Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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The Artistry of France

One of the many aspects that I love about France (and most of Europe for that matter) is the artistry that permeates the environment. From the doors and windows to the gardens and the food, nearly everything exudes an artistic quality that, in my opinion, is sorely lacking in the United States. The arts are held in high esteem in France and it shows. What struck me on this trip was noting that many business titles include the word “artisan” in the description; from the patisseries to the boulangeries to painters and plumbers, everyone is an artisan.

Artisan (n): A person manually skilled in making a particular product; craftsman.

I wonder what our society would be like if we all considered ourselves artisans.

Cemeteries

I love old cemeteries. I love to walk through them, gaze at the ornate headstones, and imagine the people who have passed. What were their lives like? What did they look like? Would they be annoyed that I’m standing here staring at them?  As a kid, I trembled at the thought of walking across people’s graves. I always made sure to walk AROUND the grave, never across it. This probably stems from watching too many black and white horror movies on the Sir Graves Ghastly show (warning: audio starts when you click this link.) However, this behavior is still with me today and if I have to walk across someone’s grave, I always say “excuse me” first.

The cemeteries in southern France are all above ground. Families have small crypts to inter loved ones. Many crypts have several markers indicating which family member is buried in the crypt. The markers might be attached to the exterior of the crypt or they may be placed on the ground surrounding the crypt.

The local cemetery in Durfort was no exception. A couple of us even went back during the week to make molds of the designs on some of the headstones. Here are a couple of iron crosses from the cemetery in Durfort.

IronCrossMary

IronCrossJesus

Windows, Doors, and Knockers

I mentioned earlier being drawn to the beautiful doors and windows in France. Many doors also feature wonderful door knockers that really are welcoming. Door knockers have been around for ages and were most evident in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance periods. Door knockers typically fall into one of three classes: the ring, the hammer, and the human figure or animal heads. Door knockers from the Medieval period were the most carefully designed and those from the Renaissance period were the most ornate.  To read more about the history of door knockers, visit here.

Here are a couple versions of the popular hand door knocker which we saw on many doors in southern France.

Handdoorknocker1

Handdoorknocker2

And the doors; oh my. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful doors.  This gentleman’s head was on a wrought iron door in Soreze. I wonder who he is and what he is thinking.

FaceDoorRevel

The doors below were along one street in Toulouse.

ToulouseDoor

Full shot of the door above, including the stunning arch over the double doors.

DblBlueDoor

DblHeadDoor

And of course there are the windows. Here is another pair of windows in Soreze that drew my attention.

SorezeWindows

And a side street also in Soreze.

SorezeStreet

Architecture

There is also wonderful artistry in the architecture of the old churches, castles, chateaus and yes, even the gardens:

AlbiGarden

The garden above was in Albi behind the Musee Toulouse-Lautrec. It reminds me of the gardens at Chateau de Versailles.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the arched entryway at Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile in Albi.  We’ll continue our architectural tour in the next post.

StCecile


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Posts of Interest From the Blogosphere

I had hoped to share some more pictures from France with you today. However, a software update decided to wedge up my computer for most of the day on Monday which kept me from my original plans. (The good thing out of this was I spent 4+ hours in the studio working on my exhibit piece.)

In lieu of pictures from France I’m sharing some links to various blog posts that crossed my path over the past couple of weeks. Enjoy!

The Opportunity of Obligation: Susan Mazza shares some great insight on acting out of commitment or acting out of obligation.

Maker’s Schedule vs Manager’s Schedule: Paul Graham shares an interesting explanation on why going to meetings in the middle of the day can throw off your entire schedule. Do you function on a “Maker’s Schedule” or a “Manager’s Schedule?” Now I understand why I hated meetings in the middle of the day.

Create Like a Kid: Ken Robert issues a call to remember what it was like to create when we were kids. Did we worry about things being correct or perfect? Nah.

Stop Your Internet Fiddling: I think almost all of us have become internet fiddlers. Some days it is easier to control this compulsive behavior than on other days. Web Worker Daily shares five steps that may help you curb your internet fiddling.

Make Big Art: Lisa Call has added a new blog to her repertoire. The focus of her new blog is to empower artists to think big about their art, marketing, and their lives.

Don’t Go It Alone: Jennifer Lee, contributing writer on the Wish Studio blog, reminds all Museprenuers why we should not do everything on our own. As indpendent women and men, we all feel we can do the job better ourselves; if we just do it, we know it will get done. I’m guilty of this and have learned it isn’t always the best approach. Also check out Jennifer’s great web site, Artizen Coaching


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Ooo La La La Cascade

LaCascadeDoor With several hundred photos to review and edit, I thought I would begin by introducing you to La Cascade, the lovely home owned by Gwen Gibson in Durfort, France. Gwen is very generous in opening up this little slice of heaven to artists so that we, too, may experience the joys of the area, indulge our senses, and release our inner muses. For more information on La Cascade visit this page.

Come On In

Come On In

Let’s start with the interior: the kitchen, dining room, and family room:

Where we gathered for breakfast and where meals were prepared by Neesa

Where we gathered for breakfast and where Nesa prepared her delicious, artistic meals

We ate several meals in the dining room

We ate several meals in the dining room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

The Family Room or Gathering Room

La Cascade is not only beautiful on the inside, but on the outside as well. Behind La Cascade is a soothing river and waterfall. Even on cool nights we kept our windows open slightly so we could be lulled to sleep by the wooshing sound of the waterfall.

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

The patio where we ate several meals and relaxed

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

Our bedroom windows; small windows are the studio

La Cascade waterfall

La Cascade waterfall

River running behind La Cascade

River running behind La Cascade

And the studio where we awakened our muses:

Original stairs to the third floor studio

Up the original stairs to the third floor studio

Viola! La Studio

Viola! La Studio

Along with the door knocker shown at the beginning of this post, La Cascade also holds lots of sweet little niches and decor.

A Scrolly Metal Railing

A Scrolly Metal Railing

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

The Bell that Called Us to Dinner

Loved This Cutting Board

Loved This Cutting Board

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

A Little Niche in the Patio Wall

Curious: A key or something else?

Curious: A key or something else?

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of La Cascade. It truly is a special place.


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Just Tell Me What To Do

As part of this transition period and potential new journey, I asked a dear friend if she would do a Tarot card reading for me. We used a lovely deck called the Tarot of Transformation by Willow Arleana and Jasmin Lee-Cori. Out of the three decks presented to me, this was the one I was most drawn to. And I could definitely feel an energy from the deck in both of my hands as I shuffled the cards, spread them on the table, and repeated my question over and over in my head.

We did a three card spread which included reading the interpretation of my chosen cards, asking questions, and lots of discussion.

Now I know the intention of doing a Tarot card reading is to assist or guide the receiver as she deals with the situation that lays before her. That is why the cards are interpreted and questions are asked. The cards are not supposed to tell you what to do, though perhaps the cards might confirm something you already know deep inside.

And that is part of what this reading did for me.

But oh how I wish they would just tell me what to do!

I come from a long line of years of doing what has been expected of me (don’t we all, especially women?) or doing things based on other people’s advice or suggestion. So to think about truly doing something because my inner voice is rising up and poking at me and getting antsy with me is scary and overwhelming.

What if I fail? What if this still isn’t the right thing to do? What if I really don’t know what I’m doing? What if…what if…what if…

Smudging

Last week at the health food store I bought a 3-pack of mini-smudge sticks.  Smudging is a ritual common among Native American tribes that involves burning a bundle of sage, cedar, or sweetgrass and gently waving the smoldering stick around the area (or person) to clear negative energy. You can read one explanation about this ritual here.

I’m not sure what prompted me to buy the sticks that day but I’m glad I did as I used one of them yesterday to clear my studio. I chose a sacred white sage bundle, lit it from the flame of a candle, and as it started to smolder I walked around the studio asking for the negative, old energy to be cleared and to welcome new energy and creativity.

I cleared all four corners of the studio and my desk area. In the process I also cleared the space around me as the smoke had a tendency to envelope me as I moved about the studio. When the ritual was completed, I extinguished the sage in a small polymer clay bowl filled with sand and set both items on my altar.

Poor Pippin wasn’t too happy with this ritual. He laid on the floor the whole time watching me move through the studio. When I was finished and I bent over to pat him, he scrunched up his little furry face and seemed to say “Mommy, you smell funny.”

The scent of the white sage stayed in the studio for quite some time. While it was a little overpowering at first, I gradually got used to the smell and found it rather soothing.

More Messages Along the Way

One of the cards in the Tarot spread indicated that I need to spend more time in prayer, meditation, and in opening up to my intuitive nature and awareness. Going away on vacation took me out of that daily schedule/structure I had started. I did return to my seated meditation yesterday after almost three weeks of absence. It can be so hard to get back into this habit, even though I know it is good for me. It is like restarting (or starting, for that matter) an exercise program. Certainly a few minutes in silence is better than nothing. And I’m returning to reading my affirmations and writing daily in my gratitude journal.

Ironically, my Daily Om horoscope for yesterday was titled “When Opportunity Knocks.” One line in the horoscope said “It may be that an optimistic mood coupled with the belief that your prospects are thriving has opened your eyes to avenues previously hidden from you.” and “…consider reexamining your current goals so you can be sure that they are reflective of your aptitudes and outlook for the future.”

On Twitter, two quotes caught my eye:

Don’t deny your “gut feeling” it could be your calling trying to keep you focused on what’s important. (posted by Paul Peixoto)

Today’s Practice – Let go of the need to explain yourself. (posted by Jackie Walker)

Perhaps these are more small messages for me to become aware of on this journey.


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Monday Reflection

The world calls me great
great but useless
because I am great I am useless
if I were of use
I would have stayed small
but I possess three treasures
I treasure and uphold
first is compassion
second is austerity
third is reluctance to excel
because I am compassionate
I can be valiant
because I am austere
I can be extravagant
because I am reluctant to excel
I can be chief of all tools
if I renounced compassion for valor
austerity for extravagance
reluctance for supremacy
I would die
compassion wins every battle
and outlasts every attack
what Heaven creates
let compassion protect

Tao Te Ching


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Blues and Transition

Hmm, does the name of this blog post sounds a bit like a folk album title or something similar? My first idea for this blog post was the very original “Post Vacation Blues” as a title. See what happens when you let an idea percolate in your head for a few days?

Blues

DurfortLaCascadeSt

Yes, I’ve definitely had the blues these last few days since returning home from Southern France. I know the post-vacation let down is a common occurrence. I’m sure Eckhart Tolle has a name for it. But these blues seem to be heavier than others. It is one reason why I haven’t returned to blogging.

Our time in Southern France was awesome. The ladies in Dayle’s workshop were great; we got along well, shared a lot of laughs, and worked well together. I think we all wanted to take in as much as we could; to simply absorb everything.

Dayle introduced us to a number of artists from the United States, England, and France. We visited the Farmer’s Market, the Vide Grenier, Albi, Revel, Soreze, art galleries and artist studios, and even included time to make some art!  And after that Eric and I toured around some more, taking in a stage of the Tour de France, visiting Foix, and exploring Toulouse.  The weather was great, the food awesome, and the scenery spectacular. I have close to 900 pictures to review and edit.

No wonder I’m in a bit of a funk.

Which brings me to…

Transitions

A friend on Twitter commented that she couldn’t wait to see what changes this trip would bring about once I returned. Naturally, I assumed this would refer to my art. And in some ways it might.

But what I’ve been thinking about these past few days since coming home is what direction I want to move with my art and my business.

Now I know this probably sounds like a broken record on my part. I’ve talked about this periodically for some time. First it started with separating my functional art and fine art into two distinct websites. Then it became focusing on my fine art instead of my production art.  And now I’m wondering about art all together.

Let me clarify that: I’m now wondering about the aspect of selling art versus the making of art; more specifically, the making of meaningful art, creativity, teaching, coaching, and spirituality.

That makes for quite a bit of stuff bouncing around in my head.

creativeentrepeneurbk-1 A while back I started to work through Lisa Sonora-Beam’s book “The Creative Entrepreneur.” Through a series of exercises and prompts, Lisa guides you through the visual journal process. One section in particular, “Pathway of Heart and Meaning” and the questions “What does your deepest creative longing look like? What do you want to be doing more than anything else?” revealed an interesting answer.

I was stunned and felt a very strong sense of excitement when I read my answer: “To combine art and spirituality as a means to developing one’s independence and creativity and goal attainment.” “…a women’s retreat center or gathering spot for art, creativity, coaching, spirituality; all forms of expression and a means of attaining independence, gaining self respect and respect from others.”

CEVisualJournaling

This idea, the possibility of teaching and coaching other women, has rattled around in my head for a few months. Of course, so has the thought of “who are you to think you can do this? What experience or expertise do you have?”

My experience in France has made this idea run even stronger.

So that is where I’m at; in a period of transition. I have started to ponder giving up retail shows for a year so that I may focus my energies on the development of an art/creativity/spirituality program. I won’t say if that is a good idea or not; we never know where our decision will lead us. However, I do believe that when one door closes, another opens. We just have to be aware and ready to receive it.

Speaking of doors, I took several pictures of doors, windows, and other portals during our trip. Certainly the doors, windows, and portals in European countries are inviting in their colors and design. I wonder, though, if my attraction to them this time around was even stronger because I feel something stirring deep inside. Maybe I’m looking for the right door to open and for me to walk through. Perhaps I’m looking through a window and wondering what I’ll see reflected back at me.

WindowInRevel

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