Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Legacy of Edith Kramer

Information about The Legacy of Edith Kramer is up on the Routledge website. Very exciting for Susan Ainlay Anand and myself and all the wonderful contributors. (Feeling delighted and grateful)

Friday, June 16, 2017

#160 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life; Develope Your Interior Artwork.

"Interior Artwork2"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
Having spent the last two years working on The Legacy of Edith Kramer, I have grown increasingly interested in parts of Edith's legacy that were less familiar to me; Bauhaus, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, and the dark times leading up to World War II. I have been giving some thought about the importance of speaking out, of resistance and maladjustment to a culture of repression, bullying, supremacy and injustice.  So when How to Be an Artist, According to Wassily Kandinsky popped up on my Facebook feed, I got interested. 

Here are a few of the lessons in a nutshell, but for more, please go to his original work on line, for free (free stuff makes for the happy artist), Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911).

Express your inner world, not the latest artistic trends.

Approach color as a window into the human soul.

By creating original work, you will further the cause of humanity.

"[Art is] ...the mysterious expression of the mysterious..." (from Autobiography, Wassily Kandinsky, 1918.)

The commonality here between Kandinsky and Edith, is the emphasis on the interior life. Edith talked about that we were losing touch with our inner life. That in order to be true to ourselves, in order to be original, we needed to be able to access our inner life. Being a student of Bauhaus via Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, the way to access the inner life was through a daily art practice.

So if you want to be able to look at the culture you are in and consider if it is aligned with your ideas of justice, creativity, humanity, and not just follow what the culture dictates, you will need to be able to understand your own thinking about these things. You will need to be able to access your interior life.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#157 - 159 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Create meaning

"Don't ever lose heart"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
While creating my morning pages, every day, I try to be selective about what is playing in the background, often a dharma talk or current research on compassion and neuroscience.  So yesterday I was listening to Scilla Elworthy at the Dare to Care Youth Gathering - Empathy and Compassion in Society.

She was talking about having spoken at a rave (yes, as in music event) and she was asked what can we do with the world being in the condition it's in.  How do we keep from losing heart?  She suggesting a 3 step process:
#1. Find the one thing that breaks your heart, that has always broken your heart. The desire to heal this broken heart will give you energy to continue in spite of all odds.
#2. Find the things that crack your heart open with respect and joy. This can be people, books, ideas, art, friendship... many things. These things will help you heal the broken heart.
#3. What are your skills, your gifts? They can be used to help heal the things that break your heart. Using them in acts of generosity towards alleviating the sorrows you find in the world.

Just three things. Very simple, very easy. And you will find yourself able to create a happy, meaningful artist's life.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Workshop Alert

Susan Anand and I are heading to LA for the Expressive Therapies Summit.

MARCH 30 - APRIL 2, 2017



"Create Magic and Beauty"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.
We will be working on various resilience strategies, all day, but the classes are separated so you can take one or both.  The first class will be a simple narrative and puppet-making class with it's roots in Neuroscience.  We will crate simple book structures to house our puppets and narratives.
In the afternoon we will be working with clay to create worlds and stories of possibility.  So important in today's uncertain environment.  Hope to see you there.

Friday, 3/31/17

10:00 am  -  1:00 pm
Paper Puppet People, Fairytales, and Neuroscience
Lani A. Gerity, DA, ATR
Susan Ainlay Anand, ATR-BC, ATCS

In this 3-hour workshop, we will provide permissive, easy-to-follow instructions for creating paper puppet people and simple book structures for eliciting pro-social responses. Based on Bruce Perry’s neurosequential model of treatment and educator Peter O'Connor’s work with survivors of traumatic events, participants will learn to weave story, drama, and art into fairy tales and personal narratives of cultural strength and group resilience. Examples of case material from various cultures will be used to illustrate these therapeutic activities that engage the brain from the “bottom,” where experiences are stored, to the cortex at the “top,” where we make sense of our experiences. Using this integrative model, we begin each session with positive tactile experiences and memories, then slowly add "higher” processes, such as humor and insight, that foster possibility and hope for our students, clients, and ourselves.

2:30 pm  -  5:30 pm 
Clay Worlds & Stories for Creating Resilient, Inclusive Communities
Susan Ainlay Anand, ATR-BC, ATCS
Lani A. Gerity, DA, ATR

In this 3-hour workshop, we’ll focus on the importance of fostering strengths and inclusivity through multidisciplinary expressive arts activities within a clinical or educational plan. We will review some of our work within social environments in need of resilience, particularly those that have struggled with depression, loss, and trauma. Building on the work of well-being and positive psychology experts Peterson and Seligman, and positive art therapy specialists Chilton and Wilkinson, we have developed easy-to-implement, fun processes that foster strengths and resilience through creative activity featuring clay and story. In our observations, which will be illustrated by case materials, working in small groups through storytelling, deep listening, and group creation helps to support a culture of resilience and inclusivity that clinicians, educators, and helping professionals of all types can use in their daily work with people of all ages and circumstances.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

#149 - 156 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Cultivating Your Dopamine

 "Don't Give Up"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

One thing that makes me a happy artist is discovering that most of my happiest moments have to do with something internal.  Even if I'm delighted with something external like the beauty of the day, it's my attention to that something, that makes me feel happy.  It's the whole brain chemistry activity that is really the source of joy.  That is a freeing observation, that the source of my happiness is right here in my own experience of my life.

Obviously cultivating our positive brain chemistry and hormones can help cultivate our happy artists lives, and reading about simple and cheap ways to do this can be reassuring.  And realizing that we already do a lot to help our dopamine levels is really nice.

I was reading a blog post about 8 great ways to increase our dopamine without drugs, and I realized some of them are embedded in my Morning Pages daily art practice.
Here are  Stephan Gardner's 8 ways to boost our dopamine:

1.  His first one is to stay away from the instant gratification of addictive behaviors. Although this seems fairly obvious, it does seem that many normal behaviors can easily become addictive when we ask them to keep us in a pleasurable state.  And of course addictions actually deplete us of our happy brain chemistry.  Stephan suggests we look for ways to create meaning and inspiration in our lives, to counter the pull of instant gratification and addictions.  For me, that would be my daily art practice.

2. Create check lists of tasks that you can complete and then with great satisfaction, tick of your list.   He suggests tasks that are tied to our highest values are then doubly rewarding.  So guess what, this is actually a check list of cool, simple things to do to make us happy, AND I am checking to see which ones I am already doing, AND I feel pretty happy about the results.

3. Create something.  Well sure, that's a very easy one to do if you have a daily art practice. 

4. Exercise!  It helps relieve stress, achieve better physical health, makes us more productive and of course it boosts our dopamine levels. 

5. Stephen says we should get a streak going.  He describes a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.  So create something every day and post it on FaceBook or Instagram, or blog about it.  Then you have your visual reminder of your daily achievement.  So easy!

6. He recommends foods which increase tyrosine, one of the most important chemicals that make up dopamine.  Here are a few foods that increase tyrosine: Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Beef, Chicken, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Green Tea, Watermelon, Yogurt.  So a little cafe mocha in the morning with my morning pages can get things flowing in the right direction.

7. Listen to music.   Research shows that listening to music increases dopamine levels much like eating our favorite comfort foods or watching some favorite TV series.  Of course adding music to a daily art practice could not be easier!

8. Meditate.  Research on the effects of meditation is a huge field now.  It's found to be a highly effective form of dopamine increase.  (Of course the sages and yogis have known this for thousands of years)  Meditation clears the mind of worries and clutter, and replaces that with a sense of presence and joy at being alive. This is a state of mind that is available for all of us.  It is within our reach.

Try some of the things on this list, see if you can boost your dopamine.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#148 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories

"Happy Memories"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.


The thing about art is that it really can make all the difference between struggling to exist and creating a life filled with wonder and joy.  I particularly noticed this lately, as I struggled with the loss of yet another beautiful Bergamasco.  I found that by incorporating my two furry beloveds into my daily art practice, by creating fun environments for them, I was able to smile.  

The one here, "Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories" really made me smile, because once I got started thinking about the sweetest moments, it seemed more like thousands of happy memories.  As I played with the image, it became very clear that our lives are in constant flux.  One memory can be heartbreaking and the next 10 can lift our spirits.  We don't have to have perfect moments right now to be happy artists, we just need to create the possibility for good things to happen in our art work and in our lives.  So I get up early, feed the puppy and cat, doing some yoga and art before breakfast and see what the day brings.  Life really has its sorrows and difficult times.   For me, art isn't about plastering over the bad stuff.  It's more like using art to build up my strengths and resilience in order to deal with the difficulties.  Here's to morning pages daily art practice, wonderful memories and to creating possibility for a happy artist's life!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC?

"Play & Art"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling: Remembering Who We Are with a Daily Art Practice, Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC, Friday, November 11th, 2016, with Susan Anand and Lani Gerity?

We will be learning how to create a simple art journal from basic office supplies and then actually working in them with a series of very easily adaptable directives. When you arrive we’ll have a link for you to download a “zine” of instructions and directives to keep. 
There will be basic art supplies provided but we highly encourage you to look at this list, prepare ahead and bring some fun collage materials. The thing with learning a new skill is that it is so much easier if you are using images and materials you love.  This will be a time to create and play with your best stuff!

You might think about bringing some of these items:

Gaffer’s tape or hockey tape (cloth tape)

Fabric samples and any favorite paper scraps.

Wall paper samples, scrapbooking card stock, craft tags, blank artist trading cards, index cards and heavier scraps.

Magazine images, photo images, printed images for collage which could include human figures (when collecting human figures it’s an interesting exercise to look for images that match the demographic that you happen to work with), animals, interesting environments, interesting objects that could represent gifts and treasures, maps and of course wings. Let your intuition be your guide.

Interesting text, positive and inspirational words are always good, different fonts can be interesting.

Your favorite fibers and waxed thread is good for the simple binding.

Embellishments, beads, charms, watch parts, etc.

Washi Tape.

Your favorite pens (sharpies, paint, gel, etc.) to include written text.

Any favorite stamps and stamp pads.

And of course your creativity, inspiration, and sense of playful fun (most important).

If you have any questions at all, please contact me: lanipuppetmaker@mac.com