What Inspires Me?

IMG_0283That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the topic for March’s Blog-o-Sphere Think tank is a monstrous one.  What Inspires Me?  Whoofta….where do I begin? How all encompassing is that question? And yes, I signed up to write about this topic because it means so much to me.  However, I’m going to limit my response to just one thing and one aspect within it.

As an artist, my answer is one that may seem trite.  But it isn’t when you think about the scope of it.

What inspires me?  Nature!  It is at the top of the list.  Let me explain why.

My dad was a landscaper.  I consider him to have been an artist who worked wonders with landscapes of the homes in the town where I grew up.  My work is heavily influenced by my observations of him working his magic.   Manicuring an evergreen from something that was unruly and overgrown to a finely coiffed thing of delicate beauty, turning an unsightly back yard into a lush setting, taking great care and respect toward everything that grows.

Just last week a dear friend brought back a gift for me from her visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s (FLW) Taliesin West.  A book filled with quotes from the man himself, FLW.  The first of his quotes that captured my attention was:

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”

The next quote that spoke to me was:

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”

Where my art jewelry is concerned, those two statements are very true.  I found my artistic voice once I started creating shapes from things in nature.  Our backyard aspens have become the models for many of my pieces.

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As I prune our aspens, I save various branches to serve as my models.  The details preserved in the leaves and branches help me to capture them in metal.  I refer to them often as I work.
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The graceful way they flow out from the tree is what I try to capture in the cuffs I make that are part of my Botanical series.

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I don’t limit my inspiration to aspens.  Yet I do incorporated them frequently in my works.  I think these photos exemplify what influence and inspiration our aspens provide.  A single leaf is as unique as our fingerprints.  The details of the veins that bring life to every cell within the leaf.  God’s beautiful creation embodied in a leaf, a branch, a tree.  I find it wondrous.  So my work, just as things are in nature, is unique.  No two pieces of my work are identical because they are hand made by me.

I feel truly blessed that I can escape to our back yard and soak in the beauty of being in the great outdoors.  A view of Pikes Peak is in the distance.  During the summer months, I enjoy the whispers our Quaking Aspens make with those leaves.  The fresh, clean air with clouds traveling across a turquoise blue sky.  The occasional whinny of a neighbor’s horse.  One of our bassets batting at me for attention as I try to drink it all in.  Sure, a lot of artists say they are inspired by nature and yes, I am one of them.  It cleanses and refreshes my soul, my imagination, my creativity.  Just one of the many things where I find inspiration.

Now lets see what my fellow bloggers had to say on this topic.

Andes Cruz:  https://andescruz.wordpress.com
Pallavi Gandhi: https://studioat605.wordpress.com/
marie bell ::  www.pencilfox.com
Tosca Teran:  http://nanopod.me/2015/03/11/inspiration
Catherine Witherell:  http://happydayart.typepad.com
Beth Cyr – http://bethcyr.com/blog/
Allegra Sleep: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/allegra-sleep.html?tab=blog
K. Skiles Studio: http://kaskiles.com
Shelagh Blatz: www.designsbyshelagh.com/blog

Namaste

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The importance of animals in my life.

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July’s topic for the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is: “The importance of animals in my life.

I suggested the topic to our group because it came to me one morning as all three of our basset hounds were on the couch with me.  Some way, some how, each one managed to be touching me.  One on my lap.  Now realize bassets are not lap dogs, but they think they are!  And the other two laying so they were touching my side or had their head on my knee.  All I could think of was how blessed I am to share my life with these wonderful dogs.  I have earned their trust and love.

Animals have always been important to me.  I seem to have a special connection with dogs.  It’s hard to explain, but I can read them and they me.  There is a silent communication between us.

I love coming home to be greeted by enthusiastic howls and tail wags.  They bring a warmth to our home, in addition to tons of fur balls.

On those days when I feel a bit down, they sense it and do what they can to cheer me up.  Quorra will do her playful girl dance.  Newt has a quiet presence and just leans in to touch me gently.  Thor, the youngest of our pack, even has his way by batting at my leg with his ever so large paws.  It’s his way of saying “Hey, I’m here for you”.

My life is filled with laughter because of their antics.  I know a special love and bond that we share.

If medical studies are to be believed, they enhance my health.  Some days they can be a bit much as the manage to be speed bumps positioned directly in my path.  What that tells me is they want to be near me.  It is the basset way.

I cannot imagine my life without dogs.  I have had one since I was 5 years old with only a few years of absence for my entire life.

Of course, I have great affection for all forms of wildlife.  And I have loved horses since childhood too.  However, those who have had the greatest impact on my life have been dogs.

We have a stable pack.  They understand that Dan & I are the alphas.

When I read about people treating any animal as disposable, and even worse, abusing them, my heart breaks.  I know I cannot rescue every mistreated animal, which is why I think I spoil ours.  I want them to know how much they are loved and cared for and I know they understand.

Now let’s see what my fellow bloggers shared on this topic:

Andes Cruz: http://andescruz.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/animals-julys-blog-o-sphere/

KSkiles Studio: http://kaskiles.com/2014/07/20/animals-and-inspiration/

Catherine Witherell:  http://happydayart.typepad.com

Tosca Teran: short link: http://wp.me/pigO-sC

Shelagh Blatz http://designsbyshelagh.com/blog

Namaste

New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?

January’s topic for our Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is: “New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?”

At the beginning of every year, there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule that people decide they are going to make resolutions to be better about something…..exercising, writing that great novel, creating art on a daily basis,  meditating, reading a book a month, taking up yoga….you name it, they are going to ‘try‘ to do it.  I think that is great, BUT it seems like that type of resolution behavior sets a person up for failure.

Let me give you an example.  My husband and I belong to the YMCA and we dread January.  Why?  All the ‘resolutioners’ show up, bombard the pool, the tread mills, take up all the equipment, making it almost impossible for us regulars to do what we do week in, week out, for the entire year.  Do some keep up and hang in there?  Sure.  But for the most part, they go at it too hard, get frustrated and just give up.

That is my lead in to the answer for this question, “New Year’s Resolutions. Take them or leave them?”  My answer is I could take them or leave them when you use the term resolution.

I think the more important thing here is to make a commitment to yourself!  That’s right.  Look at your self, lovingly, in the mirror and say either in your mind or out loud, “I am making a commitment to you to do this ________________”.  Your opportunity to fill in the blank.  That is so important.

Here’s why.  Words matter.   They can motivate.  They can demoralize.  When we are talking to ourselves, we need to be as encouraging and loving as possible to affect the change we want in our lives.   Commitment means more to me that the word resolution.  I don’t want to let myself down or anyone else; it is not in my personality.

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In this case, when I make a commitment, that is one of those positive, supporting, reinforcing words that I promise I will do everything in my power to make it happen.

For me, the word resolution has a negative connotation, no follow through.  I kinda, sorta mean to do what I’m saying, but not really.  If it doesn’t pan out after a couple of days, that’s ok….it just wasn’t meant to be.

But when I make a commitment, especially one to myself that means something to me, well that takes on a whole new meaning.  It has importance.  It has value.  It is something I want to do.

2014 has just begun.  How many people have already given up on their resolutions for this year?  I have to say it again, it is my feeling, my belief that people set themselves up for failure by thinking in terms of a New Year Resolution.

There’s still plenty of time to make that commitment for positive change in your life.  It’s not an annual thing I do, it is a daily thing for me.  My commitment to myself is to work on positive changes in my life.  I work on it every single day.  The way I look at it, we’re all works in progress and in my mind that requires daily work to become the person you were meant to be.

Now let’s see what my fellow writers had to say on this topic.

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Catherine Witherell: http://happydayart.typepad.com
Shelagh Blatz: http://designsbyshelagh.com/blog
pencilfox www.pencilfox.com
diana bell www.bellsprings.blogspot.com

Namaste.

Do the seasons affect/inspire you? In what way?

This month’s topic for the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is: “Do the seasons affect/inspire you? In what way?

Well, I consider myself a geek by day, artist/writer by night.  As I considered this question, I thought…..in all honesty, no, the seasons don’t have any affect on inspiring me….at least none that I’m aware of.

I find that I welcome and look forward to the seasonal changes.  It’s hard for me to pick a favorite season because as each one matures, I find myself enjoying certain aspects of it.

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Spring.  Symbolizes rebirth, new growth.  I’m always looking forward to growing and changing.  I love to challenge myself by trying new things.  Recently I started a new series in my jewelry work called Express Yourself.  The primary focus of this series has been earrings that are a collage of all types of items.

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However, I decided that each earring set would have an Aspen leaf as one of the components.  The aspens, in our backyard, provided the samples of baby leaves from the branches I pruned last spring.  The new growth providing growth in my work.

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Summer.  Warmth, heat, maturity.  I’m really not a fan of the heat.  However, one of the most important tools I use as I create my art jewelry is my torch!  When I first started to work with metal, I quickly discovered how integral torch work was to the works I create.  I matured in my understanding and growth about the medium of metal and could not do what I do without my trusty torch.

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Fall.  Crispness coupled with slight cooling signaling a change is in the air.  The beauty of the leaves changing has always created a sense of awe for me.  In 9th grade science class we learned about chlorophyll and the science of what takes place as the trees prepare for winter.  Many things affect the colors of the leaves as they change into the beautiful warm spectrum that tells us fall is here; tree species, amount of moisture during the summer season, the first frost. I do find it magical and have taken many samples, along with photos, to preserve some of what that season offered.  Sometimes I incorporate these into my designs.  Mainly I want them as a point of reference for future works.

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Winter.  Cold, white, quiet.  A time to hibernate and reflect.  I don’t think I every really slow down as much as I would like to during this season.  Holidays tend to cause a flurry of activity (pardon the pun).  Decorating the house, taking down the decorations, preparing a holiday feast either large or small, buying presents, lots of preparations.

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So you see, I can’t really pinpoint that any one season influences me.  I think they all do in their subtle and not so subtle ways.  After writing all of this, I think it is LIFE, with its ups and downs, the changing seasons, the joys and woes, music, my spirit in tune with the Universe….all of that inspires me.

Now lets see what my fellow Think Tank members have to share on this topic:

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Natsuko Hanks: http://jewelrybynatsuko.blogspot.com
Robyn Hawk: http://flyviewsandreviews.blogspot.com
Shelagh Blatz: http://www.designsbyshelagh.com/blog
pencilfox www.pencilfox.com

Namaste

Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank ~ What is one thing you really love to do?

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Photo of my hands as I am working in my studio
Photo by Daniel Krucoff

The topic for this month’s Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank post is…..drum roll please…… “What is one thing you really love to do? And why?”

I absolutely, positively LOVE with a capital L-O-V-E working with my hands.  I have ever since I was a little kid.  Coloring. Playing the piano. Typing. Macrame, from basket holders to jewelry. Sewing. Painting. Creating Stained Glass. Wire wrapping. And now Metalsmithing.  I am drawn to anything that involves working with my hands.

The reason for this is I thoroughly enjoy the tactile experiences from the creative processes involved when I am using my hands.  Manual dexterity just feels so good.

A definite side benefit I experience is this wonderful sense of serene tranquility and calm. I’m in a zone where everything is at peace.  It’s wonderful.  I can be so focused on what I’m trying to accomplish that Dan has to find ways to get my attention so I’m not startled.

Yes, working with my hands has always brought about great personal satisfaction.  Sure, there are times when I have my bad days and just have to stop. BUT, I can easily say that 99% of the time, working with my hands is the ultimate  endorphin  releasing experience for me.

Let’s see what my fellow Think Tank bloggers wrote on February’s topic:

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Mary Spencer (WATTO DMW) http://www.wattoonline.com/news
Shelagh Blatz: http://designsbyshelagh.com/blog
pencilfox. www.pencilfox.com
Robyn Hawk: http://flyviewsandreviews.blogspot.com/

Until next time, aspire to be more as an artist and a person.