Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calling All Women Who Have "Been There"

It's time to "circle the herd," one of our members is wounded and needs our protection while the wolves circle and the winds howl.

A woman, a blogger who gives greatly to our community, is in trouble.  It's a common story ... wounded man, caring woman, disastrous results.  (Note: the genders could easily be reversed ... wounds always seem to call to the healers within us.)  In this case, years of trying to find her way back to love through conversation and counseling have taken its toll in self-esteem and resilience and she now finds herself exhausted, financially challenged and blinded and paralyzed by the pain, abuse, and confusion.

We cannot fix her situation ... but, perhaps, by sharing our own stories, we can help her see that she will survive ... and that new joy and growth will grow in this soul soil that has been nourished by life fertilizer (sometimes called manure, sometimes something even more pungent).

What advice would you give to this woman who needs to know that there will be life after pain, that she can and will survive?  She reads this blog and will see your comments.

About this image:  "Circle of Friends"

This tiny Stonehenge was found on a beach on the central coast of California.  It reminds me of a circle of friends standing shoulder to shoulder with a tiny bit of humor peeking out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Leap Will You Make in 2012?

It's only one extra day, but there is something special about a leap year.  It seems so full of possibility.

Last leap year, I took advantage of the Sadie Hawkins' tradition and proposed to a man who didn't say "Yes."  At the time, I thought it was devastating, not knowing that the Universe had a totally different leap in mind for me.  It makes me a little hesitant about trying to plan or predict the leap coming in 2012.  

But I know it's coming.  I see tender possibility sprouts shooting up all around me ... art, a possible move, a new workshop.  But, one thing I've learned along the way is that the Universe is full of surprises.  The sprouts I see may or may not take root, but I'm sure that sprouts I can't see will leap out of the ground, shouting "Surprise!"  They might be delightful surprises or challenging ones, but, either way, they will offer me new lessons and possibilities for growth.

At a ritual gathering on solstice, we were given the opportunity to let go of something that no longer serves us by writing it on slips of paper and burning them.  I let go of the illusion of control.  Maybe that's the great lesson of leap years ... do what we may, we can never control anything except our reactions to what comes our way.

What possibility sprouts do you see for the coming leap year?  And, how do you cope with the inevitable surprises?

May all your leaps in 2012 have a soft and gentle landing in delight, love and abundance.

About this image:  "Coyote the Teacher"

The theme for Timberline Gallery's new show, which opens January 3, is "animal totems."  I will be entering this work which was prompted by a close encounter with coyote last summer.  While driving through Yosemite, I spotted coyote by the side of the road and stopped to take a picture.  I expected to only get a quick shot or two ... but he stayed there calmly posing for shot after shot. 

A friend later told me this means he had a message for me.  I'm not sure I got the message but I love his face and the ravens that were playing in the background.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jim Denevan: Master of Impermanence

Maureen at Writing without Paper introduced me to Jim Denevan in a way that made me want to know more.  There is something about him that is so completely at odds with my own nature that it draws me like a polar opposite.

Denevan is a chef with no restaurant; an artist with no canvas ... both facts true and, at the same time, false.  He creates experiences ... gourmet dinners using only locally grown food and dinnerware brought by the diners themselves, set up in the middle of a farm or an urban garden ... artwork that washes away, blows away or melts away almost as soon as he finishes the miles-long perfectly drawn (by hand) circles and spirals on beaches, sand dunes or ice.

Denevan's ability to let go of his creations and rise up and create beauty again the next day is awe-inspiring.  It feels like a bee buzzing inside my head reminding me that permanence is an illusion and the only thing that matters is the moment of creation, the connection.

The impression I get looking at his work is that he is real, doing what he wants without regard to the response it creates, trusting that the Universe will take care of him.  I'm sure that's an oversimplification, he probably gets hangnails just like anyone else, but it feels like he has learned a lesson that still circles outside my reach and comprehension.

I highly recommend this video.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Squidoo to You, Too

No matter where you are, there is always something to learn, especially in the internet world.  Artist and art marketing coach, Sue Favinger Smith (author - Ancient Artist:  Developing an Art Career after 50)  sent me an invitation to her new Squidoo "lens," and I said "what?"

So, off I went to Squidoo and discovered something new, useful and fun ... that's a great combination.  Squidoo, for those of you who haven't come across it yet, is a cross between a micro blog on a specific topic and a game, with a little abundance mindset thrown in for good measure.

In the seemingly cold and neutral world of the internet, it's a challenge to come across as human ... Squidoo manages to do this with a dash of humor and a point system that's as engaging as a game of Tetris ... or maybe Farmville. Within minutes I was committed to writing my first "lens," with the topic being how artists can create a "Circle of Trust" in order to better market our art.  (You can see it at

So far, this is an experiment.  The Squidoo folks make a lot of claims about readership and "royalties."  They have tied in financial mechanisms to theoretically help you make money with your information.  It's a familiar claim but they have enough new twists on it that I decided to jump in.  I think the mechanism for sharing small chunks of information is good, the process is fun and the results are unknown.  I'll report back in a few months.

About this image:  A Day at the Beach

It's official ... today the sun returns, the days grow longer and eventually warmer.  Soon we will be at the beach again.  I did this piece several years ago and just rediscovered it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A New Gallery - the E3 Way

This is my new wall at the
gallery ... I will take more
pieces and cards there soon.
Years ago, I studied with Dr. Michael Ray, author of Creativity in Business and professor at Stanford.  One of the things he taught was E3 ... when things are in "flow," they are easy, effortless and enjoyable.  That's what happened today.

I visited the Gallery at Marina Square in Morro Bay a few weeks ago and decided I wanted to join it.  There are over 70 artists in the gallery and it's beautifully displayed in this high-traffic, artsy tourist area.  I made an appointment with owner/artist Nona Jane Siragusa ... it was like a reunion.  I showed her my work, she told me more about the gallery and about the time I was going to test the water she said, "I've already made your name plate for your display space."  We picked a display wall, went to lunch to celebrate and that was that.  Whenever you're in Morro Bay, be sure to stop into this gallery ... it is stunning.

Not a great photo but you can see my work from
the street ... on the far left.
I've been contemplating moving to the central coast area but thought I'd take a year or so to do it.  However, when I told my housemate, she decided to check out her own options and immediately found the perfect place for her ... she's now in escrow with a February move date.  After the gallery experience, I met a realtor to continue the frustrating for a place to live over here in this much-higher-priced real estate market.  I had decided that a manufactured home with no yard and little maintenance was probably the way to go but every time I looked at something, it was too small and with no garages, I couldn't figure out how to manage everything ... especially my mosaic materials which have exploded over the past year.

This real estate agent took me to a park where there are garages however, and I fell in love with one ... or at least with the garage!  It's not a done deal yet but so far everything has been easy, effortless and enjoyable.  Wow!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Veni, Vidi, No Vici

My side of the booth
It was KPFA's 41st arts and crafts show ... my first.  Since it's a juried show, it was an honor to be accepted into it and I didn't realize how much until I got there last Friday and began to see and meet the other artists at the show.  The creativity and craftsmanship were like Taiko drums beating throughout the Concourse, you could see, hear and feel them pulsing everywhere. 

Julie's side of the booth
Julie Mitchell suggested this adventure and we thought her spirit figures and my digital art would play nicely together.  They did and setting up our booth was an easy flow (especially since our art quilter friend, Vivian Helena, had loaned me grids to hang my work on).  After the booth was ready Friday night, we were ready to mingle with the other artists at a complementary dinner provided by the show organizers.  Thus began what one of the other artists called "the best party of the year."

The blended wall
As Saturday began, I started to see Julie's popularity and the effect of her art on others.  Time after time, women stopped by to tell her which of her spirit figures they had and how important they were in their lives.  I saw women spontaneously begin to weep when they entered our booth, touched by Julie and her spirit and the figures that embody that spirit.  It was a great reminder to me of what art can be:  more than a decorative object ... a talisman of connection between people and the universal spirit that connects us all.

It's an interesting experience spending two days artistically naked in front of several thousand people.  People come to these shows for all sorts of reasons and with a broad spectrum of aesthetic sensibilities so it makes sense that not all of them would be blown away by the 220 of us artists who were there standing before them.  In other words, a large percentage of the attendees passed our booth with nary a nod.  As much as I reasoned with myself, it stung.

But, oh the people who stopped and talked and liked what they saw even if they didn't have money to buy ... they filled a well with sweet nectar.  I didn't make as many sales as I would have liked, but people did buy a lot of my cards which are miniatures of my art.  And, I did sell enough to "pay the rent."  Since I'm still early in my art journey, probably the biggest benefit of the show was all that I learned ... not only about how to talk about and display my art ... but also how to push it into new boundaries.  For me, it was like a graduate course.

No one enjoys a party more than Maggi.  KPFA should hire
her to attend the show ... she brings joy to everyone.
One of the surprising aspects of the show was the creativity of the attendees.  The parade that passed by our booth was a constant marvel of color and delight ... here are just a couple of examples.
It wasn't surprising to find out that Ginny was an
artist ... what was surprising was to find out that
her art is making large metal abstract sculptures
out of old car parts.

Meeting these two was worth the price
of admission.

Overall, I didn't "come, see and conquer," it was more like I came, I saw, and I'm ready for more.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

10 Top Reasons for Buying Art

These are hot off the press of the International Institute for Research into the Art Buying Habits of People on the Planet Earth:

10 Top Reasons to Buy Art
10.  It gives you a reason to get rid of the black velvet Elvis you inherited from Aunt LulaFaye.
9.  It makes your friends and neighbors think you've got class.
8.  The art dealer said the artist was 98 and it was a sure bet that it would be worth more when he died.
7.  The artist is your niece and she's painting her way through college and everyone needs a painting of cottage cheese mold.
6.  Your interior decorator says royal raspberry is the "in" color this season.
5.  It has that international flair with the cute little "made in China" sticker on the back.
4.  You met the artist at an art fair and he just reeked of creative flair and kept giving you that "come hither" look.
3.  The artist offered to ship it home for you while you were drinking mai-tais on the beach in Mexico.
2.  You got 2 for 1 at that "cheap art" boutique at the Holiday Inn.
1.  It matches the crocheted doilies on your recliner.
Actually, of course, there's only one real reason to buy art:

It speaks to you and makes your life a little more beautiful.

About this image:  "Illusion of Reality" - I love this image taken in Aspen because the one leaf looks like it's growing out of the shadow.  Life is seldom what it seems.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Care 1-2-3

I am now printing all my art on metal because I love the luminous look of it.  However, it has a couple of other benefits ... it can be cleaned easily and it should last forever.  So, on the back of each piece, along with the title and signature, I put these instructions:

Easy Care 1-2-3

1)  Avoid direct sunlight
2)  Clean with a soft cloth
3)  Enjoy forever!

As I was writing these this morning getting ready for the KPFA Arts & Craft show, it struck me that this was pretty good advice for life ... avoid (too much) direct sunlight ... be gentle with ourselves ... and enjoy every moment.

About this image: "Spring Jewel," one of the 8"x8" "small gems" I've made for the KPFA show.  It is a picture taken immediately after a spring rain here in the foothills and reminds me that moments like this only last for a moment and are a constant reminder to savor every moment.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Toenail Cell Peace

I was thinking about my toes this morning ... more specifically the cells in my big toenail.  Our bodies are made up of 50 TRILLION cells, give or take a few, and no one seems to know what holds them all together or makes them act in concert with each other.

Think about it ... 50 trillion individuals with no obvious glue that holds them together and no police force to make them do their jobs.  My toenail is a small community of cells and maybe they all know each other or have a little electronic newsletter to keep them up to date on what's happening in the surrounding areas.    However, I bet they don't know that there are 50 trillion cells all collaborating to make my body.  They just go on their way doing their toenail thing, living, dying, making way for new cells.

If we step up a notch, we have 7 BILLION collections of 50 TRILLION cells walking around on this planet we call home.  Here in my corner of the world, we do our jobs and stay in touch as best we can but, honestly, we really don't know what most of those other billions of folks are doing.

And, then we look at the pictures from the space probes and it looks like there are trillions or quadrillions of planets and stars beyond our one pale dot and we truly don't know what's holding all of them together either or what kind of newsletters they're sharing with each other.

All of this brought me to the last question.  What lies beyond the planets and stars?  My toenail cell can't conceive of my body as a whole, let alone the billions of people on this planet or the uncountable planets, galaxies and universes beyond that.  What if we are just as uncomprehending of the total magnitude of the infinity as that poor toenail cell?

What if we truly are just one cell in an infinite ... organism, universe, consciousness, words are way too limiting here, as limited in our understanding of the whole as is my poor little toenail cell?  However, maybe my toenail cell isn't limited at all.  Perhaps consciousness of the whole is what holds all the cells in my body together and my toenail cell shares that consciousness naturally without having to turn it into dogma ... or blogma.

If my toenail cell can live peacefully in a community of 50 trillion, I think it sets a wonderful example for the rest of us.

About this image:  The Radical Question -- This image took shape while thinking of toenails and consciousness.

Think Different!

This is my all-time favorite ad narrated by one of my favorite actors, Richard Dreyfuss.

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Choice & Time

Louise at Recover Your Joy posted a video on choice this morning.  The timing was perfect because I am in the midst of making a choice and already feel all the anxiety and loss related to making it.

This video helped me clarify the difficulty by reminding me that every choice involves a loss ... we cannot have one and also have the other, so, in our minds, we are losing one or the other.  I remember learning many years ago that the closer the choices are in perceived value, the more difficult it is to make the decision.  It would seem, if they were both equal, the choice would be simple, an either/or, flip the coin and be happy with either.  But that's not the way it works because, the option not-taken is as valued as the taken one, the perception is that something very valuable has been lost.

As the year comes to an end, I am in planning mode, trying to figure out which way to go with my art, which way to go with my life.  It wasn't until I watched the video that I realized how much I'm thinking about the perception by others of my choices.  Of course, I also know that people don't think about me or my choices anywhere near as much as I think about what they're thinking about them.  

Was that convoluted?  One of my favorite jokes makes it simpler:
     When I was 20, I worried about what people thought about me.
     When I became 40, I quit worrying about what people thought about me.
     When I became 60, I realized people weren't thinking about me.

I have some choices to make and watching this video clarified my need to make them from my own space without regard to the perceptions of others.  And, when I think about it from that point of view, I realize that the most important thing for me right now is Time.  Time for art and time to go at my own pace and in my own directions.  Some of the choices I've been considering would take hold of my time and become a dictator of how I use it.  It's probably impossible to not have some outside forces directing time but, as much as possible, I want time to be mine ... all mine.  So Time is the decider.  Any choice which gives me more control over my own time, is good.  Any choice which comes with a loss of control over time would have to have an awful lot of other values to make it a reasonable choice.

Time as the clarifying value makes looking at the choices much easier.  We'll have to see how this new clarity plays out in making the upcoming choices but I highly recommend the video you'll find on Louise's blog.

About this image:  It's about Time  -- time the great agent of transformation is always with us, always changing the world around us, always moving from now to then.  Life is the ever-shifting sand painting of how we experience time as it swirls around us, blows through us and moves us onward.  It is the music that moves us, the dancer that twirls us, the illusion that controls us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Introducing "Gems" at the KPFA Craft & Arts Show

The 41st annual KPFA Craft & Arts Show will be held the weekend of December 10th & 11th and I will be there sharing a booth with Julie Mitchell, the incredible spirit doll artist.  I have FREE tickets ... if you're going, let me know and I'll share them with you.

I will be introducing a new series of small artworks, 8"x8" squares ideal for small spaces and arrangements.  Priced at $79, the show special on these will be $69 so if you are interested in any of them, let me know and you can have the show price.  Each is printed on dye-infused aluminum and comes ready to be hung.

Here's the series so far, starting with "Night Jewel" above:

"Jewel of Yosemite" ... this incredible guy posed for quite some time on one of my recent trips to Yosemite.  One of my Native American friends (although she still calls herself "Indian") says that when that happens, they have a message for you.

This totem animal which we often think of as the "trickster," is actually trying to get us  to look at our own actions, according to some animal shamans.

"Earth Jewels" is a powerful arrangement of 13 crystals and a pine cone that graced the altar of a recent women's meditation circle.  There is a powerful earth energy that radiates from this image and would make a wonderful addition to your meditation space ... which, ideally, is wherever you are ... kitchen, dining room, office, even the bath room.  Taking frequent quiet, meditative moments can bring peace and clarity to our days.
"Eucalyptus Jewels" is a reminder of the
importance of our shadow ... the unacknowledged
places within us ... and the shadow we cast in
the world even when we are not conscious of it.  Eucalyptus has many protective and healing qualities and was often planted in tropical areas because it's thirsty root-system drained swampy areas and reduced the threat of mosquito-borne diseases.

"Water Jewels" is a peaceful reminder that life flows and changes, never remaining the same, but is always a beautiful interplay of light and the path it follows.  Water is infinitely flexible at following the peaks and valleys of its environment, but also relentlessly powerful in carving its own destiny.

This image is a reminder that you can peacefully flow with what comes your way, but you can also break out and find your own path.

"Spider Jewels" reminds us of the fragile beauty and nature of life.  The morning after I took this photograph, this piece of spider art had blown away.

Spider Medicine represents creativity. Its 8 legs represent the 4 winds of change and the 4 directions on the medicine wheel. Its body is in the shape of an 8, which represents infinite possibilities. "Spider people" must look beyond the web of illusion of the physical world and look beyond the horizon to other dimensions.

Use this image to remind yourself that you are infinitely creative.

"Sedona Jewel" was revealed to me by a jeep tour guide who called it his baby and carefully kept it hidden from outsiders.

Cactus is one of the oldest plants in our world and has long held spiritual significance for indigenous peoples and often considered a gateway to the spiritual world.

Meditating on the beauty and the power to survive and thrive in the harshest of conditions could be a powerful influence on your spirit.

"Dance Jewel" reminds us to dance.  We are spiritual beings inhabiting a body that wants to dance joyfully.  Dance is our heritage, part of the DNA of the 50 trillion cells in our body.

Use this image to help you remember to dance!

I hope you enjoy these "gems."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Buying Non-Visible Art

As I was winding my way through the halls of google trying to find the answer to why people buy art, I fell down a rabbit hole into the Museum of Non-Visible Art (MONA).  

It makes sense if you look at it in just the right way, with the left eye closed and the right eye at a left angle. It is a museum of ideas, art ideas, concepts that excite the imagination and create a "glow," as the description on states in the project request for $5,000 of funding.  

All of the glowing art in the MONA is for sale ... of course what you get is a title card and description because the art itself is not visible.  So, over your new leather couch you can hang a drawing by the artist Praxis (which is actually the husband and wife team of Brainard & Delia Carey), titled Dust Map, and described as: 
A drawing that is forty by forty meters square on white paper, hung on the ceiling. The drawing was made over the course of two years. The entire drawing is made with the tip of a pin. There is no ink or pencil, it is just tiny dents everywhere, made from a pin. If you could look closer (but you can't) you will see words written with the pin head with the aid of a magnifying glass, so the letters are barely visible. Written in over two hundred thousand words, is the first part of websters dictionary, edition 2010, letters A through F. 
This piece of art is for sale but do remember that what you get is a title card and the description.  You are free to resell the artwork.
MONA was an oversubscribed and raised $16,197 (click here to see for yourself).  All of the backers got a piece of non-visible art (i.e. a title card) and one lucky person backed the project to the tune of $10,000 and was rewarded with ... fresh air ... non-visible fresh air (i.e. a title card).
This is not a joke, visible or non-visible.  The money was real.  The title cards were real.  The "glow" must have been real, too.

About this image:  This majestic, life-sized portrait of Yosemite valley was discovered in the secret files of Ansel Adams.  Although it is not known what technology Adams used, this masterpiece is embedded with Muir's words as he caught his first view of this magnificent scene.  Interestingly enough, they happen to be the same as Steve Jobs's last words:  "Oh, wow!"

This one-of-a-kind work of art is for sale ... $25, visible money only.  Display the title card and description proudly on your wall, over that leather couch, and amaze your friends and family.

Why Do People Buy Art?

This past weekend, Timberline Gallery held it's first-ever-in-its-26-years sale.  Most of the 31 artists were selling all or part of their work at 50% off.  Throughout the weekend, artists were in the gallery chatting with visitors, telling stories about their art, giving mini-demonstrations.  And, of course, there were the requisite cookies and snacks.  From most perspectives, it was a successful sales weekend but at the end of the weekend, the walls were still full of incredible art that was not sold in spite of the sale prices.

It makes me wonder:  why do people buy art ... at any price?  The first response when we think about these things is to blame the economy, and there's no doubt that disposable income is limited these days.  However, if people are pepper spraying each other for a half-off Xbox and this year's Black Friday set an all-time record, obviously the economy isn't the only answer.

When I think about what sold this weekend, there are some patterns:  
  • the jewelry makers did well
  • photos, prints and paintings of Yosemite were popular
  • sculptural items sold better than wall art
This is only one sale but I think there are some inferences that can be made:  people buy what they understand and are comfortable with.  Everyone understands jewelry:  they know how to wear it, what they like and what will go with what they wear.  They have a history of purchases and a range of prices they are comfortable with.  They instantly could see what a great value the jewelry was in this sale.

They also buy "connections."  Most people who live or pass through this area have a love affair with Yosemite.  Buying a print or a painting of Yosemite keeps that love affair with them in their homes or offices.

Perhaps one of the most dominant reasons for buying art, however, is story.  When we buy something like art or furniture or jewelry, we are buying a story ... the story of the item itself ... the artist, the media, the process ... but we are also buying the story we will tell ... where we found it, what we paid for it, the experience we had while buying it, what it means to us.  This "future story" plays itself out in our heads as we contemplate a purchase, even when we're not aware of it.  If it's a compelling story, we make the purchase.  If not, we don't.

I would love to hear from you about what prompted you to buy the last piece of art you purchased.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Celebrating Gratitude

Oh my God! We have one more precious day. This beautiful video is the perfect reminder that each day is a gift. May you enjoy every second of this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winner of the Art Supplies Contest: Jack Sanders

There's an old Woody Allen saying that states 80% of success is showing up.  Jack Sanders showed up.  He won.

Jack wrote an interesting, precisely-37-word story.  We'll never know how his story might have compared with other budding writers ... because his was the ONLY entry.  There are probably many reasons why others might not have shown up but we'll never know what they were.  But Jack did and we think his attitude of showing up will take him far in life.

As for today, his winning story means a $100 check for art supplies is on its way to Minarets High School, where he is a senior.  Here's his story related to the image above:
Upon the winding leaves of time the majestic caterpillar gnaws away on scrumptious fragments of delicacy-- eras of time enriched with such utter brilliance as to nourish the caterpillar for eternity, to one day become a butterfly.
Thanks, Jack, for playing!

And for everyone concerned about the state of art education in our schools, I can assure you that even small donations for art supplies will be wildly appreciated.  I donated $25 raised from my last show and was treated like a hero!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Money Dolls Work!

A few months ago I met a woman who told me about "money dolls" and swore that she received unexpected money after paying special attention to her money doll.  Julie Mitchell, an incredible spirit doll artist, was at the same event and she went home and created her own money doll and began honoring her.  She also started receiving unexpected money so I started badgering her to do a money doll workshop.  A group of us finally gathered together at my dining room table yesterday to create money dolls.  (Mine is at the left.)

Julie was extremely well organized and brought everything we needed to play.  It was a creativity feast ... an abundance of fabrics and feathers, paints and beads, clay and charms.  She guided us through the process so easily that within a few hours we all had money dolls that delighted us.  Here's a picture of one of Julie's money dolls.

I won't know for awhile whether or not unexpected money will show up but I know my money doll works ... she already brought me abundant warmth and friendship in an afternoon of creative play.  And she looks so powerful sitting on my night stand that I think she just might bring me exactly what I need.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Facebook Cheerios

Many of my friends are not Facebook fans.  They say things like, "I'm not interested in what people have for breakfast."

This morning as I read the FB "news," I learn about the state of life in the Ukraine from a visiting journalism professor, see one of the funniest and brightest guys I know make fun of himself and the entire male gender, read an article about spiral learning, enjoy a few new pieces of art, glance at several music video offerings and think about coming back later for them ... but probably won't, contemplate several pithy quotes, awwwww over the mandatory cute animal photos, and in general start my day on a positive note.  And, never did I find out what anyone had for breakfast.  

Nor did I immerse myself in the gloom and doom, mayhem and violence, or rape and murder of the world's "real" news.  For my entire life I've been a small-time news junkie; I couldn't imagine life without a daily paper and the evening news.  Four years ago I went cold turkey and all I can say is that I am much happier starting my day with FB than I ever was with "hard news."

It's an understatement to say that FB is a phenomenon, but I wonder about all the ways it's changing us.  I have 339 FB "friends" ... not a particularly large number but far more than I would actually call "friends" in the deeper sense of the word.  There are few of those 339 folks that I could call in the middle of the night and ask them for a favor.  But they do enlarge my world.  They bring me information and ideas that I might never be exposed to.  I have friends whose political or religious views are diametrically opposed to my own.  I can read their posts and comments and consider them in my own style and pace.  I don't have to reject the ideas or the person.  

Perhaps FB, in a slow, gentle, non-threatening way, will offer us a way to hear each other.  Who knows where that could lead us.

About this image:  "Crack in the World" is a new piece and you can see it and other abstracts in my "Abstract and Almost" website gallery.

The World Will Long Remember

On this anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg address, there is much to remember and honor.

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 10 Painting Granola

What a title!  What image does it conjure in your mind? Mine saw: purple raisins, pink almonds and sweet lime green clusters dancing with yellow M&Ms.  When this blog title popped up on my blogroll from Jill Berry's blog, I couldn't resist it.  Curiosity demanded that I stop what I was doing and find out.

However, I should have known, coming from Jill, that it would be deeper and more beautiful than my imagining. Jill's friend makes the "best" granola so Jill decided to make her a fancy recipe for the friend's pantry.  Here's Jill's description of her process:  

I gathered pictures of all the plants that were involved in the recipe: orchids that provide vanilla beans, cardamom that comes from a ginger plant, the leaf of the maple tree that provides the syrup for sweetness.  I drew the ingredients along with the text.
It's worth a visit to her blog to see what she's creating.

"Painting Granola" is becoming more than just a blog title for me, however.  As I continue on this Creativity Cleanse journey, everything is taking on a metaphorical color and "painting granola" seems to be a call to look beyond the surface of things and make art from the backstory, the source, the iceberg hidden below the water line.  

We never see all of anything and maybe that's the job of art ... to reveal the unseen, provide a glimpse of the interconnection of everything, to touch the vibrating strings of Indra's net and transmit the energy and electricity along to the viewer.

About this image:  reflections on a building in Denver.

The video below is an amazingly beautiful discussion of Indra's net and the illusion of separateness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 8/21 OP Cliches

Last night I spent several delightful hours working on my photographs, titling, keywording, organizing.  It's one of my favorite activities and almost always inspires a new piece of work.  Earlier this summer I had photographed a rusted hull of a truck in a weedy field.  It's a common picture, probably falls in the cliche category.  I passed it by but it kept calling me back so I went back and decided to play with it, turning it into a colorful, "painterly" image.  Another cliche since it's been done often ... and yet, it really pleased me and evoked a nostalgic feeling so I decided to keep it.

Today I started thinking more about cliches and went to Wikipedia which states:
A cliché or cliche (pronounced UK: /ˈkliːʃeɪ/US: /klɪˈʃeɪ/) is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel.
There's no doubt that over-colored old cars and trucks have been done a lot and could probably now be considered a stereotype or cliche.  However, the image called to me and if I had refused to do it just because I knew it had already been done, wouldn't that have been putting other people's judgments ahead of my own yearning to explore this particular image?  It makes me think that what we call cliches may really be OP cliches ... other people's cliches.  Even though I know old trucks have been done a lot, there was something about this image that called to me so it was still "meaningful or novel" for me.

Part of this creativity cleanse is learning to listen to my own spirit and how it wants to be expressed.  Not painting something I want to paint because I think it is a "cliche," could shut down my creative process.  So I proceeded to play with this image, which I call "Yesterday's Dream," even framing it and adding it to my gallery.  By honoring it, I honor my own process and I leave OP cliches and judgment to the world.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 7/21 Personal Expression

This year began in failure.  I decided to enter the "Top Self-Help Book Contest" and did so with a certain degree of arrogance.  I'm a published author with two "classic best-seller" books (books that sell 100,000 copies over a period of years) so I thought I'd make it into the final rounds at least.  Ahhh, ego ... I didn't make it past round 1.
In my still-arrogant state, I went through the 300 or so authors and decided which ones should make it to the finals ... sort of like watching American Idol preliminaries.  One person I picked to be one of the finalists was the artist Joan Marie.  I contacted her and met probably the most enthusiastic woman walking the planet.  She is an amazing artist, has a great story and is positively contagious in her joyful enthusiasm.  I was disappointed when I didn't make it to round 2 but absolutely stunned when Joan Marie didn't make it.
But, we connected and have stayed in touch.  Today on her Facebook page she asked an interesting question:  What would YOU WEAR or BRING to YOUR photo shoot to have FUN!?

It's a challenging question for me because I NEVER think having my picture taken is fun.  It probably started in grade school when my mother insisted on giving me a permanent just before photo day.   The result  took my tendency toward friz into an otherworldly state.  That combined with the sensitivity of my eyes which made me cry under the bright lights left a trail of truly horrible school pictures.

But, I've been thinking about having a "real" picture taken and wonder what it would take to make it fun.  Last night at the gallery opening, there was a musician who looked like a cross between Santa Claus and Johnny Cash.  He was playing gospel/western songs and absolutely looked "the part" ... and was obviously having fun.  A couple of months ago I wrote about the artist Kue King who is himself a work of art ... and having fun with his "costumes." (pictured right)
I'm obviously attracted to people who have the flair to express themselves through their physical appearance.  Is this part of the Creativity Cleanse ... gathering the courage to find my own unique expressiveness?  Just the thought of it has the push/pull, excitement/fear of thinking about bungee jumping or walking a tight rope between tall buildings.

Food for thought.

Milton Glaser Monday: Secret #10

This is #10 in reposting Barney Davey's blog post of Milton Glaser list of "10 Things I Have Learned - The Secret of Art."  It is a great post but each one of the 10 items is so powerful and thought provoking by itself that I've decided to repost them one at a time, one per week at the beginning of the week.  See post #1 for Davey's words about Glaser.

The rabbit joke is relevant because it occurred to me that looking for a cabbage in a butcher’s shop might be like looking for ethics in the design field. It may not be the most obvious place to find either. It’s interesting to observe that in the new AIGA’s code of ethics there is a significant amount of useful information about appropriate behaviour towards clients and other designers, but not a word about a designer’s relationship to the public. We expect a butcher to sell us eatable meat and that he doesn’t misrepresent his wares. I remember reading that during the Stalin years in Russia that everything labelled veal was actually chicken. I can’t imagine what everything labelled chicken was. We can accept certain kinds of misrepresentation, such as fudging about the amount of fat in his hamburger but once a butcher knowingly sells us spoiled meat we go elsewhere. As a designer, do we have less responsibility to our public than a butcher? Everyone interested in licensing our field might note that the reason licensing has been invented is to protect the public not designers or clients. ‘Do no harm’ is an admonition to doctors concerning their relationship to their patients, not to their fellow practitioners or the drug companies. If we were licensed, telling the truth might become more central to what we do.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 6/21 Clearing Away

Reading in Ordinary Magic (edited by John Welwood) this morning, Chogyam Trungpa states, "Clearing away is as important as starting."

That struck me because my nature is to start things which I do much better than clearing them away.  Even as I sit here I can see the residue of things I've started and not cleared away properly.  It's related to yesterday's entropy discussion.  But I wonder if it's more than the half-read magazine on my bed.  What in my life has not been cleared away properly?

The example Trungpa uses is the tea ceremony where washing the tea dishes and putting them away properly is part of the ceremony.  Like most of us, my life has been set on "full steam ahead."  I can see where I've lived a lot of my life on the "get close and move on" principle.  I used to think of it as a plus.  Fifteen things done "well enough" were better than five done perfectly.  Loose ends were to be ignored in the momentum of keeping up.  That's the way things are; that's what successful life requires; that's what I've always thought.  And, perhaps I didn't have much choice while I was in the roaring river of life.  

But, now I'm in a side channel, a smaller, slower stream where I can drift in lazy circles, examining the shifting patterns around me, touching what engages me, being touched, being healed.  As I write this, I feel a quiet calmness enter my body.  My typing slows and words grow quiet and further apart, 
                     it takes a long moment to add the period at the end of this sentence.  

I don't know what comes next.  

     I wait.  

          Not knowing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Imagine Joy Art Name Change

A little over two years ago, I launched this blog as an exercise in survival ... an attempt to fill my "empty cup" as my new blog friend Diane Walker expressed it.  (If you haven't experienced her blog, Contemplative Photography, give yourself a treat ... it is always filled with beautiful images and wise words).

Anyway, at the time, I had no idea where I was going or why, so the blog name:  Peaceful Legacies seemed calm and reassuring.  I still like it but now it doesn't seem to fit the direction of my life so I'm changing it to:  Imagine Joy Art.  Over time, I expect the direction of this blog to be more toward joy and art ... not necessarily just visual or creative arts but the art of life.  The url for the blog stays the same but I will gradually fade out the Peaceful Legacies identity.  

If you have me on your blog roll, I'd love for you to change the name ... and thanks for following me!

Creativity Cleanse: Day 5/21 Entropy Affective Disorder

Entropy is a law of thermodynamics, which in its simplest terms states that energy systems tend to move from order to chaos.  I see this in my environment every day ... it takes energy to keep the piles at bay.  Turn my back and a corner tweets to the world:  come fill me!  And it does, suddenly shoes, books, magazines, empty frames, jackets and dog toys have come out of their hidey holes and are romping about in orgiastic exuberance.  Wait too long and all the corners are full and the party is dancing out into the middle of the room and I'm forced into fight or flight.

Some people deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) when winter days reduce the available light; I deal with EAD (entropy affective disorder) when the piles begin to topple over and multiply.  When all the surfaces around me become cluttered and the corners rounded with piles, I find it hard to breathe, think and create.  This is an issue for someone who is by nature not a tidy person.  I have two main work spaces ... my office and a comfy chair in my bedroom.  I lost my office months ago to the forces of evil clutter and the edges of my bedroom have been slowly rounding off with piles.

So, this week, as part of my Creativity Cleanse, I've been taking back my space.  A couple of days ago I reclaimed my office ... it's a lovely space with lots of windows and light and I can now sit there and feel expanded rather than contracted. This morning I rounded up the pile of shoes that has been growing in my bedroom.  They fought me all the way but I corralled them into a box and stuffed them away in a closet.  Then I topped it off by removing the fingerprints from the mirrored sliding glass door.

I'm sitting in my bedroom chair writing this and my whole body feels lighter ... except now I'm looking at a pile of *very* unused exercise equipment that has taken root in another corner, and the "catch-all" chest beside me is piling up.  Sigh.  It takes energy to keep pushing back the forces of darkness in order to let the light of creativity shine through.

About this image:  This is the current state of the mosaic rock wall I am doing around my deck.  The rain and winter season has arrived so I won't make much progress on the 40' still left till do until next year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 11 11 11 11

A special moment in time ... meaningless, of course, except for the meaning that we give it.

But, then, all moments are meaningless except for the meaning we give them.

What meaning will you give this eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this century?

Creativity Cleanse: Day 4/21 Creativity Can Save the World

Recently I was on the receiving end of "mistreatment."  It was a small act but it felt disrespectful and hurtful.  It offered me the choice of being in reaction mode, and I jumped at it and started closing down, pulling back.  While driving from one point to another a couple of days later, I "wrote" (in my head) a letter to those involved.  I was right; they were wrong, and I wanted to tell them that in a gentle, eloquent but clear way.  Fortunately I got distracted by my Creativity Cleanse activities.

I really like the people involved and after a few days went by, I was able to convince myself that their actions were not intentional, just clumsy and perhaps a bit insensitive.  In my "feeling wronged" state, I had pulled back from a project I wanted to do, determined to disassociate myself from the offending parties.  However, the focus on cleansing my creative channels helped me understand that I wanted to do the project, that it was a way for me to express my creativity and serve others, so I put the reaction feelings away and did the project.  

And, of course, it was a good thing, in some ways a thing of grace, a reminder not to take things personally and to remember that everyone we meet is carrying a burden and may not act in perfect harmony with our feelings and wishes.  In this time when there are so many things wrong in our world, for me this seems like a reminder that I can act as a warrior and try to right the wrongs, slay the dragons, set things to right ... or, I can be peaceful within and without and simply focus on creating beauty and joy.

What a reminder that creativity can save the world.  It is the divine spark within us and, however we express our creativity, we are sharing that spark, adding it to the embers of others, igniting a fire of beauty, joy and caring for each other that could change everything.

About this image:  This is a picture of a bowl from my mother.  I took the picture to photography group last night as an example of "convergence."  I feel like I am currently in a state of convergence where things are coming together.