Saturday, July 30, 2011

Touched by Fire

" ... the human heart is never completely born.  
It is being birthed in every experience of your life.  
Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you."

-- John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p 26

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Power of Constraints

One of the things I learned in the years I studied creativity and innovation was the power of constraints.  While the operating cliche was always to "think outside the box," what that normally produced was a popcorn effect with lots of ideas with little substance.  What seems to produce richer ideas is to carefully define a new box and then think deeply within its boundaries.

An example of the power of constraints came to me from my friend Polly Hubbard yesterday.  It is a short film contest with extremely restrictive constraints ... no more than 3 minutes long, with a prescribed six-line dialogue.  Within that box, anything was possible.  The winner of the contest was announced a few days and it is a moving film worth watching.  One of the fascinating things though is that you can know every word of the dialogue and still be surprised and moved.  Here's the dialog:

What’s That?
It’s a Unicorn
Never seen one up close before
Get away, get away

I’m sorry.

Now take a short break and enjoy this lovely example of creative film making:  Porcelain Unicorn.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shadow Dance

Sometimes what isn't "real" is as beautiful as what is.

A few weeks ago, a group of writers, photographers, dancers and artists gathered for a day of co-creating in a magical place of trees, rocks, creek and human habitat.  In two weeks we will gather again to perform what was created.  It should be interesting since none of us are quite sure what was created.  A bunch of us have posted photos taken during the day (see my facebook page) and some of us are writing pieces to be performed.  How this will all come together we're not sure.  In other words we are in the midst of the creative process not knowing what will emerge.

This image reminds me of that process.  I saw the shadow and it called to me.  But when I looked at the photo later I realized there was more there than I saw.  I didn't see the blue splotches and the subtle shadows and reflections.  We just keep creating and somewhere down the line we begin to see just what was created.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lesson by 2x4

Do you ever replay old events and conversations in your head?  Probably most of us do.  On my walk this morning, I was replaying the end of a relationship.  There were many contributing issues to the demise of this relationship but probably the main one was money.  In my head, the conversation was going ... you could have had me but you chose money ... then the 2x4 hit.

Recently I launched a new project ... PhotoLarks:  San Diego.  I think it's a good project that would offer people an insider's view of a beautiful part of the country and help them take better photos of their experience.  I also think it's potentially very commercial.  When I look at my financial future, I see a gap between what I have and what I'll need, assuming life stretches on for awhile.  Even though PhotoLarks is a creative project and could be fun, a major lure was the money.  

Realistically it is also a marketing project and would take a lot of time and effort ... that means taking time away from making art.  I had rationalized that I could balance both.  However, since I spend most of my days on mosaic, digital collage or writing, it was a stretch to get to that rationalization.  What I heard in my head when the 2x4 hit was "Art" saying ... you could have had me but you chose money.  OMG.

Stunned, I suddenly realized it was a choice ... art or money.  Right now, art shows no signs of filling the gap so I can find other ways to make money ... or I can choose art and trust that somewhere along the way money will show up, hoping that the advice to follow your bliss and the money will show up is true.   Money has never been my bliss but art is so my only real choice is to follow it wherever it leads me.  

PhotoLarks was a diversion and it took a 2x4 to wake me up.  Since it looks like the Kickstarter effort has little chance of succeeding, it seems like the Universe agrees that this was not the way to go.  It reminds me once again to focus on what brings me joy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Wake Up!

Several years ago I went to a Digital Collage workshop in Puerto Vallarta and met a rooster.  He was a preening, strutting type who insisted on being part of every collage I did.  It took me awhile to realize that he was telling me to "wake up!"  It amused me when I started working on my mosaic wall that he showed up again in this new medium, still repeating the same message.

This is the wall panel I just finished ... maybe by putting his message literally in concrete, tile by tile, the message will finally lodge deeply in my cells.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Yesterday we went to Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias.  It was a perfect day ... unseasonably cool and since it's only 30 minutes from our house, we were able to get there before the crowds.  The big trees are always awe inspiring and the wildflowers were in full profusion but what really caught my eye were these caterpillars/worms emerging from their silken web.  I'm not sure what they are ... in some ways kind of gross and in other ways incredible in their abundance and wriggling life force.

It reminds me that, seen and unseen, life pulses around and through us and makes me wonder what is there deep within me that is squirming toward life?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

PhotoLarks: San Diego - Kickstarter Project

I've just launched a Kickstarter project ... PhotoLarks:  San Diego.

If you haven't discovered Kickstarter, it's a way cool process for funding creative projects ... from books to films to gadgets to giant black Trojan horses for the Burning Man festival.  You pledge a certain amount (usually as little as $1) and get a reward and the satisfaction of being part of the project.  Your pledge only turns into a real contribution charged to your credit card if the project reaches its funding goal.

My project is part insider's guide to San Diego and part in-phone mini-photography workshop.  Several of the top San Diego photographers have agreed to provide images and information about their favorite photo places and tips for taking better pictures.  This will be put into an eBook, a DVD and a phone app.  Turns out that Mr. Postcard himself, James Blank, lives in San Diego and will be part of the project.  He provided the photos that are shown in the Kickstarter video.

This has been way fun and I hope you'll check out my project at Kickstarter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Found Art

This is the first panel of my under-the-deck mosaic wall ... a huge project suggested by my friend and mosaic classmate, Beverly, who somehow made me believe that I could do it.  

One of the things I love about mosaics is its "everything is fair game" approach to art.  It makes you look at life differently when anything you see is a potential art supply.  In this panel, the sun face came from a store in Big Sur, there is tempered glass from car windows, broken plates, some mirror fragments I found on a forest trail not far from my house and all of the rocks are from Montana de Oro just north of San Luis Obispo.

Recycling the discards of life into art is an ancient tradition but very new to me.  It is taking me awhile to see things in a different light, to start looking at what they might be or at their inherent beauty of shape or line.  Maybe as I get older, old things are taking on a new meaning.  ;-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Buddha the Cat

Yesterday was my one year anniversary in my house ... a lovely milestone, especially because there is no move on my horizon.  I love settling in,  slowing down, seeing the first tiny tendrils of roots sinking into the ground.

The house came with a cat.  A big, white, outdoor cat named Bubba.  The name didn't fit him so we changed it to Boo and he didn't seem to mind as long as the food showed up regularly.  Boo is probably 8 or 9 which means he's a pretty resourceful cat to have survived that long outdoors in a land full of predators.  One of the lessons I've learned from Boo during this past year is about non-engagement.

Every night we put out dinner for him and before I go to bed I take the dish back in so the coons don't get to it.  Everyone seems to love cat food.  The dogs crave it and usually manage to get to it 3-4 times a week.  There's a black cat in the neighborhood that often shows up for a free meal.  And, the coons have figured out if they come earlier, they'll get more food.  A few times I've been able to watch these invasions and noticed Boo just sitting in his chair at the far end of the deck, watching.  

He doesn't defend his territory; he doesn't make a fuss over his stolen food.  He seems to know that more food will show up regularly.  A few months ago, he had a run in with something and wound up with a nasty abscess.  Maybe that's when he learned the value of non-engagement. But I watch him now sitting quietly while some other creature eats his food and I think we should have changed his name to Buddha.

I don't know if Boo/Buddha has an actual mindset of non-engagement or if he just has confidence in the principle of abundance.  It occurs to me that maybe the two are intertwined.  If we actually believed that there was Enough, enough food, enough wealth, enough power, enough love maybe non-engagement would be easy and we would be able to put aside our tendency toward war, violence and greed.

i want to be more like Boo, accepting each day as it comes, knowing that everything I need will be right in front of me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One from the Heart

On my recent road trip, I found a lot of interesting images.  At the Francis Ford Coppola Winery (which is sort of like a theme park, complete with swimming pool), there were many interesting images including a movie neon sign for  "One from the Heart."  The image has been calling to me and on this hot holiday weekend, this is what showed up.

I never saw the movie so I looked it up and was amused to find that it is a 4th of July movie set in Las Vegas.  Unfortunately it wasn't an instant play or I would have followed the trail and watched it.  But I did watch the YouTube trailer ... dark, moody lighting, raining in Las Vegas, lost love and heartbreak.  I'm glad I couldn't watch it immediately.

Anyway, sending you "one from the heart" for all of you celebrating this weekend.  Be safe and pray for wisdom for our leaders.