The Creative Epiphany – Your Place or Mine?

I have said it many times.

If you have a place where you can go to find peace, renewal, solace, healing, inspiration, joy, refuge, answers, enlightenment or comfort then consider yourself fortunate and blessed. It need not be an actual physical visit to a place. It could be a mind’s journey, a meditation, a visualization, a remembrance of a place. But being there – in this special place – whether in body or mind – provides you with what you require to proceed with your life, with your year, with your month , with your day, or with merely another hour. You gain courage, purpose and  desire just by being in the aura of this place that is so magnificent in its restorative powers that it brings chills to your arms and strength to your soul. It is a place, but for you it is also a shrine. You worship there, in any sense of that word that you desire.

This place need not be grand. It might be as humble as a bench under a tree. But to you it is a connection to the universe, as grand as any cathedral. You know things after you pay a visit there. Answers come to you, or the peace of knowing that it will be alright to live without them. When something happens, some thing that disturbs and confounds you, you get to your place. It might take some travel to get there – it might be a true pilgrimage getting there. You might be saving things up for when you will arrive, carrying an agenda of all the concerns and worries accumulated from days and weeks, so that as soon as you make it to your place you can place them before the universe and learn how to solve them or perhaps find the strength to continue to carry the burden of them until you are given greater insight as to how to lighten your load.

Or you might arrive at your place brimming with joy, running ahead, laughing and carrying only the need to express thanks for the many blessings you have received. That is the experience I had this week…being in one of my own favorite places where I could express my thanks to the universe for all that I have experienced in this life, this glorious, amazing life. I worshiped nature, I drank it up in big gulps, I was in awe at the beauty around me and as a humble artist I was vastly inspired and reminded of my own place in the greater scheme of things. I felt truly alive, every nerve ending at full attention. Sensory overload unabated.

Where did I run away to, from here in the midst of utter chaos, as I prepare to make my move to Denver? What extraordinary place could lure me away from my endless, compulsive schedule of packing and preparing to take my entire life to another location? Where did I feel it was most appropriate to say my fond goodbye to the incredible geographic diversity that is California?

I was in Yosemite Park of course – the place where magnificence was born.




The Creative Epiphany – Seems Kinda Fishy


Mixed Media Collage titled Traffic by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

Is it just me or does everything in the news sound fishy? We did not just fall off the turnip truck, did we? We were not born yesterday. It used to be that what you heard in the news was straightforward. Now it seems that everyone has an angle. Nothing is as it seems anymore. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but it’s almost like we are being fed a steady ration of crap, starting with the less important stories and going right up the ladder to the big ones too.

Snowden seeking refuge in Ecuador sounds a little bit fishy to me…what’s he going to do there? Kind of makes you want to follow that guy around, and I am sure someone will. Why did it take so long to discover he was fishy? Why doesn’t someone explain to us why he chose Ecuador?

Putin keeping the Super Bowl ring sounds very fishy to me…does he just think he can rip off anybody’s stuff whenever he wants to? I think he needs to earn that ring by playing a quarter or two against the Raiders or the Steelers…and then an entire game with the NY Giants. That’ll do just fine for him. We’ll see if he can keep that ring or not. Why did the owner of the ring allow him to keep it? Hhhmm. Makes you wonder what the trade was.

Are we really supposed to believe that Paula Deen made those racial remarks because she is in her sixties and she was raised in the deep south? The rest of the country has learned some things from the civil rights movement, how come she never got on board? Sounds like a flimsy set of excuses to me – something is definitely fishy about that – if she walks like a duck, talks like a duck, well then…I am not going to watch her food show anymore.

Don’t you think it seems kinda fishy that just about the  time as almost any action hero movie is about to hit the theaters we hear about some kind of crazy accident or near-death experience that the star had while on set? Wow. That is so weird. Like they think we will really want to rush out and see that film to make sure the guy lived through it. Cause we’re not sure…what’s real and what isn’t. It’s all fishy.

And that is precisely the entire problem with everything! What is real and what is not? Is life all illusion? The reality shows on TV seem so scripted and the conversations we have in real life sometimes sound so outrageous it’s like someone outside our bodies made them up. They say truth is stranger than fiction and so does that mean the concept of fiction is now fictitious? Is there a new, bendable truth that allows for fishiness so that we are not ever certain of the degree of the truth we are hearing?

They say that if you can imagine it, it can happen some day. Fishiness in the news stories allows a lot of room for your imagination to run wild, perhaps imagining worse alternatives than the actual truth. That makes you hesitant to be imaginative. If you have to censor your own imagination so that you don’t imagine anything unbearably uncomfortable then you can’t be a free thinker. Imagination could get truly crippled by that. But fishiness invites that possibility for misinterpretation. It allows you to kind of make up your own endings to things.

So – at the end of the day, reality becomes less important than individual interpretation. As my 4 year old niece would say, “That’s not fair.”

This entry was written for the Daily Prompt – Island of Misfit Posts

The Creative Epiphany – I Ache to Paint


Mixed Media Collage titled For Roy by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

I dedicate this Blog entry to Roy Stauth….writer, adventurer and friend of Africa

With my previous blog entry I discussed the tendency of creativity to be dormant and downright absent in times of severe stress, but then, if you are not blocking its entry, to gradually come back through the door of your soul when you need it most. Creativity is your lifetime companion, there for the longest haul. It is a human quality awarded to you and all others free at birth. You need only be present to win it. Creativity’s presence is multi-purposed – to heal you and to be your companion when you most need her; to provide an emotional release; to communicate a message; to channel your angst (or your total joy) into a creation that might live on beyond you, thus leaving your unique mark on the world. Creativity almost always offers the world a message of your choice. Thanks to our predecessors who forged the path toward freedom of expression, you have the ultimate choice of deciding what to say and how to say it through your creativity. People are no longer compelled to paint for the emperor….they have a choice.

The process of being creative requires an opening up of your soul which brings an exposure of your human vulnerabilities and a willingness to take responsibility for what results. If the result of your creativity is a painting, for example, you will most assuredly always remember what it was you were going through at the time you painted it. It might reveal your deepest secrets for careful interpretation by the viewer, or to the casual viewer it may reveal nothing. But YOU know what is there, and if you are asked what prompted you to create such an image you will spill it out unapologetically. As with writing, if you are willing and able to “open a vein” and let it all bleed out of you, you are on the way to healing and communicating what you are all about. You are also on the way to greatness, because great works of art or literature always reveal passion. Only a handful of the great painters and writers, photographers, musicians and other creative folks ever gain recognition – there are many more out in the trenches whose greatness is never exposed to the public eye. I see their work everywhere and it thrills me.

During this time of moving to Denver I have had no time to paint. My brushes and tubes have been packed up for about 6 weeks now because I have had no time for the release of that passion. I feel like an explosion waiting to happen. Or Hoover damn about to spring a huge gushing leak. I am storing up creative energy and I pity the person who might be standing in my way when my new studio is finally set up and I am ready to walk in there and paint again – I will  mow over them like an 18 wheeler. Blood could be shed.

It is super strong, this need to create. It is a force of nature, its evidence still on the walls of ancient caves. With humanity came creativity, with creativity comes greater humanity and understanding. It is a thirst, almost equal to water and air and food in its ability to satisfy a yearning. My old college fine art professor told us that unless we were willing to sell our shoes to buy paint during a blizzard, we were not a true artist. Fortunately I never had to do that, but I probably would have if I had needed to, because my creativity would have instructed me how to make shoes out of something I had on hand.

The thousands of people who blog are manifesting the human need for expression. The need is all consuming. It is undeniable and larger than life, and yet many people around the globe have no means of creative expression available to them. Think how that might feel. We live in a day and time when the people without a voice are growing and the people who do have the means to express themselves are also growing. The wide disparity between the voice-less and the voices is alarming. I feel so fortunate to have several means of expressing myself. Many in the world do not. But that is an entire other problem of such enormity that I can barely stand to address it. Creativity is nothing to be taken for granted, and I never do. If you are among the relatively few on the planet who enjoy the freedom of giving it expression then lucky be you. The creativity you employ as your loyal and dedicated servant is your light in the darkness, and hopefully you will use it wisely and for the greater good, and heal your soul with it as well.

I live, I love, I paint. And I do write.

The Creative Epiphany – The Scheherazade Violin

2vioThe violin Scheherazade by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

While we are on the subject of creativity, let me tell you a story within a story. Just a little personal experience of sadness, discovery, healing and joy. A recent chapter in the biography of my art – a true tale, unembellished, able to stand firmly on its own merits. It has always seemed to me that my long career in art has provided me with more than enough fascinating stories – enough for a lifetime of enlightenment and inspiration. Stored in my mind are humorous anecdotes, disturbing happenings, brilliant realizations and numerous other categories of true occurences that have enriched and enhanced the initial act of creating a piece of artwork. Let me begin with this one…..

In the fall of 2010 while living in northern California I received an honored invitation to create a piece of artwork – a painted violin – for the DYAO – Denver Young Artists Orchestra. This long established, prestigious, charitable project involves the yearly selection of about 20 artists  who are invited to paint an actual violin (one that has been put out to pasture) in whatever flavor and style they are comfortable with. The violins then tour galleries for viewing, over several months in the Denver area, culminating in a gala event in the spring, where the violins are auctioned, thus funding the youth orchestra for the next season.

In that fall of 2010 my husband was very ill. I was thrilled with my violin invitation, and yet it was placed in my mind on the very back shelf of priorities…  As December arrived with holiday preparations and obligations, my husband worsened and finally died on December 7th. A week or so later the violin arrived at my door by UPS in a lovely case….at first I had no idea what the DYAO could possibly be sending me, and then I remembered. I made a mental note to notify them that I could not possibly participate in the violin event, as honored as I was to have been selected. I did not have it in me to paint.

After holiday season spent in Tahoe at my family’s gentle insistence, while recuperating from cataract surgery on my first eye and grieving the death of my husband, I arrived back home to face the hard reality of dealing with nasty insurance issues, ugly Social Security issues, clearing out my husband’s closets and office and trying to not have a meltdown. Trying very hard not to lose it, when I ran across the violin. The violin committee was expecting that it be shipped to them, all finished, by April 1st. They requested that it reflect my characteristic mixed media collage technique. I was convinced I could not possibly muster the artistic inspiration and strength to accomplish that. I had only emptiness where the creativity used to be.

As the weeks passed I began to wonder what I would, theoretically, do to the violin if I somehow could do it….if I decided to accept its challenge. Ideas gradually came to mind, creeping in under the  blanket of my sadness. Sort of warming me up. I reminded myself of other circumstances when my art had been my solace and my escape. As a diversion from the sad tasks I was dealing with all day long, I thought about the violin. I remembered when I was young and Mom used to play Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on Saturday mornings; music inspired by the ancient Persian Tales of the Arabian Nights. The music was haunting and exotic, and told the poetic fable of the handsome Sultan who demanded a different virgin be brought to his tent every night, then killed them the next day so that they could not be unfaithful to him. Enter the beautiful Persian Princess, Scheherazade, who made love to him, then told him an intriguing tale and promised to finish the story the following night. She returned, continued the tale night after night, and kept herself alive for many thousands of years, bearing his children and making him very happy.

I approached my collage papers and my paint with doubt and trepidation, wondering what would happen as I attempted to pull my creative gestures and thought processes up from the depths of my misery. I decided to incorporate meaningful mementoes and papers into the collage as omens of good will and peace of mind. I collaged the violin with the same coral and gold leaf paper I had used for the cover of my handmade wedding invitations as a tribute to my husband,  I used a gold circle, a link from a broken necklace of my mother’s. Then some polished stones that my daughter had given me were used to circle the arm of the violin like a bracelet. I added a hunk of clear crystal for good karma. I antiqued the  entire violin with gold paint, made a keyhole design on the backside as a symbol of entrance to a new life, used an East Indian paper around the edges…and I was quite happy and amazed with the results. I titled the violin Scheherazade, in honor of the Persian Princess, and nicknamed her “Scher”.

The story does not end there – with the violin project I was taken through a door to a new place in my life. A place where I was reassured that my life was going to begin again and there was still much to look forward to. As of this day I am still entering that door, leaving soon for my move to Denver where both family and some special friends await me with open arms.

Scher and I have been telling tales for years and years…..but mine are all true. People ask me often if I have any new stories. And I always do. This particular story is one of my best and will always be remembered as a pivotal point in my long life of change, resilience and renewal, three conditions upon which creativity thrives. The violin and my continued enthusiasm for life are my proof positive of that. I live, I love, I paint.

To see the 2010-2011 season of painted violins in which I participated, plus archives and the current season, visit or



The Creative Epiphany – Just Unsubscribe Me Please!


Painting titled Hotstreak by Jo Ann Brown-Scott


I am not referring to my blog – I will  not unsubscribe from your blog and please do not unsubscribe  from  mine. I am speaking generically here about the annoyances of removing one’s name and email address from a list….it is like trying to pry bricks out of a wall, one by one.

Please get me off that list! Leave me alone! Stop asking me for info! I am on overload! I have no time for this! My days are full enough!

As I have said frequently and recently, I am moving from northern California to Colorado in July. What a job. It involves a crossing of states with major arrangements at both ends and in between. I have been making plans and scheduling stuff since mid-March. It is like the domino effect – one thing depends on another thing, and if some one thing fails in any way the entire procedure collapses. The links of all the tasks that form the path to Denver must be strong and dependable.

Without exception, every service provider I am dealing with asks me to fill out an online evaluation survey form before they have even completed the service I am paying for! They want to know how their phone service is doing before the big stuff ever even happens! How the first person on the phone did, how the second person on the phone did and the speed with which my questions were answered. They want to know how I heard about them, who told me what, whether or not I have visited their webpage (are you kidding? I barely have time to sleep) and what I was wearing the day I made the arrangements for their service. Not really – just kidding on that last one, but it would not surprise me.

One of the things I am doing with the move  is that I am purging my most annoying online contacts – don’t ask me why –  somehow it feels like doing that makes me lighter than air for the move to Denver. I want to UNCOMPLICATE. I want to be streamlined and sleek and simple. I am unsubscribing to every single stupid thing that I don’t want anymore in my email. You might think that is an easy mindless chore, but oh no you are wrong. It takes hours. Their questions come at me like softballs out of a batting machine.

Would you like to change your personal settings to limit the number of emails you receive? One a week perhaps? One a month? What would work for you?

YES! I would like to limit them to none! NONE would work really well for me – none of the above, in other words. Nada. Zilch. Zero. 

 WHY do you want to unsubscribe? How can we better serve you?

Because I am choking on all of your material in my email box! Because I am sick & tired of your information clogging my arteries! You can better serve me by allowing me to end your unending service to me. I beg you.

Do you want to unsubscribe to every other publication we send you or just some of it?

You send me other stuff? How dare you! YES! All of it! Gone! Unsubscribe me to all of it! Every single little teensy thing! I am now yelling at you!

Do you have a comment that might be helpful to us?

NO! Nothing that is printable!  Just get me off your list!

And finally, what is the reason for your action to unsubscribe?

I know it sounds crazy, but I am moving to Colorado. I know you do business there also but I don’t want you chasing me. Please don’t follow me. I want a restraining order. I am calling the cops.