Value of Silence- Summer Art Camp reflections.

Silence gives answers ~ Rumi Reflecting on my 5th annual summer art camp where I had the joy of spending a creative week with a group of young art students.  I am thankful for their young energy.   They are PRESENT, … Continue reading

Wow! She went brave!

“Trust that little voice in your head that says “Wouldn’t it be interesting if…” And then do it.” ~Duane Michals

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The idea of having an outdoor Art show in Calgary, AB, Canada seems crazy.  However, the seed was planted 2 years ago and the possibilities of having a show in this space did not go away.  It was the magic of the garden and the joy and kindness of Mary, the host and owner of a historical home that made it feel like my next best step.

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Almost exactly 1 year ago, I was brave enough to follow up on an offer of a lifetime.  Mary began to show up to a few of my art events and it was a sign to not hesitate and “Ask for what you want!”  To my amazement, Mary agreed and she also noted, “What took you so long?”…

Almost exactly a year ago we set a date for the art show, Jun 17/17.
I began to paint and pray to mother nature to please cooperate with the weather.
The weekend before it poured rain all day, the weekend after we had our usual Calgary June storm.  The day of the event the sun came out and answered my prayers, a perfect day for a garden party.

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Once the date was set, I began to paint with focus and a goal.  To keep myself grounded I decided to paint a bird a day, as a meditative practice.  HOPE was my first bird.  She made me happy.  I continued on and eventually had a little cheering squad to accompany me in my studio.

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The accumulation of these new friends, gave me not only great joy but required me to ask for help to do the finishing if I was to meet my deadline.  Thank you to my wonderful student Cindy, we got them show ready.  Even Mr. Attitude was impressed!

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MR. ATTITUDE 6×6 Oil on Canvas

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Varnishing, finishing and wiring is a full time job in itself.  Many of the birds were named after artists, musicians and others that walk a creative path.

 

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With the help of a great team of creative friends and family….The birds found their perfect spot in the garden of this historical home.
In 1946, the Allied Arts Council leased this home from the City for use as a Cultural Centre.  It was a place that many artists came together to study, create and exhibit art.
Since 1978, the Coste House has been a private residence.

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Thanks to gracious hosts, Mary and Bob,  who opened there amazing home so community could gather to enjoy a day of music, art and friends.

Lemonade was served by my art students and with the assistance of my tribe of volunteers, some lucky art pieces found their forever home.

Every event is a stepping stone to the next interesting adventure.  Thank you to my book editor Elissa who shared my next dream with the guests.  Sales from this show will help to fund the upcoming book I have written and illustrated.

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Coming soon…“Adventures of Wilde- A Sense of Wonder.”  

The best part was after the show, when I met with another artist friend who told me her 9 year old niece was inspired to have her own art show.
That made all my dreams come true!
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Hoping to inspire you all to have a brave moment and follow that little voice …

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Energy Exchange

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”~Buddha

If you have been practicing yoga at Moksha Yoga Calgary North, you may have noticed the changing art on the walls. I am the Artist and also a fellow yogini. Since the studio opened I have been doing an energy exchange- art for yoga.  The perfect trade!

My love of art and yoga has always had a way of overlapping in my life. I knew from the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training that even though both activities are very different, they have many similar philosophies.

Coming from a fitness background… somewhere along the line I decided that teaching yoga would be more sustainable to teach while I continued to pursue my art career.  I thought I would not be so tired.  WOW- I was in for a rude awakening.   I had only a few downward dogs under my belt and barely knew what a sun salutation was…let alone teach it to someone else. My poor teacher, he had his work cut out for him and truth be known, so did I!

I remember very clearly that exact moment in time, sitting on my mat, writing in my journal…it was my big “AHA” moment.  I realized why I was in the training. It was not about the perfect downward dog.  It was not to save the world, heal others, share my dimming light…it was to save me, heal me and make my light shine brighter.

In my heart, I felt like I was home.…The practice has a perfect way of meeting us where we are at…

A year later, I finished my training and that day I began my practice. I practiced everyday for 40 days. It changed my world. I surrounded myself in community and was blessed to have many great teachers. There was never a day that I did not walk out of a yoga class feeling lighter and more whole. Over 10 years later, many trainings and a lifelong commitment, I still feel the same way.

I admit that many times I fall off the train. But just like falling out of a tree pose, or being too busy to paint, I remember why I made the commitment and that I can make the choice to step back on the train at any time.

I began my yoga practice with intention to help others.   I now realize that finding the practice of yoga was a gift to me.   The gift of community, with the bonus of keeping my body strong, my breath flowing and my mind clear.   The beauty is, with the clarity and strength I gained from the practice, I can help other by sharing what I have learned.

Whether I am doing a headstand or holding a brush at my easel, I am very aware that both are rare opportunities to really be awake.  Present moment awareness – was the common feeling for me.  The feeling I wish to share.

“Yoga is the art work of awareness on the canvas of body, mind, and soul.” ― Amit Ray

Present moment awareness-I know this feeling intimately. It happens when I paint well, listen intently and practice with grace.  To me… ‘Waking up’ means being present enough to feel, be authentic and to gain the capacity of responding rather than reacting.

It is what I love and why I have made both painting and yoga a consistent practice in my life. It is where I get to feel most alive.  My career as an artist is growing and these days I spend my days painting, teaching art and sharing my yoga practice in my art camps and retreats.

I am honored and grateful to share my art in such a sacred beautiful space where it can be seen and felt.  It is the perfect energy exchange.

Namaste,

Michelle

http://www.michelleausten.ca

 “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”~Walt Disney

 

 

Seeing through a different set of glasses

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It’s my Birthday!! So I reflect on my summer, year, and life thus far.

I just returned from holidays with my family and was inspired by many Canadian east coast vistas’. You would think I would be painting Peggy’s Cove or Marine scenes, but I was feeling inspired to have some fun. Perhaps the 3 generations spending time together had more of an effect than a well known overly photographed lighthouse.

I have learned in my wisdom to not fight the creative process.                                                   The painting:   “Looking through a different set of glasses” was created.

As I age I become more aware that things are not always black and white. I do not have all the answers. I am not always right. Even when I truly think I am.

With age, comes the wisdom to see through another’s eyes. To be more aware of what is happening around us and especially within us.

Time is precious, life can be short and all we have is the present moment.  Take the time to inspire someone.  Be grateful for every day, every year, every decade.

Swap glasses. Try the Ray-bans for a day.  Ever notice the style you wore in the 80’s is back again. Should have kept my white ones…they’d be vintage.

Better yet, ditch the dark glasses and try good old fashion eye contact.  Gaze into a loved ones eyes.  If you are really brave I challenge you to gaze into a strangers eyes.

Add a smile.                                                                                                                                                    One rule: NO TALKING. Resist the urge.                                                                                            If it gets too hard, SMILE more. Creates good wrinkles.                                                        WINKING is allowed and encouraged. Fake eyelashes help.

Likely you just made someone’s day!

Encouraging eye contact and creativity everyday.

Thanks for helping me spread the LOVE.                                                                                 Michelle

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”― Confucius

 

 

Creating Community Gardens

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When I reflect on Summer Camp 2014, the general theme that stands out for me is COMMUNITY.

Whether you are painting, doing yoga, working or going to the movies…the energy of group work raises the vibration and magic moments naturally occur.  My week spent with 8 young artists was full of Exploration, Inspiration and FUN!

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The end result was alot of amazing ART, but that is not what I remember even hours after the final Art Show.

What I remember was the process, the JOURNEY.  

Just like any creative project…IMAGINATION sparks an idea that STIRS the SOUL…

We seek out tools, canvas, paper, brushes and teachers to fill our tool box….CONFIDENCE is gathered to explore something new.

Set quickly into ACTION- otherwise known as PLAY MODE.  Avoid thinking and start doing.

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CONNECT, get involved, share with others, WONDER, get frustrated, cry, SMILE, Feel ELATED or deflated, scared or EXCITED. FEEL more.  Move through, move on and WONDER what the next journey will bring…

In the end after the canvas has been long forgotten we remember EACH OTHER.  The good times and the bad.  Maybe we remember sticky fingers from the fruit bouquet or how we felt when our final project turned out better than we imagined.  

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Regardless, I will treasure this week for all the SMILES and HUGS I received and I will PAY them forward.

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Bouquets of Gratitude,

Michelle

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”~Mother Teresa

Learn to Dance in the Rain

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My month has been amazing.  Productive, balanced, Magical really…I am so grateful.

So  here I sit with my starbucks coffee, a handful of yogurt raisins and my journal to help me satisfy my unsettled mind.

Yoga was a must today.  Ground and extend, Center and Grow, Get out of the mind and into the body, Process and eliminate the nonsense.  It has been an amazing month.

I ask myself, “What is my problem?”  Maybe it is “To good to be True”  says the Voice.  I conteract that thought quickly with the affirmation- “I have showed up consistently and the efforts are paying off.”   Be Happy.

The Voice is loud and annoying.  The cycle of self-doubt-a very familiar voice.

Today is different,  a shift has occurred.    The self nourishing voice is speaking a little stronger.  I am recognizing the Ebb and Flow of the Process of Creation.  The question remains, “How can I stay in the Flow?”  I am worried that the waterfall is around the corner and soon I will be at the bottom.  What I have come to realize is the Ebb is the time for rest.  The time to rejuvenate.  The time to paint, have fun and create.  The Ebb/Flow is the natural rhythm of my work.  In Art and in life.

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I recognize I need the whole cycle.  It is not about being unrealistic and happy all the time.  It is about the abilitly to recognize where I am in the cycle.  When the Ebb occurs, can I put my anxieties into action and show up to what is NOW.  My life.  The good, the bad, the happy, the sad.  I will admit the Ebb is not as easy to take as the Flow, but I am so grateful for the ability to FEEL.  I am aware that the Ebb is temporary and necessary for collecting my energy for the next flow to be even Bigger, Higher, Faster, full of Abundance and Creativity.

Bet the next waterfall will be Beautiful and I will be standing at the base looking up FEELING JOYFUL, with a smile on my face.

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Namaste,

Michelle