Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's your Rosh?

The theme in September over at Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team has been cleaning your plate. This happens to coincide with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, a time when we do just that -- clean up physically, emotionally and spiritually. It's a time to start over, ask forgiveness from those we've wronged and forgive those who have wronged us. A sort of spiritual house cleaning. 

I'd like to say that a physical housecleaning has gone along with it, but even though I want to fix up the bedrooms and find a permanent spot to make art, that hasn't happened. Instead, I started some steady part-time work and went to visit friends. The spirit is willing but the body has been away from home.

But the metaphysical traveller within me has been cleaning up her inner room in order to head out to new destinations. Being in synagogue for the Jewish New Year services has given me a chance to be still and listen. A fabulous book I am reading, Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett (host of NPR's Speaking of Faith) is giving me an expanded way of seeing the biggest picture. And a recent visit with a wise kabbalah student has been an opportunity for juicy conversation about something I've always believed, that we are all connected.

So while I still have piles of paper and projects demanding attention, the inner room is getting into order. And maybe that's the best way to clean my plate, although I still need it for apples and honey. What better way to wish all of my friends a sweet and fruitful New Year? 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Colorforms and Letter forms

Remember Colorforms? Those plastic pieces that you could move around to make pictures? Sometimes my collage feels like that, since I love to cut up catalogs and magazines and use the images in my work. Interestingly, even though I have always loved calligraphy and enjoy when others use letter forms in their work, I've been slow to add them.

But now I have some fresh inspiration. I've been flying around the world via the Web in search of master calligraphers whose styles really sing to me. High on the list is the brilliant Belgian letter artist Yves Leterme. I know his last name is probably not pronounced LETTER-ME, but wouldn't that be appropriate? Yves is a master at letter deconstruction and you can see his amazing work HERE.

Denis Brown

If Yves is big in stature, teaching classes around the world, Irishman Denis Brown's amazing work is just plain BIG! There's a photo of him doing calligraphy with a broom on his Web site and the letter forms are completely gorgeous. Like Yves, Denis pushes the envelope -- ahem!
You can visit Denis HERE.

Sophie Verbeek

Sophie Verbeek is on my OMG list of artists. Her work totally blows me away. Some of her art transcends letters and creates new calligraphic forms. Another European, Sophie lives in Switzerland but her talent is international. See what I mean HERE.

La Caligrafica teases with promises of English coming soon, but you really don't need it. Scroll over the banner to find the boxes directing you to fabulous work. 

Parisian master Julien Chazal has a Web site that includes video of him creating letter forms, a variety of the hands he's mastered, his gallery and much more. Don't miss his gallery of envelopes. You'll never place a stamp on a letter quite the same way again. Grab a nice glass of beaujolais and take some time to explore HERE.

Yuko Wada

For the spirituality behind words, stop in to see Japanese artist Yuko Wada. Her work straddles the line between painting and calligraphy but her every stroke is calligraphic.  

Finally, the last stop on this world tour of calligraphy masters must include the Baghdad-based artist Malik Anas. It pains me to think that a young man this gifted lives in such a dangerous place, but his stunning work is in good company with the rest of these masters.

After all this, I may have to dig out my old calligraphy supplies and start practicing. I may not be able to match their gifts, but they've inspired me to see words in an entirely new way. 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Were All There

There is a half hour left to September 11, 2008 but it has taken me the entire day to write something on this seventh anniversary.

Maybe it's  because I thought I'd laid those memories to rest, but they all came flooding back as I watched survivors and international college students read the list of names at Ground Zero.

Maybe it's because I'm still angry at George W. Bush for missing the significance of those international students -- that those lost in the towers were from 131 countries around the world.

Maybe it's because I was standing on Madison Avenue when the towers fell, watching a live picture of the towers on a TV screen in a bank window that was being photographed just feet from where I was standing.

Maybe it's because I've written about the day, but not what I experienced and while I want to, I'm not sure I'm ready.

Maybe it's because I went through so many tissues this morning as I watched the ceremony, my head was pounding too much to concentrate.

Whatever the reason, one thing was clear to me today. 
When it comes to 9/11, we are all connected. 
When it comes to 9/11, we were all there.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Smartest Woman in the Room

Now that the political season is here, I want to recommend a blog called My Life and Times, but which I think of as "Ann's Life." My brilliant and talented friend Ann lives in Washington state and writes about, as she says, anything she darn well pleases. And it does please, since Ann is funny, articulate and knowledgeable. She's also a fellow professional writer and editor with a gift for deconstructing the complicated stuff so everyone can understand it. A rare gift these days.

So go, read, enjoy. Your brain will thank you for it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting a little sketchy

Do you know Lisa Hoffman? Teacher, blogger, artist, friend of Michelle Ward and all around sly boots. She posted some yummy sketches on her blog and inspired me to share a few of my own. After all, they're just sitting around feeling insecure and unloved since I've been busy making collages on any surface that won't move. (An excellent threat to get a teenager off the couch by the way!)

I took pad and pen and went to my favorite listening spot, the only untamed garden in the condo complex where I live. It's on the bank of a stream and right now it's all purple and gold. I will take some photos to post here later on. 

The pokeweed was in full bloom. I love pokeweed. Yes, I know it's a weed but what is a garden plant other than a cultivated, well-placed weed? So I drew on a page I'd already painted red and added more color when I got home. 

Here is a sketch from my travel journal. I often muse that the insecurity some of us feel about our work can be like a big, noisy parrot on our shoulder we can't shut up. However, on this trip the parrot became my subject since we were in Puerto Rico and parrots were like flashing prisms of color in the rain forest. 

Say! Here's a way to stifle your inner critic -- draw it. Maybe it just want a little attention, just like the rest of us.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Your other life

Do we have two lives? One when we're awake and one when we're asleep?

According to university professor and dream therapist Roger Kamenetz, we do. Kamenetz is the author of "The History of Last Night's Dream," as well as such wonderful books as "The Jew in The Lotus." 

In his latest book, Kamenetz talks about the dream dimension and how it is a gift that can transform our waking lives. While he says there is some symbolism -- flying, aerial dreams signifying the higher, more removed self while swimming dreams the deeper, emotional self -- it's not what Sigmund Freud wrote about. Freud was coming from a place of fear and to avoid that, he purged emotion.

To Kamenetz, who has studied with Buddhist monks, Kabbalist rabbis, native intuitives, and even the Dalai Lama, our dreams have much to teach us and even the fear we feel in them can lead us to place of self-knowing beyond fear. You can hear him discuss this with Oprah, here

We spend a third of lives asleep and we need to dream to be healthy. Perhaps there's more to it than we realize.