me even as a kid. Unlike anyone else in the class, she outlined each border of the forms with black. Therefore, armed with knowledge, I did the same thing, and won! Once I had proven to myself that I too could win the coloring competition, I went back to NOT coloring within the lines, not being totally neat, and certainly not putting black outlines around the forms.
What does this story say about me? Well, I'm not particularly competitive unless something matters to me. I don't care about sports, and how well I perform in them, but art, well that's another matter. If I feel a hint of competitiveness, importance to me is confirmed. I also know that I don't like to color within the lines!
So, I still question my talent, but I never question the importance of art and being an artist in my life.
What matters to you? Have you had an ah ha moment when you realized that THIS (whatever this was) was important to you? How was that confirmed? Let me know in the comments below.
"Closer to Winter," Oil on Canvas, 20x20inches, ©Lynn Goldstein
Most people don't realize how difficult this making art business can be. To let you inside, here's a blow-by-blow account of a recent challenging painting experience I have been slamming my head against.
First of all, let me say that I love what I do. I am particularly fortunate to be able to make things for emotional uplift and (sometimes) financial gain. That said, not all paintings are created equally. Some, though very rare, are what I refer to as "hole-in-one" paintings. This description is derived from my years of playing golf. When someone gets a hole-in-one it appears effortless. Those paintings bearing that description just seem to spring forth from some internal well of talent that goes into hiding as quickly as it appears. In other words, they are rare.
Most recently, I have been painting feverishly in anticipation of a solo exhibition that I will be having in June (one of the paintings to be included is above). The work has been going smoothly. No hole-in-one paintings, but work with a minimum of angst attached to the experience. Not so for the most recent piece.
Value sketch of painting before my start
I started the painting as I almost always do. I went for a hike in the woods near my home. The day was beautiful, unseasonably warm, and pleasant. I took a multitude of resource photographs, excited at the prospect of revisiting the scenes in my work. After careful selection of the photograph, I made a value sketch (above). A value sketch is simply a black and white version of what I see. I can understand the composition, and better visualize how I am going to make the painting.
Trouble started to rear its ugly head right away, but I didn't see it coming. You see, I didn't pay enough attention to my value sketch, instead getting tied up with I don't even know what. I continued painting, thinking with each step along the way that I had finally found the solution to reel me back into comfortable territory. Didn't happen.
What would you do in a situation like that? I'll tell you what I did, and maybe you can use some of the the same techniques when you run into what appears to be failure.
1. I ripped the offending canvas off my easel and started two other oil paintings by staining the surfaces of two canvases, and for good measure, started an abstract pastel painting.
Here's the oil underpainting to start another painting. An artist's version of getting back on the horse after being thrown, with the added benefit of no blunt force injuries.
2. To add more salve to my wounds, I hi-tailed it home and went for a walk in the woods before the predicted cold front blew into town. Once I was among my trees, I could decompress and enjoy the rest of my day, and come into the studio the next day with a fresh perspective.
By using acetate over the painting, I can visualize whether a change will enhance or harm the final piece.
3. To see if what I had been envisioning as a correction would work, I put acetate over my painting. This is a great tool for making changes without commitment. I think that this change will work. It opens up the composition and helps lead the viewer into the picture plane. That said, this painting is still in time out in the corner of my studio where it will remain indefinitely while I work on other pieces that don't require multiple trips to a psychologist to improve!
I hope these ideas give you fuel for thought when you smack up against a failure. Please share your antidotes for trouble in the comments below. Solutions are always nice to have!
This is Summer Solstice #2, 24x24 inches, Oil on Canvas, ©Lynn Goldstein $1700
For some reason, this painting reminds me of my maternal grandmother. While working on the piece, I felt the warmth of my Mimi's embrace. I hope that my art provides a warm "hug" for you today and in the future.
Since one of my goals as an artist (and a human being) is to touch people in a positive way with my artwork, I am always happy when I hit the mark. People say that my art makes them feel calm and peaceful.
An easy way to touch people we care about in a positive way is to give them a hug.
This coming Sunday is National Hug Day. Now, I love holidays, and the sillier the holiday the better. I can really get behind a holiday that celebrates hugging.
Studies have shown that there are multiple benefits of an embrace. Hugs cause the brain to release endorphins which leads to better healing throughout the body. Deprivation of a kind human touch can delay development in children. Good heavens, hugs can even lower your blood pressure. Guess what, it helps if you hug a tree too! Now, you KNOW that I can get behind that.
Here's a pic of my son who knows the healing power of a good hug. He is with his lifelong friend. They always hug one another with joyous abandon, and it warms my heart.
Here I am with my sweet little mom. She always understood the healing power of a hug, and would drop what she was doing if she knew that I needed one.
What are you waiting for? Go give a loved one a hug and reap the benefits. Do you agree with me? Are you a hugger or a touch-me-not? Let me know in the comments below.
After just returning from Costa Rica, I have been thinking more and more about how being in nature heals us. There have been recent studies confirming that spending time in nature is beneficial to our health.
Since one of my goals as an artist is to help people feel peace in a hectic world by sharing my landscape paintings, I have given this a lot of thought.
Conservation is important in Costa Rica. Although the country only covers .03% of the earth's surface, it has almost 6% of the world's biodiversity. People flock to the country to enjoy nature.
I was amused watching everyone cluster around to see what animals the guides pointed out in the trees while I was personally fascinated with all the trees themselves. Don't get me wrong, I was enchanted by the mischievous monkeys and raccoons, but those gorgeous branches that held them interested me as much, if not more.
I hope that you enjoy some of what I was able to see, and make a resolution to spend time in nature in the coming months and years. After all, it has now been proven that doing so is actually good for your health.
Excited to see the face of this sloth while hiking through the rain forest.
Not sure who was more interested in whom here. Had fun expecting this emu to speak back to me. Didn't happen.... This little fellow was housed in a wildlife rescue center.
Tourists clamoring to see animals in the trees at Manuel Antonio National Park.
A stunning Cenizaro Tree. Yes, this will likely become a painting!!
Capuchin Monkey. No, I didn't feed it!
Beach in Guanacaste
To Brighten Your Day-- Recently Sold Artwork--Please let me know if this brightened your day in the comments below. Enjoy!
Filtering Through, Oil on Canvas, 20 x 20 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein
"Who you are is always constant as long as you are faithful to what you want to say in your art. "
One of my coaches said this awhile back and I have been thinking about it a lot relative to the directions I want to take artistically, and actually in my life. Really, don't we all want to be faithful to who we are inside? For some time now, I have celebrated the beauty and peace that I find in the landscape, hoping to share that little slice of peace with others.
Most of the pastel painters that I know work in a very representational style. I want to explore more, yet still stay faithful to what I want to say in my art. To that end, I have begun a new series after much thought.
The series is entitled Juxtapositions because I will explore representational oil landscapes juxtaposed with abstracted pastel work.
Here are the first pieces that I have made for this show. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
"Filtering Through #2," Pastel on Paper, 12 x 12 inches, ©Lynn Goldstein
Happy to have you here. This is where you will see work in progress, tips about making art, seeing art, and enjoying art. You will also see ways to live a more joyous life.