My Birthday in Paris – Part One

 

Photos by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, late November 2017  – The Christmas tree is directly in front of Notre Dame. The weather was quite cold, rainy and it snowed one night, but it made the scenery look like fine etches in dark contrast .

Please read my previous blog titled Simple Things That Stir My Soul in order to have the foundation and perspective for this new blog. Paris is by no means a simple thing….you need to read the back story to understand how it happened that I spent my birthday there. Paris is monumentally impressive and a life-changing experience. The people could not have been more kind, cooperative, polite, funny and charming. Parisiennes  are quite eager to be of help and often eager to know who you are, exactly where you are from and anxious to have brief conversations with you if possible. Tres magnifique!

I ate onion soup almost every day for lunch, with a variety of cheeses and salads, in some little cafe or another but of all the places where my traveling companion extraordinaire and I decided to stop,  this photo was taken at the Frenchiest of French cafes serving the very Frenchiest French onion soup I ever ate in my life. One just cannot have enough onion soup, sinfully sweet flaky whip creamy pastry, fat puffy croissants and creme brulee to die for while in Paris. AND if it is also the assignment from your daughter then you must do it. After all, she is the bottom line reason I was there in the first place! (again, refer to previous blog)

My friend Susie Angeline, who also writes a WordPress blog titled The Sunday Traveler and is posting some of the exact same views that I am in her blog (we each see the same things a teensy bit differently ) and I put in a week’s worth of epic, happily exhausting days. We packed a lot in those 7 days – we jam-packed them with major monuments, art museums, cathedrals, elegant shops, a 2 hour day tour of the Latin Quarter, restaurants, and dozens upon dozens of smaller priceless discoveries that warmed our hearts and fed the voracious  appetites of our phone cameras and our digital cameras. When you go to Paris you must take both kinds of cameras – phone camera for ease and spontaneity and digital for clarity when photographing stained glass, rainy shots and distance. Yes it does become a juggling act since a new photo opportunity crops up about every 5 feet.

We hit the ground running about 10:30 am or so from the hotel (after checking in immediately from the airport) and ignored our jet lag to race off on foot to the Eiffel since it is the ultimate icon of Paris and we did not want to be inside a cab as the scenes blurred past us. We approached it from the back side (excuse my French) and found the neighborhood around it to be charming and exceedingly photogenic. We wanted to rent a flat there. We already started planning…we wanted to chuck our lives in the USA and live in Paris for a while. She would become a writer and travel photographer, I would paint and write my fourth book. We would dress the way French women dress. We knew we could do it. We discussed it over pastries, in lieu of birthday cake since it was the actual day of my birth when we landed in Paris. Too large a birthday to mention any numbers here. Don’t even guess please. Just leave it alone. I had 2 huge pastries and a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Combined with jet lag.

I was stunned to finally be in Paris – I thought my chances of getting there anytime soon would be like …… pigs flying. I remained in a constant state of awe for all the next 7 days, 24/7, to such a degree that I had to repeatedly pinch myself. Paris is a state of mind, I learned. Much more than a mere city. It is now in my DNA and I must go back.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of My Birthday in Paris!

Please visit these two extraordinary Blog sites for beautiful, enlightening travel posts by my daughter Kelly K. Heapy at CompassandCamera.wordpress.com  and my traveling companion Angeline Susie Munoz at TheSundayTraveler.wordpress.com

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My Big Island Favorites and “The Whistler”, 2015

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Photos taken on my recent month-long stay on the Big Island of Hawaii – my 4th annual trip in what has become a welcome rest from the Colorado snow, although I do love snow. As you probably know by now, in my paintings or my photos, I am all about pattern, texture and color…as you can see.

We painted plein air, we painted in studio, we took day trips both north to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Waimea and down south of the Captain Cook area to a black sand beach where we were told about one particular whale who has become a local favorite, and a legend I predict. This whale is a female (because they see her every year with her newest baby) whose blow-hole is damaged or deformed somewhat, so when she blows she whistles a loud haunting whistle that everyone on shore can here. Each year they look forward to the return of “The Whistler” and watch her playing just off shore of this black sand beach in the evening hours. I took the sunset pictures you see here at that very location. They also tell me that the whales breech here daily in February/March making loud smacking sounds when their tales hit the water – loud enough in the morning hours to wake you from a sound sleep. They are swimming north on their yearly migration, headed through the Maui Channel onward to Alaska, and this beach is a resting place to stop and play. We also saw whales in Kona harbor, purposely, I believe, putting on quite a show for everyone lined up on the pier one evening. Is it possible….can you imagine….that this human-being/whale connection is somehow bigger than we all imagine? They know that in certain areas of the planet we are appreciative and friendly, desperately wanting to know them better and wishing them no harm, while in other foreboding seas they might be cold bloodedly slaughtered.

All animals who migrate, including whales, sea turtles and sharks, migrate for just three simple reasons – mating and birthing, abundant feeding and a climate that is tolerable. Those three conditions rule their travels.

I do believe that the same three conditions rule the travels of human beings! Think about it.

The Creative Epiphany – The Schizophrenic Artist With Her Hair on Fire

?????????? Mixed media Collage titled “Broken Road” by Jo Ann Brown-Scott, copyright 2014

Remember a couple weeks ago I was talking about the creative person who changes his/her style and cannot please everyone in the process? I said it is no one’s business but your own how you paint, what you paint, and what direction your unique evolutionary process takes you. OK that is a given. But some of us do it a little differently, so it’s no wonder the innocent viewer is confused. This “being a creative artist”, meaning any kind of creative person at all, is multi-faceted, and it not only goes deep, it goes very wide, and then it goes deeper again. If you were fracking for the good stuff, the core, the gem of being an artist, you’d have to go in from the side as well as going deep. Very seldom do you get a gusher, and rarely when you do, it is not just about the art. There is just so much else down there….

So – your evolution within your creativity is your journey – your adventure – and no one else will ever truly grasp your struggle with it. Some people follow a straight path, sensible and logical, one style morphing slowly into another, evolving sanely; others do not. They take the broken road. Being an artist, writer, musician (such as the ones who are in the symphony orchestra but play rock & roll for fun), of many styles, all running consecutively throughout your career is insanely different and only once in a great while at some special intersection does it feel the same as those who go in the straight line. You do move forward, but in a more exhaustive frenetic pace. I guess you could put it this way – you are evolving as an artist just fine, thank you very much, but in so many arenas that you jump from one arena to the other as they all race along neck to neck in a parallel line, often changing lanes in the same day, because you could not possibly live long enough to wait until one style runs its course before you start on another. You are too impatient for that! You need to be trying out lots of ideas at once to see which one sticks and becomes the money -maker or the emotional shaker. You are a three-ring circus, a one-man band, or in the extreme a psycho artist with your hair on fire. I actually think many fine artists of the painting variety do this, and they are on fire in a good way. If you can manage the chaos it works to your advantage since one style or avenue of creativity feeds on the other, and is enhanced by the proximity of all the other creative outlets you are pursuing. So you multi-task and you get more done than if you did not. That is the fun part.

Oh but wait…painting the canvas is only one component of the puzzle. There is still much to be done after you have dripped blood onto a canvas and bled out, giving it all you’ve got. The rest is all done behind the scenes in the third world sweat shop studio where YOU are the one working 24/7 with no days off. After the styles and the choices and the evolution and the actual work all fall into place, then the real work begins. Unless you have hit it so big that you can pay $$$ to have the drudgery contracted out to about a half-dozen other worker-bees, you must do it yourself in your “off hours” from painting.

For instance, if you are an artist who is also a talented writer, those gifts combined feed the way you execute and explain your art, both verbally and in print. You will need to write a distinctive Bio, an Artist’s Statement, a resume, as well as keeping a detailed inventory of your work. If you are also a photographer, you can learn to correctly photograph your own art, saving hundreds of dollars and a boatload of time. If you are a computer wiz you can edit your photos and arrange them with text in your portfolio, after sizing them, cropping them, making color corrections and adjusting them for accurate brightness and contrast. If your work requires framing, well then frame it yourself or allow an enormous amount of money to have a professional do it – and allow plenty of time for that to happen. Weeks and weeks sometimes. If you understand the basics of sales and distribution, then you have a head start toward marketing your own art, or supervising the sales rep you pay $$$ to research galleries and sort through possible “good fit” retail and wholesale representation in your behalf. If you have an eye for display, you can offer an educated suggestion for how your work should be shown in a gallery situation where it must flow seamlessly from image to image. And last but not least, if you are a people person and you can bring a congenial first impression and a quality conversation under pressure, remembering names and faces and leaving a lasting impression, well then you have what it takes to be a success. Tired yet?

But wait again! How can you do all that and still have time to paint in several different styles all racing along at once? Therein lies the challenge. Good luck with that. But ask yourself, “Is there anything else I would rather be doing?”

If your answer is YES, then move on, and do it well.

The Creative Epiphany – Seems like a Pattern Might be Forming

stairs  If you are a junkie for the sensuality of color, the allure of textures both worn and shiny new, and the perfectly fascinating personality of various patterns, then you must take a look here. I am an artist – I paint. I am especially passionate about color, texture and pattern which are always present to a certain degree in my artwork. I just returned from a trip to Singapore and Thailand – can you imagine my delight, observing such magnificent color, such tactile and time worn textures and such intensely busy pattern?  I was on such a happy/goofy level of sensory overload the entire time I was there that the culture shock of coming home was evident to me on so many levels…I flew through Seattle back into the states…and it was raining and gray….coming home…leaves gone from the trees…winter.

In this photo gallery I hope you will notice that this much color and pattern and texture brings a joyful response from your senses, a few audible WOW’s I hope – yes it is a lot to see all at once so take it in small doses if you’d like – but please do accept these pictures as a sign that the world can still present you with visual delights that make your heart race. Surprisingly the restaurant shophouse entry with white chairs, so uninhibited in color that you might suspect it of being Mexican, is actually located on Arab Street, where some of the most fun and friendly people greeted us. The ornate temple facades, reminiscent of icing on birthday cakes (no disrespect intended!)  are of course from the Grand Palace grounds in Bangkok where the three-dimensional tiny mosaic pieces are not much larger than your thumbnail. The gorgeous mural at the top of the stairs in the first photo is in the entry foyer of the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok.

Have a look – I hope I will detect a smile of pleasure on your face. If it makes you dizzy, enjoy the ride.

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photo 3 (3)   arab  urn  manone

mosaic  monks   flowers  mantwo

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The Creative Epiphany – Nature’s Holiday Offering

path lichen sunone treemoss water suntwo fernsIt has been a week since I last posted and I am here to tell you that there is good reason. I have an excellent explanation wrapped around a thoroughly entrancing story, all true, which will remain undocumented in this Blog. It is a story well worth telling, but in another space and time. It is the kind of a story that marks a pivotal change; a “sea change” in my life – a story that will forever hold a bookmark as one of my favorite chapters.

I believe a theme runs through everything, and if there is a theme revealed in this untold tale it is that for everything there is a season, and a reason, and that timing is everything. However, SOMEDAY is not a day of the week. Don’t be putting stuff off for that future some day. Be alert and don’t be skittish – when opportunities brush quietly against you, notice that. Sometimes a softer touch delivers a more monumental impression that a wallop. Live in the now and sieze the magical moments that life offers you.

These photos were taken in Muir Woods – a northern California treasure near the Pacific coast just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The rains had come down in sheets for two solid days – walls of water – with serrated, biting teeth – leaving open wounds on trees, shrubbery – maiming things – tearing the last of the fall colors limb from limb. But then when it stopped, it stopped.

I found myself in Muir Woods, a glistening cathedral of giant redwood trees dripping irridescent liquid from every branch as if in holiday regalia. The filtered sun added golden sparkle to the silver, and the tumultuous creek became the hallelujah chorus. Mounds of newly washed moss appeared deeper green on tree trunks, rocks and entrances to the same hollowed logs you see in the pictures of fairy tales books. Rocks displayed new colors wet with rain, ferns uncurled their feathery fronds to lap up drippings.

The respect paid by fellow visitors to nature’s display was apparent and  walking the woods became a prayer.

The Creative Epiphany

The Creative Epiphany
Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations

We are proud to say we have fans of the book around the world. There is something for everyone inside these apple green covers. I selected 18 people to write chapters for this book, chosen for the extraordinary  realizations they had experienced involving their creativity which opened their eyes to some missing puzzle piece that changed the way they looked at life, taking them in a direction they had never before imagined until they had a creative epiphany. The book is available with Amazon.com and other booksellers. When you are a creative person one of the most difficult decisions you face is choosing which direction to follow – usually multiple directions are available because you are a creative idea machine spitting out more ideas than you might ever be able to put into practical use. My Introduction to the book discusses the phenomenon of being highly creative and what agonies and ecstasies await you in life. Creativity is always a challenge; a curse at times; a gene you cannot deny any more than you can deny the color of your eyes. As for me, I seem to have settled upon fine art and writing as my most passionate pursuits after putting in some years in other more practical positions teaching Interior Design, working in sales and marketing for a financial advisory firm, then Director of Marketing for my boss’s financial book which led to the decision to author and market my own book,  being an art gallery director for a couple of great locations which was the best training for the successful marketing of my own art in fine galleries. They say that life prepares you for life, and that is exactly how it worked for me. You become involved in what you love, you learn from it and you make it your own direction. I was enrolled in watercolor classes when I was about 8 years old at the Dayton Art Institute, feeling validated and proud even at that young age that I was indeed an artist, so identity was never in question for me. I am saddened and surprised by some people of great talent who never manage to see themselves as authentic artists – I tell all of my students that they are artists.  I sold my first piece of art when I was in high school and began selling professionally after I graduated from U. of Colorado with a BFA. And so it has gone.

The journey of an artist, a photographer, a designer, a musician, a poet, a writer, a chef, a race car driver – or any career that is non-robotic – is long but it also needs to be WIDE. There is much to be said for WIDTH – because every journey stretches long into the future but it must not be a narrow, one lane trip.  My advice is to use your peripheral vision  so you don’t miss the great side stuff as you watch for the end goal. That’s like going to a three-ring circus and only watching the center ring. Creativity demands a big picture view. If you live in the now, being aware of the possibilities to your left and right as you move forward, you just never know what epiphanies will brush against you. Creativity is BFF with serendipity, improvisation and unexpected opportunity. When the epiphany light bulb goes on, you’ll be enlightened.