Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Observation

Quite a while ago I started to work through The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel.  I love these inspiration and guidance books; but I never seem to finish the majority of them.

Today, however, I pulled out The Creativity Book and picked up where I left off.  The exercise focused on studying a blade of grass.

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Yep, a blade of grass.  You could also study a flower or a tree or a plant in your home but it had to be some item in nature.  So what is the point?

To observe.  To notice.  To slow down.  To remember that we are part of a greater existence.  And yes, to possibly feel inspired.

In many of our lives, we spend way to much time fighting traffic, running from place to place, or meeting to meeting, barely stopping to catch our breath, and then we come home and collapse.

hydrangeablog.jpgWhen you slow down and stop to observe your surroundings, you drink in what is all around you.  You slow yourself down.  You take time to breath deep and exhale.  You slow down your thoughts and, perhaps, quiet your mind.  And in the quiet you might open yourself to thoughts of creativity and inspiration.

It worked for me.  The ArtDollz discussion group on Yahoo is working up another challenge.  The theme this time is “stick dolls.”  During that time of quiet observation an idea came to me for this challenge and I’m going to try and work with it.

blkeyedsusanblog.jpgAnd that is another aspect of observing and letting ideas come to you.  Acting on those ideas; whether in physical form or drawing them or journaling about them.  When we observe and open ourselves and work through our ideas, the possibilities are endless. 

And what did I observe while studying a blade of grass?  That each blade of grass is individual; some are tall, some are short, and others tipped over at the top.  Some moved in the wind as a group and others held their ground and didn’t move at all.  Some moved in one direction and others in the opposite direction.  And not every blade of grass is the same shade of green.  Some are dark, some are light, and some are a blend.

Just like us.

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Enthusiasm

Some believe that certain things come into our lives just when we need them.  Ever since I had my aura and chakra reading I’ve been trying to pay more attention to my surroundings; the sights I pass while driving, the words I read and the words people speak, the people I meet, the music I hear, and the critters in the yard.  There are messages all around us, some more obvious than others.  And if we open ourselves up to our surroundings, these messages will become clearer.

Everyday, I read a passage from the book Awakening: A Daily Guide to Conscious Living by Shakti Gawain.  And some of the passages have been quite timely.  Today’s passage resonates with me and I wanted to share it with you.

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm is a quality that arises naturally from the flow of the life force within us, carrying us toward new experiences and discoveries.  For many, this quality was squelched in childhood when we were not allowed or encouraged to follow our spontaneous creative impulses.  We can begin to cultivate our enthusiasm by trusting and following our intuitive feelings, exploring new experiences, and doing things that we truly love to do.

I remember being quite creative as a child; writing plays and then acting out those plays; playing dress-up, drawing, and painting and making up games.  And then, somewhere along the way, society (mom, dad, school, etc) steps in and tells us to start acting like a young adult, an adult, a mature adult.

And we forget how to play.

We forget our spontaneity.

We forget our creativity.

If you’re feeling a little out of sorts today, perhaps it is because you need to remember how to play and to honor your creativity.  We have a long holiday weekend approaching.  I challenge you to get a box of crayons and a coloring book and color outside the lines (or just scribble on a piece of paper.)  Build something with Legos.  Play with finger paints.  Try walking on your hands.  Build a card house and then knock it down.

Whatever you do, today, tomorrow, with the rest of your life, do it with enthusiasm and honor the child inside.


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“We Have the Key”

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“We Have the Key” started out as a stick I found in our yard.  Now, he represents a call to save the earth.  When I started to put this art doll together I was thinking about the whale watch we went on last week.  A whale watch is an experience you never forget; to come so close to one of the largest creatures on earth as you stand on a boat in the middle of the ocean is to truly feel insignificant.

The copper netting around the neck represents the fishing nets that have snared whales and other sea creatures; the dangling beads symbolize the junk that floats in our waters that also contributes to damaging our ecosystem.

The shell is for the ocean, the feathers for birds, and the black mask bead for our ancestors who tilled the soil, fished the oceans, and passed down our love of nature.  And over this doll’s face is another mask.  A mask that represents our failure to successfully solve this problem.  Have we made changes? Definitely.  Can we do more? Certainly.  Yet we hide behind a mask, thinking we have done enough; that maybe the problems will go away or that someone else will find the answer but never reacting until the problem becomes huge.  We REact instead of PROact.

A word bead dangles from a representative noose around his waist that has two words on either side: wild and sad.  The earth and the animals wish to be wild, to retain their freedom.  Yet our advancement and subsequent abuse of Mother Earth leaves it sad and imbalanced.  However, hidden, on the other side of the stick, is a small gold key.  A key to our salvation; a key to cure our ills and correct the destruction we have created.  It is there.  If we look hard enough and work together, we will find it.


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Where Have All the Art Buyers Gone?

An interesting question was posed on an email discussion group that I read.  It revolved around the issue of those who make art selling fewer and fewer pieces versus those who make craft items.  In this situation, “art” was defined as work that you buy to look at and “craft” was defined as work that you buy because it is something you use.  This person had observed that those who make “art” are selling less than those who make a “craft.”

I find this to be an interesting conundrum.

First, it asks how one defines art and craft (or are they one in the same?)  This is a perennial topic of discussion on many art groups and one that continues to be open to interpretation.  My definition or interpretation of art or craft may not be the same as your definition or interpretation.

Second, it brings into question the venues where an artist sells his/her work.  And that, I think, often bears witness to how one defines art and craft.

I have two lines of work; a functional line of art and a spiritual/mystical line of art (for lack of a better term at this time.)  My functional art includes the wine bottle stoppers, business card cases and pens, and perfume pens that I sell predominantly through wholesale and consignment venues.

My spiritual/mystical line of art includes my spirit messenger art dolls and pyramid vessels that I sell primarily at art shows and at consignment venues.

I’ve also been an exhibitor at a variety of art/craft shows and there is a definite difference in the type of customer that attends these shows. 

When I first started selling my work I started with the area church sponsored show, the woman’s league sponsored show, and the parent association sponsored show.  I brought mostly functional art.  For the most part, these shows attract a variety of customers but primarily customers who will spend $10 to $75 dollars on a purchase with the sweet spot price of $25 to $50.

In the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to be an exhibitor at mid to high level shows; the type of show where the least expensive item might start at $45 and art work over $1000 is not uncommon.

So what seems to be the difference in buyers at these shows? 

The buyers at the church, woman’s league, and parent association shows seem to be looking for lower priced items.  A $65 piece of art isn’t necessarily the item that they are going to buy (it does happen, but not very often.)  After exhibiting at several of these shows I’m convinced that the customers aren’t looking for expensive art work regardless of whether that art is functional or not.

I also think that at numerous low to mid level art shows the quality of the work varies.  By quality I mean “handmade” versus “import” or “resell.”  When this mix of quality occurs I believe it creates confusion for the customer (how do they know which is which?); it frustrates the artist whose work is handmade (because how do you compete with the $10 whiggy-jig next to you?) and it depresses the art market.

At the mid to high end show, the customers and collectors who attend expect to see art, possibly have a better understanding of art, and aren’t as shocked by a high sale price.  Granted, they may not buy the $10,000 piece of art, yet they seem to understand why that item costs $10,000.

So are there art buyers out there?  Yes, they are there; you just have to find the appropriate venues.  Should you start making functional art if that is what sells?  I can’t make that decision for you; however, I do believe that you should have work in your booth with a varied price point.  Depending on the show your inventory might have more lower priced items with some moderate priced items and a few higher priced items.  At another show the opposite may be required.

And, regardless of the type of show, it is also important to educate the person who comes into your booth.  Explain what your art is about.  Tell them the process.  Tell them about your inspiration.  Make a connection.  Whether your art is “something you use” or “something you look at” having a story behind your art work will help you connect with the customer/collector.

Perhaps, if they weren’t an art buyer when they walked into your booth, they’ll be an art buyer when they walk out of your booth.

For more information on selling to customers, I recommend Bruce Baker’s CD Dynamic Sales and Customer Service for Artists and Craft Makers.


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Friday Folly

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A cascade of locks strung along the Great Wall
Badaling, China (2005)

 I was quite touched by this neverending roping of locks strung along the Great Wall.  Each lock represents a wish for a loved one be they alive or deceased.  I believe they may also represent good luck and are also strung by newlyweds who “seal” their wedding vows by throwing away the key.


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Quark

I’d like to be
under the sea
in an octopus’s garden in the shade.
-Richard Starkey

 

Here is Quark.  I posted an unfinished picture of him last month.  Since then I’ve added a few embellishments, cured him in the oven, and added an antique wash. 

Here is Quark as he appeared in July:  Quark

And here is Quark the completed:

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For some reason he reminds me of a sea urchin.  Perhaps a little creature who lives in a sea anemone.

We would be warm
below the storm
in our little hideaway beneath the waves. 
Resting our heads
on the sea bed
in an octopus’s garden
near a cave. 
We would sing and dance around
because we know we can’t be found.
I’d like to be
under the sea
in an octopus’s garden
in the shade.


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10 Commandments of Creative Women

The following appears on Moondance which I found via Return to the Garden.

Creativity is best nurtured in a focused atmosphere.  Recognizing the distractions which life can provide, we offer these tenets to provide guidance and support to all.

  • You will always remember: You are a creative woman.
  • You will honor your creativity by nurturing it.
  • You will honor your sister’s creativity by nurturing it also.
  • You will allow yourself to take creative risks.
  • You will use your creativity to express and increase the beauty of the world.
  • You will use your creativity to express truth.
  • You will use your creativity to see more beauty.
  • You will allow yourself and your art to be a work in progress.
  • You will allow your creativity to be the “true voice” you hear when others scoff.
  • You will accept and love yourself during times of feeling fallow, trusting this quiet time is necessary to precede new birth or creation.


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The Journey

Have you ever had aspects about yourself revealed that you knew were true but didn’t want to believe or accept?  I’ve recently experienced this through a very interesting avenue.  Last week, I had an Aura and Chakra reading at the Center at Westwoods.

Now what is an “aura and chakra reading” you might ask.  First, lets define aura and chakras.  An aura is a subtle-energy field surrounding humans.  In Sanskrit this energy field is called kosas meaning body sheaths.  The word aura comes from the Greek avra meaning breeze. Other terms to describe the human energy field are universal life force, prana, or chi.

Chakras are also energy centers associated with specific organs and endocrine glands in the body.  The word chakra comes from the Sanskrit meaning wheel or disk.  The traditional Hindu system names seven major chakras: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown.  Each chakra is associated with a particular color.

So, essentially, I had my energy fields read.  For this reading I placed my left hand, palm-side down, on a small black box with silver disks on the top surface which appeared to correspond to the segments on my fingers.  The thumb rests on the side of the box also on top of silver disks.  The box is attached to a computer.  Your energy fields appear on the computer screen.  You breathe and relax and let the machine take a reading. 

What I learned is that I have a chameleon aura.  I have energy bouncing all over the place.  I pick up energy from sources around me; the computer, the lights, cars passing by, someone’s voice.  That probably explains why, somedays, I feel tired at night even though I didn’t necessarily have an overly active day.

My strongest chakra color is green (the heart chakra) which is indicative of communication, creativity, logic, balance, and being social.  That explains my love of art, creative activities and nature.

So how does placing your hand on a black box with silver disks translate into a journey?  Because I learned that while I love to share advice I don’t always follow it myself.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “practice what you preach.”  Well, when you don’t always follow your own advice (practice what you preach) certain energy centers are thrown out of balance.   All those steps I shared to help you achieve balance I don’t always follow myself.  Now I will try to be better about this.

And what does any of this have to do with art and creativity?  Quite a bit actually.  When I’m out of balance, my creativity drops.  I can’t focus or concentrate.  If my studio gets too messy, I can’t think creatively because of all the clutter.  The energy is blocked.  Creativity stagnates.  And if I don’t engage in something I love, I feel sad and a little depressed.

So now I begin a journey to take care of myself, to balance my energy fields, and strengthen those areas that need more development.  Perhaps it will point me in another creative direction or open me to greater creativity.  Only time will tell.

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