Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

From New York City: some journal pages from our Rock Center/Times Square Holiday wanderings (that's my youngest daughter and my nephew, and husband there, too):

"Don't explain, enjoy." --Darby Bannard

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Two more days of 2008 and I am still in my "assess the year" mind.
Making journal pages sure does help.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." --Melody Beattie

Monday, December 29, 2008

what it is vs. what I thought it would be

as the end of the year approaches, I find myself looking back (reading old journals really is both wonderful and sort of terrible) and looking forward - making files for the new year, filling out calenders, getting ready for budgeting in a new way.
The kids are bigger -- bigger problems, bigger needs. . . .
The house is smaller, and seems like there is less money.
But my wisdom is growing, and I have learned this at least:
1. the first noble truth is that life is suffering and that this helps us learn and grow
2. my studio is awesome and my safe haven
3. my husband loves me and is very supportive
4. I have awesome creative beautiful children who are turning into awesome creative beautiful adults

NOW on to 2009 and more wisdom to accept what life gives, wisdom for finding some solutions to what can be solved, and gratitude for all.

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” -- James M. Barrie

Sunday, December 28, 2008


going through my older journals - the first ones I kept were just lines and lines of words on paper.
then, several years down the road, a few sketches or photographs got added here and there.
then, years passes, and there was some decoration of the page.
finally, now - it's mostly images.
Images, and colors, and some words.
but sometimes words still are part of what I want to save, words are still helping me express some ideas that my journals record for me.
Since words mostly come from that left brain rational intellectual critic part of the brain, I am very careful not to start with them.
but if they want to pop in here and there, in between the spaces of the intuitive brain, I let them. . . .
and sometimes, a letter or written journal entry gets to hang out with the images.
sometimes there are groups of words that are very meaningful and something I want to archive in my journal.

but I am letting images be mostly how I communicate.
words slip out all too easily and I seem to have not have controlled them nearly well enough in my lifetime, I trust images much more.

"It's all the unwordable things one wants to write about, just as it's all the unformable things one wants to paint – essence." --Emily Carr

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

mystery, JOY

This is the eve of a day many people find great mystery and joy. Little Linus' words from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, "I bring you tidings of great joy . . . . for unto us is born a savoir" never fail to make me sense the eternal presence of something greater than myself.
and there is the key.
To sense that Presence.
I need to connect with that mystery, that force of love that many call God, Yahweh, Truth, Spirit, Stillness . . . . .
if the birth of a baby makes us feel great hope, if people need a savior, or something to remind them that we all need saving, than that is okay with me.
I am a Pagan - I believe in the animate force of life in all things of this Earth - so my worship is not in a Church; but I understand that we each find our mystery in our own way, and today and tomorrow, many of us in the world will slow down, enjoy each others' company, maybe exchange a gift or two, gather together to eat some good food, and know that life, although so full of pain and great difficulty, is worth celebrating.

Happy Holidays. . . . .

"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life." --Rachel Carson

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a world of difference.

My journal pages are not about pretty pictures.
they are messy collages of this and that, words here and there, and suddenly, I see something or know something I didn't know before.
I play.
I make a mess.
I cut and tear and color and write.
I just sort of see what happens.
and something usually does.

"I don't go into the studio with the idea of "saying" something. What I do is face the blank canvas and put a few arbitrary marks on it that start me on some sort of dialogue." --Richard Diebenkorn

Monday, December 22, 2008


What does your day look like today?
are you able to stop and take a deep breath (or a few) look all around you and see beauty?
are you able to look deeply into another person's eyes and tell them how much you love them?
are you able to prepare food or perhaps a space or maybe a gift with loving intention to bless the person you are doing this work for?
are you able to look in the mirror and be grateful for either the youthful beauty you have or for the well-earned lines of wisdom that living has graced you with?
I hope you can make this day a day of health, make it with love and intention, and if you can make some art, for yourself in a journal or in something you create for others, be thankful for adding beauty to the world on this one day, the shortest day of the year.
Art = Love = Health.

"The pursuit of art on a regular basis may be the key to healing our minds and bodies." --Kim Blair

Sunday, December 21, 2008

and why not?

"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." --Katharine Hepburn

Friday, December 19, 2008


"Look for echoes. Sometimes the same shape or direction will echo through the picture." --Robert Henri

Thursday, December 18, 2008

on the fringes of eternity. . . .

What is it?
about certain images, certain combinations of words, that just seem to go deep within us and penetrate some mundane-brain autopilot that we usually operate with.
I was messing around in photoshop, layering photos over paintings, paintings again over the layers, adding bits of color, and suddenly, I stopped.
The image just grabbed me.
I know at this point to print it out and put in the journal, write some words, see what comes out.
But the funny thing with this image, the words just didn't come.
I was moved just by the image.
I have read that certain images, photographs perhaps, can change the tide of a war, certain images can move people beyond what any words can do.
"A picture is worth a thousand words. . . . "
There are iconic images that stay with us.
Some place in the brain where we feel emotion is also where information is stored about what we see.
So, playing in images in our journals helps us get to that inner emotional place.

Yesterday my son told me about seeing a huge full moon rising over Hearst Castle in San Francisco, and how he wished so much he had his camera -- but we agreed that the image will stay with him embedded in his memory, even if he could not capture it.

I find that being outside helps me see the eternity we are all living in.
Sky, water, tree, rock, cloud, landscape. . . . part of the Gaia world in which all life is connected.
My camera, my journal, sketching, and just seeing all help me remember this.

and here is that journal page:

"We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realization that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman." --Ansel Adams

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

so you want to live a creative life?

Guess what - you are going to have to work harder and longer and with more hurdles than you ever imagined.
You will confront obstacles that you find ridiculous and awful.
Most people you cross paths with will be saying to you:
But you have to keep on.
The dominant culture does not always see the beauty/importance/worth of the creative path.
The dominant culture is not out to help you be the true authentic person you were born to be.
You have to go for it yourself, and you will get there, you will take one step at a time and reach a place of creative achievement you never dreamed of.
Because I KNOW the universe supports those of us who step off the treadmill, and on to a path of beauty.
I KNOW the universe is honored with each small effort to build bridges and connections and to allow the quiet individual voice of truth be heard over the cacaphony of money and achievement and greed.
NO - you won't be famous.
NO - you won't make a lot of money.
NO - you won't be given prizes and asked to give speeches.
But your one small voice will be healing and beautiful for anyone who hears it, your one small commitment to saying your truth gently and with care will change all the ones who hear it and read it and follow it.
"Don't let the bastards get you down," as they say. . . .
Just keep at it.
Keep at the creative work that you are called to do, whatever it is, even if it makes no money - if it is your calling, it is what you must do.

"When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen... Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose." --Steven Pressfield

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 more pages from ages past. . . .

yes. When I read my old journals, I see I have actually gotten somewhere.
Which makes me wonder what I would want to read 40 years down the road, when I am at the end of this go 'round, and I read the entries from the Late Aught's, heading fast toward the second decade of the beginning of the twenty-first century. . .
I read once it is mind-blowing to write your own obituary, make it exactly how you want it, then make sure you live that life you wrote about.
But I sense that planning in that way would not be a good idea - I have seen that the twists and turns along the path bring me to a place I never imagined, but is just the right place, even though.
I trust the Universe more than I trust myself -- hasn't let me down yet!

and here are some old pages - sort of restrained and not very loose, yet, but good things are a brewin'!

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." --Douglas Adams

Monday, December 15, 2008

old journals

This morning, I finally got one of the boxes of old journals and brought it to the studio - I am making a bookshelf of all my many journals.
As I labeled them and added them to the shelf, I could not resist opening each one and diving deep into the past.
Hurts, joys, traumas and victories - they all come flooding back as I see the images and read the words of a decade along the path.
It really is a wonderful thing to have a record of where you have been. On one level, I am dismayed and sad at how much I have the same old things to say, ten years ago I seemed to have many of the griping complaints I have today.
You woulda thunk I woulda gotten somewhere more along this path!
But on another level, I can see how far I really have come.
Especially my journaling style can be seen to change, morph, grow and develop over these years - something I didn't even realize was happening.
I used to write and write - often unloading the stress of the day, and then add a picture or two to make it visually more stimulating.
Now, I play with colors and images, then write.
It took me ten years of journaling to get here, and you can see the progress in a thousand baby steps of journal keeping.
Here are some of the older pages, the seeds of the way I work now are all there, but it just hasn't quite been born.
The tiny voice asking for authenticity is in there somewhere, being formed.
Nice to know I have progressed in some small way.
Nice to know life does seek better and stronger and more complete expression.
It might take years, but as the years tick by, I do seem to somehow be getting just a bit closer and closer to my real voice.
I am happy with what I am doing here. and in very small increments, I have gotten somewhere wonderful with this one life.
and for that, I am very very grateful.

"Always, at the back of your soul, there is something that says to you, 'Mortal, drawn from eternal life for a short time, think how precious these moments are.'" --Eugene Delacroix

Saturday, December 13, 2008

still thinking about chaos. . . . .

Clarity and intention - I am working on bringing these things to my life.
My journal is essential in helping me with this.
I make pretty chaotic images, but then some sort of clarity emerges - it is a process.
I think the art of creating helps us get there, helps us get to the essential and the underlying important themes that sometime dance right outside our consciousness. I am in the studio early on a Saturday morning, still working on the dog piece.
We celebrate our holiday, Solstice, in 8 days - there is lots to do, shopping and cooking and cleaning and mailing and gathering with friends and family, but it will all get done.
I only hope I can slow down enough to enjoy the quiet and mystery that these dark December days are about.
I count my blessings of being able to make art and share it here.
... that the earth supports important creative work.
... that technology can help me spread these ideas.
I am grateful for this computer and my journal.
and for connection.
Even in the chaos of life.

"Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning." --Katherine Anne Porter

Friday, December 12, 2008

when in doubt . . . .

try something completely new and see what happens.

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." --Walt Disney

Thursday, December 11, 2008

the dancing star is YOU

My life is so chaotic - and the day spent in the city yesterday sure reinforced it.
But even in the shoppers and noise and chaos and honking cabs and pushy Manhattenites, there were moments of such clarity - I sat in the lobby of 590 Madison Avenue, looking at a Jean Arp Pop sculpture, and a nice woman sat down next to me and starting sketching.
Yes, we talked and yes, we had lots to talk about - anyone who sketches in NYC is someone worth talking to.
and I did some shopping, mostly chocolaty type stuff because that's all I wanted to carry around.
My face is almost back to normal, so no one seemed to stare, and after work, my husband and I even managed to stop in a swanky bar for a drink and saw Vin Diesel (or someone who looked just like him).
THEN I had to drive my son to the airport at 3 A.M. very very sleepily, and my to-do list for the next few weeks just seems impossible, but I will make sure I get some studio time. I have learned without studio time, I turn into an evil grinch, and no one wants that.
and the funny thing about the Nietzsche quote at the end of this entry - I never before considered that the dancing star is ME. . . . I always thought it was something else.
We are our best creation. . . . imagine that!

"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star." --Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

hands of change

So what's been up with me?
I had a massive allergic reaction to a hair product with wheat in it -- my face blew up so much that my kids laughed at me and said I looked "Really Gross!"
(thanks, loved ones.)
after some serious suffering and wallowing, I got help - our medical doctor gave me lots of steroids, and an amazing acupuncturist really fixed me with numerous therapies.
and the great news - so many good things happened as I took charge, moved forward, got myself help, even though I would have much rather wallowed in my pain and sorrow.
A messed up mail box situation (we lost the key) got fixed, clothes needed for my daughter's choir concert were purchased, (even if the other shoppers moved away from me in horror once or twice), new walking shoes were obtained because the dog lost one of my favorite shoes and this has seriously hindered my walking, the husband heard my complaints about the dog biting me and is helping me train him more effectively, my brother who felt sorry for me bought some art; I even managed to wrap some presents.

So, although I felt like feeling horrible, I chose to get help and work on feeling good.
It's always a choice, ya know?

"From this moment onwards you can be an entirely different person, filled with love and understanding, ready with an outstretched hand, uplifted and positive in every thought and deed." --Eileen Caddy

Sunday, December 7, 2008

money? art?

I know some of us make a living making our art.
but the truth is most of us don't.
Yesterday at my studio open house, a friend told me of a writer's conference she attended. The strongest message she received there?
If you are a writer, you will need to earn your money another way.
Yesterday, I had my year's work on display - paintings, collages, printed cards and labels and a bumper sticker, the book I wrote about journaling, and lots of collaged cigar boxes. I made the cards to have affordable items available to buy. I know most people won't buy a $200 painting or be able to have me do a $500 commmision.
Many people cannot buy a $25 book.
So, I greeted and chatted, and it was a fine day.
and I sold $22 worth of cards.
It was just enough for the tip for the lovely dinner my family had after the open house.
So the waiter at Chutney Manor who served the 6 of us for one hour earned all the money I had made that day for the art I had for sale in the studio . . . .

So, I know it is not about money.
There is no money in art, and certainly no art in money.
Money is something else.
It can't be the reason.
It is just a reality that there needs to be money in your life to create your housing, give you food, and maybe a bit of security. I know that art and money aren't really linked.
Not in my mind, anyway.
Otherwise, the weeks of work to make cards, the hours of work to set up the studio, the time spent talking and chatting and sharing would only have a value of $22, and I know in my heart that is not the value of what I do.
So, off to make some pages, write about them, and try to live artfully.
money or no.

"It is a sad fact about our culture, that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it." --W. H. Auden

Thursday, December 4, 2008

it's just this simple

I can choose.
To recount the pains and hurts I have been dealt in this life, or to recount the blessings and joys I have been given.
or Blessings.
One choice leads to anger and bitterness, the other leads to joy and bliss.
So - which will I choose today?
I think the answer is obvious -- why do I so often choose the wrong thing?
and today, instead of a journal page, I am posting my latest Power Animal Portrait - I am particularly happy with this Great Snowy Owl -- he will guide me in my Shamanic work and I an honoring him with this portrait above my journey place in the studio.
The energy of the spirit of animals is so healing, and I feel honored to be able to create these pieces to remember this, reminding me of the point of it all.
To Choose Bliss.
Have a blissful day!

"The spirit must be felt so intensely that it has power to call others in passing, for it must pass, not stop in the pictures..." --Emily Carr

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

keeping at it

just making pages.
having fun in the journal.
what else?

"Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and again." --Will Smith

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the voyage of discovery

Where am I going today?
This question is not really what I need to ask myself each morning as I gather my lunch, coffee, backpack, purse, phone, computer, any supplies I will need in the studio, and sleepily get into my car to drive the 20 minutes to my work place.
I try to go on autopilot, to get myself to the studio, then figure it out.
This morning, after getting here and opening my e-mails, I had gotten a newsletter about Paris travel, I found myself perusing apartments for rent in Paris.
Suddenly, awareness clicked back on, and I asked myself why in the world I was looking at apartments in Paris!
Then the question -- where am I going today?
I have my to-do list here in the studio - a power animal portrait half finished, promotional cards to get printed, making a centerpiece from grapevine wreath for the open house this weekend. . . .
so why would I think about Paris?
Is this just A.D.D. at work, or do I need to escape?
My studio is my escape, and I love being here, yet yet yet . . . .
I still seem to always think of wandering elsewhere.
I always seem to dream of putting essentials in a backpack and just taking off.
I seem to always have this urge.
Perhaps it means I am discontent in some way, but I am coming to terms with this longing.
I am coming to understand that all who wander are not lost, and some of us just have this need.
A need to up and GO.
In "Out of Africa" Isaac Dinesson had a life long affair with Denys Fitch-Hatton, and he was a wanderer - someone who required a free and open life, and he also understood he was giving up stability and family life - and Dinesson accepted this. She had to.
Something in our culture tells us this is wrong, that we are not productive members of society if we live a wandering life, full of dreams and irrational exuberance.
Oh well.
I will choose my own path -- I am now entering a phase in my life where I can start to wander a bit -- I am coming to the end of the 25 year job of raising kids, and I am ready to go out into the world, find myself and my art.
My journal, my camera, and lots of juicy pens will go with me, and hopefully I can share this journey and inspire others to do the same.
If I did not grab my camera and take the time to stop to hold it under some glorious mushrooms growing on a path near my house, these journal pages wouldn't be. . . . .
Where are you going today?

"In every man's heart there is anchored a little schooner." --Henry Miller

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . . .

No - it is not about shopping or decorating or even cooking.
It is not about the malls filled with stressed shoppers, or family obligations that irritate and tire us.
It is not about the empty checking account.
It is about MaGiC.
The winter darkness is upon us, and it is a time of dreams and wandering imagination.
Use the dark time to create a new reality, and in the Spring, when life begins anew, you will have a new reality in place.
and a big hint - journaling can help!
Happy December.

"Over the town roamed the homeless moon. I went along with her, warming up in my heart impracticable dreams and discordant songs." --Isaac Babel