Friday, August 26, 2011

Haiga and Twitter

Two years ago, Marilyn Sholin told me to embrace Twitter and I asked "why?"  Like a lot of folks I've talked with, I couldn't figure out what the point was.  Why connect with a bunch of people you don't know just to see them tweet nonsense?  But, I have a lot of respect for Marilyn so I limped along with Twitter, still not getting it until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to give it a fair trial.  I think I'm starting to understand.

Don't get me wrong, in the general torrent of the Twitter stream, there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam but, now that I'm getting my feet wet, it feels like taking a snapshot of the universal mind.  One tiny but revealing snapshot.  This morning I came across @gennepher (Jenny).  I don't know Jenny or where in the world she happens to be.  All I know is what is on her profile:

@gennepher Wherever I am at the moment
Creative person, enjoying life's journey, the travel is important, not the journey's end. My haiga can be found at

She used a word, haiga, I wasn't familiar with and that sent me to Wikipedia which gave me the information below.  Then I went to Jenny's blog and saw her lovely and peaceful haiga, a combination of haiku or micropoetry and image.  And, somewhere within I now recognize the connection between us.

I proceeded to do my own decidedly non-traditional haiga which resulted in the image above, taken last weekend at River Falls.

Information from Wikipedia:

Haiga (俳画 haiga?, haikai drawing) is a style of Japanese painting based on the aesthetics of haikai, from whichhaiku poetry derives, which often accompanied such poems in a single piece. Like the poetic forms it accompanied, haiga was based on simple, yet often profound, observations of the everyday world. Stephen Addisspoints out that "since they are both created with the same brush and ink, adding an image to a haiku poem was... a natural activity.

Just as haiku often internally juxtapose two images, haiga may also contain a juxtaposition between the haiku itself and the art work. The art work does not necessarily directly represent the images presented in the haiku.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Balance of Doing or Being

This morning on my walk, I caught a glimpse of a woman sitting at a table in her backyard.  It looked like she was writing notes.  It was a peaceful scene and she looked relaxed.  It caught me off guard and made me wonder if I'm out of balance again. 

I've been in overdrive, rushing from project to project ... all projects that I love and want to do ... but little, if any, blank space in between the doing of them.  Even finding time to blog has been challenging.  I didn't realize it but early fall is a very busy art time ... new shows, exhibits, applications, inventory production, marketing materials, and so on and so on.  The themes of the shows are inspiring and challenging:

Our Wild Lands
Singing the Blues
Telling Stories
The Emperor's New Clothes

But, I need to relax into this busyness so I decided to sit quietly with a glass of ice tea and write this and share a piece I made for one of the shows:  "Singing the Blues."  The primary image for this piece comes from an outdoor concert I attended recently.  The guy is actually playing the harmonica and I loved his expression and the distorted color.  He is surrounded with an image I created years ago as an assignment for a photography class.  We built our own mirror kaleidoscope and took pictures through it.  It made remarkable images.  If you want to try it, it's just 3 long strips of mirror taped together to make a triangle ... with the mirror side on the inside.

Maybe I'm not completely out of balance ... I sat here yesterday afternoon when it got too hot to be rushing around and put this image together.  It didn't come together easily.  I pushed and it pulled.  I tweaked and it rebelled.  Time leaked away and suddenly it was time to walk the dogs, but it had arrived at this state and I decided I liked it.

Maybe the question is this:  is making art "doing" ... or "being?"  I guess it could be either.  All I know is how much it nourishes me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


As I've been playing with the five universal symbols, I added the circumpunct, a circled dot, another ancient symbol that has long represented the sun.  It is also a symbol for gold and the archangel Michael. Perhaps the most profound explanation of the symbol is that the circle represents the perfection and all encompassing infinity and power of God and the dot within it represents our place within God.

Doing this series based on the five universal symbols is very meditative and feels a little like doing a mandala.  I especially like the glow of this one.  It is a challenge to find ways to link these symbols and then exciting to see color and texture flow into the flat, black and white symbols. It would be fun to do one every day but I'd have to get a whole lot faster so I'll let them come at their own speed for awhile.

Of course, like all good symbols, there's controversy surrounding this one involving Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, but the dotted circle, regardless of what we call it or what stories it stars in, remains one of the oldest of civilization's symbols.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Check Out that Too-Good-to-Be-True Internet Offer

A Cautionary Internet Tale, Part 2 

Yesterday I told you about a bad experience I had with a program that helps would-be authors write a "mini-book."  The important part of the story is how to avoid having your own bad experience with any program that interests you.  Here are some quick ways to check out a program on the Internet:

Google --  scroll through at least 3-5 Google pages to see if you find any negative entries. Also, enter the name of the product or organization with "complaint" behind the name to see if anything show up.  

References -- this one is tricky because the sellers will probably only give you ones they know would be positive, but try anyway.

Look -- there is a look to things that over-promise and under-deliver: lots of bold and red type.  Lengthy copy, often extremely well-written and compelling, that seems to counter every possible objection you might have, telling you about all the people who have gotten rich, thin or famous using the program.  Endless statistics that cannot be verified.  Tight deadlines: make your decision now or it's gone forever or the price goes up dramatically.  Over-stated value ... the program I talked about yesterday said they were delivering $10,000 worth of training and resources.  Is it really worth $10,000 to show someone how to write and publish the equivalent of a 1,500 word article?  You can start a blog for free and do the same thing in 4-5 posts and gradually, over-time build up a following.

Sound -- podcasts, webcasts and videos are the back bone of Internet marketing and almost all programs offer free, introductory experiences.  Take notes to see how much new information you get for the time you spend listening.  Wait at least a day then review your notes again to see if the information is truly valuable.  If the free information is not truly valuable to you, there's little chance that what you get when you are "inside" will be much better.

The Offer -- a lot of these new marketing ventures not only want you to buy what they are offering but also want you to sell it to your friends.  They will offer you a chance to become an "affiliate" and tell you how you can make your own investment back by just bringing in a few friends.  Affiliate programs are powerful, but please experience the program fully before you sell it to your friends (wish I had taken that advice before I got my friend involved).

Price -- The Internet makes it cheap to deliver content but the go-for-the-gold Internet marketers know that people won't pay high prices just for content so they package things together to build up the value, or the appearance of value.  Teleconferences, webcasts, and videos are common ways to deliver additional information.  But that's still content, so they have to make it seem as though you're going to get individual coaching and help ... enter live events, "mentor" days and one-on-one coaching.  

Suddenly, the information available in a $15 book has a perceived value of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars because now you believe you can become whatever it is you are yearning for.  For some reason "7" seems to be the magic number in the pricing of these offers:  $297, $697, $1497, "$97 to attend a live event worth thousands."  Think through what they are offering and ask yourself if this is truly what you want and if it is worth the price.  Is there any other way you could get to the same end result?  Do you have the time, energy and motivation to complete the program?

Just like diet programs and gym memberships, most of these programs are never completed.

Email -- watch your email after you first indicate your interest.  Your email address is the brass ring for marketers.  And, when it's done right, it works for the marketer and the consumer as you get information you want and that is useful to you.  But, if you notice that you are starting to get a lot of new offers and they seem to be related to something you've just requested information on, consider it a warning signal.  The "mini-book" folks immediately started telling me about "dear friends" who were offering "amazing" opportunities.  Soon I was getting several offers a day from people who were going to make me rich ... with almost no effort on my part.

Ask -- Ask your friends for their advice.  When our passions run hot, logic often runs cold.  I had a friend listen to one of the free teleconferences for the mini-book program.  He listened for 5 minutes and told me to run-don't-walk in the opposite direction.  If I had listened to him, I wouldn't be writing this.

Don't let this warning turn you off of all Internet programs.  There are amazing things available and the Internet has made them possible.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Cautionary Internet Tale - Part 1

I love the Internet.  I can't imagine a world without Google, Wikipedia and YouTube.  My life is richer because every day I read the powerful and inspiring words of my blog sisters, see new artwork from around the world and catch up briefly with friends, old and new, on Facebook. My life is simpler because I shop amazon, pay bills online, and watch movies on Netflix.

However, with all of this opening up of information and possibilities, there is a little bit of a wild-west feel to doing business here.  While it seems as if the Internet has "changed everything," some things still remain the same:  look before you leap and if something promises you "thin thighs in 30 days," "easy-breezy success as an internet marketer, author, artist, blogger, stock trader or anything else that normally takes years of preparation, learning and effort," take a deep breath, do some research, and wait for at least two days before jumping in.  Tomorrow I will post some easy ways to check out an Internet offer before you get involved.

The whole story of what I didn't do follows, in case you need to read it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

5 Universal Symbols

Yesterday, my artist friend, Kathleen Mattox, mentioned the 5 universal symbols (circle, square, triangle, equilateral cross, spiral) and, since it was my day to sit Timberline Art Gallery, I decided to take them as my art challenge for the day.  It is a continuation of the series of abstracts I'm doing to stretch my art in a new direction.  

It is interesting to work with just color, shape and texture without focusing on a representational theme.  I do a lot of work with blend modes in Photoshop and this series has allowed me to really focus on using the blend modes to get the effects I want.  The blend modes provide a way to make layers interact with each other, sometimes in surprising and exciting ways.  I especially like the "Difference" blend mode for its drama, but using it is like mirror drawing, everything is backwards.  If you want green, you have to start with red; if you want dark, you have to start with light.  Not only is it fun, there are some life lessons here.  To get what you want, you have to understand how things work, and how they change when blended with something else.

Anyway, here is the "Dance of the Universal Symbols" ... and, if you're interested in Photoshop blend modes, here is an excellent article.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rainbow Spirit

"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one."
  -- Charles Horton Cooley 

That's the way I feel this morning.  I am so blessed to have the time, energy and wherewithal to make art.  The last few days I've been playing with a different approach to digital painting, a completely abstract approach that uses photographic images more like a tube of paint than as actual images. That, an a recent "mistake" while creating the border, opened up new ways of thinking about what I'm doing.

The piece that accompanies this post feels like a shift, a letting go of the need to make sense or convey a message, in order to dive into pure color and shape.

Last week, I received word that I have been accepted into Xanadu Gallery as a Studio Artist.  Xanadu is one of my favorite Scottsdale galleries and I've been a fan of Jason Horejs for years because of his work to help artists succeed.  He is the author of "Starving" to Successful, The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting into Galleries and Selling More Art.  So, you can now see ... and buy ... my work at

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fun at the Circus

So finally, what is art? Privacy exposed to radiant light.
  --  Mu Xin 

Four of us women artists have formed a new mastermind group with an initial objective of having a joint show sometime next year.  At our last meeting we decided to do a monthly challenge to stretch us in our art, with the first challenge being to do something we don't normally do. I usually start a piece with a representational image, something that calls to me, but yesterday, with our challenge in mind, I decided to go more abstract and just play with shapes, colors and textures.  

So far two new pieces have come out of this process and this one is the second.  This making of art often makes me laugh.  It is so unexpected and surprising.  I was just playing along not knowing where I was going when I decided I needed a Photoshop tutorial on lines, which led me to a YouTube video which was primarily about arrows.  I wasn't interested in arrows but the instructor demonstrated what happens when you don't leave enough space for the arrowheads ... which turned out to be a very interesting shape.  I started playing with it and the shape became a person leaping and when I dropped that into the piece I was working on, it transformed the whole thing into a circus.

So, here it is ... Fun at the Circus.  And, what could you do today that you don't normally do?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Are We Truly Connected?

This TED Talk by Eve Ensler is not an easy one to watch, but it asks me, "If you truly believed that we are all connected, if the rape victim in the Sudan is as connected to you as one of your fingers, what would you do differently?"  And I have to answer, "I truly don't know."  It is a disorienting, painful question as I sit here in my pleasant, quiet, safe life.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Voices from the Forest

What happens when you bring together artists, photographers, dancers and poets and give them free rein to play?  Magic.  And, last night magic happened as "Voices from the Forest," a month-long creativity project was shared with the community.  It was one of those memorable moments that only happen once.
Four weeks ago, Jon Bock, owner of Stellar Gallery and creative force behind the art community here in the foothills, and Claire Blotter, a goddess of performance poetry, opened up a space to stimulate creativity and connection to the land.  Marie and Henry Tevelde opened their generous hearts and amazing home on Lewis Creek to about 20 of us for the day.  We spent the day writing, dancing and embracing the ancient land dotted with grinding rocks and signs of the ancestors who came before us.  Then we separated for three weeks of gestation and creation.
Jon and Claire held the vision of the performance night loosely, allowing us maximum space to explore and create in our own ways.  In the end, seven poets poured their words into a gallery where we were surrounded by amazing images of the day that started our journey.  You can see some of these images on Franka Mlikota Gabler and David Hoffman's Facebook pages.
All performances need an audience and last night, people filled the gallery and opened their hearts and minds to co-create the completion of this project.  I moved to this foothills community a year ago and last night I truly fell in love with it.  I had a lot of mis-givings about being part of this performance but it turned out to be a gift that all of us shared. And, I can hardly wait until Jon and Claire have their next idea.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Downside of the Spiritual Journey

There's a downside to hanging out with people on a spiritual journey: they don't let me get away with old, negative thinking.

A few weeks ago, several of us met in a lovely place by the creek for a day of creativity.  This weekend we are supposed to present our creations.  I have not been looking forward to it.  Presenting makes me nervous, takes me out of my comfort zone.  I ran into one of my fellow presenters at meditation this week and was grousing about how nervous I felt and how I just wanted to sit in the audience and watch the performance, and so on and so on.  My friend asked, "Who is it that is so nervous?"

I laughed it off and continued wallowing in my trepidation about the coming performance.  This morning, Missy and I went on a long walk and that question came back to me.  Who was it that was feeling the nervousness?  After years of working on this stuff, I immediately knew that it was the part of me that felt like the only way to be safe was to be invisible. It was the part of me that felt that being perfect was the only way to be loved and accepted.

It's pretty hard to be invisible or perfect, when you're performing your own writing in front of a group of people.  I thought I had conquered this need to be invisible and perfect, or perfectly invisible. I've been pouring out my far-from-perfect life in this blog for almost two years, and my art is hanging naked in as many willing places as I can find.  That's pretty darn visible, but this performance thing is challenging me to take another step and I will...but I'd rather not.

Yesterday, Diane at Contemplative Photography  offered us this quote from Rilke:  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that needs our love.

Performing frightens me.  What if I forget my lines or look stupid or people don't understand what I'm trying to say?  So, what is the "something helpless that needs our love" in that? If I felt as if I were truly loved, accepted and safe, I probably wouldn't feel that way.  which brings the "something" back to me.  I need to love and accept myself.  Tonight's audience will be a friendly, loving one.  The only harsh critic in the room will be me. 

I want to relax and have fun with this.  We have a great performance coach and this is an opportunity to stretch a little, learn a little and probably laugh a lot. Our rehearsal is tonight.  I'll keep you posted.

About this image:  "The Peril  of Creativity," images are all from Puerto Vallarta