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

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.

Creativity: Don’t Water It

photo(6)I’ve written in past blogs about fanning the flames of your creative spark. We’ve discussed how empowering it is to seize the moment in unexpected artistic endeavors. Today, I’m offering different thoughts.

As you know I wear many hats. I work full-time as the Director of Communications for a non-profit, plus I have two part-time jobs which are keeping my fine art and writing careers going. I also have a family, and volunteer in my community. I say this not to toot my own horn but to lay the ground work for what comes next.

I’ll paint the scene for you. It’s early November here in New England and it’s been unseasonably mild. A small, white window box hangs from the open-on-three sides front porch of my house. Each May, I plant annuals in this petite box. Every year I have fun choosing different flowering plants, based on their colors (they have to make me happy), my mood, and budget. I love mixing it up year after year.

This past May I planted red, yellow, gold, and blue flowers and enjoyed a summer of lovely emerging plants. Then a few weeks ago as I briefly looked back at my house while driving to work  I saw  a profusion of pink. Perplexed I used great will power not to stop and investigate. The following morning I made sure I had time to look into this situation. Unbeknownst to me, Mother Nature conspired to give me an autumn gift. Steadily growing and blooming were pink flowers that I must have planted at least five years ago, and they must have been perennials.

Once summer ended I haven’t been watering my window box regularly. The plants are completely root-bound, and all the vegetation just sits there during Connecticut’s freezing winter months. This little pink plant has been steadily chugging along, staying alive underground for years, until the conditions were just right for her to pop up.

The metaphor in this is that sometimes we have creativity inside us that is natural, pure and real. Even when we don’t tend it, it is there waiting, healthy and ready to come out when we  least expect it. The additional symbolism is that this past September I exhibited a clay monoprint in an English international art exhibition and in October sold two original fine art pieces. It’s as if my art career is like this pink perennial bursting to life after years of dormancy. For decades I didn’t have time to tend daily to my fine art, but the goods were always there, safe and sound, and waiting for me before they bloomed.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Trust that your imaginative glimmer is there. You don’t have to water it, just allow it to flourish.

Best Five Things to do When Submitting to International Juried Art Exhibitions

"It's Not My Fault" by © Adair W. Heitmann

“It’s Not My Fault” by © Adair W. Heitmann

Last summer I submitted an original fine art monoprint to an international exhibition. The experience has kept me on a creative high for months, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ll share them with you here.

1. Become a member of an arts organization larger than your geographical area.
For example, I’m a member of The Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT. It’s the only cultural and educational center dedicated to the art of original printmaking from New York City to Boston. Because of its outreach CCP invited members to submit to an international print exhibition.

2. Have a variety of new work available at all times.
Exhibitions want recently completed artworks. Keep different sizes plus framed and unframed works on hand. You never know what the prospectus will require or how little time you may have before the deadline.

3. Stand out from the crowd with your submission.
Choose a piece that’s a little quirky or unusual. Take a chance with an international show. I did just that when I submitted my clay monoprint to the Pendle Print Fest in Lancashire, England. It was juried in the states then sent over. I felt like it had to pass muster twice since it was supported by the Arts Council England.

4. Don’t sweat over your selection — trust your instincts.
Frankly, I was nervous sending my work oversees. What of it got lost? Damaged? Once I let go of those fears I chose a piece I liked, one that fit the exhibition’s theme and prospectus. I remembered that if it sells I live without it anyway, I was happy with my decision.

5.  Stay connected to the exhibition using social media.
“Like” the gallery on Facebook, follow it on Twitter. Write engaging comments in the comment section, re-tweet their tweets. I did that with the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery. It was fun to communicate online and I broadened my own professional relationships. Feeling a kinship to an exhibition across the pond made me a card-carrying member of a world-wide arts community.

For my global Creativity and Wellness blog followers, the exhibition from the U.S. will be at the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery from September 6 – 28, 2014. Please go see it and let me know. Take a selfie if you wish and send it to me!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Create local, submit global, and expand your horizons, go from micro to macro.