Crafting Change

Crafting Change

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Sometimes trying to change anything at all feels like howling in the wind.

Halloween hands

We try to reach out and create change in our lives, and we feel like we are in the dark.

St Sernin ft.

We try to take a step forward, and it feels like our feel are stuck in stone.

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When we try to  make a change, sometimes we feel like we are just a shadow of our former selves.

Light

We seek illumination, guidance, direction, support, but what we find may seem faint, and not enough to light our way.

Entry Shadow

Our fears  loom like shadows, seeming to quadruple in size.

Gaudi Spiral

We spiral down into our core, hoping that there, might be an answer.

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We seek wholeness: may the circle be unbroken.

Stairs SF

This when we can’t even always see where we are going.  (“The bear went over the mountain…and found…another mountain- yikes!”)

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We find out change is a process. Step by step, little piece by little piece, stitched together, small efforts, trying again, two steps forward, one step back.

African contempWB.

A patient putting together of parts. A heaping up of nuggets.

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the process.

We seek the

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at the end of the pot of gold…once we learn it is not actually vice versa.

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We work at it. In innumerable ways, we push through stone. We learn, we grow, we apply techniques, we make efforts, we try again, we set strategies in place. We keep going. We keep growing.  It takes work.  Sometimes we can’t have the radio on while we are doing it.

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We may find that we are finally able to bloom a bit, knowing that light can be dappled, and light and shadow are intrinsically entwined.

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We allow ourselves that moment of glee, of joy.  We raise our hands in exultation, we stretch our hands to the heavens, we laugh.

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We keep going.

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E-Lumen-8: Part 2 Take 1

E-Lumen-8:  Part 2 Take 1

Leaf Love

I recently participated in a holiday gift show, and created a collection of my “Artissima Lumens” (painted light switch covers) to show and sell.

In that spirit, I decided to document the process, and also create a sort of show and tell.

In posting, I decided to move “backwards” in time…starting with the finished creations, and then showing how they were made, start to finish, er,  finish to start.

Star Burst

Both the fascination and the frustration, ah-challenge, of painting on such a small canvas is, just that. Light switch plates  are such a small canvas, especially the “rocker” style light switch plate.

No, we are not talking Mick Jagger here…we are talking the type of frame-like light switch plate that has a rectangular opening designed to surround  a rocker style light switch.  The “canvas” area exists in just that small frame.

Ivy Trail

So why do it?

Why take on such a potentially frustratingly limited space for creativity?

I See the Moon

Well…the challenge and allure of  creating a miniature, for one thing.   It is fascinating to see what can be done on a limited surface space…with the limitations imposed both by the form and the function of the object.

How does one “use’ the opening as part of the composition?  Knowing, of course, that the light switch itself will change position continually as it is used for what it is designed to be used for: let there be light!

E-Lumen-8 your Life!

Do the “Lumens”  then become tiny pieces of performance art? “E-Lumen-8-ed’ not only by the burst of light when the switch is flicked, but also by the intentional movement of the client/owner/user when they reach out, and press, push, flick or rock that light switch?

Does the user become an unwitting collaborator in the “performance’ when they complete the action necessary to get use from an essentially utilitarian object?

An object that is surrounded by the embellished work that remains stationary, and yet is enlivened by the action it surrounds, like a miniature theater?

Does the user then become the performer?

Does the “Artissima Lumen” function merely as a frame for the utilitarian light switch, or does it employ the switch itself as a moving part of the whole? Does it employ the user as performer by engaging him or her to complete a necessary action?

Lotza Lumens

Such questions of form and function, concept and adornment, use and decor, object and action, creator and performer…may underlie some of our very motivation to create.

They won’t be answered in or by this post…but they are fascinating to contemplate!

Mockups and Murals

Mockups and Murals

What is a mural

Related to the French word “mur”, meaning “wall”, the term “mural” is derived from the Latin mūrālis, which means “of a wall”, derived from the Latin mūrus, or…you guessed it, WALL!

Not surprisingly, the most literal meaning of the word “mural” is a painting on a wall. However, the term has expanded to encompass a wide range of both interior and exterior applications to the built environment and a variety of architectural surfaces

Murals can be painted on panels or canvas, and then affixed to a wall, fence, ceiling, floor, room divider, or roof! They can be graphical, patterned, or design-oriented in nature, or depict intricate scenes so real that we might find ourselves stooping to pick up what we thought was a feather on the floor, only to find that our hand brushes against its painted surface…

But, how does the artist get from the concept, or idea for a mural, of whatever sort, to the finished, often very large  image you might enjoy in your living room, local restaurant, non-profit organization, mall, or neighbor’s  fence?

Well, through the mockup process, namely, creation of a to scale, model, version, or prototype of the intended mural.  It is a great way to present ideas for approval, and catch potential aesthetic, functional or structural problems before they become actual ones!  Please see below a gallery of assorted mockups, and the murals they spawned. From canvas to walls, to doors to exterior fences seen through a second story window, murals can happen anywhere their makers can wield a brush, adhere a tile, (shh, bad for the environment) press a spray can button. The following images give a sense of scale from mockup to mural, and the various environments murals can exist in. Future posts will explore this subject in greater depth,  so hold on to your ladder (or scaffold), and enjoy the ride!

Mockup for The Land of Oshun”

“The Land of Oshun”, Turk and Taylor Street, San Francisco

Sketches and mockup for “The Donor Tree”

“The Donor Tree”,  Planning for Elders in the Central City,  San Francisco

Mockup for “Window Mural”

“Window Mural”  seen through kitchen window

“Window Mural” seen from below, San Francisco

Mockup  of “Garden Mural”, seen with full-scale mural in process

“Garden Mural”, patio level, San Francisco

Mockup for “Life Journey”,  seen with full-scale mural in process

“Life Journey”,  living room wall, Burlingame, CA

Mockup for “Obi-Cat”

Lower part of “Obi-Cat” on door

“Obi-Cat” on music room door, Palo Alto, CA

Stay tuned for more on murals….

What intriguing murals have YOU seen, or created recently??  

If  you feel so moved, please share them with us here.

We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all mocking up this thing called Life, together.

Process = Patience

Process = Patience

We’ve all heard the adage, “Practice makes perfect.”  Most likely, it was (or is) parents, teachers, older siblings, mentors, coaches or masters we have encountered along the way who imparted this wisdom to us.  The truth of it is born out in our experience.  We may not reach perfection,  (Black Swan‘s Nina Sayers not withstanding), but we most likely will improve or even achieve mastery of whatever we take on, through practice.

However,  as we move along in life, most of us discover that just about everything is a process. Mastering a sport, whether it be rugby or ballet, requires undertaking various processes such as instruction, preparation, practice, performance and assessment/analysis, each involving numerous steps which are composed of yet more actions, which comprise the journey.  All great journeys by definition, start with a single step.

We  have to get started to cross the great water…

Each step is important, and each requires patience, though sometimes we can’t seem to see the end.

Sometimes we do get an inkling or a  glimmer, fleeting or not, of the prize at the top that awaits us.

A glimmer that might get clearer, as we draw closer,

revealing hitherto unheard-of beauty and intricacy.

The design may be revealed along the way….

and we see how it is made up of pieces..the pieces of every step.

I am reminded of this every time I begin anything, whether it be teaching a children’s art class, creating a mural, trying to close a deal.  We start with an idea, an intent, a desire, a vision, and then we must take the steps, go on the journey,  follow each process to its conclusion, without rushing, forcing or insisting.  We can “make it happen”, without making it happen, by realizing, it IS a process.

Patience is required for this process.   Process takes patience, just as practice makes perfect.  Our experience tends to be better, happier, more fun, and more satisfying if we at least accept the fact that all is process, and even embrace it.  Whether it is starting a new job where the details must be ironed out, or the agonizing process of applying or vying for a new job/project/program/home/apartment/mortgage….recognizing that it is a step-by-step process, and going along for the ride for all its worth will improve our attitude, impress those we are dealing with, and probably help to insure our success, perhaps more than any other single factor involved, because our maturity, acceptance and enjoyment will show to others.

Best of all, we will learn, grow, and develop in beautiful and intricate ways, hitherto unknown to you, by doing the work, making the commitment, and then going with the flow where others, and other uncontrollable factors are concerned.  Having patience with the process, knowing that each endeavor is comprised of multitudes of processes, steps, actions, reactions, responses, decisions and details will ease the pain of our process as a whole, and maybe even make it, an ever-deepening joy!


Here’s wishing You joy in your endeavors, and patience with your process as you take your steps, and go on your journey.

What process required your patience recently? (Or, not so recently?) 

If you are so moved, please share it with us here.

We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all going through this process called Life, together.  Bon Voyage, and Bonne Chance!

The Importance of Being Earnest…

The Importance of being Earnest…

I recently received an email, in which a Client expressed his appreciation this way:

” I know in the big picture, our job on Corbett is tiny compared to all that you handle. However, you really made us feel important and that is genuinely appreciated.”

My (emailed) response included this comment, ” …by the way- you/Corbett ARE important to me!!!”

This exchange gave me pause for thought…



Why would a Client think that his/their project, in this case, color consultation for the exterior of a 3 unit condo building where he is the HOA president, was not important, or as important then other projects that I, or for that matter, my colleagues might have?

We have all heard the adage “The customer is always right.” as well as “Every client is important.”  But, what does that really mean?

For me it means that if I take on a Client, I make a commitment to them and to their particular project  within the scope of the work we are doing together.  So much of our work as artists, decorative painters, craftspeople, designers, architects and color consultants (to name a few) is collaborative.   We work WITH  the Client to realize their vision, and our vision of their vision.  If we don’t have their contribution, commitment, buy-in, or what-have-you, that process can become difficult, stymied, or downright impossible.  We may even get our head, or someone else’s, handed to us!

In other words, yes, every Client and their project should be important to us. It just so happens that the particular Client I have quoted here,  falls into the category of “dream” Client.  Along with his partner, he has been responsive, communicative, cooperative, intelligent, and generous with time and fee.  Add to this reasonable, fun and funny, and I think you get the picture.  This is a great Client, with a fun and engaging project, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him and his partner.

I don’t value this Client and his project less because the Job in question is not as lucrative financially as some others.  Lucrative does not only refer to  the dollar amount received for a particular Job.  To me,  it means what I am getting out of the Job, vis-a-vis what I am putting into it. Is there positive return on all fronts: artistic gratification, compensation,  appreciation, and client interactions?  In essence,

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must be upheld on both sides for a fruitful relationship that delivers results and satisfaction, perhaps even exceeding expectations.

I recently heard a marvelous audio interview with Wine Country painter Ann Rea, founder of Artists Who Thrive by Carlos Castellanos of Drawn by Success.  During the interview Ann brilliantly describes how she feels that she gets paid twice by those who purchase her paintings, prints, and other artwork. In money, yes, of course, but also in the appreciation of her work by her buyers and collectors, and the relationships she forms with them.

I think many of us know what she means.  We need to have our work connect with others and the larger world outside ourselves to have it really mean something, outside ourselves. So that our work, (and ourselves) do not remain in shadow, or behind bars.

So yes, every Client is important, and especially those with whom we can have a great rapport, grow, and create something that is more than the sum of its parts. When we find ourselves in the path of these dream Clients, all we can be is grateful…

to grow ourselves by working closely with them, realizing their vision, and our own.

Lucrative?  More like priceless!

What priceless Client experiences  have made YOU grow lately?

If you feel so inspired, share them with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all growing though this thing called Life, together.