Monthly Archives: January 2008

HOT PR TIPS 4 U

Today is one of those days where I can’t type much. So instead, let me point you to a great article on getting the most from your e-mail press releases:

Bill Stoller’s Great Email Publicity Technique

And my second tip for you today is to continue on to check out the resource where Bill posted this great article:

The Switchboards. A large, active, very net-savvy group of new-wave craft entrepeneuers with a snappy, lively forum full of tips and useful information for growing your business. One of my favorite bookmarked forums.

Be glad I’m not writing more today, my typing is getting worse (because my latest ginormous hand bandage is slipping..!!)

3 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, business, marketing, press release, self promotion, telling your story

NOT GONNA GIVE UP MY MARTIAL ARTS!

Here is today’s “aha!” moment.

I was seriously thinking I should give up my martial arts training.

Who am I kidding?? I’m 55, after all–I know people that old who have grandchildren older than my kids. I’m now, thanks to all my injuries and my seeking to comfort myself in cookies and endless cups of chai, more out of shape than ever. Every time I’ve tried to get back into sparring, I get hurt.

I should get the message, right?

Well….no.

I love the training. It’s hard, and I whine about it constantly. But I love what it does for my body, my mind and my spirit. It has improved my balance immensely, something that’s going to be increasingly important as I age.

And I just don’t want to give that up.

Well then, maybe I shouldn’t spar, right?

Except sparring serves an important function in the sport. It improves your timing. It forces you to “put it all together”, to actually use your kicks and strikes in real-time–not just “practice mode.” And…it’s fun. Nothing gets your heart pumping and your adrenalin rushing like sparring.

And here’s the “aha!” part.

Since I injured my hard, people have come out of the woodwork to share their own hand injury stories. I’ve been inundated with sad stories of broken wrists and damaged hands. Sometimes two broken wrists–ow!! It seems like almost everyone has had a brush with one-handedness or even no-handedness at some point in their life, or knows someone who has.

And how did all these people injure their hands?

Doing nothing. Doing stupid stuff. Doing ordinary stuff.

They slipped and fell down. They fell in the bathtub, down the stairs, and on the sidwalk. They shut their hand in a car door. (One of those at the clinic the other day as I waited to get my bandage changed.) They cut themselves while slicing a bagel. They tripped on their shoelaces, or stumbled over the cat. They dropped something on their hand. A woman today told me she’d decided she needed more exercise. So she’d gone out for a nice long walk, got back to her house, slipped on the sidewalk–and broke her collarbone. “At least you were doing something interesting!”she said. “I feel pretty stupid just falling down in front of my house.”

In other words, they were just living their lives, minding their own business, doing ordinary things–and they got hurt.

In fact, everyone seems kinda thrilled that I injured my hand sparring. I guess it sounds much more dramatic than saying, “I went out to get my newspaper and I slipped on the step.” When I came back for a follow-up doctor visit, the nurses kept coming by and saying, “Are you the lady that got injured doing karate? That’s so cool!”

So I can get hurt doing something stupid. Or I can get hurt doing something I love.

Okay, I’m willing to make a few concessions.

I will take it very easy when I return to sparring. Maybe only practice with black belts (who are supposed to have exquisite control, after all.)

And maybe I will find some sparring gloves that come a little further down over my fingers….

6 Comments

Filed under choices, life, martial arts, mental attitude

PERSPECTIVE

Yesterday I ran into someone I know slightly who had no knowledge of my recent setbacks. One of those bubbly, frantic people who don’t really listen but have several platitudes ready at hand–whether they apply to your situation or not.

The most visible of my injuries is, of course, the giant bandaged right hand. The person Made two comments about my injury that absolutely floored me.

“Oh, you’ll just learn to do everything with your left hand!” she said cheerfully.
“And don’t worry about not ever being able to do your art anymore, you’re so creative, I just know you’ll find something else to do!”

I was so astounded I couldn’t even reply.

I seethed quietly the rest of the day. Oh, just change the dominance of my hands? Yeah, that’s easy–nothing to it. Besides the fact that I simply want the use of two hands, not just one… Oh, just set aside my entire body of work and move on to “something else”? Give up everything that’s brought me tons of joy and fulfillment, prestige and income, and try to figure out a “new craft form” I can do one-handed? Yeah, that’s a snap.

But this morning, I thought, “People (including moi) say silly things all the time. Why did those remarks piss me off so much??”

It took some digging. But I finally I saw the humor–and the lesson–in the whole thing.

I was annoyed because this person was assuming I’m never going to recover from this. They assumed my situation is permanent. (And how even more callous their remarks were if the assumption were true.)

Then I realized that I have been afraid my situation is permanent.

How can I be mad at that person when they were simply giving voice to my own deep-down fears, fears I hadn’t really acknowledged?

For the first time, I think I really, truly realized–this situation isn’t permanent.

I WILL recover.

I’m already healing. I saw the hand surgeon recently and he said the bone is knitting together nicely. The neck surgeon said my recovery is right on track.

I thank you all for the words of encouragement you’ve sent my way. I am so grateful! The one that got me on today’s train of thought was the reminder that it will not take me another five years to get back into a healthy lifestyle and activity level again–“muscle memory” and all that.

I told you I needed daily “aha!” moments, and this is the one for today.

7 Comments

Filed under art, inspiration, life, mental attitude

SHARING

I’m cheating today, and posting a reply I made to a forum today. Got to conserve those keystrokes!

A craftsperson had received a request, out of the blue, from someone was writing a business plan for a similar business: “I was hoping to ask you some questions about your business, your target customers, and the available market for such (a product)?

I got to thinking about why requests like this bug me. After all, sometimes I share freely with others, while other times (like this one) I feel hugely annoyed.

I think it’s this:

I don’t mind sharing general knowledge about how I learned stuff, or where I learned it or how I found it. I like to share my experiences so others don’t have to necessarily make all the same mistakes I did! I think if you read my blog, you get that about me.

But I hate being treated like a data mine for people who can’t be bothered to do the simplest research for a business/product they say they are passionate about.

I don’t mind occasionally sharing a really great resource or tip for someone.

But I usually expect something in return–they share a great potential customer or lead, or some marketing opportunity, perhaps. Or they are part of community where I’ve benefited from the generosity of others, and it’s my turn to give back.

It’s not tit-for-tat, exactly. But it there is some kind of reciprocity. And I know it when I see it…or don’t see it.

I guess sharing to me involves some degree of give and take, whereas some folks seem to only see the “taking” end!

P.S. I am not talking about those wonderful random acts of kindness I feel compelled to make from time to time. Those just come from a different place entirely.

Though, when I think about them, I have to admit the recipient never sees it coming! They never even thought of asking…

5 Comments

Filed under art, business, life

FEELING VS. BEING

I found this intriguing article called 10 Unsolved Mysteries of the Brain by David Eagleman in back issue of DISCOVER magazine this morning.

In it are statements that took my breath away, and some that made me laugh out loud. Much food for thought (no pun intended), and I’ll share one such thought today.

Mystery # 5 (don’t you just love the notion of “mysteries” being quantified and numbered?) asks, “What are emotions?”

Now, I have to admit, I tend to confuse emotions with feelings. Emotion is the actual physical response to a stimuli–the racing heartbeat and perspiration that go with fear, for example.

Feelings, on the other hand, are “…the subjective experiences that sometimes accompany these processes: the sensation of happiness, envy, sadness and so on….”

What took my breath away was the realization that emotions are our innate physical response to a situation or event. Our feelings are our subjective interpretations of those situations or events.

There is no right or wrong interpretation. Only interpretations that help us move forward–or hold us back.

And–to some extent–we can learn to choose how we feel about things. How–and who–we want to be in the world.

Perhaps that’s why some of us quail at even the thought of confrontation, even just arguing on forums, while others thrive on that energy. It explains why some of us never get past our fear of putting our work out there in the world, while others acquire some eagerness to exhibit, to show, to sell our work. Maybe it’s why some of us can never get over the hurts and frustrations and obstacles we encounter in life, while others seem to find some way to work through them.

Why did this affect me so powerfully?

Because I realize I’ve been physically injured–deeply–a lot lately. Multiple surgeries, an air cast, one assault after another in my body. My emotion? Fear. “Run way! Hunker down!” Good responses, considering I need to lie low and heal.

But my feelings have interpreted that emotion as despair, and sadness.

I realized that I could truly choose to see this differently.

I can choose to see “hunker down!” and “run away!” as “Hey, why don’t you take some time off and just read all day–like you used to before you got so busy and successful?” “Why don’t you just goof off and refuse to do the dishes for a change?” “Why don’t you just lie here and daydream for awhile? Not think or problem-solve or obssess about what you can and can’t do–but just look at the moonlight, or watch the squirrels play, or listen to your husband noodle around on his guitar while you watch the fire?”

It’s not, perhaps the “vacation” I would have chosen. But it’s the one I’ve been given. And I’m definitely going to take it.

The practice of mindfulness–simply being aware of our feelings without always feeling the necessity of acting on them or believing them–will help.

I know I’ve had this “aha!” moment before, but I’m just one of those people who has to “aha!” a lot.

So what made me laugh out loud in the article? Further on on Mystery #5, Mr. Eagleman says, “Modern views propose that emotions are brain states that quickly assign value to outcomes and provide a simple plan of action. Thus, emotion can be viewed as a type of computation, a rapid, automatic summary that initiates appropriate actions. When a bear is galloping toward you, the rising fear directs your brain to do the right things (determining an escape route) instead of all the other things it could be doing (rounding out your grocery list).

I’m so relieved to think that, upon seeing a bear rush at me, probably even my poor beleaguered brain would not consider “shopping” on equal par with “fleeing”–at least, not for very long. Although I still suspect the inner conversation might go something like this:

“Dang! If I don’t start running away NOW, I will never be able to shop again!!”

2 Comments

Filed under art, choices, mindfulness

MAKING DO…OR MAKING THE BEST

It’s been a long, hard week. My right hand looks like a large wrapped club. My pinkie and ring finger have been wrapped together for stability and comfort, making it look like like I’ve devolved from five digits to four.

I’m currently overwhelmed with what I can’t do. The list grows daily.

My main meal consists of toast with peanut butter. It only takes me about 15 minute to make, if the bread isn’t too deeply buried in the fridge and if the peanut butter isn’t too stiff. (It’s “natural-style” peanut butter, so you know what I’m talking about.

Typing is extremely difficult. Let me qualify that. Typing accurately is difficult. For every letter you see, about five wrong keystrokes gave up their little lives. In fact, halfway through this post I accidentally erased the whole thing.

Three surgeries and two foot injuries in seven months are taking their toll. I’ve gained back half the weight I lost five years ago. And now my back is going out from lack of activity. I saw a physical therapist yesterday to begin treatment for my shoulder. (The muscles are “asleep”–they go into deep “protection mode” in response to the extensive surgery. It actually feels like I’ve had a stroke.)

The therapist gently lectured me about the importance of exercise and healthy diet. I was indignant at first–“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir here!” Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Oh. Yeah. I don’t look like that choir anymore.

It took years to turn my somnambulant lifestyle around, to go from bitter shadow artist to creative force, to transform from a total couch potato to an athlete.

It took five months for it all to dribble away.

So I’ve been sad, and tired, and gently weepy. Not a pretty sight.

Two days ago, I reread the book series His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The first book is now a movie, The Golden Compass.

It’s the perfect book for me to read right now.

The themes are complicated yet simple.

Stories matter. Love, kindness and courage matter. Truth matters.

Life matters.

The final book brings these themes home with a bang. Simply being alive–able to partake of this world through our senses–is such pure joy, even angels weep with envy.

“Dust”–the mysterious “dark matter” that is the mysterious heart of these novels–is more than simply “life essence”, more than simply consciousness. It is self-awareness–living beings being aware of their own existence, and rejoicing in that awareness.

It is from this self-awareness that all human art and industry springs.

Our purpose in life is to enjoy and love life itself. To respect other living things. To love the world we are in, and do our best work in it. To be kind, to be patient, to be creative.

I’m telling this badly, and I’m sure I’ve skipped over the deeper issues at hand. I’m in pain even as I write this, and can’t wait to finish typing so I can go lie down for a minute.

And I can’t pretend for a minute I can hold on to this concept for very long–that even this pain and emotional discomfort is to be marveled at, because it means I exist.

I’m not that spiritually evolved, I’m afraid.

But this book has given me an emotional respite, a place to rest.

I marvel at what I can do right now.

I can still write. I can still move about, however awkwardly. Even as I think, the list grows by leaps and bounds.

There is still so much I can do, to much to be grateful for, so much to rejoice in.

My body can heal, and I will get better.

That alone is a miracle. A gift.

Tonight I head to a friend’s house for an informal yoga session. I won’t be able to do much, I know.

But I know, too, that whatever I can do will be enough, for now.

Breathe. Breathe.

10 Comments

Filed under art, courage, inspiration, life, mental attitude, mindfulness

GOOD BOOTHS GONE BAD #25: Booth Evolution

Folks, there will be typos…

But I can’t resist sharing this great article by Bruce Baker in the latest issue of THE CRAFTS REPORT.

In the February 2008 issue, Bruce shows the actual evolution of a typical craft show booth, from those typical craft table displays and blank walls to a sleek booth that really highlights the work.

I’ve sat through a lot of BB seminars, and I’ve seen a lot of his examples of “beautiful booths” and “creative display” in his presentation. I thought I was breaking form by being a “plain vanilla” girl when it comes to booth display.

So I’m delighted to see the points I made in my GOOD BOOTHS GONE BAD series echoed and put so succinctly…

“Beautiful” and creative” should NOT apply to your booth at the expense of your WORK. (sorry for all the drama bold & such, but this is a message I want to keep driving home.)

Now, there are still a few things I’d change in the booth. But it’s still a much stronger presentation than the earlier versions, and this article shows that clearly.

I think you can buy single issues from TCR if you don’t already subscribe.

p.s. Hey, if you look on that table of contents page again, you’ll see my latest artcile for TCR, too. (Not a blatant plug, but geez, a girl’s gotta earn a living…)

5 Comments

Filed under art, booth design, booth floor, booth signs, business, Good booths gone bad, marketing

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE TEENAGERS WHEN…

I came out here to write a short entry today.   I want my husband to take a picture of my hand wrapping so you can see what I have to deal with.  It’s pretty funny.

My teen son has been using my computer while I’m laid up.

So I look up at the ceiling…

…and see half a dozen spitballs stuck up there.

7 Comments

Filed under art, funny, humor, life with teenagers

ow

ow ow ow

10 Comments

Filed under art

OUR BEAUTIFUL HANDS

I had just been given the go-ahead start to physical therapy and resume normal activities (following extensive surgery three weeks ago that affected my shoulder and neck)…when I got another surprise last Friday.

I injured my finger blocking a kick while sparring in Tae Kwon Do a month ago. Turns out I have a
mallet fracture
of my ring finger. (That’s not my finger in the image, but it sure looks a lot like mine.)

If I want to retain as much mobility in my finger, and avoid as much future pain as possible, I have to have surgery immediately. Like, tomorrow.

Several thoughts are running through my head the last few days:

I’m afraid.

When the physician’s assistant told me the prognosis, I burst into tears. Of all my injuries I’ve incurred in the martial arts, I never thought I might impair my hands. I’m deeply rattled, to put it mildly.

People can be kind.

The PA snagged the hand surgeon, who just happened to be in on his day off. And he agreed to see me right then and there. And he got me into his surgical schedule immediately.

And when the PA came back to tell me, and saw how upset I was, she hugged me.

I’m afraid.
When I heard the details of the surgery, I just about threw up. (I admit it, I’m a wuss.) It involves resetting, and pins, and 4-6 weeks of recovery, and I am not to move my finger at all.

He said I could be awake for the surgery if I wanted, and I said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

I’m afraid.
I’m already dealing with how to get meaningful exercise while I recover from my shoulder/neck surgery on my left side. Now I can’t use my right hand fully, or get the bandage wet for over a month. There goes swimming, climbing, riding, most of what we do in Tae Kwon Do. I can’t even belay. I may not even be able to do yoga. I still have injuries that make it hard to walk long distances.

I’m not sure what’s left. If only sleeping were a sports activity!

I’m afraid.

What does this mean for making my art?  Heck, for living my normal life?  I have a feeling I’m in for a lot of (unpleasant) surprises in the weeks ahead.   (For starters, I was told to “bring a top with sleeves I can get my hand through if I were holding a softball”…  Huh??)

I’m afraid.
Should I even consider returning to the martial arts? This makes two knee injuries (resulting in two knee surgeries), a torn hamstring, a compromised Achilles tendon and now hand surgery. Is the universe trying to tell me something here??

I’m moved.
When the surgeon told me how serious the injury was, I said, “But I need my hands to do my work.” I added thoughtfully, “I guess everyone says that, huh?”

And he said yes. Everyone says that.

I thought about that when I got home. Why did I say that?

1) Because in my sad little way, I was signaling him to take extra care with me during the surgery–reminding him I was a person. An artist. Someone whose hands should be considered “special”.

2) Because as much as I think about all the things I am grateful for (and having working hands is one of those things), as Joni Mitchell says, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…” When you hear you may not be able to assume you have the full use of your hands, it’s frightening. I “called out” in protest–because I could not face the possibility of losing any function in my hands.

3) Because, as I’ve written many times before, what makes us human is our minds, and our hands. No matter how removed from “hands on” we might think we are, what we do with our hands defines us–even if it’s transmitting what our heads do into visible form (like….typing a blog essay!)

In the end, I had to remember–the guy is a hand surgeon. This is what he does. Presumably, this is what he loves. I’ve heard he’s really, really good, too, which is reassuring.

And as he held my hand to examine it, I suddenly realized that to him, all hands are beautiful. Chapped, chubby, bony, bruised, ragged cuticles and all. To him, they are a work of art. And his surgery, helping people regain or preserve as much function and strength as possible, is his art.

It’s a struggle, but I can hold on to these thoughts:

Livelihoods are not lives.

It’s just my finger I’m fighting for–not my life, as some of my readers are doing.

If things go wrong, I will figure something else out.

If I have to do something else about the martial arts, well, I’ll figure that out, too. Maybe it will be as simple as “no more sparring.”

And as I look at my chapped, chubby, cuticle-impaired, broken hands today, I am struck anew at how beautiful they are.

16 Comments

Filed under art, choices, courage, life, martial arts

GET OUTTA TOWN!

I subscribe to newsletter written by the Canadian artist Robert Genn, called The Painter’s Keys. He talks about topics ranging from technique to inspiration, and the nature of making and selling art. Though I am not a painter, I find many of the topics…well, topical.

Today’s topic was called Art in Bad Times. He talks about how art sells or doesn’t sell when the economy is bad.

One addendum really stuck out for me:

Artists can become stuck in depressed areas and
develop bleak attitudes. Artists need to look beyond the local
scene. As art need not be regional, much of it can be offered
worldwide. Make an effort to introduce work elsewhere. The idea
is to outgrow the stigma of being simply a local artist.
Artists who have the chops need to think “Dubai,” not “Duluth.”
Giving a progressive dealer free reign in a distant location
can give an artist the idea there’s no depression going on at
all. Create well, distribute well, live well.

I’m one of those artists that can’t be described as your “typical” New Hampshire artist. Nor even as a typical New England artist. Heck, I have a hard time marketing on the entire East Coast!

I have one huge advantage–I actually knew that from the very beginning.

Oh, I have an audience here, and they are an enthusiastic and devoted bunch. They’ve saved my life!

My heart thrills when a customer walks into my booth at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Annual Fair and exclaims, “Here you are, I’ve been looking all over for you!” I love it when someone calls and says, “I’m a huge fan of your work and I’ve decided this is the year I buy a piece!” I’m so pleased when a guy calls and says, “My wife saw your jewelry at a show last week and says it’s all she wants for Christmas. Can I come over and get something??”

But my work, with its prehistoric artifacts, strong colors and layers of distressed, frayed fabrics, is still a hard sell in an area where the main decorating style is Early American and the main craft style is either Traditional or Contemporary.

I started looking for ways to get my work “outta New Hampshah” right from the get-go.

Even so, most of my venues tended to specialize in either traditional or contemporary craft. They attracted galleries and buyers that specialize in those styles.

I did reasonably well, well enough to get my business off the ground. But not enough to continue its growth.

I know it’s time to take the next step. Time to work even smarter.

It’s time to find galleries with strong western, southwestern, northwestern, tribal and world art themes.

I need collectors for whom, as a friend once said, “southwestern” is not a decorating style, but a lifestyle.

What can you learn from this?

Maybe it’s time for you to to get outta town, too.

If your work is as wonderful as you can make it, and it’s good, solid work–but still not selling locally… If it’s too different than what’s around you–if it’s “too strong” or “it doesn’t fit in”….

Then take Robert Genn’s advice. Start looking to grow your markets elsewhere.

How do you go about this without actually moving to another part of the country? (Unless that’s an option…)

ASK people who travel where they’ve seen work like yours, especially other artists and craftspeople. Ask for gallery names and shows. (Be sure to actually visit a show if at all possible, though–your travel costs are going to increase, you have to make sure it is indeed a good show for you!)

SURF the internet looking for galleries that sell compatible work.

LOOK AT home and lifestyle magazines, especially ones that cover different regional styles, to find ones that feature artwork similar to yours. (This can be a good place to look for stores and galleries, too.)

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN to different opportunities. I look for calls-for-entries for exhibitions with jurors pulled from art galleries in my target regions. (After all, gallery owners often volunteer to jury shows so that they can see the new work that’s out there.) I’m compiling a list of potential galleries and museum stores. I’m collecting titles of regional home and lifestyle magazines that are compatible with my work. (Last year I got off a plan in Utah for a brief layover and found not one, not two, but six western-style home magazines!)

LET PEOPLE KNOW you’re looking. Let them know what you’re looking for. Spread the word. You never know where a good lead will come from.

It’s a big world out there. In fact, one of my long-term goal is international.

I mean, it’s a really big world out there. It’s big enough for your work, your unique style, your personal vision.

Somewhere out there are people who will love, love love your work. It may not be easy to find them.

But you can do it.

5 Comments

Filed under art, business, marketing, perseverence, selling

BREATHE

Today a reader mentioned Christine Kane’s blog in her comment on MY blog essay RESOLUTIONS. (Thanks, Michelle!)

I’m actually a huge fan of Christine’s blog. But I keep forgetting to check in regularly, and I’d missed this one. I’m glad Michelle mentioned it, because when I read Christine’s essay on Resolution Revolution, it resonated with me immediately.

I realized my word for 2007–the one I’d inadvertently picked up halfway through last year–was “breathe”.

It was when I realized I was totally stressing myself out about what I could and could not physically do in Tae Kwon Do, and climbing, and riding. I realized I had to let go, relax, and….breathe. And simply do what I could.

It also helped me not to panic about preparing for new and different shows, for getting ready for even more surgery last month, for everything else that seemed piled on top of my life. For dealing with odd and huffy situations, dealing with demanding and demeaning people, and even dealing with me when I got whiney.

It worked, too.

It took me on a tiny mental vacation, a mini-break. A moment to center myself, and remember that though I may be the center of MY universe, that doesn’t make me the center of everyone else’s universe. And that as tricky, or as embarrassing, or as difficult as this moment was, it would pass.

Breathe. Breathe!

It will be fun thinking of “the word” for 2008. I’m thinking it might be, “just try.” Or maybe, “do better.” Or her suggestion, “release”. That’s a good one.

For now, “breathe” will do just fine.

3 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, business, inspiration, life, martial arts, mental attitude, mindfulness

STUDY PERIOD

The kids go back to school this week. It got me thinking.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the beginnings of that fantastic period when first I put all my energy and focus into making artwork inspired by the paintings in the cave of Lascaux in France.

What did I do to get to that place? What were my processes?

I can remember at least one clearly.

I remember I set aside a day of soul-searching, determined to start from scratch in my search for inspiration.

I put a pile of my favorite art and art history books on my work table, and made a bunch of bookmarks. (Okay, strips of torn paper, but they were ready to go!)

I slowly leafed through each one, marking pages of images and artwork that intrigued me. Anything that caught my attention got a bookmark.

Today, there are only two pages I can clearly remember marking. One was the Bayeaux Tapestry, a 230 foot long embroidered piece depicting the Norman Invasion in 1066. It was supposedly created by Queen Matilda, wife of the William the Conqueror, so of course it shows the winner’s point of view.

I loved the horses, especially panels like this one showing the horses being unloaded from the ships. I can’t find the charming panel showing the boat full of horses, with rows of their heads and necks showing above the boat, looking anxiously around at the waters of the English Channel.

Of course, the other pages I marked depicted more “French horses”, the painted ones from the cave of Lascaux.

Last weekend, we visited the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and I discovered for the first time their collection of Northern American artifacts.

Many artifacts tugged at my heart, but the first was this beautiful painted buffalo robe. And not surprisingly, what captivated me was the little painted horses, reminding me so much of the ones in the Bayeux Tapestry.

I found other beautiful objects in the exhibits there, and sketched madly on a scrap of paper I found in my purse. I plan to go back soon and spend an afternoon there.

And on this second day of the new year, I realize there is something I can do to recapture the heady excitement of those early days, when I first discovered my passion and my inspiration:

I can take time off to study.

I don’t mean the normal reading I do, browsing through magazines and books looking for a neat new idea for a closure or a color scheme.

I mean the total immersion, the time set aside to do nothing but browse, and peruse, and accumulate images and simply think. Nothing but art and artifacts before me, and noting which ones speak to me. Making notes and sketches. Listening to, and following my heart.

A true study period.

It’s been hard to set aside that kind of time in the last few years. Seems like there’s always another exhibit, or show, or order or something to get out the door. This year, I really have the time.

I remember, too, the what–what I wanted to make–came first. The why came later.

Fair enough. One step at a time. Can’t wait to see what the results will be!

7 Comments

Filed under action steps, art, creativity, inspiration

OBITUARIES

In celebration of one of my New Year’s resolutions–the one about being lazy from time to time–I’m simply going to ask a question today.

What would you like your obituary to say?

I was reading the Sunday Dec. 30 issue of the New York Times Magazine, entitled “The Lives They Lived”. It’s a collection of essays on noteworthy or well-known people (or people who should have been well-known) who died in 2007. It’s an astonishing array of people–and animals. (I was pleased to see Alex the talking parrot and Washoe, the hand-signing chimp included on the list.) Politicians and athletes, of course, but also the mother of a famous athlete. Soldiers. Inventors. A hacker. A blogger. A woman who helped hundreds of downed RAF pilots escape Germany under the very noses of the Nazis. Artists, writers, a fashion designer. People who set out to change the world and succeeded–or didn’t. People who had no intention of changing the world–and did.

It’s a fascinating collection of stories. I thought I’d read a couple. I couldn’t put it down til I’d read every one.

And it got me thinking about the obituary thing.

When all is said and done, and your live is someday beautifully summarized such on a page in the New York Times Magazine, what would you like it to say?

And more telling…

What do you think it would say now?

11 Comments

Filed under art, career, inspiration, life, writing