Music to open your heart

adrian-korte-5gn2soeAc40-unsplash.jpg

Ah, inspiring music.

A list of favorites could be enormous , but if I had to choose just one song, it would be John Lennon's Imagine.

I am also a huge fan of David Byrne, and adored experiencing his new America Utopia creative tour de force. (If you have the opportunity to see it, go!)

What music or artist is at the top of your list — and why?

What do you listen to to get inspired? energized? to relax?

What are your top-10 favorites?

Please share!

The power of a great quote

margot-pandone-asZvnGnpL7Q-unsplash.jpg

If you have perused my site, you have doubtless found many of my favorite quotes that relate to creativity. Because of the narrow format in the sidebars where they reside, I chose short quotes to share.

This longer one is a favorite and its message is so important.

A wonderful quote from the brilliant Anne Lamott 

”Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you‘re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen."

How do you relate to this?

How can you live your biggest, juiciest life today — even in one small way?

5 questions to ask yourself now

felicia-buitenwerf-5yn5rGI5IUw-unsplash.jpg

Asking yourself good questions is a great technique for getting clear and getting real. Here are five questions I ask my clients — and that I take time to answer for myself — each time we transition to a new quarter. This practice is a great way to check in four times during the year and take stock.


1. Am I being real?

Are you showing up fully and authentically? Or, are you trying to be what you think people expect you to be, or want you to be? Maybe you are afraid to show the world (or segments of the world) your true self — afraid you’ll be “too much,” unliked, or are simply uncomfortable being seen.

If your answer is less than a whole-hearted YES, think about why you may be holding back.

What to do next: If your answer was, "No," consider how you can make a small change, to show up as your true self in a particular situation. Starting with a small effort lets you test this out, and from there you can consciously bring more of yourself into all parts of your life.


2. Am I letting fear take the reins?

This is a big one for all of us. Taking a clear-eyed look at where you may be operating based on fear lets you consciously make shifts that can have a profound impact.

Most of what we fear is not perilous, and can be overcome with clear perspective and getting support.

What to do next: If you are holding back because you are afraid to fail at something new or challenging, try taking baby steps to test the waters.

If you are afraid to speak up about something on your mind, let a trusted friend help you practice ways to express yourself and encourage you to do so.

When you take small steps, and continue taking additional steps, you will gradually build confidence. Things are rarely as scary as they seem when unexamined.


3. Am I living small?

This question holds many more questions, such as:
How can I bring some boldness into my life?
How can I take steps to embark on a burning desire?
How can I lead in new ways?

What to do next: Pick one way you see that you are living small and explore at least five ideas for small steps that can open you up in new ways.Then pick one to test now.


4. Am I taking action?

Some of us are full of ideas, but hesitant when it comes to implementing them. Some of us habitually procrastinate. Some of us feel stuck — around a particular issue, or in general. All of these can drag us down, and often cause pressure and stress.

What to do next: If you realize that there are ways you are not taking action, this is the time to begin committing to taking small, consistent steps. Once you begin, momentum can build. And even if you hit rough patches along the way, the flow and energy you’ll experience when you commit to ongoing action will amaze you.


5. Am I celebrating my wins?

High achievers typically feel the need to do big, heroic things to feel worthy of celebration.

The truth is that when we acknowledge and celebrate micro-wins we have the satisfaction of accomplishment. It’s a big deal for our brains to get a boost like that. And it gives us energy to continue down the path we have set.

What to do next: Celebrate small wins like three straight days of keeping a commitment to stay in action around a particular initiative; or inviting someone to have a conversation you’ve been putting off; or (finally) asking someone for help.


The common thread.

You have probably noticed that small steps are the key to living more authentically, to living without fear, to shifting from keeping yourself small, to getting into flow and building momentum, and to reaping the benefits of celebrating your wins. All of these are doable if you set the bar low enough that you can clear it with ease. And when you continue to take small, doable steps, learning and adjusting as you go forward, the impact adds up dramatically.

Drop me a note, or leave a comment to share the insights that come up for you when you answer these questions. And, tell me about the small steps you are committing to taking, too.

Start taking a small step or two today, keep it going, and imagine what it will feel like to have truly moved the needle by the time the next quarter rolls around.


How ready are you to make a change?

clark-tibbs-367075-unsplash (1).jpg

Do you yearn to make a change in your life?

Do you feel stuck in a job that stresses you out, doesn't light you up anymore, or pays you well but is unsatisfying? Do you dream of starting something new? Is external change coming at you and you have an opportunity to rethink what you really want? Does the prospect of an empty nest open possibilities you want to explore?

I speak with women who ponder questions like these all the time. 

And I truly relate — because that’s just where I was a decade ago. The business I’d founded and was proud to have built was no longer exciting me. I knew I was ready for something new, but had no idea what it would be or how to figure it out.

The only way to make change in your life is to be willing to change.

Lots of women want to make a change in their professional or personal life, but the prospect of having to change — changing outlooks, habits, getting out of your comfort zone — can be scary. And when we are afraid, we have a tendency to shrink back and cling hard to the known quantity of the status quo.

Are you clinging, or are you ready to embrace the process of change?

I remember thinking it would be great to magically make the perfect change happen. But I knew, as you do, that there is no fairy dust that will instantly make the situation you are currently tolerating perfect — or a magic pill that will give you the answer to what your next great career move ought to be (or the best move forward in your personal life).

That's why so many women tolerate what they say they want to change. It can feel daunting to step into the process of change, or even know how to get started.

Here is how to get clear, and how to move forward if you’re ready to change your life.

1. Assess your level of desire.

Ask yourself these questions: 
How tired am I of what I have been tolerating? 
How much do I want to bring change into my life? 
Do I want it enough to take a big new step — even if that means calling on myself to be bold?

In my case, I knew I was willing to initiate a change and step into the work of finding a new career direction that would excite me when I woke up every morning. (I had been longing for that missing feeling for too long!)

What about you?

When you answer these questions honestly, you’ll know if you are ready to start on the path of change.

2. If you want to get started, get support.

Embarking on a big change is easiest if you have a guide to help you. This is not a good DIY project! Getting support will not only ease the anxiety this decision may bring up, it will accelerate the pace at which you will move through the process of change.

With the help of a seasoned coach, you will be in safe hands as you get clear about what you want, assess your best opportunities, and move forward. 

3. Embrace the process.

This powerful, life-changing work will teach you so much. Anticipate it with excitement! 

Even as you will be called on to look deep, and set a course that may have unexpected turns along the way, you'll have help. That help will support you when discomfort arises as you step outside of your comfort zone, rise and grow, and then face new moments that call for courage.

This process is an incredible path to growth. 

This is how you make your desires your reality. 

This is how you can transform your life!

I have lived this process, and am honored to guide women through it every day. I know that you can proceed with confidence when you invest in yourself and your future, as I did a decade ago. 
I now live with the delight of a life that fulfills me in more ways than I ever imagined possible. I’d love to see that happen for you.

Let’s talk about the future you want to create — what’s possible for you.

Drop me a note, or leave a comment below, if you feel ready to consider initiating big and important change in your life.


Choose a word, change your year

joanna-kosinska-199299-unsplash.jpg

Now that we’re a week into January, the holidays are behind us and a big, promising new year is stretched out ahead. Lots of women I speak to find themselves asking how they can make this the great year they yearn for. 

Rather than make some quick resolutions — that even with great intentions are hard to sustain — they wonder what they can do to make this their best year ever. They ask what key actions they can take that will have impact. They wonder how to get started. And they are concerned about how can they sustain momentum.

If you relate — if you want to be more aware and awake in your life so you stop drifting and start making the changes you want — try these suggestions:

1. Choose a word of the year to guide you

It may sound simple, but when you take the time to thoughtfully choose a word to guide you for the year ahead, amazing things happen.

Last year I wrote about my process for choosing a word that embodies layers of meaning and really nails it for where you are in your life right now. I offer instructions that you can easily follow, as well as examples to inspire you. Here's how you can pick your powerful word for this year.

2. Stop looking for quick fixes

We all wish there were magical ways to make change fast. And we all know that in order to make important changes — and for them to stick — time and commitment are required. When you acknowledge and accept that the changes you want to realize — everything from weight loss or better health, to a more harmonious relationship, to a less chaotic pace of living, to having more satisfaction at work — will take time and focus to shift, you will be able to take the small, deliberate, consistent steps each day that will add up to big change over time.

3. Start saying “no” 

When you have a clear word for your year and you are ready to take small, consistent action in your life to live guided by your word, you will quickly realize that you must do less to be able to bring attention and focus to what really matters. 

This one is tough for many women who consider themselves accomplished multitaskers, get excited about new ideas all the time, and/or recognize that they tend to be people-pleasers. 

The truth is that we all have limited time and limited energy. This is the perfect time to start saying “no” to things that spread you too thin or are not in alignment with your priorities. This may feel uncomfortable, but you do not need to apologize when you say “no.” You can simply say that you have other commitments and thus are not able to help with...  do...  take on...  etc. Give it a try. With practice you can get comfortable with it, and you'll find that saying “no” will open important space for you to focus on what matters most.

4. Remind yourself of how capable you are

When doubt shows up, look back at last year and notice the times that you tried something new, were able to find courage when you needed it, or handled a challenge. Acknowledge things you learned and impact you made. All of these reminders will bolster your confidence when you need it.

5. Take consistent action

Having selected a word of the year to guide you, and preparing yourself for the time and patience needed to make meaningful change, then opening space in your life by saying “no,” and bolstering your confidence for stepping up in new ways, you will be ready for the last key step — making a commitment to take consistent action

Taking action and sustaining the commitment to continue to do so — even when you hit places of feeling discouraged or sagging motivation or lack of confidence — is the biggest challenge. It’s easy to get fired up at the start of the year. (Think about the crowds at yoga classes and gyms in January and February that thin out by March!)

The beauty of selecting a word of the year that embodies what you want for yourself this year is that you can more easily stay committed to living into it — even at the times you struggle. After all, that’s the meaning of commitment!

Are you ready to make that kind of commitment to yourself?

If you are, you will be able to look back at this current year a year from now and smile at what you created in your life!

Remember that getting support will make it easier for you to stay committed to the change you want to make, the growth you desire. Ask someone to be an accountability buddy. Attend workshops that will enlighten and inspire you. Join a group coaching program or reach out for one-on-one coaching support. 

I would love to hear the Word of the Year that you choose.

I am eager to hear about how you have selected a guiding word. Share your word in the comments below, or email me to let me know. And let me know why you chose it, and how you are stepping into making this the year that you are envisioning today.

My word for this year?

This year I chose DEPTH.

I intend to go deeper in my work with clients, my writing, and my painting. This demands that I get more support in my business, that I say “no” more often, and that I remain mindful of my intentions and honor them. I have already begun living into my word and it feels great!

I wish you a big new year — one of growth, commitment, accomplishment and joy.


If you’re looking for another way to change your year, you can consider having a coach to support you to get clear about the life and work questions on your mind — to live the big life you long for — so that you can set clear objectives and get help to step into your future with intention and commitment. If that’s something you want to explore, I welcome you to set up an Introductory Coaching Call with me. There’s no cost or obligation for us to meet. Simply complete the Coaching Inquiry Form and I’ll be in touch to make a date with you.

Creating light in dark days

paolo-nicolello-694104-unsplash.jpg

The last week has been intense, stressful and even overwhelming for many women (and men). I put aside the topic I had planned to write about today because I feel a pressing need to address the flood of emotion that so many are struggling with — friends, family members, clients, and my own troubling emotions.

If you have a different political orientation, and feel happy with the current state of affairs in our country, I welcome you to stop reading now.

But if, like me, you have been distressed by the political climate and you feel that hope is hard to hold onto, you are not alone. We have witnessed deeply disturbing changes put in place that impact our health and environment, damaging changes to educational and our justice system, policies that are cruel and inhumane, and unspeakable omissions such as withholding standard levels of support for everything from health insurance to help for those hit by devesting hurricanes.

And then we watched the events of the last week unfold.

A brave, articulate, remarkable, composed and credible victim of sexual assault came forward with important testimony. A nominee for a seat on the highest court in this country, for a lifetime appointment, was frighteningly partisan, shockingly emotional, and seemingly untruthful. The sham of a limited investigation gave cover to lawmakers to approve the nominee, despite the outpouring of cries not to do so from scores of women who have suffered sexual assault, scores of prominent lawyers and academics, the editorial boards of the most respected news organizations, and countless citizens.

It has felt for many that this is a new and especially frightening low, one that surpasses many points where we thought things could surely not get worse.

Which brings me to address our collective state of mind, and how we can live and move forward in such troubling times.

We have been bullied, and bullies want to silence us.
They want us to cower and hide.

I say, “No!”

I urge you to resist the temptation to go fetal, or simply wring your hands with other like-minded people, or numb yourself to all the distress. 

Here are some of the tenets of my manifesto for living a creative life that are top of mind for me today, and that you may want to consider.

1. Slow down. Be still.

In quiet we can honor ourselves and have time to feel our emotions. And, we can collect our thoughts. This is important self-care that provides a foundation for taking action.

2. Live without fear.

Fear paralyzes, which is why it’s used by powerful people to quiet those they don’t want to hear from. Two sure antidotes to fear are love and action. Start by surrounding yourself with people you love, who fill your heart with good, positive energy, and who you can shower with love.

Filled with this positive energy you will think more clearly and be able to consider the actions that you can take to influence the situation in positive ways. In this circumstance, you can actively work to get like-minded people out to vote in great numbers. You can send financial support to candidates and causes you are aligned with. You can show up at rallies and be counted among the masses who will not be cowed.

3. Tap your passion.

Your passion connects you to your heart, your beliefs and your values. Let these guide you each day, and they will serve you well.

4. Live boldly.

Being bold requires that you think big. When you are bold you speak your mind. You show up to support the causes that matter to you, and encourage others with shared sentiments to do the same.

5. Create!

We all have the capacity to create our futures, rather than resigning ourselves to being passive, or worse yet, victims. When we adopt the mindset of a creator, life is full of vast possibilities, and we can be agents of change. Creativity can resolve confusion and inspire effective action. Test it and see what happens. Then keep reminding yourself that you are a creator until it is embedded in your thinking.

6. Be patient.

The challenges we face are huge, and there are few quick fixes for the changes that are needed. We must be patient and diligent as we work to turn the tide on so many fronts.

7. Carry on.

As we work as individuals and together to create a better future, new challenges will show up. Setbacks are inevitable. These will test us. We must live with intention and return to the themes discussed above as needed. We can and must maintain our commitment and persevere.

Our nation has rebounded from other dark periods, and often come out of them stronger than before. It’s by standing together and staying committed that we will turn the tide and restore justice, decency and honor, to live up to the true values of our nation. We have been the light of the world and we can be that light again.

I invite you to join me in voting in the coming election, in working to get all committed citizens to the polls, in supporting candidates with values worthy of our respect, and to staying the course for the big work that lies ahead for all of us.

Getting into gear for the fall

jakob-owens-172511-unsplash.jpg

I'm taking a brief break in my series about how my clients are stepping up in their lives in big ways. Stay tuned for the second great story, that will arrive soon.

Right now I am thinking about this being the last week of August, and that we'll be celebrating Labor Day weekend in a few days. I'm tickled to see photos of cute kids with their backpacks leaving for the first day of school. And, I'm hearing stories from excited parents who just moved their teens into college dorms. A number of colleagues are savoring this last week when many of their clients are on vacation, as they get ready for a busier fall pace.

Even in the sweltering heat, we all feel change of one kind or another is coming. I, for one, am always excited about the new beginnings that fall brings.

How will you navigate this seasonal transition? Are you excited like I am? Does this time of year bring up anxiety (which is very common)? Do you feel overwhelmed at the number of to-do's filling your list, or are you ready to jump into the the new month and new season with enthusiasm?

As we move into this season of new beginnings, you can choose the mindset you want to bring to your life and work. 

Here are 3 ideas ideas that you may want to embrace. 

1. Welcome the opportunity for new starts

Whether your schedule opens up with your kids back in school or your calendar gets more crowded, think about the ways you can start anew. This is a great time to look at your opportunities and obligations with fresh eyes.

What do you really want to say "yes" to, and what do you want to decline? What priorities can you choose and what can you defer — or delegate to others? Give yourself permission to create new ways of operating as you step into the new season.

2. Savor the new

We often overlook all that we can appreciate and savor. Start with tuning in through your senses.

This is a time to enjoy the feel of crisp weather and brisk walks. As you pull out a favorite sweater and put on soft socks and a pair of boots, savor the coziness. 

New produce will soon show up in the markets that will bring great possibilities for what to cook, and new flavors to enjoy.

Color will abound as the tress put on their annual show. 

What are your favorite sounds of the season? Kids giggling at your door on Halloween?

What are the smells that excite you in the fall? For me it's logs burning in my fireplace and vegetables roasting in the oven.  

3. Explore new opportunities 

The new season can be a time for new learning and experiences. You have opportunities to try new things, to explore, and to expand in many ways that will excite and inspire you.

Will you take a class? Join a book club? Attend a workshop? Reach out to connect with people who share common interests? Take a day trip to a place you’ve been wanting to visit? Go to a museum or the theater to see something provocative?

Let me know the ways you plan to create a mindset for expansion and growth as the summer winds down. I'd love to hear your favorite ways to approach the fall season, so post them in the comments below, or email me to share them. And, if you have questions about shifting into a positive mindset, I welcome you to get in touch.

And, if you're in the Boston area, check out the workshop offerings I have on tap for this fall. They may be just what you’re looking for!

Starting your journey to the future does not have to be a struggle

When any of us considers the future we want to create, big questions always show up. And big questions can be overwhelming. Not knowing how to begin to figure out what we really want is daunting. Thinking about what can be possible and how to take steps to initiate moving into a future that will be filled with purpose and satisfaction — and sustain us — can feel intensely challenging. It’s understandable that so many of us stay stuck in the face of these big questions. Or, we drift into changes rather that intentionally creating the change we want.

What can you do to start creating and realizing a brilliant future when it feels so daunting?

There are a few ingredients you need in order to intentionally move into your future.

1. You need to be willing to embrace the process
When we feel overwhelmed, and when we do not have a clear vision of the future, it’s easy to get stuck. Not knowing how to sort it all out or how to get started on a path to a different future can paralyze us, even when we want to make intentional changes. You need willingness to undertake a process that may call on you to answer big questions and willingness to begin to take new steps.

Are you willing to get started?

2. You need to believe in yourself
This is belief in your ability to do something new, bold, and in many cases undefined. The ability to truly believe in yourself is rooted in self-love. You must be able to acknowledge yourself for your talents, your skills, and your capacity to embark on creating a future that will fulfill you.

It takes attention to bolster self-love. Start by focusing on feeling deserving of goodness in your life. Make it a priority to take good care of yourself. Steer clear of people-pleasing. Set healthy boundaries. And, look out for all the sneaky ways your self-critic tries to step in and sabotage you — for instance, when you compare yourself to others, when you slip into being a perfectionist, or when you are afraid to try something new for fear of failing.

Check in with yourself. How much do you believe in yourself, and are you ready to you ramp that up?

3. You need commitment
Commitment is where the rubber meets the road. This is the crucial component that must be in place for you to make your great future a reality. 

Commitment means doing the work to define where you are now. It entails acknowledging and honoring your emotions, and not letting them derail you. It means taking the time to get to the heart of what you really want (which is harder to do than most of us think!). And, with clarity about what you want, it means taking action — embarking on small but important steps toward creating a new reality that aligns with what you truly want.

Commitment also entails investing in yourself. It means carving out time and space for this focus and effort, for creating a vision, and for initiating the small, purposeful steps that will lead to bigger steps. Commitment also means being willing to be flexible as you find your way. You will likely have to make course corrections as inevitable missteps occur. (Self-love will help you to move forward when setbacks occur!)

And, another way to bring commitment to a process as big and important as creating your vision for the future — and realizing it — is to invest in getting support. DIY appeals to some people, those who like to read up on how to go it alone. But getting help will always accelerate your process and smooth your path. 


Help is what will get you through the tough emotional places that come up frequently when embarking on big personal work. If all we needed was to find a perfect strategy and clear tactics to implement, it would be easy to achieve important big personal change. But, our emotions and a host of mindset issues always get in our way. That's why doing work like this is far from easy.

Most people who have achieved great success have learned not to do it all on their own. They invest in coaches and mentors to help them because they know having that support will enable them to more quickly and easily make progress.

I invite you to consider the level of commitment you are ready to bring to creating the future that will bring you satisfaction and joy.

If you are ready to focus on your future and want help on your journey, we can talk about what you desire, where you are now, and how I may be able to support you to realize your fulfilling future. Reach out to me to schedule a conversation.

Are you taking inspired action?

I’ve been making big plans of late, and thinking about setting intentions, motivation, making progress and completing projects. Spring is an exciting time to launch new projects that really excite me and that will offer huge value.

Following my fall sabbatical, I was busy developing program proposals that had been requested, starting work with new coaching clients, and writing a major proposal for the book I'd worked on during my sabbatical. (More to follow about the book soon!) Once my proposals were submitted, it was time to look ahead to what I wanted to create in my business — and my life.

I’m never at a loss for ideas that excite me, so I had important decisions to make. I started by thinking about my intentions. Being clear about what I most wanted to do — and why — helped me decide where to put my focus and my attention. It made it easy for me to say “Yes” to some things, and to put other ideas and opportunities on a side burner. The last thing I want to do is “splatter” myself across a lot of projects and be unable to do any of them well. So, while it’s a challenge to say “No” to things that excite me, when I stayed clear about my intensions, and thewhy behind them, I was able to choose the projects I most wanted to make a reality.

Then it was time to take action. That’s where the hard work — but also the fun — began. I’ve been excited to dive in and see my ideas become realities, and I am on track to bring them to completion.

What I’m creating now.
I am happy to be offering some great workshops this spring that are designed to inspire and ignite change. I am excited, too, to be doing several one-on-one artist retreats this season. And, I’m thrilled to be offering a new 6-month coaching group in 2016. In this group, 6 brilliant women will explore what Living Big means to them, and decide how they want to take action to stop living small, navigate a big transition, or create a vision for their future and begin taking confident steps toward it. This will be a journey of significant change, filled with shared love and support. (If this opportunity intrigues you, get in touch with me directly. I’m accepting applications now.)

What is your intention for this new season?
Do you want to get healthier? Show up in a bigger way at work? Improve a key relationship? Bring more inspiration and creative energy into your day-to-day life? Stop over-working and get balance back in your life? Find courage to follow a dream? Make a bold idea a reality? Think carefully, then consider why the desire is strong for you. Knowing that will provide a foundation for taking action and staying motivated.

If you want to talk about what you want to pursue (or what you are sorting out) and how you can start taking inspired action, let me know. I hope that this will be a fulfilling and creative season for you, filled with abundant inspired action.

Early spring Sightings! I am inspired by the new growth that heralds a beautiful new season.

Early spring Sightings! I am inspired by the new growth that heralds a beautiful new season.

What my art — and making it — is teaching me

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY   COMPLETED.

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY  COMPLETED.

Having embarked on a new professional direction after selling my design firm 5 years ago, I dicovered that I loved Intuitive Painting (so much that I became an instructor in that proecess), but that engaging in other personal creative work was a challenge. In time I started writing poetry (as I have always loved words, and that was a comfortable way for me to express ideas and emotions). And, last year I enrolled in a class at Boston's MFA and began sculpting in clay. To my delight, I loved working with my hands and in three dimensions.

On my fall 2015 sabbatical, I took a new big step and enrolled in an abstract painting course at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. To say that it was life-changing is not an overstatement. I had a brilliant teacher and wonderful classmates who generously embraced me as a new student, and who all taught me more than I'd have imagined possible in a one-semester course.

Now, I am enrolled at the SMFA in Bosotn, with another brillient painting teacher and inspiring classmates. And, I have continued to study with my sculpting teacher.

All of this art-making takes a lot of time. I wondered, at first, if perhaps I was devoting too much time to this work, as my coaching practice and the programs I offer are so important to me and require so much time and attention. Now that we are four months into 2016, I am taking stock of the decisions I made, and how the balance is working for me.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

What I have realized is that my creative work is richly rewarding — and it challenges me. In the best moments, I make what I feel tangible in my art. I sometimes find myself in such flow that I completely lose track of time. That is an amazing experience, and one that, happily, I often replicate when engaged in my coaching work.

Other times when I am in the studio, and more often this semester in my painting class, I find myself struggling to connect to my intution, unable to create with ease. I had decided at the start of the semester to deliberately use this painting class to experiment with a wide range of techniques, so that I my painting process can flow. I want to find a way to paint that feels like home for me. So, I am perservering and have started to find more freedom as I paint.

Strikingly, when I am at work outside of either the painting or sculpting studios, I realize that I more naturally look for opportunities to be responsive, intuitive, adaptable and, yes, creative — in recognizing unexpected and intriguing ideas, and in the decisions I make and the actions I take. This fluidity is striking to me, and is leading me in exciting directions. And, the happiness I feel with my work is ever increasing.

I am certain that my descion to devote time to personal creative exploration is paying dividends for me, and I am excited as I contemplate continuing my journey to develop as an artist.

Sabbatical recap and looking ahead

Alas, my sabbatical has ended. We‘ve packed up the DC apartment and driven home to Boston, and while it‘s lovely to be back, it is bittersweet.

Our Thanksgiving trip to Boston was wonderful, highlighted by spending time with our children and our grandson, Samuel. Sam is now 9 months old. He is growing and thriving in wonderful ways, and is a constant source of joy.

We flew on to Chicago after the holiday, where my husband was honored at the RSNA (Radiologic Society of North America), at their enormous annual meeting. I was so proud to see him receive a Gold Medal in recognition of his great achievements as a leader in Radiology. And, I was happy to have time to explore the town on my own, including a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, and getting a start on some holiday shopping.

My husband, Steven, being honored with a Gold Medal at the RSNA meeting in Chicago, and a wonderful celebration at The Art Institute Of Chicago.

My husband, Steven, being honored with a Gold Medal at the RSNA meeting in Chicago, and a wonderful celebration at The Art Institute Of Chicago.

Some of the spectacular pieces we enjoyed in the contemporary collection at The Art Institute of Chicago (by Jawlensky, Giacometti, Matisse, Klee, Severini, and Klee)

The interior of the Kennedy Center; at Lafayette Park the night after the Paris attacks.

The last weeks of my time in Washington were full and fun, in spite of coping with troubling world events. We were at the Kennedy Center seeing a brilliant perfomance of the Twyla Tharp 50th Anniversay Tour when we heard the news about the terror attacks unfolding in Paris. The next evening we found ourselves walking through Lafayette Park, across from The White House, and were surrounded by people holding candles and hand-made French flags as they sang La Marseillaise. We felt a deep connection to the love, sadness and hopeful energy of the crowd.

On a happier note, I worked nearly daily in the studio and returned with a body of work that I am proud of. I have registered for a spring semester course at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts that seems to be much like my course at the Corcoran School for the Arts and Design. While I will miss my brilliant teacher, Mira Hecht, and my fantastic classmates, I am excited as I look ahead to continuing my work as a painter. I look forward to having the structure, support and energetic environment of a challenging course to help me further develop my skills as a painter, and I am eager to explore many new ideas on canvas.

Three of the small paintings I completed near the end of my sabbatical.

I am also excited to have made significant progress on a book I‘ve been writing, and am glad to be in conversation with a terrific publisher. Stay tuned for news about the book!

Another highlight of the last weeks of the sabbatical included a tour of the White House, that was decked out in fantastic holiday splendor. The live music that was being performed made it even more special to be there.

The White House tour was a visual treat at every turn.

And, my teacher had arranged for our class to have a private tour of a remarkable special exhibition, Masterworks From Switzerland, Gauguin to Picasso, at The Phillips Collection. The art historian taught us a lot I had never known about the distinctive works of Picasso, Van Gogh, Chagall and Pissarro on view, and several wonderful artists whose work was new to me (including Alexej von Jawlensky, Ferdinand Hodler and Cuno Amiet).

My husband and I also made time to take in several excellent films while we were away. Among our favorites were Spotlight, Truth, Bridge of Spies, Suffragette and Trumbo I also recommend a wonderful new documentary, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, that was released just before we headed home.

On our final visit to the Dupont Circle Farmer‘s Market we enjoyed seeing holiday wreaths, garlands and flowers and e were surrounded by lively music and happy shoppers. We said goodbye to our friend Annette, whose amazing bakery items are all gluten free, and all delectable. If you‘re in Washington on a Sunday morning, it‘s worth waiting in line at her O Earth Creamery and Bakehouse table to taste her creations (even if you have no worries about gluten)!

With the unpacking now nearly done, and having enjoyed lovely visits with family, it‘s great to be home. I am glad to have this last week of 2015 to ready myself for the new year. I believe that my experiences on the sabbatical will inspire an amazing 2016. I‘m planning some big new work — to live an even bigger life in the year ahead, and to help more women create and step into the amazing big life they dream of, with clarity, confidence, and joy.

Wonder at the Renwick Gallery

One of the great joys of being in Washington DC for my sabbatical has been the opportunity to visit the fantastic museums of the Smithsonian. These treasures are free for all of us to enjoy, and it is a thrill to be able to visit these museums whenever time allows.

The Renwick Gallery is one of the Smithsonian museums, and is located across from the White House. It is a beautiful building that’s been closed for renovations for the last 3 years. I’d not known of it, but I have walked past the gallery each day on my way to the Corcoran and have been intrigued by the imposing facade. It was exciting to find out that the museum was to reopen on November 13. There was a lot of buzz about it, so I checked out its fascinating history and the opening exhibition, Wonder. While I was eager to see the exhibition, I waited until after the opening weekend to avoid the crowds.

My patience was rewarded! The magnificent sculptural installations that were commissioned for nine grand galleries were thrilling to move around and marvel at with just a few other visitors on a Tuesday afternoon. The name of the exhibition, Wonder, could not be more apt. The works are superb, and they make each of the gallery spaces a star attraction.

While photos cannot convey the impact of seeing these monumental works in person, I hope you will get a sense of the nine works — and perhaps be able to make a trip to Washington see them yourself. I hope you can make it before July 10, 2016, when the exhibition will close.

Tara Donovan’s intriguing landscape, ”Untitled”, is made of index cards!

”Plexus, A1“ by Gabriel Dawe is made of thread and is completely spellbinding.

Patrick Dougherty’s ”Shindig” is PHENOMENAL, and especially delightful because you can move into the forms he created with willow saplings.

Janet Echelman’s Suspended Woven sculpture, ”1.8” is in a gallery 100 feet long. It was inspired by the Tsunami in Japan in 2011. changing lights, and the shadows cast on the gallery walls, make it completely mesmerizing.

”Middle Fork”, by John Grade, was made by first creating a plaster cast of a tree, found IN THE CASCADE MOUNTAINS, that is the same age as the Renwick building. Then, a half-million segments of reclaimed cedar were carved and connected to make the new ”tree” from the cast. Amazing!

”Folding the Chesapeake” was created by Maya Lin, using marbles to shape rivers, fields, canyons and mountains in this gallery. IT is exquisite.

Leo Villareal’s ”Volume” sculpture is suspended above the great staircase and is ever-changing. It is coded so that the lighting sequences never repeat exactly as before.

"Anonymous donor" by Chakaia Booker is made with reworked RUBBER TIRES. She created fantastic textures and forms.

”In the midnight garden”, by Jennifer Angus, transports us into a magical and completely surprising space. Not only are the patterns on the walls made with actual insects (that are abundant in nature), the stunning pink wall color was derived from crushed insects.


Sabbatical update — reflections at the mid-point

I continue to be enormously grateful for my 3-month sabbatical adventure. In the year before it started, the prospect of having 3 months to live in a new city and dive deep into new learning and personal exploration sounded like it would be a rare and remarkable experience. Now that I am at the mid-point, I can say that the sabbatical has surpassed my expectations.

The rhythm and structure of my days is quite different here than in Boston. I am taking a semester-long abstract painting class as well as a short course on making art books. I‘ve also committed to a self-study program and I am working to complete a book I had started writing before the sabbatical. I am working with a few coaching clients on a very limited basis now, and savoring the time with them. I am also visiting as many of Washington's museums and monuments as I can, I‘m walking to explore as widely as my feet can manage, and Steven and I have been taking in movies more often than usual. I‘m doing some cooking with lovely farmers‘ market finds, and we are enjoying socializing with some friends and family — including some wonderful new friends — who live in the DC area. 

One of my paintings

One of my paintings

Every day is different, and I am never at a loss for things to do. But as I plan each day, I am aware that it is very easy for me to slip into old patterns and overload my schedule. I am conscious of making choices to create space for some quiet every day, whether it‘s for reading, meditation, drawing, or walking in a beautiful place. Creating balance is a big priority now, and I hope that when I return to Boston at the end of the year it will be a natural part of my life.

My first book

My first book

Among my most inspiring experiences have been recent museum visits. When I look at art now, I see it in new ways. When I stand before a painting, I look at color through new eyes, thinking about all of the color choices the artist made. I have a new appreciation for the tones they mixed as well as the impact of the juxtaposition of colors. And, I am keenly aware of the painting technique, marveling at strokes of textured paint, or smoother surfaces with clean edges of color against color, or a flat surface in which the brush strokes are barely perceptible. The craft of the painting, as well as its color and composition and overall emotional impact are all playing in my head (and my heart) as I walk through galleries. 

Whether sharing studio time in my painting classes, or seeing the gallery exhibitions of some of my incredibly talented classmates, or gazing at masterworks in some of our country's most fabulous museums, I am thrilled by all of the creative stimulation. That energy spills over into every part of my life.

Here are just a few examples of recent pleasures and experiences.

The color transformations of David Hockney's Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance", as the lighting slowly changed, wERE astonishingly beautiful. [At The Smithsonian American art Museum]

The color transformations of David Hockney's Snails Space with Vari-Lites, "Painting as Performance", as the lighting slowly changed, wERE astonishingly beautiful. [At The Smithsonian American art Museum]

Pat Steir's elegant Gold Morning with Roses; Wayne Thibaud's Jackpot Machine, with a paint surface that looks like frosting; A detail in another David Hockney painting, Double Entrance, where you can see the fabulous way he uses and applies color to a canvas; Eric Fischl's Ten Breaths: Tumbling Woman II, which powerfully relates to the human dimension of September 11.  [AT THE SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM]

Pat Steir's elegant Gold Morning with Roses; Wayne Thibaud's Jackpot Machine, with a paint surface that looks like frosting; A detail in another David Hockney painting, Double Entrance, where you can see the fabulous way he uses and applies color to a canvas; Eric Fischl's Ten Breaths: Tumbling Woman II, which powerfully relates to the human dimension of September 11. [AT THE SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM]

The imposing Lincoln memorial; a family doing a rubbing of the name of a relative who died in the Vietnam War, at the moving vietnam war memorial; and looking at the Washington Monument from the lincoln memorial.

The imposing Lincoln memorial; a family doing a rubbing of the name of a relative who died in the Vietnam War, at the moving vietnam war memorial; and looking at the Washington Monument from the lincoln memorial.

Our sunday trips to the farmers' market at Dupont Circle are always a visual delight.

Our sunday trips to the farmers' market at Dupont Circle are always a visual delight.

Some of my talented classmates at work in our painting studio; the studio where my Book arts class is taught.

Some of my talented classmates at work in our painting studio; the studio where my Book arts class is taught.

I cannot omit some other highlights of the sabbatical so far. The first half of this adventure was punctuated by a wonderful week back in Boston, where I had a powerful retreat with my coaching group to conclude and celebrate the completion of 6 months together. And, I had the pleasure to doing two great Evening of Creativity and Cooking workshops with women who were full of creative spirit. 

As I look ahead, I am eager to continue the challenging work in my painting class (I‘m venturing out of my comfort zone and starting to paint on larger canvases), learning from my gifted teacher and my generous classmates. I look forward to visiting the newly renovated Renwick Gallery that will reopen next week, as well as many other museums. I have plans to spend time with new acquaintances who share my passion for creativity. And, I am excited to anticipate our trip back to Boston for Thanksgiving, when we will spend time with our children and our precious grandson, before returning for the last weeks of this special time in Washington. 

I am truly excited to be here and to be living big!

My sabbatical adventure has begun!

I am thrilled to be posting from Washington DC, where the experiences of my first 2 weeks on sabbatical have been terrific. We’re living in Dupont Circle which is within walking distance of an enormous number of wonderful places, and I’m happy to report that my fitbit is hitting new highs for steps walked and active minutes each day!

It’s been great fun exploring a city I have visited only briefly in the past, and then as a tourist. Being here as a resident feels quite different. 

Here are a few observations: 

  • Driving from Boston to Washington down the East coast is not for the faint of heart, particularly trying to get through New York (where we finally toured the South Bronx to make our way into Manhattan, when the road to the George Washington Bridge was in total gridlock). But one can find unexpected delight in a route that the phone’s map suggests, such as finding yourself on traffic-free country roads in Pennsylvania that are surrounded by beautiful farmland.

 

  • There’s a lot to be said for adding small, personal touches to make a furnished apartment feel like home. Postcards of art we’ve collected on recent trips to museums now fill our bookshelves, mixed with books and family photos we brought along.
  • Exploring new places on foot, with my phone in hand, enables me to easily go anywhere without getting lost. (Driving has been somewhat more challenging at times, but we have done as little driving as possible.) The metro is a breeze to navigate when distances are greater than my foot power will manage and I want to be car-free.
  • The Sunday morning farmer’s market at Dupont Circle is a feast for the eyes and full of marvelous produce, cheeses and more. The market is open year-round, so we will be able to enjoy the abundance of fresh foods for our entire stay.
A few of the many amazing works that delighted me on my visit to The Phillips Collection.

A few of the many amazing works that delighted me on my visit to The Phillips Collection.

The National Gallery's East wing is largely closed for renovations, but the classical art  TREA  SURES in the  West wing, and walking though the atrium of the East Wing, made for a wonderful visit.

The National Gallery's East wing is largely closed for renovations, but the classical art TREASURES in the West wing, and walking though the atrium of the East Wing, made for a wonderful visit.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has a fabulous, eclectic collection.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has a fabulous, eclectic collection.

  • The painting class I have enrolled in at The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design (part of George Washington University) is challenging and exciting. I am studying with a marvelous teacher and am surrounded by talented, interesting and generous classmates. 
  • Now that I am studying painting, I am seeing differently. I am keenly aware of color, whether simply looking at what surrounds me or, quite profoundly, when looking at paintings in a museum. And, I am closely looking at surfaces and paint strokes, as never before. 
The yellow flags to welcome the Pope were replaced with red flags of china today. There was a face-off of dissidents and chinese supporters lining the street,

The yellow flags to welcome the Pope were replaced with red flags of china today. There was a face-off of dissidents and chinese supporters lining the street,

  • It’s new for me to be in a city where political events play out all around me. My daily walk to classes and my studio takes me close to the White House. From the flags that went up to welcome the Pope, that changed to the Chinese flag this morning (on those same lamp posts), and protests of all kinds that feel a like street theater, there is always something interesting to observe.

There’s not doubt that these 3 months spent away from home, doing so many new and exciting things, will have a big impact for me. I am enormously grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow.

Stay tuned for periodic updates!

Summer team-building workshop

I created a team-building workshop for a terrific group from a major medical center in the Boston area. Sixteen wonderful people — some of whom work at outposts in other locations and had never met those based at the hospital — gathered for the day. The workshop was filled with creative fun, thought-provoking writing, and lots of discussion about the ways that the team can bring creativity into their workplace in new ways — as well as enriching their own lives.

Everyone was spirited and created courageously. The work they produced was outstanding. And, they shared openly and honestly with one another. At the end of the day there were smiles all around, and I could not have had a better time sharing my work and insights with them.

The photos capture the energy of the day. And, you can read what the department leader said about the workshop.

The day was spent creating, gathering to write and talk, and creating again!

As the day progressed the art became larger, and finally teams of four created together.

Here is the final "group Art" that was created by teams of four. Each was based on a whacky prompt.

Here is the final "group Art" that was created by teams of four. Each was based on a whacky prompt.

Five of the final wonderful individual pieces that were done at the end of the day.

Five of the final wonderful individual pieces that were done at the end of the day.

Even when life is busy, make time for yourself!

Now that June is here and spring is in full flush, life gets busier than ever for most of us. The invitations and events can be overwhelming, from graduations to end-of-school-year gatherings and other social events, weddings and organizational program offerings, to Father’s Day and family birthdays (at least this is a big birthday season for our family). And, many of us are busy making summer plans — or anticipating the summer plans we've already put on the calendar. It can sometimes feel like the season will rush past and fall will be here in the blink of an eye.

The antidote to all of that busy-ness is to slow down, to savor every day, to create time for yourself. Make time to breathe. Take time to be quiet. Plan time to walk in nature, sip tea quietly with a friend, get enough sleep, read a beautiful book. Use more of your time to BE, rather than DO so much.

One of the beautiful ways to slow down and make YOU a priority is to create. And that can mean a host of things you might not even think of when you consider the idea of “creating”. Here are some ideas:

  • Try carrying a small notebook with you, so you can pull it out and jot down ideas as they pop into your head. Try adding a doodle to embellish your thoughts.
  • Snap photos on your phone when you take the time to notice small wonders around you — things you typically rush by without noticing.
  • Buy an exotic new fruit or vegetable when you come across something unfamiliar at the market, and try fun ways to incorporate it into your next meal.
  • Intentionally take a turn to get lost on your way back from a meeting or outing, and see what you discover.
  • Play — in any way you can think of, whether with a child, or a friend, or by yourself.
  • Of course, you can write a quick poem about a feeling you have, you can strum a guitar, make a sketch, sing, or dance to music you love.

Any and all creative acts liberate your right brain, providing inspiration, more “aha” moments, new insights, and more quiet inside. I expect you will discover that it’s wonderful to slow down and start creating in small ways.

I wish you a season filled with an abundance of joy with friends and family, as well as quiet, creative time for yourself. I would love to hear about the highlights of your season.

A fantastic evening of creativity and cooking

I have long had the idea for offering a special workshop about creativity and cooking. The concept sprang from my focus on the importance of self-love, which is a key condition that enables us to create freely. The way we feed and care for our bodies is an important aspect of self-love. So, I thought, why not help people to bring creativity into the way they prepare food?

It took some time for me to find a partner to make my idea a reality. When I met Amy Lipton, who runs The Joyful Kitchen Cooking School, I knew she had the spirit and energy that would make for a great partnership. And, after taking a private class that she created for me and my husband, I knew my instincts were sound. Amy and I soon set the date for the workshop on April 28, and we were gratified that it sold out within a few hours of offering it to my community. In fact, when we added a second date (in May), that workshop also filled right away.

April 28 arrived, and in came a superb group of 8 women. The chemistry and enthusiasm in Amy's magnificent kitchen was palpable. I shared some key concepts about the nature of creativity and how we can be open, playful and experimental as we cook. Everyone did a writing exercise to loosen up, and then we cooked! 

Amy taught us techniques for creating Vietnamese fresh rolls, seafood and vegetables en papillote, and a fruit crostata. All are fun and surprisingly easy to prepare. For each dish, Amy demonstrated the basic preparation, and the the fun began! Each person made a version of each dish of her own, choosing from a huge variety of ingredients, seasonings and flavors that Amy offered us. And, we ate what we cooked as the evening progress. We savored the fabulous tastes, and compared the variations we'd each created.

The spirited evening was great fun, and eating the results of our efforts was a treat — in every sense of the word! It was lovely to see everyone let herself use interesting and unusual combinations of ingredients and flavors, and to hear about how they want to try and make new variations in their own kitchens.

Amy and I are looking forward to doing the next workshop in May, and are already looking for more dates so we can offer it again this summer. I can't wait!

 

Details — what we see when we slow down and look closely

I always find it a thrill to see art of many types on visits to museums, galleries, and performances (both near home and when I travel). Happily, my senses have been rewarded in amazing ways the last few months. Culture in Boston is so exciting these days that it’s hard to get to seeing everything one hears about before an exhibition closes or a performance is sold out. But I see as much as I can, and on recent travels the opportunities for enrichment and inspiration have been similarly abundant.

What has been especially interesting to me has been noticing details. When I enter a large gallery and taken in the vista of work on view, I then move to observe the individual pieces. Finally, I take a close look at the surfaces and forms of the art. It’s then that I realize how much there is to see and consider about the creation. These are details we typically miss unless we take the time to slow down and observe closely. And those observations can reveal so much more than our impressions from a few feet back.

What might appear at first to be a simple, solid field of color on a canvas delivers intriguing texture and thoughtfulness about what the artist intended, when you take that close look and think about what you are seeing. A busy field of splattered paint on a Jackson Pollock canvas reveals pattern and color interplay that would be missed without a closer look.

The examples are many. In every case, a closer inspection adds to my insights and responses to the art. Similarly, when I saw the Mark Morris Dance Company perform last week, and carefully pondered the selections of music as well as the dance forms, I had a deeper response to the works. The sweep of impressions can be wonderful, and still, focusing in on details enriches us in new ways.

In our day-to-day lives there are also great insights and things to be seen and felt deeply, when we slow down and observe details with care. Think about driving down a street. We never see as much as when we walk that street. The forms of flowers in a garden, the architectural moments on the edge of a roofline, the way the colors of the facade look in a slant of light, are all part of a blur if we only drive and never take a thoughtful walk, with stops along the way to observe and consider small details.

To be observant in that way, we must take a look at how much we rush through our lives. For many people, the days are so over-scheduled that going slow is hard to imagine. Yet when we do slow down and look closely, what we observe can inspire us in surprising and wonderful ways. It can open our eyes to possibilities or suggest ideas for completely unrelated projects. We are stimulated deeply and can connect that energy to any aspect of our lives.

In our work, and in all of our relationships, the principles can be applied. Much as in a gallery, it takes a bit more time to look for and take in the details and to apply the observations. But when you do the results can be profound. Having deeper, more thoughtful conversations can reap amazing rewards. The details that emerge can be the most valuable when formulating decisions for our next steps. At the office, you might find yourself incorporating more insights into a report or proposal that can elevate your work to new heights.

In our ever-rushed world, there are fabulous opportunities for us when we make a habit of taking the time to take in the details all around us. We can use those observations, those "aha" insights, to enrich our lives — and our world.

What will you see today, when you slow down and take a closer look?

THIS REMARKABLE LARGE TAPESTRY THAT I SAW IN THE COOPER HEWITT MUSEUM IN NEW YORK WAS DESIGNED BY DANISH ARTIST GRETHE SORENSON. WHEN SEEN UP CLOSE, YOU CAN APPRECIATE THE AMAZING WEAVING TECHNIQUE THAT CAPTURES FILM IMAGES SHOT AT NIGHT BY HER HUSBAND, BO HOGVAARD. THE GRADATIONS OF COLOR ARE CREATED USING THREAD "PIXELS" OF RED, GREEN, BLUE, CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE. THE RESULT IS AN ALMOST PHOTO-REALISTIC REPRODUCTION OF THE IMAGE. 

THIS REMARKABLE LARGE TAPESTRY THAT I SAW IN THE COOPER HEWITT MUSEUM IN NEW YORK WAS DESIGNED BY DANISH ARTIST GRETHE SORENSON. WHEN SEEN UP CLOSE, YOU CAN APPRECIATE THE AMAZING WEAVING TECHNIQUE THAT CAPTURES FILM IMAGES SHOT AT NIGHT BY HER HUSBAND, BO HOGVAARD. THE GRADATIONS OF COLOR ARE CREATED USING THREAD "PIXELS" OF RED, GREEN, BLUE, CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE. THE RESULT IS AN ALMOST PHOTO-REALISTIC REPRODUCTION OF THE IMAGE. 

JASPER JOHNS' "FLAG", AT MOMA NEW YORK IS AN ICONIC WORK, BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED CLOSELY TO SEE THE AMAZING TEXTURES AND DETAILS OF NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS EMBEDDED IN THICK ENCAUSTIC PAINT THAT WERE LAYERED ONTO PLYWOOD — OR CONSIDERED THE MEANING IN JOHNS' APPROACH TO CREATING THIS WORK?

JASPER JOHNS' "FLAG", AT MOMA NEW YORK IS AN ICONIC WORK, BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED CLOSELY TO SEE THE AMAZING TEXTURES AND DETAILS OF NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS EMBEDDED IN THICK ENCAUSTIC PAINT THAT WERE LAYERED ONTO PLYWOOD — OR CONSIDERED THE MEANING IN JOHNS' APPROACH TO CREATING THIS WORK?

SHANIQUE SMITH HAS A REMARKABLE BODY OF WORK ON EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS IN BOSTON, TITLED "BRIGHT MATTER". THIS MIXED MEDIA WORK, "SPLENDID", WAS DONE WITH INK, ACRYLIC, FABRIC AND PAPER COLLAGE, RIBBON, YARN AND FOUND OBJECTS, MOUNTED ON A WOOD PANEL. THE IMAPCT IS FANTASTIC WHEN YOU FIRST APPROACH THE WORK, BUT BECOMES EVER MORE FASCINATING WHEN YOU LOOK CLOSELY AT THE DETAILS AND DIMENSIONAL LAYERED ELEMENTS.

SHANIQUE SMITH HAS A REMARKABLE BODY OF WORK ON EXHIBIT AT THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS IN BOSTON, TITLED "BRIGHT MATTER". THIS MIXED MEDIA WORK, "SPLENDID", WAS DONE WITH INK, ACRYLIC, FABRIC AND PAPER COLLAGE, RIBBON, YARN AND FOUND OBJECTS, MOUNTED ON A WOOD PANEL. THE IMAPCT IS FANTASTIC WHEN YOU FIRST APPROACH THE WORK, BUT BECOMES EVER MORE FASCINATING WHEN YOU LOOK CLOSELY AT THE DETAILS AND DIMENSIONAL LAYERED ELEMENTS.

THIS PAINTING, BY ROBERT RYNAM AT MOMA IN NEW YORK, AT FIRST APPEARS TO BE A SOLID WHITE CANVAS. WHEN THE OIL ON COTTON SURFACE IS OBSERVED CLOSELY, YOU CAN SEE THE ATTENTION TO TEXTURE AND EDGE THAT THE ARTIST EXPLORED. HE PAINTED "TWIN" WITH THICK PAINT AND STOPPED BEFORE REACHING THE EDGE OF THE CANVAS ON EACH SIDE. THE RAW CANVAS AND EDGE QUALITY TO THE PAINT GIVES THE IMPRESSION OF IT BEING A PIECE OF ROUGH-EDGED CLOTH GLUED ONTO THE SURFACE. RYMAN WAS FASCINATED BY THE TACTILE SURFACE OF PAINT AND RIGOROUSLY EXPLORE MANY EFFECTS BY USING ONLY WHITE PIGMENT ON SQUARE CANVASES.

THIS PAINTING, BY ROBERT RYNAM AT MOMA IN NEW YORK, AT FIRST APPEARS TO BE A SOLID WHITE CANVAS. WHEN THE OIL ON COTTON SURFACE IS OBSERVED CLOSELY, YOU CAN SEE THE ATTENTION TO TEXTURE AND EDGE THAT THE ARTIST EXPLORED. HE PAINTED "TWIN" WITH THICK PAINT AND STOPPED BEFORE REACHING THE EDGE OF THE CANVAS ON EACH SIDE. THE RAW CANVAS AND EDGE QUALITY TO THE PAINT GIVES THE IMPRESSION OF IT BEING A PIECE OF ROUGH-EDGED CLOTH GLUED ONTO THE SURFACE. RYMAN WAS FASCINATED BY THE TACTILE SURFACE OF PAINT AND RIGOROUSLY EXPLORE MANY EFFECTS BY USING ONLY WHITE PIGMENT ON SQUARE CANVASES.

An LA art adventure

I was fortunate to be able to pause during the end-of-year/holiday rush, to spend a few mild days in LA last week. In addition to visits with some very special friends and lovely long walks in Santa Monica, my husband and I immersed ourselves in art experiences that were marvelous. If you are in LA or can get there, I hope you’ll enjoy some of these treasures.

LACMA has never disappointed, and this visit was no exception. I always love exploring the galleries devoted to their exceptional modern art collection (Matisse's ceramic installation, that was based on his paper cut-out art, is marvelous, and is exhibited near amazing works by Picasso, Magritte, Léger, Mondrian and other brilliant artists of their era). The galleries include a fabulous enormous canvas by Motherwell, and works by Rothko, Kandinsky, Pollack and Oldenburg (to mention just some of my favorites on view). We then discovering gems in their special exhibits. 

MARK BRADFORD, CARTS (2013) at LACMA

MARK BRADFORD, CARTS (2013) at LACMA

Larry Sultan's photographs were new to me, and quite wonderful. And, in the special show titled Variations: Conversations In and Around Abstract Painting, it was a delight to see works by Mark Bradford, whose current show at the Rose Museum at Brandeis had recently introduced me to this great contemporary master.

Our visit to MOCA (LA’s museum of contemporary art) was also a treat. The special exhibition, Andy Warhol: Shadows, was exceptional. He painted 102 canvases in 1978-79 that were hung dramatically in the enormous gallery. It was a fascinating exploration of a simple shadow in Warhol's studio, expressed in varying colors and subtle textural variations. The rhythm and breadth of the installation were fabulous to see.

Andy Warhol's Shadows at MOCA

Andy Warhol's Shadows at MOCA

We continued at MOCA and found ourselves surrounded by works in an exhibit titled Concrete Infinity, and then moved on to see selections from their permanent collection. The range of expression was wonderful, thought-provoking and fascinating. For a visit to a small museum, we were well rewarded!

From left: A gallery at MOCA with work by Segal, Alfred Jensen and others; Robert Rauschenberg; Donal Judd; Jackson Pollock;  ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG;  Barbara Kruger

From left: A gallery at MOCA with work by Segal, Alfred Jensen and others; Robert Rauschenberg; Donal Judd; Jackson Pollock; ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG; Barbara Kruger

Across the street from MOCA the dramatic Walt Disney Concert Hall demands your attention. We had been told there was free a self-guided tour available and we truly enjoyed the experience of being in and around Frank Gehry's architectural tour de force. The only thing we did not get to see was the inside of the concert hall performance space (a rehearsal was underway). On our next trip we’ll try to hear the LA Philharmonic perform. 

Exterior views of the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Exterior views of the Walt Disney Concert Hall

While I love sharing photos of these marvelous works of creation, and reflecting on them again myself, there is truly magic in experiencing them in person. Whatever art you are able to explore this season, I hope that you feel a similar thrill.

Forging new identity

If you did not hear or read about my opportunity to partner with painter ZsuZsanna Donnell in a gallery opening at First Friday in SoWa, you may not know that I have formally and publicly shared my poetry for the first time. In a show titled Powerful Pairings, ZsuZsanna’s breathtaking large paintings were all paired with my poems. As people entered the gallery, many asked who was the artist and who the poet. And so I found myself saying, “I am the poet.”

It was an amazing — and surprising — feeling to call myself a poet. This is an identity I never imagined for myself. But, as with many new things I have explored and made a focus in my life in the last few years, a new part of my creative spirit has emerged and taken shape.

I believe that most of us have hidden gifts that are waiting to emerge. I have always loved words, so it’s not really surprising that I started playing with words as a way to channel emotion and express ideas. What is surprising is that it took until this stage in my life to explore the possibility of writing poetry.

What do you love that could be a form of new creative expression — and maybe could become a new dimension of your identity? Whether you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, keeping a sketchbook, writing song lyrics, becoming a dancer, playing an instrument, being an inventor, building furniture, teaching what you know and love, pursuing a sport, or anything else, I hope you’ll devote a little time for your heart and spirit to explore the possibilities.

And, if you have begun something new and exciting in your life, I’d love for you to share your story.