Birthday Schmirthday

IMG_5015

I had to have another birthday last week. I am older than I have ever been and still dazed and confused about life much of the time, but doing fine. These birthdays can kill you. There were a couple days worth of celebration; cards, calls and lovely gifts mixed in with a few dark, unpleasant surprises, but such is life. It was a real birthday – real – not quite all love and laughter every single minute all the time. But that’s ok, I am ok and life goes on. Yesterday I had a birthday lunch and movie with a dear friend, tonight I am having a late celebration with an exceedingly important person in my life, and so the birthday beat goes on….beat beat beat, just like a heart.

I ran across several quotes this week that I happen to love so much that I wanted to share them with you. The one on the cover of the black book that I was given just yesterday, in the above picture, is stunningly true, and I know that because I have lived it. I guess we all have.

Here is the second one, from one of my favorite people for wise and wonderful quotes, Maya Angelou :

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

That can keep you thinking all day long, going over your life and remembering when you might have made that mistake. When you reach the upper birthdays you have probably, if you are getting older AND wiser, weeded some folks out of your days because they are no longer an enhancement to your life, for one reason or another. Life gets short, your days are numbered, you have a sense of urgency about how you will best spend your time remaining. If a certain someone is not ever contributing to the great good, you tend to see less of them, wanting to spend your days in positivity and appreciation for all the things that bring you to a good place, a place of comfort and joy.

Many Thanks to my brother, for sending me one of the most beautiful, original birthday greetings I have ever had. I will keep it and read it every year. Thanks to all my many friends ( including my blog friends whom I have never met) and relatives for remembering me and being the loving support that keeps me going, because it really does take a village, for your entire life. I value your words of wisdom and your ability to make me laugh. I have you in my life because you are all lights in my universe, and we all need to have light. You all influence how I paint, what I write about, what I say in conversation and what I believe in my heart to be true. We are all the sum of many parts, and I am the expression of the sum total of the people I surround myself with. So are you.

But you all probably already knew that, didn’t you?

 

 

Creative Thinking

 

  

photo of RUMI courtesy of: spiritualnotreligious.blogspot   Rumi art from glad.is

You know by now that I find many words of wisdom in the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi – a man who was born in the year 1207 in Afghanistan, which was at that time a part of the Persian Empire.  ( Just as a frame of reference, time-wise, the year that Michelangelo began painting the Sistine Chapel was 1511. ) Until the age of 37 Rumi was a brilliant scholar and teacher. His life changed dramatically when he came to know a wise, wandering man who was a dervish. Shams of Tabriz became a god to Rumi and with their friendship, for Rumi, there came a new kind of spiritual enlightenment.

One of my all time favorite quotes from Rumi is this, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

I have several of my own interpretation of that sentence, found by applying it to various situations. I will allow you to have yours….but I can assure you that the intent of the quote, coming from Rumi, can only be  good and purely spoken. It seems that no matter what my needs are at any given time for a meaningful quotation, I only need to open my Rumi book and one or more appropriate ones appear to me. His words are timeless.

I can absolutely apply this quote philosophically to life, to love, to any number of human conditions, to painting, or to any kind of creative endeavor. Simply put, it says that you must think outside the box and that there are no rights or wrongs in creativity, no mistakes, only the doing that comes with inspiration.

People always want to have creativity defined. Well that can’t be precisely done. There are so many aspects and variations and manifestations and incarnations of it that after a while it becomes lime green jello. But I would imagine that creative people – the most creative people – have a few things in common. Things both you and I have observed – not really mysterious things at all. Early indicators of exceptional creativity in young children include an extraordinary descriptive vocabulary, an attention to detail and laser focus not always found in small children, early reading, constant questions, taking things apart, risk taking, a love of adventure, building collections of beloved specimens and treasures such as bugs or stones, and endlessly searching for new ideas.

Creative ones of any age read a lot – voraciously. They challenge existing ideas. They are gifted beyond the norm with many talents; along with that goes an advanced intellectual ability and a higher IQ.  Therefore they can see or imagine multiple perspectives and they are always learning. They are generally quite imaginative, unusually curious, and in the time-worn phrase, they constantly think outside the box. They see the world in a unique way. They are less concerned with making mistakes and they acknowledge little wrongdoing – in fact there are no mistakes, only learning experiences.

I suppose creative thinkers can also be narcissistic,  eccentric in the extreme, endlessly amusing and  somewhat crazy but that discussion is for another time. That crowd is still out partying and have not come home yet.

Rumi says, “Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into the bowl of sky.”

And so….this is how it happens….the fire is re-lit

?????????? The Year Long Canvas BEFORE…..and AFTER (see below)

In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest, where no one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art. – Rumi

I woke up this morning newly-brave.

Born again into risk taking and artistic experimentation.

After about a month of YLC in-action I am ready to make my next big move on the YEAR LONG CANVAS, unapologetically and without a dot of hesitation. Something has kicked in and recharged me, and if I had to guess what that was, I think I would say that it had to be a perfect storm of things.  My glorious weekend in the mountains, a poem I received from a wise blogging friend who lives in Israel and is enduring the agony of that conflict, a Harley ride in the Sunday rain, the full belly laughter that I experienced on the phone with a friend, grown children who still love me – all of which are life affirming and reinforce for me the constant wonder and gratitude for the days and nights I am living. I am filled to the brim with life, wanting to value every day.

To be so fortunate is a miracle to me. I agonize for my friend in Israel. I feel deeply for friends and family who are suffering. The flip side of that is my determination to live my own life to its best potential, as a thank-you prayer to the universe. A joyful offering. I too have suffered, been miserable, lost people I loved, been disappointed and hurt by people who are still alive. I don’t live in a bubble. But I am not one who can hold on to pain and keep wringing it out of my days and nights when I am given a chance to let it go. And I have let it all go. It is just good Karma to remind myself of that every once in a while and have a little celebration.

Today I will do some things to the YLC with a “what the hell” attitude – geez I can always paint another painting – who do I think l I am, giving such weighty importance to a mere canvas? What is the worst that can happen? I very seldom ruin a canvas….

I am tired of avoiding it.

Today I welcome it and will confront it with a smile and a song. I knew I would be back. Told you so.

If you do not like what you see, or you are bored with this entire project, leave now. Or hang in here and  see what happens. You can refresh your mind about what I am doing on the YLC in my Archives if need be. I can assure you that whatever brushstrokes are done today will be made from a stance of positivity, as a prayer of thanks.  Nothing done in the name of my art will be angry. Strong vibrant color is a sign of joy and healthy strength, powerful compositions are confident and life-affirming. Thick paint and high texture indicate the need to feel things deeply and experience passion.

Abstract art is perfect for prayers to the universe; the art Buddha smiles.

YLCJU14 and AFTER, copyright July 2014 Jo Ann Brown-Scott – not yet titled

Art at the Speed of Life

recentfolder 013

Mixed Media Collage titled Life Weavings by Jo Ann Brown-Scott copyright 2014

It occurs to me that the Year Long Canvas of which I have been writing in my recent posts is humming along at the speed of life – one day at a time – with some days more attentively dedicated to it than others. What else can a painting ask for? I mean really, I have worked on many canvases for months, on and off, off and on, and at the end the best I can do is to call it DONE, with many unrealized possibilities for its final form still floating around in my brain. In my sleep. In my waking hours too. But I had reached my limit of endurance for working on it and so it stays where it is for all eternity…I have a long way to go before I make that decision on the Year Long Canvas.

All you can do in life is to take each day, doing the best you can, 24/7, under the circumstances of the situation you have to work with. That is the best scenario you can hope for with any of your endeavors. You cannot be expected to perform based on information you do not yet have….you have only the NOW’s worth of information to go on.

It you look back at any kind of big thing or event or occasion or circumstance in your entire life, (and this usually happens when you can’t sleep at about 3 am) and you begin to second-guess the way you handled it, questioning the decisions you made at the time, and believing that you might have done better in hindsight, try to remember all the extra-curricular stuff that was going on in your life at the time. Chances are you had a lot going on – a lot to deal with – many shades of gray to be considered. All of that factored in to the way you handled things at the time. There was more going on than just the activity in the center ring at your circus of life. You were juggling and trying to keep a lot of balls in the air.

So go easy on yourself. I am certainly trying to do that myself. Seems to me that our lives are all like paintings, and we have a lifetime to paint them with endless possibilities for the composition. We make choices based upon what we know at any given time.Then we make more alterations, more changes, more adjustments and we paint some more, eliminating the negativity and giving prominence to the positive. We brighten the color, then we tone it back down. We try new things or we revert to an old idea and make it new again. This is art at the speed of life and life at the speed of art. I think it’s all the same thing.

The Creative Epiphany – The Life-Support of Art

fresco2

Breathe deeply and open your senses to the wonders around you. Be alive!  Live in the now. You are a human being, able to lift yourself up through the joy of imagery. You are an emotional sponge – soak up what you need. Art is to be used – it is a tool for information and life enhancement, available at every turn.

Go to it when you need it. The beating art is your life support.

“The saving of lives, for an artist, is surely a daily act. Artists are resuscitators of dreams, rescuers of the abandoned, lodgers of the unwanted, and keepers of faith. In our lifesaving, we are saved. In polishing the souls of others, the artist polishes her own with her resurrections. She can’t help herself – giving life is the ultimate creative act. ‘As soon as there is life, there is danger,’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson. ‘I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I am not afraid of falling into my inkpot.’ ” 

Written by Sara, excerpted from the March 4th, 2014 Letter of Robert Genn, which I highly recommend for all of you who enjoy being enlightened about the creative life.

Here’s the link: http://clicks.robertgenn.com/save-a-life.php

To be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Robert Genn Letter, you can find out about it by going to www.painterskeys.com

From that website – Informed and successful artists and other creative folk from more than 115 countries visit this website for information, inspiration, artist advice, friendship and connectivity. Most have signed up to the Twice-Weekly Letters, which is FREE and we strongly encourage you to also subscribe to get the most benefit from this community. It has also been our goal to make this website an online resource of information for artists and a place to share with others what you are doing, such as through the Art Show Calendar, Art Workshop Calendar and Premium Art Listings. One of the most popular pages is the Art Quotes page, and we also share other things like a listing of Art Retreats available to artists, books, videos, and more.

I had to share this brilliant quote from Sara – her quote says so beautifully what is in the heart of every artist. Many people see us creative types as passive, introverted, perhaps even wimp-ish, but we are indeed the gutsy ones who smear our souls across canvas, following that brave effort by asking  for comments from perfect strangers. With our images we offer solace and comfort to the suffering, joy to the truly alive, hope to those who seek it and reassurance that life must go on. People who appreciate the artistic efforts of centuries discover all that and more.

People are moved by the sensuality of color, the fascination of texture and the thrill of a striking composition. That is wonderful. But art is not always pretty, and when it is not gorgeous to look at in the classical sense, you can be sure that especially then, when the image is not necessarily beautiful, it is still thought-provoking and it has a profound message to deliver. My wish is that people would follow that less-traveled visual path more often and care enough to discover the intent of the artist, the bravery required to make such a statement and the value therein. Dipping the pen of that artist and the viewer into the blackest, deepest well, as Ralph Waldo Emerson alludes to in the above quote within Sara’s quote, in other words. Art is so very all-inclusive – there is something for absolutely every one of us whatever mood we are in at the time. There is a time and a place for it all. When you need some life-support you will find it. Take a day trip to your local museum, visit an art class, stop into a gallery, go online to websites like ARTSPAN.com or just visit BING or GOOGLE and ask for images of your choice. You have the world of art at your fingertips, for your viewing pleasure and sustenance – an easy way to take you right out of yourself and into another world.

The Creative Epiphany – I’m Back from the Big Island…reluctantly

eden4  eden1  eden6

eden3  eden5

Thanks to those of you who hang with me even when I am missing in action, out to lunch, off the radar, in the witness protection program and out of communication! I appreciate that you sometimes read my archives during the void. I know who you are and I think it is incredible that you would take the time to do that.

I was away – really away – enjoying my third annual escape to Hawaii – the BIG ISLAND – and now the dye is cast. I am destined to be a chronic returnee. I have got it in my blood and it is written in the stars and my soul already longs to go back. I just got home late last night, and I am already missing it, so I’ve got it bad. Someone over there asked me if I was going to cry when I left and I said YES, of course. And I did. Apparently, the legend says, if you do not cry when you leave, you will not be back. So please do cry your heart out. If you do not “get” the island thing, you are not meant to return. The big island is funky, magical, mystical, spiritual, artsy, sensual, lazy, and more….everything stops for sunset…..people gather and watch….all the craziness of the mainland drifts away and seems irrelevant…..I turn golden and I sleep deeply….and the panorama of the Pacific Ocean, my specific ocean, keeps me constantly gazing west. I see it when I wake up, as I cook, as I paint, as I walk the garden. We describe it in paint tube colors; Prussian blue, cerulean, turquoise, teal, cobalt. Coke bottle green, silver-blue and pewter. Are we in heaven? A glimpse of heaven I am sure.

It snowed on the top of the two extinct volcano craters while I was there. That is not an unusual event since Mauna Loa at 13,796 ft. and Mauna Kea at 13,679 ft., are, yes indeedy, quite impressive mountains, with their own weather systems. Not just a dusting of snow – a day hiker got stranded up there in snow up over his knees and had to spend the night, barely making it out alive the next day. You realize, of course, that an active lava flow still exists on this island, hissing, squeaking and popping, devouring real estate as it pours and actually barrels along at times, falling into the sea in a thick molten pudding with grand pomp and circumstance accompanied by  a neon orange fireworks-like display. The prevailing breezes sometimes bring VOG to the heavily populated western and northern areas of the island, rolling dark from over the mountain tops like a thick fog that is sometimes laced with chemical volcanic aromas and also crop-dusting everything with a fine, black gritty residue. It is no big deal once you get used to it, just Mother Nature doing her thing, reminding you, lest you forget, that she is always and forever in charge. She is the orchestrator of this island’s multi-faceted personality. The big island is a lady of many moods – weather extremes and big waves. It is a study in contrasts with many climates in which to live.

We set out from Kona one day across the middle of the island on the new road traveling to the Hilo Harbor area on the east coast (the new road chops a lot of drive time off the old route of Saddle Road), then north of Hilo we visited the Botanical Gardens where I swear we found another  Garden of Eden. See photos included of that lovely isolated location on the edge of the Pacific. Farther on toward the Waimea and Hawi areas we saw the lush, green terrycloth-like hillsides of Hawaiian cattle country. Yes there are vast ranches and cowboys in Hawaii – the most prominent ranch being the legendary Parker Ranch. Waimea is also known for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival where the Japanese influence is strong and the crafts of the artisans are amazing. While in the quaint little town of Hawi, we stopped in to visit and deliver new art at the Living Arts Gallery on Main Street and chatted with Mary Sky Schoolcraft, the director. The art selection there is truly divine, varying from traditional land and seascape  to contemporary, and her enthusiasm for art is evident and enviable. Visit www.livingartsgallery.net In our drive heading south from there back to Kona, along the north western coast we watched the whale migration, heading north through the Maui Channel. I was overwhelmed with delight, able to see a whale’s tail or a breech every couple of minutes, babies sometimes discernible alongside their mothers. I am fortunate to stay with a dear friend on the island, and so I also experienced some day trips and excursions that are off the beaten path to most tourists.

cutavo

Living on the island is a unique experience, quirky, fun, at times challenging to find what you need just when you need it, and yet everyone is generous and more than willing to help. People there are busy building, adding on to their homes, trying to find nice furniture without having to pay shipping from the mainland. If you like estate sales and good deals, it is a mecca for that. Recycling is taken to the last possible degree. We eat fresh eggs from one neighbor, and we are brought cookies from some one else….we share earthly delights from the backyard with anyone who will help us eat them. We can’t eat fast enough to use them all ourselves – avocadoes as large as footballs dropping daily by the dozens like giant avocado bombs. You would not want to be under one when it decides to cut itself loose. Mangos, papayas, lemons, wild cherry tomato plants acting as if it is a ground cover, and of course all of the flowering bushes and trees from which to bring cuttings into the house for daily bouquets. The Plumeria tree was just blooming as I left – wafting a fragrance that is intoxicating.

I have only just begun to talk about the big island. I cannot say enough. I will dream about it and I will keep it in my heart until I go back. I invite you to come along with me and read more in the coming days. And do cry….

The Creative Epiphany – Film Review, 12 YEARS A SLAVE

 poster image courtesy of linduslist.com

This film, directed by Steve McQueen, was difficult to watch in spite of the fact that I thought I was prepared. I had heard that it was brutal. It is beyond brutal – it is periodically and consistently horrific for almost the entire two hours and fifteen minutes. The story is beautifully filmed, gorgeously depicted, stunning in its impact – but beware the  pastoral southern scenery, moss hanging low over big oak branches and humidity you can almost taste, because something shockingly wicked this way comes.

I am a person who reads, and I read and I read. So I thought I was educated about slavery in the south. I have lived in the south, traveled through the south, toured historic plantations and seen slave cabins, and I have studied the Civil War. All that and more is what took me to see this film. For me it was a question of respect, and the fact that the film is well made. But still, I learned from this film things I had never known and I was given witness to atrocities I had never imagined.

The story is simple – Pre-Civil War, a prosperous and educated gentleman named Solomon Northrup ( played by the brilliant Chiwetel Ejiofor ) from upstate New York, once a slave, who has a family and has risen above his own early history, is re-captured, sold and enslaved again, for 12 long years, enduring and enduring, with the excuse that the papers granting his freedom do not exist. He experiences some kindness from strangers but then is sold to a slave owner ( Michael Fassbender ) who has slipped from pure and wicked malevolence into sick depravity, and who rules a plantation where even his wife, who has learned from a master, is sadistic and cruel.

Do we really need to see all the ways that a human being can be tortured in films today, returning now to even the old and basic, tried and true methods of cruelty? Is each new film – whether it is portraying battles, war, espionage, man to man conflict – attempting to one-up the ones before in regard to guts and gore? This historically accurate film is based upon a true story – and we learn in text updates at the end what happened to Solomon Northrup after he was eventually freed. Nevertheless, for me, it was a horror story. I could not watch at times, reminding myself that it is a FILM.

The acting is spectacular, the women as well as the men; and the children too. It is a Brad Pitt film, from his company PLAN B productions, and he has a cameo appearance portraying a character who sees slavery as wrong. I read that he is choosing responsible roles these days as his children grow old enough to see his work. Do his children have to see this kind of torture, I wonder? Still, there is Oscar buzz about it and I must say that I think it is an important film – a monumental film perhaps.

I saw the Oprah Winfrey film titled The Butler, in 2013, and I would place this 12 Years a Slave film about slavery, in spite of my shock in watching it, ahead of The Butler. I understand that The Butler, also based upon a true story, was so loosely based that it took liberties and exaggerated the plot to such an extent that the story was greatly altered from the truth. I do not like that, do you?

Should you see 12 Years a Slave? If you know you are lacking in information about this most disgusting period of our American history and you are responsible enough to want to learn what happened, then by all means see it. Please do not take your children who are under the age of 16 or so…and be prepared to answer their many questions in an educated way if you do invite them to see it with you. Be knowledgeable and have books to recommend, because our public school systems are lacking in time and resources to due this subject justice.

For Your Viewing Pleasure,

JABS

The Creative Epiphany – Weathering Life

7- Midday Migration Mixed Media Collage titled “Midday Migration” by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

We are expecting high winds in the Denver area today – 40-60 miles per hour with gusts as high as 90 in the foothills of the Rockies. When the wind is angry like that, building up a furious intensity in the high mountains, blowing and spitting snow as it barrels down through the deep canyons just 15 minutes away from where I live, you can be sure it will race across the flatlands of Denver and its bedroom communities like the breath from a science fiction monster. Until recently I used to say how much I love weather drama, then the storms began – Katrina, the Tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan, Hurricane Sandy, epic Colorado flooding and the monumental typhoon in the Philippines. The big boy storms moved in and  began their 100 year visits, skirting the globe, scouting for random selections. Things have changed in the world of weather.

How is your internal weather? Fair to partly cloudy? Sunny and warm?

Are there storms that rage inside? What is your emotional forecast? All that is happening with-out cannot help but be reflected with-in. Weather disasters, political lies and scandals, crime, personal loss and misfortune, unhealthy personal relationships – all of that and more – cause emotional mayhem, creating internal havoc and unease. Feeling powerless in the face of large scale situations is painfully frustrating and destructive. We receive a steady does of bad news every day, built upon the results of yesterday’s surprises, then we get “updates” on the lingering miseries of months ago and it goes on like a bad soap opera. Of course there are human interest stories of courage and hope….crumbs…. evidencing the generosity, kindness and resilience of human beings. Show me some good news and I will try to remember it as the rotten news piles up and fills the streets of my mind.

Your internal climate is important to your health and wellbeing. We all know that.

When you get knotted up like a ball of string, what do you do to cope? How do you get up in the morning willing to face another day? Tell me what keeps you standing upright when there is so much that tries to knock you down. Tell me how you sleep at night, in the warmth of your bed, when there are babies dying for lack of food. How do we go on? What gives us the strength to continue, knowing that we have so little power to facilitate change?

I will tell you that for me, for insignificant me, the deep belief that change can one day be achieved is based upon faith that every positive personal thought, every positive casual comment, every smile, every tear that you blot for someone else, every word of encouragement, every shoulder offered to lean on, every dollar spent wisely, every single hopeful contribution to every other person or situation that you encounter counts. I do absolutely believe, especially now in this golden age of communication, that what every person says and does and feels and thinks makes ripples around the globe. How could it not? I do not care what social status you enjoy or do not have, what you might have amassed in the way of wealth, what your home looks like, what wine you like to drink, what kind of designer shoes you might be wearing – I want to know if you care about your fellow man/woman enough to worry about how we are going to feed the children.  We are all connected – we are all related – are we not all thinking about the same things? We all want our children to be fed, sheltered, clothed and educated. We all want peace, freedom and  the opportunity to prosper. And by the way, all the children are yours and my children too.

The epiphany comes when you realize that if you, you who do not wear designer shoes, are only able to affect positive change within your relatively small circle, that is, in the eyes of the universe, still a worthy cause. Buddha would tell you that if he was standing right there in your living room. Gaining peace of mind amid worldly chaos is possible in the performance of even the tiniest, kindest gestures. In my recent travels I saw acts of kindness, randomly given, received with great thankfulness and astonishment. Doing nothing is not an option. There is no excuse for failing to contribute to the common good. Make yourself an ambassador. You do what you alone can do in the moment of opportunity, you become the example to be followed, you teach through positive action, you strive to understand how something turned wrong so that you might know how to make it right again….and yes perhaps then you become a human interest story on the news after all. Coping is often the same as contributing – they go hand in hand. Coping with worldly dysfunction can be as simple as being a small but mighty force in your own small world for the cause of reason and peace – a force that is strong enough in intensity to become a ripple that widens and travels outside your world. You will want to get up in the morning if you feel that your personal mission is to do good. Because you matter. Every person, prominent or not, who has accomplished positive change, had to realize in a grand moment of epiphany that they mattered. 

             hawaii 008

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 www.CBSTHISMORNING.com, 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

stonesbones

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.