do it. create. walk and see. cut and paste. scratch and sniff.
do whatever you have to do to feed your soul.
this is my commitment.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

creatives need support

If you have been creating for several years, you probably are more aware of your creative cycles. Being that my sanity depends on documentation, I have been able to note specific times of the year, narrowed down to several weeks where my productivity is especially high.  

But what to do when you find yourself in a holding pattern?  Easiest (and hardest to practice) answer is to JUST KEEP GOING.

I have found myself in a holding pattern for over a month now.  The best way to describe this is that everything feels like it has been"tabled" regardless of the actions I am taking.

One way I manage these holding patterns is by creating my own check lists.  You can read about these here.  Another way I manage is to lean into my support system.

I met with this support system last week in the midst of a Minnesota snow storm.  I didn't feel like leaving the comfort of my studio on this particular day and, even though I'd experienced the opposite time and time again, I didn't have any thoughts that meeting with them would change my circumstances at all.

We spent over an hour together, noting what had been working and what was challenging.  They gave suggestions of actions to take.

I left this meeting feeling lighter and surprisingly, even though the snow storm had gotten worse, the drive home was easier.  And then, all of the sudden, the flood gates opened.  What had felt all stopped up for at least a month, started flowing freely.

I was reminded, once again, that the act of asking for help and receiving support is just as important as anything else.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

freedom to be

It was over one year ago on Thanksgiving that I attempted to get where I got today.  No kidding.

Imperfections in art are extremely attractive to me and, because of this, I am always attempting to loosen up around my painting.

When creating abstract work, imperfections may not be definable to the viewer.  For me, when creating an abstract painting, there is definitely a liberating, loose feeling that comes over me in the process.

Last spring I attended an art exhibit of a painter's abstract landscapes.  It felt empty to me.  Although the colors and composition of the work really spoke to me, it felt manufactured, too perfect.  I was disturbed by this, looking closely to find hints of what made each piece personal.

This experience confirmed my need to continue my explorations that allow me to loosen up.

I feel fortunate as an artist that I may have more freedom (from our culture) than most to be imperfect or messy.  For me, these imperfections in my work give each piece their own persona. And giving each and every subject I paint it's own persona is why I paint my subjects in the first place.

So why do we, as persons, strive so hard for perfection?  I have heard time and time again that "Perfection is boring" yet why are we imprisoned in our personal lives by this?  Why are we so uncomfortable with something that appears messy? And why is it so important to clean up or put away the mess AS SOON AS POSSIBLE?

If you struggle with perfectionism, you may want to start finding beauty in the imperfect.  Nature is an amazing source for THIS.

I had the amazing opportunity to meet a yoga therapist before the new year and have been taking classes from her this month.  In our last class she said (and I am paraphrasing), "When we are relaxed we are being ourselves.  When we are tense, we are trying to be someone else."

Relax.  Take a deep breath.  Be yourself.  Trying to match some ideal in your mind is just a waste of energy.  Spend that energy on discovering YOU.  I have to admit, our culture challenges this idea everyday but the more people who stand with themselves and this idea will allow others to do the same.

and THIS is my dream. 

To see the beginnings of this process (over one year ago), view here
In order to attempt to loosen up, I was solely creating with my non-dominant hand.

To see what I have been creating lately, view here

To purchase these originals see here

To view my abstract work, visit this link

The yoga therapist I am referring to is Marnie Bounds. Isn't it interesting that her tag line is "Come as you are"?  SO AWESOME

If you struggle with perfectionism and want to loosen up, I offer Creative Coaching.  See this link for more information. 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

blog special: chickens, llamas and cows

I have a limited amount of prints for sale!  These original paintings are printed on 11x8.5 80# cardstock, a standard size made easy for DIY matting and framing.  They are signed on the back, packaged with mat board backing in a cello (clear) sleeve and shipping is FREE.  Affordable gifts (think of them as a giant size version of a greeting card that can be easily framed!) and are guaranteed to send cheer to your nearest and dearest. Purchases will be shipped on Wednesday, February 10. 

3 available

chicken, llama or cow?

4 available

*Please note that these are not my fine art prints, printed on 100% cotton velvet paper 
with 1/2" white border.  You can find these available on my etsy site.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

children don't need sticker sheets, WE DO!

Making sticker sheets for your child? Make one for yourself!

More than likely, we, as fully functioning (ha!) adults, fall into one of two categories:
1. we need accountability or we don't really do anything
2. we do too much and don't give ourselves credit

A simple sticker sheet can assist in either category.

Get out a sheet of paper.  List the days of the week on the top.  List the categories on the left.  If you don't have stickers, don't wait until you find some to begin.  Start with your pencil or pen, marking an "X" by each category for each day.

If you need help with your categories, start with "have to", "need to", "want to".
It's a really good exercise to separate these out.  Sometimes we tell ourselves that something is a "have to" when really it is only a "need to".

Some of us will side step the "want to" and avoid this with excuses like "I just don't have the time".

If you give yourself a sticker chart:
1. you might see how out of balance you really are and (hopefully) make the proper adjustments
2. see what you are avoiding (and hopefully ask yourself why)

or, my favorite...
3. be your own witness to yourself of how you ARE showing up for your life

I challenge you to stick with your sticker sheet for three weeks.  Notice your patterns and, as you go, make the proper adjustments.

Take it a step further.  Complete AT LEAST one item from EACH category everyday.  Yeah, that's right.  Do a "have to", "need to" and MOST importantly, a "want to" everyday.

An avalanche of water won't make an impression.
A consistent drop of water will.
(and this is another way to) Create Everyday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

thank you

I just really wanted to express my appreciation to all the people (you know who you are) who are willing to look deep within and question their beliefs, motives and actions.  It takes SO MUCH courage to say I DON'T KNOW and to continue on towards our dreams (in the midst of not knowing).

Continuing (in the midst of the unknown) looks like this for me:
1. sitting here
2. practicing each day to the best of my ability
3. learning to lean into and trust what I  DO KNOW for now
(if we're honest with ourselves we really do know SOMETHING) 

This is the only action I have found that gets us to that I DON'T KNOW place.

Don't get me wrong.  It's never about the destination.  The destination is easy.  It's getting to the destination that takes so much re-committing.  Over and over again. 

I Have A Dream Weekday Workshop

Yesterday we came together and celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by creating art, reading books, and singing songs.

We started class by looking through different children's books on the subject of Martin Luther King and finding portraits of him by different illustrators.  After identifying one illustration as their source for inspiration, the children traced, cut, and used collage/drawing methods to complete their own portraits.

We discussed various ways of creating lines in art and the students used these methods to decorate the border of a Martin Luther King photograph.  The children also traced some of King's famous words.

We read some of Martin Luther King's famous quotes and some of the children chose to create an additional piece.

Over the course of the class, the children worked on creating their own letters for their DREAM posters.  Right before lunch, the children painted their posters as a group.

We took a snack break mid-class and read three books about Martin Luther King, Jr.  Many of the children are familiar with his story and message.  We discussed examples of how we might live out Martin Luther King's dream.  We also talked about our own dreams and how we might decide to take steps towards these.

p.s.  There were new songs added to the old playlist from last year.  Some of the students who participated in last year's workshop would respond with much enthusiasm when hearing some of these older songs.  ahhhh...sentiment.

Martin Luther King, Jenny Bird
MLK, Chicago Children's Choir
Your Grandpa Marched with Martin Luther King, Neil Comess Daniels
Martin Luther King, Jr. Gina Deeming
Martin Luther King, Cathy Fink
Martin Luther King, The Kiboomers
M.L.K., The King's Singers
Martin Luther King, Frank Leto
The Ballad of Martin Luther King, Mike Millius
 We Shall Overcome, Bruce Springstein
Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, Trout Fishing in America
Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote, Wee Sing
Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder

to the tune of "The Old Man"
Let Us Keep His Dream Alive
This young man had a dream;
In his eye he had a gleam.
We must love each other to survive.
Let us keep his dream alive.

He believed man was good;
He had dreams of brotherhood.
We must love each other to survive.
Let us keep his dream alive.

All hands join, let us sing;
Let the bells of freedom ring.
We must love each other to survive.
Let us keep his dream alive.

We can learn from the past;
Then we'll all be "free at last!"
We must love each other to survive.
Let us keep his dream alive.

For remaining January classes, view this link
For February classes, view this link

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

fear and misery turned faith and hope

When there is a significant life event (such as yesterday's) that effects so many of us in my generation and culture, I usually try to find something I can glean from it and take with me.  I found this quote yesterday from David Bowie: 

When asked the question: "What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?"
He responded with: "Living in Fear."

I have learned and shared with others, now, for (what seems like) a long time that if we would just pare the motives for our actions down to faith or fear, we'd all be so much better off.  Most of our instinctual, "gut" reactions are fear based.  It takes a certain discipline to refrain from acting on this and sit with the discomfort and wonder.  If we acted out of faith, what would our action be?  In most cases, it might be to not act at all (at least not right away or for the time being).  This is more difficult than any practice I currently have and yet it always pays off.  Have you tried it?  The waiting can be excruciating.  As a side note, I've found it particularly beneficial to distract myself with something that assumes all of my attention OR drown the personal fear based scenarios in my head with affirmation.

I am definitely not saying this is easy. 
But I figure, as David Bowie said,
fear = misery
and, I'll take it one step further:
faith = hope

With a little time spent reflecting on David Bowie's life yesterday, I found a quote that Iman posted a few weeks ago.  The source is unknown but the quote goes like this: 

This just takes our fearful thinking to an entirely different level, doesn't it?  What WOULD obsessing about our positive qualities be like?  I mean, we spend so much time wishing and hoping we did the smallest (or even the largest) things differently, what would it actually be like if we spent all that time ruminating on our best qualities?  Is that scary?  Why?  Maybe it's time to make a list of what our best qualities are and even if we can only think of one at a time, spend our time obsessing on THAT.   I think our world would become a better place.

p.s. I mean, don't we want this for our children?  To obsess about their good qualities?  So, why don't we want this for ourselves?  Do we think we should know better?  I still believe we know less than children do (so this argument carries no weight for me).  Do you have another one?

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Art of Diagramming and artist, Agnes Martin

Yesterday, we worked intensely collecting data, creating diagrams and learning how to read/interpret graphs.

After experimenting with collecting data in the classroom and creating our own bar graphs, pie graphs and line graphs, we shared a snack and read the book titled, Making Graphs written by Bridget Heos and illustrated by Katya Longhi.

Before the second half of class, I introduced the artist, Agnes Martin and we all looked at images of her work.  Martin was described as a minimalist but referred to herself as an Abstract Expressionalist.  Much of her work consists of grids created in muted color.  Martin believed her work to represent sublime serenity, balance and harmony.  She was quoted to say, "Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings."

We also saw a few images of the artist's notes she made in preparation for creating her grids.  They consisted of many numbers and equations!

I think the children worked so intensely on creating and or reading graphs, they were more excited than ever to paint!  I was surprised that all of the children maintained the theme of grids and pie diagrams when applying their paint.  Even if their paintings look other than, know that there is a representation of a grid or diagram underneath!

I look forward to seeing some of you for the Martin Luther King Day Weekday Workshop on Monday, January 18.

For more classes in January, see this link
For classes in February, visit this link

Some parents have contacted me regarding hosting Weekday Workshops over their children's spring break.  Let me know if you are interested in seeing classes scheduled during the week of March 28 - April 1.

Monday, January 4, 2016

letting go of the how and paying attention to the what

It's a New Year and a NEW time!

The New Year can be an exciting and inspiring time.  We can feel the urge to set new intentions, shift things around, change things up and let things go.  The possibility of change in a positive direction adds a lightness to our step and fills us with possibility.  

And then, all of the sudden, some of us have a tendency to collapse into our old ways and that lightness of possibility just doesn't feel so light anymore.  

 I am convinced this is because we get caught up in "the how".

We've all had that flicker of possibility at one time or another regarding something that inspires us. This doesn't necessarily happen over the new year, either.  It can happen anywhere and anytime.

Well, that flicker is something that can be extinguished as quickly as it's ignited.
If we follow the flicker with our logical, linear way of thinking, all of the sudden we get caught up in how the shift is going to happen, our idea is going to manifest, etc. and we end up giving up on our inspiration or idea before we even start.

It's counter-cultural, I know, but, trust me, we aren't in charge of "the how".   What we are responsible for is holding onto that idea that inspires us and taking small steps toward that idea on a daily and weekly basis.  If we focus on the gratitude for the inspiration itself, "the how" eventually takes care of itself.

This NEW Year, walk with your ideas and inspirations, each day, into a different compartment on the sidewalk.  Just move forward, sideways (or backwards) little by little.  With movement, we learn and we get closer.

If you are interested in a more tangible way of keeping your eye on the prize, you may want to check out my New Year Creative Workshop.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also appreciate:

Happy New Year, Friends!  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

winter break WEEKDAY WORKSHOPS (2 of 2)

Edgeworlds,  Jamie Kinroy artist
It's fascinating to examine art that is drawn directly on the walls.

exploring positive and negative space (inspired by Ellsworth Kelly)

International Modernism exhibit
Standing Witness, Catherine Meier, artist
Hand drawn animation inspired by the artist's experiences at the Sage Creek Campground in the Badlands of South Dakota.  If you see pages of scribbling in sketchbooks pages, the children were most likely mimicking the wind in the grass here.

Happy Birthday, Jack!

collage birds inspired by Steve Jenkins author and illustrator
The book, Mama Built a Little Nest was our inspiration when creating these birds.  This book was written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  

white charcoal drawings inspired by the book,
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Trees Lovely as a Poem exhibit
We paired this study with the latest book about E.E.Cummings titled, Enormous Smallness written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kris Di Giacamo

Yoshitomo Nara's Your Dog is always a popular stop

Eliza and Jack with Frank by Chuck Close
view WEEK 1 here

view last year's winter break WEEKDAY WORKSHOPS here