Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ginny's Garden

Over the past couple of years, I've met many artists and it's always fun and awe-inspiring to see their creativity in action.  Along the way, however, I've met four who seem to fall into a different category … one that I've been calling "extreme creatives" … people whose creativity is an unstoppable flood that gets channeled into their environment.  One well-known example is Watts Towers, created by one man, Simon Rodia over 34 years.  The artists I've met … all women … are not famous but they are each remarkable.

Last weekend, I visited Ginny Mancuso in Atascadero and saw her Enchanted Forest, an ever-changing work of art where Ginny wields a concrete-mixer the way most artists handle a brush.  She has created free form concrete stumps, walls, fountains and fantasy environments on the blank canvas of land she purchased in the 70s.  In this art-filled world, there is also an outdoor bathtub … not so unusual other than the fact that this one is fully functional and in a setting so inviting she could charge a fee that I would gladly pay for the privilege of bathing in that sanctuary.  

There's also an open air toilet … fully functional, an outdoor sleeping room, several outdoor sitting areas, tea party alcoves and a few dining areas.  After building her house, her contractor asked her why she bothered with the house and she replied that she needed some place to keep her stuff.

Everywhere you look, there are words, color, sparkle, fairies, dragons, and magic.  After visiting with Ginny and being invited to come back at night when it lights up (an offer I will definitely accept), I made a piece of art from her art garden.  I'll share that and just a couple of photos from her garden with the hope that they inspires you as much as they did me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Both And

Bright bits of beauty,
Flawed, shadowed tangles,
Partners in time and space,
Never separate,
Never either or,
Always both and … 

Now that we have entered the full-blown campaign season,
may we all remember that each of us is both and,
that the past and present of our country is both and,
that our future depends on respecting both and.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Olalaberry Lonesome

Last night I picked up "Ordinary Genius," a book on poetry by Kim Addonizio,  It's been on my bookshelf for a long time, but shortly after I opened it, I realized I was famished … starving … hungry … no more like … lonesome for words.  One word … olalaberry … broke open the memory of that sweet tickle of words on my tongue and in my mind.  Suddenly I longed for words ... ambergris ... aardvark ... adenoids ...alchemy ... antediluvian ...anthropomorphic … annihilate ….  Words like lost lovers began to call to me … come play with me … .

Kim suggested an exercise of making a list of our 50 favorite words and later making a poem from them … so here's the start of my list … please share some of your favorite words … let's feed each other … let's make it a game … I'll start with five and you can add five but they must be different than mine or any others added here.  I've decided to start with 5 "j" words … you might limit yours to one letter also … or just play ... gambol ... romp ... cavort ... revel ... frolic ... fiddle ... trifle ... have fun!

The start of my list:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Idea to Steal: Ninja Surprise

There was nothing in my mailbox yesterday except one small postcard.

That's not all that unusual these days … "snail mail" for anything other than bills or catalogs is increasingly rare.

But this little card was different … hand written with a quick drawing of an otter … it was a "Ninja Surprise" card from Abby who works for MailChimp.  She dropped me a note in the mail just to say she liked my last email campaign (their term for sending out a message to a list of subscribers … something I do about once a month or so.)  Of course, I know this is probably a standard program at MailChimp … but it made me smile ... it made an impression.

We talk about poor customer service a lot … it seems only fair to talk about the exceptional service instances … like someone taking a moment out of her busy day to make a personal connection.  I was so delighted that I went to MailChimp's instant chat support function (another service that has proved very useful) and when I told the person who answered that I wanted to say thanks to Abby, he immediately transferred me to her and we "chatted."  

She has taught herself to draw cute animals so that she can enhance her Ninja notes and she was so delighted that I took the time to say thanks that she is now sending me a shirt, too.  What an amazing circle of connection.  

And, how much did this simple postcard increase my loyalty to MailChimp?  Probably beyond calculation.  Right now I am a "free" account but I hope my mail list grows to the point where I can become one of their paying customers.  When that time comes, one of the many reasons I'll stay with MailChimp is because of that small note from Abby.

So, the question is … how could you use the idea of sending a "Ninja Surprise" to your clients and customers?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Triumph of the Hexagon

Last night I dreamed I was running away from a volcano but the land I was running across was hexagonal tiles which were constantly shifting and uprising.  This morning I started exploring the dream symbols of volcanoes and hexagon and came across this video which I find particularly captivating and inspiring.   I love the music so much I bought it from iTunes: Excalibur O Fortuna. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Much Do You Love Color?

Do you think Ruskin is right?  Tell us how much you love color ... or share your favorite color quote.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Walk on a Rainbow Trail

Walk on a rainbow trail; 
walk on a trail of song, 
and all about you will be beauty. 
There is a way out of every dark mist, 
over a rainbow trail.

-- Robert Motherwell

I came across this quote yesterday and started putting it together with an image while wondering just what it means to walk a rainbow trail.  I started in a "normal" fashion overlaying rainbows on path images ... which just looked stupid.  Thinking I was using the wrong path, I tried three times before giving up and just playing around with shapes. I almost laughed out loud when this shape literally jumped outside the box.

Here's more information about Motherwell, whose words speak louder to me than does his art.
“To end up with a canvas that is no less beautiful than the empty canvas is to begin with.”
In 1940, a young painter named Robert Motherwell came to New York City and joined a group of artists — including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline — who set out to change the face of American painting. These painters renounced the prevalent American style, believing its realism depicted only the surface of American life. Their interest was in exploring the deeper sense of reality beyond the recognizable image. Influenced by the Surrealists, many of whom had emigrated from Europe to New York, the Abstract Expressionists sought to create essential images that revealed emotional truth and authenticity of feeling.
Robert Motherwell was the youngest and most prolific of the group. Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1915, Motherwell first hoped to be a philosopher. His studies at Stanford and Harvard brought him into contact with the great American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, who first challenged him with the notion of abstraction. What he took from Whitehead was the sense that abstraction was the process of peeling away the inessential and presenting the necessary. After moving to New York and becoming acquainted with a number of artists, Motherwell recognized in them similar desires.  (From article.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I am an artist ...

Whether you're a singer, teacher, dancer, sales person, painter, gardener, poet, accountant, parent, project planner or student of life ... this quote is for you.

This image is available as a 6"x8" tile.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Picasso's Mother

Yesterday my blog sister Louise at Recover Your Joy posted a quote that startled me and set me to thinking:

When I was a child my mother said to me, 
'If you become a soldier, 
you'll be a general. 
If you become a monk, 
you'll be the pope.' 
Instead I became a painter 
and wound up as Picasso.  
  -- Pablo Picasso

I missed the class that taught me how to truly appreciate Picasso's art … but his words often blow open a closed door in my mind.

Think about this quote which is wise on so many levels.

Would Picasso have become Picasso if his mother hadn't opened the world to him?

Why don't we hear more about his mother?  What manner of woman must she have been to say such words to her child, to lay endless paths of possibilities before him?

What might we do with those words in our own lives?  Is it possible that, even if our own mothers did not quite paint such endless possibilities for us, that we could, even now, mother ourselves? 

Could we say those words that give us the permission to go to the far reaches of our own possibilities, to step fully into our own authentic selves?  

We don't have to be a general or a pope … we don't even have to be a ground-shifting artist … but what a gift it would be ... could be ... to be wholly, jubilantly our own selves.

About this image: Awakening

when things seem quiet, 
when nothing is moving, 
when all seems dormant, 
behind us,
without effort,
without expectation,
the blue light of tomorrow
and becomes