Thursday, December 17, 2015

Synchronicity and Camp GLP

I went lookin' for some sweet inspiration-Joni Mitchell

Last August I traveled to New York to attend Camp GLP, a summer camp for adult creatives and entrepreneurs who want to align their work and personal lives with their common mission of making the world a better place. This is the great effort of Jonathan and Stephanie Fields of the Good LifeProject. Three days of immersion into presentations by "thought leaders", artists, authors, teachers, shamans, business people, yoga and mindfulness practitioners. This event was held at a beautiful location, was well organized and even the food was good. 350 or so attendees came from all over the globe to connect, to discuss, to collaborate. One of those attendees and I connected immediately in that way that makes you wonder about previous lives. We were fast friends. 

What my new friend could not have known when she snapped that picture of our clasped hands at the talent show, is that the reason I came was to try to find my reset button. To rejuvenate my soul after so much sadness and my business after neglecting it for so long. To find a clear direction for my art going forward. She could not have known that I have lost three siblings in less than two years, and that as two of them lay in their hospital beds asleep, I snapped secret pictures of our hands clasped in love and pain and support, knowing their time here was not to be long. 

She could not have known that I put those pictures away, in my files and in my mind, telling myself that some day, when I'm ready to do my serious artwork, I will paint them. She could not have known that her picture was the synchronicity I was looking for that day, having been guided by Shaman Monica Kenton in her morning workshop to be on the lookout for it. She could not have known it would wake me to the fact that it is time for me to do my serious work. My straight-from-the-gut-through-my-heart work, that will include those photos but not stop there, but continue to explore the touch of hands and the energy and the experience and the love that they hold.

And so I started my Touch of Hands series this fall, and it has unfolded in ways I did not anticipate, as I am allowing it to pull me rather than pushing it. I have completed six paintings so far, many of which have been gifts. I have plans for many more, and am exploring different mediums for their expression. 

As an interactive branch of this heart-based project, I have created a Facebook group, 
A Touch of Hands, where anyone who is so inclined can post their photo and story of this simple, common human act that means so much day in and day out. It is a celebration of all the things a touch of hands can mean. This photo was posted by Rick Charlie, and you can see his story about it there. I would love for you to join. 

My Artwork:
Find me on Facebook too! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sedona, Red Dirt and Energy

I have spent many years studying art and color. This just naturally makes me a student of the world and all of its wonders. Or is it the other way around? On my recent trip to the Sedona area, I was so enjoying hiking and just being with the amazing rock formations, feeling lighter than I had for a long time. We spent two days in the area, exploring a few sites deeply rather than frantically driving around trying to see everything. We came across a little-used short path to a wonderful red boulder just perfect for sprawling on and enjoying the view of the Courthouse and Bell Rock. It was the perfect setting for some stream-of-consciousness thought, observation and conversation...

If you look into the daytime sky and let your eyes relax (like one of those magic picture books) you will see what appears to be tiny energy particles (white with tails) dancing in all directions. One theory is that these visible particles are ORGONE, also known as prana, life force, ki, chi, mana, universal energy...etc.  Another is that it is "just" an artifact of our eye, a physiological response to conditions and not "real".
Either way, that makes it no more or less real than color, which only exists in light and is perceived as an artifact of the cones in our eyes. The tree isn't green, it is only made up of a material that reflects green in light. 

Interestingly, there are other responses to color that occur without our awareness. We as humans respond to beauty and color. We are touched by a beautiful sunrise or ocean view or landscape. We are calmed by certain colors, invigorated by others. This response is not just psychological; there are also physiological responses. Check out these articles for further exploration at and The New York Times.

I was pondering this as I hiked around Sedona, surrounding myself with the fabulous red rock and dirt, the contrasting plant life and the happy accident of wonderfully cloudy almost-stormy skies. We are absorbing color as we are absorbing light. 

In a place like Sedona, we are exposed to more red and orange wavelengths. I think this absorption of color is part of why it has long been a place people have migrated to for healing. It is not just beautiful to the eye. It is healing in other ways we can't explain. In addition to that, it is known for several vortexes, or places where the earth is at it's healthiest that have an energy that can be felt by people.

So much is going on around and inside of us all the time that we forget to be aware of.  We can surmise that there is much more that we just aren't aware of. It tickles me to be reminded that there are so many wonders and forces at work. And by the way, those little particles looked denser in Sedona than at home in CA. Imagine that! Better yet, see for yourself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In My Right Brain

The closest I get to a quiet mind is when I do blind contour drawings. This is something I learned quite a few years ago when I attended a drawing class based on Betty Edward's book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It was pivotal for me as an artist and has the beneficial side effect of disengaging the verbal left side by presenting the brain with an exercise that the right just takes over and dances through while the left brain relinquishes control and waits. Not always patiently, but it waits. And with practice you can train it to wait quietly and patiently with the added benefit of not only becoming a better artist but also increasing your powers of observation related to pretty much every aspect of your life. You don't have to be an artist to do this, and you will still benefit from it. 

Here's how:
Get a piece of paper or sketch pad. I like to use a big one so that I can scale the drawing to what I'm seeing. If that page looks too big and empty it is ok to draw yourself a square or rectangle that doesn't make you nervous. Use a soft, sharp pencil like a 2b 3b or 4b or one of those fine point pilot pens that glide along the page. If you don't have those, use whatever is available, but NO ERASER. You'll see why in a minute. 

Set something out to draw. That can be just about anything-it's great to just do drawings of opportunity. Place a flower in a simple vase or get a coffee cup or whatever interests you. Get comfy where you can easily see your subject and access your paper. Find a spot you want to start and place your pencil on the paper. You are going to follow the contours of the object with your eye and match what you see with your pencil. You are going to look only at the subject. Never at the drawing. Imagine that your eye is an ant crawling along the surfaces of your object, and you are following it with your pencil. If possible, try to do this in a quiet space. Someone talking or even a TV in the background will bring your left brain to attention. The point here is to engage the right brain fully. You will lose track of time and finish with a marked sense of well-being. 

At first, it's really hard not to cheat. You will want to sneak a peek. You will giggle. Go right back to not looking, unless you have traveled around that object for a while and are completely lost. Find your place and resume.

The more you do this, the more you will see. Follow whatever you see. You can set an order of things or travel randomly, it doesn't matter. Your drawings will look funny. Some of them will look really funny. Even your left brain can't judge that too harshly because, after all, you weren't even looking while you drew it. 

If you do this regularly, you will notice more about whatever is in your environment. An object will never be quite the same to you when you have observed it so closely, and that extends to objects that you come across and imagine drawing. This can keep you entertained in long check-out lines. As you develop your practice, try drawing your family when they are still or sleeping. Draw people in public. You will notice more about their demeanor, be more in tune with body language and facial expressions. Your drawings will be in better proportion, and will have a style that is just naturally you. Your essence will be present on the page, beautifully unfiltered by your own judgement. Your right brain knows how to do this, it just needs the opportunity. 

Seems I'm not the only one, and it looks like art as meditation is gaining attention and popularity. Have you noticed all the cool adult coloring books coming out recently? There is a great trend in giving yourself permission to just play. Don't think of it as wasting time-it may be one of the most important things you do for yourself. A recent article in the Washington Post explores this trend and some of the benefits of practice here.

And here's a great opportunity  
if you want to explore in paint! 
Barbara Ferrier, an artist whom 
I recently met at Camp GLP and online, 
has just launched her  
Mindful Painting Class 
that you can enjoy for free! Check it out.  
Wishing you a quiet mind, a little every day.

To see my artwork and creative business,