GratitudeI am grateful for family, the light that casts beauty across shadows, music that lifts emotions, a little house and garden filled with colour and love, friends and inspirations, the beauty of nature, the ocean’s cold spray, the soft barnacle skin of the grey whale and the possibilities that exist in life.
Category Archives: art and writing
(polaroid sx-70 / 600 film)
sneezy seeds float along the shine sun of blue sky as green buds unfurl and reach their hugs out to the sun and i smile
it has been unusually warm here, hot even, feeling more like the end of june than the end of april but i’m most definitely not complaining even though i am calling the rain to drench the ever dusty landscape and feed the green with nature’s wet joyous tears. there are clouds moving shadows across the sun today and that makes me smile as we celebrate the earth … today and everyday …
I live in the heart of a city, but when I look outside my window I breathe in the blue of the sky and the towering elm trees that create a canopy over my … (read more at lifeasahuman)
when i went to squam last year i was incredibly excited to meet that beautiful woman on the left, my friend leonie. in fact if truth be known, a few of us spent the night at a beautiful restored mill turned inn in new hampshire the night before squam and talked about who we were most excited to meet. i blushingly admited my girl crush was leonie and just between you and me, she totally lived up to all my expectations,
i mean, hello !!
and then there is the woman on the right. going into squam, i didn’t really know much about her at all so it is a complete mystery to me why i signed up for not just one but two classes that she was teaching. and now i wonder how on earth did i blog for this long without becoming a faithful reader / fan / stalker of the amazing jen lee?
almost two decades ago i fell madly head over heels in crush over natalie goldberg and i devoured writing down the bones (among others) and wrote heaps of poetic prose in mad rushes in pink paged notebooks with purple free flowing pens. well over a decade ago, i read a travel book by henry shukman called savage pilgrims: on the road to sante fe and i fell madly head over heels in love with new mexico and when he got to the part about meeting natalie goldberg, i nearly lost my mind. seriously. incidently, though this book is out of print, it really is quite brilliantly engaging, his prose is incredible and i have since re-read it more times than i care to admit.
what is my point? did i have a point? am i really going to compare jen lee to natalie goldberg. why yes i am. because she lit a fire under my butt that hasn’t been lit since back when i was reading natalie goldberg.
at squam i purchased, take me with you, a journal for the journey and then when i got home, i promptly put it on a shelf with the stack of half finished journals and did my best to forget about it. i did not, however, forget about jen and the impression she made on me as i started seriously thinking about writing again and storytelling and faithfully stalked her blog. and then she did it, she started, journey together in january. um. of course i was so in. over the holidays i organized my studio, i created a beautiful space to write, i painted. i painted a lot. i took photographs. i stayed silent on my blogs as i do every december. i stayed silent in my journals. i don’t actually believe i wrote anything anywhere (other than a splattering of facebook and twitter updates) in december. and then i watched part one in the journey. AND. I. HAVEN’T. STOPPED. WRITING!
It all feels very powerful and insanely private. but then a few nights ago i was talking to a dear friend on the phone and i suddenly found myself reading to her the first batch of words that i have journeled privately in a very long time. the words i wrote based on a prompt jen gave us. and it felt good. i was thinking i would share them here but please remember, they were written with the thought that no one would witness them and they are raw and unedited but its real and honest and me. rather than subject you to actually having to read my childish scrawl (though i thought about scanning them), i thought i would read them to you …
and a brief hello … very brief because as i was recording, my battery died so it cuts off rather abrubtly ;-)
Three days into december views and I am already doing a brief interlude of words. So thankful that its a no rules kind of participation. Also so thankful for all the beautiful bloggers who have joined me this year, so much lovely I can barely stand it and I have to say visiting all of you and seeing your beauty and quiet imagery is a like a gift. This community of my fellow creative beauties breaths a new energy into my life. Thank you and you and yes you too.
Another gift that I am grateful for is the gift of friendships which is why when I wasasked if I would participate in the madness of a book that was created in less time than it normally takes me to make a decision, I immediately said yes! I wrote on one of my most favourite of topics, the ways art can connect strangers and turn them into friends. I was also thrilled that one of my most favourite polaroids that i have taken to date was selected for the cover … I think it looks so beautiful and I feel so honoured and grateful to be a part of such an amazing vision proving once again that when we leap and take chances, beauty happens and we can do so much more than we think we can in such a short span of time. Did I mention that Jennifer McGuiggan is a superhero and someone I have admired for a few years now.
“Lanterns: A Gathering of Stories offers a kind light to weary travelers wishing for companions on the journey toward a well-crafted soul. Stories, poems, and essays offer signposts and gentle guidance, reminding readers that resistance melts away in the company of those who believe in the path set before us. By illuminating the ways we can move outside of our interior reflections into a more inclusive whole, this lovely book provides a way into togetherness that will encourage and inspire anyone longing for authentic connection around their creative work.”
~ Jen Lemen, artist, activist, dreamer
Lanterns is a beautiful 48-page book featuring essays, poems, and photography about life, friendship, and creativity by seven women who are committed to living artful, soulful lives. Jennifer McGuiggan of The Word Cellar created this collection to celebrate the light of friendships that emerge from creative community.
You can pre-order copies of Lanterns through December 13 for holiday delivery. Learn more and place an order at The Word Cellar. This is exactly the kind of gift you want to give your girlfriends, your daughters, your mothers, yourself. The gift of hope and inspiration and the reminder that creativity and community walk alongside each other, holding hands with smiling hearts.
**A portion of the profits from Lanterns will be donated to Girls Write Now, a New York City non-profit that helps underserved or at-risk high school girls by enabling them to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy choices in school, career, and life.
(blackberry curve / a foggy morning on my street)
i have a million things to say and nothing at all. i was in my happy zone, feeling quiet because my mind was buzzing with wonder. due to circumstances outside of my control, i have been propelled into the grey foggy zone which coincidentally has me feeling quiet because my mind is buzzing with exhaustion.
you know. life. its a series of ups and downs and curves and bends. the fog has a way of wearing us down, pushing inside and spreading throughout. the interesting thing is that i live in an environment that rarely sees fog. it is generally dry and crisp especially at this time of the year but every once in a while, there it is, a surprise and i always am in awe of its beauty.
i am trying to hold on to that, the beauty that exists in the fog and applying it to the grey opressive fog that has weaved its way through me.
i went to art camp and took writing and photography workshops, i connected to my essence and then i went to new york and wrote poetry in the pages of my journal, smashed in thoughts and recorded it all through a photograph, went to photographic exhibits and fell in love my polaroid sx-70 over and over and over again (eventually, i’ll post the photos).
i came home and other than pulling out my blackberry to snap a photo here and there (like the one above), i haven’t taken a photo, not a one. i came home and seemed to lose my ability to write online or in the many journals that litter my home and bags. i try to speak and my tongue fumbles around in my mouth, unable to express myself.
i came home and we finished organizing the basement, carting truckloads of stuff off to the donation centre. with a near empty basement in the main room, we purchased more mikes and sound equipment and strung fairy light lanterns and completed a fully functioning studio ready for rehearsals and no need to scoot around boxes or trip over dark cobwebbed corners.
and i found an armful of blank canvases …
i came home and started dreaming of colour and paint and images and i started frequenting art stores again. i organized all my paints, all my papers and bought an encaustic iron, a heat gun (!!!) and so many pretty colours and beeswax. i found a big box of unused, stashed away for this vision of an art project i had years ago (a good five years ago if i am honest with myself and you) of inkjet transparencies.
i went to art camp and wrote and took photographs and i came home ready to finally make art again, to finally tackle head on the dream i have of mixing photography and paint, encaustic wax and oil smears, mixed media of papers, clayboard, polaroids, transparency transfers, layers upon layers of dreamy beauty.
i remember now what i love about art. the process, its all about the process. its about the passionate response, the dialogue we have with ourselves when we are immerse ourselves in the doing what we love for no other purpose than to breathe in the act of creation.
the universe seems to be conspiring to tell me something, something important for my heart. A couple of weeks ago, thanks to the amazing Brandon Stone (you know the creator of photobloggers.org, a site that i started participating in over 5 years ago which completely fired up my photography muse and lead me to such an amazing supportive community right here in my own province as well as elsewhere, good stuff), i discovered the Vivian Maier site via Brandon’s twitter and I am forever grateful. her photography reminds me what i want art to be for me. much like Robert Frank, her photographs are filled with such amazing emotion, such passion and it simply takes my breathe away. I was incredibly fortunate to see the Robert Frank Exhibit of The Americans at the Met while I was in NYC in September.
I could be wrong about this but I have a sense that for me, I need to hunker into myself for a while with regards to the art that I produce. I find it incredibly interesting that Vivian Maier’s photography was undiscovered until quite recently (go to the site, read the story, its fascinating), that she apparently, went and photographed just for the passion of doing it. I love that, love love love it. I have a secret stash of photos, mostly street photography, mostly black and white film that I never show online for various reasons but they are some of my most favourite photographs and I wonder if its because I know even as I’m taking them that I likely won’t share them because I am doing them for me.
The thing is, I started the photography businesss. I shot for money, mostly weddings and I learned a lot, oh my gosh, I learned a lot. I loved it and I have had, for the most part, only fantastically fabulous experiences. The thing is, it changed photography for me in a big way. It became about everyone else and not about me and in that I lost something valuable, something that fed my soul. When I was away at squam and new york, I sort of found it again, that part of me that loves photography. I took photos of people for me, I took photographs of life just for me and it felt damn good. so good. beautifully good. I’m still going through the photographs because there is no rush, no pressure, its just about me.
We give away so much of our energy all the time and its not a bad thing, mostly its a good thing. We give it away to our kids, our families and loved ones, our friends, our work but I think that I forgot that my well needs feeding too. If I am giving it all away … what am I leaving for myself, how am I filling up my energy on a regular basis. Exercise and regular sleep helps. So does eating healthy and just having fun.
But. I am an artist. I always have been in some form or another. I need it to fill my soul, to give me light, to feed me. I think that once I started giving it away, exchanging it for money, I lost something that I desparately need. Please note that I am talking about me and my unique situation and not anyone else … I think it is completely more than fine to make money from our art, it is necessary even for most artists and I am not saying that I wouldn’t take money for my art, um … hello. What I am saying is that for me, right now, on this point in my journey, this one moment in time, I need to hunker down and fill myself with creating for no other reason than to just create, play, get messy and get back in touch with me, to fill myself with the light that I find in art.
I need to still give my energy to my son, my husband, my family, my friends and my job but otherwise i am taking a hiatus from all things business while i also give energy to myself.
Yesterday I twittered, “I am the crisp crackle of an orange leaf fire dipped in ink and splattered across a page of white”. As Autumn begins to burn into the white winter breath of cozy up inside, I am ready to come alive and pour colour across the landscape of my inner light. For once, I am looking forward to winter and to being a wee bit selfish and to explore myself and my art in a way that I haven’t in far too long.
There is a catchphrase which is quoted continually. It is important to think outside the box. Its interesting and I have always prided myself on having this ability but I think on further reflection, it may not be the way to go. Perhaps, we have forgotten how to think inside the box and given that most of us live inside a box of sorts, wouldn’t that be an important skill to have.
I started this on-line writing project at 100 words. You have to write 100 words (no less, no more) every day for one month. After a month they will be displayed on-line. So, in the first week of January you all will be able to read the results of this little experiment with myself and my writing. I have been faithful in my writing every day 100 words and posting them to the site. I am quite happy with what I have been writing in the constraint of 100 words. I have been writing inside the confines of a box and the idea is that one learns to be creative within those confines. Under the tyranny of rules, creativity, I believe, can explode into something wonderful. You can be the judge of that I suppose once my month of 100 words a day goes live.
This is true of my worklife as well – strategic directions and thinking strategically are often done inside of a confined box and the trick is to look around at your limitations and find ways of doing things in new and innovative ways … ways of achieving more by doing less … within the confines of a boundary there a multitude of actions one can take. Thinking strategically and acting in a strategic way is discovering those actions which will produce the greatest results.
Proust noted that poets often produced their best works under the tyranny of rhyme and that is the idea behind the 100 word project set forth by Jeff Koyen. It is an interesting idea and I think that thinking outside the box lets us look beyond the way things are done by incorporating new technologies and ideas into our existing schemata. Equally as important is the idea of thinking inside the box and looking at our existing schemata and finding new and interesting ways of working within those boundaries. Sometimes it is feasible to add new elements and sometimes it makes more sense to work differently with what you already have.
Either way, I think that in some of the greatest creativity of this world has happened in confined spaces if you will, in the midst of tyranny when self-expression is limited, a mass of artistic endeavours have been produced and creativity en masse has exploded.
I feel incredibly lucky to live in a place and age where I have been given the opportunity to think outside of the box and to incorporate new learnings and technology into my world. I also feel that if I look over my life at the times where I was incredibly confined in terms of time and money and so forth that I was also incredibly prolific in my endeavours. I somehow managed to produce a lot with very little time and resource. I am thinking here of the period in my life when I was working full time, going to school full time and writing and producing a play.
Today, with these ideas floating through the flotsam of my headspace, I am excited and my brain cells are snapping in strange rhythms with a life of their own.
Anyway, it is not a completely formed idea but was running through my head and so thought I would jot it down in some coherent/incoherent way … have a great weekend everyone!