Simple Things That Stir My Soul

      Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

From This to That…..Read to the end please.

This time of year brings a powerful emotional rush for me, with blessings in such abundance that the ride from Thanksgiving until New Years Eve feels like one long continuous smile through teary eyes of gratefulness. I am a simple girl at heart, not very high maintenance I have been told. It is because I am an artist – it is ALL wondrous to me, the small is way more intricate than the big. Every day brings joy and wonder at all the goodness still in evidence in this tumultuous, troubled, wounded world. Every tiny thing stirs my soul. Every song, every kind word, every demonstration of love and giving melts me right down to a tender mess. During the holiday season, the common becomes the extraordinary; all that is good and true becomes magnified and more important in my eyes. Every moment is a reminder of how fortunate we all are to be where we are and who we are in a country of opportunity and bounty; we are all well aware of the alternatives.

I will always and forever be moved by the stark imagery of a red barn in the snow. It travels me back in time to my youth spent on eight magical acres in the country, when we lived in a huge enfolding mother of a home and Santa’s sleigh landed on the roof.

I am brought full speed to happiness by the giggles of little children waiting for Santa, opening gifts, bundled up against the snow, eating holiday cookies and finally snuggling in for bed on Christmas Eve.

I can tear up making mashed potatoes when I am suddenly aware of how many Christmases I have been fortunate enough to make them for a mob of partying people arriving through my door. I am so grateful to have survived all this time. I am so grateful for people who enjoy coming to my home.

I am amazed when the simple glass globe that changes colors and acts as a nightlite for  my laundry room (it really deserves a better location)  becomes the single most fascinating object in my home, (amid piles of new markers, crayons, coloring books) for my three precious nieces. I wish I had gotten a picture of them clustered around it, oooing and ahhhing….it was priceless.

I am struck by the panorama of the Rocky Mountain range spread out before me in snow-covered majesty against a deep blue sky, clear as a bell and sparkling in the late November sun. It is a scene I am treated to every time I drive through the entrance of the community I call home, and it makes my return from the most mundane errands a constantly changing artistic delight. That view is my barometer of weather rolling in and many times a barometer of the mood I am in. How can one not be inspired and humbled by that enormous landscape? It puts you right in your place if you are feeling the slightest bit grumpy. It straightens you up and makes you fly right as my mother would say.

I am ever-awed by the surprises that come my way, both great and small, during this giving season. I also happen to have a late November birthday, lumped in with Thanksgiving and Christmas and so I am also facing the fact that I am in the late fall of my life both literally and metaphorically. No need to remind me – I am well aware of the years, thank you very much. Winter is just around the corner. I can already hear the wind howling as it gets closer and closer. Anyone who is fortunate to have reached this point relatively unscathed asks herself or himself a lot of questions. I mean a LOT of questions….you become rather introspective. And quite philosophical. Wondering…how many Christmases are left…wondering how many of all the “this and thats” you might have left. What is to come? It is not always pretty up there in your mind’s eye. You welcome diversions.

I am fortunate to be blessed with an old-soul daughter, a rare and wise and fun daughter who is beautiful both inside and out, in my life who takes great pleasure in stunning me – shocking me – rendering me speechless and babbling like a goofball with monumental surprises beyond my wildest dreams! The most recent surprise (in a long list of events and occasions that scroll through the attic of my mind) first unfolded with a request to play a silly little game of rhymes, followed by the big realization when the answer was revealed, then chaos in my mind and dumbfounded confusion about how it had all been planned so carefully behind my back, complete with a Fed Ex delivery to my door with mysterious envelopes to open over a week’s time…….a plane ticket and more! It finally sunk in that I am being sent away to Paris for a week, accompanied by a dear friend (in on the planning) since my daughter was busy meeting deadlines with her job and could not get away. This is a wild dream that had been eliminated from any dreams (for one reason or another) I had for this particular year of my life! It is a rather large birthday I am facing. It makes me gulp. This surprise is large enough to match the numbers and now my gulps will be of wine. For an art major and fanatical fan of Da Vinci, Notre Dame, the Eiffel and all that is France, this will be heaven. I am crazy with anticipation.

I have learned more from this darling daughter of mine than I could ever have taught her myself. She was born Yoda-wise. I saw it in her baby eyes when she was born.

She believes deeply in the giving of experiences. She knows that there is great value in giving memories, because those will entertain and  warm you in the long winter of life to come when your ability to find adventure and action packed days is no longer a possibility. She finds ways to fill my bucket list and stoke my fire of a life well lived, so the embers will burn for a very long time. It must also be mentioned that her old-soul Renaissance Man husband is very much a part of this picture, also loving the fine art of the surprise! Thanks so much for this birthday gift! I will do it up right I promise!

Eiffel Tower by night

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Corner

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This week’s Photo Challenge brought back so many memories of travels to Siem Reap Cambodia where every street corner is jam-packed with so much visual stimulation that it takes a while to digest each one. Layers and layers of texture, color and pattern….and in nearly every photo I, the artist, see an abstract composition. There is usually a path for your eye to follow, a focal point, and places for your eye to rest….in layer upon layer of surface and depth. As with abstract art, if you divide the image into quadrants, each square stands well on its own as a fascinating composition.

Photo Challenge: COLLAGE

via Photo Challenge: Collage

I work primarily with paper collage and found objects, and have since I was a fine art student at CU in Boulder, Colorado during the 60’s when the process was relatively new in university fine art classrooms. Fortunately for me, U. of Colorado had a handful of cutting edge professors whose experimentation epitomized iconic 60’s art. Picasso, Raushenburg and other prominent artists worked in collage in the 20th century and became our inspiration and our guides; often using wood, scraps of metal, nails and other found objects to create compositions with heavy emphasis on color, pattern and texture. In my college art classes we had no special materials available to us and so we used newspaper, kindergarten glue, old tissue, wrapping paper, string and brown manila paper bags. We used rubbish, basically. We loved the process and we were innovative and excited with it. Among other pieces I completed a 3×4 ft canvas collage with powerful color and deep texture, titled Chicago Fire, which I kept for years and then my brother- in-law asked to have it so I gave it away…. sad.

I have also taught collage, and explained my techniques and my passion for the process to eager and imaginative adult students whose eyes were opened to the magical art of cutting, tearing, painting and layering exotic papers from around the world.

“Abandon your pre-conceived notions about traditional fine art and begin a mixed media journey where improvisation, freedom from boundaries, self-discovery and originality are valued higher than any predictable destination.”  – Jo Ann Brown-Scott

Fine art mixed media collage is not decoupage, is not scrap-booking, will not work well using  Elmer’s glue and does not work well with watercolor or oil paints. Since collage has morphed and changed and re-invented itself through the years, even centuries,  there are now available many new products for the sole purpose of creating collage. Acrylic paints are by far the best media to use. Liquitex Matt Medium is your glue. I work on canvas, not paper, because paper buckles and warps under the wet glue. I get my collage papers from fine art stores that sell gorgeous handmade papers from around the world, but I am also constantly on the hunt for unusual and marvelous handmade papers that I discover in all types of shops – wonderful tissue papers, fancy paper shopping bags and  packaging can be found everywhere but especially so in other countries as you travel.

Collage is a re-cycling art where papers, cards, old jewelry, small stones, shells and items you have saved for years simply because you love them can find homes in a fine art creation that not only gives your favorite things new life and purpose but display a creation that is unique to you and your personal experiences.

My collage creations range from small to gigantic and I have sold them in galleries across many western states. There is currently a mixed media collage market out there that will astound you once you know what to look for and ask for as you visit fine art galleries. Art stores carry many instructional books on the subject. You need not have any artistic experience to learn the technique and begin your collage journey – there are no rules – only techniques to understand and materials to acquaint yourself with that work for you. It is a highly serendipitous art form – happy accidents and new discoveries are common. Improvisation is the key. Freedom from any hard and fast rules is the norm. It is all about letting go. Therapeutic it is.

No two collages are ever alike – they are like snowflakes. If you layer the paper and paint and build texture and repeat, tearing your papers rather than cutting them because a torn edge is so beautiful, then over-lapping them again in some areas, painting on each layer as you build texture  – well you can seldom go wrong. It is fun and rewarding!

Jo Ann Brown-Scott – artist and author

http://www.thecreativeepiphany.com      www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

Book – The Creative Epiphany, Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations – non-fiction narrative about life-changing epiphanies in creativity

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Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Weekly Photo Challenge: Frame

Moroccan Door

For this week’s Photo Challenge: FRAME  I choose this painting in mixed media collage that I did many years ago but which I still refer to at times for the texture and enigmatic composition. I believe the door is Moroccan; I painted it from a photograph.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/frame

What Bear Problem?

  

First photo courtesy of artltdmag.com –  Second photo courtesy of democraticunderground.com

Denver does not have a bear problem – oh well we have the occasional lost cub hiding in a suburban tree or perhaps a “repeat offender garbage raider” who loves going through the yummy garbage placed for pick-up on rural roads, but other than that, we are good. Oh, except for that one time at the weekend retreat in Conifer, just 20 minutes up the canyon from Littleton suburbs west of Denver, when a medium-sized rascal stood on his hind feet and placed his muddy front feet on the kitchen door so that he could look through the window in the door to see if he had found the correct room where the fridge is located, (because the smarter bears have figured out which room in the house has that tall box full of delectable gourmet delights)…that was before he tried to break in through a living room window by slapping those same muddy paws repeatedly on the glass…. But he wasn’t being nasty. Just hungry. Everyone in the foothills and larger mountains west of Denver has bear stories, and usually they know their bears…and have perhaps named them…because mama bears come back every year and bring their cubs. Generations of cubs.

Tahoe people have the best bear stories; those bears are quite sophisticated about the layout of mountain homes and whether or not anyone lives in certain ones  year-round or just in certain months. They know that a car in the driveway might mean the seasonal arrival of the family who brings the groceries. After all, there is no use breaking into a home unless the fridge has been well stocked. They also know which yards have apple or plum trees and they teach their cubs the map of that vital information.

And now you also have a bear story – this whimsical 40′ sculpture by Lawrence Argent was installed at 14th and California in downtown Denver in 2005. The Big Blue Bear, as everyone in Denver affectionately calls him, is pressing his nose to the glass in order to peer into the third floor interior of the Denver Convention Center, and the title of the popular sculpture is “I See What You Mean.” For more photos and information go to Google or Bing and ask for images…of the Big Blue Bear. He has quite a fan club.

 

   Photo courtesy of forum.xcitefun.net

Summer 2016

The photos above are my own – the first one is the vista taken from Mt. Lindo (the mountain with the enormous lighted cross) looking east toward the distant Denver skyline, with highway #285 winding its way west toward Conifer – a weekend journey for me, up that canyon to the place in the pines that I love best. (referenced in my new novel, A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON – AMAZON & KINDLE).

The second view is Evergreen lake, the third is the meadow across from Meyers Ranch in Conifer near where we hike, and the last is our little doe making herself at home in the sheltered spot surrounded by rocks just outside the studio window.

Summer 2016, from the ridiculously funny to the sublime and everything in between, is about half over and has already been logged as one of my personal best. I find my peace in the mountains. And yes, my blogs have been few this summer, but that does not mean I am uncommunicative. I am incubating new ideas. I am on fire to write another book (I have no control over this urge to write – it is an animal that needs constant feeding) but so far I am just making notes. I am also painting, which is quite similar to writing…requiring color, pattern and texture in the composition…focal point, sub-plots and sub-areas,  interesting detail and dialogue. The process for each creative endeavor uses much the same principles, and of course you must also open yourself up and bleed it all out. You have to be unselfconscious in your desire to share.

We are attending summer concerts, art festivals and galleries, having friends visit us, painting both in the studio and plein air, checking out the Little Bear Saloon to make sure it still rocks (it does), the Lavender Festival and exploring back roads on the Harley. We have had a Colorado, stay-at-home kind of summer, but we have big plans for Fall. Every breath I take I am reminded that these are my Halcyon years, now in the final chapter of my life. I cannot ask for more than this, nor would I want to. My extended world is not perfect – people I love dearly are battling cancer, friends have painful family issues to deal with and the world here and abroad seems to have lost its fucking mind. Chaos and unpredictability rule the day. But somehow I have found a degree of peace, relieved of most of the stress…and removed…to a place both mental and geographic…that I love. I recommend that you do the same. Cheer Up! Do what you can with what you have got, and make yourself some happy.

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That Which Stirs My Soul

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I had an experience last weekend that sent chills down my entire body for almost 48 hours straight….and then left me with a life-long memory of a spectacular cultural event that stirred my artistic soul like few others I have ever experienced. You see, I love Native Americans; I am fascinated and moved by everything to do with Indians. I have read many books, collected picture books, taken photos myself, purchased rugs and jewelry and baskets as evidenced in my home where it all combines quite well with my own contemporary abstract paintings and my African collection. I am a mix and match, ecclectic decorator.

My generous daughter booked us for the Native American Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque for the weekend, then an extra night in Santa Fe before we each flew out to our respective homes – she to Vancouver and I to Denver. I was thrilled, to put it mildly. I had been to several small pow wows through the years but nothing approaching this magnitude. Nothing with the pageantry of this.

During the opening ceremony, 2800 Indian men and women representing dozens of tribal nations in full dress filed into the arena to an almost deafening beating of drums and singing coming from several points on the arena floor. It was thunderous – it was chilling – it was visually stunning! The variety of regalia was magnificent! The fine artistry of it all was evident in the feathers, the fancy beaded garments and moccasins, the jewelry, the headdresses, the belts and accessories – all were fascinating and endless in their variations. My first photo above was the very beginning of just one row of Indians – they came from all corners of the arena, marching down the stairs between the seats to the floor below. I had never before seen such a huge gathering of tribes – Navajo, Cree, Seminole, Crow…the list went on and on. There were Indian names I had never heard. The energy was palpable; the history was right there before us and the language lives. I was told by a Navajo gentleman sitting next to me that the secret parts of tribal dances are never performed in public; they are kept only for private ceremonies in their own communities. But there was enough revealed in both song and dance to keep us enthralled for hours on end.

For the next two full days and evenings, then well into the wee hours of Sunday morning the dancing and the chanting and the drumming continued. There are many dances! The rain dance, the grizzly bear dance, the fancy dancers, the jingle dancers, the chicken dancers, the southern dancers, the summer dances and the grass dance – it goes on and on. The toddler dances, the under 5 dances,  the teenage girl and boy dances – then the young maiden dances and the Indian Princess dances followed by the bachelor dances. Prizes were awarded to the winners in all ages, from under five years to elders over seventy in all categories. Traditional gifts of thanks in the form of blankets, quilts, baskets and such are given to the extended family and supporters of the contest winners, as is the Indian custom. Winners are given gifts also, and cash prizes, and the great honor of being recognized by their peers.

I am filled with wonder and gratitude that I was given this experience. But then, if you knew my daughter you would not be surprised. She is extraordinarily insightful and generous; a believer in the priceless value of incomparable experiences, a world traveler, a fine travel photographer and a graphic artist. Her name is Kelly K. Heapy. Follow her blog at  http://www.compassandcamera.com and here on WordPress and you will certainly see her professional photographs of the Pow Wow event.You can also find her photography on Instagram and Twitter, as is mine which pales by comparison…..

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, artist and author

BOOKS – http://joannbrownscottauthor.com     http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com