Thursday, March 29, 2012

March Art Drawing Closes Tomorrow

"Emerging," 12"x8" printed on dye-infused aluminum is the free art that will be given to one of the lucky newsletter subscribers registered by the end of the month.  If you haven't registered for the newsletter yet, just click on "Subscribe to our newsletter" in the upper right hand column of the blog.

I just checked the online random number generator and it works so on the morning of April 1, I'll generate a number and it could be yours (based on your place on the list).

Here's the story about "Emerging:"


In my east-facing studio window, there is a prism that casts rainbows across the house. This image began with one of those rainbows as it merged with the shadow of an object in it's path. It then joined with a spiral fossil from a neighbor's yard to create a sense of something emerging.

This digital painting is printed on metal using a dye infusing technique that is almost magical in capturing the brilliance and luminescence of its color.  When hung away from direct sunlight it will be an heirloom piece that can be handed down for generations.  It can be easily cleaned with a soft cloth.

It is float-mounted 1/2" from the wall for easy hanging and a clean, contemporary look.

Creativity Heals

This week I met a young woman who told me a story ... a sad story that happens all too often.

Her dad died when he was only 52, leaving his wife and five grown and almost grown children.  Her mom had been a talented creative giver ... one of those women who could make anything and was constantly giving it all away.  When her husband died, it took the spirit out of her and she stopped.  For almost twenty years now she has withered, losing precious time with her children and grandchildren, losing her health ... losing her self.  

Grief can do that; it is a powerful force that drains our life energy.  When a loved one dies, it's like a door closes on the life that was.  Sometimes we sit in a chair facing that doorway, wishing it would open again, yearning for what was.  However, behind us, if we could only turn around, are new doorways opening  to new lives and new joy.  Sometimes a sense of guilt keeps us glued to that chair faced toward the lost past.  We are afraid of dishonoring the dead by turning toward a new life.  In some cultures, the wife is expected to throw herself on the funeral pyre.  We don't do that literally but sometimes people do it slowly, metaphorically, letting their life energy fade away like embers in an untended fire.

After my husband died, I read countless stories of tragedy and grief, and it seemed like everywhere I looked, there was one common thread leading toward new joy:  creativity.  People who were able to go forward and build new lives found a creative outlet:  for some it was creating a living memorial for their lost loved one such as  Candy LIghtner who started Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) after her daughter was killed by a repeated drunk driver or Cindy Sheehan who began to protest war after her son was killed in Iraq.  For others it was finding or renewing a passion for gardening, sewing, family, community, or art.  

Creating something new plugs us back into life, starts the juices flowing again ... heals us. I was one of the lucky ones.  A few weeks after my husband died, in an effort to escape the pain, I wound up in a digital collage workshop in a tiny fishing village just south of Puerto Vallarta.  That workshop changed my life ... and maybe saved it.  I recently published a book about death, art and the healing power of creativity in hopes that it might help others.


Joy after the Fire, when grief, despair and loss become the seeds of new joy and growth is available from iBookstore for iPads or as a downloadable pdf that you can read on any computer ... just click the Buy Now button.  Grief and loss comes to each of us ... finding a way to create something new seems to be the only real way to heal the wound.


Joy after the Fire

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What would Shana do?

One of my friends has a daughter and, like most moms, she tells remarkable and loving stories about her.  In the beginning I just nodded politely as I listened to the stories.  But, after a while, I realized there was a message weaving through them.

Shana Moulton is a video and performance artist.  Most of us don't really know what that means so I've included a snippet below that will give you a sense of it.  Shana is a successful performance artist and gets invited to places all over the planet to do her performances.

It wasn't always that way.  For awhile, she slept in a closet because she had no money but wouldn't give up her dream.  Her mom says Shana has always looked at life in her own way and insisted on following her inner guidance, regardless of other people's doubts and preconceived notions.

Now her mom and I, when we're trying to decide what to do with our lives, ask "What would Shana do?"  We always know the answer:  whatever calls her forward ... in the face of being thought foolish, in the face of possible failure, in the face of her own fears and insecurities ... she follows the path that calls her one step at a time into her own creativity and joy ... into her own authentic self which she shares with the world.

It's a good question: What would Shana do?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Today's Certainties; Tomorrow's Absurdities?


For years I wrote an electronic newsletter (without the assistance of MailChimp, etc.) and this week one of them from 1996 was returned to me by Ozzie Gontang, a running coach I met in 1978! (I was 3 ... ;-)  

We stayed loosely in contact and I invited him to be a speaker at one of my innovation conferences.  He was not able to attend because of a death in his family but what a treat he gave me this morning.

Sixteen years ago, I asked readers to think about things we consider "certainties" today that might become "absurdities" tomorrow.  Not having access to a blog with comments, readers responded by email and I had to cut-and-paste together their responses, which make fascinating reading today.  Some readers mentioned things that have become, or are soon to become, absurd ... VHS, the postal service, 2 gig hard drives ... some things they predicted have not come about ... the end of cars, wars, inequality.

Either way it's an interesting question to contemplate ... while we acknowledge constant change, we tend to live as if today is a certainty that will continue into tomorrow.  In 1996, I was married, living in Santa Barbara, trying to help  corporate America figure out how to "do" innovation, with no granddaughters on the horizon.  I couldn't have begun to see my life today as a possibility ... it would have seemed absurd.

So the question for myself ... and for you ... is what seems certain today that might become an absurdity tomorrow?

About the image:  Beauty and Time

This petrified spiral was found in a rock museum and reminds me that time changes things ... some things rot and fall apart, some things become stronger and more beautiful.  This is another new image for my art show in Morro Bay ... you're invited to the reception on May 10th!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paul Cardall: Before My Heart Stops

Louise Gallagher in her beautiful blog, "A Year of Making a Difference," introduced me to the music of Paul Cardall and called him a hero. His music was lovely but my curiosity wanted to know why she called him a hero.

 Now I know and if you watch this video, you will too. And, at the end, ask yourself what you would change?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stanza Stones: the Poetry Trail

What if you were hiking your favorite trail and found poetry?  Beautiful words carved into rock ... verbal petroglyphs for the future.

My blog friend Maureen at Writing without Paper, is a fountain of inspiring information and this week she came up with Simon Armitage's "Stanza Stones."  This is a project to create seven poems carved in stones and placed in locations which follow the Pennine watershed, which is sometimes called the "backbone of England."  Each poem is related to water and here is "Snow."

The sky has delivered its blank missive. The moor in coma. 

Snow, like water asleep, a coded muteness to baffle all noise, to stall movement, still time. 

What can it mean that colourless water can dream such depth of white? 
We should make the most of the light. Stars snag on its crystal points. 
The odd, unnatural pheasant struts and slides. 
Snow, snow, snow is how the snow speaks, is how its clean page reads. 
Then it wakes, and thaws, and weeps.
 Here is more about this inspiring project

Monday, March 19, 2012

Art: Conscious or Unconscious?



Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery and great mentor to all artists, is hosting a book club focused on "de Kooning, an American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. I don't particularly appreciate or understand de Kooning's art, but I wouldn't miss one of Jason's book clubs so I dove into this 700+ page book.  The writing is superb and the story is engaging.   A young Dutch boy from a poor and dysfunctional family finds art and follows its trail to America when he drops into the New York budding modern art scene of the 1930s. De Kooning seems to be the poster boy for the "starving artist" image so it's interesting to read about his journey.

One part of the story made me read with envy ... the community of friendship, conversation, and support of artists who are struggling to find a new way to express themselves and being largely unappreciated and unsold.  Unrecognized by the official art world, small groups of artists encouraged and supported each other and their vision.  Even though de Kooning was classically trained and depended on his commercial art for his meagre support, he destroyed almost everything he painted for years, trying to find a way into a new way of expressing himself.  The book offers many stories about artists who would start works, get stuck, come back later, get stuck again ... and again.  It was like they were trying to dig out nuggets out of their unconsciousness and find a way to put them on canvas.

In the midst of this thinking about de Kooning and the early modern art years, my quilter friend Vivian Helena loaned me a DVD copy of "Stitched, the film ... behind every stitch, there is a story."  The film follows three quilters as they enter three of the biggest quilt shows.  The quilting industry is huge ... over $4B in sales, 21 million quilters, and the Houston show draws over 50,000 people!  Beyond the size of the industry, however, I've noticed that in many ways it is far more progressive than the rest of the art world.  When I want to think about art marketing, I wonder what the quilters are doing.

What struck me while watching this film, though, was the messages the quilters choose and how carefully and beautifully they craft that message into the medium.  My own process tends to be an unconscious groping.  I seldom know where I'm going when I start and it is only as I'm groping, trying things, rejecting things, making adjustments, putting it aside and coming back later, does the message emerge. I would love to find the means to be more purposeful when I enter into a new piece of art but so far it hasn't happened.

It makes me wonder how you view this dance of conscious and unconscious in your own art?  I would love to hear your take on this ... just leave a comment below.

About this image:  Shining Star

I'm getting ready for my show at the Gallery at Marina Square in May and this is one of the pieces I've just finished.  This morning glory was crawling across a sidewalk in Oakland and shouted, "Look at me!"  It is available on dye-infused metal and its size is 10"x20."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Arianna and Henry David on Social Media

"We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." -- Henry David Thoreau


This morning Arianna Huffington related Thoreau's quote to our current social media "fetishization" as she calls it.  I love social media: in 1996 I put out one of the first email newsletters as part of the InnovationNetwork and followed it as soon as possible with a blog.  I leaped into LinkedIn early on, not quite so early into Facebook and was an absolute laggard into Twitter.  I also became addicted to Pinterest within weeks of its birth.


I love the democratization of information sharing and the web of connections that social media creates.  The super-idealist within me thinks that maybe, just maybe, all this openness and connection might support a more peaceful universe.


However, I've been really busy lately with the move and the upcoming show at the Morro Bay gallery.  All my normal social media activities have fallen away (except for this blog, of course).


And ... guess what happened?  Nothing.  My life did not change one iota.  As far as I can tell no one even noticed my absence.  No one tweeted that they missed my tweets.  No one said, "Gee, I haven't seen your name scroll by on my Facebook roll."


It makes me think that I'm like an old lady walking through the aisles of a grocery store, talking every step of the way.  Mostly no one notices, but every once in awhile, someone says, "I heard what you said and I agree completely." And, the old lady smiles and walks on with a slightly gladdened heart, continuing to talk all the while.  


So, I still love social media and those occasional connections, and to Henry David ... maybe it doesn't matter that we have something important to communicate ... maybe it's simply the communication that is important.


About this Image:  I Dream of Flying


This is a new work I just finished for the Morro Bay show.  It is 57"x15", the largest piece I've created so far.


Here's Arianna's full comment this morning:


Arianna HuffingtonThe media world's fetishization of social media has reached idol-worshipping proportions. Our media culture is locked in the Perpetual Now, constantly chasing ephemeral scoops that last only seconds and that most often don't matter in the first place, even for the brief moment that they're "exclusive." 


"We are in great haste," wrote Thoreau in 1854, "to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." And today, we are in great haste to celebrate something going viral, but seem completely unconcerned whether the thing that went viral added one iota of anything good -- including just simple amusement -- to our lives. So the question remains: as we adopt new and better ways to help people communicate, can we keep asking what is really being communicated?anitastoll@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brainard Carey: Your Art Has Value

Brainard Carey, an outrageous artist and art mentor, says your art has value.  Remember that.  Here he is with that same message in a quick 1-minute video that you might want to watch more than once.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Psychic Wanted!

After months of looking at places on the central coast, Friday I found a place that's not perfect but  is "perfectly wonderful" in the small town of Arroyo Grande.  Right price and a rare combination of the right floor plan, lovely outdoor living, a garage and privacy in the midst of the communal living of a mobile home park.   I spent 25 years in Santa Barbara and this feels like home.  


So what's the problem?  I keep getting "slow down" messages.  I made an offer yesterday and last night dreamed of being in a car driven by a man who wanted me to help steer ... which I did ... but he was going too fast for the curvy road we were on.  I kept asking him to slow down and finally screamed, "Slow down!"


I believe in dreams and this is the third slow down message I've gotten.  Of course, just to make things more confusing, this area of the central coast is San Luis Obispo, commonly called SLO (pronounced "slow").  Is someone playing games with me???  

This morning I'm wondering if I should withdraw my offer and just stay put.  Which wouldn't be hardship duty ... I have gotten very integrated into the foothills in the almost two years I've lived there.  I love the foothills, my friends and my house there.  But the coast keeps calling me.   Yesterday I walked along the dunes watching the last of the migrating monarch butterflies and taking pictures of eucalyptus bark. Right now the jasmine is blooming and the air has that soft, sweet smell that lifts my heart.

Logic doesn't seem to be working ... I've weighed all the pros and cons and the answer always turns out to be whichever way I'm leaning at the time. So, I've decided I need a psychic.  If anyone gets a hit about my future, please let me know.  Of course, with my luck, two psychics will respond giving me exactly opposite messages.

In the meantime, the image above is the first in a series of Eucalyptus Tales prompted by yesterday's walk.