This blog has moved to my new art/creativity site (Mouse House BLOG). The new blog is also about getting you connected with nature for creative expression, along with my art, workshops, and my personal journey.

Please feel free to explore past posts here, some of which will re-appear for encore showings in Mouse House. Let nature be your muse...

Thank you for visiting Your Nature, and if you like what you read here, be sure to follow my blog at its new home, to continue to receive creative fun and inspiration in your mailbox!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What’s Your Story?

Last night my son (4 yrs. old) asked me to draw one of his stuffed animals. I asked him what details I should include in the picture, “what makes him Baby Fox, what parts of him do I make sure I have in the picture?” He immediately answered, “His ears are tall and pointy, his face is cute, his nose is cute too mommy, and his tail likes to be wiggly like this, and his tummy likes to see things.” I tried my best to replicate such a carefully detailed description, but it was difficult to draw—I was a mom fully captivated by the spell of her son’s cuteness—and I missed the mark. When I showed Jeffery my drawing he said simply, “oh, no you drew Baby Fox’s mommy.”

I loved that he looked at “Baby Fox” in such a way that included field marks like big pointy ears; and that he saw emotion, personality and behavior in his “cute face” and “wiggly tail.” He also found a way to let me know you could see Baby Fox’s tummy behind his legs. Jeffery decided to draw Baby Fox himself (I wasn’t getting it quite right), he also added Baby Fox’s family and home (a hole in the African savannah—wow)!

What a good little naturalist and artist, I thought proudly! Such attention to detail and imagination involved in this little stuffed animal’s extended history. How wonderful that he looked at his little fox in such a way that would bring the critter to life in a drawing as well, like an actor who develops an entire background story and personal history about a character they’re portraying. Ten minutes later, when my son moved on to one of his dinosaurs to draw, I heard him say, “Tell me a story about your family, triceratops.” He proceeded to draw some circles with horns.

It made me think about the creative process. I think this is natural for many artists to carry a deeply personal connection to their work through a message, an experience, or a desire that needs to be transformed or expressed in some way. It is something that has a way of coming through when we go beyond our intention and explore a kind of backstory, or origin of our piece. To be fully aware of where the inspiration comes from and the reason for our subject. Circles with horns.

Fifty percent of the time the material, for me, “has the story” and dictates the direction of the work. Other times I have something quite specific in mind and mentally store it until the perfect element is in my hands, or it’s simply “ready to be created.” Still, other times I am inspired by a moment from an experience or feeling from a situation that I try to replicate. And, of course there will always be that unaccounted for percentage that I leave wild for the sake of creative exploration. Aha moments.

I try to make people smile, or escape into world of whimsy, or ultimately connect with some insight or knowledge discovered within a piece. I have not spent much time on the backstory that led me to want to create art that evokes these particular responses. I have my reasons, but the story behind each piece? Hmmm. I understand that what I am trying to create is something I want to maintain in my own world. I want to laugh, not be so serious about every little thing. I like the magical moments and whimsy of unexplainable things—which I want my son to embrace as long as possible. I want to be environmentally responsible in the way I live and create. I like to get people thinking. But I know there is much more to my story.

Each time I share a part of my story through my art, I find I am able to create something more meaningful. Yet, finding a way to make that happen for every piece is an indefinable part of my creative process. How far do I go to get to my cirlces with horns?

What’s your story?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Calling All Artist! 350.org Needs YOU!

"Calling artists to sketch a climate change design that will be created using thousands of people in an iconic place threatened by climate change.” Invitation to join 350 EARTH: A global satellite art project  
In November 2010, 350.org will organize 20 simultaneous public art pieces that are massive enough to be seen from space and located on the front-lines of the climate crisis – our sinking coastlines, endangered forests, melting glaciers, and polluted cities. We’re looking to recruit top and up-and-coming artists to design these images.  For more information about how to submit your design ideas to 350.org's EARTH, please download the guidelines here: http://www.350.org/earth

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Curiosity...What Extravagant Respite!

Laguna Beach, CA. As you're walking downtown, there's a little path that takes off from the sidewalk, if you follow the sculpture and plants, you will discover this little deck and the endless ocean view with a beautifully crafted fence that reads: "In this fleeting moment what extravagant respite as booming surf speaks its mystical passage across the undreamed depths." Surrounding the quote, are bits of stained glass treats and the tiny print framing the quote is the word "sound" repeated along the top and bottom.

My friend and I came across this little offshoot after an already long day on our feet--which were killing us, my shoes were starting to rub uncomfortably too. We were both ready to sit the next couple of hours out on the beach (shoes off), and dive into the glorious depths of girl talk, while the end of day approached. But curiousity got the best of us and we wanted to see what was down this short path.

I'm happy we did, I loved this quote fence, its shadow on the deck, and the sound of breaking--yes booming--surf below! We were there less than 10 minutes (the beach was calling), yet I was revitalized by our discovery and temporarily forgot about my sore feet. Respite indeed.

Yes! Pursue your curious side. Answer its call when it beckons you, no matter how tired you feel. Curiousity energizes. Curiosity is your escape from routine, it is the trail less traveled that invites you to explore.

Explored curiosity fuels our creativity.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inspiration Fest

One way I find inspiration is by going to art festivals. I love outdoor events that pulse with art, music, and dance. It's a plus when you're surrounded by nature and plenty of working artists or performers who are bringing their talents to life right in front of you! I'm heading to the Sawdust Festival this week in Laguna Beach, one of my favorite art festivals. The environment is so inviting. It's funky, established, and filled with plenty of nooks and crannies bursting with inspiration. The art and the artists are amazing in their talent, creative in their displays, and happy; with personalities as colorful as you can imagine.

For me, a day spent at an art fest or a powwow, and the surrounding environment that inspired its beginnings is complete "inspiration immersion!" I come home so full of the creative spirit that I cannot wait to get knee-deep into a project. The heart of the experience--all of that artistic expression and sensory mojo--pulses through my veins and into my project.

Go enjoy a nearby festival, there are plenty to be found year-round, some quite famous, some obscure, yet all with high potential to inspire you. You can search for festivals by region on-line. You might be surprised by what people are willing to celebrate. I encourage you to feed your creative side by absorbing the inspiration that awaits you at a soul-thumping powwow, or the next jazz, art, hot air balloon, or whale festival!

Perhaps I'll see you at Sawdust...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cultivating Creativity

As an artist, my creations may not be something you see everyday. I like to incorporate humor, death, birth, the unexpected, whimsy, nature, critters, into the things I create. I like weird and mysterious. I think my son is starting to pick up on that; he is one week shy of his 4th birthday, and developing an eye for the strange.

For example, I have a Dia de los Muertos piece where I shaped and painted skeletal dinosaurs. He digs them, "I rweally like your trisohatops mommy, they're rweally good dinosohs!" Most recently, I placed one of my creations front and center on our car dashboard for him to discover on our way to his swim lesson. I jokingly told my mom (the original lover of morbid art) I might be scarring the little guy with my work. In the meantime, I wondered how he would react to this macabre little hitchhiker:

His first reaction was, "Mommy, what is that?" Said in the tone of, what the hell is that thing? Fifteen minutes down the road he was trying to get me to agree that he should have him. "I like that spidohr's face, mommy. He's funny." He promptly named him Skele-Spider by the way, but he apparently goes by Spider Bones too.

Jeffery quickly adopted Skele-Spider and insisted that his new friend wanted to learn how to play his video game and wished to be added to his bed with his stuffed animals... "Mommy, I prawmise 'kay? I heard you, he's not a toy, I will be carefoh mommy, pleeeeease." I agreed that Skele-Spider would probably love to learn how to play MarioKart but I didn't think he should be with his toys. After much negotiating, Jeffery agreed to show him the games then return Skele-Spider to the car to go on trips with us instead.

For a child who is terrified of all things Halloween, he always has something nice to say about my art. Sometimes he’s wanted to play with some of my materials. I wish he could hang out with me more while I'm working on garage pieces, but currently it’s something that doesn’t really happen because,
1) I work with dangerous, sharp, and crusty metal objects
2) he's usually asleep anyway, and
3) there's just not a lot of room for him to do his own creative thing while I'm doing mine.

One of my sooner-than-later dreams is to create a better space in our garage that is safe, with more room, and more inviting for both of us to be out there together. I want him to witness a variety of creative outlets while freely developing his own...just like I was able to do when I was young.

Growing up, I watched my parents create a variety of wonderful work and joint projects. I was always encourged to create my own things and I always had plenty of space and materials to do so. I want to provide a similar experience for my little one...surrounded by skull beads, humanized bugs, and creepy creatures made of found junk, complete with skeleton spider friends.

If you want to be creative, cultivate that desire by surrounding yourself with all things creative. Things that stimulate your creative process like color, photos, idea journals, books, materials, good light, natural light, unique inspirations, other’s art. Not just in your studio or work space, go beyond and keep it a part of your daily routine. Like writers who write every day, your physical mantra must be to create every day. Work your creative muscle.

I also believe it’s important not to get caught up in creative habits or projects that no longer represent you. When a favorite medium or theme begins to leave you feeling uninspired, it’s time to switch it up! Honor this sign that you are creatively growing and evolving! Don’t freeze up or get bored—try stretching your creative spirit. Incorporate new concepts, new methods or materials or processes—I did this just last weekend and it was a creative shot in the arm for me (and a future post)! You never know when or where inspiration will hit you.

Whether you wish to foster creativity in your child or yourself, make sure you have the space and the materials you need to create. Keep a fresh approach by trying something new, and have fun with what you do create! Then inspire others by sharing your wonderful work…

Monday, August 9, 2010

Nature Time: Photo Finish

My mom’s clever “game” she created for my aunt and uncle inspired this exercise! Before leaving their mountain cabin of which my mom spent the weekend, she took extreme close-ups of various items and locations throughout the cabin. She sent them to my aunt and uncle as a kind of scavenger hunt of the unique photographic perspectives she created. Try this one as a fun “thank you” for your host as my mom did, or for a twist on family game night! It would make a interesting artistic theme. Teachers could have great fun with this as a way to get new students familiar with classrooms while exercising their observational skills. Many possible applications…let your inner shutterbug fly!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nature's Palette: Web

[click palette for larger image]
I love this image (Dreamstime.com) of a spider's web hanging among these twiggy fall branches. How will you be inspired by this creative "spin" found in nature?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Creative Intentions

My mom treated me to an amazing prayer flag making workshop up at the Idyllwild Arts campus, taught by visiting artist Karen Michele. It was a beautiful July day of creating under the pines—a deer even stopped by for a visit (too bad I missed her)!

The theme was Tibetan inspired with the thought being that the wind will carry the intentions of the writings or imagery on the flags out into the world to benefit all living beings. In Tibetan culture, there are 5 flags, each with its own color and associated element. The word in parenthesis are my own wishes/intentions inspired by the element:

RED = FIRE (transformation)
YELLOW = EARTH (grounded/our roots)
BLUE = SPACE (happiness)
WHITE = AIR (silliness)
GREEN = WATER (compassion/peace)

If you are looking for a fulfilling creative project, I found this to be a wonderful exercise for finding the words and imagery to represent my personal wishes for myself and all others, and put it into something to be carried in the wind. It was something I’d never done before and that alone jumpstarted my creative process and ended up being the shot in the arm I needed to get back into other projects I’ve left incomplete! I’m working on those now, giving them new life inspired by a day of creative fun, new techniques and ideas.

If this appeals to you, let the elements inspire you or simply think of qualities you wish to maintain or wish for yourself and others to live by in the world. With materials at hand or your “theme” in your head, gather embellishments and imagery that signify your words. Use an 8” X 12” panel of material for each flag (I cut up a pair of old jeans) as your canvas and bring your intentions to life in that space! Leave about 3” to 4” at the top for folding over ribbon, cord or rope for hanging.

My whole strand is about 4 1/2 ft. long. Each panel is made from a recyled pair of jeans (flag panels) and acrylic, slightly smaller than 8”X12”. Embellished with: embroidery, can lids, glass beads, leaves, material, buttons, wire, scrap metal pieces, post cards, copper wire, metal tags, Sharpie...

I am a little attached to them right now, but I have every intention of placing these outside when the weather cools off a little. I am in search of a special place, maybe our front door(!), to hang these so they can fulfill their true purpose! I think it would be fun to document their "lifespan" of prayer releasing :) I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Here are each of my flags, click images if you’d like larger view:

RED = FIRE = transformation

YELLOW = EARTH = grounded; our roots

BLUE = SPACE = happiness; plenty of space for all to be happy :)

WHITE = AIR = silliness; sometimes the element is referred to as wind or cloud.

GREEN = WATER (life) = compassion, peace. Let compassion flow for all...the script repeats, "compassion for all sentient beings"

While photographing the flags, a breeze released a batch of my intentions for you! Maybe you felt it...

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