Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

A cat may kiss a pumpkin on Halloween.
Hope your treats were lovely.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More marvelous art mischief here.

Emerge: Now

So here's a little mischief of an artistic and harmless variety which my friend Diane Cook invited me to participate in. Our splendid Visual Poetry teacher, Susan Tuttle, and her likewise talented friend, Chrysti Hydek, have begun a collaborative art challenge for each other which they then opened up for all of us (do take a look). They are creating bi-weekly prompts (every other Wednesday) like this first one that you can see here. Visit Chrysti's blog to see their second.

So here's how it worked, Diane sent me "Emerge: Beyond" to which I contributed the hanging squash and squash blossom, and I sent her "Emerge: Now" to which she contributed the spider web.

I love this. I can't wait to see the second prompt and what everyone comes up with! Visit Susan and Chrysti's blogs and see who else is playing and get inspired. (Emerge Now!)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Your existence gives me hope... Inspiration and Links

Collage by Lani, with elements from Gale Blair's Paper Whimsy

Positive psychologists suggest that if we are feeling slightly blue, that we should think of 3 good things. This may sound a bit like poor Pollyanna (the most misunderstood heroine of our culture) but the rational is that our minds often get locked into very negative cycles and we need to take drastic measures to unlock them. So thinking about, listing, or naming 3 good things is one way to unlock our minds. Now I'm not particularly blue but I have to admit I'm not feeling particularly jazzed up about the darkening days, impending snow and ice, and cold winds that are beginning to blow through Nova Scotia. So I thought it would be a good idea to practice a little bit of positive psychology and let you know about 3 good things that you can enjoy as well!

My first good thing is Gale Blair's blog. Gale owns Paper Whimsy, the most amazing source of collage material, but on her blog you will find blog challenges! She provides a photographic element for you to play with and then you post the results on your own blog. The above image is for her blog challenge. I'm filled with a sense of hope and joy when I look at it. Positive psychology at work here!

My second good thing is Clarissa Pinkola Estés who is being inspiring in a very hopeful way just lately. Over at Sounds True, she's giving an on-line workshop, a kind of story-telling event which is unfolding around a virtual camp fire on Wednesday evenings. Lovely! Have you ever felt that as an artist you are often at odds with the dominant culture, that many of the values held by the dominant culture seem slightly irrelevant and even mind numbing? Well Clarissa Pinkola Estés has many words of comfort and encouragement. She believes that cultures need their artists to be there at the edge exploring new ideas and new ways of doing things, that without us doing just that, the culture will die. We shouldn't feel alone though, she suggests, because we actually belong to a very large tribe. (I imagine our culture as being a bit like an amoeba with us artists play at the edges. Being at the forefront like that we are unable to get a proper sense of the numbers in our tribe.) Well, sitting around this virtual camp fire at Sounds True on Wednesday nights has certainly made me very glad to be a part of this exciting and creative tribe!

My third good thing is the Mixed Media Art group, another great source for art challenges! I was a part of the Scavenger Hunt Challenge, we sent and received little bits of found stuff, and we were to find our own bits as well. The final piece came together seemingly all by itself. Here it is, Rust and Lace.

Rust and Lace mixed media piece by Lani shot as the sun set in Prospect, Nova Scotia.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friendship & Art

Collage by Lani

"To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship." ~ Thomas Moore

Unless it's art! Try combining the two and see what happens. Create a yahoo group for your art making buddies or join one of the many art exchange groups available on the internet! There's a lot of healing going on out there!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Manipulating layers of images and emotions

Digital collage of child in Prospect with Susan Tuttle's visual manipulation techniques.

Wow, what an inspiring class this "Visual Poetry" class has been! Only 4 weeks and it really goes quickly. Probably because Susan Tuttle is teaching so much and the things she is teaching can be layered and played with in the most fascinating ways. I am really sorry the class is finished. (Don't worry, she's running the course again. Registration will begin Sunday, October 25th, 7 PM EST. Sign up or find information here.)

Edward's straw flowers (grown in our garden) with Susan Tuttle's visual manipulation techniques.

I think the layering really resonates with me. It seems to resemble layered images and stories that fill our lives and memories. Why not play with them? If photoshop is visual manipulation to create art, why not create a parallel process with memories, emotions, and stories, manipulating and playing with them until you have a happy artful life?

One of the links I've been looking at for this idea of life manipulation is the UrbanMonk.Net website. The Oct. 10 posting is wonderful. I've always wondered why it is we can get so hooked into negative feelings about others against our own will and certainly against our better judgment. The urban monk has discovered the reason. There was a man who took up a lot of his mental space, he thought, because the man had persuaded him to do some free design work for him, and then proceeded to criticize him in a verbally abusive manner for this free work that had taken hours to do. The urban monk hated this man, constantly relived the abuse, and fantasized about revenge.

But he felt it made no sense. Others had done worse, and yet he was not stuck in this way by them. Why did he get stuck in his hatred for this man? After a lot of work over several years the urban monk was feeling a little relief, but still there were a lot of negative feelings remaining. The actual answer to the mystery was quite simple. He felt his hatred was actually inauthentic – the real hatred he had felt for this man had been healed a long time ago; what remained was a cover for a layer of hidden feelings underneath.

What the monk really had to heal was his own feeling of worthlessness. These thoughts had actually come into his head, but he found them too painful so he projected them onto the abusive man and proceeded to keep the hatred alive so that he wouldn't see that the feelings were coming from within himself. Brilliant! The trouble with this is that we become imprisoned in our negative feelings, we are trapped, unable to release the real feelings because we can't see them for all the bluster of the false,projected, negative feelings.

The urban monk has some good suggestions for further reading, and for my part, I'm going to play with some metaphoric layered photoshop imagery and see if I can't turn this idea into art.

Week 4, Lesson 2 Portrait with added layers for texture. ( Susan Tuttle provided the flower layer)

Friday, October 09, 2009

A heads-up for all you photographers/artists/photoshoppers.

Collage by Lani
Just to let you all know that Susan Tuttle is almost ready to offer "Workshop 1: Digital Photomanipulation" again. The four week class will be held from November 1st through November 29th. Registration will begin Sunday, October 25th, 7 PM EST. Spots are limited, so be sure to register promptly at that time. It is an amazing course, "Visual Poetry" is a great name for it, but it's so much more than visual poetry. It's filled with visual delights, wonderful gifts and magical learnings! I've had such a wonderful time learning a whole new "language" and I think you would enjoy it too! Do take a look at our class photos in the flickr group here and sign up soon.

Collage by Lani

Sunday, October 04, 2009

If the road is uncertain...

Collage by Lani

If the road is uncertain and difficult, remember to bring art supplies and your friends! My friend Diane sent me a quote from the wonderful New York Times article April 21, 2009 on the importance of friendship. Although most of the article was about how friendship actually helps us live longer, more healthy lives, it was the very end of the article that caught my eye.

Last year, researchers studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone.

The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.

“People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to,” said Karen A. Roberto, director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech. “Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”

This idea about friendship making the "steepness of the hill" easier to bear is a wonderful idea. And the best part about this is that being a good friend has nothing to do with our social status, our education, or our abilities. We can all be good friends to each other, and make those uncertain and difficult roads a little easier. So over at 14 Secrets we're playing with an idea of an art swap based on this research but mean while we're playing with these questions:
1. What would you share with friends to make their climb easier?
2. What would you like folks to know about things you enjoy that would make YOUR climb easier?
For some of our answers please check our blog. The difficult journey has miraculously turned into a colorful celebration of the traveling band of gypsy artists! What a wonderful group of friends!
Collage by Lani