Being a Verb

fairy-2573105_1280It’s a risky business calling yourself an artist or a writer.  People tend to hold you in higher or lower esteem than you actually deserve.  Then there is a matter of assumptions…  Attend a social gathering and then introduce yourself as a brain surgeon to one group a people and then a waitress to another.  You will be treated accordingly.  Thus I prefer to avoid labels entirely preferring when asked what I do using more of these descriptors:

I write, I make art, I play guitar, I sing, I garden, I am recovering from teaching middle school, or whathaveyou.  Then there is the added pressure of living up to your label.  It’s far more enjoyable to be a verb.

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Verbage

I would rather be a verb than a noun

I would rather emerge, shine, fly, dance

And kick up my heels

Rather than just be a person, place or thing

Let me describe an action, state or occurrence

And wedge myself in the predicate of a sentence

Give me the energy to escape the box with a pretty label

And end with the pleasure of being all used up

My wings in tatters

My breath gone

When my time on Earth is done

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So Why Put a Bird on it?

4efEveryone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?

David Attenborough

One of the most famous sketches in the hit show “Portlandia” is the “Put a Bird on It” sketch” where Frank and Carrie, the actors mock the epidemic use of birds on crafty, artsy items that abound on Etsy, other internet commerce sites and of course, Portland hipster stores. (I live an hour from Portland).  Not too soon after, T-shirts, cups, and posters started appearing with the meme, “Put a bird on it.”

Beyond being a birder at an early age and loving the uniqueness of birds.  I have several feeders about my house and so love watching the chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and juncos as they feed.  They are my neighbors.  They fascinate me as they have with humanity for centuries.

Continue reading “So Why Put a Bird on it?”

The Art of Wabi-Sabi

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I recently became acquainted with this word through my online “Year of Painting class.” Alena Hennesy, the instructor uses this word frequently as she illustrates her process of intuitive painting on her videos.  Wabi-sabi in short means “perfectly imperfect” Let go, let the process unfold.

I tend towards the perfectionism.  As I watched the warm-up video and then looked at other’s work being posted I was paralyzed with fear.  This process was way out of my comfort zone- but part of the reason for taking this class was to loosen up.

I started my first piece resisting the urge to recycle my first attempt mid-way and start over. Eventually, I worked through my fear, completed and accepted it.  The piece is too bright and busy for my tastes, but others found it pleasing.  It can only get easier after taking the first step.   I started a small, scary journey and finished, perfectly imperfect.

Wabi-sabi, another of my words for the New Year.

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I was Supposed to be Blogging About My Artwork

Two weeks ago I received a message from WordPress…..

“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com.  You registered with WordPress.com two years ago.  Thanks for flying with us.  Keep up the good blogging.”

This gave me pause on the passage of time and where I’ve come since I originally set up my blog.  Having failed to embrace other social media-Instagram and Facebook with enthusiasm to promote my art, the advice out there said: “you need to blog about your artwork.”  Okay, I thought, let’s give that a go.

Up went my first post, The Artist Demystified” on June 4, 2017, not really about my art but it was a start.  I was stunned to get one “Like”  and then double stunned when I received a “follow.” Wow, somebody read and identified what I wrote.  Then I found the WordPress Community Pool and the Weekly Photo & Writing Challenges (now extinct and sorely missed).  Then I found other bloggers and that I really liked to write and share my writing. Then I found (again) that I really hate self-promotion just for self-promotion’s sake. 

Now I’ve officially let go of the idea that my blog exists to promote my artwork since I really wasn’t doing that anyway.  If someone wanders over to my Etsy shop and purchases something, fabulous, but that’s not why I’m here.  Blogging has become a grounding force in my life

This is pretty much a blog about sharing my thoughts and experiences with others.

May my writing spark some resonance in my readers and bring forth some smiles through this process which I so enjoy.

I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BLOGGING ABOUT MY ARTWORK

You know, make a splash

With Google Analytics

Get followers

Boost sales on Etsy

 

I was supposed to be blogging about my artwork

But then I discovered blogging as an art form

Blogging just to blog

Sending my words out into the universe

To maybe catch hold on the edge

of some other celestial being

 

I was supposed to be blogging about my artwork

And then I discovered other bloggers

With their words that fed me

And then found a hold

In my celestial body

 

I was supposed to be blogging about my artwork

And then I discovered that I just liked to make art

…… not so much the selling 

So I think I will continue to make

And I will continue to write

For no other reason than it feeds my soul

The Art of Keeping a Holiday Tradition

 
The holidays have gotten pretty simple around here My son is grown and there are no grandkids.  We are very modest with our gift giving. Who needs more stuff? I’ve come to value traditions that don’t involve consumerism.

The one thing I have hung onto over many many years is making my own holiday cards.  Sometimes they are color copied, some years they are poems I have written. This I got down to the basics with old-fashioned scissors, glue, scraps of paper, stamps, and sequins.  I made most of them with a group of my friends (see my previous post) It’s fun just take time out of life and just be crafty.

I’m skipping the holiday letter this year in favor of putting a very short handwritten note with my signature.  My card list is relatively small. If I do a few a night all will be out in the mail in a few days to friends and family.

That’s my little gift to others afar from the non-digital world of paper, glue, pen and a bit of love.

The Magic of the Deadline

“The difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline”        Unknown

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When I was teaching middle school science my life was run by daily, weekly, and academic calendar deadlines.  When I walked into my classroom door every morning I had to be ready or suffer some really awful consequences.  (Students can smell when you are unprepared).

I longed for retirement when deadlines no longer ran my life.  Finally,  I could concentrate on my art and the other things I had left simmering on the back burner.  It didn’t take me too long to realize that unless I imposed my own deadlines upon myself, my dreams would still languish on the back burner.  As unpleasant as they can be, deadlines can provide a sense of structure and accomplishment- that is if one sticks to them.  Otherwise, count on suffering a hit to your self-esteem.

bieszczady-1002402_1920It’s been a learning process. One thing I’ve realized is to have a series of deadlines mapped out.  Otherwise, when you finish one there is a sense of disorientation that can set in.  Paying for guitar lessons and showing up weekly has definitely insured progress.  My writing and visual arts practices have been trickier.

I usually get one blog post out every week and try to work on either a poem, essay or journal entry every day before I get out of bed.  Recently I joined a neighborhood writing group that meets monthly so I need something for that.  Then I go online to find publications soliciting for entries and mark my calendar with the deadline.  I have had 3 pieces published in the last 2 years with that strategy.

Artwise I just made a huge (tight) deadline applying for a juried membership in Print Arts NW, the regional printmakers association.  It was a lot of work but success!  I was accepted this week and now can put work in their holiday show.

My continuing challenge is structuring my home studio time with deadlines to be more productive.  Having a flow chart posted with milestones has worked before and I’m going to try that again.  Stay tuned…..

 

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Deadline

Dead Line

Sprawled flat in your path

Like giant road kill

Small, undetectable from a distance

Looming larger and larger

Until its great heaving, behemoth body

Brings you to your knees begging

For mercy between pathetic sobs

And muttered excuses

All the while knowing full well

Relief will only come

When you shut up and scale the smelly beast

Head down, focused

Heaving with all you’ve got

Step by step

Leaving all your whining behind

blocking your ears from the siren sounds

Of your favorite distractions

Eventually, you make it

Drinking in the expansive view from the top

Wondering why you made such a fuss in the first place

Until scanning the horizon

You notice a small lump

Blocking your path in the distance

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The Art of Staying Sane

IMG_1579I hardly recognize the world we live in.  Even though I attempt to shield myself from too much news, I can’t avoid the tragedies of political chaos, mass shootings, human suffering, cataclysmic storms and forest fires from reaching my ears.  Then there’s climate change. It can cause one to live with low-level anxiety.writing-828911_1920

In order to give myself some level of relief, I have a few strategies.  Writing is my first go to.  The immediacy of pen to paper as a mode of expression is so satisfying.  I may write in my journal, work on a poem or continue to write on a longer essay that I’ve been working on.

Continue reading “The Art of Staying Sane”