Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Blahs

I don't know what's the matter with me. I've got ideas. I've got materials. I've got patterns. I've got deadlines. And I can't seem to get motivated.

I did this little sketch, made a line drawing of it, and enlarged it for a silk painting. Then I looked at it and thought, this design sucks. It just isn't good enough to put on silk.

Maybe instead of enlarging it, I should shrink it and repeat it, make it into a pattern. Finish the leaves.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Facing a fear

Saturday was one of the 10 best sailing days of the year  here in the Northwest. It was sunny, warm, and windy! I volunteered at the Center for Wooden Boats, crewing on their museum quality wooden sailboats. The Eleanora, shown here, was so easy for the skipper to single hand, that all I had to do was hang out on the foredeck and try not to slide into the water when a gust hit and we were sailing rail down! Rail down is when the boat is tipped so that the rail on one side is almost in the water. One gust threw my camera across the deck, injuring it so that I did not get any more good pictures.

But sitting on the slippery foredeck was not scary. What scares me is skippering an unfamiliar boat. I'm planning to teach sailing, but have yet to screw up my courage to take out by myself the boats I'll be using to teach in!
Well enough of this. I asked some one to come out with me and let me do all the boat handling with them just for moral support. By this time next month, I plan to be able to teach sailing comfortably at the Center for Wooden Boats.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cure for a Panic Headache--7 Magic Remedies

  The other day I had a panic headache. It took me quite awhile to realize just what it was, and longer to figure out why.
Look Fear in the Face

Here is the why:

This week I plan to submit a proposal for a gallery show and to apply to be on the December Art Studio Tour in my home town. Or at least to begin the process. I didn't realize just how scary these two things are, or how powerful that little voice that says:
"you just ain't good enough".

and "you'll never get enough art work/product done in time"

and  "It's so much work and expense. You'll never make the money back that you spend getting ready"

and "no one will come. if they do come, they won't buy anything."

and on and on.
So how do I deal with the fear?

Eleanor Roosevelt said: "Stop and look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Some of my favorite techniques for facing the fear and healing the panic ache are:
          1. Create a picture in my mind or in my sketch book of what I really want to create. Once I cured a panic headache  (due to an impending divorce) by heading down to the local coffee shop and designing my dream studio in my sketch book. Since then, I met and married my soulmate and now have that studio. It took awhile, but...
          2. Naming the fear and telling a trusted friend helps. Even when the friend has no advice to offer--or maybe especially then--just naming the fear and telling someone who is on your side works wonders.
         3.  Breaking it into small steps. List the steps and tackle the first one. Your courage in moving forward anyway breaks the spell.
          4. Facing the worst case scenario and developing a plan B. Even if you never need plan B, having one is like having a solid ground under your feet instead of shakey uncertainty.
         5. Focusing on the outcome rather than on the means. i.e. "I want to show my work to a wider audience and to get recognition as an artist" instead of "I MUST get into that gallery or juried festival". This gives me options if I don't get accepted by the first gallery or festival.

And here are some things I will try this time:
          6. Turn the fear around and write on a slip of paper what I want to have happen instead. Save these slips of paper in a pretty bowl or box on my studio shelf.
          7. Sit by a stream or fountain and let the thoughts arise, then thank them and let them go.
Jennifer of a blog titled Giggling in the Rain seems a kindred spirit. Her post on letting go of memories and thoughts that no longer serve are quite timely as I face my own panic.

 And then this came from a friend doing biodynamic craniosacral work:

let go of what has passed
let go of what may come
let go of what is happening now
don't try to figure anything out
don't try to make anything happen
relax, right now, and rest

----- Tilopa

How does panic show up for you? How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Impossible Garden: Ghost Squash and Other Projects

I planted butternut squash and delecata, I'm sure I did. What I got was--I've never seen anything like it! A ghost squash and something like a very pale zucchini. The ghost squash is even white on the inside! I wonder if there's any nourishment in it?

It wasn't too bad stir fried with pork, beans, and sesame oil, with soy sauce added. The next day I fixed it like mashed potatoes. After all, it IS white. Not so good. It just doesn't get creamy like mashed potatoes.

I guess the lesson is when you plant a seed--or start a project--you never know for sure what you will get.

And speaking of planting seeds/starting projects:  I'm planning to apply to show my silk paintings at the Blue Heron Art Gallery. The person I spoke with was very encouraging. This is a huge step for me. I've shown in a group show there once or twice, but was accepted on the strength of the group, which included several well known local artists. This is my first time applying to show in a "real" gallery on my own.

I didn't realize until this morning how terrifying this is. When I woke up with a headache, it took me a long time to realize it was a panic headache, and that the panic is around this application. Lets see, what did Kelly Rae say about dealing with fear? Oh Shards, now I have to clean up my desk to find my notes, or open the PDF.  I guess that's the topic for my next post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Planting my flag

Here is something from Mark Silver that has got me thinking :

"The lesson I want to encourage in all of us is to take a stand for what you believe in, and make a radical statement about it in your business." (plant your flag)

"By taking a stand, you become a firm foundation, something people can count on. Many of you are providing products and services that help people in the storms of their life. If you plant your flag, then people know they can trust you when the storm is raging, and they’ll come to you for shelter."

"So, here’s a challenge: plant your flag, and hit your audience with the truth. Speak something strong- something that you know you can stand behind 100%, but have been afraid to speak because you don’t know how it will be received. Do it for your heart, in service to Source. Your business will be stronger for it."
 What flag will I plant? I think it has to do with the place of art in education, in learning, in visioning who we are and how we want to live. I believe that:
Creating art and viewing art is about changing lives. It runs deeper than school testing can discover. It is more powerful than status or logic or ... or money. It can bring us joy, move us to tears, open our hearts and minds to new insights, new understanding. It can change our lives!

What is your flag?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Teaching Artist Roster

Well, I did not get accepted. I did not prove to the panel at the Washington State Arts Commission that I am a "teaching artist". I had a very informative phone interview with Lisa at WSAC, to go over my application for the "Teaching Artist Roster" so that I could find out where I fell short.

To be honest, I have some reservations about this program, whether it is right for me. Whether the art taught by "teaching artists" in public schools is the kind of art I want to teach. I like to teach the kind of things that are not easily assessed; the focus of the WSAC is to provide a roster of teachers who can create lessons to teach specific, simple, easily assessed outcomes. Like techniques and vocabulary. Vocabulary? To assess for that sounds like a written test to me, not an art project.

So, I'm struggling with this at the moment. I love teaching children art, doing art projects with them that expand their knowledge of other cultures and of themselves. I detest vocabulary tests as part of an art project. That's too much focus on "the head, slightly to one side", as Sir Ken Robinson would say.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

education and creativity

I don't generally post videos, as I don't have much time or patience to watch them, but art and education are very much on my mind lately. As an artist and a teacher, I'm very much interested in how creativity is treated in the public school system.
Here are some quotes from Sir Ken Robinson on this video which made an impact on me:
        Education systems all over the world have the same hierarchy of academic subjects taught..... We start to educate them (children) progressively from the waist up, and then we focus on their heads. and slightly to one side.
          (Looking at education, one would have to conclude that) the out put, the purpose, is to produce university professors. University professors live almost entirely in their heads...... their bodies exist just to carry their heads around.
        Our education system has stripmined our minds the way we've strip mined the earth for a particular commodity.

Monday, September 13, 2010

a Garden for Children

Still feeling really tired--from teaching in a Montessori preschool last week, or from prepping and hanging the show? I didn't get a break between hanging the show and stepping in to start the school year for a small Montetssori school while the teacher/director, Heather, had her baby.

Its a really sweet school, with lovely gardens, goats, sheep, chickens, and a rabbit. The playground equipment is a large walnut tree with three swings, a rope swing, and a slide attached to it. There are places for children to hide or to retreat to for some quiet time. I am so enjoying the children and teaching, though it is a challenge to teach "Montessori". I studied Maria Montessori's work and philosophy as part of my early childhood training, and adapted many of her principles in  my classroom when I had my own school.  Montessori as it is taught now is different in some respects from how I am used to teaching.

Feels like a story, a painting, a...a...I wonder how this lovely little school and children will show up in my art and garden? I definitely am inspired by the garden.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wise Woman on the Golden Pathway.

Sometimes I feel wise and powerful, with my dragon curled at my feel; my creativity in full bloom. Other times I feel confused, especially when I think about building a business with my creativity. The big questions, the business questions I can't answer are:

?Who am I serving? Who is my "clientele"? I haven't sold enough art to be able to  answer.
What SERVICE do I offer? What problem do I solve?  I want my art to be more than wall paper. I want it to inspire, to heal, to be a doorway to an inner joy.

Since I began the Sufi practice of Remembrance, I've had some wonderful abundances come my way. The temporary part time job I mentioned offered me twice what I asked for! I'm teaching in a Montessori School for young children, while the teacher gave birth to a beautiful baby girl--on the first day of school!  I was able to step in and take charge, allowing her to relax and know the school was in good hands.

That's definitely a service, It definitely solves a problem; but it isn't art. My art is hanging on the wall at the Vashon Community Care Center, where it may well be doing what I want it to do. People have certainly responded well to it; people I don't even know have said how much they enjoy it. Will it even bring in enough money to pay for framing, let alone the time it took to create and to hang?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

wild greens--What the deer didn't get

I'm not quite sure what these greens are. They volunteered in my garden next to the squash.  They tasted mild, so I picked them, thinking the wisest woman I know, my mom, would have a recipe. By the time I made them into a salad at her direction a few days later, they had turned bitter. I should have used Juliette Crane's recipe for green smoothie!

The deer left me a few  beans and a little kale, too, just enough for a dinner for one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

After the show--Walking the Golden Path

After the show, I was totally exhausted. Took two days to just curl up on the couch and read before I could even think about next steps--even steps I  had planned ahead of time!

I had some good things happen as part of walking the Golden Path. Last Wednesday, I interviewed for a temporary part time job--and got it! Got some good feedback on my application for the Washington State Arts Commission Teaching Artists Roster (which was not accepted), and sold 27 cards for more than I was asking and for cash! 

The local bookstore, Books by the Way bought my cards, many of which feature some of the images from my show. Feed back on my show has been Very Very good. Although not a lot of people show up for First Friday Art Walk at Vashon Community Care Center, a good many people stop in to see their parents or grandparents who live there, and see the art then.

More on the Teaching Artists Roster when I have had time to process things better.

Monday, September 6, 2010


hand painted silk scarf, "Hollyhock Summer"

I'm celebrating opening my Etsy Shop by offering a 20% discount on all sales through September 25th! I have hand painted silk scarves, prints of my silk paintings and watercolors, and a few cards. Pop on over and see what I've got!

The scarf shown here was inspired by Anita Halstead's garden with Hollyhock bushes 6 or 7 feet tall. I  want to plant some in my garden next summer, to see if they keep the deer from jumping my fence and feasting on all my vegetables!

The Reception

I wanted to show people a bit of what goes into a piece of art, so I included line drawings, photos, sketches, and other materials I used for reference or to draw inspiration from. Many people have no idea what goes into a work of art!

I finished hanging and was still putting the labels up when the reception started. No time to change clothes or eat dinner!  I feel I need 26 more labels to tell the story adequately, and I still haven't priced anything. Pricing my artwork is so dammed hard!

The reception was quiet; about 20 people showed up, most of them friends I had notified by email. Considering that the biggest show of the year was taking place at the Blue Heron Art Gallery, featuring about 100-150 local artists, and considering that I have had openings where only my parents showed up, and that most people don't think about coming to the Care Center for Art, this was actually encouraging.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hanging the show

Man, I'm TIRED!  I worked almost non stop all day hanging my show at Vashon Community Care Center. As you may have guessed, VCCC is a residential home for older people, with assisted living all the way down to lots of care.

I had a great time, though it was sometimes difficult to focus on the hanging.

One woman apparently had dementia or Alzheimers, as every time she got near the door, the alarms would go off.  Then people would rush over to turn off the alarm and make sure she was still inside, or go chase after her if she got out. Sometimes she would attempt to turn off the alarm herself. Finally I got tired of the alarms and asked her to help me hang the artwork. She was great! She held up her side consiencously, all the while carrying on a conversation in that kind of dream talk people sometimes use when their language/logic brain is not engaged.

One sweet old man was very interested in my art work, and insisted on taking me up to his room to show me his wife's watercolor paintings. They WERE good! And then he wanted to show me his pottery. And some pottery someone else did . And this photo, and this cool thing he found. And. And. And finally I escaped back to my work and he went out with a group of people on the field trip bus.

And I didn't quite fill up the space. Hope I can find some more appropriate work to hang before the reception.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Great Horseman

My current Teacher, my favorite poet, is Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift.
One of my favorites:

      You could become a great horseman
      And help to free yourself and this world
      But only if you and Prayer become sweet Lovers.

     It is a naive man who thinks we are not engaged in a firece battle
     Fro I see and hear brave foot solders all around me going mad,
     Falling to the ground in excruciating pain.

    You could become a victorious horseman,
    And carry your heart through this world like a life giving sun,
    But only if you and God become sweet lovers.

Or maybe it is Daniel who is the poet I am loving, as the poems in The Gift may not have been by Hafiz at all, according to  Murat Nemet-Nejat, who says there is no text by Hafiz that relates to the poetry Daniel calls translations.  Perhaps Daniel was "channeling" Hafiz? No matter. I find the poems inspirational. I long to do some paintings inspired by the poetry, but nothing has come to me yet.