Artful Austin, Texas

I just spent the last few days on an explore of Austin, Texas with family.  Having never been there before I was curious about the culture of the city having heard it mimics Portland, Oregon, the area where I reside.  Both cities sport “Keep Portland Weird” and Keep Austin Wierd” slogans.  I think Portland gets the credit on that one.  In the short time I was there I would say that Austin was like Portland with more torn edges and a cowboy overlay.  Substitute evergreen trees for oaks.  Portland is artsy but Austin exudes art to the extreme.  Street art is everywhere from graffiti to spectacular murals.

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The city library did not dissapoint with its edgy architecture, art installations and its current art exhibit “Testament Project” by Kris Graves.

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Green space is in abundance as well.  We had a chance to stop by Barton Springs, a popular swimming spot and the Zilker Botanical Garden.  So many things to see, too little time.  I will have to go back.

 

The Art of Creative Problem Solving

Somewhere overr the rainbowThere are times you will find yourself mired in a quandary. Sometimes the solution becomes clear in a relatively short amount of time and in others it takes a while to get clarity.  Making art is a great metaphor for life in this regard.

I’ve had two art pieces that were finished – but not.  Some things were missing and I did not know what.  So I let them sit for weeks revisiting them from time to time.  I had to let the questions percolate within me for months and be patient.  Recently, I finished both pieces.  All that mulling worked out in the long run.

Somewhere over the Rainbow draft
First draft- can’t find the second!

 

The collage (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) piece pictured was mounted on a cradled (dimensional) board.  Over the weeks I added more marks and contrast but it still wasn’t enough.  I finally came to the realization that it needed a more definite frame around it. Thus I purchased a bigger cradled board, flipped it around, painted it a deep plum, and then mounted the collage board within it.  Voila- closure!

Sprit mask draftThe ceramic mask was the same way as I tried bits of this and that over weeks.  In the end, I replaced the headdress of wheat with two lovely feathers, mounted a piece of an old earring on the forehead, and then glued brass nails around the neck area.  That last step made the formerly boring piece really shine.

In both cases, it took me about three months to get resolution.  The muse can be slow.  Rushing won’t work. I do this same process with my writing.  Put it away and let it stew for a while.  There is nothing like having fresh eyes when looking upon a problem.

Solutions will come. Sometimes you just have to slow down and be patient!Sprit mask final

3rd Blogaversary

why-i-started-to-writeThree years ago I started this blog to promote my artwork because that’s what “everybody” said you should do. (See “I was supposed to be Blogging About my Artwork”) I had no idea how to start a blog, nor post, and what do I write about??  I started anyway and when I got a “Like” and a “follow” on my first post I was stunned that someone actually enjoyed what I wrote!

Three years in writing a blog post is a weekly ritual.  In the process, I’ve developed a love of writing and have gotten several pieces published along the way.  It’s become a meditation of sorts, thinking about what’s been important to me in the week to share. The practice of blogging keeps me grounded.  Some posts are better than others.  Showing up is the important part. Originally I thought it would be more of a show and tell of my visual art process. My intuition told me to do otherwise and as a result, my artwork has taken a more back seat.  This really is just a blog about me on the creative journey we call life.

Then there’s the takeaway from reading the blogs of others.  I’ve gained a lot of perspectives just from reading about the experience of fellow bloggers and commenting on their posts.

Putting up this blog was a creative risk. Every time I post is a creative risk.  But it’s with those risks we take we grow so much! Ultimately the most important thing is that my personal expression satisfies myself.  I still don’t know exactly what I am doing but that is what makes it such an adventure.  If you have been toying with the idea of starting your own blog, just do it.  There are so many tutorials right on WordPress to help you on your way.

Soon to come this year is a second blog dedicated to tips on sustainable living.  Also, I will be including some of my artwork on the bottom of posts just in case anyone is interested. Stay tuned….

Tea Time
“Tea Time” Ink, watercolor, & colored pencil

 

My Words for 2020

A good intention is like the seed of a tree whose fruit we do not know.

George Bernard Shaw

It’s become a personal tradition to rather than make a long list of resolutions to pick a word to live by for the year. Last New Year my word for the year was “courage.” Looking back I believe I did the word justice (to the point of perhaps overdoing it?)  I put myself img_2915out of my comfort zone by making a new body of work, participating in the Art Harvest Studio Tour, completing a printmaking residency, traveling Scotland to walk with friends & then to Ireland solo to attend Craiccean a week-long bodhran (drum) camp on one of the Aran Islands.  Then there were a series of health issues that had to be navigated that took a different type of courage.  I am happy to report things are much better!

Ready to give courage a bit of a rest, my new word for 2020 popped into my head during last week’s yoga class when my teacher asked us to think about and intention for the New Year.  That word is “acceptance” with my secondary word being “focus”.  I find one word can have quite a few layers to it and I am eager to explore where these will take me.

Last night I read the following poem I wrote at a gathering of friends as a toast to the New Year.  I am very optimistic for better times and wish all of you the best for 2020.

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Images by Alanna Pass

Continue reading “My Words for 2020”

A Road Map for the New Year 2020

“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Mahatma Gandhi

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artwork by the author

One of my intentions for the New Year is to manage my time more effectively.  As a creative type, I am constantly let astray by shiny distractions – a crow woman of sorts. I found two books that are very helpful on the subject.

41btviico9l._sx329_bo1204203200_“Make Time” by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky gives clear strategies to simplify and prioritize your day in a way that will give your life less stress and more meaning.  The two authors are self-described “time dorks.” They were so overstressed in their high tech world that they developed simple techniques to really focus on what matters by doing less.  Besides providing you with a simple daily template this book is chalked full of strategies to help you deal with digital distractions, tips to eat and sleep more effectively, and even how to get the most out of your caffeine habit!

Then there is “Manage your Day to Day: Build Your Routine , Find Your Focus, & Sharpen 51gpnuhi4-lYour Creative Mind” published by 99U.  This compact little book is geared more to the creative than Make Time.  There is also some overlap.  Each chapter is written by a different person in creative fields about building a successful creative routine.  The chapters are short, there’s a lot of quotes(I love quotes) and you can open anywhere in the book for a little pick-me-up.

Check these out.  Best wishes for a creative New Year!

 

“If you want to create something worthwhile in your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions” Mark McGuinness

 

 

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The Gifts of December

“the comfort of reclusion, the poetry of hibernation”
― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

This is a bit of a holiday card to all my readers.  I am going on a “blogcation, a bit of a hibernation you might say to immerge after the first of the year refreshed with new ideas and new direction.  In this 12th month, the time of pause, I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a rejuvenating New Year!

Alanna

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Beyond the sparkling lights

Apples hang in winter’s chill

Red ornaments on leafless branches

That brighten the sleeping orchard

A flutter of chickadees gather about the feeder

Giving me pause to cherish

The gifts of December

 

The Goddess of Lost Things

The Goddess of Lost Things“If you’re not careful you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.”
― Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Spellbook of the Lost and Found

Being a creative soul, my brain is constantly mulling over new ideas and possibilities for my visual art and writing.  Being absent-minded really means not being mindful of the reality is in front of me in exchange for the reality I’m experiencing in my brain.  My head is often somewhere in the clouds growing flowers.  A really annoying side effect of that part of the creative mindset is losing things- constantly.  I’m working on it.

A few years ago I welded a piece from junk objects I call ” The Goddess of Lost Things.”On her arms, I hang earrings and I have lost in hopes they will return to me (there have been mixed results). Her headdress is made from a rusted pair of garden clippers, some kind of plumbing fitting for her head and various bits of this and that I came across for her body.

This month”s prompt for “The Nuthatch Society,” My petite writing group was “loss,” a topic that can be explored so many ways.  Rather than the serious side of loss, I chose this everyday part of my life.

Where the Lost Things Are

Tucked in burrows, sheltered from the obligations of daily use

I imagine they are gathered

Possessions I once held in my grasp that broke free and claimed their independence

The khaki hat I wore on the Camino de Santiago, left at a resting stop under a tree

How I missed its wide brim as my eyes squinted and my brow perspired under the Spanish sun- such a lucky find for another pilgrim

My prescription sunglasses in a case of mustard yellow, guaranteed to catch my eye, my name address & phone number in black sharpie on the back

No strategy foolproof

The red leather wallet lost years ago that fit so easily in my pants pocket.  Where are you little one?

Earrings – always my most cherished

The mates, now single, put into service as zipper pulls, charms, and bling for art projects in memory of when they made such a darling couple

Hats, headbands & gloves fallen from pockets on ski trails through snowy woods- usually the ones hand-knitted by dear friends

Sets of car keys

The scarf that dropped from my neck as I walked through the bonny highlands of Scotland

Then the myriad of expensive striped wool socks that enter the wash as pairs and then exit a party of one

Unfaithful jokesters

At times the lost return by chance or effort

Like my favorite watch of silver and turquoise from Santa Fe

But not before I bought a replacement on Ebay

Now I have a spare

In the end, it’s the curiosity that haunts me, the perplexing questions of how, when and where the lost were lost

Questions I would like to be answered complete with videos and maps before I die

Have the socks and earrings joined in more diverse pairings?

What new adventures did my khaki hat have?

Unsolved mysteries that will most likely remain as such

But for now blessings to all my lost possessions

Thank you for your service and blessings to the finder if there was a lucky soul

May you go in peace

As I do as well

My Head is Full of Flowers final 2
“My Head is Full of Flowers”  mixed media monoprint by the author