Now and then it’s a challenge for this particular artist to be brave in her own work, to work with her mousey side, to let go of her inner critic and just be bold where it strikes her to be bold and also too, to share her art (send it out into the world somehow no matter how insignificant it sometimes feels). So I remind myself today, to STAMP out my own impressions in life, freely, boldly, and in a spirit of playful dance.
Also too, since I brought up the performance (STOMP, that is), here's a link to a sort-of kindred video, HOUSE BEAT. It has a more handmade feel than STOMP; It's fun percussive music made with random sounds from around the house. It's also been one of my favorite youtube videos for quite some time. Enjoy!
My muse has also been busy delighting me with many fantastic art ideas in the studio, so I've been working, working, working. How much can I cram into one little month? Although I'm not sure when or what I'll share here, because a lot of what I have been up to is writing and not drawing, I've been loving the experience.
Anyway, while I let some blog posts from all of the above simmer (which part do I write about? Which parts do I share? I think I need some time to sort it out...), I thought I'd try something new here that I've wanted to do for quite some time.
I'll call it my November Treasure Hunt LIST. What is it? It's a random collection of crafty tid-bits and arty links that I thought might be fun to share, all things I stumbled across in Novmeber and jotted down as the month went on in preparation for sharing here. Maybe I'll try to do this again sometime; it was fun.
I hope you like it too...
|Strawberries from Cameron Highlands|
KJERSTEN'S NOVEMBER TREASURE HUNT LIST:
- This video that a few friends posted on facebook made me smile wide with wonder. Did you know that a collection of starlings is called a murmuration?
- This article in the New York Times clued me in on a fantastic charity that builds libraries around the world, especially in places where kids lack access to many books. The charity is called Room To Read and I LOVE what they do. I've been daydreaming about ways I can contribute in the near future... How about you?
- I loved this article from the New York Times about a woman who built a treehouse in Brooklyn. Don't miss the slide show, the pictures especially made me smile.
- Okay, I wasn't a horse girl, but umm... I would have gladly transformed my bike into a horsey bike when I was 9 anyway. Fun!
- My favorite sweater accidentally went through the wash after I visited Cameron Highlands (it's actually cool there). Sadness! Maybe someday I'll splurge on one of these colorful beauties to replace it.
- This article, from Wired, that talks about how constraints and rules can expand creativity, rung very true to me. How about you?
- In the books vs. electric books category I offer a couple of interesting bits:
- Another NYT article, this one about parents still preferring actual paper picture books for kids as opposed to digital picture books. Loved this article and felt like it caught my own exact POV on this one. I've collected quite a few picture books on my I pad and I even travel a lot, which could mean maybe those are the books I read my son when I travel. Umm... no. I still bring picture books. And even if my son does enjoy some of the I-books, he still prefers the actual physical books. As do I. So ya, I firmly believe picture books are here to stay, no matter the digital revolution in books.
- That being said... There were two pretty awesome picture book apps that came out this past month that I think stand out in their genre. Look for the Harold and the Purple Crayon digital app and the Mo Willems' app "Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App." Both use the medium well while staying true to the spirit of the original books. (That being said, I still like the books better).
- How about a google image search of the month. Ya, let's do it. I've been day-dreaming of ways I'm planning on changing up my living space in Bellingham when I move home soon. In that spirit, how about a google image search for something crazy like Patchork Chairs.
- And since Thanksgiving weekend is always a big part of November (at least for Americans like myself), how about this article affirming my beloved daily practice of keeping a gratitude journal (again from the NYT).
|What moment of your day stands out to you?|
I have a dated calendar (a cute one that makes me smile) and at the end of the day I just write what my favorite part of the day was. Just one sentence: “my favorite part of the day was reading stories to my son,” or something of the sort. It’s simple and small and it never feels like I’m trying to twist bad days into good. But it does help me wake up to small moments I perhaps take for granted on bad days. It also helps me recognize patterns in what are my favorite moments, which sometimes surprise me. I think it’s a good alternative “gratitude” practice, especially for days when you just don't feel grateful and you are sick of beating yourself up feeling guilty over it.
Because even on a crappy day, you can still pick a favorite moment of the day. And even on the worst days, taking note of that favorite moment usually brings a smile to my face. Which is welcome and nice.
P.S. I do also keep a daily gratitude journal, and even though some days it's hard to follow through with it, especially days that kind of suck, I have indeed stuck with it for several years now. And I'm so grateful for the perspective it offers me. I suppose after awhile the discipline of it sort of took over as habit and just like regular exercise, it helps keep me strong and healthy. So I'll keep it up.
How about you? How do you count your blessings?
P.P.S. Speaking of Andrea Scher's blog and since I mentioned it here, she put up such a fantastic Thanksgiving post on stealth blessings that I simply must link to it (and for those who don't always like making gratitude lists, there's respite for you there too). Enjoy!
Sometimes I marvel at what experiences leave their mark enough in my mind so that ideas, or even art or story, are born from them. Many times it's small, seemingly insignificant parts of an experience that nag me to be turned into something or other in my art.
Other times it's big, obviously awesome, predictably crazy adventures that do indeed lead to big, awesome and crazy adventures in my art.
And so it is this last week with elephants for me.
I've been obsessed with a new idea (one from my picture-book-idea-a-day journey) that all stemmed from my son and I taking elephant rides several times over the past year.
So I've dived into the idea, answered the muse and am LOVING the adventure. It's totally out of my comfort zone, but in just the right way. The way that makes me feel like I'm stretching my art muscles and pushing myself to my limits. All of which makes me feel totally alive and invigorated.
But at the same time. Gulp. If I think about it too much (as opposed to just going for it) makes me feel nervous.
When you leave the unknown and dive into adventure, you never know what you'll come up with. You may try a new restaurant that ends up being your absolute favorite noodle place in the entire hemisphere. Or you may wonder why you wasted your calorie intake on such slop. That's the way adventures go, you just don't know if you'll end up with shiny awesome experiences or if you'll end up with a whole lot of ugh.
But you don't find anything new and exciting if you don't try new things. And even if you get the ughs instead of the ahas you still usually know how to better aim your trials next time. So, I'm in my creative realm. Letting go of my land legs. Riding Elephants, if you will.
What about you? Is there an idea that is just a bit more than you think you are capable of, but you really love it? Why not splurge and take an hour to give it a try. You may end up with a bunch of stuff to delete or crumple up, never to be shared with anyone. Or you might find a new way to stretch your muscles. Or! You might end up on a wild and crazy artistic adventure that fills you with delight, thrill, and a bunch of, "Ya, why not?" feelings.
I suppose, as you can tell, I root for the adventure.
I participated last year and collected many usable snippets and ideas — one of which I've even written into a story I like and have even begin making into a dummy. Anyone else care to join?
It's very hard to share my ideas before they become real, solid, finished (or-nearly-finished) stories (it always feels a bit like squashing a firefly when I share an idea I haven't worked on yet), but I'm trying to figure out a way to share a bit more of what I come up with this year. Maybe I'll draw a few sketches from my ideas? We'll see. But I can promise you my new idea journal is about to gain lots of scribbles and scratches. And that makes me smile wide. Thanks for the challenge Tara!
|From an assignment in Andrea's Superhero Photo Class.|
One of my favorite bloggers, Andrea Scher, recently decided to offer a playful online photo course.
I couldn't resist.
I have this habit of taking a crazy amount of pictures. I look for color, shape, light. But it's all just playful.
|Red-shirted girl in the distance|
|My mother and my son holding hands|
Instead I embraced my practice as a way of appreciating the moment. I was no more obtrusive with my pictures than I've ever been (Let's just say the overly shy girl isn't one to walk around with a camera dangling from her neck, She leaves that to the real pros, like my uncle, or to the bolder amateurs, or to the tourists riding big buses).
Andrea will be offering another class soon, I believe. I hope, if you like to play with pictures, you'll join her.
|Blue umbrellas at Angkor Wat|
The above picture was taken in Australia and the picture below was taken last week in Kuala Lumpur.
What do these pictures have in common (besides both having my son in them)?
They marked the beginning of two different canopy walks.
In Malaysia it was at the Forest Research Institute, where they reclaimed an old industrial wasteland and made it jungle again (above).
In Australia we walked among the giant tingle treetops (above).
But at both I found myself walking on tiny, looooong bridges, high, high up in the trees.
Amazing. Fantastic. I loved it.
But... these walks were not exactly for the faint of heart.
They felt like small practices in bravery (not to mention yoga breathing).
They were exercises in trust.
They felt a bit like what it feels like when you put your art out in the world, actually.
You trust that the journey will be a bit thrilling, you'll be glad you did it, you probably won't crash to the ground, but things will feel a little shaky and uncertain, even if exciting.
And your view on the world will be different, at least for a bit.
There may even be anchors along the way, to help calm your nerves, even while keeping the view.
You probably won't fly, but it might feel a bit like you are.
You might even decide to go for it again...
What a cheesy post.
But a bit of truth is there somewhere, I'm sure.
If not for being an artist, then at least for being an adventur-ess.
Now, back to the ground.
Fifteen minutes into our boat ride we saw...
Two of them!
They were young whales, or so our guide told us.
So they were curious.
Which could explain why they hung out with our boat for 40-50 minutes,
popping their noses up,
swimming back and forth under and around the boat,
and sometimes even waving their noses at us when we waved at them (it's true! the guide told us to try it, and it worked! Curious whales sometimes play with people like that, he said).
It was one of the most magical moments of my life.
My son loved it too.
We also saw two Southern Right Whales involved in, ahem, courting.
They were a bit less interested in our boat though.
We even saw sea lions.
It was a day I'm certain I'll never forget.
P.S. This was all while still in Western Australia, for those who didn't read my last couple of posts.
|A window in the Islamic Art Museum.|
|Imperfect daily play drawing.|
|More daily play in drawing.|
|So far my daily play sketchbook features a lot of Oscar.|