#twitterartexhibit 2014 in Orlando

hand-dyed paper, collage, and ink

I’m very excited to introduce a new piece of art that will be part of an international group art exhibition in Orlando, FL this year.  This show features postcard art from all over the world and will benefit The Center for Contemporary Dance, Special Needs Students.  It runs from March 20 – April 11, 2014.  You can check out the awesome entries online.

Although there is no theme, some people chose to honor the art of dance.  I originally titled my piece Japanese Fans.  But do you notice anything special about the fans?  First of all, they’re all cut from different paper, symbolizing the unique identify of each individual.  What about the placement of the fans on the postcard?  Do you feel a sense of movement?  Like they might just dance off the page?  I hope so!  That’s why I decided to rename them Dancing Japanese Fans.  But for the exhibition, they will be labeled with the original title.  That way the message will be open for viewers to interpret.  Whatever people take away from the piece is fine, but I hope they will see that despite our differences in appearance and ability, we are all united by dance 🙂 

As to the process, I wanted to reflect my connection to and affinity for Japanese culture.  The fan shapes were cut from papers that I hand-dyed myself using liquid watercolor and a Japanese folding technique.  Then I created a collage with the fans and added ink as a final touch.  Voila!

The Japanese Fan Dance has been around for centuries.  Although the fans originally represented high social status, they now symbolize friendship and are often exchanged as signs of good will and respect for one another.    

Japanese fans are considered highly symbolic, with the handle of the fan representing birth and the blades symbolizing many possible paths in life.  What path will you take in life?  Will you hide behind your fan?  Consider letting your unique self show and maybe even dance!

Mind Worm

When I attended the Midwest SCBWI conference last spring, I had the chance to hear author Franny Billingsley speak.  She talked about the power of fear and how important it is to understand what scares your main character the most and then exploit it.

To explain this, she started out by introducing the term “Mind Worm.”  Yes, it really exists (at least metaphorically speaking)!  The Mind Worm burrows into the brain and in so doing discovers an individual’s dreams and fears.  The Mind Worm then has the power to create an event that forces the person to go on a unique adventure designed to help the person learn something deeper about him or herself.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  The writer is a Mind Worm!

How can you be a Mind Worm for your main character?  Start by pushing your character out of his or her comfort zone.  Push your character to her limits.  Make him squirm.  Make her jump right out of her skin!  A powerful antagonist can help with this.  So can an unforeseen event or tragedy.

Then see what happens.  Guaranteed the character will be forced to grow and change.  Which is what we want, isn’t it?  That’s how we create someone to root for and maybe even identify with.  Someone to believe in.  And once your readers are invested in your main character, they’re ten times more likely to follow him or her until the end.

So my advice to you today is:  Be a Mind Worm.  See where it takes you.  More importantly, see where it takes your character.

Life Drawing with Mermaids

watercolor and pencil

watercolor and pencil

I recently had a chance to attend a life drawing session with a friend of mine.  We packed up our watercolors and headed out in the snow.  Why?  Who wouldn’t want to draw mermaids?  Enjoy!

Get a Grip on Your Mind

I recently read an article called “Getting Bold” in the January/February 2014 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin.  Item number 6 suggests reading the books by Eric Maisel, a well-known creativity coach.  I’m always up for new insights, and with the deep freeze and the new year, it seemed like a good time to check out something new.  Boy am I glad I did!

Maisel uses cognitive therapy techniques to address many of the common issues facing creative people.  He mainly deals with the mind traps we set ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it.  Don’t be surprised if after reading his books, you’re racing to your studio or computer to get working.  But even if it takes some time, baby steps are the key.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

“My own mind is my own church.”  –Thomas Paine

I love this one.  No better place to get spiritual than inside yourself.

“Being and thought are one.”  –Jean Dubuffet

Basically, we can manifest our own reality.  It’s that simple.

One of the most important tools is learning how to STOP to START.  Hush your mind.  This will serve you in many ways.

*If you find yourself caught replaying the events of the day, try wearing a rubber band and snapping yourself with it.  This should wake you up and get you back to work or at least out of your head.

Bottom line: If you want to be exceptional, don’t think so much.  Just do the work.  Everything else will follow.