By Melissa Whitaker

A Few Minutes More

Sitting on a boat, in the middle of a lake, at the midnight hour, I lay back on the floor and stare up to the vast cosmos to ponder the beauty of the world.

My mind slips down the Milky Way and circles around Venus, then dives in to bathe in the Big Dipper. A falling star sparks for a second and then is gone like the memory of times gone by. The cool summer breeze caresses the skin and sends a shiver down the spine to awaken the memories of childhood.

Star light, star bright

First star I see tonight

I wish I may, I wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight

As the siren song of the cicadas’ amplifies against the night sky, I rise to sit at the edge of the boat and allow my toes to skim the surface of the water while the moon wake beacons me to join it in a water dance. In the distance I hear the calling, “Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will” telling me to join in the dance with the moon. Gently sinking into the water the coolness of the summer breeze is met with the warmth of the water creating a mist in my mind that washes away the stress of the day.

To float on the blackness of the water while staring at the stars, THIS is what calms the cacophony in my soul. Must the night end? Can the sun sleep in for a day? Allow me to stay in the caress of the water while the world goes on it’s merry way. Just a few minutes more, please, just a few minutes more.

“An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere. The pessimist sees only the red light. But the truly wise person is color blind.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

I LOVE color!! The deeper, the brighter, the more illuminating, the better. I try to view the world through rose colored glasses, but sometimes the glasses get a little foggy and the darkness creeps in. I know as I grow older the colors in my world may begin to fade and lose some of their luminosity, it is not something I look forward to.

I have been working with a client for several months now on a marketing campaign. I have done many illustrations for him and recently it came down to choosing the color palette. I see color everywhere and my artwork is often full of intense color, so creating a color palette was hitting my prime spot. This client lives several thousand miles away, so it’s not like they could sit beside me and point out color choices. I created several palettes that he could choose from and each time he would come back with, “What if we replaced this color with some other color?” He’s lucky I am an extremely patient person……………at times.

This client had mentioned before that he had some color blindness, but he always chose colors that worked together. He has an exceptional eye, but it soon became apparent that we were seeing colors differently. Today I discovered a website that allows you to view things through the eyes of color blindness. (Technology seriously makes my mind explode). Here is a link to the color blind simulator

I would say that the term color blindness is a misnomer, color vision deficiency may be a better term. Only a small percentage have true color blindness which is called Monochromacy or Achromatopsia.

I placed my artwork in the color blind simulator in order to have a better idea on what the client may be seeing and this is what it showed me:

I do not know which one is truly what he views, but it definitely explains a LOT and helps me to understand that color vision deficiency is not really a deficiency, it may even be more colorful. So the next time your significant other asks you if this shirt goes with these pants, just say, “Yes.”

The next time someone tells me they are color blind I’m responding with, “OH! How wonderful! You can show me a whole new way of looking at things.”

For the past few years I have felt that everything I was taught to believe in has been wadded up and thrown into the bin labeled “Lost to Posterity.”  While writing this post I sit here and think, “I hope I do not offend anyone.”  I have become overly cautious on my words and actions to the point that my only outlet has been through art.  Even some of my artwork has been tethered in the hopes of not offending.  It was the way I was taught.  Be considerate of others.  But when does being considerate of others become censorship of self?

I have been told to paint pretty landscapes, flowers and even chickens because that is what people want.  It’s safe and not offensive.  I’m sorry, but I don’t do landscapes.  I am a plant assassin, all I have to do is look at a plant and it will die.  And the only chicken I like is what’s on my plate.  If I were to paint or draw what others deem is worthy of commerce, it would be a censoring of myself.  Then I would be lost.

A few months ago I had the extreme pleasure of meeting one of my favorite artists, Pamela Frankel-Fiedler.  Her work is provocative, sensual, and captivating.  My conversation with her encouraged me to not be afraid of what others may think and being overly cautious is a restraint of self expression.

I paint and draw because, if I don’t, I feel like I am suffocating.  Art is the air I breathe.  It is my voice.

In the coming months, I will be exploring this self-expression and it may shock and it may offend, but to NOT explore it would be a suffocation of the spirit.  So buckle up Buttercup, we’re going for a ride!

I have heard the critics say many times that photography is NOT art and I seriously can not comprehend what they mean.  I’ve seen some pretty bad photos, some of them in an art gallery hanging next to a painting of dogs playing poker.  Matter of fact, I have even produced some pretty bad photos, paintings and drawings myself, but they are ALL art.

I’m not here to tell you what is good or bad art, because you know it when you see it.  Art is subjective.  An artist interprets what they see and through different mediums they are able to convey an emotion in order to elicit a response to their work.  That response may not always be what the artist was hoping for, but it is a response none the less.  That is what makes it art.

Photography is not simply pointing the camera at something and pushing the button (although, to a 5 year old with a camera, it might just be the pushing the button).  The photographer has planned the shot, waited for the light to be just right, adjusted the aperture to produce the exact depth of field, set the shutter speed to capture that one fleeting moment in time.  It is the same way an artist applies paints to the palette, sketches a composition on the canvas, smudges the charcoal to create a shadow and depth.  It is all art.  Whether or not it is good or bad art?  Well, that is up to the observer.

For me, photography is a quick escape for my creative mind.  When life starts to get busy and it is hard for me to have studio time, I can get creative with my camera.  I do not consider myself a professional photographer, but I use photography as an outlet that helps me charge up my batteries to illustrate or paint.  So don’t let anyone tell you that photography is not art.  If it inspires……….it is art, no matter the tools used.

All by Myself-

I have often felt that the art world does not consider artists who must work a second, third, or fourth job as a serious, professional artist.  I have been a REALTOR since 2002 and an artist all my life, but I still have bills that must be paid and a family to feed, so yes, I have another job.  Matter of fact, I have a LOT of jobs.  Artist, Photographer, Illustrator, Realtor, Property Manager, Landlord, Mother, Wife, and I even sit on a couple of company Boards.  Life is Chaotic, and from that Chaos comes art.

A gallery manager in Santa Fe, New Mexico, asked me, “Why do you paint?” Not “What do you paint?” but Why.  I looked at him with a befuddled face and said, “Too breathe.”  It’s that simple.  I work to pay the bills and to pay for some of the extras in life, (I’m kind of partial to food and never could do the starving artist thing).  But to paint or to draw, that is LIFE itself.  It calms the soul, and helps the mind soar off to other places.  It is an escape.  It is a DRUG.

A friend recently encouraged me to venture into the new territory of digital art.  I now call him my Drug Pusher, because once I finish a picture on my iPad Pro, my skin is crawling for the next project.  I often have to set a timer to remind myself to eat something and to step away and socialize with people (for some reason that is still required these days).  The truly great thing about drawing/painting on the iPad Pro is, you can take it everywhere with you.  I can do my job and do my passion at the same time.  The highest accomplishment of multi-tasking.

Yes, I have another job.  I have several jobs, but foremost I am an artist to the depths of my soul.  I am an artist who has bills to pay.  Now, who wants to buy some Art and if you don’t want to buy art, perhaps I can interest you in a 6 bedroom, 6 bath home, shaped like a riverboat with a salt water in-ground pool for $1,180,000.00.  The Realtor

Addressing the Fear

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” ~ Paul Cezanne

Fear is the one thing that can stop any progress from being made. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. As an artist I struggle with fear constantly, however fear is also what urges me on. I will sit and stare at a blank canvas, afraid of putting that first stroke of color on the pristine surface. What if I put it in the wrong spot? What if it comes out looking like crap? What if nobody likes it? What if people discover that I have no idea what I’m doing? Then I role my shoulders back, sit up straight, and say, “What if it frees my soul?”

Welcome to my fear.

We can sit and stare at the blank canvas in the hopes that inspiration will come.  We can leave the canvas sitting in the corner of the room waiting for the moment when it will come alive.  In the meantime, it’s only collecting dust.  Take this first blog for example.  I stare at the blank screen with the cursor blinking at me as if saying in Morse code, “w.r.i.t.e.m.e”  a constant nagging that raises the blood pressure.  Let me tell you, that cursor has been blinking at me for 3 weeks now.

I have found that facing my fear head on is the only way I know to conquer it.  Now fear and I may end up having a staring contest that lasts for weeks, but eventually fear will blink.  It always does.  The same principle applies to the blank canvas.  That painting is not going to magically paint itself, (although that would be pretty cool to watch).  At some point I have to put that first stroke on the canvas.  This may sound crazy, but I have found that if I just put a small dot of paint somewhere on the canvas then the fear of the stark, white canvas is minimized.  It will still nag at me, just like that blinking cursor, but the canvas is not nearly as pristine as it use to me and I have claimed it as my own with one simple stroke.Blank_Canvas

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