Creative Coaching

               As an educator I have loved working with young people and older people in helping them develop their voice through visual art. There is a spectrum of artists - those who are confident and those who think that they aren't artists at all. Everyone along this spectrum in fact has the ability to express themselves through the visual arts. 

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I love it. Anyone and everyone can access new parts of themselves through the multiple dimensions of the visual arts and I feel so inspired guiding people towards that. 

Art allows us to find things out about ourselves: like what we find attractive or interesting, what annoys us, what we find to be important, what matters to us, how to get into a state of flow, how to find that perfect balance, how to accept, how to appreciate, and how to take mistakes and see them as all a part of the process. 

I have been thinking for awhile of extending my teaching practice to online platforms where I can reach more people all at once. And thus, I have been developing courses that will help anyone to develop a sense of self, re-kindle their passion, and find their voice through the creative arts. Again, this is for anyone and everyone - for the artist who needs a boost of support, or for that closeted artist who is ready to explore what art really is to them, or the business-person, lawyer, doctor or other busy professional who's yearning to find more color and purpose in their lives. I want to be that support. 

Available through one on one coaching and/or course form. Which would you prefer? Coming Soon from Laura Mychal studio. 

 Helen Frankenthaler in her studio

Helen Frankenthaler in her studio

Musings of an Art Teacher

I kind of fell into teaching. When I went abroad to Peru to work in the Peace Corps as an environmental volunteer, I ended up teaching a lot - from English, to recycling, to various art projects. I felt natural in that line of work, my empathy and intuition guided me along the way. I enjoy helping others and realize that my inspiration grows as I work to inspire others. 

Since then, I have taught art of almost all media to people of all ages and backgrounds. I've made some crazy fingerprinting projects with Pre-schoolers, facilitated collage, watercolor, and sculpture projects with elementary school kinds, taught plaster sculpture, drawing technique, and murals to middle and high school youth, contemporary art and visual culture to college kids and art history, painting and drawing to older adults. 

I've learned a lot through these teaching experiences. I've gained a lot of patience, flexibility, and attention to detail. I recognize the fragile differences and similarities between working with children and working with adults, especially the more aged ones. I know how to recognize the introverted creative kids and make sure their creative voices are heard as loudly as the more extroverted and energetic kids. 

Teaching art is great, because there is so much room within it. The class can be play-based and experimental, or based on technique, it can be more serious and look at the history of art or explore social issues in art. No matter what, it helps people grow as themselves, get to know their personal voice, and understand a bit of their expressive humanity. 

 

 Image of a girl during the Holi festival / via www.HelloGiggles.com 

Image of a girl during the Holi festival / via www.HelloGiggles.com 

I believe that everyone has a creative bone in their body, and are able to find a way to express themselves through visual art. For some, it is the best way for them to show their inner world to the outer world, while for others it's a more difficult journey to find how to do that. Through the process there is always the ample ability for the student to learn something new about themselves - to see themselves, society, and the world around themselves differently. 

I like to say that "art is life," because I truly believe the two are interchangeable. Everything goes in art and life is everything. Thus, art is a great vehicle for discovering, experiencing, and understanding our lives. 

 

 

A Note on Noticing

Being an artist is not only about making something beautiful, interesting or great.  It is also about noticing beauty, and interest in the Happy Mistakes.. 

 

 Photograph by Camil Tulcan

Photograph by Camil Tulcan

When I work, I remain open and aware of what happens. What happens when I drip turpentine laced paint down the front of my canvas, what comes up when I sand the layers of dried paint down, what occurs when I paint blue over the gessoed cardboard on the painting's surface, or what do I notice when I take a step back, take a break and come back to look a day later, or turn the canvas upside down. 

I love working in abstraction because of the endless possibilities for development that the style lends to me. My process is one of addition and subtraction and process itself. I love starting with material (another post on this soon) and color and exploring. I see my work as abstract expressionism often, because I really am creating via my emotion. Whatever feelings I come to the studio with determine the strokes, the colors, the way I rip the paper and compose it upon the canvas. And then I enter that flow state I was talking about in an earlier post and my feelings can change and the painting evolves - I begin to engage in a conversation with my artwork and it's just me and my art becoming something new together. 

It is within that dance that the painting grows. It is because I remain open and aware of what occurs through the movements and actions that the painting becomes a reflection of my creative voice. 

 Anything can happen when you leave it up to chance. The artist is able to observe the event and find the art within it. (Pictured: Jackson Pollack - a pioneer of Action Painting).

Anything can happen when you leave it up to chance. The artist is able to observe the event and find the art within it. (Pictured: Jackson Pollack - a pioneer of Action Painting).

Staying open to noticing what occurs is important.

One can easily connect this idea beyond art making and into living life. Open your mind, get out of your head, stay open to what comes up in your everyday life. It is the little things that, when you begin to be open to them, can change everything. Is it that smiling at a stranger changes your vibe or creates a valuable connection? Or stopping to read a poster on a phone pole opens you up to an inspiring event? Or, smelling that rose makes you happy, or noticing the color in the sky leads you to trying out that watercolor set that's been sitting in your drawer. 

 

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Mini Lesson:

•Using A camera (phone camera or other) spend a week taking five pictures a day of things you notice around you.

Open your eyes, open your mind, and let what comes comes ... or seek it out actively.

Find inspiration: It may be through the eyes or through an experience - document it.

Five pictures a day / Seek Inspiration / it is everywhere!  

How to Make it as An Artist

This is something that I have googled at least 100 times since starting this entrepreneurial journey into the art world. I've read articles, books, and watched numerous YouTube videos that aim to help guide the budding artist on their way.

It's amazing to me that the business side of art was so absent during my studies in college, where (my family) spent a lot of money sending me to gain my education in art. I learned so much about the wonderful world of art, but nothing about the practical side of being a full-time artist in the world. This is an obvious flaw, because I was spit out the other side thinking I'd achieved something while the "real world" kept telling me that in all actuality I hadn't. This was something I realized while shooting to lock down some kind of art career and ending up in an unpaid internship. 

Being an artist is a magical, amazing and completely enriching existence. 

Making it as an artist is something else. 


To make it as an artist, I believe you must be persistent, confident, determined, flexible, and willing to be vulnerable again and again. I tell me students that anyone and everyone can be an artist - it's all about belief. This is true. To make it as an artist, you need about 15% skill and creativity and 75% all the other stuff aforementioned. 

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This may sound shocking, but if you think about it all art is subjective anyway. If you call it art then it's art, and if you continue to make more of it that looks similar and believe in yourself enough to stand behind it - then you're halfway to making it. 

There are a million resources out there, which tell you how to create the perfect Instagram, how to take stellar pictures for your website, how to network and gallery hop, how to sell prints online, and how to build your e-mail list, etc. etc. etc. All of these are good ideas and helpful tips. 

I'm here to tell you that all of the above and more will work, but the most important aspects to being an artist is being persistent, creating work you're proud of, remaining determined, and believing in yourself. 

That's it. As my dad always told me : Do what you love, the money will follow. 

xoxo, 

Laura

 

Lesson 2: Meditation Through Drawing

Meditation has been an important part of my life since I was lucky enough to attend a mediation retreat my last year of high school. There was a profound shift or awakening that occurred within me by the end of those ten days of sitting and focusing on my breath. I felt connected to the people around me and the environment around me in an intense way. 

The freedom and peace that can be attained through meditation is similar to the flow state, which can be acquired doing different activities, especially those that you naturally enjoy. 

When I am painting or drawing for awhile I end up getting into that flow state, where I am not thinking about anything and time flies by while I am completely and deeply engaged in my work. 

So, even if making art isn't your forte, I believe that if you follow this exercise you will find a flow state through the act of drawing. 

Meditation Drawing Exercise

You will need: a few pieces of paper, and a pen or pencil. 

1) Set a timer on your phone for one minute. Close your eyes and let the pencil glide over the paper in any way that feels natural at the time. 

2) Take a minute to reflect on that: were you rushing? Was the pen or pencil moving slowly over the paper? Did you pause? Lift up the pen or continue in one long stream? Were you thinking about something? Were you concerned with the final image? 

3) Repeat this on the back of the paper. 

4) On your next piece of paper, do this exercise again, but this time you are going to keep your eyes open. Set your timer and let your pen go, try to observe how your hand wants to move. Don't overthink it. Let it be more about the movement and energy than the outcome. 

Imagine it as if your hand were dancing to the music of your current state of being.

5) Observe your drawing and notice if there are any parts of it that are particularly interesting or intriguing to you. Turn your paper around to see it from different angles. Walk away from the paper and return. Hold it close to your face and far away. 

Seeing your work from different points of view can help you see more and better.

6) On your last piece of paper you will create an abstract drawing that is based off of the former exercises. You should have an understanding of your state of being (energetic, calm, anxious, joyful etc.) and how that may be affecting your marks. With this awareness you will craft your drawing in a similar style repeating the strengths of the last drawing in this new piece. You should maintain the meditative quality as well so that you will enter the flow state while drawing. 

If you need - set a timer for at least 10 minutes. 

Enjoy! xoxo

            Laura Mychal

 

 Return. 2016. Ballpoint pen on vellum.

Return. 2016. Ballpoint pen on vellum.

Lesson 1: Finding Your Voice Through Found Materials.

I use found materials a lot in my own work. I like to be resourceful and sustainable in my practice and so I naturally gravitate towards what is around me. I think that using found materials is:

1) Smart: Being resourceful is doesn't cost me a lot of money. 

2) Emotionally Intelligent: It stretches those muscles of my mind that encourages me to find the beauty in what is around me. 

3) Connecting: It grounds me to myself, my space, and my materials. It connects me to my impact and my relationship with the earth. 

Through the act of creating with FOUND MATERIALS I meditate and expand upon the above principles. It feels good, necessary, and important - especially in these times when our waste and material impact is pertinent to the future of the environment.

 Artist El Anatsui creates gorgeous wall hanging sculptures with recycled liquor bottle tops.

Artist El Anatsui creates gorgeous wall hanging sculptures with recycled liquor bottle tops.

Found Material Assemblage Exercise: 

What is Assemblage? : It is an art form wherein an artist puts together different found materials into a sculptural form. Picasso began such constructions in the early 1900's and artists such as Kurt Schwitters and Mario Merz followed suit. In the 1950s Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg popularized the form using found materials and adding paint to them. 

 Collection. Robert Rauschenberg. 1954/1955. Paper, Wood, Fabric, Metal and Oil on Canvas.

Collection. Robert Rauschenberg. 1954/1955. Paper, Wood, Fabric, Metal and Oil on Canvas.

Step 1: Begin by looking. Look around your home, look on the streets around you as you walk, and begin to notice more. What are you attracted to? What is readily available? What could be useful or interesting in a sculpture? // This is an important part of the artists journey - you will begin to notice your surroundings in a new way and open up to seeing. Once you notice new aspects of your everyday life you might find that you become more engaged, interested, curious and connected to what is existing in your life.

Step 2: Gather your materials. Try to have at least five things and a diverse bunch. It's always bette to have more and pare down later. Spread these out on your table. Gather your connecting materials (glue, tape, staples, extra paper, cardboard, etc.).

Step 3: Make Notes. Take out a pen and paper and begin by jotting down the materials you've connected. Then next to each material attribute an emotion, idea, or other relational aspect of the material. In other words, what does that material bring up for you?

Example: Cardboard: Amazon, Shopping, Consumerism, Trees, Process, Nature, Box. 

Step 4: Make Connections. Now that you have your list and attributes you may start to see a trend  in your associative words. Is a story emerging? If not, look for one. Think about the story you want to tell and how you will use the materials to tell it. At this point you may realize you need to cut some found objects out and/or collect more of one or find one more specific material. Do that. Write down the story you're interested in telling through these materials. One material might drive the story and the others play minor symbolic roles or simply serve for aesthetics only. 

Step 5: Design. Sketch it out. Make notes and draw the materials and how they will connect. Use arrows, write down your associative words, scratch them out, go for it. This is your time to figure out your blueprint. Use as many pieces of paper as necessary. 

THINK ABOUT: Repetition, Size, Space, Shape, Movement...putting multiples of one material in your assemblage could express excess, placing a material in a circle might have a connotation of unity, having a meandering string rather than a cut up string has a different emotional effect...

Step 6: Put it all together! Glue, cut, staple, combine...put your materials together to create your assemblage. If you deviate from the blueprint that is all good. A lot of art making is discovery through the process. Have fun, experiment, let things fall and then try again. Make sure your piece is interesting from all angles. Work on one side then turn it around and work on the other. It's not done until you say it's done. 

Step 7: Give it a title. Give it somewhere to live. Take pictures. Share them with me, with your friends. And give yourself a pat on the back. 

Congrats you made an Assemblage!

 

    

My Journey as an Artist (Well, Some of It)

It's a hard road of being an artist, but it is one worth living. 

You must be dedicated, determined, passionate, unrelenting, and unwavering. You must be confident, independent, self-motivated, and strong-willed. 

/\\\ I could go on but I think those are great ones to start with\\\/

There is no clear cut path towards "making it as an artist" - in fact many art schools and programs don't ever even talk about the outside world. Instead, we focused on making and looking, and critiquing and making some more. It was a safe womb-like world of art - a beautiful fantasy that I am happy to have lived. 

The other side of graduation proved that "making it as an artist" is a free for all. You must discover your journey on your own. 

And, this is what I have been doing. 

You think you need to do this and need to do that - to emulate what others are doing and have done. And, of course that isn't the answer but in thinking that I have learned a lot. In the end, everything is up in the air and there are a million directions you can go and a million you don't have to. You see what's out there, you try different things, and you figure out what works best for you. 

I had some teachers in school who inspired the hell out of me, and a couple who critiqued the hell out of me. Everything that you hear and becomes utterly uplifting or destroying, why? Well, because art is life and life is art - if you are an artist. 

 "What does it Mean" Joseph Kosuth 1999

"What does it Mean" Joseph Kosuth 1999

I've been rejected by galleries and grants and opportunities and welcomed by others. What I have learned from the best is that you don't ever give up. The denials have set my motivation back, but the passion inside of me will never let me quit. I am an artist always and forever and if I chose to put it on the back burner my life will be lived with less love and energy. 

I push on. And, forging ahead has meant that I delve and dip into different styles at time (although I've heard you're supposed to find your style and stick with it). To me, art is exploration. To me, success is authenticity. 

As a teacher I don't recommend to any of my students to try and fit into any kind of existing box, because it truth there is none in art nor in life. 

xoxo 

Laura

Art is Life 1.0

Hello Everyone.

I am going to start writing about my art and the lessons I teach and the lessons I learnt through teaching. 

I have recognized that there is a lot of valuable content in what and how I teach art to my students and so I want to package that and offer it to you all in a concise and available way that is also easily approachable for everyone. 

Art is important, but unfortunately it's not highly valued by a lot of society and especially (now more than ever) our government. Other nations, as in Europe, demonstrate a stronger appreciation for the arts where museums are governmentally funded and arts are celebrated throughout culture and in education with more weight and balance to other subjects. In addition we can find that happier and more thriving lives are lived in such places where life is also more highly regarded than competition and capitalism. These governments provide better access to health care, more vacation days, and initiatives that support positive and healthy livelihoods for citizens. 

 

 Bordalo II is an amazing artist from Portugal who uses recycled plastic to create (mainly) animals on the streets of Europe and now all over the world. He is one of my inspirations.

Bordalo II is an amazing artist from Portugal who uses recycled plastic to create (mainly) animals on the streets of Europe and now all over the world. He is one of my inspirations.

Art is a crucial part of living.

Even for those who don't see that from the get go, I believe that anyone can be opened up through art. It forces you to think and grow, especially if you're grating against it. Without art there would be no understanding of inspiration that makes our lives worth living. 

I am a visual artist and art educator. I have held on to this notion that "Art is Life" since I began recognizing the incredible world of art - "the art world" and all that it is through my college courses. My mind was blown. 

As I have ventured into the "real world" with my art degree and art education degree I have synthesized the ideas I had collected and have come up with my own surrounding the subject. I have come to see that "Art is Life" in new ways - art can teach us about ourselves, our lives, and our outlooks. Art has the power to transform communities, individuals, and others. 

I am interested in exploring and sharing the ways I see that art can transform your life. It's the little things in my art lessons that turn an art class into a philosophy course, turns teaching moments into spiritual moments.

This stuff is too god to let slip away into the void, so I'm here to share it with you. 

Follow along with me, grab your reading glasses, a cup of tea, a pencil and some paper and we'll begin a life journey through art. 

xoxo

Laura

This is NOT a Test

Actually, it is.

This is the beginning of the rest of our lives. Life happens in one instant to the next and here we both are together in this moment. 

The intention behind this blog is to share my gifts and talents with the world. I am an artist, and an educator and I teach and guide people through their experiences with art. 

I want to share those ideas with the world, extending my lessons beyond the classroom. 

 "Treachery of Images" by René Magritte

"Treachery of Images" by René Magritte

In addition I want to share what I go through and think about as an artist. 

Living life with purpose and intention are important aspects to my existence as well and so all of that intermingles with my artwork and the way I teach art. I believe I can spread art through the world in a meaningful way that changes individuals, communities, and makes the world a little happier and better off. 

Through my teaching and creating I have realized that art is a metaphor for life.

The more I make, and teach art the more I recognize this utter truth. 

I want to share these insights with you and some exercises as well that can help you gain a more harmonious understanding of yourself and your relation to the world. 

This is the beginning, this is just a test, and I'll be back with you soon. 

xoxo 

Laura

Let's make this world a more colorful, peaceful, and lovelier place to live with a more artful approach to life.