Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seth and The Pulse of Mixed Media

 Today I proudly welcome Seth Apter to my blog "home" and join the 31 other artists honored by him to be part of the month-long unveiling of his book,  The Pulse of Mixed Media: Secrets and Passions of 100 Artists Revealed.

I think all of us are curious about the creative spirit and can think of dozens of questions we'd like to ask of the people who choose to dedicate so much of their lives to making art. Well, Seth has interviewed 100 artists and asked a series of questions of each one. He presents not only their answers but also examples of their work. I personally can't wait to evesdrop in on the conversations and see the work of so many artists. I love this kind of book.

These are little peeks into the images I have in the book. The first one was probably a class demo. One of my crazy happy ladies with the wiggly magic painty fingers. 

This one's in the book too. Her name's Graciella and she's glad to finally get out of the studio and into the world. She's my self-portrait and she has a little boat to ride around in but to see the whole doll you'll have to find a copy of the book.

I know many of you who read my blog are artists yourselves and Seth (who has been a wonderful catalyst for community) has sent out an invitation to all of you (yes, YOU!) to be a part of an online version of the book. And there is no jury. No jury! Read his instructions here and Seth will include you in some way; it's another opportunity for artists to connect with other artists. The thing Seth's been promoting all along.

Lastly I just want to say thank you to Seth for working tirelessly since he started his blog to present the artists he's discovered and to create buzz and connections across the internet. It's a marvelous thing that we can encourage each other and have a place to show the work we love to create. 

So thank you, Seth. And congratulations on this, your first book (but not your last).   

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Musings

Stephanie Lee brought me some terrific news today. She's asked me to join her in her Plaster Class at Artfest on Friday the 30th. She has a huge plaster class (it's full, sorry) and needs back-up in case a dozen students have questions all at the same time. I'm thrilled. Mostly because I've been too lazy to submit classes myself or to make teaching plans - and still I get to be in the class room. Yes!

I'm so glad I get to return on the final year of Artfest to wrap up an era and meet again with the people who've meant so much to me. To say good-bye to a place that's changed my life.

 I recently shared a conversation with a friend about what we look for in the people we choose to spend our time with. My easy answer was artists and visionaries. Which are often the same thing but not always. Writers, spiritual people, people who can see where things are headed and who try to make a difference. I think it was at Artfest that I first met people who were strikingly open, kind and good to each other. Where competition was absent. It felt different than what I experienced in other groups, even other art groups. It felt WONDERFUL and safe.  

So thank you Stephanie and if you're going to Artfest too maybe we'll see each other there.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Journal Class Countdown

Gently nudging myself forward; getting used to being home again with all the familiar sights and diversions. 

Daffodils greeted me on my morning stroll; the world is yellow, the color of new beginnings. 

 Monday the Journal Class begins; now that I've unpacked my suitcases and sent off my taxes I can turn my energies toward the final preparations. We're all excited. New journals are being made, old ones are being dusted off, budding writers and mixed media aficionados are gathering up their favorite supplies in anticipation.

Meanwhile I'm going over the videos and lessons I prepared before my travels; adding to and making sure everything's there that needs to be there. 

I want it to be wonderful. 

I want to encourage you to be lifelong journal keepers.

I read a book title this week that intrigued me. It was "Write It Down, Make It Happen".

I believe in those words.

We learn to know ourselves more deeply.

We admit to the dreams we dared not name.

We find that we can make amazing things come into our lives.

And in the process of unfolding our hearts we create beauty.

 We become better writers and better artists.

We discover how much we can grow. 

My journal is my guidance system, confidant and the place I go to meet myself.

Join us if you can. It's going to be a great party. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

San Miguel de Allende

A taste of San Miguel. We spent the last leg of our hejira here, in the company of old and new friends. The air was honeyed, every morning we awoke to church bells and the cooing of doves. 

It is good to turn off the news (which is not really news, only bad news) and listen to the sounds of nature. Good to move slowly, breathe deeply and let the rest of the world take care of itself for awhile as you take a break.

Evenings in San Miguel this time of year can be cool but not cool enough to build a fire in our room.

Days we spent walking the narrow sidewalks, giving our old bones a fine workout.

Evenings I confess were spent imbibing ridiculous amounts of Margaritas and eating tortillas de maiz.

I have no doubt that the Virgin de Guadalupe watched over us every moment. I am not a brave or reckless person and imagine every kind of calamity that can happen during travel. I turned my fears over to the goddess. It's the best I can do.

Ellen Benson shared her game of drawing on randomly ink-blotted muslin; she gave me a couple of pieces to work on during my stay and this is one of the results. The color was applied by her, all I did was find shapes and fill in what I saw with indelible pen. It was really fun and something to do in airports and on the plane.

Of course I spent many hours chewing over my experiences in the journal. This time I only travelled with watercolors, pens, stamps and glue stick. Did some retro-decorating when I got back home.

I thought a lot about the impulse that drives creative people to make art. Came to the conclusion that all art is sacred, whether the maker intends it to be or not. The impulse is the same in both cases. Transcendence. Rapture. Euphoria and joy. Every artist knows that feeling from when a painting goes well. 

And color. How we do love color, obvious or nuanced. And texture.

Harmony. The line and the satisfaction of bringing disparate elements together to form something new.

I took a few shots at the big market on Tuesday. So much color, fragrance and sensual pleasure.

I remember when I used to be afraid to eat salads in Mexico. Those days are gone. Now I eat.

So much to choose from.

So many clever ways to cook the food.

There's food for vegans.

And for meat lovers. ha ha.

This is making me hungry.

Mexicans are famous for their agricultural knowledge. The variety and quality of vegetables at the market was astounding.

Beautiful food, lovingly prepared.

I haven't spoken much about the people who filled our days but study the beautiful faces in the photo above and you'll get an idea of the spiritual gift each person gave. Aging, precious flesh, long in experience and kindness; I learned from each one, received a silent communion and was filled.

Adios Miguelito. Adios and thank you for every precious moment.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Popocatepetl, Puebla and Pozos

Just outside of Puebla, where the Cuota (toll highway) meets the regular traffic you spot this massive sight looming over the landscape. This is Popocatepetl, second largest volcano in Mexico and increasingly active since January of this year. It's only 25 miles west of Puebla and has been smoking and burping ash off and on for centuries. It's 17,802 ft. tall. Under the shadow of the volcano indeed. 

One of our day trips included a visit to the neighboring town of Cholula where we saw Tlachihualtepetl temple, an archaeological site containing the world's largest pyramid. The Catholics came and built a church right on top of it (they love to do that) so in addition to the pyramid we got to see the Senora de los Remedios cathedral.

It's a strenuous climb to the top of the hill but we made it by moving very slowly. Mexico is a high country; Oaxaca is 5085 ft. elevation and San Miguel is 6500 ft. so imagine thin air and light headedness. I was pretty much dizzy the entire month.

Here's a shot showing the church towering above the city of Cholula. It made me wonder what was under that mountain; I also said a little prayer for the slave labor that had to haul all those big stones up that hill. It's really incredible to imagine the effort that went into such a structure.

Puebla was a new city in Mexico for us to experience. It's a gorgeous place, halfway between Mexico City and Veracruz; has a lovely colonial central area where we stayed and it reminds me of parts of Europe. It calls itself the City of Angels and the people are very proud of their mixed heritage.

It has one of the biggest cathedrals and loudest bells of any church I've visited in Mexico. When those bells ring your whole body vibrates; it's incredibly thrilling. 

Inside the church are too many wonders to recount. Here's a burning saint, one of my favorite themes. I don't know if he's a martyr or a sinner but he looks uncomfortable.

The food in Puebla was exquisite. The people there are referred to as Poblanos. Like the chili pepper.

Here the driver and navigator consult the map. A good map is indispensable for any explorer.

One last good-bye to Puebla as we hit the road again.

Good-bye to the Popo volcano. Source of wonder.

Teotitlan. Out of sequence. But lovely still.

Now we're on our way to Pozos, outside of San Miguel de Allende.

Contrasts. This lovely gazebo in the town square.

Someone's humble front door. But you never know what exists behind those unassuming walls. 

Now we're in Pozos, a town that was once booming but now rests quietly with only a fraction of the former residents.

We enjoy a wonderful meal here served by some of the intrepid inhabitants who've stayed on to reclaim the city.

After our meal we venture into the countryside to visit the ruins of the silver mines. The smelters, wells and buildings that lie quietly and attest to former greatness.

As you see I'm wearing sensible shoes on the desert. I make no excuses for how I am.

This is a desolate, abandoned place. There are no tourists, no signs of life. Only the wind and the stone ruins.

We imagined these narrow, cool hallways might have been a storage area for food. 

Thick walled adobe and stone.

From the other room I hear "Malaguena Salerosa" playing ... a beautiful accompaniment as I write about our experience of Mexico. I was raised on the desert and I will always carry the desert in my heart. 

Tomorrow we'll wrap up in San Miguel Allende.