stepping it up a notch

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.
AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.” (from a Nike ad)

For the past two years I have been learning to play the Irish Tin Whistle. I have no previous musical training or experience but love the tunes and feel like I am waking up this whole other part of my art-brain that didn’t even know it existed. Although the whistle is, in and of itself, a wonderful instrument, I have often wondered if I could step it up a notch and learn a more complicated instrument, like the flute.

Today I had my first lesson on a borrowed flute with amazing flute player/teacher John Skelton. The subtleties will take years to manage, much less master, but it felt really good to just begin with the basics. When I first started the whistle, I wanted so badly just a be able to play a few tunes in a session with my friends. I now do this on a regular basis and it brings me a ton of joy. Maybe a few years from now I will be able to do the same on the flute. ‘Til then, I am enjoying the process of learning something of which I never thought I was capable.

what’s stewing in studio

Current projects brewing here in the studio include a second music video for my friend and fab music maker, Kim Taylor (this gal makes a mean mocha latte too, btw). This time around, now that I have gotten my feet wet in both the movie making software and in the moving pictures realm, the video will probably include some stop motion animation. In searching for examples of others doing this type of “art meets music in video” work, I have stumbled across the following two videos:

The first is Rock My Boat by a band called DNTEL. I had never heard of them and really like this song as well as the amazing animation that accompanies it here.

The second video is one I came across on an art blog while researching a completely different project regarding Blue Heeler dogs (more on that later). It is by a band called Mum for their song They Made Frogs Smoke til They Exploded off of their album Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy. The art work and motion in this video are stunning, to put it simply.

I now know what to shoot for (at least eventually) in this line of work and I feel inspired that there are other artists out there doing it so beautifully. As for today… I am still in Daily Dog mode. Stewing and brewing these new ideas.

Right work

I read somewhere once that Zen Buddhists believe in the concept of Right Livelihood, or more simply, Right Work. To me this concept has something in common with the idea of “do what you love, the money will follow”. As an artist, it is sometimes difficult to get out of my own way and just show up everyday and do the work without questioning why or how. When I get into this frame of mind, I do an exercise I call the daily dog that gives me something creative to do. A small job that might get my art motor running.

Here is today’s dog. I saw this dog on top of a horse in Nashville Tennessee.  Here he is talking to my mom.  He was part of a horse drawn carriage tour of the city and seemed very Zen in his job. If only I could be so sure of my own work each day!

Nashville Dog

Hanging out in Nashville

Nashville boots This weekend I went to Nashville, Tennessee with my mom and sis for our annual girls getaway. I’ve been to Nashville before and have found it to be an eclectic, friendly, interesting place to be. This time, we stayed primarily downtown where most of the country music flavored culture is to be found. Here’s a list of some things I saw:

Cowboy Hats (zillions)
Boots (even more of these, and got a pair myself)
Boobs (come on girls, can’t we leave SOMETHING to the imagination?)
Homeless folks (this is a large problem in Nashville but there seem to be advocacy groups there doing research and talking to people about how best to help)
Guitars (everywhere! Lots of rising stars running from gig to gig with them on their backs)
Legendary likenesses (tons of Country Music lore and the images are everywhere)
Dogs (on horseback, on leashes, in stores, busking for change)
Music (talent was oozing from this place. I’m not a fan of country music but there was not one wrong note anywhere near this town!)

All in all I enjoyed Nashville in spite of my distaste for and ignorance of most things relating to country music (I do love the roots of it, however). We topped off our visit with what has to be the best breakfast and cup of coffee in town at Fido’s Coffehouse.

lady pilot

This past summer I had the opportunity to be involved with a community art project in which artists and non-artists alike collected interesting garbage and junk and other seemingly useless items. In this Collect Project, local artists then created works of art using the discovered discards. The results were amazing! All works were finally auctioned off a week ago to benefit ArtWorks, a non-profit arts organization based in Cincinnati that promotes job training, creative services and public art.

Fellow artist Tina Westerkamp and I created three mixed media pieces of work together. Lady Pilot, below, was my favorite of the three. We started with a metal paper towel holder, an old watch, some (clean) hospital tubing, and parts of a bicycle wheel. We then added some other “art goodies” from our own eclectic stashes. I could write a dissertation about our artistic process but basically, it was the magic of putting two rather different styles into what became an Other. It was a blast.

One of my favorite sayings goes something like “If you don’t stir the pot now and then, all the good stuff sinks to the bottom.” This is so true for art. Collaboration with another artist is a great way to discover new avenues of making and stirring that proverbial pot. I highly recommend it.

Play in Motion

Art GuyYesterday I decided to do a little experiment to try my hand at stop motion animation. So I got the ubiquitous pose-able art guy out and took some pictures of him and some river pebbles having a little physical dialogue. I then put these still shots into my I-movie program, adjusted the timing on them a little and voila! Art guy and his river pebbles are on the move.

I am working on an idea for a longer project (read 2 minute music video) using a hand made doll and I want to create smoother movements. This is all part of my rather steep learning curve when it comes to computerized movie making. But today’s experiment showed me what potential there is in putting images together to create simple movement. I’ll keep you posted!

Click here to see the Art Guy Test video….

Parker comes for a visit

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring– it was peace.” -Milan Kundera

I love dogs. I love to hang out with them and play with them and, of course, draw them. I try to get at least a few dog drawings in a week if possible. Drawing dogs is a great exercise in paying close attention to form, as well as getting gestural movement down on paper. The other day our neighbor dog’s “cousin” Parker came over to visit. She is full of unabashed energy and abandon. And she smiles. I love that.

Parker comes for a visit

The Passing of Kindness

amy and mia at White PassA year ago today, my soul sister and dear friend Mia, passed from this life onto what lies beyond. This occurred after a year-long, courageous battle with breast cancer.

Mia’s calling in this life was Healer and she gracefully went about this work in all avenues in her life with primarily one tool, that of Kindness. Like most women, Mia played many roles in her life: Mother, Wife, Sister, Friend, Doctor. But no matter what role she was in at any given moment, Mia had a way of looking a person straight in the eye. And somewhere in that kind, steady, ocean-green gaze, comfort was to be found.

In her words and in her actions Mia was always there to remind me to treat myself, and others, with Kindness. If you happen to be reading this today, go do something kind, for yourself, for someone else, or both. If you have a conversation with someone, however brief, look them in the eye and really see them, human to human.

I saw a church sign once that said “Kindness is the oil that reduces the friction of life”.
The world could use a little more of this oil, don’t you think?

Anna’s new book

Anna Klosowska’s book coverThis past weekend I had the distinct pleasure to attend a celebration marking the publication of a recent book by my friend and talented author/ researcher/ professor, Anna Klosowska. The book is the culmination of some years’ research and digging into the poetry of an aristocratic woman named Madeleine de l’Aubespine who lived and wrote poetry in France during the sixteenth century.

Anna discovered some academic references to this poet’s lyrical work and followed threads all over Europe to further discover and then translate the complete works. At the party, guests were treated to Anna’s recitation of Madeleine de l’Aubespine’s somewhat racy (for their time, at least) poems in their native French language.

The translations are lovely and allow non-French speaking readers to get the point of the poems, but nothing compares to listening to them in French, read by someone familiar and enchanted with the work. As an artist, I find that the passion and visual imagery provided by both women’s work is an inspiration for my own work.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

part rabbit warren, part spin on art & life & etc. art, illustrations & workshops by amy bogard