An Artist's Quest

WWLD: What Would Lisa Do?

I set this Georgia O’Keeffee-sque challenge for myself this week because I thought it would be an easy one. I knew I had a crazy week ahead after a crazy week behind and since I’m running on empty I thought I’d set a challenge based on a lesson plan I have done literally dozens of times.  Piece of cake right?  I have talked about Georgia O’Keeffe and done a sample demo for truly hundreds of kids… this should have been easy, it should have been a quickie, zip zap done, like I do for a bunch of kindergarteners (short attention spans mean work fast).  But some how this one just wouldn’t come.  I did at least three small paintings in my studio all of which I deemed unworthy of the blog.  Then I thought ok maybe it’s too much pressure, I’ve been trying to do a Georgia O’Keefe painting and I’m not Georgia O’Keeffe so there is no way I can hit that mark.  So I thought maybe I’ll work the flower in the computer and came up with a Georgia O’Keeffe meets Andy Warhol piece (working title Georgia Warhol) but you know what? It lacked some essential Andy Warhol-ness, I guess I’m not Andy Warhol either.  Then I played around with the flower more in photoshop and came up with a Roy Lichtenstein meets Georgia O’Keeffe piece that was neither Roy nor Georgia and certainly not ME.  I went to bed frustrated and frazzled how would I get this piece done by weeks end, other deadlines were pending other obligations set.  The next morning I tore up all my other painting and dragged the computer work to the trash and hit empty (so I couldn’t fall back on them) and set to work.  I had 4 hours to get something done or else on Friday I would have to admit defeat and write that I couldn’t complete my homework.  In the night had I realized what seems pretty obvious now, all week I had been trying to make a piece of artwork in somebody else’s image, trying to BE somebody else.  I could not do what Georgia, or Andy, or Roy would do I had to ask WWLD, What Would Lisa Do?  First I thought back to my lesson with the kids, I always tell them to “be the bee” and zoom into the flower, well I’m a mighty big bee so maybe working small was part of the problem.  I cut a piece of door sized canvas, brought over a vase of Calla Lilies, warmed up my arm, zoomed in and went BIG!  Then I got out my signature Cadmium red and outlined the whole thing in red.  Now this felt like me, now I knew what I was doing.  The whole thing flew together after that- big brushes swooping and swiping in big arcs, I was all done and cleaned up by lunch and it felt good, it felt like me!  I have pinned the painting to my studio door to remind myself each time I enter that space and sit down to create, first ask WWLD?  Then go for it!


10 responses

  1. doug wade

    That’s more like it. Great piece. I love it.

    May 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

  2. Martha Olmstead

    I LOVE the cala lilies! XOXO

    May 20, 2011 at 9:32 am

  3. Valerie Komkov Hill

    Exactly! It’s only taken me 61 years to realize this……

    May 20, 2011 at 9:37 am

  4. jean Farmer

    Beautiful painting and great lesson for many areas of our lives.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

  5. Bonnie

    I loved your description of working with self-created “assignments.” The artist in me is more easily discovered in identifying and enjoying what “feels” natural, infinite and “Yes!” Your big Calla Lily door is a Yes!

    My “artwork” this morning was a small email to a friend whose poetry has inscribed a wonderful parent/child relationship and more beautifully evoked it than a well known published poet on Writers’ Almanac! Her response was my reward. I only answered the question WWBD when I saw her precious pen!

    I love your blog. Keep asking WWLD and I, too, shall try to be more faithful to my inner authority as well !

    May 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

    • Thanks Bonnie, I liked what you said about your art today was responding to a friends email…. everything can be an art response… we just have to bring intentionality. Thanks for the reminder. Lisa

      May 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm

  6. Pat

    How sweet it is! You got there gurl!

    May 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

  7. Sandy Barra

    Wow, that painting is fantastic! Love the new sassy haircut!

    May 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm

  8. Karin Tredrea

    That’s such a beautiful sentiment, I’m tearing up. Thank you for that! I love to FEEL things and your writing often makes my heart feel full, while your art makes me feel happy, inspired to play and grounded in our bountiful world.

    May 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

    • I’m honored and humbled, thank you for being a part of the conversation. Lisa

      May 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm

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