Sunday, October 30, 2016

#149 - 156 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Cultivating Your Dopamine

 "Don't Give Up"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

One thing that makes me a happy artist is discovering that most of my happiest moments have to do with something internal.  Even if I'm delighted with something external like the beauty of the day, it's my attention to that something, that makes me feel happy.  It's the whole brain chemistry activity that is really the source of joy.  That is a freeing observation, that the source of my happiness is right here in my own experience of my life.

Obviously cultivating our positive brain chemistry and hormones can help cultivate our happy artists lives, and reading about simple and cheap ways to do this can be reassuring.  And realizing that we already do a lot to help our dopamine levels is really nice.

I was reading a blog post about 8 great ways to increase our dopamine without drugs, and I realized some of them are embedded in my Morning Pages daily art practice.
Here are  Stephan Gardner's 8 ways to boost our dopamine:

1.  His first one is to stay away from the instant gratification of addictive behaviors. Although this seems fairly obvious, it does seem that many normal behaviors can easily become addictive when we ask them to keep us in a pleasurable state.  And of course addictions actually deplete us of our happy brain chemistry.  Stephan suggests we look for ways to create meaning and inspiration in our lives, to counter the pull of instant gratification and addictions.  For me, that would be my daily art practice.

2. Create check lists of tasks that you can complete and then with great satisfaction, tick of your list.   He suggests tasks that are tied to our highest values are then doubly rewarding.  So guess what, this is actually a check list of cool, simple things to do to make us happy, AND I am checking to see which ones I am already doing, AND I feel pretty happy about the results.

3. Create something.  Well sure, that's a very easy one to do if you have a daily art practice. 

4. Exercise!  It helps relieve stress, achieve better physical health, makes us more productive and of course it boosts our dopamine levels. 

5. Stephen says we should get a streak going.  He describes a streak is a visual reminder of how many days in a row you’ve achieved something.  So create something every day and post it on FaceBook or Instagram, or blog about it.  Then you have your visual reminder of your daily achievement.  So easy!

6. He recommends foods which increase tyrosine, one of the most important chemicals that make up dopamine.  Here are a few foods that increase tyrosine: Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Beef, Chicken, Chocolate, Coffee, Eggs, Green Tea, Watermelon, Yogurt.  So a little cafe mocha in the morning with my morning pages can get things flowing in the right direction.

7. Listen to music.   Research shows that listening to music increases dopamine levels much like eating our favorite comfort foods or watching some favorite TV series.  Of course adding music to a daily art practice could not be easier!

8. Meditate.  Research on the effects of meditation is a huge field now.  It's found to be a highly effective form of dopamine increase.  (Of course the sages and yogis have known this for thousands of years)  Meditation clears the mind of worries and clutter, and replaces that with a sense of presence and joy at being alive. This is a state of mind that is available for all of us.  It is within our reach.

Try some of the things on this list, see if you can boost your dopamine.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#148 out of a thousand ways to have a happy artist's life - Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories

"Happy Memories"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.


The thing about art is that it really can make all the difference between struggling to exist and creating a life filled with wonder and joy.  I particularly noticed this lately, as I struggled with the loss of yet another beautiful Bergamasco.  I found that by incorporating my two furry beloveds into my daily art practice, by creating fun environments for them, I was able to smile.  

The one here, "Recall Fifty Wonderful, Happy Memories" really made me smile, because once I got started thinking about the sweetest moments, it seemed more like thousands of happy memories.  As I played with the image, it became very clear that our lives are in constant flux.  One memory can be heartbreaking and the next 10 can lift our spirits.  We don't have to have perfect moments right now to be happy artists, we just need to create the possibility for good things to happen in our art work and in our lives.  So I get up early, feed the puppy and cat, doing some yoga and art before breakfast and see what the day brings.  Life really has its sorrows and difficult times.   For me, art isn't about plastering over the bad stuff.  It's more like using art to build up my strengths and resilience in order to deal with the difficulties.  Here's to morning pages daily art practice, wonderful memories and to creating possibility for a happy artist's life!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling at the Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC?

"Play & Art"  collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.

Are you attending the Master Class Visual Art Journaling: Remembering Who We Are with a Daily Art Practice, Expressive Therapies Summit in NYC, Friday, November 11th, 2016, with Susan Anand and Lani Gerity?

We will be learning how to create a simple art journal from basic office supplies and then actually working in them with a series of very easily adaptable directives. When you arrive we’ll have a link for you to download a “zine” of instructions and directives to keep. 
There will be basic art supplies provided but we highly encourage you to look at this list, prepare ahead and bring some fun collage materials. The thing with learning a new skill is that it is so much easier if you are using images and materials you love.  This will be a time to create and play with your best stuff!

You might think about bringing some of these items:

Gaffer’s tape or hockey tape (cloth tape)

Fabric samples and any favorite paper scraps.

Wall paper samples, scrapbooking card stock, craft tags, blank artist trading cards, index cards and heavier scraps.

Magazine images, photo images, printed images for collage which could include human figures (when collecting human figures it’s an interesting exercise to look for images that match the demographic that you happen to work with), animals, interesting environments, interesting objects that could represent gifts and treasures, maps and of course wings. Let your intuition be your guide.

Interesting text, positive and inspirational words are always good, different fonts can be interesting.

Your favorite fibers and waxed thread is good for the simple binding.

Embellishments, beads, charms, watch parts, etc.

Washi Tape.

Your favorite pens (sharpies, paint, gel, etc.) to include written text.

Any favorite stamps and stamp pads.

And of course your creativity, inspiration, and sense of playful fun (most important).

If you have any questions at all, please contact me: