Virtual Open Studio

Green Cottage Studios’ Saturday, Dec. 10 Open Studio is going to be online!

There’s a lot of sickness spreading, so I have decided go online to be healthier. I hope it keeps everyone safe for their holiday celebrations. 

I will be adding new inventory to my online store. The new items will go live on Saturday, Dec. 10 at noon! A coupon code will be sent via email for newsletter subscribers so watch for that email. I can ship your purchase or we can arrange for pick up in Lambertville.

See most my recent newsletter and subscribe. (Subscribe before 6 AM EST Saturday.)

Published: December 8, 2022

Limits / Limitless

Limitless stars above in Poconos, Pa.
Photo credit: Richard Miller

This time of year, especially in the part of the U.S. where I reside, we are all reminded of the limited amount of sunshine we experience each day. Just about when you think it’s afternoon and you might have that 4 p.m. cup of tea, it’s suddenly looking like midnight outside the window.

I think we all have many friends who bemoan the early sunsets and the long night of winter. And there’s lots of other things in our lives that we bemoan, especially the limits – there is not enough time, energy or resources to accomplish what we want. Or there’s not enough peace in our lives or “me time” in our schedules. Chaos and busyness abound during the scramble to reach the end of the year.

In the arts community, folks are often quick to point out their limits, too.  “I didn’t have enough time before the show;” “I don’t like social media sharing;” “I don’t have enough capacity for that;” “I can’t take the class…don’t have time;” or that ugly one from the inner critic – “I don’t have enough talent.”

These things may be true – except the last that’s a false statement – but those that are truly creative and content are able to someway, somehow focus on what’s beyond the limits, maybe even to the point of limitless!

In 2011, there was a movie titled, “Limitless” (IMDB link) which starred Bradley Cooper. The protagonist swallowed a pill that took him from average, struggling fellow to super genius. He became “limitless.” Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story, but it makes one wonder about how one’s life can change, in this case through technology.

While we don’t have a pill like that, the feeling or perspective of being limitless – without end, limit, or boundary – is the mental approach that creatives need. The ones who are productive and content with their art and pushing the envelop seem to operate without boundaries (at least externally imposed ones.)

The “no rules,” “no plan plan,” or the “create without thinking” strategies are what fuels creativity. Restrictions, recipes and procedures all feel stifling and bounding to artistic types who want to grow and develop their own artistic voice. Flinging off boundaries and allowing one’s mind to wander, to daydream and ask “What if?” and “Why not?” are key ingredients to the limitless view point.

So this is my intention for this month and for the year ahead, to shift my vision to what is out there beyond the limits, to think about the limitless potential rather than the lacking or constraints of the season or the day. Follow me (social links above) and see what’s next!

Being Real

Real is Rare today. Photo Credt: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

Authenticity brings to mind the kind of advertising slogans or taglines that one sees in the marketplace, e.g., a pizzeria asserts it serves “Authentic Italian” cuisine or a fruit bar label says, “Made with Real Fruit.”  Immediately, consumers wonder how true these statements are. I wonder – real fruit as opposed to what – the wax kind?  

The honesty implied by these claims authenticity is so valued that brand managers frequently want their products to be perceived as imbued by that sheen of “real” or “natural” ingredients. The halo of ‘real” is highly sought after.

Yet, what does authenticity mean to me? As an artist, my bottom line is authenticity means the need to be true to yourself, honoring one’s truth in action and work product, and not replicating someone else’s work. This is a big issue in the art world, especially as the Internet and social media has spread images and imitations of so many artworks by artists from across the world. Inspiration, not imitation, is good and necessary. To be authentic to one’s own self, includes finding that truth within and honoring it, using your own creativity and style, and bringing it to the canvas or whatever medium you prefer.

What Does Authenticity Entail?

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

I love the quote above from researcher, teacher, author, and podcaster Brene Brown.

First, she points out authenticity is a DAILY practice. Yes, one must constantly be on one’s toes about slips into imitation, or fakeness, or putting up armor. To have an authenticity practice, it’s a repeated dive into being imperfect, vulnerable, compassionate, and courageous. And that’s not easy. But so worthwhile.

For the artist, things really get tricky in the marketplace. Once art is a physical item for sale (or a digital product for download), the artist faces the nagging question, Will it sell? Or even worse, Will people like it? Will they like me? (Note the leap from art product to artist!) It’s not talked about often enough, in my opinion, but it is part of the whole psychology of creative work. And it’s one of those dilemmas that artists face along the whole process from conception to completion.  So, for some, the shortcut becomes imitating another person’s saleable work or style or content, whether that person is famous or not. That is where, in my opinion, things go “off the rails.”

Photo taken by me in the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan–having just climbed a mountain to get to the forest, make up gone, bad angle and all. It’s an authentic photo from my 2016 trip!

And today, the imitation game, as well as the “filtered and curated” life presented on social media is entirely common now. In the toxic soup of “influencer” culture, we are compelled to polish our profiles, light up our selfies and edit the heck out of our photography! We want our photos to look as great as the celebrity who has millions of followers and teams of assistants. We put a glossy spin on our lives, just as the publicist does for the celebrities. This cultural shift has led us to many societal problems. (Insert problem of your choice here!)

Back to the art world – Inspiration – the process of being inspired by another artist’s work, or something in nature, or the sound of music or the words of an author – is entirely different. That feeling of a creative spark, or enthusiasm, is wonderful and should be followed.  Yet, it is just as important to practice mindfulness about where inspiration is leading, and adhere to the mode of authenticity, being true to yourself, your artistic vision, style and voice.

Let’s chose to engage in the daily practice of authenticity and inspiration in our creative journey. Whatever you do, keep going!

Outside and Inside the Studio

In this little corner of Lambertville, there are some new developments going on. The mini-park or “parklet” beside the studio, once a field of mud created by the flooding in September 2021, is now all green with grass. And the city planted some native trees!! I believe the mayor shared that some native plants will be added too!

View outside the side door of my studio Oct 25, 2022.

Who said the quote – “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” 

The other neighborhood excitement is the opening of a new coffee/tea shop – called Luminary Coffee. It’s in the place on North Union where Rojo Coffee used to be. So great to see the neighborhood coming back. The shop is modern and open and airy. A few people were already chatting there and enjoying the space.

Soft opening of the Luminary Coffee place happened the last few days.

What am I focusing on these days? I have been making fun little things and paper tags for the Holiday Market in Novemeber at HomeFront. So great to be invited and to support the homeless and working poor families of Mercer County. Learn more about their art programing and fundraisers on their new website: https://www.homefront-artspace.com/ The dates are Friday Nov 11 through Sunday Nov 13. Come out and get some handmade gifts.

Holiday Gift Tags in progress!

This fall, as I work on projects – I am also doing some works for very special people in my life – I have been thinking about Meraki – how your passion and love transfers into one’s creative work. It’s why the works made by the human hand are so so special. Perfectly imperfect, as some say!