Accept Your Gifts (Part 1)

I’m honored to have been interviewed for a podcast that encourages folks to live their most creative lives, an idea that will almost certainly resonate with other WordPressers.

In part 1 of this 2-part series, podcaster Tracy Crow, an author, writing coach, and Marine Corps veteran, interviews Amanda Reilly Sayer, a pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner by day, to discover how and why she turns to painting, poetry, and photography. “It’s important to me,” she says, “to think about how I can inspire or offer gifts to other people…sharing the love, paying it forward.” In a frank discussion about emotional pain and healing, Amanda says grief and emotional pain can be transformed through creativity. The act of transforming, itself, is an act of creation, she explains. “Where are your wellsprings?” she asks herself and patients.

Check out Part one of my interview here: https://acceptyourgifts.podbean.com/e/ep-24-part-1-pediatric-psychiatric-nurse-practioner-blends-science-and-art-to-refill-her-well/

And consider scrolling through the other interviews. There are some real gems here!

Want to Live Your Best Life?*

So often we fail to notice the interesting, potentially inspiring, or beautiful, things around us. We’re busy, tired, distracted. Hardwired to notice threat, we’re more likely to attend to the things that could go wrong, than to appreciate the musical quality of the wind, or an unusual shade of green.

Except when we train ourselves to do otherwise, as artists of all types do.

“But, I’m not artistic!”, at least some of you protest. To which I would suggest you might broaden your definition of art. To make art where you find it.

Have you ever read a sentence that made your toes curl with understanding, so moved you copied and posted it so you’d see it again? Shared a photo of a sunset? Picked and dried a wildflower that reminded you of a trip to the mountains? Kept a rock you found on the seashore and set it on your windowsill, next to the others you couldn’t leave behind?

I could go on. The point is to recognize your role in creating your experience, to look closely beyond the familiar, the easily unnoticed. To discover whether your artful witness can spark joy, no Marie Kondo style tidying up required!

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Haiku #18 (and a new painting)

Divine Mirror, watercolor (WIP*)

Eternal light pools
Reflect your perfect essence
The divine as you

© Amanda Reilly Sayer


* WIP: This is a section of a larger painting that is unfinished. Painted on paper, the original can be easily cropped to match the image you see, something I may do if the rest doesn’t come together! Either way, I hope you’ll enjoy it, and the haiku.

Watercolor Expressions: Reclaiming purple

Lavender Daydreams, 5×5 watercolor

Before I knew anything about painting – only slightly less than I know now, mind you – I was heavy handed with the color purple. For no reason I can really remember, purple (one shade, straight from the tube – ugh!) was my go to color.

Then I learned to avoid it, along with the color red. An unconscious hedge against the inadvertent possibility of making purple, I’d guess.

Blues and greens were safer choices, certainly for the seascapes I’m so fond of capturing. The real problem was that I didn’t understand color mixing, among other things. And dark purple was a good cover for poorly considered brushstrokes and color choices that couldn’t be undone. Hmm… maybe I’m starting to understand why I used it so much!

I cringe to think about some of those paintings now, even as I also see how much I needed to make them. And I’ll almost certainly know this feeling again when I look back at my currently unrecognized shortcomings. So it is with growth, when we’re honest about where we’ve been. Hindsight and all that.

My learning curve as a painter is still on the rise, but I’d rather risk exposing flaws than continue hiding behind a limited palette. Or worse, stop sharing myself as I am.

Progress, not perfection, my friends!

This painting, with all of its transparency, shows a bit better in person. Even so, the color palette soothes me, as I hope it will you.

What do you avoid because you don’t do it well? What colors in your life need to be reclaimed?

Painting the days as they come

Winter Windstorm, 11×11 watercolor

You know those days. When everything feels a bit off?

Yesterday was that kind of day for me. It started with a dental appointment. We lost power due to tree-bending, frigid winds. There were no candles to be found, at least ones not scented with the makings of nausea. You get the idea!

To be clear, it wasn’t a terrible day. I’m grateful for teeth, access to dentistry, and a home that usually has electricity. The day was just a bit askew. Much like a “fresh breeze” scented candle which, in fact, smells like nothing found in nature!

It’s not the sort of day that usually inspires me to paint. But with the power out, my options for escape were limited. Plus, I wondered if it would be possible to paint myself into an improved mood state.

Verdict: not really. At least, not this time! Instead, I painted this very unusual painting, which probably represents the day more than changed the course of it.

Truth in advertising: the painting looks best from a distance. But then again, so do those kind of days.

Watercolor Expressions: Variation on a theme

Seascape Yellow, 9×12 watercolor

Mostly I don’t plan paintings beforehand. There are exceptions, but painting for me is primarily about expression.

The unintended similarities between paintings shouldn’t surprise me. They might simply be variations on a theme.

Still, the repetition in the absence of intention strikes me, makes me wonder what is being painted when there is no consciously identified subject.

I’ve called this a seascape, because that’s what the image most closely approximates. I’m also curious about what else it might be.


Watercolor Expressions: Freedom from expectations

Traveling, 5×5 watercolor (coldpress)

Some of my favorite paintings have been made from the passenger seat of long car rides. The time with nothing else to do and the light that streams into the car from every direction surely inspire me. But the absence of expectations and the willingness to improvise are the secret ingredients that make these paintings different, I think.

Folks in my life have wondered how I can paint in the car: Don’t you get carsick? How can you work with all the motion? How do you not spill the water or ruin the painting when you hit a bump?

Yes, I get carsick when I am not in the front seat. And I can only paint (or read) while highway driving. The paintings I make in the car are small, so the water is pretty well-contained in a cup holder. My travel paints sit on one leg; the paper pad rests on the other.

And the bumps? Well, they definitely happen! But, especially with abstract painting, the unexpected brush marks can usually be incorporated into the landscape.

And what a great metaphor! For when we keep our expectations loose – as ideas about form in a piece of abstract art – the surprises may add interest. The unintended marks might even inspire a major change in composition, impetus to create something better than we could have imagined.

The uncontrolled elements, and my unplanned response to them, may indeed be what makes my car paintings special. Maybe I like them best because they evoke the sense of freedom and flow I experienced while making them.

What frees you up to find creative flow?