Shed your skin


Yes. You are perfect just the way you are

and there's always room for improvement.

It's a human contradiction. But it's true for all living structures on our pretty planet Earth.

If I were a snake and my skin had become too stretchy or laden with parasites bugging me, read more here...

Reinvention

Year of the Yellow Pup

It's a New Year! The year of the Earth Dog brings an opportunity for change. How about reinvention?

You haven't lived if you haven't reinvented yourself at least once. That's an opinion, of course but whether or not we call it such, we all have to reinvent ourselves every so often. I've certainly had to on more than a few occasions.

While reinvention can be scary, it also holds potential, promise and the excitement of an unknowable outcome.

"You go through phases. You have to reinvent reasons for playing, and one year's answer might not do for another."—Yo-Yo Ma

Isn't it fabulous how odd experiences, chance encounters, random conversations, opening to a particular paragraph in a book, or hearing some snippet of a podcast or radio program can nudge you around a corner in your mind so that you find yourself in brand new lighting, looking upon new possibilities?

It is so easy to cling to certain things that are not working. Sometimes we cling to things, (people, places, thoughts) unconsciously or out of fear and don't even realize that we can change. With intention. Relatively effortlessly.

After an interesting week during which I tinkered with problem solving for a set of issues on my back burner, I woke up to the new year and thought... wait a minute... I'm going to change these things and make life better. I can write ad nauseum about change and reinvention but
here's one thing I've changed.

I've changed how I am offering and how you can take my online courses in drawing and watercolor.

I haven't changed the content, per se, (although that's always being tweaked to make it better), but I've changed some dates and how you can take the course. I'm excited! For you!

So, this Wednesday, February 21 at 8PM ET, I'm hosting a free webinar as a preview for my upcoming foundation course in March. Sign up for the free webinar here.

Read all about it.Sign up for the webinar.It's going to be fun. A little taste of what it's like to work and play in my online course. No pressureno obligation except that you do have to do a bit of scribbling before Wednesday evening (which is why I'm sending this post out early in the week).

Simplify, simplify. Click here to learn more about See Here Now.

Click here to join webinar on Wednesday evening.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”—George Bernard Shaw

The Sanctity of the Blank Page

When I was a Catholic child, there was a rack of religious pamphlets in the vestibule of our parish church. One day, while my parents were in conversation, I looked through the display and grabbed one small paperback with vivid colors splashed across the cover. I opened it an started reading. Each page was like the cover, bright fields of varying colors bleeding into one another with just a line or two on each page.

Page one: In the beginning..., page two: was the Word,...  page three: and the Word...,  page four: was with God, ... Page five: and the Word was..., and I turned the page to a spread of two pristine, empty pages. Except for one word tucked into the lower left,

















God.

It blew my little mind and I can still feel the reverberation of my five-year-old consciousness now. That experience forever informed my understanding of that word and concept of god. 

Even though I wasn't thinking then about the blank page, per se, I certainly have since. 

There is a sacred quality to the blank page whether it's an actual piece of paper, a canvas, project, performance, or the day ahead. However you may think about the word god, the divine, source, creative spirit or some other construct around that concept, the best results of taking action on any creative endeavor is often a matter of getting out of our own way.

All creative processes are rife with insecurities, mistakes, fear of judgement, confusions as to how to start, confusion as to where we are mid-way and how to proceed, how to complete. Almost without exception, I get lost somewhere in the middle of every project and I have learned to either stop and walk away briefly or find some thread of faith to push through and continue. I think that every creative act requires a certain amount of faith to begin and certainly to follow through to some conclusion.

In On the Question of Form, Kandinsky writes about the creative process in terms of the white, fertilizing ray and the black, death-bringing hand. Essentially, he's describing the opening up of our experience to the great unknown and our all too human tendency to cut that connection off with ego fears and constricting habits of thought.

It's a delicate balance. We have to learn technique, presentation, formal constructs, but then, eventually, to let go of those things and take the plunge to make that first mark or shepherd that first mark along. It's not so much a balance really, it's more like a dance. We have to give into the unknown and not worry too much about making a misstep, trusting  that the momentum will probably carry us along.

Trusting takes practice. It's sort of okay when you're alone writing or drawing or painting. Less so when you're working with a rare  piece of wood or stone. As long as you don't quit in surrender to failure.

When a novice musician steps up to perform in public and makes a mistake, the worst thing to do is to stop and start again. Everyone makes errors in performance. Once upon a time in my 20s, I was performing a long guitar solo in the midst of a song and completely lost my way. To this day, I have no idea how I found my way out of that solo and back into the song to the end. I did not know what I was doing but I did not stop. (I did, however, break out in a cold sweat.) What I do remember is that the best guitarist in the audience came backstage to tell me what an awesome solo I'd played. I still laugh about that. 

Trust and faith in the creative force, keeping ourselves open and side-stepping fears and other ego concerns are de rigueur for the artist. So is follow through and knowing when to pause for breath and reflection. It's also, of course, a good practice for living because what is living if not a creative act? But, let me pull this back to the drawing board.

Drawing and painting, especially watercolor, are performances, too. Phil Geiger at UVA taught me that and I've been grateful to him ever since. 

Give in to the sacred dance. Like the remains of a saint, the result on paper is a relic of experience.

As for mistakes, OMG, I have made way more than my fair share. But when it comes to drawing and watercolor, in the end I have to say...

Oh well, it's just a piece of paper.