Top 10 things to do and see in Cape Town, South Africa

This is a relatively new blog – but well worth your attention! Christine Mahree Fowler is a dear friend and an expert on Africa – check it out! – jo

Tales of Africa



Okay, there are far more than 10 things in  Cape Town  on my list but I’ll start with these:


  1. Table Mountain: Table Mountain is both one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage site. The mountain stands at 1,086m and rises up from the crystal seas of the Cape Peninsula. Its name comes from its flat surface which is often covered by a layer of clouds that seem to drape off its sides forming, what is often referred to as, the “tablecloth. If you’re feeling adventurous, the summit can be reached on foot, or mountain bike. If you feel like relaxing, take the efficient cableway to the top and back while soaking in the spectacular view.
  1. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: The V&A Waterfront is a historic, cultural, and scenic treasure. Set in an actual working harbor…

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The Creative Epiphany -1830’s Rendezvous & Spanish Colonial Market at The Fort, Morrison, CO 2013


This weekend was the 1830 Rendezvous and Spanish Colonial Art Market at The Fort, sponsored by the Tesoro Cultural Center! The weather on Saturday and Sunday was perfection after a deluge on Friday night – more rain here in the Denver area we do not need, after September floods…but then Saturday the sky cleared and  transformed itself to that deeply saturated blue that is especially evident during Indian Summer in Colorado.

Oh what a fun weekend it was, just 20 minutes away from my door to the legendary FORT RESTAURANT, founded by the great Sam Arnold, now deceased. The Fort is located on the outskirts of the charming town of Morrison, adjacent to the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and just 300 yards off Highway 285, which winds farther up the canyon to places like Conifer and  Evergreen, my old stomping grounds. There was art, crafts, music, dancing, storytelling, Mountain Men, and more this weekend. In addition to the market, The Fort was also the location for one of the “paint out” opportunities offered to artists with the Colorado Plein Air Festival event, so artists were abundantly sprinkled on the restaurant grounds under massive red rock formations and out on the surrounding high meadows, with Denver off in the distance below. The hilly meadows are lush from the unusual rains – looking as though deep green terry cloth has blanketed the countryside. The trees are in various stages of turning, depending what altitude you are. In other words, the setting felt divinely inspired for this particular gathering.

If you like Mountain Men – the real deal – they were everywhere, dressed out in their local garb, all fringed and beaded, posing for pictures if you were polite enough to ask permission and staring you down with kind but beady eyes that reveal a wild but genuinely unique lifestyle at its best. I felt like I was at a photo shoot for Nat Geo, but ill-equipped with only my cellphone for taking pictures. Still, you get the flavor of things….

The food was elegant  “gourmet cowboy”, to put it mildly. Sam Arnold  used to be on Denver radio talking food long before foodies were named foodies, sharing recipes and folklore. We feasted at Friday night’s opening reception on Mexican chicken, guacamole extraordinaire, chorizo and refried bean dip, and  the beer and wine was flowing. In the main courtyard on Sunday, elk filets were being grilled on an open fire – whether or not you are a meat eater, whether or not you are a hunter, you had to admit the aroma was irresistible and the authenticity of the scene was genuinely 1830.

The craftsmanship of the silver jewelry, the leather and wool clothing, the folk art, the skins, the bows covered in rattlesnake skins was museum quality and the talent of the artists was evident in the fine plein air art ( art that is created out in the open air, taking into consideration the rapidly changing light, weather, sun patterns, etc) being accomplished that day. It was creativity heaven this weekend, especially so if you happen to believe that you were a cowgirl in another life – the only explanation I can think of for my deep affinity to this type of authentic 1830 era lifestyle and art. But that is for another time and a different discussion!

I have included many photos with my blog this time, revealing of the local color and the general ambience of the experience.

The Tesoro Society is “dedicated to protecting and making available to the community the artistic treasures of our American past” and they are such a success at doing just that. What an experience it was!

The Creative Epiphany – Proust and You

Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire: by Graydon Carter and Risko –

101 Luminaries Ponder Love, Death, Happiness, and the Meaning of Life 

published in 2009

 “An intimate look into the inner lives of our most prominent cultural figures— pulled from the celebrated Proust Questionnaire page in Vanity Fair magazine. The probing set of questions originated as a 19th-century parlor game popularized by

contemporaries of Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that an individual’s answers reveal his true nature.”

The final page of Vanity Fair magazine is always the first place I go when my new issue arrives – the page where my favorite Proust Questionnaire asks prominent people to answer timeless questions first posed by Proust, the famous 19th century author. His questions are probing, brief, and compelling, still, more than a century later. You almost cannot read them through without taking time to compose your own answer. The editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter,  has written a compilation of some of the more sensational entries , available on and the authentic Proust family has a website  that will assist you in compiling a family chronicle based upon the questions and answers given by all your family members. The questionnaire has become a means for truly knowing a person; revealing the character and even the motivation behind people’s personalities.

Without using the exact words of Proust, which I am certain are copyrighted, I would like to ask you a couple questions that will give you the flavor of  the game – because, in its time, it did become a parlor game, to go around the room so that people could take turns and thoughtfully answer them. We played this a couple years ago at a dinner party in my home, with about four married couples present, and me too, about a year after I had lost my husband. The process was hilarious, at times profound,  occasionally sad and yet always fascinating. There were some moments of dead silence, everyone kind of sucking for air, stunned at an answer. As well as satisfying the curiosity of everyone else, you can be sure that many people surprised even themselves with the answers that sometimes came flying out of their mouths like flapping red ribbons of honesty. Shock & Awe. Blush. Gulp. It gets more risky after a couple of adult beverages.

So here we go – now keep in mind these are my own take-offs on his famous questions, and I am no Proust.

Define what happiness is for you.

What scares you the most?

What do you dislike about yourself?

And what do you like about yourself?

When have you lied?

Who is the person you care most about?

Is there anyone you wish dead?

Do you have a favorite quote?

What is your finest accomplishment?

What will you always regret?

Do you have a personal hero?

These few inquiries are about half the number usually found on the final page of Vanity Fair – but I will leave it at that. If you answer these honestly you will probably either love this exercise or hate it. I do believe that age factors into your answers. Younger people will have a younger perspective. Older folks might be less conservative than you might believe, hanging it all out there for everyone to hear. Age often comes with a what the hell attitude. Ouch. But in any case I do find the game intriguing, and of course you can think of some great questions of your own.

What? Me? What are my answers? They vary on any given day.

I am a constantly changing, fickle, second-guessing, never sure, hard to define kind of person. Actually, on second thought, about all the important things in life, NO I  AM NOT. My basic core remains unchanged over time. Some of those questions would have answers that have never changed for me. The questions I can be creative about would probably never be answered the same way twice. Because if there is one steady thing about me it is that I am creative. What I do with it goes racing from one end of the scale to the other but it is a given, written in stone. One component of that creative nature is that I question myself 24/7.

Do you?

The Creative Epiphany – Re-opening Doors

Moroccan Door

“There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen.” – Hugh Prather

Last week I re-opened the door to a new, deeper friendship with an acquaintance I have had for years but seldom seen. We had lunch, for less than two hours, but it was a such a quality conversation about art, life, etc.  – time well spent in other words  – that I wished it could have continued long into the afternoon. It was a brilliant moment in time, most informative and encouraging, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned and how uplifted I felt as a result of that lunch. It was just what I needed and apparently my friend felt the same intellectual connection. I will be seeing more of her. Thanks for your valuable time Jane!

I have recently been concerned with how I spend my time….and I do mean SPEND. It is a commodity that is limited, precious and of great value to me – in regard to time, I am no longer wealthy. Suddenly I am on a time budget because I don’t have forever anymore. Remember when you felt that your life stretched out before you and time was plentiful? Those days are gone for me. A sense of urgency has roughly, rudely, nudged away any comfortable, mental lounging around and replaced it with a “hurry up and do it now” kind of antsy-ness. My new normal state of mind is that I am freshly agitated every single morning, at a time when a lot of people my age are picking up speed with their lack of activity….under the false assumption that they have time enough left to waste.

It is a daily challenge, feeling the urgency of life’s timeline. It is sometimes energizing and other times frightening, or even at certain junctures, downright ridiculous. It is easy to feel foolish about some of the things you find yourself doing. Should I keep my appointment to get a haircut at 1pm or do I have to start planning my trip around the world this afternoon instead? I may not have time for both…

Why don’t I have more stuff on my bucket list? I am missing about a thousand things or more – I need to look around for some other stuff to add and compiling that list will take some time. But I also must save time to paint a great body of work. People are asking me for a third book – I have one lying dormant on my PC right now that could be brought to life with a few breaths of oxygen and a slap in the face.

I haven’t seen my relatives in Ohio for the longest time but I need to see Bangkok. Guilt. What to choose.

So I begin to paint a fresh body of work, wondering how long that will take, measuring NOW against how long it took me when I was relaxed and had time for enjoying the journey. I want to enjoy the journey, I really do, but the stretch of highway I am traveling on is going off the right edge of the map. I know that painting while relaxed is so much more successful than painting in a hurry. But I am….usually….in a mental hurry. I need to smell the roses.

Not ever intending to be maudlin, at least in public conversation, I am usually able to temper my “lack of time terror” with humor and a staunch denial of the numbers of life. The birthdays. The decades. The number of summers I might have left. That’s just way too real for me. I prefer to live in the LA-LA Land part of my brain where I am convinced that the sixties are the new forties and the seventies are the new fifties. I heard that on TV and I want so badly to believe it. HUH? Laughing at that, are you? Wait until you are right there in life….you are suddenly willing to bargain with the devil, the statisticians, the medical researchers and the doubters all at once as the ever growing doom & gloom group they are. Whatever the hell works at keeping the life in my days and the optimism in my years is what I am hanging onto. I actually believe it is almost all mental, but as I say that I look over my shoulder to make sure an unannounced  train is not approaching. Luck certainly plays its part.

Anyway, finding a “new” old friend who speaks my language and lights up my life and who is wise, funny and smart is a true blessing. You are defined in large part by the company you keep and the things you think constantly about, so I am grateful to have a generous handful of quality people around me. The older I get, the more I realize that spending any of my hard-earned time dollars on people who bring me down and contribute less than a quality experience to my precious schedule are sooner or later going to become expendable. Unfortunately I just don’t have hours left in my days for the whiners. If a friend of mine needs help, or a shoulder to lean on, I am 100% in and available, as everybody in my life knows, but if I hear nothing but superficial moaning, groaning and complaining – well then I am sorry but I no longer have the time for that.

Gotta run.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines To Patterns

2lod      155stripe    snow

bags     veggies     recentfolder 013    chair

This is something new for me, entering a photo challenge! FUN! The photos here are a combination of some of my mixed media collage paintings and photos taken in the past year. The images that stir my soul, in life and in art, are most often about color, pattern and texture….and I am particularly fond of lines! I hope you enjoy them.

The Creative Epiphany – Report from Colorado – A LuLu of a Storm

          photos courtesy of

Phew. I feel dryer today and more relaxed too. The weather is  now  sunny and warm with scattered showers expected tomorrow but a general forecast of better days on the way for the next week. When the storm was raging last week, they started out by calling it a 100 year flood; by about the third day of incessant hard driving rain and many damage reports coming in it was re-accessed as a 500 year flood of Biblical proportions, but this morning Al Roker of the NBC TODAY show pronounced it a 1000 year flood. I am just calling it a LuLu of a storm the likes of which I hope to never see again. Of course the water did not come gently, but  raced down the many creeks and rivers audibly snarling through the canyons of the Rocky Mountains and then widening out along creeks and rivers in an amazing path of destruction below – the South Platte is now 10 times as wide as it normally is and still spreading in a lot of places. Our gorgeous parks have suffered, huge chunks of asphalt have been ripped from dozens of highways, nearly 18,000 homes are destroyed and hundreds of people still missing. Babies were born during this flood as other folks were washed away in their cars and unaccounted for. The U. of Colorado is conducting classes again, but hundreds of businesses in Boulder, Estes Park, Evergreen and other quaint mountain communities are devastated. Sink holes are beginning to happen – OMG! those things. Rivers and streams have cut new erratic paths that were never there before and I can already imagine people saying, “Well I remember when the river ran in that direction until that damn flood of 2013.”

One quite elderly man was swept away, stripped of all his clothes by the angry water and left shivering and clinging to a limb high in a tree. They found his wife, who had also been swept away but survived with a broken leg, and asked her if she knew the naked man they had just rescued from a tree far away….”Well yes,” she gasped, “that is my husband.”

The local early news report is doing a story on Mail Delivery and stranded animals right now – regarding mail, thousands of people who have had to evacuate their homes are expecting medical prescriptions, SS checks, payments of all kinds and even deliveries of the animal variety that come to farmers on the plains east of Denver . Baby chicks, turkeys and even many insects used for pest control are delivered to farmers by US Mail. All those live things are being held at small town post offices, including accompanying responsibilities for keeping things alive as they have sleep-overs there while waiting to be delivered, belong now to the USPS.

There are countless images on TV of stranded animals – the lucky ones who have found some small patch of higher ground to rest on until help arrives. Many were not so fortunate. Helicopters are rescuing and evacuating as fast as they can, both animals and human beings alike. One lone horse stirred the compassion of all viewers, standing by himself in hip deep water and cold temperatures, tied to a small portion of a wooden fence within eyesight of the barn but unable to go there. No food, no clean water, for 3 days he stood there. Finally yesterday he got some help. The cows in the next corral finally made it through the water to a huge soggy mound of hay and burrowed inside to eat the edible innards of the mess. Some of them ate enough to practically walk inside it, nearly disappearing from view. They had not eaten for about 3 days. These are just a couple examples that we have seen – think of all the other unfortunate creatures who are struggling to survive.

I have survivor guilt – I don’t know how I have been so fortunate. I feel like I have dodged a bullet. Just 3 months ago I was in Denver prior to my move from northern California, looking for a nice place to live. I seriously considered a couple of the areas hardest hit. I chose this area instead, because I love being on hills or in the mountains. I thrive on constantly changing vistas, and this community of Palomino Park is on a rise overlooking the magnificent view of our Rocky mountain range to the west. I will now feel more at home here than I would have before, dry and safe as I am….but I feel the pain of the others who could not escape the wrath of the water. The power of the water is beyond our imagination. I have never witnessed such weather drama.

Mother Nature has been in a bitchy mood this week.

You can go to this website to help, as well as the Red Cross, but be sure to specify on your check or in your instructions that the money must be used to help Colorado, otherwise it will go into the general fund….

Go to and search Colorado Flood Images for more visual info.

The Creative Epiphany – Colorado’s Current Biblical Flood

                       Evergreen Lake

Big Thompson Flood July 31, 1976

I have lived here in Colorado nearly all of my adult life, starting with my college years at CU in Boulder, and with the exception of  a few blocks of time when I had to be somewhere else. As most of you know, I just returned here, finally and permanently, after 6 years in California. Just 2 months ago I found a lovely place to live and re-settled back in.

Fast forward to now. I have never in my life seen unrelenting, violent, biting rain like this, and I have lived in some rainy, swampy places. A good year of precipitation in the Denver, Colorado area is around 12 inches of rain – we are considered the western “high plains” where tall grass naturally grows and herds of antelope used to roam by the thousands. Peaceful rivers run through us and Indian camps were plentiful along their banks just 100 years ago. In the high mountains, situated just right there in your face to the west, we almost routinely accumulate snow in the hundreds of inches, and we love that. But in this past 4 days, we along the “front range” of the Rockies, (an area which parallels and hugs the first steep hills that hint at the larger mountains to our west) have become a flooded area that stretches over 150 miles long from approximately Ft. Collins to our north down south through Boulder and Denver and its suburbs to Colorado Springs.  It also extends to our east, into those flat farming plains. I experienced 7 inches of rain two nights ago! 7 INCHES! And we were told to expect additional staggering amounts in the following 3 nights, and the weather guys and gals were correct. Since then, I have been drying out and waiting to see when the second shoe drops. I am in sunshine right now, at this nano-moment, here in south Denver, but the rains continue to the north and east of me. They are calling this a flood of Biblical proportions.

The charming mountain community of Evergreen, just 45 minutes west of Denver, where we raised our kids, has a dam at one end of Main Street that holds back the friendly, peace-loving, agreeably contained Evergreen Lake where fishing and ice skating are a few of it’s seasonal pleasures. The lake is  Evergreen’s water supply. Bear Creek flows into that lake from farther west and its water continues over the dam and down in a normally civilized and quite picturesque creek-form, along whose banks you can dine at outdoor cafes and sample wines at funky little wine bars. Farther into the village of Evergreen you can have a bawdy old time at the Little Bear Saloon where Willie Nelson used to drop in and play a set for free back in the day. If you are having an especially great time there, and you wear a bra, you might be invited at some point in the evening to remove your bra (either modestly pulled out from under your t-shirt or taken off proudly in full view) and sling it up over the rafters where it will live for the remainder of its bra life. You can shop for unique clothing, including a new bra, that you’d never find anywhere else, visit art galleries and eat ice cream at the Baskin Robbins where my son worked after school. Evergreen still has Fourth of July parades down Main Street where the street lamps are festooned with flower pots and America flags. Bikers show up and line their Harleys up against the wooden rail outside the Little Bear exactly where stagecoaches used to tie their horses. The history of Evergreen is fascinating and available in many nicely done coffee table books. We loved it there.

About 20 years ago – maybe longer – the dam was repaired, in spite of skeptical minds, to be capable of withstanding a 100 year flood. This week we are there……as some one said in the news today, “This could be the one that brings us to our knees.”

I just heard this minute that the Evergreen dam is holding and safe, but uncharacteristically angry Bear Creek has taken out half of a parking lot located along its roaring and raging  banks, directly across from the Little Bear Saloon. When the water leaves Evergreen it has to race down through Bear Creek Canyon – one of many canyons that pierce the mountains and enabled early settlers to travel west. These canyons are steep-walled and deep. If you would like to read about just one of them, Google the Big Thompson Flood which occurred back on July 31st, 1976, the first year we lived in Evergreen. As the mountain rain water accumulated in a surreal, film visual effects- type event and then picked up speed while careening down from higher elevations, it raced thunderously down the Big T canyon like a liquid freight train monster, widening out in some places and narrowing again at the tight canyon curves where, since it could not be wide, the water had to deepen up, scouring the steep rocky canyon walls of their higher mountain residences along with trees and rocks and mud. This all happened in a flash – thus the term flash flood. Resulting in total devastation.

Last night I experienced one of those reverse phone call warnings coming across on my CELL PHONE! A screeching alarm telling me to head for higher ground. Thank God I am in a community that is perched on a lovely green hill – but the intersection just a mile away from me became an instant lake and the exit ramps from the highway to the street in front of my home were taken out by fast-rising water. They are gone.

Who would have thought this could happen in a city renowned for being 5280′ above sea level? It would seem that no water could accumulate here! In truth, all of our water drains into the South Platte River which runs directly to the Mississippi River and then to sea, where all good water needs to go. But the mud – that is an entirely different story. Like chocolate pudding with debris, it lingers and clogs and traps cars. It sucks things under. We are told to expect a brief respite from the water starting now, until late tomorrow night when it will return, we are told, with several more inches. But one thing of which I am sure – this has not brought us to our knees. Local news pictures are of course all about humans saving humans and people being generous. Animals being rescued and hot meals being cooked. Like others you see all over the world facing adversity, we’ll be fine eventually. The difference is – this is HERE. First time I have ever seen this up close and personal. And now  I have new appreciation for all those other people and what they endure. I thought I knew – I thought I could imagine – but I was not even close. Being wet and cold and homeless and thirsty for clean water, and hungry. Worried to the point of being sick about friends and relatives and kids and elderlies and animals. With no answers for days and days. OK I get it now like I never got it before.  I am living it now. That’s actually how an epiphany happens.

For fine news coverage of this Biblical flood, go to or search for KUSA  Denver

The Creative Epiphany – Does Your Creativity Have Soul?

framed154 16×20 Mixed media collage titled AFTER RAIN by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

The news today, in a segment on, brings encouragement and validation that one’s creativity does indeed improve and become enhanced rather than diminished through the decades of life. Your brain continues to form inventive paths of creativity, in many cases even more effectively than it ever has. This is your creative brain on youth – Incredibly alive and open to learning!!! Yahoo!!! Bring it on!!! – but this is your creative brain with some age on it – Wise, Experienced and Dense (in a productive way) with Creative Possibilities that you discover can be combined in innovative ways.

That has always made sense to me – as an artist, I plan to do my best work ever in the next few decades. It is a known “phenom” that artists become better as they age. Well of course they do – because when you combine life experience and soul with a constantly increasing skill level the result is usually a good one. Look at the big boys and girls in the world of art – Picasso. Wyeth, Frankenthaler, O’Keefe …. they didn’t really come into their own selves until later in life. The same is true of great writers. Great anythingers. Because it takes time – time to gel and percolate and bring things you have learned and absorbed over the years to the surface. Your surface.

People need to have their souls on display in their creative pursuits. Showing your soul comes easier as you age and evolve. At some point you make the gutsy decision to unapologetically hang it all right out there – as I said in my previous blog titled THE EVOLUTION OF YOUR CREATIVITY, available in my WordPress Archives, in regard to drastically changing the style of your art in your quest for stimulation, expression and evolution, just bleed it out and show people your personal DNA. Honesty goes hand in hand with age, and good art requires honesty…which equals soul.

Have you ever heard someone say, “That home is expensively decorated and superficially impressive but it is without a soul, like a hotel room. It doesn’t look like anybody interesting lives there.” With your creative pursuits you need to LIVE THERE. You need to shows signs of life. Or I heard this said recently, “I don’t like the food served at that place – it just has no soul.” Souls need to show up. Souls need to be present to win. We all see actors playing parts without a hint of soul. It never works. No Oscar for you. Houses and kitchens, living rooms, restaurants, gardens, studios, just as music and art and writing and cooking and all the other creative pursuits, need to have souls. What are the indicators of soul?

In my opinion they are :

Depth – Go deep and also go wide. Live your life 3 dimensionally. People are saying, recently, “Stay in your own lane.” An admonishment to behave and know your place! Well Hell No don’t stay in your own lane – take a road less traveled with your creativity! Be brave and be adventurous. Color outside the lines. Make a winding path instead of a straight one.

Experience – Display reflections of your experiences in your creative life, both good and sad and even bad. Show us your joy and your pain. Be real.

Weathering by the elements through years of use must be evident. Get some wrinkles. Marinate. But do not display an expiration date.

Honesty and authenticity are a must. Wisdom as well as street smarts. Character etched by personal knowledge. Make no excuses in your creativity.

Perfect imperfection is a fascinating thing – don’t be obsessed with perfection. Be vulnerable and make some mistakes. You are a human being. Just do it – don’t wait until it is perfect.

These are some of the things – the catalysts and conditions – that help art and other creative endeavors become brilliant and soaked with soul. You can’t fake having soul – ya either got it or ya don’t babe. Being a little older can only be good in this pursuit. Self-expression comes easier the older you get. Respect that. You have earned it, you own it and so do not apologize for it. You will want to be well remembered for your adventurous spirit and your soul.

The Creative Epiphany – Creativity’s Home


So much is said about the things that fuel creativity – travel, stimulating situations, color, scintillating conversations, people, films, unique situations of contrast,  even just a good night’s sleep. We who’s creativity thrives and continues to evolve, based upon  the endless supply of stimuli we absorb, are often asked where our ideas spring from and how we keep them from drying up. Just how early in life did that ball begin to roll? Someone asked me recently how it was for me, growing up. What were my earliest triggers for my own artistic gene to begin to bud, grow and burst into blossom? What do I credit with igniting this wild and ruthless lifelong pursuit of making things? Is it a voluntary phenomenon or am I powerless against the force of it? What is my relationship with creativity?

Powerless is what I am, a weak and compliant servant in its behalf. I will never stop inventing whole paintings, assembling beads, found objects and discarded items into new things, combining exotic papers on canvas, sewing, gardening, writing, designing and re-designing the arrangement of things in my home, inventing my own recipes, etc etc etc  – ad infinitum until the day I stop breathing. It is what I am about. I do it and I will always do it. I once had a husband who tried at various junctures to stifle this force in me, suppress it just a bit, deny it, doubt it, mold it to his liking and HIS whim – control it!! That effort was met with a DAVID-like force whenever it dared to rear its ridiculous little Goliath head. Creativity has kept prisoners confined for decades alive with hope as they scratch messages into solid granite. It has moved mountains and changed the earth with its ingenuity and imagination. Without it we as human beings are nothing.

If I cannot be creative, then just kill me now. It is my life’s work and my life’s play. It is in my genes. But it’s also in my heart and my soul…

It all began in a childhood home where I found wonder everywhere. Eight acres to roam, and no one caring if I was gone eight hours at a stretch exploring it. Trees to climb, creeks to wade in, hills to sled down, and places to build forts. An upstairs attic straight out of an Edgar Allan Poe story. A large barn with a hayloft  and a playhouse out in the horse pasture, a bunch of pets and other transitory animals to care for, a very large house with nooks and crannies that was by all accounts authentically haunted were all the deep tap root that stimulated my young imagination. I remember every single detail of that home of mine, every paint color on every wall, every piece of furniture in each of its twenty-six rooms. It is all so clear and so dear to me in my memory. I can still recall specific dinners we had there, friends we entertained, my first taste of the new and exotic pizza pie on a snowy winter night after sledding all day, sitting around the massive living room fireplace. The home was more than a mere house. It really did have a soul.

To all that  you add an endless supply of paper products coming my particular way from Grandpa’s furniture store – out of season wallpaper books, catalogues of artwork showing framed reproductions of old master paintings, scraps of fine fabrics saved for me by the ladies in the store basement who made custom drapes and bedspreads, and of course three levels of furniture in every style and personality.  With an available supply of scissors, crayons, paint & brushes, glue – and I had no choice but to answer that calling.

I am fortunate to have been raised in such an atmosphere of possibility. But the point here is, I will suggest that if you are creative in the arts or any other avenue, your earliest home had a great deal to do with it. If being creative and inventive is a path you chose for your entire life, your home of those early years planted the seed. Whether your home was precious or poor or somewhere in between, something about that fine home and the people in it nurtured you and fed you smoothies of creative juice. And you thrived on it and ran with that initiative. It made you who you are.

Now that I am living in Denver again I am able to spend many of my weekends with a dear friend who lives in the mountains just 45 minutes from where I live. The house where I visit is very much like the house of my childhood – not in style but in the magic it adds to my days spent there. It meanders, it surprises at every turn, it enfolds and protects and it makes me smile with pleasure at the visual stimulation it affords me. It’s various collections of things; its books, its music, its rugs, its art and its artifacts that inform me about tribes and people in far off places are all comforting and inspirational to me. I feel young and adventurous on its extensive acreage. We explore, we collect old relics and the bleached bones of animals, we find caves, we climb. By the time I return home again my imagination is re-fueled and ignited into a flickering orange flame of  high creativity that lasts me all week and beyond. My weekends spent there in the pines are like soul food to me and fire to my creativity, and those are gifts to cherish.

Whatever or wherever you might discover that lifts you up to new creative heights, feeds your artistic soul the rich fatty food of imagination, fills your fragile heart with wonder and delight, and sits you gently down again, each and every time, in a better place than before – well that is to be treasured. That would be called your homeplace, no matter whether you actually live there or not.

The Creative Epiphany – The Evolution of Your Creativity

DSC00133  Whether you are an artist, a designer, a writer, a musician, a chef, a dancer, a climber – whatever creative path you have chosen that tests yourself – your creativity reaches maturity at some point, given your particular set of skills and how far you are willing and capable of taking them. It has nothing at all to do with chronological age. You can be a fine painter and have mastered your craft by the time you are 40 or even earlier, or perhaps you do not reach artistic maturity until you are 68. But at some point, if you have been diligent about your skills, you feel that you have gained maturity in that particular expression. It does not really mean you have totally mastered all aspects of your craft – it simply means that your expression of it is leveling out to some consistent quality of predictable  goodness. You have reached your full potential, you are as satisfied as you will ever be with your mastery of the craft and you continue to float there, happy as a clam. OK.

The question then becomes, how innovative are you? Will you continue to bravely evolve? Evolution of your creativity is a whole different animal than maturity. Are you mature and stagnant or are you mature but still young at heart and adventurous? Are you stuck in achievement’s sweet success or are you gutsy enough to experiment beyond your comfort level and actually continue to evolve, risking raised eyebrows and looks of confusion in your loyal clientele when they witness the new direction? Will you continue to test yourself and question yourself? Many fine creative people will decide to stick with the known, resting on their laurels, maybe even talking about them incessantly, rather than putting their established reputation on the line and offering the world a fresh, new idea.

It might seem as if an artist, for example, who changes his/her style dramatically and almost overnight has lost his mind, because as a general rule an artist’s  voice evolves gradually over time…. people can track the subtle changes over the years and see them up close in retrospective shows. They can see things coming – they are never too surprised because nothing very drastic has happened. If that artist is thinking outside the box only in the back of his/her mind, down through the years, he perhaps has always considered a second style of expression without doing anything about it.

But many fine artists are multi-faceted and jump from one media and style to another. You know their famous names. Rarely, except in the case of the creative genius, does that happen almost over night and unexpected, but it does occasionally occur. And it has nothing to do with the number of years that have passed or the level of maturity. I will offer my opinion here that most often a giant, somewhat shocking creative leap of faith is purely emotional in origin, set off by some set of circumstances that happen to that artist that  scream CHANGE to him/her. Implementing and revealing that change through creative arts becomes almost involuntary and reactionary – it is after all, an expression, a vision, an epiphany of sorts, the cause of an effect, a previously unuttered  statement. It reveals things, often resulting in shock and awe. How exciting! How stimulating! What a great surprise! Who knew?

In the extremes, dramatic change can signal the end of a long struggle, and the re-emergence of bright optimism. It can also signal the entry into sadness or depression… chances are, the observers will know which it is, or that it falls into the gray areas between. Everyone has a story to tell about how their styles evolved and what the catalysts were for those morphs into the unknown, uncharted territory of new creative expression. We should applaud them for opening a vein and bleeding it all out there. That requires courage and adrenaline because it involves private information of personal internal change.  Your creativity is a visual diary, after all. Use it or lose it. Show it so we know it. Be yourself. Be authentic. Hide little. Share. That is true creativity at its best.

For some examples of stories illustrating this subject, read my book THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY by Jo Ann Brown-Scott available on, in particular the chapter by Southwest artist Randy Pijoan, titled “My Majenta Return.”