Thursday, April 17, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough

The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897 Henri Rousseau, 51 x 70"

We are having on and off snow flurries here in Taos today! At the same time my daffodils are starting to bloom. It is always spectacular here in our high mountain desert setting. The last few weeks I've been driving around Taos and its outer environs for some writing I'm doing for a special friend's web site. The beauty and shifting scenery are awe-inspiring. One can be driving past high cliffs one minute and going past orchards 3 minutes later; or, from flat sage landscape to alpine splendour in 15 to 20 minutes. I love it! And, I'm remembering to take my sketchbook and camera with me.
Remember the old saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!" I've had quiet a few people tell me they are going through tough patches lately, and their reactions are varied from devastated to fear to despair. Yet, at least half of them are continuing on with their creative goals. Why? They know innately that by doing so, it is an anchor to get them through their current troubles. Of course when a tough patch happens, we do have to stop to take care of it, e.g. getting up that money to pay for the taxes or fix the car. And, yes, we can stop to cry & get upset when a friend or partner lets us down or we, or a family member, gets sick, etc. We do need to honor our feelings. However, the bottom line is us: you & me. We count and our creativity counts. And, in the midst of the toughness, if we can do one little thing to keep our creative momentum & vision going, e.g. read a novel or poem in our genre, pick up an art book, clear one square foot of our workspace, draw a tiny sketch, or edit 3 paragraphs, our day is that one little bit brighter. This keeps us from falling into that prairie dog hole of despair, & maybe, old, bad habits.
My featured artist today is Henri Rousseau. He had day jobs all of his life, blue collar day jobs, was ridiculed, all but one child died, he was self-taught, and he died in poverty. Yet, he kept going on huge canvases in a small studio. His life is such an inspiration to me to keep on going in the toughest of times. Have an up-lifting week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Symbolism in

Oveja de Noche Judith, 2008

I'm going to keep this short as I've already written a "mini-article" today in my monthly newsletter :-) [If you're not on my mailing list, just e-mail me at ] I've studied symbolism in art, more deeply I've studied spiritual and emotional symbolism in art. There, that's the first time I've confessed that since my MA days! So, when I painted this painting, I knew it had to symbolize something, but I hadn't a clue as to what. A few weeks later a dear friend suggested I go to a local, excellent homeopathist for my chronic sinus problem and vertigo. I did, and my health & energy have gradually and greatly improved since. I realized two things: that the oveja (sheep) symbolized my need for deep, proper nutrition and that without feeling top notch I have to force myself, with extra, ultra discipline, to do my art and writing, and my day jobs! I won't go into what exactly I've changed in my nutrition as I dislike dogma & preaching, plus I am still experimenting. So, in doing your creativity, do take care of you first for without your health, you can't run on optimal energy for your creativity and passions. Have a fantastic, creative week!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Remember the cartoons of the kid sitting at a piano with his teacher hovering over him while he looks wistfully out of the window? Kids are supposed to hate practice, but where would Picasso, Tiger Woods, or William Faulkner be without it? Yes, good old practice gets us where we want to be in the creative world. Daily practice is preferable. Jack Canfield put it succinctly in his book, The Success Principles, where he gives the example of two athletes of equal ability, but one practices more than the other. Who do you suppose will get to the top? I love to practice, but I get stumped on "it's not good enough" and so often will be reluctant to sketch when I'm out in public. I'm gradually getting round that, by doing it anyway. I can write quite easily in public now, after years of practice at my old stomping grounds in Berkeley, The Junket, and now here in Taos, either at Loka or Tazza. You can find writers any hour of the day beavering away in Taos coffee shops! Another way I get around it is to try new things. I'm working on a painting where I put a lot of impasto under the gesso. It's helping me look at a painting differently whether I ultimately go that route or not ~ fun and practice all in one!
Speaking of Taos, El Rito writer and illustrator, Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw just had her book My Travelin' Eye published by Henry Holt. That's the cover in today's image! I was lucky enough to do a review for her (click on Children's Book reviews on the left). I'm sure Jenny has put lots of practice hours into her art and writing. Also, if you're in Taos this weekend, you can catch Art of the Song presenters John Dillon & Viv
Nesbitt, Sunday April 6, 9:00 am at
"Creativity and Spiritual Health" John & Viv will be keynote presenters at The Higher Truth of Health conference.
News: I'm now an official member of the Creativity Coaching Association! See their website at
Have a fantastic, creative week for yourself!