Monday Motivation

Sometimes the best thing we can do to tap our creativity is to leave. Go out, do something different, see something different. We may think we are being “unproductive” but our subconscious will be at work pulling in millions of bits of information, feelings, nuances that can bring a ton of inspiration; from a sound, a sight, even a smell can trigger some deep seated memory or emotion. Inspiration can come from the way light enters a room or spills across a street and onto a building. As a creative it’s too easy to dwell continually in ones own head. And yes, it’s what creatives need to do. That quiet concentration and focus requires shutting out the external distractions for a time. Then, we have to recognize when it’s time to leave our head or to look at it another way, open up the windows and let the fresh air in, let the view in. It doesn’t have to be much, or an expensive outing. Pack a lunch and be Huck Finn for spell.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m heading up island with my sister and plan to hit the thrift, and antique stores. A good ol’ Rummage is what’s on the menu today, and maybe a walk on the beach.

Cheers~

Original songwriting challenge

A day late and a dollar short but here it is. I wrote this song today beginning to end, and rushed to record and post so to at least get it in the ballpark of the weekly challenge I set. The idea for this song began, as per usual it seems with this practice, as a very different story. But after several re writes another story began to emerge. Let me first say the inspiration for the song came from a hike Bob, his niece, and I did on Saturday. We had intended to hike up Mount Benson, a local mountain in Nanaimo. We did a bit of a climb but decided instead to descend and walk around the lake at the base of the mountain. Witchcraft Lake. We had our picnic lunch on the gravel shore next to the long, narrow, brown lake. It was a beautiful day entirely; warm and sunny, Squilly was in her unbounded glory, but of course the lake’s name stuck in me and had to be the theme for a song. I mused over it yesterday, and then spent all day today writing lyrics about the lake in a literal vein. It was when I decided to turn the lyric and tone of the song into a tale of loss and magic that it seemed to gel and take some shape. I had fun writing this.

Witchcraft Lake D. Brint May 31/2021

At the foot of the mountain where columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To the stoney shore of witchcraft lake

The water was cold and the colour so brown

With a hollow tree pale and sharp as a stake

And the wind whistled through it an eerie lament

That lulled my love at witchcraft lake.

The music was soothing, gentle and sweet

And he lay himself down on the cold grey slate

I saw his soul get spirited away into the depths of witchcraft lake

I ran to the waters edge calling his name all through the night until day break

Then I turned to find his body was gone

But his voice rose out of witchcraft lake

Turn and go he said, there’s nothing for you here to remain would be a grave mistake

And know that I love you but I’ll be free no more

My soul’s bound to witchcraft lake

I give you fair warning if you find yourself there to spare you from certain heartache

For if you tarry you’ll lose your love to the wiles of witchcraft lake

At the foot of the mountain where the columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To where my love lies deep in witchcraft lake

Monday motivation

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

These words bring me some comfort. Of course we all want to do things as well as we can, become “proficient” at our craft, take pride in a task well done, a skill mastered. And we do want it to be perfect. When it isn’t, many of us chastise ourselves feeling we’ve missed the mark (hello). I hold myself accountable to that, and with following through with a project, and I feel a little anxiousness build when I begin to slip. A fear of not perfectly accomplishing what I set out for myself; if I let that slip then all may be lost. (which, I am aware, is a ridiculous thought- but there it is). I also understand that to let this anxiousness dominate is counter-productive to creative thought and practice, nothing will come of it but tension. But, I can get caught up in a vicious cycle when this dynamic happens.

I am noticing more often now what my mind set is when I enter into a creative head space; funny I never paid attention to this before. But I do believe that over the last several months, maybe the last year, and with the help of committing to this blog, I’ve been conditioning myself to build and recognize the climate that allows creativity to expand and to overtake the mundane, and I have become aware of how this “feels.” I have been able to keep more ideas for art/creative work as the frontrunner in my thoughts and daily structure. Interestingly, I am becoming familiar with how I prepare myself internally, how I encapsulate my attention and focus. And I’m familiar with how satisfying it is to blur my surroundings and sharpen my vision to only the creative work at hand. This is a space I love to be in. A space I had forgotten I once inhabited a long time ago when an art student. I can honestly forget everything (and everyone) else and submerge into that space. An alienating prospect for an artist’s non artist spouse! (fortunately, he understands and supports)

Life has had, and continues to have, its myriad of distractions, pleasant and otherwise, that will always vie for attention. My aim now is for balance while keeping my inner eye trained on a soft but protective boundary that encircles my creative space. I can find a modicum of perfection in that arrangement. As for the work coming out of that arrangement, I will look for the perfection in its imperfection.

A bit of a ramble.

Cheers~

This Week

I suppose the title should read The Last Two Weeks since I didn’t post last Thursday. As I had mentioned on my Sunday Songwriting post (that was posted a week late)- things got busy with putting the vegetable gardens in, errands into town to get stuff for the gardens etc. We also managed to get out for a sail one beautiful sunny day, our first of the season, and Squillie’s first sail ever. We picked a calm day with light winds so she wouldn’t feel threatened when the boat leaned when under sail. She did great! Nervous, but she held her composure like a champ for our four hour cruise in the Strait of Georgia

Sequoia’s first sail

I’ve been getting some writing done in the mornings. It’s funny that I am retired, my schedule is of my own making, and yet to lock myself down in the chair for three hours in the morning is harder than it sounds. Especially this time of year. I’d already been out for my two mile walk at six thirty, I make breakfast, wash up and now, I say to myself, sit down to work. But the sun is up and the day outside beckons me like a cheerleader with a bullhorn. So I think, maybe I should do the outside work first, then come in and write. And many times I do that, because I feel guilty for being in the house at my desk until noon when the day is gorgeous. That arrangement doesn’t help my writing, I know my best time for doing anything creative is at the start of the day, when my energy is winding up and I really need to honour that. By the afternoon I really lack any creative focus other than making dinner.

I spent three hours today putting the final clear glaze on my clay work- at last! That was a long wait for the first firing. I was excited to see my mugs, it’s been a couple of months, and I was concerned about how much they may have shrunk in the firing, as has been the case with my past pieces. When I saw them today I was really happy to see their size was just what I wanted, and really happy with my designs and underglaze colours. K usually has the clear glaze already mixed up, but not this time, so I made up a big bowl of clear glaze and set to work dipping the mugs. Now the wait for the final firing and keeping my fingers crossed the clear glaze doesn’t come out milky and too thick this time. This last firing phase has been the frustrating part for me, the time and effort spent in making the pieces, and then the end product is less than satisfactory. But here’s hoping for a stunning reveal this time!

This is how the pieces look before I coat them with clear glaze, which doesn’t look clear at all when its applied just white and chalky. Now they wait for the glaze firing – the final fire- and oh I hope they emerge like little jewels!

Cheers!

Sunday Original Songwriting challenge

I hadn’t planned to take a week off from my blog, but it happened. I have two words for that, Spring and Garden. The season is amping up with lots to do. The past few days were busy with buying seeds, preparing the soil, plotting, and planting, and the days flew by. Vegetable garden is in, now only to wait for signs of promise.

I wrote this song Sunday, May 16 but didn’t get it recorded in time for my deadline (and neither Monday or Tuesday), so I decided to surrender to tardiness and carry it forward to this week.

For this week’s song a lullaby came out. But, I do have four small grandchildren, so it’s a handy song to have, uh, on hand, and the Ukulele seemed like the perfect instrument choice, and my first song written on it.

Little Baby Mine D.Brint May 16, 2021

The sun is heavy and low in the sky

See how he slips down behind the trees

The deer have all gone back in the woods

The birds have hushed their singing

The stars begin to blossom in the night

Their twinkling eyes look down from heaven

And the moon glows so bright

To watch over your safe keeping

Hush little baby mine, sleep is nigh

Hush little baby mine, close your eyes

You float like a leaf on a breeze so soft

Drifting and swaying to and fro

The moon peeps out from her starry loft

In the wink of an eye you’re sweet dreaming

The stars begin to blossom in the night

Their twinkling eyes look down from heaven

And the moon glows so bright

To watch over your safe keeping

Hush little baby mine, sleep is nigh

Hush little baby mine, close your eyes

Monday motivation

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding make even more art.”

Andy Worhol

Shut out the chatter and carry on!

P.S. The feature photo is the art of my three year old granddaughter who love to draw all the time 🙂

Motivation Monday

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Pablo Picasso

Easier said than done! As we grow up we become layered over time with so many “should’s” and “better not’s” and “what will people say” that we shrink into a homogenous, bland, colourless expression of our child selves for the sake of “fitting in” to the stats quo.

I’m going to keep looking for ways to allow some of my actions/ activities to fall under the definitions of Just because and Why not.

Sunday Original Song Challenge

It was written yesterday in one shot. Not expecting to write on this topic, I was writing words on something else – a tragically sad experience – but it wasn’t coming. Then I wrote the first line; Nothing I can do to make things better, (that I later changed to Nothing is feeling much better) and the rest of the lyrics just rolled out.

Fellow Man D.Brint, May 8/21

Nothing is feeling much better, with my back against the wall

Can’t help but feel the pressure, question the sense of right and wrong

One side says we must do more, others say to do less

Some ask what’s it all for, sometimes I agree I must confess

Does anyone ever have the answers

Is someone drawing up a better plan

Is humanity really making advances

For the good of the fellow man

Conflict always follows us, like a dog snapping at our heels

Like a ride we can’t get of off, caught in the spokes of a spinning wheel

And the sun still rises, the moon shines on the sea

They watch over our crisis, impartial to you and me

There’s trouble in the east, and in the west, fights in the south, the north is melting

We’ve seen the powerful undressed, we’ve joined the throngs of protest marching

And it’s round and round day after day, corruption sits in the power seat

Deaf to why it has to be that way, dumb and blind with greed and conceit

Does anybody ever have the answers

Is someone drawing up a master plan

Is humanity really making advances

For the good of the fellow man

Monday motivation

“Creativity is something you practice. You can’t be creative if you’re constantly censuring yourself. Don’t get ready, get started!”

Book, Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and rewards) of Art Making, by David Bayles &Ted Orland

Found this quote I had scribbled, who knows when, on a yellow legal pad while flipping to find fresh paper. Now I’m reminded, I need to get this book!

Monday motivation

“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” Eugene Delacroix

The saying; There is nothing new under the sun, is a truth, but our added perspectives are valuable and worthy to further understanding and insights and explorations of a theme or idea. In that, we “re-discover” something new.

This Week

There is something entirely enchanting and inviting about a wooden boardwalk that leads to the ocean. A portal, transportive, a runway to run away on and find yourself elsewhere.

Not complaining, but I miss travel….

Monday Motivation

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Suess

This doctor gives great advice! Why do some of us ( Um, me ) have a tendency to shrink ourselves for the sake of being concerned what others will think ? I love it when I meet people that have moved on from the opinions of “others,” they are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to be around.

Sunday Original Song Challenge

I believe this 4th song in my challenge constitutes as a Ditty, in that it’s short, simple (and I think, a little cute). The inspiration for it came when my husband was reading inscriptions from his parent’s wedding guest book from 1948 the other day. Reg, just home from WW2, and Florence, a young accomplished bagpiper, were both born and raised and living in Parry Sound Ontario, where they remained after marrying, raised their children, and died in old age. Some of the entries in the guest book, I’m yours until butter flies, and, Yours until the kitchen sinks, written by their friends piqued my sweetness bone and I thought, why not a song with those play on words? So I did.

I’m Yours D.Brint April 4, 2021

The moment my eyes fell upon your face

Is the moment I knew my heart had found its place

My world stopped the day you took my hand

Birds sang, flowers bloomed, there was peace upon the land

I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs

Till thunder storms and Niagara falls

Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks

When hot dogs bark and the barn dances

As the years gather and the road behind us long

There’ll be no doubt in our hearts it’s here where we belong

I wouldn’t change a thing in this life I have with you

And I thank my stars it’s me you took a shine to

I’m yours till butter flies, until the bed springs

Till thunder storms and Niagara falls

Until tulips kiss and the kitchen sinks

Till hot dogs bark and the barn dances

This Week

I took my mugs off to be bisque fired on Sunday, and I’m also looking forward to trying out some underglaze pastel crayons I bought, along with an underglaze pencil. Unlike liquid underglazes, to use crayons and pencils the clay must have been bisque fired first to make the surface hard enough to work on; so I left a couple of mugs and a vase plain as samples to practice on.

I don’t have a kiln at home, but my artist/potter neighbour down the road does. We’ve worked out an arrangement that benefits us both. So I pack up my work in a bin and run it over to her place either with the help of a girlfriend with a car, or load it into my wheelbarrow. ( Reminder, I live on a tiny island.)

The week’s also been spent settling in with our new dog Sequoia, a Boarder- Heeler cross and an amazingly smart girl! She’s taken to her new home like a champ, and is a perfect fit for us! It’s been twenty years since we lost our last dog, a Schipperke named Smokey. He also was an awesome little guy who came to us at three years old from the local SPCA. Took to our family as if he was born to us. Still miss him.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Sunday Original Song Challenge, although having headaches with consistent posting of the videos via Youtube! I thought I had the wrinkles ironed out, only to find another wrinkle. None-the-less, they’ll get posted each Sunday. So far this song challenge is becoming rather cathartic for me; different from just journaling and Morning Pages.

Today the sun is shining, a beautiful spring day, and beckons me outside to think over the vegetable garden plot and its preparations to be made, and to play in the yard with my hound 🙂 ~

Cheers!

Monday Motivation

“To practice any art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Just do it.” Kurt Vonnegut

The work is important in that it isn’t “Important.” It’s all in the doing. Watch a toddler with paper and paint. She creates like it’s the most natural thing to do, and isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is and of course it doesn’t matter how it “Looks.” A toddler doesn’t care, she is absorbed in the moment, and as adults looking on we don’t care either. It’s beautiful, whatever it is they’ve made, it’s genius. Let’s be that!

THis Week

This week was spent in the full gratitude of the gifts in my life. Not that each week, each moment, isn’t, but there are times when it is overflowing. When I can look at my life, and those in my life, and wonder how so much has unfolded in a most fortunate way. My path wasn’t a clear and informed one, more a bumbling, meandering one loaded with naivetĂ©, where things could’ve gone sideways at several junctures over the years, but somehow I got lucky and landed in the embrace of grace and fulfillment. And most important is the deep thankfulness that those who were subjected to share my bumpy road have excelled, I’m looking at you Z & J, and thrive in spite of the challenges, and who give me my greatest inspiration. I am revelling in their triumphs.

To add to the gifts, I have acquired a dog. A re-homing of my daughter’s one year old boarder collie/blue heeler cross who is named Sequoia, but goes by Squilly. She’s a beauty; gentle and intelligent. My daughter and her husband’s busy life couldn’t give her the attention she needed right now, so she’s come to my little island and made herself quite to home. The timing was perfect, I had begun to look for a four legged addition to our home, and Bob and I had already fallen in love with Squilly from previous visits, and taking her would keep her in the family, so it was a good fit for all concerned.

And spring is here with its wind, clouds, sun, rain (all in one day), the promise of growth and abundance and preparing the garden for planting, something I look forward to each year. My mugs are off to the bisque fire, I’ve got a song to nail down, and I’m putting together some ideas to open my studio in May to my neighbourhood, and begin to sell some of my work. This is more an incentive to encourage me to continue to be productive, if at least to fund the material so I can continue my studio work.

Cheers!

THis week

Completed under-glazing my mugs. Each one different; seems I can’t repeat myself. Well, I have a couple of fruit motifs, but It would certainly be a faster process if I had set pattern or motif for all my mugs. But no. Too boring. Every piece is pondered over, held, and stared at for many, many (ahem, many) minutes before I make a mark. But, I am still exploring the process too, so I want to try different things. I’m playing with rubbing off some of the colour, and using sgraffito, and loving the process. I use a limited palette; Red, Blue, Yellow, Black, white, and for fun, turquoise. I can mix pretty much all the colours I need with Primary colours, and it’s cost effective too.

Underglazes are similar to working with water colour or acrylics, and so versatile in expression. The only tricky part is the applied colours change somewhat in the final firing so I’m never positive how the end product will look. It’s a surprise when the kiln is opened. Fingers crossed the final firing comes out well, a lot of head scratching went into each piece!

In Process- Doing sgraffito exposes the red clay that I can use as a colour element
This red clay body was first covered in white underglaze, then the red. Sgraffito exposes the layers.

Sweet Little Days

Ok, I have found that I am not keeping my promise in making weekly posts. It’s not as though I’ve been unable to. The weeks seem to float by, like ‘sweet little days,’ to clip a lyric from John Prine; so unassuming that I’m caught unaware. And the next thing I know is- I haven’t posted anything.

In my last post I mentioned that I will be involved in the Nanowrimo (National November Writing Month) and that is precicley what I have been up to. The goal is to write about 1700 words a day to a total of 50,000 by the end of November. I started the month with a story I had already in progress, with 25,000 words already written. My goal is to have a written draft completed by the end of the month. The challenge too that I’m trying to overcome is the need to edit as I write. Having a stiff timeline like the Nanowrimo to work under pushes me to power through and not over think. To “fix it later.”

I compare it to the cooking competition show Chopped. The chefs are given a black box containing crazy mismatched ingredients and must create a delicious plate of food, within a sharply limited time frame, that is then put before the judging panel. In this situation, the chef cannot spend moments thinking; it’s Go- NOW!

Except I have thirty days to put something together, the chefs have twenty minutes.

Anyway, I’ve been tapping away on a historical creative non fiction, rather ambitious for a first novel; go big or go home and all that, and I’m making good strides. I think I am. That’s the thing with writing a book. You sequester away for days, months, years, as nearly a hermit, with no guarantee anything will come of it.

I’ve begun a little practice of waking early, before dawn, and heading out on a walk. It’s early enough that no one is out, and I feel like I have the island to myself. As the sky lightens I find images to photograph on my walk, so it becomes an Artist date ( The Artist’s Way ) and exercise at the same time, win-win!

I’m loving starting my day like that. When I get back home, some yoga, then breakfast, then feel I can sit down to write for a few hours- sometimes more than a few hours.

I’ve recently gotten my pottery out of the kiln, a big bin of mugs, some vases, and a couple of bowls, and I’m happy with how they came out. Almost. Still having issues with the clear glaze I apply over the underglaze; coming out on the opaque side rather than crystal clear on some of the pots. And my mugs could be slightly bigger- I’m surprised how much shrinkage happens in the bisque fire.

So that about catches me up. I can’t accept that I haven’t played any music for two months, so that is an issue in need of rectifying.

Cheers and stay well ~

Believe Me

I’ve been slow to understand that a belief in ones self and abilities is the foundation to everything worthwhile. And I mean slow- I’m sixty-two. It would’ve been great to figure this shit out when I was a nineteen year old art major, I might’ve gotten somewhere with it. But I saw myself falling into this debilitating pattern of believing that I didn’t have the “Real” talent or skill, or confidence. But others? Sure. They must be more, know more, smarter. I could not see myself as a professional artist. So I didn’t take my art seriously; including the art education I had received, sorry mom, dad, or any other talent I may have, like singing. I coulda gone places, I’m pretty sure now. This belief pattern has stifled years of the opportunity to build on a creative, artistic life. Drat. And thanks for nothing, hindsight.

In High school I was put into an art majors program. Upon my graduation my art teacher wrote on my transcript that I need to pursue this, that he didn’t want to see me become a Sunday Painter. I didn’t become a Sunday Painter. But maybe I should have, at least I would’ve painted once a week!

After graduation I went on to Banff School of Fine Art in Alberta for a summer session. When my parents asked would I like to enrol for a year, I said – no. I had a (fricken) boyfriend back home. I still get nauseous when I regurgitate this memory. Not the boyfriend, at the time he was great, but, me turning this opportunity down turns my stomach to this day.

An aside to that story: My boyfriend was also an art student and we went on to college together that September. In our second year he was accepted on a student exchange to Florida for the year. I wasn’t and stayed behind at our Vancover Island College. So, there ya go.

During my solo second year at college towards a degree in Fine Art, I became involved in theatre. I sang for the first time on stage, I joined a band that had a loyal following. When then it came time to continue on to University to complete my BFA, I bailed. Because I met a man. Oh to go back and slap my young self.

But I continued with sabotage. I was a champ. Every move I made where I had the potential to launch myself in a worthwhile endeavour, to finish my degree, to paint madly and mount a show, to sing, I’d never take the bait. I always felt I wasn’t enough, that I was an imposter, or that relationship was more important.

This has been my life’s pattern.

So, what troubles me is why we lack belief in ourselves. Part of us knows we are qualified or talented or skilled, but some other part of us says naw, you better step aside and let the other more qualified, talented, skilled do the thing. Even when the road before us is clear. I know I’m not alone in this, it’s a universal neurosis. How can we be our own worst enemy? If anyone should be rooting for us it should be – US! If you can’t find a supportive friend in yourself, then where? Who? Why do we self sabotage? It’s what I did throughout my entire youth, my twenties ….and thirties……and….ok, my entire life thus far.

That pattern stops here. Ok, it’s a process. I’m continuing to work through it, and I am making inroads into what has been blocking me.

I’m asking more questions than having answers for because I’m still searching for the answers. I had mentioned somewhere earlier in a blog post that I’ve been working through The Artists Way book with the goal to tease out some of these answers. It’s been instrumental for me. I still continue with writing my morning pages, a year now. I think by doing that work it has brought me to this point where I can see things a bit more accurately. It’s enabled me to stand stronger in my convictions to recover what I tossed mindlessly aside, who I am, in trade for not being abandoned. To please.

I’ve maybe disclosed more than anyone probably cares to hear, but it’s all about self reclamation here. Creative Recovery. I need to hear it. Am I exceptionally talented? Not at all. And that’s what’s important for me to understand. That it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you think I am or not. But the work I do is important. It matters.

Am I too late? No, there is no time limit, there is no age limit. It’s about picking up where I left off, except this time I have intention. An awareness about myself. Finally. But I have it, so that’s a start. That’s a good start.

Rainy Day

Just back from Salmon Arm visiting my daughter, her husband and my two granddaughters, one of which we celebrated her third birthday.

The card I made for my granddaughter. She’s obsessed with dinosaurs. Knows many of their names, since the age of 2. Genius.

I managed to get the final glazing done on a batch of mugs and bowls before I left. Still working on getting the size of my mugs right, and to get that perfect “Lip” on the rim. I use underglazes to create my patterns and designs, the final glaze is a clear glaze on the bisque ware.

Here are the under-glazed pieces before I coated them in the final fire glaze:

Here is one of the mugs, bisque fired and ready for final fire glazing. The size is better, I’ve been more aware to make the mugs on the large size to compensate for shrinkage. Most of my past mugs have come out of the bisque fire rather teensy.

The same mug painted with the final clear glaze. Looks kinda crappy, but it will be clear and the images beneath will shine through when it comes out of the final fire.

Then there is this bowl. I was attempting my first ever large bowl when it suddenly collapsed. I was about to pull it off when I noticed it fell into a pleasing way. It had a shape. It could still be something. I thought, meh, fruit bowl?

So I left it on the wheel for a day to set up, and then removed it to a board to dry further so I could clean up the bottom. Then I painted a poppy image on it, and hope for the best! Below is the bisque fired piece.

I hadn’t played my guitar or had done any writing over the week I was away in Salmon Arm, a house with two toddlers is a BUSY house. Now I’m home, that’s deathly quiet, and back to my creative practices. On this stormy, rainy October day it was spent in the kitchen making tomato jam and figuring out what treats to make for the ghosts and goblins that will be coming by my door in a few days.

Cheers~