Monday, January 5, 2015

White space

I don't know what made me think of this today but..... way back in 1988 or so, I was taking art classes at a local community college and I had a teacher named Craig Nilsen. He was tall and gangly with long, shaggy hair and his personal art was slightly off center so, of course, I adored him. He was that odd, cool guy and everyone wanted to be in his classes. He taught me graphic design, printmaking and when the first Macintoshes arrived on campus, he taught us all that the world and art were changing. He was right.

Craig was also the guy that told me that "white space is your friend". It's funny but I can't even say that in my head in my own voice - it always sounds like Craig. So much of what we were all creating was so cluttered with elements bleeding off the edges for no other reason other than that we could cram it in there. I could see the frustration in his eyes sometimes during class critiques as he tried to focus in on an art submission that visually vomited on every possible ounce of space.

The challenge, I would think, of being an art teacher is nurturing individual creativity while teaching basic rules & techniques. Most artists aren't very good with rules at all. And they probably shouldn't be. Rules, like pavement, are for the unimaginative souls unwilling to forge their own paths.

I assume that some students in the class were not on board with the whole idea of white space and never really understood its importance. I will  admit that it didn't come easy to me in the beginning. I was from the "more is better" school of thought. Slowly but surely, over years of classes with Craig, I realized that white space truly IS my friend. My art is better for it.... my book covers and illustrations cleaner... but it's more than that.

My LIFE is better because I embrace the white space of it. I can turn off the noise in the room so that I can hear the simple sound of my own thoughts and the muse whispering in my ear. I can close my eyes and breathe deep and de-clutter my list and my process. I do not - wait let me rephrase - I can not fill all the spaces in with unnecessary items, tasks, or commitments.  Of course, I need the important stuff in the middle... my family, friends, my art, my career and I need the stuff surrounding it that makes it all interesting and full of laughter. What I do not need to is to fill every nook and every cranny with the unnecessary stuff... the drama.. the negative... the stress. I have no room on the edges for excess baggage. I need the white space.

I don't know if the direction that my art has gone in would please Mr. Nilsen or not. I'd like to think he would find it at least amusing. Im pretty sure, however that he would be tremendously pleased that he impacted my life with 5 words that didn't stop at an art lesson... "White space is your friend". Thanks, Craig.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Crayon Re-Launch!

Ah... 2015...  time to make those New Year's promises and resolutions. Years ago, my running joke was that the only resolution that I could stick with was to make no resolutions. For the record,  I do have all of the usual ones: I will exercise more (any at all would be "more"). I will be more focused at work. I will spend less time on Facebook and use my time more productively. Blah blah blah. So what do I really think will be different in 2015?

Well for starters, I will become someone's grandmother this year. Our little Blueberry will pop out in April and change our lives and the world. And I know this because when her mother was born, that is exactly what happened. The innocence of babies can do that to you.

I also know that my career is going to go in wild, positive directions this year. In 2013, I published my first book, How Long Will You Love Me? Last year I published my second children's book, Stu's Big Party, and illustrated 4 others. Already on the schedule this year are 4 more books to illustrate,  my third book I Love You to Pieces, and an e-book about crowd-funding  - all before the summer! There is an underground rumor of a possible  revival of a co-authored silly book for grown-up girls as well. Add in more personal appearances and speaking gigs and my dance card is filling up.

I suppose if I have an actual resolution it is more on a personal, inspirational level. This year I will strive to be more aware of the world and the people in it. I will try harder to respect the journey that others are on even if I don't completely understand it. I will walk away less and speak up more when I see something wrong or a fellow human struggling. I don't have much but this will be the year that I give back more. I will purge my life of what doesn't touch me in some sort of positive way and be mindful that I need to be a positive force in the lives of others lest I be purged. I will let go of things over which I have no control. I will be more proactive in keeping and nurturing my relationships with my friends and my family. I will text less and call more. And I will be happy with all that I have and even more grateful for some of the things that I don't have.

All that being said... 2015 is really in my hands. I believe that what one throws out to the universe is what one gets back. If you dwell on how bad things are, that is what you will get back. If you concentrate on being pitiful and make excuses, the universe cannot help but throw those things back at you. And so it follows that positive vibes, light, and love will find you if that is what you project. Focus, energy and compassion are yours for the taking. Thats my plan. I declare to the universe that 2015 will, indeed, be the best year ever and so it shall be.

As for this blog space... I would say that it needs a make-over but, in truth, I never really made it up  properly in the first place. For the most part, I stopped right after I came up with the clever name. I really couldn't think of a "theme" that I could write about that I felt people (other than my mom) would read. Looking for input, I threw the question out to my Facebook circle. The most beautiful answer came from my friend,  Joe: "Personally, I think you should pull in where your inspiration comes from... You're not just an Author, but an artist, a visionary, an entrepreneur, a humorist... Anyone who can pick up a twig and say... "This would make a great handle for a hand formed clay serving tray shaped as shed autumn leaves" and then realize that vision has a rare gift for finding creative inspiration Anywhere. That spark applies to words, to the visual arts, to music... You've got it, and personally it fascinates me. And that's all I've got to say about that." 

And so that is what I have decided to do... stay tuned!