Practice Makes Peace with Imperfect

Okeeffe Country 8 min. finger painting.

O’Keeffe Country 8 min. finger painting.

When you do something over and over again – daily, weekly, monthly and the year, you tend to get pretty creative about the rules. Standards mean about as much as a cold bubble bath.

Perfectionism, at least my 2nd grade version of it was a pain when cranking out a painting in a New Mexico lightening/hailstorm, no electricity or matches. I was stubbornly determined to prove that no matter what I had claim on at least 30 minutes of my day to paint. In this case I remembered that I had purchased some matches that day in the bookstore because they had a cool etching on the cover.

I lit a candle, calmed the bunnies and finger painted what I remembered of an image of O’Keeffe country in a magazine. I posted by iPhone before midnight and slept peacefully. I didn’t really know what it looked like until the next day online. I remember working fast and feeling nervous. Electricity in the air, the unfamiliar earth trembling, my elderly rabbits freaked. It seemed a bit silly at the time to hold fast to such stubbornness. As I look back I feel a bit thrilled and romanced by the aliveness of the moment.

As I look back now on the project of painting daily as a whole, I realize practice gave me creative license to rewrite my relationship to perfectionism — to make peace with it by practicing awkwardness daily. Perfection, it turns out has a lot of room for redefinition.

 

 

Summer Salmon & Really Good Wine

YUM

YUM

I’m just here today to remind you that cooking outside with loved ones, friends and well behaved furry ones is a really lovely thing right about now. If you have my book The Art of Daily Cultivation, this beautiful recipe from Shauna Prince is on page 110. And if you don’t have the book, you now have one of the best parts of the book. See, I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I am wise enough to have talented, festive foodie friends. Thank you Shauna and Daniel!

BBQ’d salmon with lemon, capers, and dill

Ingredients – serves 8

2 whole fillets of salmon (skin on or skin off, ideally wild, around 2 ½ pounds each fillet)

4 medium lemons – two sliced in rounds (with skin on), one juiced, one sliced in wedges for garnish

1½ oz butter

1/2 of a medium white or brown onion, cut in thin slices or wedges

3 tablespoons of white wine (optional)

1½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of fresh dill – chopped. Plus sprigs for garnish

1 – 2 tablespoons of capers (to your taste)

Salt (approx. ¼ tsp Kosher salt)

Freshly ground pepper (approx. ¼ tsp)

1½  tablespoons of olive oil

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Book Galleys – me so happy!

I was a bit nervous reviewing the galleys because the printer was having trouble matching the color. We worked it through and I was amazed by the quality. Books go out to customers June 16th – 3 days before my birthday. Kismet loves me this year!

If you don’t have a book ordered and want one, I have 5 available for order, here.

Food & Wine Spread

Food & Wine Spread

Title page spread

 

 

Word-ImageTitlePage

 

burger

 

Circles or Triangles

The Art of Daily Cultivation, A Celebration of 365 Story Paintings has gone to print. The book cover design kept me awake at night. So like most would, I went out to my friends and book supporters to vote. I figured this would make everything clear. Guess what? A tie. 50/50. I think it stumped them for the same reasons it stumped me.

Final Dust Jacket Cover

Tough decision, the cover of a book, especially a hardback book with a fancy dust jacket can bring radically change the temperament of blood pressure. I thought a post about the design would be worthy thought note.

Early Design Version-Circles

Early Design Version-Circles

The project content of paintings and stories was created over a 12 month period with 12 themes in 30 day sets. I wanted the cover to express this somehow. While the circles reveal the image more clearly and in a way is more aesthetically pleasing, the composition was a challenge. You see the space to fill here in a 9 x 11 book is large. I worked on making the title larger and more typographically interesting. I filled the cover with the images at one point. I made the circles into a flower to represent blossoming with the months in the center at another point in the design process. In all examples it ended up looking like a splatter plot. The months not in order. I lined up the months with the images in line and it looked like a totem pole or a multi-directional wine country sign.

Triangles Cover

In the end, I agreed with viewers that the triangles – though jagged and not as aesthetically pleasing as the circles did convey integration and the sense of building. The mountainous feeling with the months woven through is more accurate than the scatter plot representation.

So, I’m marinating on the final cover. Hopefully, in time, I will grow more affectionate towards it. It’s never easy to love a product in the initial stages of shipping. I know this as a product designer over the years. You are simply raw initially — wrung out and hopeful that everything will go smoothly.

I am thrilled to be here at this stage of development. I can’t wait to see the proofs. I will post ordering information in the weeks to come. For now, it’s teatime and hot baths.

 

Creative Space Design, Part 2 — Zorba & Buddha

ZORBA & BUDDHA: Self knowledge to Decor.

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This one will take you back to Greece with me, when… in a squabble with my boyfriend I accidentally ended up in a room with a very interesting woman who helped me learn something out about my true nature. This revolutionized my approach to designing a more truthful creative space. When you have that, well… it’s really difficult not to be on fire in every aspect of your life.

* This is part 2 of a 3 part essay series on “Designing Your Creative Space.”

Part 1: Conditions of Genius

Part 2: Self Knowledge to Decor

Part 3: It’s a surprise.

Creative Space Design – Part 1: Conditions for Genius

This is the first of 3 essays coming to you on designing your creative space. This essay relates to health and lifestyle as a powerful aspect in designing creative space. In that, our bodies and relationships are intricately connected to creativity.

This is the story of my greatest mentor. A master watercolorist—an old Japanese man who took me under his wing, starved me, ignored me, made my walking legs very strong and brought me to a certain grace about it all… that keeps me warm today.  Click on the image to download the PDF. 

by Niya Christine

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The More the Merrier

creativeproductivity_03

Seemed that cows and the word productivity balance each other out so nicely, don’t you think?

Just a quick note. As I’ve been making plans for 2014, this blog is starting to take shape in 3 parts. Soon I will send subscribers choices for those who are just interested in one or two parts vs. all three. Here they are:

    1. Featuring creative projects that produce a significant body of work through daily practice.  Such as 365 projects that have taken off from this one. I will also be publishing a live Q/A forum for people who need support. Instructions: Do you have a body of work in mind to develop? Could you use a little support as you set up your space, material and mindset? If you felt inspired by the 365 painting project and could use some quick tips for your project, email or tweet your question (see address in graphic). I will answer 3 at a time and post on the blog at niyachristine.com every couple of weeks. Please specify if you want your name kept anonymous.

 

    1. Sharing posts of inspiration as I write the books. These could be anything from what Carl Sagan might say about saving a bird that crashed into your home window to the role of imagination in daily life or sharing about the process of writing a book proposal and getting an agent. But stuff that anyone who is creating a body of work and connecting their work to the market can relate to.

 

    1. Random painting explorations as I illustrate the children’s book. This book is about a rabbit who feels that her “hop” is not enough. It bores her and she haphazardly finds herself on an adventure with some very wild and large kangaroos.

 

I’ve been extremely moved in the past few days with emails and comments via social media about this project — watching people run off to start their own. I’d like to quote a writer who just started a brilliant 365 project for 2014. From “Wild Heart”

Just before 2013 broke, my friend Niya Christine set out to create a painting a day. It was an ambitious project. She stated her intention on her web page and invited anyone to witness her 365 journey. She worked from home, where she was setting up a new studio; she packed the house and traveled with her bunnies; she met friends for meals, got sick once or twice, read books, wrote books – and painted. Every day. One of the things I have always loved about Niya Christine is how inspiring she is. Her flaming red curls are an outward indication of her inner fire. Anyone with a mind to can see her blaze.

Go to Verna Wilder’s blog to read in detail how she arrived at the design of her subject matter and read her first piece of writing. It’s fascinating and bite size.