Motivation Monday

“We work in the dark – we do what we can- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”

Henry James

I must have A LOT of passion.

I have been absent from posting for a time, and I blame the season. (okay, that’s a lame excuse) As I had mentioned in a previous post, when I again had been absent a few weeks, that summer seems to be a busy time with gardening, and happy distractions with family visits, dog training; my mind ill equipped to simmer down and nestle into my writing corner. But that being the case I do have an update coming this week of what I’ve been up to of late. Nothing stupendous or earth shattering, just the bit of goings on in my studio, a proud moment in a local bar, ( proud and bar, words that normally should never be uttered together in a sentence but take an exception here), and I’ll share the view from 250 meters in the sky marking a thirty year celebration.
Cheers ~

Wheel Time

I made some small dishes this week with fitted lids. This was a first attempt at lids, and I have to say, I came pretty close to not bad. The dishes are sized to hold a small wheel of Brie cheese, so it was good practice making a series of pieces to a certain size. I threw the lids “off the hump” as potters say, which meant I could pull three lids from a one pound ball of clay. Below is one lid in the making. I slice that off, then begin another one from the remaining clay on the wheel. (I haven’t figured out how to make and post my images smaller, so please forgive me the massive photos!)

When it was time to trim the lids I had some difficulty in how to secure it to the wheel and centre it; because I had the knob to consider I couldn’t just flip it over and trim. I wound up making a “chuck” using a small cup. I padded the rim of the cup with a ring of clay, and then centred and secured the chuck on the wheel. Then I placed the lid upside down on top of the chuck, centred the lid, and then was able to trim it. That seemed to work, but it was somewhat finicky, and I thought there must be another way so I watched a you tube video on how to trim lids. This is so me. It would have been a good idea to do that first, because I saw there was an easier way to make/trim lids. And yet the lids, when finally done, do actually fit very well on their little pots, so I got off lucky this time. I’m wiser now when I make another set.

The white dish is a plastic Brie container I used for reference. The dish in the back right with the fluted edge was my way to salvage that particular lid. I had trimmed it too thin at the edges, and was about to scrap it, then thought to turn the edges in decorative way- saved!

What I’ve learned about how to make a lid is to throw it upside down, like a little dish, this way the inside rim is already done. It’s sliced off the wheel or hump and the top knob is made the next day by placing and centring the lid right side up on the wheel and with the surplus clay left when the lid/dish was removed is trimmed into the knob. Genius. No mucking about with a chuck. Wait, I don’t want to speak too soon, not until I actually try the other method, and see how they come out. That is my focus the next couple of days; Dish With Lid Project! These little dishes, when finished, are intended to be sent to my daughter in Sorrento. She has a business called The fridge Light, (on instagram @thefridgelight /www.thefridgelight.net) and she’s asked if I could make her little brie pots for her Charcuterie boxes, how could I refuse her and the practice I need?

My songwriting I think has taken a vacation. I have been working on a song off and on but nothing seems to be jelling, so I won’t push it. The previous ones I have written and posted came together each week- many times on the challenge’s cut off day- almost of their own accord. But I did spend a lot of time letting themes and lyrics stew in my mind over the challenge week, then would cram an entire day or two with the guitar in finding chords and a melody, then hours rewriting, well, you get the idea. I was like a college student cramming for finals with pin point focus. I loved/ love the process, but these days my energy is on other things I guess, so I’ll just go with it for now.

Today I received my second vaccination of Pfizer, and hoping I won’t wake tomorrow with a reaction of covid symptoms. Bob had none with his a few weeks ago, nor my son or daughter. But I know friends who were hit hard after their second, so fingers crossed.

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown

It has a bad rap. We see being vulnerable as being weak. Letting our guard down means we can be susceptible to the slings and arrows from others. We can be “taken down.” We are tacitly encouraged through life to keep vigilant watch over the armour we wear in public; never let ’em see ya sweat, or cry, fall or fumble. Never let them see you be afraid, silly, or frivolous; never let them see you be human. We all have the desire to avoid being seen in our vulnerable states, and we do our best to keep up appearances by angling a flattering light on our qualities and strengths just so. Because what if, horror of horrors, while in a vulnerable state we have just met someone whom we probably will not see again? We won’t have the chance to show them our more solid, intelligent, confident, brilliant sides. We say to ourselves, oh off they go, thinking I’m this wing nut, or this sad, or frivolous, or untalented person. They will have an untrue image of who we think, who we know, we are, which now only muddies the vulnerability waters with the, What Will Others Think neurosis, followed close behind by its bothersome cousin the People Pleaser. The whole business is exhausting!

A large part of my creative recovery is trying to be conscious of my vulnerable states, and to allow them room. The songwriting I’ve been doing is the most vulnerable for me so far because it was a whole new thing for me to “put out there,” and because lyric writing feels very intimate and personal. And I already know I feel vulnerable about painting because in my head I’ve seemed to have created a critic who is waiting to pounce on the first brushstroke with, what the hell is that? I am still avoiding starting a painting. The easel sits at the ready with canvases stacked beside it. What will I say with paint? It’s been so long since I’ve painted anything, what if the work I produce is shallow, boring and trite? Am I shallow, boring and trite?!

Just writing that makes me cringe and say, Oh Pa-LEEEse, spare the dramatics, and get over yourself.

Yet I know down to my deepest self that to expose our soft underbellies, worts, beauty marks, and all, is to break through self imposed static and limitations and allow real growth to happen. I know this. Practicing it is the tricky part. Getting comfortable with vulnerability and allowing others to see it is masterclass league. Baby steps y’all.

Cheers~

Hiatus

I followed my advice from my last Monday Motivation post on the 14th and took some time. Not to say I didn’t have a lot going on these last two weeks. I also took a break from my weekly songwriting challenge, I saw I was leaving the writing till the very last day before getting something down; although I have been happy with what I’ve been writing. When I am working on a song I tend to put everything (and everyone) else aside and want to immerse myself in the task, but I have been too preoccupied with other things of late, like selling my kayak and my old second hand pottery wheel, family visits, and garden work.

When I listed my kayak, I had several buyers contact me, so it went fast to say the least. Initially I hesitated in listing it, I had an image of me paddling through Dodd’s Narrows and following the chain of gulf islands down through the inside passage, camping along the way, until I reached SaltSpring Island. But I had to face the fact that I hadn’t used the kayak much in the few years I had it; my left hand had a tendency to go numb after a short time of constant paddling, and Bob was nervous about my safety and wanted to “escort me” in our powerboat whenever I went out. Sweet man. I had wanted him to get a kayak too, in fact the neighbour I had bought my kayak from had two to sell, his and his wife’s, but I couldn’t convince Bob to buy the other one- his reasoning was; why would I choose to confine myself into a short tube and strain my arms and shoulders paddling when we have a 30 foot sailboat with bunks, and a head (toilet), and an ice box (beer), and wind power (relax with beer while effortlessly slipping through the water) ? He has a point.

I reallocated my Kayak money to buy something to which I have a greater need; a new Shimpo VL Whisper electric wheel. It’s small and compact and entirely quiet when running- unlike my old wheel which was very noisy. I couldn’t listen to music or podcasts while working, and after working a short while my ears would have enough ! I listed my old wheel on our island community email, and Protection Island face book page and right away had several responses; I have someone coming to pick it up tomorrow morning. I paid $75.00 for it from a neighbour three years ago and selling it for the same price.

My old electric kick wheel

When I finally got my new wheel home I spent an entire day rearranging my studio space. The new wheel is so beautifully compact I actually have more workable space now. I also bought a universal Batt set up that comes with five removable Batt inserts. Game changer.

My new Shimpo VL whisper wheel
The Batt system with insert.

This is the Batt system in place; you can see that the centre square piece easily lifts out. Now I won’t have to worry about denting my freshly thrown pieces when I remove them from the wheel head; not so bad when removing mugs, but I’ve had real challenges removing bowls from the wheel without altering their shape, even after several passes with the wire. Now it’s time to get busy !

I will also resume my weekly song challenge. I have been getting a lot of personal satisfaction from this project and wish to continue it as a creative practice.

Cheers!

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~

This Week

I picked up my mugs from K’s yesterday and, sigh, the clear glaze, again, didn’t quite do what it was supposed to do. I have to admit though that most of the mugs, although they didn’t come out as I had expected, are still acceptable. One in particular though- the photo top left, came out particularly heinous, but K said I could re-fire it to correct the “holes”. As you can see, the clear glaze fired whiteish and a little thick in places and clouded the detail I had painted, but on some of the pieces it also kind of “works” as part of the overall glaze effect. So, feeling somewhat ok about this batch of ceramics, (looking for perfection in imperfection!) But, we do have another clear glaze we are going to try out. It comes already mixed in a four quart container, and if that doesn’t work I will put aside underglazes for the time being until we get it figured out- I mean how hard can it be?! ( well, apparently….)

In the meantime I will revert to the usual glazes we normally see on pottery.

Got out for a sail yesterday, and although the winds were iffy to none (still indoctrinating Squilly -aka Sequoia- to sailing, so picking gentle weather days) we were entertained by a small pod of five Orcas for two hours! They were too far off for my iPhone camera, but close enough to see their details with the binoculars. There was a lot of full body breaching and tail lobs (slapping) the entire time! That much action is a rare occurrence to witness so maybe there were two happy groups meeting up and communicating, or they might have been hunting salmon, and communicating about the school of fish they found, who knows, but it was spectacular. After the first hour people heard the news of the pod and three Whale Watching boats showed up and then a few private power boats arrived to have look. All keeping a respectable distance from the pod.

The garden is growing, I have three support structures I need to build for the pole beans that are now four inches high- better get on that, like Jack and the beanstalk they grow fast from this point on. The pollinators are out in full force. This one bush in particular in my backyard, a Grevillea type- Canberra Gem, really attracts the bees, hummingbirds and butterfly’s and I managed to sneak a photo of this Western Tiger Swallowtail beauty.

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!

Monday Motivation

For this Monday’s motivation I am sharing a bit of what I had written in my Morning Pages the other day. But first I need to clarify, in case you haven’t read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He writes about The Resistance. It doesn’t relate to any political agenda, not waging a war and overthrowing the powers that be. But it does relate to a war of sorts. The Resistance is the critic, the chattering monkey in your ear that says; just stop doing what you think you can do, because you know and I know you can’t do it. Why are you wasting your time? “Resistance is the war within.”

We’ve all had this inner dialogue at some point, if not all the time, anytime we take up a new venture or work away at an ongoing project and self doubt rears its poopy head. The chattering monkey, the self doubt, the self defeating inner critic IS the Resistance.

In my M.P I wrote:

I’m fighting against Resistance right now. I’m fighting against the challenges and expectations I’ve set for myself. I’m fighting to believe I have anything worth saying. One part of me says why set challenges or goals? The other part of me frets over each hour of the day when I’m not meeting the challenges and goals I’ve set; not doing the work. I can be near frantic if I let time slip or lapse one day- then two, that it will be too late to regain ground. I worry I will lose all momentum. I have a raging conflict of interest within. A part of me appears to have an interest to give up with the self imposed expectations, hang out, I’m sixty-three, it’s done. Any work I do or input I have from this point on has no merit, so chill. The other part of me says the exact opposite.

The other part of me ( the stronger part) has an interest in the exact opposite.

This is classic Resistance at work. My inner dialogue was sliding under Resistance rule, I was almost believing those words to “give it up”. It was only as I was writing it out in my Pages that I saw it for what it was. In fact as I was in the act of writing it out, I recognized immediately the seductive, slithery, slippery voice of Resistance.

How could I tell? Looking at what I wrote I knew I didn’t believe the words “give it up”. I think I saw those words as what others would expect of a sixty-three year old woman. The status quo who says, why put yourself in situations of having to meet “unnecessary,” self-imposed expectations, why challenge yourself when you don’t have to? What do you really hope to gain at this point? Because I recognized where that voice was coming from I had an opportunity to rally my better self and shake off the self defeating babble.

Setting personal challenges is the prodding, pointy end of the stick I use to ignite, motivate, to see what I can do. What I want to do. Because it can be too easy to succumb to acquiescence and let self discovery, and growth atrophy; and to allow that to happen is a kind of long, slow death with missed opportunities to blossom. And there is no excuse or reason under the sun to deny ourselves that privilege.

Cheers ~

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 🙂

This Week

Spent a day with a good friend, then another day with my sister as we walked through Little Qualicum falls, and also rummaged in a vintage store where found a sweet small cake stand. Then I spent a bit of time wondering the abandoned exhibition grounds at Beban Park while Bob got his vaccination, and took some photos. All in all a recharging week off the little rock I call home and found some inspiration in my escapades.

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

This week

This post was scheduled for last Thursday, but didn’t get out- so here it is.

This week was a nourishing one. I spent three days alone in Victoria, only leaving my suite for a two hour waterfront walk in the late afternoon. The stay was specifically to do research for a project I have on the go, and my choice of accommodation was most relevant to the project. I embraced the solitude and undistracted time. No TV, no outside music, or people. Just my guitar, books, paper, pen, sketch book and laptop. I even brought prepared food from home, so no restaurant eating, (except for the take out burger from the Ogden Point bistro on my last day-it was an amazing burger!)

The songwriting is still fun, although I was late with this last one, posting it Tuesday morning- I had begun to write it while away on my stay, but didn’t complete it there, thinking I still have time when I get home. But as life is as life does, one thing and then another, it was suddenly Sunday. I thought ok, I’ll post Monday, and worked on it -between pleasant domestic distractions- thinking I would get it out Monday night. Wound up working on it until midnight.

The lyrics I was tackling felt so “big” in that I had a lot of emotion and story I wanted to convey and I struggled in how to distill it down. This is the amazing thing I’m discovering with this particular creative practice and what I love about the challenge. Also, having the deadline is important for anti-procrastination purposes! And then posting it gives it viability. In my mind anyway.

It would be the same with writing poetry, but working out a melody to add to it is another level! I’ll keep hammering away to see how it all transpires over time. My college art professor had our class draw the same nude model over and over each day. His theory, and I agree completely with it, was the repetition eventually brings new ideas, new ways of seeing the model- probably out of boredom!- but innovation begins to take place; how can I do this differently, what else am I seeing here, what if I do this or that? I’m using the same theory in my songwriting challenge.

Right now my guitar playing is limited, my lyrics and melodies monotonous and stilted, but (and it’s a big but) over time maybe something will open up. How long do I give myself? That I don’t know, or even want to impose that on the practice, but for the time being I find it very cathartic.

My desk and pages and pages of rough drafts of lyrics!

Cheers~

Sunday Original Song Challenge

Ok, two days late.

Inspired by Canadian Artist Emily Carr. I stared writing this while I was away this week and finished it last night at midnight; recorded it this morning, which is why I sound like a wrung rag. Oh, and May the 4th be with you 🙂

EMILY

D.Brint, May 4

I saw your ghost through the trees, you were walking through the garden, the place you loved

Your arms were full of white lilies, your voice like the coo of a dove.

You came on the bite of a winter storm, a tempest in your eyes, a heart untamed

From where the wild things are born, that hands of nature ordained

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

The western forest deep and ethereal set fire to your soul, the light that guides you

Your own sacred cathedral, your passion, your truth

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

When you felt your world so hostile you took shelter under eagles wings

Your eyrie high as a steeple, safe in the solace it brings

You’re not so small in this world at all, Emily

You walk alone in your forest home, Emily

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.

Sunday Original Song Challenge

This song barely made the Sunday deadline! I wrote half of the lyrics yesterday afternoon and the rest this morning and put the final music to it this afternoon. Then it takes me several, and I mean several takes to get the recording down. All week I couldn’t seem to find reflective time to work on lyrics, waiting for nudges or cues to come to my attention. But by Saturday I made the time, made space, for something to come, whatever it would be. I started just writing on an idea, whatever words came up, free association, then scraped what I had. Then I played a chord progression – C/F/G and hummed hoping to coax out some words, and what came out was carry them down. It immediately felt like coal mining, which is what my city and my little island is steeped in. Strange that that theme was not on my radar at all initially, but came out regardless. One of the fascinations I have with Writing; who’s doing the writing or am I being written? So off I went with writing the rest of the song.

So it seems fitting to include a link to my short story “Pocket Watch” about the story of Protection Islands coal mining tragedy.

Carry Them Down D.Brint April 25/21

Carry them down, deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Living by the lamp the air cold and damp

Stooping low to work that seam

They’ve come from so far to be where they are

Digging down their roots for a dream

Carry them down deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Heeding the call there was work for them all

There was land and steady pay

Earned by a hard run both father and son

Clawing Dunsmuir coal from the clay

Carry them down deep down in the ground

Into that long dark hollow

When the work is done they’ll rise and then

Return again on the morrow

Like a mole in that deep dark hole

Swallowed into the belly of a snake

Each man devoured by long tunnels and hours

A cruel barter that seals their fate

Carry them down, deep down in the ground

Into that long black hollow

There they’ll stay the rest of days

They’ll not again come on the morrow.

Monday Motivation

“It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuff that comes to you from the inner workings of your mind. Block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down, that’s where true creativity comes from.” Bob Dylan

Sunday original Song Challenge

This came out as a rather long song, over 4 minutes of your life you won’t get back if you listen to it. Thank you for your time if you do. It started off with an offhand thought of the phrase, days like these, and went from there. Yes, I did have soooo many great concerts lined up for the summer and into the fall….

Days Like Those D. Brint, April 17/21

I was hanging out in cafe’s, I was out shopping for shoes

There was a bustle out on main street, and family BBQ’s

I was planning my vacation, I was booking my hotel

I was hugging all my friends up until

Days like those became days like these

Got to go with the flow, but we’re on our knees, with days like these

I had tickets to my favourite concerts, I was going to the movies

I was meeting friends for lunch, and going out for sushi

We gathered around the table, we gathered in small rooms

We shook hands with total strangers whose hands weren’t so well groomed

Days like those…

Last year I saw whole faces when I went to the grocery store

Saw their smiles heard their voices as they came and went through the doors

My friend just out of surgery, I sat at his bedside

Nurses weren’t so tired then, not so much anyway

Days like those…

These days became a waiting game, looking for ways to bide our time

Learned a language, reno’d the kitchen

Took up macrame and made a batch of wine

Days like those…

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.