Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Poinsettia

Merry Poinsettia  © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
10 x 8 oil on board
$120.00 + shipping

"It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!"... Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!  "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.  Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!" -Dr. Seuss

Every year when I was a kid I watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And every year I got teary eyed when this part of the poem was read. I still do.  


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas at My House

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even though today it was close to 80 degrees here in Texas. I wanted to invite you over for a Christmas cookie or two and a glass of egg nog.  Welcome to my house all decked out in it's Christmas decor.  I wish you could smell the scent of the baking cookies. 
 Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

How to Blast Past Creative Block #6

Peppy Poinsetta and Pine Cone © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
6 x 6 oil on board
$100 + shipping

To effectively blast past your block, be it a creative block or some other procrastination gunk, you have to take your foot off the brake and disengage the emergency brake too. Do you know the feeling of trying just to use your own will power to push through something.  You are just gritting your teeth and saying to yourself, okay I'm going to do this no matter what. Sometimes that was all you needed to get started and you are off and running and that is spectacular. Bravo! You took your foot off the brake and stepped on the gas. So the next day when it's time to go again that dreadful feeling is still there and to get anywhere you have to step on the gas even harder. Ugh!
It's so weird, your mind says, yes I want to do this, but your emotions say "no I don't, no I don't and you're not going to make me! "Now what?  Time for a little navel gazing. No moaning!!

Ask yourself this question, what benefit do I get out of procrastinating this, how does it help me out? Trust me, there is a part of you that thinks the this is better for you than moving forward or otherwise you would be moving forward, right?  What possible ways could this help you out, you ask?  Well you know if you don't start, you won't fail and if you don't fail you don't have to go through those icky failure feelings, right.  So what else are you saving yourself from? "They" might judge or criticize you, (whoever they are).  You might get laughed at.  It might not be perfect. (OMG)  It didn't turn out the way I imagined, so therefore, it is a failure. The ole' FOF ( Fear of Failure). 

 So in the act of self-preservation we do what any warm blooded person would do-we don't go there, because feeling like a failure sucks! Instead we just beat up on ourselves for procrastinating, isn't that merry? See our subconscious is trying to protect us, it does what ever it needs to do to keep you safe from those awful terrible feelings of failure. Who would want to stand in the town square and be judged, criticized, laughed at or even ignored?  So which one of these things can you relate to?  Write them down and then ask yourself are these true, will this really happen, nine times out of ten they are just false beliefs. Just by asking yourself these questions brings these things to the light of day and all of sudden the emergency break is off and you hardly have to step on the gas to go go go.

Next time we will look at FOS (Fear of Success) Isn't that a silly one?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Purple Pungence

Purple Pungence © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
6 x 6 oil on board
available at the Randy Higbee 6 Inch Square Show

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!  Are your tummy's full?  Mine is.  I have so many many things to be thankful for. I will name a really important one first.  I was fortunate to spend this holiday with my Dad and my sweet Husband.  Here is my Dad and I in this picture doing the turkey trot, just sweating up a storm and getting and creating a huge appetite in preparation for our big turkey meal.

 My sweet Kitty, Sophie waiting patiently for a taste.

I'm also excited and grateful to let you know "Purple Pungence" (seen above) was accepted into the 2012 Randy Higbee 6 Inch Squared Show in California.  What an honor it is to be represented at this show with so many incredible artist.  The opening reception in December 8th. Click here on Randy Higbee's Upcoming Events for more information.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

How to Blast Past Your Creative Block #5

Rise and Shine © 2010 Amy Hillenbrand
10 x 8 oil on board

How are you doing on getting un-stuck?  Have you blasted past your in-action? This is the 5th in my series of getting out of your stuck mode and getting into the flow mode.

I recently was coaching a Gal who had a big project in front of her.  Last we spoke she had committed to starting on the project, but when I asked her how it was going she admitted she really had not started yet. As we dove in, it came out that she was just plain overwhelmed, even just the plain thought of it shut her down.  She was definitely in stuck mode. Sound familiar? So often when we have a big goal our minds jump to the end point, and without knowing it, our minds go "oh, ugh that feels too hard".

So, back to my client; the task in front of her was cleaning the basement that was stuffed to the gills with stuff.  (That does sound overwhelming doesn't it?) In David Allen's book Getting Things Done he suggests the technique of asking… What's the next action? I asked her what was the one thing she could do that would take 15 minutes or less.  She said she could give the old sleeping bags to charity, but that was not exactly the next action.  Next, I asked her what charity she was going to give them to. She wanted to donate them to the hurricane Sandy's victims.  So now she had to figure out what charity would accept items like this.  So the next real action or physical action she could take is getting online and researching charities that are helping with Hurricane Sandy.  I asked her could she commit to that action. No problem was her response.  We shifted the energy from overwhelm and stuckness to action by shifting her focus.  We started with a big-and-hairy-and-scary project of 20 hours or more and  shifted to one very doable task.  When our minds know it is a completable task it increases our positive energy, direction and motivation.

So next time you have a big goal that feels very overwhelming, ask yourself, what is the next action? Remember to drill down and figure out the very first item you can address.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Princess Liea  © 2010 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 8 oil on board
Isn't this little pup adorable?  She was a joy to paint too.  Many many times I think about how wonderful it was for God to plan pets into our world. What would we do without them?  The really are a gift that just keeps giving.  

Speaking of gifts... with Christmas fast approaching, you will probably be searching high and low for the purrrr-fect gift for your favorite people. Right???  You can't lose with gifting someone with a painting of the thing that brings so much pleasure into their life. I wanted to bring to you'alls attention that I do do commission pet portraits.  Please click on my side-bar on the picture of Puddles and find out how you can order a custom portrait for someone you know this Christmas.  If you know others that might want to order a custom pet portrait please send them this link. I so appreciate it.

Okay, and I now apologize for bringing thoughts of Christmas to you so closely after the end of the Halloween season, but....we need to have them dry before shipping.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to Blast Past Your Creative Block, Remedy #4

Painting in Progress-my initial drawing in paint-this is where I usually start.

This is fourth in my series of my how to get out of stuck-ness and get into flow. Is there a project you are working on, writing or painting or creating and you're stuck? This tip is titled Hello Permission-Goodbye Pressure.  Oh, I can hear you from here, Amy that is a weird title, so let me explain. Sometimes the reason for this stuck-ness or block to moving forward is that insane pressure we put on our self.  Ok, so check in with yourself and when you think of that "thing" that you want to do, do you feel any pressure somewhere in your body? Do you feel the pressure to produce? To make it perfect? Get quiet for a minute.  Check to feel pressure in your head area or your gut or heart?   These icky feelings don't do much for allowing us to be in the wonderful world of flow, do they? The pressure translates into 'forcing yourself' which is the polar-opposite of flow, right?  

So what's the antidote?  Permission.  Talk to yourself, say to yourself, I'm going to do this for pure pleasure, for fun or to just have an experience. You might say more things like: no one will see it, so therefore, it does not need to be perfect. You can even throw it away when your done, it's just for you. The trick here is to really believe yourself, really believe! Go back to those body feelings and visualize that the permission will just pop the popping a balloon with a pin. I don't know about you, but once I start moving on something I don't have a problem going forward, it's just getting me in motion that is the tough part. Now, you give your self permission to pop the balloon. Go have fun!

I decided to listen to my own advice starting this post. I've been working on this large painting for a couple weeks now and the pressure had built up in me to also do a post. But, the perfectionist side of me was holding me up because I felt the pressure of needing to have a perfectly finished painting to post (whew that's a lot of p's) anyway... When I told myself, hey you, you don't need a perfect painting to post... all pressure melted away and I was in the flow to write this note to y'all.  Stayed tuned for a finished painting and the next in the series of 'How to Blast out of Stuck-ness'.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Hopeful  © 2010 Amy Hillenbrand
24 x 30 oil on canvas

I know on this day we are usually  looking back on the horrible events of 9/11. It is still very hard for me to comprehend something this horrific  happened to our fellow human beings. I wanted to counter all those memories with something positive. Hope- hope gives us the power to keep on keeping on. If you think about it, every goal is powered by our hope that reaching our goals will bring us something better, a better life in some shape or form. It could be a better relationship, a better body, a better bank account, and in the end, a better life. Really without the hope goals don't make much sense do they?  

My friend and fellow artist, Kelley MacDonald named this piece for me without even knowing it.  After a quick peek, at my latest painting she said if feels so hopeful to me.  That was such a compliment because it is my intention that all my artwork would raise the spirits of the viewer. So it is my HOPE for all of you to feel hopeful everyday.

Here's a lovely quote for you'all: "No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible."                 George Chakiris


Friday, September 7, 2012

Mr. Big

Mr. Big © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 10 oil on board
Every day when you wake up ask yourself "what do you really, really, really want". You have to say really, really, really or you won't believe it. Elizabeth Gilbert

I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It seems by asking yourself the repeated really really really it helps you to decipher between the "shoulds" of the ego and the wants of the spirit. It is tricky being able to distinguish between the two sometimes.  I don't know about you, but when I'm in "should land" my inner-childhood rebel makes an appearance. As a kid, my little rebel would  pretend she was too tired when Mom wanted me to clean my room or suddenly I had a tummy ache when it was time to do the dishes. Even as an adult,  that inner child becomes quite stubborn and finds the most creative ways to be in resistance and avoidance.   What do you do when you are in your "should land" ? It may be good to know so that you recognize when your in it and once your become aware of it you can choose to step out of it.  That's the good news!  I love happy endings. You?

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Blast Past Your Creative Block, Remedy #3

The Great Garlic Divide © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
14 x 11 oil on board

This is number #3 in my series of post sharing with you my super easy tools that you can use to help you break free of your creative block, your procrastination or my favorite term for this issue - 'stuckness'.  Like the others, this tool is super quick and super easy to do.

The previous two tools were more concrete in nature. This next one is using the power of your mind and your imagination.  This one is fun and  super powerful in blasting away this terrible aforementioned condition.

This one is called a Mind Plant- you will be cultivating the right frame of mind for action. Tonight before you go to sleep I want you to do a little visualization. Get yourself in the right frame of mind by taking several deep breaths and relaxing every part of your body.  Now imagine the next morning and see yourself popping out of bed with excitement and enthusiasm, you're so excited about your day that a team of horses couldn't keep you from your canvas or your computer or whatever task it is you want to move on. Imagine yourself feeling super motivated and you are filled with tons of energy and vitality. Your ideas are flowing, imagine your brain is just bursting with one creative idea after another. See yourself being centered and focused so that by the end of the day you have done the "thing".  The "thing" that you've wanted to accomplish. See yourself doing the "thing" easily and happily. Imagine the outcome. See your self super satisfied with the end results. Okay, lights out and let the brain cultivate the right conditions for tomorrow's success.

You could take this a step further and record your vision on your computer and play it to yourself each night. (On the Mac you could use Garage Band). You could plant other things too, like weight loss or going to the gym, etc.  This would be a great new habit to form.  Love to hear your results, let me know in the comments how it works for you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to Blast Past Your Creative Block, Remedy #2

Vinca Take Out © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 10 oil on board

This is a second in a series of posts dealing with painter's block or what I like to call 'stuckness'. This dreaded stickiness can be so debilitating, so zapping of the creative juices. But alas, there is hope. You CAN get unstuck.  Oh, this is a fun one! No, really it is.  Another added bonus; it's not hard and it doesn't take a lot of time.

Remedy #2 is: Dance Like No One's Watching, literally.  Yep, you're going to dance and not worry cause no one is watching. Well, unless you want to give the neighbors a show- oh I think that is a different post.  Anyway, get out your favorite music- this is important- it has to be your favorite music. My husband would laugh at my music, so I'm not sharing.  Crank it up and just move. Like the last exercise I gave you -no filtering, no thinking, just moving and doing. Make it a long song or two or three. Let the music move your limbs and hips, let it take you over. You know your done when your heart feels open and you feel joyful. Now go do whatever you have been procrastinating about.  Love to hear your results or some of your music choices, please post in the comments. You never know it might be the perfect story for someone else to hear to help them get un-stuck.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to Blast Past Your Creative Block, Remedy #1

Clearly Zinnia © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 8 oil on board
What to do when you're stuck. You know those times when you just can't do the thing you have to do or want to do. It goes by many names: writer's block, painters block, procrastination, even fear. For me the word stuck feels the truest and the stickiest. I feel like a piece of gum that got stuck on the bottom of a table (yea, I know, eeuu) and I just can't get it off the table.  I can even imagine myself inside the piece of gum trying to slug it or kick it to break free of it's hold, but to no avail, there is just no forcing it. It is so sticky that I end up getting it all over myself and then I'm really stuck and now it's in my hair. Ugh! Very frustrating. Can you feel my pain, have you been there yourself?

Over the next several post I'm going to give you several remedies for the dreaded 'stuckness'. (oops spellchecker doesn't like that word, but it's a good word, don't ya think?)  A lot of the tools I will share will involve your imagination, but this first one is more in the  physical plane and a great place to start.

The first remedy is doing, what I call, the Mind Dump.  I bet at one time or another you have heard people talk about how physical clutter can really be a big block to  productivity,abundance and even weight loss. I think mind clutter is one of the big cahoonas  to creative blocks and being in the flow. Here is an easy tool to use for helping you get out of your 'stuckness'.  This one involves some supplies.  1.) A pen that writes really smooth. You want one that the ink comes out really smooth because you will be writing fast and you don't want any resistance from the paper. 2.) Several sheets of paper.  3.) A timer.

Label your paper 1-100, set your timer for 10 minutes. Then just dump every little "to do" that ever popped into your mind, however small, unimportant and insignificant it is. Just dump them all and write as fast as you can. Write without filtering or negotiating with your brain if you should write it down or not. Don't stop to think about categorizing them or stop to beat yourself up because you  had creating a will on a list for 10 years, just dump dump dump.  If you already are a list writer do this anyway, you will be surprised at home many things you don't write down.  Now GO!

Dump complete. Whew!  Don't you feel better, kinda like you just got a enema.   You don't need to do a thing with this list, you could even just throw it away.  You might have gotten a few nuggets of good things to put on your "real life" to do list since it just a stream of consciousnesses being unleashed. Okay, now go directly to the easel and let yourself flow. Stayed tuned, same blog address, same bat channel for more tools and exercises to get your self moving. Hey, don't just read this try it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Do you Know What to Paint

Zinnia for One © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 10 oil on board

Yes, this is Amy Hillenbrand's Art Blog. No, you didn't stumble on someone else's blog. No, this isn't a shoe painting, nor is it a critter.  I thought I would give a different subject matter a chance.  After painting quite a bit of shoes of the last couple years, I really had to scratch my brain hard for the next idea.  There are infinite possibilities of what to paint. So why is it so hard to think of something. I know I'm not the only artist that struggles with this, right? It was just crazy. I really drew a blank. So I asked myself what do I love, what things bring me joy.  One of my all time favorite things to do is go to the greenhouse in the spring to pick out the flowers to plant in my yard. I totally lose all track of time, I feel as though I'm in heaven.  Flowers it is. I'm going to give them a whirl and see what happens. So, if you are an artist out there reading this and you want a new subject- follow your heart and paint the things you love.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Overcome Overwhelm

Patriotic Flats © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 10 oil on board

If you would rather listen then read, click on the red play button above.

Have you had those days or even weeks when you mind is spinning with all those great ideas? Your mind might sound like this:
 Oh, I'm so excited I'm going to do this, this is going to be great! Okay, first I"m going to make this and then I'm going to do that, but first I have to get this , but before that I have to finish that other thing has to be done too, oh, I have to order that, but where is the best deal, but what is more important this or that or wait! what should be the higher priority, well okay I think I'll just start here, no I can't start here because that won't work I need to do this first, but what about my laundry, I have to do that it needs to get done too or gosh I think I'll...  (yes, I know that looks and sounds like one huge run-on sentence, but isn't that what your minds does?)

 Before you know it, you become overwhelmed and then completely paralyzed. How crazy is it when you have so much to do and you know the best way to overcome the overwhelm is to get moving. Yet instead you become  paralyzed. The kind of feeling that just makes you want to throw your arms up and say "I quit" because somewhere inside you feel like you can never win or never get ahead, that dreadful feeling of power-less-ness.

But Alas, I have something for you to try, don't worry it's easy and quick. Make yourself BIG- ya, you heard me- make yourself BIG. Think about it, when you feel powerless you feel small and when you feel small it is hard for you to break-free of the overwhelm.  This is going to involve your power of imagination and yes, you can do it.  Think of a pink of elephant-see! You can do it.  

Okay now, close your eyes and imagine you are 300 feet tall and filled with great white light and just take a couple moments and immerse yourself in this feeling. Fill yourself up with the feeling of being powerful. After you have soaked up this feeling, go and do the first thing that comes to mind.  Have fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mr. Leatherneck

Mr. Leatherneck © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
5 X 7 oil on board
This is my second piece that sold at the annual 5 x 7 show at the Austin Museum of Art -Art House.  When I saw they both sold, I did a little happy dance.  This is the first time I painted some shoes with a persons feet still in them. I think it turned out kinda fun.  Wouldn't it be fun to make up all kinds of stories of whom these boots belong to and what they did that night and where those boots have been.  Okay you start

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Four B.C.

Four B.C. © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
5 X 7 oil on board

This tiny little painting was one of my submissions to the annual 5 x 7 show at the Austin Museum of Art -Art House.  Each Artist is asked to submit two pieces with the dimensions, yes you guessed it, 5 inches by 7 inches.  All pieces are  anonymously displayed and at the stroke of 9:00 p.m. the show-goers grab the ticket for the piece the are interested in.  I was quite excited to learn that of over 1300 pieces of art my piece was one of the first to be purchased. In typical Austin style, there is live music and scrumptious food and you can step out unto the roof to see the beautiful  Austin skyline.  It is a great event with a wonderful festive atmosphere.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Palace Princess

Palace Princess © 2012 Amy Hillenbrand
8 x 10 oil on board

This is another kitty I found roaming the grounds of the Petti Palace in Florence, Italy in the spring of 2007. When I finished the painting, my Husband said "Um, Amy, she looks a little fat, are you sure you painted this right?" Yes, she was. She was quite a large kitty. I imagine she feasts daily on all palace's delicacies.  She eats like a Queen, I"m sure, but Palace Queen didn't quite have the same ring as "Palace Princess" Below are some more photos from this trip.  It was so spectacular.
This was a view of the Petti Palace looking down from the gardens, can you see the kitties down by the foundation?  That is where they were guarding the Palace.
The Boboli Gardens.
Me, doing the site-seeing thing.
The 1000 year old Villa where I stayed. My room was right at the top of the stairs you see on the right. It even came equipped with a ghost. That was fun.
Where we were served our meals everyday, Talk about Al Fresco dining, Molto Buona!