HEY STRANGER, CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW LONG IT’S BEEN?

by Michel Van Devender
Well, you know it’s been a minute when your last post was a tomato soup recipe from a cool spring day. And now it’s the middle of September, yikes. If you following me on social media, I have been more consistently posting there. If you do not (please do!), oh hi again! I really have missed being here. I hadn’t exactly planned to take a break from the blog, but in hindsight, I think I really needed a pause after all of the craziness of these past 2+ years. Some people thrive on chaos and crazy, but my friends, I absolutely do not! Give me a big dose of zen with a side of an adaptogen beverage any day. That’s more my vibe, but not always how life plays out. Our family spent most of June in Europe. I hope to gradually go back and share our travels in some future posts. The trip was dreamy, magical and inspiring, exactly what I needed feeling a little depleted creatively and otherwise. The shared experience with two of our three boys was priceless, and I wouldn’t trade the time and memories created together for anything. The limited time we are gifted with their younger selves is fleeting, and I live each passing day with this awareness and with deep appreciation for the time I have. When we returned home, honestly July and August were total blurs. It was a lot of time spent with my kids, a lot of white space and much needed regrouping and reflection. We of course had many days of way too much togetherness. Towards the end of summer, boredom complaints were the norm. The time came when we were ready to return to school, work and a schedule. I am grateful for the privilege and luxury of a pause, boredom and the opportunity to spend so much time with my kids over the summer. I know it isn’t an option for many people. This isn’t lost on me. One of the many benefits of taking a step back is it allowed me some perspective taking and a little space for some shifts. What does that mean exactly, well, it continues to unfold. Here’s what I know for sure so far- traveling and visiting some of the world’s most renowned art galleries and standing in the presence of some of the greatest works of art was awe-inspiring. It reignited my passion for creating my own art and my love of painting. I started feeling an itch, a little nudge to return to the easel. Even though I have painted off and on for over 25 years, I’ve always allowed my inner critic to defeat and derail me. That voice would tell me – you’re not a “good enough” painter (whatever that is), your art is junk, you don’t have a fine arts degree, etc. The voice certainly isn’t logical or grounded in reality. But, I acknowledge the real problem here is I believed the bullshit story I was telling myself. I never truly allowed myself to embrace being the artist I am. So I’m excited to write the easel, canvases and paints are out, like in full force, and in the way of my entire family… lol! Much to everyone’s dismay, I’ve basically taken over our family/TV room for now. I’m working on a studio space, fingers crossed, and am spending much of my days happily painting, playing in a different creative realm. And for those of you who have inquired, YES, I’m still painting jeans and apparel. I’m excited to play and explore this further too. Who knows where this will go. I’ve created a tab on the website where I’ll be posting art and goods. That kind of started with my custom jeans and notecards, but I’ll start including more inventory with detailed descriptions. I’m also working on revamping the website where I’ll be more focused on my art. The ultimate goal will be to have an online shop for easy viewing and purchasing. What does this mean for the blog? Well, I will continue to post content. It may look different, but I’ll still be here. I’m also trying to figure out the frequency, and what will work with my painting. I do love writing too so it will be finding some sort of balance between visual and written expression. They are both my therapy! All of the current content will navigate to the new platform and will always be available for viewing. I also plan to create a newsletter with content and updates. And don’t worry, I won’t be spamming you. Subscribe on the right if you haven’t already. Lastly and most importantly, I cannot thank everyone enough for your kindness, encouragement and support as I’ve started painting again. Honestly, I’ve felt a little raw and exposed. Like I’m standing on a stage naked, but maybe not quite that scary! Although it sounds a little dramatic as I’m writing, I think most creatives experience this at some point and to some extent when they share their art. Being an artist, of any kind, involves bearing your soul, showing up and revealing who you are… being a vulnerable human in a beautiful and cruel world. It is opening yourself up to whatever comes – judgment, criticism, praise, compliments, etc., from the outside world. And, not allowing these opinions to make or break you. Managing your own inner critical dialogue is also crucial. The reality is some will get you, some will not. Others will love what you’re doing while many won’t. You’re not for everyone, but you’ll be for some. That’s normal, expected and completely okay. But, allowing the fear of judgment and your own judgment paralyze you is not the path. And really, does any of the noise matter when you’re doing what you love, living in your purpose, grounded in your essence, fully expressing yourself? I’m still working on that inner critic part. It will be an ongoing process I’m sure. But today, I will paint and continue to evolve creatively, expanding into yet to be discovered parts of myself.

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