Life Inside the Pandemic

IMG_3720  The gorgeous cards in this post are the artwork of my gifted Cuban friend Lazaro Iglesias. You can find more of his artwork on FB under the name of La Vie Boheme. He currently lives in Santa Fe. His art always speaks to me, but especially now.

This pandemic experience feels to me as if we are all trapped in a big crystal globe – really pretty to look at – ethereal – the kind you shake to make snowfall – only it has a more sinister trick up its sleeve. I have never in my life felt more vulnerable and I am sure you feel the same.

Every day something happens that is weirder than the day before. We must remain learners now – not knowers who cannot be enlightened about anything at all. There will be many discoveries ahead and we need to remain open and aware, living in the moment and not losing our places in the plot that continues to unfold by the minute.

Concentration is key, but my mind pings around from one subject to the next like a pinball machine and I cannot come in for a landing on any one thing longer than a mosquito bite at twilight.

I decide I want to use my time to re-read the Constitution. No – maybe the entire Mueller report. Or do I want to search on Pinterest for that recipe for gooey sticky buns. I do manage to read an entire book that I absolutely could not put down titled AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins. I have not read such a gripping book in 30 years, I guess because it is so real and relevant to our current world. It is beautifully written, expertly researched and so very uplifting in the bravery its characters display. Please check it out on Amazon and please read it. It is a true page turner.

Maybe I can make myself paint today, I think. While I decide whether or not I can find that illusive creative spark I will have my second Cadbury egg and keep my eye on the third…while I play some older CD’s I have almost forgotten about. John Mayer – I grab for anything of his and wind up with WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE. Couple minutes later SLOW DANCING IN A BURNING ROOM comes on and he croons “we going down….” I look for something more mindless.

The phone rings a lot. One friend who wants me to read a couple Bible verses that she thinks are pertinent. A second friend who wants to gossip….really? How do you know anything about anyone right now? A third friend, a decade older than I am who wants to talk about the good old days, at this sharp point in time when I am all too aware of how old I am in the time of the world pandemic. Each friend is dear to me and holds a place in my overall scheme of things, but I am not in the mood for the wrong friend at the wrong time.

My brother has a couple drinks every evening and two is enough to jolt out his playful side from the darkness of the day, and he wants me to kid around with him on the phone. I live alone, and I hate to drink alone. It does not take me to a happy place. So I am busy doing other things when he calls and starts his silly routine. Because I appreciate the effort, I endure…..and I do love him. Oh ha ha.

Both my kids now live at altitude, after being raised at altitude in Conifer and Evergreen, CO just up the mountains from Denver. I talk to my son or my daughter, who always make me laugh. Kelly and her husband Jay live at Lake Tahoe – I mean they really live AT IT, on the water. Looking out at the Big Blue all day long in its changing light and seasons will keep anyone stable, I think to myself. That scenery is restorative and cleansing. We have good talks and she does keep me just sane enough, but not toooo sane that I  completely lose my characteristic craziness. It’s a fine balance.

My outdoorsy, “wolf boy,” mountain climbing, 14’er gobbling  son always has a new adventure on the horizon and must have the lungs of a Japanese pearl diver. Every weekend he is Up There climbing something. He must be clean and deep and fine when it comes to lungs. We make a date for him to visit with me next week in the greenbelt space outside my condo. I will order a pizza and have it delivered there, half to him and half to me, 20 feet apart.

The days blend into one long ordeal of time, grinding along and revealing new information every day about what we are up against. I have had some bleak moments, some dismal periods of time that are based in much more than a mere pandemic. There was plenty going on even before the pandemic arrived at my door. But I do see good in each day and spring is coming and the sun continues to rise and set and shine down upon us. Let’s make every effort to keep our chins up, ok?

 

ART   www.artistjoannbrown-scott.com

NOVEL   www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com – Amazon

NON-FICTION   Your Miraculous, Timeless Creativity and The Creative Epiphany – Amazon

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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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Art Serendipity/S. Santa Fe Drive in Denver

 

 

 

So it is Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend and I am driving over to the relatively new-ish art district on South Santa Fe Drive in Denver. (When you have been showing your art as long as I have, Denver’s “new-ish” art district has probably been on the rise for the past 15 years. Seems to have flown right by….. ) I am on an errand to pick up my painting titled CASCINA ( see top gallery photo ) that was juried into the Mixed Media Show at Core Gallery on S. Santa Fe and 9th, that is ending today after a 2 week run. Lots of great feedback from the staff there about my painting put me in a somewhat heightened mood of satisfaction, reinforcing why I continue to pursue this often thankless, ridiculously painful, but always colorful career in the wild and crazy world of art. After loading it into the car I decide to wander around the neighborhood and take some pictures which I usually do not give myself permission to do, unfortunately. I was instantly rewarded for my attention.

I am immediately joyful with what I see, finding nuances that I had never stopped to notice  before. It almost feels like I am in Puerto Vallarta, or even Santa Fe or Albuquerque. And I love that. Contemporary art and extraordinary, edgy wall graffiti juxtaposed with weathered Mexican pinata colors, fresh flowers, funky tattoo parlors, barber shops, aromatic taco joints, bright umbrellas over crowded tables of lunch crowds and many many art galleries. Escaping for an hour or so was just what I needed, and there were many other folks doing the same thing. The galleries were busy.

The cherry on the top of this delicious, aimless, decadent, vividly memorable meandering was an accidental ( but not really ) discovery on a back street, between 9th and 10th on Inca. I turned the corner to find two guys collaborating and executing the most fabulous, enormous, graffiti mural on the long wall of a building; a building, I am told, that has been a coveted and honored location for such art for almost 30 years. It is a group effort with several contributors but at the moment Quentin and Soul are the ones with the spray cans. And it is gorgeous! A jungle theme is in place with some dinosaur images coming next to the party and I am fascinated to hear the whole plan unfolding as  ideas are bounced around. Spray and step back to take a look, spray over some of it and then add more. The image is all about sharp lines and curves; intense color against black; hidden images and ones that stand right out. Humor and messages. It is mesmerizing to watch. So…..it really is a jungle out there.

I ask how they can be sure that some other taggers are not going to mess it up by painting over it – my god I cannot bear even the hint of that tragic possibility. I already feel vested in it, just by standing there and watching it happen – I feel protective of it by osmosis. Is there someone who guards it by night? I want to volunteer.

They tell me that leaving no empty spaces is part of the key – no tempting, inviting blank areas that some jerk might believe need his additional touches.

And it is also about R ES P E C T. And T R U S T.

No respectable artist would ever ruin another guy’s work.

I learned a lot in a short conversation of only 20 minutes, as they worked, and added vastly to my meager knowledge but huge respect for the BIG guys of universally recognized graffiti art – like King Banksy and the others.

Ahhh. In another life…..I would love to do that. It was a whole new slant on art for me.

 

My Birthday in Paris, Part 4

The Splendor of Musee d’Orsay

On Friday of our astounding week in Paris we visited the Musee d’Orsay, an enormous  destination that is now dear to my heart. The famous clock, that spot-on perfect icon that defines this museum in the minds of folks who are passionate about art history was clearly visible and unmistakable as we approached from a bridge on the right bank crossing over the Seine to the left, an easy walk from our hotel in St Germaine. What better symbol, what better icon, to identify such a priceless location commemorating the very passage of time and the treasures therein? What time has given us is personified in Paris and its museums. All that is right in the world of art, antiques, fashion, food, design, music, literature, treasures small and large and tradition I found in abundance during our week of wandering this gorgeous city. A city that remains easy to explore, welcoming, comfortable and always extraordinary in its offerings.

The gigantic rotunda of this museum might reveal that it was once a railway station built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle but by 1939 rail travel ceased at this building. Later from 1848 to 1914 the government set about transforming it it to what became the country’s premier showcase for art. It is grand and glorious but not uncomfortably so, with comfy beanbag chairs accessible for relaxing in the upstairs space where you see the interior photo of the window clock, which reveals an amazing panorama of the city’s Montmartre area including the Sacre-Coeur. It was nearly shrouded by fog the day we were there….

As with the Louvre and its Mona Lisa, I had one primary goal in the Musee d’Orsay and that was Degas’s ballerina sculpture titled Little Dancer. Once again, blotting tears streaming down my cheeks, I walked around and around her as I remembered my own tiny dancer daughter when she was in the Nutcracker at Denver’s Christmas season years ago. I have always been a fan of Degas, and this sculpture is tres magnifique and especially realistic with its unusual addition of a pale peach-colored gauzy  tutu and a wide satin hair-ribbon to match that have remained almost unscathed since it was incorporated into the 1880 sculpture. The young girl depicted in the sculpture is a fourteen year old Belgian, a student at the Paris Opera Ballet School of that time named Marie van Goethem. Little did she know that she would live forever in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and become a worldwide symbol of the ballet. Degas’s huge body of work portrays many ballet scenes; this one is by far his claim to fame.

I also viewed more Van Gogh’s than I had ever seen in one space that day in the Musee d’Orsay, as well as Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gauguin and many others who were made real to me through my viewing of their Impressionistic art.

To be so fortunate, so blessed and so enlightened on one day in Paris, just one day out of seven, was rare and immensely joyful for me. I am forever changed by it and thankful that my daughter sent me there for my birthday. If you read my own grown-up ballerina’s travel blog here on WordPress at http://www.compassandcamera.wordpress you will be reminded that she wrote about my mother’s (and her grandmother’s) trip to Europe of many years ago including a trip to Paris, based upon the postcards she sent home. Of course my daughter has also been to Paris, included with many other countrys on her travel resume.

Hhmm…. this Paris thing is a golden heirloom thread running through our family now and it is no accident believe me. We women know where to go and what to see that will enrich our lives and add to our appreciation for the life we have been given and the very brief time we have here on earth in which to live it….. I wish for all of you a trip to Paris.

For additional photos of Paris please follow me on Instagram at “the creative epiphany” Jo Ann Brown-Scott

 

The Spell of Paris, Part Three

Oh Paris I am deep under your spell. Seven days spent in your magical bubble took me entirely away from all practical considerations into the sublime realm of the ancient and the artistic. I felt almost the same visiting Rome and Florence only different. Paris is different. Different in what way is the question I continue to ask myself…how can one define Paris?

Paris is a celebration, a happening, an event unto itself. People go to Paris to commemorate an enormous occasion, or as a second time, longed-for treasured gift of a trip because they cannot stay away…Paris is made of romance, of visual delights, of a longing for quiet strolls along the Seine and magnificent museums, outdoor cafes (no matter the weather) with bread,cheese & wine and people watching. Paris is a beautiful lady bearing timeless glittering gifts inside long and lovely evenings. She welcomed us with open arms and we were never treated as tourists. People actually spoke to us for no reason and helped us and giggled with us about our feeble attempts at the language. We never felt ridiculed or laughed at. I don’t quite know where Parisiannes got the bad rap for being aloof and cynical because we saw none of that.

Our second day in Paris began with a 10 am reservation at the Louvre, located just across the Seine from us, looming as a magnificent iconic monument  in the distance as we walked toward the glass pyramid by noted American architect IM Pei. When we entered I was overtaken by emotion, awed by the sheer size and reverence I have for the most splendid of all museums, I believe. Please visit my Instagram account for a more extensive selection of photographs from Paris at The Creative Epiphany, Jo Ann Brown-Scott

If we had devoted our entire week in Paris to only the Louvre, we still would not have seen everything. The foremost item on my list was absolutely the Mona Lisa and yet I was transfixed by the rooms along the way that contained ancient sculpture including Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and Roman artifacts such as the bathtub pictured above. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, a superb Hellenistic sculpture from the second century BC which we studied extensively in my art history class at CU in Boulder took me by surprise as we walked the stairs toward her. Full body chills – it has been a very long time but I finally saw her in the flesh, and she is amazing, especially the draping of her robes so expertly executed in marble.

The ceilings in the Louvre are ornate and fascinating – floors and ceilings will be a fascination for me my entire life and I was mesmerized and in pain from looking up for such long periods of time in Paris, but every bit worth the discomfort.

The Mona Lisa was as I expected with so much more – enigmatic, hypnotizing, eyes seeming to follow you as you walk from side to side. In the newly published book I read before leaving home titled Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) by Walter Isaacson I learned all the newest and re-learned the oldest information about this famous painting and so I came to the Louvre with some questions answered and other new ones to ask…. Leonardo was indeed a complex and multi-faceted artist and inventor and scientist of his time and right up until now, time itself having enhanced respect and admiration for his insightful, ingenious  discoveries. But his brilliant, delicate rendering of this mysterious woman remains as his most iconic work. The gift shop was dominated by all things Mona Lisa – it was rather humorous to see just how many items could display that unforgettable Mona Lisa smile. She is charming and shrouded in mystery.

After leaving the Louvre on that windy cold day we ate lunch at La Fregate along the Seine and I had the Frenchiest French onion soup I had ever eaten in a French cafe. After lunch we walked miles and took in the sights before having dinner at a favorite location back in our St. Germain neighborhood – Les Deux Magot. I highly recommend it – great food and people watching, frequented by sophisticated and prominent locals, as we discovered when it began to snow in big cottonball flakes and the local Parisiannes began to honk their horns and laugh and whoop it up as if they were 7 years old! Snow is rare in the City of Lights and it was so much fun to watch! Our favorite little church across the street was gorgeous in the indigo blue evening with snow blowing in swirls around it. It was the perfect ending to our second day in Paris. I am the luckiest girl in the world!

 

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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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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