I Am A Martial Artist

Here I am at home in my uniform post-TKD class holding my belt. A little red and sweaty but really happy.
Here I am at home in my uniform post-TKD class holding my belt. A little red and sweaty but really happy.

I am a martial artist.

I’ve been hesitant using those words, afraid of incurring the wrath of MMA dudebros because I’m far from the picture of idealized female martial artists. I got my black belt in Taekwondo when I was 18, after practicing on & off for 6 years or so. I was at the dojang every day, and left it behind when I went off to college.

Over the next 20-odd years I tried to go back, and finally did in November of 2017. I was at my highest weight ever, had gotten some scary news from the doctor, and I needed to start moving again. I am not a runner, a walker, a yogi, or a gym person in any way. But martial arts, I can do. Fast forward, I’ve released nearly 50 lbs since I started and I’m feeling better in every way.

The physical benefits are only a small part of why I love martial arts. All my life, I’ve felt powerless, and unable to take control . As a woman, and one that takes up “too much room” according to society, I feel powerful when I practice. I am not too much, too loud, nor do I “think too much” in class. I am a student and an assistant instructor. I am confident, strong, and capable. In a world where things rarely make sense, TKD makes sense.

And I can kick some serious ass.

I highly recommend martial arts – any of them – to everyone, especially those who identify as female, non-binary or otherwise not-male. Fitness is a secondary benefit. Confidence, taking up space, grounding, being able to protect yourself, and the feeling of power far outweigh any physical benefits.

Hello 2019

I was ready to go conquer 2019 on the 2nd of January. Then on the 3rd, family drama got me riled up and I kicked a box I thought was empty with all my might.

The box was full. Of 50 lbs worth of steel-encased studio monitors (aka f-ing heavy speakers).

And I broke the third and fourth metatarsals of my right foot.

What a way to start the new year. Stuck in a “walking” boot for the next 6-8 weeks, and banned from intense activity (I’m already missing my TKD classes) until around the end of March.

So I’m taking it as a sign to slow down and finally deal with stuff I’ve been putting off, as like resurrecting this site, making more art, and figuring out what to do next.

So here’s to 2019. May you suck less than you already do…

Merely a messenger

It’s incredible when you see yourself through the eyes of someone who is touched by what you do. It often seems like I’m tossing stuff into the ether, losing it to the void. But when it lands, when somoene is touched and tells you about it… It’s humbling. And encouraging. And sometimes even terrifying.
Square painting of a sunset view from the road with a tree in the forground

But I remind myself, it’s enough to do the work and show the work. The rest is not up to me. If I put too much energy and thought into something that I can’t control, I’ll make myself crazy.

It’s only mine to do the work and show it. The rest is not my problem. I am merely a messenger.

Several years ago when I went to a conference called the Gathering of Artisans (for Christian artists) where during the welcome event, an odd man insisted on calling me Angela when I distinctly and clearly told him my name seconds before. After I corrected him, he smiled and said he wasn’t wrong.

Angela means Messenger. I suppose all artists are messengers.

Currently, I’m reading a couple books that reinforce the artist-as-messenger theme:

Both say pretty much the same thing when it comes to your work, your art. It’s enough to do your work, to create, and to send it out into the world. The rest is beyond your control. Devote yourself to your work. Share your work. But don’t place any expectations on it.

So that’s what I’ll do.

100 Day Project update…

94/100. That’s where I’m at, nearly 2 months past the start date of my 100 Day Project.

Some would say I failed. That I’m a flake for not finishing.

But seriously here.  I drew 94 faces. NINETY FOUR.

In a span of slightly over 100 days. I’m far from an expert at realistic portraiture (not that I was attempting that to begin with ), but I can draw a pretty decent face whenever I want, straight on, 3/4 and profile. If you count the faces I doodled on my desk pad, I probably got the whole 100.

I did achieve what I set out to do, and that was to challenge myself in a way I haven’t before. So what if I’m 6 short!

The ‘last’ face (so far… I think I’ll go ahead and complete the 100 just for continuity’s sake) that I put up on Instagram was one I drew in a rare kid-free moment on my vacation in Greece this past summer.

I think I’m completely over my phobia of signing on to challenges. And besides. I’m not competing against anyone (neither are you), so if I “fail” at something I decided to do for myself, who gives a shit? As long as I get out of it what I intended to begin with, I call it a success.

Reached the half-way point of the 100 Day Project

Yesterday was day 50 of my 100 Day Project, and here are the first two days and the last 2. It’s cool to see the progression.
I am accomplishing what I set out to do in the beginning of this challenge. I’m seeing a style develop, I’m making it a point to draw these faces every day, and I’ve committed to a daily practice, that although has been interrupted a day here & there, I have come back to it.
I have had trouble in the past committing to a challenge—I couldn’t even get through a 10-day vlog challenge a few years back—but here I am. 50 (51) days into a challenge that’s the longest one I’ve ever attempted and I’m loving it.
That’s not to say I haven’t had my moments of utter boredom, but as I seem to have created a habit, I have pushed my way through and made it fun again.
I stopped the daily blog updates mainly because I felt like I was cluttering up my site. However, I will be updating this page with my latest efforts every so often in these last 50ish days.

That time I started another challenge, this time for 100 days…

Last October, I began a 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. I only got to 21 completed paintings, but I painted every single day. Huge deal for me. I usually create in fits & starts and my creative practice is a very neglected thing.

This current challenge is #The100DayProject, where you pick an action to do every day for 100 days. The focus is on process and practice, not product, and like I said about my creative practice before, I could use a bit of directed energy towards developing it.

The project began on April 6, 2015 and will continue until the 100 days are up mid-July.

My hashtag for the project on Instagram is #100DaysOfNotSoRealisticFaces, where I’m drawing or painting stylized portraits.

My goals are:

  1. to solidify my daily practice,
  2. hone my skills,
  3. loosen up,
  4. explore and develop my style.

Now, I’m worse at keeping my blog updated so I set up some IFTT recipes so my Instagram photos tagged with my 100 day project hashtag will automatically be published as a new photo post. Yay for lazy blogging!

Here’s days 1 & 2:

30 in 30 update – Day 6

I have painted every single day since this challenge began, and it feels amazing. Wherever this takes me, I’m enjoying the ride. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve done so far:

Painting #1: 30 Paintings in 30 Days

Painting of a womans face in teal  orange
9×12 acrylics and paint pen on canvas board

So this is it. Day 1 of 30 paintings in 30 days. I had started this face in a class I took at Create New Jersey a couple months ago and decided it was time to finish her up.

I used something new to me to make the outlines of the circles, which you really can’t see since the background is kinda dark. But it’s a dimensional outliner by pébéo. Gotta use it some more to get a handle the flow – it’s a bit splotchy on the canvas. But it’s a fun accent to use. I’ll experiment some more with it.

Learnings & observations so far:

  • Prep backgrounds: It’s easier to paint when I have a few marks on the substrate already, so I’ll prep a few here & there with some backgrounds so I have a place to work from.
  • Just do the work: I was totally apprehensive about finishing a painting, but once I got to the work, it came pretty easily (crossing my fingers this continues).
  • Ears aren’t easy: It’s something I need to work on. I’ve avoided ears on my faces for years, maybe it’s time to change that.
  • Get a handle on the comparison monster: The pop-up galleries for the day’s work on the Facebook group are FULL of amazing art, but I must keep my eyes on my own paper & resist comparison.
  • People can really be awesome: In the group, I’m blown away by how everyone’s stepped up to the challenge, and the support and love and encouragement oozes through the computer screen. The interwebs rock.

Besides this painting, I’ve done a bit of background work on a few surfaces and prepped some more with a few extra coats of gesso. I like a nice, smooth surface to work on, so gesso and sanding is definitely a part of the prep work.

On to the next!

30 Paintings in 30 Days. Can I do it?

Art table at the ready
Moved things around to make this challenge a bit more of a no-brainer.

I’m about to embark on a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge as put forth in an artist group I’m a part of on Facebook.

I honestly don’t know what I’m doing.

One complete painting daily, when I’ve been known to take months, or even years to complete just one?

I will have to knock off the Netflix binges. And some housework may go undone — but if we’re honest, housework was never my forté. And I’l need to find somewhere in our we’ve-stuffed-every-closet-full-of-junk house to house the paintings once they’re done. Eh, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I’m feeling a bit crazy. Apprehensive. Excited. I can’t say I’ve ever really completed a challenge like this.

I hate sharing challenges on my blog & social networks because I haven’t completed one yet.

I tried NANOWRIMO several years ago and only got to 10,000 words (although that’s a pretty big feat in itself). I have started several 30-day art journaling prompts and petered out around day 20. I even started a website called 30 Day Essentials to explore a particular essential oil protocol for 30 days straight and I couldn’t get past the first one.

So I have my work cut out for me. I need to tap into something I haven’t before to get this done. I will make use of the community on FB. I will post my daily painting on my social outlets and on this site. I need to find someone to whine to when things get hard… someone who will listen patiently and then tell me to go paint.

Maybe I can do this.

Now for the why of this whole crazy endeavor…

I did some journaling about this challenge yesterday and came up with 3 things I wanted to accomplish with this insane (for me) thing:

  • Find my voice
  • Create a series in order to begin a coherent body of work
  • Own It – that is, own my artist-self

I’m looking for an increase in confidence, a development of a daily art practice, and trust in myself and my process.

First painting comes Tuesday September 9th.

I pledge to be gentle, but not let myself off the hook completely. Life happens, but whatever happens I need to have 30 complete paintings by October 9th.

Wish me luck!