The 2022 Artisan Series "Generations" at Heringer Estates
As many of you know, I am the Creative Director at Heringer Estates, a winery in Clarksburg, Ca. I have worked there for about ten years, and this year I was finally able to put my artwork on a wine label!
Read all about it at HeringerEstates.com
It happens to the best of us. . . The story goes something like this-- An artist learns about this amazing platform called Instagram. She creates a profile and starts to post her work. The platform opens up a world of new positive energy and opportunity for her, so she dedicates more and more time to it. She spends hours scrolling. . . Learning. She is committed to climbing the mountain to the top. More followers. More hearts. More comments. More beautiful posts and more communication. Her energy is directed outwardly. Her social conversations and self worth start to revolve around Instagram. She keeps climbing. Soon she thinks she is almost to the top and is so excited. FINALLY!. . . Her hands reach for the edge and she pulls herself up to take in the view. YES! She made it! She is exhausted but feels so accomplished. . . However, as she pauses to take in the scene, she soon realizes that her efforts did not get her to the top at all. She is only on a landing on the side of the mountain. In shocked disappointment, she looks up to see how massively huge the mountain really is.
In her moment of deflation, on the side of the mountain, she can hear a distant party going on at the top. Just to rub it in. The party is shiny, beautiful, and very much what she has always dreamed of. The people at the party are celebrating. They made it there effortlessly. Our artist is not at the party. She is alone, exhausted, a little confused, and so far away from the party of her dreams
. . . So that was my experience this week. We have all been there right? Even if you have never heard of Instagram, there most likely has been a moment in your life where you have judged yourself based on other's perceived opinions that spun into an engery vacuum and you soon found yourself alone on the side of a mountain with no hope of ever making it to the party of your dreams. It's not a fun feeling, but it is a real one that many creative people face all the time. This process will lead you to a pause that usually begs the critical question,
"Which way do I go?"
Circumstances will dictate one way or an other, however as a creative minded person. . . I found myself asking a second alternative question. One that always surprises me and takes me out of the box I create.
"Is there another way?". . .
The answer we should always keep in mind its,
"YES! There is always another way."
There are HUGE mountains out there and we all climb every day. I applaud those that keep their heads to the grindstones, staying on the path that has already been carved, working towards a common ideal, and placing everything neatly in its appropriate box. Some will make it to the party this way. Some will not but will always keep trying. Some will give up completely. Don't get me wrong -- I am going to a party. We all deserve to give ourselves that much. It is just tough because the mountains with big promises and perfectly seeming shining parties are not all the amazing bliss they are cracked up to be. At some point we have to get real about where we actually want to go.
Artist or not, I have to be who I am and happy with what I do, which I'm sure is the same for you whether you know it or not. Carving a path that is all your own might not get you to the top of the mountain, but it will be amazing work that leads you to a party that is all your own. Ironically finding your party in the long term tends to be more about digging into my own self, rather than about climbing other people's mountains.
With that in mind, you will start to hear a lot more of me on this blog. Doing it my way. I will dig into who I am and pull it out to show you on a weekly basis. Maybe you will like it. I can only hope it will bring you joy and bring some insight into our humanness. Maybe you won't and you won't follow me on Instagram-- that is up to you. We all have our own parties to get to. This is my party.
"Atha Yoga Anushasanam" - Yoga Sutra 1.1
"Atha" means "now" in sanskrit and is the first word of Pantajali's Yoga Sutra. In history students worked and studied to have access to the yoga teachings. When the students were ready, the teacher would say,"Atha Yoga Anushasanam" (Now the teachings of yoga) and the student's would begin their journey.
Last week in our yoga teacher training our teacher, Michelle ended our weekend with "Atha Yoga Anushasanam". We sat in a circle as eager students and repeated the ancient sanskrit chant with her. Chanting and sound is a part of yoga practice, but it was very new to me. As we chanted together the energy grew and my mind went to all sorts or caverns and cubbies. At the end we chanted "Atha Yoga Anushasanam" very quietly. It really was playful, fun, and exciting, however I felt completely terrified afterwards. What was I doing here?! Can I really be a yoga teacher? Can I really let myself open up to this practice? I did not know.
I left class still terrified and embarrassed that I felt that way. I was resisting for some reason. Of course I had to expect we would most likely chant, but I did not really think about it until it was happening. Why was I so afraid? It was an emotional response to something new and the fact that I was afraid means that I should explore more. I did. For most of that next week I was chanting "Atha Yoga Anushasanam" in my daily life. Driving my car, making food, browsing the internet. This chant was my mantra for the entire week. It was wonderful. Now. Yoga. Always.
As an artist sometimes its necessary to put your head down, lock yourself in your studio, and vow not to come out until you have worked through whatever it is that is gnawing at you and you have created a new perspective. . . Sometimes the opposite is true and it is necessary to explore. For this reason I have taken the plunge into yoga school, a yoga teacher training program in Sacramento.
This program incorporates all aspects of yoga, anatomy, philosophy, history, home practice, and some internal digging. It also includes blogging. Therefore this blog will be the start of my yoga studies and continuation of my art exploration. My goal with this project is to merge yoga and art together. Bring both the creative process and movement as one. . . we'll see how deep I can dig and where this takes me.
They say in yoga you learn that you have all the cosmos inside of you and you are all you need. My first week of yoga school brought this image to mind.
I'm sure most of us spent our teenage years tacking up posters and images that we loved on our bedroom walls, changing the world around us in the only way we really could. How we decorated our walls was a way to define our adolescent selves. We spent hours searching for our favorite posters and many of us spent hours in our rooms gazing at our posters just waiting for time to pass. As an adult I think we were really on to something. . .Surrounding ourselves with images we love is not such a bad idea.
So what is an Inspiration Space exactly?
Well it is typically a wall that you look at or a room you spend time in everyday. For example the wall at your desk. It doesn't have to be a wall, but you want it to be present in your every day life. Not just something you notice if and when you open your computer or move your boxes in your closet. The space is THERE. It calls out to you when you wake up and make coffee, surrounds you during your day, and wishes you sweet dreams at night. To create your Inspirational Space you chose the message with the images or objects you display. These items can be personal creations, other artist creations that inspire you, letters, photos, sculptures, digital media, pieces of fabric, patterns, you name it you can use it! Generally the number of items displayed starts small and as time passes it grows into something more and more meaningful.. There are no rules or agenda. It grows completely organically with the idea to help you grow as an artist and as a human.
You chose the message.
I chose to make my space a mixture of my work, other artists works, images I love, motivators, and lessons I've learned to inspire me and help me to remember where I am from. As a very visually dominant person I have always built these spaces with images, either intentionally or not. It is important for an artist to be surrounded by images and materials that can provoke thought and creativity. When you are stuck on a project you can take a break, gaze at your space, and see if it gives you any help or change of perspective. When you are having a bad day you can turn to your space for comfort. When you need a push your space can motivate you. In a way, these spaces help you to stay in a certain state of mind like a check list for life.
Your space is a tool for your creative mind.
Don't be scared. The space is not meant to hold anyone against their will. Your space of inspiration can be anything you want it to be. It is a simple exercise of you taking control of your space and intentionally creating a productive environment for your creative mind. Start with a picture of your best and most supportive friend, or a favorite piece of artwork from one of your favorite artists. As you go through life keep your eyes open for other gems to add and you will soon have built a space that is all your own and full of love and encouragement,
Teenagers have the right idea. . . or at least they used to.
I don't have kids and I don't have teenagers so I'm not really sure what they do with their free time now. I know that when I was a teenager in the 90s and early 2000s we had a lot of free time on our hands to just lay in bed and stare at our walls. I stared at a Vincent Van Gough painting for hours almost every day for 4 years, Just stared at it and noticed different details, thought about my life, noticed color combinations and historical references, and basically just let my mind wander. During that time I was not stimulated or "busy". My mind was free to wander. . . and it did! To create you have to let yourself be free of the busyness but not bored. With an Inspiration Space your mind can wander in the direction you want to go. Let yourself drop the "busy", slow down, build YOUR space, and be a teenager again. Free to wander and create.
So why do I love succulents so much? What makes these plants so amazing? I often wonder this myself and while working through my "Living Wall Project" I think I have found some answers. My love for succulents goes far deeper then the plants themselves.
I grew up in the foothills of California where succulents did not grow. We never even heard of these plants in the 1990s.
Then I graduated high school and it was time for college. I moved to California’s Central Coast and discovered so many things. It was a time in my life to celebrate this life I had been given and the earth I live on. I wanted to soak everything up! For the first time I was away from my parents and out in the world to see what I could see. I met some wonderful people, saw some incredible things, and spent a lot of time at the ocean. The temperate climate really agreed with me and there was a wonderful lightness and energy about life and the future possibilities. Also, everywhere I turned I saw these amazing plants. They mesmerized me with their colors, shapes, and sometimes dinosaur or alien like qualities. I loved them. They were so different and unique from other plants I was familiar with. My family got annoyed (and probably still is) with my “oh look at those succulents,” comments as we walked down the street. Some girls ooh and aw over puppies or babies, but I could not get enough succulents.
As time went on I started painting and drawing them. My love for these plants grew and I spent a lot of time just gazing into their spirals of greens and blues. Succulents became not just beautiful plants, but I realize now, they represent the time in my life that was all about opening yourself up to positive discovery and love. My paintings of succulents and the bright colors I choose to represent them is a celebration of that time of discovery. A time when you just want to soak it all in and enjoy the sunshine. Not to mention these amazing plants can grow vertically! They grow despite all odds, take advantage of a temperate climate, make the best out of any situation, and they remind me to do the same. Is there a better way to live?
Visit my portfolio page to see the collages of succulents that make up my Living Wall Project. And learn from a succulent a little.
The Living Wall Project will also be showing at Philz Coffee Davis for February and March
This morning I got up and did something a little different. . . truthfully I got up and actually did what I always dream I would have time to do. I slept in a little, made myself some coffee, and set up my yoga mat in my living room. It was "Coffee and Yoga Time!"
-Now I know "coffee" and "yoga" together probably makes all of my wonderful yoga teachers cringe, but this morning was for me. It was a time to love myself and myself without caffeine is not love, it's torture. This morning I decided to accept this fact and enjoyed my morning on the mat.
With caffeine running through my blood I did a fun little yoga routine in my living room. Instead of my normal "Yoga mix" Pandora station, I put it on the Tycho station. Yes, I was falling into the zone, happily caffeinated, dreaming about a cool tech lifestyle, and waking my body up for the day. In between my sun salutations I did some little impromptu dance moves. . . Very cool and probably the best dance moves ever created. I drank my coffee and did not worry about the rules. . . I just enjoyed being human. It made me think. . . I worry too much about the rules and I don't spend enough time just enjoying "living".
I'm a self taught artist, with very limited class experience, so truthfully I don't even know all the rules, however I still worry about them and think I need to follow them. I lock myself up thinking "this" has to be a certain way or "that" is good because of "this". . . When really there is so much outside of the box that you are not even paying any attention to. We zero in on our schedules, goals, and "to dos", that so much passes us by and we don't even realize it. It's when we reach out that helps us to learn, create, and grow. Giving ourselves time and permission to do something different makes this world a better place -- and usually much more fun.
Last Friday I put on the first Paint WHAT you Taste class at Heringer Estates. This class is an interpretive painting class about your individual experience with wine. The idea is to get yourself out of your box, have fun trying wine, play with acrylic paints, and learn a little bit more about who you are all while making wine and yourself more accessible. I had an awesome group of women, the Soroptomist group from Davis, Ca, volunteer to be my guinea pigs. They had various levels of art and wine tasting experience and I lead them through a class that allowed them to express what they felt and saw when they tasted different types of wine. There were no right or wrong answers, laws of physics did not apply, and there were no restrictions about how they wanted to paint their canvas. We ventured completely outside of the box and everyone came up with something completely different to express their own personal experience with the wine that they tasted.
After each painting session we discussed what we saw and felt. Everyone was open and supportive of each other. The whole point was to learn and use paint to communicate our ideas. There were no rules and we didn't worry about them.
Paint WHAT you Taste was an awesome way to give yourself time to just experience being human. Like my morning on my yoga mat, sometimes you just need to let loose and change things up a bit. We can all take some time out of our busy schedules to break some rules and just enjoy who we are. --- To sum this blog post up ---- Let yourself break the rules everyone once awhile and enjoy who you are.
It's been so awesome working with Heringer Estates This month as as artist. I have shared what I do with more people and have started the paint and wine classes! Heringer's Marketing Director, Mariana Seda, did a little Q and A with me and posted in on their blog. She asked me some good questions and got me outside of my box. I work with Heringer all the time - but this was in a different aspect and really really fun!
Also -- Paint and Wine classes will be on going through out the year. Sign up for a class and have some fun!
Check out the Interview by clicking below.
So excited to be hosting wine and Paint classes at Heringer estates! the first class is scheduled for March 26th and you can buy your tickets at www.heringerestates.com under their "events" section. For the first class we will be painting in acrylics on canvas to create a creative replication of my "Big Blue, Gorgeous Succulent".
It will be a small class of only 12 people so sign up today to create some amazing art and enjoy some amazing wine!
the other day, as I was reflecting in my journal (which I am trying to do pretty regularly again) I realized something about my art and about myself. . . . It's All about acceptance. . . .
I start a painting with huge grandiose expectations. I pour myself into it. I follow my instincts on how to make it the most beautiful piece of art work ever created! At first I have thoughts of how this painting will promote me. I tell myself, "I will be famous!!! They will shout my name from the roof tops because of this piece of art!" I imagine how Critics will stare in aw at my genius and skill and collectors will clamor to buy it. Then I'll imagine that from this piece of art work I'll have enough money to live on a yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean, wear nothing but white linen, and Johnny Depp will come to my parties.----
All because of my genius instincts with shapes and colors. . . .
Then I decide it's total shit and I must be special needs. I have to walk away from it. . .
When I'm ready to come back, then I fall into the painting. All other thoughts are gone. I get close to the painting. Where my nose almost touches the paint and I watch how the paint smears on the canvas and the color changes everything. I step back and look at the whole picture. I try to understand what it is really saying and if it saying my idea or something else. I try to make it something wonderful with purpose and beauty. Sometimes I try to make it shocking, sometimes subtle. Often times I want it to be alive so that it can grow.
Then I decide it's total shit again and I should never paint. The nerve I have to even hold a paint brush!!!
I always come back to it though. I aways do. . . Sometimes it's years in between, but I always do. An unfinished painting is a question that just hounds me until I find an answer and If I don't work at answering it i'm not worth the air i breath. I will it this way. then I will it that way. Then I realize that I can't "Make" the painting anything. the painting is going to be exactly what it wants to be. I simply have to help it grow and create it. All of the process is a matter of accepting. I must accept my skills and my style to let the painting be the magic that it is. I'm not someone else and I can't create art like someone else. I am me. I paint like me. Sure I can challenge my skills, but to achieve the magic I long for on the canvass I can't try to manipulate it too much. I just have to let it be. I have to accept. when I accept myself everything on the canvass comes alive in just the right way. My way (like Frank Sinatra).
My name is Cara Gregor and I am the creator and artisit of Cara Emilia. See more of what I'm up to on Instagram @caraemiliadesigns