Friday, January 30, 2009

an artistic journey with kindred spirits...

student work from class at John C Campbell Folk School in January

What is Creativity?

an Ability...the ability to imagine or invent something new.

an Attitude...accept change and newness, be willing to play with ideas and possibilities, develop an outlook of flexibility and the habit of enjoying the good, while looking for ways to improve it.

a Process...continually strive to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual alterations and refinements to your works.

students during drumming part of class

Creativity is not the ability to create something out of nothing (only God can do that), but the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing, or reapplying existing ideas. Some creative ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple, good, practical ideas that no one seems to have thought of yet.

Everyone has substantial creative ability. Remember how you were as a child! If someone gave you paint and a brush, you painted. If they asked you to sing, you sang out loud. If they asked you to dance, you danced with joy. 

I recently read that if you walk into a first grade class and ask how many are artists, almost all children hold up their hands. If you walk into the same group of children in fifth grade and ask them how many are artists, only one or two will raise their hands. So somewhere between the first and fifth grade, creativity is suppressed or removed by the educational system. And it often takes decades to reconnect with your creativity, if at all.

So this is what I attempt to do in my "Artistic Journeys for Kindred Spirits" workshop. 

students at work

Workshop Mission and Goals

The mission of the workshop is to experience the communion with your higher self or your soul in a way that allows you to excel at your artform. We will play or relearn to play. We will write, draw, paint, tell stories, dance and drum. We will work with the reckless abandon of a child. We hope to set your creative soul free.

When students leave I hope that they know that their art is more about what happens as they work than the actual work of art itself. Robert Henri author of “The Art Spirit” says, “What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of the business of making a picture.”

I want them to know that you have something valuable to say with their art. I lead them through journeys that stretch them from their comfort zone. Some resist vocally, some quietly. I facilitate, they teach themselves so that the projects become internalized with the hope that they can and will continue to grow creatively when they are home.

We explore ways to expand our creativity through a series of exercises including a guided visualization technique, automatic drawing and writing, map making, memoir, and storytelling. Throughout the workshop, the exercises will focus on ways to:
  1. Become overly curious
  2. Be childish
  3. Find inspiration in the world around you
  4. Discover and use images from the unconscious
  5. Seek out problems
  6. Stimulate your perceptive abilities
  7. Suspend judgment
  8. Get over the fear of failure
  9. Celebrate failures
  10. Give yourself permission to fail
  11. Give yourself the time to create
  12. Engage your imagination with life journey memories
  13. Work collaboratively
  14. and much more...
There is strong social pressure to conform and to be ordinary and not creative. Don't cave to this pressure. 

class collaborative nature collage

Monday, January 26, 2009

new hope...two, pray and love...

reminiscing about a tour of New Jersey and Bucks County, PA along the Delaware ultimate goal was to get to the little shop called Two Buttons in Frenchtown... hidden behind warning signs to stay out and no this little does not look like much on the outside, but...

inside is jam packed with wonders from around the world...

where will these feet lead me?

through rows of trinkets and delights...

and statues and furniture and oddities...

my newest rock from two buttons...actually a petrified tree turned rock...
what shall i put in the opening?

Two Buttons is a wonderful import gallery owned by Filipe of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love fame... Okay...he is not really Filipe, but Jose, Liz's Brazilian boyfriend turned husband...Jose was there manning the shop, so charming and full of details about the works of art and their travels to find wonder she fell in love with him...

Book Review: Eat Pray Love,#1 on the NYT Paperback Nonfiction list, is romantic fiction about a woman who, after a bad divorce, went in search of herself and her spirituality. She does this by eating her way through Italy, praying and meditating through India, and loving through Bali.

Below is what I came home with...I was limited by what would fit in my suitcase or a life size gator would have followed me home...see products on the Two Buttons website for more...

all my goodies, including the beads from the front of the book that Jose graciously gifted me with

the puppet with painted head and beautifully carved hands and feet

We went from Frenchtown to lunch in charming Lambertville, NJ, then across the river to artsy New Hope, PA...I would move there tomorrow...
Today's aMUSEment - do you have a good friend who deserves a call or letter from you? Take a few minutes today to do that...
U Be Creative Today!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

work in progress...

what is on your easel today???

i am working on these four angels right now...i am teaching a creativity workshop titled "Artistic Journey with Kindred Spirits" at John C. Campbell Folk School the weekend of January 23rd...i am doing these for sale in the gallery while i am there...

i am totally taken with the angel on the upper right...i paint intuitively...with little pre-planning and let each figure develop as it will...the background is venetian plaster (one of my favorite grounds to paint on)...i love to work on several paintings at once so i can let things dry before i mess them up...i have a tendency to do that if i paint one at a do you work???

on a personal note...after 3 years on the market and $125,000 worth of reductions...there is finally someone interested in my home...please lift a prayer that it may sell quickly...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

perigee moon...sabbath songs...

the perigee moon...astronomers call the point of closest approach "perigee," and that is where the moon will be this weekend...perigee full moons come along once or twice a year...2008 ended with one and now 2009 is beginning with's déjà vu for people who love the magic of a moonlit landscape...for me it was a spiritual experience to be on the beach looking at this massive moon...

my perigee moon, 1/10/2009 Fernandina Beach, FL 6:39 PM

My dear friend Carla Schushman, a super decorative and fine artist, has started a blog...ArtSong...stop by and say hello...yesterday's post had this quote by Charles Swindoll from "Active Spirituality" ...boy did this hit the mark for me...
When things are adverse, life gets simple; survival becomes our primary goal. Adversity is a test on our resiliency, our creativity. Up against it, we reach down deep into our inner character and we “gut it out”. We hold up through the crisis by tapping into our reservoir on inner strength.
entering 2009 knowing that I have been trying to fix something i had no ability to fix or chance of fixing...i begin the process of reengineering my life...and i will let God fix what i cannot...and deal with grace and humility what ever happens...

my perigee moon, 1/10/2009 Fernandina Beach, FL 7:01 PM

a peaceful life begins with a peaceful mind...and my mind has been anything but peaceful for too long...a life crisis is the crossroads to letting go of the past...letting the old die and believing that there is something much better to come is my challenge every day...

my perigee moon, 1/10/2009 Fernandina Beach, FL 7:14 PM

i am reaching deep within to find the balance and the meaning of this test...from every crisis is a life lesson...something to learn...something to grow your spirit...finding something within the experience that is bigger than the experience is the goal...

my perigee moon, 1/10/2009 Fernandina Beach, FL7:15 PM

my prayer for 2009...
Dear God...if you decide that I am no longer to be here, then there must be a better place for me...if you decide that I am no longer to do this work, then there must be better work for me to do...your will, not mine...Amen
my perigee moon, 1/10/2009 Fernandina Beach, FL 7:19 PM

i am packing this weekend with the help of my son matthew and his girlfriend carrie...they have been taking very good care of me for the past several months now,,,i am blessed to have them so close...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats....

One of my most useful discovery tools is a SWOT Analysis. I use it often and almost always use it with the artisans I coach. The process always gets me to focus in on my next big idea (and I have a million ideas). It helps me:

  1. Determine what personal attributes are helpful to achieving the objective;
  2. Determine what personal attributes are harmful to achieving the objective;
  3. Determine what external conditions are helpful to achieving the objective; and 
  4. Determine what external conditions could do damage to the performance.
 my visual SWOT analysis

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A discovery of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats  for a specific goal. A personal SWOT Analysis is a powerful technique to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses and to examine the Opportunities and Threats you face. A business/career SWOT can help you discover and develop your unique niche which utilizes your specific talents, abilities, and opportunities to the fullest.

Download your SWOT Analysis Worksheet PDF file . This is with my compliments to do your own analysis.

As an artist it is helpful for me to create a visual SWOT Analysis as shown above. I illustrate my strengths after I do the above form. During this illustration process I work through many ideas and usually have an answer when I am finished with the artwork. It is a type of visual journaling also that I allow to flow intuitively.

Identification of your SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for the success of the selected objective may be derived from your SWOTs.

The first objective is to determine whether the goal is attainable, given my SWOTs. If the objective is NOT attainable, I must choose a different objective and repeat the process.

If, on the other hand, the objective seems attainable, my SWOTs are used as source information to the creative generation of possible strategies, by asking and answering each of the following four questions, several times:
  • How can I Use each Strength?
  • How can I Improve each Weakness?
  • How can I Exploit each Opportunity?
  • How can I Mitigate each Threat?
When used in a personal context, it helps you develop your career path in a way that takes best advantage of your talents, abilities and opportunities.

What makes a SWOT analysis particularly powerful is that with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are best suited to do. By gaining a clear understanding your weaknesses, you can manage and eliminate threats before they possibly cause you problems.

Possibly the best outcome of a SWOT analysis is the ability to craft a strategy that allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, capture your fair market share, and compete successfully.

How to use the tool:

To carry out a SWOT Analysis, print out our free worksheet, and answers to the following questions:

  1. What advantages (for example, skills, education or connections) do I have that others don't have?
  2. What do I do better than anyone else?
  3. What personal resources do I have access to?
  4. What do other people see as my strengths?
Consider this from your own perspective and from the point of view of the people around you. And don't be modest, be as objective as you can. If you are having any difficulty with this, try making a list of your characteristics. Some of these will be strengths!

Click for a great checklist of strengths.

  1. What could you improve?
  2. What should you avoid?
  3. What things are the people around you likely to see as weaknesses?

Again, consider this from a personal and external basis: Do other people perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Do co-workers consistently out-perform you in key areas? It is best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.

  1. Where are the good opportunities facing you?
  2. What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
  3. Useful opportunities can come from such things as:
A useful approach to looking at opportunities is also to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities. Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.

  1. What obstacles do you face?
  2. What are the people around you doing?
  3. Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?
  4. Is changing technology threatening your position?
  5. Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten you?
Carrying out this analysis will often be illuminating - both in terms of pointing out what needs to be done, and in putting problems into perspective.

Mindtools says: A SWOT matrix is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face. This helps you to focus on your strengths, minimize weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.

I encourage you to use this for decision making, especially business decisions. Let me know how you like it and if it helps you.

Information for this article was taken from:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year...

although i start this new year with great sadness...i wish you health and prosperity in your new year...