Never miss an opportunity to teach…

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Sometimes while heading off on one field trip, I buzz by something that catches my eye. Often, I continue driving on my way as I contemplate whether or not I missed something that I will regret later.

Last week I was driving down Bell Road in the Woodridge area of Phoenix and I passed these large fabulous grey-green colored tree canopies that had the most crazy pink/peach clouds of fluff in them. It was hard to make out the tree blossoms at 45mph. As I continued on my way west, those distinct colors gnawed at me. Quickly I made a u-turn and headed back…knowing I would hate myself if I didn’t go back.

I quickly parked my car at a curbside, grabbed my camera, and skipped my way along the sidewalk of the very busy street. As I approached the tree my eyes widened in disbelief. I had never seen anything like these flower clusters raining down in pendulous bunches. I only had time to snap a few images and make sure to record the location for follow-up when I had the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to this horticultural goddess!

I counted the minutes for the next two days until my schedule opened enough for the time to get back to her. I ran back with a full camera battery and plenty of memory card space. During my time away, I also had done some research to initially discover it was a Eucalyptus tree. Days later I discovered it was now called a Red Gum – Corymbia ficifolia (formerly Eucalyptus ficifolia) to be specific. And there are actually FOUR trees in the parkway along Bell Road!

I pointed my eager camera up into the canopy and began snapping from every possible angle! Just then a very tall young guy came walking up. Have you ever realized when someone sees you looking up they tend to also look up? Anyway, this guy starts looking up and asks me if I am making art. I holster my camera and begin to rattle off all that I have recently learned about this tree and how rare it is to see them here in the desert in bloom. As I continued on, my new buddy’s wide open eyes now resemble mine and he actually seems a wee bit taller. In our conversation he shares that he grew up right around the corner and has passed these trees almost every day for years. In all that time, he admits, he never noticed these ping pong ball sized blooms nor has he paid attention to these trees. He thanked me for teaching him something new! I noticed a little skip in his step when he walked away and it reminded me how great it feels to discover and learn!

A large part of my art is to show and share things that most of us would just pass by and never really see. Some of the things I interpret and paint…and others I chronicle in photos. Receiving the confirmation from a stranger is the best feeling of all.

Posted while on a creative adventure!

The same difference + why blogs are good for the authors…

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Well, we moved…hmmm…moved seems too inadequate a word to describe relocating yourself and all your life’s belongings to the other side of the country that no longer resembles anything from before.  I guess that’s what happens when you take a Midwest girl and plunk her down in the desert.  It has been 63 profound days in Scottsdale, Arizona, yet feels like a year away from home. How long do you suppose before a new place becomes “home”? Thankfully, my past reflections can help me determine that answer.

When I first created this blog, I never had any clue how important it would be…to myself. As a kid (or adult) I never journaled or had a diary…I had a great memory instead. But what I never realized about those memories, is how affected they can be by emotional location (where your emotions are at the time of remembering). For that, this blog has become an invaluable tool to myself. I can look back and feel just where my emotional location was at various moments in my life over these past years.

We’ve done this before; relocated back in 2010 from the Chicago area to the Milwaukee area for only 15 months. While I was less than 2 hours from home, it still felt a world away. On a dark emotional day (perhaps homesick) I wrote a blog post comparing being an artist to “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Kundera.  In reading that post again…this is the message that I try to carry with me wherever I am…

Being an artist is also about sharing a particular view of the world.  I believe we look at common things with an uncommon eye.  We feel emotional impulses from objects, ideas, inspirations.  I don’t believe that just because we happen to have a job as a counselor, waitress, customer service rep, or assistant that we lose our ability to see and feel the world as we artists do. 

Yes, we live this particular life only once.  However, we do live for a lifetime in which we create a lifetime of artwork.  For some that may be 10,000 pieces of artwork and for others it may mean 3.  The important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself while surviving your life, embrace your artistic self in all that do (art and non-art related), and do something creative each day even if it’s cooking something different or taking a photograph with your smart phone.

There is an unbearable lightness or likeness of being an artist, but the defining moment is how you choose to allow it to define you.

So, these days while the sun is shining upon my face here in the desert and I am feeling unrooted, I look back at this and find a way to be kinder to myself and remember that artwork is created over a lifetime and in many different ways.  I also find in these reflections a confirmation of my subject matter and what flowers continue to teach me. For example, cacti (when removed from their connected “siblings”) must harden off a bit before you can put them back into the ground to grow. So, here I am rediscovering my new home, and in that I look forward to growing!

As a side note:  I am so grateful to be living close to and sharing time with my parents again; it has been 20 years since they had left the Midwest. My hubby, Dan, and I have been enjoying getting to know Scottsdale and finding our new studio location! I am equally grateful for my amazing friends who have reached out to me with their love and positive rays of sunshine. When I am feeling “unrooted” I tend to close up, but those who have reached a hand to me….you have made these 63 days profound and I thank you.