Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is your refuge? Next round of "Resilience, Transformation, and Art"...

L'Important est Invisible by Lani, texture by Playingwithbrushes

Do you know Mary Jaksch's blog "Goodlife Zen"? She's got a lot of wonderful ideas and questions over there. This post is all about refuge, where we find shelter and feel deeply refreshed. Mary points out it may not be a place, it could be an activity, or a person, or an idea that gives us a sense of refuge. So what is your refuge? She has 7 questions to help you find your own refuge.
  1. What gives you the most joy?
  2. Where do you feel most at ease?
  3. Who is the person you feel most comfortable with?
  4. What makes you feel most peaceful?
  5. What makes you feel most connected?
  6. What makes you feel most creative?
  7. What gives you the most courage?

Having just come back from NYC where I did some Art & Resilience type workshops, I realized that where you create/find/rediscover your refuge, you also create/find/rediscover your resilience. I like this. And when I think of refuge, I somehow always think of art retreats and workshops, like ArtFest where you discover you and your art making can be your own best refuge and retreat.

Which reminds me, the next round of "Resilience, Transformation, and Art" starts on Monday! Yay, can't wait. It's full of self care strategies and resilience-art prompts for your art work and your art journals. Come create in a kind and strengthening environment and create/find/rediscover your own refuge and resilience. Follow the above link and scroll down a bit for the course information.

Altered book spread by Lani

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

{Echo} Face

{Echo} Face

The next {echo} is ready! Diane Cook and I have been working on our sixth bi-weekly prompt with Susan and Chrysti -- this week the {echo} prompt is face. So this is Diane's sweet grandson and my contribution was these little daffodils' earnest, hopeful faces. Edward had a pot of them growing in the bathroom between the shower curtain and south facing window, so they were growing very nicely and I hadn't noticed them until he brought them downstairs. What a sweet, welcome surprise in cold, icy, snowy January! Thank you Edward!

Now here are a couple of interesting links. On Chrysti's blog I discovered the $2 Portrait Project. What an amazing idea and what a great way to document real life! Take some time with the flickr pool, it's really beautiful, heart breaking, and very moving. And from the Vision and Verb women, I discovered this photoblogging website, ShutterChance, where you can post photos in a very beautiful way. What if you combined $2 portraits with a simple photoblogging website. Wow! You can see Eliza Deacon's work here.

Edward's Daffodils

Sunday, January 24, 2010

It was a time of hope and innocence...

Photo by, of, and for "women of a certain age"

Here's a lovely idea, a celebration of, by, and for women of a certain age. These women have set up a group photography blog that feels like coming home, so friendly and familiar. Take a look at their blog, Vision and Verb, or the Shutter Sisters blog entry that they created. Here's taste:
It was a time of hope and innocence. A time when the cries of love and peace rang louder than the thunder of distant war. We wore bell-bottom jeans and mini-skirts and long strings of beads. We rocked to the music of The Beatles, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones and rapped to the rhythm of the Motown beat. We ate cheeseburgers and fries and malt shakes. For under $1.00 we got to experience Mary Poppins in the big screen theater. We were Sesame Street’s first audience, and loved Mr. Rogers. We adored the Brady Bunch and dreamed of being as strong and independent as Mary Tyler Moore. We played hopscotch and four-square and ran free as can be. When the first giant step for mankind was taken on the moon, we cheered. We cried when John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. We were champions of equal rights. We were daughters of the feminist and sexual revolution. We believed that we could pursue our dreams and become whoever we wished and hoped to be.
Yes, ma'am! It makes you proud to stand up and be counted as a women of a certain age. We did a lot, and went through a lot. And we are not done yet!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I have a secret...

I Have a Secret collage by Lani

I went to hear Frank Warren last night. And I have a secret. It was a very moving experience and I learned a lot. As secrets were revealed in the talk and in the q&a period, I got an irrisistable feeling of empathy for everyone in the auditorium, including myself. I realized that we are all quite amazing, a little bit shy about our silly bits and sad bits, and this shyness creates the crazy idea in our minds that we are all alone in the world. At nearly 7 billion of us, I would say that "alone" is about the last thing we are. So how does this shyness prevent us from realizing the truth that we are not alone? Frank brought out a tin of postsecrets (postcards with a secret on them which people have sent to him from all around the world) and said what we do with our secrets is we keep them in a kind of internal box, like his little tin, which we bury and work hard to keep buried. And at some point we are no longer keeping our secrets but they are keeping us. So it's our secrets that make us feel alone. And it's people like Frank Warren who help us see ourselves as we really are, and to feel moved.

A CBC interviewer asked Frank what he does with postsecrets about acts of violence against others and murder. He was quite surprised at this. He rarely gets postsecrets about acts of violence and murder, but he often gets postsecrets about self-harm, depression, and other difficult mental states. He feels that the media spends far more time on murder and acts of violence, proportionally, than on the things that really matter to us or that trouble us like depression, isolation, and self harm. And maybe that is the secret behind these wild and wonderful ideas like PostSecrets; they are about real life, they are about us.

Work that is meaningful, that makes good use of our talents and abilities is SO worth doing! It seems to me that this may be Frank Warren's best secret, that he has taken what has made life difficult, our secrets, and turned it into a way to teach us all about ourselves and all about the healing that can happen with empathy. Thank you Frank!

Do you have a secret? Visit Frank Warren's website and or send him a postcard. Free yourself from your secrets and become who you really are!

Monday, January 18, 2010

How do you furnish your mind? (The answers so far)

Collage by Lani

Here are the responses so far...

Mine is furnished much like my life--a tight little workspace, with a comfy spinning chair, everything I need within reach for any project I can think of, lots of little boxes and bins some with labels, some color coordinated with...something, little post-its all over the place with those "pearls" and things I want to do someday, floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Paths through the woods and maps of everyplace I have been or want to go, little fragments of things I've started and may pick up again someday, paint chips, wallpaper books, fabric samples, and all manner of tasty tidbits.

There's a remarkable lack of actual music, though I have the lyrics to all the songs I remember from my teens, and bits of melody from all the classical music I listen to on the radio, and there are movies! Films and videos, slideshows and stills of everything I've ever been, done or seen, tucked here and there to spring out sometimes when I move something else, and take me off in a different tangent, or to be running in the background while I do something else.
A slightly chaotic but also ordered place, but only to me. No one else can find anything if they go looking in there!

The first thing that came to mind is dusty old broken down springs showing couches and chairs with missing legs and stuffing pouring out. :-)
I forgot the cobwebs

My mind is furnished with a sofa, very comfortable and a table that has lots of my favorite books on artists and various techniques of pottery making and watercolor. Also, I like to write and draw so I have a journal for poetry making and a tablet for art/water color. Oh, and I have a ceramic studio with clay, a wheel and a kiln to fire with glazes, very vibrant and colorful. My mind always has music in it too so there is a large variety of CDs, and some old classical records that I play. Gee, this is fun, I have lots of things in it. There are "Pearls of Wisdom" given to me throughout my life in a book that I sit on my table to look at and glean from when needed. God is ever present for me and gives me a place of rest and freedom here and I have many spiritual beings and prayers of meditation that are constant and forthright, helping me to get through the challenges in my life. That's what my mind carries for me.

So how do I furnish my mind?
One thing that I do is write, that kind of sweeps out some of the mischievous monkeys that are chattering away throughout both hemispheres.

Then I walk to and/or from work (10 - 15 minutes depending on how much I dawdle and gawk at the scenery around me).

Art helps, so I try to find a space in my working day to encourage that practice with the program participants and I get to "play along" which is blissfully satisfying. Being a sweetmeat that I am sneaking into a professional practice.
I am imagining a "great room" as my primary living a country cabin.
So furniture. Okay for me there is a antique writing desk with quill and ink at the ready.
A little silk pillow on the floor for meditation.
A danish sofa which doubles as my bed.
A table at which I can glue, collage, paint, and read.
Then there is my Bose for listening to Bach during which time I practice proprioceptive writing to help form my whole spiritual self.

And a window with lovely blown glass that makes sparkles on the deep window ledges.
Just outside that window is a bird feeder which is the kitchen for slate juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, a downy woodpecker or two, and a pair of cardinals.

Oh dear me, I have just described my living room. Maybe how we "decorate" is just a metaphor for our minds. smile.

My mind, overall is a large studio. At the centre of the studio is a huge mixing bowl where everything flows in together. My walks in the woods, the books I’m reading about spirituality, neuroscience, animal rights, my oil pastels, knitting, beading…my personal history with family, relationships, careers, gardening, technology, health…it’s a huge melange of things that I stir up like a cake batter. And as I do, lumps form, and become beautiful spontaneous sculptures which I lift out of the bowl to contemplate and enjoy as they settle and dry. Most eventually flow back into the mixing bowl to dissolve and be formed once again. A few stay for decades.

(I particularly loved the following exchange, found it very useful!)

Oh goodness--I have too much furniture and too much of much that I have trouble accomplishing anything. I can't imagine quieting my mind enough to meditate, let alone polish my furnishings. If anyone has any suggestions--please share...
B. D.

B. D., I totally know what you mean! I've devised a coping strategy whereby when things in there get really over cluttered, I have to take a "vacation" and do something totally outside the norm--a way of stepping back and letting everything go back to its "place". It's like having a mental maid come in and tidy up for me while I'm "out". I don't know how it works, it just does. The thing I do that starts the process most often is a ride in the country--or anyplace I haven't been before. Or, if I can't get out physically, a movie marathon a la Netflix, or a new book in a new genre. The thing is to stop, redirect and proceed in a different new direction for a little while. Then, when you're done, all is right with the world again!

Try it and most important, have fun!
C. R.

Hmmmmm well I'm very intuitive and because I know this, I drink in Everything, that way when I go to create art, decorate cook whatever the dreams locked in my heart and soul come out in what my hands are doing. D. as I know her, disappears and the magic happens.This is much like a gardener spending hours in the garden not realizing lunch has passed with out notice and so has dinner and darkness has now set in before they realize the beautiful creations that have been made.

Essentially, I have a bunch of different spaces to hang out in,
according to the mood I'm in, the mood I want to be in
and what I want my mind to be doing.

Music, mostly opera, in some; silence or nature sounds in others.
My posture changes according to which "room" I'm in, and my
voice tonality and vocabulary, too.

The elements common to all... comfort... control over the "lighting"
and "space" and plenty of both and heaps of different "objects"... my tools... and an atmosphere of joy and curiosity.

Come and see... the doors are always open, the cookie jar is always filled, the kettle ready to bubble, and the crone ready to whoop it up.
A. A.

My first reaction was color. There is a children's book out called "Frederic" and it is about 4 field mice getting ready for winter. 3 of them are scurrying around collecting food for the cold months and Frederic is just sitting in the sun with his eyes closed. The others prod him and say, "Come on Frederic, we need your help." But each time they do, Frederic tells them that he is collecting light and colors for the winter months...

Along comes the winter and the little mice are finished with all they have stored. They are cold and hungry and have are feeling depressed... then they turn to Frederic, who starts describing the warm summer days using colors and adjectives that bring summer alive for the mice. He talks about the beautifully colored flowers and all the ripe and colorful fruit on the trees. He tells them to picture the warm sun rays kissing their faces and... they are all restored and happy and thank Frederic for this wonderful "soul food" sustenance :)

So color was a first. And then I thought, nature scenes. Because I get my inspiration and I resource myself by going into nature: I go to the heighty mountain tops when I am feeling low, to the harmonizing in and out of the ocean's waves when I am feeling out of sorts, to the refreshing ocean breeze when I am feeling "hot," to the rolling green hills in the countryside when I need to feel more flow..., to the forest trees when I am in need of inspiration... you get the picture. In order to see all this, I need a big window. So these are the furnishings in my mind: colors and a window on to nature, a book (that turns into the one book I need in the moment), and a very comfortable easy chair. I figure if it is neat and tidy and peaceful in my mind, I can draw on it wherever I go :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How do you furnish your mind? (originally posted on 14 Secrets)

Edith Kramer once asked me how I furnished my mind... What was the "furniture" that I put in there. Well, at the time I hesitated, not really all that keen on admitting to some of the pablum that was passing itself off as "furniture" in there, so of course I turned the question around and asked her how she furnished her mind.

Edith said because of her classical European education, her mind was pretty well furnished with the works of Freud, Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Ernest Thompson Seton, and Selma Lagerlof to name just a few. She said she was never bored, even when swimming laps, because she could always entertain herself with something from her "furniture". She just wondered what young folks today furnished their minds with.

Now of course with all the information and images flying at us every day, I seriously make an effort to keep the furnishings as simple as possible. I might play with an idea or two, a few images, or some new art technique. Mostly I try to keep the space as open as possible so that when I see something of delight while out walking, I'm able to think about what I might do with it. Or if I come across a new idea or technique, I am free to think about how to apply it. So I would say my "furniture" is pretty Zen spare, with a tatami floor, a nice flower arrangement and a scroll with some elegant calligraphy hanging next to an open window.

So how do you furnish your mind?
You do get to choose what you put into it, you know.
How do you choose?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More links, inspiration, & ideas on art journaling!

Collage by Lani with elements from PaperWhimsy and Lorie Davison.

From Diane Cook 's message on the art jounaling post I went on a little tour, was lost for hours actually and it was all good, all very exciting, full of good things to look at and think about.
First of all, Diane mentioned journaling with L. K. Ludwig so I went over to her website, where I discovered that she has all kinds of on line classes, one on journal making, one with a month of prompts, and so many more. Head on over there and read the course descriptions on the right hand side of the blog. Scroll down a little and click on ones that look interesting and it will take you to a new page devoted to each class. They all look just wonderful!

Then Diane mentioned journaling with Stephanie Lee. Now that one had me stumped because I know Stephanie Lee as a jewelry maker. But there's more to her than just jewelry! So one of the things I found was someone else's blog, writing about a class they had taken with Stephanie Lee and she features the gorgeous journal that was the result of this class. Curious? Check out "Appears no different from a galloping horse" the blogspot of Keli Hansen and specifically the blog posting on JournalFest. Is that not the most gorgeous book you have ever seen? Whew. Is that all solder or what? And then I poked around on Stephanie's blog and discovered various images of books and finally her Etsy shop with books. They are beautiful! And then there's her on-line journaling course. MMMmmmm, temptations all around!

And finally Diane mentioned How to Make a Journal of Your Life by Dan Price, a totally radical, amazing, wonderful, hobo-artist guy! Diane says this book will change your life! It's all about living in this moment and how amazing it is what a little focused attention will do for us! Thank you so much for this little tour, Diane, I really loved it!

Now for further inspiration, I've put together an eZine on art journaling which is mostly images (20 pages) which you can print out and use in your own journals. I've also retired two of my online courses which are soon to be available in one single eZine and which can easily be used as journal prompts. They will both be up on my website almost immediately!

Collage by Lani with collage element from Teesha Moore.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Art Journaling; Every Day Art

January 9 digital journal page by Lani with digital elements from here.

So it's January and for those of you looking for some inspiration to do a little art every day, and to keep it simple but inspiring, I always think that visual journaling is the way to go. You can keep a little moleskin book with you when you are traveling or you can make one of your own. There are so many inspiring artists with wonderful tutorials on youtube. Just type in art journal in your youtube search box and see what it comes up with. There are classes, books and magazines all devoted to the art journal, all eager to share their inspiration. So how to choose?
Check the websites and blogs!

Tangie Baxter with Amanda Sexton are running a year long class with very interesting material which you can read about here. Tangie says:
The beautiful thing about art journaling is the more we give to it the more it gives back to us. We gain a deeper sense of self through our creative expression. It changes us for the better, it cleanses and uplifts our spirits... Many people express concerns over what art journaling may "reveal" about themselves. But there is nothing to fear. You are amazing - the light with the dark - and the only advice I can give is to find the courage to start. You are worth it.
I couldn't agree more! Somerset Studio has a new Art Journaling magazine out and although the first magazine sold out, you can still get it in digital format. Very cool! True Vision: Authentic Art Journaling (with a nice preview over at Amazon), Collaborative Art Journals and Shared Visions in Mixed Media (also with preview), Mixed-Media Nature Journals: New Techniques for Exploring Nature, Life, and Memories (with preview), and soon to be released Creative Wildfire: An Introduction to Art Journaling Basics and Beyond all of these titles are from L. K. Ludwig,
and if the last is like the first three, I cannot wait.

Here's a quote from the magazine Art Journaling (from Elke Glendenning's article on "Finding Comfort Through Art Journaling").

In the spring of 2008 I was in a very dark place - my heart had been broken, dreams of a desired future destroyed, and I was lost and unsure about everything. A good friend and artist invited me over to collage. She shared her art journals with me, and I was blown away. I realized that art journaling was a way in which I could creatively document my life. I fell in love with the process of art journaling. It was easy, spontaneous, natural, and fun. It was healing.

Isn't that lovely? It seems that we have the answers right at our fingertips. We can help ourselves develop strength and resilience through art. All we need is a journal and some simple art materials. And in some cases, if we are totally digital, we may just need a computer. A little art every day will help us in SO many ways.

Morning Pages by Lani

{Echo} Melody

We're at it again! Diane Cook and I have been working on the next Echo prompt "Melody" from Chrysti and Susan. Diane's shot was taken thru a window at an eatery called Twin Sisters in San Antonio in early December. She and her husband were there visiting my daughter for her birthday weekend. She felt the bokeh in this picture was surreal, as they always are for her... It was a cold and misty/rainy day, but very warm inside the cafe! Here are a couple more of Diane's shots to give you the complete feeling.This flower sings a melody of joy for Diane, as she was inside, warm and with two of her favorite people in the world... "God has so many gifts for us to see each day. Nature's melody is truly breathtaking....This was just one of them!" So beautifully put Diane! Thank you for the reminder.

This picture was shot after some balloons washed ashore in Prospect, Nova Scotia. The weather was blustery and unfriendly but the balloons made my heart sing, especially when I tried to imagine from what happy event they had come before visiting us! ( Texture from Fly Paper Textures.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nine Things I Know For Sure by Summer Pierre

Nine Things I Know For Sure from Summer Pierre on Vimeo.

Summer Pierre made this video "by accident," by uploading the carousel footage with the music you can hear when you play the video, and of course she liked it so much that she added more bits of footage from her digital camera until she had this beautiful, simple, elegant piece.

I think I'm going to try this, I'll pick a few things I know for sure, and some music I love, and then intersperse images (moving or still, I don't think it matters). You can see what she's done with still images of the things she's thankful for here. (Word has it that there's a book coming out the beginning of February! Wooo! Can't wait!) And do check Summer's blog, an Accident of Hope! You won't be sorry at all.

Thank You from Summer Pierre on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Art as a Gift - Pretty Simple

In keeping with my new year's "revolutions" here is a very simple blog entry. The quote was sent out to the 14 Secrets gang from Barbara Saint-Jacques. Thanks Barbara!

Collage by Lani

"All art is a gift. It is first of all a gift that the maker can do it. It is then a gift to someone else, whether they pay for it or not. The wonder of it is that we cannot get the production of these gifts stopped. Art is life seeking itself. It is our intractable expressions of love for the beauties, ideas and epiphanies we regularly find. ... 'I have walked this earth for 30 years, and, out of gratitude, want to leave some souvenir.' (Vincent van Gogh)"

Taken from Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter (e-mail) Dec. 25, 2009