A Big Magic Kahuna with Creative Content

There have been two books I’ve read recently that deserve big recognition for their ability to express the subtleties of man living in consort with Nature and the mystery of inspiration. It’s Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear that takes the prize, however, for boldly being able to give meaning to and explain the creative process and the pathways to choose for achieving the most positive results.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert_Art Is EverywhereShe begins her book with a simple question and answer, “What is creativity? [It is] the relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.” This blog, by the way, is primarily about witnessing such inspiration and marveling in the creative process involved.

Gilbert eloquently describes the moment that one’s revelation of an idea occurs is when a person is open to receive the thought that may have been there but they were not cognizant of seeing it. Kinda like the thought of the potential for art being everywhere exists around us but it takes the perceptive individual to notice. She likens an idea to a living entity that gets its life force through a person, as if the person is the vehicle for bringing it to light. If the person is unwilling to engage the idea, not receptive or too late to act on it, then the idea goes elsewhere looking for another individual to entice. She describes an example when her idea for a book was passed to another author simply through a hug. It was not the best timing for her to commit to the idea so the idea left for another host and this other author wrote a wonderful book involving this same idea. The idea was never discussed between the writers in advance. It only came to light when Ann Patchet (the other author) was describing her new book, State of Wonder. You might think Gilbert would be incensed that her idea had been “stolen.” How would you react? Instead, she appreciated Ann Patchet’s work and was delighted that the idea finally came to light. One does not have ownership over an idea, she notes. The idea has ownership over you.

This concept makes sense when waves of ideas come and they go. They aren’t always there but when they are, it’s always magical to see many ways the idea can manifest itself.

I’m having one of these moments in a new series of artwork I’m trying to produce. The concept has been with me for a while but I’ve just now gotten the chance to fully act on it. Her book gave me the impetus I needed with the suggestion that the idea will go elsewhere if not used. Now I’m fully immersed in it; albeit, while trying to manage my business(es), which is probably my other creative idea(s) that I’ve been nurturing for the last 8+ years.

She likens living in the moment while manifesting the idea as the most magical experience, full of pure joy, of which I can attest, when it happens:

“You may know this feeling. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve made [or done] something wonderful and when you look at it later, all you can say is, “I don’t even know where that came from.” You can’t repeat it. You can’t explain it. But it felt as if you were guided…It’s the most magnificent sensation imaginable when it arrives…[maybe] not a more perfect happiness to be found in life than this state, except perhaps falling in love.”

She calls this having a genius, as the Romans did, not as we do now “being” a genius. The difference keeps the creative person’s ego in check. This is contrary to those pinned with the label of genius (i.e. Harper Lee) or the self-absorbed artist, singer (e.g. Kanye West) or actress or lawyer, politician or any person for that matter who thinks they are, unique, one-of-a kind. They can be either too scared to create again having reached a pinnacle or too frighteningly egocentric when they do. We are all creators and living life fully is in the act of doing something. I call it “finding Balance.”

She describes the paradoxes involved. The moment the idea comes and you act on it is sacred and related to divine mystery, which I agree. I often explain coincidences that happen as more than just mere coincidences. However, she warns that although you must take the work involved seriously, you cannot think it too important or let it torment you or create such disruption that the work becomes a burden, then you lose the miraculous flow. The creative idea is then affected and becomes too heavy when it needs to remain light, not necessarily easy but enough so to bring joy. Life is about creating (the process) not necessarily the results of what you create. It’s great if the result is a masterpiece or a best seller, as her book Eat Pray Love was, but the intent cannot be just for this goal. There is too much pressure and a set up for self-destined failure, which may be why Harper Lee never wrote anything after To Kill a Mockingbird. Ann Patchet’s work is so highly regarded not only because she is a wonderful writer but mainly because of her similar philosophy, “I don’t write for an audience, I don’t think whether my book will sell, I don’t sell it before I finish writing it.

Gilbert states, “in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not the audience.” I would even say and creativity should be received gratefully, giving gratitude to the Creator. She says the creative work must be the most important thing to live artistically but not matter at all in order to live sanely. Again, finding that balance, while always being grateful and enjoying the good and bad of what you do. That’s a lesson I remember my father telling me, no matter what you do in life, make sure is something you enjoy doing.” This way you can overcome hardships that will happen along the way.

Gilbert’s book is all about the creative process. How the idea forms, how one chooses or doesn’t choose to act on the inspiration and how there is work involved when you choose to act, which she humorously calls the “shit sandwich.” I don’t have a problem with this language because it is aptly named when you understand the reasoning behind it. It refers to all the frustration involved and hardships to overcome in making the idea materialize. You’re either willing to eat the shit sandwich, that no one wants or chooses to eat, or not. How badly do you want to make your idea work? There are lessons in this book for everyone to follow. Persistence, not perfection, pays off. The shit sandwich is what happens in between the bright moments of the easy flow of inspiration. There are other lessons: trust in what you love, learn from fear, be open-minded and curious, say yes to inquisitiveness and interests because they are often clues pointing you to a path that you might not fully see, stop complaining, get doing.

I chose this book for my book group as a philosophy book not as a self-help. We enjoyed discussing during our Mardi Gras celebration — enjoying life in the doing — as described in my previous post.

This was just after the previous book we read last month called Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, which is another one that I’d highly recommend. Sy Montgomery is a Naturalist who’s written a series of books that demonstrate Man’s symbiotic connection to Nature through the many experiences she has encountered. This one has to do with her observation and what we can learn from highly intelligent octopuses (not the more popular, but incorrect octopi). When reading her account, you learn how remarkable these mysterious and often feared creatures are but also how human emotions can become entangled and elevated with another type of being. As the book jacket states, her story “reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

Soul of an Octopus_Sy Montgomery_Art Is EverywhereThis is what I wrote to my book group about it. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see the connection between the two books and my delight in discovering them, coincidentally seeing how they relate to discovery and Art Is Everywhere:

I loved this book, btw and gave it a 10, which I rarely give, but it really spoke to me. I’ve been enamored with the sea and all its mysterious creatures, which is why I probably collect and paint seashells, sea life murals and have enjoyed a fresh and marine fish tank for over 20 years. Fish, surprisingly, also have personalities.

Sy Montgomery coincidentally mentions Cozumel as her first dive and likens it to something similar to visiting an alien planet right here on earth…It’s on my bucket list to go deep sea diving but until then, I’m going to go swimming with whale sharks (extra video ref). I learned about how this phenomenon came about through the Racing Extinction film (very worth watching even with some overtly political overtones). It aired in December but you may still be able to see it on the Discovery Channel?

Following suit on the philosophy take-away regarding this book about Karma and Consciousness,* I’m choosing Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. I believe it was written as a followup to her Ted Talk on Creativity that I was so impressed with that I  emailed the book group about way back. I just discovered she’s expanded it into book form. We’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love and Committed before and discussed how she can have a somewhat self-absorbing nature to her writing but even though her stories are shared from personal experience, this broad topic on creativity and inspiration may grab our group of very creative ladies both collectively and individually.

I almost chose another book, Nonesense, the Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes and will still recommend because I think it might be the perfect followup to Gilbert’s book. This one is filled with unknown facts behind veils of deception — from what you think you might know. Both books seem enlightening for living in the present.

Montgomery marries science with poetry in her descriptions of her dives along with her cultural knowledge in explaining the meaning of karma and consciousness.

The desire to change our ordinary, everyday consciousness does not seize everyone, but it’s a persistent them in human culture. Expanding the mind beyond self allows us to relive our loneliness, to connect to what Jung called universal consciousness…Plato called the animus mundi, the all-extensive world soul shared by all of life…Karma is interchanged with destiny…but the idea of karma has a deeper and more promising meaning than fate…Our karma is something over which, unlike fate, we do have control. “Volition is karma,” the Buddha is reported to have said. Karma, in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, is conscious action. Karma is not fate, but, in fact, its opposite. Karma is choice.”

In her chapter, Consciousness to think, to feel, to know, she describes the following reflection about the meaning of the Soul while attending a Tahitian church service, she “understands the power of worship, and the importance of contemplating mystery…in all our relationships, in all our deepest wonderings. We seek to fathom the soul…[The Soul] gives life meaning and purpose. The Soul is the fingerprint of God. Others say that soul is our innermost being, the thing that gives us our senses, our intelligence, our emotions, our desires, our will, our personalities, our identity. Perhaps none of this is true, [but as she sits in the pew she ponders,] I am certain of one thing…if I have a soul — and I think I do — an octopus has a soul too.

Strangely enough, she contemplates this idea (which I think has to do with connection and creativity as it takes on its own life as the title of her book) while she is transported by the pastor’s sermon to the “Gilbert Islands, where the octopus god, Na Kitka, was said to be the son of the first beings, and with his eight strong arms, shoved the islands up from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean…Immersed in mystery, my natural response, even on an expedition in the name of science, is to pray.”

Perhaps I’m more reflective with my birthday a day away, but not thinking there is really a connection to this, except that these two books brought great inspiration, in a timely and interconnected way that is beautifully mysterious. I am grateful to have read them and I can only hope their inspiration will be sustained, at least for a while.




Color a Village

What a remarkable image! Artists color a village in Mexico to bring beauty and benefit to the small town of Pachuca. Quartz appropriately describes it as “color therapy.”

Pachuca village_via  Quartz on Art Is Everywhere

Pachuca village_via Quartz

Oddly named German Crew group is responsible for this urban renewal project with its youth graffiti artists who transformed 209 residents’ homes with swaths of broad strokes of color.

The village is located in the most impoverished area of the Palmitas about 100 miles outside of Mexico City. The project hopes to bring cultural awareness and tourism to help fend off crime while engaging the community to take back their town.

This part of the project has taken six months, from the design by Mibe, a street artist from Mexico City, to the whitewashed basepaint before to the bright colorization.

Pachura before via ArtNet / German Crew on Art Is Everywhere

before via ArtNet / German Crew

Pachura colored via ArtNet / German Crew on Art Is Everywhere

Pachura colored via ArtNet / German Crew

The second phase will add figurative murals to the streets scape. It’s a beautiful work in progress — putting artists to work and adding a beneficial facial “uplift” to the town — in more ways than just cosmetic.

Just look how this Pachura town stands out now. Photo via German Crew on Art Is Everywhere

Just look how this town stands out now! Photo via German Crew

In a previous posts, you can read about how a similar town of Favela was transformed with murals and color.

When Cartoonists Come Together

Like so many around the world, I was shocked and saddened to see the brutal shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the executions of their editor, cartoonists and support staff unfold, leaving 12 dead and others critically wounded.

This French satirical magazine had it right. Their cartoons clearly define the radical Muslim faction. In fact, the cartoonists ominously called-out their fanatical behavior. These murderers brought these cartoons in which they were depicted to life. Their mistake is that the whole world now sees them for who they truly were. Even though the two brothers who carried out this attack have been killed, there are so many others with the same philosophy that they leave to carry on their hate crimes in their wake. However, I believe that this event and several other senseless massacres will ultimately spiral their downfall.

Here are the cartoons that caused the terrorists to inflict their rage. Their translations are explained via Slate.

Chalie Hebdo Cartoon on Art Is EverywhereWhat I’ve been most impressed with is the rallying cry, particularly among other cartoonists, illustrators and artists. Art became their weapon — as expressive response. They didn’t lay down their pens. Instead, they’ve fearlessly have come together to bring clarity to this madness and to prove that the power of the pen and freedom will endure. Just look at the number of tweets that these have been shared (prior to this posting). With social media and blogs, these messages will be a virus that will hopefully kill any support for these terrorists.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 1 on Art Is Everywhere

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 5 on Art Is Everywhere

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 3 on Art Is EverywhereCharlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 4 on Art Is EverywhereThe French most certainly can relate to this image of their beloved Liberté.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 6 on Art Is EverywhereJust as we can relate to this image of the Twin Towers recalling our 9-11 attack.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 5 on Art Is EverywhereCartoonists are a rare breed because they have to find the essence in their message to depict it with such simplicity and meaning. Knowing this and how hard it is to render a cartoon, especially when so fraught with emotion, this one below by Lucille Clerc is one of my favorites: taking something that is broken, sharpening it to a point — to bring it life again. This is art! The terrorists on the other hand, are not this clever or brilliant.

Charlie Hebdo cartoon reaction 7 on Art Is EverywhereSources:  Buzzfeed – 23 Heartbreaking Cartoons from Artists in Response, Daily Mail UK and ABC World News Tonight








Exploiting Eyeballs!

Any article that describes misuse of an artist’s artwork gets my attention, as much as one about an artist who plagiarized his source (previous post on Shepard Fairey).

Evidently, this time it is the company American Eagle company that has clearly used the Miami street artist David Anasagasti’s, known as, Ahol Sniffs Glue, graffiti-style “eyeball artwork” for their latest ‘Street Beach’ ad campaign — but without giving him credit. Not good. On top of which, they imply he endorses their use by featuring a spray-can toting artist with the artwork that could indicate the artist’s approval. Only thing is their ‘idea of a graffiti artist’ is not even close to what he really looks like.

Huffington Post_Ahol's Street Art used

All pictures via Huffington Post

Ahol Snifs Glue photo via Culture Designers

Ahol Snifs Glue photo vi aCulture Designers

You can read more about the artist on this Culture Designers post.

American Eagle didn’t go lightly with the use either. They’ve just about plastered his Eyeball artwork everywhere they could think to do so for exploitation and benefiting their own products.  These pictures below from the Huffington Post show many of the examples used in the court case against American Eagle.

https://www.ashley-spencer.com/ArtIsEverywhere/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Huffington-Post_AMERICAN-EAGLE-AHOL-SNIFFS-GLUE-images.jpgThese pictures below were from the premier party during the Street Beach launch and also as a part of the court case against American Eagle. In fact, American Eagle actually hired other artists to recreate the Eyeball artwork for the event and branded it as their own. This is the worst — not only not asking permission but blatantly stealing.

Huffington Post_Street Art case pics

I’m not one for liking all graffiti or street-style art but I like Ahol Sniffs Glue’s Eyeballs. They are iconographic to his work and style. He is one of Miami’s more popular muralists, well-known for his work.  He has sued the American Eagle company and I hope he wins. They could have simply just asked and compensated him for the use of his artwork. They probably could have gotten even better ads from exhibiting this common courtesy.

You can read more of the Huffington Post story here. Be sure to scroll down the page on the link to see other pictures of Miami’s street art. Until we find out how this case is decided, enjoy some of Ahol’s Eyeballs.

Ahols Eyeballs_via dogslobber on Flickr

via dogslobber on Flickr

Interesting note about the above picture that I found on dogslobber’s Flickr page is that there is one comment that mentions that the artist has a “has a piece in nola [New Orleans] across from dat dog on Magazine street.” How about that, I now have another thing to scout out when I’m back home next.

The pictures below are from Smitten Studio by Sarah Sherman Samuel, who is a creative director and designer herself. She not only has some fabulous photos of more murals located in the Wynwood art district of Miami but she has a very cool product line that I discovered of artisanal goods from her Sunny Afternoon company, worth checking out. (I love when fortuitous happenstance happens through just simple search and discovery.) *

Ahol Eyeballs closeup by Saarah Sherman Samuel


After I saw her post on a lace tunic top that she recently bought as a beach cover up at Chico’s (my mother’s favorite store), I’m looking into getting it for our upcoming beach vacation. What a great find! beach-tunic-smittenstudio4

Thinking Globally by Limitation

This post was set to draft and never posted last week – so it is now the post for this week…After my last post regarding collaboration of collective art media and initiatives that generate positive public art, I was inspired to think more holistically in my blogging approach. It is not the quantity, well sometimes it is in the blogosphere where it can be only about the SEO rankings, but the quality of posts generated. After reaching over 500 posts — this is my 512th — I’ve decided to cut back to one post a week. I realize this is bucking the trend of posting more not less but time, mental health, my other business and my family are all more important. It takes quite a chunk of time to write blog posts and I’ve been doing this since 2008, so no fly-by-night here, but with more things needing my attention, there is just so much time to be able to spread my self any thinner. I had thought about ending this blog altogether, although, I have always received enjoyment from writing it, in particular due to the discovery of all the new things out there each day. I would never be able to post all of the 60 pages of 12 entries on each that I’ve collected to write about over the years. Some of them, although interesting, are out of date, needless to say.

This is the end of the month and start of a new fall season so it seems an appropriate time to switch my posts to Wednesday’s Once a Week. I’ll still keep reporting on all of the same topics, Murals and Kick Starting the Weekend won’t go away but they will share the post time and will most certainly alternate with other subjects. That is what this blog is about — many subjects with Art being Everywhere.

On this note, I saw this texturized painting, which reminds me of of a sculpture, called “hope” by Segun Aiyesan and thought about the past meeting present and it seemed to sum up my state of mind. Blogging has been an education – always reflecting on what has come before in relation to what is new and there is joyfulness within the search, correlation and discovery. I thought this interview on Next with the artist was quite interesting to learn that he was self taught, coming from an engineering background and to learn about his creative process and what inspires and drives him to create art. Learning about this from other artist’s perspectives gives introspective insight that is always enlightening and often inspirational to me.

Segun-Aiyesan.StreamServer via Next, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Segun Aiysean's sculpture

michelangelo-creation-of-man as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Michelangelo's Creation of Man

You see the reference right? On a humorous note, I’ve been saving this mural below and can’t resist posting now….and how cyclical it is. This mural, a spoof on God’s Gift to Woman, is by Studio Vertu, as described here on The Huffington Post, and painted in Cincinnati (see last post, where this one started).

1_Clooney-mural_StudioVertu_as seen on Art Is Everywhere

George Clooney as God's Gift to Woman painted by Studio Vertu in Cincinnati

Now you know what is weird about this trail, is it leads me really full circle, back to my decorative art business.  I’ve been following this group for their Fresco Wall™ technology, where a mural can be commissioned and ordered as a portable fresco to install — either permanently or with Velco®. This has been interesting to me ever since I first learned about it over a year ago in my Faux Finisher magazine, which has since stopped publishing. I’ve been following because it generalizes the same concept of my decorative painting being transferred to a wallcovering substrate that is independent of the wall and in my case, removable and reusable, Casart coverings. We’ve gone one step further in being able to also customize the work.

I can’t leave this without sharing  recommended readings for the following: 1) Blogging is Big Business (2008 / WTAE.com) — where the state of blogging started (when I began) to although not saying goodbye yet but cutting back, and Saying Goodbye (ArtTalk – Chicago, 2009), which states some great parting sentiments regarding art reviews from writer Kathryn Born – well worth reading.

Finally what you’ve all been waiting for, a little music to Kick Start Your Weekend (and in this case, your week, as this is posting late ) — a collective One Love by Bob Marly by various artist around the world through the effort Playing for Change.

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