Tag Archives: creativity

Summer Painting

You can catch me at the monthly Moyaone Markets, where I often have art for sale and in progress. In good weather I love to set up outside and invite anyone to make art with me, and that’s what I did at the August 1 Market, a blissful summer’s day.

I had a variety of guest artists of all ages, and we had fun in the dappled shade, splashing our watercolors, sprinkling with salt for cool effects, and watching the colors run and bloom, just like the flowers we were painting.

Haven’t you wanted to pick up the brush or pen and make images? What’s holding you back?

Next Moyaone Market Saturday September 5
9am-1pm  •  2311 Bryan Point Rd, Accokeek MD

 

Crochet Coral Reef

We’ve heard about multiple hazards threatening the well-being of our ocean, from a profusion of plastic junk to rising temperatures to excess CO2 – but what have you done about it?  No, this is not your typical tree-hugger guilt trip! I want to amaze you with the creativity and cross-cultural genius of this particular project:

The Crochet Coral Reef

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Margaret Wertheim is a physicist and writer who has, among other things, noted that the underlying mathematical description of the growth patterns of coral -their hyperbolic geometry -was best described through the rhythm and pattern of crochet.

“Corals and sponges — all those frilly crenellated structures — are actually biological manifestations of hyperbolic geometry. And although brainless corals can make hyperbolic forms literally of the bodies, it’s very difficult for humans to make models of this. And in fact, the best way to do it is with crochet.”

This realization led to a collaborative project to create coral reefs in crochet by needle artists around the globe, a unique method for using art to bring attention to the corals.

It’s difficult to confront the serious threat of coral bleaching, without the sense of helplessness that can cause us to throw up our hands and cry “I recycle! what do you want ME to do about it, give up my CAR?!”

When Margaret and her twin Christine started the project in 2005, they joked about the reefs disappearing. Today, NOA scientist are warning about record level coral die-off. These tiny brainless creatures build cities that can be seen from space.

When I listened to Margaret in a recent episode of the On Being podcast, I was struck by her gift for crossing connections among science, art and spirituality, something that is clearly dear to my heart here at Art, Spirit, Nature.

You can listen to the interview here:

Strange Magic

Dreaming of spring, the mind turns to flowers, butterflies, fairies and… bugs? Well, yes, if you life in southern Maryland. Although it’s been frozen into silence lately, we have a buzzingly diverse ecosystem here in the coastal plains and wetlands, rich in the insect life that supports the abundant bird and fish populations we’re known for.

But fairies? for those, I still have to turn to the world of fantasy. And recently I saw a remarkable film, one that was clobbered at the box office, so you probably didn’t even notice it opening and closing at your local moviehouse.

Which is really too bad, because it is the product of at least a decade’s dreaming by George Lucas and many others in his talented sphere. The movie is Strange Magic,  a love story for pre-teen girls that uses popular culture love songs (thus the title!)

Strange Magic is a sound and vision feast directed by Gary Rydstrom, winner of 7 Oscars and 17 Academy Award nominations for sound mixing and editing.  Gary is also the son of friend-of-a-friend, and so we go to see his movies even if they’re a genre we would otherwise ignore.

The design of the Bog King is based on the praying mantis and the cockroach

Starting with Lucas’ vision, the creatives borrowed from the insect world for creature design, which includes not only the colorful and bright fairies and elves, but also the creepier denizens of the Dark Forest.

The story has delightfully modern twists: you’ll find no delicate princess here. Marianne, our heroine, doesn’t grieve lost love for long. And the ultimate hero is a surprise, upending the old ‘dark verses light’ clichés.

While it’s probably too late for the cineplex, check it out on DVD or streaming when you get a chance. It’s a gem.

 

“Nothing to Lose”

Kate Champion

Choreographer Kate Champion asked the question: what does it mean to put really big bodies on the dance stage? She premiered “Nothing to Lose” at Sydney Festival in January, 2015

Champion was inspired by watching the way larger bodies moved through the world, and dancing in clubs. It led her to ask why she never saw bodies like that on the stage.

kjdrinkwater“Dancing in a fat body is incredibly radical and controversial because it’s not done, it’s not encouraged. That’s what makes this show so interesting.”

Kelli Jean Drinkwater, fat activist

I certainly have been reluctant to dance with abandon due to my body size, and have only done so when in a safe and sacred context, where I could feel the freedom to be as I truly am. A fat body really does move differently, and it’s amazing to see fleshy dancers. I have NEVER seen fat bodies in this context before.

How does it make you feel?

Help a teacher, artist, mom save her home

10356146_10154457712820532_9051581794283326954_nI’m shouting out for an artist friend who’s in a tough spot, and really needs help to save her home. 

Meet Rana Raeuchle , teacher, artist and mother, currently working in South Korea. Her son Allen, now grown,  keeps the home fires burning until Rana completes her contract later this year.

 

Long story short:

Young artist and mother, left by husband, gets education and raises her son, working as an artist and educator. To help out, Rana’s mother eventually acquires  a modest house and rents it to them. Then, Mom gets cancer and goes through several years of terrible and fatal illness. Due to unforeseeable problems with wills and lawyers, the house does not, as planned, convey to Rana. 

lc4900445-w0xd-w640_h480_q80For all these years Rana has paid rent, and more recently the mortgage. But with probate complete, the bank is forcing a sale since Rana is not the original mortgage holder, nor the official heir. Despite Rana’s diligent work history but admittedly low-income, her efforts to procure a loan to cover this amount have proved fruitless. Now the clock is ticking, and a solution is needed by the end of the month.

The amount  required to purchase this house is only $45,000.

I want you to help Rana & Allen keep their house.  

  • You could donate: GO HERE to donate to her GoFundMe
  • You can donate to Paypal HERE
  • You could promote this to social media far and wide
  • You could buy the house and rent it back to her
  • You could provide a private mortgage
  • You could come up with some other creative way to help out!!

Artwork by Rana

 

Artist Profile: Terry St. Cloud & Bone Sigh Arts

terriDid you ever go through a dark night of the soul, and reach deep into yourself and find hope or strength from something a friend shared, or a beautiful memory? Well, that feeling of relief that you get at a moment like that, THAT is a Bone Sigh.

A long time ago (at Artomatic 2003) I wandered into a little room filled with tiny watercolors that exploded with color and were inscribed with expressions of deep feeling. They were unlike anything I had ever seen before.  They were the work of Terry St. Cloud, an amazing woman who generates a great deal of love and light in this world, whom I am honored to know as a neighbor and friend.

These days, Terry runs Bone Sigh Arts, her successful company that provides gifts, greeting cards, books, and hosts an amazing community. Terry manifested this beautiful business from her own love and determination to honor herself and her creativity as she raised her three boys, now grown and in business for themselves.

Terri has written quite a few inspirational books

When you need a beautiful card or gift, want to lift someone’s spirits, read inspiring ideas and stories, or share your own, please head to Bone Sigh Arts to a unique and magical world that is only possible because of this talented and determined woman.

 

New Year, New Themes

artists-at-workLast year I wrote for Blogging for Mental Health 2014, and other themes emerged, capturing my interest. For 2015 I’m declaring a more specific intention: to honor my title: Art•Spirit•Nature more specifically, in the following ways:

ART: I really want to feature profiles of the amazing creative people I know. And, show you the creative work I’m doing. So that I do it! And talk about art, that speaks about spirit, and nature.

enlightenmentSPIRIT: My wish is to share the life of the spirit with everyone, to cross the lines that labels draw around us. Pan-religious, I love rituals and prayers and teachings of many faiths, perhaps for their intent: to draw us closer to God and each other. This category will also deal with mental health and social issues.

human stem cells viewed through electron microscope

NATURE: My primary theme here is the everyday miracles around us and the science behind them. Ignorance of science is an issue that frightens me more than anything, for the amazing capabilities of human beings without the wisdom of knowledge and awareness is a profoundly dangerous thing. So stay tuned – I may rhapsodize, but I also may rant!

TELL ME: What would you like to see on this blog?

Embracing the Dark Side

I was en route to the bank when had to pull over and send a tweet to the Kojo Namdi Show when I heard what today’s guest, Todd Kashdan, had to say.

At first I thought it was a strange show topic – a guy against positive thinking! But then I realized where he was going with it.  Kashdan is the Director of the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena at George Mason University, was there to discuss his new book, The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment.

The book takes on the pop culture trend of positivity and challenges the way it reinforces our habit of denying the truth of our painful experiences.

The key is in the title– be your whole self, not just your good self, and it brought to mind my remarkable journey through pop culture fandom that has done so much to help heal my creative blocks. (unfortunately it has not healed my tendency to tweet before spellchecking.)

I was socialized in the 50’s as a nicey-nice girl, a role where there was no room for loud or angry. The more life piled experiences on me, which of course included pain and anger, there was no outlet for that energy. If these experiences are always negative expressions, they have no way to exist without creating more shame and disappointment.

If we hide away more and more of our true experience of life, we inevitably become less and less authentic. Less real, even to ourselves. There are many versions of this in our mainstream culture – ‘John Wayne’ who can do everything on his own and never sheds a tear, that ‘Nicey-nice’ woman who never loses her temper, ‘Pollyanna’ who is always looking on the bright side.

I’m still very much a work in progress. It took until my 50s for me to truly embrace the inner Dark, to begin the dance with my Shadow and accept it as an integral and essential part of me.  I have become more prickly, less polite in recent years, it’s true. And the world has not ended. I have stood on my priorities, not someone else’s. I appreciate myself so much more as a result.

Do my friends? Hmmm, you’ll have to ask them. I might be a little more difficult to live with!

Art in the Open Air Studio

Painters have been busy in the beautiful open-air studio here in the Swamp Forest, my pet name for Piscataway NP’s hidden Moyaone neighborhood, just south of DC. The mild summer temperatures have made outdoor art a pleasure, and my students and I have been taking advantage of this.

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New Mexico ©2013 Neil W. oil on canvas

Meet Neil, Accomplished Oil Painter

At the ripe old age of 15, Neil is quite handy with a brush. He and I have worked together for about 2 years now, and I’ve had the joy of watching him gain mastery over this ancient technique.

Neil loves the landscape; he’s a hiker and a camper, active in Boy Scouting and soccer, so for him, plein-aire painting is just another outdoor activity – one he really enjoys.

Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W.
Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W., oil on panel

We’ve worked on-site and in the studio, in fast-drying oils on paper, canvas and panel in a variety of sizes. Neil has a great sense of composition —the fundamental arrangement of shapes within a painting — a tough skill to lear, or teach. He’s learned a great deal about the nature and science of color, pigments, and how to mix colors that create the illusion of space and shape.

Neil will be exhibiting in his first show, the Charles County (Maryland) Arts Alliance Fall Art Show, a multi-media public exhibit, to be held at the Waldorf West Library, 10405 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf, MD, from October 2 to December 30, 2014. 

A “Meet the Artists” Public Reception will be held on Saturday, October 4, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, at the  Gallery to honor all the artists participating in the fall show.

For more information on the Waldorf West Library Gallery or the Charles County Arts Alliance, call the CCAA office at 301-392-5900, or email info@charlescountyarts.org.

For more information about art lessons contact me with a comment here or email patrisehenkel@gmail.com