My Injured Buddha

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I collect Buddha sculptures wherever I go. I have them displayed in my home and studios in a variety of materials and sizes. I do not discriminate. It matters not to me  whether Buddha is represented in bronze, stone, marble, solid silver, gold, terra cotta, jade or agate and if I see a plastic Buddha that stirs me I will buy it, because I am sure that the humble Buddha does not mind and I personally have no shame. In my collection I have Buddha likenesses from Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan,  Hawaii and various other locations around the world and in the mainland USA.

By far the most unusual geographic location in which I have ever purchased a Buddha was in a little shop specializing in Tibetan jewelry and other exotic treasures in Flagstaff, Arizona. My sister and I were wandering around aimlessly one morning following our fancy wherever it led us, having a great, leisurely escape when we stumbled upon the place – the place where I found the Buddha for whom I carry the most affection of any in my possession.

I was going through a hard time during that month, feeling a little wounded and beaten up by life. The event that caused those feelings actually escapes me now, years later, which is a good thing. Whatever it was, it was only temporary. Maybe my sister would remember. Vicki? Are you there?

I saw this remarkable Buddha in the glass case. I asked to see it, touch it and admire it closer. The face appeared to be gold leaf, but I doubted that preciousness coming from there, a tiny little shop in Flagstaff, AZ. and it truly did not matter to me whether it was genuine gold leaf or not. The lady removed it from the case and sat it on the counter. I sensed its weight with that gesture; she said it was heavy steel. I immediately noticed the deep crack that meandered from the golden forehead up into the head; it had been damaged somewhere and sometime in the very distant past. I found that both sad and intriguing. She assured us it was from Nepal.

She told us that she had another one, identical except for the crack, in perfect condition and asked if perhaps I’d like to see it. Of course!

It was perfect. I could not believe there were two. Obviously I chose the blemished Buddha, because upon that day, when I felt the pain, I decided to embrace it. I was sure I was meant to have the blemished Buddha, and I felt I had found a true, personalized relic meant as a treasure just for me…found randomly in a tiny shop in a very unlikely location a world away from its birthplace, and now mine. It seemed like Karma to me.

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Hangin’ With the Creative Ones

And what an awesome tribe it is! ;)

Seldom have I written one blog so closely on the heels of the previous one, as a follow up, but here we go….since I seem to have struck a very good nerve with yesterday’s post.

Creative people always have new insights and alternatives that no one else thought of. And we really don’t know for sure where they come from. Yet it is such a simple, basic  concept; and the most obvious way of spotting a more creative thinker. How many times have you been involved in a conversation with a person, or a group of people where someone is struggling with a decision in which some choices, some alternatives, must be weighed and considered so that the right  decision can be made – and yet that person believes the decision must be made at the exclusion of all the other viable and even desirable choices? I see that a lot – people believing that one choice must trump all others and that valuable sacrifices have to be made to achieve the major goal. Well that is just crazy.

For many years I saw myself as only an artist – I thought that my constant desire to write would dilute the art pursuit, lesson my attention to it and even diminish it. As I matured I discovered that I had a book or even a half dozen books inside me shouting for my attention, and I began to say to myself, “If not now, when?” I said to me, “What in the hell is your excuse not to write? Do you want to stifle this urge for the rest of your life?” OH! You mean that painting thing you do….well just maybe the writing would actually enhance the art and vice versa. I had to try it and it worked. The two passions in my life dovetail perfectly and have each become better for the union. The  two are so much alike, and one feeds the other in a constant loop of inspiration. Miraculously there is a little space left in my mind for other stuff too – I still have time to read, exercise, eat some food once in a while, sleep  and have some fun in addition. What a surprise. Imagine that.

You could say I had an epiphany – one of my favorite subjects. My second book, THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations is the result of my own epiphany breakthrough. I have had many life-changing epiphanies in my life, and I learned a long time ago that if you ignore the little message coming to you from your subconscious, you will regret it later. It will come back louder and more often until it is red-faced, wild-eyed and literally screaming and spitting at you to listen!! So be aware and open to inner voices. They always tell the truth and they always have your best interests at heart, because they are from the soul. Your soul. Like a pipeline of the truth, coming from where the truth really lives.

Many creative people have had such revelations. I believe we all, as human beings, have in common the potential to tap into the messages coming from our higher self, our inner voice, our soul – whatever you choose to call it – but few exercise that ability on a steady basis except the more creative ones. We often feel that we are actually channeling our creative gifts from beyond, and that our creative breakthroughs come to us from outside our own consciousness. There are many books on this subject. People call that phenomenon being in the flow. You could read the book FLOW  – the psychology of optimal experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi published by Harper for more information.

In the meantime, you can also surround yourself with creative people who think beyond the normal scope of things. Yes, everyone calls it outside the box but even that is limiting. I believe that highly creative people are in tune with the universe.

The Abstraction Connection

construction 003 copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott 2014 – not yet titled

Good day or evening to you – I have been painting all day and although it was not the YLC that I was working on, it has been a productive afternoon.

One of the ways to decide whether or not an abstracted image – a totally abstracted image with little or no hint of realism – is well balanced, carefully composed with lights, darks, texture, line, space etc etc etc is to view it from all 4 orientations. This is why you sometimes see people nearly standing on their heads at art museums, getting a new directional perspective on a piece of art. If the art is a well composed piece, it must “work” from any rotation. Some rotations might work better than others but they must all be successful for it to be a really good abstract.

Sooner or later the artist has to sign the painting and that generally happens at the bottom (although not always) so he/she artist must make a decision at some point. That decision might not be the most popular orientation for you. I do, personally and emphatically, believe that when you hang the painting, you really are sort of obligated to hang it in the direction the artist preferred it to hang, placing the signature side wherever that artist wanted the signature to be. If he/she signed it on the side, and it is hung that way by the artist, then please hang it that way, OK? Oh I know – it is your home and you can do whatever you want….but try to play nice and honor the work that was done and the intent of the artist. The art cops won’t storm through your door and change it on the wall but the art Buddha might frown if you hang a gorgeous painting the wrong way. You just do not want to offend the art Buddha – that is just such bad Karma. Not to mention offending the artist him/herself, even if he/she never even sees it.

Attached is a photo of the painting I finished today – and it is a perfect example of an image that can hang in any direction. Generally speaking the human eye prefers the darker areas of a painting at the bottom (seems logical – gravity), but sometimes the artist wants to give you a visual JOLT and make you re-think your reaction a little bit so he/she artist puts the darkest area at the top. Sometimes the dark is on a side, more often it is on the bottom. The focal point can be anywhere, even almost sliding off the side into oblivion. This painting seems to work in any direction for me, but I’d like to hear what you think.

There are several dots in this painting – two black and one orange and a small yellow circle as well. Using round dots is a thing I often do, and have always done. The dots in this piece have several purposes – there are many straight lines, squares, boxes and rectangles in this piece and the dots are placed to make your eye move around and to create movement and rhythm among all the geometric shapes; they are also there for roundness amid all the angles.

No title yet – that sort of depends upon the final orientation I choose.

Still have not given up on the Year Long Canvas – have faith.

http://www.epiphanysfriends.com

www.https://joannbrownscottart.artspan.com

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 – January 6th, The Day of Epiphany

photo 5 (3) photo 4 (3) mantwo manone

Photos courtesy of my recent trip to Singapore and Bangkok, October 2013

This blog was originally written as a broader continuation of my second book, The Creative Epiphany – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations available on Amazon.com, by Jo Ann Brown-Scott. Since the book was published in 2008 we have had what I am going to say is great success for a first time author and a book that was published through Amazon’s self-publishing division. As I frequently say, the GIFT OF CREATIVITY is AWARDED FREE AT BIRTH –  everyone gets some. Your lifelong challenge is to accept it, locate its best vehicle and venue, then define how you can most effectively use it for yourself and the greater good. Remember that part about “the greater good”  because we do not include clever, creative criminals in the greater good category.

After you read my Introduction, in which you will come to know the lovely, personified creativity as I see her and defines just what a creative epiphany is, then offers suggestions for how you might be able to tap into a life-changing epiphany for yourself as well, you will see that the book is a compilation of personal experiences from 19 creative people including myself, who all had life-changing epiphanies involving their personal gifts of creativity. I selected people for the book based upon recommendations from friends, my own circle of eccentric acquaintances, family members and experts I knew. I interviewed the prospects by phone and in person, the theory being that if that person had an amazing life-altering story and could tell it beautifully in a normal conversation, holding my attention for hours, then that person could write it down and with my editing then release it for the world to read, thus changing lives. I was right – the stories are all told in a conversational style that I was careful to edit without stomping out the character and personality of the teller thus altering the book into a collection of boring, homogenized junk. It is not a perfect, polished example of literature – it is a real, down and dirty book from people living out in the trenches of a creative life, and that is not an easy life. They tell it like it is.

I have heard from many “strangers” who read the book, enjoyed it and gained something from it, including a psychologist who says he uses it as therapy, a highly devout woman doing work in a Buddhist monastery, a person walking down the streets of London who happened to see that the person coming toward her was also carrying a copy of this book. With Amazon you reach the world – with blogs you reach the world. For me, sitting here at my computer or painting in my studio, that is an intoxicating phenomenon. I have so much to say, and thank you profoundly for listening.

(Oh and as a side note – They say the sincerest form of flattery is to copy – and we have had that experience with our book in a publication that did not just borrow our idea but was bold enough to use my exact phrasing from the back cover of the book. If you check the dates of publication it is obvious who is copying who…and so was I flattered? Not so much. Not in the least. Was I angry? Much. What is that old quote? The one that says, “Be Yourself – everyone else is already taken.” Well hell yes, of course.)

The Day of Epiphany, January 6th. approaches I wanted to honor it with this blog. According to Wikipedia, the Day of Epiphany is defined this way:

  • Epiphany (feeling), an experience of sudden and striking realization
  • Epiphany (religion), the appearance of a deity to a human, known as theophany
  • Hierophany, an epiphany or manifestation of the sacred more broadly defined than a theophany
  • Darśana, Hindu term commonly used for “visions of the divine”

I prefer to reference the modern definition of epiphany when I write about it – the “light bulb” effect when a piece of life-changing inspiration or information comes to you in a moment of grand realization. You have had that happen – I know you have. It is both shocking and welcomed – sometimes the “knowing” percolates up through your consciousness over a period of time and gently but powerfully gains your attention – at other times the message might strike you instantaneously like a bolt of lightening. The common thread is that an epiphany brings information – an enlightening message of some variety – that you did not have before. A missing piece in your plans. And you needed it to move forward. It is of great help to you and utmost importance that you pay attention to it.

There are some keys to accommodating the arrival of the coveted epiphany – the best one is to remain open and present, living in the now, aware and alert to all possibilities. Keep a receptive mind, engaged and involved in life. Be hopeful. Have faith.

The creative epiphany – read about it. Listen. Have one.

www.epiphanysfriends.com

The Creative Epiphany – Giant Redwood-like Birthdays

sunone Muir Woods, California

Today I am having one of those epic birthdays, right on the heels of Thanksgiving, that are thrust upon you to get your complete attention and sober you up about life. I am beginning to feel like a giant Redwood. Last year launched me involuntarily and against my protests into a new decade and now, a brief, fleeting, sort of nano-second year later I have my first year of that decade already under my belt. My belt is tightening with all the decades under it. When I was growing up I never could imagine I’d be this old, and I thought that if by any chance I was, someday, this old, I would be at death’s door – shriveled and feeble and ditsy and wrinkled and not having any fun at all. Might as well be dead, I thought.

I am none of those things, to my own amazement. I walk normally, I can still run and climb steep mountain trails, I am not at all feeble, and/or ditsy. I have a gorgeous boyfriend and yes we are lovers. I am a bit wrinkled but so are my younger friends, and I am having Tons Of Fun, enjoying one of the greatest periods of time in my life. Who knew it would be like this? I still listen to the R&R station on the radio when I drive because it is upbeat and infinitely more energizing than the news talk shows. I do believe that the channels you listen to on the car radio are revealing of your internal state of affairs. Please don’t listen to those idiotic and arrogant “spouter – offers” who seem to want every single person on the planet to believe as they do. They will pollute your day, robbing it of any optimism and cheerfulness, and eventually sour your mind and your soul on life. Listen to the fun stuff.

Yesterday around the Thanksgiving table we were discussing how old all of us are. Finally I offered the info to my sweet 5 year old great-niece that I was going to be 71 today. Her eyes widened, she looked at me and said, “Great (she drops off the “aunt” ) Jo, you are going to die!” Everyone laughed and I was the first to agree with her. But I am not dying today. I am nowhere near being finished.

Honestly, composing this blog is my attempt at brushing off this birthday with clever observations when in reality my birthday is always a deeply emotional moment in time for me. Last week I was reminded again and mourned again the fact that JFK was killed just a week before my 21st birthday. I can’t say that I enjoy birthdays anymore when they are my own. I have a reputation for making other people’s birthdays special and spectacular, but not my own. I see my own as harsh reminders. I am always glad glad glad when the day is over and I can stop the celebration. I can’t wait to move on…..I appreciate everything that loving people do for me, but moving on is my desire.

What I will say to you now is nothing more than the obvious – life seems to grind along most of the time like a slow and heavy wheel, but it is a true phenomenon that when you get older the years begin to fly by. I first noticed this when I turned about 50. The number of years you have lived are greater in length and represent a higher percentage of your probable lifetime than the years you have ahead, and so an urgency settles in. You have that feeling – that looking over your shoulder feeling – that something is chasing you. Instead of trying to run faster, you understand that no matter how fast you can still run, the years are gaining on you, gobbling up your time. You have a lot you want to do and an indefinite period of time in which to do it. If you are an artist, as I am, you know that you are painting better than ever but the payment you make for that reward is a loss of time. Every single day is precious, every holiday, every visit, every moment. Every brushstroke on your canvas has to count.

Gratitude is a word you begin to use more often. Thankfulness. Astonishment at your blessings. But you want to feed the hungry children, save the whales, see peace in your lifetime, witness miracles, travel into space, and leave a lasting legacy. You wonder about lost opportunities, you have experienced forgiveness, you hope for second chances, there are mistakes you can still correct….. you often feel unworthy…..you would like to believe in reincarnation. You value living in a country where life itself is the greatest gift and every life is valued, a country where we can all make a difference and freedom is the consistent, primary focus.  But it’s getting late.

It is my 71st birthday right now but tomorrow I will be ok again.

The Creative Epiphany – Rituals

I am fascinated by the rituals of our daily lives – tasks of loving maintenance that we repeatedly perform, knowing there is no end to them because they will have to be done again and again. And so in the performance of them they become a meditation, a devotion, an affirmation of thankfulness. They might seem mundane and at times we might tire of the “doing” but the larger tapestry they weave is one of productivity and dedication. Baking the bread, preparing the food, stringing beads, sweeping the porch, rocking the baby, doing the dishes – those repetitive chores common to all people. I would also broaden the definition of Rituals to include the telling of memorable family stories to our children and the keeping of deep friendships, year after year. Carrying the family torch, so to speak, passing Life Wisdom from generation to generation; a mantra for humanity. It is all ritual to me, lovingly offered up to those we care about most, century after century.

My Ritual paper assemblages begin with handmade scrolls of various exotic papers placed in a design and then heavily embellished with meaningful items that indicate ethnicities, tribes and families – after all, we all belong to a tribe of one kind or another. Even you and me. In these art pieces you will often find small colorful beads constructed by the women of Uganda using recycled paper, carefully cut into elongated triangles, then rolled, glued, lacquered and dried in the sun. (Go to www.BeadforLife.org for more information.) The distinctive chunky black beads with white dots & designs are made by the women of Kenya from sections of found Water Buffalo bone and horn, an animal that is not endangered in Africa. Feathers, shells, ribbons, tassels, leather and dried pine needles and other found objects are often used.

The final product is not intended to be religous but rather a spiritual creation that speaks to people everywhere of our collective calling to perform life’s Rituals.