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New website is live!

By |2018-08-18T14:23:54+00:00August 18th, 2018|Always Be Testing|

I’ve been working on my new website for the last month or so. It was time to update the theme and make use of all the new features. I often get asked what I use for my site so I’m taking this opportunity to share that information.

I use WPEngine to self host my site on WordPress using the Avada theme. Plus, I have an excellent techie who helps me take the site live and troubleshoots when I get stuck.

The design is basically the same as before but I’ve added some new information and pages. I have a new section on visiting the studio, how to contact me and a SHOP page for small paintings! I’m excited to use a Shopify feature which allows me to integrate a shop page into my site!

There are some new features on the Portfolio page and instead of showing all of my work I’ve made a healthy selection of work. Think “knock knock” joke rather than the full reveal. How we love the tension of not knowing what is next!

Another change, suggested by a client, is to show the full image rather than a thumbnail. Often the thumbnail misrepresents the actual painting. I’ve also included more photos of my paintings in situ, which hopefully ignites the imagination! It’s worth a try!

So grab a cup of coffee and if you’ve got time you can visit the new site HERE! Let me know what you think in the comments.

XOXO,

Francesca

PS:  If you have any questions about any of this drop me an email.  I love talking websites!

Calling My Bluff

By |2018-08-11T16:23:05+00:00August 11th, 2018|Brightlife|

This post is part of an email I sent to a BFF artist.  I hope she doesn’t mind.
It’s a post about horses but not really.  It’s about how these souls:

Call out our STUFF.

They are mirrors to what’s inside; things that we don’t talk about or even realize are in us.
Yesterday, I lunged my horse for only the second time.  Being unclear in my mental message to him, transmitted through my body and mind, the horse was confused.  Fancy pants starts galloping around and bucking and I’m holding the lead line standing in the middle of the ring.  Blank.  Watching this horse circling around me at a speed that was enough to make me dizzy.  Thinking back, I realize he was looking straight at me the whole time.  Confused.
Truth.  My legs were trembling.  I could NOT believe the amount of energy this horse was generating.

“He’ll come back to you.  Count the rhythm, focus on his hindquarters.  SEND HIM FORWARD!”  my trainer said.

Oh god.  Am I too old for this?  Or maybe he’s too young!  Why is monkey mind showing up now?!?!?!
This was a moment of GET IT TOGETHER.  NOW.  This moment.  I had to trust those words and myself, calm my breathing and mentally send him the message.  I thought I was focusing….HAHAHA.  Fancy pants proved me wrong.
Makes me think about other stuff I do.  Am I really focusing?  Mr. First called my bluff.  Fair and square.
He also showed me I could get it together.  It wasn’t an issue of externals but of my ability to align mind and body.  I took a deep breath and exhaled into the ground and did exactly what my trainer said.  Within one and a half circles, that horse was back with me calmly trotting, confident and trusting in me to show him the way.
If you find yourself running in circles, choose one thing to focus on and send it forward.  It works!
XOXO,
Francesca

How are you playing this summer?

By |2018-08-04T17:09:22+00:00August 4th, 2018|Always Be Testing, Brightlife|

Are you scheduling time to play this summer?

I think I’ve figured out something; and it seems to be working.

You might remember that I have a new family member:  a Lusitano horse from Brazil!  Some things fall into place when you’re not expecting anything.  That’s how First came into my life.  I spent 4 years testing whether I could incorporate “horse life”  into “art life”.  The result was Yes.  Returning to riding after close to 40 years off the horse planted me squarely back into beginner’s mind.

I’m finding the horse arena is much like a studio which is much like the dance floor.  There are similarities of energy, frame, composition, direction, balance and lightness.  One informs the other yet pushes the boundaries at the same time.

How am I sending energy?

Where is it going?

What shape is it?

How can I be world class in each situation?

I ask these questions in all of my efforts.

Production/Play

Maybe you are a podcast listener too.  Recently I listened to a business woman describe how she breaks up her week.  She has a family, husband, entrepreneurial career and religion.  There is a lot on her plate.  She works three days a week from 11am – 6/7pm and the rest of the week is for her family, health and spiritual life.  Production days.  Play days.  No matter which type of day it is there is focus!  Pedal to the metal as we used to say in cycling!

This reminds me of Tim Ferriss who has a similar approach he calls batching.  He writes that email is the single largest interruption in modern life.  I know my email load is a toothpick compared to his but I feel it too.  He controls it by setting up an auto-response which states that he’ll be checking his email twice per day or less.  This is an example of “performing like tasks at set times, between which you let them accumulate.” (TF)

You can batch tons of stuff.  Laundry.  Contacting galleries.  Loading images to website.  Paying bills.  Phone calls.  Blog posts.

I decided to batch my painting into 3 1/2 days creating my Production schedule.

The other 3 days are Play Days with First!

Half a day is unplanned.

I’ve been working this way for a few weeks now and what a difference it has made.  I’m not rushing, stressing, working late or missing meals.  I also like the word Production instead of work.  Try it out for yourself. 

Say, “I’m going to work.”

Now say, “I’m going to produce.”

You feel the difference?

Take it further.  “I’m going to work on my website.”

Or.  “I’m going to load my blog images today.”

What do you think?

My Mother was right when she ordered us to GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!  How are you playing this summer?

XOXO

Francesca

Any batchers out there?  Schedules that are “producing” for you?

And then there’s Julie

By |2018-08-04T15:47:52+00:00July 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|

I’m so fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area which is rich with museums, galleries and art openings. A quick trip on public transportation can bring me into the heart of downtown SF where I can spend the whole day looking at art.

If I don’t want to go into the city, I can stay in the East Bay and join hundreds of other art lovers at Oakland’s monthly Art Murmur. Streets are closed and it’s one massive walking tour de force.

Right now Julian Schnabel is at the Legion of Honor. He has created a new body of work for the Legion of Honor Court; paintings that are 24 feet by 24 feet that aren’t meant to last.

Ethiopian born artist Julie Mehretu is at the SF Museum of Modern Art. She too is showing some very large work created especially for the museum. At 27 feet high and 32 feet wide they are larger than da Vinci’s The Last Supper. There is an article about how she created this work here.

“Have you seen the new show at ______?”

“Not yet.”

My usual response. After I’m told how wonderful the show was and I agree I must go and how going to the museum is a great energizer; it’s still not a habit.

I do make it to the major shows and openings of artist friends. And I always come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the artist and her work. The greatest way to see art is in person. No doubt.

FOMO

Fear of missing out. I bet you’ve heard of that expression. You say yes to actions you really don’t want to do in fear you’ll be missing out on something! It could also mean not going along with what is traditionally done. The way it’s supposed to be or has been done. The status quo. A gluttonous, fearful way of going through life.

Well, I just heard a new one!

JOMO

Joy of missing out! Isn’t that wonderful? It’s a terrific way of looking at what is already present rather than what you’re losing. It’s a get-to-do way of thinking. A responsible choice.

Lately this is what JOMO looks like:

JOMO 1:

Instead of rushing to get to the gym in the morning, I’m taking long walks in the morning with Lila and am in the studio before 9am. There’s joy in keeping the world out until my work is done.

JOMO 2:

Cows! What?

Last week I had to return an item I purchased from a store in Lafayette, a town about 20 minutes away from me situated in the East Bay hills. It all could have transpired through the internet. Everyone loves Amazon. Shopping sites. I do too. They are fast and time savers.

I had one night to do the return.

It had already been a long day of driving, but into the car goes Lila, forget dinner, forget her walk and get out there before they close. All goes well. I make the exchange and ask about the regional park in the area. I’m given directions from another customer and we’re off.

Five minutes later we’re at the trail head. After twenty minutes of a steady climb we’re on the top of the ridge. My gosh. What a view. 360 degrees worth.

There was so much to love in that moment. The heat. Blue skies. The cows. The solitude. Freedom. Knowing that this was one of those best days ever.

JOMO 3:

That “best” day shows up in the studio. Where did these lines and marks come from? It was a short studio session and I wanted to get something on those prepped panels before the end of the day. Being large panels I could walk my way through the space and mark as I go. Freedom.

I’m thinking JOMO’s have a cumulative effect.

And what about Julie? I’m going to the museum to see her work. Extreme JOMO.

XOXO,

Francesca

Do you have any JOMO experiences?

Blank is an invitation

By |2018-08-04T15:50:07+00:00July 21st, 2018|Brightlife, Studio Wildcat|

The medium is made. Pounds of it. I’ve prepped 4 large panels and they’re leaning against the studio wall. The Bay Area summer fog has returned and I’m back in the studio.

The process of creating an encaustic painting happens in stages. First a white ground goes down followed by 3-4 layers of medium. I enjoy this part of the process. It breaks the ice and gets your hand, eye and soul connected. By the end I already have a feel for the first marks that I know will be covered up in time.

Blank panels are like those beautiful white RSVP notecards tucked inside an important invitation. Thick, 100% cotton rag paper, maybe even printed on a real press. Your fingers can feel the type. An elegant font chosen. Naturally.

It’s waiting for your response.

XOXO,

Francesca

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