Pink Teacups and a Chamois Cleaning Cloth

(c) Adair W. Heitmann

I’m still settling into our new home, still unpacking, creating new spaces, and using old things in new ways.

It continues to be a time of tripping down memory lane and being grateful for the past as well as the present and staying wondrous about how the future may unfold.

Today I celebrate my dear friend and chosen “godmother by love” Kazue Mizumura. I knew Kazue by her Japanese nickname “Baye” which means “baby,” as she was the youngest in her family.

We met when I was fresh out of art school, making my own way in the world as a single woman and professional artist. We shared creativity and independence and feminism and bonded immediately! Over the decades I spent many a dinner over long, deep, heavily-accented conversations filled with raucous laughter at her tiny pink house on the water.

She was an author, illustrator, and jeweler, an artisan par excellence. She gave me copies of her books and she bought some of my artwork. I commissioned her to make jewelry for boyfriends of the time. We supported each other, mostly emotionally. When I was with her, I never felt edited, only loved. We delighted in each other’s company.

She died several years ago. Many years after that, ten years after her death, her partner in life asked me to help her “clean out Baye’s studio.” RU hadn’t set foot in it since Baye died. Over the course of the arduous process RU kept asking me to take something to remember Baye by. I was there to help loved ones not to take anything so I continued to brush off the kind offer. Finally after weeks of helping out I chose to take home some of Baye’s sumi ink painting and calligraphy brushes. They were used and precious to me. Baye held them in her hands as she worked her magic. RU didn’t think that was enough! To me it was. RU insisted I take more. I then chose Baye’s set of pink porcelain tea cups . . . personal and priceless, and one other thing.

Today, getting ready to go celebrate a friend’s birthday I open a drawer to get the old, soft, supple, and previously-used silver polishing cloth I always keep in my bureau to polish my earrings. No one would ever know it was Baye’s. The holes in it were caused by her usage not mine. To me the chamois is a cherished object and of great value.

Being blessed with Baye’s friendship, love, and devotion and experiencing tangible connections to her daily, I never thought to Google her until this morning. Unexpectedly, I found a mother lode. I didn’t know one of her books was read on Sesame Street nor that she had illustrated a book by May Sarton. To me she was “Baye” my chosen godmother by love.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be open to accepting love and finding your own riches.

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Hope

Shell by Adair Heitmann

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

-Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things

Creativity and wellness message for today: Delight in hidden messages and the blessings of small things.

The Weave of Life: An Ode to Friendship

There is something many of you may not know about me and that is I am private about death and loss. My personal experiences are mine and I honor them and deal with them behind the scenes. This last year has been filled with loss for me. The unexpected, untimely, and multiple deaths of friends, co-workers, and family has sent me reeling at times for shelter under the closest rock. Yet, each day I’ve put one foot in front of the other to carry on. I also know many of you have lost loved ones this past year.

Last week a friend created a casual gathering to remember two close friends who passed away within a few weeks of each other in 2017. During our times of reminiscing and afterwards I realized the profound value the friends who are left standing hold for each other.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
– Henri J.M. Nouwen

Creativity and wellness message for today: Remember the fabric of life holds many strands. When one is lost others remain or are woven anew.

Sharing Your Stories

Jubilate @ UVA

The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. So when stories come to you, you must take good care of them, as well. Learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs your story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put our stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.
-Barry Lopez

Creativity and wellness message for today: SYS

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Caitlin_Geary

Photograph credit: Caitlin Geary

During what was called the “Blizzard of 2016” I texted my niece in NYC, checking in on her. She was safe, warm, and sent me a photograph she just took. The image blew my socks off! It was artistic and perfectly composed. The lighting was spectacular and the mood both mysterious and intriguing. It could have been taken in Paris or London, it had an international and cosmopolitan feel to it. As you can tell, I loved the image.

Fast forward to a few days later, while working with my physical therapist, we were gabbing about the recent storm. He was talking about how New York City got more snow than Connecticut. I pulled out my mobile phone, proudly showing him my niece’s creative photograph. Does he exclaim about the beauty of the lighting? Do I hear a gasp as he inhales in wonder and amazement at the textures and colors? No. He says, “Oh that’s a ____________ bicycle. Everyone knows their wheels are 26 inches.” Linear proof that, yes indeed, NYC had more snow than we did.

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Enjoy your own perception of things.

The Power of Words

art-colorI recently visited The Nest in Bridgeport, CT. The Nest is an artist’s studio co-op housed in a weather-beaten, flat-topped, but freshly painted old warehouse, complete with a red door. Luckily a friend who has a second floor studio invited me and my artwork to participate in a group-rate photo shoot of my images.

Among other things, like taking a personal day from work to have an art day, I loved being immersed in color talk and hearing art jargon and nomenclature. It’s my first language! When I overheard the photographer say, “I’m seeing slight cyan issues,” I smiled to myself. Ahhhhhhh, I exhaled.  She isn’t talking about “issues” like anxiety, she was talking about color saturation to digitally match an artist’s fiber art. Sitting there,  I was in heaven just listening.

I grinned when I heard, “Every digital camera has its own color issues.” No, we aren’t talking about stereotyping. I was full and satisfied when I overheard, “It just needed magenta added back into the blues.” No, not a jazz song, not feeling depressed, color, color, color.

This orgy for my ears brought to mind a list of pure pigment names I read while ordering paints online last summer. I was delighted by how familiar they sounded on my tongue and looked to my eyes. Reminiscing about them instantly peeled off decades and I was right back in art school, young, powerful, and creative.

Hansa Yellow
Diatylide Yellow
Pyrrolle Orange
Perylen Vermillion (oh, how this one makes me shudder with joy)
Quinacridone Violet
Ultramarine Blue (brings me right back to the first art term I ever learned)
Phthalo Blue
Burnt Sienna (I can see the rich red-brown as I type)
Raw Umber
Van Dyke Brown
Jet Black
Carbon Black
Lamp Black (yes, we artists have many shades of black)

Words, simple words, they return me to my first life as a young artist. Positive memories spring up from my formative days, offering strength and excitement.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Revisit the language of your art and see where the journey takes you.

Making Art Fun: Step 4 – Lighten Up

We can all take ourselves too seriously, in life as well as in art. One of the secrets to happily navigating both is to lighten up. Recently I had a professional opportunity that required scanning a lot of my paintings, prints, photographs, mixed media collages, and graphic design projects. Work that had been completed over several decades. Once I viewed the images on my computer I was struck by the fact that what I thought to be my best original art didn’t represent that strongly in digital form. In a quandary, with a deadline looming what was I to do? Lighten up!

I put on completely new eyes. Gave myself an attitude adjustment and became enlightened. I surveyed my work from one perspective only “What graphically shows the best.” I made selections from that sole point of view. Boy, did it simplify the creative process! No longer did I take time remembering the success of that piece or reminisced about what collector bought it. No longer was I seduced by my own feelings of yummy art memories, lightening up became practical, efficient, oddly enjoyable, and freeing.

Artworks that I would have considered not so good, showed me their strengths in digital form. I was educated anew to the value of my work, it was like a refresher course. Once the project was complete I even had fun making a video out of some of the art and design, the different viewpoint sparked more creativity.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be surprised at the increase in your rate of production when you lighten up.