Blogging Taught Me This

children  My photo taken in the countryside outside Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2015

I am coming up on a personal milestone in my blogging career of the past several years – soon I will reach 10,000 views which is a nice round number to achieve. I am excited about it, but compared to many others I could name whose blogs I follow and read religiously, that is a very small number. In my humble career as a blogger I have however, learned a great deal about people, travel, the art of writing, life, photography and the wonders of the world. Several meaningful discoveries have been made through my writing and reading of blogs.

  1. If you are able to find a way to travel, domestically or internationally, you owe it to a life well lived to do that at every opportunity. I am of the opinion that people who venture out of their own comfort zones and soak up the knowledge they gain along the way are the everyday prophets of the world. I don’t care if you simply walk across town, ride a bike, trek around Mt. Everest or trek to a national park,  journey on a train, or a bus or a boat or a plane or climb a fourteener in Colorado – just leave your everyday environment behind for a while. Even for just an afternoon! What you will learn far outweighs any perceived inconvenience in getting there. Then be sure you write and talk about it. Share your experiences. Impart some knowledge. Bring the world together.
  2. What will you learn? You will learn how to get outside your own importance. You will begin to know and appreciate other lifestyles; other people’s struggles and joys, other scenery, other people’s ways of making a living and how they spend their leisure time if they have any. How they raise their children, how they worship, what they eat, where they live, what they wear and what they sleep on at night. You might read all that in a book, of course but unless you smell it, hear it, touch it, breathe it in and see it with your own eyes  you will not truly know anything for sure about what other people are up against. Whether it is our Louisiana flooding or even if – even if it is a mere 10 miles away from where you live.
  3. As a result of traveling, you will get better at tolerance, kindness, understanding, generosity, love and even forgiveness. You will be a better person, I guarantee. Why? Because it is hard to ignore a barefoot, raggedy clothed, dusty little child, painfully underfed, without toys, living in a dirt-floored hovel that the monsoons are likely to flatten and flood in 2 months. You will think of him and his family, from a world away, when you hear on the news that there is flooding in Cambodia and hundreds of people have had their rice fields swept away. You will care very deeply.
  4. All of those experiences will make a better person of you and your children and friends. You will have a deeper and wider frame of reference upon which to base your beliefs and opinions about what needs to be done in the world. And you will use that platform for change, in whatever way you can. You will have personal stories to tell that will influence others and inspire them to travel and provide good works wherever they go. If you travel you have a fine opportunity to be a positive ambassador for the USA. We need more of those.
  5. Finally, for now, but certainly not lastly, if you are a creative person artistically,  musically, if you write or you photograph or you simply keep a humble travel journal – whatever expression stirs your soul – it will become far more profound in meaning if you travel. It cannot help but get better. You will employ travel and use it all as food and fuel for your heart and mind. You will find yourself saying poetic things you never thought you would utter, writing about other worlds, seeing everything with new eyes and loving the diversity of the planet as never before, because you had no basis upon which to know what you had been missing. Your mind will open up and you will become wiser for with every travel experience.

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.

New Novel – http://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

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Since I’ve Been Gone

IMG_5697 The BIG ISLAND

I thank all of you who have recently discovered this Blog in my absence and you loyal followers who have continued to read, substituting my Archives for the regular Blog entries, since I have been gone…..it is very gratifying to know that the Blog lives and breathes without my assistance. It did not even need life support, almost having more views than when I was home and writing more often. Hmmm…that makes me wonder.

I have been in Hawaii, on the Big Island, specifically 1000 feet above Kona on the west coast, for about six weeks. I will not rub it in; simply put I had a spectacular time. As with any extended vacation, one’s life changes, adapts and settles down to a new routine even within just 6 short weeks, and soon you realize you do not care anymore what happens beyond your days and nights in the paradise that has become your temporary norm. You hear all the news back home – the political crap and every other ridiculous media report back where your people are, but you pay it little attention and it sort of slides off of your consciousness like jello off a plate.

The more profound issues stay with you however and you gain greater clarity about them, including a dearly beloved family member who is battling cancer. With the sunsets and sea you do gain a degree of calm…just a bit more enlightenment…and your faith renews. Then just as you nestle deeply into that faith, really deeply, and you are sleeping every night  like a well-fed baby, hoping and believing again that all is actually going to be well in the world it is time to fly home on the red-eye and you are rather miserable to be returning to reality. You attempt to carry the good vibes with you. You want to believe. You want your faith to stay strong, back where it is still winter.

I have so many stories to tell. Wish we could sit and have a glass of wine and talk. Some are X rated and hilarious and there were other happenings I will never ever forget, standing out from everything else and those will be flashing memories in my mind like bright lights at a dive bar at 1 am for years to come. Crazy funny stuff, a scary thing or two (like nearly tripping over the huge, black coarse-haired, sharp-tusked, bloody, totally severed head of a wild pig on my happy little mindless walk one morning) to important spiritual stuff and everything in between. I am in love with the island and in love with the important reason I go there.

We went to new beaches I had never before seen in my past five years, painting on a different one every Friday morning with the West Hawaii Plein Air Paintersorganized by http://Richard Rochkovsky.com  and then some afternoons from 3-6 pm with the sunset painters group of Peter and Lily Jefferson. Every beach has a personality; gorgeous & benevolent, rocky & dramatic, and the black sand beaches are especially startling next to Prussian Blue and emerald green water. Giant, cruise-ship sized waves (those beautiful burly thugs come roaring in this time every spring) once again crashed the coast on several of the islands including parts of the Kona coast and we were spectators to a Mother Nature show that never disappoints.

And now I am home again to the west Denver area, literally just at the base of the Rocky Mountains, only about 5 minutes from my favorite canyon and it is snowing cottonballs outside my windows and although it is magical, I long for sea breezes and salt air. I do have the perfect combo of a mountain and sea life. When I am here or there, I love the scenery I am sitting in, I soak it up, and either parting is bittersweet.

Thanks to all the new friends I met this trip! You were so hospitable and fun! See you again, same time next year. I am thankful for such a lovely visit!

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Author and Artist

Books – New novel,  A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON available on Kindle, and THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, both available on Amazon.com

Webhttp://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

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

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Within Eleven Days

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18 x 24 Mixed Media acrylic painting by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

The week started out rotten as a two week old peach left out in the rain – things looked bleak on all fronts with no solutions in sight to a number of problems. Usually I might comfort myself in the knowledge that none of my pathetic little issues are life or death situations but in this case there were several major situations and one of them was indeed a life or death struggle for a person I love…..and as I hung on, white knuckled and melting down with every passing silent hour while the phone did not ring and the texts were all too infrequent…..I tried to deal with the other situations that also required my (diluted) attention.

It seems ridiculous under those kinds of circumstances, but life does go on. The world does not stand frozen as you wait and wonder and agonize for news. Every tiny mundane task you must perform, every thought in your head, every meal you do not eat, every waking hour and every sleepless night spent twisting and turning in the belly of the darkness you continue to wait for the slightest news that things are improving. For days on end nothing much changes.

I would imagine most of you have been to that hollow terrifying place. If you have not, you are extremely fortunate, but know that some day it will visit you. No one escapes.

But then, after seven moons plus four, there is a turn for the better and I wake up to sun. The slightest baby steps have been taken and taken and taken, the news is more hopeful, the big picture seems to be improving and the world outside your mind gains color and noise and aromas once again. There has been a sea change of the utmost proportions.

Was it your prayers? Was it your faith? Was it sheer determination and a personal will to live? Did the universe intervene at your request? Does group prayer make a difference? Have you witnessed a miracle?

All of the above.

 

The After Party Before the Next Party

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Well it’s all over now until it is New Years Eve…the aftermath of a lovely Christmas is to me a sigh of relief that all went well, a clean kitchen (finally) and a few days of delightfully normal food to stabilize, everyone safely home from their holiday travels and a ticket in my hand for Hawaii in February. Here in Denver it is currently 7 degrees with light snow falling, and we are losing ground – soon we will have no degrees left unless they are minus. Tomorrow night we are told to expect 15-20 below zero. I have enclosed a cell phone shot looking out of my upstairs studio window. Please excuse the quality but in this case it almost enhances the image….a sugar plum, sparkling blue and white 4 pm scene, when the snow is dry and powdery as stardust. You would almost think that everything is right with the world on a peaceful day like this.

As I sit in my studio, especially in this type of weather, writing my book and taking intermissions from it to paint, I feel fortunate to have both of those pursuits to choose from. It is a luxury to have the time, the warm and cozy space, the inspiration, dinner on the stove and a lot of friends and family who care enough to check in with me once in a while. I feel wealthy in these conditions with those blessings.

My New Year’s wish for all of you is much the same. As the Christmases pile up into nearly a full lifetime, the urgency of time settles in, and I hope you are as inspired as I am to make every moment count. Even if all you are doing is sitting quietly looking out the window at nothing in particular, if you are thankful and cognizant of your blessings, it counts as quality time in my book. In 2015 I plan to use my days wisely, spending them on worthy pursuits, great friends and family, and thankfulness.

Happy New Year!

Jo

The Wonders of the World

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Photos taken are from the Denver area and Conifer, Colorado

Here we are in late December about to celebrate Christmas and fortunate to be living in the United States of America at a particularly daunting time in history. The world around us churns with random chaos and mayhem, and yet, for the most part, we are able to enjoy our holidays in comfort and joy. This year, as always, my family is all over the world map visiting exotic places where both work and play summon them. Their passports are getting full; one had to be replaced with a new one this year. We are a close family that keeps in almost daily touch with each other, but we are seldom together as a group during the holidays. Christmas is a difficult occasion for me, the older I get, but I am so very thankful that we all live lives rich in unique experiences that includes acquaintances and friends from all over the globe.

Many of our favorite blogs involve travel, and travel in these precarious times is both a luxury and a risk, whether or not you are going out of the country. My family and I  have learned volumes from our travels. My two grown children in particular have been shining examples – respectful and constantly fascinated travelers/ambassadors for the United States of America wherever they go, and they go to some especially unusual places – Yemen, Madagascar, the Arctic Circle, Myanmar and Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Gabon, Irag, Kurdistan, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Viet nam and the list goes on. You would have to know them and hear their stories to realize that they make friends of every person they encounter, and my family does indeed know that for sure, having heard their tales ranging from the hair-raising to the miraculous for many years now. They have gone to places where Americans might not be welcomed, maintaining their dignity and  compassion, knowing that government does not always represent people. They have made lasting friends in all walks of life and with people quite eager to meet Americans and ask questions of them despite the official tone of the location.

My son happened to be in Poland on business when 9/11 occurred, and received the warmest comfort and the most profound sympathy and understanding during his stay there, as his home country was brought to its knees. People are people everywhere.

Christmas always leaves me sentimental and missing my nearest and dearest, but what our family has gained by being away far outweighs my temporary sadness. I am partly responsible for all this distance, instilling in my children a sense of adventure and discovery from the time they could walk. The wonders of their traveling lives are instantly revealed to me via Instagram and text messages until I can see them again, and I find myself wondering how people ever endured such distance without the constant  ability to be in touch. We are so fortunate.

I wish all of you around the world a loving and meaningful holiday season in a safe place with the ones you love the most!

Birthday Schmirthday

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I had to have another birthday last week. I am older than I have ever been and still dazed and confused about life much of the time, but doing fine. These birthdays can kill you. There were a couple days worth of celebration; cards, calls and lovely gifts mixed in with a few dark, unpleasant surprises, but such is life. It was a real birthday – real – not quite all love and laughter every single minute all the time. But that’s ok, I am ok and life goes on. Yesterday I had a birthday lunch and movie with a dear friend, tonight I am having a late celebration with an exceedingly important person in my life, and so the birthday beat goes on….beat beat beat, just like a heart.

I ran across several quotes this week that I happen to love so much that I wanted to share them with you. The one on the cover of the black book that I was given just yesterday, in the above picture, is stunningly true, and I know that because I have lived it. I guess we all have.

Here is the second one, from one of my favorite people for wise and wonderful quotes, Maya Angelou :

“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”

That can keep you thinking all day long, going over your life and remembering when you might have made that mistake. When you reach the upper birthdays you have probably, if you are getting older AND wiser, weeded some folks out of your days because they are no longer an enhancement to your life, for one reason or another. Life gets short, your days are numbered, you have a sense of urgency about how you will best spend your time remaining. If a certain someone is not ever contributing to the great good, you tend to see less of them, wanting to spend your days in positivity and appreciation for all the things that bring you to a good place, a place of comfort and joy.

Many Thanks to my brother, for sending me one of the most beautiful, original birthday greetings I have ever had. I will keep it and read it every year. Thanks to all my many friends ( including my blog friends whom I have never met) and relatives for remembering me and being the loving support that keeps me going, because it really does take a village, for your entire life. I value your words of wisdom and your ability to make me laugh. I have you in my life because you are all lights in my universe, and we all need to have light. You all influence how I paint, what I write about, what I say in conversation and what I believe in my heart to be true. We are all the sum of many parts, and I am the expression of the sum total of the people I surround myself with. So are you.

But you all probably already knew that, didn’t you?

 

 

September Report on the Year Long Canvas

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New September YLC copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott 2014

An eye is meant to see things. The soul is here for its own joy. I am not contained by this universe. – RUMI

If you remember, the last time I posted a blog about the Year Long Canvas my intention was to enter the piece, as it was then, in a juried show at the cooperative CORE GALLERY on S. Santa Fe Drive in Denver. You can see the type of art they show at http://www.corenewartspace.com

My decision was made on impulse, just because I was curious to see what would happen. The gallery is well respected and they had over 135 entries into the open show. The sole juror of the show, Jt Urband, is a well-credentialed professor with degrees from the U. of Penn who now teaches plein air painting at Denver’s Arapahoe Community College. He did not choose to accept either of my abstract entries into the show, but I was rather impressed with most of the 30 paintings that were accepted, with the exception of a couple pieces.

The lesson here is that there is no lesson – usually not a tangible reason can ever be revealed as to why you were accepted or not accepted into juried art shows. I know of shows where the judge’s personal art experience had nothing whatsoever to do with the type of art that he was asked to judge for the show. Some art experts who admit to having no understanding of abstract art or taste for it might be included on the jury panel for a show heavy leaned toward the abstract. Or conversely, abstractly inclined jurors might be asked to judge a representational show. As an artist I find this rather frustrating and I would go so far as to say that I think it is just wrong, or at the very least, pointless. But that’s just me. Actually it is not just me – other artists feel the same way.

One of the primary requirements of being an artist is to develop a thick skin. You will be faced with a lot of rejection as your work evolves and matures. If you are willing to put it out there, get ready to hear what people really think about it. Listen and learn. But very seldom do you have access to why a juror did not select your work for a show – you are left wondering and wondering.

Since then I have slightly altered the YLC and if you are detail oriented you will notice the changes in the above photo. Just a few subtle additions of turquoise green inside the large black area so that it is not so much flat black, then a row of dots descending out of the yellow, and finally a few small geometric areas of the same color of turquoise green added on the right side of the orange ball and in other tiny areas. That’s it for now. I really do like the YLC painting at this very moment in time. It makes me happy to look at it and I think it is full of positive energy,  movement and drama. I see no negativity in it, and most of its areas work singly as well as enhancing the greater whole, as I see it. You can zoom in for details.

The summer has been a significant and important one for me with many exciting new experiences with friends and family, and the good karma of that has been manifested in this painting and others I have done. My paintings have been strong but joyful, powerful yet inviting, poetic and revealing of my happiness. Those of you who know me well understand exactly why and where this energy came from….and I am proud of the resulting artwork. I believe the art Buddha would be proud to hear about that, whether or not the YLC made it into a show. I am smiling as I say all this and all is well here with me. I wish the same for all of you creative ones.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Let the beauty we have be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. – Rumi

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Yeah yeah yeah – the Year Long Canvas is  still sitting there staring at me. I am stalled out with her. I am becalmed like a sailboat at sea, but enjoying where I am. I am living in the NOW.

I am currently painting other stuff that allows me to arrive at completion, because I am a task driven person and I like a feeling of accomplishment. I have not abandoned the YLC Project, but I seem to be on summer vaca from her. I’m spending time with people I enjoy, painting just for the fun of it, tending to my sunburn, going to concerts and hiking in the woods, in the rain, wearing my sparkling tiara that I was urged to make mine at a mountain garage sale on Sunday. Of course that’s silly. Would you deny me the pleasure of being silly? You better not….because I am hangin’ exclusively with people who make me happy these days  – the ones who contribute positive vibes to my life – the ones who prop me up and make me laugh and leave me with a warm glow. You all know who you are.

The Year Long Canvas needs my attention, I guess, but she is a great looking painting just the way she is. I don’t have it in me right now to alter her. I am SURE I have learned whatever lessons she was supposed to teach me already….pretty sure.

So if you are one of the ones who keeps ragging on me about making some more changes to her, just for the sake of change, you need a really strong argument to convince me that I need to do something. Especially now. Maybe later in the summer when my back is against the wall and I know I am going to have to come up with some answers to questions from my esteemed instructor Homare Ikeda – maybe then I will panic and make some kind of change to her. But right now I am following the advice of that same esteemed instructor who commanded all of us students to HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE SUMMER and PLAY!. That’s what I want to do – that’s what I’m talkin’ about. I am going to do THAT.

photo 3 (3) Relax – YLC is just fine. Alive and well and living here, with other canvases…..the ones who are finished. She is in good company.

Jo Ann Brown-Scott – to see additional art, visit the links below:

http://www.epiphanysfriends.com

http://joannbrownscottart.artspan.com/large-multi-view/single/2357019-0-/.html%5B/embed%5D