Summer 2016

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

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

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

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

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Have You Found Your Place?

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Not to get all philosophical or anything heavy like that, but I would like to ask you one simple question.

Have you found your place? A place that fits you as securely and tightly and perfectly as that small round stone in the larger lava rock pictured above.

Not necessarily your place in life….you might call it your place in the universe; a place where you can go to feel whole. The place that feeds your soul, yes, with healthy soul food. The place that feeds your imagination, your sense of wonder, your artistic visions, your comfort, your need for adventure, your peaceful spiritual wanderings and your core beliefs about wanting what the good life here on Planet Earth has to offer.

If you have discovered the place or places that can do this for you then you are indeed fortunate to be blessed with a sanctuary. A priceless place of renewal and safety where you can go for spiritual reward. Hopefully you can visit it often – and maybe it is a place in your own backyard….I hope it is close enough so that you can be there as often as you might like. Perhaps you have a selection of places; a handful would be awesome.

Here are mine:

  • The Big Sur coastline of California, ending with a visit to NEPENTHE, perched at the top of the world, where you know. You just know things… For new awakenings.
  • The Big Island of Hawaii, on a selection of beaches along the Kona coast of my Specific Ocean. The vastness of it all. The sanctuary of the waves.
  • The Rocky Mountains, and a particular weekend retreat of renewal and refuge from the hectic life, located in the Conifer-Evergreen woods and canyons, elevation about 8300 ft. for the height and breadth and depth of it all.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral in London for the enormous sense of time and faith it offers. Dust particles dancing in the sunlight, high up; having been there for centuries.
  • Santa Croce in Rome, housing the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and other remarkable men, for respect of those who knew so much about life.
  • Angkor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia for its sense of wonder and mystery. How could it have been undiscovered for so long? What was life there like?
  • The Buddha Tooth Temple in Singapore because it is one of the most fascinating peaceful places I have ever been.

I love to talk to people who have found their places. They are usually people anchored in knowing. They see things differently; more deeply. They are not necessarily religious, but they are wise in the ways of the universe. They know their way around and they know how to find serenity when they need it.

I hope you are one of those who knows.

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January 6-The Day of Epiphany

 

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Several years ago after my success of writing a book about creativity and the epiphanies that had inspired 18 people to choose which of many available creative paths might give them their greatest fulfillment, I began this blog.

For many years I have written about just what an epiphany really is, how I define the contemporary meaning of it, in what circumstances and forms they come to us, how to listen for them and hear their messages over and over again, and how they have changed people’s lives for the better with the enlightenment they provide. My book is still available on Amazon.com under the title THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, and my WordPress blog archives will provide additional information, including the historical meaning of the Day of Epiphany.

Epiphanies are essentially messages from our souls; they deliver truth; the only simple, pure agenda they have is to inform us and guide us. The epiphany will never steer us in the wrong direction. The voice we hear will start out as subtle messages that might whisper a suggestion or as helpful bits of new information that help us solve a problem and if we pay no attention at all the messages will repeat and repeat, becoming louder and stronger and more commanding until we truly pay attention and acknowledge them and alter our actions accordingly. Because you see if you ignore a message from your soul, you have a great deal to lose in life.

Most of you have had an experience where your better judgment, your conscience, your intuition, YOUR SOUL told you NOT to do something. Or perhaps it told you that you MUST do something. That inner voice is sending you a clue. It is giving you help. It is guiding you. It is from your soul and therefor it is sent to you as surely as if you had a pipeline to the universe where all the wisdom of the eons and the ages is stored….

I could wish nothing better for you than to experience a life-altering epiphany in this new year. If you are floundering and searching for some answers, you need one. And if you are just fine, you certainly want to stay that way. Meditation will facilitate your inner soul voice and clear a path for information and new viewpoints to percolate up through your layers of thought to the surface where they can be heard. But you must LIVE IN THE NOW, refusing to allow the clutter of prior disappointments to cloud your mind; you must BE QUIET and AWARE for a focused part of every day. Then you must LISTEN.  And you must ASK.

The Creative Epiphany – Amazon.com  by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

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The Creativity Muscle Personified

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Best Laid Plans 18×24 mixed media by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, copyright 2015

I believe that creativity is a mind muscle that needs consistent flexing to remain active, aware and functional. People ask me sometimes what can be done for burn-out; the inevitable creative blockage that arrives without warning like an unwanted houseguest who might settle in and stay for days on end. All of a sudden you find that you are stalled in the middle of what was a great creative roll. Or perhaps you have been anticipating a new project for weeks, simmering and planning and building your creative excitement for the day when you must begin work, when you are amazed to find that you experience failure to launch! Fear of success perhaps?

Creativity is a fickle bitch, isn’t she? She comes breezing in, all colorful and witty, commanding your complete attention and getting you all jazzed up with her come-hither looks of sensuality and promise. You cannot resist her; you build your life around her, dropping all practicality and allowing yourself to get caught up in days and nights of her entertaining and stimulating tease. You produce your most inspired work – you paint, you sculpt, you write, you compose music, you cook, you photograph, you build, you design, you weave and you invent and you pull your inspiration from the vast store of fantastic ideas that creativity carries with her in her mysterious bag of tricks. She is your favorite guest. You cater to her; you feed her your best foods and give her her very own space in your home to do with what she likes.

But sometimes she is just a momentary guest, getting you all fired up and sweaty with energy and then she leaves in the dark of night and disappears for long spells of time when she is out of communication and mysteriously gone entirely off your radar. How can you lure her back?

But you see she never really left. She is always there, hovering over or behind you, watching, making comments and sometimes rude remarks about what you are doing and how you spend your time. You must realize, you must know by now that she actually does live right there, just over your shoulder of consciousness. But sometimes she time-travels – she has to – are you kidding – that is what she does best! She cannot be confined to the here and now. The universe is her playground.

She gets cranky when you fall into ruts and don’t exercise her enough. She needs daily activity, she needs sunshine and awareness to be happy. She needs stimulation, conversation, the flow of ideas and the food of thought. She needs far horizons of new places and unknown adventure. She loves humor, she gets off on sex and romance, she needs film and theater and children’s joy and the wisdom of older minds. She wants it all. Feed her often and she will come back – her brief flights of fancy when she does not answer your calls, your texts, your tweets and then your high-pitched screams for help will be less frequent. When she begins to notice that you are a serious, dedicated creator who will not be denied her attention, a person who is filled up with potential that you were given for free at birth, she will truly respect you and she will never be gone for long.

Copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott 2015 – This post is excerpted from my upcoming novel to be published in late summer of 2015

The Year Long Canvas reaches her one-year mark!

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The Year Long Canvas has had several major changes today, and you can compare them with the previous version below, as well as with the very first start of the original painting from a year ago. I worked the new additions to the composition from all sides today and offered all four orientations of her for your review. You can zzzzzoom in and see her texture – not quite as thick as I had imagined it would be at her first year anniversary.

This project might not be 100% finished at this point. If I look at this painting long enough I will always see something I would like to change…it is a sickness…never being satisfied. But perhaps my fatigue with the entire project will prevent any further work. I cannot say that this newest version is my favorite of all the stages of the past year, but it is certainly among the top three. It has indeed been an exercise in patience, perseverance, dissatisfaction and approval, unease and comfortable-ness with my own work. If the lesson to be learned was that I should trust myself more, that has been accomplished. I was at times discouraged that I would ever be able to make a whole new painting over the top of many other incarnations, but I did it, over and over.

My son says this painting reminds him of RIO – a landscape in other words if it is placed horizontally. It does not remind me of Rio, but it does speak to me of action, energy, optimism and fun. So maybe it is RIO after all! I cannot decide which orientation I prefer…I really do not care at this point. I just like the color, texture and pattern of it, and most definitely color is the thing that grabs people first, then maybe the dramatic composition. The sensuality of color is usually what most people respond to in art and try as I do sometimes I cannot do quiet neutrality. It bores me to tears.

I have had a great year with this project and I hope you have too! Phew…I think we almost made it. Thanks for hangin’ in there!

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Previous version on the left and the very beginning of it last March on the right.

Year Long Canvas, 11/24/2014

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Year Long Canvas as of 11/24/2014, copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” – Rumi

Please check my archives if you have no earthly idea what this Year Long Canvas is – painting this canvas is an ongoing project and carries with it quite a story. As you can see, she is back to being horizontally oriented again but you can like her in whatever direction you prefer. If you see a landscape here you are not alone; with nothing else at all done to her, or with a few small tweaks, the landscape idea could become more obvious right now, but it is still too far away from completion for me to settle on a landscape. Call me crazy but I have recently also seen the possibility for people in this composition – not large people, but groups of small people congregating as if waiting for something…in a horizontal row extending from one side to  the other, just along the upper side of the dark stripe that is the new change for this week. They would not be very tall, they would be colorfully dressed and have no distinctive faces. Just waiting.

I always thought that I wanted this painting to be an entirely abstract expression, with nothing recognizable, but I am even rethinking that now. My mind is an open book.

I am definitely learning to better trust myself after all the months of work; to trust my decisions and my judgment, as was one of the original goals for the project, but the other thing that has resulted from doing this, to tell you that truth, is that I have become quite a bit more open-minded about my own work. I accept my own opinions of my own work, which I suppose is one facet of trusting myself after all.

I love painting although I seldom understand it thoroughly. It might come as a surprise for many of you to know that almost every artist does not necessarily like his own work all the time. Many times I have painted a canvas that is not of my own taste. Even within my own paintings I see areas that are not always to my own liking, but sometimes I leave them there anyway, without my own approval. They bother me, they go against my grain and I know that sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well it’s  a strange exercise in intentional imperfection, which I do believe it a useful experience in art. It wakes you up.

The art Buddha understands why I do that, I do believe. He is still smiling and has a twinkle in his eye about this subject.

 

 

Back Again With the Year Long Canvas, 10/22/2014

  

photos courtesy of travelmag.com and pinterest.com

Pearl Street Mall, Boulder – Scroll down to see YLC

Yes I have been out of the loop for a while, preoccupied and otherwise engaged. Just involved in life itself, nothing major. Enjoying fall and weekends in the mountains. Was up in Boulder on Saturday night to attend a concert, and so we wandered the legendary Pearl Street Mall. (Had some fun with a faux bronze statue guy who came to life right before my eyes. If you are familiar with that crazy scene in Boulder you are laughing right now).

The multicolored confetti of leaves was flying around, families were out in the balmy night air having fun together and watching the street buskers perform. Had a great dinner at the Boulderado Hotel. Went to a rousing Patti Griffin concert where no one in the audience was timid about speaking up and interacting with Patti and her band. Someone then commented sarcastically on that by also yelling,  “Well welcome to Boulder, Patti….” and she agreed, but she was fine with it. Boulder is just different – people there are not easily defined but if I had to try I would begin by saying that they are quite proud of themselves to be living there, considering it a lifetime achievement or something. Bucket list item #3 – live in Boulder. Become an authentic  Boulderite. You see people in Boulder don’t see themselves as subordinate to anyone. Well why should they? I have loved Boulder since I was a student of fine art there in the 60’s at a time when the campus scene was PARTY and the art professors were deliciously weird and cutting edge. The Young People’s Socialist League was active and the Viet Nam war protesting was just getting started. I was there to paint; I did my share of partying too.

Being back there again, and still painting, in the company of a person with whom I shared many of those Boulder years is always rather surreal to me. This Saturday evening was especially magical. We actually talked a lot about my YLC – the year long canvas. I have been neglecting her. In the wise words of my friend, “The Year Long Canvas is a zen lesson in sustained patience and restraint,” or something to that affect. Delayed gratification should also be mentioned; I am a person who enjoys actually finishing a painting. We decided that the assignment of one year (March, 2015) needs to be loosened a bit, to allow my tolerance and focus a little wiggle room. Maybe more than a year, maybe less. My esteemed instructor, Homare Ikeda of the Denver Art Students League, who offered me this assignment, most certainly would have many additional comments and opinions about this process I am experiencing since I last saw him. Once in a while I run into him and we talk, which is enlightening and meaningful to me. As I explained in one of my earlier posts, he believes that every painting you will ever do as an artist is already inside of you, waiting for the right time and place in your life to be set free from its “cage” – and cage is my own word, not his. You just need to uncover it by stripping away all the unnecessary layers. That is a fascinating concept. A lot of thought is required to get your mind around it. Please visit  http://www.homareikeda.com

Today when I worked on the YLC I went a bit crazy. I gathered all of my confidence in order to believe that I was always going to be able to make a great painting out of it and I was fearless. I am sure many of you will be disappointed with this step, but I am NOT FINISHED. That is the entire point. It needs to get weird before it can get better again. It needs to evolve, and after seeing it sitting around here the way it was for so long I began to yearn for a new language and a fresh message. These new strokes are either the beginning of the end, or even the end of its beginning, whichever way you prefer to interpret it. Have a look, and zoom in for details:

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Year Long Canvas, mid-October 2014, not yet titled, copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott