So I went to the Monterrey Aquarium a few weeks ago, and now I am finally finding the time to do some painting in my journal of this one awesome guy I was able to watch for some time. In his tank, he transformed from day-glow pink to rock grey in a few seconds. Octopuses show their emotions with their colors, and one theory about their use of ink is that it actually provides some privacy for hiding important emotions.
They are one of my favorite animals on the planet.
I tagged this image on my Instagram account, then eagerly clicked on that tag to see all the other cool octopuses. . .
Sad tears because all of the other posts tagged #octopus were images of dinner plates, grills, and bites of octopus going into mouths.
The value of art - I don't think anyone disputes it's value.
How about the value of an artist?
How do we support artists? How do we "invest" in them? How do we let them know their effort is valued and enjoyed. How do we express our thanks? with money? with reviews? hanging their work on our walls and on our computer screens? sharing on Facebook?
Most of you know me as an artist - probably as a mixed media collage artist who has the occasional gallery show, and has written a few children's books. This is because our social media selves came into being while that was what I was doing with my life. How many of you know that I was an architect first? One of my best friends here in Colorado, I recently found out, did not know that about me. I have publicly been sharing my work for a few decades, and have identified as an artist for a few decades, but now I am in a new chapter.
I am now a teacher.
Yes, I am taking a hiatus from art. Right now I am teaching Chinese kids ESL on line, and I love it. I love it because it is fun, but more importantly, I love it because I am appreciated and payed. The kids thank me, the parents thank me, the company I work for thanks me (and pays me) and I am pretty sure that my family thanks me for the financial contribution I am finally able to make. Being appreciated in life is not only nice, it is essential. At least, for me.
A few days ago I was offered an illustration job; 20 - 24 color illustrations, the pay? $65.00
For all. For 20+ pieces of art. . . . I had spent about a day, reviewing their story, coming up with a concept, painting some tabby cats, scanning and creating a template for the work, making a mock cover. (I like the work and am proud of it I will post it here.) The art director loved it. I told her my rate was $100 an illustration, she said she would see what she could do. Their offer $65 for all 20 illustrations.
What is it in this world has made us think that art should be virtually free?
Because, in part, it is.
We can open a subject page in pinterest or google images, and see a billion free images. We can copy and paste them, make them a screen saver, print out a version to hang on our wall. Art is everywhere and it is mostly free.
and how about music? Click on youtube, search almost any artist and/or song, and there is a version for you to listen to. I actually get my music at the library by copying their cds. (totally legal if not for commercial use) and listening to them on my computer. At least the library did pay the artist for the work.
I heard of a very influential musician from the 60's that headed a whole new era of music, Nick Drake, https://youtu.be/Cche-h83qNQ , you can listen to one of his songs there. With a few clicks, here was his whole catalog to listen to. In his life, there was no internet, so he did not catch on, and he died an early tragic death from deep depression. If he had been more appreciated, would he have been as big as Bob Dylan? He slipped under the cracks, as most great artists do. We only hear of the ones who got very lucky and had a public success. They become legends. and wealthy. and deeply appreciated.
So back to my idea of how we don't appreciate artists.
I don't know what the answer is. I don't want to think of what this world would be with no art.
No great music.
No beauty of the earth captured in photos, film, paintings.
No beautiful voices singing, soaring music to inspire us, drum beats to dance to.
I do know that we live in a time of tremendous access, a time that almost any art and music we hear of can be found and listened to or looked at within a few seconds. That is the most tremendous gift we have.
and I am very thankful for it.
But please, world, please value our artists.
Pay people who dedicate their lives to making art.
Pay for your music.
Pay for the art on your walls.
Pay for the films you enjoy.
Let our government know that organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts are the core of our civilization and it's expression. Have a voice that supports art and artists.
I am happy taking this hiatus, I am enjoying the very positive feedback and the helpful paycheck. I will continue to make art for myself, how could I not? and I do think one day, I might reenter the marketplace. In the meantime, I can work for joy and self expression, and earn my money another way.
and I can also publicly appreciate all the musicians and artists, and I can that share their brave work with the world.
Listen to some Nick Drake.
He deserves our appreciation.
I love when fun things come in the mail -- this is a coloring book journal that I just received from Kiev, Ukraine!
(An aside: The envelope got my attention, because my Grandmother emigrated from this part of the world way back in 1911, when she was 13 years old. And she kept a diary. Which I still have. But I digress.)
I love the idea of some of the pages having ready-to-color pages, in a detailed zentangle format. About one third of the pages have coloring pages, and the rest are blank. If you want some inspiration, as well as some mindless coloring material right there already in your journal, this is the book for you. The pages have a wonderful variety of topics: mandalas, feathers, birds, owls, fish, boats, water, so many cute things to color!
I see that it comes with blank pages, dot grid or ruled. So whatever you fancy for the journaling pages, you're covered.
My last post is from December 2016, the longest I think I've ever gone without posting here, in the eight years I've been blogging.
My reason: I started a new job, and I planned and executed my first ever trip to South East Asia. In short, I did a deep re-boot of my life, and I am here to say YES, yes to a reboot, to examining every aspect of life and changing what needs to be changed, deepening what needs to be deepened, and discarding what needs to be discarded.
My new job is teaching ESL on line to Chinese children, and I love it. Each morning I get up around 3 a.m. and prep, then go on line and open a screen which allows me to chat and teach one-on-one to Chinese children. We laugh and joke around, I review a power point of various words, pictures, and ideas, and they learn to speak English. My job requires lots of smiling and tons of encouragement, and I find that the very positive energy I need to exude for my teaching bleeds into my whole day, and I am happier. The truth is when you make yourself smile, the body learns from that particular muscle action, and then you smile more spontaneously, and become happier. Starting each day like this is almost a prayer and a spiritual practice now. I envision each of my students in a vibration of love, then I teach. It is a profoundly pleasing way to start the day.
My reboot voyage was to Bali. Bali is a deeply spiritual place, I stayed at 5 different locations: at an Ashram, at the rocky coast, at an ecovillage, at Ubud, a town where wood carving and silver making are the most important part of the tourist economy, and at a luxury beach resort. The ecovillage was the most inspiring, the luxury hotel, the least. The ecovillage (called Lumbung Cottages) was deep in the mountains, and walking around the grounds you felt you were living in a botanical garden. Altars and stone figures down hidden pathways, dancing waterfalls and streams, rice paddies and palm trees cultivated in rows to feed the visitors fresh, organic food, sleeping in Balinese intricate wood carved houses, the whole experience was so magical. Living amongst the food you will eat just feels like a very important way for your body to be connected to the land. I am inspired to make my garden create more of the food we eat.
"Let the beauty we love be what we do" as Rumi says, has a deeper meaning for me now. The order of my life has shifted, both with the need to be up so early each day to teach, as well as to focus on my garden and the food and herbs I am growing. I had struggled for years to make my art earn money, and now I feel relieved of that burden. I can now make art and grow food for joy alone. I don't have to struggle with the effort to force my creative work to earn money, and this feels like a huge gift and release for me. I teach, earn the money, then create in my garden and in my studio letting the work be whatever it wants to be, which is such a better balance for me than the stress of always worrying how my art or herbs could earn me a living.
I am happy to move into the future, and to share some of what happens here.
and here are a few images of Bali:
At Mundung Cottages ecovillage, surprise statues, beautiful plantings, and natural materials were down each mystical path.
At the Gandhi Ashram in Candidasa, these blue door greeted you into the compound.
The view from our balcony at Mundung Cottages.
Balinese celebrate and honor Nature each day, this young woman was taking offerings to a small stone temple just below our house by the sea.
An example of beautiful Balinese wood carving.
Our cottage at the Ashram in Candidasa.
Giving thanks for the beautiful experience of living in the ecovillage for a few days.