A Free Offer to My Readers

bright rainbow colored watercolor paints isolated on white paper

A note and free offer to my readers. 

I am in the process of changing my platform for doing on-line meetings and classes. Sometime next week, I will be running a free trial – a free version of a class I do, aimed at helping people who have gotten away from their creativity recover the joy and power of their art (whatever art that might be.)

Why free? Because I need testers to tell me if the platform is working well. If this is something you’d be interested in doing, stay tuned. I’ll be doing an official launch early next week.

Tom

Poem: One Brush Stroke

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One Brush Stroke

One brush stroke,
then another.
You feel the paint
rather than see it,
aware more of its emotion
than its line or color,
speaking somehow without words,
waiting for the inspiration you lack in the moment,
sure it will come

for there is power in the beginning,
less a setting down on paper
than the opening of a gate.

About this poem

I often do not feel very creative. Often. Most of the time. But I get to work anyway. And in the work, somehow, like magic, the inspiration comes. The trick is to believe in that magic, and begin anyway, even when I don’t feel like it.

Tom

Poem: The Studio

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The Studio

Strangers would be surprised,
that you, so orderly and neat,
always organized,

would have a room like this,
scattered with paintings and sketches,
art with no theme hanging randomly,

piles of ideas, brushes, boxes of paint,
candles, magazines, and a brass kaleidoscope
that sits beautifully out of place on your table.

Nothing here is finished,
a mish mash of possibilities and promises,
of beauty unmade, yet always on the brink,

a room not hidden, but somehow unseen.
Even visitors to your house seem to avoid it
as if the chaos was somehow catching,

no one seeing the deepest truth,
that always, it seems, the things we love the most
are messy.

About the poem

There is an old adage that “creativity is messy.”. And, in my mind, so is love. That’s where the poem came from.

And the picture? That’s my studio, taken five minutes before I posted this poem. Long time readers have seen other pictures of my house, generally orderly. This room, like my heart, however, rarely is.

Tom

Lenten Poem: God of the Wild Haired Ideas

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God of the Wild Haired Ideas

Somehow, somewhere,
some guy got the wild haired idea
that if he bent a bunch of metal tubing
like crazed spaghetti,

he could make music.

Somehow, somewhere,
God said, I’ll take a murderer and make him Moses,
and adulterer and make him David. 

And if that is not enough,
I will send my son with a bottomless pocket of miracles
and change the laws of physics and life

just for them.

Certainly that should give them a vision
of my love, one that will sustain them
until they return home.

It will, won’t it?

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About this poem

Poems come from strange places. .

Late Thursday afternoon I was in Bennington, visiting the Bennington Museum with the woman I love, and they had this display of coronets, of all different shapes and sizes (one was round and shaped like a tiny tuba!) and I found myself wondering who in the world came up with the crazy idea that this was how to make an instrument. (Yes, that is one of them in the picture.)

Later in the week I was talking to a perfect stranger at McDonalds about church and Proverbs 29:18 came up out of the blue. Proverbs 29:19, by the way reads “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

The “Wild Haired Idea” phrase is one my kids are very familiar with. I come up with a lot of them. A surprising number of them actually work out.

And then, last night, as I began to ponder the prompt word of “Vision” from The United Methodists Rethink Church initiative, all these things mushed into this poem.

Poems come from strange places.

Tom

About these Lenten Poems

My friend Cathy Benson is on to something. Instead of doing without for Lent, she is doing MORE with a prayer project that is thoughtful and caring.

Giving up something for Lent is a church tradition, not a biblical command. It was designed to get our minds and hearts right as we approach the holy week and Easter. It’s a good spiritual discipline.

But I think a spiritual discipline of doing something more is also a powerful way to prepare our hearts for Easter. The Methodists, through their “Rethink Church” initiative have come up with a photographic way to do this (see below). I am going to add a poem with each image for the lent season to help prepare myself. Feel free to glom on to the idea, visit the blog and read, or share your thoughts and prayers.

Lent

 

Poem: Beyond These Walls

Beyond These Walls

Somewhere
beyond these walls
is life.

People dance,
mad with joy,
crazy with love,

unbound passion,
and faith,
even when the world

conspires to mock them,
they persist
in laughter;

they persist
in belief
of what they cannot see,

and in their belief,
Godlike,
they create the world

in their own image.

You can dance there too, but first,
you must breach the walls,
dark and historic

that you created.

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This poem was inspired by a creativity prompt in a book of prompts given to me by the woman I love. This particular prompt involved Wallace Stevens, one of my favorite poets, and a palm tree. Please, please don’t ask me how I got from there, to this poem. I have no idea!

The picture is actually not a wall. It is the bottom of an old manure spreader at a nearby Vermont farm. shot to look like a wall. In an odd way, what it actually is, works even better for the poem, than a standard issue wall.

But we won’t go there.

Tom

Art: Yellows

 

This is the first, and so far, one of my favorites in a series of “yellow” paintings inspired by an unknown artist in Woodstock, VT, Frank Loyd Wright, and Dante. It’s titled “Red Pendulum”.  It’s watercolor. 8″x10″. Not yet framed.

I love art. You fail. And then you don’t. And either is OK.

Tom

 

Thoughts: Confession Time

I walked into my studio this morning and something happened. I finally admitted to myself that I am an artist.

Understand, this should be nothing new to me.  I began drawing over thirty years ago and my drawings hang in a lot of people’s houses, sometimes as gifts (people saw drawings in my wall and wanted one), and at times, selling an odd drawing here and there. Last year, I began to take painting lessons so now I add watercolor to the mix.

Recently, I had the chance to hang a few paintings and photographs as a “fill in” at a local art gallery. They had a wonderful display of sculpture books that they were featuring, but after the show was curated and hung there were a couple of walls to fill, and I got the chance to display some work. Much to my surprise, a couple of them have sold.

What makes us an artist? Just doing art? Selling art? The place creating art takes in our lives?

After I began to learn to paint, I converted a room in my house to a studio space. In a day of madness, I had to re-arrange 4 rooms to move things around and make the room work as a studio. Now I have a place to work, which is slowly becoming cluttered and over run with new paintings and drawings.

I didn’t have to buy anything new to create the studio. I had everything, the drawing table, the brushes, paper, tools, all of it. It was just scattered around my house here and there. I had to move things out of the room to make room for the drawing table, and move things in the room to give me storage for the art supplies. I rewired a light to bring more light into the room at night. (in the day, I have two wonderful windows.). Creating a space brought focus to it, but it was all there before.

But that was months ago. And even then after giving art a larger part in my life, I didn’t immediately start admitting I was an artist. I don’t know what changed. Why this morning I looked around and said. “I am an artist.”.

I’ve been through this with other things in my life. I have a masters degree in creative writing from Hollins and have been writing poetry, prose, articles, and all kinds of things for over thirty years. When I was in school I would call myself a writer, but years of being a grownup went by and I stopped. I didn’t stop writing. I just stopped indentifying myself as a writer.

The same thing with photography. People pay me to do it. People have bought my photographs to hang on their walls. Yet I didn’t really call myself a photographer.

Over the past year though, I began to do more and more of both writing and photography. I began to realize that even when we called it “marketing” or “documentation”, it was still writing and photography. That it was these two expressions that really defined what I do, what I LOVE to do. And I finally began to call myself what I always was, a writer and photographer.

The same with art. I LOVE doing it. I love the creation. The experimenting. The ability to fail and try again and it’s OK. I love it when what I envision actually happens, or when an experiment creates something beautiful. It energizes me in the same way writing and photography energize me.

And that is what has been slowly sinking in, I think. That in reality we aren’t what we do. We may think we are. How often have you, in the midst of introductions, defined yourself by your job, even if your job is just something that fills time and pays you money, not something you are passionate about? I’ve done it lots of times.

But you are more than that. I am more than that.

So what, you ask? Well, here is what I, at 57 years old, am finally learning.

We can become a self fulfilling prophecy. If we define ourselves as we are, as our hearts really are, our chances of having those things we love in our life increase.

Can I explain why? No. But you read about it all the time. There’s a whole genre of books that go back generations that have theories galore about why it works. Call it “The Secret” or the “Law of Attraction” or “Synchronicity” – all terms from popular books on the subject. I don’t care what you call it.

I just know it works.

When I define myself as a writer, artist and photographer, opportunities in those things, which are the things I love, HAPPEN.

I still don’t know why the switch turned this morning. Maybe it was just an accumulation of things that finally took on a critical mass in my mind. Maybe it was some sort of revelation. Maybe it was something else. I really don’t care. Just the fact that the switch clicked is enough.

I am an artist.

Who knew?

Tom

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PS – The picture is of my drawing table, taken just this morning. You can click on it for a larger version.