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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Just Fly...Get A Hit of Culture

In almost every area of the country, you don't have to go far (a couple of hours drive at most) to find hidden gems of artwork for the public to view.  In my case, there are many areas and I don't have go to New York City to get high quality art experiences.

In fact, I only have to drive to the Tampa International Airport, a drive of about an hour and a half.  No, I don't have an immediate plans to take a flight anywhere.  There are a surprising number of artworks on display at this airport--enough to fill a small gallery.  Today's challenge, find a hidden cache of artwork on display in a town where you never expected to see it.  And then...go see it.  You might not even have to fly to get your hit of culture.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Prosperity Flows from Giving

A few weeks ago, I was pondering the Flow of Prosperity.  I have a belief that there is more than enough of everything for everyone exactly when they need it.  I also have a belief that competition and envy are unnecessary as there are enough customers and clients for everyone. So the question is, why doesn't every one have what they need?  Why do some people suffer from lack of food, money, housing, clothing, et cetera?  There are some specific sets of Laws that are set in motion for the creation of prosperity.  Prosperity does not only mean financial income or abundance.  Prosperity is the flow of life--energy, joy, beauty, all things material, health, wisdom, peace and personal power.

I was preparing for a show and I was considering how I could best increase my increase.  I remembered that Prosperity Flows more abundantly from Giving.  I took some of my inventory to a class I'm taking and let all my classmates choose several pieces for themselves.  I received a large influx of income at the show.  Then I held my Winter Trunk show.  I gave away some of my items to the owner of the store.  In return, I ended up being able to keep all the money I earned and she did not charge me the % we had agreed upon.  I did not give her the items with this intention, but it was the gift she chose to give me.

This week I've been culling items from my home that we no longer use or that no longer serve us and am giving them to a non profit organization for a rummage sale they are having.  I have a show this weekend and I know that because I have activated the flow of prosperity, this weekend I will receive in kind--abundantly, delightfully and I will receive it joyously.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Natural Flow and Progression

All of  life has a natural flow and progression.  The tides of our ocean ebb and flow.  Our bodies have a natural flow of energy from day to day and a natural progression over time.

I don't know if other artists and writers have a continual sense of urgency that plagues them...but I do and have for as long as I can remember...a restlessness that I needed to "get to work" on whatever it was I needed to work on.  When I was a child, I couldn't really figure out what it was that I was supposed to be working on.  I have tried many things and moved to many locations, often driven by this urgent sense that there was a thing or things that were mine to do.

Glass suncatcher...even glass has a natural flow and progression when heated. Available at www.bohemianartcafe.com or etsy.bohemianartcafe.com.
(C) 2012 SZing

I had a vague sense that what I was to do had something to do with writing.  And though I didn't realize it at the time, creative endeavors were constantly tugging at me.  I didn't do any sort of artwork other than hand crafts but I played music and I feel my early poetry and musical practices were the start of my natural progression of creativity.  I liked music, but I didn't love it and couldn't get lost in it like I could with writing or like I can now with artwork.

Flow domino available at www.bohemianartcafe.com and etsy.bohemianartcafe.com
(c) 2012 SZing

Some people make progress as if their artwork and career is an avalanche.  They move forward so swiftly it is difficult to keep up with them.  Others start out slowly and inch forward day by day and week by week.  Others, like me, have a flow and progression that comes in starts and stops.  My progression is marked by specific goal events around which I tend to organize my time and talents.  In between the preparatory spurts of energy flow, I take steps toward future events.

Find your own flow and pattern.

Here is an example of the past few weeks:  Preparation for art fair.  Flurry of activity to get all inventory prepared and organized the display materials.  Show.  Unpack.  Downtime.  Preparation for trunk show.   BIG flurry of activity to get all inventory prepared. Show. Unpack.  Now I am in preparation for a show this weekend.  But my inventory is fairly large right now so I only need to organize what I'll be taking for display.  I have a little extra energy so I've been working on locating two venues for art shows in 2013 and connecting with several magazines for articles.  I've been slowly updating my database.  I've been updating my website.  I;ve been teaching art classes and a Writing Frenzy (tm) group.  There is always something that can be done even if the steps are baby steps.  They are all a part of the flow and progression of my creative journey.  As an artist, it is important to understand your own ebb and flow and to understand how you work so that when you're "on", you're on.  Trust the natural flow and progression.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Art of Building Community

We live in a time when virtual communities have widened our immediate community.  Some of the people in our virtual lives we have never actually met, though we often know intimate details of their lives and work.  The age of the Internet has apparently freed us to unburden ourselves of our deepest secrets, our most mundane thoughts and the trivia and minutiae of our lives which used to be reserved for those lucky few who comprised our "family" or friends.  Perhaps this is a good situation.  Perhaps it would be better for us all if we did not have this world-wide access to Every Man's Inner Thoughts.

Regardless of the debate of the good or evil of the Internet and Electronic Air Wave Community, the fact is that no matter how often we are online, in our chat rooms or boards, how many emails we send or receive, text messages that fly across the airwaves or posts of which we partake, we still need real, live contact with our fellow human beings.

Some people have chosen a life where they are born, live and die in the same location.  They have what I term "built in" community.  The stability of their community connections are deep and follow their own cycle of change, addition and natural attrition as they grow, their interests alter or they express or explore different avenues of work and play.  Most people in this group have at least a core of intimate connections and their community is solidly built.

Then there is the second group.  I call these the adventurers, the explorers and sometimes, the dissatisfieds.  I am of this group where I seem to have an inner drive to see new places, have new experiences and meet new people.  More than once, though I have deeply loved my initial core community, I have chosen to leave them.  Many of them have fallen away from my life.  It is very difficult, despite the Internet and virtual community access, to truly maintain closeness and intimacy from a distance.  The virtual world lacks the human touch component.

Since I was 18, I have traversed across the country several times and have actually lost count of how many times I have moved. Once I moved over 2500 miles from my home to a location with a population of over 5 Million people.  I knew exactly one person there when I arrived. It was a very different environment than the one I had left and the shock of the differences made it extremely difficult and slow for me to build community.   It's always been my choice to move.  Each time I have had to develop new community.  Over the past 28 years, I have refined the fine art of developing community.  Here is what I know:

1.  Start immediately.  Waiting "to meet" people spontaneously will happen, but it can be a slow road and very lonely in the meantime.

2.  Start by "joining"--find groups that share your interests--or interests you'd like to develop:  libraries and bookstores usually know of book clubs, churches and spiritual groups are usually quite welcoming to new members, take classes.  These are the three fastest ways I know of to begin to rebuild or develop community.  If you're one of those who have stayed in one place for a long time, this is still a great way to expand your community.

3.  If #2 is not yielding friends quickly enough (it does take time for people to open up and embrace us into their lives--the shortest period can be weeks or months but it can take some people longer), there are always support groups with which to start.  Find one that suits your needs--most people have something with which they could use some additional support.

4.  If you have a job, find co-workers with whom to have lunch.  It may take some time.  In one location I lived, the people at the large corporation were not used to a) taking lunch or b)having someone invite them to lunch.  In fact, when I would invite them, more than one person said "No thanks."  Eventually someone said, "No thanks. I'm not interested in Amway."  I said, "What?"  It turns out someone in the past had done lunch with people and then tried to sell them Amway.  Once I discovered this I prefaced everything with "No, I don't sell Amway.  It's just lunch to eat lunch and have some human companionship."  I began making friends.

5.  Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who don't have to work or have retired?  Volunteer.  There are thousands of organizations from which to choose.  Whether you are into life saving and crisis aversion, nature, literacy, helping save people from starving, art work, education, animals...no matter what your interests, there is bound to be an organization that could use your help and has other similarly motivated people helping them.  Plus it feels good to volunteer and help out.

We all need people.  We need family--whether it is our blood relations or those we love and care about most, friends and like minded connections with others.  While there may be some creative output that can result from the angst of loneliness, the output often is dark, depressing and sad.  There is a place for alone time and exploring those dark nights of the soul creatively, but I believe that it is true that "no man is an island."  We may feel lost for a while, but we must be able to connect with others.  We make art not just for ourselves and because we have that undeniable creative urge, but because we also have the need to share our creations, to help our community to understand life more, to give beauty and darkness, to document our humanity and our striving to be something more than these meat suits we wear.  Art and creativity are ingredients we humans need to keep our communities thriving and expanding.  We need art.  We need community.  We can never have too many true friends or too much art.  I challenge you this weekend to meet someone new and start developing a new friendship.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ode to Pamela Howard, Weaver Extraordinaire

Today is my dear friend Pamela Howard's birthday.  Happy birthday Pam!  I've not seen her for a month and have no idea when I will see her again since I moved from Ohio.  I will miss her quirky sense of humor and stories and our camaraderie.

Spindle whorl spinning
Wallet by Pamela Howard

I also will miss her astonishing commitment to her craft.  She is an enormous inspiration to me.  Pam is a weaver and textile artist.  She cards the wool, she hand spins the wool, she dyes the wool, and then she creates elaborate works of beauty  out of the textiles--scarves, shawls, textile and paper dolls, unique hand crafted wallets and books.  She also is a paper crafter--making hand made papers and then binding them together into astounding books/journals covered with her gorgeous textile coverings.

Hand crank wool carder
Hand crafted book and box by Pamela Howard

I can attest to the quality of her work.  I've been using a wallet she made for more than three years and other than the string closure finally coming off, it has held up as well as any leather wallet I've ever had and is far more pretty.  Not to mention that I love the tactile feel of it every time I get it out of my purse and the simple reminder of friendship.

Hand crafted paper and textile woven book and binding by Pamela Howard

Before I moved from Ohio, I was fortunate to be able to purchase a black and white textile journal book which I absolutely love. I have not had the heart to sully it's gorgeously hand crafted and pristine pages with writing.  I'd originally planned to use it to write my poetry in, but I have not been able to bring myself to do it.  I wonder if there might be some other, better subject matter to put into the book.
Hand dyeing wool

Pamela's work can be seen at the Oxford Community Art Center Art Shop Co-op, a juried co-op, where she has been a member for over three years.  She also has a delightful studio (#311) on the third floor of the Center and almost always has her studio open to visitors on the Second Friday Art Nights.  She has been honored with several prestigious awards and "Best of Show" awards over the years.
Hand crafted (from start to finish!) wallet by Pamela Howard

To own a piece of her artwork is to have access to a master textile artist.  Happy birthday Pam!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jump Into the Zero Degree Water

Jump into cold water

The problem with taking a vacation is that it automatically sets into motion Newton’s First Law of Motion—you know the one…a body at rest stays at rest.  It seems that most of October flew by in the blink of an eye.  And while I was on a roll before the vacation, I’ve struggled to get back into the swing of things and get the blog written.  Of course, I haven’t just been sitting around eating bon-bons (what IS a real bon bon anyway?)  I prepared for and participated in a large craft show.  I worked on a large supply of inventory for the trunk show this past weekend which was a good success. And I’ve unpacked the last of the items from our household move.
Sir Issac Newton

Still, I’ve really missed the discipline and habit I’d been developing to get the blog written.  So, today I decided to build up my courage and jump into the zero degree water.  That’s what it reminds me of…having to psych myself back up to push my body out of rest and back to blogging.  I had originally set a goal of 3 times a week.  I was doing pretty well with this schedule but once I set a goal of 5 times a week, it suddenly became much more difficult.  So, I’m going back to 3 times a week.  It’s a goal and a habit that I can achieve and do well in that process. 

Perhaps the fact that five became a challenge means that my brain needs a day or two to ‘stew’ in order to stir up the ideas for the next blog and get my creativity flowing.  Or maybe its just that I have many activities and obligations that all require attention.
Balancing balls Newton's cradle
My main point today is that with our creative endeavors and artworks, sometimes we have to screw up our courage and take the plunge.  Creativity and doing art does take a certain amount of courage.  I watched the movie "We Bought a Zoo" this weekend and love the idea that we only need 20 seconds of courage or bravery to do something.  Once the scary something is begun, it's so very much easier to continue the activity and this is true with art and writing.  Also housework. Even if the artwork is only for yourself, your friends or your family and never is seen in a public forum, the courage that is required is to allow whatever creative urge you have to get into the artwork (painting, glass, assemblage, poem,…whatever medium you use).  To take a page from Nike, to just do it.  The other point where courage comes into play is to show up every day.  Or at least, every other day…