Happy New Year, and welcome to the January issue of Amy Funderburk's newsletter, Off the Easel. 

This month, I am delighted to share a detail shot from my work in progress, Blue Moon Fire Spiral, as well as an image of the third labyrinth in this interactive drawing series.

I hope you enjoy my article, Following Your Bliss: Pursuing Your Creative Dream. You will also find details about a group show in which I am participating that opens January 26th, an exciting race between Rabbit and Turtle, and new website and blog updates.

Read on for all this and more, and be sure to vote in #RabbitRacesTurtle!

Welcome to the January issue of
Off the Easel

Happy New Year! Thank you all for joining me for another year as I share in my art practice. My deep appreciation to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work.

I am delighted to welcome many new subscribers this month! I apologize that I did not have the opportunity in December to thank you all personally for your subscriptions. 

If you are seeing this newsletter on Twitter, please subscribe and have it sent conveniently to your inbox each month!
In this issue:

On the Easel: Works in Progress. I have really ignited the coals in the interactive drawing Blue Moon Fire Spiral -- see my progress and find out more in the article below! 

Following Your Bliss: Pursuing Your Creative Dream. Thoughts inspired by a creativity coach on how artistic pursuits can help everyone. The New Year is the perfect time to answer the call of your creative heart!
Upcoming Group Exhibit. Please join me on Tuesday, January 26, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM for a reception on the campus of Davidson County Community College in Lexington, NC. For further details on this group exhibition, please see the article below.   

Ready, Set, Go! The race is on! Please vote as Rabbit races Turtle to the finish line. Which of these two paintings should be featured on my next greeting card? You decide by casting your vote today -- learn how to vote below. #RabbitRacesTurtle! 

Website and Blog Updates. Read the details below to learn what has been added, and then please visit my site to see the progress for yourself. Hint: there is a new blog post regarding #RabbitRacesTurtle!

Thanks and Reminders. Don't forget -- my studio will not be open for further Downtown Art District Association First Friday Gallery Hops until later in 2016. Details on other reminders, as well as some well-earned appreciation, may be found in the article below.
I hope you enjoy the January issue of Off the Easel. I wish you all a creative and prosperous New Year!

All the best,

On the Easel: Works in Progress

Blue Moon Fire Spiral. If you are like me, when you first saw the initial phases of the Blue Moon Fire Spiral in my August newsletter, you may have asked yourself, "How is Amy going to make that look like something she usually creates?" Well, the hot coals have now been ignited to dispel the darkness of any such uncertainty!

Above is a detail of this work in progress, the first piece of several in this project. I am currently building on participants' contributions to this interactive drawing by making glowing coals from the traced shapes of the smooth stones I featured in my initial labyrinth template. 

Just as one of my aims for this interactive series of labyrinth drawings is to provide a vehicle for achieving calmness and inner peace for the participants, I find that the process of creating these hot coals is extraordinarily meditative.

Yes, when you activate the right side of the brain where art resides and time does not, creating visual art provides an opportunity for relaxation as the left brain quiets. Somehow, though, I find that creating these coals leads to an even more marked period of contemplation. I too am a participant, weaving my contribution into my own intention for this project.

The width of each coal ranges from roughly 1" to 1 1/2". For a look at the entire work in progress, see below. Eventually, white-yellow flames will lick up and away from the outer coals.

As for the spiral itself? Well, I will leave that as a surprise for now. Think surreal, cool drama!

The Continuous Spiral. Visitors to my studio during the December 4th Gallery Hop were invited to participate in the third piece in this series of meditative drawings.

The most complex labyrinth design I have chosen by far, I discovered when laying out the template that I cannot possibly do anything larger or more elaborate on this size of paper! I really enjoyed laying out the colored stones, using the values to create a sort of yin-yang flow with a warm center.

For more about my intentions and inspirations regarding this series of drawings, please see the August and October issues of Off the Easel.  
Above: Detail, Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
watercolor pencils on paper
December 17, 2015
interactive meditative drawing
watercolor pencil on paper with burned edges
17" x 13 1/8"
© Amy Funderburk 2015, 
All Rights Reserved
Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress
watercolor pencils on paper
December 17, 2015
interactive meditative drawing
watercolor pencil on paper with burned edges
17" x 13 1/8"
© Amy Funderburk 2015, 
All Rights Reserved
Above: The Continuous Spiral, in progress
Phase 2, interactive meditative drawing
spiral template: smooth stones gathered from the shore at Topsail Island, NC
drawing: watercolor pencil on paper, 17" x 14"
December 4th, 2015
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Ready, Set, Go!

Who will win the race between Rabbit and Turtle? Which of my Images From the Otherworld paintings should be next in line to be printed as a greeting card – Manifestation of Rabbit, or Turtle’s Progress?
Cast your vote using one of two methods: go to my @AFunderburkArt page on Twitter and look for the poll via #RabbitRacesTurtle, or 
make a comment on my new blog post, Ready, Set, Go! Rabbit Races Turtle. 

Visit my new blog post for a larger view of each painting before casting your vote, and to read more about the history and inspiration behind each work. 

I will have the winning painting printed as a greeting card and available in time for the next Spring Subscribers' Studio Soirée  (date to be announced). Fans of the animal last to the finish line need not despair, however -- eventually, images of both works will be available in this format. 

Information regarding existing greeting card designs is available on the shopping cart page of my site.  
Above: Turtle's Progress
oil on linen, 17" x 24"
© 2011-2012 Amy Funderburk
All Rights Reserved 
Meditation image

Below: Manifestation of Rabbit
oil on linen, 30" x 36"
© 2007 Amy Funderburk
All Rights Reserved
Standing stone on Cnoc Áine,
Knockainy, Co Limerick, Republic of Ireland

Website and Blog Updates

New page on my website. Miss any past issues of Off the Easel? Are you seeing this via Twitter and would like to subscribe?

On my new 
newsletter page, you will find my convenient newsletter subscription form. Scroll down for a complete list of 2015 newsletters, along with a brief description of each issue. Stay tuned for links to the 2014 back issues, coming soon. 

Also new on my website: When visiting my color photography gallery of archival pigment prints, you will see the addition of a new Artist's Statement under the slide show. It's high time I wrote a separate statement covering my work in this medium! 

New Blog post. Will the winner be Rabbit or Turtle? Visit my new blog post, and then be sure to vote! See the article Ready, Set, Go! in this newsletter for more details.

To ring in the New Year, be sure to also read my earlier post,
 Your Best New Year's Resolution: Sing Like a Bird. 
Above: My homepage in progress, www.AmyFundeburkArtist.com
© 2015-16 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

Featured painting: South Tawton Ceiling Boss: The Green Man (Simhasana -- Lion's Breath)
oil on panel, 16" x 16"
© 2013 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Inspired by a ceiling boss at St Andrews Church, South Tawton, Dartmoor, Devon, England

Your Bliss:

Pursuing Your Creative Dream

In December, writer, designer, and creativity coach Danielle Raine (@danielle_raine_) asked in a tweet:

"What is your creative dream?"

While someone who is already an artist may answer this question by setting personal goals or striving toward a larger measure of success, this question can also be posed to those who have yet to take up the call in their own way. 

When I taught adult classes regularly, time and time again, so many students would share that they had always wanted to be an artist when they were younger, but they were told that they could not. Either a critical teacher had told them they were no good at it, or a strict parent had told them they were not permitted to enter that field as a profession. 

For these students who had experienced such constriction, with each class, I often felt as though I was helping to tear down, as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd put it, another brick in the wall. 

I was fortunate. My parents -- 
not professional artists, yet both creative people in their own way -- were supportive of my choice at the age of two to become an artist, though when I was very young, my father would chastise me for coloring outside the lines. (This surely explains a lot about why I paint as I do.)

But for those whose artistic wings were clipped before they could fly from the nest, l
uckily it is never too late to follow your creative dreams. Celebrated artists Henri Matisse and Grandma Moses both set an example that you can still follow your blissat any age, or no matter what your initial career choice. 
I have noticed of late that adult coloring books have become quite popular, often being lauded as a tool for stress relief. Unless you are a professional artist with a deadline, which may bring its own flavor of stress, why is art so potentially relaxing?

As I mention in my article here regarding my work in progress, Blue Moon Fire Spiral, the artistic right brain knows no concept of time. This is why an artist can be in the studio for hours, and then come out later, scratching his or her head while wondering,"What happened to the day, and why did I miss dinner?"

The goal of meditation, as I might define it, is to clear the mind and feel the calming, timeless power of Now. When things are going smoothly and you are "in the zone" of the right brain, living fully in the present moment, this is also how it feels to create art.

In my opinion, creativity in its broadest sense is vital to any and all professions. Otherwise, how are new solutions to old challenges to be discovered? Additionally, if art promotes relaxation, remember what David Dunlop told me in the workshop last November: our brains have better access to information when relaxed. 

Parents, take note: these are some of the reasons why arts and music education is vital to keep in every school curriculum. Fostering right brain strength is an asset for those who will ultimately pursue their left brain dream jobs in the math and science arenas as well.

Matisse, who initially trained as a lawyer, said, "From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves."

So in 2016, I encourage you to plunge toward your creative dream, whatever that might be, and no matter your profession or numeric age. As Danielle Raine replied to me, "The more creatives exploring their dreams, the better for us all."
Check out Danielle Raine's lovely website on holistic creativity coaching, and give her a follow on Twitter @danielle_raine_.
1  From one of my favorite quotes, by Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss.... If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else."
Above: Last Sunset of 2015, Reflection
digital photograph
© December 31, 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved

You can find creative inspiration anywhere. As I stood in the kitchen on New Year's Eve, I suddenly glimpsed color out the back door. The sunset was reflecting off the windows of my vehicle. Naturally, I had to leave my food preparation for a few minutes while I photographed this, the last sunset of 2015.  
"If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere."
Vincent Van Gogh

Upcoming Exhibit

I am delighted to be one of eight artists selected to participate in the spring group exhibition Absolutely Art at the Mendenhall Administration Building on the campus of Davidson County Community College in Lexington, NC. 

Mark your calendars now for the opening reception on Tuesday, January 26, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The exhibition opens on Thursday, January 21st, and will run through May 13, 2016.

I will be displaying six archival pigment prints in the exhibit, including Double Rainbow Over Loch Ness, above, along with my charcoal and ash drawings 2) Peace -- 26 and 3B) Happiness -- 24 from The Wishing Tree Project, and the pastel, View of Clew Bay off Croagh Patrick, from my series, Aisling: An Artist's Vision of Ireland.

I look forward to seeing you at the opening reception! Please let me know if you need directions. Visit my Upcoming Events page for details.
Above: Double Rainbow Over Loch Ness
archival pigment print                        
18” x 12”, framed to 26” x 21”

© 2013 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Northern Shore, Loch Ness, Scotland

Thanks and Reminders

Thank you, Jimmy and Chris! Those of you who visited my studio during the December Gallery Hop were treated to some new black and white digital infrared photographs James C. Williams, and luxurious knitted scarves by Chris Williams of Creations by Chris.

Jimmy and Chris are truly my right-hand man and woman for all my open studio events. They also help bring this newsletter to you each month by proofreading my text, and when my time is particularly tight and the deadline is looming, Jimmy is indispensable when it comes to help with editing some newsletter photographs. 

In case you missed the event, I have included installation photographs of their displays above and below. Thank you so much, Jimmy and Chris, for being top members of Team Amy!
No current open studio events.
 My downtown studio in the Artists on Liberty Building will not be open for further monthly Downtown Arts District Association Gallery Hops until later in 2016. This will allow me increased production time, so get ready to see a lot of new work at the upcoming Spring Subscribers' Studio Soirée!

Stay tuned to future newsletters for both the 
Soirée date, and to find out when I will open my studio doors again for the monthly Gallery Hop events. You may also stay informed via my Upcoming Events page.

As always, however, should you wish to make an appointment for a private studio visit, please 
email me to schedule a date and time.

Please bookmark my new website and blog. If you visit my website now from a past bookmark, you might receive a "redirect loop" notification, or end up at the old version of my website. Please refresh your browser, then re-bookmark. Thank you for visiting!

Blog. Since my blog is now located exclusively on my website, if you have been kind enough to previously bookmark the site, please remember to change it to: 


And at least for now, any previous blog subscriptions will be combined with subscriptions to this newsletter, since I will be announcing new blog posts here.
Above: New works by James C. Williams
© 2015 James C. Williams All Rights Reserved
photograph by Amy Funderburk, © 2015

Below: Hand-knitted scarves by Chris Williams, of Creations by Chris
© 2015 Chris Williams All Rights Reserved
photograph by Amy Funderburk, © 2015
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Studio 107, Artists on Liberty Building
521 North Liberty Street, Winston-Salem, NC USA 27101

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