Doodle Flowers: Show Me Your Art

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. –Twyla Tharp

I’ve mentioned–on numerous occasions–I’m not an artist, but I’ve been playing around with my few art supplies lately, enjoying the feel of ink and colored pencils on the pages of a hardly used sketch journal tossed out by a friend.

This summer has not been the easy, relaxed summer I need, so I have been doodling as part of my morning meditation and at other times when I feel overwhelmed. It has been a pleasant way to take a “time out” from the demands on my time.

This isn’t art for show, really. I do it for myself–encouraged by the wonderful artists I’ve met through blogging, like Deb Breton, Sheila Delgado, and Holly M. In fact, I did not intend to share today. However, Laurie of Color Poems requested that I share–in response to my comment that I doodled flowers similar to her “scribble flowers.” I must oblige, of course!

So, here are my [original] doodle flowers.

I really wanted to watercolor the background, but since I can find neither my watercolor paper nor pencils, I just doodled them in the sketchpad. I used a couple of apps to add background and brighten the colors. The result is the first image in the post.

How about you? Do you ever draw or color while meditating? Or to relieve stress?  I’d love to see your work!  Share something on your blog and share the link in the comments. Pretty please.

Be sure to take a time out with some ink or paint or crayons this week.

Good Vibes | Music, Hope, and Monochrome Mayhem

I always want to talk about important subjects, but with hope. Music is supposed to heal people. — Fatoumata Diawara

At the beginning of the year, I thought I’d focus on developing my monochrome photography skills, but life got in the way. Before I pressed pause on that venture, though, I was able to coordinate and complete two “Monthly Monochrome Mayhem” swaps in the “A Thousand Words” group on swap-bot.

Through the swaps, I made another photographer friend, Betty H., from the United Kingdom. She does a lot of concert photography, so she shared photos from a show at Birmingham Town Hall that featured Fatoumata Diawara and Staff Benda Bilili, singers from the continent of Africa.

Diawara is a Malian singer-song writer and actor whose music:

draws elements of jazz and funk into an exquisitely sparse contemporary folk sound – refracting the rocking rhythms and plaintive melodies of her ancestral Wassoulou tradition through an instinctive pop sensibility. At the centre of the music is Fatou’s warm, affecting voice, spare, rhythmical guitar playing and gorgeously melodic songs that draw powerfully on her own often troubled experience.  –from Fatoumata Diawara’s Facebook Page.

Diawara opened for Staff Benda Bilili, a group of disabled street musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The group consists of:

Four senior singer/guitarists sitting on spectacularly customized tricycles, occasionally dancing on the floor of the stage, arms raised in joyful supplication, are the core of the band, backed by a younger, all-acoustic, rhythm section pounding out tight beats. Over the top of this are weird, infectious guitar-like solos performed by a [young] prodigy on a one-string electric lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can. –from Staff Benda Bilili’s Facebook Page

The name of the group translates roughly to “see beyond [appearances].”

Betty says the musicians were “a joy to photograph.” I can tell! There’s so much energy in the photos that I can feel the good vibes.

The spark is even more apparent in the original color photos.

Aren’t the photos spectacular? Betty confessed that she frequently converts concert photographs to monochrome because “working around the choices of the lighting technicians” can be challenging. I see her point, but I love the mysterious aura of the color photos too.

Indie Week’s interview of Fatoumata Diawara outlines her philosophies of music and life. And if you have never heard this soulful singer, please take a listen to Fatou, her debut album.

And then, turn to the rhythmic fusion of soukous (influenced by rumba), rhythm and blues, and reggae found in the music of Staff Benda Bilili.

As Diawara points out, there’s a lot of difficulty in life. There’s also hope, joy, and laughter, which make the tough stuff bearable. I feel all of this in the music of Staff Benda Bilili and Fatoumata Diawara. Don’t you?

Until next time…

An Art Statement: Making a Mess, Restoring Order

As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.  –Calvin, Calvin and HobbesBill Watterson

I spent most of today sitting at my window in silence, untangling thoughts, and fighting icky feelings that were trying to take root. I needed to press pause on my ruminations, so–inspired by my many artist pals–I decided to pull out my long-neglected paint and brushes and make a mess.

Three postcard-sized pieces of “art” later, the ickiness kicked rocks. The works have two things in common–purple as a base color and “lack o’ skill.” I’m sharing them with you anyway because creating a masterpiece was not the point. Besides, my two biggest fans–my guys–like them and they encouraged me to post here on the blog.

Art is certainly not my forte, but I like Calvin’s artist statement [above], so I’ll claim it as my own. 🙂 Perhaps, I’ll add words [and/or photos] and send them out into the world.

If you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, pull out your paint or markers and make a mess. It’s amazing how order is restored through the creative chaos. It’s this reality that most likely prompted someone to substitute art for the word “music” in Berthold Auerbach’s quote and attribute it to Pablo Picasso: Music  “[Art] washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Be sure to make a healthy mess this week!

The Wind of Change

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
–Socrates, character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman, 1980–

About the Image: My Love Notes pal and literary twin, Bianca, sent the postcard above for International Women’s Day. I admired the postcard on Instagram, but had no idea it was winging its way to me. It fits perfectly with the Words and Art series. The purple, happy naturalista dance for me!

Sunflowers and Connection

I participated in the latest round of Love Notes and made a new penfriend!

Peggy L, my partner for Love Notes 27, is a retired nurse who’s finding her way to other “identities” and embracing the artist within. Her messages were sweet and cheerful and I looked forward to retrieving each from my post office box each week.

In response to the first prompt, “I invite you to…,” Peggy wrote:

I invite you to believe that we are all connected and that we can and will change the world together. I invite you to join me in a peace army, a joy tribe, a group of women who KNOW that we are the answer we have been waiting for!

Isn’t this beautiful? It fits perfectly with the woman-empowered inspiration of my Women’s History Month posts. Also, thanks to this note, I finally figured out what to do with the beautiful love notes and messages I receive. Instead of keeping them in a box or album, I’m making them a part of my journaling. Yay!

I’ll be sharing Peggy’s responses to the prompts this week along with images that feature a couple of favorites we have in common–sunflowers and purple!


About today’s image: I spotted surprise sunflowers dancing in the wind while returning from an errand on campus. They were part of a giant bouquet placed near the entry to one of the dormitories. It was a happy find!

The person who placed the bouquet happened by and chatted with me while I photographed the sunflowers. She was torn. She wanted to take the flowers to her room, but felt it would be selfish. I assured her that since the flowers were given to her (instead of being tossed at the end of an event), she was not being selfish. I invited her to enjoy the flowers for herself! 🙂 Besides, cut flowers last longer indoors than outdoors.

Meet My Student Bloggers | If You Build It, Will They Come?

Image by Sophie Janotta from Pixabay

I submitted final grades today [yay!], but I cannot let the semester go until I fulfill my promise to my students to share links to their blogs here on Pics and Posts.

Yes–I taught a blogging class this semester! Since this was my first time teaching the course and learning new technology can be difficult for some, I kept the goals simple. I expected students to create blogs based on their (non-academic) interests, learn some WordPress basics, interact with other bloggers, and blog on a regular basis.

Easy-peasy, right?

There were a couple of “experienced” bloggers in the course and they were lifesavers for me and the other students–especially with the technical stuff.

We covered all the “beginner” topics and talked  [a lot] about working around the pitfalls. But I underscored no matter how many strategies we have, keeping up with a blog requires practice, a little discipline, and patience.

Students were encouraged to share their blog posts on social media and follow bloggers who share their interests, but I cautioned against “blogging for likes” or following just to get followers. That creates unnecessary pressure and mental clutter and diminishes the pleasure one can find in maintaining a blog.

Though the students were excited about the course and the idea of becoming bloggers, they quickly learned that finding a niche and something to say isn’t always easy; finding time to blog with a busy-busy schedule is even more challenging. I think some were also surprised when they discovered blogging involves more than writing and posting. They seemed to have in mind that if they wrote the posts, the readers would magically appear.

[Imagine me rolling my eyes at them for resisting my pleas to add tags and categories and ignoring my constantly repeating that blogging is also about building community.]

See below for the list of blogs. They’re an eclectic bunch, with blogs based on travel experiences in Spain; natural hair care; minimalism and veganism;  fitness;  self-love; and navigating/loving life for college students and the rest of us. Please take a moment to visit them, comment, like a post or two and/or follow. I trust you will like them and they will be so encouraged by your feedback!

Here are my “honorary” students:

The students have been blogging for about three months, but I think they’re well on their way. If they continue–and I hope they do–their blogs will evolve and grow.

I’ve received many requests to teach the class next year, and I’ve taken lots of notes on what I’d do differently–so we’ll see!

Have a happy week!