Tag Archives: lessons learned

Self Portrait for Veterans Day

Work in progress, self portrait painting for November Veteran's day show, 20 x 20

Work in progress, self portrait painting for November Veteran’s day show, 20 x 20″ oil on canvas

Last week I posted about my latest inspiration in this post. I worked on a couple of self portrait sketches last week and decided that I would, in fact, change the painting I’m working on for the Veteran’s Day show, into a self portrait. My second sketch came out much more satisfactory than the first.

Second self portrait sketch, good to go!

Second self portrait sketch, good to go!

It has literally been over a decade since I painted a portrait in oils or drawn in pencil for that matter. I stopped because painting portrait commissions was very stressful. Getting a likeness is one thing, but it’s impossible to make a portrait that matches what someone “thinks” they look like. Though I stopped taking portrait commissions, I have always enjoyed painting portraits. Self portraits are not as stressful for obvious reasons. I KNOW what I look like and what I “think” I look like, and there is absolutely no pressure there.

Today, I blocked out the silhouette in the foreground of my latest spiral abstract painting. The background will continue on as intended. The idea behind this self portrait is specifically about my time as a soldier in the US Army and how it changed my perception from childhood to adulthood. My once eager, patriotic mind was twisted and turned more cynical once my time was served. I became an advocate for peace and love, after being sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier and after seeing families torn apart because of war. I became even more peace minded after seeing my son’s generation of soldiers come home in pieces, physically and mentally, after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The spirals of red, blue and yellow surrounded by stars and eventually, stripes, is a representation of the flag after the twisting and turning. I use yellow instead of white to represent the staining of young hearts, forever changed by war. These torn souls will never know the innocence of childhood again. It’s not my usual happy go lucky inspiration, but it’s real. It’s my truth.

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

This past week has been a rough one. It started out on a high note on Tuesday with negotiations for a contract with a management company that wants to represent my art and publish my Paula Beck Prints book. I’m still negotiating, but that had to be put on hold Wednesday afternoon.

An uncle of Aaron’s was in a horrific motorcycle accident and we got the call around 2:00 Wednesday. You may have heard about it on the local news. A truck was going the wrong way down I-25 and hit him head on. The doctors didn’t think he would make it past Wednesday night, but he did. He’s a fighter and he’s still fighting everyday to stay alive. Needless to say, we have dropped everything this past week to be at the hospital with him and other family members. It’s times like this that put everything into perspective. Life is so precious and we take it for granted so often. I’ve had these moments in life before and I always say I will never take another day of my life for granted.

Not always easy when you get back into the swing of everyday life. Let this serve as a reminder, hug your loved ones every chance you get and never let a day go by without telling them you love them. There is so much pettiness and unnecessary drama in our day to day lives, I’m guilty of it too. I’m still a work in progress, but I will work everyday to not sweat the small stuff. As they say, it’s ALL small stuff.

I’m still finding it hard to concentrate on anything I need to work on or get done, but I had to try today. I’m trying my best to be a strong shoulder of support for my husband and his family, after all, they are my family too. Please send prayers and positive energy for healing. It’s going to be a long road to recovery, and we are just taking it one day at a time for now.

What are you so angry about?

I usually like to keep my posts about the art, but I recently had an epiphany and felt the need to share. I have been angry most of my adult life. Not that I ran around angry all the time, but it was always there, boiling just beneath the surface. I always blamed it on other people and their behavior. My ex, my family, people in traffic, etc, etc.

Since 2007, I’ve been on a search for inner peace. It’s been a long decade of reading tons of self help books, learning to meditate daily, creating art from my soul and self care. I’ve lost several friends along the way. Mainly because they weren’t comfortable with my changes and the fact that I was now standing up for myself. They didn’t like the “healthy” Paula.

I once had a shaman tell me that some people are like rocks in a backpack. Sometimes on the trail of life, we have to empty the rocks out of our backpack so we can lighten our load and be happy. Let’s just say my backpack was HEAVY with rocks. Not just people, but situations, memories and regrets. However, even after I dropped the rocks on the side of the trail, the anger was still there.

It’s been a long road and I finally feel like I’m moving on to the next decade of my life. The epiphany happened recently, after watching a video on facebook, of all places! Here’s the link: I highly recommend you WATCH this video!
https://www.facebook.com/comedien.voix.doublage/videos/10206832718043784/?hc_ref=OTHER&pnref=story

After I watched it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s so crazy obvious to me now! I have been angry at my 15 year old self for DECADES! I have been mad at myself for all the stupid choices I made, for not just saying NO to that 17 year old boy who got me pregnant. First of all, NO to sex, and then later, NO to marriage.

Don’t get me wrong, everything that happened in my life HAD to happen. If not, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. That said, I’ve been carrying this anger around all this time. All the resentment for how my life “could’ve” been or “should’ve” been.

It is what it is.

How can I still be angry at that young girl who was just looking for love and attention? I can’t. The fire has been extinguished. The anger is now sadness. Not a depressed sadness, but a melancholy sadness for all the anger I inflicted on my family and friends and everyone around me.

BUT, it’s OK! I finally GET IT! Now I move on to forgiveness. I have often wondered why, after forgiving literally EVERYONE who ever did me wrong, why was I STILL angry? It’s time to forgive myself. It’s time to tell that 15 year old girl that still lives within me, you’re ok, you’re loved, you’re FORGIVEN.

I will leave you with a work in progress, “The Best of Everything”.

"The Best of Everything", acrylic on 12" vinyl record, work in progress

“The Best of Everything”, acrylic on 12″ vinyl record, work in progress

Some Days I Just Push Through

New paintings on the wall and a halfway clean studio!

New paintings on the wall and a halfway clean studio!

Some days, being an artist is just plain painful. Why did I choose this occupation? What was I thinking?! Is it too late to give up and start a new career? Would I even be able to give it up? NO! I guess I’m stuck in this self imposed torture for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so very grateful that I get to do what I LOVE! Painting is my true bliss! It’s all the other crap that goes along with it that makes it painful. I won’t go into all of that because I’m trying to turn myself around here and be, just BE positive and grateful. Success just seems to keep alluding me. Maybe I’m on the verge? Maybe tomorrow I will sell 20 paintings and all will be ok, right? Life is a journey and I can’t deny, I got on this train, no one forced me at gunpoint! No one to blame but myself. Days like today, I daydream of some mindless job I could do daily to pay the bills, then I remember the last “job” I had. That didn’t work out very well. Oh well. Meditate, pray, paint, wash, rinse and repeat! What else can I do? This is my life. I have some good art shows coming up! I have a new website! Things are looking up, right? Today, I have an interview with a fellow artist for a blog post she is going to write about me. I NEED to get back into a positive frame of mind. Nothing worse than being that pessimistic older artist telling the younger artist how wonderful it’s all been. She knows better than that, but still.

"Find Your Shine", 24 x 30" oil on canvas, $1,050

“Find Your Shine”, 24 x 30″ oil on canvas, $1,050

Alrighty then! Enough wallowing in self pity! Today I’m pushing through to get my paintings ready for the NMCCG show that hangs at the beginning of June. Hanging wires to be added, signatures on those paintings I forgot to sign, small details. Along with that, finishing painting an artist studio that just rented and will be moved in to on Saturday. Getting my studio ready for a Mandala painting class also on Saturday.

"Healing Bloom", 20 x 20" oil on canvas, $600

“Healing Bloom”, 20 x 20″ oil on canvas, $600

I guess writing all this stuff out helps! I feel better already. I guess I’d better get back to work. Hope you all are having a great day. Oh and the paintings in this blog are the last 3 I finished for the show that I teased about in my last post! I decided to go ahead and share them, just in case someone has their name on one of them! πŸ˜‰ (Always gotta work it ya know?!)

"Sunshine", 20 x 20" oil on canvas, $600

“Sunshine”, 20 x 20″ oil on canvas, $600

How I got my groove back!

oil painting on canvas

My current work in progress. 12 x 12″ oil on canvas. A suggestion from a facebook follower pointed me in a different direction.

I spent most of March and a couple days in April working on my brand new website! I have been researching and learning about artist websites for YEARS! This is the year I finally found the perfect website solution for my art. Art Store Fronts is amazing! They have all the tools I need to run an efficient website. Everything I’ve been learning about and had no idea how to actually implement, is built in to their awesome software. I highly recommend them. Needless to say, I NOW have a brand new artist website with everything! I invite you to go check it out and please let me know what you think! PaulaManningLewis.com is now LIVE! I have closed my Etsy shop and now have everything available for sale on the new site. Actually, I’m still working on getting EVERYTHING available. My current portfolio is all there, coloring books, dolls and older work is coming soon.

Now that the majority of website work is done, it’s back to painting in preparation for a show at the New Mexico Cancer Center Gallery starting in June and showing through August. I will have at least 20 pieces in the show! I also have a show coming up in August at the local Sierra Club offices. I have a LOT of painting to get done in the coming months! The painting above is my current work in progress, in a totally different direction. Instead of the sun or a flower, this one is focused on the Moon.

In addition to my paintings on canvas, I’m getting ready to start two different mural projects. I will share more about that in my Spring e-newsletter. Please visit my new website and sign up for my email list to receive the newsletter when it goes out soon.

This Saturday is ChromaFEST, an art and music festival and fundraiser for our local business, Chroma Studios. My band, Sunlight will be performing at 5:55pm-6:35pm. Also, my husband, Aaron Lewis, will play a solo guitar set as well right before Sunlight, starting at 5:30pm. Hope to see my local friends there! πŸ™‚

I’m still thinking about whether or not I will keep my blog here on WordPress or transfer it over to my new website. I may just link the two together. I’m super excited about taking my art to the next level! I feel like I finally found my groove again!

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The Down Side

"In Anticipation of Spring", 12 x 12" oil on canvas, available for $215

“In Anticipation of Spring”, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, available for $215. Completed last week!

I never got around to posting my second blog last week. Turns out I have an eye infection that has now spread to both eyes. Other than our show on Friday night, I’ve been at home in bed, resting. What a weekend it was! We had a GREAT Sunlight show on Friday night in Rio Rancho! Lots of email addresses collected, lots of compliments, lots of friends showed up, lots of tips and happy listeners and then the down side.

An email on Monday morning telling us we had significant complaints from regular customers. We never received a straight answer on what the complaints were, just something about the “type of music” expected being something other than what we played. Too many original songs? They didn’t like that one folk song we altered to include our LGBT friends? They didn’t like the song “Wonder” about Democrats and the GOP finding peace?

We may never know exactly. That is the life of an artist. If you don’t have a very thick skin, you may as well pack up and go home now. I must admit, it gets hard to keep on going when a “GREAT” show gets you fired from a regular paying gig.

I’m taken back to the Four Agreements, 1) Be impeccable with your word, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions, 4) Always do your best. 1) We kept our word and played 3 hours of music and acted professionally, 2) I can’t take it personally that a couple of their regulars didn’t like our song selection, 3) I shouldn’t assume anything without having all the information, ie actual complaints made, 4) I KNOW we did our best and played our hearts out! Lesson learned; always listen to your gut! We had once decided we wouldn’t play late night gigs in bars. Not doing that again.

Hoping my eyes will heal soon so I can paint! It is getting better, slowly but surely, but still sensitive to light and hard to focus on anything without tears.Β  So much gratitude for my eyesight, you never really miss something until it’s not working right. Sickness is nothing but a reminder to be grateful for all the blessings in life.

Back to Painting

12 x 12" oil painting in progress

12 x 12″ oil painting in progress, still a lot of detail to finish

Working on a new painting this week. Started it last week but haven’t had time for a blog yet! I’ve been helping out a little here and there with the new grand baby, family has always been most important to me! I’m always happy to get back to the studio though. πŸ™‚ I’ve been filming a time lapse of this painting in progress, you can see sections of the video on my Instagram.

I’ve been thinking about painting large again, only REALLY large, like wall/mural size. Signs seem to keep pointing me in that direction anyway. I was recently sent a link for a local public art project. The project is a huge mural wall and while I would love to submit for the job, I don’t have the portfolio of work to show to get a job like that. It came to me during my morning meditation that I should look for some mural jobs I could do to add to my portfolio. I did a mural years ago at a local church, not exactly what I would usuallyΒ  paint, but it was good experience and taught me a lot about painting on walls outside!

What I’ve decided to do is offer to paint a mural for anyone locally who has a wall they want painted. For the cost of materials only. I will not charge labor for the first couple I do. I already have one possibly lined up, so I’m looking for one more wall in need of a mural. Please get in touch with me if you are interested. You can email me at plewis11@comcast.net, or send me a facebook message on my facebook art page.