Buffalo Bill Days in Golden, Colorado

Welcome to some snippets from Buffalo Bill Days in Golden, Colorado!

Nestled into the foothills just outside of Denver is the authentically western hamlet of Golden, home to the world famous COORS Brewery, the Colorado School of Mines with its giant M on the side of the mountain and the grave of Buffalo Bill located on nearby Lookout Mountain. This slice of Americana came alive last weekend with the parade and festivities celebrating Buffalo Bill Cody. Norman Rockwell would have loved to be there – so many charming homes, Clear Creek running fast through downtown all colorfully confettied with Kayakers and tubers floating along and laughing children everywhere. The local Golden Retriever population was out in force to honor their namesake town. We became caught up in the craziness purely by accident, arriving Saturday morning for what we had planned as a day of plein air painting. But there was no escape after we got to town; who could resist such fun! As you can see, we got so into it that it became inevitable that we commemorate the cowboy genre all around us…..

It is times like these that enrich our lives as we rediscover our childlike wonder and enthusiasm. If you read my new book titled YOUR MIRACULOUS, TIMELESS CREATIVITY, The Care and Feeding of Your Creative Gifts you will understand the importance of tapping into your inner youth, because in doing that your creativity will be re-ignited and amplified. If you would like to keep your creative soul alive and on fire for all the decades of your life do pick up a copy of my book and read all about yourself! All types of creative people – artists, writers, dancers, singers, actors, designers, athletes, chefs – are eager to stay at top performance.

How does one manage to do that for an entire lifetime? Read and you will find yourself  in the pages!

Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle!

Jo Ann Brown-Scott

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Questions Answered – Find Yourself in the Pages

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From the author of The Creative Epiphany…Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations

YOUR MIRACULOUS, TIMELESS CREATIVITY

The Care and Feeding of your Creative Gifts

By Jo Ann Brown-Scott

What is it that drives your creativity forward, year to year, decade to decade? Where does the energy originate? What fuels it? What is mojo? Does it dwindle over time or gain strength? Does age matter? How can you possibly sustain creativity at its best level of performance over an entire lifetime? What do you do if it begins to fade and falter?

The mystery of creativity’s timeless energy is explored and explained here.

Creativity is a hunger for expression. You might feel it as a yearning, a passion, a desire or a dull ache to get something done. You want to say something, invent something, sing, dance or perform, paint or write or cook. You might want to teach, volunteer your expertise or compete for a gold medal or trophy.

Creativity is a wonder. As an artist of any persuasion your life mission is to inform others of the wonders of the world, however simple or magnificent they might be. You relish that assignment because you like to wake people up to life. You are a see-er, an observer; you thrive on the interpretive reporting of whatever you notice, nuanced or enormous. You are the vehicle for that job. You create, you perform, you compete, you express. You bring attention to what you do. You and the unique way that you live your life and what you do creatively ARE one of the wonders of the world.

Perhaps you excel at a skill and you must find a way to keep one-upping your own performances. You might want to tackle a project or pursue a talent for the sake of the recognition it brings or just for yourself and the intrinsic joy of accomplishment, answering to no one. Is it hot fame or building a lifetime legacy of quality and character that fuels your fire? What is your thing?

Your creativity is shaped and defined by your unique DNA plus everything you do, what you see, what you read, what music you like, where you go, who you know, what you taste, what you swallow, what you wear, where you decide to live and everything you smell, feel, think, dream and touch and your very attitude about life. All of the above become the map of exactly who you are. The ways in which you are creatively gifted write the documentary of our life.

The biggest creative accomplishment you can make is to live your life enthusiastically and well, creating a story of choices and accomplishments that build your character and express your gratitude for the time you were given to be alive.

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Available now on Kindle and in paperback on AMAZON.com

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Returning…with gifts

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Hello again!

Apparently I can’t Blog and write a book and chew gum all at the same time, because once I began seriously writing my new book everything else fell off the to-do list. I have been busy.

My gift to all of you creative friends is my new book.

This book is all about YOUR MIRACULOUS, TIMELESS CREATIVITY and the ways you can keep it alive and hot through all the decades of your life. Life is unrelenting, if you are lucky. It goes on and on and maybe you will live to be one hundred years, or more. Maintaining and thriving within the world of activities you feel passionate about is the key to happy longevity. The quality of your long and arduous life journey is dependent upon how resilient you are…how able you are to withstand and overcome the inevitable adversity that will come your way. Creativity is what carries you through. Every one of us must have a passion and a desire for expression. The love of doing something that is fulfilling and intellectually exciting is critical to our human-ness and our mental health.

This book is for the people who want to remain vital and alive – dancers who become one with the dance, writers who cannot stop writing, designers who never run out of ideas, singers, mountain climbers, artists, photographers, poets, chefs, weavers and wonder-ers, cabbages and kings…..

This book is timeless and ageless, offering playful suggestions and serious observations about creativity’s place in your life. It is not a book about growing old – it is about staying young at heart. It is relevant to any time of life because it is about not losing  your spirit and your youthful approach. That can happen when you are 21 or 71.

If you are here on earth to create, you are going to learn from this book. If your passion is there but your mojo is not, you have a problem. Learn how to prevent that sad occurrence before it settles into your days and nights. Simple child-like habits and rituals can save your creativity from extinction. If you can remain curious and awake, always questioning and wondering, forever young at heart and grateful for your life you will stay productive and enthusiastic about the life you have been given. Your gifts of creativity are the offerings you make in gratefulness for life itself.

Available on Amazon.com and Kindle by July 1.

You can also special order it from your local bookseller.

http://www.artistjoannbrown-scott.com

http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

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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

Waiting on the World to Change

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The lyrics of this John Mayer song ( from his 2 CD album titled “Where the Light Is” ) keep monopolizing my mind space, underlying every daily routine, haunting my thoughts like a benevolent ghost reciting a mantra. Other lyrics included in this selection of songs are also meaningful to me and play significantly in my mind – “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” for instance. I doubt Mayer, in 2008, could have foreseen the state of the world and its rapid dissent into the chaos in which we now find ourselves, but you never know. The artists, the musicians, the writers, the poets, the dancers, the dreamers and the writers of songs are often the canaries in the gold mines of our minds and our world, are they not?

It is difficult to sustain creativity under and against the weight of such difficult times as these, but we must. It takes more work but we must express our recognition of current events whether that means being a brilliant light in the darkness or recording your misery from your unique place inside the darkness. If you prefer to paint in direct denial of the times, then by all means do that, and your enlightened, uplifting  images will offer people refuge in the storm. If you prefer to paint in direct opposition to what is happening in the world, screaming and capturing the chaos and the mayhem then by all means do that as well. You might feel one way on Monday and a totally different way by Friday morning. There is room for white or black and all points in between. Life is way more than 50 shades of gray, by the way. Whether you are a painter, a writer or a photographer – express yourself in the authentic voice of who you are at any given moment in time. You just have to do that, even if it shocks and stuns. You are the barometer of the weather you are experiencing;  what you record is a journal of your personal progress and your ability to cope in the complex world surrounding you. Express it; just bleed it out. It is all a part of the universal picture.

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

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The Confetti that is Trinidad, Cuba

Trinidad is a gutsy but laid-back lady of many moods and faces – she has a twinkle in her lovely eye, lives with constant music, she loves Americans, she enjoys a hearty laugh, she offers you her roof-top restaurants and a day at the beach, she has contemporary art for your viewing pleasure hung on old painted fresco walls because she likes the contrast of the very old with the brand new, she becomes one loud and crazy broad when the sun goes down and she dances and sings with wild abandon. You would love her – she will become your best friend in Cuba. She knows everyone!

We took a bus trip across country of such deep green density and beauty that it took our breath away and reminded us of Hawaii…wandering valleys and streams, endless rolling hills toward distant mountains, and finally into the beachy little coastal village of Trinidad. Our Casa Particular hostess had walked to the bus station to meet us, greeted us by name from pictures she had seen of us on Air B&B, and led us back to her home with white grillwork fronting the street and then directly through the door to her life. The magical little world we entered was colorful, to say the least, with grape vine roof over head (and clusters of hanging purple grapes ) on the secluded outdoor patio,  a tiny but comfortable air-conditioned bedroom behind a window-paned door, and a newly tiled luxury bathroom, all to ourselves. (see photos in my gallery with this blog)

We could not wait to get acquainted with Trinidad. Such contrasts – the shops with fresh hams hanging in the open windows, the bread delivered daily along each skinny street by a horse-drawn buggy clop-clopping along and a guy yelling “PAN! PAAANNNOOOO!”, the stray dogs and cats, the music coming from several homes at once, the garlic salesman, the produce guy with his cart on the corner, the old ladies hanging out of windows watching as we passed, the 2 amigos posing for my camera as one says “Amigos!” and loops his arm around the others shoulder. It was all as if from a storybook.

Trinidad gave us one particular treasure we will never forget – Manuel G.- a hysterically funny guide who we enlisted to drive us around for about 2 days, including a day trip to sugar plantation country where we saw ruins being restored of an old but very extravagant mansion house accompanied by a slave village just a few hundred yards away from the house in a grove of trees. A tall bell tower for keeping watch on the entire operation was strategically placed so that there were no slave escapees. In the event of that occurrence, the bell was rung and other plantations for miles around knew that there was a runner; everyone dropped what they were doing and gave chase until he or she was tracked down and returned. We saw exactly where the sugar was distilled in gigantic copper pots and the ingenious process that made use of every single part of the sugar cane plant so that wealthy families in America and Europe could enjoy the new imported sweetener that was sugar. When it was discovered that rum could also be manufactured from sugar cane, the wealthy plantation owners became even richer. I will do another blog with pictures of this plantation…

In the several hours spent with Manuel as he drove us around in his AC car, we were treated to some crazy funny conversations about women, marriage, old cars, new cars, and Cuba in general, frank as frank can be in a car where no one could be overheard. You do not want to say anything about the Castro brothers where you might be overheard by the Policia and they are always listening. But with everyone we met, humor is firmly intact in the Cuban people and it is brutally honest at times, because if you are sick and tired of crying and complaining about the dictatorship and the food rations and the impossibility of ever getting off the island, you try your best to make it funny.

I would be glad to provide links to Casa Particulars that we used on this trip if you can manage to get my email address and contact me personally – I do not want to get any Cuban in trouble by mentioning them by name in a blog where I talk so openly about my strong distaste for the dictatorship.

The long, nearly deserted beach just outside downtown Trinidad is gorgeous in its privacy and simplicity. But we were way to busy for the beach. We are both artists. We soak stuff up like giant sponges and take pictures until our arms fall off and we talk in paint color language. The confetti colors of Trinidad are there for us.

For music – and I do mean !MUSIC! – that is authentically Cuban and nearly free almost every night please, please go to Café de la Musica, with its large outdoor stage situated at the side of some wide old stone steps just off the main plaza. You cannot miss it by late afternoon, if you are wandering around looking for a place to have some cocktails and have dinner later. You will hear it! You will feel the ground vibrating! Or just ask anyone… The band and singers number 11 or 12 guys and gals and they are energy personified. You sit at café tables on the steps and order whatever you want to drink and you might be there for hours on end. The people watching is magnificent and the entertainment is the best we had in Cuba. One little snapshot in this gallery does not do it justice.

Our best sunset dinner in Trinidad was eaten on the rooftop terrace of a restaurant near Café de la Musica – there are several rooftop hot spots in that area – just pick one and go with it. They are probably all good. We ate grilled shrimp, onions &black beans with dark rice of some kind, vegetables, shrimp cocktails, bread and salad with flan for dessert. It was delisioso. Of course we continued our research about where to find the best Mojito in all of Cuba, an extensive study requiring hours and hours of dusk time and beyond into the dead of night.

to be continued…..

…and then we went to Cuba

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” And you came to Cuba so you could touch it with your eyes,” said our unforgettable friend and guide of two days, Manuel Gonzalez of Trinidad, Cuba.

Never before in my personal writing history, including this blog and the three books I have published, have I felt the burning need to get out of bed in the middle of the night and put down words. Until now. I don’t want to lose the freshness of my impressions about Cuba; its lush verdant scenery, its grand but crumbling Spanish colonial cities reminiscent at times of both New Orleans and Mexico, its mysterious Mafioso ties to America and the hotels where “doze guys” partied on trips down from Miami, its sexy music, its beloved Ernest Hemingway whose books are still studied in Cuban schools, its crazy, off-the-wall humor and its brave, kind and endlessly resourceful people who get up every day and make the most of a difficult situation. Emotional evidence of the Revolution is plentiful; reminders of Cuba’s tumultuous history and its love affair with Che Guevara are alive around every corner of the Havana city streets and in the other cities we visited. The history of Cuba is sad and offers little hope of change under the Castro regime, but its people maintain a joyful Spanish facade. We see the motto Tu Ejemplo vive, Tus Ideas Perduran – your example lives; your ideas last  posted in many places with Che’s picture. Che is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of the Cuban people.

When they thought Batista’s dictatorship was brutal, they soon learned that Castro certainly did not have the welfare of the people in mind when he grabbed power for himself. Learning in conversations with the people of Cuba about how the current dictatorship and how the embargo (which by the way is still in effect, even though our President announced that it is lifted – it has not yet opened anything up for the Cuban people expect USA tourism)  applies to their everyday lives was enlightening in ways I never expected… sitting with people in their homes and eating delicious, generous portions of hand-prepared food from spotless Cuban kitchens during our Casa Particular ( Air B&B) stays was priceless. Every family is given a monthly ration of food – basics – eggs, 1 chicken per family, flour, sugar, beans, rice, milk. The “frills” such as produce, cookies – whatever else a family might need must be provided with income so pathetically small that we wondered how anyone could ever make ends meet. The bottom line to every detail of Cuban life is genius invention, constant recycling, trading among friends and helping each other. As our guide Manuel said, “If you can ever get the money together to afford a new car in Cuba, you are in big trouble! You will never be able to find parts for it!” Most of the iconic candy-colored older cars for which Cuba is known manage to be kept running with parts from China and Korea.

When people asked us where we were from they were excited and instantly curious about where in America. OH! Wow! Colorado! Mountains? Snow? Of course other countries have been traveling to Cuba for years and so the Cubans see tourists from Europe, China, South America, Sweden, Great Britain, etc but Americans hold a special place in the hearts of Cubans. “Americans are good people – Cubans are good people! What’s the problem? What took you so long? You need to all come and visit us. We love America!”

From Havana we traveled east by bus for about 5 hours through rolling, thickly forested hills set against distant mountains on our way to Trinidad, a charming village on the southern coast of the island where homes are the paint colors of Cuba – lavender, yellow, sunset pink, citrus orange…red, blue…old old homes often as tiny as an American walk-in closet and usually just a story or two, but oozing personality and radiating happiness. Music starts in the morning and continues through the old narrow streets all day long as we walk and roam. Speaking now with an artist’s voice, Trinidad is nirvana for painters. The ancient textures of stone and brick, peeling paint, iron grillwork painted white or left black, potted flowers and greenery – hidden patios and secret nooks where cats sit in the sun – carriages pulled by one horse clop-clopping on cobblestone streets and guys selling bread up and down every skinny street in the early morning. All this and the deep Prussian Blue Caribbean as a bonus. This is the Cuba I loved the most.

Outside Trinidad we were fortunate to visit the ruins of an old sugar plantation, including slave quarters and the current restoration of the big mansion itself to its former glory with its Italian Cararra marble floors and painted frescoes. We saw where and how the sugar cane was refined, the enormous copper pots where they boiled it down and the ways they used the leftover pulp. We learned about the daily lives of the slaves, who were shipped in from all over the world to begin working at age 4-5, and the tall white stucco tower built for the only purpose of keeping watch over the slaves in a landscape of tall sugar cane. When a slave was observed running away, the tower bell was rung and slave owners for miles around took that as a warning and a signal to drop everything and search for the escapee.

Cien Fuego (100 fires) was our next destination, a morning’s drive west of Trinidad – Cuba is a big island so we saved far eastern Cuba for another time… Cien Fuego is quite different than Trinidad, with an outdoor mall of nice shops and some great restaurants on roof tops and terraces. Mojitos flow, and if you know even some of the words you might be asked to sing with band…oh my god!  I had a lot of authentic Cuban food while on the island, but the best spaghetti I ever ate in my life was in Cien Fuego. But – the outskirts are very poor, the hovels are dirt-floored and similar to those we saw in rural Cambodia. Horses, cows, cats and dogs are brittle and emaciated, skin over bone; the people are painfully dulled of any signs of a happy life. I was terribly upset by what I saw there, just a few blocks away from the city. I actually had to fight my impulse to get out of the car and start handing out money, as small a difference as that would have made for just a day or so.

In Cien Fuego on the main plaza is a lovely old mansion that has been made an art gallery – the inside of the building itself was as interesting as the art. Contemporary Pop Art set against centuries’ old frescoes and floors was a fascinating contrast. The art scene in Cuba is quite active – the dictatorship subsidizes artists to some extent. But we talked to many artists and a tiny tube of paint the size of a child’s little finger is the equivalent of 15 dollars. We do believe that studio space might be cheap, however, because there were some wonderful old buildings with spacious art studios in them. The art ranges from realism to abstract, as one would expect, and I am happy to say that mixed media has made a bit splash in Cuba! Very nice examples were to be found in every genre and I bought a few small pieces. Many Cuban artists have been educated formally in fine art and art history, some outside of Cuba. Art is respected and artists are prolific, turning out a lot of work – we have no idea if any of them are making a living at it however. One artist we met was  lawyer. Doctors, lawyers and other professional people are paid by the state, and many of them have free time to do other things, we learned.

This is only my first installment about our trip to Cuba. The subject of Cuba is vast enough for 10 blogs and I will be writing other posts about it in the days to come. I took over 1000 pictures and am attempting to categorize them for easy access while writing. The people of Cuba are very pleased to know that so many of us here in the USA are interested in their lives. We noticed a lot of people on cell phones in Cuba but only in WIFI hotspots – just a few wealthy families actually have internet access. Public internet is still a few years away but things are changing very rapidly there now. They are quite aware that the next Revolucion with be in communication and they are also aware that it could be both the good news and the bad news, because they want Cuba to remain unspoiled.

The country of Cuba is in dire need of money to save its infrastructure, because it is centuries’ old and falling down around them. The tax money the Cubans pay goes…..where? Nothing gets done. I could go on and on…but for now I will leave you with my humble thoughts and my cherished photos of a place I now love.

to be continued…