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.

 

bcb6aimcaaaqgdu1

 

 

 

 

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

 

IMG_1546
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

peace-2422719_1920

 

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.

When I’m 64

the-beatles-509069_1920It was 1967.  I was 14 years old and a  freshman in high school.  The Beatles had come out with their latest album “Yellow Submarine.”  Mixed in amongst other memorable songs was this one…

“When I’m Sixty Four”

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Continue reading “When I’m 64”

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”