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.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 3/21 Artifacts

On Day 2, I recognized an unwanted belief that felt like it was a boulder tied around my ankle.  Part of this Creativity Cleanse (I've decided) is using creativity to release barriers and beliefs that are not serving me.  So I decided to see what would happen if I used fantasy and imagery to get rid of that belief.  In the fantasy, the boulder around my ankle turned into an ankle bracelet with bells on it so I could dance lightly on my way through life.

Years ago, my friend Jerry McNellis taught me the power of artifacts, tangible items that hold meaning and memories for us.  So I decided I needed a real ankle bracelet with bells on it and happened to find a perfect one on etsy ... tiny bells so I won't go clanking through the world, just a gentle tinkle once in a while to remind me to dance and live exhuberantly.  I can hardly wait for it to show up.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 2/21 It's Not Over!

Yesterday was day 2 of the Creativity Cleanse and a remarkable thing occurred.  I uncovered a barrier that I never would have believed I was carrying.  It's one of those things that, if a friend had expressed this belief, I would have worked hard to help her see the error of it.  

But, there it was, like a small boulder attached to my ankle and I had gotten so accustomed to it, I wasn't even aware of it.  And, yet, it alters every step I take, slows me down, makes me tired, keeps me from making leaps.

I don't know if it's the Creativity Cleanse or the continued lifting of the fog of trauma, but suddenly I realized I've been living my life as if it were over! Not over in the sense of death but over in the sense of meaning and importance ... nothing left to do, nothing left to contribute, not enough time to start big, important projects, not enough energy to climb tall mountains.  

I've been hunkering down, trying to live cheap, contracting, cutting away, making do.  This isn't quite as dire as it sounds, of course ... I've been making art and tiptoeing into the life of an artist.  But, I've been doing it as a pass-time, self-soothing activity, assuming it has no real meaning, relevance, or importance to the world.

Yesterday it hit me:  it's not over!  I'm not over.  I don't really know where I'm going but right now, right here I'm committing to live exhuberantly with passion and meaning.  Monday evening I saw a sunset afterglow that was more brilliant than anything I've ever seen before.  It felt like passion had been sprayed across the world and into my being.  The job I hereby accept is to follow it and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Results of a Successful Creativity Cleanse

Marco Tempest demonstrates the results of having successfully completed a Creativity Cleanse.

Creativity Cleanse: Day 2 Gift

In today's reading in Ordinary Magic (edited by John Welwood), Thich Nhat Hanh tells a story about apple juice.  A little girl was given a glass of apple juice poured from the bottom of the bottle so it was cloudy with pulp.  The little girl didn't like the way it looked so she left it on the table.  Later she came back thirsty and asked for water but was told to drink her apple juice first.  The apple juice had settled and looked clear and delicious so the little girl drank it.

She said the apple juice was delicious and asked, "Was it meditating like you, Uncle Monk?"  Like the apple juice, we need time to rest and become clear.  It all seems so effortless, to simply rest, like apple juice in a glass, and let the chaos and confusion settle leaving our minds and spirits clear and calm.  

I like simple things and the image of a glass of apple juice seems like a gift I can hold onto and savor its sweetness.

Creativity Cleanse: Day 1/21

It's day one of my creativity cleanse, early morning of day one, and already I've received an interesting lesson.  My bed tends to stack up with books that I've started but not yet finished.  The one I chose to be what I read on my cleanse is Ordinary Magic, Everyday Life as Spiritual Path, edited by John Welwood.  My magic marker was firmly planted on page 2 of the introduction where I had stopped weeks ago.  When I picked it up again, the first thing I read was:
So the first step on any path of personal or spiritual development is to become aware of       how we contract and turn away from our experience.
My life is so good and I am so grateful for where I am right now that I've been turning away from the discontent I've been feeling, pushing it aside, reminding myself that I should be feeling nothing but gratitude and joy.
Welwood continues:  When we habitually contract against an area of our experience, such as anger (or discontent, my addition), it's as though we create a hole or dead spot in our being.
What a validation that this cleanse is the right thing to be doing and this is the right book to be reading.  As I sat contemplating this, I noticed Roxy.  My housemate is traveling and I have dog duty.  Roxy is an aging but still feisty pomeranian with a short, squatty body.  Her constant companion is Buddy, a large Shih Tsu.  Because Lynne's gone, they hang out on my bed ... except Roxy can't jump up to my bed and she has an old injury that makes it impossible to lift her without causing pain.  So, I put a small foot stool by the bed and she used it easily to get up to the bed.

However, this morning, I nudged it out of the way a bit.  It's still by the bed but using it would require an angled approach.  As I sat reading in my chair, Buddy hopped up on the bed and Roxy wanted to follow ... really wanted to follow, doing her normal yo-yo dance trying to use determination to overcome her physical limits.  Over and over she tried leaping onto the bed but to no avail.  In between the yo-yoing, she would go back to the stool and test it but there was something about the angle that intimidated her ... she couldn't see the path to her destination.  The process played out repeatedly.  Leaping, examining the stool, leaping again, examining the stool again.  

Finally, I moved the stool about three inches.  It was still the same distance from the bed but it made it more of a straight shot.  I patted the bed, said you can do it and she hopped onto the stool and then onto the bed like she had done it all her life and promptly went to sleep.

There's a lesson here ... perhaps many.  Roxy didn't want to take an interim step; she just wanted to leap onto the bed like her Buddy.  She also couldn't see the path when the stool was in an unfamiliar angle.  She didn't know she could do it.  It was only when it was in a more familiar position and I was encouraging her, that she did it easily and effortlessly.

So I ask myself:  What's the interim step, or steps, I'm missing?  Who or what do I need to encourage me to do what is really quite easy and simple?  I'll take these questions with me and know that it's not a bad beginning for my first day of my creativity cleanse.

About the image:  I've been picking up California buckeyes.  I love the color of them and when they dry out they darken and wrinkle and become even more beautiful.  I've read that if you oil them, they harden and become a very rich brown and don't wrinkle.  Anyway, I'm going to oil a bunch of them for the KPFA show in San Francisco.  They are supposed to be lucky so I'm going to give them away in the booth.  The leaves surrounding the buckeye are just leaves I've picked up on my deck ... not buckeye leaves.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: Day 1 Gift

I don't know if every day of this cleanse will produce a gift, but this one did.  About 4:45 I went out to walk the dogs.  I don't have a west view so I'm not keyed in to thinking about sunsets but about half way down the driveway, I looked east and almost fell over.  It looked like fire fighters had dropped phosphorescent orange across the pines and oaks.  They glowed ... no they were on fire.  It was one of the most unreal sights I had ever seen ... almost like the blaze of fall colors in the New England except it was just certain trees and certain branches on trees.  They took my breath away.  

I didn't have my camera so I had to decide whether to rush back and get it or just absorb the scene that was unfolding before me.  I knew it would change fast so I just tried to memorize it with my eyes so there is no picture I can share with you.  But, even if I had taken a picture, you would just think I had boosted the saturation too far.  I'm not even sure saturation goes as far as what I saw.  I've never seen anything like it.  We had a light overcast sky and an opening in the west and apparently just the right combination of light and angle created a spectacle that completely awed me.

What a gift!

Milton Glaser Monday: Secret #9

This is #9 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.

Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’ I got it on my birthday. I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last. Then I heard a marvellous joke that seemed related to rule number 10. A butcher was opening his market one morning and as he did a rabbit popped his head through the door. The butcher was surprised when the rabbit inquired ‘Got any cabbage?’ The butcher said ‘This is a meat market – we sell meat, not vegetables.’ The rabbit hopped off. The next day the butcher is opening the shop and sure enough the rabbit pops his head round and says ‘You got any cabbage?’ The butcher now irritated says ‘Listen you little rodent I told you yesterday we sell meat, we do not sell vegetables and the next time you come here I am going to grab you by the throat and nail those floppy ears to the floor.’ The rabbit disappeared hastily and nothing happened for a week. Then one morning the rabbit popped his head around the corner and said ‘Got any nails?’ The butcher said ‘No.’ The rabbit said ‘Ok. Got any cabbage?’

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creativity Cleanse: A 21-Day Adventure

I have a touch of discontent.  I'm not sure where it's coming from but I've noticed it over the past few weeks.  Perhaps it's because, in a strange way, my life is so good.  I've survived the past five years and have even written a book about it. (Title:  Joy after the Fire, when grief, loss and despair turn into New Seeds of Joy and Growth and it is winding its way through the Apple approval cycle and should be in iBookstore in a week or so.)  Many miracles have shown up in my life and maybe this discontent is just life settling into a less-dramatic, more "normal" level.

This low-level malaise is like a psychic hangnail, little but irritating.  I want to move past it.  Today I was struck by a program Laura Hollick offers called a 21-day Creativity Cleanse.  Laura is a stunningly beautiful woman and she explains the concept in this video ... while taking a shower and painting on her shower curtain!

I immediately realized that I had no idea what a "creativity cleanse" meant but something in me said that's exactly what I need.  The idea, if I understand it correctly, is to think about something you'd like to accomplish and then use creativity to help clear the blockages and barriers between where you are now and where you would like to be.

I'm sure Laura's program is terrific but I think I need to figure this out for myself.  But, I did go through a lot of Laura's materials and will pass along three tips she offers in one of her videos (she has a bunch on YouTube):
1.  Give yourself permission to fantasize, dream and imagine.  Put yourself in the land of possibility about what your life could be like.
2.  Honor your ideas as much as you would money that came to you unexpectedly. Write them down and celebrate them.
3.  Do some action that moves you in the direction of making the idea real.
So, my creativity cleanse starts tomorrow and I'm not sure what it will entail but I've decided that it needs to be physical, mental, spiritual and emotional so it will involve the following:
  • creating physical art ... mosaic, draw, color, paint
  • making a daily list of gratitudes
  • reading something uplifting every morning
  • indulging in sweet fantasy instead of sugar and junk food
  • being physical every day ... walk, yoga, aerobics
So, tomorrow morning begins the first of the 21-days.  I decided I might need help so I conjured up Dream Dancer (the image above) to guide me. We'll see what she brings me on this journey.

KPFA Crafts Fair - FREE Tickets

I am delighted to be participating in San Francisco's 41st annual KPFA Crafts Fair, December 10 &11.  

Julie Mitchell (spirt dolls) and I will be sharing Booth #100.  There are 220 booths of original designs in all media so please come see us!

I have 4 free tickets I'd love to share.  If you are going to be there and would like a ticket, leave a comment below.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Advantages of Being an "Ancient Artist"

One of my new favorite art bloggers is Sue Favinger Smith and her blog "Ancient Artist: Developing an Art Career after 50."

Today I found an old post about the advantages of being an older artist based on research reported by Martin S. Lindauer, in his book AGING, CREATIVITY, AND ART, A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development.

This was an interesting post for me because I have been carrying around some common prejudices even though I hadn't articulated them.  Here are a few:
  • I'm not a "real artist" because I didn't come out of the womb with a paint brush in my hand.
  • I'll never have a "real artist's" body of work because I didn't start early enough.
  • I'll never achieve real mastery because I haven't honed my craft for decades.
Those have mixed and mingled with other doubts ... no MFA, no art world "cred", and so on and so on.

So, it was interesting to read Sue's synopsis of Lindauer's conclusions:  (full post here)

According to Lindauer,  new research reveals that over time, creative people increase both the quality of their artistic output, and the quantity, over their lifetimes, with productivity peaking during their 60's, but the quality of the output remaining steady at the lifetime highs well into the 70's.

Even for artists working in their 80's, their quality ratings were higher -- get that, higher! -- than when  they were in their 20's and 30's.
How can this be?   
According to Lindauer, there are seven characteristics that distinguish "old artists and late art from young artists and youthful efforts." 
    • "Older artists have more knowledge and are less career oriented.
    • "They also have less energy - the only case where older artists were at a disadvantage to younger ones..."
    • "...which they compensated for with greater maturity, concentration, and self-acceptance."
    • "Older artists were also less critical than their younger counterparts."
    • "However, in two areas, creativity and experimentation, older artists were seen as equal to younger practitioners." (2003, pp.187-188)
Further, while discussing the age at which an artist's "Old Age Style" might emerge, Lindauer wrote, "...the 60-year-old artists, and many of the 70-year-olds who were studied, were 'too young' to have an old-age style."

Re-read that last part again: even the 70-year-olds were too young to have an old age style!
Thank you, Sue ... and Martin!  I know my art career will not look similar to someone who started in their 20s but sometimes I feel like I'm in hyper-mode.  In the 5 years that I've been seriously making digital collages, I can recognize three distinguishable styles.  If I were a "real artist,"  I could call them "periods."  Since I'm an "ancient artist," I just think of them as "doing what turns me on at the time" and allowing it to be different from day to day.

The image above Alone in the World comes from my first period where I made what I call "placescapes," where images from a specific place came together to create an impression of what I was feeling while I was there.