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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Space to Laugh

Anyone who knows me is familiar with my quirky sense of humor--my ability to guffaw and--on some occasions-- snort with the best of them.   I love this picture and it makes me laugh just thinking of Bat Man’s secret cave being so publicly advertised on the interstate!

The photograph is actually taken outside of Bat Cave, North Carolina.  The town is named for a local cave inhabited by bats.  Bat Cave is on the Broad River and supposedly Lew Wallace finished the script for "Ben Hur" there.  Though I’ve never been to the city, the sign made me laugh.

A few times a year I find something strikes me so funny that I laugh uncontrollably.  It is usually something very quirky and ironic that does it and when I try to explain to someone else why its funny, it never quite comes out right.  Something just touches a cord in me and I laugh with abandon.  I both love and fear the feeling of laughing uncontrollably--its euphoric on the one hand and yet tears and noises that I'm not accustom to are hard to control!    So, I don't have a bat cave but I do have a secret--I can't laugh, cry or sleep without making some noise--call me batty!

We've heard of the man cave idea-- a space just for a guy to hang out--and yet everyone should have their own space...a corner somewhere for our favorite things, a favorite chair where the sun or moon can be seen, a bivouac with a favorite chachka nearby.   A place where you are free to laugh and cry and guffaw at whatever tickles you.

To the bat cave!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Leaning Toward Unique

     When I bought my old craftsman style home the original detached garage was badly leaning. At that time I had a view out the window in my spare room that showed me just how crooked my garage was.  I’m not sure why it looked more crooked out this window, but the point of view from my sewing machine made it appear that it could fall over any minute.

     I don't know if the previous owners pondered the garage much--it could drive a person batty doing so...and they likely would have fixed it if it did bother them.   I'm not sure how my neighbors felt about it either though I often had the desire to lean on one side and push up.  I may be the only one who has ever pondered the fate of the old garage, sort of like the residents of Pisa, Italy have done for years with their tower.   It’s a unique perspective to be on level ground looking at a leaning structure--you reexamine where your feet are, that's for certain.                                                                                                                                                                         

     There is a notion that something is more powerful if others see what we see or agree with us.  We feel affirmed if others back us up in similar experiences or thoughts.  The fact that no one else seemed to be bothered much by the garage, in fact, bothered me. 

     Ideally we wouldn't need any one's affirmation of our viewpoint to feel confident about it.  Now, I'm not saying we don't need other people's input--much to the contrary-- but ideally we would begin to see that our ideas and thoughts are powerful even if we're the only ones thinking them. I have to brag on Etsy again for this very reason--it is a community of artists who looked at found objects like driftwood, bottle caps or clothespins and saw possibilities, not trash! 

     Etsy is the model for artists--room to freely express their appreciation for each other's work, learn from others and challenge ourselves.  We add people to our circles, favor various shops and items as a way of saying, "keep up the great work!"    But if Etsy took those features away the artists would still make great art--we don't need affirmation to make art, but it sure feels good to get it.  The same goes for blogging, I suppose!

    Now I'm happy to report that a few years ago my kind and generous Dad made the leaning garage straight.  And you know what?  I haven't thought about the garage much since.  It was much more interesting when it leaned.   I painted 1/2 of it this fall, I cleaned it, but now its no longer the source of that daily thought, "Is that thing gonna fall over?"  The leaning garage was an interesting I just have a place to park the car.

Think about it:   You have a unique point of view--don't forget that.   Could that idea of yours that everyone else thinks is crazy, in fact be the next sensation?   Try your crazy ideas, listen to that confident visionary deep inside, be creative with abandon and if you absolutely need affirmation from someone, email me! 

Have a creative day!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Stack of Old Suitcases

In one corner of my living room I have a stack of old suitcases.  One has greeting cards inside, one has scrap book materials (I love other people's, but I'm not patient enough to work on one) one has odd stuff I don’t know what to do with and a few are empty.  My aunt said they look very Pottery Barn-ish  which I take to be a compliment.  Really it means my old mismatched suitcases looked like an ‘on purpose’ grouping like those fabulous things one can find in those high-end stores and catalogs,  both of which I fancy but from which I've never made a purchase.

In actuality the old beat up cases each have a history—some family pieces, one picked up at a yard sale, one discovered in an old trailer.  I cleaned them and lessened the musty smell but they still wear the marks of their well-traveled lives.   I think people are the same way: you can dress us up but we still have all our old football injuries and childhood scars.

Like the stack of cases in my living room, sometimes people can so compliment each other it looks like they’re family.  I love looking at newspaper announcements of 75th wedding anniversaries.  Husbands and wives grow to resemble each other over the years.  There’s a nature vs nurture argument somewhere in there but I’ll pass it by.  Perhaps growing to resemble each other is a physical manifestation of God’s greater intention that the two shall become one.  From my work in nursing homes I also know that it isn’t uncommon for long-time married couples to die close together in time—like one doesn’t know how to exist without the other.  Growing old together is a beautiful testament to God’s love and concern for our human needs and desires.

Do it:  Sometimes the collectibles we have around the house seem tacky or lack purpose so we tuck them in a closet or put them out at a yard sale.  Groupings of like things, however, look great!  Gather together your items—all the blue glass or pottery items you have for instance or all the old keys or old suitcases and group them together in a display. Use shadow boxes, a low shelf below a coffee table, a mantle or window sill to display your things. Your old stuff might seem right out of the pages of a hip catalog in no time!

And the next time you see an old married couple, note their similar appearance & marvel at God's design for abiding love!

Have a creative day!

I’m a Dog!

A friend recently told me that someone tried to translate what dogs were saying when they barked.  It was found that the diverse group of dogs, no matter the intensity or tone of the barking were only saying, “I’m a dog, I’m a dog!”   I think dogs are smarter than that, but my dog barks at the neighbors’ garbage cans, so what do I know?

Sometimes I think we bark simple statements about ourselves by what we wear or how we walk.  A former colleague of mine—an art teacher—wears  wildly colorful clothing.  In a sense she was saying “I’m colorful, I’m colorful!”   I swear that I walk differently when I think my hair looks good—almost a little smug.  “I have good hair, I have good hair!” is what I’m saying.  It doesn’t happen everyday so I revel in the mornings it falls in place. 

I’m convinced it’s the most insecure people that seem to bark the loudest--sort of a way of overcompensate for something.   And those with the most attitude may be the ones who’s bark had been stifled somehow so they feel they have to make up for all the feelings they used to stuff.    And then there’s the people that bark AND bite.   They’re no fun at all. I feel sorry for them. 

So what are you saying as you speak to people?   What’s your bark sound like?    I’d love my bark to say, “Hi, hope you have a great day”  or  “Being nice is so nice.”   I get so frustrated with the people that seem to go out of their way to be petty, arrogant, mean or spiteful.   They rapidly diminish my niceness!
Think about it:  The next time you hear a dog bark think about what you might be broadcasting by your own walk, talk, or manner.   Be your own canvas--paint your outward self as you hope others see it.  You might even become more savvy at interpreting what your dog’s telling you.  My dog is telling me that its time for my walk.          

Have a creative day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Art of Words

Etymologies interest me.  We know the first use of the word blog, for instance, appeared in 1994 though it wasn't used in the sense of a web log. By 1998 the term is being used to denote personal musings in an online forum.   According to, the Blogger Publishing service was established in 1999 and we're now all very accustomed to the unusual little word, blog.  The internet has only fueled my interest in etymologies as I can look up things quite quickly that used to take me hours of research in the stacks at a university library.

I often wonder about the etymologies of words.  Words are such a powerful thing afterall.  Some open up new worlds and others cause controversy,  yet they are a primary tool of communication.   Some  words in English trip off the tongue.  For instance, platypus, serendipity, totalitarianism, kismet, paparazzi, susceptible, peripeteia, hitherto, monoclastic, polyphasic...they're fun to say, aren't they?   Or is that just the actor/geek in me?

I think my favorite word is serendipity--I like the meaning, the sound of it and how I feel when I say it.  But, its a mouthful...  Sometimes people are like that...nice, but sometimes too many, um, 'syllables'.   Sometimes, in other words, we don’t speak the same language.  I wonder what life would be like if we all had to draw, instead of say what we meant and everyone’s artistic abilities matched their interpersonal abilities...what interesting and surprising pictures we might see!

I especially love to incorporate words into my art.  Recycling a book, using a stencil or a ripped headline out of the paper is an interesting component of art to me.   I'm not sure why I'm drawn to art with words in it, but I am....perhaps it causes people to slow down and literally find the message in the art.   Remeber when the LOVE postage stamp came out in the 80's?   You know the stamp-- LO on top of the VE?  I rememer thinking--its a word and art all in one.  And now I'm all about the Art of Words.

Recently I saw an artist on Etsy make a great paper garland out of an old map--I thought it was brilliant!  Its the first listing at   I don't know the artist but I recently did a painted canvas using an old map and I thought of all the things I could do with my old road atlases.  Finding her garland on Etsy just affirmed the path I was on (no pun intended).  There is beauty in so many everyday things, including words.

Think about it:   What are some of your favorite words to hear, say or about which to think?   Do you have a favorite word?  A word that encourages or challenges you?  If you were to create art out of words, which words would you choose?

Have a creative day!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creative Madness

I understand fully the idea of creative madness.  Creative types are often plagued by thoughts rushing so furiously and randomly they are unorganizable, if that's a word.  It can drive one almost crazy--especially when you forget the fabulous idea you had 2 minutes earlier because you were writing down yet another great idea.  Ideas come to me so quickly sometimes I cannot get them on paper fast enough.  Waking up in the wee hours is frequent for me--its often with a great idea, a lyric, an approach to directing a play, an art project, a home improvement solution or my latest idea for a masterpiece.   I used to feel I was insane or abnormal for this but now, I embrace it all—its who I am. I am one ball of creativity.

Confronting the disappointments in life, that is the goals I had for myself, the missed chances or poor choices can be a part of that madness of artists…. almost like having an unfinished painting staring at you.    I believe in grace and divine timing so I know there is little use in dwelling on any of it; rather, i use it in my art--I can paint or create from that dark place and in contrast to the light times, there is beauty in both.   

Surely God—the master artist—understands and appreciates the  angst of creative types.   I know this because the first verb in the Old Testament is created--God was the first Etsy-ian, and  the first blogger. 

Think about it:   Have you ever had a time where you could see something in your minds eye or memory but couldn't describe it to someone else?   Its often accompanied by big gestures and a lot of "you know its that one thing" type of vague statements.    Do you remember the frustration?   Sometimes artists feel like they have to be very articulate about what they create--I say, let the work speak for itself and the words will eventually come.  Don't let anyone tell you that what you create has to fit neatly in a standard category or idea of art.   Create!  And have a creative day!