A Time for Play

I’m in between right now.  That means I am in a lull between past projects and ones yet to be revealed.  This is a perfect opportunity for play which often leads to inspiration. One of my guilty pleasures is taking a selection of cast off junk and combining it into something artsy.  It’s akin to child’s play- no expectations, just fun.

I’ve been eyeing an round, rusty old grill on an equally rusty burn barrel at the back fence line of my property.  Last week I decided to see what I could do with it.

3 tone Plate2I was especially happy that I could incorporate the pieces of a favorite ceramic plate that I made years ago and then recently broke.  Also included are some old springs, washers, a silver bracelet, a hawk feather, jute, a scrap of copper & a couple of glass moonstones for eyes.  It’s now hanging on the outside of my studio. I call it ‘Grateful God.”

A BLESSING

May the light of your soul guide you

May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do, the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work never weary you.

May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you be present in what you do

May you never become lost in bland absences.

May the day never burden.

May dawn find you awake and alert,

Approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected

May your soul calm console, and renew you.

John o’Donoghue

Anam Cara

 

Why I Write As a Visual Artist

d73458fbbe781b9b5b5e94dede7541f3-writing-help-on-writingI’ve kept a journal off and on since I was a junior in high school.  It was an assignment in my English class.  Long after the assignment was over, I kept on as I found it to be a way to clarify my thoughts and anchor myself quelling my teenage anxiety.

Away at college, I added to my journaling by writing letters to friends, often 3 to 4 double-sided pages.  I poured out my hopes and fears as a young adult on yellow lined legal pads. Never during that time did I consider my writing to have any type of creative value. My major was in the natural sciences and didn’t give language arts much if any thought.

Fast forward 40 odd years to my 60’s, now a retired middle school science teacher and a practicing artist, piles of journals stored in boxes in my attic.  Then, last fall I picked up a pencil and started reading & writing poetry every morning as an alternative to reading and listening to the news.  The 2016 election was driving me crazy.  Much to my surprise,035572205f481fafaa1112f666ff3c24 poetry started emanating from me.  Not only was the process satisfying creatively, it started becoming food for my visual artwork.  As time passed, my writing has continued to rescue me from the darkness of the world events. (I choose not to write about them either).

In January of this year, my blog followed the poetry.  Originally it was going to be a way to document my visual art processes, but it has turned into a platform to showcase my writing, photography as well as my artwork.  Again as with poetry, the satisfaction of writing a blog surprised me.

Julie Cameron of the Artist’s Way series suggests writing 3 full pages every morning.  She calls them “Morning Pages.”  Years back for a while I tried to do that.  Though I did receive plenty of insights, the 3 full pages exercise were just too prescriptive and forced to me and I began to avoid the process.

quotes-writing-william-h-gass-600x411Now I believe just write- daily in whatever form suits you.  For me sometimes that can be a few lines, an entire poem or just editing something I’ve written the day before. Anything to tame the squirrels running loose in my brain. It’s a creative act that can be achieved with the immediacy of pencil and paper. You don’t need paint, canvas, a studio, clay or kiln.  It’s a relatively quick process. Paint pictures with letters, words, and sentences.  When you aren’t inspired visually, find inspiration & clarity in your written expression. Free your psyche to give your visual art more direction than it’s ever had before.

Perspective From a Creative Eddy

IMG_1416The studio is cleaned and I am occupying myself with small tasks
IMG_1418 that have gone by the wayside in favor of loftier goals.  That would include painting my hallway, mending, making greeting cards, and doing a bit of experimentation with using my slab roller (for clay) as a printing press.

eddies1
photo courtesy empiricalzeal.com 

Taking stock of my situation, I am in a creative “eddy.” As a kayaker, I find that the sport and rivers offer so many metaphors for life.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, eddy, it is “ a circular movement of water, counter to the main current, causing a small whirlpool”.  You find these on the back side of rocks or behind a point that extends out into a river.  Sometimes you get sucked into them inadvertently, and other times you purposely “eddy-out” to get out of the flow of the river to rest and regroup
Continue reading “Perspective From a Creative Eddy”

Evidence

cave-paintig-490205_1920Some of my favorite art is the cave paintings from Paleolithic times or the rock paintings from ancient Native Americans & Australian Aborigines.  There is an ongoing debate about the purpose of this primitive type of art.  I believe it was about story telling or merely leaving evidence of their existence, much like tracks.  These images were made to be viewed by other people.  A simple hand print on a wall is powerful. It says “I was here.”rock-art-375225_1920

When I ask the question to myself, will my art have a lasting impact on the world?  The fact that I wrote or made is enough.  It proves that I

cave-paintings-3699_640

Horse & Raven
Horse & Raven

was here.  It tells part of my story, of my experience on this earth. Fame is not in my destiny but evidence will be. It is part of me I leave. If someone happens to connect with my work, I am most fulfilled. 

I got this off Austin Kleon’s blog that inspired this post.  His take on the subject is worth a visit.  Keep on keeping on…….img_4441-768x614

 

 

Straight Lines

This little ditty was inspired by another blogger who had taken the time to read my post on Escaping Perfectionism and liked it.  So I  returned the visit (he has a very nice blog by the way).  In his ABOUT page he said he could not draw a straight line.  This got me to thinking about this commonly said phrase implying one has no artistic talent.  Exactly, what is so great about drawing a straight line? What a boring thing to aspire to.  This one is for you Cristian!

STRAIGHT LINES

You say you can’t draw a line that’s straight

MARVELOUS!

That’s what rulers are for

 Do zig and  zag and loop de loop them

And think of straight no more.

squiggle

The Creative Bone in Your Body

 

first coil pot
My first pot at 40 years old.

One of the most common complaints I hear as an art teacher and in conversation with others in the realm of art is “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Here’s the news…… you don’t have creative bones in your body. You have creative muscles. Whereas bones (at least in adults) don’t change much, muscles are changeable and can be strengthened.

We were all born creative beings. The problem with many is that their creativity was not nurtured either at home or at school or both. Then there is that nasty aspect of self-consciousness that creeps in as we grow-up. Still, creativity can persist in sneaky ways. I ask people to look at the manner they dress, decorate their house, garden, cook, parent, solve problems at work & so forth. It’s there waiting to be manifested.

Now if you are hungering to express yourself in the arts, you have to be willing to endure

3 tone Plate2
Later work

the painful practice of getting your creative muscles in shape after years of disuse. Just like getting yourself in good physical condition it can be uncomfortable & discouraging. But “show up” on a regular basis & you will get stronger, confident and feel good about yourself. No one learned how to play a musical instrument without regular practice and one will not sound very good at first. Even among those individuals who were born with any inherent talent from music to athletics, most need some kind of training & practice to succeed. Artists are no exception.

Give yourself permission to start. My childhood talent got unleashed at 40 when the instructor of my 5-year-old son’s clay class agreed to let me be a part of the class. There is nothing like being around a bunch of uninhibited kindergartners to unleash your creative force. Twenty some odd years later I am still a ceramic artist.

My advice to those eager to flex their creative muscles? Go take an art class. Best yet, sit in on a children’s class. Treat art as an inquiry, not a means for a finished product. Don’t judge yourself & allow for the messy, fun process of being a beginner.
taw-25-coverOne book that was my biggest cheerleader on my creative path was Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. All her books on creativity are fabulous but this one will help get you motivated. Now go forth & enjoy the journey.

Air Plant Love

Group photo_PE-1

Imagine you are a plant and you don’t need roots to tether you to the Earth.  Instead you live in a cluster of other like-minded individuals, anchored in the canopies of trees & bushes in tropical & sub-tropical habitats. You have a great view with the company of birds & other tree dwelling animals. Forgoing roots, you inhale nutrients from soft breezes & the rain since you have developed trichomes, specialized structures on your leaves to do so. What looks like roots at your base  are actually anchors that  hold you to another tree or shrub. Like any other plant you can flower & make seeds but additionally you can produce “pups,”vegetative clones from your base.

 

Welcome to air plants, genus Tillandsia of the Bromeliad family (pineapples are bromeliads).  There are approximately 650 types of Tillandsias that exist. They are the nonconformists of the plant world- maybe that’s why I love them. I had been vaguely aware of these plucky little plants from displays in specialty stores. My minor in college was botany I I always considered myself a plant geek. Then one of my 6th grade science students gave me an air plant on a holder that his mother made from a rock, wire & beads.  Instantly I was smitten.   iron Rockin airplant CR

I began to imagine the possibilities of other artistic applications to combine with air plants.   That was my last year of teaching before retirement.  I was looking for some kind of artistic endeavor to immerse myself in post teaching that could tie in my numerous interests and perhaps generate some additional income. Thus I created ArtisanAirplants, a creative business endeavor where I could combine my work in ceramics & found objects with Tillandsias. Up went an Etsy shop and entry into art shows.Tilly flower 3

Some months later I found myself with 200 or so of these unique plants that looked like they could have escaped from another planet.   I started designing pieces designed for a certain species of air plant in mind. Many of my ceramic air plant holders are intentionally twisted & bent playing off the whimsical qualities of the plants. My work often reminds people of something out of a Dr. Suess landscape.  I also like to juxtapose them with non- natural objects such as vintage tools & hardware.

On travels around Oregon & beyond I am always on the lookout for what universe has to offer me for my art. You might find me frequenting thrift stores & garage sales for unusual accessories. My kayak & backpack will often be loaded down with rocks and other interesting pieces of flotsam & jetsam to use for pieces. Treasure hunting is an integral part of my artistic process.

Spanish moss curtain

If you are a plant lover, one great thing about Tillandsias are that they are so small that you can have lots of them. They adorn several of my window sills, walls, and hang over my kitchen sink.  I have a living bathroom “curtain” made of Spanish moss. Kids love them.  I tell my kid customers that they are easier to take care of than a hamster.Deer SKull PE 3 crop

There is a sad misconception that abounds that Tillandsias need  little or no care. If you do decide to bring air plants into your home, please be aware that they need carecropped-monklady-1 similar to a  houseplant, ie proper lighting, ventilation, & watering.  The main difference is that since they forgo soil, you need to water them by soaking & misting.  Avoid buying from big box stores as they don’t know how to care for them properly.  You best bet is a specialty plant store or an online air plant company.  

Consider them the next time you go to buy a gift, for a loved one or yourself.  They will make happy company.