Art is Life is Art: 3:36 am

wolfpainting

 

To be misunderstood can be the writer’s punishment for having disturbed the reader’s peace. The greater the disturbance, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding.

Anatole Broyard

 

3:36 am

if I whisper words

will you hear them?

if I fashion them

properly

carefully

just so

will you understand what I am truly saying?

I have bled into every word

I have saved tears and tucked them into the corner
of every picture that I hand you

I tell stories, speaking softly and slowly
in order to mitigate the drama

because the drama ruffles your feathers
and stops up your ears

so I stop talking

But the stories rumble

and my bleeding heart is impatient
with my whispering concerns over reception

it circles and

paces

paces

paces

until bars bend

and all runs free

I howl and claw

and no longer give a damn if you speak Italian or French

 

~ Betsy Cañas Garmon

 

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00July 3rd, 2014|Art is Life is Art|3 Comments

Lessons from a Big-headed Girl

Big-headed Girl 3

 

“Intuition can also mean an instant recognition of a truth, sensing that you are doing the right thing in making a choice or decision even if it is not the immediately obvious option, or an experience of knowing the probable outcome just as it is beginning to unfold. The dictionary defines it as immediate unreasoned perception.”
― Sylvia Clare, Trusting Your Intuition: Rediscover Your True Self to Achieve a Richer, More Rewarding Life

Some pages, paintings and images have a lot to say.  I have long been keenly aware of that dynamic in the work of others.  I’m a total art museum/symphony cry baby.   Beautiful art moves me.  But it took me a little longer to listen to my own work.  After years of practicing and teaching traditional drawing & composition, painting and color theory, my main motivator when I approached a blank canvas was to get it right or make something that would sell.

And then I began journal keeping and decorating pages.  I began to marry my creative practice and my spiritual practice.  My intuition began to pour out onto the page – first in streams of words and poems and then in images.  I allowed my deepest heart to emerge in my journals and I began to explore painting with no regard for technique or audience.

One of the first paintings that I painted intuitively, was a self portrait.  I didn’t sketch first and I chose the paint colors without thought.  I painted with my intuition.  And I hated the painting.

Big-headed Girl 1

She shook me up.

The proportions were off.

The colors were strange.

And she didn’t really look like me, but she did.

I wanted to paint over her.  Add.  Correct.  Fix.  Just start over.

But, I sensed there was more there.

So, I hung her on the wall in my studio and waited.

Eventually, she spoke.

She told me stories of moving without worry.   And pointed me to tales filled with accuracy and inaccuracy and freedom.  She showed me that I could weave grace into my painting process.  And reassured me that my serious-minded ways are just fine.

She taught me to stay when things go south.  Stay and paint through.  Stay and listen.  Just stay.

She taught me not to think too much.  My head gets so big.  So full of ideals and expectations.  Pride and needing-to-know block so much of my creative process.  And if I’m honest, my living.  Shame and less-than-perfect execution muddy the water.  So, I stall.  Or look at someone else’s work and feel small.

She reminds me that sometimes unfinished is finished.

I look at her and I breathe.  I look at her and I feel grace.  She handed me permission and voice that I could only give myself.

Big-headed Girl 2

She reminds me to hold my hand open.  To wear fire and a crown as daily garments.  To courageously hold out my heart even though the risk is high that it will be broken from all the exposure.

Perhaps she has something to say to you, too.

Breathe deeply.  Be in your life.

Betsy

 

“Intuition is seeing with the soul.” – Dean Koontz

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00June 4th, 2014|Art is Life is Art, Sacred Art, Uncategorized|0 Comments

On celebration

 

R is 50

Celebrate good times,come on! (Let’s celebrate)

Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)

 

There’s a party goin’ on right here

A celebration to last throughout the years

So bring your good times, and your laughter too

We gonna celebrate your party with you

 

Cool and The Gang

 

Last week was a marvelous, full week that was all about celebration.  R turned 50.  Which means that later this year, I do, too!  Most adjectives seem too small for this man that I’ve walked beside for three decades. He is patient and focused.  Quiet and determined.  Passionate and intense in his pursuits.  He walks on the edge and is willing to risk for his dreams, but never, ever at the cost of the relationships in his intimate circle.

 

It speaks volumes, that it was our children that put together most of the celebration details.

 

R bass

 

Once upon a time, in our early years, he sold a beautiful bass guitar to keep food on the table.  After planning for months, the Brilliants presented him with a vintage bass almost exactly like the one he sold.

 

“Because you always put us first, we wanted to give back to you.”

 

It was an amazing full-circle moment.

 

 

Black Sheep Table

 

As was this.  I didn’t have to lift a finger for R’s birthday dinner.  Again, the Brilliants came through and handled every single detail.  Seriously, I’m reaping the benefits of this full-circle thing, too.  Our Joshua snapped this photo of the family hearing about the first course from the chef.

[On a side note, if you’re in the ATL area, I highly recommend no. 246 in Decatur.  Good golly!  We dined at the Black Sheep Table – 4 courses served family style with pairings. The food was divine and the service was stellar.   Recommend.  Recommend.  And you know how picky I am about food and experiences. It was perfection.]

 

Three generations, words of affirmation, laughter, stories.  It was exactly what celebrations around the table are supposed to be.

soft places

My wish for you is that you celebrate.  Don’t wait for 50th birthday parties.  Celebrate something today.

 

flowers leftover from a birthday party

morning light coming in the window

the color of your companion’s eyes

the sensation of breathing

something that makes you laugh

something that makes you cry

all of it

 

There is much to celebrate today and everyday.  Blessings to you.

 

Be in your life.

 

Betsy

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00February 24th, 2014|Art is Life is Art, Food|0 Comments

#iamthevessel

 

#iamthevessel

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already posses.”

–  Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

This is the oil of my creative life.  I am lifting it to the sky, and pouring it out onto the earth and into hearts.

From coffee with one of the 20-somethings that I birthed to teaching journal-keeping as a spiritual practice to the 20-somethings that I’m honored to serve, I am pouring out my life.  I am sewing journals, tearing paper, listening well, tending to gardens and being faithful to my own morning practice of words and paint.

Yesterday is full of maps.

Tomorrow, will come.

Today, I will BE and I believe that it is enough.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:31-04:00November 12th, 2013|Art is Life is Art|3 Comments

Way has closed behind me

IMG_2308

[1000 Pieces of my Heart.  Page 1:  Clearing]

“Ruth,” I said, “people keep telling me that ‘way will open.’  Well, I sit in the silence, I pray, I listen for my calling, but way is not opening.  I’ve been trying to find my vocation for a long time, and I still don’t have the foggiest idea of what I’m meant to do.  Way may open for other people, but it’s sure not opening for me.”

Ruth’s reply was a model of Quaker plain-speaking.  “I’m a birthright Friend, “ she said somberly, “and in sixty-plus years of living, way has never opened in front of me.”  She paused and I started sinking into despair.  Was this wise woman telling me that the Quaker concept of God’s guidance was a hoax?

Then she spoke again, this time with a grin.  “But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that’s had the same guiding effect.

 

From Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer

 

It’s over.  10 months of immersion in IGNITE, Connie Hozvicka’s Fearless Painting Teacher Training.  From the very beginning of IGNITE I knew that I wanted to excavate how to be involved in the lives of others through art/healing/teaching and still stay true to my own creative practice.

This place that I’ve landed is very different than where I thought I’d be, now that we’re at the end.  When I started IGNITE, I thought I was going to define wild thyme creative in a very tangible way.  I thought that I would set goals, focus on my business plan and activate those plans.  Quite frankly, within a short couple of weeks, if I could have quit, I would have.  I was overwhelmed with trying to orient to the class work load, plus, live my full life.

Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t going to be defining and activating a business as I was still *** “creating a clearing in the dense forest of my life.”  Most of the time, the “invitations” felt like assignments  – heavy with deadlines and shame for not meeting deadlines.  However, the sensation of shame only lasted as long as I stayed with measures outside my knowing and my body.   Such an amazing lesson.  Way was closing behind me with a profound guiding effect.

IMG_2272

“Give yourself credit for what you’re already doing.”

“You’re doing more than you realize you’re doing.”

These phrases and others like them, resonated deeply when they were spoken.  They vibrated through the atmosphere and I pinned them in my journal like a butterfly in a shadowbox.  Framed butterflies are beautiful and inspiring.  But, also, very far from the exquisite reality of a live butterfly flitting from flower to flower in the garden.  The word Doing kept clanging against my heart and soul.    Doing, doing, doing.  It was no secret throughout the trek through IGNITE that I am not a DO-er, my greatness is that I am a BE-er.

Our final invitation for the course was to create a body of work that reflected the lessons we learned during IGNITE.  For me, this body of work was about recognizing the shift in my focus from Doing to BEING.   As I moved through the course, I learned to cover the doing/lack of doing with grace and acknowledge that I BE, so very well.

The true lessons from this course had less to do with painting and teaching and more to do with Who I Am and How I BE.
LEE_7664
[Journals Jan – June in the Scarborough Faire garden – parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme]

Throughout IGNITE, I never once stopped journaling or taking daily photos.  I engaged in the spiritual disciplines of my faith, gardened and gathered people in circle.  I created beautiful environments for friends and family, wrote letters, songs and poems and lived my rich, beautiful life well.

This last body of work shows the crossover between my life and camera, garden, journal and paint.  It is a weaving of my self and text and paint and pages.  Originally, I was envisioning a series of paintings.  [Because that’s what I thought I needed to DO…]  But as I stepped into execution and reflected on process, it became apparent that the juice for me, is in the integration of life, pages and final art.

When I stopped to pay attention to where my breathing was deep and settled, the truth began to emerge from the mist.   My breath and body lead me to path.  When I tuned in to where I was hyperventilating and fidgety, I was able to follow a bread crumb path back to exactly where I need to be.  When I followed Peace and Permission, I found that Clarity was there too.  In facilitating Hug Your Story workshops, I say aloud that “the pages inform my art.”  But, the reality is that my art and life and pages and words and images and collections and paintings all inform each other.  Despite my love for sorting and classifying, I don’t even try to sort and classify my life and art.

And so, I made a book, from a painting and I filled it with bits and pieces of my life and heart – my true body of work.
Untitled
“BE in your life” is what I say to my children instead of, “Be Safe.”  When my oldest son started driving I realized that the words that came out of my mouth, whenever my children left the house, were full of fear.  So I made a change in the declaration I was making over their lives.  Today, when someone walks out the front door of our house we say, “BE in your life.”

They are my heart
Oh, these 6 people have my heart.  The life we live together and the spaces that I create for them has been my body of work for decades.  It has been the proving ground of all that I now share.   This heart is embroidered, with stitches that my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl, on a photo of my precious ones taken on Easter Sunday.  It’s the way it is when you live a creative life.   Past woven to the present.  Art stitched to sacred practice connected to loved ones that sometimes make it to a painting or a photograph.

My children have flown from the nest are most magically in their lives; and now, I am learning to give myself all the same verbs, space and permission that I’ve given them.

Delighted to share lessons/pages/life/art with you.

Be in your life!

~betsy

***  a line from the poem Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.  I held the poem as my intention for the class.  You can read it in its entirety HERE in this blog post from last week.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00August 12th, 2013|1000 Pieces of my Heart, Art is Life is Art, Journals|5 Comments

Start by starting.

The ability to start out upon your own impulse is

fundamental to the gift of keeping going upon your own

terms. . . . Getting started, keeping going, getting started

again— in art and in life, it seems to me this is the

essential rhythm.

—Seamus Heaney, poet

Surrender {detail}

Me:  There’s so much that’s happened in the last 6 months.  I don’t even know where to start.

Him:  Just start exactly where you are right now…

 

It’s really that simple.

 

Step back in.

 

Start by starting.

 

Exactly where you are, right now.

 

And so, today:

 

  • I am releasing expectations

Open Hand

I am opening my hand.

Releasing the huge list of “shoulds” and “targets” that haunt me.   I am allowing myself to be EXACTLY WHERE I AM. 

[Thank you, Jeanie, Christine and Louise, for words and permission the other day.  They vibrated through me, shaking off dust and lies.  I found myself singing just the song I needed to sing.  Words arranged themselves and colors burst forth as truth and trust settled into my heart.]

Today, I’m listening to my body and giving myself permission to BE.   I am in the garden and on the pages with my hand and heart wide open.

LEE_8322

 

  • I am also, slightly overwhelmed by stimulus

Actually, if I’m honest, more than slightly overwhelmed.  I have Sensory Integration challenges.  I don’t really talk about it much.  A few of my close friends know.  It used to feel like shame, but these days, it just is.  I simply live it; I don’t judge it.  I’m almost 5o years old and I’m finally figuring out how to navigate life in my own skin.  Migraines and tears have shown me the path to honoring my sensitive soul.

I now know that I’m not Too Much or Hypersensitive

I don’t need to Get over it or Calm Down

I no longer engage in complex behaviors of Fight, Flight and Freeze.

Untitled

I mean I still engage in a version of all of the above, but not out of terror.  I simply pay attention to where I am and what I need and I give my Self permission to access what I need for health and life and presence.

I recognize that my sensitivity is part of the way that I see.  I take in everything, all at once or sometimes by hyper-focusing on one thing.   I see possibility in everything and everyone.  My art and writing are full of throw aways from the rubbish bin and unique perspectives, because deep down inside I always believe there’s a puzzle to solve or dot to connect.  I’ve learned to move slowly, so as not to overwhelm myself.  Which means that sometimes I circle a project or scenario for a long time without landing.

The fact that I’m super tuned in, often shows up in my physical world and body. Sounds are extra loud and sensations are extra sensational.  Thus sometimes, like today, my t-shirts are flipped inside out to keep the tags off of my skin.

Tags

Sometimes, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and remember to breathe.  But I am learning to stay in touch, move with the ebb and flow and truly BE in my life.

Untitled

  •   I’m also, squeezing juice out of paper

As I extend grace to myself in the midst of deadlines and taking-too-long projects, I am faithfully showing up to the pages of my sketchbooks.  I am telling myself the truth and I am storing the queues and lists of things that will make sense later.  I am sifting through my heart and life with words and paint and collage, knowing that when the time is right, it will all come together and I will approach whatever needs approaching, with a whole heart.

Untitled

That’s exactly where I am right now.

Where are you?

By |2016-10-19T14:20:32-04:00July 29th, 2013|Art is Life is Art, Uncategorized|10 Comments

Mandala Monday: A mandala for beginning

mandala & journal pages

Mandala for beginning
{extra fine sharpie marker}

October 1.  If I was a resolution maker, I’d be making some resolutions, because for me this is the beginning of the year.  I used to think it was because I’ve been on a school calendar for most of my life, but after years of gardening and listening, I now know it has more to do with the fact, that I’m tuned into cycles.  The circles and the coming and goings of seeds and seasons.

sunflower seed headAs I was driving down the road last week, over about a 10 mile section of road, I saw three different sets of vultures circling.   A reminder to set my eyes on the circle of life.  Leaves are starting to fall, the garden is a bit of mess in the loveliest of ways.  Alive with migrating butterflies and seed pods and deadheads that are feeding the birds now and falling to the ground for next year.

handful of October leavesNew things are beginning.  Odd to be so aware of them when everything seems brown and tired.  But the crisp air, fresh apples and pumpkin candles smell like Hope.  And my orange sweater with the big brown button is my party attire.
 
I’ve been painting pages and cleansing spaces in preparation for the soul work ahead.  I’m not really a resolution maker.  Resolutions feel too much like the performance-for-affirmation hoops I’ve stepped away from.  I am however an intention setter.  These are my intentions for this next season:

Dried hydrangeasI wish to begin with courage, reverence and authenticity and with eyes, arms and heart wide open.  In this season, I choose to honor individual story, approach and timing as I trust the Holy Spirit to reveal Path, plumb depths and clarify Voice.  Bendiciones.

 

 

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00October 1st, 2012|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|1 Comment

The Spiritual Discipline of Journey

Stairs outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

exploring outside Chiang Mai, Thailand

“Journeys open up our spirit to the possibility of a reality it hasn’t yet grasped.”  Seth Barnes

 

The first time that I met Seth Barnes, was January of this year, 2012. I was sitting next to him in a room full of people, in a cabin in North Georgia. Randy and I had just said yes to being coaches on the World Race, this thing that we knew we were supposed to do, but didn’t yet fully understand. At that point, all we knew was that a group of 20 – 30 somethings would be traveling to 11 countries in 11 months and that our volunteer work would be to meet them at different points along their journey and “coach” them. We knew in our gut that we were supposed to respond with a yes.  At least Rands did. I was not so confident. As the boundaries around my time and space are newly forged, I was hesitant. It had been years since we’d yes to something, anything, without a lot of facts and research. For crying out loud, we took weeks to choose a refrigerator and there we were, within a few days of being asked, handing over a precious yes.

 

Honestly, the yes came out of trust in our friend Rozy, not out of any huge understanding of the organization or of what we were getting ourselves into. Clearly, my knowledge was limited, because at our coaches training, I was sitting next to the founder of AIM

[Adventures in Missions] and didn’t know who he was.

 

I didn’t know him, but, I recognized a fellow “life catcher” and scribe when I laid eyes on his journal. It was a simple, humble composition notebook. The kind with a black and white marbled cover, that you can get every back-to-school-season in the US for about fifty cents. A plain notebook, filled with words and lists and ideas. Of course, I asked about it right away. It turned out that, like the man, the book was humble externally, yet filled with brilliance.

 

“Tell me about your journal.”

 

And he did.

 

The magnetic pull of that journal, soon had me caught up in one of the most fascinating conversations of my life. I now know, that I was hearing bits and pieces from the book, Kingdom Journeys.

 

Kingdom Journeys book, passport and travel journal

passport & Nairobi page in my WR travel journal

I love good stories, which means I love good conflict. Part of the reason that I am passionate about capturing personal narrative is because when you begin to document your own story, you inevitably find tension. And, it is in conflict, paradox and tension, that we find God. Seth walks in Pilgrimage and Journey, in the same way that I embrace journaling & artistic practice – as a spiritual discipline.  He says on page 18 of Kingdom Journeys:

 

“I will always think of Chiapas as the place where my journeys collided. It took a physical journey to complete a spiritual one.”

 

And later, he speaks of Restlessness.  A sensation that can be a curse and lead to vain wanderings or be a motivator, a gift, that can lead to a calling.

“Traditional peoples found ways to turn the Curse of Restlessness into the Git of Restlessness by weaving it into the sacred.  They made a spiritual discipline out of leaving. some call it a pilgrimage or a rite of passage or an initiation experience… The essence has always been about tapping into restlessness to help people discover the divine at work: both in the world and in themselves.  Their journey turned the curse in the Gift it was meant to be.”

 

So, true. A year ago Randy and I didn’t know that the World Race and AIM existed. We had no idea that we would journey to far-flung places with our beloved D Squad. We had no idea that our hearts would be shifting and expanding to hurt big and love big. After our last trip, I wrote:

I am no longer satisfied with a comfortable, small existence. I understand that I must stretch my courage and my heart. Painful? I expect so. Maybe, there will even be more pain. God help me. Fear, stand aside. I am discovering what I am made of. I am made of vulnerability and I am in total dependence on God. Safety is no longer an option.

 

 

Elephant ride in Thailand jungle

Elephant ride in Thailand jungle

“All of us are on a journey. We can’t escape the beginning and the end, but the middle is full of crazy possibilities.”

pg. 23 Kingdom Journeys

 

For a free download of Seth Barnes’ book Kingdom Journeys: Rediscovering the Lost Spiritual Discipline, go HERE.  [through September 29, 2012]

 

 

 

 

 

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 27th, 2012|Art is Life is Art, Journals, Travel|6 Comments

on Dragons

left handed dragon

Dragons.  In the West, something to conquer and in the East, a sign of good fortune.  Dragons first appeared in my art back in October in a painting from a retreat in Sedona, AZ.  The image resonated and I chose the word DRAGON to be a theme for this year.   {Before I even knew that 2012 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon…}

Dragon Girl

Since then, dragons have shown up on the corners of morning pages and in my journals and paintings.  Even on coffee mugs.

Page Dragons

Coffee Dragon

Sometimes they’re pointing to something that I need to face and sometimes they’re simply a reminder that I’m empowered and live in good fortune.

I encountered one of my something-to-face dragons this past weekend while painting in Athens, Georgia with my Fearless sisters-in-paint.  A handful of us met last year when we painted together in Sedona, AZ, but others were gathering in “real life” for the first time.  I still don’t have words for what it is to be in the same room with like-minded creatives to paint.   It is like oxygen for my soul to come together with people who validate my practice by simply being themselves.  Who increase the trust in the room and thus expand art and expression just by sharing the same space.

“Just bring a little money for tips!”  {One last message from Jennifer as we were wrapping up details for the weekend.   I confess it made me wonder – since there’s a strip club across the street. 😉 }  In reality, we had reflexology treatments, yummy homemade food {Jennifer’s chicken salad is to die for!  Welcome to the South ladies.} Plus, gift bags filled with hand-rolled chocolates and fun artsy stuff.   Oh, the surprises!  The weekend was full of deep conversation, moments of healing and surprises.  Several surprises.  Lots of surprises.  Our hostess, Jennifer Schildknecht of Over the Moon Creative Possibilities, not only opened her studio and hosted this mini reunion, she tucked what my mother-in-law calls “happies” all over the place.  One “happy” was 2 to 3 hours of  figure drawing w a live model.  {Jennifer’s studio provides figure drawing classes for local artists and art students.}

Yikes!  Drawing is one of my dragons.

Embellishment Dragon

My drawing skills always feel Not-Quite-Enough.  I know the raw talent is there, but the skill remains under fed and neglected.  So, when one of our surprises was figure drawing – for hours – I’m not gonna lie; I panicked a little.  When it comes to drawing, especially from life, I struggle.  I know what I WANT my drawing to look like.  {Michaelangelo or DaVinci’s studies would be the standard.}  And that’s NOT what my drawings look like.  The truth is a 25 year gap since I did this last + a little panic was a bad combination.  I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.  The little misses and the inability of my hand and eye to cooperate to capture the magic that I see in every shadow, line and detail left me frustrated.

And frozen.

I stood there.

Charcoal in hand, trying to calm down.

Trying to start.

Wrestling with perfection.

Seeking to open my hand.

Despite the panic, I’ve learned enough over the years to just start moving when I’m frozen.  I don’t have to understand, I just have to move.

So, I moved.  I pushed and pulled.  Drawing all the way from my shoulder.  {The lesson from Sedona}  I put aside the timid movements from tight fingers and opened up.  I began to listen.  To hear and pay attention to my INSIDE VOICE.  At one point I made eye contact with Hali.

“I’m having a little art school angst.”

“Yeah, me too.  Time to change this up.”

And so it SHIFTED.

We moved.  We invited paint to the party.  We turned on music.  We moved to the floor.  We even turned drawings upside down.

At the end of the day, my drawings were average, but with encouragement from my sisters in paint, the shift to intuition was beyond powerful.

The next day, with bags packed and coffee poured, we settled in for a last few hours of quiet and paint.  I decided to tape up a study and and a blank page and face the dragons.  Before I chose a color or picked up a brush, I asked the drawing:

figure studies

What is Your Message?

and then I painted.

mountain woman

I don’t fully understand yet, but the mountains and the snake, the gold and the red, the full moon, the circles and the pouring drips were like my Inside Voice climbing out onto the page and making Declarations about what’s coming.

oh, Dragons.  Challenge + Good Fortune.  Welcome to my life.

Journal Dragon

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00April 5th, 2012|Art is Life is Art|18 Comments

1000 Gifts & turn around time

“Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.”

Ann Voskamp

Yesterday was a horrible, melt-down kind of day.  R tried to find me and missed time after time.  My judgments about safety & place for story, like a pair of sunglasses worn inside the house, were my only filters, leaving me with a dark view.     In addition, my sensory filters were gone and I was raw; noises were too loud and lights were too bright.  Clutter and projects were completely overwhelming and I chose independence over trying to be understood.  I cried all day and into the evening when a migraine finally put me out of my misery and I retreated to bed.

Ironically, I was supposed to be counting happiness moments.

I started with a cute face coffee mug.

Then I found a letter from a friend that had gotten lost in the Christmas mail bin.

That’s as far as I got, after that it was all tears.  Hence the crumpled handkerchief.


A wise friend told me years ago that maturity isn’t a life void of challenge and loss of perspective; maturity is simply having a good turn-around-time in your heart and mind.  My turn around time is getting better.  It used to be about 20 years, now I’m in the 24 hour to 2 week range.

Yesterday was a mess; today is rainy and quiet with a cup of tea and a lot of writing.

I’m collecting 1000 gifts in hopes that the daily practice of a paradigm shift towards joy and gratitude will guard my heart and improve my turn-around-time.   {If you’re on Instagram, check #1kGiftsDare_wildthyme or go HERE and see the first 31 gifts.}

~betsy

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00January 17th, 2012|Art is Life is Art|2 Comments

Mandala Monday: Mandalas for conversation & processing.

Mandala9Jan2012

“The crucial variable in the process of turning knowledge into value is creativity.”
John Kao

Last week was a big week for processing.  {And that sentence is just too small to contain the shift and movement that I know are coming!}  It’s actually been a HUGE week for processing.  Which means lots of time in the pages and a couple of long conversations with my long-time, heart friend, Candi.  These mandalas were drawn while she and I were having epic phone conversations.  {One of those times was literally in the middle of the night, when we realized that we were both awake.  Thank you twitter.}

I often draw during conversation or when I’m taking notes.   The rhythm of drawing mandalas soothes my bouncing brain and keeps me present.  Of course if something strikes me, I write it down, thus these mandalas are surrounded by lists of books to read, wisdom and insights from dear friends and the thoughts and dreams that ultimately emerge in the entire process.

Mandala 5Jan2012 {acrylic, paper scraps, Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, Derwent watersoluble Graphitone & metallics}

Today’s list – January Books:

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron {re-visiting w a friend.  Still full of wisdom and movement.}

The Mandala Workbook by Susan Fincher {I think I’ll just keep cycling through these exercises.  Beautiful & deep}

The book of Ephesians by St. Paul {Oh, I love to study…}

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor {The Bluestocking Babes are reading short stories}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00January 9th, 2012|Journals, Mandala Monday|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: A mandala for starting

Mandala for starting

“Winning starts with beginning.” Robert Schuller

Starting a new journal is simultaneously exciting and intimidating.  All those blank pages…

Not ever knowing how to start, I usually skipped the first few pages of a new journal, until I read a wonderful post by Stephanie Smith over at Rhodia Drive about her practice of adding a mandala at the front of each journal that she begins.  The idea of blessing a book with intention resonated with me.    It was such an epiphany.  Mandalas are beautiful & contemplative and after drawing/painting them for years, flow easily from my finger tips.

I recently finished both a morning pages painting journal and a my-story-all-in-one-place book.  So, this morning, found me with a new Morning Pages book full of nothing but white pages.  I painted a mandala on the inside cover, entering the book with intentions of honesty & consistency.  Here’s to showing up to the pages.

Good Morning

{Derwent inktense pencils, watercolor, India ink w brush, acrylic, Tattered Angels glimmer mist}

By |2016-10-19T14:20:33-04:00September 12th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|3 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Interview by Dawn Sokol

I was honored last month to be interviewed by Dawn Sokol for the Journal Fresh portion of Create Mixed Media site.

Here are supplies and text details for the pages included as part of the interview.

Freedom

“No one is free when others are oppressed.”  There are more than 27 million slaves in the world today.

(stats from Zach Hunter of Loose Change to Loosen Chains}

{Tim Holtz® Distress inks, stamp, sticker, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pens}

blue nest

{Gesso, acrylic paint, tissue paper, origami paper, watercolor crayon, shipping label, nest sticker, graphite}

Magic Hour at the barn

{Gesso, stamp & ink pad, Derwent watersoluble graphite, 4×4 PostalPix print, dip pen & India ink}

my brokeness has come together to form the wings that have given me...

{Ink pad, torn painted paper scraps, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen}

...definition and flight

{Ink pad, torn painted paper scraps, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen}

Life makes me sizzle

{Watercolor, Sakura Pigma® Micron® pen, butterfly sticker, ink pad}

You can find the interview HERE.

Enjoy!

~b

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00September 6th, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|2 Comments

A manadala for prayer & poetry

Recently attended this conference w/ R and two of the boys.

Mandala for poetry

There were prayers, discussions & questions and a lot of space made for prayers, discussions & questions.

this is your day to explore

bring an Expectant Heart

There were blessings and wise words spoken by David Taylor, author of For the Beauty of the Church. I asked that my copy of his book be inscribed with a pastoral blessing. I confess I’ve re-read the inscription several times.  Blessings are like that… easy to return to, as they give us clarity and gumption.   Wonderful to have poured over our heads or put into words to keep close by.

photo-13

{May God grant you the grace to discern the specific contours of your calling pastorally and bless you to expand beauty upon the earth.}

Habits define us.

choose and rechoose and rechoose

The evening wrapped up with a poetry reading and some beautiful music; and as is often my habit when listening, I drew.  Anya Silver’s poetry put me in mind of trees with deep roots & the regular things, that in their simplicity, capture hearts.  I came home with a slim volume of her poems called, The Ninety-third Name of God. The impact of these words has been anything but slim…  Attend again next year?  Yes, please.

Mandala for poetry

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 25th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|2 Comments

Art is Life is Art: July – Bird

red bird 490x180

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso

When I shared this watercolor WIP with some creative friends, one asked about my process.    These days getting to art is nothing “pancy” as my sweet little Goddaughter would say.  In my world, getting to art is all about carrying a book and catching ideas, then guarding the time to execute said ideas.

Before I share the details of my process,  I have to tell you that my 5 year old niece, Ruby,  is one of my artist heroes.  She makes incredible amounts of sparkly art, full of color and movement, from her window-walled corner table.

IMG_3434

She helped me decorate my travel journal when I stopped at her house on the way to London.  {Note the blue squares and gold chocolate wrappers that she glued in the book for me.}

IMG_3510

And this past holiday season, she spent some time down in the studio with me playing and creating.

Scanned Image 112290000
It was a delight to watch her work.  She wasn’t worried about how to use materials properly or whether or not there would be more supplies.  She just joyfully made stuff – all kinds of stuff.  She literally hugged her work before during and after its creation.  Even now months later her energy and inspiration still linger in the room as some of her work hangs there and I talk often about her wide open approach.

So, when in the ongoing collaboration with Meghan Arias, we landed on the word BIRD as July’s word, I entered a sequence of thoughts & events that went something like this:

  1. July’s word is Bird… wonder what I’ll post.
  2. I call my kids, “birds”
  3. I call ALL kids, “birds”
  4. When I called niece Ruby a bird, she said, “I’m not a bird; I’m a guurl.”
  5. That Ruby… I love her.
  6. Sentences for poem burst forth into brain.
  7. Run to journal asap and to write words down.
  8. Keep the poem on ice for weeks waiting to paint the perfect watercolor bird.
  9. Kick self into a reality check and just get idea captured.
  10. Put bird with on poem in journal.

My ideal end project is a series of small watercolor paintings that have corresponding poems.  I currently have bits and pieces of poems and sketches for a Morning Bird, a Song Bird, a Wren and an Elusive Bird.  But for now I have a poem and working sketch of a chubby Red Bird.

Red Bird

Ruby eats crayons for breakfast 
and DANCES on a whim.

Inspired

She reads stories at night 
knowing that she will write her own some day.

She WAVES banners that say 
ARTIST. Dancer. Rubythinker. THE BEST.

She makes declarations that change the world.

She tapes her pictures on the wall; people stop to look and fall in.

She paints flower forests and castles.

Scanned Image 112290001

Her crown is always shiny 
and when she hugs her life and sings her ruby songs

People find their own voices.

Red Bird

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 17th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|10 Comments