Creativity, Art and Spirituality

In the continuing search for how to become more creative, I add several new suggestions.

#7.  You must have a connection with the arts.

It is my firm belief that a civilization is remembered through its arts.  Knowledge of the history of your art form will serve as an inspiration and allow you to carry on conversation about your artform in an intelligent and cultured manner.  You don’t have to spend the afternoon in a museum.  How about an afternoon at your favorite book store?  Recently, my friend, student and sister, Kathleen Krucoff, purchased a book of Mucha’s paintings. ThoughI have loved his work, which he produced during the fin-de-siecle, I never realized how much the colors spoke to me.  When Kathleen shared the book with me, I fell in love with his work and colors all over again.  Later, I pulled out my old 19th century art history text, and spent a snowy afternoon in front of the fireplace looking at the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and reintroduced myself to one of my favorite paintings, Flaming June, by Frederic Lord Leighton.  This Victorian era painting has held my attention for many years, and I have a small   reproduction in my study.  Suddenly I realized just how much I love the color orange.  There is power and majesty, mystery and magic in orange.

Suddenly so much color has come alive in my world.  I am stopping by windows in the mall while Christmas shopping, and looking at color.   I realize that whatever connection you have in the arts, and art comes in many diverse forms,  it will effect your life.  At this time of the year, here in the mountains of Colorado, the cold, crisp mornings  bless us with rosy Alpenglow on the mountains, and deep evenings grace us with magnificent blues.  As I drove home from our gallery in Fairplay,  Coyote Creek Studio Arts, it was about 7 degrees, with imminent snow, and crystal clear.  The world was a deep periwinkle, with yellow tiny twinkling lights of ranch houses in the distance.   Mannheim Steamroller’s “Silent Night” was playing through my  car speakers on my iPod. It was like a scene from a Meg Ryan movie.  But it was also the color of the blue Swarvoski crystals.  So a new beaded bracelet was born, and today I’m cutting out snowflakes,  (Ok, maybe  only one, since they are so complicated) and have made a new bracelet for a gift for my neighbor.   All of this has come from my friend, Katheen, casually showing me her new art book.  Thank you, my friend.

Along with this comes another suggestion, and the time is right for this one.

#8  You must have a spiritual practice or belief.

I am an archaeologist by schooling.  I have studied many cultures, but two in microscopic detail.  One is a neolithic pre-Judaic/Christian nature based culture.  The other is a collective ethnic grouping of stone age/contemporary cultures, again with an Earth based spirituality.  One thing I have learned from both cultures is they are art-based, and in one culture, the word “nung” means both people and pottery.  Their art is so inter-related with their spiritual practices that you virtually cannot tell where one stops and another begins. In that culture, they do a private ceremony before they start their artwork.  At that time, they ask for the Earth Mother’s guidance in their work, and thank her for her gifts and offer that their work is acceptable in Her sight.  I find this extremely comforting and calming.  As Julia Cameron states in her inspiring series, “The Artist’s Way,” some people are uncomfortable with the word “God”.  However, it can stand for Good, Orderly Design.  So at this time of the year, when we speak of many miracles,  stop and thank the Earth Mother for her goodness in supplying the materials with which you work.  Those materials, themselves, are a pretty fantastic miracle. I’m fairly certain that whatever you work with has been mined from the Earth Mother,  and she has kept these treasures safe in her bosom for eons,  offering them to you as a vehicle for you creativity.  Try to do your part, and make Mom proud.  Who knows, she may put a photo of it on her refrigerator door.  The world of nature and art is a banquet, and yet so many people insist on starving.

May the beauty and quietness of the snow delight your senses.


What a Week!

Whew!  This past week has been such a whirlwind of activity.  Though I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of  this time of year, it’s good now to sit back and relax for a few weeks before beginning another big adventure.

First, last week-end was the Castle Rock Artfest, in the neighboring town of Castle Rock, CO.  I had visited this show for many years, and the quality of the work was amazing. There are 175+ excellent artists in the show.   I always found many things that inspired me, and always made at least one large purchase.  This year I decided to apply.  I made it.  I was thrilled.

Saturday was a good day, and I made several large sales. Kathleen and Dan Krucoff came to visit and offer best wishes, and I saw several other friends and former students.  But about 3:30 the sky opened up and it poured, the wind started, and the temperature dropped to about 47 degrees. We all closed up at 5:00.  I came home and filled the bath with the hottest water available, and while my body thawed, I contemplated if I would ever do another show.

Sunday dawned beautifully.  Another day in Paradise.  About 10:30 the entourage of judges walked down my aisle, and stopped and told me they were glad I had participated in the show.  As I was responding what an honor it was to be in the show, one of the judges pulled out a “Best of Fine Crafts” ribbon, presented it to me,  and proceeded to say the nicest things to me.  Everyone applauded.    I WAS IN SHOCK! Then she handed me a check, too.  I was speechless.  I’m not often speechless.   This is the first big show I’ve done in over 10 years. You would have been so proud of me when the radio station interviewed me and I couldn’t remember where I live!  Am I suave and sophisticated or what?  But I cannot  express what a thrill it is to hang a ribbon like that over your work.  My things are very different, totally one of a kind, and all hand done.  My inspirations, as you have read on my website, are my adventures and travels during my years in archaeology. My pieces are not beautifully carved stones with diamonds, gold and platinum. (In fact, at the Philadelphia Buyer’s Market of American Craft, what we call “The Rosen Show”, one lady actually looked at my stuff and said “Yuck!”)  There were many wonderful jewelers at Castle Rock.   Not only this, the glass, wood, and ceramics  artists had fabulous pieces, both in design and craftsmanship.  There were so many outstanding artists, and I congratulate each of them, also.  Their work is inspiring and beautiful.   I am deeply, deeply honored the judges chose my work.  I thank you each from the bottom of my heart. What a feeling!!!  I’m already scoping out shows for next year.

So I guess what I say to you all is “Go For It”!!!  You don’t know what the judges will be looking for.  Work from the heart, do what you love. And most of all, don’t compare your work to anyone else’s.  As Julia Cameron says in “The Artist’s Way”, “Leap and a net will appear”.

The next day, Monday started the Denver Gem and Mineral show. WOW!  Sensory overload. This show takes up 2 hotels lobbies and ballrooms (plus 3 stories of show rooms on each floor),  circus tents in the surrounding parking lots, the enormous Merchandise Mart and Annex, the Denver Western Stock Show Complex, and another hotel out at the airport. I try to do some pre-show appointments because its easier to buy on a one-on-one basis than on the showroom floor. I bought almost exclusively from the 4 cutters I previously mentioned. This year I added Greg King, from Taos , NM to my list of cutters.  I bought from him years ago, and still buy from him when I go to Taos Gem and Mineral. He had gorgeous ocean jasper and dino bone.

After so many years of walking this show, I know just about where everything is, and it takes days to see all of it.  I walked the entire show this year, partly to see if anything was new.  Also, if my students asked where anything was, I could point them in the right direction.  Believe me, when all my friends and students arrive, and we go to the show together, it’s like herding cats. For us, it’s a huge social event…running into friends we haven’t seen for a year, standing the aisles, our arms around each other, sharing what we’ve bought, ohhhing and ahhhing, moving on 3 feet away and seeing another group of friends, sharing,…you get the picture.

Mark and Christa Lasater  (The Clamshell) had the most fantastic chrysacolla I’ve ever seen.  Ka-ching. And gorgous amethyst sage. Ka-ching. Of course Gary B.Wilson had some neat new jaspers.  As I’ve never met a  jasper I didn’t like, I bought several.  (Several????) He has a Cobra Jasper that is orange and yellow…fabulous. More Ka-ching. These two cutters are real artists in stone, they never fail to amaze me.  Their stuff really melts my solder!

There was a lot of shiny stuff from Asia, pre-made jewelry, African beads,  rare trilobites with all these tendrils in matrix, ammonites, mammoth tusks, gold nuggets, emeralds, cool tools, and many things I cannot afford.  Something for everyone. Lots of vendors had some fabulous new dark red beads, that when the light shines on them, they look like red velvet,  Fabulous. Ka-Ching. The fun was hanging with my friends and students, the Lapidary Journal staff and writers, and Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc. friends, both during the show and after.  My friends and I got to bed each night between 2 and 3 AM, and the alarm went off at 6 to start again.  Thank goodness the week is over!

Please consider joining us next year, or if you can do it earlier, try for March, 2010,  for Beadfest in Santa Fe. I’ll be there, just in case I have left one stone unturned!

I’m off to take a nap.