Press Play-doh onto the Walls!

 

Almost all good things come and go…what’s your wabi-sabi?

Readers and clients are aware of my broad stance on what constitutes art: there is a material, an outcome, an intent to express – and so long as no one is intentionally harmed in the process – I’m down with it.

Art affecting material things – that’s an ongoing philosophical dilemma, for me. Part of me likely does not value the material world as much as most people, and yet, I honor that defacing property or things of importance to others can be a terrible violation of trust and respect and safety. So, when I think about guidelines for my toddler, I adopted traditional ones like – markers and crayons go onto paper, only, unless permission is granted.

When it comes to play-doh, you’d think I’d take a similar stance. Stickers throw me into a philosophical spiral, as well.

I hear a conversation in my head like, “there is value in your daughter learning boundaries.”

“But who made the boundaries, and why?” I spat back at myself.

“Oh, shoosh,” I reply, “concrete boundaries give her peace of mind, it will make her a better friend and guest, and she will already know what to do in the classroom.”

But then I hear the voice of her magical, progressive playschool in my head  – so long as you are kind to yourself, one another, and the environment, you’re cool. It’s both challenged my parenting guidelines at times – ie, I used to be firm that “on slides, you only go down,” and enabled my artistic biases.

Typical Monday in suburbia, I had an aha moment. It was a small opening into permission to broaden, or rather sink into broader ways, how I wished to allow my daughter to be – especially, as an artist.

So, then, this typical Monday in suburbia, when she brought this very wabi-sabi idea (of pressing play-doh to walls) to my attention, I said, “sure honey…throw some play-doh all over our finest molding, coated in bleach-white paint. you go, girl.”

I thought of my past self: the worrier, the rule follower, and the one concerned that a child from my wildest side could never fit it…

Then I embraced the moment, and glad that I did.

I aimed for an up-close photo to capture the ephemeral art (c’mon, I’m not that liberal to let play-doh permanently crust over the main entrance of our home). My daughter shouted, “No momma, not yet! No picture.”

I asked, “why not?”

And she replied, “I’m still in process.”

At the sound of her declaration, my wild-art-heart exploded with joy and confidence.

What are your guidelines regarding art and children? Please share…and please share your stories from the front line!

Explore to Restore.

 

 

In the natural world, now,

I have an unspeakable sense of belonging.

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Immerse yourself outdoors for at least ten minutes. Have your smartphone with you only for the purpose to potentially take a picture. Feel free to leave your phone behind, as well. Locate an object that seems displaced: a fallen leaf, a pebble all alone, or a blade of grass upon cement. If collecting this object does not harm the object nor the surrounding nature of things, take it with you for a project or future inspiration. If you prefer to leave the object in its most natural state, take a smartphone or mental photograph. Simply, be aware, be playful, and find one new element of nature that you might have overlooked, if you hadn’t immersed yourself outdoors with beginner eyes.

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‘Tis the Season…for Centerpieces

 

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I’d like to think I’m Martha Stewart, after all – she’s a fellow Seven Sister. And yet, my craft-a-bilitiez-ness could not be further from her skill set. Maybe I had to invent Reframe Your Artistry to appease my ego.

That said, I do try to come up with some festive activities on the weekend (to pass the time), engaging my toddler (and entertaining myself), while my partner usually works the weekend shift and I’m a weekend-single-mom.

#marriedprivilagePOVstatement…realizing that is disrespectful to the full-time-single parents, out there… 

Okay so, after watching a delightful episode of Creative Galaxy, my daughter and I wanted to fill clear containers with stuff. Any stuff? I dunno…I figured I’d get seasonal. So, here is our attempt, and feel free to replicate:

 

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Voila, find a clear (kinda clean) container.

 

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Toss some mini-LED lights inside. We allllll seem to have a set of these hanging around, this time of year, and are like – WHAT DO I DO WITH THESE LIL THANGS?

 

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Oh, collect tree stumps? Me too.

 

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Find some pine, add to taste – and voila!

Note to parents: in the proceeding weeks since said centerpiece entered our kitchen, my dear daughter – who refers to it as her Jungle Jar – has added random pieces of play-doh, a gingerbread man, and a few acorns. And, it still looks delightful, heading into the final stretch of ‘Tis the Season…for Centerpieces.

Go, be creative! What scraps and seasonal-what-have-yous surround your space? Make something imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete…cause that, my fellow art-iste…is good enough.

Happy Holidays….from Reframe Your Artistry.

And re: the RYA BOOK…PS, got delayed a few weeks, due out December 17th (currently available through the Publisher – Prodigy Gold Books and Amazon…and bookstores, by spring 2020)…

 

Play Around with Dirt

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Dirt 2002

This is a favorite go to, for me: play around with dirt. Besides the metaphor as wildly inspiring, dirt offers our inner-artist much guidance.

Step outside, place your hands in the first patch of dirt or mud that you locate. Smother as much of your skin into the mud. Paint a portion of your body. Consider jumping up and down in muddy puddles, as my daughter and Peppa Pig have invited me to do. The celebratory energy has a twofold effect: 1, you are stirring circulation needed for creative focus; and 2, it brings an inherent appreciation to something too often thought of as a problem spot in the world. “Watch out for the muddy puddle. You don’t want to get messy,” sounds different to me than, “Look for muddy puddles to jump in. Let’s have some fun!

One of my favorite creations arrived one sullen afternoon. I was depressed (triggered by a grieving coming-of-age-self-absorbed heart), and moodiness oozed over my plate of life. I walked into my parents’ backyard and smeared dirt over an old canvas. Then, I dusted the dirt with a coat of paint. It remains a piece of abstract wall art of which I am most proud. Go on. If you read this far, make your own masterpiece with dirt.

Share with us – submissions accepted at reframeyourartistry@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Revived with My Wabi-sabi Way

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Maybe my dance partner – Michele – was speaking directly to me, as she sometimes does, by sharing a beloved book. However it came to be, Wabi-sabi makes sense. Koren’s Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers registers with my adult point of view:

“Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional…to create beautiful things without getting caught up in the dispiriting materialism that usually surrounds creative acts…deep, multi-dimensional, elusive – appeared the perfect antidote to the pervasively slick, saccharine, corporate style of beauty that I felt was desensitizing American society” (pp.7-10)

Wabi-sabi has blossomed my artistic, professional, and personal life. The mindful angle illuminates the way I view my imperfect art, my imperfect body, my imperfect love, my imperfect family, my imperfect emotional states, this imperfect moment in history, and many many imperfect actions. In what I have coined My Wabi-sabi Way, bastardized with personal applications far removed from ancient Japanese intentions, life is more beautiful. I regularly tune-up My Wabi-sabi Way like a meditator might upkeep their formal practice with a new cushion or location. I do this by gathering imperfect items from nature. Recent episodes include collecting broken and jagged seashells along the South Carolina coast; photographing muddy puddles along a desolate lane; and scanning the sky above for a blend of light and dark clouds. In nature, Wabi-sabi’s energy is ever present. And in the natural world, now, I have an unspeakable sense of belonging.

Refrain, Respond, Repurpose. Art as friend to the Universe.

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cigarette in sidewalk snow, boston, ma 2009

 

Mindful art making expands our eco-awareness. The conscious choices for our art making, now, mirror the same choices I try to practice regarding the natural and material world that we all share.

Take a walk outside. Locate a displaced object or slice of nature.

Before doing anything else, PAUSE! Be with whatever you have selected to get to know  more fully. Allow the natural inclination of things – impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete – to be noticed and embraced.

Practice quieting the volume on unrelated thoughts, other places you need to be or what should happen next, and allow yourself to be with this memory, picture, or object for a minute. Go ahead, with steady breathing and a lengthened spine to welcome fresh energy, elevate your awareness. In honor of all ways of life, I invite you to join me – as I try to do myself, about once a week – to reflect on the natural state of things.

Elevate awareness of what you have chosen to notice through your senses and lessen distractibility. After pausing choose from the following: refrain, honoring things just as they are; respond via an original point of view through conversation, journaling, poetry, essay, memoir, or storytelling; or repurpose the thing into a hybrid thing.

Imperfectly Perfect: Mindful Art Making

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Like Wabi-sabi’s regard for imperfection, mindful art doesn’t try to put a glossy or forced spin on anything. The aesthetic, if practiced, may have healing and invigorating properties. Imagine a singular charcoal stroke pressed across repurposed newspaper. Imagine songwriting with improper grammar and catchy rhymes. Imagine chipped sculptures of lost civilizations. Imagine bodies moving in sync regardless of size and shape. Every time we take actions into the direction of noticing and then surrendering to what is, reframing negative judgments into something honored, we rewire our beings. I believe we also dust off cultural edginess and arbitrary judgments. We shift into compassion and empathy generally, and acceptance of ourselves, specifically. Mindful art frames our angle on beauty more broadly.

Daring to dream, regard for mindful art may also be a global action that could heal an overstimulated, fatigued world. Compelling? Sure is. Nature is one of my favorite sources for mindful art. Are you aware of or value its authentic states? For instance, is there a difference when you walk through the woods rather than a manicured Italian Garden that you’ve paid admission to see? Is one really more valuable than the other? Applying a mindful artistic lens, I propose not. Yet, one is more typically viewed as majestic or artistic. If the Italian Garden persists as the essence of one’s aesthetic, well – that’s all fine and dandy. However, I wish to expand your angles on nature, like angles on yourself, shifting into equal regard for polished and inherent states. Think of your local woods as a representation of you, yourself, as a natural muse. Just as nature may be: overgrown, thorny, dark at times, yet lush, so may you be. Awareness of who you are, organically, and where you situate, now, you’ll access a complete artistic toolbox. Fuller awareness expands artistry from the source. YOU are YOU, WOODS are WOODS, and both are bold, beautiful collections of things.

Find Your Artopia

 

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I prefer the imaginary places. Maybe that is apparent to you after reading my philosophical blah blah blahs.

My mind longs to go to places to which neither plane nor train can transport.

I imagine kindness as a core currency and what makes us different makes us beautiful. Thoughts of global compassion fire me up. Imperfection is sexy. And I hope these angles come through as distinct elements of my art making. For those elements are true to me and therefore belong to my true art making. Every artist will be different, as will every artistic moment or decade in a true artist’s life.

But what makes mindful art original is the awareness of the creator to be able to identify their personal, community, worldly, and imagined sources. With such awareness, narrow aesthetic values inherently erode, replaced by broader options, because no two people, no two places, no two moments in time could ever be the same.

If you are aware of what it is you like or what is unique to you, act on that impulse regularly. In time, those with appreciation for similar impulses will gravitate toward your work. Your audience may grow. But start with you, you are the base and the original audience to please.

Art’s Natural State of Grace

 

Natural v. Nurtured States of Beauty

Art is not only décor or ambience, it frames everything as it is, as it is not, as it should be, and as it never should be again. The artist decides the stuff that matters based on their impulses.

Think about nature by comparison, for a moment. Are you aware of or value its authentic states. Is there a difference, for instance, when you walk through an overgrown path of woods rather than a manicured Italian Garden that you’ve paid admission to see? Is one really more valuable than the other? Applying a mindful artist’s outlook, I propose not. Yet, one is more typically viewed as majestic or artistic. If the Italian Garden persists as the essence of one’s aesthetic, well – that’s all fine and good.

However, I encourage expanding your angle on nature, like your angle on yourself, shifting into equal regard for polished and inherent states. Think of your local woods as a representation of you, yourself, as a natural muse. Just as nature may be: overgrown, thorny, dark at times, yet lush, so may you be. Awareness of who you are, organically, and where you situate, now, we access a broader toolbox. I could have never succeeded as a choreographer, let alone demonstrated the movements desired of my dancers, if I hadn’t adopted a turned-in foundation. My twentysomething knees and alignment would not allow me to prance like a ballerina anymore, but – dang – I could romp a riot with my feet facing one another.

Artistry breathes more freely when our beings, like our planet, are honored, tended to, and appreciated rather than polluted or overly manicured. Fuller awareness, and the acceptance of this awareness, expands artistry from the source. YOU are YOU, WOODS ARE WOODS, and both are bold, beautiful collections of things just as they situate.