Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The deep end

About that previous post: Apologies to my friends who read this and were worried that I might be going off the deep end.  I'm not.  Or maybe I am, but in a good way.  Going off the deep end not to drown, but just to go deeper.

There has been too much worry in my brain about superficial things.  Like money.  Trying out different things to make money and feeling like a failure.  Well guess what?  Being a money maker is most likely definitely not my purpose in life.  So instead of trying to make money, why don't I just focus on trying to make art.

Art.  Not, "pretty things."

Go deeper.  Into the self.  Mine that which is the essence of the unique point of view, the singular voice, the artist within.

The experience that was so powerful this weekend occurred at the Japanese New Year celebration here in town.  Two performances swept me away: a koto ensemble, and a poet.  The koto ensemble played music evocative of forward motion and yearning.  I was lifted up on those swelling waves of rhythm and melody, filled with visions of airy sails and transluscence - inspired to act upon the vision, make a quick sketch - remember this exact moment of fleeting transcendence.  Totally unexpected.

And then it was the poet's turn.  G Yamazawa.  A young man, less than half my age.  As Rob said, "Wise beyond his years."  He spoke with the assured cadence and bravado of a rapper, images so crystal clear and powerful that he made me weep.  [Paraphrasing:] "The only cage holding me back are the ribs inside me."  That one line alone speaks so loudly to me.  There were so many more, funny, sad, angry but not bitter - wanting to teach and enlighten.  (I weep some more just remembering.)  Some of his memories echoed Rob's stories about growing up in the only Asian family in the region - being treated as "other," and "not like us."  I can only imagine how lonely that must have felt at times.  Having one foot in Japan, and the other in the U.S., and not really feeling completely a part of either...  There are artists, and G is one of them, who can show you things you would never otherwise have seen, and you are just lucky enough to show up in the right place at the right time to be able to see them.  If you are especially fortunate, you will have an empathetic moment.  Or empathic moment.  [Empathetic: The particularities of your experiences may be different from those of the artist, but there is empathy in just the having of an experience that affects our lives deeply.  Empathic: For that brief moment, you are living and breathing in the skin of the artist.  Anyway, that's how I see it, Deanna Troi.]

We bumped into G later, after the performance, and I had to blurt out my gratitude.   Thank you for... Speaking your truth.  Sharing your voice, your vision, your experience.  Crafting your words so exquisitely, molding, shaping, coaxing the imagery in such a way that even the with eyes closed I can feel its shape and texture in just the sound of it.  Thank you for awakening my emotion, opening my eyes and my heart.  Just - thank you, artist, for doing what you do.

And that's the thing.  That's what artists do.  They make art.  Speak their truth.  Sometimes show us things that we otherwise would never see.  It has been in my heart to get back to that.  That is why the other stuff - making "stuff" - is a distraction - because it takes me away from my calling, from listening to my own voice.  It keeps me in the shallow end.

I want to go deeper.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


Today was a powerful day and there is much to say but I can't take the time to say it just now.  I will just say this:

This is a distraction.  It takes me nowhere near my deepest goals.  Why am I doing it?  Stop it.

More later.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Snow dogs

I do so love my pups!  Here is a journal page of Rattie's first time in the snow, a week or so ago.

This page was smeared with layers of acrylic paints, scraped and scribbled into while the paint was still damp, stamped, another shmear of paint, and collaged.  Photos are added on top with washi tape.  Rattie was FLYING through the snow!

xoxo  lulu

Sunday, January 10, 2016

This year's plan book

For the past few years I've been using those pre-printed plan books that you can buy at the office supply stores.  I bought a mini binder to put the refill pages in.  I liked using them - sort of.  They were very organized and helped me feel somewhat more organized.  The problem is that I always ended up with LOTS of unused pages because I used them inconsistently.  SO, this year rather than buying a whole new set of refill pages, I just combed out the previous years' blanks.  Some, like the one here, I will use pretty much as it was intended, just putting a sticker over the old date:

But OTHER pages will be altered!  I pre-gessoed, painted, and stenciled a bunch, like these:

(Fun times with my brayers and Gelli Plates!)

On top of some of these pages I just used washi tape to attach a goal sheet.  (Goal sheet from Lesley Riley's ASAP classes.)

I can lift the sheet and write more on the back if I want to.

On other pre-stenciled pages I am painting and journaling, à la visual journal style!

Love the yummy textures from all the layering!  And to think it's all been done on regular planner paper!

BUT, I decided to add some good mixed media paper and watercolor paper pages, too, making this year's planner a real hybrid planner/visual journal.  More fun with brayers and paint:

It's all going into the same mini-binder that I've been using the past two years.  

I suspect this is going to get very thick!

I'm excited to see how it will grow, and how well my goal pages and keeping track pages will help me accomplish all the things I want to achieve this year.  My brain is brimming with ideas - hopefully this will help me keep track of it all!

xoxo  lulu

Friday, January 8, 2016

What I bought at Blick today

Waited and waited for the winter Back-to-School sale at Blick so that I could use my coupon!  I've really been wanting to try absorbent ground for using watercolor and gouache, so I filled my little basket with these items:

(Underneath is my journal/plan book - more on that tomorrow.)

For today, had to try out the watercolor ground in another sketch book in which I've been playing with water media.  Started by collaging a page from an old Japanese magazine, applied the ground, then put it in my food dehydrator (because I didn't want to wait 24-72 hours!).

After about an hour (or less) I started painting with gouache.  I'm glad that I'd left some parts of the collage without the ground so I could see the difference between ground and no-ground.  Very nice paint application with the ground!

One nice discovery is how the paint resisted in some spots where the ground was applied unevenly - or maybe it wasn't completely dry yet.  It will be fun to experiment to exploit this effect.

More fun to come!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Thread doodling

The snowy days around here have inspired some thread doodling!

These doodles have in turn inspired some doodling samples to share with my students at Art & Soul. 

I'll be teaching Thread Doodling in Portland in early March (Wednesday evening) AND in Minneapolis in May (Thursday evening).  You can sign up by visiting the Art & Soul retreats website HERE for Portland, or HERE for Minneapolis.

Art & Soul is always a ton of fun!  I hope to see you there!
; )  lulu

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rob's Quilt - finally finished!

The "family" quilt I started for Rob last year is finally finished!  I gave the pieced top to him last Christmas, then got it quilted and finished just in time for our wedding anniversary this year!

The puppykins: Rattie in purple, Ollie in blue, and Minnie in black.

Detail of a corner.  The quilting included machine and hand stitching.

Rob's response when he finally got to see it all finished: a big smile, a nod of the head, and the words, "That's pretty good."  In Rob-speak, that means, "Wow!!!  This is AWESOME!"  He wanted to display it prominently in our living room right away.  I'm so glad he likes it!