I Made A Little Deal

I made a little deal with myself before I left for Europe.

I would bring along my art journal and do a few super quick sketches every day. Like, super quick ... only a minute or two of quick expressive drawings. No perfection, just quick hits of pen to paper.

It would be nice to fill one of my journals before I return home, which means 40 sketches of places that move me in some way.

Today I managed three while out and about in Berlin, and here's one of them.

These poor old feet of mine wandered around for 10 hours, letting my eyeballs go crazy over the layers of Berlin architecture, and letting my self be wifi free for most of the day.

Amazing how *present* one can be when not on one's phone. I even did old-fashioned navigation, checking the maps placed handily in various places rather than keeping my nose in my iPhone.


Berlin and Inner Space

I'm laying here in my sweet little AirBnB in Berlin.

There is a bird chirping outside in occasional collaboration with a cawing crow, otherwise it is dead silent even though I'm in the city center.

A couple hours ago, the overcast humidity was broken by a sudden rushing downpour. I put on my blue flowery raincoat, and walked around the corner to a little Italian joint that had €4 pizzas for happy hour.

I chatted with the owner, Dante, for a few minutes about how much he loved America when he visited years ago. I don't speak Italian or German, so we made do with his broken English and the thickest accent you've ever heard. It's amazing how humans can communicate with so few words - we understood each other perfectly. He was in California and Arizona for three months when he was younger, and said he would have stayed in a heartbeat.

He was all smiles, hand gestures, and a few Italian words thrown in for good measure.

After finishing my super cheap and super delish meal, I walked around the corner to the River Spree. The lushness of the trees lining its banks made my heart gush a little, I'll admit.

Now I'm back in my room, bone tired from three nonstop and exhilarating days in Normandy, plus one travel day from Normandy -> Paris -> Berlin.

I'm working on a new collage and stitching my brains out, contemplating the necessity of inner space. I'm releasing my 'Inner Space' mixed media art online class in August. And boy do I ever need to take my own workshop!

So, I kinda am.

I'm deepening into my own need for a slow-down and get back to basics creative lifestyle: taking time back. Getting off the computer. Setting my phone waaaaaaay off to the side, and reaching for something creative, something tangible, something that will feed my soul.

I don't know if y'all would agree with me, but I'm feeling the need to unplug more ... and do the REAL kind of plugging in.

Since I'm going to be leading so many into this soul-deep land of a REAL-deal lifestyle, I am leading myself in first.

And I gotta tell ya ... it feels pretty good in here.

When I Was A Little Girl ...

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a detective, archaeologist, and artist when I grew up.

Those three trajectories have somehow woven themselves together inside me, even without my planning it so.

Over the last couple of years, my art has sidelined (aka exploded) for the most part into inspired creativity from a vortex rooted into a time over 70 years ago.

I don't talk about it much publicly, because there is no language to describe the world I visit through my art.

Also, I carry some self-judgment ... shouldn't I be making art that makes people happy(ish)?

Art based on war, and a whopping world war at that ... it's a little intense. So I tend to hide the art and the topic away, mostly.

BUT ... I think I'm tired of hiding. Tomorrow I am doing something very exciting.

I'm getting on a plane and heading over to Europe to dig full-throttle with my hands and heart and soul and brain into my biggest passion: the history of the Second World War, and the humans who lived a full spectrum of possibilities, choices, and experiences.

Every time I go to Europe, I dive into this topic ... I kinda can't help it.

But this trip is dedicated to my art exclusively, not jangled and squeezed in around other things.

So, why on earth is a girl like me so passionate (aka obsessed) about such a devastating topic, with endless layers of tragedy, grief and horrific violence?

I've always had a soft spot for the shadowy side of life ... and this topic?

It's more relevant than many of us would care to believe.

Ghost Ranch and Georgia

This is my home away from home at Ghost Ranch, where I am hosting our 2017 art retreat.

This sweet little cottage is where Georgia O'Keefe used to stay the first few summers she spent here, before she bought a home on the property.

It's pretty awe-inspiring to stop for a few moments here and there, and consider Georgia's presence and her experience all those years ago.

She didn't have the internet to occupy her brain cells, for starters. I'm doubtful that there was a television in the wilds of New Mexico in 1934.

There weren't many people on the ranch then, and Georgia was a bit of a loner anyway.

So I'm imagining her world as one of crystal sharp clarity, where the colors of red that emanate from the rocky cliffs weren't dulled by how many likes she got on Facebook that day.

Or the sound of ravens circling and cawing wasn't drowned out by a Netflix binge.

I'm guessing she spent many an hour sitting inside and outside this adobe home, ruminating on life with all its complications and complexities, 1930s style.

Georgia's world had its own wounds and struggles which have been recorded for posterity.

And yet, I can't help but feel a slight (and undoubtedly romanticized) envy of her stripped down life, sitting in wonder of the natural beauty of Ghost Ranch that so inspired her art and her luminous career.

Morning Practice

As I was traveling and teaching over the last couple weeks, the issue around taking time for pure, pleasurous art-making came up several times.

For you and for me it can be hard to carve out the time and space to just create, right?!?!

I heard myself encouraging the women in conversation to wake up early and get their groove on. I know this is beneficial, because when my daughter was born I was hell-bent on maintaining time for artmaking. I woke up every morning at ungodly hours and started the day painting.

In spite of having a brand new baby and some hellacious post-natal anxiety, I was rather prolific. I'm sure the daily creative time also helped process the intensity of the panic disorder that was raging through me, and helped me start each day fully present while stoking the fires of healing.

Since I'm being totally honest I can also tell you that somewhere over the last couple of years, I've stopped that practice and instead lay under piles of covers each morning until I'm forced out of bed by life.

Lately I've been missing the early morning art practice, and this weekend while encouraging the women in my life to wake up and throw some paint around in a dedicated practice ... I decided to return to my own.

So this morning I woke up early (with a little help from my old friend jet lag) and have been painting ever since. Let's hope that this jet lag will provide the resurrection of this crucial and nurturing habit.