Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday post full of links and inspiration...

Oh my word what fun this was, using Kelly Kilmer's amazing collage ideas but with a totally digital twist.  Layers and textures from FlyPaper Textures , Kim Klassen, and DJ Pettitt, while the central image is part of my growing tintype collection.  (Getting ready for my newest eCourse.)

"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." - Francis of Assisi 

This post is my little gift to all of us, wishing all a wonderful light filled holiday season and revo'lution*ary new year!  I have noticed that this time of year is often filled with mixed emotions, high hopes for a delightful holiday and for the year to come, maybe a little bit too high, so with the links and inspiration, I hope to address some of that.

First of all I really like Gretchen Miller's Revo'lution*ary way of working with intentions for the new year.  Do take a look at her blog and consider creating an altered book of intentions, a portable reminder that you can carry with you into the new year.  Last year I chose to work on Simplicity, Stillness, and Friendship, creating a collage for each of those word/intentions.  This year I believe that I would like to continue to study Simplicity, Stillness, and Friendship and I'd like to spend more time pursuing my PostGraduate Studies (click here for all the blog posts related to this idea), more time answering this question: What do you chose to do today, in this moment, to live a life filled with creative expression?

Another interesting idea (or maybe it's 20 interesting ideas) is 20 Free Gift Ideas from Scott Dinsmore. Here's his list but check the blog, because there's a whole lot of inspiration there:

*Cook dinner. Who cares if you can’t cook. Pick an easy recipe. Search “easy healthy quick recipe” on google. No excuses.
*Write a note. Taylor it to them and your relationship. Deliver it in person. Be there as they read it. Maybe read it to them. Heck, try singing it.
*Share a powerful article or book you know they’d love.
*Focus on the message and presentation, not the gift – don’t just forward a blog article in a one line email. Print it out or write a thoughtful note along with it. It’s all about the presentation.
*Build something – a collage of pictures, a calendar through iPhoto. Keep it simple.
*Hire someone on to create a custom song or poem. Only costs $5 and it’s a blast. Fiverr has an awesome Christmas section.
*Regift something of value – your trash is someone else’s treasure. Start with your book shelf and then hit your closet.
*Give a massage – Stick to hands and feet if you want to get personal. Everyone one loves someone messing with their toes.
*Create a YouTube playlist of your most inspirational songs and videos. It’s super easy.
*Throw a party with all your favorite people – so everyone can enjoy each other.
*Make a connection – Introduce two people who could really help each other.
*Create a workout or eating routine to help them achieve a goal.
*Give a fantasy. I’ll let you run with that one. C’mon, we’re all human.
*Be their guide on your favorite workout or outdoor adventure.
*Share your expertise in a way that will make life better. If you’re an accountant, help with a budget. If you’re a career coach, help find  a job they actually like. We’re all experts in something. Teach them.
*Find an inspiring video and share it in a way they’re most likely to watch. Burn to DVD or sit down and watch it with them if that’s what it takes.
*Give a bottle of wine – that must be drank between you and them within 2 weeks of gifting. Block off an entire evening for the good conversation.
*Babysit some rugrats – the ultimate gift for young parents.
*Save someone some time – Is there anything more valuable? Take down their holiday decorations, declutter their stuff, clean their house.
*Share something you love – a sunset, sunrise, a walk, a new museum. Get creative.
Want another list?  OK, this is for folks who are having a rough time of it, from the blog positively present; living happily ever after now.  We've all been there, we all know what a hard time is, so check out this list of 5 ways to stay positive during the holidays:

  1. Focus on what's going right. No matter how tough things are for you, there is at least one thing that's going right. It might be a small thing -- like your ability to still get out of bed in the morning -- but size doesn't matter. Instead of focusing on the hardest things, the things that are bringing you down, choose to focus on the things, however small, that are going right for you right now. There are good things happening around you, but it's up to you to open your eyes and look for them. You will see what you're looking for.

  2. Realize you're not alone. As much as you might feel like you're only one suffering during the holidays, you are not alone. Sadly, there are many who are having a hard time this holiday season. Just remembering that you are not alone in dealing with the difficult holiday season will help you to feel more positive. Also, keep in mind that there are others who are in much, much worse situations than you are and, as bad as things are now, they could probably be worse. I know that doesn't sound very positive, but it's always good to put things in perspective. Doing so really will help you be more positive.

  3. Make an effort to interact. When you're unhappy it can be so tempting to stay inside, tucked away from others, but that's one of the worst things you can do for yourself -- especially during the holidays. You might not feel like interacting with others at all, but if you motivate yourself to get up, get out, and interact, you'll certainly improve your mood. Don't let your unhappiness hold you back. Get out there and give others a chance to cheer you. You definitely won't feel better if you stay alone all of the time, but you might just get a mood boost if you venture out and give others a chance.

  4. Spend time with those less fortunate. A great way to lift your spirits is to realize how lucky you are. One of the quickest ways to put your life in perspective is to spend time with others less fortunate than you. Around the holidays there are often great volunteer opportunities. Check your community's website or contact an organization you'd like to help out. When you find an opportunity to help others, take it. It will brighten your mood to spend time with others, especially those who are also struggling during the season.

  5. Look at the big picture. Right now you might be feeling down. Everyone else's cheerful moods might be driving you crazy. But take a step back and try to see the big picture. This year might be tough. Next year might be hard too. But you know what? There will be a holiday season when you will be one of those laughing and smiling and spreading holiday cheer. Stay positive and focus on the good things in your life and you will once again be lifted up by the spirit of the holidays.

Nice, eh, and all so doable.  Why a person could actually have a great time over the holidays if they did a few of these things.

My next inspiration comes from an eCard I got today from my friend jaihn.  Here's the image, SO sweet and then the links below, follow them with delight (and of course drop in on jaihn for more inspiration!  Whew!)

You can find a larger version of this image here and a whole portfolio from Hamid Sardar here.   There are films on this same website, just breathtaking.  Once again, thank you jaihn!

Finally I'd like to give some thought to the concept of inner satisfaction and "conditions of enoughness" which you can read about Jennifer Louden's website.  The way I understand inner satisfaction or satisfaction which comes from within is very similar to Jennifer Louden's "COE" concept.  Often, especially at this time of year, with the media doing its very best to create feelings of lack and dissatisfaction we tend to find ourselves creating conditional happiness.  I will feel happy if darling hubby gives me the perfect gift, I will feel happy if there is no family feuding during the holidays, I will feel happy when everyone opens their presents from me and says "oh this is perfect, this is just what I was hoping for."  (What planet do I live on?)  OK, well the best point for me, that Jennifer makes in her conditions of enoughness is that we can make new conditions totally dependent on our own creations.  So I will feel satisfied when I finish wrapping my gifts.  I will feel satisfied when I try some of Scott's 20 things (see above) or when I try the 5 things from Positively Present (see above).  Make these conditions of inner satisfaction things that you can actually do for yourself and when you have done them, feel the satisfaction.

That's it for the moment.  Make sure you have a light filled holiday and try out some of these ideas for yourself.  Let me know how they work for you.  Remember, "All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Collage Fun with Fotoshop Freedom

This eCourse is all about playing with photo manipulation programs and collage.  The "class room" is "learn while having fun" area for players, photographers, artists and non-linear learners.  It’s an eight week course with two lessons a week, one on collage and the other on photo manipulation, using the collages you create during the first part of the week.   The new course will begin on January 10.

My approach is definitely non-linear.  I don't learn in a linear way, I love experimentation and play, so that is also the way I love to teach.  I have found plenty of good, solid, linear type tutorials and links for those who would like that too, so no worries. 

One thing I have noticed in my exploration of various art techniques is that if I start with images and ojects I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images  and objects we love.  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by what we find and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more techniques with greater ease. 

As part of the course we have a blog, a yahoo group which allows us to discuss our struggles and triumphs in real time, and we also have a flickr group where we can share images easily.  Hope to see you in the course really soon.  If you are interested there's a TOP SECRET discount button for blog readers over on the column to the right.  (The new Resilience Art class and Photoshop Fun class will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for one, two, or three at a huge savings!)

The new session begin’s January 10, 2011 and runs for 8 weeks with lots of coaching and play.
Price - $39.99

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing with Photoshop and Collage...

Playing with photoshop and morning pages collage.  Layers and textures from FlyPaper Textures , Kim KlassenDJ Pettitt, old book image from Paula Kesselring and angels from ItKuPiLLi
Oh my word, am I having fun!  So I'm thinking a little more about this idea of combining a collage making course with a photo manipulation course.  I should have a class up and running in the beginning of January.  Exciting!  The Fotoshop Fun class has been such a blast, I can't wait to see what happens with this one! So if you like major fun, want to do more with collages, and mixed media and run them through the whole Fotoshop Fun process, then you might like to join this class!
Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Caring for the Inner Foundling...

Morning pages collage by Lani, textures by DJ Pettitt

While working on collecting backgrounds for collages for Kelly Kilmer's class Memories and Reflections I started looking at an article (or what was left of it) in Selvedge Magazine on an exhibit at the London Foundling Museum.  ‘Threads of Feeling’ is an exhibition of the mid-eighteenth century textiles preserved in the records of London’s Foundling Hospital. Almost 5,000 of these fabrics survive, pinned to the Hospital’s admission document for each child. They form the largest collection in Britain of everyday textiles from the eighteenth century. Both beautiful and poignant, each reflects the life of a single infant child.   As I looked at these scraps of cloth, tiny mementos of the moment of parting as mothers left their babies at the Foundling Hospital, I couldn't help but notice that most of the infants were dead within the year of admission.  And yet I couldn't find any explanation or even acknowledgment of this fact.   

So I googled mortality rates of foundling hospitals and the results were horrific.  For abandoned children, Foundling hospitals seemed to be a kind of death sentence.  In Dublin, between 1796-1826, virtually all of the fifty-two thousand infants placed there died.  High mortality rates in foundling homes persisted well into the nineteenth century.  The absence of proper nutrician was considered the prime noninfectious cause of death by Dr. Routh in 1857, along with what he called an "abuse of the recumbent position of infants," or excessive swaddling. 
There is something about all this that is very compelling.  My guess is that all of us can feel the horror of these stories, from the sorrow of the mother to the desolation of the foundling.  My guess is we all have inner foundlings looking to be held and recognized, cared for and loved.  Wouldn't it be a good thing to create a way to metaphorically care for the inner foundling, to make sure it has enough proper nutrition and isn't bound up with too much swaddling?  

Friday, December 03, 2010

I posted this over on 14 Secrets...

I posted this over on 14 Secrets but it's very sweet so I'll post it here as well.  Bless Tanya Davis!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Be a spark...

Image of "a spark" from Patti Digh's exercise (see below).

On page 54 of Creative is a Verb by Patti Digh, she has some lovely exercises: "Identify a person who had a great positive impact on you from some time when you were between seven and seventeen years old. Write about that person - what memories does their name evoke, and why? Notice how many of these memories are small gestures, tiny events."

Then create an image that represents the spark they provided. What was that spark?
Find ways to hand on that spark, however small.

The first thing that popped into my mind was a trip to a Buddhist monastery in a resort area in the mountains of Taiwan (Sun Moon Lake).   There was a monk in this monastery who looked at me (one of those kind, understanding looks that people who have met the Dalai Lama describe of that experience) and suddenly said wait, I have something for you, and rushed away.  Then he rushed back again with the most interesting pamphlets on Buddhism.  That evening I read them all from cover to cover, and found them be the most rational, wonderful, amazing things I had read up until that point in my life.

But then other things came along like the confiscation of the reading material and life in general, and so I forgot about the experience.  Much later, as a young adult, I met Professor Sok Hon Ham , a Korean pacifist who had just been released from prison, whose gaze created that same bell-like resonance, a feeling (that was almost like a sound) of being completely understood and accepted.  I realized then what an important, but seemingly small event my interaction the the monk had been to me. How strange and yet wonderful.

So Patti suggests that we create that spark for others, in my case it would be to say or do or just be the right thing to create a feeling of being completely understood and accepted, like the "namaste" greeting where the divine spark in one person recognizes the divine spark in another.  And if there's a way to create that spark for ourselves as well, I think that would be most excellent.

What a wonderful exercise.  Thank you Patti Digh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This one if for Lumilyon.

Photo of a rock wall, layers from Lumilyon, Pareeerica, and  FlyPaper Textures .

This one if for Lumilyon.  I find her art and blog extremely inspiring in that same way that SARK's game "Transforming what hurts into what helps" is inspiring (see previous post).  Life happens to all of us, bringing loss and sorrow, events that feel so awful that the darkness feels complete.  But as artists we tend to create things with our pain.  And I love what Lumilyon creates!  I find it urges me to look for ways to create even in darkness.  Thank you Lumilyon!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Here's my attempt at playing SARK's wonderful mood altering games!

Bergamasco Boys
SARK's first game is a "Miracle walk" in which you go out of your house or wherever you are, put your hands out, palms up and say; "Miracles, find me now." And then walk until you see or find one- or more! Be aware that miracles may be disguised or in unlikely places. Use love to recognize them. A variation is to say; "Miraculous people, find me now."

So I thought I would try it while walking the beloved "Bergamasco Boys" which is normally a fun, crazy, cold, resistance filled experience this time of year.  (The dark one, Bruzzi, has every excuse for not walking and he can embody resistance.)  Often my head is filled with to-do lists and annoyance with Bruzzi or hubby's recitation of the sorrows of the world.  But try stepping into your life with palms up and saying "Miracles, find me now" and see what happens to your day.  It is splendid!  And everything sparkles!  (The images are all about how the day sparkled because of this game.  Thank you SARK!)

The second game is "Transforming What Hurts Into What Helps" which is what I believe artists do every day, changing stuff that hurts into objects of beauty and resilience! 

Share one thing in your life that's challenging or difficult, and one thing that you're glad about that challenge or difficulty. Something like this:
"I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all there is to do in my life and business, and am glad that I am healthy and able to do things" That reminds us of the "marvelous, messy middle" of feelings. I call it "Practical Gladness" This will further develop your transformational abilities.

Actually the biggest challenge in my life was death of my first husband, when we were in our thirties and totally unprepared for such an event.  I felt extremely lost and the darkness was intense at the end.  But then I noticed people were coming around to help sit with him, and to sit with me.  I wasn't alone at all.  And although it was the saddest time in my life it was also in a strange way, the happiest time.  I felt as though by facing this sense of isolation and sorrow (or maybe it was even embracing it), I was able to join or re-join the human race.  I felt connected to others who suffered loss (and who among us hasn't experienced loss?), I felt brave and resilient, and I felt SO grateful for all who came and sat with us through this time.  It was an amazing experience.

Prospero (one of the Bergamasco Boys) drinking water on a sparkle filled day.

The final game is "Be GLAD No Matter What -  Give Lovingly And Daringly" which SARK explains this way:

This does NOT mean feeling glad when you don't - how annoying. It means finding the glad parts in as many of your feelings as you can and then finding ways to help the world with your GLAD heart. Blog or post your GLAD offerings on social media. It might be large or tiny, common or uncommon. One of my GLAD heart gifts was singing Amazing Grace in the DMV office until everyone joined in!

This will be easy!  For anyone who contacts me at lanipuppetmaker at mac dot com I will send you a  free Glad-No-Matter-What zine, with my favorite collaged morning pages!
Even the frost sparkles today!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More thoughts on Tulsa's overly busy life style.

Collage by Lani (collage element from Teesha Moore) with Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.
I've been thinking a little more about Tulsa's situation and I totally get it.  Our lives are way too busy to really listen to our inner artist souls.  We are caught up in the dominant cultures' story which is a consumer story, that when you boil it down to its most basic message that would be thatwe are not enough as we are. And what I think the real story is all about is how we absolutely are enough and the ones who get creative are the ones who figure that out.  So the really important thing for Tulsa (and all of us) to figure out would be how to detach from the big story that the "dominant culture" teaches us. Freedom is within the realm of possibility if we can just detach ourselves.  If we need examples and ideas to jump start our search for freedom, we can visit other artists either virtually or for real, artists who are actually calling the shots in their own lives. That's pretty cool. Not everyone is waiting to be told what they should need or want.  Not everyone is waiting for the perfect life to actually do the things that their inner artist wants them to do. Some folks are doing things anyway. Very nice.

The first person I would want to visit would be Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits.  Leo has a short list of ways to simplify our lives so that we can actually hear our own stories: 1. Identify what’s most important to you. 2. Eliminate everything else.  He suggests we get rid of chaos in our lives and replace it with peace, spend our time doing what’s important to us, spend our time with people we love, doing the things we love to do (for me that's art and writing, for Tulsa it writing and going for long walks). If we eliminate the clutter of all that is not essential, we will be left with only the things we value.

Leo has a fabulous long list of 72 ways to eliminate all but the essential in our lives and I'll mention a few here but feel free to go visit the whole list, it's wonderful, or buy his book and really dive in!  So here are my favorite ways to get more freedom in my life:

#36.  Learn what “enough” is. This one is hard, but think about it.  Isn't it odd that we would feel so empty, so needing of stuff even when our lives and homes are so absolutely full that we might hire someone to declutter our lives?  Or we might buy a book on decluttering?  The fact might just be that we have too much stuff, junk, redundant objects without meaning in our lives.  And yet we are constantly wanting more.   

# 31. Learn to live frugally. I like this one because it means buying less, wanting less, and leaving less of a footprint on the earth. It’s directly related to simplicity. (And the really cool thing is he's got  50 tips on how to live frugally)

# 24. Be present.  Living here and now, in the moment, keeps us aware of life, of what is going on around us and within us. It does wonders for mental health.  (Try yoga or meditation for this one)

# 17. Limit your buying habits. (This one is a bit like #31 but maybe more specific) If we are slaves to materialism and consumerism there is no freedom. But Leo assures us there are ways to escape it.  If we can escape materialism, we can get into the habit of buying less. And that will mean less stuff and more freedom.

# 8. Limit your media consumption. Leo believes that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate us. These things can be more compelling than our own stories are to us.  But that doesn't have to be. Try a media fast.  Or try versions of media which give you the most control.  DVD's, books, anything that you can fast forward or turn the page.

And finally #1. (my favorite) Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to us? What do we value most?  What 4-5 things do we most want to do in our lives?  Simplifying starts here: Only when we know, figure out, or admit what is most important, will it become possible to create more time for these things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let it all go, Tulsa. Be free now!

Collage by Lani with Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.
I got this email the other day:
Dear Lani, I wonder what you would say about my situation? I'm an administrator of a small community based educational program and I am so busy that I can't seem to find enough time to do my own writing. I would love to just go for long walks and write, but in reality I'm eating, sleeping, and dreaming administrative nonsense. I'd love to take a sabbatical from all this, but then there would be no pay, of course. I guess I'm feeling a little trapped... Yours, Tulsa

Sound familiar?  Don't we all put off those walks and our creative pursuits because we have obligations elsewhere?  My answer to Tulsa was to use the source of the perceived problem to create the solution.  One of the very best ways to get to do more of the thing you love, is to offer to teach it. If Tulsa is an administrator of an educational program, then she could appoint herself to teach a class on "walking, observing, and writing" or "writing and yoga" or "spiritual exploration through writing" for herself and all the other folks who may be feeling similarly. Lots of people feel too busy to even think and are just looking for an excuse to work creatively for an hour or two in their  busy lives.

I would also recommend Patti Digh's new book "Creative is a Verb" to anyone in Tulsa's situation.  Patti is amazing.  And not only are her books clear, simple, inspiring, but she's got a really nice blog where she's got a whole blog entry for my friend Tulsa and the rest of us as well.   Twelve simple steps to getting what is inside out, via writing, music, dance, or art.  What ever our creative preference might be, these twelve little ideas are for us.

Something else for Tulsa and all of us is over on Dirty Footprints Studio.   Connie has a wonderful post about how to be a "rockstar" or how to quit making those excuses and start living the life you were meant to live.  She says she has a story to tell about what has paralyzed her, what has shattered her and kept her from living a creative life.  She says she needs to release that story, let it all go in order live the life she dreams of.  I'm sure she's right.  Let it all go, Tulsa, be free now.  (Let it all go, Lani, be free now!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Back from Sacramento...

Back from the American Art Therapy Annual Conference which was in Sacramento this year. Here are some photos from the Crocker Art Museum (which I loved):
African sculpture with layers by Kim Klassen.

Contemporary sculpture with layers by Kim Klassen.

Contemporary sculpture with layers by Kim Klassen.

 Contemporary sculpture with layers by Kim Klassen.

The  most frightening thing at the art museum (for art therapists) was how they sold art therapy in a kit.  Wow!  How to be made redundant with one slick-looking box of art materials...  (Art Therapist Susan Anand displays contents.)

I also learned very clearly (again) that less is more, that we as audience members can only absorb so much information and even if the presenter has more information than can fit in one presentation, it doesn't matter, because we can only receive a limited amount.  I enjoyed many clear, interesting, elegant presentations that took this truth to heart.

And the best thing about this conference was that it was held in a convention center which meant we had to go outside, where skies were blue and Kaltenbach's fountain "A Time To Cast Away Stones" bubbled away on 13th and K.  Just lovely.  (Layers by Kim Klassen)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More on being brave and facing giants...

Collage by Lani with Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.

(I received this email about the previous post and I'm sorry about the length, but if you are interested in bravery and overcoming obstacles then this might be a post for you.)

Dear Lani,
How did your Craft Show go?  The reason I ask is because I really find the blog entries about Brave Art very helpful but I have a problem.  Maybe you came across something similar in your Craft Show?  I started a woman's creativity group recently and we did a session on dolls which went well. So I thought the next step should be a book, so I suggested this to the group that we each write a 1-2 page story about confronting a fear. Two women were enthusiastic but one woman felt this would be too self-revealing for her and she wasn't sure. The others were kind of neutral. I am struggling with this. How do you handle people's negative responses to your ideas? I so want to do this but I really don't like the negative feedback.  I tend to take it personally and feel rejected.  I so want to do this healing group kind of thing and I also feel quite thin-skinned.  Am I the right person for this group?

When you wrote about your feelings around putting your art in the craft show, I could really relate and that's why I am sharing my frustration of the moment with you.   I guess my question to you is how do you handle the reactions of people who, say, don't buy your art, or who are critical about what you are doing? Maybe you don't ever get that and if so, I am just going to go feel sorry for myself.

Thanks for listening!

Feeling Sorry in Scotts Bluff
And here's my answer:

Dear Feeling Sorry,

I'll answer the easy question first.  No need to go feel sorry for yourself, lol!  One of the best things I ever heard about getting negative feedback (and if you can take this to heart, it is a huge relief, seriously!!!) was from Marney Makridakis of Artella who said if you AREN'T getting any negative feedback for your work, then your audience is too narrow.  Pretty cool, eh?  And of course she's right.  If you want to reach a wide base of people then you really need to be willing to hear all sorts of reactions.  You really don't need to worry about pleasing everyone, mostly because it's impossible!

Think about your own tastes, aren't they always changing, growing?  Imagine if you were someone else trying to please your personal tastes all the time, it would be impossible.  That's the main idea here.  And really the only task you really need to concern yourself with is the ongoing development of you, or following your bliss as Joseph Campbell would say.  When you do that, you will be surprised how many others will enjoy what you are doing.

A woman's creativity group sounds like an excellent way to  explore inner development, so I say go for it.  Offer the group the option of writing about a fictional character.  The woman who is concerned about self-revelation and the women who were neutral might enjoy working and thinking about bravery in a fictional character. 

The more complex answer is how the craft show went.  First of all it was a "Crafters' Market" which means something quite specific in this area, which I didn't really understand about.  I had a vague idea that this would be an arts and crafts show and was quite surprised to see so many cupcakes, Nanaimo Bars, flower arrangements, and plywood cut outs of Santa.  And then the folks coming through seemed to know this because they were mostly looking for cupcakes and plywood Santas.  This may sound unkind but I honestly don't mean it to be.  Most people who walked past stopped when they saw the Shipwreck Doll Babies, and then talked to me about the dolls, wanting to know how they were made and could they touch them, exclaiming over them...  They would then buy a pair of earrings which is fine, but I did get the feeling I was in the wrong place if I wanted folks to buy a doll, lol.

What I learned from all this is that it's important to get a broad audience if you want to actually have your work seen and enjoyed.   Really put your stuff out there as much as possible.  For example, I looked into the Halifax Crafters' Market and it looks like a better fit, more of the young "indie" DIY arts and crafts folks and it's juried so they can tell me if it's for the plywood Santa crowd or not.  So I'll be brave and talk to them.

I'll also take some of my wares to the American Art Therapy Conference next week in Sacramento.  We'll see what art therapists think of my oh-so-resilient shipwrecked dolls, lol.

Faithfully yours,
For more on this topic, check the 14 Secrets blog where we are working on Summer Pierre's Kick Ass journaling.  If you want to face giants, you need to be in a kick ass kind of mood, lol!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brave Art and Facing Your Giants

Dolls by Lani, photoshop texture by Kim Klassen

Have you ever found yourself deliberating whether or not to do something you know would be an experience which will help you grow and you are just at that point where you getting ready to do this thing and suddenly you don't want to?  Suddenly you discover your resistance and fear rising up?   And sometimes you can get to that point several times around one upcoming event and each time it's as though it is all new and you have to decide all over again to do this good thing...

So I had several of those experiences while preparing for our local Prospect Road Craft Fair, and I was debating (once again) whether or not I could actually be brave enough to do the fair when an eNote came into my in-box from the Brave Girls Club:
"Don't be afraid to face your giants. Don't be afraid to stand face to face, toe to toe with what is scaring you the most. Don't be afraid to pull the things that are taunting you in the darkness out into the light to see what they really are.

Our fears, our hurts and our biggest holdbacks very often lose all of their power once they are brought out into the light and to be seen for what they truly are. Many times they are simply figurative bullies, and not much more. Many times our fears have no merit, our hurts are not worth the energy we put into them, and the things holding us back most are things we have outgrown long ago.

We hold on to things for years because we let them linger and grow in the background, in the closets and deep in our hearts....when all we need to do is pull them out, take a look at them....and see if they really should hold ANY more of our energy, our brain space or any of the words that ever come from our mouth again.

It doesn't make us weak to let go of old garbage from our past...whether it's years ago or whether it was yesterday. It doesn't make us weak to forgive and forget and move is a sign of strength and character and of taking control of our own futures....our own feelings...our own place in the world.

Bring it all out into the light. It's so much nicer, sunnier, warmer, prettier and happier in the light.

Shine on, lovely friend."
So I thought, yes, I can face this giant!
I can be a part of the local craft market and I can bring my Shipwreck Doll Babies and see if they can be adopted.

And who knows I might even have fun.  So here are the dolls, much influenced by Clarissa Callesen's techniques, who is teaching at Art Fest in 2011 and has a great shop on Etsy.  (Thank you Clarissa!)

When I looked at mine I thought they looked like they'd washed up from one of Nova Scotia's many, many shipwrecks.

Could they have been a pirate's talisman, or come across on the SS Atlantic or the Titanic even?  What is the history behind these mysterious dolls?

Come to the Prospect Road Community Center tomorrow and find out!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Working on some altered dolls & stuff

All the images have textures by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.
Two altered dolls, one for the Traveling Artist's Guild.  More details on construction will be posted on the Traveling Artist's Guild blog.

My character (Shiao Mei Mei) is created from an old Chinese doll.  This is her traveling trunk, a wonderful old leather box from my friend Kiki

Every good traveler needs a map so here's Shiao Mei Mei's map.

Here's the cover of her paper bag journal.

And one of the pamphlet books inside the paper bag journal.

Because she is a vintage doll, she's already had some adventures in her life so the inside of her trunk has some little bits of treasure from these earlier adventures.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Learning to Love Us More Every Day"

 Collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen.

Why do you do what you do?

Maybe it's just as simple as the inspiration behind everything.  I love the creative process.  While in college I worked at an orphan's home, and I loved how the kids seemed to feel when they were working creatively.  I wanted to understand that process so I went on to study and practice art therapy.  My experience of art therapy was basically using the creative process to ameliorate some rather negative life situations.  One woman I worked with explained it this way, that in the art room she discovered that she could love who she was, that there was something in the creative process that allowed her  to love herself more, love others more, and be less dependent in her relationships.  There was more freedom, confidence, and joy.  Because of that, she was more capable of doing things for herself, which just increased her sense of self worth, a very nice positive loop to get into. 

And I'm thinking maybe life teaches us all things that we all need to rehabilitate from.  There are many paths to create this kind of rehabilitation.  Art is my path.   And the internet provides me with a very spacious art room.  So here I am.  A simple story.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Magic and Art

Collage by Lani, some elements from Paper Whimsy and Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures.

Did this one for the Fotoshop Fun class but I loved it too much to just leave it there.  She's got the key to a happy life.  Art and magic.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Art Has No Rules...

Collage by Lani Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures.

Over on 14 Secrets we were having the most amazing discussion.  The idea about rules in art and judgments about who brakes the "art rules" popped up.  I created the above art journal page in response to this discussion which popped up around our Journey with The Traveling Artists Guild...  Many of us were getting very exciting by the possibilities for this journey, which will include art dolls, traveling trunks, paper bag books, and little pamphlet books to go inside the paper bag books.  Some of us are nearly done with our preparations and decorations and some of us are struggling with a familiar uncomfortable feelings of comparison and judgment.   Someone mentioned that on a different art forum, there was some discussion about not following the rules, that the art work should follow certain rules.  Since when is rule following a big part of the artist's life?  Actually NOT following the rules, or being creative with the rules is more likely to be a big part of the artist's life, since playing, having fun, and creating are all about bending and altering the rules.  

I love art.  I love how I can play, how my soul can come out and find just the right thought and image and it's all SO much fun.  So here's to having discussions and here's to feeling bad about what we are doing once in a while because it will (if we are open to this) lead us to our own true self, our own true expression, which for me at this moment is all about play and fun and joy and happiness.  Hooray!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More on resilience...

Playing with textures from Kim Klassen and  FlyPaper Textures.

Thinking more about yesterday's post, I think that it's resilience that interests me.  As I get older and rack up more confrontations with real life, I am more and more fascinated by how real people struggle to overcome real difficulties, or sometimes how we can learn to make peace with what is.  This morning I discovered a link on Daily Good to an amazing amazing collection of videos having to do with seeing yourself in the the nearly 7 billion others on the planet.  You can find whole thoughtful portraits of people answering several simple questions like "What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?"  The answers are so touching, so real.  That's what I love about my life "off the carousel," that when we aren't looking at the glitter and brass rings, we can actually talk with one another, share those difficult times, be there, listen...  I don't know, it just seems like such an honor.  You can see the trailer here, but I got lost on the Daily Good site, looking at peoples responses to a variety of topics.  Beautiful.  Such resilience.   I especially loved Bruno!  "Anything can be done with joy!"  Bless you Bruno.

Resilience From Wisdom Commons:

Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience. Resilience means facing life’s difficulties with courage and patience – refusing to give up. It is the quality of character that allows a person or group of people rebound from misfortune, hardships and traumas.

Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.

Much of our resilience comes from community—from the relationships that allow us to lean on each other for support when we need it.

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering. -Henri Frederic Amiel, philosopher and writer (1821-1881)

Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.
-Greta W. Crosby

There is no way to re-enchant our lives in a disenchanted culture except by becoming renegades from that culture and planting the seeds for a new one. -Thomas Moore

Friday, September 17, 2010

Take the journey back to your self...

Collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper Textures.

This week I was over in my friend Patti's Altered Attic, and I learned about National  Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week.  Patti likens the experience of developing one of these chronic illnesses with being thrown from the merry-go-round of "human doing" where life is glittery, fast moving, and we forever chase the brass ring which is always just out of reach.   And once you are sitting on the ground you are more or less forced to become a human being, since all the glittery doing becomes nearly impossible.   Patti got me thinking about my own experiences with "reality".  The Buddha pointed out a very long time ago, that reality comes to all of us in the form of illness, old age, and death.  There's no one on this planet that hasn't known these three either personally or of a loved one.

Aside from the medical industry's very bad behavior, a very difficult part of all of this is that our culture places such value on doing and almost no value on being.  So while we are on the carousel we are given approval and positive reinforcement for the rather empty experience of chasing the brass ring.  The brass ring is something you can't ever reach.  You can try, you can get a better job, higher salary, but it will never be enough.  I remember this old merry-go-round very well.  I didn't  much care for it, truth be told.

When I was in my thirty's, my husband developed a fatal illness.  I felt as if I'd been thrown from the horse but was still on the carousel.  I looked around at all of the striving and I didn't have the heart for it anymore.  So I decided to step off and sit in the side lines, and consider where I had been and where I actually was.  It seemed to me as I looked around, there was a lot more real life going on in the sidelines, very interesting, real life.  And it's in these sidelines that the greatest art and creativity are happening.   And like Patti commented there's a tremendous amount of community, friendship, and wonderful humanity here in the sidelines, where the pace is slow enough that you can feel it and enjoy it.  For me, the experience of real life, was a heart opening experience.  I suddenly had the time for others, I found that without the cloak of denial, you can actually join the human race.  It may be heart breaking at times, but it is also a place where we can truly love and learn.

This week on the "Love Bomb: It Starts With Us" website, they (we) picked a girl struggling with Lyme disease, who wrote about her experiences with this invisible chronic illness.  The idea was to go visit her blog and leave a "love bomb," a comment that let her know that she was loved.  Very sweet idea!  So far I see 160 comments of a love bomb type.  So if you want to leave Victoria or my friend Patti a comment to let them know they are not alone, that they are human beings deserving of as much love and respect as anyone riding the merry-go-round, and probably more, then please do.  It's easy and it makes all the difference in a person's life!  Really!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shhh, more top secret doings at 14 Secrets...

Collage by Lani

We are collecting our bags, suitcases, steamer trunks, maps, journals, and needful things for the journey.  Check it out (or just ask Gena) at  (Originally posted on the 14 Secrets blog, but I love the picture and couldn't help myself!)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Flypapers, Layering, and How Handsome is Paul Grand, really?

Here's a little extra Photoshop "tutorial" that I created for the Fotoshop Fun course, because one of the members wanted to know how to use the beautiful FlyPaper Textures and she also wondered if Paul Grand really looked like his facebook avatar.  I'm posting it here, because I had so much fun making it, I can't keep it just for the group, lol.  So this is a little extra post on layering textures, especially  Flypaper Textures, the breathtaking work of Jill Borealnz and Paul Grand, Flickr friends, based in New Zealand and France.

So I will start with this simple example.  This little fairy creature was a digital image from Lisa's Altered Art.  I took the image just as it came, see top figure, and pulled over a texture from the Fly Edges Collection.

So here are  my screen shots, so you can see what I did.  The first one shows the texture layer on the left and the blending modes on the right.  Of course this texture layer is way smaller than it will be, I just wanted you to see the fairy under it.
Now here I've set the blending mode to "multiply" and you can see it's fairly transparent, but not quite transparent enough for my taste.  So I'll play with the opacity.

And now here it is, covering the whole image, opacity set for 76%.  Easy-peasy.

Now the real question is how handsome is Paul Grand, really?  (We know he uses photoshop, LOL!) 
And this just in from Paul: "My avatar? (The top picture)  It was 20 years ago, in 1990.  I dont look so young these days but I still have the long hair...just!"