Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reaping What I Sowed

"How often I experience growth and work toward growth as a result of pain and suffering. May I commit myself to growth through joy and happiness. May I believe this is an even more valid means of growth." From a prayer I wrote in 2010.

My art journals from the fall of 2010 through the end of 2011 now look to me as though I planted seeds and knowingly marched on to how I'm feeling about myself now and what I'm doing today. In that year and a quarter, day after day, I wrote poems and prayers and dreams and experimented with ideas for projects and drawings. If you've followed my blog, you know it wasn't a straight line, but rather one moving through angst to joy.

The odd shaped pieces of colored paper came from SCRAP, a San Francisco treasure trove of recycled art supplies. They still have hundreds of these pages with a flag cut out. I can't imagine where they came from. I love the two hole binder ring approach. I was willing to put down anything. I know if I'd started with a bound book I wouldn't have been as uninhibited.

Today after a great meeting with another artist, I decided to go through these journals to see where they might take me today. I farmed them and put together this little book of resources.

The note cards I've been selling this month came from ideas I developed in these journals, but then I had no idea where they would lead me. I was too into the idea of art being hard work rather than fun play.

Somehow through writing this blog, through prayers, through loving my little ladies and seeing where they would take me, I did let go and then I took off. I have ideas for moving my drawings from cards to walls. Or maybe I'll go back to painting fabric. That was something else I found in the journals. Or maybe I'll figure out how to combine the two.

Baruch ata adonai... I'm so glad I documented where I was a few years ago. I can see how far I've come. I am so pleased I've lightened up on myself. What a lovely journey life can be. Amen

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Is Your Story?

"If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work. You begin to see the 'story' that you're trying to tell; why you do the things you do (both positive and self-destructive); where you are strong and where you are weak...and how you see the world and function in it."
Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit Learn It and Use It For Life.

For a month last year, Twyla Tharp, a most outstanding choreographer and dancer was my mentor. Early on, her thirty-three questions helped me look at my creative autobiography. Recently  Richie Norton in his book The Power of Starting Something Stupid mentored me through developing my Be Bold Collection of cards and bookmarks. With such wonderful mentors, how could I have been caught off guard when Kay, the owner of the charming French at Heart boutique, asked me what my story is? She bought twelve cards to sell and said her customers want to know the story behind the items they purchase. She means she wants to know my story as an artist, and if you've been following me for any time at all, you know connecting my story to the word artist has been a journey. 

As I went through Twyla's questionnaire, I learned my DNA has to do with the particulars of swirling colorful and fleeting moments bumping into each other to reveal universal concerns about being social, active, and curious. I've made cards for friends over the past few years and the common response is, "Your cards make me happy." As I went through Richie's book, I began to break the process down and I am learning to trust myself. I can't begin to explain why it is all working, and for now, I'm not asking any questions. I think this is my story. 

Two years ago at the beginning of a painting class I created this affirmation. Today I own it. 

The past month has been quite a ride! By the end of June, I will have sold about a hundred cards to galleries, a museum store, and boutiques. Last week I spent three days in near isolation making forty more cards, thanks to the help of a friend who volunteered to help with the assembly process and also developed a new line of cards and bookmarks thanks to the encouragement of a friend who liked the one I posted a few blogs ago. Our Lady of Fatal Assumptions and Our Lady of Possibilities are two entirely new Be Bold Girls who have come to life. So much fun! So much work! So much satisfaction! 

For the time being, I'm not opening an Etsy shop. If you are interested in seeing or buying my cards or bookmarks, please send me your email address or your web or blog address so I can get in touch with you. My email address is

Baruch ata adonai...Help me to remain honest with myself and what I can do and can't do. Help me keep to a pace that is healthy for me. I want to keep my artist side a part of my life not let it become my life. Where I am right now is the answer to a prayer. Thank you. Don't let me become grandiose. Remind me small steps keep moving me forward. Remind me the words artist and play and fun go hand in hand together. Thank you for bringing me to this time in my life. Amen

Monday, June 10, 2013

Taking Care of Little Me

We each deal with or ignore or make bargains with our little selves on a daily basis. Today my little self just isn't getting going. I can tell by her look. She's looking at all she needs to do and is feeling overwhelmed. Our tasks are to get six drawings ready to go to the printer, paint some background sheets to go along with them, work on drawings to complete a bookmark series based on the "Our Lady" bookmark I posted Friday, and since I've gone through my inventory, I need to produce more cards. Three discrete tasks. They take time to do and I know what to do. OH, also I do want to write today's blog.

"Help, help, help," little me is crying. "Quick. Get me something by Anne LaMott to hold on to. I don't care. Anything. Look in the section called HELP. I'm drowning here."

"Keep breathing," I advise."I've got things in three piles. See the six drawings we're going to turn into printed cards? And we're going to play with paint later when I come home from my big girl jobs."

"OK. Like you said the other day. Take little steps. But what about all that other stuff crashing down on me. Look in Mark Nepo's book. I bet he has something to help me calm down."

"Help me think of some names for the Our Lady cards. What do you think of 'Our Lady of Romance and Resentment' or 'Our Lady of the Tutu and Boa' or 'Our Lady of I'm Going to Spoil Myself Rotten?'" I'm smiling, but I can see little me is not so easily charmed. We've spent all weekend doing absolutely nothing but kayaking and hiking and eating and napping. Now we need to start taking small steps again and it feels scary. Then I see the quote taped to my computer:

"Your desire is your prayer. Picture the fulfillment of your desire now and feel its reality and you will experience the joy of the answered prayer."  Dr. Joseph Murphy   

"Here's the deal." I tell little me. "Make this your blog. Go eat. Go pick up your car and hope it's fixed. Go workout. Go do errands. Come home and we'll do the most fun part first. Paint. I picture us painting together and having fun. Let's do that one little step this afternoon, and then see where we are, and then we'll line things up for tomorrow."

"Well, if you ask me, this isn't much of a blog. I suggested you read Anne Lamott and you didn't." She's quite insistent on pouting it seems.

I'm quite insistent on letting my desire be my prayer and my desire is to remember this is all fun. My cards are happy little pieces of art, and I want to enjoy all these steps even as little me is feeling overwhelmed.  Today I'm going to move into adult mode for a few hours and do what grownups need to do. Then I'm going to paint. "I promise you, little one, we are going to make a great big mess and paint with our hands! You love messes, don't you!" She has a break though smile.

Baruch ata adonai...some days it's really hard to get going. I want more than anything to just be a lump today. No, I want more than anything walk gently down the list of things I tell myself I need to do. Not all are equally important. Help me to remember my goals are ones I've created. I can change them. I can calendar this out day by day so I know by the end of the week I'll have it all done. I can do that. OK, I can breathe too! Thank you for reminding me of that vital fact! Amen

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Power of Small Steps

"To recast larger problems into smaller, less arousing problems, people can identify a series of controllable opportunities of modest size that produce visible results." Karl Weick, psychologist who coined the term "small wins."

Last evening I began reading "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" to my seven year old granddaughter on Skype. Ninety miles away she curled up in a chair eating a piece of watermelon, as I delighted in beginning Lewis Carroll's wonderful story after a very long absence. The first chapter finds Alice drinking something she supposed wasn't poison, but could have been, and observes herself getting smaller and smaller and then, seeing a beautiful little cake with EAT ME marked in currants, she does so. "Curiouser and curiouser," she says, now I'm opening out like the largest telescope that ever was!"

Six weeks ago, part way into The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton, I decided I wanted to sell the cards I'm making, and I called the manager of our local museum to ask if she would  look at them. First small step. (Six have sold so far.) Then I was asked if I wanted to show my cards at a local food festival. OK, I don't know about showing cards in that way, but I could learn. And Yes, I could sit with them and encourage people to take a look and I could forget about pride and suggest they buy some. Yesterday I sold thirty cards. Along the way I was told about a local company that prints cards for the museum. I'm not in Wonderland. Real Land is quite amazing in itself! If I thought I needed  to chart this out before I started, I might have been overwhelmed, but I do have the ability to go from one small step to the next. Today I'll go to the printer because crafting the cards by hand is stopping me from getting back to the art side of creating that I love: drawing and painting.

People have told me how happy the cards make them feel, and that support carries me on. Each step requires many many small learnings. I can learn each step, but if I begin to look too far ahead, I feel as though I could fall over backwards. Unlike Alice, I'm not getting taller. As I stay within myself, I feel like I'm expanding. It's fun. This week, I'll contact several more galleries and see what happens next.

Baruch ata adonai...I asked for help to stay out of fear. Thank you. As I stay within the reality of taking small steps and away from grandiose thinking or looking too far down the road, I am forward. WOW. Amen