• Art,  Creativity,  Life,  Photography,  Stories from the Art,  Tuesday Tip,  Writing

    Notice the Details

    What do you notice?

    Do you see that small crack in the sidewalk as you walk from your car to your office? How about that piece of red thread that’s been billowing from the skinny tree branch outside your front door? Or maybe it’s the shape of someone’s eyes…. What about that scratch of green paint on that door? Or the old house you’ve passed a gazillion times? Did you notice that vintage truck in the parking lot that makes your heart sing every time you see it?

    One of the hallmark characteristics of Creatives is simply We Notice. This is especially true of writers. No matter how small, we notice the details.

    So what do you notice?

    Here’s my tip:

    Notice the details. Take pictures of everyday things as you move through your day. No posing. No selfies. No props. Just notice and click. Aim for 1 – 3 (or more!) pictures a day. Before long, you will have curated a small gallery of images that make you smile, laugh, or cry. They remind you of something – to do or say – or of someone. Or of that time…

    Maybe you’ll be inspired to share them online or use them for reference to write or to paint…

    Go ahead. Notice the details. You’ll be glad you did…

  • Art,  Creativity,  Life,  Process,  Stories from the Art,  Writing

    i am. being vulnerable and loving with our whole hearts

    According to dictionary.com: vulnerable: an adjectivecapable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon: a vulnerable part of the body. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.

    Do you consider yourself vulnerable?

    Do you ever watch, read, or hear something that REALLY resonates with you? I mean… like… stop-you-in-your-tracks resonates?

    I find I’m often focused on things that bring me pause because I’m connecting the dots between ideas, but recently it happened in such a powerful way that I wanted to share it with you. I literally stopped what I was doing to process what I was hearing. Replay it. Process more.

    I was working through an online course and required to watch a TED Talk in which Dr. Brené Brown shares her research and resulting paradigm shift about vulnerability. Unexpectedly, twenty minutes provided me with so much clarity about my personal and professional lives and further confirmed my direction as I build my business Рwhich was the point of the activity.

    I watched the video a third time the next morning. While watching each time, I discovered answers to questions that fill my head and heart. I found myself thinking each time I watched the video about specific people in my life and how we interact – or don’t – and why. I discovered that I fall into the ‘whole-hearted’ category of people defined by Dr. Brown’s research. I found that ‘wearing my heart on my sleeve’ is defined as vulnerability. And… it sure explains a LOT about my interactions with others.

    It seems, based on her research, that many most (?) of us are not willing to be vulnerable. Instead, we numb our vulnerabilities – with debt, substances, medications… I realized that understanding this will help me continue working on my own pitfalls because though I’m largely vulnerable, there are areas that I can definitely improve upon!

    The video also confirmed for me:

    making art that gives my soul its voice and teaching the Creative Process (using words + colors) to address what needs addressing – is a worthy mission because we all have things to address.

    Though most will define Creative Play as ‘time to socialize with others’ (true!), I will continue nurturing wellness for others through clarity, peace, and giving our soul its voice….

    RobinLK Studios workshop participants, group members, and retreat guests are attending for fun, but many of us – especially returning guests – are showing up to show up… We know the real value in creative play and our own wellness, don’t we?

    It is right with our soul.

    We are willing to address what’s inside – usually privately – as we create our art and writing – and give our soul its voice.

    so many serious faces as we focus on our art…

    If you’ve got a few minutes, I invite you to watch Dr. Brown’s TED Talk… Then, watch for future Creative Play workshops. They’re cheaper than therapy, less harmful than substances and medications (though I’m told – just as addictive), and definitely fun. ūüôā

    Want to keep up with daily happenings in the art and writing studios? Join us on social media. You’ll find links below.

  • Art,  Creativity,  Instruction,  Life,  Process,  Stories from the Art

    Bit by Bit: Creative Elements and Life

    It’s been a while since I cobbled words into a blog post. Nine months give or take. Where does the time go? To be sure, I’ve been writing plenty since then – filling writing notebooks before sunrise, building words into my art, and making notes in the margins as I read books that fill me with answers and more questions about the reading/writing/creating process. Business ownership also became a central theme as I committed to moving in the direction I’ve intended the past four years.

    Less than 48 hours ago – after a month of planning, I enjoyed a Friday night Sip and Make Mixed-Media Art Workshop with friends – new and old. Afterward, I found myself – as I do each time I teach – reflecting on the process. What worked. What didn’t. What I could have done differently. If I’m lucky, I get organic feedback from workshop guests.

    Saturday morning began like this:

    Husband: Good morning!

    Me: You know, I was thinking about last night’s workshop….

    That poor guy. All these years later, he knows where my brain will go (and stay) until it has sufficiently chewed on whatever I’m processing. It began…

    Husband: What were you thinking, honey…?

    Me: Well, I was thinking…. I began to ramble through thoughts not yet completely formed…. (and before coffee)

    Husband: Have you considered…..

    As usual, his response gave me pause. Then as our day unfolded, he gave me space to process my thoughts…..

    Here I am. Sunday morning. 5:38 AM. It’s time to find those words and leave them on this screen. Share my thoughts. Share my questions….

    As I prepared for our workshop…..

    I gathered materials and supplies, considered the techniques I’d share and packed plastic boxes with each carefully labeled. Just as I have in the classroom for the past 25 years, I needed to work out my teaching plan: topic, teaching strategies, and takeaways.

    Topic (Project) established: Pocket Journals

    Teaching Strategies mostly clear:

    • Provide our workshop game plan: the what, why and how
    • Review basic ingredients
    • Show samples of the project and variations, along with techniques to attain those creative choices
    • Introduce tools and materials
    • Have guests get started while I monitor, ask questions, answer questions, and guide the process – assessing where each participant is in her own creative process and adjusting my teaching to meet her there
    • Ask guests to reflect on the process as we wrapped up

    Takeaways: What did I want guests to leave with? A pocket journal, but more than that – an understanding of the process we would spend 2+ hours exploring together….

    I also kept thinking about past art parties. Did guests leave with a greater understanding of the creative process? It continues to be my question as I develop creative events for folks: Do you understand the relationship between creating and mindfulness? Are you allowing Creativity to give your soul a voice? Do you make the connection between the tangible elements (the creative ingredients we use) and your life?

    If the answer is No to any of these questions, then my teaching goal has not been reached.

    Creating is a connection to ourselves…. to our innermost feelings and emotions. Our stories. My goal is to help people recognize that connection, understand its power, and be open to exploring it. When we do, we begin to discover our own creativity and its impact on our life.

    Fast-forward to the final 48 hours leading up to our workshop. That’s when it hit me! To help guests make the connection between our lives and our creating for this project, I needed to deliberately show how our lives are composed of pieces – of experiences and events, emotions and evolving thoughts. We are stitched together by the elements of who we become.

    And there it was: Bit by bit, we become us.

    To that end, each workshop guest received a small jar to place her bits into – each piece contained to the size of the jar. Use as many or as few and fill as many times as needed, but the “bits” needed to fit in the jar.

    Watching that process unfold was fascinating!

    I even received feedback the next day that made my heart sing…. milestones reached, breakthroughs made, creative interests defined… a joyful good time had.

    Awesome! ūüôā

  • Art,  Creativity,  Process,  Stories from the Art,  Writing

    Writing Short(ly)

    How many words does it take to tell a story?

    One could argue that using fewer words conveys more meaning and requires more thinking.

    Brevity is king.

    In fact, many writers prefer to tell stories in short form, guiding the reader on a literary journey – in 100 or fewer, 50 or fewer, only six words, or even 140 characters. Writing shortly, often under the umbrella Flash Fiction, goes by many names. Here are a few:

    • microstory
    • short story
    • short-short story
    • flash fiction
    • six-word story
    • the 140-character story (also known as twitterature)
    • micropoetry

     

    cover of a book, how to write short, by roy peter clark

    No matter what it’s called, each short-form story has a similar quality:¬† the writer carefully selects and places words to tell a story. Similar to micropoetry, brevity is key.¬†¬†Every. Word. Counts.¬†

     

    book cover: 140 CharactersThough I was introduced to wordplay at a very young age (and always encouraged to write and tinker with language), it was not until 2009 when I discovered Twitter and short-form writing (beyond poetry) for the first time. I blogged about it in 2010 and again a few years later {here}. Turns out, short-form writing has a long history! Consider Telegraph messages… stop.¬† ūüėČ

    Fast-forward to 2015, when I¬†discovered an interest in visual art – an answer to writer’s block. As I tinkered with colors to heal my heart and head, my writing voice returned and I discovered that ‘writing short’ played a key role in my art pieces.

    Carefully selected and places words are often seen, but just as often not seen – buried under layers of color and texture. When you purchase my art, there’s a good chance you’re purchasing my words, too, even if you never see them!

    Now in my third year creating visual art, I am reflecting on my journey and continue to think about the process. I am seeing how my earliest pieces are simplistic, childlike – the efforts of a newbie artist, and I’m okay with that. Because I’m also discovering how ‘writing short’ fits into my own artistic style.

    I see a growing collection of my words – many blended with colors, some standing strongly in stark black and white, while others hover quietly on brown patina’d book pages and the private pages of my writing journals.

    Still, others stick quietly to our fridge and tap me on the shoulder when I walk by, or are pulled from my word notebooks and added to my photographs. Then there are the carefully chosen quotes by others that convey my deepest feelings…

    All tell my story.

     

    What would your story say?
  • Art,  Creativity,  Life,  Process,  Stories from the Art

    Drawing Them Out: Faces Reveal Artist’s Growth

    As 2018 unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on my creative journey.

    What began as art discovery (a form of therapy, if you will) during a difficult time in my life – personally and professionally – has developed into a way of living that is as necessary to me as breathing and eating. My head often feels like it will burst to let the ideas out!

    When everything in art was brand new to me three years ago, I was taking it all in and sampling techniques, tools, and materials – but not choosing anything specific. Window shopping.¬† I suppose that’s how I discovered ‘mixed media’ – I tinkered in a little bit of everything.¬†Now, while I still prefer using a variety of media, there are certain things I prefer.¬† Drawing and faces make my short list.

    I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s faces, taking in the lines, curves, shapes, colors, tones, textures, how light hits high places and recedes in low spots, the crevices, scars, freckles, moles, placement of features, how the features move when the person speaks, the color of the iris, the white reflection in the pupil, the shape of the lips – up or down, a big toothy grin or a closed, smiling mouth…. the list is endless.

    I’ve noticed as long as I can remember, but more in the past few years. Often when I’m looking at someone, I get distracted by what I see, and worry that I’ll miss what’s being said. When I look at photographs, I am mesmerized. I study the details.

    credit: RobinLK Studios. 24×24 mixed media on art board

    In 2015-16, I began curating faces from online images in Pinterest and Google, to use as reference tools as I developed my drawing skills. I didn’t draw too many faces those first years, but the first photo in my curated collection became a reference for an early piece I created in a workshop I attended. The 24 x 24 art now hangs in our home. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but I didn’t focus on drawing faces. Yet.

    I was still dabbling.

    Looking at a face is like looking at art for me.¬† I am infinitely curious when I look at someone’s face…

    In Pam Carriker’s book,¬†Mixed Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces, she says, “You’ll find when you begin sketching and using faces in your work that you notice the tilt of someone’s head when you’re talking to them or how the light is shadowing their face.” When I read this, I thought, “I do that all the time!”

    My focus is narrowing. No longer just window shopping as I did in 2015, I’m figuring out which subjects interest me most, which mediums feel ‘right’ in my hands, how compositions, combinations, and colors convey what’s in my heart and my head.

    Pam goes on to say, “Each face that emerges is like meeting a new person. They are who they are, and they don’t have to be perfect… Let them become who they become.”¬† I love this!

    I am literally ‘drawing them out’ – new people who have (apparently) been hanging out in my head and are now emerging. Their faces are the evidence of my own growth as an artist…..

    Here are a few new friends I’d like to introduce, because as I develop my drawing skills, these ladies will become fondly remembered as the faces who appeared first in 2018, willing to emerge with all their quirkiness and imperfections.¬† ¬†ūüôā

    Where will the process take me next?  Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest: @RobinLK Studios

  • Art,  Creativity,  Life,  Stories from the Art

    Of Stories and Strangers…..

    A few months ago,¬†a fellow IG creative reached out to me and said she’d like to share some of the many vintage postage stamps she has. I was elated!¬†Of course, thank you. But why¬†me? On most accounts, one would say we’re strangers.

    Over the next week, as we were dealing with Hurricane Irma here in Florida, Dee and I corresponded back and forth. A short time later, when the weather was clear, I found a package waiting for me at the post office.

    Opening the package and spilling out those beautiful stamps was like opening a time capsule filled with incredible art work and history.

     

    Dear Robin,

    “I’m so excited to contribute to your collection of personal ephemera. A few year years ago, I inherited my great-grandmother’s stamp collection ….”

    Oh my goodness! I was, at once – speechless, excited, and touched beyond words. What an amazing gift to receive from¬†someone – especially a stranger!! Following Dee on Instagram, I knew that inspiring others is an important part of who she is. Her¬†commitment to ‘Doing Good’ was obvious in that moment. And my own Gran’s words ran through my head and my heart, “People aren’t¬†strangers, sweetie …. just people we don’t know yet.”¬†She lived this belief and showed it to me every time we were together (which was often). No matter where we went, Gran would strike up a conversation with someone, and before you’d know it, they seemed like old friends, catching up, sharing stories and laughing. I loved those days.

    As I listened to my Gran’s voice in my head (and heart), I could also hear Dee’s great-grandmother, who must have loved stories and people, too. Her collection reflects the stories of so many¬†who traveled, lived life, and perhaps¬†– never met a stranger.¬† ūüôā

    My¬†gratitude runs deep. Thank you,¬†Dee, for seeing me not as a stranger online, but instead, as a fellow creative whose journey is teaching her many things and inspiring her to¬†inspire others – through kindness,¬†generosity, and the¬†understanding that we are all connected by our stories. I’ve begun to fulfill your request to pay it forward and help a child discover art and creativity…

    Fast-forward nearly six months to a Tuesday morning and 7:25 AM text message:

    Hey, will you be on campus today?

    Yep. I’ll be there by 8:00. How can I help?

    I have a birthday present for you.

    Oh, goodness! I’ll stop by your classroom later today.

    Awesome!

    Later that day, I stop by my friend Alex’s classroom. “Come outside with me,” she says. We step outside. She hands me¬†a striped¬†yellow and green gift bag filled with dark green tissue paper. I think of the 1970’s.

    She begins to tell me how she thought about what to get me for my birthday. I interrupt: You didn’t have to get me anything! I know, she says. But I wanted you to have this. Here, open it. Her tone has changed.

    As I peek inside the bag, she explains that as she continues to work through her grief,¬†she’s working hard to let go of some of¬†the things that were her Dad’s.¬†He passed away last summer, after a hard fight with cancer. I know my dear friend is still raw with emotion. She wants me to have what’s in the bag.

    Tears fill my eyes. Goosebumps. I am overcome with excitement, sadness, and honor.

     

    “I know you¬†will use these in your art in some amazing way,” she says.

    I am speechless. A box of vintage maps. My friend knows how much stories mean to me. We’ve been friends only a few years, yet she gets me.¬†We connected from the start. I am filled with gratitude beyond words.

    I want to take them out and look at them. I carefully open the box and pull a few maps up, to see them Рwhere they are from. Alex tells me about her family traveling and how they used these maps. She says the maps remind her of her grandfather, too. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and trust of my friend. We talk a few minutes more. Her adult students need her back in class.

    “I don’t know if I can actually use these in my art,” I tell her as we walk away. That’s always my challenge with ephemera – keep and love or love and send out into the world – for someone else to love, too….. ¬†it’s a¬†constant dilemma. Honestly. She tells me,¬†“I know you¬†will love them and know what to do with them when the right time comes.”¬† Again, I am speechless.¬†And honored.

    The box now has a prominent spot on my studio bookshelves, alongside other special items that remind me of people I love, and their stories.

     

    I recently opened the box and laid out the maps. I found myself recalling my geography and imagining Alex and her family traveling….

    I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head, as she laughed and talked with others. I imagined Alex and her family – in their car, laughing and talking (maybe even bickering…lol), as they traveled across the United States. I thought about the kindness of friends – and how we are all connected – they’re only people we don’t know¬†yet.

    Every time I look at these¬†beautiful¬†collections: letters and postcards bejeweled with beautiful stamps¬†from around the world and utilitarian maps whose simplicity belied the¬†adventures a family enjoyed¬†– I am reminded we know no strangersonly those¬†we don’t know¬†yet. And I smile. ¬†Thank you, Dee and Alex.

    A life filled with stories and¬†the kindness of friends {never strangers}…¬†is all¬†this girl could ask for. ¬†

     

    Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery! 

    Join us on Facebook:  RobinLK Studios  

     

     

     

     

  • Classroom Life,  Creativity,  Life,  Photography,  Six Words,  Stories from the Art,  Writing

    Broken but Ferocious …. {Six Word Wednesday}

    six word story:  they surround you broken but ferrocious

     

     

    Another random gathering of words that presented themselves to me.

    From the first time I read these words and every time after,¬†I think¬†of¬†the teenagers I’ve¬†taught over 20+¬†years –

    many¬†broken, but angry and trying to hide¬†it ….

     

    What’s your story in six today?¬†

    6

    Art + Writing = Creative by Discovery 

    What’s happening in the studios these days?

    Latest pictures and projects on Facebook and Instagram  @RobinLK Studios