Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
― Mary Oliver
It is beautiful outside today. Tomorrow I have four art friends visiting that I haven't spent time with since pre COVID. We are going to paint, talk and immerse ourselves in friendship. At the same time, I am in the midst of planning our first ever fall festival at the orchard including a pop-up art exhibit with three fabulous artists living close by.
So today I am taking time to celebrate. Celebrate fall. Celebrate living in northern Michigan. Celebrate friendships. Celebrate life. Celebrate paying attention.
I am paying attention to the beauty around me and I am paying attention to the brokenness around me. Both need attention. Honestly, I have been astonished by my emotional highs and lows recently. I can take some pretty deep dives into climate change and women's rights and grief. Yet I know how lucky I am to be living in the midst of nature and how lucky I am to have a supportive community around me.
We are in this together. We all need to recharge. So today, my focus is on telling about the good things ahead (thank you, Mary Oliver!).
Crowded Table Orchard. This is still astonishing to me. Over a year ago we uprooted ourselves and moved to 55 acres in northern Michigan and we OWN AN APPLE ORCHARD. What do you do when you suddenly find yourself living amongst apple trees? Celebrate the season!
Zach made us a fabulous logo. And we are putting it to use at our first annual Art and Apples Festival.
Mark your calendars! I know we live far from many of you, but I tell you, it's beautiful up here. And we'd love to see you. It truly is worth a road trip. Come stroll through the orchard, enjoy the fall foliage and apples and cider, and bask in the art of four exhibiting local artists. Doesn't that sound wonderful?
It's fun to plan a pop-up exhibit when you get to invite your artist friends. Come meet Mark, Lori, Lauren and me too. We love to talk art. We'll show you what we are working on. Demo a bit. Basically we are all just looking forward to having a good time together. Don't you want to join us? Plus Farmer Jeff has been baking up a storm and is getting ready to press some fresh cider. You gotta come cheer him on!
Make a weekend of it. Right before Art and Apples I am teaching at Oliver Art Center in Frankfort, MI. You can make a weekend of both activities. Class on Friday, Art and Apples on Sunday!
In Collage for the Soul (Friday, October 15th) we start by taking an awe walk and go from there. It is a pretty magical day. All levels welcome. If you haven't taken a class at Oliver before, the setting is gorgeous.
I am also teaching a three day workshop at the beginning of November at the Glen Arbor Arts Center. Finding Courage: Painting for Deeper Self Expression is about looking inward, discovering your sources of inspiration, communicating personal vision, learning new mixed-media techniques, and developing your own unique artistic style. This is such a fun workshop to teach and be part of - helping people get in touch with their emotions and putting them down on canvas is why I teach. It's what I love about art. And it constantly astonishes me.
If you can't make it to Art and Apples, you can still find my small paintings on Daily Paintworks. As always, I will happily put them in the mail to you. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. You can also find my paintings in Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor, MI, Blue North Arts in Suttons Bay, MI and Hayley Gallery in New Albany, OH.
I hope to see you soon!
My love to all,
P.S. A huge thank you to Sarah for making our fabulous flyer for Art and Apples. This is definitely a family affair!
Stay up-to-date on classes I am teaching and art show happenings through my website, Facebook page Jessica Kovan Art or follow me on Instagram.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.
The human soul doesn't want to be advised or fixed or saved.
It simply wants to be witnessed -
to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.
This has been a heavy year. Yet the apples are still turning red and the fungi in the woods continue to astonish me with color. I am amazed and appreciative of nature and its ability to be a grounding force in my life. A sense of re-emergence is happening.
Getting back on the horse, writing down my musings, and sending them out has felt bigger than a bread box. Yet it also feels important. Perhaps letting go of the pressure of feeling the need to have something worthy to say is part of the re-emergence process.
So my random Friday thoughts. Thoughts on life. Thoughts on art. Thoughts.
Mom's are pretty special. Where's my heart right now? A friend once told me you never really truly understand what it is like to lose your mom until you lose your mom. I get it now. My apologies to every friend I didn't hug long enough, ask how they were doing often enough, touch base as time went by, sit by their side quietly, and so on. I get it now. It's amazing how we can continue to grow and learn no matter how much living we have done.
Just enjoying beauty is OK. What's moving me forward? I have always used my paintings to help process emotions. Yet I am coming to the conclusion that sometimes it is ok to paint flowers or landscapes or beautiful colors or llamas. Yes llamas. Earlier today I watched three young llamas play. It was delightful.
Everyone has a story. What's inspiring me right now? I have become fascinated with the fact that everyone has a story and we all gain from sharing and listening. At an art fair this summer, I asked everyone walking by to write what re-emergence feels like on my painting. What a gift to hear the stories. If you are close by, come write on my painting. It's waiting for your words.
Try something new. I took part in my first ever plein air competition this past weekend. I love painting outside when it is quiet, private and definitely no one watching. For the "paint out" (which was neither private nor quiet) I put a temporary tattoo on my arm, "I AM THE STORM," and jumped in. So. Much. Fun. Gotta remember to do stuff like that more often.
Goals work for me. How am I moving forward? Goals. Deep breaths and courage help me jump into my goals. Currently I am taking part in Oliver Art Center's 30/30 challenge for the month of August. It's my way of picking my paint brush back up daily. I have committed to 30 paintings in 30 days. Gulp. You can follow my process on Instagram and/or see the completed paintings on Daily Paintworks.
Dwell in the good. I believe in art. I believe in people. I believe in the fact we need to make some radical changes in our world in order to continue on. That last sentiment can become destabilizing. So I breathe, paint, support the causes I believe in, shop locally, love my kids, don't stick my head in the sand, and try to figure out how to be the best human I can be.
That said, the owl painting above (Here I Am) will be part of Higher Art Gallery's Wings of Wonder exhibit raising funds to build the first Tribal Eagle Aviary and Rehabilitation Center East of the Mississippi River. The painting, Sandhill Cranes, was my donation to the Oliver Art Center's recent fundraiser. It was purchased and donated to the Raptor Resource Center in Iowa for their fundraiser.
Jumping back in. How am I re-emerging? A big part of me is sharing and teaching. And, fingers crossed, it's starting up again! I taught my first in-person workshop in over a year in July. It felt so good. As classes and workshops are slowly getting rescheduled, find my most up-to-date information on my website. Coming up quickly are classes at Oliver Art Center and Glen Arbor Arts Center this fall and North Carolina this spring (Kanuga).
My art. Where is my art? My small paintings are available for purchase on Daily Paintworks. Once purchased, I will happily put them in the mail to you. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. If it is in a gallery, I will put you in touch with them. And don't forget my self-paced online classes, Good Morning Creativity!, are always available.
Thank you to all. Please stay healthy and happy and creative.
My love to all,
Re-emergence (24x36) - a community project
“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.” ― Alice Walker
...there is still so much beauty in the world...
a peek into my heart
I was struggling with how to start this note when an artist friend said, "I love how your art let's us peek into your heart." Words can be such a gift.
A peek into my heart....what a year of paradoxes! Somedays I want to hide. Then I look at the temporary tattoo on my wrist: "Be Present."
When I write and paint I start by asking myself: Where's my heart? Lately my heart has been grateful and fearful at the same time. I know I am not alone.
For me, 2020 has produced a tension of wanting to be both seen and not seen; visible and invisible. I tried to capture this tension in the painting above, In/Visible. Looking closely, you see me peeking out of the painting, with layers of thoughts written on top in white. The largest words are: Here I am. Though large, you have to look closely to see them. I find myself wanting people to see my art, wanting and needing community, wanting to fight for things I strongly believe in, and wanting to remain safely and quietly tucked away in my home in the woods. I don't believe I am alone in this dilemma.
While working on In/Visible, I suddenly envisioned a totally different way to communicate my 2020 emotions - hiding behind and hugging a tree labeled "Enough." Peeking out and holding on tight at the same time. I am grateful for the beauty around me, my family and friends and art. I have enough. Yet, we've all also had enough. Such a strange dichotomy. (As an aside, picture me running around hugging trees and taking pictures of myself to use as resource photos.)
I share these thoughts in the midst of a very odd holiday season. In that spirit, I thought I'd mention a few things I love (my power tools) in hopes they inspire you.
Reading and listening and painting.
If you like to read, my good friend, Emily Fine, who also happens to be the mom of my niece and nephew, has her own podcast, The Book Cougars, which is all about books. Such a fun listen and so many good suggestions! Check it out. (I am reading Richard Powers book right now, The Overstory. Wow.)
Kelly Anne Powers has a wonderful podcast called Learn To Paint. I have been lucky to get to know Kelly over the past few years. She is a fabulous human and is joined by great artists talking about their craft. I love the insights I gain every time I listen.
Supporting the creators.
For my mid-Michigan friends, Sara Bishop put together a gift giving guide to shop locally. She is so cool.
Art comes in so many forms. I'm related to one of my favorite jewelers, Samuel Valensky. Sam is Jeff's cousin (and mine too). His jewelry is beautiful and meaningful and from the heart. He calls it "personal medicine for the wearer." How can you go wrong?
Since I mentioned my temporary tattoo, I love the company Conscious Ink. Many of their tattoos could be titles of my paintings. I must say, though, Zach's working on his skills to give me a permanent tattoo. That's a tad scary.
I encourage you to shop on-line locally, know that many artists struggle with the same paradox I am exploring. Please support small independent businesses. I adore my galleries and want them to continue. We need art in our lives.
My art. My paintings (and mini-art journals and cards) are available for purchase on Daily Paintworks. Once purchased, I will happily put them in the mail to you. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. If it's in a gallery, I will put you in touch with them. And don't forget about my self-paced online art journaling classes, Good Morning Creativity! They would make a wonderful gift for someone needing a little extra creative handholding at the moment. I also have started teaching one-on-one classes on-line. Shoot me a note if you have questions.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me. I truly appreciate you more than you can know. Please stay healthy.
My love to all,
Stay up-to-date on classes I am teaching and art show happenings through my website, Facebook page Jessica Kovan Art or follow me on Instagram.
L'shana tovah to all! May the new year bring you good health, peace, and good news.
The Jewish new year is a deeply reflective time. In honor of the new year, I want to pick up my paintbrush and fully immerse myself in the beauty of the season - feel gratitude for the changing trees, for birds and apples and dragonflies. It's a beautiful time of year in northern Michigan.
Yet in my art I also want to be my authentic self. I want (need) to allow myself to paint what is going on inside my head and heart. That's pretty raw stuff right now.
As an early morning fog hovers over the vineyards and orchards, two sandhill cranes land in the field in front of me. Their beauty takes my breath away. The dissonance in the emotions within me is hard to wrap my head around.
My anger and fear are personal and global. Watching environmental destruction occurring in front of our eyes while climate change and global warming is being denied is beyond my comprehension.
Concurrently, COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have reached over 200,000. Two hundred thousand. And those numbers are only part of the story.
COVID long-haulers, people experiencing symptoms months after having contracted the virus, are coping daily with their life and health being upended. One of those being my daughter who was exposed in early March - before we understood as a nation to "mask up." I can reason that we just didn't know better. But our leadership did know better and chose to remain silent. Withholding that information had a direct detrimental impact on a person closest to my heart. Watching her struggle to take a hike, cook a meal, study, have enough energy for the day is heart wrenching. This past week, the administration suggested 20-somethings are not getting COVID and families are not feeling the impact. My blood boils.
As an artist, what do you do with these emotions? For a bit, I found it very difficult to paint. Then I reminded myself of the healing power of nature. The loons were calling while I sat outside and painted "Otter Lake" - the small painting to the left. It was a moment of pure soothing salve to the heart.
Yet, as an artist, I need to acknowledge and share all of my emotions through my art. Hence, "I Am Here For You" (the heart above) and the painting to the right, "Trapped In The Grey."
I am honored that "Trapped In The Grey" will be shown in the upcoming "Citizen's Coping" show at the Higher Art Gallery in Traverse City. My words on the plexiglass are "trapped" in the grey of the painting and in the texture of the paint. (You can read the words below.). The plexiglass reflects the viewer 's image noting we are all "trapped in the grey."
We are weeks away from one of the most critical elections of our lifetime - perhaps our country's lifetime. My love for our country and our world feels at stake. The safety of all that I love feels at stake. We cannot put teflon around our hearts and pretend that all is well.
I know I am not alone with my mixture of loving the day and being afraid for our future. May we all vote with our hearts and for humanity.
Wishing you good health and love and lightness.
From my heart to yours,
Trapped In the Grey
“Feels like an elephant sitting on my chest.”
I breathe in. I breathe out.
Try not to panic.
She's trapped in the COVID cloud of grey.
My energizer bunny. My athlete. No energy. No answers.
"Try meditating." I say. Lost for words.
"Be your own best advocate." Lost for words.
Her anger erupts. Understandably.
Breathe it all in. Love it all out. She'll get better. No one knows.
Ventilators. Deaths. Asymptomatic innocence. Long-haulers. Headlines scream.
My love for her immense. My fear for her concrete. Heavy. Looming.
"Not a good day" she says. "Go to the emergency room" I plead." "No. They don't know what to do. It's better if I meditate." My words bounced back at me.
"It's a marathon, hon, you'll turn a corner."
"Feels like a long walk, mom, with no corners."
"I don't understand why people don't wear masks. It's easy."
They need to hear the fear. Experience the grey. Feel the grey.
Love it all in. I tell myself.
Breathe it all out. I remind myself.
Trapped in the grey.
“You and I are flowers of a tenacious family."
From March through June, I taught online classes focused on finding beauty everywhere. Beauty in the chaos. Beauty in our fears. Beauty in the world. Beauty in being.
I thought of the classes as helping to right ourselves during the midst of sheltering-in-place and our fears of the virus. Helping place focus on the beauty that surrounds us every day. Helping to see the loneliness and lack of hugs in a different light.
We continued on, and I kept painting...while my daughter was sick...while my mom healed from her fall...while we moved out of our family home. My art and classes focused on the beauty of love, the beauty of health, the beauty of change. I taught. I painted. I intellectualized.
Then Zach called. "Mom, have you seen what is happening in Portland?" I turned on the news. I paid attention. And I put down my paintbrush.
I give a lot of thought to my role as an artist and to the role of art in the world. Art can help people heal. Seeing beauty everywhere in everything is powerful.
Yet, it is also important to recognize, to see and to name the ugly side of humanity that surrounds us. To see the racism. To see the generations of pain that is surfacing. To see the unchecked violence of the police. To see the gassing of peaceful protesters. And to be outraged. To say loudly: black lives matter. I can't even pretend to see beauty in what is being done to human beings around me; my friends, my neighbors, the youth, the people.
What is the role of the artist in these times? To document history? Help people find joy? Inspire people? Wake people up? Express collective emotion? All of the above?
I put down my paintbrush trying to figure out the role I want to play. During this time, I have been told: "But people need pretty. People want to see pretty art. People need beauty." Yes, I agree. But enough is enough. Voices need to be heard. Change needs to happen.
I do still see beauty all around me. Beauty in the murals popping up in urban areas across the U.S. Beauty in the street art. Beauty in the dancing during demonstrations. Beauty in the voices speaking out. Beauty in the strength and power of people.
But I also see ugliness. Ugliness that is being made visible over and over and over again.
I know I need to pick up my paintbrush again. Right now it is easier to take paintings off my walls of my home as we move. To think. To listen. To reflect on my role in the problems and the solutions. To grow. To re-find beauty. To ponder how to make art that touches the heart while being an active citizen of this world.
Yet pondering is not enough. If you are asking, like I am, how can we do better as a society?, this comprehensive list of resources is worthy of close examination. The list includes organizations to support, books to read, artists to follow and much more.
Seeing beauty isn't enough. There is too much at stake.
Enough is enough.
From my heart to yours,
“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."
Today is my mother's 83rd birthday. Happy Birthday Mom! It is also the day Jeff's brother, my brother-in-law, died 26 years ago. I went into premature labor with Sarah during Brad's funeral on my father-in-law's 60th birthday. This is a week filled with memories.
Why do I tell you all this? Because I missed the arrival of spring that year. When I suddenly realized the trees were budding and flowers were blooming, I was so mad.
How could the natural world have continued on? Nature was my heart and soul and it didn't wait for me. I now know I was being offered a gift that I didn't see - the gift of everyday beauty. But I wasn't open to receiving it.
This very clear memory was why I picked back up my art journal when Michigan (and most of the nation) started shelter-in-place. I knew I had to remind myself to see beauty in the midst of my worries and fears. Art helps me do that. And it was very clear I was not alone.
I so appreciate the folks that jumped on board to art journal with me and joined Good Morning Creativity! - Seeing Beauty. A community developed of creative, kind, thoughtful art journalers who were ready and willing to learn new techniques, new ways of thinking, and new on-line friendships.
Like everyone, for me, the past month has had it's share of family drama. Jeff and I drove 21 hours (nonstop) to pick up our oldest and bring her home where she has been quarantining in our house for the past three weeks. My middle daughter had a scary ER visit in a state too far away and is now slowly recuperating. My youngest is on the west coast in the mix of it all. And we have worked very hard to keep my mom out of the hospital - with a bad fall last week being an exception to our carefully laid plans.
Through all of this, my art journal has provided a haven to contemplate beauty. I DID see the daffodils bloom. I DID hear the red wing blackbird singing. I DID contemplate what my comfort foods are. And I DID observe carefully a pileated woodpecker in my backyard. I so appreciate the power of art to remind me to pay attention and provide a place to lose myself in the page. I think what surprised me the most about the first 4 weeks of Seeing Beauty was how much beauty is actually out there when you pay attention. So we are not done.
The next four weeks will be starting Monday. Anyone is welcome to jump in. It doesn't matter if you have never done anything "artsy" before or if you are an experienced artist. Everyone finds their place. You can be part of the Facebook community or not. Your choice.
The theme this month will be "Everyday Beauty." Prompts arrive three times per week for four weeks in your email inbox. There are so many ways to think about and journal around beauty. Included are special jumpstarts, inspirations, and tips given around the 4 C's: creativity, concept, color and composition. Intrigued? Join in!
You are all my community. I hope you and everyone you care about is in good health, staying safe and finding positive and creative ways to spend time. And I most sincerely hope you are able to find beauty in the every day.
From my heart to yours,
“The object of art is to give life a shape." - William Shakespeare
I met Diana when I was 6 or 7. She was the older sister of one of my best friends in elementary school. We reconnected last month when I delivered a little wren to her. It was such a gift to sit on her couch, bond with her dog, and talk and reconnect after so many years. It is a gift I have found repeating itself over and over. I like to think of it as one of the powers of art - if we let it happen.
I made the decision in November to start painting smaller and be more visible. I didn't make a decision to build community or reconnect with people but I had forgotten about the magical side of art. And that we all need community.
There is so much confrontation and disconnecting in the world right now. Everywhere. Yet a natural part about being human is connecting.
As an artist you put your heart out there for the world to see. It's vulnerable. Galleries feel safer. You can remain invisible. You bring your paintings in, set them down and leave. You don't interact with the buyer. You don't even know who the buyer is. If you have a good relationship with the gallery owner, your heart glows when you drop your paintings off - and then you run away.
It is a little like being a goldfinch. Flit in. Flit out. Maybe be a little showy and sun shiny in the moment. Then be gone.
Yet goldfinches also seek company. You rarely see a solitary goldfinch. But you often hear about the solitary artist.
I am a bit of a hermit. I rarely paint in groups. Being alone in my head is a big part of my creative process. I need to be able to hear my heart.
Yet I so enjoyed sitting at LouAnn's kitchen table, a friend I hadn't seen in years. Catching up while she purchased a painting for a cousin who just received good medical news was heartwarming. It brought me true joy to re-meet Jann who had taken a workshop from me years ago. And I loved dropping off a painting to a mutual soccer mom. All of these connections are real and matter.
What I have come to realize is we all have a drive for reconnection. In these polarizing times, we are searching for relationships. I believe we need meaning, purpose and connection for a happy life. That is a lesson art continually reteaches me.
My goal with my art is to engage. I want a person to look and think and feel when they see my paintings.
At the same time I have to take a deep breath before interacting in groups or even picking up the phone. My mom tells long stories about pulling me out from between her legs where I would hide as a little kid. My mother-in-law still jokes that I always bring a book to hide behind.
Yet I need people. Art helps me connect. I just have to continually relearn this lesson.
I thank each and every one of you who is part of my community and allows me to be vulnerable. You are so important. I thank the magical side of art for continuing to reteach me these lessons.
As always, you can find my smaller works available for purchase on Daily Paintworks. Once purchased, I will put them in the mail or hand deliver them (and say hello!) depending on where you live. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. At this time of year, you can also find my paintings at Lansing Art Gallery, Shiawassee Arts Center and Be.Gallery in Ohio.
From my vulnerable heart to yours,
"Our lives are shaped by our interactions with others.. (E)very interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative. And although we take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives."
- Tom Rath & Donald Clifton (How Full Is Your Bucket)
"You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul."
George Bernard Shaw
It's January. As I write, the sun is shining beautifully through my window. It is the type of January day we don't see often in mid-Michigan. Meanwhile I am preparing for the opening of my upcoming show, Trapped In The Grey.
February seemed like the perfect time to dissect what it feels like to be "trapped in the grey." When you are confronted by feelings of heaviness, weight and darkness. Yet you also know love is all around you. We are all special and have the ability to treat each other that way. And we are responsible for each other.
Yet we have been living through tumultuous times.
I don't see issues in black in white, with clear cut answers, and even my head and heart sometimes seem in conflict. Often what helps me the most is to paint.
My Trapped In The Grey series had a definite starting point. I was walking in Central Park, reflecting on a conversation with my daughters and feeling frustrated with not being able to communicate my emotions clearly. My insides hurt. I felt trapped in recognizing nothing in life is simple. And suddenly a new series was born. I saw it clearly in my mind. Starting with black on one side and white on the other, I would write my emotions onto the canvas. Shards of plexi-glass would be added to the top to allow the viewer to see their reflection in the grey – indicative of the fact we all get trapped.
It, of course, was not that simple. But the muse had struck. I love how the artistic process takes on a life of its own. If you let it.
My good friend and fellow artist, K.W. Bell, is joining me in this show. Karen is a fabulous sculptor. Her sculptures are deep and thoughtful and meaningful.
We both push to communicate our emotions in our art. We both long for something deeper as well - to engage with life and all of its complexities. And we both enjoy the work itself, the process.
It is also such a lovely thing when you get to show with a friend and your work fits together so well.
For years my mom has asked: "Why don't you just paint flowers?" I do. At times. But, to me, art is also about painting the gritty, soulful stuff which helps me feel more alive and helps me learn about myself.
If you are in Lansing in February, please stop by the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Arts (MICA) gallery to see the show. And please let us know if you did. We'd love to hear your feedback.
If you are able to make it to the reception, you'll have a special treat. Karyn Perry from Karyn's Dance Place is working with a group of young dancers to do their own interpretive dancing of what it means to be "trapped in the grey." I can't wait.
I hope you are able to join us. If you live far away, you can see many of my Trapped in the Grey paintings on my website. And please check out Karen's work as well: K.W. Bell.
My love to all,
“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.”
My closest friend called recently. She lives in California. I live in Michigan. Had I let her mom know about my recent holiday art sale? She wanted to see my new work and what I was putting together for the holidays. Oops.
I truly believe most artists are not naturally entrepreneurial. There's this sense that you are selling your soul. You hope your art will "speak for itself" and somehow sell itself. But, unfortunately, it doesn't really work that way.
Years ago I was challenged by an artist/mentor to think about why I paint. Mark suggested I draw a heart to represent my passion for painting, a star representing my desire for notoriety or fame, and a dollar sign for money. And then I had to decide what combination of these symbols represented my motivation. Three hearts? Three dollar signs? A heart, star and dollar sign? What I decided made a difference on how I proceeded with my art. I had the hardest time with the exercise and still do.
I am working hard on wrestling my muse into a form that works for me. I do believe I am savvy enough to figure out how to paint, help the world be a better place, and help pay my bills all at the same time. I have wonderful conversations with people who have purchased my art and told me they feel I have somehow magically been in touch with their emotions and put them down on canvas. The best compliment I can receive as an artist is that my art has touched someone.
When I look around my house, there are things people created everywhere. And they bring me joy. I am grateful for all of the creative souls whose talents grace my house whether it be visual, musical, literary, food related, etc.
I heard a very interesting question asked recently to artists who are sheepish about being creatives. "Do you want to live in a world without art? Do you want to win the fight against cancer and live without music, poetry, dance and great stories?" Oh my gosh no. My mom worked so hard this week to stay out of the hospital because she had tickets to see Aladdin at the theater. She was so happy listening to the music, watching the dancers, being out in the midst of art. And I was happy to share the evening with her.
I share these thoughts obviously in the midst of the holiday season. I encourage you to shop locally, know that many artists struggle with the same emotions I am exploring. Their art contains a piece of them, a piece of their soul and a gift to the world. Go to your local art fairs just to take it all in - breathe in the goodness. Help them know that what they do matters.
As I wrestle my muse, I am working on making my art more available to all. You can find my smaller works available for purchase on Daily Paintworks. Once purchased, I will put them in the mail or hand deliver them depending on where you live. If you are interested in a painting on my website, please email me directly. This time of year you can also find my work at Detroit Artist Market or Be.Gallery in Ohio. And my self-paced online classes, Good Morning Creativity!, are always available - wouldn't they make a wonderful gift for someone who wants to make art more a priority in the new year?
Thank you to everyone who has supported me. I appreciate you more than you can know.
May art, music, laughter, good books, good food, family, friends, love, good health and peace and prosperity all be part of your holiday season.
My love to all,
“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”
- Neil Gaiman
"It is hope that enables us to live, only hope." -- Edward O. Wilson
Is there a magic elixir to remaining hopeful?
Years ago I worked for the Kellogg Foundation. On a daily basis I was inspired by and in awe of people working diligently to protect their drinking water. The majority were young professionals following their passions. I often pondered what happens when young activists burn out? How can I help my grantees stay motivated in their work?
My curiosity lead me back to school. I asked these questions all the way through my doctoral program in adult education. Through my dissertation research I interviewed amazing environmentalists. I was gifted with being let into their inner thoughts, inner emotions. I was introduced to Mary Oliver's poetry during one of those interviews. I heard about hard fought battles and compromises and friendships and losses. But mostly I heard about hope.
Hope was the unifying theme. Remaining hopeful appeared to be a magic elixir to sustaining passion.
I am not sure exactly what hope looks like. Yet I do believe we are all hungry for hope.
Oddly enough in high school I had this stanza of Emily Dickinson's poem taped to my dashboard. My 17 year old self was hungry for hope.
Why bring this up now?
I often question as an artist how am I helping to protect the environment?
How am I helping people remain hopeful?
Every artist is going to play a different role in society.
I am not sure what my role is but I do know my commitment. I would like to provide a message of hope.
There seems to be two ways I can do this. I can help celebrate the beauty and joy of the world around us or I can provide thoughtful critique to our political, economic and social systems. I seem to flip back and forth. Perhaps that is necessary.
I want my art to connect with people’s emotions. Recently I have gone back to painting nature. Every time I paint a crane or cardinal or pine tree I feel a bit calmer, at ease, gentle. And ready to protect the world I love. If my paintings can help others feel the same way, then perhaps I am doing my small part in providing hope.
With love to all.
Inhaling life one