Upping the Game

Celestial Bodies #10, Molly Larson Cook
Celestial Bodies #10, Molly Larson Cook

Last week I tried something new. I’m open to new things, have always been a risk-taker, but as a good risk-taker, I know I have to be prepared for an outcome I didn’t intend.

The “something new” turned out to be one of those outcomes.

Here’s the story. I have done most of the pieces for my Celestial Bodies series in 12 x 15- inch format, and I like how they’ve turned out. But I read an article (be careful what you read) about upping your art game and being fearless and, and, and.  Then I saw some larger pieces that caught me and made me think – silly fledgling – that the way to up my own game was to Go Bigger.

So I did.

I had a large canvas I’d bought for a different possibility and decided to give it a go with a new piece for Celestial Bodies. Well, the whole thing turned into an exercise in frustration mostly because you can’t just scale up (at least I could not) a concept that’s working well at a different size.

I should have realized this because years ago my former husband, an artist and architect, designed beautiful art nouveau wedding rings for us. Mine was perfect, but when the goldsmith scaled his up to fit my husband’s larger finger, the beauty of the design suffered. (This is not why he’s my former husband, however. Different story.)

Last night I started a new 12 x 15-inch piece and this morning worked on it adding a lot of color and trying some new ideas. So far, so good. Color is my animal and I’m having a great time with this one. I know it will work.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat (horrible thought) and there’s more than one way to up your art game.  Being fearless with our art can take many forms and lessons are everywhere.

The fledgling is learning.




Fifteen Hours a Week



They laughed when I sat down to paint.

My friends, bless them, have tracked me for years as a writer, tracked me through the ups and downs, submissions and rejections, small successes, equally small financial rewards.

When I told them I was turning back to my days as an art student to try my hand at what might have been, they laughed.

“So you’re giving up one creative pursuit that doesn’t pay much for another one that probably pays even less.”

They were kind. They were supportive. But they laughed when I sat down to paint.

I’m not here with an “I showed them!” success story. I’m still a fledgling and I’m not a kid. Whatever I accomplish in the visual arts will put me in a close second or maybe third with Grandma Moses. I am, for the record, still younger than she was when she started seriously painting. Maybe there’s hope.

I took a workshop at The Studio Door in San Diego in late spring with owner/instructor/artist Patric Stillman (which I wrote about here earlier), and I came away with three points for creative focus and six goals for the year. We wrote these down and gave them to Patric along with a self-addressed envelope. He mailed them back to us a few months later. Space check. Where were we with the focus and the goals?

My three areas of creative focus were:

–Grow as an artist through continuing education and discipline.
–Gain confidence and submit to juried shows.
–Begin to earn income through sales.

My actionable goals to support this were:

–Take a minimum of three workshops.  (done)
–Respond to three calls for work.
–Learn what I need to know for submissions that are not local (how to prepare, mail, etc.).  (done)
–Add information to my blog for people who might want to buy.  (new art sales blog in the works)
–Earn $500 in sales for the year. (still dreaming)
–Spend at least fifteen hours a week creating new work. (no problem with this one)

I’ve been working hard on the Body of Work and it’s coming along. Fifteen hours a week is a joy, and sometimes I spend much more time than that. I have not been confident enough yet to submit to any shows, but the Body of Work comes first.  I did contribute one piece to a fundraising event in October, and it went to a collector north of San Diego. I’m working through the steps as I can.

To my surprise the writing came back one night when I was inspired more or less out of the blue to start a new short story titled “Payne’s Gray”  I fell in love with the color, and it shows up in everything now.

One of my art instructors in Maine told me years ago that my easel and my computer should go right next to each other.

“The art and the writing will feed each other.”

I begin to think he was right.