Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wild Contradictions

Has anyone read the book Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon? If you haven't yet, give it a try. It is  one of those books that gives you permission to be just who you are as an artist. And that involves "stealing" from other artists. Not in a plagiaristic, copy-cat, I don't have any ideas of my own kind of way. Rather in an I'm influenced by many things, many artists, and genres all thrown in a blender sort of way. I love the concept of embracing our wild contradictions as people and artists. It is what makes us interesting as humans, though we often fight our divergences and contradictions as flaws.

After obsessing over Wes Anderson this week (after watching Moonrise kingdom twice, and re-watching The Royal Tenenbaums at the Boulder Outdoor Cinema (outdoor flicks are a deep love of mine), I can see how well he exemplifies this principle. His influences are wide and varied, familiar and obscure, intellectual yet nostalgic. We don't often see them coming even when they are pretty straightforward. All this input goes through some sort of Wes filter and comes out utterly unique to his vision. That was my big takeaway from Steal Like an Artist. That it's okay to have influences and to emulate, because whatever we do with authenticity is utterly marked by ourselves. Liberating isn't it? What if we tried embracing every flaw, contradiction, inspiration within us and worked really hard, imagine what we could create?

Needless to say, there are several other huge, eye opening ideas in Steal Like an Artist. I think I could read this book every week just to absorb it deeply enough to live it. If you are interested in some Wes Anderson influences, take a look here. Feel free to comment on this post, let me know who's out there!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I recently saw a sculpture by an incredible local potter of a woman floating over a seal. I took my breath away. The figure was hovering above, supported and protected in a way by the seal. It was called Unsinkable. I can't tell you how meaningful that was for me. It is an image that I haven't been able to get out of my head and I knew there would be a journal page in it. I like this page a lot. The figure isn't perfect, but there will be chances to work on this idea more. I love stories of selkies, and I identify with seals (and otters) for their playfulness. They remind me of who I want to be and how I want to live.

 I created both of these pages in Juliana Coles' Altered States workshop. This page was a bit of a surprise for me. I was trying to do the assignment, but this page really evolved on it's own. It really became about the loss of my first home a year ago. I know it sounds silly, I live in a really great home in Boulder. There is so much that I love about it, my studio, the space, the deer that wander through my backyard. As a girl who moved around a lot growing up I've never really felt rooted, or like any place was really my own. Even when I moved to LA it was temporary, for grad school. I knew I couldn't stay there long term. Moving to Colorado was for me, for us, and my little house in Old Town Longmont was so me. Everything I always wanted. But life moves forward, and as much as I resisted, so did I. I wasn't ready to let go and move on, but the timing was right and we did it. I still mourned the loss of that home like it was a person, a part of me. And it was.

After that, things came to a head. My foot, my health, I felt like my whole life was unraveling. Where I'd felt rooted before, I began to feel untethered and unattached to where I was. Now I understand that while these feelings were valid, they were also symptomatic of what my overtaxed body was dealing with. But I get that this is a healing house. The place where I am learning my limits and am forced to change. And one little change opens up a world of options. My life is here now, but there is no telling where it will end up. Will we make our way back to the sea, closer to friends and family one day? I hope so. But there is no way to see that when you are in a warm cocoon with your eyes closed. I feel a bit like the phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction. A dramatic comparison for sure, but how can we get where we're going without a catalyst?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Altered States

I'm currently signed up for Juliana Coles' online class, Altered States. First we choose a book and then go through a process of adding various tabs to connect us with our books, make it our own, but mostly it's just a lot of fun. I took this class when it debuted and had so much fun prepping the journal and started the assignments but didn't finish. So I'm back for more. I thought I would just work in my earlier book, but the the tabs were so fun I had to make another. This book really isn't anything special, I obsessed over which one to use, and then found this one at the library and just love the size, 7" x 9 3/4". It just felt right. There was no imagery to be attached too, only these cool, bold, retro chapter numbers. When adding tabs today I realized that there are 34 chapters, which is also my age. If I had known this before I would have probably tried to keep all the numbers and plan it out to make it perfect. It's so much better this way. But now my book feels potent, and I guess Juliana was right, I chose it, or it chose me for a reason.

I somehow whittled down a rather large collection of tags, tabs, papers, and misc crap to what you see here. Old crusty things mixed with bright shiny things. But my favorite just may be the old box of 4th of july poppers. There are plenty more bits and bobs in this book that will be fun to share once I get to journaling in it!