Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thinking about the bravest things we can do...

Collage by Lani with layers from Pareeerica.

Looking at the current Artful Blogging I was struck by Jeanne Oliver's article on the Brave Girl Camp.  Wow, what an absolutely terrific concept!  From the article I found my way to Melody Ross's blog, an inspiring blog full of bravery.  I loved it.

Here's Melody Ross's mantra:
"I believe in the goodness of others and of life... and in seeking for beauty and truth and fun and extreme bravery and unity.  And when I can't find it... I believe in going out and creating it."

Isn't that the most beautiful mantra?

So my questions for today, in my  "Postgraduate Studies" program, are "What kind of artist would you like to be?"  A very productive, brave, wildly creative, extreme artist.  "What brave act have you committed in the past to move yourself in that direction and what brave act will you commit today?"

"What small acts of encouragement will you commit for yourself and others?"

"What would you like more of in your life?"

"When you think about a brave life and brave art, what images come to mind?"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Some Zen Questions (Warning: Answers may provoke creativity)

Collage by Lani with light effect from Paree Eric's Texture Extravaganza

"...the main task of a creative person is to move from his or her “everyday mode” to that quieter, deeper, more passionate, more contemplative, livelier “space” where the creative encounter occurs."                    
                                      -Eric Maisel, The Ten Zen Seconds

Here are Eric's affirmations (or incantations) that I have have turned into simple question:  Can I completely stop?, Can I expect nothing?,  Am I doing my work? (This one is a really positive trigger for me),  Can I trust my resources?,  Can I feel supported?,  Can I embrace this moment? (Yes please), Am I am free of the past?,  Can I create my meaning?,  Can I be open to joy?,  Am I equal to this challenge?,  Can I take action?,  Can I return with strength?

If my mind hesitates with any of these, I can ask myself "would I do such and such" and "when?" to get past the hesitation.

Challenge: Try creating art which is based on one of these questions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Collage by Lani

As part of this continuing "Postgraduate Studies" program, I decided to explore the motivations for studying what I have studied in the past.  What I discovered was this: my art therapy training, my artist and writer's life are all tied up with the questions of how the creative process works, how it helps us overcome life's challenges, why we need it, and how we can encourage it more.  These questions have been woven into everything I do.  If I think back to high school and college, those were the questions I was most interested in exploring even then.  And now as a full time "creative", these are the ideas I continue to study.  What we do with all those hours in front of the TV, so many hours in "monkey mind" nonsense, worries, anxieties, and to-do lists, couldn't they be better spent, more creatively spent, if we knew our own triggers for creative expression?  Everyone probably has different triggers, but wouldn't it be fun to make that the focus of studies, what sparks us to do our best, most creative work?  Studying THAT would be a huge spark in itself! 

Wouldn't it be fun to come accross videos, blogs, and zines that had to have a warning label about the contents may have positive creativity triggers within?

Today's challenge:  Name three of your favorite creativity triggers and create something which embodies them.  Blog or vlog it with a warning label that the contents are dangerous, may cause creativity!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How can I live a life filled with creative expression?

Collage by Lani for 14 Secrets Swap about honoring our grandmothers

This morning I was furthering my "Postgraduate Studies" program, looking at Trish Papadakos's MA thesis question, the question that her thesis answers: "How can people strategically approach their work-life choices so that they can lead the life they want?"  Well, I'm working on simplifying what I propose to study in this "Postgraduate Studies" program so I thought "How can I have a life filled with creative expression?" might do the trick.  It feels very immediate.  A "what can I do right now" kind of question.  I wondered what sorts of things encourage a life filled with creative expression and what sorts of things tie us up and keep us from being creative.   I took a peak at an interview with Eric Maisel about his book Ten Zen Seconds.
When you free neurons from their usual grip on small thoughts — ten worries, fifteen errands, and so on...— when you get your whole brain back (technically, when you release the grip of small neuronal gestalts in the service of one large neuronal gestalt), you experience a “pregnant emptiness” which feels like “no mind” or “empty mind” (but which is actually your whole mind, now recovered, readying itself to create).

In the next instant your painting will arrive. You are reducing mental clutter for the sake of allowing an opening to occur through which your ideas and images can arrive: in this way, the “quieting” serves the “exploding” of the creative encounter that follows.
I like this clearing away of inner clutter and allowing the creative ideas to emerge, and it's certainly been my experience on the meditation cushion that when their is stillness the most amazing images and ideas will arise.  Being in the flow state is very much separate from those to-do lists.  This is the exciting thing because it's all about something which is within our own grasp.  And it's all about right now!  What can I do in this moment to live a good, creative life?  It seems as though there are always choices in this moment which can lead to greater creativity and joy.  Very exciting.

Challenge: What do you chose to do today, in this moment, to live a life filled with creative expression?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Fotoshop Fun Course is ready for participants!

A current favorite photoshop collage by Lani.

The eCourse for playing with photo manipulation programs is finished, the kinks are worked out, the "class room" is now ready for players, photographers, artists and non-linear learners.  Along with various Photoshop programs, we have been working with the share-ware (free) program gimp with great success.   The new course will be ready to begin on May 31.

My approach is definitely a bit 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 photo manipulation techniques is that if I find images I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images we love.  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by these images and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more about our various programs 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 will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for two for the price of one or just one for half price!)

"We wanted to drive a roadster and solve mysteries like Nancy Drew."  Collage by Lani, textures from Pareeerica and FlyPaper.   Created for the 54th Contest on Man Ray: Red Car!

Inventing the future...

Collage by Lani, texture layer from DozyStock

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Alan Kay 
 More adventures in my Postgraduate Studies today.  I was looking through Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artisit Within and I came across this very simple art exercise.  Fold a large piece of paper so you have four quadrants.  In the first, create your reality as you know it.  In the second, create your reality as you dream, hope, wish it.  In the third, create the obstacles or difficulties which need to be overcome in order to arrive at the desired outcome.  In the fourth quadrant, would have the gifts or talents which you have in order to resolve the difficulties.  So I start playing in photoshop, going through all of these steps, using metaphoric imagery to depict where I am, wish to be, obstacles, and gifts.  All on one image.  Very enjoyable process.  And what I came to understand is that what we may think are obstacles may actually be amazing gifts in themselves, helping us develop our own true gifts, our own authentic lives.  Lovely.  Thank you Eric!

Coincidentally I got the link from Gretchen Miller for this article on Huffington Post, worth a read, all about manifesting your dreams, and who among us wouldn't want to manifest our dreams?

So here's the challenge: read Gretchen's blog, the article in Huffington Post, and then try a version of Eric Maisel's exercise. Oh yes, and be sure to have fun!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I belong to a capable, corageous tribe!

Collage by Lani and texture layer by SkeletalMess.

My mind has troubles with affirmations. They always sound a little false, bravely asserting something I might not believe whole-heartedly.  It often sounds a little like brainwashing, adding layers of veneer which will peal off at the first sign of bad weather.  But if I ask questions of my mind in a way that my mind will answer them with a resounding yes and of course, then instead of that nasty, critical feeling,  I get a very energized happy feeling.  Here are a few questions created from affirmations that I borrowed from Eric Maisel's book Coaching the Artist Within:

Am I not just fine as I am? Of course, I am fine just as I am!

Can I create something from nothing? Yes, I see evidence all around me, so I know I can. Can I do it now? Yes, of course!

Can I trust my resources? Again, I look around, and the answer it yes! Of course!

Can I can handle this? Yes, absolutely!

What would be a first step for today?  I can't wait to find out!

Am I am capable and courageous? Again, the evidence is all around me, my life history, my family history, the human history, life on earth would all indicate I belong to a capable and courageous tribe.

Do I have everything I need? Yes, of course. I have materials, ideas, and a world of inspiration.

Am I ready? Yes, indeed.

Try turning a few affirmations into questions and see what happens.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you have something that preoccupies you?

Collage by Lani with postcards from the Museum of Anthropology, UBC.

Today's question for my little adventure in Post Graduate Studies is borrowed from Trish Papadakos:

Are you occupied, or do you have something that preoccupies you?

In my experience we tend to get a little stuck when we get preoccupied with something.  It's usually something that crops up in the dualistic way of thinking; this is good, that is bad or I am right, they are wrong or some variation of that.  Of course it's an odd way of thinking since there are so many human points of view, how could any one single point of view be the one right point of view? 

So my collage was a way to create a more holistic view, in which there is black and white and many other colors and tones as well.  That was most enjoyable.  I think any time that I feel preoccupied by something I will try creating something which blends dualities and encourage holistic thinking.  (There's a great blog post here on creativity and holistic thinking, by Barbara Martin, whose blog is called "Reptitude when being creative feels like herding infernal cats"!)

And as a part of this Post Graduate Studies program, I'm thinking that Juliana Coles has a very interesting Extreme Journalism pamphlet on exploring the inner Yin and Yang through art journaling.  Seems like a great idea.  Come to think of it Juliana Coles has a whole lot of great ideas of folks wanting to create a Post Graduate Program of Inner Studies.

Here's the challenge:
Create an image starting with your favorite duality and ending up with a holistic expression.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Want to come out and play?

Image from Free Image Tuesday, Texture by  FlyPaper, Collage by Lani

Here's the next question for my new Post Graduate Studies program: 
If you woke up tomorrow, absolutely free and wild, what would you do?

There's a lovely little blog called Tiny Buddha. In this blog there was an entry about how to be the person you wanted to be as a kid. I'm not sure that I would want to be the person I wanted to be as a kid but I do think that it would be really cool to imagine being able to go back to the kid I was and see if she'd want to come out and play with me as I am now.  Fun thought.  So if I woke up tomorrow and anything were possible, that's what I would like, to invite the kid that I was to come over and play.  And I'd like to see what I might learn from that experience.

What is inspiration to you?

Image from Free Image Tuesday, texture from Pareeerica, question from the ANTHROPOLOGIST, and collage by Lani

So here's the first question for my new Post Graduate Studies program: What is inspiration to you?  I looked through old "morning pages" and art journals and altered books for this one, and I really believe that my inspiration has to do with connections with other people and with the wide world itself.  My best work is seems to emerge as a gift to someone else or as an expression of gratitude for the bigger picture, the tapestry of which I have the good fortune to be a part.  And why would this state of connectedness be the source of inspiration for me?  I think it has to do with generosity and generativity.  I believe that when I am feeling most open-hearted and generous, something wakes up inside and what ever I am working on seems to be effortless.

Here's a very sweet quote about being connected from Trish Papadakos's blog:
As a friend’s mom says, “it gets easier for you to do the difficult things in life when you feel completely supported. That feeling of being connected is something you shouldn’t have to exist without.”
And here's a fantastic website filled with inspiration, it's called the ANTHROPOLOGIST and it's all about the passions of individuals creating progress of many.  It may be about real culture and real connections or it may be a subtle advertising arm for Anthropologie, the shop.  Sometimes it's hard to know what is real and what is not in this strange world!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finding questions...

"I woke up this morning feeling a little like a round peg in a square-holed world."  Collage by Lani, textures from Pareeerica and FlyPaper

While studying Trish Papadakos's Blog for interesting links to help me create my own little Post Graduate Studies program, I came across the link for a test to determine what sort of philosophical school of thought best suits me.  This test is created by Mark Vernon, from The School of Life.  He describes the ancient Greek's approach to philosophy as being about living.  The aim of philosophy was to figure out how to live well, not just to think clearly.  You would find yourself a good teacher and learn how to flourish!  Excellent idea, no?  Want to take the test?  The results of the test are that Aristotle should be my philosophy tutor.  Hmmmm.  But then I watched more of his tiny clips about a few other ancient Greek philosophers and I'm not sure, I think maybe a whole little school of philosophy teachers might be the thing.

Want to answer some more questions?  Trish Papadakos also has a list of questions for you to get you thinking about how to make your career and life more in sync and inspiring, questions like "What do I value most in my career?" and answers like stability or freedom or growth.  You can find Trish's questions here.

I'm beginning to get it, that I need to ask myself more questions, while I do my morning pages and daily art, in that early morning, self-reflective time before the inner critic wakes up.  I suspect asking questions may be key to learning and learning may be key to a happy life, and having a happy life is key to flourishing.   Here's my challenge for today: find questions, lots of questions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More adventures, links, and the new Postgraduate Studies program...

"We wanted to drive a roadster and solve mysteries like Nancy Drew."  Collage by Lani, textures from Pareeerica and FlyPaper.   Created for the 54th Contest on Man Ray: Red Car!

"We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion. Many refuse to admit it: I feel a mystery exists. There are certain times, when, as on the whisper of the wind, there comes a clear and quiet realization that there is indeed a presence in the world, a nonhuman entity that is not necessarily inhuman." (Ansel Adams)

My adventures began with the newest issue of UPPERCASE, a really terrific, visually stunning, creative, fun magazine!   In it I discovered The Institute of You, a really cool concept that was Trish Papadakos's Masters thesis and is now a subscription service to help folks create their best life possible.  She focuses on balancing career and life, and on making them both vital and exciting.  Sounds pretty amazing.  So I thought I'd check out her blog (I love this image on her blog, where is it, I want to see it!), flickr site, and her twitter!  There is enough stimulation and inspiration there to last a very long time. 

So all this got me thinking, if I were to create my own Institute of You program for my own creating of my best life possible, what would it look like?  First of all it would be Post Graduate Studies of Us, and us would be the intersection of human and more than human world.  I want to learn to love the human and more than human world a little more every day.  That would be my goal and aim for my studies.  These studies would use art from beginning to end.  I would use any artful means to explore the connections between us.  I will use this blog to pursue my PostGraduate Studies of Us.  Thank you Trish Papadakos.

"Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes, your easy smile is your museum." (Ansel Adams)

How would you structure an "institute of you" program?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Answering my own challenge, allowing for evolution...

 Collage by Lani, layers by SkeletalMess, Lumilyon, DozyStock, Jamie from Art-e-ology
and image from Pareeerica.

 I decided to answer my own challenge and look through the Art-e-ology blog, Free Image Tuesday a set on Flickr, Lumi's Textures, and a wonderful tutorial by SkeletalMess which I got to from GhostWorks and Pareeerica. So the angelic child and the tombstone came from Pareeerica's collection of graveyard images which she most generously shares.  She also had a link to the SkeletalMess tutorial, so that was my challenge, use a Lumi Texture, the Pareeerica image, the DozyStock texture, and combine it with the tutorial.  What fun!  Oh and the flower was mine.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Evolution of an image

Have you ever wondered about the evolution of an image?  I always start with images that I've collected and love, but that usually comes from curiosity about various artists and their blogs, or flickr photostreams.  And there's usually an element of a puzzle about how to combine these ideas.  Sometimes that might come from a challenge, sometimes I may just try putting things together in a new way.

That's the amazing thing about the internet, today I can be stimulated by richness of image and idea from all around the world.  And it feels like a richness of image and idea from the grass roots, word of mouth, rather than from some expert in a the field saying you need to see this or that.  Very exciting and lively and very enjoyable.  So I was wanting to see what my virtual friend Lumilyon's was up to.  It seems that since she's added the iPhone to her bag of tools, she's become amazing, no she's become more amazing, with  REALLY lovely results.  (And of course how I ever found Lumilyon's website was by word of mouth.)

So I popped over to her flickr photostream , was overwhelmed and very curious how she created various images, and I discovered she had several textures for layers up for us to play with, so I thought I try one.  Then I headed over to the Man Ray challenge, and fell in love with the little gate house.  I new I wanted to combine it with some mysterious, philosophical text and image of a granny who looked like she was waiting for something (from Art Creations Friday).  I thought why not put them all together with a little Lumilyon magic!People often wait at a gate house, don't they?

Here's the philosophical bit: the guards wait for something to happen, so they can guard what needs guarding and people often wait at the gate house to be let in.  But do they all really need to wait for things?  Maybe it's not necessary!  Maybe they can create exactly what they are waiting for!  Maybe they can realize they are exactly what they are waiting for.  I will not be waiting any more.

Here's a challenge for you: find out how your imagery evolves and do more to encourage more evolution!

And here's the announcement bit: Come join me in the Fotoshop Fun course starting May 31.  You will have a community of artists, the benefit of a coach available nearly 24/7, 4 weeks of prompts and 4 extra weeks to play, 8 lessons suitable for various photo manipulation programs, as well as the totally free GIMP program.  So you don't need the most expensive, most current photo manipulation program, GIMP is just fine.  (Check the paypal box to the right for a serious discount.)

Monday, May 03, 2010


"Mother" Collage by Lani with help from Elegia and Itkupilli and Chiot's Laundry on Flickr.

This week's collage obsession challenge is up, a photo of Marcus Gheeraets the younger's painting "Barbara Gamage with six children". And the word is "mother".  I looked at all these children and all of their clothes and thought that laundry day must have been quite an experience.  Once again thank you Elegia and Itkupilli for this fun activity!  And thank you, Chiot, for posting your lovely images under Creative Commons.  They are so beautiful!