It Could Be Worse

10 Things to Be Grateful For During the 2020 Pandemic

  1. The sun continues to stream through windows and illuminate tiny dust particles in the air as though they were each choreographed ballerinas.
  2. I still have limbs to swoosh those particles.
  3. I can still dance to Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby while self-isolating in my home. (Or anything else I want to thanks to a shared Apple Music account. And…it doesn’t skip when I dance too close to the device!)
  4. We live in a world of abundance. I have food, water, wine and a little bit of good chocolate in the cupboard. I have kale growing in the garden and I know which weeds and wild plants are tasty and nutrient rich when the begin popping up in the next little while. Some people even say sungazing fills them.
  5. I know how to sit quietly and day-dream or meditate, or imagine, or notice. From stillness creativity sprouts and strains. I feel lucky to have time for stillness.
  6. Each day is a gift. I don’t usually plan them when things are quiet but I could. Choice still exists.
  7. I have noticed that creatives are making beautiful offerings available online for everyone. There are free courses, free concerts, free comedy, and who needs to laugh right now? You and me, baby. I am grateful I have the ability to watch them. I say thank-you at the end because I’m a good Canadian who was raised right, eh. I love my parents.
  8. Speaking of parents, mine are over 80. I know how lucky I am to have had both of them in my life for all of these years. I’m calling and texting the people I love often right now. I have time to do that. It’s nice to be in closer touch again.
  9. Coffee. I can not overstate how grateful I am for my morning cuppa. I can make a really great cup of coffee in my home and that routine, so dear to me, does not need to change. I just have more time to enjoy it every day. No errands to run. Appointments are cancelled. All those pressing things that I feel I must do, even taxes, are on hold. That’s a pretty great upside. One that might stick to my ribs a bit.
  10. Our Canadian Prime Minister, despite what some might say, is a compassionate human being. Money is being released to help people get through this. Billions. I’m not sure where those billions were before this; its a bit like the magical and mysterious journey of salmon, but they are here now, those billions, and they will be needed by 99% of the population. I’m pretty sure the other 1% are on some tropical deserted island they own sipping pink umbrellaed drinks tsk tsking, but that’s normal. I’m so very, very grateful that our Prime Minister is not named Trump .

“By opening to the world as it is, we may discover that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available to us and to all human beings.” 

Margaret J Wheatley

It could be worse #2

“The artist’s language is a sensual one, a language of felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience…”

Julia Cameron

10 More Things to Be Grateful For During the 2020 Pandemic

“Even when we are feeling ravaged, we can dance if we choose to.”

  1. Family. I mentioned my love for my parents yesterday but I have more family than that whom I am grateful for. I have my three beautiful children that give my life meaning, two of which have beautiful partners. Those couples are creating littles due in April and July. My partner who knows me, who tries to support me, who shares what he is with me. I have a sister and a brother and their beautiful families that extend past nieces and nephews. For these people I can truly say that my love is unconditional. When the shit rises to the top, love is still there.
  2. Tribe. My chosen family. The friends I’ve had forever. The creatives. My mentors. Love them all.
  3. Animals. Especially dogs. I love them and they love me. They have a direct connection to the human spirit and they know the importance of stillness.
  4. Books. I love the way I can chose a book I’ve already read, open it randomly and within skimming of a few pages find a line that connects to my now poignantly. Books are my tarot cards.
  5. Freshly Washed Sheets. I love slipping into the cool freshness of clean linens. Give me high thread count cotton on a quality mattress and I feel like heaven decided to meet me on earth. Seriously. I even moan a little at the intense pleasure of it, every time.
  6. Time Travel. I’ve been doing this for years. I travel back through memory and forward through dreams. Sometimes the recollections and projections belong to me, often, they don’t.
  7. Synchronicities. Those good things that feel like the stars have aligned happen all of the time. Opportunities. Noticing them is paramount. Knowing my desires is key, as is mindset, but asking for what I want and acting like it’s happened, that’s been paramount. The universe has our backs. Without time for stillness, a person can’t get clear on what they want.
  8. Warm Water. Handwashing is ‘in’ right now. I’m doing it often. Imagine how uncomfortable and chapped we’d feel if we only had cold tap water. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have warm running water to accompany my locally made scented soaps.
  9. Birdsong. It’s not quite spring here yet, I know this because the frogs out back are still quiet. However, this morning I woke up to the robins and another song I didn’t recognize. It’s the best way to wake up in my opinion. Music is soul food.
  10. Fried Chicken. I don’t crave food like this. I don’t particularly like deep fried anything. I’ve added it to the list because I know how it tastes and I’m grateful for that. Funny, I’m time travelling right now, back to Lloret de Mar, Spain, 1979. The best chicken, rotisserie, I ever tasted. I am so grateful for my varied experiences. Life is meant to be lived before and after the periods of necessary stillness.

“Gratitude is always the right mindset.”

Artistic Identity: Name it so you know it!

Part Two

Champagne
As featured in British House and Gardens Magazine
Details on the Featured Art Page of this site

Happy New Year! I am so glad you are here to live 2020. As long as we have breath, we have work to do! Artists are witnesses; witnesses to the joys and sorrows, the justices and injustices, the beauty and ugliness of all that is human, inhumane, biotic and abiotic. Our art is a record of our experience and we have much to communicate. It takes many voices to accurately portray a story, or the stories of a time, and those voices must be the truthful, from all directions, all cultures, all genders, all ages, all senses, and all the telling talents.

It’s an impossible feat, perhaps, but witnessing and recording ‘ourstory’ shapes now and the future. We are never as alone as we may at times feel. Your voice, my voice, the many voices, create ‘ourstory’, a lessonworthy, collaboration that many of us artists are unaware of belonging to.

Life is a collaboration!

Canada’s Conscious Skeptics #4

Adding to my previous post, here are two more practices that can help to strengthen your artistic identity and align you with prospective collectors.

Practice Three

The Artist Statement. Why do you create the art you do?

I know the world I want to live in. I’ve known that world of ‘beauty’ for many years. I look for it in everything, everyone and everywhere. What I look for is what I see, and what I end up painting. As a result, I understand why I create in the style I do and I can articulate that to my audience.

I believe in morning pages and artist dates. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t you really need to read Julia Cameron’s, The Artist Way. Both will contribute to your clarity in their own way; one rinses you clean while the other fills you up.

It is during artist dates that I get really clear on what I look for in the world.

Practice Three begins with The Artist Date.

Then simply notice the kinds of things that draws your attention and make some mental notes about that.

While you’re out there on the date, also try to get clear on Mahatma Ghandi’s quote …’we need to be the change we see in the world’… and what it means to you.

When you get home, go look at the art you make. Look for the themes, the design elements and principles you rely on.

If you’re a writer, and even if you’re not, record some of your thoughts as you try to wrap your head around these three somewhat philosophical explorations because it will help you to unlock the commonalities and connections.

Scribble some notes to these questions:

1. Describe the ‘_____insert colour____’ coloured glasses you view the world through. What are you seeing?

2. What do you passionately care about?

3. Describe the commonalities in the pieces of art you create.

4. How is your art helping to create the world you want to live in?

An artist statement in the making!

You may want to work this statement out over a series of weekly artist dates the first time you attempt to write your statement. Expect and welcome change as you get clarity on why you paint, why you paint what you paint, and what you are trying to communicate to your audience.

Expect your statement to be dynamic. Experiences, responses, unions, the passage of time, it grows us and as we grow so does our art. Revisit your artist statement from time to time.

Practice Four

The Short and Sweet Purpose Statement

When someone asks me what I do, I have often answered with, “I paint.” or “I’m an artist.”

Both were skimpy, inadequate answers.

I have since retaught myself to answer, “I am an intuitive artist who paints.” The question is now an opportunity to share one of my beautiful business cards that shows a glimpse of my artistic style, my purpose statement, as well as contact information. Answering this way leaves me feeling professional and worthy of answering follow up questions related to my work. It also allows the person I’m talking to look further into what I do and possibly become a collector. I’ve noticed that it’s relationships that sell paintings. Collectors, purchasers, they want to feel like they know the artist!

Do you carry business cards?

Creating my purpose statement for my business cards really helped me answer the What do you do? question more confidently.

I was super lucky to get help with it over lattes from some wonderful artist friends. They know me. They know my art. We brainstormed. Eventually, the writer among us nailed it.

Don’t have that community yet? That’s okay. Use the work you did in exercise three to get to it. A purpose statement is just a whittled down artists statement. A one liner, unique to you.

You’ve got this! If you need a little help, email me, sherri.twb@gmail.com and we’ll set up a coaching session. I’m here!

Because I want my readers to know me as an artist, I don’t often remind you that I was/am also a longtime school teacher, mentor and coach. The thing about me as a teacher is that I’ve always come at it from curiousity and play. What can I learn from these people I’m serving? What happens if I meet X with Y? What will change if we do it this way? How can I do X without causing harm? I never thought I’d teach as long as I have, because I’ve always been an artist, but teaching has provided well for me and my family and it acts as one of my muses. I’ve had the great good opportunity to connect to thousands of people and their stories!

I seek out beauty and it’s what I find.

My purpose statement?

I experience time and place to bring you delight.

Artistic Identity; Name it so you know it.

Part One

As featured in British House and Gardens Magazine
Interested?
More details are on my Featured Art Page

These two practices will help you to feel authentic and align yourself with your prospective audience. The first activity is easy, the second requires that you know yourself. If you are not there yet, tune into Plato. He can help.

These two exercises are to create your strong foundation in your artistic practice. the heart of you who are and who you are for.

What Do You Want To Be Known For?

When I began painting as a daily practice and knew it was my work, I struggled with even labeling myself as an artist. It felt pretentious to say, I am an artist, out loud. In my heart I knew it was true but my head kept telling me, I was something else, something I’d spent seven years in school earning documents and skills to become. Something, anything other than what I was.

Do you stuggle with imposter syndrome?

Exercise One:

Do this exercise to courageously strengthen your identity.

Repeat after me, I am an artist. Say it out loud three times. Practice saying it to nobody but yourself every morning and every night while you brush your hair or do your pushups. Attach it to an exisiting routine so it happening. Let it make your body smile.

My Art Is For These People

Now consider your artistic style. What is unique about it?

My Most Current Art Manifesto:

My art is bold, bright and non-traditional. Its joyful, often amusing, sometimes beautiful, sometimes sad. My art relays information about society, nature, beauty, and ugliness.

I don’t make my art for those who prefer traditional art I make it for those who like a touch of whimsy, or magic; those who still allow their inner child to play and refuse to take this earthly experience too seriously.

I make my art for those who walk to their own beat and don’t want to compete with the Jone’s next door or anyone else.

I want my art to be owned by people who dance outside of any box; people who know how to feel free inside, even if they must be attached to systems.

My art is for the freaks, the children of freaks who embrace freakishness, and all of their freakish friends.

My art is preferably for socially responsible people who stand against mysogny, even in the smallest of ways.

My art comes from a place of curiousity and wonder and awe, that lies deep inside of me. I want my art to be collected by those who appreciate that owning a piece of my soul is more valuable that owning my flesh and bones.

Who is your art for? Have you thought about it?

It is not enought to say that you paint for yourself because you are of this world and here to learn and contribute to the cacophony. This is a party and you need to know who you want to hang out with, literally and figuratively.

Exercise Two:

Do this exercise to bring clarity to your practice and to your audience.

Create a list of what is unique about your art. Ask creative friends what they think is unique. Think about where your art muse lies. List it. Think about how you are seen by others. If you don’t know, ask a friend to be frank with you and bless them for their honesty knowing that they are probably lighting you up a little because they are your friend. List it. Imagine the rooms or places you’d love to see your art hanging and imagine the people who would live with it. What are they like? Look for the connections on your list. Construct your own manifesto. Let it be known to yourself and others that it is dynamic and revisit and refine it from time to time. We are creatives.

We grow, we change, we evolve and writing down our manifesto brings our awareness and the awareness of others to what you want to be known for.

When you have you maniifesto completed, feel free to share it in the comments below!

When You’re Feeling Broken

The Visitor

It happens to all of us. The nature of life is beginnings and endings, love and loss, beautiful miracles and garbage dump moments. My keys to survival, to thriving, is:

a. strengthening my boundaries

(knowing what I want and how I want to feel)

b. shifting focus onto the beauty

(nature, self-care, practices I love, moments in my memory)

c. practicing daily gratitude and prayer

Here’s Three Activities That will (Probably) Lift you Up

Sense the beauty that surrounds you.

1.Go for a walk in nature with the intent of seeing everything. This is not a speed walk. It is not for physical fitness. It is a sensory walk. Fill yourself up with the smells, the touch of the air on your skin, the whispers in the trees. Look for what you haven’t seen before and look longer at what you have to notice what you previously missed. Take mental notes as you walk. Take a picture or two of what you notice. Say to yourself, I am soul grateful for ….. (what you’ve noticed – try to do it for five different things on your walk) See like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.

Shift out of your head and into your soul.

2. Put on the new Coldplay song, Arabesque, on repeat. Turn it up loud. Dance it out until you become a sweaty puddle or your knees just can’t do it again. Dance with your whole body. I’ve heard this called ‘swamping’ but I call it shifting to soul. Good music (whatever is good to you) is soul food. When you move into soul and out of your head its easier to change your thoughts. So when you’re finally a sweaty mess, and you cant hear that song another time, stop and say to yourself, I am soul grateful for…. (the musical artist) (the ability to move wildly) (those lyrics)… Go for five statements. Move like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.

Process heartache like an artist

3. This one is for those you are fearless with maker stuff. Tape a big piece of paper to your wall or table. Tape down all four sides. I like watercolour paper or poster paper. Turn your upbeat tunes up loud. Grab a pencil or charcoal or pencil and write down the garbage. Sometimes I just use the words, sometimes I can’t so I just make marks as I speak or think it out. Done? Make sure you have nothing else to say. Done now? great. Now circle up to five of the words or marks you think are beautiful when they stand alone. Scribble loosely over the rest. Notice what you love about those words or marks. Say, I am soul grateful for….. because… Do each word or mark. Now grab your gesso or white paint and a big fat paintbrush. White out the garbage that isn’t beautiful. Grab your current favourite colour. Work it loosly into the white, following the music…..keep going. No agenda….just let those beautiful words and that fat brush take you away. Stop when you are ready. What you created is not important. Go shower to be completely renewed. Process like an artist. Gratefulness like a lover.

Hope this helps.

xoxo

Sherri Jean McCulloch

Opportunities and Collecting Art

  I’m number 32, as seen in the art edition; Home and Garden Magazine UK.  When a ‘magical’ opportunity shows up in your life, what is your first reaction? For me, this is what seems to happen: 1. Joyful surprise and excitement. 2. I check it out quickly but thoroughly. Hello, Nancy Drew! These scammy days, everything needs a thorough checking out. 3. I pay attention to the possible winning details of the offering and then weigh those against what I’ve been thinking, wondering, wanting and, of course my financial means. 4. I say yes when everything lines up, without too much delay. 5. I wait in joyful gratitude without second guessing my decision because I did the due diligence groundwork and because I believe every ‘yes’ to opportunity opens my world just a little wider! I’m sharing this because, I believe the world is a much better place than it’s being ‘painted’ of late. Yes, there are huge, maybe even insurmountable problems, and yes there is pain, but the goodness and love I have seen in the people I’ve met in every place I’ve ever travelled to, and the beauty I can find in even the blandest of vistas, makes me think the lens we are living our lives through needs a thorough cleaning. The ‘human condition’ allows us to chose our ‘side of the sword’. What side have you chosen? I used to think we had doomed ourselves and most other species. It hurt my soul. It hurt my psyche. Thankfully, I was provided the opportunity to polish and shine my lens. Now, I completely understand Dostoevsky’s prophesy, a prophesy that has long intrigued me, spoken by the prince in The Idiot. “beauty will save the world” So ….be beautiful… love. Be loved. Beloved. Open to magical opportunities and say yes when you’ve done your due diligence. Buy art. Collect art. Train your eye. poppies Without art, without that trained eye, there is much less beauty available to you in the world. And, you are surrounded by it!    

If you’d like to add a piece of my art to your collection, developed or developing, email me, Sherri Jean McCulloch, at roxgroandmink@gmail.com

About Those Rules…

I dabble in art journaling. I was reminded by a well meaning soul once that art journaling was supposed to be a two page spread. I had heard that before, and I didn’t buy into it then either.

Oh Yes I Am- original sold – giclees possible

I remember being at a well attended art workshop. The artist turned around to chat, I didn’t like that, but was kind and listened. The artist then saw a bit of something in the paint, not intentionally there, not a brush bristle but a thin strand of lint now well coated in paint. It belonged to to piece I was working through. She went into my art and pulled it out with her tweezer like nails and told me I didn’t want that there. When she looked up mid intrusion she turned back to her space and stayed that way for the next three days. I’ve been told I have an expressive face.

I’ve never been one to need or necessarily appreciate other people’s restrictions. I grew up steeped in them. They smothered me, moulded me, mastered me. Rules clouded my real dreams and my creativity for a long long time.

I snuck out from under the edges of that heavy blanket some time ago. Sure, I still abide a rule if it makes sense to me, but I have a bright inner pilot light that I trust completely.

So, when it comes to my art….no rules. If I break a rule while discovering a new way to get ‘there’, by playing outside of the lines, by expanding my experience, while expressing something that is beautiful or ugly to me, in me, then I succeed.

My Freedom Zone;
No Creativity Busting Rules Welcome

Intentionally Slow

When I begin to feel depleted, I know I’m not doing enough of what I know I need and too much of what others want or think they need of me. I learned, a hard way, that I must look after myself. I’m the only one who knows how to!

My way of dealing with and avoiding depletion is to plan and book spiritual respite for myself. I give my own spirit time to rest and refill. I feed my creativity. It is an extended artist date if you will.

It’s mandatory.

It means stepping away.

The oldest house in the area. It was originally used for housing professors and it has a very calm energy about it.

It means paying attention.

Sunday Morning shelters the remnants of someone else’s Saturday night.

It means asking questions.

And it means being open to receive the answers. I am a bit of a rambler on these short sojourns and I feel super lucky that the sun is with me today, again.

Wayyyy up.

It means noticing incongruence and balancing them.

Lost and Found

Looking up is risky on a cracked uneven concrete surface. Still, looking up yields surprises, coincidences, and more of what’s on my radar. Today, after slowing and feeding my roots, I am soul reassured that I know what has to come next for me. The where, when and what are clear!

It requires time. Alone.

Street Art

The most important thing I learned while working on my Masters is that I find what I’m looking for. I was looking for clarity. I’ve got it.

Listen to the Birds

Abbaye De Flaran

After a full on morning of painting, I need to take a little break. When I’m away, it’s either a walk, a movie, or an adventure. It rests me up for my next painting session.

Today I ventured off to Abbaye de Flaran. It dates back to 1151 and was purchased in 1970 by the Department du Ger for restoration.

I needed more time, but here’s a taste of what I saw.

Now that’s ‘just’ the main floor of the cloister and church. You won’t believe what I saw in the gallery upstairs!

Dali. And…

There was also a gorgeous Monet! Where the phot went I don’t know but it was of the sea!

There are so many wonderful surprises to discover in this part of France!