Author Archives: Julie

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Doors of Perception

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
Zen proverb


I’ve mentioned previously that Mike and I have been invited to be in a show in fall 2017, and that each artist has 21 feet of wall space. I think the word “yikes” might have been part of that very same mention (and if it wasn’t, it was certainly in my head).

What’s cool about this though, besides having a deadline, is the wonderfully big expanse of time between now and then. Almost exactly one year from now, in order to fill that space, I must have a few very large pieces, many smaller works, or some combination of both.

  1. this is scary because I have exactly zero finished pieces right now
  2. this is exciting because I have exactly zero finished pieces right now

studio-still-life-in-progress

[ Blank canvas no longer blank. ]

The gallery is the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield, MI. The show is titled Doors of Perception. There are a dozen or so local artists participating, and I feel honored to have been invited and challenged by the opportunity.

I see shimmering visions of my pieces hanging in that gallery, but at this point it’s unclear to me how to make the visions happen.

Weekly blogging was a Big Goal this past year, and having work for this upcoming show is my Huge Goal for the next year. A lot can happen between now and then, but initially I’m attempting to allow some space for playing with processes that will eventually get me to those finished pieces (one can hope).

acrylic-mediums

[ Experiments include layering of different acrylic mediums. Originally I tried to get an encaustic-like effect, but I think I like the clarity of the clear gels more. ]

close-up-thick-matte-gel-test

[ Using Golden’s High Solid Gel (Matte)… applied a little too thickly, but interesting. ]

close-up-self-leveling-gel-test

[ A failed experiment with Golden’s Self Leveling Clear Gel. I think I applied too thick of a layer because it dried unevenly and also ended up with tiny air bubbles in it. ]

close-up-matte-gel-test

[ A waxy look created using a thin layer of an encaustic “recipe” applied with a brush and tiny bit of water. I’ve since found that Golden has enough different gels to create encaustic-like effects, so I don’t need to mix my own. Having said that, I think I like the colors to remain vibrant and clear. ]

So I haven’t given up on this blog, but I will be writing less frequently, and sometimes less intensely. I want to push myself, but not in a let’s-see-how-much-we-can-cram-into-24-hours kind of way. The challenge is to be more focused about a smaller number of things, one of which is art making/experiments. I do, after all, need a body of finished work in one year’s time.

Sounds easy enough.

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Posted in Art in Progress, Doors of Perception
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Limitless

Today is special. Well, every day is special, truly a gift not to be wasted, but this Tuesday, September 27th, is the one year anniversary of this blog. This post is the You-Did-It-For-One-Whole-Year post!

What? Really?

I almost can’t believe it. Except that the anniversary reminder on my calendar is sitting there, and I have 48 other posts in my archives that have publish dates on them to prove it.

I remember when I first started, first took that scary leap, and it seemed like forever before I maxed out the number required for the Recent Posts widget and an Archive was actually started.

On the one hand, I feel very proud of myself for this accomplishment, and I hope it has been helpful, of interest, and/or entertaining to others. It’s been helpful to me as an artist and person trying to push through barriers of fear and self-doubt, trying to extend my self-perceived limits, working at being creative and living an art full life.

On the other hand, beyond the handful of people who have given positive feedback, I’m not really sure how many people I’m reaching (if my email list sign ups are any indication the numbers a sadly low), or if that even matters. And though helpful and (mostly) enjoyable for me, I’ve been questioning whether now is a good time to rethink the blog, perhaps cut back on the frequency. Or stop writing altogether for a while.

With limited time in a day, in a week, maybe my writing time would be better spent working on art…DO it rather than WRITE about it.

Pushing Your Limits

I recently read Diana Nyad‘s memoir Find a Way (and concurrently tried not to feel like a lazy, good-for-nothing human). What a truly amazing and inspirational story. If you don’t know about her, in 2013 she was the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West…and she was 64 when she did it.

AND it was her 5th attempt! Talk about persistence. It’s hard to wrap my mind around what she endured to make that dream a reality. She didn’t give up (although personally, if I were to be stung multiple times by killer jelly fish I might have to throw in the towel).

Her story embodies the concept of “living up to your potential” – something that I think about a lot. If we are given certain talents, if we are capable of doing better, of contributing more, should we not reach and strive for those outer limits of strength/endurance/creativity/generosity/accomplishment?

As it is, I tend to be hard enough on myself without having the pressure of trying to be “better,” but if you want to work at this concept, how much do you actually work? Diana Nyad’s story certainly pushes the concept to its very outer edges: whatever I think I’m working hard at, I’m not doing 10 hours a day of it, like her daily practice swims. I think I can work a bit harder/smarter at not wasting time (I have removed the Facebook app from my phone, and reinstalled it, one too many times), but I’m not driven to pushing myself too hard.

But should I be? And what is too hard? Are we obligated to do what it takes to push ourselves simply because we have been given this chance to be on this planet? Do you push yourself towards that talent or talents you have been given, or work at that skill that you really desire, at the expense of something else?

I’ve been working at some balance in my life: letting it be OK when I take down time, working at being fully present and getting things done when I’m working, whether it be Work or Art, and not getting sidetracked by unnecessary and meaningless diversions. And balance is a very good thing.

But I still question whether I could be pushing myself more.

Steven Pressfield shared on his blog an article written by concert pianist James Rhodes titled Find What You Love and Let it Kill You (which apparently there is no evidence that Charles Bukowski, to whom this saying has been attributed, ever wrote those words, but that doesn’t change the sentiment…) It’s a great article on pursuing your dream, and making the time, although the costs in his case might be considered high (which underscores my question: do we push harder at the expense of something else?) Mr. Rhodes writes:

My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom … and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough”.

And yet. The indescribable reward of taking a bunch of ink on paper from the shelf at Chappell of Bond Street. Tubing it home, setting the score, pencil, coffee and ashtray on the piano and emerging a few days, weeks or months later able to perform something that some mad, genius, lunatic of a composer 300 years ago heard in his head while out of his mind with grief or love or syphilis. A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time.

We can’t all be like Diana Nyad or James Rhodes (although that would be quite the world, wouldn’t it?), but what if we just strive to be the best that we can be?

I don’t know, maybe that’s too much like the old Army recruiting slogan of the 80’s or a Hallmark card sentiment, but it seems like a truly possible thing to at least strive for.

On the Ledge Again

I may be on the metaphorical ledge, ready to take another leap, but I can’t literally fly (as much as I would love to). And I can’t make there be more than 24 hours in a day.

So. I love writing, but perhaps my push needs to be with the art. Narrow my focus. Do I continue to write but less frequently? Maybe a hiatus of some time? Or maybe I continue to push my limits and do both. I’ve been doing it for a year, I know it’s possible. Just thinking maybe I need to refine my focus.

Still questions, no answers yet.

If anyone has any sort of constructive input or feedback on my blog, any of my posts, and/or the question of frequency of writing, I would love, love, love to hear from you. Please, don’t be shy: julie@julierenfro.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Creative Life
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Floating With Purpose

Pay attention, there are Metaphors and Life Lessons all around us, even when cruising at 6mph on a canal last renovated in 1918.

I’ve written before that I am very inspired by nature, especially being on or near water, so it’s no surprise that our trip last week on the Erie Canal would be in some way rejuvenating. The canal is man-made, yes, but still we were on water and surrounded by trees and sky much of the way.

Inspiration, ok, but I hadn’t anticipated that the trip would also be magical.

okeechobee

I would think that, in this day and age of instant gratification and non-stop chatter, many people might find that slow of a pace boring, if not painful (BTW, 6mph was the max speed, we very often went slower), but I was so happy just to sit and enjoy the water and watch the trees, birds, and (sometimes) interesting houses along the way. Sure there were also not-so-nice parts, with bridges and cars and noise, but even that was just a change-up on the overall journey.

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[ Except for one morning of rain, we had mostly beautiful sunny days with picturesque clouds. ]

On our last day we only traveled for a couple of hours in the early morning, but that short, magical morning on the canal (pictures towards the end of this post) brought to mind a few metaphors/life lessons:

  • Traveling forward slowly is ok. Relax. Small, incremental adjustments in direction will keep you on course.
  • Keep your focus on the beauty and texture along your own path. Life (houses/people/Other/Not You) exists on the other side (of those trees), but that’s their business.
  • You may at some point get stuck moving in circles (literally, stuck waiting in a lock and having to do a 360 degree “donut” so as not to run into the other, larger, boat in there with us) but eventually the path (the lock door) will open and forward momentum will be regained.

A little cheesy, perhaps, but true.

Below are more photos and some inspiration I will cherish. For anyone interested in details, we rented a houseboat with Mid-Lakes Navigation and traveled west from Macedon to Spencerport and back.

Thanks to Captain Mike Mouradian for bringing us along!

Magic.

julie-driving

[ I drove the boat for all of like 10 minutes the whole week. And by driving I mean keeping it relatively in the middle of the canal. ]

smoke-stack

[ The magical bits tended to be at the edges of the days, early morning and evening. ]

lines-and-shadows

[ Taking photos of interesting structures and textures along the way. ]

under-bridge

pirates-lair

[ The Galley restaurant in Fairport had a wonderful kitschy interior. This photo feels like an abstract painting. ]

2-birds-3-clouds

[ Title: 2 birds and 3 clouds. ]

evening-water

[ As I said, magical mornings and evenings. ]

king-fish

entering-lock

[ Leaving a lock. The first “test” drive we took was so much fun! But running the locks ourselves (we only had two each way) was a tad stressful. But in a good way 🙂 ]

old-texture-wall

[ The walls of the locks were old, old concrete, wonderful texture and you could just feel the history eeking out of the surfaces. ]

misty-water3

[ Our last day we left Fairport early to return the boat to Macedon by 9am. The mist on the water and the sunrise made for one of the most memorable 2 hours of my life. Magic. ]

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misty-water

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[ Me and Mike in Spencerport. Photo courtesy of Mike Mouradian, our captain for the week. ]

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Posted in Creative Life, Inspiration
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That’s Life

It is true that life gets in the way of art but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we ourselves get in the way of our art.

— Louise Etheridge, TextileArtist.org


Where did the time go? This week, this year, another September 11th anniversary…it’s hard to wrap my mind around it this morning.

Today we leave for a trip to the Erie Canal. We will be on the canal four days with our dear friends Mike and Elaine, navigating a little house boat. I’m looking forward to it, but I have to say that this past week has been a game of running to catch up in order to leave. Every day this week it just seemed like there wasn’t enough time to get everything done that needed to get done.

I hate that feeling of being behind, feeling like things are just a tad out of control (what’s my excuse, we don’t even have kids for Pete’s sake!), but sometimes that’s Life. Move through it, take things on as they come, and at some point wrestle some semblance of control back. Hopefully.

stilllife-computer

[ Work in progress for that big blank canvas I posted a photo of last week. I’m setting up the base on the computer and will print out pieces to collage onto the board. Lots o’ layers in Photoshop! ]

This post will be short as a result of my lengthy To Do lists (and poor planning?), but I thought I would point you to another blog post that I read this week, one that I thought had some great tips for getting unblocked. The post is by Louise Etheridge on TextileArtist.org, titled Breaking through blocks: 10 ways to reclaim your practice.

I will be putting some of these tips to (hopefully good) use when we get back.

 

Posted in Art in Progress, Creative Life
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Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. You sign onto a process and see where it takes you. You don’t have to invent the wheel every day. Today you’ll do what you did yesterday and tomorrow you’ll do what you did today. Eventually you’ll get somewhere. Every great idea I ever had grew out of work itself. If you’re going to wait around for the clouds to open up and lightning to strike you in the brain you’re not going to make an awful lot of work.

— Chuck Close

The title of this post has been running through my head all week. Galaxy Quest is one of our favorite movies, and this phrase is a repeated line from the film (a cult comedy that parodies TV shows like Star Trek and the obsessed fans that follow them).

Never give up, never surrender! For me, an inner battle cry that came after the fact, a reminder that I succeeded in getting through a pretty thick and sturdy mental brick wall.

It’s all well and good to remember that all it takes are small steps, Sparky, but I also have to have faith that if I keep working at a thing, continue to push forward, prod and poke at it, kick it if need be, something will eventually give. “Show up and get to work” as the artist Chuck Close said (side note: I love that his website is divided into Work and Life, and both are his art).

Sometimes it’s harder than other times to dig yourself out of a hole, climb over that giant wall, bust through that obstacle in your way.

But don’t. Give. Up.

Studio - Sept 2016

[ The studio is once again a happy place, clean(er) and hey, you can see surfaces! Not only that, I have a flat surface big enough to lay my latest project down. Three coats of gesso. Progress. ]

Grand Declutter and Organize Project, Cont.

We made progress this week, which has really helped forward momentum. I know you’re dying to hear all about it, but here are the highlights: we borrowed a power washer and cleaned the front and back porch (fun!), hung/moved art around the house (exciting!), donated four boxes of stuff and gave away our mannequin (now we’re talking! although saying goodbye to Ms. Mannequin was a little hard…)

LOVE square

[ All you need is Love. Mike’s sister was giving Love away and I took it. I love my Love lights. They are a happy addition, like my pretty pillows. ]

Forward progress. And the studio! Heaven help us, you can see the floor. And surfaces! It’s once again a place I want to work in, which is a huge step. I actually made time to do art work this past week.

No, wait, I actually wanted to make time to do art work. That hasn’t happened in a while. And that’s what brought to mind “never give up, never surrender.” That spark came back, and I just had to have faith that it would. Eventually. If I kept working at it.

Looking forward to the week, to working on my big art piece (aka experiment) in progress.

Keep going. Don’t give up.

 

Posted in Creative Life, Inspiration, Motivation
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It’s Not White, It’s Gray

I’m sorry, hate to bother you, but have you seen my Discipline? It seems to have wandered off somewhere, and I can’t find it.

I’m not entirely sure what happened last weekend in regards to my regular blog post, things kept coming up to pull at my time, but there was also lots of inner turmoil and that nagging, grudging homework’s due feeling.

And then Discipline went missing! It’s not just the blog that slipped, so I’m just hoping it comes back, and soon.

Perhaps I can coax it to return, with treats or something shiny.

Pillows for the Bed

When in doubt, clean something” is still my go-to for when I feel stuck, but my runner-up may now be “go buy some pretty pillows for your bed.” I never really got the whole idea of spending good money on a bunch of pillows that serve no purpose other than to look nice on top of the useful pillows, but I have to say, my recent IKEA purchase makes me very, very happy.

pillows

That and changing up the color of our room to Light Pelican Gray.

 

Bedroom_before and after

I know, right? What happened to all that “no white walls” earlier? Mike said this was our “first white room” to which I clarified that “it’s not white, it’s gray.” I couldn’t live with a white room, but a very, very, very pale gray, now that’s different.

I do love our “new” gray/white room and happy IKEA pillows, Mom’s quilt hanging on the wall. It’s very peaceful and calming. Its little makeover is part of an ongoing Grand Declutter and Organize Project.

moms_quilt

Take a Step Back and Really See

There are many reasons for being stuck creatively and/or barely having the energy to create, but Mike and I decided that at least some of the reasons have been all the “cleansing” projects that needed to be done, the visual clutter in various parts of our home and studio. Walking by or through these (and ignoring them) just sucks the energy out of a person, often without you being aware of it.

I won’t lie, part of the problem is being able to make decisions about keeping or throwing things out, and if the two of us are doing it together, well…exhausts me just to write that.

But that aside, I think the things we surround ourselves with – the art or the clutter, the things we actively look at and the things we ignore – can greatly affect mood and well-being (which for me is ironic, as growing up you could never see my bedroom floor for all the clothes heaps).

We have been slowly taking steps to address the Problem Areas, change the rooms, the corners, the tops of tables, that are not, well, making us happy. Painting the bedroom, moving art around, getting rid of old things that no longer have use or meaning, buying pretty pillows. Like spring cleaning only on a bigger (slower) scale.

The Backyard Bench

Part of the changing/moving/cleansing is also taking the time to enjoy the spaces we create, appreciate the garden in summer, enjoy taking a rest on the upstairs couch on a day when the windows could be open and the breeze drifts through, sit on the front porch swing in the evening light.

And in the morning, before we get to the next item on the Grand Project list, I make the bed and place my pretty pillows just so. A simple task that has become so…satisfying.

But you know, I think I need more.

Pokeberry_leaves

 

 

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Posted in Creative Life, Inspiration, Motivation
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The Red Shoes

You don’t find out who you are unless you work at it.
— Iris Apfel

Last night we watched Iris, a documentary about fashion icon Iris Apfel. I envy her fearless personal style (and her New York apartment).

Sometimes I wish I had been born a more self-assured, confident person, or at least learned to fake it earlier on in my life. It’s taken me 52 years to eek out more and more confidence, but I wish it hadn’t been so dang hard or taken me so long to get the little bit that I now have.

Red Shoes

When I was 18 or 19, I bought a pair of red Converse high tops (I find it funny that my 16-year-old niece has a pristine pair of white Converse low top shoes. Apparently they are “in” these days). I really wanted those red shoes, and once I had them I rarely wore them. Why? Because they were bright and “loud” and not at all what other girls wore.

I wanted those shoes, but I didn’t want to stand out.

The first pair of eye glasses I picked out at age 8 were light blue. My mother and the eye doctor tried to talk me out of them, but I persisted. Then, I didn’t want to wear them because they were too “different” – I ended up with a brown pair instead.

One more: the first time I went to New York, we were in a second-hand shop and there was this coat….it kinda looked like upholstery fabric, but it was floral and fabulous. The inner Daring-Artist-in-Waiting Julie really wanted it, but the other For-Gods-Sake-Don’t-Stand-Out Julie won.

I still think about that coat and the decision not to buy it, but these days I wouldn’t hesitate to make that purchase.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Part of the decision to start writing this blog was to stop hiding. My fashion choices (or lack of) notwithstanding, I have come to believe that it’s important to put yourself out there, to be “seen” in some way, to share what you do: our stories, our creative endeavors, our voices. Whatever it is that brings you joy, that thing you get lost in when you bring it into being, share it. Let yourself, even if it’s just through your work, be seen.

For a shy, introverted person, this has not been an easy task. But who am I kidding, I do very little to promote this blog (still hiding?), and I have an embarrassingly low number of people who actually read this stuff, BUT … it really is quite interesting, every time I think of stopping, not writing any longer, I hear from one person (who is not an immediate family member) who enjoys or has gotten some benefit from reading what I write. And one person at a time counts.

I still have a long way to go in the “be seen” arena, but as always, small steps Sparky. I’m going to work on channeling my inner Iris, I know she’s in there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Creative Life, Creative Spirit
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The Right Tools for the Job

Baby, life’s what you make it
Can’t escape it
Life’s What You Make It, Talk Talk


Awhile back, I was painting away at something and was feeling really frustrated. I was having the hardest time making the strokes behave the way I wanted them, kept grumbling to myself, making a mark, wiping it away, making a mark, wiping it away. Not. Having. Fun.

It took me a little span of frustration, but eventually I focused on the brush in my hand and realized I was trying to make square/right-angled strokes with an angled brush. Doh! How did that happen?

(Hold your horses, I feel a metaphor coming on…)

A little Art and Life Lesson right there: pay attention to your tools. Are they helping or hindering? Sometimes it’s obvious they are not working, but other times it’s subtle. Pay attention to those little niggling feelings that tell you “something’s not working quite right.” If something is proving difficult, perhaps consider the tool(s) you are using. Are they helping or hindering?

Fabric Background Squares

[ More squares…alternating fabric and acrylic. Experimenting with backgrounds. ]

This past week I needed to cut fabric into 1 inch squares. I actually have a nice pair of fabric scissors, although I can’t guarantee they didn’t get used to cut something else, I’m not my mother. (On a side note: I totally get now why the Fabric Scissors are not to be used to cut anything else but fabric, but as a kid, really? They look like scissors, they cut like scissors, so why not use them on the pipe cleaners you want to cut into little bitty pieces?) Anyway, I went about measuring and attempting to cut nice little squares with my fabric scissors.

Not only was I not having fun, but it took way too much time, and the results … not quite as evenly square nor consistently 1 inch as one would hope.

I’m not someone who sews or quilts, ok? But considering the “right tools” rule (and this time it was obvious), I knew that there had to be a better, more efficient (and more accurate) way to do this. My sister Tina does quilt, so I texted: “What’s the best way to cut a s**tload of fabric into 1 or 2 inch squares?”

Studio tools

[ Rotary fabric cutter = Tool of the Week; Canvas covered boards for experiments; Patti Brady and Nancy Reyner books on Acrylic painting techniques.]

Her answer was a rotary cutter, straight edge, and mat. I had the straight edge and mat, a trip to Joann’s procured a rotary cutter.

Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference the right tool makes! Ease, precision, and does the job it’s meant to do (note to self: pay attention, we don’t need any more stitches/scars on your left hand, and all the digits on that hand are needed). Seems a little silly, but using this cutter brought me some joy yesterday. Honest to God, joy from a rotary cutter. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

Permission Slips

Just words and someone’s signature on a piece of plain paper, nothing special really, but in grade school those magic little slips granted Official Permission, usually to do something fun like go on a field trip. Or, they allowed you to get out of something you didn’t want to do like P.E. (they did not, however, have as much going on as their cousin the Hall Pass, which gave you power to be special and be someplace everyone else was not).

Vacation is one of those few times I give myself permission to let go of the Daily Routine, the Lists, the Shoulds. While on vacation, I shut all that out: open my laptop as little as possible, generally don’t check email, don’t look at my phone/Facebook incessantly. If I want to lie on a couch and read all day, that’s perfectly fine. No guilt. That’s the key, I let myself off the hook and allow myself to ignore all the demands of Normal Daily Life (otherwise, it’s not really vacation, right?)

Of course, coming out of that zone and back into routine can be tricky.

I struggled a bit with getting back into the art routine, but gradually circled around it: cleaned my side of the studio, bought some boards to experiment on (I stumbled on a coupon at Michael’s for 50% off all regularly priced fine art supplies. One day only. That day! The coupon lotto win…), got out some books on acrylic techniques (because I wanted to try creating a faux encaustic effect), read the recipes for that and gathered materials…

And then I gave myself permission to screw up.

All those boards I bought, not one needs to end up a finished piece. They can all be ugly experiments, no pressure to make finished work. Just play. I have a distinct, overall end result in mind for the next iteration of my work, but I’m not quite sure how to get there yet, so I need to experiment. Play.

Studio experiments

[ Testing out faux encaustic recipes. Another tool that makes me happy is the green silicon spatula in this photo. It works so well for mixing thoroughly and scraping the edges of mixing containers (we have one in the kitchen too 🙂 ]

Nobody Knows How to Draw a Poinsettia

There was a drawing instructor at ArtCenter who quickly dispelled the notion that one needs to be able to draw from memory: “nobody knows how to draw a Poinsettia.” Basically, get a photo, or the real thing, and look at it. Or take a photo and trace it. Making something harder (or impossible) for yourself, struggling to create, doesn’t make the art any “better.” Figure out your process, your best/most useful set of tools, and start working from there. If that process and set of tools don’t work, try another one.

Or another one. But don’t give up.

Of course this applies to Life too. I know what tools/practices I need to incorporate daily to make me happy. I know what habits I need to discard and replace in order to live my Art Full Life to the fullest. Not saying it’s easy, by any means (small steps Sparky!), but I can honestly say that this past week has been one of those forward-moving weeks on all fronts.

And I may be repeating myself, but I’m not giving up.

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Posted in Art in Progress, Art Making, Motivation
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My Summer Vacation 2016

I Wish I Could Have Known Earlier That You Have All The Time You’ll Ever Need Right Up to the Day You Die

That gets my vote for the Best Title of a piece of art: William T. Wiley, watercolor and ink on paper, 1970. It hangs in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art which we visited during our recent California Adventure. The newly renovated museum was one of the highlights of our trip.

It’s been ten days since our return home from the vacation that took forever to come and then whooshed by in the blink of an eye. It was a fantastic getaway. I was inspired by many things, had some wonderful experiences with family, found joy in nostalgia instead of sadness, ate a very large amount of Mexican food, and created many new memories in the place where I was born.

California vacation. Salt Creek Beach.

[ The “California Girl” goes home. Salt Creek, Dana Point. My beach experiences this time were a little different from those of my skin-abusing youth. ]

I always said I wouldn’t move back, but dang! The weather in California, the sunlight (even if I didn’t want to sit in it) and blue skies, the brightness and clarity of the light (unless you’re in certain parts of L.A.) and the vistas…I loved being able to once again see great distances, whether it be to the ocean or the mountains.

Inspired by Art

I won’t bore you with a blog version of a vacation slide show (ok, maybe I will just a little), but I did want to share some inspiration I brought home with me.

At SFMoMA, in addition to being introduced to William T. Wiley and his work, we saw so many pieces by artists whose work I love and admire. If you get the chance, GO.

San Franciso Museum of Modern Art

[ Standing in the SFMoMA lobby, looking up. ]

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[ Gerhard Richter, detail, SFMoMA ]

Chuck Close - close up, SFMoMA

[ A Chuck Close portrait, detail, SFMoMA ]

Elliott Hundley detail at the SFMoMA

[ A new artist for me, Elliott Hundley. This detail photo I took doesn’t do the work justice. The piece is a 3D collage/assemblage, with round-headed pins holding pieces on and away from the surface. Just wild and beautiful. ]

Richard Serra installation, SFMoMA

[ Me and my niece, Emily, next to the Richard Serra. ]

Inspired by Landscape

Laguna Niguel CA

[ Morning routine at our AirBnB home in Laguna Niguel: sit out by the pool with coffee, wrapped in a blanket, and watch the sun rise. ]

[ The Strands, Dana Point, CA. Many hours spent on this beach way back when. ]

[ The Strands, Dana Point, CA. Many hours spent on this beach, way back when. ]

Driving on Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles

[ Driving on Interstate 5, north of Los Angeles ]

The rolling hills north of Marin CA

[ The rolling hills north of Marin. We were actually stopped in traffic when I took this photo. ]

Goat Rock Beach, CA

[ Driftwood sculpture on Goat Rock Beach, near Jenner, CA. The Russian River meets the Pacific ocean here. ]

Monterey CA

[ Cormorants hanging out in Monterey. ]

Drive to Carmel, CA

[ Looking out to the ocean on our drive from Monterey to Carmel, the normal fog bank sitting out there like a wall. ]

Inspired by Nature

[ Due to the drought in California, many home and business landscapes are now entirely succulents. Some very interesting shapes, textures and colors. ]

CA16 - succulents3

CA16 - succulents2

Muir Woods

[ Visiting the redwoods at Muir Woods ]

Monterey Bay Aquarium

[ Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. ]

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium

 

[ Beach grass in northern California. ]

CA-Jenner wood

Into the Swing

The last day of July. Remember when summer seemed to last forever? Sigh.

Today at Ann Arbor Art Center, I uninstalled Fortune Favors the Brave, and Mike installed Let Them Eat Cake in its place. Mike is exhausted (know the feeling), and I am…hmmm…happy FFTB is down and done and a little sad it’s gone. The heat from the window was brutal on the collage, and although the color was surprisingly in good shape, the paper pieces had really shrunk, wrinkled, and were beginning to peel off the foam backing. I couldn’t reinstall it somewhere if I wanted to!

We found out during our trip that, for a show we are in, fall 2017, all the artists have 21 feet of wall space to fill. Wait, whaaat? TWENTY ONE FEET.

Time to clean up that newly empty art studio and get to work!

 

 

 

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Posted in Inspiration
beach-beautiful-blue-coast-cover.jpg

Forgetting to Remember

If you Google “vacation” and check out the images, they are pretty much all pictures that involve white sandy beaches and turquoise blue water. Many have empty beach chairs sitting on the sand, waiting to be sat in (presumably by you). There was a random photo of the Eiffel Tower, but I had to scroll down a bit to see it.

Evidently we have a collective vacation fantasy of sitting on a white sandy beach with a loved one, no one else around, doing nothing but looking at the ocean and drinking something with an umbrella in it. This doesn’t seem realistic on many levels, but I guess that’s the point.

Having written that, we will be on vacation in sunny southern California in a week and at some point may just be sitting on a beach looking out at the ocean (but I can guarantee you we will not be alone, and drinking on the beaches is prohibited). Next Saturday we depart for our California adventure.

beach-beautiful-blue-coast-600

[ In some ways I wish we *were* going to be sitting on a white sandy beach for a week. Our vacation schedule is rather full…you know it’s bad when you feel compelled to create a spreadsheet for your itinerary. ]

Since I finished Fortune Favors the Brave, I’ve been tired and out of sorts, so a change of scenery sounds really good right now.

[ SIDE NOTE: If you were following along with that story, you’ll know I spoke about how hot the gallery window gets. Apparently I was not as prepared as I thought, and a couple of days of the heat had most of the frames unstuck from the walls and on the floor of the space (the Velcro stuck, but the adhesive on the back of the Velcro melted), not to mention several of the fake flowers that simply came unglued. Dammit! But fixed. ]

The creation of FFTB was so much a part of my routine that not having it to work on has thrown me off a bit. Yesterday I spent half the day picking up the basement where I had been working (there will be glitter on the floor for a very long time) which felt satisfying but didn’t get me out of my funk.

Reminders for Reminders

Many times when I’m out of sorts, it’s because I’m forgetting to remember core things that are not only important to me but that help keep things in perspective. Like practicing gratitude and appreciation. And remembering that down time and resting are part of the cycle; that Life is messy/gray, not clean/black and white; that nature always inspires and reinvigorates me (so get out of the house and look up).

A couple of years ago, in one of my many attempts at being organized, I ramped up my Evernote account. I created all sorts of notebooks for projects, ideas, inspiration, etc. and then created notes to help me “stay on track.”

One of my notes was titled Daily Reminders, and the idea was that I would list things that reminded me to appreciate my life, be grateful, reminders of special/good things that have happened to me, some random drill-sergeant-like admonishments (#1 on the list was “You’re f**king FIFTY! Get your ass moving”), and I was going to read the list daily (but you knew that) which would set me up each day to be appreciative, grateful, in the moment, and happy.

Right?

Well, you have to actually remember to read the reminders. Those daily practices don’t just happen spontaneously. I was trying to move away from having sticky notes all over my desk, but perhaps I need at least one to remind me to read my reminders. For whatever reason, I stopped looking at my Daily Reminders, got out of that routine, and then promptly forgot about them. Sigh.

Eventually, my Evernote account went the way of my real filing system: lots of stuff in the unsorted To File Pile and not much action on actually reading what I’ve filed away for reference, daily or otherwise.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

I firmly believe, refuse to give up on, the notion that an Organized Person lives somewhere inside me, that I can reclaim my Evernote account (and personal email Inbox for that matter), and when I become that person…well, I’ll let you know. I imagine I’ll be really happy and remember things better.

One of the things I keep forgetting is that being “in the moment” is all there is, really. Easy to say, hard to practice. Learn from the past, don’t dwell on it. And the future…go ahead and make those plans, set those goals, and dream your future, but you don’t really know what each day will bring. So, each moment is all we have.

During this upcoming week and on our trip I’m going to work on this: Be present. Be grateful. Appreciate all that is good (great!) in my life.

I’ll worry about how to remember my Daily Reminders when I get back.

P.S. I’m going to take 2 weeks off blogging too, so I’ll be back online later in July. Happy 4th of July!

Renfros at the Beach

[ A photo of us at one of the beaches we visited as kids in Dana Point, CA. I’m looking forward to walking on that sand again. ]

 

 

Posted in Creative Life, Creative Spirit