Choose Your Thoughts

Thoughts.  We have them all the time.  Some good.  Some bad.  For me…some just plain weird.  Seriously.  However, I’ll take weird over negative any day.  My weird thoughts always make me laugh and that’s way better.

Good thoughts.  Well.  For some, it’s just not that easy.  It takes work.  Especially, if you are unfortunate to have grown up in a negative household or facing one negative event after another.  Life can seem unfair at times. 

However, there is always a positive way of looking at something, If you can’t find a positive vantage point, you can always look at the situation as though something negative is being removed and your path is being cleared. 

If you believe in being the Devil’s Advocate, then you, by default, must believe in being an Advocate for God or good.  After all, for every force there is an equal and opposite force.  However, I believe the power of positivity is far superior than negativity.  

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Now at CAM in StL

Per usual, before I exit my car, I adjust the rearview mirror, ask myself…”Which face shall I wear today?”  Lipstick.  Today, I wear lipstick. Pink Rosette.  I apply; exit the car; and head to the museum.  The door is heavy.  I pick through the complimentary brochures, and climb the stairs.

I am alone; though, I can hear a tour guide educate his followers on the floor below.

It’s a handful of photographs by Vashon High Schoolers.  All in a row along one wall.  Beautiful souls caught by the lens of a camera.

The photography on view, this photography, is a partnership between CAM (Contemporary Art Museum) and VHS, led by St. Louis based artist, Tiffany Sutton.  According to the CAM pamphlet, the exhibit is a collection of the selfie composed of “deliberate creative choices.”  The exhibit is an exploration into the “multitude of personalities” each student, each photographer, each and every person has.  In that we can relate.  However, for me to know or compare my experiences to these souls would futile.  I don’t know.  

Yet, here I stand in front of a photo of a girl.  She wears a pinkish head wrap and a military uniform.  “Do you see the child inside?  Do you see my wild side?” I love the contrast between what I assume is her everyday attire or the attire of her heritage and the uniform of America.  Two in one.  I want to know more.  More about her and more about Vashon High School.  I’ll have to research that.  I read the card.  Her name is Kayla Green.  I want to know more about who made the creative choice in this portrait/selfie.  Was it the subject’s, Kayla’s, or the photographer’s, Nicholas Allen’s?

I move on.  It’s another image of Kayla.  Military gear sans head wrap.  The next…Kayla in street clothes only.  She had a read head scarf.  Bright almost neon orange nails.  Very long.  “A woman who hides her fears, holds in her tears?”  Both of these photos were take by Allen as well.  I want to know more of the Kayla I see.  All three of the Kaylas I see.

The next photo I see is one of Allen.  Nick in Blue.  It, however, was taken by Kayla.  The subject has become the photographer.  Nick has cleverly been divided between light and shadow, hinting at contrasting personalities. “Can you see my dreams?  Can you hear my screams?”  Was the creative play on light and dark his decision or hers?  Who chose blue?  I want to know.  

Backing up, I examine all the photos.  All are intriguing.  Creative.  Thought provoking.  I am no longer alone.  A crowd has formed.  My thoughts are now being influenced by what others say; therefore, it’s time to leave.  

I reach for the door.  It is still heavy.  I exit.  Now outside, I turn back.  “I feel as if I am on the outside, lookin in.  Look at me…who do you see?”  I check my reflection in the window.  My lipstick is gone.  “Who do you see?”

“I have many faces.”  Funny the author is unknown though the poem can be found at poetryoflife.com.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

ArtReach: Vashon through a Lens, installation view. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, May 17-August 18, 2019. Photo: Dusty Kessler.

Jamijna Westbrook,  Donyae , 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Jamijna Westbrook, Donyae, 2019. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist.

Choices

Recently, I was watching a news anchor I really respect.  She incredibly smart.  Highly successful, and beautiful.  What I found interesting was when she said that when she is ready to turn out the lights, she chooses to do one more thing.  She stops.  Looks around.  Thinks…I’m not done.  I’ve got enough in me to do one more thing.  So, what can I do today to make tomorrow easier?  

The act of choosing.  That’s life.  A series of choices.  Deciding to get out of bed is a choice.  Hitting snooze is a choice.  Jeans or pants?  Breakfast or brunch?  Arrive early or late…Yes.  For the most part, being late is a choice.  

Every choice has a consequence.  Every choice leads to another choice, and another consequence, and eventually your circumstance.  The sooner you realize the choice-consequence-cirumstance connection, the sooner you can begin to move in the direction you want your life to go…but that, too, is a choice.  I don’t mean to sound preachy preachy but it’s true.

For me, I choose how my day will go.  I’m not always correct which then forces me to choose how to respond.  Sometimes, it’s easy.  Sometimes, it’s hard.  Sometimes, I fail.  

Choices.  Choices.  Choices.  There are choices you make without even thinking.  Here are just a few:

  1. You choose your thoughts.

  2. You choose what you say.

  3. You choose expectancy.

  4. You choose how you spend your time.

  5. You choose your friends wisely.

Give that some thought.  Better yet…choose to give that some thought.  

Today, I chose to shower.  I choose to get dressed.  I choose to work…and I feel good.  :) 

April

The month of April.  Yes.  The whole month of April.  I spent it packing and unpacking.  I’m living on the air in Cincinnati…WKRP.  Seriously, now.  I spent the entire month organizing.  Our place had really gotten out of hand.  After 8 years of accumulating, the house began to suffocate, especially after the last two years.  It’s not a big place to begin with.

Because we have a plan, we need to stay here hopefully only four more years.  Thus, I cannot suffocate.  It’s not good for the living and it’s not good for creativity.  I had to find room, room somewhere other than out in the open, for our stuff.  As much of our stuff as possible.

It took a lot of creativity finding storage and a whole lot of letting go.  Basically, we’ve narrowed down to necessities, sentimental items and anything and everything I can repurpose and reuse.  

It’s been packed down; packed up; and packed tight.  It’s done.  There’s room to grow.  There’s room to create.  Not much, but enough for a few more years.  I can breathe.  I like breathing.

Poetics of the Everyday: Amateur Photography 1890-1970 at St. Louis Art Museum

As I pull into the parking lot, Sturgill Simpson leaks through the speakers.  “The dead will still be walking around this whole world alone.  Well after life is over the afterlife goes on...”  I put it in park.  Turn off the radio.  I mean my phone.  Hum the next refrain to myself as I walk to the entrance of the St. Louis Art Museum.  I like it here.  This time, I’m here for the Amateur Photography Exhibit.  

I keep walking.  I keep humming.  

Arriving at the double glass doors, I meet the exhibit.  I enter, and immediately, I’m hit with the wall of description…Poetics of the Everyday:  Amateur Photography: 1890-1970:

This exhibition draws attention to an extraordinary period beginning in the late 19th century, when portable cameras became available to throngs of enthusiastic amateur photographers…these photographs are rich in detail and complex in composition, entangling us in their small worlds.  As unique physical prints, they reflect a different relationship to picture making than we have in our digital era.  This exhibition helps tell a larger story about the history of photography…

A quick scan of the exhibit.  It fills two rooms.  Seems to be divided into sections of like photos.  Slowly, well, not so slowly, I meander from section to section; reading each accompanying blurb.  

I find myself lingering longer than intended in front of not one, not two, but three works.  Oddly, I can’t get Sturgill’s song out of my head.  I tap my foot.  Shake my hips.  Slightly.  It’s a slow song.  I’m in public.

One, a framed collage of black and white photos from long, long ago.  Mixed media on paper.  Photos salvaged, perhaps, and brittle from resting years in the bottom drawer of an old, old hutch.  Their destruction loomed with their resurrection.   I can smell the photos.  Feel their weight.  All have hand-written notes.  Names.  Dates.  Places.  All held meaning to someone somewhere but not to me.  I don’t know these people, nor do I know their photographer who was most likely a family member, a guest at the party.  Long gone.  

Two, a very eerie photo of a man standing in a field.  Ghost-like.  I laugh at the memory of how the development process was once just as delicate as these photos.  How if something went wrong somewhere that spooky image emerged.  The shutter glitched.  The light was too bright.  Something, anything that caused over exposure, a burn mark, or that faint image in the background.  That thing that sparked the imagination of the unexplained.  

My foot still taps.  “They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own.”

I wonder, “Did the photographer know the gem he held?  Did she know someday, somewhere, someone would stand marveling at its beauty?  No doubt, the photo has faded over the years, but the fog complimented by the glitch in development sends a chill down my spine.  Did someone just blow in my ear?  Am I under an AC vent?  I step to the left.

Three, a series of a man diving into a pool.  Is it many different shots of one dive?  Did the cameras of yesteryear really react that quickly or is it different shots of many different dives?  Who is this man?  Who was the photographer?  The composition is truly lovely.

Alas, I come to the end.  A glass case filled with vintage cameras.  The cameras that once captured all these everyday moments.  Funny.  There’s a 1930s box camera.  A Beau Brownie No. 2 from 1931.  I have a very similar model that was my grandfather’s.  It sits on the shelf in my living room.  Every living room I’ve had for the last 30 years.  Pretty sure it pre-dates this model but not 100% sure.  I should check that out.

My thoughts then turn to my camera of today, or should I say phone of today.  Something that was once a luxury is now an everyday item.  Pictures we used to hold are now on a screen, untouchable.  My, how things change.  Yet, touchable or untouchable, weathered or pixelated, amateur or professional, the desire to hold onto a moment, leave a legacy, or create runs soul deep.  

“The dead don’t die anymore than you or I.  They’re just ghosts inside a dream of a life that we don’t own.  Well after life is over, the afterlife goes on.”  - Sturgill Simpson The Dead Don’t Die






Angad Art Hotel

Angad Arts Hotel.  Friday afternoon.  It’s a hotel.  It’s a gallery.  It’s an all-around art venue.  Several months ago, there was a grand opening.  A grand opening here.  Complete with a tour of each color-themed room.  Green.  Blue.  Red.  Yellow.  Yellow for happiness.  Red for romance…you get the idea.  All art-filled luxury.  

However, today, on this Friday afternoon.  I’m here for the gallery.  I park on the street.  It’s a beautiful day.  My heels are comfortable, somewhat.  I’m in no hurry.

The gallery is ground floor.  Right inside.  Seriously, you can’t miss it.  For a hotel that’s all about art…genius.  The floor, solid concrete.  Cracked elegance.  The North wall is a wall of doors.  Open one and find a visual surprise.  Pick up the head phones and listen in.  

Though again, today, I’m here for the newly installed Spring Exhibit.  Nick Schleicher.  Brandon De Sha.  Briana Kagy.  Zach Smithey.  All St. Louis artists.

It’s an atheistically appealing collection.  Modern and familiar.  Schleicher evoking thoughts of Rothko.  De Sha stirring my own personal memories.  Kagy, with her black and white “Touch- Me-Not Before” piece, I am taken back to the 50s.  Smithey, I can’t not hear KC & The Sunshine Band…but that’s just me.

Maybe I’m wrong.  I think I’ll take a seat and do a little research.  Did I mention the installation of chairs down the middle of the gallery?  Not sure if they are serving a dual purpose or not, I choose the floor.  

I start with Nick Schleicher, painter.  At nickschleicher.com, “his work ranges from color field abstractions focused on the process of painting as informed by astronomical imagery to sculptural forms inspired by domestic display.”  I revisit his work.  I still feel Rothko.  Very different but both have strong blurry fields of color.  Nice.  

De Sha, photographer.  The piece I’m drawn to, Untitled Collage #4, I believe it’s from his “Silent Hell” series which is described as “a series of self-portraits created as a means to express the personal experiences of struggle and inner turmoil.”  Memories are not always fun.

Kagy, printmaker.  “Touch-Me-Not Before.”  An image of the plant by the same name.  Black and white foliage.  Nope.  I still feel the 1950s.  A time when things were more black and white…not a lot of room for gray.

Jumping ahead.  1970.  Smithey’s “Stripe Series.”  As I said, I can’t get the disco music out of my head.  I love it.

Again, that’s just me.  My first and very surfacy impressions.  I can go deeper.  I can tie the blended ballad of color that is Schlecher’s to the black and white “Touch-Me-Not Before” and all it entails of the 1950s to the “Silent Hell” some experience with the Boogie Oogie Oogie era.  I can go deeper and draw a connection that will tangle its way through this exhibit.  I can do that but then, I risk a heaviness.  It’s Friday.  I’m wearing heels.  Today, I choose yellow and perhaps a drink on the rooftop bar.  It’s quite the view.

Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin' and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive. ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive, ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive

Choose Abundance

Recently I saw a graph defining the scarcity versus abundance mindset.  See an excerpt from the graph below.  I believe it is from Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Scarcity 

Point of View:  You’re a victim, a bully, or simply checked out.

Mental Energy:  Confused, disorganized, narrow in your thinking, only focusing on what’s not working.  Typical thought pattern:  “I have no choice.”

Abundance

Point of View:  You’re in the driver’s seat.

Mental Energy:  Feeling of clarity, the ability to perceive multiple angles, listen actively, and notice something new, what would it be?”  Creative agency.  Nonjudgemental beginner’s mind.

I keep coming back to the “I have no choice” attitude of the scarcity mindset.  Aside from circumstances that you were born into, some health conditions and possibly weather related incidents, life is nothing but a series of choices.  One choice leads to another and another…all through the day.  Day after day after day.

Choose abundance.

“Through Her Eyes”  An all woman show at Grafica Fine Art Gallery

Grafica Fine Art Gallery and Framing.  The corner of Big Bend and Laclede Station.  St. Louis.  Webster Groves to be specific.  Any other gallery, I would be driving around and around trying to find it but not Grafica.  I know it well.

A quaint little house on the South side of Big Bend.  It’s rainy.  A tad cold.  I wind my way through each room taking note of the hardwood floors (I believe they’re oak and original to the house.); the fireplace; its mantel.  I spot Lary.  Lary Bozzay.  Owner.  All around good guy.  We chat.

The mantle catches my eye yet again.  A perfect place to display a gorgeous oil on canvas.  A landscape filled with a mustard sky and olive foliage.  I sense a peace.  A glance to my left and I’m hit with Judy Stroup’s work.  A small piece.  A stunning flower that jumps out at me.  Yet again, I sense a peace.  

A quick scan of the room.  It’s work of all sizes.  Bordered by a variety of frames.  Mostly landscapes.  All beautiful.  All peaceful.  All women artists.  It’s an all woman show.  “Through Her Eyes.”  Twelve women who paint together outside and in.  

Mary Drastal

Jane Flanders

Sandy Haynes

Gwendolyn Moore

Debbie Rathert

Susan Rogers

Lee Streett

Judy Stroup

Deb Trafton 

Jan Träger

Margaret von Kaenel

Norma West

Most are former art teachers.  Retired from teaching, but not from making art and sharing their passion.  All creating beautiful paintings of all sizes and colors that blend magically.  Similar subject matter as in one gender, yet each creating a beauty all its own.  

“The true beauty in a women is reflected in her soul.  It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows.” - Audrey Hepburn

“Through Her Eyes” a show by twelve different women.  Each framed piece is like looking through the eyes of the artist.  Each piece reflects the beauty of the artist’s soul.  Eyes are, after all, the window to the soul.  

Again, I go back to the work on the mantle, it’s by Sandy Haynes.  Her mission…”to paint the world around [her] with paint and canvas.  [She] attempts to find beauty in the commonplace by demonstrating the power of light on a subject.”  The mustard sky.  The light glowing behind the the trees brings tranquility.  I feel its warmth.  

The clock chimes.  Suddenly I realize I’m late for an appointment.  As I leave, I notice the sidewalk is brick.  Has it always been?  The sun is out.  I swear it’s twenty degrees warmer.  

Was I in there that long?

The show only runs through May 24.  Grafica is located at 7884 Big Bend Blvd.  Grafica’s hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00am to 5:30pm and on Saturday from 11:00am to 3:00pm.  

Now at SLAM: Rachel Whiteread Exhibit

Not realizing the cut-off time for entering the exhibit was a full hour earlier than the close of the museum, my pace is hurried if not an all out run.  The sound of my heels and their echo are almost indecipherable.  A taptaptaptaptap.  More like a typewriter than an echo.  

With only a few minutes to spare, I reach the entrance.  Hand over my ticket.  Flash a smile.  Check to make sure I didn’t break heel…not an unusual occurrence for me.  I am in.  A glance here.  A glance there.  I take note of what looks like a door, several “boxes” arranged in a grid on the floor, and a few hot water bottles on a shelf.  

Not knowing much about the exhibiting artist, Rachel Whiteread, I decide to read the pamphlet.  She’s British.  Good to know.  She was the first woman to win the Turner Price for sculpture in 1993.  Interesting.  Known for her solid casts of negative spaces, she is one of the world’s leading contemporary sculptors.  Very interesting.

I check out the hot water bottles.  The “boxes.”  The door.  I hear the echos of the other patrons’ whispers.  Should I whisper, too?  Examining the displays a little closer, I realize the hot water bottles are casts of the interior of each vessel.  Each “box” is a mold of the underside of a chair.  The door is simply an impression of its exterior.  Now, the negative space is clear.

Whiteread is casting the blank space inside the hot water bottle, around the chair, on the exterior of the door to create her work.  Essentially, she is recreating the mold that was or could have been used to create the object.  She is taking the subject back to its origin and preserving the memory of its form and every memory it holds from its creation to its time of casting.  

In Whiteread’s own words, “In a way.  It’s almost like taking photographs or making prints of the space.  If those parts of the building don’t exit later, I’ll still have, as you say, the archive of the place.’’  A blueprint, if you will.  As stated, her work transcends the blueprint.  She has also “found a way to make memories solid.”  For it is in that space, the memory takes place.

Though each cast of each door can be used to re-create a door, each cast holds the memory of a knock; its opening to a first date or a soldier returning home from war.  Each cast of each hot water bottle holds the memory of a home remedy.  A mother’s touch.  Comfort.  

Her works range in size, material and color.  From a tiny toilet paper roll to a full sale Victorian house which earned her the aforementioned Turner Prize; from resin to concrete; from translucent to pink…she explores similarities and differences.

Though the door casts are similar, each has its own knicks and scrapes from years of knocks, or as Whiteread has more eloquently stated, “the residue of years and years of use.”  And though we may not have ever knocked on that particular door, we all share a memory of knocking on some door, somewhere, some time; and therein, lies the experience, similar yet different.  

It’s 5:00.  The exhibit is closing.  I’m hungry anyway.  As I leave, I return to the door from which I entered.  I am walking more slowly now.  There is no hurry.  The echo of my stride is a much more familiar echo.  Tap….tappptappptappp.  Tap…tappptappptappp.  Tap…tappptappptappp.  Similar yet different than an hour before.  Just one of the memories the space between these walls hold.  Hmmm.  I wonder if my barefeet would produce an echo?


The exhibit is on display Tuesday through Sunday, March 17 to June 9 at the St. Louis Art Museum.  (1 Fine Arts Drive).  Tickets are $6 to $12 except for Fridays.  Friday, tickets are free.  For more information visit www.slam.org.

If you had a chance to see the exhibit, what was your take away?  Comments welcome.


#RachelWhiteread #SLAM #Scupture #Avondet  #Art






Where's Your Focus?

If you have read my bio page in its entirety, you’ll know I love seeing what people focus on, including me, and not just in my art.  For me, this fascination goes with me all day.  I am constantly paying attention as to where my mind is and I am amazed at how two people can see things so differently.  

Most of the time, I am left marveling at how differently I see the world.  It’s probably why I like abstract, expressionism and the combination of the two.  It’s definitely why I like contrasting white and black, black and color, and color and white all with metalics.  The viewer will see something, feel something I never did.

In addition to art, I’ve taught yoga for years.  Cues are important.  In a class of 10, nine people will hear my cues and they will do exactly what I mean and what I say, while the one does only what I say.  It makes me laugh.  They aren’t wrong.  It’s just that they did not interpret my cues as I intended.  It’s funny how two people can see, hear and bring so many different interpretations to the same thing and not be wrong.

One-of-Kind Gift

Ever get frantic about finding something special for someone?  Take a deep breath.  Finding that one-of-a-kind gift is easier than you might think.  Galleries, museums and Etsy are fantastic sources for that unique and unusual gift.

Ideas are endless.  Seriously.  From decor to jewelry to the less personality specific soap, bottle openers, candles.  The range of items runs the full gamut from elegant to eclectic.  Whatever your interest, you can find an artist who crafts it.

Alternatively, for those who love the  rustic and old, find your unique gift at an antique store or flea market.  Reuse or repurpose.  Bring its story and you’ll hit a home run on uniqueness every time.  

For me, I love glass Christmas ornaments.  And every year, I have a friend who gifts me a handblown glass ball for my tree.  Each one is different yet just as beautiful than the next.  And every time I decorate, I think of my friend and am grateful for her, her love of art, and her self-less gifts.  These Christmas ornaments will bring me great joy for years to come.  You don’t have to wait until Christmas to gift them, either.

Get out there and help art find its way home.

Tattooing

Probably the best known form of art.  It knows no race or gender.  It transcends all socio-economic levels.  And yes, it is an art.  

However, there are tattooists and then there are tattoo artists.  A tattooist simply traces an image and fills it in with ink like a coloring book.  An tattoo artist creates.  What they are capable of creating by blending colors, shading, and contrast all with a needle is simply amazing.  It takes the skill of a master.  

From cosmetic application to camouflaging a scar to seamlessly wrapping an image around one’s arm is simply astonishing.

Here’s to those who do it!

When Your Birthday Rolls Around...

Birthdays.  As we get older, some of us love them.  Some of us dread them.  No matter how you feel about them, they are yours to celebrate as you choose.  So, from the all-out birthday bash to a quiet day at home, here are a few ideas to make your birthday planning quick and easy.    

  1. Cater your party with a food truck. Rather than picking up Subway, feed your guests outside via the good old food truck.  (Yemanja would be happy to roll on up.)

  2. Splurge on dinner out. Is there a place you’ve been holding out for? Make it a special night with your significant other or celebrate with a group of friends. (Blood & Sand and Claverach Farm are my choice for the St. Louis region.)

  3. Listen to live music. Follow dinner up with a  bluesy dive or basement bar oozing with live jazz. (Again if you are in St. Louis, Old Rock House or BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups are my picks.)

  4. Plan a spa day.  Make it a full day of pampering or if on a budget, go for the hour-long, hot stone massage then return home to spend the rest of your day quietly relaxing. (If in St. Louis, Pure Harmony Day Spa is an excellent choice.)

  5. Go to a winery.  Sometimes getting older goes better with a little vino.  (In St. Louis region, Chandler Hill Winery.  Mid-Missouri, Les Bourgeois Winery, and in Kansas City, try Amigoni Urban Winery.)

  6. Book a night or two at a boutique hotel. Make sure it is next to the local hot spots or comes equipped with a bar, restaurant and pool. (Le Fontaine in Kansas City.  If you are really wanting something special, Casa Tua in Miami.)

  7. Buy yourself a gift. Treat yourself. Make a day of shopping the locally owned stores.  Or better yet, plan ahead and order online and have it gift wrapped and delivered on your special day.  (If in St. Louis, my new favorite store is Sammy Soap in Kirkwood, and online, here are a few of my favorite things….

Phlur not only smells great but is clean, too.  It’s free from paragons and all that other stuff we don’t want. This sampler kit allows you to try several fragrances before you commit to just one. See below for link.

Kate Spade monogram necklace   There’s no other like you.  You’re definitely one in a million and what a better way to remind yourself than this sweet necklace from Kate Spade. See below for link.

Burt’s Bees classic gift A sampler pack of non-toxic products that are within budget and a great way to save the bees. See below for link.

Spanx faux leather leggings  You’ll definitely love the way these leggings make you look.  Feel great on your special day. See below for link but be sure to check the size.

Mate tea  The best of both tea and coffee. See below for link.

Pop Top bag  A fun, unique clutch for a unique woman. See below for link.

Kimono robe  There’s no better way to spoil yourself than a beautiful robe. See below for link. Be sure to check sizing, etc.

Tealyra glass tea kettle  Keep the tea boiling all day long.  It’s stylish, unique and useful for serving one or a group. See below for link.

Sun’s tea clear glass tea/coffee set  It’s time to bring back the saucer.  See below for link.

8.  Send yourself flowers.  Or pick them up.  It’s your treat.  Make it one large bouquet or several small ones throughout the house.  Maybe even throw in a few helium balloons.

9.  Drink.  Don’t over do it but definitely say yes to the Mimosa at breakfast, wine at lunch and the 5 o’clock cocktail.  Maybe even try creating your own speciality drink for your special day.

10. Eat the cake. All of it, if you like.  Make it yourself or find a local bakery and order the cake they’re known for and enjoy it.  All of it. 

11.  Meditation Retreat.  Last but not least, take a get-away just for you.  Relax and revive with a mediation week-end.  Timber Creek Retreat House in Kansas City, MO is just the ticket.  



Colors

Slate blue and orange.  It seems lately these two colors are everywhere I turn.  Following me.  Haunting me.  They’re in every sunset.  Every sunrise.  They’re what I see when I close my eyes.  I love the cool, calmness of the blue against the vivid, confidence of orange.  Contrasting yet complementing each other.  Each providing what the other cannot, yet neither taking anything.  Are they suppose to inspire me?  Or just beautify my day?  Am I the only one who gives this thought?  

Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Find the Good

Four surgeries in thirteen months.  Five months of doing little, very little.  Four months at half-speed.  It’s been a long, long year.  Needless to say, art production stalled.  However, in my months of downtime, I realized my dreams didn’t have to stall.  I simply had to find a way to use my time differently.  I needed to reposition myself.  Not a fun task.

Marketing.  I hadn’t focused on marketing in years but now it was time.  it was time to begin the social media ordeal.  Not a fun task but a task I could do while lying in bed.  Blogging began.  Pushing my prints began, and selling my originals online got off the ground.

Sometimes taking a break either by choice or by force to re-examine our path is the best way to proceed.  Find the good in your circumstance and grow through it.  There is blessing in the valley.

For Your Listening Pleasure

A Change is Gonna Come

Until You Come Back to Man

I Never Loved a Man the Way that I Love You

Do Right Woman Do Right Man

Dr. Feelgood

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

Since You’ve Been Gone

Spanish Harlem

Blue Wintery Day Playlist

Give Me My Blues-Albert Collins 

Tangled Up in Blue-Dylan

Smokin’ Gun Blues-Robert Cray 

Folsom Prison Blues-Johnny Cash

Firsco Blues-John Lee Hooker

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue-Crystal Gayle

Brown Eyed Blues-Ben Harper

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain-Willie Nelson

Talkin’ Blues-Bob Marley

I got the Blues-Joss Stone

My Melody Gardot Playlist

Your Heart is Black

Who Will Comfort Me

Our Love is Easy

Lover Undercover

Quiet Fire

My One and Only Thrill

Same to You

He’s a Tramp

Discipline Takes Creativity

Painted all morning.  Getting closer but the finish line keeps moving.  I’m tired.  I’m hungry.  I need a break.  But I really need to finish.  I can’t take a break.  Big sigh.

Food.  I need food.  I must have food.  My shoulder is screaming.  So, I take a break.  From painting that is.  I’ll take a working lunch.  My website needs updating.  Marketing is a must.  Photos.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.  Ugh.  

As I walk to the kitchen, I remember the laundry and a package that needs to be mailed.  Errands.  Another big sigh.  

Discipline.  When you work out of your house, discipline is a necessity.  Most days, I have it.  I have it to spare.  Today is not most days.  

So, today, I leave.  Laptop in tow, to rid myself of distractions.  To eat.  To sit elsewhere.  Amongst people.  Human contact.  Sort of.  The introvert trying to be an extrovert.  

Bourbon salmon.  Rice.  Asparagus.  My favorite.  All prepared by my favorite cook, Brandon 3000.  My stomach takes delight.  My shoulder has quieted.  My blog is finished.  My time has been used wisely.  

Discipline.  Sometimes it, too, takes creativity.  

Fear. Faith. Trust.

Fear.  No one is without it.  Fear.  It’s instinctive.  It keeps us safe but it is also what keeps us stuck.  It’s answering the What If question without hope; without faith; without trust. 

As artists, it’s the fear of rejection.  It’s the fear of criticism.  It’s the fear of exposing ourselves.  It will happen.  Rejection and criticism come with the territory.  And exposing who we are is just part of it.  So, as I said earlier, in order to overcome the fear, you’re going to have to learn to ignore the negative.

In order to ignore and overcome, faith and trust are needed.  Faith that you have what it takes to achieve the success you have defined for yourself, and trust that you can handle the consequences until you do.  It could take time.  

Unfortunately, the timeline to success is not completely within your control.  But you can control, what you do with your time.  Begin to focus on what you do have control over…improving your skills, marketing, networking, finances.

A great technique in gaining faith and trust is the What If test.  Ask yourself what you are afraid of.  Then ask yourself what you would do should that happen?  Then repeat the process until you realize you can handle the outcome, then step out into that fear.

It’s just like anything else.  With each step you take toward that fear, your confidence grows.  Faith grows. Faith in knowing that you know what you’re doing by following your path.  Faith that you will be able to navigate that path.  Faith that you will be ok.  And with faith comes trust.  Faith will trump fear.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. - Nelson Mandela