So long, Summer

Dear Summer,

I noticed the mornings started to get a little cooler last week. Are the days really almost over? You’re leaving so soon? I wish I’d done more with you. I had bigger plans for us and wish I’d spent more time with you playing and swimming and dreaming in your season. Sure, we had our days/nights and moments, and July was especially productive, wonderful and busy…but I see I didn’t really get a chance to fully embrace you.

You sun-kissed my cheeks and encouraged me to wear every sundress in my closet. Your intense heat brought me to exhaustion but also made lemonade taste better than ever. You brought out the color orange and clarity. You helped welcome new ideas, perspective and challenges that further opened my eyes and heart. You gave me time to express love and understand how to find peace in being alone. You offered me the unique state of being still and dissolving remaining illusions of what it means to feel valued by others and with that, how to truly value myself. You brought me confusion which brought the opportunity to regain focus. You brought me lessons and tears to let go. And you asked me questions that could not be answered honestly and fully without having gone through your full summer. Even if I feel loss from this ending, I am grateful for the experience to know myself even more than before and learning the ever evolving truth as it is revealed.

Only a couple of days remain until a new fall schedule… four upcoming shows to prepare for and limited time.  It’s time to get busier than ever. With hurricane season in full-swing and lots of talk about the beaches, I’m glad I at least made it to the shore and Cumberland Island. I had the kind of inspiration that helped motivate me to complete one of my largest gorgeous new pieces for one of my shows coming up in October. I got to hike and play in the ocean and wander along the powdery hot sand… take a boat ride in the river and stroll in sultry Savannah under the romantic protective oaks. I look forward to what your next summer season will bring.

Until then, so long, sweet Summer… And thanks.

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Retrograde Amber

You know when things are going along just fine and dandy and then little by little things start to get bumpy and confusing and pretty soon everyone is comparing stories about how just about everything in their world seems to be either malfunctioning or discombobulated on some level? It’s called a retrograde. EVERY TIME things seem harder than usual or there are miscommunications or strange happenings with transportation, etc. at some point someone says, “well, you know we ARE in the middle of another retrograde.” And sure enough… I check and voilà. Retrograde. There really isn’t ever a good time for one. And some affect us individually more than others. This has made me a believer over the past couple of years because every time things seem like this… Yep! Retrograde in action. Ahh haaaa.

I think they should have names for each retrograde, the way they name the Hurricanes each year. I’m going to start naming them myself starting with this one. This one is Retrograde Amber. This way when I look back on things or share a story from this time I can reference it by saying… “oh yehhh…. that was during retrograde Amber! Yep, Amber was a little typhoon, wasn’t she?”

My joke about using the name Amber is from the bachelorette party I went to over the weekend. Without getting into a whole other story here, I think that name suits my past few weeks at least. July was a stellar month for me. And then August really slumbered down. Amber Alert! Something is missing! Like my mojo? Or the way things were wonderfully falling right into place up until a couple of weeks ago. Do you feel like people are dropping the ball? Things aren’t clicking?  I’m just ready to be over it already. Come on September 9th!!!!

In case those of you aren’t familiar with the retrograde… here’s a little taste of what it’s all about:

At 03:50 UT (Universal Time) Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, Mercury the wise communicator—and universal trickster—turnsretrograde at 1°12′ Virgo in the sign of the Virgin, sending communications, travel, appointments, mail and the www into a general snarlup! The retro period begins some days before the actual turning point (as Mercury slows) and lasts for three weeks or so, until August 26, 2011, when the Winged Messenger reaches his direct station. At this time he halts and begins his return to direct motion through the zodiac.

Everything finally straightens out on September 9th, as he passes the point where he first turned retrograde. Mercury normally turns retrograde three times a year, but last year he turned tail four times, which is unusual, and his shadow phase was still active in early January 2011. The effects of each period differ, according to the sign in which it happens (see box for Retrograde Periods in 2011).

A planet is described as retrograde when it appears to be moving backwards through the zodiac. According to modern science, this traditional concept arises in the illusory planetary motion created by the orbital rotation of the earth with relation to other planets in our solar system. It’s a bit like travelling on the road watching another car beside you: when the other car slows down, or you speed up, it looks as though the other car is moving backwards. Planets are never actually retrograde or stationary, they just seem that way due to this cosmic shadow-play. Click here for some neat graphics and more on thescience of retrograde planetary motion.

The rest is much more interesting, so here is the link to the page.

Good luck with your next couple of weeks, everybody!!

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Artists I Love

Two Artists I love died this month. Cy Twombly and Lucian Freud. They were in their 80’s and I imagine lived a pretty colorful/full life. Their work has inspired artists all over the world. Lucian’s work auctioned for what I believe was the highest amount for a living artist 3.4 Million. I can only imagine what his work will go for now that he’s passed.

When I was in my first year of school I had a horrible art history teacher at the community college level. I’m not exaggerating. If memory serves, she mispronounced every other artists name and even had a stutter. She was not really teaching us anything… the class was a complete BORE. How did she make art history a literal snooze? Well, mostly she was simply showing slides and saying the name and the dates. Not really intriguing in the dark. By the time I reached my dream of a four-year art college (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) two years later, I felt like I was WAY behind on everything. I had a lot of making up to do. That’s why it’s so important to go to the right college!!! It’s fine to get a few credits out-of-the-way at the community college level, but if you really want the best education that will make a difference, you have to get to the higher places. This is based on my experience. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it. I did it the only way I could to finally get to where I wanted and needed to be.

The School of the Art Institute was such an amazing place to go to school. I would literally cut through the Art Institute Museum daily to get to my classes. I was surrounded my masterpieces flashing by and when my friends and I had breaks and lunches… we often used our time to slowly wander the museum and take everything in. If we had more time, we’d walk down Michigan Avenue and go to the MOCA. Bliss! I admit I got pretty burned out on the conceptual work after a few years, but it was lovely to have so much exposure to such intriguing works of art.

I remember my first painting critique… a few of my peers said my work reminded them of Picasso. Well, since I’d had such poor art history classes prior to getting into SAIC, I was initially a little offended by their comment. I didn’t understand. When I finally learned the full scope of Picasso’s earlier work later that night… I was flattered. I had no idea he’d had such a major transformation. I simply hadn’t had much exposure to other artists at that time. That was my wake up call. I began to really look at other artists works. We were of course encouraged to do so, but I had only been looking at a few over and over before this that I’d already been exposed to. Over the years I would stumble upon contemporary artists that I enjoyed and informed our work in school. Once I was out of school and trying to figure out my style, I stopped looking at other artists works altogether. I didn’t want any more outsider influence on my work. I wanted my work to be pure. To come from my heart. I’d had so much stimulation from all the art classes from five years of college that I really couldn’t absorb anymore and still feel I was making something unique.

It took me years, but I did it. Sure, I have heard others tell me that my work reminds them of “so and so’s work” here and there, but that’s just people trying to identify with the work. We all want to connect it somehow with something we’ve seen before. I do the same thing sometimes. I’ve heard it plenty before when people comment on a musicians stuff… “oh! it reminds me of this mixed with that!” Labels help us feel like we know something. In almost all the interviews I’ve done over the years, I’m asked the question “What artists have influenced your work?”  It’s a great question, but I don’t really know specifically which ones. Perhaps ALL I’ve ever encountered? Maybe one or two if something is similar in the way we approach the subject matter or technique? Whatever the case, I don’t know if it’s conscious and I can’t really pinpoint anyone. I prefer to leave that up to the viewers if they need to identify it somehow with someone else. I think any good artist strives to have a unique and authentic style. It’s hard, but I believe it’s possible.

Here are just a few artists whose works I’ve always loved: Titian, Klimt, Bosch, Rothko, Kiefer, Frankenthaler, Starn Twins, Rauschenberg, Turrell, Kahn, Motherwell, Twombly, Freud, Goldsworthy, and dozens of others.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they influence my work, it just means that there is something in their work that speaks to me on some level. Something I find personally satisfying. Some are masters and some are contemporaries. My taste changes over time and so some of the works I admire depends on my mood and what is current and relevant in my life. Lately I’ve started to look at my contemporaries again as there seems to be more of an obvious spiritually based awareness in the works that are being created in this decade. We are so lucky to have these voices and gifts of creation to share. Who are some of your favorite artists??









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Be the Tree

As of 5a.m. I can’t sleep. Questions floating around in my brain. Not having enough information to go on to make anything but worry come out of it all, so naturally I reactivated my Twitter account.

At the beginning of the year the word “simplicity” captivated me. That’s when I dumped my twitter account in an effort to cut down on everything that wasn’t necessary. It was how I found out about my news though. Isn’t that kind of cool and sad at the same time? I can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper (unless it was for my parents- sorry newspaper peoples). Watching the networks sensationalize everything on television news programs only makes me feel bad. So I let twitter tell me what was up for at least a good year. After I dumped it, I was blissfully ignorant. Eventually I started reading the news online, so there’s that.

Not tweeting hasn’t been a big deal. And not being on Facebook hasn’t either. BUT as times keep changing, we are all forced to act like trees in the wind (watch out- if you’re in the South and a storm comes, you might just break in half like our trees here and nearly kill people. Scary.) I’ve recognized the benefits of the social online networking I’ve fought for years. I simply couldn’t manage my time around it. I’ve admitted that before. I also got wayyyy too wrapped up in it on a personal level and it created something altogether not helpful. So, I got real simple and dumped everything except my website, blog and journal.

Fast forward a few months… invite some art drama, missed connections, being passed overs and in general a feeling of being caught in a conundrum. I started hearing how other artists really were connecting and enjoying all of our social networks. How do they do it? Well, how do some of them do it? Apparently they manage their time and they stay focused about it being about their work/business of art. Huh. They keep the really personal stuff OUT. Hmm… I hadn’t really thought of that, had I? I tried to resist further and went on a whole journal rant about too much social networking avenues. I’m seeing the benefits and would also like to have those benefits. Slowly, but surely I’m caving.

When I was in Italy this spring I felt extremely cut off from the world. Not having anything more than random internet access made it hard to stay connected to anyone. When I returned home to the States, I was scolded by a nice handful of friends who had been somewhat worried about me since I hadn’t kept in touch. I guess they wanted more than one or two photos saying I made it! so they could live vicariously through me during that month. I completely let them down. Sure, I had some amazing stories afterwards, but that only impressed a select few. I’m pretty sure they stopped looking for updates on my journal after that point.

A few weeks later I let my friend set up a Facebook Fan Page for me. I was really reluctant. Kinda nervous too. A fan page?? Isn’t that a bit… well, jeez… you know what I’m saying. The idea made sense since just about everyone and their grandmother are on Facebook now and that seems to be the ONLY way some of those people interact with anyone anymore. So I said “OK… I just hope I have more than like, two fans!” Thankfully I have over 200 now and I can tell you it really makes me feel good that I have fans “liking” my artwork. As artists, we really put ourselves out there for judgement and it makes me feel grateful every time I get a new “like” on my page. Fascinating!

I have new ideas and plans that I hope will take me around the world. I have some opportunities that have presented themselves that have made me change the way I’m thinking about and living my life. And so… being in a better place of understanding and management with my time and personal life, I will soon have a personal Facebook profile again to get connected with peeps internationally again. It’s been well over a year. I know I said I didn’t ever want to do it again… but times are a changing. I want to embrace technology if it will help my art business and make my life easier.  I will be the tree that moves and sways with whatever comes my way. The only reason it was a big deal or issue is because I made it one.  It’s a different kind of simplicity I think if it’s managed well.  We shall see how it goes.

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I love this.
May the sun bring you new energy by day
May the moon softly restore you by night
May the rain wash away your worries
May the breeze blow new strength into your being
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.
~Apache blessing
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Social Network Muchity

Twitter, Blogger, WordPress, Websites, LinkedIN, Email, Text, Facebook, Phone Calls, Voicemails, Evite, Fax, Skype, iChat, USPS, Fedex, and now… Google+. Seriously? How many avenues do we need to contact and keep in touch with people? It’s too much. We really aren’t as elusive as we like to think we are. I find the best way to reach someone is either text or call. Calling is more intimate, and it’s instant gratification. I admit it’s pretty amazing. Our technology IS amazing. BUT… when is it ever going to be enoughhhhh?

OK. I love being in touch with people. I admit to loving my alone time, but after a while, I want some interaction. And I’ve met some really cool friends, clients and contemporaries through social networking avenues. But C’MON! How many do we need? Really. I have so many links to reach people I don’t even know what to do with. I’m trying to manage them as fast as I can, but it’s a little much. And the funny thing is, with all this contact, sometimes you still don’t hear back from people. I stayed off Facebook for a year and only signed back up recently to have an Artist Page. If we’re talking REAL friends, let me say that the majority of “friends” I had listed on FB have never contacted me since. Now, since I don’t have a personal profile set up on FB, there are many things I can’t do on there. While I love posting comments and liking people’s statuses and pics, it’s fine with me that I can’t anymore because now it’s NOT a time-suck. I even got off of twitter because besides the news and an occasional new follower (that would generally stop following me if I didn’t follow them back), it really only connected me with a few new people that actually made a difference in my life. I’m griping again, aren’t I?

Well… the thing is… it’s taking so much effort and time away from my creating art and running my business that it’s turning what should be a cool thing of keeping in touch with people into a sense of “but if you don’t keep up with technology, then you won’t be in touch with ALL these people!” Really? Because I’m in touch with most of those that I need to be. There are a few I wish I were in touch with, but that’s my fault. Every once in a while I’ll hear from an old friend or client and it’s wonderful! I love time apart because it lets me miss people! There is some country song that has the lyrics “how can I miss you if you never go away?” I have always been like this. When a song or a band gets too popular, I stop liking it. I feel like all the hype and buying into it kind of jades it out. I have issues.

I DO enjoy texting. In fact, I’m rather good at it and quick. I make some people uncomfortable because I text too much too fast and I’m a big flirt as well. And my humor is lost on most people in my texts, which is a bummer. So, I’ve scaled back on my texting. I was addicted to Facebook when I had a personal profile and realized it wasn’t a healthy thing for me. I’d take a break from painting (usually shooting for about 15 minutes) and I’d look up from my FB app on my phone and over an hour had gone by instantly. I took back my time with that. It’s been a good thing. I stopped tweeting because, I mean, really. Who really cares what I’m tweeting about? And I’ve finally caught back up with emails. It used to take me weeks to reply to someone. In fact, when I was addicted to other social media, I hadn’t replied to some emails for almost A YEAR! That was crazy. Capital ‘C’ CRAZY. Thank God a few of those people who had contacted me hadn’t really been “waiting” and were happy to hear from me- even if it did take me over 300 days to reply.

So now I blog when I have art news. And I journal here because I need to vent and I just like the feeling of typing. (Yes, I am a nerd at heart.) And I post stuff on Facebook to spread the news, send out invites, give gratitude for support, and share images and other artist’s websites I think people might like.

But this new google+? Is it trying to compete with Facebook? Do we really need to connect to the same people on another channel? Again? I’m a little confused about it. I don’t really have that much to say, do you? I mean… maybe I don’t have as many friends to truly keep up with as other people, but the ones I have I am in touch with and I like not already knowing everything they are up to. That way when I see them in person it’s all fresh and we can interact “old school”. Jesus. Does this mean I’m getting old? Perhaps I will always be a romantic at heart.

I miss running to my mailbox waiting for love letters… or pen-pal letters from over seas. I miss the time in between being in touch because it was MY time and when I finally got that anticipated letter or phone call… it sent a thrill through my whole body. I enjoy anticipating emails. I enjoy the instant gratification of it too. I enjoy texting (when the other person is fun to text with) and even Facebook link ups. I can only enjoy so much of that stuff though before I need real life human contact.

Did you know that even some galleries are going totally paperless now? Its not to save the environment, its to cut back on costs. They only contact mailing lists virtually. It’s a visual art world, people. Not everything translates electronically. We won’t be getting any more beautiful invitation cards in the mail anymore. What in the world will people hold in their hands at their mailboxes? Bills? Gross. What will they post on their fridge now? Some of my best art collectors have saved and framed my art postcards I’ve mailed out. I’m not stopping my mailings. I think there is something to be said for classic letter writing and announcements. There are some things that will be completely lost on our new generations. What a shame.

Blah blah blah. People have said it’s just about “managing” yourself. And time. Perhaps. Maybe the invitation to join Google+ just struck a chord because I’m only just now finally getting my email art list sorted out and vamped (thanks to the amazing folks at My Emma). Can’t technology give me a little breaky-poo? One thing at a time, please. I don’t want to get black listed again or assumed my art news is spam. That has been a royal pain in my ass. But I’m trying again in a fresh new way to stay connected to my mailing list. Technology makes it easy as well as hard. I can’t socially network any faster or longer than I already am. I’m going to get left behind if I don’t hire someone to tweet for me, huh? One person to FB, tweet and blog for me. I see how it is. Google+ has a new thing called ‘Circles’ to only interact with those ‘clicks’ that you want. I guess there is privacy in that. But still. Circles? It’s like high school. And I was a snob in high school. I wanted OUT and was only friends with the coolest of people. If I’m not in someone’s special “circle” now, am I going to feel left out? Am I going to leave someone out? Thats a lot of responsibility. I don’t even want to go back to those days. And circles make me think of rings. Are the social networks competing to be the Lord of the Rings? One social network to rule them all? I dunno… I was enjoying it but now I feel a little burned out on all of it again. I’m trying to keep up, but I feel a little like I’m butter spread too thin over toast. The social networking options are making me feel scattered, smothered and covered. We need it simple. Wouldn’t that be nice? I know it’s just complicated right now because we are moving into something better, but for now, it’s a little muchity. Everyone I know admits to a love/hate relationship with their social media networking. Most love it more than hate it though. What if we could check in to one big click of a network, see all this crap we are looking for and then simply sign off and get back to real-time life stuff?

That said, I’m signing off for now. Time to get some of my real-time stuff done.

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Jessie’s Girl

I have a knack for flipping open a book or hearing a song or turning on the television at just the right moment and getting specific messages that I’m needing. It’s really uncanny sometimes. The other morning was no exception.

I turned on the tv and Rick Springfield was on Regis and Kelly. I’m not particularly a fan of the show or even of Rick Springfield’s music to be honest. BUT… wow. I dunno exactly what point it was, but when he was talking about his book and admitting his struggles and going to therapy and finally waking up to the reasons why he’s been like he is… (lots to do with not having any real “roots” with family and feeling disconnected with friends. It’s amazing how this can affect the feeling of belonging and unfortunately I could totally identify) BUT also, how it has always fueled his music. I really understood what he was saying. No matter how successful you are… no matter how many people tell you that they love what you do… if you haven’t dealt with your past and if you don’t believe you deserve to be here and loved, then you’ll never find peace. I think it’s important for creatives (especially celebrities) to be open and honest about themselves. That way people aren’t dreaming of false idols. We only see what they want us to see in most cases. They don’t show their underbellies or behind the scenes because they are afraid people will get turned off. Usually when these things are revealed,  it’s because things have finally come to a head/tail spin or people have decided to share because they are finally changing and can’t hide it anymore. It’s sad and beautiful at the same time finding out about these struggles. But it makes for beautiful angst and art and music and writing, doesn’t it? The creatives thrive off of it. Distracting ourselves provides delay and future fodder. Those that are looking for balance of the best of both worlds really have to work to have it. They have to weather the storm. Some don’t make it through. And some come out finally at peace and authentic. Most people don’t figure out any of their junk until later years- and then wish they could have those “lost” years back. I say let’s all figure out our shit ASAP. That is what will make all the difference.

For awhile now things have been… well, I’d use the word challenging, but I was recently advised to use the word ‘change‘ instead (so I don’t attract MORE challenges.) So, I guess I should say, for a while now, things have been changing. Roller coaster comes to mind. I like the idea of roller coasters at a theme park (Harry Potter, I WILL experience your theme park one day), but not so much for describing life happenings. I’ve changed my life and I’m learning a lot this year. Some of it has been great. But it’s hard work to change and to do so I’ve had to painfully identify the things that have kept me from doing/being/seeing/knowing,etc.  While it’s not pretty, I’m at least glad I am awake to it all now. And something that Rick Springfield (seriously! I mean, of all people!) said  the other day in his interview really brought me to a centered place. I ended up with this: lose the fear and take faith in the path we are on and how we are being led by something divine. Heal ourselves with full knowledge that as we do we can and will move forward to the better things that await us. Get out of your own way. Take care of yourself. Continue to love. Let go of those who don’t love, respect or value you. Stop wasting time worrying about those who have forgotten about you. Get out of your head and live. Give yourself another day or a week or a month or a year. It gets better. Maybe it’s knowing that so many others are going through the same thing brings comfort. People might not be talking about it or sharing it openly, but it’s there. We look to those to identify with and hopefully they share something that can help others. If nothing else, it’s enough to demonstrate that none of us are ever really alone with this common experience.

I can’t share more on here since latest incidents involve people I want to protect, but I’m getting through it now by changing myself even more. On top of that, I recently found out that yet someone else I love has cancer. If I hear one more person in my life has to battle this I feel like I could explode with fury. I hadn’t been handling things very well recently and was mostly feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. I decided to finally change a few things after a recent 4a.m. incident during a night out brought it to a head and left me feeling just awful. Seriously. If I am going to honestly change things, then part of that is really understanding what it is and to stop standing in the way of myself. Whenever I drop my guard and my walls and just let life flow, amazing things happen. And when we have those things happen, it ignites a whole new outlook. I am feeling blessed to have this knowledge. My goal is to be aware of this constantly so that I move forward and don’t take steps back.  I guess I should wrap up this rather heavy journal entry. A shout out to good ole Ricky Springfield for making me feel like Jessie’s girl for a moment in time. That moment brought me some interesting clarity.

To sum up- connecting mind, body, and spirit is the key to all of it. Duh. I know this, but I’m only realizing the benefits of it now because I’m doing something about it. If we only concentrate on one or two of these, we’ll never fully be grounded enough to move forward. I’m eager to continue with this now that I have the awareness… it’s amazing the beautiful work I’m creating in the studio just in the past week or two- this comes out of well-being for sure. My favorite days are the ones I am happy because I feel healthy, productive, and that what I do with my time and my life really do matter. Those are the days I’m not looking for love. Those are the days I am love. Those are the most important days.

So, the things that have made me happy lately are quite simple:

• eating a juicy Georgia peach and getting to the  pit and wondering WHY oh WHY do the pits have that pointy part at the one end? It’s like the peach is saying “yes, I am sweet…”  (and then that thorny part of the pit hits your mouth) and the peach then says “but not that sweet…”  Of course I am imagining this in an Eddie Izzard voice. Almost anything said with an Eddie Izzard voice makes me happy.

• hearing the joy in a collectors voice last week telling me about how she and her husband fell in love with my painting before it was on the gallery wall and how perfect it is in their home. I truly feel uplifted in every way knowing that I created something that can bring such joy to anyone.

• walking into my studio and seeing my latest paintings – some in progress, some just started and some just finished. They are so full of life and makes my heart dance.

• finding out I get to go see my friends in Chicago and Newport soon. People I love and miss and that I feel very connected with. Gives me a lot to look forward to.

• knowing that my new little paintings arrived safely at my gallery in Florida and hearing the joy through the phone as they tell me they think my babies are “beautiful”.

• finding out that one of the designers who has placed my work has a new potential for getting my work out internationally (hate to jinx anything, but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities involved).

• feeling alert, clear-headed  and energetic from the whole body cleanse I’m in the middle of. (It’s not easy giving up the cocktails, I can tell you!)

• sending out mental apologies and love to those I may have been shut off to lately.

• hearing from those people out of the blue that I sent mental messages to.

• knowing this feeling.

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