Before or while reading this post, play Where is my Mind, by: The Pixies
Someone recently advised me to practice mindfulness. As some one who is a self-described over analyzer, it seemed a bit like a joke.
Mindfulness? Really? I already live in my head all-the-time. I'm pretty sure that's my problem.
Apparently, Mindfulness is the opposite. I think I should have known that already.
"a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
The concept seems great. Perfect. That's my problem, My head is always living in the past or planning for the future. Very rarely I catch myself simply experiencing each moment as it happens, but it seems like those moments have become less and less frequent as I've grown older.
Last night, for example, I was able to stop by a couple of fantastic First Friday Shows, Quantum Leap at the Harrison Center and No Authority by the incredibly talented Benny Sanders, at Cat Head Press. First Fridays are wonderful, and I love walking through exhibits and speaking with the artists. Except, last night I felt like my body was on autopilot and my mind was wandering through a maze of thoughts.
I could feel myself inside wanting to enjoy the free wine and be connected to the conversations I was having, but I couldn't let me out of my head. It was like I was trapped by my own insecurities as an artist, bogged down by fears of the future, and simply exhausted by it all.
This morning, as I drink my coffee and watch 2 Dope Queens on HBO, I'm starting to realize how much of my life I'm not living, because I'm constantly replaying previous experiences in my head, and allowing those experiences to cause me anxiety about the future.
Its weird, I always hated it when I'd hear people say things like "I'm just trying to live in the present," because it felt so fake to me me. Like, Duh. You're living in the present. We're here right now eating chips and guac. But now I've realized how much I live outside of my actual life.
I'm a little freaked out by it, and honestly intimidated by the task of trying to stop it.
How do I step away from this habit? How can I have a conversation with someone over beers and not be thinking about the last time I had a conversation with someone over beers? Or when am I going to be able to afford to fix my wheel on my car? Or will I ever fall in love? Or I wonder if I can get the stain out of my favorite shirt? It was stupid of me to drink that coffee too quickly. Or is my artwork actually crap, because I don't get the likes on instagram that I want, and I'm always struggling to get accepted to art shows? Do the other local artists think I'm a loser and they're just trying to be nice to me? Do they even know me at all? ...
Then I snap back into the conversation, and nod along not having actually listened to a thing the other person has said.
I'm realizing that many of the videos I put in my insta-story are more for me to remember than they were for me to experience.
So now, I have before me one of two choices:
I'm ready to attempt to be less judgmental of myself and what I feel at any given time. I'm going to attempt to pour my essence into as many PRESENT moments as possible, knowing that I won't be successful all the time but hoping that I can start to rewire how I think and feel.
This should be fun (just kidding it's going to be really hard). Throughout it all. I paint.
Here goes nothing,
Each morning I scramble two eggs. I pour a little bit of green-vegetable juice into a glass and dilute it to the brim with city water from my faucet; it’s something I picked up doing in Australia. It makes you feel less guilty about drinking sugary juice.
My coffee pot sputters and steams as it make the MY perfect cup of hot black coffee. I usually sip this throughout the morning while I do dishes and make my bed.
Sitting down for breakfast is brief these days, usually spent listening to a podcast like 1A or the Creative Pep Talk, and other days I simply sit down with my own thoughts to entertain myself (Scary, I know).
This week my thoughts have revolved around my favorite year. Do you have a favorite year of life? I’ve heard of people wanting to re-do particularly painful years (like my junior year of high school). However, I’m not here to talk about my most painful year. I’m here to talk about my favorite year.
2010: The year of the first iPad and the BP oil spill. It was a time when people still loved Justin Bieber.
I was in my early twenties in college and experienced some major changes. A late bloomer, I experienced my first French kiss at the end of my sophomore year and a swift heartbreak that followed finding out that this person was spreading the love with several other willing participants.
At the time, I was a little naïve and had never been in a situation like that before and so it crushed me (there’s a little more to this story, but it’s going to stay private). I can laugh about it all now, but at the time I didn’t believe I would recover from the loss; it all felt pretty hopeless.
When the semester ended, I spent a decent part of the summer running. Not running away from my feelings, I mean literally running, up to about 6 miles in the morning, and walking approximately 4+ miles each evening. I was only working a part-time job so moving around became a hobby. Month after month, I woke up, tied on my shoes, and ran.
It helped occupy my mind that summer and gave me confidence in myself. I began to see myself as a person who could accomplish things on my own, rather than on the defense, just reacting to the things happening to me.
In September of 2010, I left for the Trip of a Lifetime (as we called it): My university study abroad program (5 weeks on Australia’s Gold Coast, 5 Weeks in Queenstown, NZ and 3 Weeks all over Southeast Asia). At this point, only mildly sore from the heartbreak I’d experienced months previously, I was optimistic that I was about to experience something truly remarkable.
I created friendships with people I didn’t expect. I broke rules. I jumped into the lake. I got lost in Hanoi, then again in Tokyo. During this time I discovered my passion for art and immediately changed my major to painting. I let myself feel alive again.
I like to think I “leveled-up” that year. When I look back on 2010, I don’t think about my heartbreak. I really only see the good. I see my first experience with fancy Japanese toilets. I see myself sneaking down the street with a pupil, drinking Heinekens in brown bags, trying not to get caught by our instructors. I see us staying up late on a sheep farm playing truth-or-dare. I still hear the group of us harmonizing on the bus, making the driver cry because it was beautiful.
2010 was the year I pushed myself out of my, so called, comfort zone and into (cue Kenny Loggins) the danger zone. Even the aforementioned heartbreak was a good thing. I pushed myself to be vulnerable with someone, and while it didn’t work out how I’d hoped, it was rewarding to open myself up. I learned how to be hurt and how to take care of myself at the same time.
Since then, I’ve had quite a few life-changing experiences and collected a whole slew of heartbreaks. I’ve changed for the better in some ways and, in other ways, I’ve likely changed for the worse. However, I simply can’t think of a year that sums up the idea of “leveling-up” better than 2010.
Upon this reflection, I’ve begun thinking about how I can level-up this year. How can I push myself to be the best I can be, make my best art, throw my best boxing combination, and explore the best places I can afford? What can I do in order to be brave enough to be vulnerable again? Are there things I can do now to keep progressing and eventually look back with a new favorite year?
I’m not sure I have an answer but I do have the mindset and motivation I know I need. I’m going to put myself back into the (Cue Kenny Loggins again) Danger Zone. I’m going to try new things and meet new people. I’m going to care for my body and my spirit.
2018 is the year I level-up again. If you’re tuned in, expect good things and if you have any recommendations, I’ll take those below.
I've started this post several times without feeling very committed to it. It might be because I keep trying to write something that is true about myself and my own experience but I'm not really sure about what I'm experiencing these days.
I'll tell you what I know is true. The past 365 days have been difficult. I could list all of the things this year that have disappointed me, and if you know me personally, I'm sure you could quote them all yourself. I'm all too fond of maudlin (my new favorite word); I let it snake through my veins like a thick, unfiltered, honey. Eventually coating my lungs and escaping from my lips as grievances and protestations.
A friend once described me as, "a walking billboard," So, I'm sure you don't need to know my story, the good and the bad; it's written on everything I do, engrained on my every fingerprint.
So now I paint.
I paint, I write, I laugh, and I cry a little. I'm trying to let myself feel all of my emotions and then let them go, reminding myself that all feelings are here and then they're gone They're just gusts of wind off the lake at dawn, chilling, thrilling, and temporary.
Sometimes it seems like maybe I live in the wrong time or place, surrounded by people who've all come up with their own ideas about what part I play in the world or their world. Maybe it's an artist thing that I always feel like I've never clearly articulated what I want, and why I'm here.
I've never said all of the words I've intended to say. I've never quite got my point across.
Maybe it's just the human condition to never truly know yourself and that's why I paint and draw so many self-portraits; I'm still figuring it out.
Well, my most recent portrait gets a little bit closer to a sliver of what I wish I could say about myself.
Painted in only four hours. It felt good. It felt like the truth. My vulnerability.
This painting is a short story. You can tell yourself whatever you want about it. Draw your own conclusions, just as everyone tells themselves their own story about everyone else. But for me, it's nice to look at this painting and recognize a truth about myself and where I'm at, even if it's still a bit blurry.
I may sometimes find myself lost at sea, but I keep swimming.
Happy November One and All!
It's been a bit of a wild ride for me this past month. I've been from Louisville to Ontario and back within the month of October, and spent a lot of that time battling bronchitis: my least favorite type of "minor" infection.
Good News! I was finally able to finish my large landscape. I've found that most of my work, especially oil on canvas, tends to be very high chroma; it's not something I ever intend to do. In my mind I paint like I'm an old Dutch master, such as Vermeer or Van Eyck, using subtle changes in hue and use of light to create images that are controlled and relaxed.
However, despite trying to paint this way...my work never turns out looking even remotely like these guys' stuff. I remember my art history professor talking about historical painters and how you could identify most novice/self-taught painters by their outright overuse bright colors. He referenced Rousseau as an example.
I specifically remember this lesson because I could and can still see the bright color "problem," in my work. I fear I'm unable to see the subtleties I both want and need to see in my work while I'm painting. For example, this landscape I just finished is full of bright pinks and oranges and blues. It's like I couldn't decide which area to emphasize, so I just pushed everything to it's limit.
Sometimes I fear that I'm losing my gift. Maybe I'm not painting enough. Maybe I've just grown lazy. Or...maybe I simply need to embrace my own natural inclination to paint the way I paint, without worrying about what one art history professor believes.
One person who's palette I always enjoy is local artist, Nathan Foxton's work. I probably annoy this guy. Every time I see his work at the Harrison Center or around town, I get really excited about it. He's got a unique eye, and it seems like he does high-chroma really well.
It encourages me to see artists play with color so freely, but end up with such a concrete believable product.
There are other local artist's who's work I enjoy. In fact, I may just make another blog post specifically about different local artists who's work I admire and and why.
I honestly can't complain about my own landscape; there is so much I love about it. I love atmosphere it creates. I love that it has some movement to it; you really get the feeling that you're moving very quickly through the scene. Even as a person, standing in front of the canvas, knowing you can look at it for as long as you'd like, the painting still creates a sense of urgency. The perceived movement of the foreground gives you the sensation that you're are about to miss it. I enjoy how much the composition pulls the viewer into a sensation.
I only wish...I could make that what I'd intended originally (does that make sense?) I wonder if I tried to start painting like Kandinsky or one of the other Expressionists, that I'd actually end up with a neutral, chilled out palette of raw umbers and burnt siennas. The best laid plans of mice and men...
So, I'm going to do that thing I do when I feel like I'm going off the rails on palette experimentation. I'm going to do another limited palette painting, where I only use a few colors. AND I'm going to start it this week. AND I promise you, dear reader, I will post another blog by this time next Sunday. Those are big claims, coming from me, I know.
Angela M. DeCamp
I’ve been given a taste of change and now I’m ready and eager for more. I want to travel somewhere I've never been. I want to kiss a stranger. I want to shed my old skin for something with room for new memories.
Change is one of those things. You love it. You hate it. You need it. Change is puberty; It’s the vessel that carries you from one port to the next, with no promise of smooth sailing.
It snuck up on me and stung me. At first, my head was spinning. There didn’t seem to be any actual legitimate reason for its coming. Maybe destiny got sick of waiting around for me to finally make the changes I’ve been meaning to make, or maybe its just the way life evolves. Either way it happened.
I can’t believe how comfortable I’d grown with “status quo,” with “good enough for now.” I’d settled for less than what I’d wanted, less than I could be, and now I’m making adjustments to my life. Scary at first, true, but oh so necessary and getting easier every day.
I’m going to be moving out of my first apartment this month. I’ve had a lot of great memories here. I made posters for the Women’s March here. I welcomed my first cat (best friend in the entire world) to her first home with her forever roommate.
I made delicious meals.
I shared wine and conversation with friends.
I woke up in the morning, scrambled eggs, and sipped coffee before work.
Soon, I’ll be scrambling eggs, and sipping coffee in the kitchen of a bigger better home but I can’t help feeling a little bittersweet about saying goodbye to this part of my life. New home, and soon a new job. New, new, new. The view from my window is going to be changing a bit.
At it’s core, I’m redeveloping my life for the better. I’m saying good bye to toxic environments of the past, and saying hello to a new chapter.
So let it begin. You know I'll keep you posted.
1. Its been a year since I got back into Muay Thai, and I've finally made it to the more advanced class. I've been so grateful for the friendships I've made through this experience.
It seems like the longer I'm involved in learning Muay Thai, the better I can handle everything else in life. I used to rely on running, and enjoyed it (I still do from time to time). When I was a runner, I would spend a lot of time stuck in my head. Alternatively, Muay Thai requires 150% of my attention, to the point that I am able to block out every other part of my life.
It's an intense workout, but it's also an actual skill I'm learning. I'm so eager and excited to get better and better.
2. I finished the freaking painting! Still no title...but voila!
I'm going to take this moment to talk about this painting a bit. I want to tell you that it was a super fun process and I enjoyed every minute of it...but if that were true I'd have finished this painting after a month of starting.
I've always prided myself on being an artist that works quickly, and this painting kept dragging on. Looking at it now, even after being "finished," I can list out every single flaw. Things I know I really need to go and rework, but I don't have it in me to paint back into it. Maybe it's just an artist thing. I don't know.
Here's what I'm happy about. I'm pleased I was able to challenge myself with straight lines, aka buildings, inorganic structures, you know: the background. I did not initially enjoy it. I love painting portraits, but buildings intimidate the hell out of me. There is no forgiveness for crooked lines, and before I painted blue over the whole dang thing, it looked like a sad cartoon. I feel confident that I made the right choice with the color change.
I enjoyed painting Megan's tattoo. I enjoyed creating light from the cellphone screen by just making everything else darker. I like how it all fits together.
I believe I am a warrior, because I fought through this painting tooth and nail, and knew when to call it quits. I'm finished and satisfied.
3. I've continued to seek out shows, even though it can be exhausting.
The older I get, the busier I get. This hasn't stopped me from finding another place to show my work. I hung up some work at the Salesforce Tower in Indianapolis and it is scheduled to be on display through the end of August.
And, here's an abrupt ending to this blog post.
I'm actually too busy to come up with a witty segue to end this. Sorry you haven't heard from me recently. I'll try to be better about staying in touch ;) Just know I'm still here. I'm still working my patootie off. Being a full time employee, part time kickboxer, and free time artist is difficult to juggle, but I'm doing it the best I can.
When I was in my first grade art class, I remember making a scene of some kind of summer camp. We used different colored craft paper, safety scissors, and markers that stained my fingers blue.
In my picture, I drew people in bathing suits around a large lake. As I was gluing on more craft paper I distinctly remember thinking about the span of my life, as I understood it...as well as any seven year old could. Second grade seemed like miles away, middle school and high school, eons...and college... I'd be lucky if I made it that far. I became overwhelmed thinking about how long my education would take, and how many obstacles I'd have to face.
The warmth has finally returned. I'm ecstatic that I don't have to turn on my AC yet. Last year, the cost of keeping my apartment cool was ridiculous, and I'm hoping to avoid spending as much money as I did last year.
My art show at Fountain Square Brewery was fantastic. It's been great to show my work and have camaraderie with so many other talented local artists. I often forget how important socializing with my art peers can be. Makes me miss the art department at Harding University so. freaking. much. Photos courtesy of the talent Courtney Brooks.
Oh hello there,
You've found me slowly sipping an incredible cup of hot tea; it's a chai apple cinnamon concoction with a heaping spoon of organic unfiltered honey and it's reminding me of my goal to find a quiet moment of pure bliss every single day.
Many Glad Tidings!
As you know, last week, I chose to try out vegetarianism. Sounds like a religion doesn't it? Well, I can tell you from first hand experience, practicing it didn't turn my water into wine, and the only pilgrimage I went on was the treacherous trek through my 594 square foot apartment to my fridge.
Here's what surprised me, I didn't feel deprived. I didn't feel vaguely hungry, at least not any more than I usually do around 3pm. In fact, I felt pretty dang satisfied. I found some decent recipes online, gave them a go, and it sort of worked.
Angela DeCamp is an Indianapolis based artist. who enjoys the finer things in life: black coffee, carnival tickets, the sound high heels make when they clickty-clack on the sidewalk.