Seeking Bliss

I have been on quite the journey since the last time I posted. I packed up and left Chicago, was planning to move to San Francisco, then through a convoluted series of events I found myself in Sunny Los Angeles. I like LA. Its always warm and sunny, the people are neat, and there is a ton of art.

All that aside, I’ve felt impatient with the transition. Impatient about making new friends. Impatient to “be” where ever it is I envision myself in the future. Impatient to make art. Time is simultaneously way too fast, and way too slow.

In hopes of finding some wisdom from the beyond I spent the afternoon exploring different concepts of patience. I researched the meaning of the word. Read through various philosophical and religious perspectives. After a while I decided to meditate and draw a card from the Triple Goddess Tarot. I drew “Infinite Bliss” today, a card I don’t often pull, which transcends the traditional 21 cards of the Tarot. I was immediately drawn to the description of the goddess archetype for the card: the Great Bliss Queen of Tibet.

Naked and red in color, She stands, one foot slightly in front of the other, on a radiant Sun-disk. In Her right hand, She holds a small drum of skulls, which is played raised to her ear. In Her left hand, She holds the handle of a curved blade that rests at Her side. Beyond are a series of luminous, rainbowlike bands of color arranged in a semicircle. Finally, a band of flames encircles the entire image.

While meditating I had pondered an artistic endeavor centered around bringing consciousness to patience. To be patient, according to Google search, means to have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. With this in mind, I imagined a project with a tedious task, such as creating an image through a series of seemingly redundant steps. After reading the description of the Goddess I knew I had found the subject for this idea.

Here is the final result of my Patience Project:

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To create this final piece I sorted through piles of magazine images to find the various symbols described above. As I sorted I kept coming back to the mantra of patience. More than once I noticed myself speeding up, becoming less diligent in looking for what I needed, or feeling anxiety about finding the right images to create what I saw in my minds eye. When I noticed these impatient thoughts, I would pause and recommit to my experience.

Once I found all the images I wanted, I cut them out with great care. I often rush and fudge cutting images out because I am so excited to get to the final result. Once the images were cut out I traced them onto the page. I decided at the beginning that I didn’t want to merely create collage of the Great Bliss Queen. I wanted to deepen into the practice of patience through repetition. Tracing the images took time, and I had to stop and reset at several points. After I had traced all the images I began embellishing the lines with Paint Pens, and allowed myself some creative license. Finally, I cut the final composition out and mounted it.

The whole process, from when I finished reading the description of the Great Bliss Queen to taking the picture above, took about two hours. I had created quite the mess, and even though I had other things to attend to I felt that cleaning everything back up was an important part of the process. Normally I would simply leave everything out, as tidying up my materials before starting often gets me in a good headspace for creating art. That being said, it felt good to leave my studio space tidy and spacious.

The Mess

The Mess

After completing my piece I was curious to see how the Great Bliss Queen of Tibet is normally represented. I couldn’t recall ever seeing a picture of the Goddess. I was surprised by how close my drawing was to traditional representations of her. I was especially tickled that the image for the body I chose closely mirrored the body position chosen for her in other works.

Great Bliss Queen of Tibet

I was inspired by this artistic meditation. I am curious what other images of the Goddess I might feel compelled to create, especially as I continue exploring this theme of patience. Rumi said “Patience is the key to Joy,” and if that is true then I am determined to find the Key to Patience.

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A Week in Review: California Sun (Part 2)

Last time I blogged about anything was a while ago, and back in November I only talked about half of my trip to California. Since then I have made a lot more art, and been to a couple more places around the country. However, before I talk about all that I felt I should finish discussing my adventure in LA.

ORIGAMI! If you have never played with folding some paper into fun shapes I recommend you give it a try. I love folding origami, and although I only know three shapes to any level of proficiency I want to learn more. Our art project with the High School student’s in LA was origami, and we used the numerous pieces to create a wonderful set for their final performance. The elementary students also made origami, but the majority of their set was also made by the high schoolers. In about 1 hour 45 minutes the 60 students we worked with cranked out over 600 pieces of origami. It was awesome!

We made three shapes: The Cootie Catcher/Fortune Teller, the Pinwheel, and the Lotus. The 3 shapes are relatively easy to learn and sort of build on each other. I taught everyone how to fold from the front of the class. I think I could fold the three shapes in my sleep. After all the shapes were made we took them home and strung them on strings. Some the shapes were stacked into lanterns- pinwheels on the bottom, fortune teller in the middle, and the lotus on top. I think it looks like a whole flower and they spin in the wind which is a great effect. The students each took a lantern home with them after the performance.

On our final day of the trip we had some free time. During my free time I visited the Getty Museum. The Getty is perched at the top of one of the hills surrounding Los Angeles. You have to take a tram up the side of the hill, winding through greenery and gardens to get to the actual museum. And once you step off the train you have to ascend a grand white marble staircase. The Getty has no qualms about putting art of a pedestal and I was pretty impressed by the grandeur of the entrance.

Image: Canterbury and St. Albans exhibition at the Getty Center. Foreground: St. Albans Psalter, about 1130, Alexis Master. Tempera and gold on parchment. Dombibliothek Hildesheim. Background: Panels from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 117880. Colored glass and vitreous paint; lead came. Courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury

Image: Canterbury and St. Albans exhibition at the Getty Center. Foreground: St. Albans Psalter, about 1130, Alexis Master. Tempera and gold on parchment. Dombibliothek Hildesheim. Background: Panels from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 117880. Colored glass and vitreous paint; lead came. Courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury

I only had a short amount of time to visit and I really wanted to see their illuminated manuscripts and stained glass. As it so happened the day I visited they had a temporary exhibit up on the Cantebury Tales, filled with rare and exciting manuscripts and windows. Illuminated Manuscripts are hand made documents intricately painted with beautiful inks, and are often focused on religious themes. They began appearing as early the 6th century and were still being made as late as the 16th century. To learn more about illuminated manuscripts you can go here.

I enjoyed sketching the strange images found on many of the pages. Cameras were not allowed in the exhibit so I had to capture inspiring images on paper in ink. This sketch was done in about 5 minutes and I loved the deer eating the octopus. It was such a bizarre picture that I couldn’t pass it by.

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The day I visited also happened to be part of the Getty’s children’s weekend. As part of the festivities they had a live medieval band playing and an art station for children. The project was to make an illuminated manuscript of your own to take home. I was allowed to make one even though I’m not a child anymore. It is pictured above next to my sketches from the exhibit. We were given a pile of papers of various colors and textures and then had access to numerous stamps and inks. Again, pressed for time, I quickly through something together as a momento of my time at the museum. I just let myself be drawn to colors and images and words that I liked.

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That was the final artistic endeavor of my trip to Los Angeles. I will be back in LA in March to be a part of a major theater production, “I Knew That Once”!

Pictures that inspire

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Pictures that inspire

In my college sketchbook I left a lot more white space on my pages than I did in my previous books. Frequently I would simply take an image I found inspiring and paste it onto a page by itself, rather than keep the image in a box somewhere to maybe someday become part of a larger collage.
I loved how this picture captured the transition of summer into fall. It also continues to draw my interest toward land art, which can be large or small. I don’t know who the original artist of this piece is, but I believe it did come from a national geographic.

A Week in Review: California Sun (Part 1)

Two weeks ago I took a break from my blog to do a weeklong performance project with Turning the Wheel  in Los Angeles, CA. I had never been to California before the trip and I was eager to see what all the hubbub was about.

When I arrived in LA I found myself to be staying in a beautiful home filled with books on art. Wonderful! I spent my first morning perusing Milk & Honey: Contemporary Art in California by Justin Van Hoy.

The book covered a variety of different artists working and living in California at the time the book was written. The main themes I found California artists to be working with are the quality of light, the variety of landscapes found near Los Angeles, and traffic. I liked the cover a lot, with all the butterflies, but apart from that most of the art within failed the capture my attention.

Monday night we visited a fantastically fun restaurant – Cafe Gratitude. The food at the restaurant is deliciously prepared and you can feel good about eating it because its all vegan. My favorite part about the food was ordering it. All the meals are given uplifting names and when you order them you become them. I was humble, elevated, and irresistible. Along with the uplifting atmosphere was some great art. My favorite work was a stunning mural found in the ladies bathroom. I wish I had ventured into the men’s to see if it was as wonderfully decorated.

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I liked the level of detail as well as many of the motif’s. When went to learn more about the artist Jon Marro I found some interesting things. His bio states that his work

“Currently is inspired by the teachings within Pneuma System, a path of synthesis, which brings together the inner wisdom of the major traditions of the world.  This knowledge illuminates a path of Solar Art – giving form to light and providing a sanctuary for the eyes…which I am now remembering.”
 

He calls his style shown above, Solar Art. Each line he draws gives form to his vision, like the sun – hence the name for his art style. Marro’s spiritual art is a great fit for the bathroom of a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude. Part of why the mural caught my attention so much was because it pulled together a lot of themes that I like to play with in my own art; whales, frog princes, butterflies, mandalas, intricate lines. It also made me wonder why I like those motifs. Is it because I see them all the time in popular culture, or is it because they resonate with the world today… or possibly a bit of both. It also made me consider branching out from common themes and discovering something fresher.

Barely into my week I had already seen a lot of great art, and as the week continued I got to play with bringing my own art to California. Check back soon for Part 2.

 

Firefly Handmade Market

On Sunday I visited the Firefly Handmade Market to peruse the arts and crafts for sale. I always love attending art fairs and markets for a couple reasons.

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  1. I would like to sell my art at one of these markets someday. I like to see the different ways people present their work and approach the public. I take note of what makes me want to enter a booth, and how my interactions with people affect my desire to purchase their goods.
  2. Along the same lines as point one I love collecting business cards. Right now there are lots of really cool business cards. They come in all different shapes and sizes. This time around I saw square cards, round cards, two-sided, one-sided, and so on. A good font on a business card can make a huge difference
  3. I want to support local artists. Although I didn’t buy anything this time around I do want to be a patron of the arts. I made a treasury list on Etsy of artists I saw that I may go back and buy christmas presents from. Or when I have a home again I may buy some pieces for my home. Check out my treasury list here.
  4. I get to meet other artists. Workshops, possible collaborators, interesting conversations are all over the place at these fairs. I met one woman who made the coolest hats and hopefully we will collaborate in the future. Fantastic!
  5. They generate ideas. Art shouldn’t be created in a vacuum. Sometimes I see things and think to myself, “I want to do that too!” Other times I see trends that I want to explore. As you will see in my treasury list birds are the coolest thing on the block right now. Not sure if that would mean jumping on the bandwagon or breaking out and doing something really different. Either way it got my creative gears moving.

I plan to go back to the winter market to see more vendors, generate more ideas, buy presents, support local artists, and meet new people.

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Graffiti in Paris

In 2011 I studied abroad for the summer in Paris. I saw a LOT of art in museums while studying the famous artists of Paris. However, I also saw a lot of cool art on the streets. I was amazed at the breadth of materials used in Parisian Graffiti. It may have simply been that I have never lived in a big city with plenty of time and places to create super interesting street art, but I enjoyed the variety all the same.

The majority of street art that I saw were put up with wheat paste. Wheat paste is a really cheap glue that dries relatively quickly. It allows an artist to premake their art or design on light paper and then simply slap it onto the wall with some paste. I like these works a lot because they are often really detailed, and as the paper wears due to weather they gain a certain character.

I was also excited to see a Space Invader while in Paris. The artist Space Invader is relatively well known due to his specific style. He recreates pixellated characters from video games with colorful ceramic tiles. I can never know if the piece I saw was an actual space invader, or created by an imitator, but I’m not sure it matters.

I also saw a ton of graffiti on the walls of the metro. However I didn’t get any pictures of that art because the metro moved so fast and the lighting was too poor. The idea of temporal, guerilla art that is accessible to lots of people, due to its public nature, really appeals to me. However, flirting with “the law” or what not has always kept me from experimenting with street art.