Let's tak' a cup o' kindness yet...

Settling | Watercolor | Suzanne McDermott

Hagmane!

I cannot remember another end of a year that people were so anxious to be done with. But 2017 seems to be a year that most want behind them. At least that's the word on the street that's reached my ears.

So, let's tak' a cup o' kindness yet, and make a good turn of the year.

just read* that the words to Auld Lang Syne may be lost any year now so here's a link to its Wikipedia page and another to my fave version, sung by Dougie MacLean*. Now, you've no excuse not to sing and pass it on.

Looks like it'll be a stormy Hogmanay in Scotland this year. I wondered where that word came from and, what do you know, it may be from the Swedish for full and moon.

And it's a full moon! The Wolf Moon shines on the first at 9:24 pm ET.

So, Hagmane!*

*The Scottish Presbyterian Eloquence of 1693 recorded: "It is ordinary among some plebeians to go from door to door upon New Year's Eve, crying 'Hagmane'."

Welcome the light


Greetings on the Winter Solstice. I encourage you to welcome the light into every aspect of your life. It is only through light that darkness will be kept in check and balanced properly.

I wish you all love and lightness of heart. i wish you safety in the material world and curiosity and openness in your spirit. Be glad that you are alive at such a rare time of the human experience.

More later. Enjoy your company this holiday season or your solitude. Light a candle for your soul and for us all.

This year, I share with you one of my perennial favorites. Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose.
Light a candle or a fire. Alone or with your family or a friend, click here to listen to the incomparable original recording.

Click and listen. I swear that it's worth every second of your (and your family and friends' time.)
Nobody's a natural. You work to get good and then work to get better. It's hard to stay on top.
― Paul Gallico
With a special holiday hello from Miss Tallulah, ​and lots of love...


The first step of practicing magic


“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

― Roald Dahl

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The first step of practicing magic

I was friendly with the master magician, Ricky Jay in my early 20's. Aside from the night he took me to The Magic Castle, my favorite memories are of random afternoons when Ricky would stop by and, standing in the back alley, toss playing cards across the 2-story building where I worked to particular targets he'd call along the boulevard on the other side. Those were early-ish days of a master practicing his craft and, while I had no desire to learn card tricks, it was a wonder to watch him practice. He was fully present and supremely aware.
In a documentary about his life and his own master teachers, Ricky says:
"The real key to learning is almost like the Sensei master relationship in the martial arts. The way you want to learn is by someone that you respect showing you something."
I practice a different sort of magic and, though it is impossible to teach, I do my best. Teaching drawing and watercolor (and art history practicums!) involves watching people undergo processes of becoming aware. It's gratifying to hear people tell me that their minds are opening. The first step is always drawing because drawing helps you learn to see. It's the most challenging step, really, because to draw what you see requires you to bypass what you think you see; to bypass your thoughts.
Challenging because, on average, we think about 70,000 thoughts per day. That works out to almost 49 thoughts a minute. Quite a distraction from focusing on any object in our environment long or well enough to really see it.
When you start practicing seeing through drawing, you become more aware of the actual magical world that we live in. Becoming present and aware of the magical now is the first step of practicing magic.
***

"Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see - to see correctly - and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye."

-Kimon Nicolaides

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for early notification about my foundation course and art history practicums starting in January 2018 with special early bird value and bonus.
Or start now with Enter Here.

The difference between practice and habit


Practice, practice, practice.

Twyla Tharp composed a popular book on creativity, The Creative Habit. It's a wonderful book that I recommend at a certain point during my Foundation Course in Drawing and Watercolor and also to some creative coaching clients.


"Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits."  —Twyla Tharp


One thing, though. From my experience, if creativity is a habit, it's formed by practice. You don't establish any habit right away. You have to practice creating a habit, let's say drawing and watercolor until you rewire your neural pathways so that what you're practicing becomes a habit.

However, my experience is that with any creative practice, you are involved, to a large degree, in discovery. You have to be able to continually tweak what you're practicing, sometimes on a daily basis, in order to expand your abilities and understanding.

In other words, if you establish a particular way (habit) of doing a drawing or watercolor and then discover that you have to change that particular way in order to grow as an artist, you have to un-learn certain habits.

As a different sort of example, let's say you've learned a Mozart piano sonata so thoroughly that it's ingrained in your neural pathways and muscle memory and you can play it "by heart". Then you discover that click here to read more...