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Saturday, February 19, 2011


The tap is on. I hear my muse, and my response is to throw my whole self into my work. I surround my self with the tools, materials, resources, inspirations, and the beginnings of the actual work of art.

I reserve judgement. I hold my critical mind at bay, and work without heeding the analytical voices in my head. I ride the current.

I work all day long. I breathe, eat, draw, paint, shit,sleep, dream, contemplate the work. It is all I do, all day long. I have freed myself from the mundane...this is red alert, this is full status, this is a situation, which if analogous to mundane critical events, requires key personnel to leave their families and homes and devote full attention to the crisis at hand. This is the marathon 26 hour surgery, this is the week-long diplomatic mission.

Think about it for a moment. The governments of the world devote billions of dollars to the arts...museums, cultural sites, historic places, universities and libraries. They know the importance of culture. Whether they are as enlightened as Japan is where artists are accorded the exalted status of Natural Treasures, or in cultures the aristocratic awarding of honors to artists whose contribution to society elevates them above the ordinary folk, or the spiritual reverence given to people whose creative gifts connect the average person to the is all the same thing. ART MATTERS.

So in this manner I honor the artist within me. I surrender myself, I immerse myself, I abandon myself to my work. It is my vocation, it is my holy calling. The talent I have is a Gift of God. The Muses speak to me, and I listen. I create.

Being an artist is more than a job. It is a Vocation, and I am the High Priestess of my Art.

Does my physical infirmity impair my ability to create? NO! I refuse to allow my disability to limit me from doing what I am meant to do. I work within the limitations, to be sure, but I push push push the physical boundaries, make accommodation for that which makes it difficult. I embrace my limitations and then fly above them.

I am an Artist. I am Making Art. This is what I do. Now hand me that pencil. I have work to do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Irons in the Fire

There is a time in the creative proceess where I must stop and simply think. I get very still, and let the work sink deep into my mind and heart. I cogitate. I let the pot boil.

A clever blacksmith keeps several pieces of iron resting in the fire. While you work one piece, the others sit there getting hot enough to work. When the piece you are working on grows too cold to form, then you place it back into the heat, and pick up another piece, and work on that one. And so on, and so on.

My mind, my subconscious, my heart, the inner I, these are the fire where I keep the pieces on which I am working. Sometimes it is good to just let the pieces rest in my mind as the heat of my creativity makes them ready to work on physically.

Sometimes it is good to lay down my brush, stop gathering my materials, and simply allow the piece to form in my mind.

This requires, like all other aspects of the creative process, great trust in my ability to let my mind work, to set free the reaches of my creative being. I trust that I know unconsciously more than my waking mind reveals to me. Sometimes I dream the piece, wake, and then make a physical reality of what was in my dream.

So today I will sit back, and allow my work to permeate the depths of my creative self.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Valentine Garland

Here's a simple and fun garland to make for your special Valentine!

Time: 1/2 hour to 3 hours, depending on number of hearts and length of words.

With pinking shears or other interestingly edged scissors, and textured card stock, cut out hearts. Random Hearts, my two are ever alike.

With a red crayon, oil pastel or watercolor bar scribble a Slightly Shady Background. No Heart is Perfect, so do not worry about it. Work quickly, have snappy music in the background to put a little dance into your drawing.

Using alphabetic rubber stamps, in purple, write words which Speak your Love. If you don't have rubber stamps, use a purple magic marker.

You can string these up like the Christmas stars...especially useful if you are like me and haven't taken down that particular Christmas tree yet.

Or you can glue or sew them onto sheer red ribbon, and then cover the words with a sheer ribbon of a different color. Or colors.

You can glue the hearts on ribbons onto a card...and then give it to Someone Special!

This project can be very simple, or really elaborate. You might want to write in pink ink a very explicit love letter as the background on each heart. You might want to sew them vertically onto many ribbons, and use them for a curtain to your bedroom.

Enjoy your Valentine's Weekend....the holiday is on Monday, which gives us Friday, Saturday and Sunday night to celebrate.And Monday too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fueling Your Inner Fire

So here I am...surrounded with the bits and pieces of my new project.

I select a commodious bag and carry them with me where ever I go. I keep a selection of my favorite tools handy also. I give myself permission to work on this project whenever the muse calls to me.

Sitting in the car...(not driving it) and later in a restaurant. I am soooo past feeling shy about the stares of people around me. I am an artist at work. This is what I do. I don't give the waitress or the fellow at the checkout the hairy eyeball when they are at their work. But the sight of an honest-to-goodness dyed-in-the-wool in person artist at work does attract attention. I don't care. I am at work. This is what I do.

So what if I fill the table with my art supplies and sketch journals? Other people are reading newspapers, books, laptops. I am painting.

I stop in the middle of the supermarket to make a note in my journal. Perhaps the woman next to me thinks I am checking my shopping list. Perhaps not.

I am immersing myself. Abandoning my self into my art.

Whoops....I have been working at it for hours. Well, most people work an eight hour day...don't they?

I prowl my studio, pulling sheets of paper here, fetching a book there, finding the elusive .03 leads for my favorite drawing pen.

I give my self over to the process of creating this art. I passionately fall into it. I have a pact with my family...I am making art, so I may not be as attentive to them as I would be if I were not making art. And that is how we live. We give each other permission to create.

I gather more fuel for this fire of creative energy. Burn, baby, burn!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Assembling the stage

What joy when the tap is open! How does this happen?
The other day I found the tap, and turned it on. Here's what happened, Something I read suddenly just went"click" in my brain, and I had a vision of a finished body of work on exhibit. Simply that. I knew that what I read could be visualized, so I wondered, if I were to visualize this writing, how would it look?

I had to assemble the stage. I needed props. Now those of you who are familiar with my book "Artist Afloat - A Sketch Journal of Britain by Canal" know that I adore sketchbooks, journals, portfolios and other collections of works created over a period of time.

This piece of writing needed (to my way of thinking) a sketchbook, naturalist"s field notebook, and a collection of notes which the fictitious character creates on her journey.The original writing described such things, and I knew that I must make the author's words into a physical visual reality.

I scavenged my admittedly too large stash of blank notebooks, and my equally cherished collection of hand made papers.

Do you believe in fortune? I believe that fortune favors the well prepared. Some months ago I purchased a blank leather journal ( similar to but different from the leather journals which I offer for sale at Pennsic.) This blank book spoke to a place in my creative mind that knew it might need it in the future, for some as yet unknown project. So I bought it, TRUSTING in the inner intuition which has never failed me as an artist.

I attended an SCA event called "The Marketplace at Birka" this past weekend at which there were hundreds of vendors of replicas of medieval things. And there it was...the leather portfolio from my vision. I trust my artistic visions. I listen to my muses. I leapt into the unknown.

Part of my process involves giving in to obsession. I know we live in a day when obsessive compulsive behaviour is seen as aberrant and something to medicate and control. And for some people it does. But for the creative person, those Magnificent Obsessions are what make the Magic happen. Ironically, yesterday I watched "Lust for Life", the intense biographical film of Vincent van Gogh's life. I sat surrounded by the bits and pieces of my own project, carressing the leather of the blank journal, the perfectly scaled portfolio, the luscious hand cast papers. After the film was over, I went to the books which inspired this project and read them quickly, flagging pertinent passages which I will use for my work. I got another sketch book and began taking notes to plan the work.

Will I sell it to the publisher of the books which inspired it? Or to the author? Do I need to attach a remunerative goal to this project. NO!!! That will limit my impulses, control my flow. I can exhibit the finished work at many venues. It is a project being created for love, not money. Well, if they want to publish it....I won't refuse. But the work is a labour of passion.

I assemble my tools, my props, my materials. I make my notes, and plan plan plan. I begin preliminary sketches.

The tap is open, I immerse  myself in the flow.

Never ignore the quiet nudging of your muse. Listen to it, abandon yourself to your work. There is nothing else.