Thursday, December 29, 2011

Calling All Women Who Have "Been There"

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

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

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

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

About this image:  "Circle of Friends"

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Leap Will You Make in 2012?

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

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

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

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

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

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

About this image:  "Coyote the Teacher"

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jim Denevan: Master of Impermanence

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

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

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

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

I highly recommend this video.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Squidoo to You, Too

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

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

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

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

About this image:  A Day at the Beach

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

A New Gallery - the E3 Way

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Veni, Vidi, No Vici

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting these two was worth the price
of admission.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

10 Top Reasons for Buying Art

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Care 1-2-3

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

Easy Care 1-2-3

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

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

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

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Toenail Cell Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Different!

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

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Choice & Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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