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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Canvas Talk and Gratitude

Good morning folks - First of all, this is the last chance until 11pm tonight to vote for my crazy little musical audition video for 24-Hour Musical's One Night Stand Contest!

And now for some gratitude...
Thank you so much to everyone who came to Tusk & Cup on Saturday!
A wonder Artist's Reception!
It meant so much to me that I was able to share my art with you all.  I truly realized last night that painting my art is only 1/10th of the experience for me.  The other 50000% (I'm great a math) is sharing it with others.  To hear how my work inspires you all makes everything I've been through worth it and more.  You all make me so thankful and elated, blessed and incredible fortunate to have gone on my beautiful detour, because as an artist, all I really strive to do is connect with others through my passion.  You have only spurred me on MORE to keep creating and sharing.  
The lovely Tusk & Cup Fine Coffee
My dream is to eventually start some kind of organization, foundation, or widespread movement/program - something much larger than myself - that advocates for helping others through creativity.  I can honestly say that I would not be here if it weren't for the fervent, almost manic drive to create.  Creativity helped me locate my vitality after I had literally faced death.  It helped me access what I was feeling, and that felt wonderful - not meaning that I felt happy all the time, but it felt good just to know what I was feeling, at a time when I didn't even know who I was anymore.
The most common question I get is how my work can be so joyous when it was created at such a difficult time in my life with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and crisis.  I thought about that, and then I realized that I don't see my work as happy or sad.  Rather, it's an intense gratitude for being alive.  For the pain, heartache, difficulty, and joy - it's a wondrous feeling just to...feel - it's the experience of being alive that drives me mad with awe and wild with wonder.
Maybe it is because I had the opportunity to experience life almost as a newborn.  When I came out of my coma, it felt like I was experiencing the world as a newborn - I remember seeing the sun set for the first time, and I had this puzzles look on my face and childlike astonishment.  It was the first time I had been outside in almost a year.  I might have been in a wheel chair, with an oxygen tank, tubes, bags, unable to eat, drink, uncertain of a discharge date, if I'd ever heal or be normal, fragile as air and homesick for a world I could never get back...but it was a surreal state of sheer fascination.  I had faced death and now I felt my own mortality at 18.  I felt like an infant seeing the world for the first time, and an old soul, wise beyond her years, who had been through hell and back.  Life didn't feel real - it felt magical, like I didn't even know what it was anymore...

So I was forced to reexamine my life and the world I had inhabited for 18 years.  And just like art, sometimes you have to come away from it for a while to see things differently and find that radical amazement.
"Singing Tree"
"Singing Tree" will always be the embodiment of that.  The tree just seems so joyous, reaching out to the sky.  And with appreciation does come joy - you'd be crazy not to be tickled silly by all the beauty around us, and what gives us breath.  There is so much to take in in this world.  Hardships are just more opportunities to learn and grow - and how awesome is that, that any human is capable of learning and change.  Otherwise life is just boring.

So, basically I realized I can't really describe my art as happy, sad, positive, negative.  It's just present and aware.  Aware of the blessings and miracles that surround me every day and acknowledgment of how lucky I am.  That's been my attitude throughout.  I had happy moments as well as depressed moments, but what grounded me was gratitude.
Me with Laura, the cafe's owner

And so on that note, I'm grateful that I could share this all with you -  thanks!  I will be posted a video of the talk I gave last night some time this week.  But pretty much it's what I just wrote here!
When thinking about what I had to go through, I always remember one of my favorite quotes by Victor Frankl:

“To draw an analogy: a man's suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the "size" of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

Suffering is relative and I really believe that.  That is why so many people relate to my art.  My trauma is no worse than a hardship in everyone else's life - it's what you do with it that matters.  And I hope that my showing my art and telling my story, I can help anyone get through anything, or at least make them smile.
My work will be at Tusk & Cup for the next month.  After that, you can still see my art at Blue Lemon in Westport for the "Pairings"  Exhibition sponsored by the amazing Beechwood Arts - where I'll be giving my next artist talk on March 19th!
Last night, I got many requests for prints, books, and cards of my work.  They are in the works!  For now, I am selling greeting cards of "Singing Tree", but it will be wonderful so have a little book out there of my art with some inspirational quotes and some lessons along the way.  Coming soon so check for updates!


So...I made this painting the other day...
And it made me quite, quite happy - I do love my trees!  

End Of Summer
Winter Meeting 
This feels like the next phase for me - a period of happiness, romance, joy, carefreeness...I was thinking of what I wanted to title this but nothing has popped out at me so far.

So...give me your advice!  I could call this a contest, but I'm not giving this away any time soon - perhaps an I.O.U. for when I get prints made of this!  Yes, that's my informal promise!  I will send you a print (one day...) if I like your title!

It was a great weekend and I'm looking forward to the week ahead.  Miracles around us every day...don't forget!
And on that note...I'll leave you with a little poem I wrote about that...

Nature's Wonder - A Poem by Amy Oestreicher

The warm sun beating on my back
The dancing wind ‘round naked branches
Nature fills up what I lack
Nature gives life second chances
Now the outside world can mirror
All the hues I feel inside
With Spring, I see so much clearer
With the light, who wants to hide?
Days are longer, richer, brighter
Growth is stirring underground
Make our self-connection tighter
Change is blooming all around!
I am just a fertile seed
Opening enough to thrive
Sunlight, water’s what I need
Wow, it’s good to be alive!
Nature’s beauty shares such wealth
For those who seek some inspiration
Nature’s the model of health
Health that fills each inhalation
There is so much to take in
With every grasp of cool fresh air
We only need to begin
To savor it and be aware
Worry clogs up too much space
The bigger picture dims and shrinks
Let us find our happy place
Not be controlled by how we think
When you’re caught in anxiety
And can’t zoom out from your fear
Now that nature’s strong and mighty
It will keep you grounded here
Problems seem so huge an dark
When you let them fester and brood
For me, springtime lights a spark
And uplifts any sour mood
Life is challenging and frustrating
Life can make you want to fee
But Spring is about celebrating
Leaving behind the “old me”
Shedding our old skin, moving on
Accepting what’s already gone
Looking forward to the unknown
Making our soul and our body our own
Listen to the sweet song of birds
I can almost hear their words
“You’ll recover if you start
to love yourself with all your heart.”
If it’s hard to love yourself,
Put your focus somewhere else:
Look at nature’s gorgeous view
And know you’re part of nature too
You’re beautiful as daffodils
That spread across the sloping hills
You deserve a full-fledged life
Not one of worry, stress and strife
With the springtime, make this vow


  1. Amy,

    You have a great story and you are so talented. Keep sharing your art and letting everyone see the light that you are!


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  3. Amy, I loved reading your story and had tears streaming down my face as I realize I could have been you...and may be someday. I have a blood clot the size of a pencil in my left arm. It has been there for over 5 years now. It was too dangerous to remove it as it's location to my heart. So, at this stage the clot has attached itself to my main vain. It will forever be swollen (inches larger than my right arm), painful and a reminder everyday that living with Lupus is a daily gift! Your drawings are beautiful and a reflection I'm sure for the beautiful soul you have! #ibabloggers

    1. Hi Cathy - thank you so much for writing! I am so touched by your letter. For me, it is
      completely and incredibly linspiring to hear how my story and what I
      am doing with it can help others - at the end of the day, it makes it
      feel like this has all been worthwhile! Hope is so important, and
      believe me, it was ridiculously lhard to have hope when doctors said
      they didn't know if i'd ever be able to eat or drink again - and day
      after day for over three years I just had to have this blind hope. It
      definitely was not easy by any means. But you never know what the
      human spirit is capable of until it is tested, rigjt/ So I guess you
      just have to hang in there, knowing life can ultimately be good, no
      matter what!

  4. Thanks for sharing your great story! You're so very talented!

  5. i love your story and i do hope you do get to start your own organization