Monday, January 31, 2011

Dreaming and Wishing in the Full Moon

At Creative Every Day, Leah let us know of Jamie Ridler's work with dreamboards ( and using the power of the full moon.  I loved the idea, and one of my goals for the year is to be an active agent in making the things that I want in life to come about.  So I organized a group of friends to come over to my house and we did a session together on making dreamboards or wishing shrines. The wishing shrines were inspired by a contest (over now) that I found on Carole Watanabe's website. (  By the way, if you don't have Carole's "The Ecstatic Marriage of Life and Art", it's a must!

More time for art, getting unstuck from the current job, a business within 3 years.

Three new journal pages, a place to keep feelings, as much art as possible.

Great relationships, perhaps a move of house, family and friends.

My house is really big enough. 

Meditation and spiritual practice, passion, art, books, adventure and travel, friends and family.

Adventure, good health, moving forward in life.

Openness, adventure, new people and ideas
Some of the friends who came to our group have some experience and comfort with art, and some not, but everyone is open hearted and creative in their own way. We got together on the night of the full moon, started with a meditation and a poem, then shared our materials and got to work.  After about 40 minutes we took a break for soup, salad, and conversation, then got back together at the work tables.  Since many people had to go to work in the morning, we were careful to end by 8:30.

As you can see, every single piece was different.  Each person found something of meaning in the process and the great news is that the group wants to continue to get together around the full moon.  We won't always do art, as we'll take turns with the leadership, but the experience will be rich and continue to grow.

Ironically, one of my wishes is to be more openly passionate about whatever is important to me, and the Creative Every Day theme for February is....passion.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Something Frozen and Highly Prized

This is my father's clock, the one that he received for 35 years of service to the company that he worked for for nearly all of his adult life.  He's gone now, but the clock is a highly prized reminder of him.  It also reminds me of the days when someone worked for the same company all their life, they received a retirement gift, and they also received a pension that kept them going in their retirement.  What a different world we live in now.

The clock is also frozen...the hands don't move.  I think it's more than just a battery problem, though I can't remember the last time I looked into it.  Maybe it's me that's frozen : )

Here's a "sneak-a-peek" contour drawing.  It's not entirely blind, in that you get to look at your paper once in a while just to check your reference.  However, you need to look back at your subject right away and not do more than sneak a peek at your paper.  These are fun to do and nice to mix up with blind contour drawing, especially if you are like me and need a little more confidence.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something Huge

Inside Facilitator Leading AVP Exercise
 I haven't had much time for posting recently and fortunately that's because of many wonderful things going on, the most recent of which was an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop that I co-facilitated this past weekend at Solano State Prison.  The current prompt for Every Day Matters is "Something Huge."  Something huge going on in many of the prisons (men's and women's) in California, and indeed throughout the United States and around the world, is this AVP work.  We are seeing real transformation taking place in the inmate population, as they learn skills to communicate and deal with anger rather than to react violently.

In AVP, outside volunteer facilitators join with inmate facilitators to form teams that put on a 22 hour workshop taking place over the span of 2-3 days.  A Basic Level workshop introduces exercises in affirmation, community building, communication, cooperation, problem solving, and conflict resolution.  The activities are fun and participatory, and work with groups of varying educational backgrounds and literacy skills.  The concepts and skills developed are useful for improving ALL interpersonal relations, whether they be for incarcerated people or within the family or n the workplace.

For incarcerated people, this is a huge opportunity to interact with people from different racial groups and different housing units, as well as with people from the outside.  You can't imagine what a difference this can make in their abilities to transform themselves and to break down interpersonal barriers.

This past weekend, I was involved with an Advanced Level workshop on a relatively low security yard where the participants were mainly lifers.  The Advance Level workshop builds on the skills gained in the Basic and introduces consensus-based decision making, through which the participants select a focus topic.  Our group chose Transformation and Change (and they wanted to include exercises on anger, fear, forgiveness, communication, and self-esteem).  It is so uplifting to be a part of this process. It makes it truly worth the amount of time and energy that one puts in as a volunteer, something much easier to do now that I am retired.

As far as the sketch goes, I tried to use some elements of gesture drawing to recreate some of the physical attitudes of the participants.  (Naturally, no photos are allowed inside a prison.)  I got a couple of the people fairly well, but others have eluded my drawing skill.  This is why we have to keep on practicing, right? Here we see an inside facilitator leading an exercise.  I have taken some liberties with who's in the groups, which posters are on which walls, and the layout of the classroom. Artistic license : )

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

San Francisco Adventure: Beyond Golden Clouds.

Soluna and the Stream of Life.  8" x 10"
We've had some beautiful sunny days over the last week in Northern California, and last Wednesday I took myself on an adventure to San Francisco.  It was a lovely day, a great artist's date, inspiring this mixed media piece, which is poorly photographed here.  It's nicer in real life : )

It began when I got up at 5:45 a.m. and realized that I only had 15 minutes to dress and get out the door.  My husband, bless his heart, cooked me a breakfast that I had time to eat just two bites of, then he drove me to the bus stop.  I went down to the City on Golden Gate Transit, spending the time most pleasurably listening to  a downloaded book on my i-pod.  I'm really enjoying "Belong to Me" by Melissa de los Santos.  She has an ability to convey scientific information (granted not a lot of it) in a natural flow as part of her character development.

The bus let me off near Market Street where I caught a muni bus to get closer to my destination. Then I walked a few blocks to the San Francisco Friends School.  I went to the open Meeting for Worship that they hold on the first Wednesday of the month, before meeting with staff members about our upcoming trip to El Salvador in June. San Francisco Friends School is in the former site of the Levi Strauss building and has been remodeled to be a lovely space for children and staff.  A friend of mine told me that she used to visit someone who lived in an apartment across the street and you could see into the windows at night to see the factory workers sewing blue jeans!

My friend Stephen was at worship and greeted me warmly, as did all of the staff people I met.  After worship, we conducted our business and I was given a little bit of a tour.  It's a fabulous environment for children, and I was very impressed.  As a former elementary principal, I've never seen children filing into an assembly room in silence before and maintaining a stillness for a 30 minute period---there were wiggles, for sure, but no giggles or talking.  Although it sounds contrary to the nature of children, I believe that Spirit was moving in that room and that the children were open to it. 

After that lovely beginning to the day, I took myself to breakfast and then went to FLAX on Market Street.  FLAX is an artist's playground.  Oh my gosh...there's a whole huge room of papers, every kind you could imagine.  It's way too hard to decide, so I bought a bag of cut up remnants for collage work.  Also some micron pens and a couple of new stamps.

Then, I went to the Asian Art Museum.  The whole museum is amazing, but I was blown away by the exhibit "Beyond Golden Clouds", which includes three centuries and three galleries of Japanese screens.  These are very large screens, five or six feet high, and usually come in pairs.  They were placed in historical order, and you could follow the progression from the early black-and-white ink screens which were influenced by Chinese art, to the contemporary work.  More and more color was added in later years, and often more gold leaf.  Most screens have a nature theme or allude to a famous legend or story.  Most are read from right to left, and contain a reference to all four seasons.  They are usually paper, with a double border, and are mounted on a black lacquer frame.  The exhibit will only be there a few more days, til January 16.  I highly recommend that you drop everything and go, if you possibly can.  If you can't get there, you can go to and scroll down to Nov. 30 to see a little video of the screen restoration process.

When I saw the contemporary artist Kayama Matazo's "Tanabata" (, I was inspired to create something on canvas for the Creative Every Day's "Cosmos" prompt.  This is mixed media, acrylic and papers.  It's my first attempt to do something on canvas! This was amazingly fun to do, though I certainly don't want you to think that I'm comparing my piece to this fabulous artist's. One of the things that tickles me about the finished piece is that it takes on different characteristics depending on the angle that you're looking from.  The tree didn't pop from the straight-on view until I added the snow.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

First of all, let me say Happy New Year to all that stop by.  I appreciate your comments and feedback.  I am looking forward to 2011, to continuing to do art, music, and non-violence work.  I hope that your year brings joy and fulfillment.

This year I'll be participating in Creative Every Day, Every Day Matters, and in the Saturday Muse Groups as well as taking some classes.  I'm sure the daily practice will help me improve the skills that I'd like to have.  I'm very interested in exploring art as a pathway to Spirit.  I'm also going to experiment with facilitating some creative events.

This first piece is a work in progress which I've been enjoying doing in watercolor on my new tabletop easel.  Not too much more needs to be done except to lay in the background a little more and to try and fuse the subject with the background a little bit.  This has been an interesting project which has just evolved step-by-step.  I didn't have a vision or plan when I started out, just layed yellow and red paint onto the paper and added drops of alcohol.  Then I saw this woman's figure in there somewhere and she and I have been working to bring her out.  As it's taking shape, I've been working with glazing and with removing paint.  I think she has something to do with walking in the light while embracing the shadow side.

EDM Prompt 302: Draw Something in Motion

We have a couple of bird feeders in our backyard where the chickadees are in constant motion.  They flit in and out and are occasionally run off by a very bossy stellar's jay.  I'm enjoying sketching the commonplace objects and scenes around me.