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March 2013

I just got back from a wonderful trip to Georgia.  It included family, friends, and book making classes. I also attended Peggy Rubin’s Sacred Theatre in Atlanta, where I facilitated a collage and writing exercise. The collages were all perfect for each participant and the writing was astounding. I was not surprised. When given the chance to be creative, people are creative.

I am always pleased by what people create when they are reluctant or weary of doing an art project. My goal as a teacher is to give just enough guidance and offer a safe opportunity for people to feel at ease while they create something new. There are many factors that come up for people when they step out of the ordinary and endeavor to make something creative. Some of the things that come up are:
I am not an artist.
I am not creative.
It has been too long.
I am not a visual person.
What if I make something amateurish and everyone judges me.
What if I fail miserably, it is better not to even try, because then I will be safe.
Everyone else knows what they are doing.
I don’t know what I am doing.

These are just a few of the things that go through our heads when we challenge ourselves to do something out of our comfort zone.  Eleanor Roosevelt said
“You must do the thing you think you can not do.” I often think of this when I am scared or reluctant to do something. This feels really really (really) important; to do the thing that I think I cannot do, even if I make a mistake. Because for me it is a worse feeling not to try than it is to try, no matter what happens. When I do something that challenges me I feel alive and connected. I say to my students, “When you do art, there are no mistakes, they just lead you to new possibilities.” I will tell you a secret.
I don’t know what I am doing.
But, I do know what feels right and what doesn’t feel right. This I know is true. Through practice I have a strong and unbreakable trust for the creative process and for the communication that comes about when I begin to make something out of nothing. I don’t know what I am doing but I trust the process to reveal to me just what I need to know to follow the spark of an idea to its fulfillment and consequently to my fulfillment.  This is Art Making.

Story Art Book

December 2012
I have never been so busy with my work nor have I ever been so driven. I mean I drive myself really hard. Is it this year 2012? Is it the sign of the times? Is it that I am realizing that I have a limited time here on earth? I don’t know but I am exploding with ideas and dreams and I am doing my best to manifest all of them. My friend Diane Ericson (amazing fabric artist) said to me recently “just because I think of an idea, doesn’t mean that I have to do it”. I keep reflecting on this statement as I am racing the clock to get everything done that I have set up for myself. When something comes into my head to do, I think of Diane’s comment and I want to let it go and not do it, but instead I think of how cool it would be to do it and so it begins.

I am driven to create the images and ideas that come to me. My husband is used to this fact about me. I can see it on his face when I say “you know, I was thinking…”. He is thinking uh oh now what does she want me to do.  But he is always a good sport and he does his best to accommodate me and my ideas.

My latest project was getting a body of work together for the wall upstairs at the art center. I wanted the art to be all the same size and matted and framed the same. I wanted them all to have a story,
The Story Art idea has been with me for a while. I didn’t want the text or story to be on the wall with the art like I usually do. So I came up with the idea to create a book to go with the exhibit, and I wanted it to be a nice hand-made – artist-made book. And this means me.
First I had to finish the art work then come the stories. Boy, I can tell you I can get very cranky when I am working on a story and it hasn’t come into focus yet. Some stories are right there, easy, given to me like a gift. Others I really have to work for.  It’s like the image is trying to be clear but I am thick headed and pressured by the timeline. Oh I can tell you this is so uncomfortable and anxious and itchy.  It is enough to make me want to holler “why me! Why do I do this to myself” and then run like hell away from being an artist. Then I remember It’s not about me, it’s about the art. Its the art that is trying to realize it’s self. Art really does have a life of it’s own that is independent from me.  I did say yes to art and doing my best by it. After all, I absolutely love the art of making .
even though I make lots of mistakes, my imagination and drive to create something that isn’t, – is enough to carry me onward to whatever my goal is.

October 2012

I don’t have too much to say right now. I think it is because I am in “art head”. I have been immersed in doing art or creatively thinking about art every day and pretty much all day. Switching gears to write takes a different part of my brain. That being said, I have been printmaking this week. I am very happy with what has been appearing on the plates. When I  am  printmaking by myself I can go very deep and when this happens the emerging image takes me with it on it’s journey of becoming. The “hot off the press” piece below gave me chills(in a good way). I know that there is a big story with this image and the prints that followed. I will have this piece and the consecutive pieces on display at the Art Center this First Friday.  I will show all of the prints in my next newsletter. They are so “hot” that I haven’t photographed them yet.

When I am not in art head I am in “dog head”. Ursula, my dog is very good at putting pictures in my mind, like, pictures of me getting my walking shoes and keys, or of her walking on her favorite trail, or her running in the water, or her catching a ball, or of me giving her a treat.  Whenever I pause and look up from whatever I am concentrating on she is looking at me and planting pictures in my head. I am not kidding. She is really good at it. And it works too because the next thing I know is that I am looking for my keys even though I am right in the middle of gluing a book or something.
I am grateful for Ursula because she gets me outside in this beautiful Fall weather. I love these cool mornings and I love 80 degrees during in the day. Today I love being an artist.

This photo is from above my sink in my studio. I made the “Trust” sign at least 25 years ago. It has been prominently displayed in my studio work place ever since. It reminds me to trust my work, my art, my self. It reminds me not to lose faith or heart in what I am doing as an artist and as a human. I hate to admit it but there are times when I do lose heart and worry about money and how to keep it flowing and not let it affect my work. There have been times when I go into contraction and fear around the lack of sales and how I will pay the bills much less buy that new press I want. I wish money wasn’t part of the exchange and I wish it wasn’t how we measure success in our society. It does get in my creative way when I feel that I have to justify myself as an artist with respect to how much money I am bringing in. I do not have the answers and I don’t know how it will all work out. I can only know where I am in this present moment and I choose to be in trust.
Along with the “Trust” sign is the “Art is Always Worth it”. This I added to the wall about 10 years ago. I don’t think of this sign in terms of money worth. I think of it as, no matter what my circumstances or my state of affairs, doing my art is of utmost importance. Art is always worth it even though I cannot always see or know the effect my art has in the world and whatever the effect or affect, this cannot be measured monetarily. It comes back to trust.

I have the “Caution Mind Your Head” because when I am in my head I am trying to know what I can’t know. I am trying to figure it all out. And when I can’t figure it out I go into worry and I back track and start doing the things the way I have always done them because this is what I know but this doesn’t work anymore because this is a new day with new challenges.

Yesterday’s solutions do not fix today’s problems. My heart just isn’t in doing something the old same way. So I try to mind my head and stay in my heart and breathe and trust. Sometimes doing all this is a lot of work just to keep myself clear enough to be an artist and allow what I am reaching for, to reach for me. This is one of the magical things about art making. When I am in trust with my work, my art, and my self, my creativity is unstoppable and alive with potential and purpose.  When I am doing my art I am the best that I can be.

The “I Taught My Pet Monkey” card speaks for itself.
I just learned that EARTH without ART is,    Eh?