Monday, June 30, 2014

NEED to make art...

It has now become an uncontrollable urge, as though I cannot think straight or do my work until I make one (and only time prevents me from doing this all day). It literally clears my head to make these digital magazine collages -- or DMCs, as I am now calling them.

On the practical side of my world, it seems that the lesson I am meant to learn this year is to let go (a little) of my need for order. I do not crave perfection, but I love visual order. I love to see the little bit of world that I imagine is within my control (i.e. my house and my garden) neatly groomed -- from folded laundry to a neatly mowed lawn, and perky well-watered flowers. But this year, time, nature and freakin' LIFE has conspired against me.

A summer flu, a broken lawnmower, and weekend family celebrations have forced me to accept the inevitable - grass gets high, thirsty flowers droop, laundry piles up, and dust settles on hardwood floors, accentuated by the long-awaited summer sunshine through the blinds.

I cannot keep up this year. And I am okay with it. Now. Mostly. I prefer when things are in order. But my DMCs allow me to exercise some control over a tiny party of this uncontrollable world.

DMC - collage therapy...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

More collage therapy...

Just kicking up my vision board a notch... Same image, some new splashes of color, etc. (maybe it's just me, but I find this process addictive - in a very good way).


I am off to Boston to visit my sister, pull on my cowgirl boots, and enjoy the Zac Brown concert at Fenway.

My sister also has a sizable magazine stash, so there may be some spontaneous collage therapy in the works as well. (I am sure she won't even notice if a few Newsweek's and O (prah) magazines are missing!!

I can't believe it is the last weekend of June already. Summer is flying by. I am savoring every minute. I hope you do the same!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Digital vision board collage...

So you want to be an artist. Then make art.

It really is that simple.

It’s not enough to envision the life of your dreams. You have to act on that vision. Even if the act is as simple as a few brush strokes on paper, you are, in the moment you pick up the brush, an artist. You have acted. The dream is already a reality. Are you good? Who is the judge? It is more important that you begin. And that you pick up that brush. Again and again. Day after day. Ask any artist who is living their dream how they did it. They will tell you they failed, dozens of times. They were terrible before they were good. They ignored their critics. Or they learned from them. But the one thing they never did was quit.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Collage Therapy

WARNING: Flaky artist story below. Read with caution.

A few days ago, I was silently lamenting my “word for the year” choice. I chose a biggie. Maybe THE biggie -- certainly one of them – LOVE. I was thinking that for the first time since I began this practice of a one-word new year intention (six or seven years ago), I had perhaps not chosen the best word to fulfill my goals for this year. I thought perhaps the word was too big, too vague, too needy.

Around the same time, I had this irresistible urge to make a magazine collage -- to cut words and phrases and images out of magazines, and see what emerged. I should also mention that I was at work when this urge came over me, so I was extremely limited with time (my lunch break), and materials (three issues of Real Simple, a couple of decorating magazines, and no adhesive of any kind.)

My original plan was to arrange my collage, and then bring in a glue stick or some gel medium to finish it up the following day. I found a scrap of cardboard as a base, and began flipping through my old magazines for whatever caught my eye. With no plan for color, composition or message, I just cut out whatever appealed to me. Once I had an assortment of pieces, I began to lay them onto my cardboard, rearranging them just a bit, until I liked what I saw.

As I went to set it aside (to glue down on another day), I decided to take a quick photo of it, just in case I knocked it over. I liked the photo a lot, and it already looked like it was permanent -- and then it dawned on me -- I could now remove all of the pieces, and do a totally different collage on another day Or I could import the image into Photoshop, and enhance my collage digitally. Or I could do both, over and over again! I could not wait to get started.

The process is very different than when you commit to finalizing a piece with gel medium or glue. It is so freeing and fun to remove all fear of making a wrong choice. -- You don’t like how that looks? Move it. Take that piece off. Add those words. There. Take a picture. Add some digital magic in Photoshop. Then start again!

The most amazing part happened the following day. It is difficult to put into words how I felt, but I had somehow worked out my “LOVE” issues through this process. My word was working for me again. I had clarity about what I needed and wanted, and what was missing. Some of it was certainly the process. Making art is a very effective form of meditation. Creating, in the present moment, quiets the mind. In this case, I also felt that the piece itself was telling me something. All of those random words and images were not so random as they spoke to me:

There is only love. And what you do with it.*

*I wish to credit the Crew at Storypeople.comfor my closing, which I found in my email this morning, not at all by coincidence.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When you have your health…

I am one of those incredibly fortunate people who rarely gets sick, so I forget how utterly miserable it is to be ill. I have been reminded now for the past ten days straight. Okay, I get it now. It sucks.

Now that I am better, I have been reflecting on the time I spent moping from couch to bed and back again, and this is what I have learned:

1. Sickness is a great form of meditation, maybe the best. Nothing keeps you in the moment like your own misery. Ouch, my head, my throat, my achy bones. Wow, I am really living in the moment.

2.  Sickness puts your priorities in order. I have learned that I do absolutely nothing on a daily basis that cannot wait another day…or ten.

3. Max disagrees with number 2. No matter how sick you are, your dog still needs to be walked and fed. But that really is the only thing that could not wait.

4. I have a huge threshold for pain. Other people’s.

5. From what I see in the media, you can acquire a lethal firearm, or marijuana or narcotics with relative ease, but if you go to the doctor for an antibiotic, you had better have green mucus flying out of your ass, or you will not get a prescription.

6. If you happen to get a prescription for, oh, let’s say, cough syrup with codeine in it, and it makes you sick, do not throw it away. Remember how hard it was to get that antibiotic? You may not be able to take that codeine, but controlled substances make great stocking stuffers for your relatives (or maybe just my relatives.)

So, even though my lawn has grown out of control, and I’ve used up most of the sick days I’ve accrued in my new job, it was all worth it for the insights that I gained. I think this was a real character builder for me.

In good health ---

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Dancing in the Moonlight

If you could go back in time to a single day, or maybe just pick a few favorites to revisit, what days come to mind? As I remember some of my favorites, I think of summer. Always summer. The days I remember have in common their ordinariness. My ordinary summer days were perfect in their simplicity and in a feeling of contentment that comes over me when I think back on them.

When I hear certain “oldies” on the radio, -- early seventies songs like American Pie, Sunshine, and Dancing in the Moonlight -- I am transported back to lazy summer Saturdays when I was seven or eight years old. Grammy Mac, my mom’s mom, had a house at the top of a hill on an old country road in Palenville, NY, in the foothills of the Catskills.

Grammy and Grandpa had move up from the City -- as in New York City, which was the only City we knew. In the summertime, their City friends, mainly the O’Roarke family, would come up to visit. In addition, the summer bungalows around her house would fill with other City people, who came up to Palenville for the peace and beauty of the Catskills in summer. The bungalow neighbors had a hammock that hung between two giant pine trees. At seven or eight years old, it took me half a summer to learn to sit in it without toppling out on my head.

I remember feeling entirely free when I hung out at Grammy’s. I would disappear for what seemed like hours to go hiking through the woods to pick blueberries. I would return covered in scratches and bug bites, with a tiny bowl of sweet little wild blueberries, feeling so self-satisfied.

Grammy’s house was filled with noise and activity when the O’Roarke’s were in town, but what I remember most was the music. Ellen O’Roarke played guitar, and the highlight of those summer nights was out on the porch, singing folk songs, and listening to the laughter of my family and their good friends. We’d sing all of those 70s songs, along with churchy tunes like, Michael, row the boat ashore.  I still regret that I never learned to play guitar. And music still has the power to transport me back to 1971, like it was yesterday.