A.R.T.: Action, Reflection, Transformation

Here I am speaking at The Unitarian Church of Westport, CT

Watch out for who you run into at your local gardening center! There I was, minding my own business, choosing colorful potted flowers for my front porch, when I saw a friend browsing the outdoor aisles. We got to talking and catching up. She follows me on social media and asked about my recent art exhibitions and writing projects. Gab, gab, share, share, it was a lovely day to be outside and even lovelier to be chatting with her.

We say goodbye and a few weeks later, I’m asked if I would be interested in leading a lay-led summer service at The Unitarian Church in Westport, CT. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. What might be of value to the folks in the pews? I asked my friend (who was the Worship Associate) and she answered, “Talk about your art.” Hmmmmmmmmmm. Yes, I could talk about that until the cows come home, but is that really of value to the people in the seats?

Then I said, “I could speak about losing fifty years of my original fine art in a silent basement flood right before I was planning a retrospective.” She leaned in. I immediately followed my intuition and promptly said, “I could title my homily, “A.R.T: Action, Reflection, Transformation.” Ding, ding, ding, she thought it a great idea.

While it was a challenge writing my personal narrative homily with a message, I got as much out of it as the congregants. Being asked to speak was validation of me and my worthiness. Having my idea liked made me feel recognized. Hearing, seeing, and feeling the responses from the people in the pews and from them afterwards opened my heart.

Watch a video of my homily below. It starts at 13:26.

ART- Action, Reflection, Transformation from The Unitarian Church in Westport on Vimeo.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Just say yes and let your inner knowing take you to the next step.

Renewal and Responsibility

“Feather Light” clay monotype with chine collé by Adair Heitmann on view in juried exhibition

My art was recently selected by juror, James Barron, into the Spectrum Contemporary Art Exhibition at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in New Canaan, CT. The theme of the show is “Renewal,” apt and timely. I’m proud to be in the exhibition. Being accepted helps me keep going, keep creating, and keep creatively experimenting.

I’ve also been submitting to art and writing residencies around the US. I’ve wanted to be accepted into one for decades! I applied to one 30 years ago, got rejected, felt defeated, and never re-applied. Now I have the courage (and time) to keep pursuing applications to a variety of venues and locations. I’ve applied now to four, and have been rejected, so far by three. Still awaiting news on the fourth.

Over the years my mind set has changed from lasting despair if I don’t get accepted to viewing my submitting process as Rejection Accomplishments. It’s my responsibility to myself, as an artist and a writer, and someone who really wants the collaborative and focused work environment of a residency, to keep applying. I learn something new each time I apply to a different residency.

My Excel spreadsheet of possibilities, deadlines, and websites is lengthy, I have more creative opportunities then I have time and space to submit to. It’s a good problem to have!

Creativity and wellness message for today: After feeling the loss of rejection, consider patting yourself on the back and acknowledging “Job well done, now on to the next!”

Creativity is the Mother of Reinvention

PechaKucha Night Bridgeport, CT. Photo credit: Arne Heitmann

Have you ever wanted to reinvent yourself? I’ve done it many times and I’ve lived to tell the tales!

I know first-hand what it’s like to outgrow your job and how the creative process isn’t always linear. I also know how art and writing and expressing myself have saved me time and time again. And how being in the creative flow makes me feel alive. Taking leaps and willingness to walk into the unknown are beacons in my life.

“Creativity is the Mother of Reinvention” is my visual storytelling about life continuously being about retooling and reinventing. I shared it at the PechaKucha Night Vol. 12 “Reinvention + Discovery” at the Bijou Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut as a part of the 13th annual Bridgeport Art Trail. It’s 6 minutes/40 seconds with 20 fast-paced inspiring slides. I welcome you to take a look and a listen!

https://www.pechakucha.com/presentations/creativity-is-the-mother-of-reinvention

Lightness of Spirit

Feather-stars by (c) Adair Wilson Heitmann

My thoughts today alight on feathers: Feather symbolism has different meanings depending on who you ask. For me, they represent hope, alignment with Spirit, divine protection, poetic inspiration, and profound yet light mystical connections. They also come into my life unexpectedly and offer me insight and strength to try something new. The feather comes as a sign and teaches me to creatively trust what is in the immediate moment.

Others have said:
“In a result oriented culture like ours, it is easy to get hung up on endings, on figuring things out and finding precise solutions. But a true fascination continues building with each new piece of information, making new connections, revealing new patterns and opening new perceptions. The exploration of natural miracles is a fundamentally open ended and curiosity driven enterprise. It reminds us that science is not always about the answer, it is about the questions.”
– Thor Hanson, Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle

“If feathers don’t ruffle, nothing flies.”
–  Jessica Raine

.“The soul, light as a feather, fluid as water, innocent as a child, responds to every movement of grace like a floating balloon.”
– Jean-Pierre De Caussade

“Style is the feather in the arrow, not the feather in the cap.”
– George Sampson

Creativity and wellness message for today: Acknowledge unexpected gifts from nature that may float into your awareness.

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.

Making the World Bearable

Falling Leaves Abstract by (c) Adair Wilson Heitmann, clay monoprint

It was George Bernard Shaw who said:

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be inspired to make the world bearable.

 

 

Inspiration and Perseverance in the New Year

mobile-3

Nature Mobile by Adair Heitmann

Recently, a beloved mobile, one I made while I was in college, was accidentally broken by someone other than me. The mobile was special and sentimental. I constructed it late one night in my college studio apartment in Syracuse, NY. The hanging sculpture was of delicate, transparent shells and two pieces of elegant driftwood. I’d found the objects in nature while dreamily beach-combing and camping on Sanibel Island, FL. I fancy myself a good artist in two dimensional works, 3D however has never been my forte. Add to that the subject of balance, I was out of my element. Mind you, I can balance a checkbook and I strive to live a balanced life, but creating actual poise, stability, and equilibrium using fishing nylon, lightweight shells and small pieces of graceful wood was a challenge.

I hadn’t taken a class in weights and measures, nor was I a mathematician or scientist who could assess, evaluate, and compare sizes and weights to calculate stability. I was an artist! I remember vividly the night I spontaneously made the original mobile. It was my very first mobile and I ventured into unknown and nervous territory to even consider making it. Yet, I was inspired to do so. The creative process was hands-on and immediate. I felt my way through the act of gauging the position and stability of the little objects. I was more of a creator and the act of tinkering was new to me. Yet, I knew I needed to keep going, persevere, make adjustments, adapt angles and lengths, and I trusted the balance would present itself. When it was finished I loved its simplicity, it was Zen-like. I hung it in my tiny apartment and upon college graduation the mobile came with me, survived being packed and unpacked during seven of my moves, and always found a place on view in my home. The mobile was never a center-stage type of artwork, but every time I saw it, I felt proud of myself for trying something new and constructing something outside my comfort zone.

You can imagine how I felt when I found it, decades later laying flat on my desk. The supporting strings made of fishing nylon were old and weak. I could not blame the accidental mishap that caused it to break. I put it aside until I had time to fix it, I knew the persistent process I would have to undertake and I knew I’d go into an anxious tinkering approach in order to fix it. I made the original mobile spontaneously, using trial and error kinesthetic experiments. I had to go back into that same state of mind and hands-on method to fix it. It also was important to me that I fix it myself. I live with the mobile king and could have very easily asked him to repair it. But it felt imperative for me to restore the damage.

Our college-age son watched my process and progress. Over the winter break he was home and on his computer at the kitchen table while I was fiddling and messing with the mobile two feet away. He saw and heard my frustrations, he witnessed my starting over again and again. He observed, all while working on his own projects, my searching for spools of different invisible threads from my multi-compartment Norwegian wooden sewing box with six trays. He didn’t say a word, we were in parallel productive modes, but, as a parent I knew it was a teaching moment. If he saw me get annoyed and stop, it would teach him to give up too soon on his own endeavors. If I got angry at myself for failure, remember, equalizing weights isn’t my strong suit, I would be teaching him by example to let disappointment get the best of him.

I hung in there, remembered my former college self in my solo, small, second floor apartment and kept tinkering. Slowly a solution appeared and I mended the broken mobile. Is it exactly like the original? No. Is it good enough? Yes!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Hang in there and use the art of hands-on tinkering to create your next solution.

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.

With Art in Mind . . .

14230036541q9cv“Fine art is that
in which
the hand,
the head,
and the heart
go together.”
-John Ruskin

From Wikipedia:
John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political economy. His writing styles and literary forms were equally varied.

Artistic “Mistakes:” How to Use Them to Your Advantage

Creativity-pastelsTwo years ago I wrote a blog about “happy accidents.” You can read it here. Currently I’m focused on other work and can only ponder my art from afar. However, inspirational quotes keep my creative sparks going. I hope they do the same for you.

 

 

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
-Scott Adams