Monday, December 20, 2010

A very sweet challenge!

Here's a lovely challenge for us!  It's from Liz Lamoreux who has written Inner Excavation, a really great book, I think maybe a "must have."

December 1 from liz lamoreux on Vimeo.

Radical Self-Care Strategy from Sark for the Holidays

I wrote the words below for you based on my newest book Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity. I sent this out to you in November and feel very moved to send it again.

I invite you to soak it in and practice living with Practical Gladness in what I call the "marvelous messy middle" this holiday season - and every day. I also invite you to gift someone you love - especially yourself - with one of my ePrograms. I'm having a SARK Succulent Sale! See what I'm talking about here.

The holidays are full of pressures to be glad even if you don't feel that way. People talk about "holiday cheer," "finding the silver lining," "looking on the bright side," all of which are fine when we feel those things, but can actually add to feelings of loneliness and depression when we don't. There is also a certain kind of "holiday tyranny" where we are encouraged to hide how we're actually feeling, for the "sake of the holidays."

We are meant to feel what we feel when we feel it, then let it go. Most people don't know how they're feeling, or that it's okay to feel it. We are not taught how to have, or hold multiple feelings simultaneously, so many people choose one and cling to it. That one feeling might be described as happy or sad, but it's not a true reflection of our complexities as humans, and results in our feelings not flowing. Instead they get stuck, or other feelings are left untended.

For example, you might feel happy to see your mom at Christmas, sad that she's physically declining, angry that your sister isn't doing more, and worried about the future. If you fixate on just one of those feelings, it will not be as productive or helpful. Instead, it would be much more effective to feel all that you feel, respond lovingly to yourself, your mother and your sister, and create good systems for your family and self-care practices too.
Practical Gladness means living in the "messy middle" of all of your feelings and finding your "glad ground" underneath. From this glad ground place, you can be aware of and hold all of your feelings, notice ways to respond instead of react, and transform what's possible to transform.

When we find our glad ground in the middle, it is possible to enjoy the holidays truly, authentically, and with grace and wisdom. Here are some practical ways you can experience more gladness this holiday season:

1. Create a new self-care plan -- Think of what you need to feel good during the holidays, and provide it for yourself. Some of these things might be:
*Special foods that you know you will enjoy
*Call a friend to share how you're really feeling-- not how you think you should be
*Practice ways to experience less stress, like going for a walk or attending a yoga class
*Write in a journal or book with lists of things that nourish you, and do the things.

2. Adjust and lower your expectations, or better yet -- have none -- Notice how your expectations bring suffering when they aren't met.  For example, if you feel ignored or overworked at holiday times, take yourself out for champagne and ignore some things you "should" be doing. Change your expectations about what you or others "should be" doing or acting like, and practice allowing how it actually IS. Focus on what's good and working

3. Educate others in the best ways to support you--Become clear about what actually feels supportive to you, and ask for others to contribute. For example, if you typically care for others and wish others would or could care for you, figure out what they could contribute to you that would be easy and fun. You might ask a friend to meet you for tea and laughter in the midst of a busy shopping or cleaning day, or sit with you while you wrap gifts or write cards

4. Experiment with new traditions and rituals for the holidays -- Do things differently. We all tend to repeat and become habituated. For example, "we always have our meal at _______." Some of my greatest holiday experiences have taken place at the movies, miniature golfing or serving food at a shelter instead of trying to participate in rituals or traditions that no longer represent who I am now.

5. Allow yourself to experience your holidays imperfectly -- Revise your ideas of perfection and increase your capacity for spontaneous joy. For example, if you get tense and pressured about preparing a meal, buying gifts, sending cards, or trying to do it ALL, try:
*Doing less and feeling good about it-refuse to be a prisoner of others expectations
*Doing parts of things -- fix the dessert, ask others to bring the other things
*Doing tiny amounts -- consider attending a holiday party for 5- 15 minutes with no explanation about why
*Asking others to help and then don't control or manage "how they do it"

6. Practice transforming what hurts into what helps -- Find the places that aren't working and speak up about them. For example, you might ask a group of people in your home to talk about different subjects like what they're loving in this moment, instead of sitting there judging how bored or dissatisfied you are feeling.
*If you're cooking and get crabby, let others know and help you!
*If you hate shopping, ask others to create experiences or adventures for each other instead of buying gifts
*If you keep complaining about the holidays, see if you can put your complaints on paper and resolve to have new experiences
*If you feel ungrateful, find someone to listen to who is facing challenges that you're not.

Being glad no matter what is NOT about feeling glad when you don't- how annoying. It's about practicing with all of your feelings and feeling glad as often as you possibly can- especially during the holidays!

Sending you every gorgeous moment,
aka SARK


SARK's eLetter is published by

Copyright 2010 SARK. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to reproduce, copy or distribute this eLetter, so long as this copyright notice and full information attributing SARK are attached.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday post full of links and inspiration...

Oh my word what fun this was, using Kelly Kilmer's amazing collage ideas but with a totally digital twist.  Layers and textures from FlyPaper Textures , Kim Klassen, and DJ Pettitt, while the central image is part of my growing tintype collection.  (Getting ready for my newest eCourse.)

"All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle." - Francis of Assisi  
Check my blog for some good links for holiday fun and or survival!

Collage Fun with Fotoshop Freedom

This eCourse is all about playing with photo manipulation programs and collage.  The "class room" is "learn while having fun" area for players, photographers, artists and non-linear learners.  It’s an eight week course with two lessons a week, one on collage and the other on photo manipulation, using the collages you create during the first part of the week.   The new course will begin on January 10.

My approach is definitely non-linear.  I don't learn in a linear way, I love experimentation and play, so that is also the way I love to teach.  I have found plenty of good, solid, linear type tutorials and links for those who would like that too, so no worries. 

One thing I have noticed in my exploration of various art techniques is that if I start with images and ojects I really like, the learning is much easier for me.  So that is the key to this course.  We will be using the images  and objects we love.  My intention with this course is that we get inspired by what we find and that our inspiration will lead us to learn more techniques with greater ease. 

As part of the course we have a blog, a yahoo group which allows us to discuss our struggles and triumphs in real time, and we also have a flickr group where we can share images easily.  Hope to see you in the course really soon.  If you are interested there's a TOP SECRET discount button for blog readers over on the column to the right.  (The new Resilience Art class and Photoshop Fun class will be starting at the same time, so you can sign up for one, two, or three at a huge savings!)

The new session begin’s January 10, 2011 and runs for 8 weeks with lots of coaching and play.
Price - $39.99

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing with Photoshop and Collage...

I posted this over on my blog but it bears repeating...

Playing with photoshop and morning pages collage.  Layers and textures from Kim Klassen DJ Pettitt,  FlyPaper Textures and angels from ItKuPiLLi
Oh my word, am I having fun!  So I'm thinking a little more about this idea of combining a collage making course with a photo manipulation course.  I should have a class up and running in the beginning of January.  Exciting!  The Fotoshop Fun class has been such a blast, I can't wait to see what happens with this one! So if you like major fun, want to do more with collages, and mixed media and run them through the whole Fotoshop Fun process, then you might like to join this class!
Stay tuned...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Radical Self-Care Strategy

I've always had self-care strategies as part of my Resilience and Art eCourse, but I've decided that periodically we need some self-care strategies right here on our 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life blog.  I'm really sure about this one thing: self-care is essential to having a happy artist's life.  So sharing strategies are a great way to share happiness!

This self-care strategy is pretty radical, probably not for everyone.  It comes from blogger, Scott Dinsmore.  Scott noticed how often we ask each other what we do for a living and how it often leads to some really unhappy and highly competitive feelings.
He's taken to asking “So what do you do for enjoyment?” instead.

So try it as a radical self care strategy.  Instead of asking others about career and work, try asking about what we all care so about–our passions and enjoyment. You should notice the immediate change in energy, posture and overall physiology in yourself and others. Some amazing things immediately happen when the focus is here.  Not only will everyone immediately start thinking very happy thoughts and releasing endorphins like crazy, but you may actually get some more great self-care strategy ideas from the conversation.

Try it, if you dare, and let us know what happens.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do you know the work of Mariko Kusumoto?

Beautiful, wonderful, fantastic!

And the whole happy collection is here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Tanya Davis

I love this video! Tanya is a delight!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Have you ever wanted to have your Inner Critic arrested?

Photo manipulation by Lani (my inner critic resembles my ah-ma from my early years, lol)

If you have ever wanted to get a divorce from your inner critic, or have it arrested, or send it away on a long vacation, you need to see SARK's post on the topic.  Check my blog on her mood altering games as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dancing Under the Gallows Trailer

Beautiful film clip here via Bobbi Stoll (thank you Bobbi!), about how the arts can save our lives!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More "Great Gall" work!

Art Journaling with Summer Pierre

As far as great learning experiences go, this particular adventure with the preview of Summer Pierre's new book is just awesome. "Kick ass" is a good description, but I don't think it totally covers the actual growth that happens if you apply what you learn.

So here's what I've learned so far:

Life is difficult and filled with all sorts of "adventures" which need to be worked with if we want to be the great galls we can be.  Here's how Summer says it (so very well) on her blog:
" of the questions that has come up is about the overall philosophy of the book–which is to acknowledge and honor the lives we are living RIGHT THIS SECOND and not when we reach some idealized level in some idealized future.  Yes “great” women are featured in the book, but so are their fears, their struggles, their chances, as well as their triumphs. It all looks so good in retrospect, but I can tell you that every single woman in that book experiences/experienced chaos, boredom, worry, doubt, loss, confusion, heartbreak, vanity, you name it.  I can feel so stuck in my life and project whatever story of success on people I admire or look up to–it is SO EASY to forget that it is NEVER easy for anyone.

I think too often we hand over our desires, dreams, and actions to “experts,”–to those we perceive as great or gifted or special.  At most we think, I could do that, but then…we don’t.  It’s easier to give it up, to get lost in the distance we see between where we are and where we want to be.  I get lost in there all the time, but it’s really just another story I make up so I don’t feel scared. The truth is, no one is living THE great life, so don’t worry about it being taken already.  There’s room for you and there’s room for me.  Stop leaving it up to the experts, don’t wait to know how to do it.  Just live it."

So I created the above collage with an old photo of what looked like a great gal to me, and I added the sorts of adjectives which I admire most in people (today anyway) and the directive to play, always play, don't take things too seriously if you can help it.

One of the "great gals" Summer features is Margaret Cho.  She tells us how she had to overcome the desire to please everyone around her, and really find her own expression, and her own story and once she started using herself in her work, she became a "great gal".  Pretty neat because our own selves is something we can all access!

"I'm not going to die because I failed as someone else.  I'm going to succeed as myself."  -Margaret Cho

Fotoshop Fun Course is really Heating Up!

Here's the result of one assignment with lots of textures and layers.  In order to create this image I used my own collage and TtV layer, some layers form  FlyPaper Textures and Kim Klassen, but best of all some layers from a class member, Merielsea.  Thanks so much Merielsea!

The down side here is the class is ending this week but there's a plus of course, there always is.  Folks can stay on and continue to play and share their work AND a new round starts in January.  Join us if you can!  There's a nice little discount for my blog readers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Great Gals; Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life by Summer Pierre

Ganesha (Remover of Obstacles) with texture by Kim Klassen.

Over at 14 Secrets we are test driving Summer Pierre's soon-to-be-released book Great Gals. It's a totally inspiring book filled with great women role models and some wonderful journaling prompts which are related to each role model. After the introduction which was inspiring in itself, Summer created a mind map with all her associations to "great gals" and then on the opposite page she has a mind map for "I am" and you fill in all the associations you can think of but the great thing here with this is you've already gone through all of this positive stuff about the folks you admire and then of course you are on a roll and you apply those same positive descriptions to yourself.  It's like you can't help it.  You just want to be a great gal too and why not?  As Summer says, why not make your life great?  Isn't it the only life we have?  Shouldn't we make it great by being a great gal?

What kept coming up for me in both sides of this two page spread was that "great gals" are bold and brave and they do things even when life gives them a hard time.   I think as a kid I thought "great gals" just had greatness conferred upon them, because the world realized they were special, but as time goes by, I'm realizing that life happens to everyone, and some of us find a cocoon to hide in and some are bold and brave in spite of everything.  "Great gals" tend to get the job done. This is a quality that I think would be very helpful for living a happy artist's life!

Come on over to 14 Secrets and test drive this soon-to-be-released journaling book by Summer Pierre.  It will help you overcome obstacles, be brave and bold, and live a happy artist's life.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Great Quotes for the Journey...

Two great quotes:

‘Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
– Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Art Has No Rules...

Originally published on my blog

Collage by Lani Texture Layers by FlyPaper Textures.

Over on 14 Secrets we were having the most amazing discussion.  The idea about rules in art and judgments about who brakes the "art rules" popped up.  I created the above art journal page in response to this discussion which popped up around our Journey with The Traveling Artists Guild...  Many of us were getting very exciting by the possibilities for this journey, which will include art dolls, traveling trunks, paper bag books, and little pamphlet books to go inside the paper bag books.  Some of us are nearly done with our preparations and decorations and some of us are struggling with a familiar uncomfortable feelings of comparison and judgment.   Someone mentioned that on a different art forum, there was some discussion about not following the rules, that the art work should follow certain rules.  Since when is rule following a big part of the artist's life?  Actually NOT following the rules, or being creative with the rules is more likely to be a big part of the artist's life, since playing, having fun, and creating are all about bending and altering the rules.  

I love art.  I love how I can play, how my soul can come out and find just the right thought and image and it's all SO much fun.  So here's to having discussions and here's to feeling bad about what we are doing once in a while because it will (if we are open to this) lead us to our own true self, our own true expression, which for me at this moment is all about play and fun and joy and happiness.  Hooray!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shhh, more top secret doings at 14 Secrets...

We are collecting our bags, suitcases, steamer trunks, maps, journals, and needful things for the journey.  Check it out (or just ask Gena) at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shhhhh, top secret doings over at 14 Secrets...

Shhhhh, top secret doings over at 14 Secrets...
Do you want to challenge your routine, risk being seen, step out of fear, question your assumptions ?” and many other "Everyday Acts of Power"?

I know I sure do!  Come join us and play with beautiful graphics, quick quizzes/activities to remind us of our inherent awesomeness!

We'll be exploring everyday, easy ways to break our own rules to find a stronger us!

Use journaling and art to write, draw, paste, and finally to discover the best of yourself in the process!  Hooray!
But you have to be a 14 Secrets member...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Originally posted on Lani's blog but it should be here too!

Collage by Lani and layers from Flypaper Textures.

Over at 14 Secrets we are having a birthday bash this week, because our group is 4 years old and because several of us have our own personal birthdays as well.  We decided since we are a virtual group we can celebrate any way we would like, so a virtual art retreat cruise to Hawaii seemed to be the just the thing.  We want it to be a week of Creative Juju collecting, creating, and sharing.  Like Cynthia Morris's workshops, we want to gather Juju, and one of the best ways to do that is get together with your artist friends and explore the world.  We'll have our art journals  with us and we will keep our senses wide open and play with generosity.  We will look for joy and juju in design and in all we see.  Some of us are filling the ship with flowers; frangipani, orchids, and rudbeckias.  We will find juju in stories and sounds around us, listening to the waves, seagulls, and each other.  Of course there will be new scents to breathe in and all of it will be memorable.  There will be new tastes, meals to share...  Exotic tropical fruit will be available at any time, along with teas and lattes.  Mmmmm.  Maybe some chocolate?  There will be much laughter and delight.  Want to join us?  All you need is your imagination.
We will have workshops on board our virtual ship, one being altered boxes with Patti.   Maybe I could do a little art doll workshop.  Any other offers?

'I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than complex.'
Mr. Rogers to Benjamin Wagner

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oh my goodness, check out this video and blog...

And here's the blog that's filled with this inspiration, more videos, and tons of great ideas!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Giveaway alert

Oh boy, Zura is offering a spot in my Fotoshop Fun eCourse, tomorrow.  Check out her great new website and tomorrow you could win a spot in my class.  (The class starts September 6)

Muse swap anyone?

Here is a fantastic blog post by Deb Gilchrist on Quinn's muse swap!  Wow, read on:


Recently, on the 14 Secrets group, Quinn proposed a very intriguing idea. She suggested that we identify what characteristic(s) our Muses exhibit that might actually hinder our creative process. Then... she suggested that we exchange Muses for a short time, to see what ours might inspire in another person and vice versa. Whoa – crazy. But hey, it might just work. Check out her blog post at the link above to see what other folks' madcap Muses have been up to (or not up to, as the case may be).

Quinn did the swapping and assigned each of us our new Muse. I exchanged with Pete, who thinks he doesn't have a Muse. Quinn is certain she's there, and, well... I will give away no secrets before their time. I did give Pete a wee clue, though, about my sometimes-fickle Muse. Quite often, she will work for a bit of chocolate. Good chocolate. A glass of wine sweetens the deal. Sometimes, a glass of wine goes a long way. Hmm, I'm not sure if I mentioned that.

We've been encouraged to tap into the upcoming full moon energy. Creativity always overflows for me during a full moon, so this will be interesting. We are to create in whatever form our visiting Muses wish to explore. Pete's Muse and I have become acquainted. (No pressure, Pete.) I'm very interested to see how everyone fares with their guest Muses.

Now you might be wondering what the photo above has to do with any of this. Nothing, really.... unless your Muse is fast asleep.... or perhaps to serve as a reminder that rest and nourishment are needed to fuel our Muses... feel free to stretch it however you choose.

Truth is, the munchkin fell asleep in his dinner. I can't share what I'm working on for the Muse exchange with you just yet, so I took advantage of this opportunity to express my grandma vibe. ;)

Someone I know is squeezing every ounce out of his summertime experience. Just like his daddy (who also never-ever-ever wanted to come in out of the rain). And, just like his daddy, he falls asleep in his dinner. (Somewhere, I have a photo of his dad, at the same age, actually asleep on his feet. Really.)

The Muse is alive and well in this little guy. I so enjoy watching him at play, allowing even the smallest things to spark his imagination. Everything is possible in his world.

The moon is half past waxing gibbous. Pete's Muse (I call her Stella) and I will catch ya on the flip side. 

Want to read more?  Check Deb's blog!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Art Fest and other courses for the passionate artist

Teesha Moore has posted the ArtFest schedule for 2010 and it LOOKS GOOD!!!  I can't imagine a more fun way to nourish creative growth than by attending ArtFest.

However that's a long way off and a girl's got to nourish her creative growth all the time, so if you are interested, Zura of Creative Clown (a very inspiring website) has set up a new website where all kinds of on-line classes are listed.  Fantastic.  What a brilliant idea.  Pop over and take a look!  Some time on August first she'll be hosting a grand opening with a give away and lots of other fun things.  You may find me there too!

And finally Mystele has a free class starting the evening of August 1.  You can take a look here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Treasure, Links, and Inspiration

Originally posted on my blog...

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, June 12, 2010

I've noticed a strange phenomenon lately...

Originally posted on my blog:

"Treasure" Collage by Lani with textures from SkeletalMess.

Ever since I started thinking about and creating this "Postgraduate Studies" program for myself, I've noticed the strangest thing. It's as if the Inner Critic has disappeared.  Have you ever experienced that nagging, critical voice that seems to have an opinion about every thing you do? I certainly have experienced that in my lifetime, but not really recently. I don't know where she's gone, but she doesn't seem to be around here at all. Maybe she's on vacation! I figure my inner critic would need a run down little resort where she could complain about everything to her heart's content. Maybe she's found her own little spot in the sun...  Anyway, where ever she's gone, may she find lots to do and may she stay a good long time!

So now I'm thinking that it would be good to start up a Facebook Page just for inspiration and sites from the internet that I have found useful in this new program which seems to have quieted the inner critic and allowed for more actual creativity.  I figure if this is happening for me, who knows, maybe someone else might find something useful too.  So the new facebook page is Lani's 14 Secrets, and it comes with a WARNING: Contents may trigger many good things.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What would you rather see?

“When you look back in 20, 30, 60 years, what would you rather see? A life filled with stacks of stuff and a ton of obligations and a lot of scurrying around from errand to errand? Or a life centered around carefully gathering valuable experiences and items and goals?”
                             Jeffrey Tang { Minimalist Connoisseurs }

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do you know Liz Lamoreux?

There's a whole lot of inspiration over on Liz Lamoreux's website.  She's got a great blog where she interviews people (among other things of course), gives them nine questions which they can answer with video and/or photographs.  It's a lovely idea.  Want to have a go?

Here are the nine questions:
Who are you?  What do you love about where you live?  What might your perfect afternoon look like? If you had an hour alone in your studio/creative space, what would you do?  Right now, what are some of your favorite things? What foods nourish your soul?  When you simply need to take a breath and reground yourself, what do you do? How do you nurture your creative dreams?  Does your heart have a secret wish you want to share?

Use photography or art to answer these questions and share what you discover on your blog or send to me and I'll post here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Art Saves

Do you know Jenny Doh's "Art Saves" series on her website?  Worth a peak!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One of my favorite swaps so far...

Collage by Lani for 14 Secrets Swap about honoring our grandmothers

I loved working on my page for "Honoring our Grandmothers."  It was one of those magical things where all the elements fell into place so easily.  And then I hadn't figured out what I wanted to write about it until I uploaded it on our yahoo group.  The I realized I wanted to write about what I learned from all my Grandmothers (and there have been many): be kind, be generous, be loving, be patient, and finally be yourself!  That was it.  Very simple and very satisfying! 

That's all I wrote, but I'm sure if I gave this a bit longer to think about I'd have a much longer list of what I learned from my Grandmothers.  Actually, I can see one that I forgot, right now.  Edith Kramer, one of the grandmothers of art therapy, always taught us to make art, all the time.  How could I forget that one? 

What have you learned from your grandmothers?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jenny Doh's GIVEAWAY #6: Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle

Jenny Doh's blog has a great give away going on right now!  Take a look, a chance to win Susan Tuttle's new book and her new on-line class!   And of course Susan Tuttle has a giveaway going on as well.  You can check out that one here.

And while I'm at it, here's an amazing website, full of great tutorials AND a call for art!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Here's a question for you...

I stumbled on this website with many, many artist's studios and it got me thinking:
"If you could create a dream studio what would you want in it?"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Here's a video on prepping your art journal!

 Looking for these video's to post on our blog is a lot of fun.  Anyone have any requests?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Here's a video on how to make your own hard back book...

Very cool idea, using recycled paper! Check this one out, and it's based on another one. I'll put the link at the bottom.

This video was based on Baronessnz's tutorial which you can find here.

Mystele has some new idea filled videos!

Tracy and Teesha Moore have some new awesome videos!

Very exciting, these guys are so great! AND I love these cloth journals!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do you know Mystele?

Do you know Mystele? She's got some great art making, art journaling, book making video's over at youtube. Take a look at this book, which I love! What a sweet woman! And also check my blog for more Mystele and other brave, encouraging artists!

I think she has what's called a "channel," little glimpses studio, (which you can subscribe to which I did immediately!) as well as a ning site, also little glimpses studio, which I joined immediately also. Best of all Mystele has an old blog with a lot of interesting material and a new blog also with a ton of inspiration and great stuff!

Thank you Mystele!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Putting some fragments together...

Box of Simplicity by Lani

Check my blog for more explanation about this post!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you want a nice link with lots of inspiration and ideas?

Originally published on my blog, but it's a fun one!

Collage by Lani with help from

Shhhh, here it is! Top secret!: It's an art therapist's blogspot loaded with great ideas. The most recent one is pdf files full of words cut from magazines, great for collages! All you have to do is print out your favorite. They are grouped by theme. I cut up the Art pdf and used it on a Wreck This Journal journal and the above collage. Great fun. Now I'm going to check out Dream & Inspiration and Encouragement. I'll let you know what I come up with!

Collage by Lani with help from

(This one if for Gioia!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Art with big hearts!

Here's a link to a blog post by Art at the Center. My kids make fantastic art there. I helped them throw an impromptu Artist Trading Card party/ Haiti fundraiser last weekend, sure was fun. Lots of love, art, and we raised some nice cash for a community in need. It was all my favorite things: love, social justice, artmaking, community building all wrapped up in a big shiny bow. Thanks to Kathryn of Art at the Center for the great idea! Click here for more:


Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Try this fun technique for happy artists, which was adapted from Traci Bautista's super easy fusion dyed transparent collage. (Her "Collage Unleashed" book is a must have.) Project has a few steps: First get ordinary white paper towels, scrunch up and dye with whatever you have-watered down acrylic paint, watercolors, leftover Easter egg dye, etc. Let dry. Then put down a big sheet of slick paper like parchment paper or contact paper to work on top of, and layer paper towels scraps with glue. Mix up white glue and water to the consistency of cream and lay down a layer of your glue and water mix on the slick surface, then rip up your paper towels, and paste them together in layers with your glue and water. Wait overnight to dry, peal up and you have this cool fabric like paper --with one side kind of shiny! Cut in heart shapes and hang with wire. Yum!
Gioia Chilton

Friday, February 5, 2010

Summer Pierre and "Bring Your Artist to Work"

A while ago, over on my blog, I posted about Summer Pierre and her very awesome videos. Now I get to report that her book is out and ready to be purchased by us! Yay! So I thought I'd cruise around a bit on her flickr account while I listened to an interview Jamie Riddler did with Summer. Very inspiring. Summer's flickr account is full of great images and ideas and I'll include some here so you get a taste, and the interview was also full of great ideas which I'll share in a minute, but first I'd like to share some of her answers to my own art and creativity questions. So here you are:
From Summer Pierre's Flickr account

1. Some artists say they do their art because they must. Do you ever feel compelled in this way? If you do, where does this drive come from? Are you comfortable with it?
I literally have no memory of not being able to draw or not having a compulsion to draw, so I would say that the creative impulse is as familiar to me as my own family members. Of course, as time has gone by and my creativity has expanded and changed with age, my relationship to it has changed, but one thing stays constant: I use it as a way to understand and make sense of the world and of experience. Sometimes this is an absolute joy, sometimes it’s a pain the ass. There is nothing like the spark of it, of hitting on some deeper sense of play and inspiration that helps me fit the puzzles together. Consequently, if I don’t use it when it calls to me, or even when it doesn’t, all the old spiders in my brain start to come out of their hiding places and I can get stuck not just creatively, but in life in general. This is a balancing act that can sometimes be more time consuming that I want to allow.

From Summer Pierre's Flickr account

2. Some artists say that their work nurtures them in ways that material things can't. Do you create to feed your self in this way?
I can’t stress how much art FEEDS my life in so many ways. I am not a materialistic person. I grew up without a lot and continue to not “have a lot” in the ways of materialism, but I don’t miss it. My priority has always been to have meaning vs. stuff. I am happiest, most well fed in life when I have time to do what pleases me—which is includes a heaping amount of art.

3. As an artist what are you most passionate about?
Making sense of experience and exploring new ideas.

4. Are you living an artful, deeply satisfying life? 
If not can you imagine such a thing? What would it be like?
I am living as close to my “dream life” as I ever have. For now I have figured out the priorities and arranged my life to fit those priorities. It’s ever evolving, but yes, amazingly I live an artful and (most days) a deeply satisfying life.

Pretty cool, eh? So here's what I learned from her pictures on flickr and from the interview on Jamie's website. 1. As artists we need to be able to do our creative work. We NEED to in order to live, breathe, and enjoy our lives. So why not take your inner artist to work. Consider the possibilities for letting the inner artist out at work, what would that look like? Would you get to be more yourself? Wouldn't you like to be "the artist in the office"? 2. If you live in Brooklyn there's this totally cool, radical concept of a place to work with other artist types, the Brooklyn Creative League. Check it out! It looks SO awesome. Wouldn't it be great if every city, town and village had one of these places? WOW! 3. We can make our own Cafe Mocha's and they taste GREAT! (I've had about 3 today already, can you tell, LOL) 4. Play as much as possible... everywhere and all the time.

Thanks Summer!

Monday, January 18, 2010

How do you furnish your mind? (The answers so far)

Here are the responses so far...

Mine is furnished much like my life--a tight little workspace, with a comfy spinning chair, everything I need within reach for any project I can think of, lots of little boxes and bins some with labels, some color coordinated with...something, little post-its all over the place with those "pearls" and things I want to do someday, floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Paths through the woods and maps of everyplace I have been or want to go, little fragments of things I've started and may pick up again someday, paint chips, wallpaper books, fabric samples, and all manner of tasty tidbits.

There's a remarkable lack of actual music, though I have the lyrics to all the songs I remember from my teens, and bits of melody from all the classical music I listen to on the radio, and there are movies! Films and videos, slideshows and stills of everything I've ever been, done or seen, tucked here and there to spring out sometimes when I move something else, and take me off in a different tangent, or to be running in the background while I do something else.
A slightly chaotic but also ordered place, but only to me. No one else can find anything if they go looking in there!

The first thing that came to mind is dusty old broken down springs showing couches and chairs with missing legs and stuffing pouring out. :-)
I forgot the cobwebs

My mind is furnished with a sofa, very comfortable and a table that has lots of my favorite books on artists and various techniques of pottery making and watercolor. Also, I like to write and draw so I have a journal for poetry making and a tablet for art/water color. Oh, and I have a ceramic studio with clay, a wheel and a kiln to fire with glazes, very vibrant and colorful. My mind always has music in it too so there is a large variety of CDs, and some old classical records that I play. Gee, this is fun, I have lots of things in it. There are "Pearls of Wisdom" given to me throughout my life in a book that I sit on my table to look at and glean from when needed. God is ever present for me and gives me a place of rest and freedom here and I have many spiritual beings and prayers of meditation that are constant and forthright, helping me to get through the challenges in my life. That's what my mind carries for me.

So how do I furnish my mind?
One thing that I do is write, that kind of sweeps out some of the mischievous monkeys that are chattering away throughout both hemispheres.

Then I walk to and/or from work (10 - 15 minutes depending on how much I dawdle and gawk at the scenery around me).

Art helps, so I try to find a space in my working day to encourage that practice with the program participants and I get to "play along" which is blissfully satisfying. Being a sweetmeat that I am sneaking into a professional practice.
I am imagining a "great room" as my primary living a country cabin.
So furniture. Okay for me there is a antique writing desk with quill and ink at the ready.
A little silk pillow on the floor for meditation.
A danish sofa which doubles as my bed.
A table at which I can glue, collage, paint, and read.
Then there is my Bose for listening to Bach during which time I practice proprioceptive writing to help form my whole spiritual self.

And a window with lovely blown glass that makes sparkles on the deep window ledges.
Just outside that window is a bird feeder which is the kitchen for slate juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, a downy woodpecker or two, and a pair of cardinals.

Oh dear me, I have just described my living room. Maybe how we "decorate" is just a metaphor for our minds. smile.

My mind, overall is a large studio. At the centre of the studio is a huge mixing bowl where everything flows in together. My walks in the woods, the books I’m reading about spirituality, neuroscience, animal rights, my oil pastels, knitting, beading…my personal history with family, relationships, careers, gardening, technology, health…it’s a huge melange of things that I stir up like a cake batter. And as I do, lumps form, and become beautiful spontaneous sculptures which I lift out of the bowl to contemplate and enjoy as they settle and dry. Most eventually flow back into the mixing bowl to dissolve and be formed once again. A few stay for decades.

(I particularly loved the following exchange, found it very useful!)

Oh goodness--I have too much furniture and too much of much that I have trouble accomplishing anything. I can't imagine quieting my mind enough to meditate, let alone polish my furnishings. If anyone has any suggestions--please share...
B. D.

B. D., I totally know what you mean! I've devised a coping strategy whereby when things in there get really over cluttered, I have to take a "vacation" and do something totally outside the norm--a way of stepping back and letting everything go back to its "place". It's like having a mental maid come in and tidy up for me while I'm "out". I don't know how it works, it just does. The thing I do that starts the process most often is a ride in the country--or anyplace I haven't been before. Or, if I can't get out physically, a movie marathon a la Netflix, or a new book in a new genre. The thing is to stop, redirect and proceed in a different new direction for a little while. Then, when you're done, all is right with the world again!

Try it and most important, have fun!
C. R.

Hmmmmm well I'm very intuitive and because I know this, I drink in Everything, that way when I go to create art, decorate cook whatever the dreams locked in my heart and soul come out in what my hands are doing. D. as I know her, disappears and the magic happens.This is much like a gardener spending hours in the garden not realizing lunch has passed with out notice and so has dinner and darkness has now set in before they realize the beautiful creations that have been made.

Essentially, I have a bunch of different spaces to hang out in,
according to the mood I'm in, the mood I want to be in
and what I want my mind to be doing.

Music, mostly opera, in some; silence or nature sounds in others.
My posture changes according to which "room" I'm in, and my
voice tonality and vocabulary, too.

The elements common to all... comfort... control over the "lighting"
and "space" and plenty of both and heaps of different "objects"... my tools... and an atmosphere of joy and curiosity.

Come and see... the doors are always open, the cookie jar is always filled, the kettle ready to bubble, and the crone ready to whoop it up.
A. A.

My first reaction was color. There is a children's book out called "Frederic" and it is about 4 field mice getting ready for winter. 3 of them are scurrying around collecting food for the cold months and Frederic is just sitting in the sun with his eyes closed. The others prod him and say, "Come on Frederic, we need your help." But each time they do, Frederic tells them that he is collecting light and colors for the winter months...

Along comes the winter and the little mice are finished with all they have stored. They are cold and hungry and have are feeling depressed... then they turn to Frederic, who starts describing the warm summer days using colors and adjectives that bring summer alive for the mice. He talks about the beautifully colored flowers and all the ripe and colorful fruit on the trees. He tells them to picture the warm sun rays kissing their faces and... they are all restored and happy and thank Frederic for this wonderful "soul food" sustenance :)

So color was a first. And then I thought, nature scenes. Because I get my inspiration and I resource myself by going into nature: I go to the heighty mountain tops when I am feeling low, to the harmonizing in and out of the ocean's waves when I am feeling out of sorts, to the refreshing ocean breeze when I am feeling "hot," to the rolling green hills in the countryside when I need to feel more flow..., to the forest trees when I am in need of inspiration... you get the picture. In order to see all this, I need a big window. So these are the furnishings in my mind: colors and a window on to nature, a book (that turns into the one book I need in the moment), and a very comfortable easy chair. I figure if it is neat and tidy and peaceful in my mind, I can draw on it wherever I go :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How do you furnish your mind?

Edith Kramer once asked me how I furnished my mind... What was the "furniture" that I put in there. Well, at the time I hesitated, not really all that keen on admitting to some of the pablum that was passing itself off as "furniture" in there, so of course I turned the question around and asked her how she furnished her mind.

Edith said because of her classical European education, her mind was pretty well furnished with the works of Freud, Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Ernest Thompson Seton, and Selma Lagerlof to name just a few. She said she was never bored, even when swimming laps, because she could always entertain herself with something from her "furniture". She just wondered what young folks today furnished their minds with.

Now of course with all the information and images flying at us every day, I seriously make an effort to keep the furnishings as simple as possible. I might play with an idea or two, a few images, or some new art technique. Mostly I try to keep the space as open as possible so that when I see something of delight while out walking, I'm able to think about what I might do with it. Or if I come across a new idea or technique, I am free to think about how to apply it. So I would say my "furniture" is pretty Zen spare, with a tatami floor, a nice flower arrangement and a scroll with some elegant calligraphy hanging next to an open window.

So how do you furnish your mind?
You do get to choose what you put into it, you know.
How do you choose?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Play Retreat in the Seattle area!

Do you have a free weekend at the end of the month? Do you live on the left coast? Teesha and Tracy Moore have a little retreat called PLAY RETREAT. Check in out!