Tag Archives: HEROS & INSPIRATIONS

touch…

I was listening to this from Ray Charles yesterday. He mentions how he is grateful for his sense of touch. I am too.

When I was younger, under certain conditions, my sense of touch and my experience of colours intermingled (synesthesia). While I am highly sensitized to colour, I would say that touch is the sense that I am the most keenly aware of.

As an artist, using my hands -touch- in making visual art is an inexorable part of my creative process; it is what makes it a visceral experience.

Flora Bowley (who I only know through her videos) so aptly captures the spirit of this in her art making process. Go… check her out.

onward march…

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(close up of a new hand bound journal cover I am in the process of making)

Another year begins. It never ceases to amaze me how life moves along and the unexpected always happens (and somehow surprises me, because I expect things to remain constant despite knowing full well that they never are).

I begin the year with the knowledge that how things flow is largely dependent upon my own actions.

Some observations:

  • I become disconnected from myself when I neglect my urge to create.
  • Working with colour gives me joy and feeds me in a way that only it can.
  • Meditation is not an option but a requisite.
  • Discipline is the only path to accomplishment.
  • Bliss is to be found everywhere, all the time.
  • Shiva Paintstiks will rub off on your keyboard if you don’t wash your hands before typing.
  • Ideas are like popcorn kernels; store them in a jar until you are ready to make them pop.
  • Community, whether real or virtual, feeds the soul just as well as solitude; both are necessary to thrive.

Giving thanks to Effy Wild who went live on Ustream today and inspired me to create a new journal.

To a joyous, blissful, productive and enlightened new year.

Art… where art thou…

I’ve felt a rant coming on for days now.

It’s really interesting to see what’s going on out there in the crafty worlds… I stepped away from it all a while ago, mostly because there really wasn’t a huge community of folks around in the new land I now call home, and also because, well, frankly, I got tired of everything looking homogenous. Pretty, certainly… aesthetically pleasing, definitely… but… homogenous.

Since being laid off last month I have had some extra time to kill, looking to revitalize my visual art practice and so have been poking around again to see what was out there. I’ve long since given up on the publications that cater to the craft industry (for the reasons above), not only because things they showcase are repetitive in nature but because the publications themselves over time become cost prohibitive. Truly there is little in each issue that I find stimulating, and hardly worth the price of admission for a few relevant pages of eye candy. I fare better with books, but that too becomes costly after a time, and there aren’t that many worthwhile ones published (insofar as this category).

With that said, living in a creative vacuum can be limiting sometimes, and being involved in a community of creative people is empowering and enriching… so off I went to the interwebs to see what I could find.

There is some cool stuff going on out there, for sure, but on many levels it’s still the same ole thing… there is a bandwagon to be jumped on (can you say stencils? modelling paste? gelatos?) and people are churning out the same ole “stuff”, and in order to find innovation and originality I once again find that I have to go outside of and away from the usual suspects. I must turn to the illustrators, designers, graphic and typographical artists, etc., in order to find things that will spark inspiration and engender within me the urge to innovate.

Now I realize that we all do this “art” stuff for different reasons, and for some (myself included) it serves multiple purposes, but why is there always such a frenetic buzz around the “it” things while there is also an immense void in the internalization of the processes underlying the material techniques – why is there no incubation of sorts, and then a proliferation of novel ideas and visions with said materials? (Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places?)

The product “designers” all churn out the same old stuff, the products proliferate in the market place and so more of the same stuff gets created and there is a literal flood of sameness. And I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s not all great stuff. A lot of it isn’t even good stuff. It’s akin to the dreaded gad-awful knitted jumper Aunt Flo gives you for Christmas every year.

But I get it… that is the nature of craft and the industry. It’s all about the consumption of materials to create prolifically. Capitalism at its finest in the guise of self-satisfied “artistic” entitlement.

I’ve always associated “craft” with workmanship and also, in a sense, innovation. In order for it to remain relevant I believe it has to evolve and change and gain meaning and yearn for a sense of longevity.

I also get the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage… clearly there are benefits to sticking with tried and true methods and processes and creative births. A formula that is working is a good thing, to some extent. I do the same thing with my stuff (oftentimes)… I create in the same way, using the same materials, and with similar subject matter… but my work has changed and evolved over the years, and it is diversified – I will try just about anything just to see what the medium is like and whether I like to work in it and especially to determine if it is the one best suited to the expression of the “thing” that I am trying to express.

So I guess that’s where it starts. Creation isn’t a random process. Something niggles and quickens and wants to be borne into the world in some form or another. You get to deliver it through some semblance of mastery of the materials you work with/in, honing your skills so they are able to translate those ephemeral visions from within to without, becoming knowledgeable enough in the mediums to determine which will be the best suited for its fullest expression and daring to try to deviate from that which you’ve done before (or is the norm) in order to breach your imagined limitations.

Skill. Happy mistakes. Explorations. Personal aesthetic. Curiosity. Drive. Purpose. Vision.

These constitute a pretty good formula for creative expansion, but there is no template to follow. In fact if you don’t break free from a template almost as soon as you work with it once, you aren’t digging deep enough.

Let me clarify…. there is a difference between developing and working repetitively in your own style versus regurgitating another’s work and calling it art.

There… I feel much better now. Rant over.

first step to joy: (doing) nothing

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The title prompt is what Martha Beck suggests as the first of ten daily practices for a happier life (as outlined in The Joy Diet). I have been doing a whole lot of nothing for a while now, and feeling guilty about the lack of productivity. I do “guilt” well.

The truth of the matter is, I haven’t drawn or pulled out my art supplies for quite some time. I think it has to do with the emotional/head space I must be in to create – I must be quiet and still to hear where the medium wishes to take me, or to write out what my internal dialog is saying, neither of which seems to be my natural (or indeed self-induced) state lately. Frenetic, maybe. Despondent, maybe. Hugely dissatisfied, maybe. Listless, maybe. But definitely not quiet nor still. Certainly not both at the same time.

Lately I have been embarrassed by my inner dialog, as it touches on things that I haven’t wanted to consciously address, contenting myself with acknowledging that things were not right and good yet not yet prepared to attend to righting them. Somehow those things have a way of catching up to you, and if you don’t make the choices that very obviously need to be made, the universe urges them along on your behalf. More than once in the recent months I have asked It to be gentle with me; to bring change but in a gentle and less painful manner than in the past.

Hence the unexpected (though perhaps largely overdue) boot out of our old place into a new one (which, though more costly, is also a much better space in more ways than I can enumerate – feeling extreme gratitude for this) and a small claims court notice that arrived this week from someone who I had buried deep within myself in an attempt to heal myself from the sharpness of what transpired between us, much like an oyster does with the grain of sand that eventually becomes a pearl.

Unfortunately his patience with my process was not as generous as my own need for it was, and so I am having to look at finding a resolution to something I had not yet been prepared to address.

Such is life, and here I am, examining the wound and finding a way to heal myself of its cause. While I understand that the wounding and how I chose to participate was of my own doing, I also feel that acknowledging that another person’s actions did not have my best interests at heart even while holding their own interest out for my consideration. While what occurred was done with my consent, it was still inconsistent with right and honourable action, even within his own paradigm. My lesson here is in my choosing and accepting terms which did not sit well with my deepest self, the resulting fallout being a feeling of self-betrayal – so not once but twice betrayed.

This is one story of many other stories which have collectively shaped who I am today, and many more will come before the last and final story comes. I know I am not alone in the making of poor choices, and while they are uncomfortable and make us squirm they also sharpen and hone who we become (for the better) once all is said and done. If nothing else, they certainly provide much in the way of creative fodder for my written endeavours.

All this also happens to coincide with my taking part in a group reading (rereading, in my case) of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With The Wolves, which is facilitating this self-examination in what will hopefully be a gentle and supportive manner. After listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability this weekend, I realize that I am not alone in my struggles; that what I wish for most from those I reach out to during my most difficult moments is empathy vs. sympathy and that should the same be expected of me, that I am wise enough to extend the same in kind.

softness

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The gently falling snow reminded me of this Vonnegut verse that my friend Kelly Kilmer shared on Facebook today:

‎Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place. ~Kurt Vonnegut

legends and inspirations

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Well… I almost missed my date with greatness. My alarm was set to ring early; I awoke with a start at 8:40 (late, late, late) realizing that I hadn’t reset the alarm to ring on a weekend day. So alarmed, I threw clothes on and ran out the door. Traffic cooperated and I made it into town in record time (I had intended to take transit – oh well).

I met Colleen near the office and we drove to Granville Island with enough time to spare for an inhaled cup of some JJ Bean dark roast and a chocolate almond croissant from L’Échalotte et al. Breakfast of champions (you know… sumo wrestlers).

Hundreds of people are packed into the theatre, many no doubt like me waiting to be in awe by the grande dame of Canadian literature. Peggy (as she is many times addressed by her writing peers during the panel but whom most of the world knows as Margaret) is to Canadian literature (or literature in general) what Judi Dench is to the theatre. Resplendent. And incredibly funny.

All of the panel participants are wonderful and provide great Insight both into the historical aspect of Canadian literature throughout the latter half of the twentieth century and into this one. Savvy. Something I am (perhaps obstinately) not. The arts are a fickle realm to operate in – we all wish to indulge the creative genie living in each of us but we are seldom able to make a living doing only that (because, as was mentioned during the discussions, there is a popular notion that the results of our endeavours should be free because why should people pay for something that we had so much fun in creating?).

At the end of the panel they pulled a name out of a hat – let me correct that to Margaret Atwood pulled Colleen’s name out of a hat… a brilliant stroke of luck since their original method for awarding the prize (which was from the publishing house Anansi and included a gorgeous black leather bag stuffed full of their ten newly released A-List titles, and an A-List Roots t-shirt) was a bust when they realized many people had chucked their feedback forms into the recycle bin – we never even got one. Since Colleen purchased both of our tickets she had the grace to share some of the spoils, and I’m looking forward to reading (for the first time, I’m ashamed to admit) Graeme Gibson’s Five Legs.

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Recently (at one of the north by northwest studio 2 book club recordings I attended), one of the audience members asked the eternal question of the unpublished wannabe published author: what do I need to do to be published? In response one expects to receive concise directions (a formula, really) and names (preferably with a “hey, I’ll hook you up”). I remember because I was that person, asking that question (and hoping for that response) some time ago. Until I had an ah-ha moment. I’m still unpublished but I realize now that that is the wrong question. It’s not about the deal or the money or the contact name – it’s about writing and the craft of writing, loving to do it so much that the process is in itself the reward, and because not doing it would break your heart and leave you somehow incomplete. Not that writing things like Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray don’t bring huge monetary reward (though they are flukes of the highest kind) but because the kinds of things I wish to write I wish them to crawl under your skin and settle into your heart and psyche, and maybe, just maybe, you will want to read them again. And I still have so much to learn on how to achieve that, but at least I am now asking the right questions.

Celebrating… friendship

It’s been sunny and cool here in Southern California. I spent Saturday with my friend Bonnie in celebration of her birthday, and went to see the Dan Eldon exhibit in Santa Monica. It was small but worth the trip. We had a late lunch at Anisette Brasserie, which was delicious and beautifully appointed. The restaurant was in a renovated bank building, so there were high ceilings, and they’ve imported tiles and different things from France to give it a French “brasserie” feel. We ordered several things off of the menu and shared… everything was delicious… my choice were the mussels, and they were absolutely delicious!

This weekend I picked up a couple of graphic novels… proving once again what a geek I really am. And, proving also that I am consistent in my tastes, I picked up a book that I already had… Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), by J. Michael Straczynski, who is also the creator of Babilon 5 (though I never watched the series… somehow television lost its appeal early in my marriage, since my husband’s viewing habits were mostly limited to sports networks and perhaps the news… and then when Gabriel was born, kid’s networks and the science and/or discovery channels–which I do enjoy). I have Vol. 1, which is a compilation of the first eight comics of the series… there are four more compilations of this sort, which I can never seem to find more of in the comic book stores (but was able to find on Amazon).

Another graphic novel I picked up was The Last One, which was written by J.M. deMatteis and illustrated by Dan Sweetman… the story is right up my alley (and fabulous in my opinion)… it’s about an angel… the last of the “old ones”… still living amongst humans… it’s a lovely story (though somewhat dark and gritty yet filled with hope), and it’s also beautifully illustrated… beautifully lined/penned and colored.

I’m still working on my February chapbook pages… they’re taking a bit longer to put together as each page has eight eyelets attached (which means hole-punching… attaching and setting each of them) and also five “danglies” per page that also require eyelets (for a total of 13 eyelets per page), which then need to be attached to the page with leather string. Me and my bright ideas…

Another Moleskine sketch

Playing with my water soluble color pencils (though I didn’t apply any water to them this time… at least not so far). I found out that Barron Storey now has a blog from my friend Kelly… woo-hoo! I’m a huge fan of Barron’s work and have one of his pieces hanging in my bedroom. Hope to see more of his stuff… maybe at San Diego Comicon.

Changing… shifting… into self

 

Not yet completed entry from Moleskine Journal

I have been listening to Rick Jarow’s The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide: The Inner Path to Finding Your Work in the World  in which he says that in order to effect change, one must get angry enough. Perhaps I have not quite gotten there, but I feel it simmering just below my surface. I believe that the anger must be strong enough to overcome the fear. I am almost there and ready to plunge into my destiny.As a trained SoulCollage facilitator, I received the most recent newsletter in which founder Seena Frost commented on how it is her hope “…that SoulCollage has the capacity, through all of you, to awaken people to greater consciousness. I hope that by balancing chaotic energies within one’s personal soul, this soul will go on to help balance chaotic energies in families and communities and even administrations!” She goes on to say that she will be listening in to the Oprah/Eckhart Tolle Skype discussions, which debuted on Monday. I also listened to this talk after the fact and may well listen in to the rest. My feeling was that the last thing I needed to do was to read another book of this type. There are so many already out there, and all of them simply rehash the same concepts and present them in a different manner.

My thoughts on the awakening of the soul is this: there has to be an innate desire to do so, and if a person is not “ready” to receive the information, it will all seem like so much mumbo-jumbo. I believe that people are either born with the capacity for a higher consciousness or they are not, or that some life-altering event triggers something in the soul and makes them so. I think that the broad reach of many of these lines of thought is wonderful, and exposes people to new possibilities who would perhaps not have been exposed due to the cultural or social conditions they live in.

I find human nature disturbing. Not the various parts of ourselves, which through SoulCollage many (myself included) are able to reintegrate into themselves and honor, instead of disown. How much better each of us would be if we recognized within ourselves all of the different aspects of ourselves and acknowledged them, seen who was showing up and were able to greet them with familiarity and respect? Perhaps all of our parts would behave at a higher level then, not just acting out like ignored children yearning for attention, but as honored guests who know they can contribute something worthwhile.

But all of this work takes immense courage, the courage to delve into the messy middle of ourselves, and those who dwell on the surface of themselves… their lives… simply do not want to undertake the expedition. Some are busy being victims and victors, and are so exhausted from their daily battles that taking on the task of excavating themselves is simply overwhelming. Others simply go about with a sort of head static interrupting the soul’s signaling for expansion. They are the judges and jurors… the pigeon-holers… the ones who criticize everyone they come into contact with and yet are unable to recognize their own inadequacies, but will justify their behavior, good or otherwise, because they must in order to ignore the inner gnawing that occasionally manages to emerge… to tell them that something is off. These are but a few examples of many possible variations.

Perhaps there is a sense in all of us of a great, impending change that must occur soon, and because change is perceived as a bad thing and triggers the reflexes that reverts the brain into a rather primitive state, there is a scramble for upholding the status quo until the very last moment. It will get uglier before it gets better I think. And we are back to these wonderful tools that are available to those who are ready to make the shift… to go within… to look at the world from the inside of themselves before turning their eyes outward.