Sunday, July 25, 2010

Vacation in Cape Breton

We took the boys for their yearly vacation in Cape Breton.  Lots of walks on the beaches, hikes into the bush, and lattes in outdoor cafes.  Photos courtesy of Betsy Nielsen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Buried Treasure 2010

Collage by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy

Well, it's buried treasure time again over at Seth's blog, that time of year where he invites us to dig in our previous postings and find a few of our favorite bits of treasure...  There's nothing quite like it for inspiration, joy, excitement and fun.  So this year I'll make a small patchwork of treasure.  My first bit of treasure is from July 18, after last year's buried treasure was reveled:

Collage by Lani, background from an 18th century book of Herbal Remedies found on Lumilyon's blog.

Collected some lovely links from Seth's buried treasure and various wanderings. Do take a look at his links and if you would like to participate yourself, he's doing a "Digging Deeper", a sort of round two for those who want to continue and those who missed the first round!
One of my favorite treasures, and there were so many I only picked one, was Lumilyon. I love the mystery, photos of Lapland, story-telling, photoshop activity, and her links. Here's one of them for pages and pages of 18th Century herbal remedies from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow:

And this is from June 28, 2009:

Do you ever get memories popping up at the most unexpected times? Here's one that popped up recently. When I was in kindergarten we had "show and tell". I don't know if kids even do this any more but then we'd bring in some old treasure or collection or something we were proud of to show our class mates. I remember having a particularly treasured, beat up, distressed, old cigar box in which I had created little scrolls of old looking paper, photographs, marbles, and pipe cleaner dolls. I had aged the bits of paper by rolling them and rubbing them a lot with dirty hands. I was so excited to show my box and its contents that I gave no thought to how it would be received. Of course there were no other mixed media artists in my class so none of the other kids got it and what I really remember was the teacher REALLY not getting it. So I kind of let my love of creating old beat up stuff go dormant for a while (longer than I care to think). It's only since discovering other mixed media artists and lovers of old paper on the internet that I feel as though I've found my way home.

Thank you Kerin, Seth, and Alicia, for being a part of this experience of "home"!!!

And from June 20th, 2009:

"Dreaming of Travel" by Lani

I was in Marisa's (Creative Thursday) E-Course, "In the Fishbowl:: Life as an Artist".  In the first class  we got some questions to ponder. (One of my favorite things, pondering questions!!)

So here are two questions.
1. Why do you love what you create?
2. What are you working on when you get into the flow zone, when you lose track of time?

I love what I create because or when it mirrors something positive back to me, something which helps me understand myself and the world a little better and perhaps when there is a feeling of possibilities about it. It's pretty neat to create something and see it as really outside of myself, existing in real life, on its own, not just in my head, and I get a little rush of excitement, you know, like, "yes, I did this!" "Here is something that wasn't here moments ago, and if that is possible then just imagine what else might be possible." A wonderful feeling!

Something I also love about creating in general is how it leads me into a feeling of flow, of everything being right with the world. It is such a gift to be able to create and to be able to feel that feeling! This leads to Marisa's question "what are you working on when you lose track of time, or when you hit that flow zone?" At first I thought sort of concretely, what sort of art was I making and I made a little list: contour drawings, working with bees wax, creating a book... But then I thought it's most things art related. And then I noticed while walking my dogs this morning, looking for subject matter for my camera, that I was getting into that zone quite easily in the "treasure hunting" mode, in the looking for subjects, and it was there when I found my subjects, and then while continuing the walk and imagining how I might crop my subjects or play with them in photo shop... So really many things put me in that space, for which I am grateful!

Collage by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy

Thank you so much for the opportunity to dig for treasure Seth!  Now I'm going to feed the dogs and put up the do not disturb sign, and browse the other treasure hunters on Seth's blog, The Altered Page!  It could be a long time!  Such fun!!!  (Send in the mounties if I don't surface in a week!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Treasure, Links, and Inspiration

Collage from Morning Pages by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy

Oh boy oh boy oh boy, it's that time of year again when we dig for treasure on  Seth's blog.  It's always an amazing experience to go through the Buried Treasure list of blogs, always an inspiration and sure to take your breath away!  I hope you can take a look on July 15, 2010!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Working on a doll-making eZine...

I'm working on an art-doll-making zine for a pre-conference course for the American Art Therapy Association conference that Susan Anand and I will be giving this year in Sacramento, California.   Our course will be on creating simple art dolls with pipe cleaner, scrap fiber and cloth, drift wood, pebbles, buttons or Crayola Model Magic faces, and embellishments.   We will be using these familiar materials because that can be a comforting and comfortable experience, but also because simple materials are often more accessible for those working with a small budget.

I learned this technique of wrapping pipe cleaner from Jhan Groom and Joy MacLeod art therapists and artists in Calgary.  Jhan says this about the process:
The materials and act of wrapping are reminiscent of wrapping healing and protective bandages, which calms and focuses the individual in a meditative way, and provides the opportunity for feelings to be worked into the doll itself. ...Making wrapped dolls creates a strong tactile and grounding connection with materials. As a result, combining fibre and fabric through doll making is a particularly effective and satisfying activity for people who are fragmented and confused.

The theme of our course will be creating compelling cultural narratives and positive cultural exchange through this simple art-doll-making process.   We have always enjoyed taking an artist's approach to culture, looking at the layers of history and cultural baggage as potentially fascinating layers of texture and color, and we have always taken an anthropological approach to our art therapy practices, looking at our culture and our assumptions in a somewhat curious and permissive way (as potentially interesting source of creativity, art, collaboration, and growth).   Because of this stance we are more willing to see and accept what actually is, without resistance or denial. Only when these assumptions and cultural layers are accepted, are we able to alter, transform, or even just make some interesting art with what we find. Our hope for this course is to use this art-doll-making experience to explore and celebrate the strength and beauty of who we are and who we are becoming, as individuals and as a group. We will use simple, familiar, and comforting materials like soft, colorful fibers and cloth, pebbles, chenille pipe cleaner, drift wood, buttons and embellishments, providing ourselves with experiences which will engage our whole selves in positive experiences.

Here's the list of authors who most influenced us in this particular workshop:
Feen-Calligan, H. McIntyre, B. and Sands-Goldstein, M. (2009) Art Therapy Applications of
Dolls in Grief Recovery, Identity, and Community Service. Art Therapy: Journal of the
American Art Therapy Association, 26 (4) pp. 167-173.
Gerity, L. (2000). The Subversive Art Therapist: Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Art Room.
Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 17 (3) pp. 202-206.
Gerity, L. (2006). Trauma, Puppet-making, and Narrative; Creating Moments of Reprieve in
Puppetry in education and therapy: Unlocking doors to the mind and heart. (Bernier, M. and
O'Hare, J. Eds.) USA: Author House.
Gerity, L. (2010). 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life; Using art and the internet to encourage
empowerment, resilience, happiness, and community building. In Materials and media in art
therapy: Critical understandings of diverse artistic vocabularies. (Moon, C. H. Ed.) London,
England: Routledge
Hastings, P. (2003). Doll making as a transformative process. New York: Saugerties.
Kramer, E. (2000). Art as Therapy: Collected papers. London, England: Jessica Kingsley
Publishers, Ltd.
Moon, C. H. (Ed.) (2010). Materials and media in art therapy: Critical understandings of diverse
artistic vocabularies. London, England: Routledge.
Moon, C. H. (2002). Studio Art Therapy: Cultivating the Artist Identity in the Art Therapist.
London, England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Ltd.
Perry, B. (2006). Applying Principles of Neurodevelopment to Clinical Work with Maltreated
and Traumatized Children in Working with Traumatized Youth in Child Welfare (Boyd, N. Ed.)
New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Talwar, S. (2010). An Intersectional Framework for Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Art
Therapy. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 27 (1).

For those attending the AATA conference this year, I do hope you will consider coming a little early to enjoy our course.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Is magic following you?

Comfort List Collage by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy
(at the end of a lovely puzzle)

"Life just turns deliciously quirky when you stop resisting yourself and, instead, honor the intuition that tugs at you like a puppy on a leash in the park. Follow the magic and magic starts to follow you."
Tama J. Kieves 

My but there's an awful lot of magic out there!   After moving house and finding myself in a great art space (no worries, I'm still in Prospect, Nova Scotia, just a little higher above the high tide mark, with better water and somewhat more protection from the more intense weather) I discovered I was a little bit tired and not feeling the magic.  And maybe it's not burnout exactly, but more of a need to reflect a bit on how or what works for optimal creativity and joy.  Good thing I'm working on my "Postgraduate Studies" program and this kind of reflection is part of the program.

In Kelly Rae's "Flying Lessons" ecourse there was some attention paid to burnout and stepping back to reflect on things.  She had a great list of things she does to counter burnout, such a nice list, and I'm thinking the creation of the list is a good idea!  She also had some great links to friends' blogs which I really enjoyed!  For example, the idea for this collage came from Katherine Center's blog and book "Get Lucky".  Fantastic material here!  And then there's Kelly Rae's friend Andrea's blog Hula Seventy.  It's just full of great lists, photography and fantastic ideas.  One being getting a band of guerrilla artists together to spread some joy.  Check it out.

 Are you starting to feel the magic?  I am.  There's more.  Paperwhimsy had a great four part puzzle which, when you finally solved it, you found great treasure, like the image of this little girl for one thing.   And then being involved with several great flickr groups, I find I'm developing a passion for Jerry Jones in all of his incarnations!  What a creative and generous artist!  He makes the most amazing "Layers for Texture" for photoshop users, and they are very beautiful all on their own!  But then when you use them as textures, things really start to look amazing!  Here's his Shadowhouse Creations blog, his SkeletalMess page on Flickr, and finally here's GhostBones.  Have fun!

Want a little more magic?  There's my new facebook page: Lani's 14 Secrets, where I post inspiration and links that I stumble on for my "Postgraduate Studies" program.  This page comes with a warning: the contents may trigger many good things!  It is my hope to share good, creativity inducing websites and ideas.  So, here's a link from that page for font lovers. Interested in creating your own handwriting font?   I decided to try it out, myself, and actually created the text in the above collage with my own font.  Cool, no?

Don't turn around, magic is following you!
Dralion in his happy Shadowhouse Creations texture.

Friday, July 02, 2010

More thoughts on chopping wood, carrying water, and enlightenment...

Collage by Lani, textures from ShadowHouseCreations, girl from PaperWhimsy

I was thinking a little more about the relationship between chopping wood and carrying water  (drudgery, hard work, the stuff we want to pay someone else to do) and enlightenment (or more creativity in our lives).  So the zen teacher says before and after enlightenment you have to chop wood and carry water.  I am suggesting it's all part of the same experience.  The thing that I think is different for everyone is the actual stuff that we are avoiding or the thing that we are locked into a resistant relationship with.  Some of us avoid chopping wood, and some of us have other things we try to avoid.  I believe that once we embrace whatever it is that we most want to avoid, miracles can happen.  I believe that so much of our human suffering is all about avoiding reality, the reality of needing to organize our art space, or the reality of loss, pain, aging, illness, and death; these things are as much a part of our human experience, a part of our stories and the moments of creativity and enlightenment. 

It's almost like we are given our own particular story/puzzle/mystery to work out.  This is our life.  We can solve it.  We can find the buried treasure within our own lives, not at some future moment but in this moment.  I really believe this.  I was watching a gorgeous DVD last night, "Necessities of Life" or  "Ce Qu'il Faut Pour Vivre", a story about an Inuit man with TB on Baffin Island.  He is uprooted from his family, land, and home, and sent to a sanatorium somewhere in Quebec.  As the film unfolds you get a sense of his anomic depression and what the necessities for life would be for anyone in his situation.  He needed someone to talk to, some one to teach, he needed art, to be able to create things, people hoping the best for him, kindness from others, and a little salmon now and then.  

So it's like a mystery or a strange, engaging story, and we've each got our own, unfolding before us, whether we are an Inuit in a Quebec TB ward struggling to survive or a Zen monk struggling or stumbling towards enlightenment.  And we need to really be in the story to find the treasure, we really need to be here now.  Resistance to that being here now can come in many forms.  It can be resistance to doing what we perceive as difficult physical activity, it can be the resistance to what ever elements there are in our lives that we don't really want to look at or be a part of.  The Inuit man was resisting his life as it was, trapped in a TB sanatorium, and the very moment he began to embrace his life as it really was and to use what were his necessities for life, he began to recover. 

So here's a challenge: What are the necessities for your life?  Find them, name them, embrace them, create art with them, and enjoy them.