Monday, February 8, 2016

Looking Forward to Some Down Time

Just four days of teaching stand between me and 10 days of vacation thanks to Presidents' Week break! While at work today, I'm going to try really hard not to seem too eager for this upcoming deep breath and blessed down time. Some serious renewal awaits me in the studio. I need it. I have big plans for some long overdue refeathering of my nest, a little spruce up and reorganizing of the space that keeps me sane. I did just a little this past weekend and already I feel re-energized and inspired anew. Contemplating a wee open studio this spring, virtual or otherwise...

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Snow White and Rose Red

After the page titled "The Caterpillar" in my Tribe storybooking journal, I promptly created a page that is more rightfully categorized as pure illustration. All the pages in this vintage children's encyclopedia have been prepped in advance with a thin layer of acrylics. In addition, I add a collage layer a few pages at a time so I have the ability to begin anew once I finish an entry. When I completed the caterpillar, I flipped to the back and found that I had a mostly white page as my beginning substrate. I immediately thought of the fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red." The ideas came so thick and fast, I forgot to journal in the background, a component that marries illustration and journaling in this "storybooking" idea of mine. No matter...I love this page in its simplicity and symmetry and it perfectly complements the story in my brain and the images in my mind's eye.

In other random ramblings, I am still dealing with that terrible congestion (and companion hacking cough) on and off, although (cross my fingers/knock on wood) it seems to be on the tail end of its assault. It must be a thing because a couple of my coworkers have been beset by the exact same set of symptoms. My doctor thought perhaps I had battled my way through a sinus infection and while I have a round of antibiotics in house in case I change my mind, I have convinced myself I'm on the upswing. In work news, I am muddling my way through, having started a new semester. My hours shifted more toward mid-morning, ending around 2pm rather than late afternoon. I thought that might make a difference in my fatigue but if anything, I'm more tired. Many days I fall asleep on the couch by 6:30 and sleep till my usual wake-up of three or four a.m. I have some new responsibilities at work, including working one-on-one with a special education child, so I think this constant state of grogginess might just be my new normal until I can get a few days off in a row. Fortunately, that will come soon in the form of Presidents' Week break!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Alice's Caterpillar: Step-By-Step

Many of you have asked to see more step-by-step or how-to posts so here you go! Heads-up: This blog entry is really, really long and image heavy so pace yourselves; I personally recommend accompanying this post with the hot, comforting beverage of your choice.

This is another page in my Tribe storybooking journal. If the the previous four pages were signposts, this is the "X Marks the Spot" page, the one where the light bulb finally went off. While I broke this page into 10 steps, you'll see that each step actually represents several actions. I work in "technique clusters," applying a set of techniques/colors and then falling back on the previous set of actions to continually integrate each action into the whole so the page is cohesive. Read on...I think you'll see what I mean...

STEP 1: I'm working in an old children's encyclopedia. This page began with a layer of pink acrylic paint, topped with a collage of torn wrapping paper. I used a foam brush to scrub on some white acrylic to tame the brightness and busyness of all the color & pattern. This helps integrate the layers. I have no idea the end game...just playing at this point.

STEP 2: Turquoise acrylic rubbed in by hand plus brush marks; red acrylic scraped on with a palette knife; yellow stencilled on as well as applied with a flat brush; little "X's" made with a black ballpoint pen. I push and pull with these colors and techniques until I end up with something I like.

STEP 3: Lots of mark-making - small gold paint pen circles; tiny, repetitive turquoise marks made with a round brush; concentric circles made by dipping a potato masher in grey acrylic; stamping with grey Staz-On ink. Again, I push/pull with these marks as well as the colors/techniques I used previously.

STEP 4: Taming all that pattern with finger-applied white acrylic. I make more "Xs" and journal in ballpoint pen, apply more white and even make marks in the wet paint with the end of my brush. The ballpoint pen and Staz-On ink bleeds through subsequent paint layers, an effect I love.

STEP 5: I drip watered down quinacridone magenta over the entire page and let dry overnight. When I finish working in the studio for the day, I still have no idea what this page is going to be about...I let my subconscious work on that puzzle while I sleep.

STEP 6: Wake up, look at this page and think "Wonderland" and more specifically, Alice's encounter with the caterpillar. I do a quick sketch (that's the actual sketch in the photo) and then cut shapes (freehand) from scrapbook paper, book paper, and an old how-to painting book. Glue everything in place.

STEP 7: Scrub on a very light layer of acrylics in the appropriate colors. Dig through my collage stash and find a magazine photo of a rose that I shape to make the caterpillar's turban. Lightly draw in and then gesso his hands. Gesso his face. Add some long, yellow marks with a wood skewer dipped in paint.

STEP 8: Detail the caterpillar with paint pens, colored pencils, and permanent black pen. This adds shading and volume to the character.

STEP 9: More detailing: Subtle contour lines on the turban; red paint pen dots on the mushroom and lines for gills under the cap; shading on the stem.

STEP 10: Time to bring the character and the background together. Add pieces of washi tape; repeat previous mark-making and color applications; add "bumps" to the mushroom to make it more interesting; add a vintage ad that happened to slip out of my collage stash when I was digging for that rose turban (love serendipity!)

THE FINAL PAGE: To bring this page all together, I added a found phrase, "hung" some map paper stars, and shadowed under the caterpillar's rear. In the future, I may try and integrate that vintage ad a bit more; it feels stuck on to me. I often go back and tweak pages in small ways if the inspiration strikes. For now, I'm calling this page done.

As a final note, I wanted to point out a little virtual wave to reader Özge in Izmir, Turkey. When I pulled out map paper to punch out the stars for my page, I saw her hometown and decided to have it shine over the caterpillar. See her there in the uppermost star?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I Am My Own Sanctuary

After its creation, this Tribe page proved the hardest to decipher and yet the most significant. This is the arrow my subconscious put in my path to point me in the right direction. It has been a while since I created this page (first week in December) but I do remember being compelled to write "I am my own sanctuary" over and over before I began work on the tree woman. That sentence ultimately became the anchoring principle of the page.

At the same time, I was struggling with the name for this journal. The word "tribe" had emerged immediately - before the paint on the first page was even dry - but I had no idea why that word had surfaced. I shoved it aside half a dozen times but I hadn't been able to come up with a suitable replacement title. "Tribe" just felt right. I thought maybe my brain meant something along the lines of that cliché "Find your tribe." It wasn't until I had completed the next page - one I'll show in some detail next week - that I understood I was meant to embrace and nurture the tribe inside me.

Note: The whites in this photo are a bit blown out, a factor of over-correcting the color in Photoshop. However, I notice that this gives the impression that the little nest in the tree's arms is glowing, reflecting onto her but sort of cool.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sometimes When You Fall...

Whatever respiratory bug I'm dealing with continues its rampage unabated...except for now I'm coughing. I've missed some work and really, really miss breathing through my nose and not having to sleep sitting up. I have a doctor's appointment this week at which time I'm sure I'll get the inevitable "It's a virus...suck it up" speech. Fun times. The news isn't all bad; The X-Files is back so there's that...and that can get me pretty far.

I'm still doing art most days, what I call "soft focus" stuff that is low pressure, leisurely, open-ended, slow-moving, easy to pick up and put down wherever. Things that are dearest to my heart, complicated, multi-faceted, and intensely absorbing - the "hard focus" projects - get shifted aside a lot during the school year; I just don't have the time and energy to split between a lot of big tasks. (It's why I begin prep for a show the minute teaching ends in mid-June.) However, I do try to get a bit of hard focus time in each week so those passion projects don't die of neglect. I also avoid slipping into despair over the fact that I can't devote every minute of every day to the art that makes my world spin.

My Tribe journal is one of the hard focus projects currently residing in my studio and in my heart. It developed rather innocently late last November as just another experiment with loosening up but after four pages, I knew I had hit a nerve I needed to excavate from my subconscious. It took me those four pages to know exactly which nerve I had tickled and to realize it was an idea that has been running in and out of my work for years.  This is another of those first, formative pages that helped point me in the right direction. (Page one is here and page two is here.) I believe firmly that many journal pages are really messages written by your subconscious self to your conscious self. I don't see (or even look for) those "notes to self" until after the fact but! It often feels as if those messages were crafted in neon. If the first page encouraged me to seek the light within and the second pleaded with me to see what's right in front of me, then this page is all about letting go and making the leap. It must seem obvious but remember that the meaning and direction of Tribe was still a mystery at this point; the idea of "storybooking" hadn't yet become a blip on my awareness. I was just playing, making pages, asking yes/no questions and following the answers to the next inquiry. By this page, I was beginning to have an inkling that I was on to something but I had no idea what that something was. All I had was a building sense of excitement and delight, a notion that I was falling, much like Alice, toward a new world or perhaps, that I was soaring to a unknown previously out of reach. It depends on how I choose to perceive it but either way, the landing (and subsequent exploration) has been beyond fantastic. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life is Beautiful

This spread in my small "Unexpected Convergence" journal is an unadulterated love note to Tammy of Daisy Yellow: nothing more, nothing less....totally and utterly inspired by her work and I wanted to create a visual tip-o-the-hat, a standing ovation in collage. Bravo and thank you!

Monday, January 18, 2016

*sniffle, art, cough, repeat*

I'm on the tail end of four days off which I've spent hacking, snorting, and sniffling. After two years of drought, California is getting socked with endless rain. The weather prognosticators say we're now on the "deluge-a-day" plan until at least the end of March. This means every mold spore within a hundred mile radius is doing the happy, "let's spread our evil" dance. This, combined with my increased teaching schedule, equals my body breaking down. If only I could walk around with hot compresses taped to my face, I'd be O.K. (that's about the only thing that seems to ease the sinus pressure.) I could also use an I.V. drip of migraine meds; I've taken something for headaches every single day for three weeks now.

However, since I can't do any of the above, I guess I'll keep plugging along, husky-voiced and nasal-sounding until my immune system can regroup. Amazingly, I am slowly - very slowly - progressing on art projects. Some days, I only have fifteen or thirty minutes of quality studio time before I need to prep something for work or go pass out on the couch under the influence of decongestant. I've been trying to make those precious moments count. For a while, you'll be seeing work here that I completed in December, prior to "The Great Allergy Bloom of 2016." It doesn't mean I haven't been making art but rather that there isn't enough sunlight to photograph it by.

The pages in this post are from my mini "Unexpected Convergences" journal that I mentioned the post before last. It's a fun little book, a place I can push materials around aimlessly until something captures my attention. My big, dear-to-my-heart projects are going to have to wait until time and health turn in my favor. Hopefully, I won't have to wait much longer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Dollhouse for Samantha

This is a craft project that I worked on the first week of winter break. While out gift-hunting, I saw this unfinished wood dollhouse and seized by the fever that is the Christmas spirit, I instantly thought "I could paint that!" This was not intended to be painted, the plain wood furniture that came with it was sort of weird, and my son bought a different set of little dolls to be gifted with the final creation. However, I knew when I saw it that I could transform it into something fun for my sweet four year-old niece, Samantha.

Here's the front of the dollhouse...before:

And the unfinished inside:

Here's how it turned out! Taken as they were on my studio table with twinkling Christmas lights in the background, the colors in these pictures aren't great. (I had started wrapping when I remembered to take some quick "after" photos.) The outside paint job featured bright turquoise, with hot pink trim and a purple roof. As you can see, I sawed off that solid wood piece on the front porch and added a piece of picket fence. That made the front a bit more cute and welcoming as well as made my painting task easier. I also added a doorknob because...of course a door needs a knob!

I painted inside as well and added scrapbook paper to the floors. It was fun to try and decide the decorating schemes for each room. Everything, inside and out, is coated in a gloss varnish to (hopefully) make it last a bit longer.

I also painted the raw wood furniture that came with the house. A few of the pieces were strangely out-of-scale (the kitchen table looms over the couch) but I knew it wouldn't be a problem to a four year-old girl with a big imagination.

I am especially proud of how I managed to transform the oddball wood blocks that were supposed to be a stove and sink into pieces that actually look like a stove and sink! Check out those faux screw brads I used to simulate faucet handles! A little piece of bent wire and presto! Sink faucet!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Unexpected Convergences Part Deux

A few years ago, I completed altering a large (8-1/2x11-inch) Dylusions journal into a book I called "Unexpected Convergences." In case you missed it, here's the link to my Flickr album with all the pages. I really love the Dylusions journals, especially now that the entire book contains that terrific, thick cream-colored cardstock. (It used to contain a mixture of cardstock and a white drawing paper that I loathed and immediately ripped out.) That cardstock though holds up under a lot of mediums and techniques, all piled on top of one another. These journals come in an 8x8-inch size now and I have one of those waiting in the wings for just the right project. (There's also an 8x8 journal with black paper but since I haven't seen or used it, I'm not including a link...I only provide affiliate links to products I use and love!)

In the meantime, I've been working in the small Dylusions journal and it felt natural to name it "Convergences Part Deux."  While I loved the final results, the first Convergences journal felt like one of those projects that went on forever and the pages felt huge, overwhelming. This mini Convergences feels just right. I load its pages up with paint leftover from any painting project and later, in small bits of time here and there, I pull those pages together with collage and doodling. It's a nice, easy book to work in even when I'm distracted or tired. Nothing earth-shattering...just a little journaling sandbox for experimentation and play.

Note: That white on black wave doodle is pulled directly from a Lisa Congdon lesson on Creativebug. I practiced on a separate piece of cardstock and then cut it out and glued it down onto the page. Instant contrast!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Muddling Through

I'm still here. Having some trouble adjusting to a new, temporarily-intensified schedule at work that began with the onset of the new year. I feel exhausted every minute of every day. I'm trying to squeeze in some art but I'm not making much progress on any one thing, just tiny bits and pieces on a dozen different projects. Throw in a sick cat, migraines, and the glimmer of tremor in my right hand and 2016 is not off to a great start. Ah well...there's not much to be done about any of it so onward it is.

I completed four pages in this journal I'm calling "Tribe" before it revealed what it needed to become. Each of those four pages, however, has a little message to lend to the overall narrative. The opening page encourages me to delight in the light (as I described at the end of this post) while this next page seems to foretell the unexpected discovery of many small wonders. I love how this character looks so surprised by all those little flowers at her feet, as if she was just wandering along and found herself in a field of happiness. I didn't do any of this analysis as I was making the page; I just followed any creative whims that smacked me upside the head along the way. Later, when my epiphany about "Tribe" surfaced, I looked back at these initial pages to see how my subconscious had led me forward, each one an encouraging nudge in the direction I needed to pursue. Hopefully, I'll make it through to the end of February when I get some semblance of a life back so I can really dig in to this new adventure.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A New Year Arrives

Happy 2016 everyone! Lost Coast Post is reopen for business: art pics, random ramblings, wondering aloud, the occasional whine mixed in into a generally upbeat outlook no matter the obstacle, and a smattering of self-promotion. I expect this new year to be full of challenges (good and bad) and exciting explorations. There's a slow but steady shift in my art life happening and those changes will surely be reflected in this blog.

The Year of Story:
Every year, I choose a guiding theme for my art. Sometimes I blog about it and sometimes not. I've actually used "story" as a quiet touchstone in the studio for about three years now, something I just kept in the back of my mind while I was working or trying to decide what to focus on. It's time to bring "story" right up front and time to let this theme permeate my year and my life. I'm ready and my heart is open to all the possibilities. 2016 will be all about bringing stories and characters to life in a wide variety of mediums. My subconscious has been pushing for this for quite a while; it is time to listen to my own fondest wishes.

New Year, New Media:
I anticipate some changes in how I communicate my art life to the wide world. I'm continuing to work on video production. The learning curve is tremendously steep and riddled with potholes but I'm bumping along fairly gleefully as I've wanted to bring videos to Lost Coast Post for a really long time. In addition, I received a very nice microphone/pop filter setup for Christmas along with the suggestion of doing a podcast. I'm giving it some serious consideration. Oddly enough, most of my non-art related work experience is in radio and television broadcasting (both civilian and military.) However, things have changed radically since I last spun vinyl records at a radio station; hence, my hesitant and awkward inroads into modern day audio and visual production. However, I am willing to keep practicing and playing. I don't think I'll ever gain the technical prowess of some art bloggers out there but hopefully, I can pick up enough tricks to add some different types of media to this site. 

About the Included Photo:
This is the first page I did on a project (started late November) that I'm calling "Tribe." That was the first word that came to mind and I've decided to stick with it. This is the beginning of my exploration of "storybooking," highlighting the tribe of characters that saw me through childhood and formalizing new characters that arise from my own imagination. The word "light" is part of a sticker that actually reads "delight." There is such symbolism in the interplay of those two words. This book is part deliberate act and part serendipity, a dance between acute awareness and the subconscious. Whether I've proceeded carefully or recklessly, I have been completely delighted with the results on these pages. Lots more from this journal coming soon... 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Old New Path Begins: Part 3 - Giving the Journey a Name

After that initial journaling session on November 28, that one where I sat back when finished and exclaimed "Holy Sh*t! This is it!", I began serious consideration of where it was I thought I needed to go. I looked back through my old blog posts and old journal entries for confirmation and then I began to try and clarify the path. Here's some of the notes I took so you can see my thought process:

* Journaling (as I've done it before) = a representation of my voice, my story

* I am ready have been ready for something new.

* All roads have led here.
  • I want to tell the stories of others: characters I've known, loved and/or imagined
  • I need a process to communicate those journaling but not...
  • A marriage of two passions: 1) illustration 2) art journaling
  • Need a simple way to frame this concept
  • 1st word that came to mind: tribe (as in "Find Your Tribe")
  • Maybe not so much find as acknowledge the one already there...
  • I am not/have not been as alone as I thought I was...
  • My tribe has been with me since the beginning...the very beginning...aka childhood
Precedent exists:
  • My own work & words (Fiddlestick Hollow, World Within, blog, Year of Fairy Tale, 365 characters, monsters, robots, journal pages, sculpture work, Girl Who Spoke, Estrellas story etc) 
  • Other artists who create characters (ie. Karen O'Brien, Mindy Lacefield, Juliette Crane)
Important Criteria:
  • Structure + serendipity
  • Emphasis on illustration 
  • Messy mixed media approach mashed together with detailed drawings
  • Look behind to see ahead (the characters are already there; they just need release)
  • Still need a place for "me" (journaling within background...private...hidden)
  • Ultimately, MY OWN STYLE MUST DOMINATE - inspiration OK but needs to be viewed cautiously - look for generic technique not artist-specific steps

After a few days of thought-gathering, a word for all of this rose to the surface: Storybooking (aka "storybook journaling.") As a quick Google session revealed, it isn't a wholly new word. There are sites that use the term "storybooking" to describe the process of adding narrative to photo books and scrapbooks. And "storybooking" can be found in the Urban Dictionary, an online resource with often dubious information. I take that particular reference with a very large grain of salt. 

I am using "storybooking" in a completely different context, one that I could not find elsewhere so perhaps, I am coining something new. My search wasn't exhaustive so let me know if you've heard this word used in this way before. Here's my definition/description of storybooking:

Storybooking is a form of art journaling that focuses on character depiction and/or development; characters can be pulled from previously published classics or can be newly-invented. Storybook pages tell a character(s) story: broad or narrow, obvious or obscure. The journaler's own life and thoughts can be contained on the page but are subordinate to the character's tale. 

So why (you may ask), do I feel like I need a label for this process I am now exploring? I'm not angling to develop a product line, start a new trend, or trademark a word. This is strictly for my own edification. 

First, I want to distinguish what I am doing now from what I have done before so I can let go of that old way of thinking. New roads seem more comforting to travel down if they at least have a name. Secondly, an encompassing label/definition really helps clarify the clues my subconscious has been dropping for years. (Interestingly, my own brainstorming session revealed that I have several "storybooking" projects already in progress, dating back almost a decade. Time to revisit those old friends to see what I was trying to say to myself.)

Giving the process a name or definition doesn't add limits; in fact, I think I'm only doing this right if the road is always a mystery just around the bend. As I work, I can see a little ways ahead. I work towards the next curve, unsure if the path will turn left or right, remain straight, or turn back on itself. The path will be in constant flux. That is the way it should be.

And now, dear readers, I leave you until January. At that time, I'll reveal my storybook pages in full and babble on about where I'm at so far. Besides exploring this new direction, I'll also be visiting family, binging on Netflix, crafting, drinking copious amounts of cocoa, chai, and coffee, listening to the rain, planning lessons and blog posts, relaxing, and generally making mischief in the studio. I hope your holidays are filled with beauty, bliss, and bounty. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Old New Path Begins: Part 2 - Provisions for the Journey

After the new year, I'll reveal where I've traveled artistically since late November but for now, I'm just posting about the trip preparations, talking through how I settled on my current itinerary in the studio.

As I related in the first part of this post series, I discovered many clues to this journey in past blog entries. I also found a wealth of inspiration in my past work and in the work of artists that I admire, old friends and new acquaintances. I am forging ahead on ground that feels both familiar and foreign; my work and the work of others create a little travel guide to accompany me as I move forward.

Remedios Varo
There are two artists in particular that are helping to illuminate the path. First, there's an artist that I've been obsessed with since art school (circa 2001-2002.) I minored in art history with an emphasis in Latin American art and it was in those classes that I was introduced to Remedios Varo. A Spanish expat to Mexico in the 1940s, Varo explored the characters inhabiting her mind in surreal paintings full of secrets and story. Varo is my number one art crush and in the last month, I have returned to her work for fresh inspiration and motivation. 

As for present day artists, there are many that inform my own work. Teesha Moore and Tim Burton have been particularly influential. However, in early December, I discovered a new-to-me artist through Seth Apter's long-running blog series "The Week Links" and this artist's work shook my very foundations. Roxanne Coble (aka bybun) is absolutely fabulous and it was stumbling upon her expressive, haunting journals that caused the shift in perception I needed to see the path I had been destined for all along. I'm not entirely sure why Coble's work was the kick I needed but what particularly caught my eye was the way she blends messy backgrounds with finely-rendered figures. I also love all the wild but thoughtful mark-making. To me, the pages reveal fragments of narrative that are tantalizing and mysterious. 

With all this inspiration in mind, I sat down to play with my current interests and style, pushing out into new territory while holding on to techniques and topics I really love. This resulted in a singularly breathtaking journaling session on November 28. I followed up that initial exploration with three more pages spaced out over a week's time and presto! My direction for 2016 became clear. Frankly, the light of realization has been a bit scary in its clarity and intensity but I continue inching my way forward, day by day.
While external inspiration is good, it is even better to be your own best guide. I also have to acknowledge that I've been leading myself along little by little over the years. My journal entitled "My World Within" is probably the earliest series of breadcrumbs. In 2013, I attempted to create 365 characters in the course of a year. I didn't hit that goal within that year itself but I kept on creating characters since that initial goal and now have created so many, I can't even manage an actual count. In addition, there are many, many journal pages that left visual messages from my subconscious, urging me to see where I needed to go. That "Striving for a New Perspective" page is from November 11 of this year. Once I started digging, I found dozens of pages like this one, dating back several years, all exhorting me to "follow the path" or to "look for something new." I can only say that it is an excellent idea to periodically review one's own work to see if you can spy consistent themes and/or repetitive "notes to self." Oh, and if you find them...listen to them!

Next Installment: Giving the Journey a Name

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Old New Path Begins: Part 1 - Breadcrumbs

Warning: This and the following two posts are "brew-a-cup-of-tea-and-settle-in" posts, long-winded and wandering. They are, in large part, me talking myself through things. If that sort of thing interests you and you have the time, by all means, read on...

Dear readers: This week here at Lost Coast Post, I'll be posting about my artistic direction for 2016 (teasing you about where I'm headed) and then - from Dec 18 through Jan 4 - I'll be taking my annual posting hiatus. I'll be behind the scenes planning posts and photographing work but there won't be any new blog entries until after the first of the year...just a heads-up so you don't think this space has been abandoned.

Last week, I had an epiphany. Now "epiphany" implies that I had a sudden burst of inspiration and revelation, new insight that surprised me with its appearance in my brain. However, when I started digging into this epiphany, trying to discern its origin, I discovered that this is an epiphany that I've had before...many times (so many it is kind of embarrassing.) What's new this time around is an intense, gut-level feeling that I'm on the right track, faith that what will unfold is uniquely me and meant to be.

In researching the roots of this "new path," I found that it actually has revealed itself to me often over the last few years and that I laid down markers to its presence all throughout this blog and my work, like Hansel & Gretel's breadcrumbs that show the way home. Unfortunately, my breadcrumbs disappeared in true fairy tale form. No villainous birds were responsible; I simply failed to follow those clues and that neglect rendered the path invisible.

Here's a few of those "breadcrumbs" I found littering Lost Coast Post:
From August 6, 2010:
I desire two things: a feeling of childlike joy bubbling over in everything I create and an authentic, personal relationship with my creations.  Looking back through a ten-year portfolio and reaching back even farther into the mists of my childhood, I had an epiphany of sorts, a realization that is shaping up to be a huge whirlwind of new energy and exploration.

From August 17, 2010:
[O]ddball beings are clamoring to be heard; they want to materialize from the mists of my imagination into a world that may or may not look kindly upon their appearance.  But things are getting sort of loud in my head.  It is time to listen, no matter how scared I might be.

From July 19, 2012:
All the beings I had tucked away...were shouting in one, collective voice:  "Set us free!"  ...I began to reacquaint myself with the world I had abandoned and in the process, I realized it was really about setting myself free.

From April 7, 2014:
I have no real need anymore for what going on in the mainstream.  I care about what's happening in my mindstream.  I care about letting characters loose upon the world while I am able...I'll forge a brand new, exciting road.
Do you get the idea? I could go on as there are many more tiny tidbits like these scattered throughout 9+ years of posts. The phrase "new path" or some variation on those words is particularly abundant. The difference now? Well, last week, I stumbled back upon this previously-paved path quite by accident, propelled by a stunningly revealing session in the studio. At the end of this particular session, I had the distinct impression that I had torn through the veil. Mental blocks, that had rendered my breadcrumbs invisible or impotent, simply dissolved and the way forward lit up like a string of Christmas lights.

That isn't to say that I'm not still in the dark. Just because there's a light on the path doesn't mean it isn't pitch black all around. Now, however, I am willing - gleefully, greedily - to proceed into the night, one little gleaming will-o-wisp of inspiration at a time.

Next installment: Provisions for the Journey

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Of Rain and Umbrellas

Finally, in the last couple of weeks, we've been getting the rain the state so desperately needs. Of course, Nature can't do anything in half measures so it seems like all the rain we've missed in the last year, showed up all at once in the course of two or three days. No matter. I love the rain. Whether gently pattering or wildly pounding, the sound of water upon roof is soothing. Before a storm, the wind is warm and blustery, the skies a deep slate grey full of liquid lullabies. And I love the freshness of post-storm air, washed clean of pollens and pollutants. Puddles delight the neighbors' children to no end and I'm amused to see them head right for the nearest pool of water regardless of their footwear, a clucking adult at their heels, trying to prevent the inevitable. (I'll admit to splashing through a few puddles myself just for fun.) In my corner of California, umbrellas are generally useless for anything but flying as the rain most often falls horizontally, driven from its otherwise downward path by fierce winds. Still, I like the symbolism of the umbrella, a shelter from storm that can go with us wherever we dare to travel. I try to carry invisible umbrellas with me when I head out into the world, small mental refuges that encircle me as protection against the surging deluge of injustice, hatred, pain, and ignorance. When I need physical protection from such horrors, I fall into the shelter of my art, wrapping myself in a rainbow of paint & paper to beat back the dark. I think maybe this blog is my way of holding out that umbrella of color and joy for others. Get under here, all of you, and let's stay warm & dry together...
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