The stuff hope is made of

graffiti quote

Often it is at the most unexpected of places, in the most unexpected of moments that inspiration grabs hold of us and renders us just a bit… well, speechless … if even for just the slightest of seconds.

You see, directly across from the American Tobacco Historic District in Downtown Durham,  under what I believe is the Durham Freeway, is this makeshift sort of parking lot . You know the type: your everyday cement-slabbed-over-run-with-gravel-and-last-nights-beer-bottles sort of corner that really doesn’t strike one as anything but ordinary. In fact, ordinary is being kind – most people wouldn’t see a speck of beauty amidst the rubble.

I am sure you know the drill: as we parked the car my head was buried within my purse, gathering my essentials, prepping my camera bag, checking my phone for messages .. just lost in the boring, everday mundane details we let consume our time. Imagine my delight when I broke from that awful normal .. and looked up to discover that quote.

I stopped.

I inhaled, deeply.

I stared. Mesmerized.

I took it all in.

That perfectly imperfect, hand written, drippy, inked up blob… I found it to be an absolutely beautiful sort of mess. I found the words beautiful, the penmanship beautiful, I found the act of whomever took the time to create it there… well, beautiful. It made that dreary space.. you guessed it.. beautiful.

Here’s a close-up:

graffiti

  “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” -Che Guevara

I have always loved how words guide me.. how they ever-so-gracefully float around within my busy head and resonate deep inside of me. They give me this new sort of sight – that day in particular – because of that particular beauty – I began seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary prominently – the glorious patterns and rustic colors of the vines along the cracked pavement.. the ray of sunlight illuminating the tiniest of weeds poking through the gravel… that sight .. is nothing short of magical.

Truly, it is just that … m a g i c a l. It is the sort of thing hope is built upon.

It is the sort of thing that doesn’t cost a dime.

That perspective, that gratitude and appreciation for what we have, what is there, what surrounds us… is what I believe to be the backbone of not only creativity, but happiness.

Wow. 

Powerful.

Each of us has oh-so-many blessings and regardless of where we may be at any given moment in our lives,  beauty, inspiration and metaphors surround us.. they are plentiful… we can find and even create it in the most unexpected of places… the trick is to not get so wrapped up in the mundane details that we are blinded to it.

Where have you found your unexpected inspirations?

Chrysti

49 Dreamy Examples Of Expired Film Love

This post has MOVED to my new blog!

You can find it by clicking below:

http://alwayschrysti.com/always-chrysti/2009/11/13/49-dreamy-examples-of-expired-film-love.html

List Love: Things I Heart

:: heart  -barely hanging on ::

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.” – Michael Nolan

  • Loving that one of my favorite authors (Richard Paul Evans) is giving away his best-selling book: The Christmas Box.
  • Speaking of giveaways: Jeff Hutton is giving away his polaroids. Totally cool idea. I signed up. Will you?
  • I ♥ ingenuity, especially when it is as clever as it is attractive. Sheep sculptures, created from rotary telephones.
  • In love with Jaylen Arnold. An inspiring boy with the same disorder I have: Tourettes Syndrome. He has set out to end bullying; I think he just may be able to do it. I ♥ possibility.
  • On the causes I believe in topic, is always Bernie Berlin and  & A Place to Bark. She’s secretly an angel I think. So many lives saved.
  • I’ve been bit by wanderlust. Loving the galleries I have been creating of places I want to see. Jekyll Island, Jackson Hole, Driftwood Beach, Mackinack Island, & Cinque Terre, Italy are amoung them.
  • A big ol’ ♥ for my renewed interest in couponing. Seriously have saved a few hundred bucks this month & gotten more free than I have paid for. Much needed blessing.
  • Love women empowering women. Especially where weight is concerned.
  • Head-over-6-inch-stiletto-heels in love with a new-to-moi artist, Andrea Joseph. Divine illustrations. Talent, talent, talent.
  • Clever, oh so clever. Astonishing face figures made out of clothes.
  • I  ♥ the connections the internet can bring. Flickr brought someone who knew, and remembers my Pap & his bar. Touched me deeply, a nice reminder that he lives on and touched many lives.
  • Sooo love lists. Love the Listology books. Go. Buy. Now.
  • Movies? Phoebe In Wonderland was a close mirror of my childhood.
  • Loving that folks are appreciating my mega sale. So very, very grateful too.
  • Always ♥ quotes. Here & here & here are good places to find some. This is a fabulous book full of inspiring ones.
  • Photo editing: CoffeeShop has pro quality freebies. Gotta double ♥ that.
  • Latest coffee drink vice: Coolbrew. d-e-l-i-c-o-u-s.

Just thought I’d quickly share a few of the many things I ♥ recently. Read my love list  if you haven’t already. I ♥ that too.

What are you hearting these days?

Chrysti

{Echo} Week 2- Decorate Roundup

 

Bookshelf

Photo Credit: ©chotda

 “I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” – Anna Quindlen

I find it so amazingly F A S C I NA T I N G  that there are so many varied interpretations of a simple, single word: decorate. To decorate for a holiday, decorated with medals, decorating with nature, decorating ones self .. it is like this never-ending well of inspiration, meaning and insight. It is a testament to both creativity and individuality.  THAT is precisely why I am loving this project so damn  darn much. if you missed the new prompt & diptychs gander over here  for a refresher.

 “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid”  Frank Zappa

 I have been steadily adding new participants to the Week 1 – emerge  roundup– be sure to stop by and visit the new entries.  Have an emerge entry to share? Let me know over there and I will add you to the list as well :)

In the meantime, here are the awesome folks who jumped right into Echo – Week 2: Decorate!

If  I have inadvertently forgotten you, or you choose to join in (yay!) … please let me know in the comments section and I will update the list .. it is wonderful discovering  the unique visions y’all have in this beautiful life, I can’t get enough of it.

Susan & I have also started a Flickr group for Echo – we’d love for you to join us there. Need/want a partner?  Join the Flickr group and post here! It is my sincere wish that it shall be the start of some fabulous collaborations and friendships for y’all.

I am off to decorate my closets – (and yes! putting away laundry should totally count.)

It’s all about perspective.

Chrysti

P.S.  A gentle reminder that you can decorate your home with my artography & mixed media prints (and originals!) at a fraction of the price during my moving sale.. once it is gone.. it’s well.. gone. What a ridiculous saying eh?

Am I good enough?

sm-cah-the_gift-closeup3-Image5

Each & every damn darn time I complete an article I get a sudden case of the dreaded ‘amigoodenoughs’. Let me reiterate:

Every.      Single.      Time.

My brain works overtime into this ri.dic.u.lous. sort of insane frenzy…  Am I good enough? Is it innovative enough? Is it clear enough? Did I forget something? Is there something new for people to learn? Is it supportive? Is it pretty? Am I sure I am done? Should I have added another piece? Did I proofread it well enough? Is it original and creative?  Is it at all inspiring? Can anyone do this? Is it too bizarre? Is it too common? Are the color palettes pleasing?  Are the pieces balanced? What will people get from it? Did I stretch my wings? Will the editors like it? Will it fit the issue they have in mind? What if it doesn’t? What if all the work was for nothing? OMG maybe I should start over. This isn’t good at all. This is the worst piece I have written. How boring am I? Am I good enough? … and it begins all over again. You know, that vicious circle thing.

Nothing is guaranteed. You may write a perfectly pleasing piece – it could be the nobel prize of art – and it just may get cut because it doesn’t fit. Granted, this has never  yet to happen to me – but I still worry it will. Financially, I have to place the majority of my time (or keep learning to) in things that I will profit from. I need to make a living.. and while rejection doesn’t bother me (much).. the idea of having wasted my time… THAT really friggin’ gets to me. Scares me. Scares the living bejesus outta me.. which triggers all the normal anxieties any one of us may have… and triggers my mood swings. Yikes. 

Earlier this year, was the first time I dropped the ball on an article. (i am still so, so, very sorry pokey) Mentally? I was in a bad, bad place. Physically? Not so good either. I was overwhelmed by life – overwhelmed by pain – overwhelmed with work – overwhelmed with home – you get the idea…  and when I couldn’t complete the task at hand, I beat myself up for it. I still do. It has and will always bother me.. that from time to time, this disease gets the best of me. I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl. Ya know? Things hit rock bottom for me this year… and I picked myself up. I have spent the year focused on getting that proverbial ‘all’ under control, while battling some life changes that would make a normal person crazy.

Still with me? I really do have a point here, I promise!

So I stopped writing, I didn’t commit to very much. I have found strength I forgot I had. I started over again, and began writing once more. When I completed my latest article, (which you should hopefully see in Somerset Studio next spring .. hello part deux) I was actually a bit surprised that my brain went right back to that way-too-friggin-rambly-insecure-mess you saw above. Talk about frustrating. Like a trooper though, I packed it up – shipped it out and hoped for the best. It is a good article, I think. Yet — is it good enough? I really get the most from inspiring someone to do something that they didn’t believe they could — I guess, like any of us… I want to know I contribute, that I have value – and that maybe, just maybe… someone else will gain something from that ‘thing’ I so loooove to do.

When the nasty lil thoughts hit me, I remembered something – a letter I received after my first article with Cloth, Paper, Scissors. It wasn’t the normal, ooo i like it… it wasn’t from someone I knew complimenting me… this was a stranger, who tracked me down.. and sent me the most touching note I have ever received about my writing. It made me cry. She gave me permission to share it years ago, and I hadn’t… but I think today I will. I would never post a private letter without permission.

I know this post is long. I know you may be sick of reading, I am asking that you continue doing sopretty please?

Chrysti,

I wanted to write to let you know how much your article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors has helped my 30 year old daughter.  She suffered an episode very similar to a stroke after the birth of her 3rd child last year and had to have surgery on her brain.  She has limited use of her right side and her speech is slowly coming back.  I have been trying to get her to play with some form of art or another (I am a cloth doll maker and jill of some trades) to help her heal and when I read your article I knew that I could get her to try her hand with this.  Her brain injury occurred on her left side and I knew that if I could show her how much fun she could have just trying some of the techniques she would find the confidence to try even more artistic endeavors.  One thing that we have been told is that the right side of the brain can compensate inadequacies (sp?) that happen to the injured left side and I knew that this was an art form that she would be able to do.

 She was a hair stylist by trade and color was her specialty yet she never felt that she was “artistic”.  Today she tried the first three steps in making a “Skinny Book” and even applied these techniques to some watercolor paper postcards.  We have taken a break until next weekend to let things dry.  I truly want to thank you for the great article with steps that made her feel like there are “no mistakes”.  She is her own worst critic and with limitations put on her now her self confidence and self esteem has been waning.  It was so fabulous to see her eyes light up as each new layer of play was completed. 

Biggest of hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

I of course, replied.. through tears.. the follow up note from her read as so…

Dearest Chrysti,

Thank you so much for writing and by all means share my note with anyone and everyone that you would like to.  You have a gift, my girl, and you were correct in saying that being “different” is one of your blessings.  Know that you touch more lives daily by creating the works that you do. 

When Morana first had her AVM episode they told us not to expect her to live.  A mother’s worst nightmare, I can assure you.  The blessings bestowed on us were many and we continue to be blessed in her healing process.  One of the many has been how you and your art have touched our lives.

When Morana was growing up she considered the art that I did daily just “something” her mom did.  When she was a little girl she drew daily but after a bad experience in school where they made her conform to what “they wanted” her to create she quit drawing, doing so only when assigned.

With this injury being on the left side of her brain I knew that if I could show her that there were no rules I could stir the right side of her brain to react positively.  I have always believed that art has healing qualities and I can already see this in her attitude and outlook about her life in general. 

Your article for Cloth Paper Scissors was just what we both needed to begin the baby steps in her art therapy.  I will be sending some pics next weekend to show you our progress. 

I will also be sharing with Cloth Paper Scissors what your article has stirred in our lives.  As “great” as it is to get “published” they (CPS) were the lucky ones in having you do such a wonderful article for them.

Biggest hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

See, this was my long-winded way of reminding you that despite our deepest reservations, despite our inner critics, despite what has seemingly become routine to us — through the good times, and the worst of times … we touch people. Our lives are all somehow connected, and each of us – has impacted someone in ways we may never know. In ways bigger than us.

Just by being who we are.

Just by sharing what we know.

So, goodbye, for now my-woefully-annoying-lil-insecurities .. I am reminded and trust that everything happens for a reason… once again. How many times will I learn this lesson in my lifetime? And Kimber? Thank you, for still being such an inspiration to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Chrysti

Day 3/29 Days of Giving is…

… would you like knowing you can double the odds of winning today?

ooo, i have your interest now don’t i? ….

…. but we’ll get to that later

right now i’m simply elated one of my favorite people is our guest today….

… so pull up a chair and sit a spell

afterall we’re nothing but  friends here ….

…. whenever i hear people refer to Bette Midler

instantly i think ‘the divine miss m’ ….

… whenever i hear the name of our special guest today

my lil’ mind takes me along those same lines….

though, i tend to think of the delightful vs. the divine …

but divine is ever-s0-fitting as well…

… i suppose it would sound better if i added her name there

rather than making you read these rather silly lines…

… how about a clue?

let me get my very best announcer voice on….

.. *cough*

Ladies, and probably under a handful of gentlemen …

… why aren’t more male readers here anyway?

sheesh! me & my tangents…

FINE i’ll get on with it already

I proudly present you with :

tuttleheadshot600

The Delightful, The Divine, The Talented –  Susan Tuttle!
( admit it, you’re now saying it in your mind, and possibly aloud in your best ringmaster voice too)

As many of you know, I won’t promote something I don’t believe in – not people, not books, not products.  Is it professionally wise? I dunno. Do people always like it? Nope. But it just  feels right and resonates deep down inside of me… at the end of the day – isn’t that what matters?  I simply just try to do whats right by me, by others, by the world. I don’t always accomplish it — but i strive to.  The older I become, the more important living an authentic,  genuine life is to me. A wise woman once told me that having the courage to be genuine – to be true to who you are – who you really are – is one of those mythical, magical keys to a happy and fulfilled life. I like happy. Happy is good. 

Anyway….I digress.

I could probably spend this entire post gushing over Susan; and admittedly I’d enjoy making her blush (but just a lil)… I was fortunate to spend time with her at the ZNE convenZioNE last August (where we were both instructing, and i dragged her on just a few *cough* starbucks runs) …  within minutes of meeting her I felt as if I’ve known her for years and years. I’m always that squirmy-kind-of-awkward when I first meet folks, but Susan is just.. well.. so damn darn open and authentic… i was instantly at ease. Not often that happens to me. Nope, not often at all. She’s one of those special folks – that know just how to touch your heart, and your life – merely by being who she is.

That is exactly why I am so pleased that she agreed to a short interview with us… where we discuss her new book, her vices.. and I shamelessly try to snag a piece of her original art. I think we’d all agree, her voice will be far more enjoyable to you than mine… so without further adieu… let me introduce you to the book, then on with the show as they say…

 Exhibition 36

 Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations
by Susan Tuttle

 Within the pages of Exhibition 36, readers will enter a virtual art exhibit featuring thirty-six mixed-media artists whose collage, digital, assemblage, altered and repurposed art adorn the walls and pedestals of this unique gallery. The artists are “present” throughout the exhibit, answering questions, sharing their thoughts, talking about their work and offering instruction. The tour is structured to provide insight into the creative process of the artists whose work is on display and the reader will be delighted with the plethora of inspiration, articles, techniques and general visual candy. As a final bonus, many artists featured in the book have contributed imagery as a gift to readers for attending the exhibit to reuse in their own creations. Possesses great crossover appeal for mixed-media artists of nearly every discipline, including jewelry makers, collage artists and more.

Readers will enter a “virtual tour” featuring art from a variety of contributing artists, including well-known crafters such as Claudine Hellmuth (Collage Discovery Workshop) and Suzanne Simanaitis (Kaleidoscope).Includes bonus collage imagery sheets for readers to use in their own art.

Gosh.. the day this came? I was not only bubbling over with joy for a friend, but so moved by her words that i jumped right between the gorgeous covers and a few days later re-emerged and reviewed it over at Amazon — I’ll let you see my personal thoughts on the book there… so we can move right along and have a delightful conversation with the divine Susan Tuttle now.

( um yeah, questions are mine … the answers?.. you guessed it.. Susan’s

Let’s just knock out the standard question first,(though common)- inquiring minds still want to know – what inspired you to take this approach to a book? What was your initial vision, and did it change as it came together?

My initial vision was to create a book that featured a large number of artists and their work, a variety of mediums and styles, flat work, 2-D and 3-D pieces, men and women alike — basically something for everyone. I struggled at first in trying to figure out what the premise of the book would be and how it would all come together in a unified way. I believe if we put our questions out there into the Universe, the answers always have a way of finding us, so I asked for help with the book. I woke up one morning, eyes opening slowly, looking out my window at a sunlit field — my answer came to me with such clarity, and in such a peaceful way. The answer had been with me all along actually, and from that moment on I knew the book was meant to be a virtual art exhibit — my dream art show, constructed from within the confines of my little home in the Maine woods.
 
You see, I grew up in a rural part of New Jersey but made frequent trips to New York City, and later settled down in Boston for many years. In the city, cultural life was right at my fingertips. My book is my attempt to re-create this kind of cultural mecca that is not as accessible to me in this remote, beautiful part of the country. This book would not have been possible without my access to the Internet and the variety of artists that I have made connections with through that venue.

Once I had this vision in place, it did not veer from the initial course, and I believe it went the way that it was meant to. In fact, sometimes I felt like the book was writing itself. Not to say that I didn’t work my arse off, but that things unfolded naturally. When it came time to divide the contributions into chapters, the chapter headings came to me with an unusual ease and the contributions miraculously divided themselves amongst the chapters in a very balanced way — true serendipity!  And I would be remiss if I did not give high praise and credit to my editor, Tonia Davenport, who gave me an incredible amount of creative freedom to realize my vision.

I fell in love with the diversity of art, contributors and styles within your book. How did interacting and collaborating with all these talented folks affect you?

 First and foremost I felt incredibly privileged to have been able to collaborate with all of the wonderful artists in the book. I felt extreme joy on many occasions and I felt blessed by the generosity of these artists as they shared their techniques and heartfelt, personal stories with me and all of us.

From a technical perspective, my organizational skills were put to the test as you can well imagine, with managing a total of 35 contributions in addition to doing my own artwork and writing. I also got to exercise editing skills and learned a lot about editing another person’s writing, while at the same time maintaining their unique voice. 

It is rumored you have a sugar addiction while creating – is this true? What is your vice?

Ah yes, this is indeed true! My great-grandmother, whom I called Nana, owned a candy store, so having a sweet tooth definitely runs in the family. My vices tend to have a combination of sweet and tart flavors (Sweet Tarts, Sprees, Sour Patch Kids, Nerds, Pop Rocks and gummy bears). I can get a little bit more sophisticated though — lol — good chocolate is high on my list! I am also an icing lover — on cakes, cupcakes and cookies — the more gloppy, the better.

With so many mixed-media books out there right now – what sets yours apart? What do you hope people will take from Exhibition 36?

 I don’t know if there is necessarily anything that sets it apart from other mixed-media books, but the one thing I can say is that the book contains a plethora of artists, styles, mediums and techniques — I think that there is something for everyone. It was important to me that this book not just be a technique-based book, but that it would also include a more personal focus on the lives and artistic processes of the contributors. As I stated in the preface, it is my hope that the reader will find something within the pages that rings true for them — if I have done that, then I have done my job.

 You’ve been slaving for years on your book. Your advanced copy FINALLY arrives…. Did you scream? Call a loved one? Refresh Amazon 100x times a day to see how many sales? What was your first reaction?

Funny you should ask. It was Monday, Columbus Day, and I walked through the door of my house after being out for most of the day at an installation art exhibit. The kids were tired and hungry and falling apart at the seams, supportive hubby was cooking, and let’s just say, he needed a little help witheverything (as would I if the shoe were on the other foot). I saw a brown box on the floor, that looked about the size of my book, which I had been waiting for with fervent eagerness… only, the box was being used as a kind of base for one of the kid’s games — in fact, my son was jumping on it.  I rescued it immediately and looked at the address — from my publisher!  I actually had to put the package aside though, and help with the evening routine, before I could open it… but when I did, it was quite surreal! I sat down that night in front of the woodstove with a glass of red wine in hand and poured over the pages (not the wine… you know what I mean).  Although I was very excited, the book felt like a familiar friend to me — after all, I knew every last word like the back of my hand and had seen initial drafts. But most of all I felt grateful to the blessed people who made it possible and I felt quite peaceful, actually, knowing that I had fulfilled something I was meant to do in this lifetime.

Many of the talented contributors in the book really opened up to you, revealed their secrets, and shared glimpses of their soul. The ‘sitting-on-a porch-talking-with-an-old-friend’ feeling really shines through within these projects, stories and creative prompts. How does art play a prominent role in your personal life?

The first word that comes to mind is vital. I must create in order to feel whole and complete, and alive. The act of creating replenishes me, gives me new energy, and fills me up so that I have more to give back to myself, my family, friends and things I deem important. For me, the act of creating is about seeking truths and revealings. Often I don’t know what I am meant to learn until much later. I also find the process to be circular, where life becomes art during the creative process, and because I am left forever changed by the process, the art feeds back into my life.

In the book, you mention how music goes hand in hand with your creative process; what are some of your favorite songs at the moment?

Let’s take a peek at the ‘ol playlist — ah, some favorites:

  • Hymn 101 by Joe Pug
  • Radio Ballet by Eluvium
  • The Swell Season by Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
  • Saeglopur by Sigur Ros
  • Window by Guster
  • They by Jem
  • Lament by Balmorhea

I’m totally stealing a question you asked Claudine Hellmuth in Exhibition 36: tell us something most people do not know about you!

How about a few, ’cause I don’t know which to pick:
– I played my flute in Carnegie Hall
– I make miniatures with a haunted theme, and have a spooky dollhouse to put them in.
– I get little chills and cry easily when I witness things I think are beautiful.

Don’t you want to give me the piece shown on page 41 – ‘a bit goth’?  Granted, I could follow the instructions you gave us to make my own, but I must have that one! So, should I expect to see it in my mailbox anytime soon?

 Sure Chrysti, you can have it, no prob, right along with my first born and my wedding ring! – lol! oh, and I’ll also throw in the deed to my house! Now how’s that for an answer!?

I knew Susan was kind, but wow — how’s that for generous? Readers –you’re my witnesses – you heard her too right? – though my sarcasm scanner is going off the charts…  

Has anyone NOT figured out today’s fabulous giveaway yet? No, it’s not the painting I’m referring to… But a copy of her oh-so-incredibly-inspiring-you’ll-jump-in-the-studio-the-moment-your-hands-touch-it-book: Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations + Explorations!

Ok lovely ladies and probably less than a handful of gentlemen – to enter today’s giveaway:

  • Leave a comment on this post, answering Susan’s question for you : How does art play a prominent role in your personal life?” and/or my question “Shouldn’t Susan give me her Original painting I mentioned?” or if you don’t want in the middle of that battle –admit you really did use the ringmaster voice. C’mon.
  • Do this by: Tuesday, December 9th. Winner will be announced then!
  • Double your chances of winning a copy! Susan’s giving away another copy at her blog as well – quick – go enter!

If you haven’t already be sure to enter the other giveaways here too! Day 1 is here, Day 2 is here, and a chance for a $100.00 Gift Certificate to my new site as well as a chance of your wish being granted go here… be sure to follow the instructions for that giveaway, and post a comment on each particular day to be eligible!

Whew! Enough of my babbling for a day eh?

Chrysti — who has a few wishes to go try and grant..

 

Recycled Sweater Fun – 100+ Ways to reuse your old sweaters!

This post has MOVED to my new blog!

Hundreds of juicy links await you there, go visit!

http://alwayschrysti.com/always-chrysti/2008/11/18/100-ways-to-reuse-your-old-sweaters.html

Thank you,

Christy