Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dreaming and Daring

Blue Lizard, ink on wood, 3x2, April 2010
Judith Nasse

More often than not for me, my art pushes me beyond myself, beyond who I am as a person and an artist. It's helping me become slowly, so slowly become the person who I have always dreamed of being. And sometimes, it's tough going, even downright painful. Like the lizard who loses part of its tail and has to wait for it to re-grow, keeping his balance as best he can in the meantime. Most challenging for me is to put my art out into the world. This month I had two pieces featured in the NM SCBWI newsletter! And in my Book Writing World forum, I'm practicing out-loud the pitch that I will use in a query letter to agents for my book. I'd rather write or paint than do the marketing. Yet, I'm daring to put myself out there a little bit more. As much as we dream our dreams, we have to dare to put them in action! What is your challenge and action for this week?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ah, New Sights!

Sunset in Chaco Canyon,
Sept 14, 10, Judith

I was reading a newsletter this week by the artist Robert Genn, who urges his readers to try painting differently so that they can inform themselves about new ways to approach their canvases. [ ] An art trip can do the same thing when you can get away. I just got back from a camping trip to Chaco Canyon where I sketched, painted, and photographed to my heart's content. Some of it was a challenge as to how I could sustain an ink drawing to the end ~ of the myriad, closely mortared, small vertical stones in the ruins. It sure takes a lot of patience when the sun is beating down & flies are determined to land on anything. The end result though is always so dear, the perseverance paying off in drawings to draw from in the long winter months to come. The inspiration one gets for one's media, like the A.S. Byatt book I'm reading [Virgin in the Garden], that feeds me new words to sing in my head & to write into my book, is the treasure one receives when one paints a new way, plays a new note, or sees new sights. What has inspired you this summer that will last through the autumn and winter?

Sunday, September 5, 2010



I picked a colander full of chokecherries yesterday, and my abundant raspberry crop is resting in the freezer for me to make into jam this week. Not sure yet what I'll do with the chokecherries (and yes, I left plenty on the bush for the birds): jam, syrup, liquor? I'm visualizing containers for them for holiday gifts. I also finished my novel this week. Strange that I don't think at all about when the raspberries or chokecherries will be ripe. Nature has its own timing, which I trust.
The novel, I worried about a lot. Would I finish it? How long would it take? Am I taking too long? I don't have answers. Now that it's done, and I look back, this novel had to take this long ~ nearly 20 years. It's the one I was learning with while I finished raising my children and while I gained skills and confidence in writing, not to mention research and research trips. I'm thinking now that each novel, each creative piece, has its own pace. Isn't nature a wonderful analogy for our own growth and progress as creatives?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Biggest Hurdle

We all have an area of our creativity that is our biggest hurdle. For some it's the plot, for others it's the daily discipline, for yet others it's the self-doubt about the rendition, and for yet others it's the facing the blank page, canvas, stage, or musical score. My hurdle is putting my work out there whether it's a piece of art or a piece of my book. Last week I did get brave & sent a couple of my paintings to the SCBWI-NM (Society of Children's Writers & Illustrators) newsletter. They were graciously received. This week I have to do a reading from my novel to my writing group. After that, in the autumn, it's sending pitches & query letters.
Oh, my! The only way I can get through it is one little step at a time. Yesterday I received inspirational help when John Dillon & Viv Nesbitt came to the bookshop for a multi-media presentation of John's wonderful
new book about the creative life, The 20-20 Creative Solution. John shared that he used to be ultra shy, and now he sings on their syndicated radio show "Art of the Song" as well as in concerts! My on-line writing community on is also committed to help each of us. Maybe soon I'll be able to pitch my own work as well as I can pitch John's book here, our book signings at the store, or others' books and art!
What is your biggest hurdle, and what kind of support do you find to help you jump over it with ease?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

When we can celebrate!

Yesterday the illustrators from SCBWI-NM (Society of Childrens' Writer's & Illustrators-New Mexico) met at Lois Bradley's studio in Albuquerque. Lois' illustrations for the award-winning picture book Blind Tom were the featured topic as Lois took us through her process from winning the illustration commission to the final reward of seeing her book in print. For those not familiar with the, sometimes grueling, always gratifying process of creativity, no matter the media, note that it takes diligence, discipline, sometimes bleary eyes, and lazy dust-bunnies to get the final song, dance, painting, or book out there. The trick is to love it with a passion, to go step by step as Lois did, and then celebrate when your piece is published, sold, or performed. Do look for Blind Tom in the childrens' section of your favorite independent book shop! Blind Tom was a famous blind horse in his time who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad commissioned by President Lincoln. Enjoy & keep on with your wonderful creativity.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


"Ghost Rider"
London Wilder, '10

At the Taos Summer Writer's Conference this year, one of the author/presenters Rob Wilder had us happily sell his young son's postcards! Ah, childrens' art, my first and favorite style of art. My love for childrens' art and picture books led me into wanting to be an illustrator, which led me into wanting to also be a fine artist. This month I will finally have a chance to go down to Albuquerque to have fun with my illustrator's group! It's been a year since I could get together with them ~ way too long!
Also inspiring, and so useful at the conference, were two new books out. One is John Dufresne's Is Life Like This? The book takes one through six months of writing a book, including all those wonderful anecdotes and moans we writers have such as life's time eaters and how to write anyway. It's all done with humor and real advice. John lives the writer's live! Priscilla Long's The Writer's Portable Mentor is the new fun tome that combines the Chicago Manual of Style advice in exciting palatable form along with fascinating exercises, plus how to write and get your book out there. So far my two favorites are making my own word journals for my current book and playing with verbs. I finally have permission for using the same verb over and over in a paragraph for emphasis! It's all in learning the skill!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Build It and They Will Come ~ Eventually!

Mountain Bluebird
stock photo

Two years ago I put up a bluebird nesting box in my yard. No birds came, and no birds came. A couple of days ago, I was watering and a bird whizzed by & went into the nesting box. All I could catch was a glimpse of brownish colouring and wings whirring. I could see straw sticking out of the wee round hold and was happy that I finally have a bird tenant! I haven't seen her since, and now am beginning to wonder if she was an illusion. I don't think so as I have plenty of blackbirds nesting in my eaves. Is she a bluebird, sparrow, or some other bird? I'll let you know when I see her again. Her nesting renews my faith that whatever we truly wish for, from our deepest being, will eventually find its way to us. Since I last wrote I have dived deeply into my art and writing. My creativity is something I wish so hard for over 20 years ago when I first discovered I had a creative gold vein, un-mined, deep within. Now, it's coming fully into being, fully into the core of who I am! Like the bird now nesting, it has been worth the wait along the road of learning and practice. What is your inner gold mine?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recent Fantastic Reads

Instead of coming straight to the computer after lunch to write my blog, I sat riveted to the ending of Maytrees by Annie Dillard. Likewise I just re-read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway. When I was quite a bit younger I couldn't get enough of Virginia Woolf. I did my Dip Ed at the University of London and would roam Bloomsbury imagining it like Virginia and Leonard would have seen it. I am also raving to everyone about Hampton Sides latest page-turner Hellhound on His Trail, the Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin. Dillard, Woolf, and Sides are all masters with writing words and narratives. Sides creates his non-fiction to read like fiction and have his real-life characters come to life on the page. I am fortunate to work in the bookshop as one of my jobs is the event coordinator; so I called Hampton Sides to ask him to speak at a special luncheon on 23rd June at Downtown Bistro! He loves Taos and accepted! If you are anywhere near Taos on that Wednesday, do call the restaurant at 737-5060 and make reservations to have lunch with Hampton Sides! Hope to see you there. And continue to have those who are the best in your media inspire you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Shakespeare my hero!

I'm deep in the revision of my novel and there are moments when I want to throw the laptop off Taos Mountain. And then there are flashes of time when I finally solve a verb or scene or character flaw. Revision is the hard slog of writing, or painting, or composing, kicking the soccer ball into the goal, or getting the dance move just right. It's practice, practice, learning, and more practice. Sometimes just as I think I'll have to scrap a painting, it suddenly becomes right. I read Shakespeare and wish I could write like that. Yet, I know enough about the theater that I know he had to constantly revise his plays as he got new insights as the actors moved across the stage and something didn't work just right or could work even better.
Life is that way too. We think we have just conquered a big portion of our life, like forgiving a hurt by a friend decades ago, when it rears it's ugly again, and we have to revisit and revise our pov! It's hard and we do it, and then we feel the joy of resolve rush in. Now to go work on that drawing again where I made one object too dark for the composition. I hope your week resolves itself ever so nicely.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Creativity as Labyrinth

"Over There"
ink on wood, 3" x 2"
Judith, March '10

I've been thinking of labyrinth's lately, how after you start out, they somehow circle back on themselves at several spots before reaching the center. I find that my art and writing do that. It's nearly like a deja vu of being at this point before: do I dare to paint differently this time, or the same? Do I dare to make my characters seem a little crazy, have big flaws, step into their unknown, make huge mistakes, or do they play it safe like so many of us try to do? This weekend I moved my studio back into its own room from a table in the living room where it is much warmer in the winter. Sitting at my "real" art table, I looked at this painting above that I mentioned last time where I dared to make the ground red. Oh, I was so tempted to use the accepted colors in my new painting, you know green grass & blue sky in back of a yellow daffodil. Ah, I've been there before! Yep, it was scary, but I decided to make a fuchsia, orange-y background instead. When I paint the daffodil will it be yellow, red, turquoise, or ...? I'll let you know. At least I past this point of the creative labyrinth & am closer to center. Now to make the main characters in my book both a little more crazed and bold! Where are you on your labyrinth of creativity and life?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Art Is Daring!!

Let me tell you about Leigh Hyams. I first met her on an art camping trip in the wilderness of the high Sierras in California. It was a trip another art teacher, Medora Bass, organized, There we were without any amenities, so close to the stars they seemed to sing at night. Leigh is a great inspiration as it was on that trip that art became alive for me and I forgot to be afraid, partly because of her example. I went out on trails that were so foreign I didn't know if I could make it back to the tent. I sketched and sketched and painted with watercolors by a stream. Later I was in a class in Leigh's studio/home in San Francisco. That class was organized by the wonderful, inspiring teacher, the late Charles Miedzinski. Again Leigh's daring to paint on canvases cut to the shape of ancient pots helped me to see outside the box. Yesterday I painted a red ground instead of green or brown. Last week I wouldn't have been able to do that. And this is a huge step for me as in the beginning of my painting I shunned red as it frightened me for some reason, and now I'm painting it big. What is your creative and life daring today?
Happy Spring Holiday week!

P.S. Visit Leigh's web site: and get her juicy book, How Painting Holds Me on the Earth, Writings from a Maverick Painter and Teacher, ISBN: 9780557012855

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Inspiration & "finish what you begin..."

TheTurtle's Dream and Keys
Benrali, Author & Illustrator

I recently decided to begin writing book reviews again after Benrali sent me her query. At first I thought I shouldn't, but her amazing images haunted me. And now that the book project I was semi-ghost writing is into the publishers, I have time to indulge my love of childrens' books and talking about them.
As creatives we all need inspiration whether it's from nature, others' work from our own media or cross-over inspiration from another media. Go to to see my review of two of Benrali's books.
And, sometimes, like happened to me this week, something we view, read, hear, or see just doesn't inspire us. I was starting to read a novel that is being raved about. It bored me, and I had to put it down. Now, that was hard as - remember - we were taught as children to finish the food on our plate, our homework, our chores, etc. As creatives and adults we have finite time; therefore we can give ourselves permission to chose what inspires us. If it doesn't, then we can put it down and dash to the studio to work on our latest creation. What inspires you this week?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When will we get there?

"Old Reliable," 3 x 2, ink on wood
Judith, Feb. '10

Remember when you were a kid and you would ask your parents, from the back seat, on that interminable car trip, "When will we get there?" That question sometimes pops up when we work long and hard on our creative project. I just came off a marathon writing project where I was a semi-ghost writer. The project was sent to the publisher last Friday. So, I knew when it was due, but with my own book there is no due date, just milestone, daily, and weekly goals as I go along. And the question is a variant: "When will it be finished?" How do we know when we have that piece of art, that score, that novel really polished and done? I'm not sure except I know with my art that it is a matter of practice and instinct, and in the early days my teacher Fred Reichman helping me to decide. In the ghost writing project, though I'm glad it's done, a part of me wishes there was a little more time to proof read. I'm was not satisfied 100% when it went in, and I'm thinking perhaps that's when we know. When we feel satisfied. I feel that way now about the first quarter of my own book. It feels just about there. When I'm close to finishing a painting, I'll put it in a different place in the house to just look at it for a few days. I usually see something to tweak with that different pair of "observer eyes." Then, when I don't see anything amiss or to add, I just know it's done. Have you found a way to know when your piece is done? Let me know. It's an art in itself to know when we are there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Bragging Rights

"On a Telephone Pole," acrylic on canvas
6" x 4," August '10, Judith Nasse

I have to "brag" as my miniature sold at the annual Millicent Rogers Miniature show! This means I can really call myself a "Beginning Artist." The next step will be to work my way up to "Emerging Artist." I learned recently that it's o.k. to brag in spite of the early training most of us had that it was not polite to brag. It's one thing to aggrandize ourselves, but another whole thing to just let others know about our progress. By the way that increases our own inner creative confidence too. Have fun with your bragging rights this week!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow & Creativity

My Blue Spruce in the Snow today!!

I was glad for our big snow yesterday, nearly 8"! It meant that I had an excuse/permission to stay in, with the wood stove blazing, & catch up on my novel & paintings. I was determined to work hard on my creativity today no matter what, but the snow is the perfect backdrop! I even had time to read & play my piano! Ah, the perfect creative day. It's one of those rare days that we creatives dream could happen every day, but so ecstatic when being in the grove happens at all. It's the juice that keeps us going & keeps us connected with our soul and passion. It's the time that we remember & look forward to when the going gets tough. Happy Creative Day to you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Time Out = Inspiration

Photo by Artist Florian Maier-Aichen

When we get depleted how can we renew? For me, having almost completed a huge project that took up my creative time & physical energy for weeks, I took a complete day off today & finished reading a novel, then watched the Art:21 episode that included Mairer-Aichen's photography. It's just what I needed: to see how a photographer can combine abstract with representation in one image! The day with just resting with creativity has filled my cup. By the weekend I should be finished with the other project (not my own) & I'll have images and good writing (Little Bee by Chris Cleave) simmering in my sub-conscious so that when I do get back to my own work, I'll be raring to go! Do you give yourself time-out?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Barbara Kingsolver saved my day!!

Barbara Kingsolver

Do you ever have those days where your day jobs overwhelm you & even seem to "possess" you? I've been up against it lately with a non-fiction project due next Monday!! Yikes! So, how do you keep up with your own beloved creativity? Sometimes barely, unless you can manage to lose sleep. I can't. So, this morning I took an hour to listen to an interview with Barbara Kingsolver about her latest book Lacuna and about her writing process. Oh, my goodness, just doing that settled me back into my true writing self. I even managed some time to work on my latest painting. After the deadline is over, I'll pretend to be on a sunny beach just reading and catching up with my own creativity! Can't wait. The link to the Kingsolver interview is Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Bombay India Ink Chart

I'm in a crunch of a countdown, having to get a book finished & edited to the publishers. No, not mine, but a project for someone else. That's why I "forgot" to write last week. Yet, I've managed to slip in a 15 minutes here & there for my own book and art. And, I have made a couple of trips to the local art store, Artisans of Santa Fe (their branch in Taos). I had discovered that, alas and alack, I was using the wrong kind of ink for my small paintings on wood. The synchronicity is that the time on the other book project prevented me from doing too many paintings. Now I'm on the right track, ready to roll with lovely India inks in color!! I had been using only black, brown, & blue before, with a tinge of red. Now, I'll expand my colors as I do love color more than anything! Another bit of good news is that the media teaches us. When the non-permanent inks started to change if water accidentally got on them, I knew I had better do more research. It's not egg-on-our-face if we goof, it's just part of the learning curve. I still use Ralph Mayer's Handbook of Materials and Techniques. It's so thorough. Oh, I can still save all the previous paintings with spray varnish! Have fun experimenting and working with your materials!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nursery Rhymes, Pianos, and Creativity

"Hey Diddle, diddle."

I just finished writing an extra fun article about the importance of nursery rhymes for the young child for Tumbleweeds parenting newspaper. Before I knew I had art and writing talents, I studied the art form of nursery rhymes, singing and chanting them often with my youngest siblings, my own children, and the children in my preschool. Before that, as a young girl, I played my piano for comfort and "art." This week I've had to make a hard decision to sell my piano as I may soon downsize and can't take the huge upright, with the tone of a Steinway, with me. So, until it sells I'll play it as often as I can, singing and humming along (privately of course as I haven't a musical gift like my art & writing gifts). I will buy a keyboard as I can use earphones so as not to disturb neighbors. I like to play to segue myself into the studio or my manuscript. My art teacher Fred Reichman told us that it is helpful to use other art forms to inform our own art. Music is one of these to me.
As a side-note, did you know that nursery rhymes and music enhance a child's spatial, math, and science learning? Smile ~ spatiality is so important in art!!! Try singing your old favorite nursery rhymes while easing yourself into your creativity!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Troubles and Creativity

My House, Judith, 2001

My question is, "How do we maintain our creativity in the midst of a hard knock in life?" I had to go to the courthouse today to begin evicting a tenant who broke a major agreement plus hasn't paid the rent. I had the foresight to take the recent issue of "Poets & Writers." The article by John Dufresne (he presents at the Taos Writer's Conference each year!)helped me to keep my calm & focus while waiting for the paperwork. To be honest I have only done a modicum of art & writing in the past week and a half because of this issue and the broader question of possibly downsizing in order to free up more time from troublesome tenants & too many outside jobs. I no doubt will downsize; so does this time of taking care of a lifestyle problem count toward one's greater creativity? I'm not sure, just as I'm not sure if cleaning one's studio or writing files count. In the meantime if you hear of anyone who wants to buy a lovely house in Taos, let me know? Happy Creativity in the midst of your life!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time Out

Author A.S. Byatt

I did an unusual thing for me ~ I took a week-and-a-half off day jobs & some creativity. The only things I did were to take some photos, do a few sketches, and read A.S. Byatt's Possession, which is 200% better than the movie. Am also reading her newest book The Children's Book! Oh, yes, last Sunday I put on an A.S. Byatt high tea replete with a huge teapot on my wood stove, home-made curry pasties, & of course scones with clotted cream. We listened to Byatt talk on the City Arts & Lecture on KQED, San Francisco, streamed on my laptop! My friend/mentor Elizabeth Stark was in the audience & asked a great question about the writing process. I'll let you know when you can go to the archives and download the lecture. I did see Byatt once in a lecture at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. She is warm, witty, and cozy. I also used to see her sister Margaret Drabble, another good writer, on the high street & near the secret garden in Hampstead, London when I lived there. It was wonderful to have time off to re-group & to set my goals for 2010 & for this next decade. I didn't lose my momentum as I'm now back in my studio & working on my ms. Do you give yourself time out to re-group, rest, and let your creativity percolate?!