Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What to Do on the Last Day of a Year?

There's a powerful energy of change that is accompanying the arrival of 2009. I firmly believe that the earth is in the midst of a transformational shift. Birthing entails a process of labor and delivery and we seem to be in the midst of the contractions and expansion that will usher new awareness and directions into being.

Yesterday I dialed in to a teleconference hosted by Christine Kane, a musician and creativity coach who provides excellent inspiration and practical advice for artists in all mediums. She outlined key points for how each of us can create new outcomes in the coming year.

The most important tool for manifesting desired outcomes is SETTING INTENTION.

This coming year I will focus on being more intentional in every way, combining it with ATTENTION to hold my focus on my vision for my life.

I've spent a number of years now breaking down large goals into small steps and acknowledging each one I accomplish. Bit by bit, I've been able to create and complete an amazing amount because of this practice.

So what am I choosing to do on this final day of 2009 that will pave the way for the year ahead?

1. Celebrate progress. Savoring accomplishments is as important as looking ahead. Take some time today and make a list of all the good work you've done this year for your career, your family, and/or for your community. Let yourself savor and appreciate what a worthwhile and productive person you are in every aspect of your life.

I set yearly and monthly goals and then choose action steps each week towards completing them. Doing this helps me stay focused. I print them and file them in a folder labelled, "Make It Happen." It's a tool that works to remind me at self-critical moments that I am working to the fullest of my ability.

2. Daydream and imagine. How wonderful it is to let the imagination soar and contemplate a life that will give us the greatest joy. What better time than the eve before a brand New Year to consider what truly gives us the greatest happiness?

3.Create a visual touchstone for dreams. Visual imagery is powerful. I am working on a Vision Board. I used to use these when I taught creativity classes years ago, but haven't made one of my own for 12 years! I am cutting images and words from magazines and collaging them onto a piece of foam core. Make one or make a number of them all through the year to keep your focus strong.

The images and words link to my desires for this coming year. Looking at it will bring my focus back to what I am seeking to manifest in my life.

4. Choose action. Intentions, vision, positive attitude are all important, but nothing beats focused action for manifesting dreams. There is great joy in working when each step leads us closer to our desires. Few gardeners say they LOVE cultivating and weeding, but they do it. They know it creates more space for seedlings to blossom into beautiful flowers or delicious vegetables.

5. Share abundantly. The smallest gestures have far reaching consequences in increasing harmony and peace in this world. A smile, a friendly e-mail, a phone call or note of appreciation cost nothing and fuel goodness and love on a grand scale.

On this final day of what has been a fulfilling year, I wish to share my deep appreciation for each person who has touched my life in some way. My good wishes go out to you for your happiness, peace, prosperity, health and fulfillment. May grace and goodwill abound in 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Celebrations and Preparations

I hope that your holidays were delightful, filled with every activity that makes you happiest. We celebrate the holiday with our local children and their families on the day before Christmas. Bob took them downhill skiing in the morning while I played with four year old Sadie and 19 month old Abby. When the skiers returned, we toasted with glog, played outside in the snow, opened presents and shared a delicious surf and turf dinner.

I even went sledding down our front hill with four-year old Sadie, who soloed for the first time!

After a full day and Christmas Eve, Christmas day is always quite low key for us. We enjoyed breakfast with our stepson Bob and his future wife, Sarah, who stayed overnight. Once they headed out, we made a beeline for the couches. We relaxed, watched some good movies and I talked to my two children and niece that couldn't be here for the holidays. A truly pleasurable holiday in every way as I've taken a mini-vacation from working on any art works in progress or spending time at my studio.

But gradually my thoughts are returning to my life as an artist. While 2008 is quietly concluding, I'm resetting my compass for the approaching New Year with a Big Choice.

I've decided that I've avoided marketing long enough; it is time to accept it as an important part of my artistic life.

To prepare for this new chapter, over the past week I've been reading -- a LOT.

First I read Paul Dorrell's book, "Living the Artist Life," which is the inspiring story of how he persevered through a number of adversities to build a profitable Kansas City art gallery and finally become a published novelist.

Then I ordered Alyson Stanfield's book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio", which is EXACTLY what I've been saying about marketing for years. Actually PROMOTE MY OWN WORK??? -- a squirmy, uncomfortable topic for me.

But the more I read, the more I have to agree with everything that Alyson writes. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that Alyson is writing directly about ME (git out of my hard drive, Alyson!)-- I confess that I practically RUN from the work of organizing my data and making a concerted effort to market myself. I'll stick a toe in the water now and then, but have never taken that all important leap to make a commitment to marketing as an integral part of my life.

Well, that is about to change. How much and how fast will unfold over the months ahead. Your success stories and tips are most welcome!

Look for more frequent blog posts as I turn up the burner and put myself in the hot seat to let the world know that I am HERE -- even if it feels a bit like I'm a Hoo from Hooville shouting "We are here, we are HERE." Even so, the small Hoos DO find a Horton -- and so, I suspect, can we all, once we make our presence known.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Sei-hin" and Abundance

(Another little painting/printing experiment, playing with language/composition ideas)

Every week I receive a newsletter from Chiro and Yuka Ichiroya in Osaka, Japan, owners of Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA. They sell Japanese fabrics, vintage and antique kimono,obi and other items. Sometimes their newsletters describe Japanese holidays and culture, sometimes Chiro's Japanese perspective on world events. They are always interesting.

In newsletter No. 275, Chiro wrote his response to the American automobile industry crisis and the huge salaries of American automaker CEO's by comparing their income with the much lower ones of Japanese CEO's.

In Japan, many CEOs practice "sei-hin", the Japanese word for honorable poverty. When a company is not prospering, the CEOs may cut or freeze their own salaries. Even in times of prosperity, many CEOs live in small houses, commute to work by train and eat lunch in company cafeterias.

In Japan, CEOs often spend many years coming up through the ranks and "are selected as if they are selected as the captain of the baseball team." This approach can create problems as well, according to Chiro, because people of average ability rise to leadership positions simply because they get along well with others.

To attract visionary leaders, some Japanese companies are starting to offer larger salaries, but that also creates problems. In Japanese culture, especially among the older generation, "when people see very rich, they are apt to think he must be enough avaricious to be able to do something dreadful thing to others."

Now contrast this with today's "Daily Quote" from Abraham-Hicks. "You have to find a way to be all right with thriving because you are always going to want to thrive...The economy is moving forward in response to the desires of people."

"And depriving yourself of something does not make more money for someone else to spend...If there were not people who were purchasing things, then all of the people who are working at manufacturing and marketing them would have to find some other ways of making their living."

One of the questions that the above quote and Chiro's newsletter discussion of "sei-hin" raise in my mind has to do less with "honorable poverty" than redefining abundance.

To me, the current times feel transitional but exciting. Dealing with challenges in every form and on every front stimulate creativity. Choosing new ways of living as individuals and as nations may actually lead us to discover new definitions of abundance. Perhaps this shift will lead more and more people to discover the joys of creative living and applying creative problem solving to innovate solutions for current national and international problems.

Perhaps we are in a time when a balancing is taking place and becoming more oriented to creativity in the workplace and in dealing with our social concerns may lead us to wonderful new ways to address our national and global problems.

I feel incredibly rich and privileged to be able to spend a part of each day creating. To engage in creative activity of any sort, to waken each day with such heartfelt enthusiasm about your work,to dive into the trying parts of creative process while keeping your intentions and focus strong -- to accept problems and failure as a natural part of attaining mastery and success -- this is all part of the incredible challenge and wealth that a creatively inspired life offers. Surely something so wonderful can't help but catch on!

Imagine creativity flourishing in board rooms, in hospitals and in educational systems. Imagine as well a time when storytelling and music and art making and healthy foods and lifestyles are part of EVERY life.

What we imagine we can create, and those of us who are artists and creative people of every kind may be at the forefront of a huge shift in how people live and what we desire for happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Appreciating Contrasts

Every year we plant an amaryllis bulb to bloom as close as possible to Christmas. This year I chose a light pink variety and love its delicate colors. It's already in full bloom and is a wonderful tonic for cold December mornings.

It's one of the strategies I use to give my spirits a boost at this grey time of year. There are others!

I throw new ingredients into the creative stew of my imagination by reading more articles about art and artists. One juicy tidbit from an article in the Jan/Feb 09issue of The Artist's Magazine,is about Tanja Softic. Tanja, a native of Sarajevo,combines printmaking and drawing in her work. She teaches at the University of Richmond, where she advises her beginning students not to focus on creating an exact replica of a subject:

"If you do that, you stay on the surface and miss an opportunity to encounter a whole world of interpretive possibilities. Focus instead of understanding that object: its shape, volume, color and relation to its environment. Establish a relationship with it; then think about it as an image. Your rendering will have depth and feeling; it will have individuality and will carry the imprint of your visual sensibility. You'll have more than the subject: You'll begin to develop content."

Migrant Universe:The Map of What Happened, Tanja Softic (acrylic, chalk, graphite and pigment on kozo paper, 42" x 108" )

Winter winds may blow and snow may pile up in the dark northeast, but toasty fires fueled by artistic ideas will carry us through.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yippie Ti Yi Yo...

...git along little doggies!... This old cowboy ballad is about riding along in the saddle driving a herd of cattle to Wyoming. I confess that I'm a fan of American folk songs.

That tune came to mind this morning as I sat and finished hand stitching the hanging sleeve and label on Translations 2. Sometimes working on a piece feels like riding herd on a long, lonesome trail!

So I couldn't help but feel like celebrating when I put the last stitch on the label. Yippie ti yi yo, this little doggie has been a thorny one from the very beginning, challenging and stymieing me on all fronts -- composition,color and value issues.

The light it hid under its big ol' bushel? I discovered that I absolutely loved painting onto the stitched surface, creating shifts and plays of color and softening the hard edges of the applied letter forms.

It's a different and hopefully more successful approach to blend some shapes and highlight others so they appear to come forward on the picture plane. I still don't quite have the depth I'd like, but I do have wonderful color and shape contrasts. The topographic stitching enhances the sense of movement in the piece as well.

Art making as a process rewards hard work and commitment by slowly building trust in our personal creativity and our eye for composition and color. This piece made me stronger.

That being said, it will soon be time to send this piece off to the RAFA exhibit at the Arts and Cultural Council for our January 6-30, 2009 group exhibition called "New Year, New Directions."

Riding the trail can be a long road for sure. A cowgirl just has to tilt back her head once in a while and croon a few tunes in the saddle!

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the Creative Blogger Award Goes to - ME!

Thanks, Rayna, for presenting me with the Creative Blogger award!! What a nice way to end 2008 -- I think I'll imagine it as a seed that will grow and blossom into more great validations that the universe will bring to me in 2009.

So I'm doing just as Rayna's instructions to me "require."

1. The winner may put the logo on her blog. (done)

2. Put a link to the person you got the award from in your blog (done)

3. Nominate five blogs. (see below)

4. Put links to the blogs. (ditto)

5. Leave a message for your nominees. (about to do next)

Alas, I have to make a confession. I spend so much time making art and doing art-related research that I haven't gotten to know many of the wonderful bloggers that are out in cyber space. I'm hoping to correct that in 2009, so would appreciate any and all recommendations for a list of "Best Artist Blogs" to start off the New Year with some inspiration(and maybe help improve mine too!)

I DO have friends near and far who have blogs, so let me introduce you to them.

Karen Rips
I met Karen, who lives in California, when she flew east to take my Glorious Textures class at Pro Chem. She loves creating textural surfaces and actually uses some of the techniques she learned in that class in her work. Check out her small works, they're really good.

Priscilla Kibbe

Priscilla travels the world alone purchasing amazing items from crafts people around the globe, then brings them home to sell and use in her amazing jackets. I totally admire her moxie!

Beth Brandkamp
Beth is the most knowledgeable person I know about Procion MX dyes. Her current fascination is with marbling. She also is a marvelous photographer and her blogs are always entertaining.

Marcia DeCamp
Marcia started studying improvisational quiltmaking with Nancy Crow approximately eight years ago. She began entering her terrific "jet trails" themed pieces into juried shows just within the past year and has gotten into every one she has entered save for one -- it took courage to put her work out and boy is she on a roll now!

Jane Dunnewold
Gosh, why am I putting a "famous person" in here? Well this famous lady is my friend and I am lovin' her new idea to challenge herself creatively (and she is for sure!) with a blog that commits to photo-journaling an image each day that requires her to be present and to "see" the beauty all around her.

Whew, I did it! Came up with five!! Now I get to bestow each one with the honor by sending them an e-mail and then get back to making new work!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Exciting Gallery Opening

Last night I attended the opening of the Member Exhibition at Rochester Contemporary Art Center - -- called RoCo for short. Two hundred artists submitted work to the show, a record breaking number. The gallery is one of the most exciting venues for contemporary art in this area.

I had submitted my Seeds of Compassion piece and held my breath. Would they relegate the work to a dark corner because it was a textile wallhanging? Or would they appreciate a fiber arts piece on its conceptual and technical merit just as any other work of fine art? Would they be inclusive about textiles as a contemporary art medium and hang the work with respect?

They did! It hangs in the center of the second gallery space and looks spectacular there! The salon style hanging of the works created great contrasts and interplay among all of them; the staff and volunteers did a great job curating the hanging of such a diverse group of works.

I met my good friend and fellow artist Paloma there who also submitted a piece.It's the digitally manipulated red and golden yellow and black image that is one of her "she wolf" series. Visit Paloma's website -- -- to see more.

The painting next to her piece, based on bone imagery, is wonderful as well. There were a number of pieces there I would love to own -- not surprisingly, among my top favorites were several subtle monoprints.

All in all, it was a good, validating evening for me as an artist. I hope the exhibition -- and my piece -- will attract lots of positive attention and recognition.