Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The artist can help us fall in love with the earth again...

We are having an artful blast over at 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life. This group started up on Friday, so we haven't been open for a week yet and emails are flying, full of art and inspiration.

Do you know Paulus Berensohn? A potter and a deep ecologist, author of Finding One's Way with Clay. There's a wonderful interview here, and in it he describes a conversation with an Australian Aboriginal elder. He'd asked the elder why they made art from the very first day. The elder answered that there were two reasons, one was to tell the stories to the children, and the other was that the earth would not support the people well if they didn't appreciate it. "It's the artist's work to sing up the earth, to praise and thank and to express gratitude. Well that's what I think art is. That's why I think art is a behavior, to sing up the earth."

So we were out with the Bergamasco Boys this morning, and we could see Bob the flutist from New Hampshire ahead of us. He's staying in one of the cottages here, and in the morning and at sunset he plays his flutes to Mother Earth. He has a wonder-filled sense of gratitude for all the blessings that the earth provides us, so he plays his flutes as he looks out to sea. "Just play for the wind" he told Edward, "or go out in your kayak and play to the ocean."

As we continued our walk, catching wisps of flute on the wind, we came across an amazing wild black berry field and thanked our Mother Earth. It was a lovely morning.

Earlier this week I got an email from my friend Shirley in Ontario. She sent images from her trip to Africa, where she was learning to "sing up the earth" with her camera. I will include her elephants here because I am so partial to these big beautiful creatures.
Photos by Shirley Routliffe

And then there was an email from Carol who had just started the "Artists Happiness Challenge. Here's what she said:

The happiness challenge works! It is somewhat early, week one. Wow! what power in the positive.
Came back from a trip to South Carolina where my husband was involved in a spirituality training and I took a retreat. Yesterday while walking on the beach, I felt rain and overhead was a raincloud dumping rain on me while there were blue skies. I continued walking and then a rainbow appeared. I walked to the end of the island, we were on an Episcopal retreat center where the church owned the property and it was an enviromental sanctuary. I paused to reflect the rainbow and there was a mother and baby dolphin swimming by. As I made my way back to the center, I saw a miracle. Baby sea turtles.. and one was right at my feet trying so hard to get into the water and swim away. With camera in hand I took pictures, thinking how incredible and saying thank you , thank you for this opportunity. Each day I end my journal writing with life is beautiful.
Thanks Lani...

Isn't that fantastic? Maybe we "sing up the earth" by watching everything carefully. What if Carol had turned around when the rain cloud was dumping rain on her? She never would have seen what she saw. Or shared it with us!

So here you are, Carol's baby sea turtle. Carol is surely an artist helping us fall in love with the earth again, so is Shirley and my new friend Bob of New Hampshire.

Photos by Carol Moore

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Some Links and Inspiration

Collage by Lani

Here we have a few artist trading cards link sent to me by Carla who has a group of artists willing to trade cards(someone saw the blog with the request for groups to swap with). Her websites have all kinds of links, and I was lost for hours.
Cryptic Creativity Projects

ATC Project

The history of Artist Trading Cards and great information about groups currently trading cards now in the following places. If you are interested in trading with other artists and you live somewhere near any of the following, do check out the website.


By Hand Newsletter
for scrap-bookers and book-binders in Canada

Neuroscience for kids with puzzles, games, experiments and all kinds of fun things.

Proptology. Scroll down to Papier Mache Rediscovered - Where you will find Canadian puppeteer Ronnie Burkett's GREAT recipes for Papier Mache. Read how they changed his work and life. (Thanks Barb Kobe for the link!)

Altered Art Obsession. This is a group of mixed media, collage, or altered arts artists – hoping to connect with artists of like-mind who have a strong desire to create art pieces that not only are an extension of themselves, but are moving and give a sense that something wonderful has been created.

Sculpey, the modeling compound folks have a whole list of project booklets that you can download for free. Great source for ideas.

Free watercolor painting tutorials. Lot's of interesting ideas here!!!! Good backgrounds for art journaling.

That's it for the moment. Got to go make some art now!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Places to Exchange Art

Collage by Lani

Some art exchange forums already up and running:
Jackie from Ohio sent me these two which look like really good places to exchange work.

The Sisters of the Secret Fatbook Society
The Altered Art Place.

Shirley of Hamilton, Ontario sent in this link for a mail art exhibition. It looks great! Check it out.
Dale Roberts, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, is the man behind the mania.
He says "Art is a way of being . . . My way of being . . It's who I am . . the forms often vary . . it's how I see and connect with the world."

Nice, eh? So I thought, hey, why not have our own little art exchange group. There's nothing better, well hardly, than opening your mail box and finding some amazing mail art inside. So if you are interested, here's the link.
14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life

Since my 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life include lots of art making and lots of art exchange, this group will be for artists to share, swap, exchange and inspire all things artistic from artist's trading cards to fat books and puppets.

Multi media artists who like binding books, art journaling, creating assemblage art, jewelry making, art dolls, rubber stamping, collage, paper puppet people, fine arts, fabric arts are all welcome here.

Come create a happy artist's life and have fun here!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are you up for an art swap?

Cloth covered art journal, cloth image from PaperWhimsy
(Yes, she does her collage sheets on the nicest cloth now!)

I got this note on the last blog:

Lani - a group of people in Salmo, a tiny town 30 minutes south of Nelson (British Columbia), have been doing an "Eat and Art" lunchtime program this August. We would like to send you some pictures of our paper puppets - how do we do that?

We also made some trading cards - are there people in other communities we could send some to, to trade?

Thanks for your inspiration! Robin

Well, now, doesn't this sound like a most excellent idea? Any art support groups out there wanting to swap ATC's?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Finding the love, releasing the fear.

Jumping Mouse Artist's Trading Card by Lani.

Sometimes interesting emails come into my inbox which get me thinking. The other day there was one from a dancer, RN, painter, who does healing with expressive arts. She said she was terrified to make a leap from a frustrating job to be truer to her artist self. She will do it anyway but needed help to keep focused on the love rather than the fear. She thought the Artist's Happiness Challenge might be helpful to keep her focussed. I hope it is. But what I started thinking was in all the years I've been doing workshops, teaching, doing art therapy, talking to artists and craftspeople about doing the things they love, I have yet to meet one person who regrets the choice of going for the thing they love in their work and leaving behind the security of a bad job. I have met plenty of people who regret not making that choice, who suffer in boring or painful jobs because they are afraid to take the leap. You would thing that in all those years (almost 30) of talking to people I would have met at least one person who regretted the leap into the unknown to follow their bliss.

Do you know the story of Jumping Mouse? It's all about being brave enough. Print out a copy of the story, and read it when you know you won't be interrupted and then try the meditation below.

So here's a little meditation for finding the love and releasing the fear: Set aside a quiet moment for yourself, perhaps early in the morning before anyone else is awake or before you fall asleep. Breathe deeply, knowing that you are doing this for yourself. As you breathe slowly, gently, and deeply, become aware of the life force flowing within you, feel this magical buzzing energy, that sustains you and all living things. Through your awareness and intention know that you are brave enough to do the things that will bring you creative joy. Imagine as you inhale, that you are inhaling all that you need to sustain your life, and as you exhale send out energy, loving kindness, and good things to all who need it. You can nourish and nurture yourself and the world with love and compassion, with your own generosity and courage.

Giving the Bergamasco Boys a vacation

Give your dog a vacation! Collage by Lani & image from PaperWhimsy

Here's a great idea. Give your dog a vacation. We took the boys on vacation to Cape Breton where we introduced them to a whole new set of pleasures and joys. At some point we began to realize it was their vacation and we were having a great time watching them discover all this new stuff. Things we now know Bergamascos love:
Long stretches of beach to walk, run, and wrestle on.
Making friends with Mary Douglas and her family.
Playing fetch with drift wood.
Playing with waves.
Herding Mary Doulas's neices and nephews by letting them think that they are bossing you around. (This was very funny to watch. Normally these are the most stubborn of dogs. Suddenly they were cooperating with kids like nothing I'd ever seen before.)
Bull Moose.
The scent of cows.
The scent of cow pats deeply embedded in Bergamasco dreadlocks. I am so sorry I was too mad to take a picture of this. I really should have. It was a once-in-a-lifetime (I hope), extremely funny sight. Sigh. Once again it is proven to me that negative emotion really doesn't give you much clarity of thought.
The scent of fish.
And then the scent of home and their own little cats, Felix and Maus.

Friday, August 04, 2006

On strength and creativity

Collaged altered book by Lani, image from PaperWhimsy

OK, so after walking the dogs, eating breakfast, I check emails and do a little surfing on the web. I stumbled on this wonderful story from two sources with the same wording (very odd). Anthony de Mello's "The Heart of the Enlightened" and Robert Allen Mitchell's "Buddha, His Life Retold" both used the same words. Hmmm. I'll tell it in my words.

Once upon a time the Buddha was being threatened with death by a bandit called Angulimal.

The Buddha calmly asked to have a dying wish. When the bandit agreed the Buddha said 'Cut off the branch of that tree.'

One slash of the bandit's sword, and the branch was off! The bandit asked what else the Buddha would like since that wasn't much of a last wish.
'Put it back again,' said the Buddha.

Now the bandit, Angulimal, laughed. That would be impossible, he said, you must be crazy!

On the contrary, said the Buddha, it is you who are crazy to think that you are mighty because you can wound and destroy. That is what children to feel powerful. The people who are truly strong are the ones who know how to create and heal.

Now isn't that good? So we should all be as creative and healing as possible. We should make lots of art, fix what is broken and alter what is begging to be altered!