Staying Tuned to The Muse


“Wild Birds in My Head”  by the author

I’m always staying tuned for ideas (see my post “Where my Ideas Come From”  ) but sometimes they pursue me- relentlessly.  Think about wild birds flapping in your head endlessly or like someone tugging on your apron strings constantly.  Yes, the ruckus will go away eventually, but not entirely.  The inspiration will just go to someone else to be manifested and then pretty soon your muse will give up on you all together and you will be very lonely.



The poem tugged on my apron strings

Begging for attention

When I ignored it

It crept into the kitchen of my mind

Rattling the pots and pans with such a clatter

I could bear it no longer

“Stop!”I cried

“Don’t you know I wasn’t an English major?”

“Find someone else to write you!”

But the poem persisted with such a fuss

That I relented,

Sat down and wrote it,

Then kicked it out the door to the internet

Sighing with relief

Until I felt another tug

on my apron strings.

There is No Magic

fairy-2573105_1280During a little informal open studio I had last weekend at my home I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the accolades some wonderful friends were heaping upon me.   “You’re so creative!”  “I could never do that”.  or “I’m not creative at all.”    There was no large boulder I could crawl under so I found myself getting increasingly self-deprecating to deflect the praise.  Granted, it’s lovely to be recognized, but this is just what I do.  Everyone is creative.  You just need to pay attention to your muse.  Here is my advice to the self-described “non-artist”…


I just said


Wild hairs sprouted

I chose to tend them

Now I have flowers.

Be still




and you will have flowers



On Finding Inspiration



There is a magic in the creative process.  When I am totally in the  “zone,“ it seems as though some divine force plants a seed of inspiration into my psyche & leads me on a journey to bring from the ethos something new & different into the world.  Generally I need to be in a space where I am fully present-  at least with my own thoughts.  I don’t necessarily have to be in my studio.  Often inspiration comes on a walk or doing something as innocuous as washing dishes or weeding the garden.  At this point it is important for me to get the idea either in process immediately or at least written down, for inspiration can be as ephemeral as fairy dust in a breeze.

Sometimes I must plant a seed myself if nothing has been offered from above.  I keep a list spirit-of-g-r-horse-qeof concepts that fascinate me.  For example, a few of my favorites are migration, germination, metamorphosis & salmon.  I will make a list of every sub-concept  I can think of that has to do with that topic, pick a few & then tie them together into a piece.  The Illustrations that are shown in this post are from a triptych titled “The Spirit of Ghost Ranch.”  In these mixed media pieces, my goal was to embody different aspects of Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in Northern New Mexico where I  visit to take art classes & spiritually recharge most summers.


Then there are times I must “prime the pump” for ideas.  One of my favorite hunting grounds is Pinterest.I can get inspiration from other artists & pin them to my own “board” for reference   One of the beauties of the Pinterest algorithm is that it will suggests similar pins that may be of interest to you, leading you down a rabbit hole of endless possibilities.  I can also prowl about blogs, and storefront galleries as well.  My go to guide when I am in a rut is the book, “Steal Like an Artist,” By Austin Kleon.  It’s maybe an hour read and so very encouraging
and inspirational.  If you need a tow truck, this is your go to guide. I refer to it over and over again.51b3zefka3l-_sx258_bo1204203200_

For the most part I work intuitively.  I just start putting down a scrap of paper,  a stencil, a swish of paint, sentence , or start to work a lump of clay  as bait for my muse.  Once I start down the creative path, I follow the breadcrumbs that she has left to tell me where to go next.  I know that if I am tired or stressed it not the right time for creative work- just like you don’t plant tender seedlings in bad weather.  Now it’s time to do something mindless & let my subconscious work in the background.

It’s all a mesmerizing journey of faith but it works- if you give yourself permission to let go & play.



Years ago a teacher once said to me when I was a student in an art class, “You should consider not using so much white space.” I looked at her incredulously.  Yes, my work pinned to the critique wall was markedly different than the wild expressions of the other students’ work that filled the board.  Mine was made of pure forms with a lot china-20152_1280of white space, or negative space surrounding them; the uncovered virgin-white paper a statement in itself.

For me, that remark was something like “change your soul.”  It was similar to the shaming I received as a young girl from my mother “you are too sensitive.”  Growing up I struggled to fit in a loud world & embrace the social norms that my young culture revered.  The music was too loud, venues claustrophobic, & the presence of too many people intimidating.  I was a misfit among misfits.

The book that rocked my perceptions of myself was Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain.  Suddenly my quirkiness made sense to me.  I was an introvert.  My previous perceptions of introverts were individuals that were uncomfortable with all social interactions.  Not so.  Now I realize Introverts can be social & have many connections.  The difference is we need to retreat to quiet to achieve balance in our lives.

I liken these respites to the white spaces in my artwork, the spaces in between the active parts where the eye can rest.  These pauses are a time of rejuvenation and, in my life, can be anything from a walk, a nap, reading a book, walking my dogs, gardening – or anything that brings my being back from the chaos of daily life.  Conversely, now I understand why the extroverts of our society want to bring us introverts into the fold of busy-ness.  They thrive in that energy & the majority sets the standards of what is normal.

After reading “Quiet,” I learned to honor the introverts in my classroom when I was teaching. If a student felt uncomfortable working in a group I allowed them to work alone. As long as they were learning, I was fine with their style.   I’ve learned to honor my own pace when traveling or hiking rather than suffering to keep up with wants of others.  For me, it’s not the destination but the jewels I find in-between point A & point B.  That might be as simple as a flower, a rock, or a conversation with a local.

Our driven multitasking culture celebrates doing more than being.  It would be healthy everyone, to slow down and find oneself in the spaces in between & honor those who march to a different beat. The magic for me is in the white space of life.  In these pauses, I can ponder, wonder, & feel whole in a world that moves at too fast of a pace for my tastes.  It’s been a relief to let go of the expectations of others & accept myself.  In the meantime, I still enjoy making art with a lot of white space.


Come out & play with me

you my best of friends

I am happiest when we hold hands

& dance our secret dance.

Whisper in my ear

& fill my head until it is overflowing

with sparks & flowers

of inspiration.

Let’s bring forth from the cauldron of the ethos

a new incarnation of matter & thought

an offering of our magic

to the altar of the earth.