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www.stevenluart.com

Artworks by Steven Lu

January 6,2018

2017 

Managed to create fewer and slightly smaller, but in my humble opinion,  more satisfying works of art. Exploring new palettes and new mediums, It’s not easy to predict how long and how well things will turn out.

Still, the frustrations remain:  juggling life as an artist with life as an RN, skating with chronic pain and most recently a groin injury and finally the never ending task of being a cat wrangler! Sprinkled in there are new found friends who are smart, beautiful inside and out; who are always young and young at heart; who are creative and who are always inspiring everyone around them to do better.

This past year was the year of some hard won, if only fleeting, accomplishments, moments of delight and also moments of loss and disappointment.  I’m always feeling that I have to be digging deeper into whatever will power I have to get through  the drudgery of work and to find faith that there’s life beyond work. There’s been some moments of greater self-acceptance and moments of greater self doubt. But the remaining constant has been I’ve been able to find humor in things and situations when I needed it. So it’s been great to have people remind me to not worry so much and to live life with a lighter heart.  Well, I’m gonna keep trying.

 

Dealing with the noise

In a perfect world, you paint what you want to paint and the world loves it. You also get to show around, get paid, make lots of friends, … all is good.

In a world where it’s not perfect, you paint when the world says “Do you  make any money out of it? And you have to say “sometimes”. You paint even when you think: what if this turns out like crap again. You paint when you know none of your friends are doing what you’re doing. You paint because it’s the only way people can see your soul.

Art & Fear

I’ve read this book Art & Fear by Baylee’s and Orland a dozen times as a constant reminder of why I’m an artist. There are moments where I say to myself “Yeah, you really going to hit this one out of the ballpark. People are going to rave about your work. You’ll get to paint in this big studio, make lots of money …” and the fantasy goes on.

Well my response to this book is that it snaps me back to reality. No one outside of my circle of friends really cares nor should they.  But how fortunate that I have friends that do care, maybe not so much the work itself but that it came from me. It’s easy to fall into this romantic idea that if the art is good then everything will fall into place. You’ll be discovered… or at least you’ll flourish and make a decent living at it. The problem comes when I start to sense the world isn’t responding accordingly’; that maybe the work isn’t as compelling as I would have hoped. And who decides what is good art?

And it’s so easy to feel victimized by my own self defeating dialogue. This book reminds me something really important. That my only job is this: make more art and  get better at making it. It’s not my job to worry how the world responds to it, if at all. Otherwise, it’s like begging for attention and validation from strangers.

So in a way every piece is a reflection of  the imagination, an autobiography In a way.. So sharing that is why art is so special to me.

When I look at art now, as opposed to the days studying art history in college, I’m appreciating art a lot more because I also consider the spirit reflected from that artist. Maybe this is all mumbo jumbo talk at this point but I think every good artist goes through some self reflection.

2016 in review

Disclaimer: I decided to move some of the content I had on my opening page towards this posting. While I try to avoid sounding like I’m just rambling … I want to keep a record of it nonetheless.

2016

Each year presents an ever increasing set of challenges for me in all areas of life, specifically how I survive as an artist and 2016 was no exception.  I’ve set out to try and accomplish as many projects as I have hoped. And I guess being an artist,  it always falling short of my expectations. But looking back, my story is probably no different than many other artists. Lots of hours spent holding down a job to pay the bills, not always available to see friends or catch that movie, staying tuned in with whatever exercise regimen (in my case, skating), making sure the cats are fed… and spoiled, constantly managing the artistic environment (in every aspect: hours on research, time at the museums, time on this website, etc.) all to just spend the precious few moments creating art.

Indulging in some  self reflection. I ask myself all the time  if it’s all worth it. Maybe it’s a little bit of a fantasy on my behalf that one day someone will notice that what I’ve done will find it interesting. I want to share something with you and have you respond in a way that lifts your spirits for a brief second before life continues, as it always has, but leave you changed in some small degree that you look at things just a little different than how you did before. That maybe life or whatever or whoever is around you, has beauty and poetry because I think life should have that. My take on this is that we are in such a hurry to get somewhere that we don’t appreciate enough beauty in the “little things” in life.

It’s a joy to create and I think it’s the challenge too; to capture that fleeting idea in my head. I like the idea of how to take the raw materials of what once was just tubes of color, brushes, pencils and paper and turn it to something that didn’t exist moments ago. So perhaps one day that rough sketch will turn into something exciting, something extra-ordinary.

Steven Lu, RN 

I keep hearing that for a lot of artists is that it’s a tough world out there by making a living on art alone, which can get really discouraging when I’m constantly reminded of that. It seems that very few make it. And of course, those that do, deserve all the rewards from their hard work. There are no shortcuts.  Until that day comes, all that can sustain this creativity is that I have to remind myself why I love doing it in the first place.  I always want to be better but I’m just happy just doing it and not worrying whether or not it’s good enough for someone else.

Being a nurse, I found out that you have to love some aspect of it to survive in this job. I don’t have a quick answer as to what the job means to me, except that if it helps me afford the time and expense to work as an artist then I will have to work with that. For now that will have to be enough of a reason. It’s a tough place to be in to hold down a job that often times don’t  line up with our artistic creativity.

To rationalize this journey as much as I can is that everyone comes into this world with a unique set of circumstance. I’m willing to get through certain hardships for which I believe is worth sacrificing for until I can create the opportunity to do what I love to do full-time and flourish. But if this is the best that it gets, I can still be proud of what I’ve done.

The only thing that is a drawback is that it taxes my energy. It has a negative effect on my skating in that sense. I work on the night shift which doesn’t really help. And so juggling everything that has to get done  slows down my momentum to do art. And I have to admit, most times I wonder how much energy I have left  to see friends regularly too.  But perhaps I’m in good company. I doubt the likes of Michelangelo or Da Vinci spent most of their time socializing anyway.  But again, if art was easy, more people would be doing it.

It’s nice to be on the ice: 

Skating seems to offset some of the isolation and some of the stresses of caregiving. Skating has been a love of mine since I was 12. There also have been many times when I did not like it at all.  I still struggle to make the time but I could thankfully say I haven’t really hung up my skates.  These days I see the benefits of just being able to move around, both physically and mentally.  I do want to get better at some of the spins and jumps I used to do.  I have met some wonderful people in the skating world and I think the sport has inspired many positive qualities to my art work overall. And the coaches I have had in the past all have steward me through life since I was a kid. (I would be remiss if I did not mention particular names of people who have helped shaped my joy of skating: My former boss, a continuing source of inspiration and friend JoJo Starbuck, my former coaches and friends: Darlene Parent, Denise Beaumont, Nina Newby, James Schilling, Emanuele Ancorini, Kenny Moir, Maria O’ Connor).

Now currently with my coach Adam Leib, he has given a lot to work on. He challenges me to focus in the most unique way; to utilize my energy properly, not to fight with technique but to surrender to it  and to never settle for mediocrity. With exceptional wisdom, he continues to teach me how to handle those moments when I’m not having a great day and there are many days when I’m struggling tremendously; when I can’t seem to focus or I have considerable doubt to try my best. He also teaches me  how to get out of my own way. Such are the same moments a painter goes through too with art. Skating and art go hand in hand. Skating is art.  I imagine he would make a most effective art teacher because he follows the same creativity and motivates people to strive for our personal best. He keeps the wonder of the sport alive because he’s passionate about it.

Check out his website: www.adamleibskating.com

 

January 23, 2017

It’s always tempting to say that I will set some goals for the new year.

A handful of projects have been waiting in the wings. There’s constant prioritizing and re-prioritizing.  I have to accept the fact that it will always be  the case. Well, it’s better than having no projects I guess.

There’s a lot I want to do. And it always helps to get encouragement. I thank everyone that’s been following my work because that’s extremely important. There are a lot of great artists out there. I want to learn from them. I’m always inspired by them and I hope my work can move and inspire others. Before I was really bummed out that others achieved their success knowing that it did not come easily. You guys and and gals worked extremely hard; endured and overcame many obstacles. That is something I’m always wondering how if even I’m able to face them. I’m grateful for the fact that I still have that love for art, even if I haven’t gotten “there” yet. I always have to remind myself that the more I do, the stronger I”ll get. The more mistakes I make, the more I’ll learn from them. I hope you’ll follow me this year and I promise I’ll do my best to accomplish more pieces. Here’s to 2017.

One More Try

R.I.P. George Michael

Tomorrow is promised to no one. A reminder that each day is precious and an opportunity to give it one more try.

E book

Well, I just spent 5 hours and it’s 1 am  on top of 3 hours this morning  getting through corrections and uploading files for my illustrated ebook version of “There Once Was a Girl Who Loved To Skate” written by Erika Meyer.

What drives me bananas is the technical issues in creating files for uploading. There’s nothing creative about it. It’s tedious and time consuming. But beyond that, I’ve learned some more computer skills in spite of myself.

Ugghh!!! I could’ve been painting.

Note to self: sign in on kdp.amazon.com., upload cover tiff and PDFcontent file separately. To manage PDFcontent go to Previewer application to edit, add and subtract PDFs.

 

2016 Presidential Election

Before I’ve posted a handful of responses and opinions on Facebook, reading about other people’s perspectives, …

I offer a small affirmation

Here we go:

Allow me to be the best person I can be. Allow others to shine in their own way. Everyone deserves to be happy , so there’s no room for hate or blame.  Life is short. Remind me of my duties to help my fellow human being when they need my help. Let us solve these problems together as a community. Protect this planet because this is our home and protect our animals and plants because  they lend to this precious beauty that we are blessed with.

Amen

Just do it

I’m just going to have to pay attention to one thing that should matter and that’s: Just paint and keep going no matter what.

It’s just a number

I was bracing for that moment when I turned 50 probably for quite some time probably since I was 40 … when I thought, “Ok, so by the time you hit 50, you better have something to show for it.” So now 50 comes around like the speed of light. I studied, I learned, I produced… but not nearly as much as I should’ve. I had some hope, some expectations for things to happen. Instead there were a lot of other  things I didn’t expect to happen.

But the one thing I can count on as a blessing; when there have been times of self doubt and thought, “Did I make it?”, is not to dwell on that question, but to ask myself, “Am I still making art?, Do I still want to make art?” and the answer is yes. For that, I am blessed.

For a week now, I have felt a bit down that somehow my luck should’ve taken me further along this artistic journey; that I should’ve made a significant sale. Now I’m just stuck with more canvases that just take up more space. And being 50, I had a moment of being embarrassed… This “dangerous” thought that has disturbed my creative momentum may be a opportunity in disguise to just narrow my focus a bit more.  If I’m holding back on my art or if I’m not doing the art that I really want to do.. then it’s time to listen to what that creative muse is saying.

To be continued..

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