Friday, December 19, 2014

Flowers in the Winter

We have less than two days until the Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year.

A great way to rejuvenate is a visit to a Botanical Gardens -- here in Denver we have a wonderful tropical pavilion, filled with heat and humidity and birdsong and colors.

Yesterday I took my brother, who is visiting from Oregon, there.   He is a botanist, so it's always a treat to visit plants and trees with him.
I know I will be bringing the watercolors along next time.
Maybe an art date is just what you need this busy time of year!

“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.”
--William Kean Seymour

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back to basics . . . .

Visual journaling for me has been a progression, and a many-years-long adventure.

When I first started keeping a journal (back in middle school!) it was spiral notebooks filled with words. In college and architecture school, I had sketchbooks and idea books, but these did not get to the essence of what I wanted to say, they were just a place to take notes, a place to record what other people were saying.

As I started on this visual journaling path, I added pictures and sketches to illustrate the words.  I started to let my right brain/sub-conscious tell me secrets through the process of letting my mind wander, letting my creative brain take charge. Words then became less common. Images took over.  I found that there was a pre-language place in my brain, and by collaging and painting without direction, I could more easily access the creative and non-verbal, it felt like I could access secrets and discovery of things my rational self didn't always have access to.

I still work this way, but sometimes, to shake things up, it's nice to go back to the beginning, and let the spiral of evolution bring the work to a new place.  I can start with lots of words, then see what happens after that.  It's good to shake it up, to not get in a rut, to try new ways of working.

I recently attended a workshop based on Spiritual ideas; not art. Some of the speakers were artists, and I listened closely to what they had to say. One in particular got my attention. She has lots of interesting talk and ideas. I ended up sitting with her at lunch, wanting to hear more about her process. When I got home, I looked up her website - there was nothing there. I was not surprised. It is so easy to talk about art, it's so hard to do it.  Don't listen to others who declare themselves masters. Find your own work inside yourself, keep at it, work long and hard.

If you are serious, you will punch in and work a solid 8 hour day.
If you are serious, you will keep at it even when frustrated, or bored, or scared.
If you are serious, you will work through the anxiety and doubts.
You will learn to follow through with your ideas, and not just have them.
Doing this, you not only contribute to your own evolution, you contribute to the evolution of us all. How many of us really commit to the process of finding our truest voice?
of finding a totally unique and personal way to express ourselves?
Doing this is a huge gift to the world.
Make your work and your life a gift. Don't just follow others' shallow talk, find your own evolution.

I am going back to basics a bit - putting words on paper.  Then working through with my ideas to completion, seeing where I am to go.

Stop reading about art on the internet.
Go make some.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What does it mean to fall in love with your own imperfection?

I've been learning about Wabi Sabi.
Wabi Sabi is the very hard-to-define Japanese sense that the imperfect and impermanent aspect to things is of great beauty and importance.
Think of an ancient oak table - the nicks and scratches and discolorations make that table all the more epic.  A brand new raw unscathed chunk of oak would not have the same gravitas, the same history, the same aged beauty.

We all are damaged - how can we get through life without nicks and bumps?
and some whoppers of scars and yes, a few colossal mistakes?
Now imagine that all those scars and bad decisions and character flaws and less-than-perfect physical traits are the very things that actually make you beautiful?
Hard to do, isn't it?

When I was a kid, I stuttered.  I was horrified whenever in the middle of a sentence my words stuck. It felt like my brain was short-circuiting.  It felt terribly embarrassing, and the curious expressions on other people's faces as I struggled to make words come out of my mouth embarassed me.
I also was a sort of chubby, messy kid.  My clothes didn't always fit right, my hair was really hard to keep neat (it still is a frizzy nest), I didn't always understand hygiene.  I think most kids are like that, but all of these things upset me.  That stuttering chubby kid did not feel much self love.

Cut ahead a few decades - I learned to polish it all up - I straightened my hair, learned to talk more fluently, took showers and groomed myself.  Ta Da.  I am now okay, I thought.
Then, this last year, my stutter came back.
I can not tell you the horror that fills my brain when it gets stuck on a word.  It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen.
and believe me, I notice it.
I even went to a neurologist to see if anything was wrong.
She didn't think I stuttered (it didn't happen in her office.)  She said not to worry about it.
But I worried.

Then I started learning about Wabi Sabi.
and not only am I learning that what makes us imperfect makes us beautiful and interesting, but also that the challenges we face and overcome make us much more interesting people.

Those stretch marks?
Signs that I birthed three amazing children.

Those freckly age spots?
Signs that I have spent lovely decades outside enjoying being in the sun.

Those chunky thighs?
Signs that I am not now and never will be thin, but that my body type is beautiful as it is.

That frizzy hair?
A sign that there is room for all types in this world, not just straight-haired blonds.

I am not quite ready to be thankful that I stutter.
But I know that the old oak table with marks and dents and nicks has stories to tell.
and it's character makes it so beautiful.
All of our blemishes make us beautiful.

So I am working on embracing my Wabi Sabi.

This Ted Talk given by Cheryl Hunter explains it in a powerful way.

What will you put on your blank page?  Fill it with all your imperfections, your Wabi Sabi.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What gives you joy?

That is what you should be doing.
I'll say that again -- What gives you joy? That is what you should be doing.

Why is this so hard to sink in deeply? I seem to do a thousand things before settling down into my studio:  reading Facebook, twitter, some cool threads on reddit, watching youtube interviews of celebrities, getting some coffee, maybe a chocolate, doing some dishes, organizing my files, stacking up my journals and looking at them, maybe another chocolate.
and oooops, the day is mostly over.

Focus and intention are my biggest challenges.
What are yours?

Ask yourself this question, whenever you are given any choice or opportunity.
Ask: "Will saying YES to this path bring me closer to the source that brings me to life? Or will it take me further away?" No matter how alluring, no matter how beautiful, no matter how sparkling and fancy and delicious — do not say YES to other people's dreams.
Do your own thing.
Live in your own waking dream. Stubbornly.
Even if it means not washing your hair for a week. (ESPECIALLY if it means that!)
--Elizabeth Gilbert

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

One thing at a time . . .

I've been re-reading one of my all time favorite books, "Long Quiet Highway" by Natalie Goldberg. It mostly is memoir about her finding Zen meditation, and how it affected her creative life.

At one point, her teacher tells her she either should be a Zen monk, or a writer, but not both. I found this hard to hear, because I always seem to wear many hats. Having three kids, grad school, then working outside the home, then working at home, at many different jobs, I learned that it was a luxury to think I would ever only have one thing on which to focus. I did learn to only do one thing at a time, and to be fully present for whatever I was working on. (at least to try to do that.)

The idea of Zen seems to be fully present and aware, and to understand how fleeting all life is.

I was at the beach at the Outer Banks recently, and my journal pages reflect the calmness I was feeling there. I turned off my phone (mostly) and ignored social media for three weeks as a digital detox. I was falling into the trap of checking my phone/computer/ipad multiple times a day, and obsessing over answering messages and comments, returning and deleting emails.
Instead of being in the moment, I was thinking about photographing and sharing the moment on Facebook. The time away from social media was very good for me, and now I can spend much less computer time, and more being alive time.

and the idea that we need to be just one thing? I think we need to be the one thing that we are at the moment, and if while we make art we think about the chores we need to do, or while we write, we think about the art we should be doing, or while we teach, we think about the studio work piling up, then we are not fully in the moment.  At the beach, I was at the beach. I wasn't spending all my time sharing the beach on Facebook or Twitter. It was a nice realization that this computer time has a way of taking us out of what we are doing.  I want to be present, not thinking about sharing the present all the time.

One teaching in the book is about putting a horse on a horse; that riding a horse is hard enough, why would we ride a horse on a horse? Which to me means living life is hard enough, why would be try to observe and analyze it while we are doing it.   My over active mind tends to worry and wonder and speculate all the time on what I should be doing, rather than what I am doing.   or how I will share what I am doing on social media.

I am working on not doing this, on not riding a horse on a horse. On being fully present.

and a few journal pages from the beach:

and the beach colors, aqua water and turquoise sky have inspired this:

"To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."  Zen Proverb

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Birds and Words

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.”
― Robert Lynd

Saturday, August 23, 2014

apropos of nothing.

A gekko on a tee-shirt.
because I like it.

"Indeed, if he could believe his teacher, ideal meditation had no practical application whatsoever. 
Sure, there were Westerners who practiced it as a relaxation technique, as a device for calming and centering themselves so that they might sell more stuff or fare better in office politics, but that was like using the Hope diamond to scratch grocery lists onto a bathroom mirror.

“Meditation,” said his teacher, “hasn’t got a damn thing to do with anything, ‘cause all it has to do with is nothing. 
Nothingness. Okay? 
It doesn’t develop the mind, it dissolves the mind. Self-improvement? Forget it, baby. It erases the self. Throws the ego out on its big brittle ass. What good is it? Good for nothing. 
Excellent for nothing."

--Tom Robbins, from Fierce Invalids

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Something I work on is trying to stay away from consumerism.
Our culture seems to define success as getting more and more and more. Even our GNP is measured in growth, quantity over quality.

The ads on TV, radio, before the movies, in magazines, and on-line offer a thousand things we didn't know we needed as necessities.  I try to just ignore it all, then something catches my eye and I get sucked in.  I think I need that thing, but the truth is that thing doesn't fill a hole that the ad created.  I will just want more the next day.

My friend says "it's The Man, trying to get you to borrow to buy, then be a slave for the rest of your life paying it back."
I dream of going off the grid, growing my own food, lighting a fire to stay warm. Then I get into my comfortable bed in my temperature controlled house, and watch a movie on my new gadget.

Finding the balance is a lifetime of work, I guess.

"Beauty surrounds us, but we need to be walking in a garden to know it."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Creating to soothe

If I have one of those days, I collage.
There's nothing like sitting at my table, cutting and tearing, arranging then gluing, adding some words, playing with image and composition.
Maybe adding some stamps.
and maybe adding the date.
maybe more words.
and here is today's art therapy:

“A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

For the beauty of the earth . . . .

"For the beauty of the earth ..." is a hymn which was quoted at my Unitarian Church service this last Sunday by our amazing minister, Wendy Williams.

The words and tune are so stuck in my head, but it's a good sort of stuck. I have been accused of being a tree-hugger. I do hug trees, they sort of hug back if you take your time and feel their energy.
This week a violent storm came right over our house, and a huge branch from the very large maple in our backyard came crashing down - the tree had the kindness and grace to help deposit this branch exactly in between my garden (where it would have destroyed my squash, garlic, lettuce, and herbs) and our hot tub. There was a narrow alley of about ten feet, and here is where the huge branch landed.  No damage was done, gratefully.  Thanks to our majestic maple for this kindness.

It seems so obvious to me that we live in a system, that all of us are dependent on every other part to have the balance we need to thrive.   If we dirty our water and air and soil, our food is dirtied, our lungs and skin and cells are compromised.  If we keep making plastic and dumping it into the ground and the oceans, there must be a reckoning at some point.   It just seems so simple to me to pay attention, but it's about habits.  I tried for a whole year to not use ONE single plastic bag.  If I found myself in the store at the cashier without a bag, I made myself go back out to my car to get one. That was last year, and already this year, I have found my habit creeping back of accepting single use plastic bags instead of getting my reusable bag.  It's such a small habit, and if we all never used single use bags, it would have a huge positive effect on the oceans and landfills.

How do we stay intentional? How do we remember to be vigilant and thoughtful about not making any more bit of waste than we need to, to be thoughtful of consuming less, protecting the parts of the earth that need our protection?

When a species is extinct, it is gone forever. In our busy world of go go go, it's just easier to focus on the small daily tasks of living life. Saving the planet is too big a chore. But I am working at remembering, remembering that for the beauty of the earth, I owe my life, that the balance of all of us depends on all of us working as a team.

Today I get to go to a high mountain pass in the Rockies to meet a friend. We plan on walking to a waterfall, and decompressing from all the stress of life.  ( and I am aware that I am using fossil fuel to make this day trip.)  I hope I can pay back the beauty some how, and be a good steward.

For the beauty of the earth, I am so very grateful.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.
Let us remember within us The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.
That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.
--John O'Donohue

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Giveaway . . . .

So this is scary, but I am going for it.
I am asking via kickstarter to fund giving away 500 copies of my book. Here's the link:

Because if you don't ask, you don't receive.
I am proud of my book, and would love to share it with the world, so go check it out and see if you want to help me do this.

"Love is the water of life.  Jump into this water."  --Rumi

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

As I age - thoughts when approaching a birthday.

In a few days I turn 53.
I know it's not popular to divulge one's age when it passes that multiple decades mark. But here I am, letting the world know.

Mostly in my life I have not worried about age, I was too busy getting on with it; school, marriage, 3 kids, work, moving numerous times, the wonderful and amazing world of connection and wonder I got to be a part of; after all, the internet was invented in my lifetime! Riding my bike around Paris 30 years ago, I dreamed of living in France, becoming a famous architect, working on an archeological dig, writing books, having a beautiful home with lovely, happy children, my husband and I settling into a life of creativity, travel, hard work and abundance. Some of those things have happened, some haven't. 

I will be honest and say it's been way, WAY harder than I imagined. I developed chronic illness late in my 20's, it took a huge toll, but went undiagnosed for about 15 more years. Now I know about Celiac disease, and how it has compromised my body. It's been a hard road of discovery, and one of continuing struggle, some days I am in pain and feel 80 years old, other days, it goes fine, and I can ask my body to do what I want, yoga, walking, cleaning, hiking, etc.

And here I am with many of my life dreams come true - I did become an architect, I did travel quite a bit, I did raise three amazing children and my husband and I did live in numerous places. We worked hard and dreamed big.
and there was suffering.
Agony and very real trauma and great loss in our lives. and many great joys, as well.

I just now woke up from a dream of riding my bike around Paris as a twenty-something. In the dream, I had the mindset I had thirty years ago, I woke up remembering so deeply that sense of invincibility, that notion that the world was mine for the taking, that I could do whatever I dreamed of. The way my body was so strong and powerful was quite vivid, it was hard not to feel the loss of that when I woke up.

Three months ago, I did a series of pages in my journal to re-evaluate my life, mostly my work life which had been floundering since we moved here to Colorado 5 years ago. "I want to use my art and writing skills to write a children's book," was one of the intentions I found. So I did! I worked on it, and it's done. It's over there at Amazon, if you want to check it out. and it feels like a nice milestone for me. I am happy with the accomplishment, and find it amusing that it took this long to find work that would be so well received by the world . . . but there it is.

I don't think I will ever ride my bike around Paris like that again, and I KNOW I will never have that huge sense of power and owning the whole world that I had in my twenties.

But I do have this - I can think of a project, dream it big, manifest it. and I can tell the world about it here. That's a really huge accomplishment, and one I never dreamed of thirty years ago. (I was still writing with my electric typewriter, and didn't dream then I could possibly ever be an artist, being an architect seemed much more plausable.)

All this, my life, my kids, my work, my house, my dog, my garden, my studio, I am so very grateful for this life. Am I grateful for the illness? the suffering? the trauma?   In truth, no, but would I be able to dream up a book that feels like one of my biggest life accomplishments, and then make it within a few months?

No.  I could not.

I could not have learned that without the troubles I have had. The struggles of our lives make us who we are, and they make the accomplishments all the sweeter.

I now know that at age -almost- 53.

I said: what about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road. I said: what about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning. I said: what about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it? I said: pain and sorrow. . .
He said: . .  stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. --Rumi

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What fills your sails?

I have been learning that Joseph Campbell's idea of "following your bliss" as a blessing to the world can be a life lesson.

Recently, I sort of got stuck on a whale painting binge. I would put on youtube videos of whales swimming, and soundtracks of their singing, and just sit at my paint desk and let the images of the whales flow. After a few sketchbooks full of these, I realized that I had a children's book! I am in the process of having some giclees made of some of the final images, so the art can be up on a wall, and not just in print. As I worked on these, there was some voice in my head that told me it was indulgent to follow my bliss, that doing something purely out of joy was not what I was supposed to be doing. "Be responsible, do something meaningful, contribute," the voice would say.

But I wanted to paint and make beautiful things.

Do you know why whales jump out of the water? Scientists don't always understand why, but it seems to be something just about the joy of doing it. Let's remember that. Jumping for joy, doing anything for joy, only adds to the wonder of the world, and our place in it. I know there are injustices to work against, hungry people to feed, knowledge to struggle to find, suffering. But there is also bliss. There is a beautiful world to be celebrated.

Art can do this.
Sharing your art can do this.
Choose Joy.
It is never wrong to jump.

“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” --Pablo Picasso

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Are you someone who wears many hats?

I am.
Right now my work includes book design, jewelry design and showing in craft shows and local shops, licensing work, (just got a set of pillows up on KekaCase) and painting, both for hanging on the wall and putting in my books.
Sometimes it feels crazy and scattered (well, a lot.)
But I also know it's how I work, and that one area of my art always sneaks into another.
As a creative person, I would simply wither and die if I had to sit at one desk and do one thing every day, day in and day out.
I applaud people who are able to do that, but I'm not one of those people.

Once I was watching a video about a young girl (maybe age ten) who had decorated her room in crazy contrasting patterns, it was a frenzy of color and shape.  The interviewer asked her what she was thinking, and her answer was:  "Well, I'm just not a matching kind of girl."
I love her answer, and I love even more that she was aware enough at such a young age to know herself like that.
It's taken me a lifetime, but I can say it: I'm not a do-one-thing sort of artist.

So ignore that the world tells you you have to focus and become an expert.  Work hard at what you do, but try many things and don't worry about exploring.  One day, maybe the three or five or ten things you do will each be accomplished and unique.
and you can put it ALL in your art journal!
Lately I've been painting whales mostly, but birds seem to sneak in as well.  Here's one:
Painted from a photo by Jennifer Kamerer Studebaker.

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way, things I had no words for."   --Georgia O'Keeffe

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Leaving on a jet plane . . . .

In two days I am getting on a plane for a trip to New York - my rep shows my work at Surtex, a yearly trade show there, so I get to go and schmooooooze, and see lots of great art.
I've been so busy with work that I have not been journaling much.
I miss it.
I hope on the trip to take some time to work in my journal, on the plane, or during down time.
I have been painting and working on several book projects, so I will just let this hummingbird flutter around a bit here until we can get some journal pages going:

You are the deep innerness of all things, the last word that can be spoken.
To each of us you reveal yourselves differently: to the ship as coastline,
to the shore as ship.  --Rumi

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Using your journal to find your focus

Today started early, I have a new graphics client, so I organized my work space, neatened up some folders, cleaned up supplies, worked on a talk I will be giving next Saturday, sent out e-mail reminders for another meeting, wrote some checks, blah blah blah.

I think we don't give ourselves enough credit for the complicated lives we live in this Internet Age.
It's so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life.
It's so easy to neglect the inner work that should be the foundation of our days.
Do you meditate?
Do you sit in silence and connect to your higher self?
Do you use your journal to help you find your focus?
It's so important to remember WHY we are here.
Our daily work should not just be to get our desks cleared, then collapse and vegetate in front of the TV.
If we connect to our greater mission statement every day before we power on our computers, it will be way easier to act according to this mission statement with more clear intention.
It's a practice that I have to work on.

You know when you get interrupted by someone who needs you and it is just so easy to feel irritated by that?
I find that if I am connected to my greater mission statement, it is easier to know I need to help that person instead of continuing on the project I had been in the middle of.
What is your higher reason for being?
Have you written it down on a post-it and put it in front of you?  How do you remember it?

and if you don't know it, your journal is a fantastic place to brainstorm on this.
Open to a blank page, start doodling and writing.
Don't just start with your to do list, think of the greater calling, the dream you wish your life was focused on.
Imagine the very most perfect miraculous day; what would you be doing?
Your journal really does help you find this focus.
AND it can help you remember it if you return to it, keep working on it, doodle just a few minutes every day in it.

The hard work of becoming our most authentic selves is to eliminate the clutter of our lives.  Let your journal help you do this.

“Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.” 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Waking UP

Yes, it is Monday morning.
Yes, there is snow out there, but also there is bright sun.
Yes, there is a brand new week ahead of us.

I have my bucket of coffee right here in front of me, I have my to-do list, and I even have a pretty good night's sleep under my belt. I have been learning that the most important thing is our lives is to be awake. And by awake, I don't mean zombie-like, in-front-of-the-tv barely getting from day-to-day, caught in the consumerist lifestyle this culture encourages kind of awake. I mean Hugely Supremely Perfectly filled with Gratitude Awake.

I recently met someone who uses the word "AWAKE" as all his pins and passwords, just for the reminder. It's a great idea to post little post-its around with this word to help us remember this. Being awake means remembering your mission statement, remembering why you are here, remembering just what is the essence of your one short incarnation on this planet.

I have so many ideas that I overwhelm myself with ways I need my life to change; using less, reusing more, growing more of our food, walking my dog more, making joyful art, supporting all the amazing causes which come across my desk, making my art generate income for our household, saving the planet, and on and on.

For me, being awake means not getting too tossed about in this sea of good intention.
Being awake means being gentle on myself and my limitations.
Being awake means staying focused on a few core projects which express most strongly what I want to accomplish.
Being awake means remembering that sometimes, dropping what I am doing to help someone who needs me is the higher choice.
Being awake means not getting sucked into facebook memes, conspiracy theories, funny text threads, and the multitude of internet static, which although fun and entertaining, can suck away the hours like a tick you don't see that is attached to your skin.

Being awake means NOTICING.
Noticing that the world is a more light and beautiful place when I take the time to be centered and healthy and filled with gratitude.

I pray that your day today may bring you deep awakening. That we all may continue to practice deep awakening every day with every bit of our beings.
and in this painting of mine, a hummingbird hovers over a calender, a reminder of how fragile time is:

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

Monday, April 7, 2014

What fuels me!

So yesterday I posed the question, "what fuels you?"
I had the great opportunity last month to regroup by attending a Medicine for the Earth workshop with Sandra Ingerman, and then have a visit to Hawaii with my husband and daughter to see the U of H campus, and have some down time on the beach.  (They surfed, I watched.)

Taking this time off was an opportunity to refocus and try to find what is my mission statement, what is my theme, what would be the headline or caption of my life and my work.

We moved to Colorado 4 1/2 years ago, and I knew this would be a new phase of my life. 
I actually tried quite a few things as I explored what this next phase would look like.
This last month of renewal has made me even more sure I want to be perfectly clear that I am doing the right thing with the precious time I have.
I've tried about ten different work situations and projects since moving; some felt good, some were obviously not the right gig, but no one single thing jumped out at me as the right work, and that was frustrating me.
I wanted my work to be center stage for me, I wanted to know this was supporting my deepest mission and most heart-felt goals.
The problem wasn't I was doing the wrong work, it was that my mission was not clear enough.

So here it is:
Easy, huh?
I learned at Sandra's workshop how this really is the distillation of all our work, all our relationships, all our learning and being here on the earth.
But how to do that?
For me, being creative, painting and drawing is when I feel most in the flow, most connected to Spirit, most in the space of love that we are supposed to be in.
So, the answer?
BE LOVE by doing what I love to do most; make art, and sharing that art with the world.

Glitch - the checkbook.
We do need to support ourselves and responsibly interact with the world with our finances.  There's food, and housing, and tuition for kids, and materials  etc. to buy.  I love sitting in my studio making art, but I also want to help support my household.  So part of my making my art and getting it into the world includes it adding to our family's support.  The Universe has supported me in this, I have a rep showing my work at Surtex, a trade show in NYC, so that box, luckily, is checked.  and I know how tough it is for an artist to figure this out, my advice is to just keep looking and be patient, it's hard to find the right venue to sell your art, but you will find it if you keep looking.  I tried about 5 galleries with no luck, so that was not the right marketplace for me.  There are other ways!

I also love making jewelry with shells, working in my journal and sharing that (hence this blog), designing books or websites for clients now and then when the project is right, and writing books.
Keeping my mission statement in mind with all these things, they do make the cut.

I mostly just needed to know I am doing the right things, and that it's okay to have a career "portfolio" with a few different projects, as long as I keep my mantra in place, BE LOVE.
Now I can run my projects through this mission statement, and anything that does not support it, I can simply prune away.

I feel newly focused, and one of the projects I had on the back burner is going to take over a spot on my desk - it is a children's book I have been thinking about.  I felt like I had too much going on, but with some pruning of non-essential projects, I now have room for this one.  I already have a cover, and a story, I know I'll be sharing the progress as the book grows into something real.

and working in my journal yesterday really did help me figure all this out, here's a few of the notes:

"So find your place to stand - your place of wisdom and peace and strength.  Remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us - women and men - can thrive and live our lives with more grace, more joy, more compassion, more gratitude, and yes, more love."
--Ariana Huffington, Thrive

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What fuels you?

What makes you excited to get up in the morning?
No, don't keep reading, actually stop and look up from your computer and answer that question for yourself.
Take a minute, I'll wait.

It's actually not an easy one to answer.

Or there might be so many answers that you freeze in regret and sadness at all the things you don't allow yourself to do.
It's the most important question you can ask yourself.
What are you most passionate about?
What makes you smile with the deepest satisfaction and hope that this Universe is an okay place for you after all?
What, in your wildest dreams and fantastic hallucinations, would be the best possible place for you to be in?
If you could actually dream any (sleep) dream tonight, what would happen in it?
Where would you be?
Who would you be with?
What would you be doing?
looking at?
If you wrote the script for that dream, what would the story be?

In the movie of your life, what would be the climax?  How would it be resolved?

and if you know what that dream is, how are you making efforts to bring it into being?

I have found, in some very small examples in my life, if I can make my vision really truly fleshed out, if I can fantasize about exactly what I want, it is way more likely to happen.  Either because I see it clearly when the thread presents itself to me, or maybe my higher self takes over and lets the circumstances I need for it to actually happen. The vision really does help create the reality.

Life is so mysterious; we work, we play, we love, and then, what is there?  Some of us have projects we are proud of, a marriage that we stuck out, kids we raised, degrees or jobs we worked hard for, yet still there always is that restlessness.
I am quickly headed toward being 53 years old, and even now, when I read in the New York Times Sunday morning edition about an artist who took photos of things, I think I should be trying that.  or I read of a writer who travels and studies Zen and think I actually need to change direction and should be doing that.  The truth is, I don't know what I want to do, I have tons of ideas, but not really a clear vision.

I want to clarify my life dream, and I will be using my journal to help.
I have  couple of decades of work ahead of me (if I am lucky) and I really want to make this section of my life count, I want to do what my truest calling is, not just piddle away these years with small-ish projects; hours of Facebook browsing, making a greeting card or two for a friend, or straightening up the house.

I'll report back with news, when it comes.
(and in the meantime, here is a black swan, an ink sketch from my recent trip to a Buddhist Temple and gardens in Oahu.)
"The great stillness in these landscapes that once made me restless seeps into me day by day, and with it the unreasonable feeling that I have found what I was searching for without ever having discovered what it was."
--Peter Matthiessen

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Journaling with Intention

I just got back from a workshop called "Medicine for the Earth" taught by Sandra Ingerman.  We were amazingly housed in Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, in Joshua Tree, California.  The desert landscape, along with the topic we worked with for our 5 days, were simply stunning.

I love to dedicate a blank book to an experience like this.  I take notes during the workshop sessions leaving lots of room for later painting and collage.  In the venue I could not spread out much, but even just being able to make line drawings to fill in later was fine.  (It's also fun to bring along a travel watercolor kit and some inktense pencils, and just paint right there!)

I can sum up all I learned as this:
Healing the Earth starts with healing the Self.  
Let your inner light shine, and do what you will.

It really was a stunningly simple and deep message.
Here is the cover of my journal, and some snippets from my pages:
 Can you tell we had a fabulous time?
A bush sized rosemary plant was growing outside our door.
 Sometimes the pages are doodles, sometimes it's illustrations of what I'm learning.
 Always fun to add in photos later.
 I used a gourd rattle with dragonflies.
One of the lessons - we are holy and our inner light is divine.

Oh, and a Joshua Tree looks like this:
Using shamanic journeying, visualization, or meditation to reconnect with this inner place every day is a wonderful spiritual practice to keep us centered and focused on what is truly important.  We spent most of the 5 days just getting this lesson deeply implanted, and journeying together to the elements: air, water, fire and earth.  We also set an intention of love and light with each other.  I will keep those feelings of Divine Connection with me as I move on into the next part of my life.  (and it really does feel like a gate has opened to a new beginning.)
We burned talismans representing our new dreams at a drum circle fire under the full moon.  How magic is that?!

and I leave you with one of the loveliest blessings I have ever heard - Michael Stone was facilitating ecstatic dance each morning at our workshop, and when he read this, I almost melted in the beauty of the words:

A Blessing for Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging--in love, creativity, and friendship--be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which Spirit longs for you.
 ~John O'Donahue

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Using zentangles in your journaling

I love zentangles. Zentangles are a way of using dots and lines and circles to doodle in repeated patterns. There are many tutorials on youtube you can google to see the process.

The repetition of making many little lines and dots and swirls is a very therapeutic and relaxing thing to do. I put on music and draw these patterns or hours. I did an owl in zentangle patterns in my journal, then scanned him so I could try him out on different backgrounds. Even these backgrounds are the result of messing around in my journal - using some photography, some stenciling, some splattering about with paint. The layers here really please me.

I will probably use these images on cards. Try some zentangle doodling, it really is addictive.

Thinking gives off smoke to prove the existence of fire.
A mystic sits inside the burning.
There are wonderful shapes in rising smoke that imagination loves to watch.
But it's a mistake to leave the fire for that filmy sight.
Stay here at the flame's core.     --Rumi

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting your art into the world

So, in part, I know we all come to the internet for inspiration for our mixed media art.  We like to see what others are doing, find out about new techniques, we learn and find out cool new ideas to put into our work.
We also want to share what we've done.  So, I couldn't sleep last night, I got up around 3 AM and found myself making a mixed media Valentine.  Then I scanned it.  and I posted it in a few places online.
This morning, I got up to compare how many hits it had gotten in the various postings.
It opened up my mind to where people see my work:

Facebook - 12 people liked it, not sure how many saw it
Imgur, with a link to Reddit - 516 views so far
Twitpic - 17 views
Google +, Tumblr, and Pintarest, are not counted, so I don't know how many views.
My blog posts usually get about 60 looks.

I tend to rely mostly on Facebook to communicate with others, but I am realizing that this is not the best way to get your work seen.  I am in a Facebook group for an illustration class I am enrolled in, and I notice that when I post there, there are hundreds of looks.
But in my main friends page, not so much.
Reddit, it turns out, has a huge audience.  I posted in the Crafts reddit, I know the count is going up even as I type this.

So I am going to start using social media a little more intentionally.  I can spend way too much time posting and looking, and not enough time making art.  With a more focused audience, I can make my on line time count.

and of course, I will keep posting here in this blog!  I am glad to have constant readers, it keeps me working and moving forward to know someone out there is looking - so thanks to YOU, dear readers!
and here's that Valentine:
"The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference." --Audre Lorde

Monday, January 27, 2014

filling a page

I really am liking this new coptic bound journal I made.  It lies pretty flat thanks to the sewn binding.  Here I did some stenciling and am arranging some border collage papers:
First a bit more stenciling, then I painted a few birds.  then a circle. . . . 
and a Rumi Poem.  Hard to see, can you find it?
A bird makes great sky circles of it's freedom.
A bird makes great sky circles of it's freedom.
How does it find it?
It falls.
and in falling, is given wings.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pages with pizazz

I like to start a journal page with color already on the paper, that empty page syndrome is then easily averted. 
Splatter and stencil are my favorite way to mess up the page before I even start.
and I want to show you another easy way to add fun to a page - using an eraser carved stamp as a border.
Here are three stamps that I carved from a white eraser.  (Use linoleum carving tools.)
You can make a pretty simple spiral, but by repeating it, you have an awesome pattern.
Another way is to stamp a plain white paper, and use a few different stamps to get a pattern.
Then add some wasabi tape to make the border more ellaborate.
Scan your little border and print enough that you can throw it in your collage bag and use bits and pieces on many future pages.
and you'll also save all your erasers to use over and over in the future.
even better, have an eraser carving party with friends and then share all your images.
One stamped image scanned can provide many many uses for papers you make from photoshop and your printer.

It's very addictive.
"I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I've written for myself... and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part." 
--Shirley MacClaine

Monday, January 20, 2014

Developing a style

I am taking an on-line class called "Year of the Fairy Tale" with Carla Sondheim.  (There is a link to click to on to learn more about it over there on the right.)
I just finished the first lesson, and already I am so inspired and motivated, realizing that my drawing process can be much stronger and intentional.
I often sketch in my journal, and am almost never happy with what I draw.
I usually just start drawing right in my book, expecting my brain to pop out something perfect, then I am sad when I ruin the page with a drawing I don't like.  

Carla is taking us step by step through a process of how you develop an illustration style.  Her very first lesson already showed me things I never considered doing (and I have years of drawing training as part of my art degree): using sketching from photos on the internet to discover a face style, drawing first with your non-dominant hand to loosen up, doodling the face over and over to sort of crystallize what about that face is interesting, repeating that style until your inner eye knows what details it wants to focus on.  Her process helped me find a face I love to draw.  Repeating something over and over helps solidify what is important about the face.  Using throw away sketch paper, also, helps to not be so precious about results.  Something I had sort of forgotten in my journaling process.

Here are the three phases of finding a face to draw:
and in the same lesson, we worked finding a frog style - first just by sketching, and then exaggerating a feature we like.  In just a few sketches, I came up with a frog.  I couldn't resist adding some collage texture to my favorite sketch (Sorry, Carla, I am getting ahead of myself but I couldn't resist):
Her teaching style is so calming, and encouraging.
and did you guess that the first fairy tale she is using to teach us is "The Frog Princess"?

Another assignment is for us to go to the library and look at great illustrations, make notes of what we love.  Such a simple thing, yet something I don't ever do.

I am so happy to be in this class, as a teacher I rarely take classes these days.  I think that needs to change.  Inspiring teachers are such gifts, I am so looking forward to this year of learning from Carla.

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”  
-- Bertolt Brecht

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Making a Journal

The beauty of this video made me cry.
Please watch it if you have ever kept a journal, or ever want to keep one.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Journaling in community

Today we had our monthly journaling group, 8 ladies sitting around a table, cutting and tearing and painting and pasting and writing.

We start with a check-in, we have a reading and a chalice lighting, we work in silence, then we share our work, practicing deep listening.  I always am amazed at how our ideas overlap, like somehow our concerns float around in the room and lodge in each others' brains. The beginning check-in tunes us a bit, like an orchestra, I suppose, and we seem to end up just vibrating in the same frequencies.

 I love this group, and I always am pleased with the pages that come out of it.
 If you can find a journaling group, try it, it's pretty awesome.
"Pilgrimage to the place of the wise is to find escape from the flame of separateness." --Rumi

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I have been drinking tons of herbal teas.

I found at the local Pacific Ocean Market (an Asian grocery store) that their selection of medicinal teas is amazing - I am using the Blood Pressure Tea, and the Detox tea, along with my beloved French Verveine, which I swear, cures everything.  Saving the paper tea bag wrappers, of course, was inevitable.

So here is a page in my journal, this tea bag collage will be the background, and more will happen on top. Maybe it's time to carve a tea stamp out of an eraser. When themes keep reoccuring, I have learned to pay attention. Or perhaps this page will be my shrine-page to tea, and I will add nothing more.

Time to get get a cup.

"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." --Eleanor Roosevelt