DIFFERENT KINDS OF SMART

A reader left a comment on a post I wrote years ago, refuting my belief that artists come in all shapes and sizes, and that innate talent alone does not determine who is and who isn’t an artist. ( They pointed to an interesting study showing that artist brains are indeed different than normal brains. (Aha! We ARE crazy!)

I liked the article. The findings did not change my mind, especially since the study focused solely on drawing. I drew a lot as a child, so many people called me an artist. But I never really progressed past drawing horses, mice and rabbits. I took a few figure drawing classes in college. I enjoyed them–I like drawing bodies!–but didn’t pursue drawing after that. I still don’t really care for it.

I have no idea if I have that “innate” talent for drawing or not. I don’t know if I have the “artist’s brain” the study described, or not. And I don’t care. I rarely draw out my designs before making them. I work them until they feel “right”.

But I can see the headlines now: “Luann Udell Finally Unmasked! NOT A REAL ARTIST after all!!!”

Drawing is an admirable skill. But what about a beautiful singing voice? What about a honed sense of rhythm, timing and hand coordination that’s so critical to drumming? What about making a beautiful pot? Or weaving/quilting/wood working and other fine crafts?

Why do we value one form of art-making above all others, and make that the definition of an artist?

And why do we value one kind of intelligence–I.Q.–above all others?

So here’s my meandering thought trail….

1) When I was in middle school, there was a bright, well-liked young man. He didn’t get good grades, so I assumed he wasn’t a good student. After getting a particularly bad grade for a project he’d poured his heart into, he ran out of the classroom. I hate to admit this, but we laughed.

And the teacher–Mrs. Nancy Nash, one of my favorite teachers–scolded us. She said, “You think he’s not smart. But he is! He’s just not good at reading. Haven’t you ever realized how well he does in class discussions?! You should be ashamed!” She went out after him, and eventually they both returned to class.

And we sat, chastened. And thinking.

This was in the early ’60′s. No one knew about dyslexia, or learning disabilities. If you didn’t get good grades, you weren’t smart. Period.

But now there was a new thought in my head….. Different kinds of smart.

2) Fast forward to freshmen year in college. No, I wasn’t in art school. I couldn’t get in! But another woman across the hall from me was. Curious what a “real” artist looked like, I asked her about her major.

She was taking the prerequisite drawing classes, the ones every art student had to take. She hated them. She sucked big-time at drawing. (I know–I saw her work!) So why was she in art school?

“I don’t want to draw! I want to make stuff! Things that do things!” she exclaimed. Like what?, I asked. She pulled out some of the items she’d made in her high school art classes. We sat on the floor while she showed me all her little mechanical contraptions.

And one of them was a traveling salt cellar.

I don’t know why it stuck with me lo these many years. It was a silver salt holder, with a tiny handmade silver spoon, mounted on a sort of cart-like contraption with little wheels. You pushed it across the table.

It was adorable. Badly made, but adorable. The wheels were uneven and not mounted properly on their axles, so the salt shaker sort of lurched across the floor.

“I need to know how to make good wheels that really work. I need to know mechanics or something. I don’t know! But I can’t do anything else til I take all my prerequisites!” Which at the time was about two to four semesters of…..drawing.

I know there is discipline to drawing. I know it is a deep way of really “seeing”. I know for many people, drawing is a way of working out design elements, structural elements, etc.

But this woman had taught herself casting and soldering and metal working. Figure drawing didn’t figure into her game plan. (Sorry for the pun.) Her “smarts” were in a different area, one that, at the time, was not acknowledged or respected in regular “art school”.

3) Now let’s really fast forward to the mid-90′s. I’m a Tae Kwon Do student with a wonderful teacher who later became a good friend. He was patient, accepting, emotionally-evolved and funny. As I got to know him better, I learned about his school days.

Allyn never graduated from high school (though he did complete his GED). He had severe dyslexia. Like my fellow student in the ’60′s, his not-understood and not-diagnosed condition meant he didn’t do well in school. He did so poorly, in fact, that when he was in middle school, he was given a “permanent hall pass.” What does that mean, I asked him one day. It meant that he was considered stupid. He was so “uneducable” that he was allowed to roam the halls during regular classes, as long as he stayed out of trouble. Everyone pretty much assumed (and some still assume) he’s just not very bright.

Allyn also happens to be one of the most perceptive, insightful, emotionally-evolved, and intelligent people I know. He listens deeply, and observes carefully.

Whenever I encounter a puzzling social situation (and I encounter many, because that’s who I am), I call Allyn. And within a few minutes, he can tell me exactly what’s going on. In one sentence. I kid you not, he understands the motivation, the behavior and the dynamics and can summarize it quickly and easily.

I mentioned this to a friend who was taking graduate coursework in stuff like organizational dynamics. What she told me knocked my socks off.

Turns out that many people with so-called “learning disabilities”, especially dyslexia, cannot easily process information through reading. But their brain, like anyone else’s brain, is still trying really, really hard to learn, to make sense of their physical, social and emotional environment.

So these non-readers pay very close attention to everything that’s going on. They learn to see, to observe, and assess. They become highly skilled in areas that don’t involve reading and writing.

Unfortunately, since so much of our educational system is based on reading and writing, they rarely make it to college. They aren’t considered “smart” by most of the markers we consider for intelligence.

A different kind of smart……

I think it’s getting better. We “normal people” are learning.

We’re learning that there are indeed many kinds of “smart”. There are many kinds of “talented”. There are all kinds of “artistic”. There are a jillion kinds of “beautiful”. There are a cajillion ways of being kind, and accepting, and tolerant. (Cajillion is a whole lot more than a jillion.)

I like to think that if we spent less time drawing lines around who is and who isn’t an artist, who is and who isn’t talented, who is and who isn’t creative, who is and who isn’t smart/pretty/famous/whatever…..maybe we could simply be astonished by the incredible diversity around us, the remarkable creative range and emotional depth and loving heights the human spirit is capable of.

Maybe we could just let people enjoy the making of whatever makes their heart sing, and give them permission to do so.

And in the end, it’s not so much what’s in our brain, as what we do with it.

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BUNSTER’S LAST GIFT

My rabbit Bunster has taught me many lessons.

I took her in on a raging impulse. We’d moved into our new house, our aging cats had moved on, and we had no furry responsibilities. It was freeing. But it was also a little lonely.

I saw a little handbill at our local Agway store–”Free Bunny!”. Hmmm. Well, a rabbit wouldn’t need a litter box, or walks. Surely this would be a low-maintenance pet? I called the number. The nice woman said her daughter had left for college and could no longer care for the rabbit. I went to her house that same day, and brought Bunster home.

The first lesson was not to make assumptions about animals. I thought rabbits were like large hamsters–perfectly happy in a small cage and not needing much from me beyond basic care. Boy, was I wrong. First, the cage I was given was way too small. Bunster was so stir-crazy from being in a cage she could hardly turn around in, she used to grunt and lunge at me when I opened her cage to feed her. She terrified me! Had I acquired a vicious rabbit?! Shades of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Visions of killer rabbits haunted my dreams.

She finally escaped one day into our mud room, and transformed into a totally different beast. Soon she had the run of my studio, too. I was dismayed at the amount of bunny poop I had to deal with. But I did it.

The next thing I learned about her was that rabbits have personalities. Bunster was completely devoted to me. She would doze at my feet as I worked or wrote, nibbling the hem of my jeans if I ignored her too long. (For a decade, all my pants had nibbled hems.)

She would occasionally play with something, too. I heard a jingling one day, and found her grabbing my keys with her teeth and flipping them over her head repeatedly. (Maybe she wanted to learn how to drive. I wouldn’t put it past her.)

She hated to be held, but one day while I was at my computer, she leaped into my lap. We both looked at each other in astonishment. Then she grunted and fled, never to repeat the caper.

She was an ambassador for visitors to my studio, and she took her responsibility seriously. I would keep a bowl of Cheerios handy for guests to feed her. She would grunt and thump her hind foot if they were too slow with the treats.

She was a devastating force in a fiber studio. She chewed through power cables, extension cords, fabric, furniture, rugs and wood furniture. Many people wondered why I put up with it. I honestly don’t know. Maybe I thought she would change. (Hah!) I do know I became better about putting things out of her reach (about 16″) and quickly found someone who could repair chewed cords. And I loved the tiny scraps she made as she demolished my fabric collection. Many of them appeared in my collages.

Her biggest lesson was about fear. I would forget that to a rabbit, everything in the world is dangerous. One day I introduced my new cat Gomez to Bunster. He sniffed her and looked up with me with adoring eyes. Then he slowly reached out and grabbed her by the neck wish his teeth. No, Gomez, I was not bringing you lunch. Fortunately, Bunster was unhurt, though thoroughly miffed.

She was quite the escape artist. Visitors would unwittingly give her an opportunity to dash out the door. I could usually nab her and bring her back inside. But one day, she was just gone.

I searched for two days, despairing of ever seeing her again. While I was hanging posters around our neighborhood, someone came by in a car. Seeing the poster, she told me she’d taken a wounded “wild rabbit” to a local vet the day before. With hope filling my heart, I called, and sure enough, it was Bunster. She had survived over 24 hours outdoors, through a thunderstorm, neighborhood dogs, hawks, coyotes and feral cats. She’d collapsed in a rain puddle, exhausted and frightened. But someone found her and took pity on her. Even a small life is worthy of our help. A miracle indeed.

She didn’t run off again after that.

And of course, there is so much a rabbit can teach you about fear.

Now Bunster is old. Really old. I thought bunnies lived to be 5 or 6. Turns out it’s more like 10 or 12, with good care. Bunster is at least that old, maybe more. Her sight has dimmed, though her hearing seems good–when I bubble “Bun bun bunny bun bun!” at her as I walk by her cage, her ears perk up. She can certainly hear a box of Cheerios being opened. Her appetite is excellent, especially once I decided she doesn’t have to “eat healthy” anymore. She loves Doritos and nuts and crackers. Someone gave her a Cheeto recently, and she scarfed it down.

But her once-beautiful fur is ragged and rough. She is frail, and moves with difficulty. She sleeps a lot, dreaming of large fields of clover (I hope) and sunshine. Every day she is still here is a gift.

Her last gift to me is one of quiet contemplation. She lets me hold her now, something I yearned to do for years and is now so easy. I hold her like a baby, gently, supporting her carefully. If I keep my movements soft and quiet, she relaxes into a dreamy state. Together we sit, and ponder, alone with our thoughts, her feeling my protective hands around her, me feeling the now-so-light weight of her diminishing body.

I’m so grateful for these last few precious months. Or weeks. Or days. I have no idea. One day I think it’s her last. The next, she’s back to her perky, demanding self. More Cheerios! Quite petting me! Where’s my hay! Should I have her put down? She doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable or in pain. I will try to simply follow her needs. Maybe, I hope, I won’t be called upon to decide anything.

As I read the news today, full of cruelty and anger, revenge and strife, of thoughtlessness and sickness and pain, there is solace in this: Holding an elderly bunny.

She is giving me the gift, in the middle of this perfect storm of feeling un-moored, adrift, uncertain, unsettled, the gift of peace, and content, and reflection. I look at this seemingly insignificant little creature who has meant so much to me, and I am astonished. I had no idea, when I brought her home that day, how much she had to teach me.

We are adrift in time, in these soft moments.

She is my hope. My meditation. My prayer.

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GOING WEST: The Story of the Bear

Bear beads I sold recently. Yep, I lined up right in front of my keyboard!

Bear beads I sold recently. Yep, I lined up right in front of my keyboard!

From my Animal Stories page:
Bear tells me, “Be strong when things get hard. Listen more. Think slow. Love deep.”

I haven’t written much lately because it seems like very day, the landscape changes. The things that have to happen before we can move seem obscured. Some days it’s hard to put on a happy face.

We’re wishing desperately for clarity. But getting clear on your next step doesn’t necessarily mean a clear path.

We know we want to move to California. Unfortunately, the support we think we need isn’t there. A new job to replace the one that’s disappearing in a week or so may not be so simple to find. The house has to sell, and there’s not much we can do to to make that happen. Plans in place for family members that don’t want to go with us are still up in the air.

We keep thinking those obstacles have to be overcome before anything else can happen. When they aren’t happening, we think we’ve lost our way.

But it just occurred to me that we have the real blessing in hand. We know what we want. The simple idea that drives everything for us right now–going west–is more clear than ever. Everything–everything–points us west.

Jon called from the coast today with a powerful insight: He already knows the work he wants to do. And though perhaps no one will hire him to do it, maybe it’s time he took it solo. I could hear the excitement and happiness in his voice when we spoke. Yes, it’s a risk. But no more of a risk than anything else we’ve ever pinned our hopes to.

I realized that all the doors we thought were closing, leave the hallway clear and open. The “bumps in the road” are simply streamlining our purpose: Get west. Go to the place we want to be.

Trying to fix everything, trying to put everything in place first, gets in the way of what we want: So maybe it’s time to think slow.

Sometimes looking for the “safe” way to accomplish our dreams, will actually constrict our dreams. So we will dream big.

Sometimes the people we think we need to take care of, can actually take care of themselves better if we give them the chance: Let them know we will always love deep.

So many wise people in my life have told me, over and over, that whatever I yearn for, whatever I need to know, is already in my heart. It’s true. We wished for clarity, and we already have it.

In my heart, I am singing a prayer of thanks for remembering the story of my bear spirit artifact:

Bear tells me, “Be strong when things get hard. Listen more. Think slow. Love deep.”

THESE bears' story is "Make a lot of noise and maybe some of it will be music!"

THESE bears’ story is “Make a lot of noise and maybe some of it will be music!”

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FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THE WORLD: The Story of the Pusher

No, not that kind of pusher. Let me explain.

Years ago, I came across a collection of science fiction stories, one of my favorite literary genres.

One story really grabbed me. It’s stayed with me for decades.

An alien ship is stranded in space. Its crew is an assortment of life forms, all serving in extremely specific roles: There is a Brain, who oversees the mission; the Eye who charts their course, the Ear that listens for messages from other ships and planets, and so forth.

It turns out its Pusher–the life form that actually makes the ship go–has died in an unfortunate accident. Unless they can find another Pusher–fast–they will all die, too.

Fortunately, they discover they are very close to a planet of rogue Pushers–Pushers who have cut off for so long from their fellow Pushers, they don’t even realize they ARE Pushers. Having no knowledge of their true place in life, they vent their frustration and and anxiety by waging war on one another. This horrifies the crew. But they know they have no choice but to try to enlist one of them to Push.

They find a lone Pusher and somehow get him on the ship. He’s a human being (of course) from Earth.

He’s terrified of the strange creatures on board. He’s angry he’s been kidnapped. He can’t believe what the aliens are telling him–that his true calling–humanity’s true calling in life–is to “make spaceships go”. He can’t believe that war, conflict, murder, violence among his people are all because they are not able to do what they are meant to do. That humans are deeply unhappy and feel misplaced and unbalanced, because their purpose in life has been untapped for ages.

The aliens beg him to consider their offer. Turns out there isn’t much keeping him on earth-no family, few friends, hates his work. It might be an amazing adventure! They can even bring him back to Earth, if he desires. Or he can explore the universe with them. They assure him that there are many other planets of (ushers, so he will have lots of company. They will reward him if he signs on.

He begins to feel at ease with them. He sympathizes with their plight. He wishes he could help.

But he still protests. He has no idea how to “push” a spaceship.

They guide him to his post. “Just try,” they plead.

The last sentence? “Slowly, the ship began to move.”

I’ve never found that story since, and I have no idea who wrote, or when. But every time I think of it, a little shiver goes through my heart.

Now, I don’t really believe that my main purpose in life is to push a spaceship. At least, I’d hate to give up my art and my writing to even push a car. (Now, if they had needed someone to hunt-and-gather lovely objects from thrift shops, beaches and antique stores…..)

But I love the concept that there are reasons for us to be here, even if we cannot always see the reasons, or understand them.

I love that this story is one way of explaining that.

And I love that even if we don’t think we know how to Push, it is in our nature to recognize when we need to Push.

I know when I finally stepped up to being an artist, something in my life began to move.

I know when I overcame my fears and became a martial artist, something in my life shook loose.

I know when I realized I was not too old to learn how to ride a horse, something in my life became richer.

I know when I became a hospice volunteer, something in my heart expanded.

Now it’s California. I don’t know what that’s about yet. I think I know, but I really don’t.

But I know when it’s time to Push, I will.

P.S. I just found the story! (I love the interweb….) It’s called “Specialist” by Robert Sheckely, and was published in 1953–one year after I was born!

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HERO’S JOURNEY part deux: Answering the Call

We’re still moving to California. But things have slowed down.

Well. Not really. Jon originally said we would be gone by winter. We got a little carried away by the thought we might make it much, much sooner. Then life through us a few hiccups which I won’t go into because I’ll start whining again. Some of the hiccups are major. Some are wicked hard. But none have changed our original goal–to be outta here before the snow flies and the ice slides again.

In our initial enthusiasm, we blabbed and bubbled a lit-tul too much. So now, when people see us here in Keene, they exclaim, “You’re still here?!”.
It’s embarrassing, but inevitable. We feel perhaps we’ve outstayed our welcome.

And of course, now I’m working my way through my studio, picking things to keep, slowly sorting things to sell or donate or give away. Couches are replaceable. A printer’s type tray chest is not easily replaced. But it’s not easily moved either.

One of my TWO chests of printer's type tray/drawers. And the box of creepy doll heads.

One of my TWO chests of printer’s type tray/drawers. And the box of creepy doll heads.

And slowly, understandably, our dream of California is fading. It’s hard to remember what set us on fire to move, as the reality sets in: living in a stripped-down home, packing up box after box of books, winter clothing, art supplies and sorting through a lifetime’s collection of wonderful knickknacks.

Last Friday, I wrote Hero’s Journey, sharing how a friend’s words of wisdom got me back on track. A few days ago, I found my own words of wisdom to describe where we’re at.

We went to California, as we had so many times before. We’ve always enjoyed it. But we never felt we could live there. We had so many reasons why it wasn’t possible: The traffic, the density of people, the sky-high cost of housing.

This time, it was different. It created a powerful sense of yearning that I couldn’t ignore, and couldn’t forget.

Weeks later, when Jon shared he felt the same way as I did, I felt a rush of joy. I realized we had BOTH heard the call. And we could both choose to answer it.

That’s it. That’s what all this life upheaval is about.

Only afterwards did we layer our choice with explanations and rationalizations. Yes, it’s the chance of a lifetime for both of us to reboot–professionally, physically, emotionally.

When people challenge you about your decision (“Are you crazy?? Why would you ever want to leave here?!”), they will accept that your husband needs to do it for his work. And that he needs it for his mental health. (Seasonal affective disorder and the Northeast climate do not mix. Trust me on this.)

We eventually grew quite a list of excellent reasons why we needed to do this. I could rattle them off right now for you. But this is all you really need to know:

We heard the Call.

And we are answering it.

The first time I heard the Call in my life, I felt like a great wave had engulfed me (in a good way.) It was a clarion call to take up my art, and assume my place in the world. I answered with my full intention, with my heart and soul.

The times I’ve heard it since, I’ve done the same. I answered. I acted, with my full intention.

I have never, EVER regretted it.

Each time it has opened a door in my life. When I walk through, everything falls into place. When I look back, I see miracles and angels. Sometimes, I have to “lie down in a dark room” for a bit, because it is so powerful.

My only regret? The one time I ignored it. It was “too hard”, “too far away”, and I “didn’t have the time.”

That’s it. It’s that simple.

We heard the Call. And all our intentions are focused on answering it.

How do you tell it from an ordinary whim? From an ordinary “post-vacation buzz?”

I don’t know what to tell you. Except that maybe vacations are trying to tell us something, and we’ve simply gotten used to ignoring them.

We didn’t want to come home.

Because suddenly, wonderfully, we already were.

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HERO’S JOURNEY

I’m struggling with a lot of issues and thoughts lately. This big move is unsettling. We know more than ever that we need to move. And we know we WANT to move. But when, and where, and what to do with a very few but oh-so-precious companions and fragile, vulnerable loved ones, confound and confuse us.

Layer that with questions about how to keep our hearts open and loving, while protecting ourselves from the people who would destroy us by gentle nibbling or explosive bites….

With the feeling that it’s truly time to dig deep into issues of compassion and forgiving, while still protecting ourselves….

Trying to let go of the people who aren’t there for us (when we were there for them) while graciously accepting help from the people who are…

Well, it’s been a bit of a jumble.

As always, listening and writing help. And actually sitting down and making things helps, too. In the midst of donating, selling, giving stuff away, it’s even more important than ever to honor my creative spirit. That’s easy to forget while working on the ever-growing to-do list.

As always, someone speaks magic words. And for a brief moment, there is clarity. Clarity that gets me through another day.

Last week, I complained to a friend that she and a very few people were helping me a lot, more than I felt comfortable with. While other people were doing very little, if anything at all. It felt out of whack, unbalanced. “But it’s your turn!” she said. I still didn’t get it, so she explained. When we reach out and help others, whether it’s helping them move, helping them with information they need, helping them by simply listening, we will “get it back”. But not necessarily from that person.

“Your good energy goes out into the universe,” she said. “And when you need that energy–when it’s your turn–it comes back. But it usually comes back through other people, not the people you feel ‘owe’ you.”

Well. That just shut me right up. I had to stop and think about it. It made so much sense. I am getting everything I need right now. And it’s coming from all over the map of my friendships, some from very old places and much from very new places.

It also gave me an insight into letting go of resentment. Friends are not a balance sheet, where I tally up what was given and what I’m owed, and vice versa. Do the truly good work you can do. Put it out there. Trust that it will come back when you really need it. In fact, as I look back, that is exactly how we’ve been helped through excruciating circumstances the last few years. (Probably forever!) Chance meetings, acquaintances, total strangers often gave us exactly what we needed, to help us take the next step. Almost every day, a miracle occurred. It still astonishes me. And now I can relax, and see them right here under my nose. (Thank you, Roma!)

Of course, being human, this heart of mine, trying to be so gentle, soon got all gritchy again. Last night, over a glass of wine, I complained to another friend that all the joy seems to have drained out of our decision to move.

When I try to remember what moved us to do this, it feels like a dream. Now, we feel dominated by the harsh realities of a job search, determining the actual destination, recognizing the costs involved, dealing with the disruption to our lives.

At the same time, I’m highly sensitive to the fact that this isn’t “awful, hard stuff”–no one is dying, no one is injured, no one is forcing us to do this. I’m embarrassed to complain so much. And our dream of California, which made so much sense a year ago, now seems a bit frivolous.

She said that when we’re in a state with so much upheaval and confusion, it can feel awful. Because it IS unsettling.

It’s not possible, nor even advisable, to think logically about the move right now. We’ll make assumptions based on information that isn’t certain–perhaps even wrong.

And it’s even more important to remember the dream.
“I think of ‘dreaming’ as light-hearted,” she said. “There’s no attachment. It’s…creative. And deeply spiritual.” She commented that all the aspects of the dream that mean so much to me–the light, the ocean, the big sky, the climate–all speak of deep connections to nature. She believes that connection is fundamental to all people, but especially creative people.

Assumptions, on the other hand, are heavy, and negative, and too attached to outcome. It is the antithesis of ‘the call’.

‘The call’?

I realize that is exactly what this desire feels like. A call, for something we couldn’t even articulate at first. As we tried to define it, we attached certain aspects to it that made sense: More sunshine and richer professional connections for Jon. I don’t know what for me. I hesitate to even name it for myself.

But we both felt that call, before we even had words for it. Despite us trying to nail it down, make it concrete, apply logic and reason to it, it remains largely indescribable. In many ways, not logical.

And we both still yearn for it deeply, in a way that’s still hard to articulate. That moment of us discovering the other felt exactly the same way still astonishes me when I think of it.

I’ve felt this call a handful of times in my life. I answered it, every time except once. Each time I responded, my heart has grown larger, my life has grown richer.

My only regret? The time I didn’t answer.

Erika explained, telling me about Joseph Campbell’s description of the hero’s journey. There is the call. There is the challenge–the obstacles that get in the way. You must conquer the challenge. Your reward? The gift you bring back to your people. (Erika’s version was simpler and eliminated the ‘woman as temptress’ thing which is unnecessarily obnoxious for me right now.)

She gave me just what I needed right now.

I’ve decided to take a mental vacation as I work on my giant to-do list. I’m indulging in a little “California Dreamin’”. Oh, I’m still here, packing up winter clothes, clearing out a box or two, running to the library to donate yet more books. Trying to clear a space in my studio to work.

But last night, as I drifted off to sleep, I would not let myself worry. Or plan. Or even think about my to-do list. I set aside my thoughts of Doug, and Robin, and Bunster.

Instead, I thought of huge rolling waves.

A beach filled with shiny pebbles.

Golden light from a big, big sky.

A sense of coming home.

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LEARNING TO SEE: An Art-Making Class with Kristina Wentzell

I painted my very first picture this week. (I mean, I tried to paint a unicorn flying around a mountain in high school but it sucked big time.)

My friend and co-Keene Art Tour founder Kristina Wentell teaches painting classes–the kind where she walks you through the steps and you go home with a painting that same day. It was fun, I enjoyed it very much, and I like my painting enough that I took it in to Creative Encounters to be framed. I’ll post the finished piece when I get it back.

In the meantime, read about my experiences here on Kristina’s blog.

I realize I’ve never taken a painting class before because they’re always a long, drawn-out affair–you learning to paint. Kristina shows you how to paint a replica of her painting. No, it doesn’t make you an artist. But you get a sense of what it looks like, and what it feels like, to create a painting. And that’s what just might pull you in to pursue it more.

Plus you go home with your own little “masterpiece” that night. Near-instant gratification!

I can has a painting!

I can has a painting!

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