Friday, October 31, 2008


Samhain, or Halloween, is a day to honor the ancestors.
I have special feelings for several amazing women whose shoulders I stand on.
In the only photo of my great grandmother, I see a grim faced woman clutching a purse.
She was born in the 1860's, and she came to this country following 5 of her children, who saved enough money to bring her to Coney Island, where she watched several of her grandchildren, never able to communicate with them because she never learned English.
She had seen her own father hung to die by the Cossacks and had witnessed huge suffering in the Pograms. Every single one of her European relatives would perish in the 30's and 40's.
Her daughter, my grandmother, was put on a train alone at age 13 from a small town near the Romanian border. The train went the wrong way, the ocean liner she took sank when it hit an iceberg, and the street car when she arrived in New York caught fire, a story she would tell gleefully 70 years later.
She survived 5 husbands and the death of one infant, she worked and worked and worked, then when she could finally retire in her 60's, she bought a horse to ride and learned to dance.
She spent the last years of her life teaching yoga in San Diego and folk dancing in Israel, always telling funny stories and laughing away her cares.
I stand on the shoulders of these amazing women.
I will honor their memory by dancing and laughing as I get older, too.
I will honor the amazing hard physical labor they lived with most of their lives, and I will remember their stories to tell my children and their children.
Happy Samhain.

"As a white candle / In a holy place, / So is the beauty / Of an aged face." --Joseph Campbell

Thursday, October 30, 2008

balance in all things

Why has it taken me 47 years to learn this?
If Mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
Take care of yourself, and all good things will follow.
Eat well.
Breathe deeply.
Tired? sleep.

and get away now and then to somewhere that feeds the soul.
oh, and a bit of chocolate never hurts.

"The mind can't be happy if the body isn't. Work anxiety can be rooted in physical imbalance in the support mechanisms of the artistic nerve centre [lack of exercise]. Everything is interrelated; ignore one aspect at the peril of the other." --Odette Nicholson

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

relentlessly positive

It's all good.
If we convince ourselves of that, it will be.
I used to get a bit irritated with the "think positive" movement.
But now, I buy in.
Think it, make it real.
and why not?
Once I was sitting in a cafe in Paris deciding whether or not to order a wonderful dessert; of course I had just had a wonderful meal, and couldn't make up my mind.
The very elegant waiter, in the most beautiful and richly resonant voice said to me,
"And why not?"
I sort of always remember the way he said it.
And Why Not?
Make that your mantra today.

"If I were to think of and dwell on disastrous possibilities, I could do nothing. I throw myself headlong into my work, and come up again with my studies." --Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

what does it all mean?

I read about a lot of different stuff. Writings of Eckert Tolle, books about Shamanism, Prehistoric Art, Neuroscience, Consciousness and Nature, lots of memoirs . . . .
I don't try to articulate most of the more complex ideas I learn about in words, but I am hoping somehow to channel some of all this understanding into my art.
Lately it all has seemed so clear to me - our EGO wants us to be repeating our small individual stories, while our SPIRIT is able to access the consciousness part of ourselves that is the more Universal voice.
When we create, hopefully, we are accessing this universal voice, and not the ego voice.
I think journaling helps me get there.
Using color, collage, photos, magazine images that move me, etc. all help me sort of get to the intuitive creative side of my brain, where the Universal is more prevalent than in that thinking ego side of the brain.
Books like The Secret are so popular, because they say you can access all the abundance in the Universe for yourself.
This doesn't feel exactly right, because if you are accessing it just for your own success, you really are still feeding the ego.
What is best for the whole of life is always the best thing to do for the self, although sometimes that means giving up your personal power.
Yes, we work hard to be responsible and help those who depend on us, and yes, we also must protect our own sanity with self nurturing -- those two things can go hand in hand.
I am learning that the joy of following my own bliss is not selfish, it is what the Universe joyously created me to do.
What a gift to know this. Know it for yourself, too!
Now go make some art.

'Our universe is not a "was" or a "will be" system. It is an "Is" system vibrating within the "Now" measurement of time.' --Dr. Michael Beckwith

and how can something this cute be such a bundle of rapscalion-ness:

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am walking more on the spirit path these days.
Trusting the Universe to give me what I need, to show me the way, and to keep me going in the right direction.
I am working more on discipline: walking, eating better, drinking water.
I am also infinitely grateful for the support I have, for my family, the puppy, the space I have for me and the wisdom to do what I need to do for myself; infinitely grateful for time in the studio to do what I need to do to create.
I feel almost like I am coming out of a cave, into the light.
and I know deep within now, that if I had not been in the cave, I probably wouldn't even notice the light.
It all works out in the end, if we just hang on.

"We don't want to lose our minds, as tempting as it is."
-said at a Shamanism Workshop with Dana Robinson

Saturday, October 25, 2008

mysterious follower of my blog

Hello, dear reader from Raamsdonkveer, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands.
You seem to stop in here so very often, but I don't believe you have commented.
I now imagine who you might be, and hope you have an art journal going, in part, maybe, inspired by my words here.
If you can leave me a comment, I will have a name to put to this place that pops up on my traffic feed map so very often.
I see you are near Amsterdam - what a wonderful place to be from.
If you ever want to meet for coffee and work in our journals together, I think I just might come to your part of the world one day, and it would be awesome to meet a reader who is so loyal.
We can collage and color in our books, and write some words, and maybe even share life's mysteries.
happy journaling.

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." --Saint Augustine

Friday, October 24, 2008

oh those Fall leaves

Here the leaves are at the height of their colors, and they are brilliant this year.
Yesterday the puppy and I took our first walk in the woods - he was enchanted with all the leaves, the pinecones, the sticks, a million smells.
It is wonderful to experience the world through new eyes, and I know we will be taking many many walks in the woods.
Next time, my camera comes, too!

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, October 23, 2008

the fun is in the process

Sometimes life all falls into place - the Universe supports all our efforts and we can sit in stillness, with a satisfaction that all is well.
But most times, there are many difficult bumps and blips along the way.
I am learning to actually enjoy those bumps.
Getting somewhere can feel like an accomplishment, if we were whisked there instantly, where would the learning be?
I also am beginning to really know that if I follow my bliss, the Universe responds with support.
I have heard that Joseph Campbell bliss quote for years and years, and sort of assumed it did not apply to me.
Now that I know it DOES apply to me, guess what? I am getting my bliss! It is happening and I am so grateful for this.
Life is good. If we expect it to be good.
and I know good does not mean "easy" -- that is the trick.

"Searching is half the fun: Life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party." --Jimmy Buffett

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


a few weeks ago, some big white monster mushrooms appeared beneath the pine trees in front of our house.
This made me run for my camera, which could be held right under their very noses to take portraits of these funny fungi, capturing the ribs, the funny postures they take as they burst out through the mulch.
Then a walk around the paths of my neighborhood revealed even more of these clownish characters.
Which led me to an on-line search and some more amazing photos.
A recent trip to Maryland for the weekend, and lo and behold -- many more funny mushrooms seemed to present themselves to me.
Then, in the studio, the collages just came.
and came.
The Muse is like that sometimes, when you are in the flow, it is a wonderful wild ride.
I have these pages in my journal with some of the collages printed onto paper and spray mounted down, and then I added my thoughts.
I thank the mushrooms for their inspiration!

"There is no other resource so plentiful, ever-changing, and full of information than nature around us. Get ready to dive in with both feet and don't forget to bring your sense of humor." --Lori Putnam

and an amazing article on how mushrooms can save the world!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Puppy Love

This little guy is now part of our family - half chow, half lab, all energy. He bounces around like a rabbit - chewing everything, very curious and cuddly and cute.
Yes, there have been times when cleaning pee for the tenth time that I say "What Was I Thinking?" but mostly, he is charming and lovely and quite a character.
I fully expect him to come to the studio with me when he is a bit better behaved, so I bet he shows up a lot in the journal pages to come.
His name is Simba.
and he is all love.

"All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it." --Samuel Butler

Monday, October 20, 2008

You have all that you need.

You have all that you need.
You have all that you need right now, today, in this place.
You might think you need more; but you don't.
You might think tomorrow or when you have more money or when you are thinner or have nicer friends or a new pair of boots, you will have all that you need.
You might think when you get that degree, or a better job, or move to that nicer place, then you will have all that you need.
but no.
You have all that you need right now.
You have what you need to be happy, to make art, to have a voice, to create the life you long for.
You have what you need to be in bliss.
You can open your eyes to what you have, and move forward knowing everything is provided for you.
Everything you need right now, at this very moment, is right here for you.
right now.

I am sure.

"In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love." --Marc Chagall

Friday, October 17, 2008

self doubt

Need clarity?
get a serious illness.
or imagine getting one.
imagining is better, although it seems some of us need the actual illness to wake up.
I need to fill my cup with lots of memoirs, movies, meditation. . . .
I have learned that inspiration is something like a checkbook -- if you keep making deposits, the balance stays positive, but if you ignore it, you end up in the red.
We went and saw an amazing movie, "Man on Wire" about Phillip Petit's scheme to string a wire between the towers of the world trade center in 1974, and walk across.
A man with a plan.
He was just so clear and determined, and somehow this movie is so moving. To have a clear goal and just get there whatever the cost is quite a human feat.
and if the goal is to live creatively, it will take careful planning, a little scheming, and perhaps a touch of luck, along with faith that the Universe will support you if you are following your truest voice.
I work with my journal to help me with my self-doubt, it really does allow me both to complain a bit, and to bolster up my courage.
and an inspiring movie or book now and then also really helps.

"When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand." --Raymond Chandler

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the long road of creativity

So what if you love doing something but it doesn't pay the bills?
I guess then it takes creativity to make your life what it is supposed to be.
There was a beautiful article in the New Yorker yesterday by Malcolm Gladwell about late bloomers.
Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker
and one of his conclusions is often, in midlife when genius is discovered, it actually is that the person had been doing this work for decades, and usually the support of an angel in the form of a family member, had helped them along.
I think in the Renaissance it was called a patron.
I also took away the feeling that many artists like Cezanne just painted because they had to, they were asking questions that their art could answer; and that it might take a life time of experimenting to get to a new idea and to the place they were headed.
My longing seems to point me to collage and journal making.
Somehow, the questions I have are addressed in making these messy collages and writing about the mystery of it all.
I came to this practice after years of doing other things, which sometimes makes me sad like I missed out so many years of creating.
Instead, I try to remind myself that all the mishaps along the journey were perhaps not mishaps, but road markers to get me to where I am now.
I try to be grateful for the curves and dips along the road, because they are my teachers.
Sometimes, I wonder why I need such stressful teachers, but then, it passes and something good fills my day.
and the questions keep coming. . . . I am eager to look for the answers in my art journal.

"I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else." --Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

just imagine. . . .

IF we practiced radical self-acceptance.
If everything we did we knew was just fine.
If we looked in the mirror each morning and said:
"You are marvelous and you will have a wonderful day today, contributing to humanity."
If each day we added from our inner well of contentment, knowing our unique gift, whatever it may be, is adding to the whole.
Making art alone in a room can feel exhilarating, terrifying, pointless. . . .
but today, I choose to go to the studio and work hard at this, and to accept that this is my calling, and to ignore the critics, who mostly reside in my own head.
(oh, and did I say to love my body, too?)

"The world is perfect. As you question your mind, this becomes more and more obvious." --Byron Katie

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It is the role of the artist to see.
and to feel.
I think this is the whole key to journaling for me, I see and I make images about what I see, and I write about how I feel about it.
The nice part is that then, I seem to go inward to the inner place that feels connected to all life, the universal part.
I think that is why art speaks to us so strongly, and is the voice of all life.
and speaking of all life, I am off to play with the puppy before heading out for the day.
He is one bundle of cuteness - journal pages to come as soon as I can get him to hold still for the camera!

and these pages were all about texture -- an old door in the trash by the studio, old papers and some squiggly lines. . . . I find collaging these kinds of old things so beautiful and reassuring. . . . not even sure why.

"The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter - often an unconscious, but still a truthful interpreter - in the eye." --Charlotte Bronte

Monday, October 13, 2008

what' I've been up to . . . .

I have been working in the studio on a set of collages based on mushroom photos I took in our neighborhood; I really like doing series, and exploring an idea in many forms and canvases . . . . and, quite fun but very exhausting, taking care of a new puppy.
He is part Chow, part lab, part lots of other stuff, and we are fostering him for a local shelter. He is 8 weeks old, and adorable. We just played soccer so he is sleeping for a little while. . . .
I will have lots of pages based on his antics, but, boy o boy, is he a handful.
I am going to try to balance everything in my life, stay focused and on track, and not let my journal or my studio time suffer.
but -- A PUPPY!

and here are some of the mushrooms:

"You don't get into the mood to create – it's discipline." --Twyla Tharp

Friday, October 10, 2008


I have something amazing to share with you.
This artist is my favorite journal artist out there:
Teesha Moore has hosted art gatherings for years and I think her journaling style has affected many artists, including me.
One trick to try is to do a mash-up inspired by others.
I take a journal page Teesha's (or anyone's), photoshop bits of them, reassemble, mix-up, collage the bits, and I have something inspired by others that is new.
Textures, colors, shapes, handwriting, use all these in your collages.
I also print out pages and tear them up for re-use.
(and by the way, if you are concerned with copying -- as long as the image is substantially altered, what you are doing is deriving inspiration, so don't worry about that. . . this is how artists have moved forward for ever, no one totally invented their own innovations, we all stand on each others' shoulders.)
So take bits and pieces from where ever you are inspired, tear, reprint, photoshop, tile, reassemble, tear and glue, and feel the connection we all have as creators to each others process.

These pages are a mash-up of one Teesha's journaling pages - see if you can figure out which one:

"Art's golden thread of mentors stretches not just into the ancient past, but also far into the future." --Paul Soderberg

Thursday, October 9, 2008

sharing your work

Yesterday I mentioned that if you collaborate a bit with others, the Muse will stay strong in your work.
One great way to do this is mail art.
If you google **mail art**, you will come up with many great ways to make and share work with other artists. There is something quite thrilling about making and sending, or getting a piece of handmade creativity that another human has touched and cared enough to send around the planet to you. It also is a very cool way to understand that we all are connected - that even though we might live halfway across the world, we still have the same ideas, concerns, visions, and needs.
We truly are a tribe of art-makers, and we can connect and feel supported by our tribal sisters and brothers.
I have also expanded this the last few years into having mail art shows at the local library, bringing kids into the fray and helping make the community aware that art builds connection, and connection is what will heal our planet.
It's a great way to get your artistic voice out there, and make the world a smaller more connected place.
Mail art - try it.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Honoring the MUSE

I learned a while ago that being creative comes with practice.
It's like yoga - the more you do it, the easier it is.
Your body starts to snap into position without any effort . . . .
Creativity is like this, too.
Facing a blank page is daunting, so you just have to jump in and go for it.
Every day!
I have found great help in on-line communities where I can share art, postcarding, mail art, artist trading cards, blogs, etc. Making little bits of art to send out into the universe is a great way to jump start your creative process, and the MUSE honors this sharing, I think.
To connect with lovely like-minded people all around the globe is so affirming.
Often, when you just don't know what to do, having a little assignment that you will share with others, sort of like school, is a really good thing.
I just found Swap-bot, and it seems a great community of artists who share work.
The muse is in other artists, and their energy is great to keep you going.
If the muse feels absent, maybe you haven't been honoring Her enough.
I know if I show up, and just push paper and ink around, She will be there. I am at my studio as many days as I can be, and I take the ritual of inviting the Muse seriously.
I think that is why She sticks around.

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." --Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

pLuNgE iN!

Some days it is a victory just to open up my journal, tear up some paper, spray that mess down, and write something, anything.
Some days, you just gotta go for it, ignore how you feel.
Some days, having any sort of voice is a victory. . . .
baby steps.
baby steps.

"The one person who has more illusions than the dreamer is the man of action." --Oscar Wilde

Monday, October 6, 2008

finding beauty

Last night we had a lovely celebration of friends, family, food for my husband's 50th birthday. I am indeed very very blessed.
and time in the studio this week also just flowed.
lots of new collage paintings seemed to blossom before my eyes.
Ten mushroom collages done -- based on photos of wonderful mushrooms growing briefly in our front yard, there one day, gone the next.
Such richness is right here in our midst - if we just celebrate it.
It's here.
then it's gone.
What a gift have time to capture such beauty and also to be grateful for what we have.

"There is no reason not to consider the world as one gigantic painting." --Robert Rauschenberg

Sunday, October 5, 2008

sunny Fall days

fresh cool air.
brilliant leaves.
getting out the sweaters and hiking boots.
I love Fall.
I am trying to work outside more, and it is wonderful. I can sit directly on the earth (you really don't get that dirty) and absorb strength. I am learning to let the cares of the world, the worried stresses of everyone and everyday just wash over me, and just take in the peacefulness of the trees and sky.
Learning to let go of the screaming anger of the ego is a process, and something I have been really learning more about doing. Being outside helps me do this so much.
My journal, of course, also helps remind me of this.
Walk outside today.
Honor the Earth and know you are a part of the whole joyful inter-connection of life.

"We are on the planet to... wrap our consciousness around the divine treasure within us ..." --Dr. Michael Beckwith

Thursday, October 2, 2008

have a great weekend!

"I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling." --Frida Kahlo

just do what you do

I have been having really good days in the studio.
and that is just like a long breath of cool sweet air.
I know the muse is sometimes shy -- the life of an artist can involve long painful dry spells, and it is inevitable during these times that you wonder why you ever thought you could even begin to imagine you could do this work.
As an artist, the world is not going to pat you on the back, the kids won't really know what you do, the parents will worry about you and think you are making a huge mistake with your career.
and according to conventional wisdom, certainly of the marketplace, you will be making a big mistake.
if it's what you have to do to breathe, then it is what you will do, and you will sing in beaituful harmony when it works.
and when it doesn't work, well, let's not think about that.
When it works, life is sweet.
and you are adding to the beauty of the planet - what is possibly a bigger accomplishment than that?
so go make some art.
express yourself.
follow your bliss.

History doesn't remember the doctors, lawyers, or rich business men.
History remembers the one who designed the Parthenon, painted the Mona Lisa, and painted The Starry Night. History remembers the one who brilliantly attached a bicycle seat to a pair of handlebars and called it a bull. . . . .
History needs artists -- so share your gifts today.

"Just as light brightens darkness, discovering inner fulfillment can eliminate any disorder or discomfort. This is truly the key to creating balance and harmony in everything you do." --Deepak Chopra

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

just floating along . . . .

jump off.
fly away.
plunge in.
make a mess and have some fun doing it.
words to think about today.

"Each time I undertake to paint a picture I have a sensation of leaping into space. I never know whether I shall fall on my feet. It is only later that I begin to estimate more exactly the effect of my work." --Pablo Picasso