Art is Life is Art: July – Bird

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“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.

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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.}

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

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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.

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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

Art is Life is Art: June – Rest

Rest.

It’s been the order of the day for the past few weeks…

Rest.

When Meghan shared June’s word for our collaboration, I was surprised, but not really.  The word Rest, was already all over the pages of my journal.  I think that the spontaneous writing of the word was a prayer of sorts – a longing bubbling to the surface of my knowing.

Rest

Rest was June’s word and now August is here.  My blogging sabbatical is officially over.  The sabbatical that was originally going to be a week until it stretched into two weeks and then, became two months.

Rest.

I confess, that after pretty consistently showing up with words and images for the past 5 years, I needed a bit of an artistic nap.

I used to ignore my body and my needs.

Push through.  Be tough.  Git ‘er done.

I was tired often and hurt a lot.  Both inside and out.  So now, I pay attention.  I believe that concrete sensations like hunger, thirst, aches and pains show the way.  As we listen to the subtle {and sometimes not-so-subtle} internal messages that come to us via our body, the next steps emerge.

Exhaustion and anxiety often lead to revelations & minute course corrections.

Slow down or take a turn.

Adjust your pace or give way.

Move quickly or turn around.

Walk away or press in.

If we can’t tell from facts and figures, often our bodies will get our attention and put us back on the path.  Of course now I have a huge queue of photos and posts and prompts and projects to share.  Plus, some slight adjustments and new things.

All in good time.

blue nest

One of the many blank pages created during June & July’s season of rest.

{gesso, packing label, tissue paper, origami paper, water color crayon, ink, acrylic}

p.s.  July’s word = BIRD   August’s word = TBA

By |2016-10-19T14:20:34-04:00August 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Journals|4 Comments

Mandala Monday: stamps & a word

One of my BIG Painting sisters, Lauren recently shared a link to these fabulous wooden stamps from THE INDIAN BLOCK COMPANY.  {I’ll post photos as soon as I get permission, or buy my own, whichever comes first!}  I love all of them, but the circle ones in particular got my heart to beating.  They are very mandala-ish and are officially on my wish list!  {And I’m saving my pennies to have a couple of wild thyme designs turned into stamps.}

Maybe one of these…  {I love dreaming of possibilities.}

mandala detail

And speaking of possibilities…

The word for May is REDEMPTION.  It fairly jumped of the list that Meghan sent me.  So, there’s a dream & word.

The verb for today is GO.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00May 2nd, 2011|Art is Life is Art, Mandala Monday|0 Comments

Art is life is art: April – SURRENDER

The word for April is SURRENDER.

After a discussion about the creative process, my friend, Meghan Arias and I decided to embrace a bit of structure in the form of a monthly prompt.  It’s pretty simple.  We choose a word; we respond.  {You are welcome to join us by linking to your response in the comment section.}

I’ve been contemplating the idea of SURRENDER for weeks now.  I looked at dictionary definitions and I wrote words.

Sur-ren-der

[suh-ren-der] to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield. {In case you were wondering.}

At first, the main image in my mind’s eye was a white flag.  I imagined climbing out of a foxhole and walking across a field with my hands up.  But I never could decide who the “enemy” was and what I was giving up.  Besides, that image is dripping with negative connotation and wasn’t really a match for the excitement I felt in taking up this collaboration.  Eventually, after much journaling and thinking out in the garden, I landed on the image of a flowing stream.  This is what I painted.

Surrender

I realized that for me, getting in the flow of a current is a more accurate picture.  The surrender that was on my heart, was not a losing-a-battle surrender, but a yielding.  An acceptance of where and who I am. I wanted to capture the sensation of flowing water and the movement of thought that we face, as we make decisions and move through life.

Surrender {detail}

I love that some of the close up shots look like waterfalls.

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And others capture the organic quality of movement and flow.

Surrender {detail}

Somewhere in my musings, I realized that for me, TRUST and SURRENDER are intimately connected.  I find it extremely difficult to surrender to a situation where I don’t trust.  {Either the people or the circumstance}  As I began to paint from the preliminary Sharpie marker sketch in my journal, I decided that the painting needed a boat.   Not a big boat or even something with a paddle, but a paper boat.  One being swept away by the current.  Not a terrifying, out-of-control, sweeping away, but a choice-to-be-in-the-flow-of-life.  Like a child lovingly releasing a favorite paper boat.

Surrender {detail}

The initial under-painting was dark.  Too dark.  Probably born out of my searching {and the difference between acrylic and marker}  But silver paint, like reflections on the water, lightened things up and gave the cohesiveness that  I was looking for.   The silver, like SURRENDER, unified the swirling thoughts on the bank and the moving water with the little paper boat called Trust.

Trust is a paper boat

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

Anton Chekov

EDIT:  Yay!  Meghan just posted her response.  It’s a different take.   A lovely, heartfelt different take.

Go listen.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 30th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|12 Comments

Art is Life is Art: Collaboration & 9 months of words

calendar & mandalaOver the past several months, it’s been my privilege to sit and chat with my new friend, the lovely Meghan Arias.   We talk about all sorts of things.

* beautiful things

* creative things

* spiritual things

* favorite beer things

* cemeteries and their stories

* our people and their stories

We talk about the past and the future, but mostly we talk about this:

Art + Mommy = X

X = blocked

X = conflicted

X = all or nothing

X = a dance

X = synergistic

X = not the same as before

The last time we met, Meghan and I talked about how motherhood has changed the structure of the creative process in our lives.  We no longer have the freedom to wait on inspiration or feeling to create.  We no longer create when it is convenient for us.  Instead, art happens in and around motherhood and life.  In planned spaces.  Or in unplanned spaces.  In studios.  Or in nooks and crannies.  Written in neat handwriting.  Or scribbled on a napkin.  Often times art happens in ways that are counter-intuitive to our natural bent.

We confessed that we don’t like it.

We shook our fists.

We may have even cried a little, but just a little, cause we’re tough like that.

And then we laughed.  Seriously, we bounced in our seats.  Because in the deepest part of who we are, the need to create supersedes the need to be angry about our less than perfect studio spaces.

In the midst of discussions about calendars and schedules, deadlines and shows, we decided to create a collaborative space of our own.  Thus, each month from April to December, we’ll choose a word and respond creatively to that word.  Simple, I know.  But, simple is good, since between the two of us, we:

*write words and songs

* paint stuff

* glue paper on things

* sing

* parent 9 children

* run businesses and manage creative careers

* read lots of books

* work on our vocabularies

* and make copious lists

We have decided that our motherhood is a reason, not an excuse.

9 months worth of words.  Very gestational and birth-like.  It is in keeping with the motherhood theme.  We have a pretty awesome list of words – some nouns, some verbs & even some adjectives and adverbs.  It’s a list of words that have been sitting in our hearts and minds percolating.

Bubbling to the top for April, is the word Surrender.  I’ve been carrying the word around in my pocket for a couple of weeks now.  Noticing it.  Looking it up.  Breathing it in.  Waking up with it on the tip of my pen.  This time ’round I’m making pages.  Keep an eye out for posts concerning our current word – there may be more than one.  {What can I say, we’re Word Girls.}  Meghan and I will link to each other’s blog and invite you to join us by leaving a link in the comments.    We’ll then scoop up all the collaboration and share the love.

I leave you with a question & a prayer for Surrender.  {From my journal yesterday morning}

A question:  What does it look like to let go of control in the creative process?

A prayer:

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O Love that will not let me go,

I’m still holding on.  Some things are precious to me and I don’t want them to change.  Others are broken and beg to be hidden.  As I become aware of these holding-on places, I reveal them to you.  I confess I have tried to hide and compensate and have grown weary.  I Surrender.  I accept this time and place.  I bring my gifts and my wounds and trust that you will display your works in and through my surrendered places.

By |2016-10-19T14:20:36-04:00April 15th, 2011|Art is Life is Art|6 Comments