Posted on 10 Comments

PLAY TIME !!!!!

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Yes indeedy!!!  It’s that time!!!  Am I awake?  Is it today?  Then it’s the perfect TIME to PLAY!!!!  And by now you know my favoritest way to play is to fool around with ART.  The  painted and embellished canvas board above was created purely by chance over time.  Let me explain.

It started with a huge tip I got from Flora Bowley (http://braveintuitiveyou.com/offerings-workshops/e-course/) when I attended a workshop she taught last fall.  She tries to never discard any paint on her palette when she’s done with her piece.  Instead, she encouraged us to either apply it to another blank canvas or mop it up with a rag and apply it to the painting we were working on.  No waste.  And it is a shame to see all those beautiful colors go down the drain, unless of course you’ve mixed them all together and they turn into that awful dull no-man’s-land-of-a-brown!!!!

So now I always have a canvas board or two in my work area just for that purpose.  When I’m done with any painting project, all I do is scrape off the excess paint onto these boards, and maybe swirl it around a little.  It builds and builds and sometimes images emerge and always its fascinating to see the layers of color that build up.  After a while, you get a pretty interesting background piece that has the added bonus of being a little historical artifact of the projects you’ve been doing.  That’s PLAYING at its finest!!!  No intent, just joyfully pushing paint around with no particular outcome expected.  That’s how this canvas began.

Then I needed a cover for the art mediums sampler book that Melody Ross (http://bravegirlsclub.com/brave-girl-art-school) has you do in Brave Girl Art School.  She intended for us to use our “funky flower” canvas for the book cover, but I was too in love with mine and have it up on the wall.  Then Little Miss Leftover Paint Board called my name and was begging for a bit more embellishment (modeling paste flowers, sequins, resin flower, buttons, trim).  And I realized that this sampler book houses a lot of the techniques and mediums that we use for PLAY TIME, and so she was named.

Here’s the book assembled….IMG_2862edit

Put together in a REALLY COOL way that is funky and girly and clever and lovely and pure Melody Ross — but I’m not going to tell you how to do it because that’s part of the class, AND YOU GOTTA SIGN UP FOR IT — IT GOES TO THE END OF THE YEAR NOW!!!!  (just sayin’).  The back cover is another canvas board just covered with colorful scraps of fabric (I cut up an old placemat and some other fabric from a thrift store — it cost pocket change) and then slathered with Mod Podge to make it hard and shiny — SO COOL!!!!IMG_2848edit

Here’s one of the sampler pages.  This one shows examples of how to use different crackle mediums.  The book is filled with about 12 pages like that, plus blanks for more.  I use it ALL THE TIME as a reference for how to use that gel or this type of paint or that modeling paste.  It’s my guide to PLAY TIME.IMG_2853edit

So what is PLAY TIME all about?  Do we play to make ourselves HAPPY?  Is it a reward at the end of a period of work?  I think its more than that.  Much more and much deeper.

Out here in the boonies (also known as picturesque rural area) our internet reception is sketchy because we can only get wi-fi or satellite.  It is the bane of our existence!  And its completely unpredictable.  For the past 2 days I’ve been trying to upload these photos for this post, and it just wasn’t happening (grrrrrrrrr…..).  But things happen for a reason and now I know why:  tonight my lovely book club met and the subject was a book about being and believing in HAPPY, and we agreed that is an impossible emotion to sustain for any length of time.  Though we all are in pursuit of it, in one way or another.  And it got me thinking of HAPPY vs. JOY.  And I came home knowing that that is what I needed to write about here — and wouldn’t have done so if our internet had been working yesterday.IMG_2857edit

HAPPY is fleeting, its electric, a wide smile and lots of laughter, a rush of adrenaline perhaps, a gasp of delight.  We couldn’t possibly sustain that for a long period of time, certainly not as a way of living and looking at the world, because by its very nature HAPPY is temporary.  Part of the ebb and flow of life, the crest of the wave.  We can’t even know what HAPPY is unless we’ve experienced boredom or pain.  It’s precisely this juxtaposition against non-happy feelings that gives HAPPY its delightful warm energy.  I think many addictions start out as trying to sustain HAPPY, like a destination that they keep needing to get to over and over.

Oh, but JOY, now that is a completely different thing.  JOY resides within your heart.  It’s not a fleeting feeling.  It’s the engine that gets you up in the morning and gets you excited about your work, your purpose, your life.  JOY is completely and utterly sustainable and sustaining.  It is the journey, not the destination.  JOY is how you look at life, it is gratitude and it is love and grace.  And real honest to goodness PLAY TIME is completely JOY-FULL.  You lose track of time.  You are completely in the moment, completely focused on whatever kind of PLAYING you are doing.  To me, this is when we are at our best and our most balanced.  Your PLAY TIME could certainly be your work (lucky you!).  All systems firing, humming along, harmony and clarity and creativity.  Just think how wonderful this world would be if we were all able to, and allowed to, PLAY the kind of PLAY that allows our souls to be full of JOY.IMG_2839edit2

What is your PLAY TIME?  Your JOY?  Do you get enough of it?  What’s holding you back?  What have you “given up” for PLAY TIME?  How do you see HAPPY and JOY?

 

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an invincible SUMMER

IMG_2810editMy well-meaning intent to post every Wednesday has already passed me by this week.  Life and work (good work) just got in the way.  I’m definitely on a learning curve with this blogging thing, and I thank you for your patience.  But guess what, this is DAY ONE, and I’m PINCHING myself because I GET TO do this!!!!!  I hope you feel the same way when you face a little – or BIG – setback.  Onward…….

The quote this week, by Albert Camus, is one of my all-time favorites because it completely describes me.  I can quite quickly get deeply mired in the hopeless feelings of depression when something goes terribly and unexpectedly wrong.

WINTER = things seem dead, depressing, hopeless, cold, isolated.

I’m guessing you can strongly relate to this.  We all have had difficult setbacks, and probably have endured great tragedies, perhaps many times over.  How we cope and react to these events varies greatly, and has a lot to do with where we are in life at that point.  And you learn.  And the more you live, the more you realize that somehow things will get better, even if you can’t possibly see or feel how, at the moment.

I have had, and continue to have, many “winters”.  We have a family member with deep problems that cause chaos and disorienting disruption within our family on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  It feels like WINTER when friends and family turn their backs on us, because the situation seems hopeless and helpless and they don’t know what to do, and I understand that.  And the these problems are chronic, with no “cure” to look forward to.  In fact, most people don’t want to hear about it at all, because there is no fix, no solution.  Everyone has their own stuff to deal with, and I’m not expecting anything from anyone.  I’m just describing how I feel. For us, all we can do is to keep going and endure.  And yet, in the depths of those helpless hopeless feelings, I am amazed that still my soul reaches out toward HOPE.Given to Michelle for her birthdayThat little pinpoint of light that sneaks into the corner of my mind’s eye.  Like a wink and a giggle that whispers, everything’s going to be OK.

SUMMER = things are alive, vibrant, happy, bright, the world is peaceful and connected

IMG_2821editIn the past, before this family situation existed, I thought I was pretty happy.  No, very happy.  I took an awful lot for granted.  I had worked hard to create the life I wanted, and felt I had succeeded.  I had suffered many tragedies, but of the more “expected” kinds (deaths of loved ones, endings of relationships, professional disappointments, etc.)  Nothing, however, absolutely nothing had prepared me for the type of problems I described above: chronic, cureless, endless, hopeless, depressing.

FINALLY I had to dig deep in a way I never had before.  I really really had to face who I was, what real commitment means to me, and how to manage ongoing stress.  And I like what I found.  Imperfect as I am, I am doing this.  Walking the walk.  Stumbling quite often, but moving, if only a millimeter at a time.  I GET TO do this, and I feel blessed and privileged to do so.  A little sunrise beating in my heart, always.  I don’t know why, but I’m not questioning it.  Within me lies and INVINCIBLE SUMMER that will not, can not, be extinguished, no matter how often I find myself in WINTER.

A big part of my emotional self-care is creating art.  I have always loved combining words and art, but was not comfortable or confident doing so.  Until I discovered the work of Melody Ross and the Brave Girls Club (http://bravegirlsclub.com/wing-sessions).  I know many of you are part of this club too and love Melody and her work as much as I do.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, I can’t urge you strongly enough to check it out!  Not just for art techniques (which are phenomenal) but for the soul work behind it.

Years ago, one of my summer hippie jobs in college was tooling leather belts for a French artist, to sell at craft fairs.  It was fun, but not wildly creative.  Fast forward a few decades, I went to Brave Girls Camp and learned Melody’s “chip art” techniques.  With lots of help on finishing techniques from the queen herself, Camille, Wonder Cam, the Leather Whisperer (http://shesonehotmama.blogspot.com/).  And now I’m addicted to making tooled leather jewelry.  This is a cuff bracelet I made for my dear friend Michelle, who always has HOPE beating in her heart:Given to Michelle for her birthday

The an invincible SUMMER collage/sign was a fun experiment with gels and pastes and powders and paint and mediums and metallics and stencils in making the background.  In other words, JUST PLAYING.  No outcome in sight.  Experimenting.  And you know what, it always seems to amazingly come together!  There is no secret, I have no special gift.  I’m just doing it.  For those of you who say “I wish I could do that”, I say, “YOU CAN” and you deserve to take the exquisite time for yourself to do it.IMG_2821edit2I know you have an invincible summer beating within you.  Even if you haven’t recognized it in a very long while.  Tell us about it, please!  How do you find it?  What is it?  Make sure and check back because I respond to all your comments.  I love you so much, dear reader.  Thank you.

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Pinch. Self. Daily.

IMG_2726Remember that  all-consuming feeling of utter excitement that you used to have when you were young and opened your eyes in the morning?    Like, you GET TO get up and go to school!  You GET TO put on those cool new shoes!  You GET TO play with your friends!  You GET TO go ride your bike!  You GET TO hug your baby sister or your new puppy!  You GET TO go buy some candy with the change your grandma gave you!  You GET TO go climb up into the treehouse!  You GET TO help your mom make cookies!  You GET TO, you absolutely do GET TO……..WAKE UP & LIVE LIFE.

Yes, this post is about GRATITUDE, in a way that captures that excitement that we all had as young children, before we understood tragedy and heartbreak and all that can go wrong with our day.  I propose that we try to really remember that feeling of just jumping out of bed and being happy and thrilled to start the day — and try to re-capture that electric feeling and live it NOW.

I realized it had been a long time since I’d jumped out of bed in the morning.  Even if the alarm went off and I had to get up early to do something special.  I would gradually waken while laying there ruminating about:  a) what happened yesterday, b) what do I have to do today, c) what did I eat yesterday, d) who am I going to have to see today that I don’t want to, e) what do I have to accomplish today, f) did I exercise yesterday, g) what did I not finish yesterday, h) who is annoyed with me, i) who has betrayed me, j) and let’s review all my embarrassing moments of the past 6 months, no the past 3 years, no………… well, you get the picture!  The brooding can start to get pretty depressing if allowed to continue.  And this might very well be a day filled with fun and good things to look forward to!

Whenever I get stuck in an emotional pattern that doesn’t feel good, I try to go back to a place in my past, usually in young childhood, where the good feelings were pure and uncomplicated.  Sun UP?  Then, YAY!  Let’s get this show on the road!  Why not jump up and look out the window and greet the sun?  I confess I’ve done this lately and have even scared my husband out of his gradual awakening by my sudden leap from the bed and throwing up the window blinds!!!  “Huh?!?  What’s wrong?”, he says.  “Nothing!”, I reply, “I’m just excited!”, then he looks at me with that silent quizzical eye and probably thinks “That’s another one of those silly city girl things that she does…..well, if it makes her happy….cuckoo!!!”  Yes, cuckoo for cocoa puffs, you gotta be a little crazy to ignore all the voices of “reason” and “logic” and “maturity” that are whispering to you to zip it up, get serious and don’t be so naive.  I mean, after all, think of all the drudgery that lays ahead today, the hard work, all the bad things going on in the world, how can you possibly be excited?

IMG_2298Because EACH DAY IS A GIFT.  Am I breathing?  Did I open my eyes?  How lucky am I!  Even if the day is going to be a tough challenge, let’s say going to juvenile court with your son, for example, you GET TO.  You GET TO put on those pretty new earrings!  You GET TO drive a car!  You GET TO see the enormous incredible sky!  You GET TO have a tasty coffee!  You GET TO help your child maneuver through this moment of his life!  You GET TO see beautiful scenery and buildings!  You GET TO listen to music!  You GET TO reassure your child and listen to him confess his regret!  You GET TO watch him grow!  You GET TO hear and read love messages from family and friends on your iPhone!  You GET TO hug your child and be hugged by your husband!  All these things are there for the taking, the appreciating.  Things that are the gifts to your own fabulous unique life.  It’s not crazy, it’s hyper sane if you ask me.  And it can turn your world upside down.

As we get older, our sense of time changes.  It definitely feels like its speeding up.  I think that’s because at a certain point, we’ve been there, done that over and over and know what to expect.  We take so much for granted because its not new anymore.  Even if we haven’t done that particular thing before or gone to that particular place before, we pretty much can predict what the experience will be like because of similar experiences in our past.  But if we try to look at the situation in a new way, with gratitude eyes, looking for the silver lining, the true thing that we cynically ignored in the past, then suddenly it all slows down.  We’re not sleepwalking through life any more.  PINCH ME!  I get to LIVE, right now, right here!!!!!

IMG_2731Even in the worst predicaments, like major health problems, or being in an abusive situation that feels endless, you still GET TO have dreams and hope.  And if you’re stuck in a seemingly boring, routine life and work, pinch yourself to remind yourself you’re alive and its STILL YOUR DAY.  Always is.

IMG_2724 editSo my 1.pinch 2.self 3.daily collage this week is a portrait of my hands.  Pinching self and reaching toward the sun.  I think this might be my new mantra.  The sun and rays are a recurring motif in my art, I’m noticing.  This collage another “assignment” from Brave Girls Art School (http://bravegirlsclub.com/wing-sessions), using a great technique for those of us who are challenged in the life drawing department!  Take a photo of your hands, print it out and then paint over it and add whatever clothing or jewelry you want with other collage techniques.  Easy!  Really!

What are you pinching yourself about today?  I’d love to here about instances where you’ve found the silver lining in a bad situation.  Did it make it more bearable?  Did it make you feel grateful, more alive and in the moment?  Please don’t hesitate to leave a reply comment!!!  And make sure to check back if you do, because there just might be a reply to your reply.

Posted on 27 Comments

b Original

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U R U Know.  Original, that is.

Every one of us is a unique soul in a specific place at any given moment, so by definition, we are all “original”.  You don’t have to try to “BE” original, because you already are.  It’s a powerful truth, and one that many of us find hard to accept.  That we are each special, with an unlimited capacity for CREATIVITY, for invention and re-invention, is real.  Believe it.

In Webster’s Dictionary, one definition of ORIGINAL is “a person of fresh initiative or inventive capacity.”

In art, the concept of what is ORIGINAL is something that has been debated over and over.  I look at art in two ways:

1)  Every piece of art is unique and “original” in the sense that it was created by a specific person at a specific time and place, but…………

2)  Nothing in art is really “original” because it is building upon the artist’s experiences and influences and lessons — it is all a continuum through human history and THAT’S what makes is so precious and sacred to me.  We are all connected…….

DISCLAIMER #1:  I love to copy!!!!  How often I’ve been complimented on something I’ve made and happily confessed that I copied it from something else I saw.  That’s how we learn!  Did you know that Picasso was perfectly copying realistic paintings when he was a child?  That was how he taught himself how to see things and the techniques used by the old masters.  Many many people seem to think that if you’re not creating a wholly “original” piece of art, then you are not an artist.  Or worse, you are wasting your time.  There is no shame in copying.  By copying and practicing over and over, our abilities become ingrained, and eventually we can give flight to what our imaginations envision.

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DISCLAIMER #2:  I have a degree in Art History (you may have guessed by now) and something that bothered me all those years ago in college is how there was some secret rule about what was or wasn’t ART.  Like the fact that an artist produced something beautiful and emotionally uplifting wasn’t enough to consider it ART.  More often than not, what was considered ART was emotionally troubling, daring and shocking, and usually male-centric.  Dwelling on what was feminine was not considered worthy or serious.  What a bunch of b******t!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am just so over-the-moon energized to be living in this day and making and seeing and sharing ART that is gorgeous and love-filled and soul-stirring and unapologetically girly.  Yes, it is ART.

Phew!  OK!  Feels good to send THAT message out into the blogosphere, LOL!!!!

So about this b Original U R collage.  I love to comb thrift stores for great picture frames and discarded pictures that need a little love.  I am also a student of Brave Girl Art School (http://bravegirlsclub.com/wing-sessions), taught by the phenomenal Melody Ross, and one of our assignments was to do a “Soul Sisters” collage.  So I picked up these two ladies in their nice wood frame for $5 and got busy:

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This was a print on canvas and on the back it was titled “Water Maids”.  You might look at this and see them as creatures of drudgery and burden.  But I also felt something about them was serene, almost sacred, and that was the point at which I wanted to start.  To see them with fresh eyes.  Isn’t that how all of us wish to be seen?  Not necessarily from the first impression we give off, but on a deeper level.

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I imagined them as two Soul Sisters on a sacred walk through a beautiful tropical forest, gently carrying shiny orbs of truth: U and R (for “you are original”).  One following the other, but each unique and beautiful in her own way.  No one better than the other, just fabulously different.  I used lots of paints, mediums, fabrics, beads and bling which Melody Ross has taught us in BGAS, the techniques which I copied in order to learn them, then modified to use in my own vision.  A fresh  vision.  ORIGINAL but also connected to that continuum of art and expression that has connected us humans since the beginning of time.  How incredibly wonderful is that?  Everything you and I do, in art or in other pursuits is ORIGINAL.  We can’t help it!!!

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I was SO EXCITED about the great response I got last week to my first post!!!  Starting a discussion about these ideas is my dream come true!  I am going to try my best to post here every Wednesday, and your replies keep me going — you are SO IMPORTANT to me!!!!  So please don’t hold back, tell me and us what you think — we REALLY WANT TO KNOW…….

Now I ask YOU:  what does being ORIGINAL mean to you?  Is it something you wrestle with or think you cannot possibly be?  Is it even important to you, and why or why not?

Posted on 44 Comments

DAY 1

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Yes, it is!

Welcome to my new adventure.  What is this Lisaville?  Something I have been gestating for months.  Well really, for years.  Dare I say, for decades…..  I want to create a place to explore profound ideas that are sparked by words and supported by art.  I want to start discussions.  I want to learn and share.  I want us to explore things that we all think about, yet rarely discuss.  Things that touch us deeply, that guide us or hinder us or help us, that may feel a bit embarrassing or too vulnerable or silly or even obvious.  Yet still grab on to our souls with an intensity that we can’t deny.  And connect us all…….

In practical terms, my intent is to post here weekly and lead off with a word or short phrase that inspires a discussion.  A basic truism of life, always with an undercurrent of hope and gratitude and a positive outlook.  I also intend to support these weekly discussions by sharing original art pieces that express my vision of the idea represented by the words.  I want us to talk about creativity and life and being kind to ourselves and others and what it means to recognize and honor our soul’s needs.

So let’s begin.  Because you know today is DAY ONE!!!  Not just for this new blog and art adventure for me, but for every one of us, no matter what journey we are on.  DAY ONE sounds so uplifting, so fresh and new, so full of possibility.  A new opportunity to start over.  A chance to begin AGAIN that thing that you can’t quite get a handle on, that you keep procrastinating about, that you’re not quite sure how to proceed.  But then it can turn ominous as things happen that distract you or disrupt you or disturb you.  Including your own inner critic: “I don’t have time”, “I’m not good enough or talented enough to succeed, so I won’t even try”, “No one will care”,  “I’m not important enough”, “I have too much work or chores or responsibilities to others and no time for myself”, “I’m too tired”, “I don’t have any help or support”, “This dream is too big for me to achieve”, “Who am I kidding”, etc. etc. etc…..

And for some of those reasons I have been putting off launching this blog and website.  Very very very good reasons (I lead a very “disrupted” life, more on that later).  But not good enough reasons.  My initial intent was to first produce a lovely finished collage to illustrate these DAY ONE words.  And to start on January 1.  How silly of me!  Anyone else relate to the perfectionism myth that surrounds that intent?  And how’s that working for you?

But the problem is that I have all these ideas swimming around inside of me, wanting, no NEEDING to burst out into the world and see how others relate to this human experience we all share.  I gotta start!  Hold my breath and jump in the cold pool.  So DAY ONE is not at all about preconceived plans and expectations.  It is about doing….. IT…….. NOW.  Let go of the “control” that is suggested by clinging to “perfectionism”.  Even if I were to have started this as perfectly as I had dreamt, I still can not control how it evolves or how it is received.  After all, true conversations are never controlled by the participants, they evolve and can go in all sorts of directions — and I love that!  That’s how we learn about each other, and in turn learn more about ourselves.  The richness of life!!!  How we share and connect and experience what makes us alike and what makes us unique.  That is the preciousness of being human.  That is the gift we get every day we wake up still breathing.  I want to accept that gift, and share it with you.

Ta-da!  Here I present to you, on my fledgling unfinished “under-construction” blog/website, my idea sketch for my DAY ONE collage.  Taking a risk, revealing something incomplete, vulnerable, something just beginning.  The seed of my idea for the collage.  The tender process of creating art.  Stay tuned to see how the piece progresses.  Because this is my perfectly imperfect DAY ONE.  And how lucky am I to be sharing it with you on your DAY ONE!?!?!

So tell me, what does DAY ONE mean to you?  Take a risk, leave a comment, I really want to hear your thoughts!