Thursday, May 26, 2016

Creativity: Lifting My Soul Up.

"E.B. White said that the role of the writer is to lift people up, not to lower them down, and I believe that’s the role of every journalist and artist and creator of culture."

This quote popped up in my reading this week, from a commencement speech giving by Brain Pickings creator, Maria Popova. It had me hooked immediately, as many of her weekly newsletter articles do, I read on with curiosity.  

"Strive to be uncynical, to be a hope-giving force, to be a steward of substance. Choose to lift people up, not to lower them down — because it is a choice, always, and because in doing so you lift yourself up."

It's so true.  And something I so easily forget.  Why and how could I forget something so simple?So elemental?  Because I was trained in the western world to be an ever busy, productive person where success is measured in amounts of money, stress or popularity.  And now, thanks to the Internet, it's by going viral.  Even if that means you laugh stupidly in your car wearing a Wookie mask.  

Did you get enough likes, retweets, hearts or page views this week? How I ask you does this lift you up?  Is this being a steward of substance and creativity?   

Maria goes on to counsel graduating seniors, "Develop an inner barometer for your own value. Resist pageviews and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantification metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don’t hang the stability of your soul on them. They can’t tell you how much your work counts for and to whom. They can’t tell you who you are and what you’re worth."

Bingo.  No social media, no number of hits, and no number of sales can tell me what I'm really worth.  No matter how much I've been taught to measure myself, by height, weight, grade point average, I Q test score, income, home or car or family size.  This is not a one size fits all world.  Especially art, writing and creativity.  

Now, I don't know who or what or how my art lifts up the world. Maybe I'm never supposed to know.  Maybe that's too much of a burden for me to carry.  Maybe that's not the point anyway.  The point is that I do it because it's important to me.  In my heart.  In my soul.

This is an ever expanding, all embracing, never-before imagined world around us.  

And everyday, you and I get to wake up, breathe it in and live in whatever way lifts our souls up.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Love. Life. Art.

It's been a wild and wonderful week with a merry mix of everything I love in my life and my art. 
Watching my children grow and being there to help in whatever way I can is always a labor of love.  This week gave me many things to celebrate.

Love all around.  

My daughter, Caitlin and son-in-law, Colin both performed their Master's music recitals.  Caitlin is graduating with a Vocal Performance/Pedagogy degree.  For her vocal recital, she sang with an orchestra and solo pieces from Strauss, Stravinsky and Mozart.  She was amazing!  She and Colin have grown so much over just the last two years.  Colin's degree is in Conducting and Composing and his recital included several classical compositions but the best was his own composition.  I was awed by their talents and stage presence.

My son, Kyle celebrated his birthday with us, Sarah and their sweet little baby, Meyer.  We went out to dinner one night and had a barbecue another.  So I got to see my son and granddaughter twice in one week.  It's a joy to watch my son gently cuddle and feed his daughter.  And it's such a miracle to experience the tremendous growth of a baby's first year. It's so fascinating to watch her learning to crawl and talk and pull herself up.  And I love that I get to be around her enough that she knows me, smiles and reaches up to be hugged.
Cleaning up the old, adding new life and new art.

My husband and I set to work weeding and trimming and planting and cleaning.  All our labor paid off with new flowers, hanging baskets and mounds of lettuce.  We can sit on our clean patio and enjoy our outdoor room that now supports a new home, too.  Over the weekend, a robin built a nest under the patio cover. She's spent the last few days proudly sitting in it.  I can't wait to hear those new little chirps.

My art was a mix of work and fun, too.  I unloaded the kiln, sanded and wiped and put the finished pieces on my studio display shelves. I got out fresh clay and formed new vases inspired by the blooming lilies in my backyard. I have a few pieces that are dry enough now for under glazing but I haven't gotten to them yet.  I will, but, well life's been a bit busy lately.  

My art, like my life, was a mix bag of beginnings and endings this week.  And I love it.

That's what Sculpting A Life is truly all about(though maybe not all in one week, all the time.)  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beauty and Inspiration.

This time of year, I stumble over beauty.  Everywhere.

It pops up in my delicious peonies.  Each and everyone is a delight.  The smell is sweet and spicy and tangy.  I sniff and smile and melt into each fresh flower.  The double pinkness overflows onto the grass because the blossoms are so heavy, so heady and so abundant that they can not hold themselves up. Ah, I'm forced to trim them so they don't break and bring their sweetness inside where the fragrance fills my rooms.  

My favorite rose bush is blooming too.  It's a red and white swirl of softness with just a slight scent that's more peppery than sweet.  Quite a contrast to the peonies.  And if that's not enough deliciousness, the calla lilies are blooming, honeysuckle is out in full force marching across my fence and my small strawberry plants have delicate pink flowers.

And that's a surprise, because usually it's peonies, roses, calla lilies and then, honeysuckle.  But this year, it's all of them at the same time.   

It's abundance.  It's fragrant.  It's beauty.  It inspires me even when I don't realize it.

This week in the studio, I was playing with shapes that I realize, now,  came from my backyard.  The little figures were inspired by the lemon balm and the fern fronds bending upwards.   The vases furled and undulated like my beautiful calla lilies.

My hands worked away, my mind unaware of beauty's inspiration all around.  

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cleaning Out My Social Media Closet Isn't So Easy.

Writing about social media started with a shock. I couldn't believe just how many social media sites I'd accumulated over the last 10 years.  And the list kept piling up.  Since then, I've been looking at social media in a different way.  I'm trying to make it less about following the herd and more about following my heart.  

Some sites just pile up like bags of old clothes.

Having a wonderful conversation with a new friend, Jo, I compared old, used social media site accumulation to boxes in my closet.  Some are used to store things I will use again, others need to go.  I've been doing both over the last year.  Some sites like LinkedIn are gone for good.  Others like Twitter and Pinterest, I've stopped using but stopped short of tossing out completely.   

Twitter is a site my husband and son use constantly but I don't.  I don't even remember my log in or password. I don't even have it on my phone or pad anymore.  I always wonder if I will use it and if so, should I keep it open?  So it's like those old clothes that you keep, because you think someday you'll feel like wearing them again.  

Some sites are like a box of old pictures.

I like the idea of Pinterest, but I've just lost interest.  I've made some fun Pinterest boards, including my own art.  I've left it open and I still get notices that others have re-pinned my images.  That's nice to know, but not enough to make me want to go back.  Kind of like that box of high school yearbooks in the attic sitting there gathering dust.   

Some sites are like garage sales but a lot more work.

Etsy is another social media site that isn't a social media site, officially.  It's officially an online artisan marketplace.  A place to buy and sell handmade products for a small fee.  It sounds great, doesn't it? You put pictures of your work in your 'shop'.  Then wait for the sales to roll in.
Or not.

I spent hours putting together all the pieces for my Etsy shop.  Posting pictures of my studio and pieces. Writing my shop 'story' and policies and shipping statements.  I paid my fee per image.  I re-arranged and re-ordered and renewed it all for over a year.  Nothing.  Not one sale.  Not a good feeling at all.  

Then I started asking other artists about Etsy.  Some had the same experience I had.  Others did sell work.  But, the ones who sold, spent a lot of time on the site.  They 'liked' other shops, posted a new image a day for weeks, commented, tagged and re-tagged their pieces. Just posting their pieces got them nowhere.  It would be like having a garage sale and in addition to  putting up posters, you knocked on everyone's door in your city for days and weeks ahead.  I have a good work ethic, but that's just way over the top.

I like the idea of Etsy just not the actual truth of Etsy.  Especially now, when it's evolved from handmade art from artists to imported goods sold by import companies.   I haven't renewed my Etsy images.  I figured my shop would disappear and that would be the end of that but to my surprise, it's still there.  Kind of like all those stacks of empty bags and boxes I carefully fold away for 'someday'. 

Maybe it's time to let go of someday and recycle for today.