Monday, August 27, 2012

No Mistakes in Art

Trips for school clothes, lunchboxes, and school supplies are planned or underway.  This is that exciting time when the focus moves from sunny days at the beach to that golden time of reuniting with school friends and the excitement and fear of entering or reentering that schoolhouse door.  It is that great time of self-discovery, adaptation, and survival.  It is a place where you need to find or create your place in a new room, with new students, new teachers, and new expectations.

In the last few years there is a great deal of fear and anxiety tied to school especially for those old enough to do social networking.  The argument with your best friend that used to stay between two or three friends becomes the cruel, anger and gossip driven posts of the 300 BFFs on one side and the 300 BFFs on the other.  Cyber bullying takes a toll -- a huge toll on children and you are children at the most delicate formative time in your lives.  Some are tormented to death and take their lives by their own hands.  There are no do-overs, no apologies, no amount of tears or flowers that will bring those children back.

Art may be a good way to help students find a place, support, and an identity in their world.

There are no mistakes in art.  Art, your art, reflects who you are, how you see the world, how you transfer that world to paper, canvas, clay, or with a camera and computer.  Art opens and encourages you in so many ways to make your own mark on your world.  That first mark you made at the age of two with a fat crayon on a piece of paper or a wall established the fact that you had the power to make something happen and happen with a purposeful action.  That first mark is so important.  From that point on, each and every time you picked up a pen or pencil and made a mark on paper, it was and is your mind making your thoughts visible.  There may be a great fear of making those first marks on a pure white piece of paper.  Make those marks!  Be fearless!

Start with a scribble, look for the parts that are interesting, color them in, add designs to the shapes you find, make some lines heavy, some lines light, some lines become dots, some lines curves, and some lines all angles.  Then turn it around, look at it from all sides, if you are happy with it go on to another piece and do it again or if it still doesn't say what you want it to say… then… tear it up.

Yes, tear it into small pieces, large pieces, geometric shapes, odd abstract shapes, until they fall shredded on to your table.  Now weave longer strips together, glue interesting pieces together, arrange and glue them on another piece of paper, connect them with more lines, more shapes, add some color, paint over parts of it, keep going until it holds your vision, your attention, your thoughts of what you want this piece to say.  Don't throw it away.  Keep working on it.  Like life, art is a work in progress.  Some artists spend years adding new lines, new shapes, and new thoughts to their old works making them visual journals of their life experience. 

Art is one of the best ways to confront fears, your own fears; the fears of making mistakes, fears of failing, fears of being visible or invisible, fears of being alone, fears of fitting in, and fears of being an outsider.  When you make art, you are the artist, and when you are the artist you have the power to make all things possible.  Be passionate about who you are, be passionate about what you love to do, and make it happen.    

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Creative Spirit and a Nectarine

On the kitchen counter lies a bag of nectarines waiting to be opened. 

I just accomplished the Thursday task of preparing and taking out the garbage and recycling.  I return to my stool at the kitchen island and pick up my notebook.  I am working on the draft for my next meditation book.  As I read, I sip on my first cup of coffee.  I have put off and basically forgotten to eat breakfast.  When I am in creative or task mode, all things seem to move to the back of my mind.  Except that now as I sit here, in front of my notebook, I have discovered that my stomach is beginning to grumble.

I go to the counter and pick out the nectarine that is the size of a baseball, not a hardball, but a really nice sized softball.  I take a big bite.  Red and golden yellow skin covers the sweet ever so slightly mildly crisp crunch of that first juicy bite.  That first bite lets me know that I am suddenly starving.  Pen in hand, nectarine in the other I continue to write… pausing only to wipe the juice from my hand and fingers onto the napkin, before it has the chance to run down my wrist and arm.  The napkin is now painted with pale pink juice.  Down to the core, I study the rusty red pit covered with glossy nectarine strings.  I nibble the last few bits of fruit from the pit, kiss it goodbye, feeling sad that it vanished so quickly.

I give a brief sigh… I smile… there is always the solace in another cup of coffee.  I wash my fingers… pour the coffee… and return to write more words. 

I pick up my pen in the same way I pick up clay, ink, paper, paint, thread, and all sorts of other tools and materials that soothe my creative spirit.  The creative spirit is that insistent itch that won't leave me alone until I pick up that pen or other material of choice and begin to create something. 

It is my creative spirit, it is our creative spirit that directs and leads us in new directions, new thoughts, and new processes that encourage, enhance, and embrace our hopes and dreams.  Dream, play, doodle, create, and make your own special mark on life's page.    

Monday, August 20, 2012

Transitions: The Coming of Autumn

I live in a place where there are four beautiful seasons.  For the last few days I have begun to smell autumn in the air.  The windows are open and the rooms take on a fresh chill at night.  I am beginning to think fuzzy fleece jackets instead of T-shirts.  I love autumn… BUT… I am not a huge fan of winter.  That distinctive smell of autumn, which I can only describe as the scent of cold, creates a certain amount of mourning and melancholy, grieving the final days of summer.  Summer is still officially here and will be here for a month, but I can feel it pulling away from me.

This transition also has a lot to do with light.  The light is leaving.  The sun has packed its bags and headed for the western horizon a few minutes earlier each night.  This is great for parents.  School will be starting soon and it is very difficult to persuade children, who have played from early dawn until right before the porch lights are switched on, that they need to be in bed while the sun still shines.

But then there is summer.  Summer was my childhood dream.  I lived back in the time when sheets were hung on cord lines anchored to tall T shaped posts.  A cloth bag hung on one of the lines filled with wooden clothespins.  Clothespins came in two types, the ones that you used to make people and X shaped fences… and the other which was great for teasing and trying to pinch your little brother.  The best thing was that I could disappear into a world of billowing white.  I could wander between the sheets and smell sunshine. I could rub the slightly coarse sheets on my cheeks, the roughness due to being dried only by the light and the fresh warm breeze.

I remember getting up early in the morning and playing in the fort made by crawling under the bedclothes draped over the end of my parents' four poster bed.  It was the perfect place to hide and giggle with my brother.  Wooden woven baskets were worn like turtle shells or when flipped back over became our cars, boats, planes, or trains.  We seemed to not mind spending time with our knees curled up to our noses. 

I don't think that many kids get to have the summers I had.  We had Moms in every house.  We would make the rounds and get a cup of Kool-Aid here, a piece of buttered bread sprinkled with sugar from the house behind us, and maybe a chocolate chip or sugar cookie from the house next door.  We ran free because everyone knew who we were, where we belonged, and who to call if we picked someone's flowers or ran through the neighbor's yard that was a no play zone.  We knew the rules and followed them.  If I didn't my Mom knew what I had done before I even thought about doing it.

Maybe that is it.  Maybe it is more than just the ending of summer.  Maybe it is the ending of childhood… not only mine but the childhood that most kids will never know.  Too much need for daycare, too many organized sports, too much busy, too many demands on parents and children to be over achievers, to be smarter and brighter, and to be better or the best at anything and everything  they try to do.  No room for failure, no room for trying something new, and no time to learn from making mistakes.  We need to create time to get in the mud and get dirty and to climb a tree and feel it sway in the wind…

Yes, I can smell the cold.  I can feel the change in the air and even though no childhood is perfect… I think mine was as close as they come.  So please take a deep breath, go outside, lie on the grass and watch the clouds.  Be a child with wide innocent eyes and grab a little bit of peace and warmth before the transition from summer to autumn falls into a pile of colored leaves and if you have children… share it with your child or grandchild.    

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Meditation: Between the Light and the Storm

I have been working on pottery and metalsmithing for the last few years. I have loved putting compassion and positive intentions into my spirit rattles, spirit dolls, and jewelry.  I took a hiatus from writing and illustrating. 

During the last two years I have been teaching meditation skills.  I was looking for some guided imagery meditation books.  Nothing seemed to have the fit the atmosphere I wanted to create with my groups.  I started just telling them meditative stories.  I loved telling the stories using the animals and scenes they would give me. It seemed to fit their needs and we accomplished the goal of relaxation. 

I am so happy that I created these new meditations and that they are now in eBook form.  I have two more in the works.  I love to draw and drawing with words is exciting.  Please check out and sample my writing at: and