Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heading South

Image from my grandparents photo album slightly altered. (That was fun! I'll have to do more of these!)
It's that time of year. I'm packing and I'll be on the road again, taking my puppet-making down to New York City. I'll be doing workshops for art therapy students at the School of Visual Arts and NYU. Hooray. Can't wait.
But that means that anyone with an angel coming in while I'm away will have to wait until I return to receive their Nova Scotian guardian angel.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dear Anonymous (see comment in previous post)

Dear Anonymous,
I love your comment about stewing on a conundrum. You say you have no clear way to proceed to find your life's purpose or calling. And you speak of the "monkey mind" which sounds as though it may be whispering things to you like "do you really think you are on the right track" or "shouldn't you be closer to creating your best work by now" or some variant of these two thoughts. The best thing you could do, if you are serious about finding your life's purpose, or creating your best work, would be to still the monkey mind a bit. Let your deepest inner voice be heard or if it's the artist aspect, let your art come from that deepest, inner self. But how to access that, or how to still the monkey mind?

Do you know Frank Warren of the PostSecret project? Or Someguy's 1000 journals project? I suspect they have some really good ideas about freedom, expression, and flow (the opposite of monkey mind in my experience).

Both of these men got it into their heads that we could use our art and thoughts to communicate in a new way. There's an element of release in both these projects. You either share your secrets like gifts or you give your art and thoughts to a traveling art journal, again, like a gift. I think there's a great Art Release challenge in that. There is something in it that is very generous and free. It's been my experience that acts of generosity like these, generate all kinds of creative thoughts. So watch these two short videos and then proceed to the art challenge.

Taking a page from Someguy and Frank Warren, try this. Create two of these message-in-a-bottlethings and make them gifts, really beautiful bottles, altered and dressed up, like the moms in Texas, filling the bottle with sand and shells and inspiring artists thoughts. Find a secret place to leave one, like your favorite cafe or maybe even the library, and keep one for yourself.

Free yourself of your monkey mind and become who you already are. (Tell me how this works for you and if you got any inner wisdom during the experience)

Faithfully yours,

PS - And for your more intellectual side there's The Urban Monk who addresses a lot of what you were getting at in your comment!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On angels, buried treasure, and transformation

Thank you Ann, Katie, and Sue.

Little guardian angels are starting to come and go from Prospect. It's so much fun to be in the sort of middle kingdom where they meet and then part, flying off to different places, to watch over people. I do like that, truly! There's something of the Sedona release in that, only with a twist. You aren't just releasing what you no longer want or need, you are releasing things that may be just what someone else needs. I'll need to work on a little releasing angels mantra. "May you go in peace, may you abide where you are needed, may you awaken love and all good things, and may you be free to move on if you are no longer needed." This whole swap feels very transformative.

More releasing and transformation from Seth via jaihn and Cyn. Did you ever create treasure as a kid and then bury it making sure to create a map so that you could dig it up later and be reunited with your treasure? No? Oh well, I did in my Taiwanese childhood. I think at the time I was half hoping that the treasure would stay buried and then be found by some children, generations later. Funny, eh? So anyway, back to Seth, jaihn, Cyn and maybe 70 or so other participating artists. Seth Apter started this winter project on his blog The Altered Page, and the basic premise is to take some pages from a book and tie them in a bundle or bundles and expose them to weather. And record the art process in which Nature is your collaborator.

Well, we surely have weather, so here's my bundle. I actually tied up Keri Smith's "Wreck This Journal" (which I had been meaning to bury for a long time) with all kinds of papers and even a couple of home-made books. It's in a pile of seaweed and old rope above the high tide mark, under a bit of snow. (The seaweed was brought up above the high tide mark in the fall by D.H. the Irish potato farmer.) Again, here's a release and transformation kind of project. I love it. Am eager to see what Nature and I come up with in the end! Don't you want to play?

Keep sending angels and I'll keep them moving! Thanks so much everyone, for doing this!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Riddle

Another Nic Askew film 'the riddle of here' on Vimeo. Yes! Yes! Yes!

‘the riddle of here’
We’re looking.
For something so simple.
So simple, that we can’t hold it in our hands.
Or in our heads.
So we look to him.
To her.
To them.
To there.
We look to everywhere but here.
To when.
To then.
But not to now.
It’s hidden just beyond our cleverness.
So we presume it’s out there.
But perhaps it’s in here.

[words by Nic from the SHORT WORD Series]

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I woke up this morning thinking about buried treasure. A little later I start up the computer and discover there's treasure right here.

These came from jaihn and as always they are a delight! First there's this video of kids looking through some art journaling supplies, SO much fun! Makes me want to do a journaling workshop with kids!! Right now!

It's a fantastic video, and if you go to youtube to watch it you can see Mary Ann Moss's other videos. All delightful and inspiring. And the great thing that jaihn found was that Mary Ann has a wonderful blog where you can read more and see more about these art journals for kids!!

And jaihn found these treasures via iHanna, which is treasure in itself.

Thank you jaihn, who is also glorious treasure herself.

A wonderful tale from Healing Story

The story teller - for Carol

Here's a mysterious, magical tale from HealingStory.Org, a really wonderful website.

How Old Woman Kytna Brought Her Daughter Home

A Koryak Story from Kamchatka Peninsula Retold by Kira Van Deusen

In Kichiga old woman Kytna lived with her old man. They had a daughter named Ralinavut, a grown-up daughter. Not far from their village lived a wolf pack, twenty-eight wolves.

One time Ralinavut went for a walk and got lost, she did not return home.

They looked for her everywhere, in all the surrounding settlements, but no one had seen her. Then they decided that she must have lost her way, frozen to death and been covered with snow. It occurred to no one that on the same day Ralinavut got lost, the wolf pack had gone away from that place. And no one guessed that the wolf pack had taken her away as one of them.

But her mother did not believe that her daughter had died and kept waiting for her to return. Three years went by. Ralinavut did not come back.

Dancing Shaman with Drum

Then Kytna took up her shaman's drum. She played and sang all night and in the morning she said to her husband:

"Our daughter is alive. She is in a wolf pack, far away in the north. The place is called Talkap. Three years ago this wolf pack was living in our area, twenty-eight wolves there were. Those are the ones who took our daughter away."

"That is very far away," said the old man. "It's too far for you to go. You'll get lost in the tundra."

"I won't get lost," said Kytna, "I know how to get there."

"Then prepare supplies for the road," said the old man.

They prepared supplies for the road and the next morning, just as it was getting light, Kytna set off on her way. She went on foot along the snow. And as soon as she had gone a hundred paces, she turned into a wolf. Wolves go very quickly on the snow.

Towards evening a reindeer herders' nomad camp appeared. Kytna took her own form and went up to the camp. One reindeer-herder greeted her.

"Greetings, old woman. Where have you come from and where are you going, old woman on foot?"

"I'm going north, to Talkap," said Kytna.


"My daughter is living there among the wolves. The wolves took her away," answered Kytna.

"That's a long way to go!" said the reindeer herder. "On foot it is a very long way. Very difficult. I will give you reindeer. Good reindeer!"

"I feel more at ease on foot. I'll continue on foot.", said Kytna

"You know best," said the reindeer-herder. "We have good reindeer and you are welcome to them."

The next morning, just as it got light, Kytna went on her way. As soon as she had gone a hundred paces, she turned into a wolf. The wolf trotted away. The reindeer-herder watched her go.

"So that's why she refused our reindeer!" he said.

Along the way Kytna met a wolf and questioned him.

"Tell me, brother, have you met an unusual wolf anywhere in a pack in the north? The kind of wolf who is at the same time a wolf and a human?"

The wolf told this tale - "Far away in the north, beyond Talpak, lives a big pack, twenty-nine wolves. I was once their guest. I noticed that among them was one unusual wolf. In my opinion this was not a real wolf. It seemed more like a person."

"Most likely that was my daughter, Ralinavut," said Kytna.

"She's called Ralinavut?" said the wolf. "I have heard that name. In that pack there was one female wolf with that name."

Kytna kept running north. She came to a big settlement of Chukchi reindeer- herders. The Chukchi were glad to have a guest. She was treated to meat and fat and then they asked her, "Where do you come from and where are you going, old woman on foot?"

"I come from far away in the south, a place called Kichiga," said Kytna.

"That is a long way," said the Chukchi. "I was there once"

"Tell me," said Kytna, "is there a large wolf pack living in this vicinity? Don't they prey on your herds?"

"Yes, there is a big pack, twenty-nine wolves. And oh, how sick I am of them! They do prey on our herds."

"Those wolves took away my daughter," said Kytna. "Now she lives in their pack. Three years have gone by. I don't know if I will be able to take her home."

"It is time to sleep," said her host.

"I need to get up early," said Kytna.

They got up early. They ate and they drank tea. Kytna went on her way. She came to the place where the wolves were eating reindeer that they had killed in the night. Kytna saw the pack and turned herself into a wolf. Kytna circled around the wolves.

"Many wolves here eat their food,

Among them must be Ralinavut."

The wolf Ralinavut shivered and stopped eating. "Who is looking for me here in the tundra?" she thought.

Kytna came closer; she circled one more time and sang...

"These wolves are thieves,

Here daughter Ralinavut lives."

The wolf Ralinavut thought, "It's my mother looking for me. Who else would it be? Of course, it's mother." Quietly she moved toward the voice and sang...

"Mama, how did you find me?

Oh, mama, I wish you hadn't come.

I've been a wolf so long now,

Taken in by the wolves."

Kytna made a third circle and sang her answer...

"Ralinavut, you are human.

Like us you have a human name."

Ralinavut could not contain herself; she ran to her mother. "Mama, why are you here?"

"My heart was frozen," answered Kytna. "I've come for you and without you I will not leave. I am your mother. Let us run away while the wolves are not looking. Not far from here is a village of reindeer-herders. We'll rest there. I am very tired. I came the whole way on foot."

"All right, let's go," answered the wolf, Ralinavut. They came to the village, turned into people and went into the yaranga.

"Oho, what a brave old woman!" said the Chukchi. "Not only has she come back but she has taken her daughter away from the wolves!"

Kytna and Ralinavut rested. She rested and then she said, "It's time to go home."

"Your Kichiga is very far away," said the Chukchi. "Let me take you on my reindeer."

"We don't need reindeer," Kytna replied. "We'll go on foot. We'll leave early in the morning."

Early the next morning Kytna and her daughter left. The Chukchi watched them go. When the two women had gone a hundred paces they were no longer there - and in their places ran two wolves. They were moving very quickly!

"So that's why they refused our reindeer!" said the Chukchi. "Wolves will get much faster."

Kytna and her daughter ran all day to Kichiga. Kytna's husband looked out and saw two wolves running toward the village. They ran side by side. He thought, "That must be my wife and daughter."

People rushed out, calling, "Wolves are coming! Wolves!"

But the old man calmed them. "They are not wolves," he said. "They are human. Why would wolves be running straight into the village in broad daylight?" And suddenly there were no more wolves. Kytna and her daughter were walking along the snow. They came home.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another happy find!!!

Here's another happy find, Panos Efstathiadis has some lovely free photoshop actions on his website and on the Adobe Photoshop Exchange as well. The great thing about the Adobe Photoshop Exchange is that they can be sorted by ratings, or popularity, or newest, or by the creators. And they are all free.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Very happy finds

Happy accidental photograph of Prospect (with a little photoshop action).

On our morning walk with the Bergamasco Boys and Farley I found a little Kodak camera. As we were returning home, I took this shot of the harbor, just for fun, to see if the little camera worked. Another happy find was
a wonderful blog called .v, full of happy lists. Just reading these lists can release endorphins.

Another happy find is one of the happy list authors,Pia Jane Bijkerk, whose blog is all about enhancing the everyday! It is a delectable, scrumptious, image filled delight!

And from Chookooloonks I found this wonderful video - TED talk of Elizabeth Gilbert. If you have ever wondered about how to think of your art making, there are a few ways right here:

You can also find a fascinating Q&A on her website about Eat, Pray, and Love, a sort of mini travel log or mini version of the book, with photos.

And from this talk I met the poetry of Ruth Stone that Elizabeth described as "caught by the tail" and written down last line first.

"...years of it, accepting
from each hand the gifts,
without knowing why they were
given or what to make of them."

And from her talk I was reminded of a long ago passion for Tom Waits:

So that would be my happy list for today, 1. walking the dogs, 2. finding treasure, 3. creating treasure, 4. a wonderful blog called .v, 5. a scrumptious blog from Pia Jane Bijkerk, 6. Chookooloonks, 7. Elizabeth Gilbert, 8. Ruth Stone, 9. Tom Waits, 10. making a happy list!

What's on your Happy List today?

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Where doubt and fear are not..."

collage by Lani

Hold fast your dreams!
Within your heart
Keep one, still, secret spot
Where dreams may go,
And sheltered so
May thrive and grow-
Where doubt and fear are not.
Lynn Driscoll

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creating your own Rescue Remedy Art.

Collage by Lani

I'm having fun creating challenges for a new course: Resilience, Transformation, and Art. It is a pilot course and each week participants get two art challenges and several self-care strategies. I am having a lot of fun looking into a variety of healers' ideas and research. I'm finding it all extremely inspiring and supportive of self-care. (And the participants seem to be enjoying it as well.) So here's one of the challenges to play with:

Do you know Bach's Rescue Remedy? Do you know the history of this tincture? It's a very popular remedy that you can find in any health food store. When I first became aware of it, friends were giving it to stressed out pets and anxious children. It struck me that these visibly calmed young children and pets were responding totally without the benefit of the placebo effect, since they had no idea why they were being given these few drops of flower essence. So I read a little bit about Dr. Bach's history and found the whole thing very puzzling to my pragmatic, semi-rational mind. My unconscious, however, loved the poetry of this story. Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) was a physician who moved from an orthodox and very successful medical career with a Harley Street practice, to a rural setting and a more natural form of medicine which treated emotional and spiritual dis-ease with essences of flowers, gathered from dew on flower petals. Poetic, no? Details of Dr. Bach's life can be found in, Wikipedia, and The Ananda Apothecary.

In his treatise Heal Thyself he wrote:

"Disease will never be cured or eradicated by present materialistic methods, for the simple reason that disease in its origin is not material . . . Disease is in essence the result of conflict between the Soul and Mind and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort."

So how did he pair up the conflicts of soul and mind with flowers? He had 7 Flower Groups that he paired with 7 emotional dis-ease groups. The groupings include feelings, such as, fear, despair, loneliness, uncertainty etc.

For example fear is assuaged by these flowers.

Rock Rose: Helps when you experience fears, such as, terror or fright that makes you feel frozen and unable to move or think clear.

Mimulus: Helps when you feel fear, the type of fear that you can put a name on, such as, fear of dogs, spiders, being alone, losing a job, illness etc. Also fear of speaking freely of it to others or shyness.

Cherry Plum: For those who fear losing control of their thoughts and actions and doing things they know are bad for them or which they consider wrong. Teaches trust in one's spontaneous wisdom and the courage to follow one's path.

Aspen: Helps when you feel fearful without knowing why. The fear is vague and unexplainable and may hunt you day and night.

Red Chestnut: Helps when you find it difficult not to be anxious for other people, you are afraid that some unfortunate things may happen to your loved ones.

Want to read more of this mysterious poetry? You can find it here.

Now I have no idea whether or not any of this is really useful in any material sense, but poetically, I love the idea of a Harley Street physician quitting his practice to go gather the dew off flowers in the spring. It's just lovely! It's inspiring! We should all feel so free to follow such interesting dreams.

So here's your challenge:
If you were to create a Rescue Remedy of your own, what would you put in it? What would it look like? Create a work of art or journal entry that will embody the idea of rescue remedy for you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! (May there be enough chocolate and photoshop actions.)

I did go out and look for love notes from the Universe (see yesterday's post). However it was a very windy, icy day and I had to concentrate on staying on my feet. Even the rambunctious dogs were all in a sober line interspersed with the humans. It all felt like a Bergman movie. Bleak, icy, windy, precarious, and did I mention bleak?

I went home, back inside to the wood fire and warm, friendly computer and made my own love notes from the universe.
Collage by Lani, interesting layers from Playingwithbrushes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Valentines' Day Challenge (for Erika C.)

Old collage by Lani, new Photoshop Actions! (still having fun)
Erika asked for a Valentine's Day challenge. So here it is, based on a challenge from a few years back:

Find a way to create and distribute artful secret love notes. Play with this a bit.

I have been wondering what artful secret love notes from the universe would look like. On my morning walk with the dogs & Edward, I noticed the sparkling frost, the beautiful light, the delighted dogs wrestling and chasing each other across the barrens. Would these love notes from the universe take the shape of the sparkling frost in the morning light, or would they look like Bruzzi, Prospero, and Farley playing happily together? Or maybe there's a note embedded in the small drumming sounds the water makes below the ice that covers the streams.

Tomorrow I will go out and find my new secret love notes.

Would you like to find some love notes too? What will they look like?

Have fun with this Erika!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Do you ever get bored with a new toy?

Well, my new photoshop "Actions" is not one of those kind of toys! I am having SO much fun! Want to know how I did this? I take a scan from my art journal, something that looks like it might make an interesting frame and I run it through some "Actions" (thank you nicholeV photography [life as art]) and add a vintage photograph. But, hey, why not images of folks I know?
So here's little me and my mom:

So here's Kim and her mom:
And little Julie:And while waiting for Ellen to send me a picture I played with her son Jack:And here's Ellen and Darling Daughter.And Ellen as a wee thing. Cute, eh?
Now you will have to excuse me while I go work on some more "Actions". Woo Hoo!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Here's a little more Photoshop Fun

Bruzzi and Prospero treading carefully on the sheet of ice that is our back yard. You can see the wood pile on the right that sustains us. Photoshop actions from nicholeV photography [life as art].
I'm not tired of this new toy yet at all what so ever!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

On-Going Guardian Angel Swap - No time limit

Guardian angel puppet by Lani for Carol, Michelle, and Dan. Background from nicholeV photography [life as art].
Do you ever feel as though you could use a guardian angel? I know I sure do. And I have a few friends going through a bit of a rough patch, and I was thinking how much fun it would be to send them some guardian angels, lots of them. But I'd love to send lots, and diverse angels, so why not make one and you and I'll trade. Then when I have a bunch I'll mail them out to my friends.

So here's the deal, make a Paper Puppet Angel, send it to me, and I'll send you one back. She'll be in her own artfully altered envelope with beautiful Canadian stamps. Does that sound like a fair swap? Then leave me a comment here with your email so I can send you my address and template for a paper puppet. You turn it into an angel. There's no due date. Just send when you can.

Want some inspiration? Look at Jhan Groom's Angel over on 14 Secrets.

Meanwhile I've been studying Photoshop "Actions" from Christy Hydeck's article in Cloth Paper Scissors. Wow, do I have some links for you!
Christy mentioned her new website in CPS, but it's not quite ready. However, her old website is just fine. Lots of treasure there! Look at My Favorite Things! So I started looking into "Actions" and Nicole V's website. Whew, so much to see and if you can afford one of her "Actions" you get some great tutorials so that her free "Actions" make sense. Whew, I know I'm going to have fun!
Then there's a lot of stuff out there that is FREE which is great. PSDFAN has a lot of tutorials and links to free things like textures and backgrounds. If you want to explore layers, grunge effects, actions, this is one of your places to go! has some beautiful textures and a few of them are free. But the ones that aren't free are certainly inspiring, and so far, there's no charge on inspiration!!! The two angels above have layers of free textures from the Texture Warehouse. Such fun!
So here's what I did with an art doll and Nicole V's website. Some "actions" were free and some were paid for, but mostly they were all FUN!

Monday, February 02, 2009