Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thoughts on being an alley pirate thus far...

After 3 years living in Oakland, CA and studying at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco I have found my way back to New Orleans where I have been working as an artist.  I wanted to recap some of my thoughts about what its been like slinging paint and selling paintings in the French Quarter at Pirates Alley on the fence behind St. Louis Cathedral.

Instagram: @jenelleleighc
Its a great opportunity to get to work as a Pirates Alley artist.  Its not my only hustle, I also babysit and am building up a practice as a bodyworker, but I am earning a significant portion of my income selling my art directly to people.  Its great experiencing what it feels like to be part of a market culture and to get a taste of how people respond to my art as I am creating it.

I consider Pirates Alley my outdoor studio space as some of my work I can do while I sit there.  I also have been taking a day or two each week in my studio at home getting other pieces together.  It feels great to have finished a significant amount of work in the last few months and to have gotten to put all of it out there into the world.

Working like this feels a lot like the Creative Inquiry MFA program I recently graduated from.  I notice that the drive for clear articulation and to build a solid body of work that are feeding me so deeply right now are lit by the same fires that got sparked during my degree program.  Being in school helped me open up and surrender to my creative process in a way that was gratifying, beautiful, grounding and completely transformational in terms of what I think about my potential.

Instagram: @jenelleleighc
Working in the French Quarter propped up against a fence behind a cathedral with its steeple bell ringing in the hours among tour guides herding the masses and each telling their own version of the truth, tarot readers and poets for hire lining the curbside, every flavor of traditional musician blaring down the street making music as hot as the summertime sun, live statues and magicians, families, children and lost souls, it is a world unto itself.  I get to sit there and take all of it in and offer it back my heart in the form of paintings of rivers and bones.

I really enjoy the community of artists I get to work around.  Everyone has their own unique style and we all feed off each others creativity and learn from each others lessons.  I am inspired all the time by the work that is going on around me.

Instagram: @jenelleleighc
Being in a tourist epicenter can be draining no matter where that is but being in the French Quarter of New Orleans is at least always charming.  I was talking to a man on my block the other night about how strict the neighborhood associations are about maintaining the "authentic" look of the city.  Thats why the tourists flock here and the money they spend is literally what keeps New Orleans in existence.

Its exhausting and overwhelming sometimes to keep up with the demands on my body and my time that living off of my art requires but its making me faster and braver and more open to letting my art into the world and the world into my art...and its also super fun!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Setting up in the FQ (Rain clouds build but I only see the sunshine)

I went down to the french quarter at 7am to set up my spot for the day.  Well not set up, but I put up a few signs to mark what spot I am going to use and then came back home to take care of my morning.

The FQ in the morning is my favorite time.  The shadows between the buildings are still deep so the shade keeps everything cool.  The streets are damp from being pressure washed so everything feels fresh and new.  The stores are all opening their doors and greeting the day.  Locals wander by looking either cheerful and awake or bedraggled and wishing they were in bed.  Everyone has a cup of coffee except the runners who are bounding their way across town.

Its a lovely time to see the place.  Once the sun gets high all the water burns off the street and the dust starts kicking up.  The shade vanishes and the blazing sun-rays become oppressive and aggressive.  (At least to me who is a major indoor kid).

And then the streams of tourists start to flow and the whole place is a whirl of chaos, merriment and hand grandees (a bright green drink that everyone seems to be carrying around)  Its a bustle and a hustle…and a great place to work.  :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Your voice is given for you to share.

Good morning.

I awake today with a calm sense of pride.  I love the idea of connecting with others through my voice on as many levels as possible.

I guess that is what its all about.  Connecting.  I could see myself as alone in my room but I feel full of the vision of all those who pass through my awareness.

How do I want people to experience me?  As a blissful pool of moonlight set on a mountaintop lagoon.  A place that is enriching at the end of a long journey.

The journey is as much the reward as getting to the location itself.  Wandering is how and when we open ourselves up to the mystery.  Its important to enjoy the sensation of opening.  To revel in it.

That is what I love about painting.  It is a journey into mystery as I never know what something is going to look like until I see it done.  The final piece feels done when it resonates with a peaceful balance.  Until that point each step is a process of pulling my vision out of the ether and adding it to the chaos of the white blank canvas.

The work of creation is for me one of balancing chaos and transforming it into beauty.