FINDING HOPE IN THE ODDEST PLACES: The Magician’s Nephew Surprises

I revisit a beloved children’s books with new eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I often go back and reread books, sometimes many times. I always find something new, or something I completely overlooked the first time through.

One of my biggest overlooks was when I reread Sterling North’s beloved young adult novel, RASCAL, originally published in 1963. Although I’d read it several times, it was only as I was reading it aloud, word by word, in my kids’ classes as a guest reader, that I found the saddest part. North mentions that  he contracted polio later that year.

That last summer with Rascal was also his last year of perfect freedom.

Now I will always see that story through different eyes.

Lately, I’ve been rereading The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, published in 1955.  Again, I reread them several times since I discovered the books in high school. I’ve just finished the second book (in Narnia time), The Magician’s Nephew. And I found two more jaw-droppers.

This book shares the story of Narnia’s creation, and introduces Aslan, the god-like lion who’s at the heart of this series. I read page after page of the creation of stars, sky, mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, and the emergence of animals. Aslan then selects two members of each species, male and female, and gives them the power of speech and (human) intelligence.

And then he selects several of them from several species to create his council.

All males. Only males.

I missed that in every single reading. Wow. Just….wow. (A victim of his times, perhaps. I hope.)

Fortunately, that’s not my little ray of hope today. Except the hope that if Lewis were alive today, he might choose to do (a little) better regarding a woman’s ability to be part of a wise council.

No, instead, there was this bit:

Digory, who hopes to find a cure for his dying mother, is sent to find an apple in a very special garden, and bring it back to Aslan. He’s accompanied by his friend Polly, and they will ride a horse, a fellow visitor from our world, who has been transformed into a winged horse by Aslan.

Aslan, looking to the west, gives them guidance with these directions:

“Do not fly too high”, said Aslan. “Do not try to go over the tops of the great ice-mountains. Look out for the valleys, the green places, and fly through them. There will always be a way through.”

Do you see it?

We can have a grand goal, a dream, a path we desperately wish to find through life.

But we don’t have to go to all the harsh places, the cruel places. We don’t have to always put ourselves in that position to follow our hearts.

Instead, we can honor our dreams in a way we can manage. We know that huge obstacles and setbacks are there, hard times and sad times. But there are also ways to navigate them, if we choose. On the way, there may be ways that can make our journey a little easier, if we look for them.

And there will always be a way through.

No matter where you are in your life, no matter what is holding you back, or what you think is too hard (and trust me, I KNOW), there is a way through.

It won’t be without challange. But if we look for the valleys, if we allow ourselves to rest when we need to, if we believe it’s worth flying…er…striving….for, we can find a way.

Sometimes, the way through itself is what the gift is. Getting to the other side is great reward. Yes, Digory gets the apple that eventually helps his mother heal.

But what he also gains is insight, understanding, the realization that we have the power of our choices, and the power of the choices that are right for us, and those we love. The right thing to do. The kind thing to do.

The loving thing to do.

Just for today, as the world seems even darker, as our times seem even harder to navigate…

Look for the valleys and the green places.

Look for the places that will restore you to your highest, best self.

 

HOW TO OPEN STUDIO #13: A Book Review of “Open Your Studio”

I’ve come across lots of wisdom in my decades of making and selling my creative work. I still try to look at the advice given by other people, because you never know where a great insight or tip can come from.

Last week, I ordered a highly-tooted book called OPEN YOUR STUDIO: Nine Steps to A Successful Art Event by Melinda Cootsona.  I was curious to explore what other artists thought was a terrific guide to staging our first open studio.

My opinion? 50/50  I give it a C+.

Here are the parts I thought were useful:

  1. Do NOT have a ‘sale’ section or a ‘bargain bin’.  It detracts from the perceived value of our current work, and there are better ways to move older work on. (I agree!)
  2. Be consistent in your pricing. (YES!!) She offers some good pricing strategies, too. (But ONLY for 2D work.)
  3. She offers good suggestions for pricing 2D work with or without frames, a common conundrum in the 2D artworld.
  4. Let there be a little ‘mess’ in your studio. People will find it interesting, like a peek behind the curtain. (I totally agree.)
  5. If you intend to demo during your open studio, have a sales assistant on hand. (Yes!) Otherwise, you can share your process with photos of your production process, or a slide show on a laptop.
  6. It’s good to raise our prices as the demand for our work grows. But have a private reception for your collectors to give them the option to buy your work BEFORE you actually raise your prices. (I love this idea!)
  7. If you are brand-new and need to start a mailing list, she has some good suggestions for that, too, including some I’d never thought of. (Of course, once your reputation and audience is grounded, we can be more selective, if we choose. (This wasn’t mentioned, but either ASK those people if you can sign them up, and/or always give them the option to unsubscribe. It’s really important no one can call you “spam”.)

What was not useful or just plain head-smacking:

  1. Most of the suggestions revolve around 2D artwork. She mentions ceramics and jewelry in passing, but no real insights about pricing, etc. There’s ONE picture of a box maker’s display, but it’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Something that looks like a newbie at their very first show. (Yes, I made a similar mistake at my first show, but now that I know better, I DO better, AND I tell OTHERS how to do better.)
  2. She actively negotiates her prices if a visitor askes for a discount. No. No. NO. First, the person who deserves a discount is a loyal customer, not a newbie who just walked in the door. (Doesn’t it annoy you when your favorite magazine/newspaper consistently offers great rates to a NEW subscriber? And not to people (YOU) who have subscribed for years? Rethink this, please!) Also, there are ways to sweeten the deal without compromising the stated value of our work.
  3. There is absolutely nothing about how to engage visitors, how to make them comfortable in our space, how to talk with them, etc.
  4. There’s nothing about the power of a good artist statement. A great artist statement has the power of engaging someone who isn’t even that interested in our work, if it makes them go back and look at our work a second time…
  5. We’re encouraged to post our event on social media, but no suggestions on how to make that engaging for our audience there. Same with press releases, etc.

After I read the book, I went back to read the reviews on Amazon. As expected, this is a great little book if you have never sold your work or held an open studio before. and IF you are a 2D artist.

But the insights about credit cards, promoting our event, the encouragement to actively discount our work, and the total lack of anything useful for selling work that isn’t 2D, was massively disappointing.

It’s definitely worth a read for the good stuff. I found a copy on Bookfinder.com at a great price. So check it out, then let me know what YOU think!

 

 

 

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