The Risk Taker

 

IMG_0322

I was told recently, in an insulting and accusatory voice, that I am no longer a risk taker…..

The sting of that remark has prompted a great deal of thought.

Is it true? If I have changed, is it due to my advanced age of 77 or have I simply turned into a chicken? I believe that anyone who knows me well – almost anyone, apparently – would find the offensive statement that I am no longer a risk taker to be false. I live a full life. I am a moving target.

There are many  definitions of being a risk taker, depending on who you ask. In my peer group of seventy-something adults the risk taking most of us do is probably way below the level it was even just 10 years ago. We are perhaps a bit slower, a lot wiser now and we prioritize what is important and what is not worth the effort of getting stirred up about. We weigh things. Do I feel like jumping on a plane to Madagascar or am I content with driving down the Big Sur highway with a person I enjoy? Is someone going to accuse me of being a chicken if I choose Big Sur?  Yes. But I am just prioritizing how I want to spend my time. It’s a big ordeal to fly to Madagascar.

Growing up on 8 acres of country in the hills of southern Ohio, I roamed and wandered freely all over that acreage and well beyond, alone and gone for hours and hours at a time. I was fearless and independent even as young as seven years old. I climbed trees much taller than our pitched-roof house, making my mother gasp and my father proud.  I road horses and one particular insane pony who bucked me off repeatedly and might have easily broken my skinny neck as I landed on hard ground. I was quite confident,  although some people who barely knew me might have decided that since I was pale of complexion and blue-eyed, petite, soft-spoken and intelligent that I must be a scaredy-cat, afraid of life.

I made the highly contested decision to go west to college instead of staying close to home because I could not stand the thought of never leaving Ohio. After arriving in Boulder, Colorado I realized I belonged in the west and basically made all my decisions from that day forward in support of that plan. I had places to see and things to do. I wanted to broaden my horizons. For the next several decades circumstances offered me and my new family the chance to live in at least a half-dozen different states and I knew that every move we made was an adventure to be welcomed. I loved to explore and meet new people.

During the time I  was raising my children I ended a chapter or two in my life and began others. It took courage and a high degree of risk taking to begin a new  life again, and then again, and again several more times in new locations and on my own. I did not come away from those experiences unscathed. I have been battered and bruised, learned some valuable lessons and kicked some butt, because when rotten things happen to me I rise above and take action. I have taken on battles with insurance companies, social security, moving companies and various negative people who were not truly my friends. I was, at one particular period of time, so defeated that I took the risk of emotionally exposing myself 100% to a professional person I trusted who gave me enormous help and peace of mind with the realization that the simple, honest things I was expecting out of the relationships in my life were normal and deserved. After learning that lesson, I chose to remain single rather than push for the security of being married.

 I am an open book. I have expressed my deepest thoughts in art and in print, gaining a degree of notoriety with galleries showing my paintings, an appearance on national TV resulting from a letter I wrote, authoring 4 books published on Amazon.com and being quite vocal whenever I get the chance. It requires intestinal fortitude to write down on paper and publish, for the world to see, the gutsy little thoughts in your head. Any person who paints or writes from the soul opens herself to criticism and judgement.

I have traveled rather extensively, halfway around the world in both directions, sometimes alone, and become a better person for it. Traveling opens your eyes and broadens your gratitude. Traveling is not the biggest risk – living a narrow life can be the risk that takes you down.

These days I am most happy doing the same things I did when I was a young girl growing up. I hike alone in the mountains outside Denver, I paint and write, I travel and I meet new people whenever I can. I am not afraid of getting older. I am not afraid of new relationships. In my mind, largely  unchanged after decades of time, I feel like I am 10 years old climbing a high tree. I take great joy in celebrations, giving gifts, surprises, cupcakes, Mexican food…..and meaty conversations.

I laugh a lot and when I can no longer do that with a person in my circle of friends then I know it is time to move on. Any melancholy person, any sad soul is probably not going to be taking many risks. It is a joyful thing to be high on life, and the enormous risk in life is if you enjoy living! because life can be taken away at a moments notice. RISK is the bottom line to everything, down through decades of time. Living fearlessly, with confidence and faith, for all of your years on earth is risky as hell.

NEW NON-FICTION BOOK  Your Miraculous, Timeless Creativity, the care and feeding of your creative gifts, Amazon and Kindle

WEBSITE http://www.artistjoannbrown-scott.com

NOVEL http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

NON_FICTION The Creative Epiphany, Amazon and Kindle

INSTAGRAM  The Creative Epiphany

FB  Jo Ann (Rossiter) Brown-Scott

IMG_0320 (1)

 

 

Questions Answered – Find Yourself in the Pages

IMG_0320 (1)

 

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.

wide

Available now on Kindle and in paperback on AMAZON.com

Follow Jo Ann (Rossiter) Brown-Scott on FB

Instagram at The Creative Epiphany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Returning…with gifts

IMG_0284 (3)

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

Facebook – Jo Ann Rossiter Brown-Scott

Instagram as The Creative Epiphany

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.

 

The Grand Lady of Paris, Notre Dame

The ancient marble steps leading through the doors to French Gothic Notre Dame are slightly grooved from centuries of weekly worshipers. You can feel it under your feet as a reminder that you are merely one of millions who have gone before you – people on pilgrimages, wandering vagabonds, visiting kings and queens, street people, modern day gypsies, students of ancient art and architecture and folks just like you and me who are in awe of the grandeur and the sacred space. As we arrived the bells for Sunday mass were tolling and a long line was forming for entrance; a huge Christmas tree decorated in blue bulbs stood in the entrance courtyard and it was brutally cold and windy. I was almost hyper-ventilating from reverence and excitement.

The cathedral is gargantuan; the air I was breathing was rarefied, the enormity of the experience was profound. There are few words worthy of the time I spent there…

I lit candles and said some silent prayers; I tried to catch my breath as I wandered through. I knew I had to come back again the next day when there might be an empty pew where I could sit and spend more time. My photographs do not begin to reveal the size and scope I was seeing. The proportions in the nave are astounding. There was not an empty seat in the place.

And I returned the next day, every bit as anxious as I had been the first time, on Monday, my final day in Paris. After wandering for an hour or more, taking more pictures,  I found the gift shop and purchased some little six inch Notre Dame Christmas angels crafted from what looked like humble material and a few gold charms for necklaces. Treasures that will become family heirlooms…for some treasured people in my life.

I cannot help but wonder how many people down through the ages, no matter their beliefs about a higher power, have journeyed to this magnificent place of worship,  praying for peace on earth. For me, Notre Dame is a symbol of hope, an ancient wonder of a place, begun in 1163 and mostly completed by the 14th century. The famous flying buttresses support its walls and roof, heavily damaged during the French Revolution. In the South Tower hangs the cathedral’s original bell, 13 tons, named Emmanuel ( all the bells are named) which announced the liberation of France from the Nazies in 1944. Emmanuel is extremely important to French history. The bell was recast in 1631 from copper and bronze, and Parisian women threw into the pot their precious gems and jewels, thus incorporating them into the bell. In 2013 as part of Notre Dame’s 850th anniversary since construction began, nine new bells were installed replicating the original chimes.

Notre Dame is very much the center, the heart and soul of Paris, in both location and adoration. You must go visit her. She is a beauty.

Additional photos of Notre Dame and my entire Paris trip can be found on my Instagram pages at The Creative Epiphany and on FB under Jo Ann (Rossiter) Brown-Scott.

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, author and artist –   www.acanaryfliestheycanyon.com

http://joann-brown-scott.fineartamerica.com

A Call To the Living – The Garage of Blessings in Oak Harbor, Washington

      Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, kitchen and indoorNo automatic alt text available.

recent photo of Mike Rowe and Kristiina

The Garage of Blessings

Quote by Algernon D. Black, former senior leader, New York Society for Ethical Culture:

This is a call to the living,

To those who refuse to make peace with evil,

With the suffering and waste of the world,

This is a call to the human, not the perfect,

To those who know their own prejudices,

Who have no intention of becoming prisoners of their own limitations.

This is a call to those who remember the dreams of their youth,

Who know what it means to share food and shelter,

The care of children and those who are troubled,

To reach beyond barriers of the past,

Bringing people to communion.

This is a call to the never ending spirit

Of the common man, his essential decency and integrity,

His unending capacity to suffer and endure,

To face death and destruction and to rise again,

And build from the ruins of life.

This is the greatest call of all,

The call to a faith in people.”

My sister Vicki Hand who lives near Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in Washington has been telling me about the Nonprofit Organization THE GARAGE OF BLESSINGS for months and months. She is one of the volunteers at this place of giving and providing, to those who are less fortunate, the very basics of life – not just warm clothing but soap and toothpaste, blankets and food and most of all love and recognition. I was there myself on a recent trip to visit my sis and I was overwhelmed with the organization and the efficient cooperation of its volunteers. But there is an ambiance that surrounds all of the hustle and bustle as people are assisted in finding what they need to survive – and let there be no mistake I do mean survive. The only words that begin to give you a feeling for the rarified air of this place are simply the words Love and Respect, for all those folks who come in the door and are greeted without judgement and an eagerness to be of help.

Founded in her own garage by an extraordinary woman named Kristiina who has a heart as big as the planet and goals to match, the Garage of Blessings had a visitor yesterday, bringing a camera crew and bundles of great joy. Mike Rowe of the TV show “Returning the Favor” paid her a visit, listened to her story, met everyone and managed to enlarge and enhance her warehouse space in ways that she might have needed years to accomplish on her own. Kristiina dreams BIG and so does Mike Rowe so they are a match made in heaven.

If you are fortunate to be moving to Oak Harbor, Washington, (lucky you) or you already live in the area and you would like to volunteer your services or donate goods just get yourself over to the  Garage of Blessings – everyone knows where it is.

Go to http://www.garageofblessings.com for more information.

Look for Mike Rowe’s TV Show – “Returning the Favor”

https://www.facebook.com/GarageBlessingsOH/

 

GARAGE OF BLESSINGS VOLUNTEERS

Volunteers ready and eager to be of help and take your donations!

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

WordPress, Instagram, FB, Twitter

Highlands Ranch, Colorado