The Power of Music

On my drive back from my latest trip to New England, I heard a song played on one of the many radio stations I scanned through when my smartphone didn’t have a strong enough signal to stream Spotify. It was new to me, but probably not new to the radio and I instantly loved it. It reminded me of the late 80’s and early 90’s pop music I grew up with and it was upbeat and perky, just like me!

After listening to the song a few times on different stations, I finally learned that it was Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon. I’d never heard of Walk the Moon, but then there’s a lot of current artists I don’t know because I rarely listen to actual radio stations. When I went on YouTube to watch the video for the song I was extremely happy to see that it went along perfectly with the song. So many music videos these days are weird or totally ruin the meaning of the song, but the video for Shut Up and Dance was spot on with a very 80’s look and feel. Having grown up during that era, it’s rather odd to see it all coming back, but odd in a good way.

I finally remembered to get the Walk the Moon album with the song I liked on it yesterday and I’ve been listening to a handful of the songs on repeat ever since. Overall, there’s only 3-4 songs off the album that mesh with my tastes, but the ones I do like, I REALLY like! How can you tell when I really like a new song? Well, it makes me dance in my car, dance around my kitchen while cleaning it and dance while painting.

image

I hadn’t painted a new picture in several months but the new music was exactly what I needed to kick my inspiration into gear. It felt so wonderful putting brush to canvas and smearing acrylic colors all over the place! Painting is a very freeing experience for me and I always listen to upbeat music while doing it. As I already said, I dance to the music when I paint and I also have my living room curtains open so anyone driving by can see me if they look in. I don’t particularly care though as I imagine I’m already known as the “peculiar single woman who walks her yellow dog a lot” by most of the people in my neighborhood.

All that matters to me is that the power of music can lift my spirit and my feet and spark my creativity in the best way!

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Those who can’t teach, do

blue and red abstract painting

My final painting of the night. Not my usual style.

Recently I’ve been sucked into a game called Trivia Crack thanks to my fellow SNHU students. It was mentioned on the online student social media platform and now many of the connections I have on there are playing it. Well, I suppose they could have been playing it for years, but I only just learned about it.

While I enjoyed Trivial Pursuit to a degree, eventually everyone would get tired of playing it and we’d name a winner before all the pie pieces were won. I often surprised myself with the random bits of information I’d know that helped me answer questions. Thankfully, Trivia Crack doesn’t take nearly as long as Trivial Pursuit, though I’m finding it just as mentally challenging…and frustrating.

Ridiculously enough, my worst category is Art, followed closely by Sports which isn’t a big shocker. My best topic is Entertainment which makes sense because I know all sorts of random movie and television trivia. Nonetheless, my lack of “knowledge” in the Art category perturbed me. I do consider myself an artist but no, I don’t know a whole lot about art history and such. According to the game Leonardo, Michelangelo and Picasso were all left-handed, but I’ve found some websites that dispute that. Either way, I refused to let a trivia game get me down so I decided that since I could never teach Art or Art History, I’d paint some art in the art present. There’s that saying “Those who can’t do, teach” so I just reversed it to “Those who can’t teach, do.” I’m clever like that…

starry night

My first creation of the night.

I haven’t created any new paintings in many months but tonight felt like a good time. I cranked up my music, got out my paints, prepped three canvases, chose the colors, selected several brushes, and went to town. I’m reasonably satisfied with my creations, especially since I’m rusty, and it was a very enjoyable experience. Painting reassured me that I still have that creativity inside me even if I don’t know the name of Picasso’s second cousin’s best friend’s cat. 😉

seal painting

My second painting of the night.

Foggy flurries and furry fluffballs

My snowy house this morning.

My snowy house this morning.

Today marked the first substantial snow for the season here. The calendar may still say it’s fall, but Upstate NY has never been a place that abides by such silly notions. I don’t mind snow when it first begins and my girls both seem to love it. I remember loving it when I was a child, but once I became an adult who had to drive in it, snow lost a lot of its magic. The “magical first snow” today started overnight and hasn’t let up since. It’s not accumulating fast but it’s heavy, wet, and perfect for making snowballs.

And make snowballs I did! When I took Jazzmin out this morning, I made a couple snowballs and tossed them at her. She happily caught them in her mouth before spitting them out when she realized they were strange, cold tennis balls. I then took a snowball in to show the kittens and they were fascinated by the cold, white, balls of water. They love water and I’m always plucking them out of the sink, bathtub, and dog’s water bowl. I eventually plopped the snowball in their water bowl and Daisy watched it intently until it melted.

Once the girls were off at school, I did a bit of freelance work and then settled on the couch beneath a blanket to begin some new beading projects. I’d reviewed a new set of instructions for making earrings this morning and I was eager to try them. What I created came out better than I expected, but I discovered I need to start using a thimble to avoid poking my pointer fingers constantly. Thank goodness fingers heal quickly! It’s worth it though because I’m so pleased with last week’s creations that I need more hours in the day to create all the jewelry designs that have popped into my mind.

Modeling last week's beaded earring and pendant creations.

Modeling last week’s beaded earring and pendant creations.

The snow never let up so there was no point in waiting for it to stop before taking Jazz for a walk. I bundled her up in her booties (which she hates) and warm, blue sweater and I bundled myself up similarly in my winter jacket, boots, and earmuffs. It wasn’t exactly frigid today but there was a breeze and I wanted to keep my ears warm. Our walk wasn’t very long but Jazz was happy to be out and we both became thoroughly coated with snow. As we were heading back home, fog began to roll in from the top of the hill which detracted from the beauty of the first snowfall.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

The snowy trees.

The snowy trees.

Jazz smells something...

Jazz smells something…

Yuppers, it's snowing!

Yuppers, it’s snowing!

The fog rolling in down the road.

The fog rolling in down the road.

Jazzmin and I were both happy to get home and thaw out. The kittens were fascinated watching the falling snow and took turns looking out the window or hogging my desk chair because it’s so cozy.

Daisy looking out the window.

Daisy looking out the window.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

I had to get my snow shovel out of the shed to clean off my deck steps and create a path to the door and it’s now resting beside the door, ready to be used again. Winter has definitely begun but with the combination of foggy flurries and furry fluffballs, I know it will be anything but dull!

 

An Artist’s Emotions (re-post)

It’s been a long, busy day and I’m too tired to properly utilize my creative writing abilities, so it’s time for another re-post from my Writer & Artists blog on Corbin Creations. I wasn’t sure which one I was going to re-post so I read through a few until one struck my fancy. It’s about how my emotions affect my creativity or lack thereof. This one seems relevant because in rearranging my living room today, I had to move my huge plastic tote filled with my overflow of artwork.

I recently changed out some artwork that was hanging over my desk because it reminded me of emotions and feelings that no longer serve a purpose in my life. I should know by now not to create paintings based on feelings for another person, but I’m a hopelessly optimistic romantic so I continue to do so. One of the paintings is entitled Morning Path and it’s some of my best work. I was amazed with myself when it was finished. I based it off a photo and for once was able to do justice to the beauty of an amazing post-storm sky. I imagine someday I’ll be able to look at it again, but for now it’s best if I leave it tucked away and move forward with my life.

I haven’t painted anything new in a while and it’s probably past time. I just have to summon the right emotions, find the proper colors, and let my brushstrokes tell the story.

Morning Path Painting

Morning Path painting

***

An Artist’s Emotions – 2/4/2012

My work, whether it be painting or writing, has always been driven by my emotions. I have to feel passionately about something, or even someone, in order to find my creative muse. Alas there have been far too many times in my life when my experiences have left me so numb and empty that I couldn’t put brush to canvas or fingers to keyboard. I have done some paintings when I was angry and it was therapeutic because anger is a passionate emotion, full of fire and easy to feed off of. The blah of discontent and depression holds no fire, only cold emptiness and I am not someone who can create anything from that.

My friend has told me that I’m someone who loves too hard, and she knows because she is one too. I believe all my female friends are like this and that’s why we understand each other so well. We put so much of ourselves out there, whether it be through painting, writing, speaking or just living and we think everyone who knows us and cares about us should understand that part of us and not abandon us because of it. It’s hard for us to accept that there really are people out there who don’t need other people, who are content alone and who don’t want to share the deepest parts of themselves, including their hearts, with anyone else. I will never be that kind of person. How I love makes me vulnerable and gets me hurt but it can also create beautiful pieces of artwork and writing that capture the most important essence of myself.

The Brushstrokes of Amesbury, MA

Amesbury mural by Jon Mooers

Jon Mooers mural in Amesbury

When you walk the streets of downtown Amesbury, you’re treated to the sight of large, detailed, colorful murals on the sides of some of the buildings. These amazing painted creations portraying the history and beauty of Amesbury are the work of a talented artist named Jon P. Mooers. I was awestruck by them the first time I saw them in June of 2013. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jon and not only is he a skilled artist, he’s a great person.

Jon P. Mooers opened a gallery in downtown Amesbury over a year ago and there’s no denying his love of and passion for art. I wrote about one of his gallery events in my Accidental Wandering in Amesbury post back in October of 2013 and thanks to him publicizing that post, it was my most popular writing to date. It’s a grand thing when creative people connect and Jon’s gallery was all about supporting artists and sharing beautiful artwork with the community.

I stopped in at the gallery in the winter of 2013 and found Jon in the midst of putting up one of his window displays. If you’ve never seen his window displays, you missed something truly special. He was working busily setting up the window display and there was a light in his eyes that every artist knows from personal experience. It’s the light that comes from expressing yourself and hoping that the world sees and appreciates what you’re trying to convey. For a book signing in December he even had snow falling over a scene of Frosty the Snowman in the window! Seeing it put the biggest grin on my face and I knew he was doing all he could to highlight his gallery and let more people know about it.

Winter window Jon Mooers Gallery

Frosty the Snowman

Unfortunately, Jon is closing his gallery due to lack of sales. I always enjoyed looking at all the artwork on display and was impressed by the caliber and talent of the artists. Every brushstroke revealed what they love to create and each piece was unique, even those done by the same artist. You’ll never find beauty, dedication and heart like that in the mass-produced paintings for sale in big box retail stores. Every artist knows what it is to struggle and yet none of us can ever truly give up on expressing our creativity because it’s a huge part of our essential being.

I raise my paintbrush in huge multi-color paint admiration of Jon P. Mooers and what he did by opening that gallery in Amesbury. It’s a truly sad loss to the community that he’s closing his doors. Perhaps too many people mistakenly believed that even if they didn’t buy anything, someone else would. Speaking as an artist, I can attest that “someone else” doesn’t always exist and that it’s up to each of us as individuals to step up and support all of the arts in any way we can. Jon P. Mooers Artists Gallery and Studio did that and for that he deserves great respect and acknowledgement of the difference he made in downtown Amesbury. I certainly hope to see more great endeavors from him in the future!

Plum wine and winter painting

A girl and her paint.

A girl and her paints.

I’ve been wanting to do some new paintings for months now but I’ve been too busy or it’s been too cold for me to crawl out from under blankets on the couch to stand at my easel. I could ignore my muse no longer though and had to get creative to shake off the winter chill.

That creativity involved drinking a glass of plum wine to warm me up and loosen my rusty painting skills. Skills might be a stretch but I do enjoy painting and what flows from my brush is usually appealing in some way.

Once the wine had started to make me all tingly, I got out my brushes and paints and set about adding some life to the blank sheets of watercolor paper I’d taped to canvas boards earlier. I had Pandora blasting from my computer speakers and I danced as I painted. It felt really good to express this aspect of my creativity!

Blank watercolor paper in need of life!

Blank watercolor paper in need of life!

Jazz would occasionally bring her lobster for me to throw so I’d pause in my work and play with her. I even picked up her front paws and danced with her a bit. While her tail was wagging, I don’t think she really enjoyed what her crazy mama was subjecting her to.

By the time I’d finished my three snow-inspired paintings, I’d had two glasses of wine and if my body was cold, I couldn’t feel it anymore. My paintings aren’t masterpieces worth millions of dollars but they’re pieces of me and as such, are unique, colorful and beautifully flawed.

My completed paintings.

My completed paintings.

Nature’s Artwork

I am imperfect. Everyone is. Yet every day I see commercials advertising beauty products and fitness programs to help men and women achieve perfection. Chasing dreams is one thing, striving for the impossible is ridiculous.

I have a great appreciation for nature. Nature is beautiful without even trying. The blazing sunrise, the changing leaves, the churning clouds, the glow of sunset. Beautiful without trying to be perfect. Nature just is what it is and if you don’t stop to see that, you’re missing out.

This past Monday morning started out beautiful with a pink cast to the clouds as the sun made its journey to rise over the hills. The sun shone ever so briefly before the dark clouds of the rapidly approaching cold front blocked it out. That contrast of darkness and light was stunning to behold. Nature wasn’t trying to impress me by puffing up its chest or slathering on makeup for a perfect complexion. Nature was just doing what it does.

I managed to take Jazzmin on a short walk as the front blew in and dropped the mild morning temperatures down 10 degrees. We walked into a field and to the top of the hill to get a better view of the dark clouds. I snapped a picture of Jazz with the turbulent sky as the backdrop and to my amazement, my camera phone captured the colors perfectly.

Jazzmin and the sky

Jazzmin and the sky

Later that evening after the rain had come and gone, I went out into the yard with my daughters to enjoy the last of the day. While we were outside I saw a monarch fly by and was surprised when he landed in one of my back pine trees. I’ve never seen a monarch do that before. He stayed on one branch for a long time and Jordan was nice enough to fetch my camera for me. I took several pictures of him and he stayed still until the very last one when I turned the flash on. He opened his wings just as the picture snapped and then flew higher into the tree and out of sight.

Monarch up in my pine tree

Monarch up in my pine tree

As I write this the sky is ablaze with orange, red, pink and blue. Another breathtaking autumn sunset in what has been a true season to treasure. There is just a sliver of the moon in the sky and brush strokes of clouds. Nothing compares to nature’s artwork and she always pulls it off effortlessly.