Art Starts A Conversation

Looking, seeing, remembering, enjoying.

Looking at art can start a flow of thoughts and feelings that define a moment and begin an enquiry. We become curious about what inspired the artist and how they used their medium to make the artwork. A work of art, rare or ordinary, can be a portal for creative investigation when we are open to observing what we see, what we imagine, and what evolves in our internal and external observation. You may ask, why did the artist make the artwork and what is it that attracts your attention? What story does it tell? What conversation comes alive in you? 

A local gallery or museum is a place where we can enjoy art-taking, the experience of what is created, which can inspire our own art-making, the experience of creating. A work of art can touch us in a way that moves us to express what we think and feel and to relate how it relates to us, or not. An extraordinary work of art helps us reflect, feel, be…and breathe, and sometimes it takes our breath away. Art captures a moment and an expression in our collective human story, reminding us that we are all interconnected to the beauty and grace in life at every level of human experience.

Observing a work of art can start a conversation that invites us to explore ourselves and the world around us. It prompts curiosity and a desire to go deeper, to discover something yet undiscovered in our point of view and the view we are experiencing. When art inspires art-making and our personal creative process, a conversation starts in our heart and mind, and soon the hand and eyes are moving. This can happen at the moment we are seeing the art or in a moment reflecting on what we’ve seen. Creative mindfulness happens through observational drawing and writing, and viewing art. It initiates a dialogue with our imagination, ideas, and beliefs. It stirs our memory and shines a light on our reality. The banter of our free-flowing creativity invites the elusive muse to show up and sing along. Listen, what are you hearing? Is there a call and response? What do you want and need to express? What are you feeling? What is moving in your soul? Say it, do it, be it. Keep the conversation fluid and unconditional.

For me, art-taking and art-looking are ways to learn about the world and my creativity that began early in my life. As a teenager growing up in Pittsburgh, I had a scholarship to the student art program at the Carnegie Museum which houses wonderful collections of art and natural history. Our instructor was a venerable professor who taught us to “look to see to remember to enjoy” the ordinary and extraordinary things in life. We were instructed to observe one thing every week and to sketch or write about it. As part of the Saturday class, we went to the various galleries in the Museum and sketched what we observed. First, we made thumbnail sketches and notes about the subject, then we made a more detailed drawing with charcoal on newsprint. I remember how much I loved sketching the ancient Greek sculptures and the enormous dinosaur bones. I enjoyed this practice of looking and seeing and recording, and mostly, understanding more about myself and the language of creative potential. The conversation it sparked with the artist in me is still bright, curious, and interesting. “Hello, creativity. Let’s talk”.

Rooted: Cultivate Flourishing

Rooted and ready to grow.

Indoor gardeners are a hopeful bunch. We keep the blossoms and greenery of our favorite house plants alive and lovely. Whatever the season, they bring color, texture, and freshness to the home or office. A common spider plant, philodendron, or orchid never ceases to surprise a humble gardener with their resilience, even when watering is neglected or it is left on a drafty window sill.

In the last frosty weeks of winter, my hands are longing for the feel of dirt. This is when I force spring bulbs. In the fall I buy a variety that I store in a cool spot until March, then I plant them in small decorative pots. Hyacinths are easy to force in soil or water, and within a few weeks, a fragrant, long-lasting bloom sweetens the air. I also start a mix of daffodils in larger pots that will go on the porch to be activated by the bright vernal light, once the nights warm. Forcing bulbs is a heartening ritual that brings strength to my bones and a feeling of being rooted and ready for a new season of growth. Continue Reading

Community Arts Matter

Community is creative.

Community arts matter to our personal and collective wellness. A creative community is happier, healthier, and more productive. Everyone at every age benefits when their local culture nurtures opportunities for creative engagement and learning. Cultivation of group expression is good for the individual and, like all aspects of a healthy community, what’s good for the individual is good for the whole. 

The expressive arts connect people in a communal place and shared experience. Natural locations, cultural institutions, public spaces, festivals, fairs, and familiar surroundings can be local venues for art-making, art-taking, and art-giving. We can make art with community at classes or workshops, and in organized groups that focus on shared interests. We can take art with community at events or performances that feature visual art, theatre, music, or narrative mediums. We can give art with community through supporting local arts, joining a collaborative, and by volunteering for creative causes to help others. These activities build social capital and a commonwealth of interests within a population.  Continue Reading