Monday, September 1, 2014

Word of the Week - 26

Word(s) of the Week:  PASSION and CURIOSITY

For three nights this week we watched documentaries, having completed all episodes of "The Sopranos" and the brief third season of "The Killing."  As one day spooled into the next, I thought I spotted similarities among the films, themes that were shrieking, mutedly, in my own life.  My son's life as well.  On Saturday night our choice was a 2014 release called "Particle Fever," following the completion and launch of the Hadron Collider with the hope of explaining the origin of matter.  In the film scientists frequently discuss how long they have been searching for, waiting for this answer.  It illuminates impatience over drying ink or paint as the microscopically trivial matter it is.
On the previous nights, we watched "The Battered Bastards of Baseball" which follows the impossible arc of one man's dream, to own a winning minor league ball team, and "Valentino, The Last Emperor," during which we get to attend the extravagant gala that marked the designer's retirement after 45 years as a man who made women look beautiful.
Valentino gowns.
Where the three stories intersect is that each, as I interpret it, was fueled and sustained by passion along with a curiosity, a refusal to leave until it is known how each drama turns out.  This is where my writer son and I could see ourselves, aware that if we don't write whatever has demanded us as its authors, neither we nor anyone will learn what happens.

We are called by some unlikely sirens, passion sparked by thoughts of a white pastel pencil in one moment, a scalloped circle paper punch in the next, while a dimly-lit slide show of text and images plays in the background.  However odd we may find these sequential obsessions, we would be fools to ignore their allure.  They call for a reason.  They may be considered pieces of passion, separate elements that will join forces when all have been collected, not unlike the thousands of scientists involved with the collider project, each an essential part, each bringing what they have to obtain the elusive answer.

The line between passion and obsession may become blurry, we may ask ourselves is this folly or wisdom and we may not be able to respond.  What we do know is this:  if we dismiss curiosity and intuition, decide not to follow the trail however poorly marked, we will never learn what it, what we, might have been. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Small, or perhaps not-so-small, pleasures

Words are tools and companions.  They do their best to establish some order in the mind, they look swell on the page.  I am a fan.

It was 28 years ago, give or take, that I discovered art rubber stamps.  Images, alphabets, words, quotes.  It was 2 1/2 months ago that I discovered the site for rubberstampchamp and for scarcely more than the pennies retrieved from beneath the cushions of our old couch before it was voted out of office, I can order small (they also make LARGE) custom rubber stamps of words I would not find on the open market.  The link, by the way, is to the rubberstampchamp page for custom hand stamps, where prices start as low as $3.25 for a 1/2" square stamp.  Yesterday I ordered one that size, 2 lines, that says Thank You.  Nice and tiny.  Do not underestimate the usefulness of a tiny cluster of words.  Earlier I ordered a 1/2" image of my crocodile puppet drawing, shrunken yet defined, with my initials. to use as a logo.  In addition to stamps that cost less than candy at the movies, at rubberstampchamp, shipping is free on orders of $10 or more.  I ask you!

Expected to arrive with the wee square Thank You are a caption for one of my rubber stamp figures and a quote I wrote about this week, "be vast and brilliant" which can be a caption for the new sun postcard I will order before the sale ends tomorrow.  Among my two new and most favorite things, ordering Vistaprint postcards made with some of my art and dreaming up rubber stamps I never thought I could possess for less than $4 apiece.  Other recent, nourishing pleasures include the discovery of new-to-me artists, Pinterest most of the time and summer, simple and free, summer. My son proclaimed years ago, when we used to, for reasons now murky, watch Dawson's Creek, that he didn't believe in the existence of "guilty" pleasures but rather, just pleasures.  I could pretend that we were visionaries, capable of knowing the break-put potential of Michelle Williams or, even more surprising after the train wreck that was Pacey, Joshua Jackson in Fringe, but the truth is we like what we like, no explanations, no apologies.  So while there may not be guilty pleasures, I do believe there might small ones, joys that cost little or no money, that are available to all or nearly all of us.  Or no, this may actually make them enormous pleasures.  Foolish woman and her foolish semantics.  Pleasures make us happy, may actually alter our chemistry (if happiness is the opposite of abuse).  Whatever summer remains where you are, be greedy, grab it by the handful.  I'm glad the cherries and blueberries were so delicious and frequently affordable this year.  If only they could be year-round products at discount prices, all orders over $10 shipped free.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Postcards - individual views

Clearer views of the 8 designs in the newly-offered set of glossy postcards, A2 size.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Word of the Week - 25

Word of the Week:  REIMAGINE

Today I declare that imagination is our top and truly kick-ass superpower.  As with other endowments, it may be used for good or ill.  Today I declare it is no longer appropriate to employ imagination to  enlarge or inflate fear or worry, to use it as the magnifying glass that sharpens a focus on our suspected defects, to bend it to our will for the purpose of keeping us frail or tepid or less-than.  We, as Werner Herzog reminded in a recent interview, are able to give success our own definition and we certainly are here to save the world by whatever means possible.  This will involve stealth, humor, beauty, love and patience.

Without being vast and brilliant, saving the world, even a section no larger than a collar button, would be impossible.   Therefore, we must reimagine, redefine what we believe about ourselves and how we fit into this world that needs us at our truest.   Recently I found a quote by writer Paulo Coelho, “Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.” As the loudest voice of disapproval is usually the one in our own heads, that is the first one to ignore.  Sing louder than it shouts.  Make faces and do a silly dance.  Righteous mediocrity can't stand any of that.  And, above all else, throw your arms around every lumpy, battle-scarred, making-it-up-as-you-go-along inch of your brilliant being and squeeze until you can hardly breathe.  Don't let go.  I'm not saying this will be easy.  It may seem impossible, but, as Coelho also said, "Impossible is just an opinion."

In our reimagining, let's imagine this:  that most of what we've been told is wrong or, even more likely, was lies intended to keep us quiet, submissive, to stop us from being troublemakers and siphon our unmistakable coolness out of the tank, leaving us stuck and dispirited.
Empowering words from Lisa Congdon.
I realized this week, in visiting some top-drawer work from artist Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova on women who have changed the way we see the world, that it is, at this late date, unlikely that I will be (a) famous or (b) brilliant on the BIG screen.  That does not mean I am not or cannot be brilliant.  The stars come in all sizes.  Brilliant, and successful, by my definition.  Some days all that requires is being alive, reasonably awake and aware that none of us is ordinary, unless we choose to be.  Imagine something brighter, something better, something that makes your heart happy, not lurching along with grim foreboding.  No one has ever known what will come tomorrow.  I imagine it, and we, will be magnificent.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Five ways to think about sky

Tony Fitzpatrick tells of his artist-in-residence time in Montana and shares a story about the sky.
Find the story here.
"Yves Saint Laurent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise’s wedding was possibly the most magical ever. Wearing a blue outfit with stars, Loulou told friends she wanted to look like a summer's night sky in Marrakech."
From Rick Stevens Studio,
Fred Cuming, RA | Cloudscape Camber #art #inspiration
Pastel & pencil on paper
2014, by Claire Beynon
Maynard Dixon, Mojave Desert, 1923, oil on board

Monday, August 18, 2014

Word of the Week - 24

All art today from Domenica More Gordon.
Word of the Week:  COMMUNION

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small 

This week my Facebook feed was alive with animal videos and I watched them all.  As I am allergic to cats and dogs, I don't have extensive first-hand experience of communion with other creatures.  Being, at least, a reasonably observant human I understand the depth of such love, of such relationships.  In the recent past, too many friends have lost beloved companions.  Grief is grief.  It is not exclusive to a particular species.

I wondered, briefly, about my sudden affinity for watching cats, dogs, penguins and unidentified small birds being remarkable.  I realized their presence gave comfort.  That their presence was virtual made a connection to them no less real.  A dog splashing water on beached fish, attempting to revive them, astonished me.  A cat luxuriating in a lengthy massage, paws, chin, ears, head, torso, made me grateful there was such an attuned and caring friend.
More about Domenica's felted dogs, and more, here.
Being human and being a grown-up carry similar responsibilities.  The guy driving the car has made a covenant with fellow creatures to be sober, attentive, safe, as wise as possible, compassionate, trustworthy, and to alert someone if these conditions can't be met.  We know it doesn't always play out as this ideal.  Watching and absorbing the significance of interaction with our furred and winged fellows, observing their unambiguous responses, the result of their communion, elevated my consciousness, informed me, softened and humbled me.  I am still digesting what I saw, what the videos were teaching me, why this seems to be a lesson needed NOW.  Today the answers are still arriving at their pace, not mine.

There is no such thing as too much love, the real deal and not some poseur.  Love without guile, expectations, conditions and limits, how and where do we find that.  Surprisingly - or not - Facebook for all its drawbacks may have offered a clue.
Animals and art, does it get any better?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts of the summer dance transfix Billington's Cove inhabitants - part 2

Bite-size grilled cheese sandwiches.

Cake bites.
The bite-size buffet worked before, Gloria knew, but not a serve-yourself free-for-all.  There would need to be servers,  sharp-eyed servers, and a way for guests to feel abundance and not lack as they carried their treat-filled plates to a table beneath the strings of fairy lights.  She talked to all the other restaurant owners and volunteer chefs in town, a menu was set, commitments made, watches synchronized.  She scanned the tearoom to see which of her most reliable helpers was already present, which would need to be called.  After a quick inventory of supplies on hand, she started the first batch of cookies.

She was of two minds about how she wished she could spend the day.  What a luxury to be a girl again, all dreamy and a'swirl in tulle and silk, trying on gowns, party dresses, nearly hypnotized by anticipation and her youthful image in the dressing table mirror.  Truth was, she was as enamored of preparing her treats as she had once been of, as she called it, sashaying about, fussing with her hair, writing some boy's name over and over in a notebook, wishing for things she couldn't actually name but felt she would recognize  when they arrived.

Work was a tonic, a cure-all, even when no actual ailment was present.  She was not moonstruck, not adolescent and definitely not confused.  No, she amended.  She WAS moonstruck and with good reason.  It was rare in what she knew of the world to be so aware of another's essential self as she was of Robert's, without having been told.  Gloria believed we possess aspects that never lie to us, that simply receive what is true and allow it to flow freely, a stream returned to life with the first snow melt.  Though this was a new experience, she could trust it.  She wondered if she ought to rethink trusting the townsfolk not to serve themselves too generously at a buffet.  The answer to that was not yet clear.