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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Beneath a Coat of Snow

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“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”   ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am officially calling a sick day. My head is full of cold and my feet feel like they are full of cement.

As I sit on my couch in my fuzzy red comfortable robe at 2pm, I am watching the snow fall gently onto the earth. I am not feeling at all guilty to be taking a sick day. There is a lightness in the air, objects are slightly blurry and the colors I see are mostly soft and covered in white snow. It is quiet and I am grateful to have a day of rest and reflection.

Almost a year ago, I planned a trip to Virginia to see my cousin and her family. The trip was perfectly planned around the famous Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.   I packed my sketchbook and paints and was set out to have an art adventure, to be inspired by new sites, especially of the beautiful spring cherry blossoms that I have heard so much about.   I LOVE to travel-it is eye-candy for the senses. There is also the unexpected. Many times things do not go as planned yet when you learn to embrace the present moment, they can still go perfectly as intended…   Don’t fight the process.

On my first day in Virginia, I awoke to a similar scene as I am looking at today. Snow was gently falling and there was a chill in the air.

My cousin, Alexis and I are 7 years apart and really had only met each other less than a dozen times in our life. Yet, I felt like I was home, we shared the same grandmother, pictures in her home and stories we shared were familiar to me. We also both loved going for coffee and eating similar things. It was easy and fun to be with her.

She was a gracious host and showed me all the sites.

Despite the cold, cool temperatures we bundled up and headed out to see the memorials in Washington, DC. It was apparent that I needed a history lesson (or to watch more TV) when I pointed to a large pencil like structure and asked “What is that?” With huge eyes and a sly smile she replied “The Washington Monument.”

And so began my tour…

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Disclaimer: Just to make me feel better – I did recognize the White House immediately. I am also happy to say I can name all the memorials now when I see them in the movies. The bonus of travel for a visual person is education.  Did I mention that I am Canadian?

National World War II Memorial

National World War II Memorial

Korean Monument

Korean Monument 

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

We made our way through the memorials one by one. Alexis was being an amazing tour guide. Explaining to me that the Korean memorial was her favorite. as it touched her and her family. They really are amazing to see in person. There was a shallow pool approximately 2 ft deep surrounded by granite with engraving that said how many soldiers were killed, captured, missing or wounded. I was looking all around taking pictures, feeling somber and reflective, when the energy changed.

I hear someone shouting- Lady in the pool!! I take a deep breath, turned around to see that my dear cousin had taken one wrong step backwards and over she went, catching her foot in granite that actually said “wounded.” Weird coincidence? Hmm, not sure. The world seemed to stop for a moment. As I pulled her out of the pool , others were most concerned about the fact that her brand new I-phone was laying peacefully face down on the bottom of the pool. “The phone!” strangers screamed. I looked at the pretty salmon colored case face down in the pool and thought, “I need a stick”. I look up and a woman is waving her cane. We make eye contact – A little miracle- an angel sent her- I am sure. I borrowed the cane and pulled the phone close enough for a kind boy with long arms to reach in and retrieve her phone, complete with instructions on what to do to recover the phone.   The concern for the phone was a little alarming actually…I was more concerned about my cousin.

I look over at her, she is dripping wet, shivering and totally in shock. We walk over to sit down and reassess the situation.   Breathe….

We broke out into laughter. I had learned in yoga, The vibration of laughing and crying is almost the same, the release of energy in the body is what is important. We chose laughter.

Did that just happen? Was that for real? Was that a bad dream? Gut rolling laughter was what emerged right before survival skills kicked in.  A cab ride, extra layers of clothes, a cold pack, motrin and a few bloody mary’s later. We had reflected, laughed and ended up with a free desert at the restaurant in honor of the Best story of the Day. She was my hero that day.

She's a Trooper- Arlington Cementary- We are Alive and Moving- crutches and all!

She’s a Trooper- Arlington Cementary- We are Alive and Moving- crutches and all!

The next day while icing her elevated ankle , we wondered, “What was the purpose of that? “

Maybe we needed some comic relief in our somber moment? Not sure. We both agreed the spirits got a good giggle. (about the present moment awareness, not about her injured ankle.)

Maybe we needed to feel the kindness of others?     Not sure.

Maybe we needed to be here right now!    

That is for sure!

With Lightness and Love and Gratitude for family and travel,

Michelle

The tile under my feet at the Lincoln Memorial. I HAVE A DREAM!

The tile under my feet at the Lincoln Memorial.
I HAVE A DREAM!

Ps/ And for those concerned about the phone- it worked perfectly- Magic!

Random Acts of Kindness

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~Lao Tzu

 

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This is my story on how my art show unfolded by Random Acts of Kindness, some hard work and a lot of Faith.

Just shy of two years ago, I attended an art workshop hosted by Canadian artist Laura Harris. I first stumbled onto Laura’s work while I was on holidays with my family; I wandered into a gallery on a bright, sunny spring day and was instantly moved by what I saw. It wasn’t so much the subject matter – in fact, I do not remember much of the subject matter of the paintings. There were some paintings of flowers and abstract landscapes. What I do remember is the feeling that overwhelmed me as I viewed the show. Something shifted deep inside me. It made me feel more alive.

When I learned that Laura was going to be giving a workshop in Radium, BC, it took me less than one second to contact my dear friend and creative collaborator Danielle. We signed up immediately. Yoga, art, nature, friends and community = a perfect fit.

The workshop was full of amazing women. We shared a lovely experience at a beautiful location, complete with 360 degrees of stunning views with a mountain backdrop, eating good food, painting, yoga and wine. My ideal getaway with one of my best friends- a perfect gift to myself.

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After returning home, I invited some of the local women from the workshop over to my home and studio for an evening of art, wine and appetizers. I always enjoy company of like-minded women, art and good food.   With wine flowing, paint flying and ideas brewing, one of the kind women, Maureen, whom I had only met a handful of times, offers her home to me for a future personal art show. Danielle and I, again, take less than a second to look at each other, smile and say “Yes Please”. It was a little impulsive, but with a day to think about it and a confirmation from her husband, Maureen calls and confirms that they would love to host an art show. HUGE- Random Act of Kindness.

I have to confess that I have been offered this gift before. The difference this time is that I have done the work and had built the confidence to say YES. Without hesitation I agree and move forward.   I am thrilled to have a goal, a focal point to work towards. What a gift I have been given. I am excited!

My dear friend and angel wing Danielle, who works silently by my side creating her own beauty through her photography and marketing pieces, is always there to guide and support me. We also met through Random Acts of Kindness. I donated an art class  that she purchased to raise money for our local school. It is no accident that we met. This woman is beyond amazing. A mother of 3 children, active in every aspect of her kids, friends and families lives. I call her my angel wing, because with out her I would not be where I am today. It is much easier to fly with two wings. Image

I am always blown away by the fact that the perfect person comes into your life exactly when you are ready. You must be CLEAR about what you want.

The theme of my Art show 2014 was CLARITY.

“Clarity comes from knowing what you want and from moving in the direction of it.  Your soul is guiding and supporting you every step of the way.”  ~Sue Krebs

 

In my confusion of what I want to do with my life….some years ago a dear teacher of mine took the time to sit with me and listen. His advice was to GET CLEAR on what you want and work towards the goal everyday. He sent me home with a copy of Wayne Dyers “Excuses Begone” tucked under my arm and a list of to-do’s. At the bottom of the list there was a note. It said, “I Believe in you”.  This Random Act of Kindness was a boost of encouragement that I needed. A small kick in the butt was kindly accepted and was a very monumental moment in my life.

The message:

GET CLEAR, WORK HARD… the rest will take care of itself. Something much bigger is navigating when you’re doing purposeful work. I am clear that my job is to show up and do my work.  Practice Gratitude and Serve.

Your proper concern is alone the ACTION of Duty, not the fruits of the Action. CAST then away all desires and fear for the fruit.”      ~The Bhagavad Gita

May 10, 2014 was a monumental day for me. The show was a huge success- but what was the most special about it was that all of this happened due to Random Acts of Kindness from so many people.

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When I reflect, I cannot believe my good fortune and luck. I have such gratitude for all who helped, attended and supported me from afar.

I realize that when I am working towards a goal that I am disciplined and dedicated to- amazing stuff unfolds.

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The second person that walked into my art show was a yoga teacher from Vancouver Island that I had never previously met. Quickly into the conversation she asks me if I know her artist friend Laura Harris? I smile.

The next day is Mothers Day. I am enjoying dinner at a restaurant with my family, I look up at two Laura Harris original paintings hung in the restaurant.

On the way home, the amazing couple who hosted my art show sent me a picture of my painting newly hung in their home.   I am thrilled and honored that it sits in between two Laura Harris paintings.

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I smile again.  The perfect ending…or just the beginning?

Proof that Random Acts of Kindness always come full circle.

Be Kind,

Be Gracious,

Be LOVE,

 

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

Laura Harris lives and works in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. More information about Laura and her artwork can be found at http://www.laura-harris.com

Danielle Paetz lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. More information about Danielle and her photography can be found at http://www.tinytakesphotography.com.

 

 

Write a Love Letter

What would it feel like to be in a space that you felt totally ACCEPTED, VALIDATED and LOVED.Image

What would it feel like to be able to put yourself in that space, where you take time to LOVE yourself,  ACCEPT  yourself and JUST BE yourself.

Picture yourself in a place of pure acceptance.  Breathe in Possibility, Breathe out excuses.

Hmmm… sounds good…But…”How do I get there?”   So glad you asked… Please step into my office.   I invite you to PLAY!  The kids will lead the way.

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The crayons, markers, paint, brushes, paper, canvases are the tools we will be using.  Super SWEET and very low calorie Candy for an artist. 

Supply list: 

8” square of black paper

8-12 pencil crayons (Prismacolor work best)  1 white- the rest a rainbow of color.  

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Instructions:

Trace a circle using the CD with the white pencil on the square. Then play the CD or music of your choice- Caution** if using a playlist on cell phone – block any distractions- even the zen ringer-turn off.   Light a candle and/or make a cup of tea.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

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This circle represents a creative free space that is not judged.  You can do whatever you want to in this space.  Play with lines and color, shade, dots, and circles. Rotate the drawing in any direction to discover interesting compositions.  Whatever your heart desires.  There is no right or wrong, no grades are given out (you already get an A+) 

Let go, Let go, Let go… 

Choose Love over fear.  Fun over Frustration.  Acceptance over Expectations.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

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Pick up White pencil and start at the center of the circle.  Enter your playground,  spend as much time here as you wish.  Add color if and when you intuitively feel like it, explore freely.  No need for an eraser, as there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.   Write yourself a Love Letter,    Play in your sandbox for as long as you like.  Create until you feel complete.

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Breathe in, Breathe out.

Take the time to look at what you created, write any thoughts on back or front of paper.

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Save it, Burn it, Frame it or put it under your pillow.  Maybe mist it with a favorite scent.  I recommend Lavender.

Repeat often.

Happy Valentines Day!  

In Creative Spirit,

Michelle

“ Art is always a mirror- It always speaks not just about what is out there, in the subject; it also speaks about what’s in here, in the artist.” —Jean Carbonetti