For Those That Travel the Creative Path

I came across this lovely prose by Charlotte Eriksson as I perused the Goodreads website today. There is no title and is probably an excerpt from an essay. It is so appropriate for any one who is traveling the creative path…..

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“… so this is for us.
This is for us who sing, write, dance, act, study, run and love
and this is for doing it even if no one will ever know
because the beauty is in the act of doing it.
Not what it can lead to.
This is for the times I lose myself while writing, singing, playing
and no one is around and they will never know
but I will forever remember
and that shines brighter than any praise or fame or glory I will ever have,
and this is for you who write or play or read or sing
by yourself with the light off and door closed
when the world is asleep and the stars are aligned
and maybe no one will ever hear it
or read your words
or know your thoughts
but it doesn’t make it less glorious.
It makes it ethereal. Mysterious.
Infinite.
For it belongs to you and whatever God or spirit you believe in
and only you can decide how much it meant
and means
and will forever mean
and other people will experience it too
through you.
Through your spirit. Through the way you talk.
Through the way you walk and love and laugh and care
and I never meant to write this long
but what I want to say is:
Don’t try to present your art by making other people read or hear or see or touch it; make them feel it. Wear your art like your heart on your sleeve and keep it alive by making people feel a little better. Feel a little lighter. Create art in order for yourself to become yourself
and let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.

So go create. Take photographs in the wood, run alone in the rain and sing your heart out high up on a mountain
where no one will ever hear
and your very existence will be the most hypnotising scar.
Make your life be your art
and you will never be forgotten.”

― Charlotte Eriksson

The Power of Play, the Power of Clay

IMG_0003My last show is done for the year and perhaps indefinitely.  I am relieved to return to my ceramics studio without the stress of deadlines.  It’s playtime!

There is so much value in play.  I’m talking about for children as well as adults.  Taking time to play in an art form gives that other part of our brain a rest that worries and analyzes so our spirits can be released.  Unfortunately, our culture undervalues play in favor of productivity. As our schools have stripped theeducation-1814187_1920 arts from their curriculums in favor of core subjects, the population is becoming culturally illiterate, more plugged in, and more isolated.

hand-845269_1920Clay is one medium that immediately can turn adults into kids again and turn kids into kids again.  It’s tactile, versatile, and gives immediate satisfaction. If you need more play in your life, consider taking a ceramics class.  Enjoy the satisfaction of playing in mud again.  I wish everyone had access to clay. The world would be a better place.

Hands in Clay

When my hands touch clay

I lose myself

Deep in the soft, smooth sensation of mud

Sliding between my fingers

 

When my hands touch clay

I am a child at play

With infinite possibilities

 

When my hands touch clay

I become the earth

 

When my hands touch clay

I am Navaho, Pueblo, African, Asian, Aborigine

And of the ancient ones

Sharing the spirit of creation

Hidden in the clay

Waiting to be born

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There is No Word For Art in Their Language

IMG_1344-001When I was in Juneau, Alaska last summer I had the opportunity to visit a wonderful exhibit of native masks in the Sealaska Native Corporation Gallery.  As I perused this captivating collection, I stopped and read an informational plaque on the wall.  I was struck while reading it that the SE Alaskan native cultures do not have the word “art” in their language.

When I returned home I researched further and found that many native cultures worldwide do not have the word “art” in their language.  In Bali the word for artist and human being are the same.  According to Aviva Gold on her blog “Painting from the Source”

……if we are all art makers by virtue of being human, why would we need a special word for art maker? And if “Art” is not a thing, but rather a natural way of life, connection with nature, daily worship, breathing, just being in the moment, then what use is there for the word “Art”? Art and living are the same. Art is complete living.

What a contrast to our modern culture where most are spectators to the arts.  We go hear music rather than play, go to art exhibits & revere artists as some kind of alchemists that should be worshipped.    We have been removed from our tribal nature, sectioned off into individuals on our own devices, so connected, yet so separated.

 

There is No Word for Art

There is no word for art in their language

It is infused in the fabric of their culture

Adorning their bodies and homes

With sacred symbols

On baskets, clothing, totems, rocks

 

It is the voice of spirit expressing

Woven within The Peoples’ memory

Through legends

Passed down through generations

 

Around fires on cold winter nights

The People share their stories in the singing of songs,

And in the dancing of dances

While the drums beat

The children watching intently

 

There is no word for art in their culture

Here everyday items, masterpieces

By everyday people

Not gods

For they are all artists

They know no other way

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Just Show Up

wrecker-2061697_1920No matter what rut you’re in, creative or otherwise, the only way to escape is by momentum.  Whether it be a running start with or without an external assist (think tow truck) as in a class.  Here is a free tow truck- watch the Mel Robbins’ Ted Talk.  She is a good motivator.

IMG_1551After a bit of a dry spell this summer (literally and figuratively), I decided to take the sage wisdom of other creatives and just SHOW-UP.  Anything is better than being miserable. So I have been just showing up to my studio with no great inspiration, choosing to do whatever caught my fancy.  “Junk collage” started me off, then I joined an informal mosaic group on Monday mornings that a friend of mine started.  ThenIMG_1549 there is nothing like SIGNING UP.  I have a couple of holiday shows now I need to create for.  Deadlines are a great motivator.  I bought a new bag of clay and I’m ready to go.

IMG_1547Creative dry spells are no fun.  There is a certain desperation and despair about these times.  But just like being physically out of shape, the only way to get in creative shape is to start moving.  It’s uncomfortable at first and discouraging to begin again.  Creative muscles get sore too.   That means baby steps.  Show up 10 minutes a day if that’s all you have in you and work up to more.

I’m not making masterpieces here, but I am making, and making is when I’m happiest.

 

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Saying Good Riddance to Summer

It used to be my favorite season until the last couple of summers.  We here in Oregon have suffered unusually high sustained temperatures with our wildlands burning.  It’s been tough on the psyche on many levels.  Autumn is my new best friend.

Oregon Summer 2017

The summer left Oregon in hastecloud-2179323_1920

Like an old friend that paid a visit

Then had a falling out

The rains of autumn quickly came to take her place

Quenching the land’s thirst with violent downpours

 

The summer had betrayed us

Bringing unrelenting heat and drought

forest-1161868_1920Thousands of acres of parched forests burned with such intensity

It filled the hot air for days with acrid smoke

Staining the sky, stinging our eyes, making us cough

 

We longed for the familiar temperate comfort of the season

In a gentle land

Safe from extremes, full of verdant beauty

But now our ramparts have been breached and we are unsure

As we wade through this occupation of political and climate extremes

 

The summer left in a hurry

autumn-209479_1920Maybe to gather strength for next year?

Whatever the reason

As the leaves tinge with orange and yellow

Our relief is palpable as we wake with the morning’s new chill

We  welcome the prelude to winter’s coming

 

 

Crow Vision

flock-2574265_1920For the 24 years I have lived on my tiny farm in rural Oregon, I have witnessed a gathering of crows in the Eastern sky late in the days of the warmer months.  They are always flying South, as with some purpose.  Sadly, the woodland hills have been stripped in recent years for vineyards, so the nightly event has gotten smaller.  I’ve always wondered where they go and what mischief they might be up to.  Finally, I’ve gotten around to write about it.

THE CROWS COME AT SUNSET

From all corners of the sky

Black silhouettes winging together as a noisy flock

On their way to their secret destination

Which I long to know

 

I imagine they are sent from the spirit world

Spies in the sleek bodies of birds

Black as shiny coal

From beak to tail

 

They find their nightly roost

In the high branches of leafy trees

An avian barroom full of raucous cawing and flapping of wings

As they share the events of their day

 

The news comes as far as the cold lands of the Far North

To the dry, pastel arroyos of the Southwest

all the way to the crowded cities of the East

Stories they observed from the world of humans

Comedies born from intelligence gone bad

 

The jokes and stories are centuries old

recycled with different characters

Told with such squawking hilarity

That feathers loosen in the crows’ wild animations

And float earthward beneath the branches

 

The party goes on as the sky turns dusky to dark

Stars slowly appear

The birds’ black eyes grow heavy and their voices silent

Then all that can be heard is the sound of crow breathing

And the song of crickets that welcome the night

 

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A screenprint I made in 1994 “Crows at Sunset”

 

 

 

 

 

Summer of Love 50 Years Later

img_1511.jpgLast week the latest AARP magazine (a magazine for the 50+ set) arrived in our mail box complete with a Peter Max Cover.  It was a celebratory issue of the 50 year anniversary of the Summer of Love 1967.  I was woodstock-art-568933_1920stunned.  Could it have been that long ago when I was an awkward teenager in the Bay Area of San Francisco trying to find my way?  It was a time of great excitement & energy that perhaps the youth could change the world for the better.  “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was the motto.  I am in my 60’s now.  Where did it all go?

 

50th ANNIVERSARY

It was post war

I mean the Second World War

My white generation made its appearance

With the “Leave it to Beaver” show & Betty Crocker

We were entertained by black & white TV

Glued to the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evenings

While eating red jello for dessert

 

It was a coming of age to weed, flower children, Rock & Roll, the Beatles

Rose colored glasses, Woodstock, tie dye, bell bottoms

Long hair, the Vietnam War, anti-war demonstrations, peace-love

Free love, Women’s Lib, anti-establishment

Back-to-the-land, and Save-the-Earth passion

 

Where did it all go?

Lost in this world of capitalism and intolerance?

We have blended into the mix of other generations

A thin strata of history

The idealism disappearing with the passing of years

 

Now, lost in a sea of gray hair

I strain to hear those hopeful voices I once knew

Above the din of racism and selfishness

Where did it all go?

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary

Of the Summer of Love

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