Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Out with the Old! Bringing in new energy by cleaning

I am feeling hyper, motivated and inspired to do the unthinkable - CLEAN and GET RID OF STUFF - Including ART SUPPLIES!

This feeling hardly ever comes. And when it does, it usually lasts only for a hour or two. Then I get overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes and I avoid it again for another year or so.

But all the energy in my life is telling me that it is time for a change.


There are so many examples and descriptions that I could go into for why this is resonating with me that I would end up spending the whole day writing blog posts about it. But there is cleaning, returning and organizing to do and I have to strike while the iron is hot. Iron...encaustic...painting...mmm...oh, distractions.. how I miss you already. No! Focus! Okay, one quick example.

In my Japanese class, we talked about traditional activities surrounding the New Year. (I am just going by memory here, so if I get it wrong, please forgive and correct me!) Each year has a specific animal sign (adapted from Chinese Zodiac), and a new deity that is welcomed into the home by cleaning every inch of it. Getting rid of old things, cleaning, writing New years' cards, and putting up decorations is necessary. The first three days of the new year, everyone has off (with one exception). New years' cards are sent to everyone you know and are delivered on New Years day by mailmen who are the only ones that work. New years eve at the Shinto shrine, the monks ring the gigantic bell 108 times to release the 108 sins or demons inside every person. More about Shinto New Year bell ringing here. Going to the Shinto temple for blessing is common within the first few days of the year. Bathing and cleansing are very important for the house and the body. To the left is a picture of Chris and my friend Joyce cleansing their hands and mouths before going into the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo during our Japan and China Study Tour. They even wear new clothes on New Years' day. It looks like an amazing tradition, and one that I am going to adopt and modify to fit my own life this year.

So back to what has been occupying me for the last few days - cleaning out the old. I am getting rid of all the clothes, items and even art stuff that no longer fits me. This includes lots of watercolor stuff, acrylic paintings and maybe even art books (although those are harder to part with). And as I get a notice from my health insurance company that starting January 2010, my health insurance per month will be raised to $295, I am thinking about the barter system. Maybe I need to trade some of my art supplies for other services? Maybe trade art for something more practical? Maybe trade of acrylic supplies for encaustic wax that I need to continue my projects for the new year? I am already making a trade with my friend Starry to help me regain my sewing skills, but we haven't worked out the details. I am looking for options in the new year, and I believe that this new energy will not do me harm. Anyone looking for a trade of art supplies? Email me and we can work out a deal!

I have spent too long on this post, but I am still energized to make room in my life for more abundance! So if you don't see my posts as often as I usually do, trust me, I am still here and working away on my art and life. I look forward to sharing more of my life and art with you in the new year!

Happy cleaning and Welcoming the New Year! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Join me at the 2010 smARTist Telesummit in January 2010. Take the leap to the next level in your art career!

Happy Holidays everyone!

I have been waiting to send out this information about the 2010 smARTist Telesummit until after Christmas, but the offer below is too wonderful to wait. So you will get my testimony and plug for this awesome event now while you are in the frenzy of holiday preparations. Don't worry; I won't take up too much of your time!

The 2009 smARTist Telesummit launched my art career last January. I found out about it through the Art Biz Coach, Alyson Stanfield, since she was one of the Keynote Speakers.

I had just started reading her book "I'd rather be in the Studio," and was decompressing from another long and grueling college semester. But the timing was right for me. The smARTist Telesummit is in between my Fall semester and the start of Spring semester. I would actually have time to process this information. What a better way to start of the year than to focus on the beginning of my art career?

The 2009 smARTist motto was:

Get Clear.
Make A Plan.
Inspire The World
With Your Art.

Get clear? That I needed to do. Make a plan? Yeah, I guess I need one of those...and Inspire the World with you Art- that sounds right up my alley!

I was hooked. The only obstacle was the cost. The smARTist telesummit is a hefty price for a self-supporting student and mother to afford. But smARTist offered a 100% money back guarantee. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So I signed up for the smARtist Telesummit and was amazed on how much information could be crammed into these 1 hour phone call/recordings. You "attend" the conference by either calling into a special phone number during a certain time or downloading an MP3 recording and listening later. There are handouts to download and print out, and a members only discussion board where you can ask questions of Ariane (the facilitator), connect with other participates or just gush about the wonderfulness of the presentation.

After just a few days of listening to the recordings, I learned so much about social networking that I hopped right into Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. I am pretty tech-savvy so this part was easy. Plus there were handouts to tell exactly how to do it all. Then I started on the more difficult items, such as making a plan for my art business. Since this conference is meant for people of all stages of their career, there is lots of information that I am not quite ready to implement (such as getting corporate sponsors for your work). As the school year started for me again, I was prepared to maintain and enhance my sprouting artist career while tackling my classes. If you want to know all that I accomplished this year, check out my post Celebrate your Accomplishments for 2009.

Long story short - the smARTist Telesummit is amazing and worth every penny - for ANY STAGE of your Art Career.

2010 smARTist Telesummit is this motto:
Focus, Facts and Fabulous Art
Get Recognized,
and Paid what you Deserve!

Check out the pre-event recordings to hear what this is all about. Right click and open this in a separate tab to check it out and then come back here to register using my affiliate link.


Now for what would drive me to send out this information now!
This is a steal! I really wish I would have paid for this upgrade last year so that I could have the transcript recordings. But if you act now, you get this upgrade for FREE! Crazy, I know.

For the next 48 hours (until midnight Dec. 24th PST/CA), or up to 50 registrations, you can get all 3 upgrades ($97 value) for the price of a standard registration for the live 7-day conference:


Download immediately to your computer. Print. Read. Highlight.
2 MasterMind Panel Days, and 12 Keynote Speaker Presentations.


A unique 15-day, "Stay-On-Track" group coaching program, to help you get results before the dust settles. Ariane will be your personal guide to help you
1) identify the holes in your career before the event, and then
2) create your post-event action plan to fill in those holes.

Enjoy special access to a Platinum Members' Only Forum where you can dialogue directly with Art Career coach, Ariane, and chat with other artists about how they are using the "Stay-on-Track" Program to get the most out of the conference.

Step 1: Click here to register (please use this link, since it is my affiliate link):

Step 2: After you choose to upgrade, type (or copy/paste) this code in the Coupon Code Box and click "apply" to get all 3 upgrades immediately: 2010UPGRADE

Then, let the wild January rumpus begin, where your art career gets all the attention.

PS: Registration is open for the 7-day conference in January, and for a limited time you can choose to pay over 3 installments:

Click Here >

Feel free to email me with any questions you have about last year's smARTist Telesummit. It was really life changing. You owe it to yourself to at least check out this conference.

Happy Holidays! I look forward to seeing all that you can accomplish this next year! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Monday, December 14, 2009

Celebrate Your Accomplishments for 2009

Picture of me stamping my travel journal at Himeji Castle in Japan.
To be able to go to Japan was a HUGE accomplishment; one that I still am not sure how to put into words.

Since it is finals week at SDSU, I am rushed to finish everything I started and study for those big tests. Yet, I already feel the tension and pressure lessening each time I turn in a project, take a test or finish a paper. College classes will be over in three days for me, and I am READY FOR A BREAK! I can finally focus on my art and enjoy life for a month before the madness of classes starts again at the end of January. Until then, let's talk about celebrating this year in a truly artistic way.

The Art Marketing action tip from the Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield this week is one that I am ready to start now and try to finish up by the end of the year.It is all about celebrating your accomplishments.

I am fond of bubbling to my friends, co-workers and other students about what I am doing now and my accomplishments. I have been know to jump up and down with excitement. I blog, twitter, post status updates on Facebook and pictures of work in progress on my fan page. Yet, I don't take time to celebrate my accomplishments for the year. I have made a huge jump this year into the art world, and know that is would be a great time to start writing my accomplishments down!

Check out this post (right click and open in a new tab).

Art Marketing Action Podcast: Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Posted using ShareThis

Here is the start of my accomplishment list for this year:

Started and maintained a blog
Got into my first juried show, Women's Caucus for Art "Herstory" at the Women's History Museum
Participated in the Women's Caucus for Art member invitation at Queen Bee's (formerly 8teen Art and Cultural Center)
Started in the world of social networking
Participated in the smARTist Telesummit 2009
Got hooked on the Art Biz Coach's blog and book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio"
Featured article in SDSU's Daily Aztec
One of the featured artists in an article on Encaustic by America Creates
Participated in an Encaustic workshop at the San Diego Art Department
Participated in Artist Trading Card Workshop (ATC) at Escondido Municipal Gallery
Initiated into SDSU's Mortar Board Senior Honor Society
Won a scholarship from CSEA - GCCCD union employee scholarship
Won a scholarship from Mortar Board for outstanding community service
Won a scholarship from the Junko Koike for study abroad in Japan
Won a scholarship from Fu Foundation as the 2009 Fu Scholar for study abroad in China and Japan
Participated in a two week study abroad tour to China and Japan
Took Japanese I with Dr. Higurashi at SDSU (hardest academic class I have taken)
Took Beginning Woodworking and Furniture Design at SDSU with Wendy Maruyama (hardest studio class I have taken)
Took Handbuilt Ceramics with Joanne Hayakawa at SDSU
Took Figure Drawing with Jeanne Dunn at SDSU
Took Intermediate Sculpture with Richard Keely at SDSU
Took Figure Sculpture with Jesus Dominguez at Grossmont
Taught Beginning Encaustic Workshop at Escondido Municipal Gallery
Taught Encaustic Technique Workshop at the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Annual Retreat
Learned more about and experimented with 3-D encaustic sculpture
Developed "micro-movement" type art projects called Art Actions
Visited Luis de Jesus Seminal Projects Gallery
Visited Escondido Municipal Gallery
Visited the Buddhist Center of San Diego for their annual Food and Music Festival
Participated in monthly San Diego Women's Drum Circle
Participated in Drumming and Movement Workshop (uncomfortable but made me grow)
Participated in Family Constellation Workshop (uncomfortable but made me grow)
Participated in the Stone Soup Challenge
Participated in a collaborative mail art project (tried and failed at this by holding everyone's pieces too long)
Started a mailing list (although I still haven't sent out any newsletters)
Investigated different art file management programs
Got a person art website (template) and actually put something on it!
Got more involved with the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art
Started blogging for the SD/WCA
Transitioning into being President of the SD/WCA for 2010
Re-joined the San Diego Writers Ink
Joined the International Sculpture Center
Joined the Encaustic Ning and Owning Pink Ning
Found awesome sites for growth and creativity Owning Pink and Journey Juju
Read more SARK online
Subscribed to Art News, Art in America, Works and Conversations and Sculptural Pursuit Magazines
Read and bought issues of Stampington Co: Somerset Workshop, Artful Blogging, Art Journaling, and Cloth, Paper, Scissors
Submitted art to Women Made Gallery juried show (did not get in)
Made an online tutorial/demo for Encaustic Monoprints
Made new business cards featuring my current art on them
Made connections (in person or online) with artists Lisa Bebi, Renee Richetts, Helen Redman, Gray Gray-Adams, Thea Haubrich, Lissa Rankin, Ellie Benfatti, Cynthia Morris, Lincoln Maynard and many more
Was able to honor artist/professor David Fobes at the Mortar Board Faculty/Staff Appreciation Dinner
Submitted art for the Featured Artist section of the National Women's Caucus for Art
Attended lecture by Janet Koplos (check out my essay "Redefining Craft" on this talk here)
Attended Visiting Artist talk by Tom Loeser
Attended Visiting Artist talk by Virginia Scotchie
Saw shows by SDSU student work
Saw SDSU gallery show "Animalkind"
Saw SDSU faculty show
Tried wood carving, stamp carving, watercolor crayons, assemblage, intuitive knitting, oil pastel over magazine collage, art journaling, encaustic on photographs, encaustic on 3-d forms, oil sticks, encaustic on board and fabric and working in plywood.
Wrote a blog post "100 Contemporary Artists you need to know, NOW"

and the single best thing to happen to my art career in 2009 is that it started! I am finally getting my work out for other people to see. I am still developing a solid portfolio, connections with others, and ways to show my art, but I got a firey start on this year by attending the online smARTist telesummit and reading the Art Biz articles and books.

Thank you to everyone who supported me in this fabulous year. It is never easy, but it takes each of you who helped me in some way with a kind word, a critique or an opportunity. I am looking forward to great next year with a much longer list of accomplishments!

Your Turn:

What is your list? This is what I could think of in a hour. I could probably do more over time. A year goes by very fast (and seems to get faster as we age), but what are your accomplishments. Post a comment here to let us know or just spill it into your journal or blog post. Either way, make sure you honor your busy year with a toast to your attempts and successes!

Happy art making! Enjoy your holidays! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Redefining Craft - My Essay on a Lecture by Janet Koplos

Pablo Picasso, found object assemblage

As I finish up the last hectic weeks of the semester, I am trying to find some time and energy to blog, make art and relax. Since none of that has happened recently, guess what, I got a cold. When you are running at full force for as long as I have, it is hard to remember that my immune system cannot keep up. Nevertheless, I am here and ready to share what is the most creative non-fiction that I have written in a while - an essay based on a lecture.

In October 26, 2009, Janet Koplos, Guest Editor at American Craft magazine and Contributing Editor at Art in America was a brought in by the San Diego State Art: Applied Design Department as a guest lecturer. It was wonderful, and I hoped to write about it right afterword. However, life gets in the way of my best intentions, but as luck would have it, I needed to do a write up of one of the lectures that I attended this semester for my Woodworking class. So better late than never!

I believe that this essay can stand on its own without seeing the slide show or hearing the lecture. The topic of CRAFT vs. ART is fascinating and one that every artist will face many times in their life. I hope this essay will stimulate you to comment or just contemplate how this battle of words affects you as an artist.

Redefining Craft by Jaime Lyerly, 2009

Craft. The word by itself brings up images of Styrofoam balls covered in sequins, pompoms and lots of glitter. There are Michaels’ stores, which have “arts and crafts” listed in their title. If you go to there craft section, the above materials will be found, along with colored foam, fuzzy pipe cleaners, googley eyes and assorted other little trinkets that had no where else to be stored. It is a sad day for the word, craft, when its definition is limited to what can be found on the aisle of Michaels. Janet Koplos, Guest Editor at American Craft magazine, Contributing Editor at Art in America, and co-author of upcoming book Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, written with Bruce Metcalf, wants you to look past the initial response to the word, craft, and see that it is no different than the word art. Koplos’ has a unique position as the editor of two different magazines and her role is to help redefine craft. Also by authoring a book specifically on crafts, her role becomes one not just of editor but also one of the defining voices in an area where there appears to be lacking a solid and academic representation. In her SDSU Visiting Artist Lecture on October 26, 2009 entitled "A View of the Maelstrom," Koplos showed a history of art and craft via slides, and defined three main points: questioning our need to separate craft from art; the need for a visual vocabulary specified to the craft being critiqued, and a shift in mentality from craft-exclusive to “craft-proud.”

Through slide examples, Koplos shows how the histories of art and craft have not always been separated as they are today. From the ancient Etruscan pottery to Picasso’s work in clay, found objects and metals, craft has been a part of art making since its inception. Craft is now defined by the art community as use of particular materials such as fiber, wood, jewelry, clay, book and paper-making. However, in these days of mixed media, how can craft be separated from art? Is it function that makes it craft instead of art? It is the intent of the creator? Is it manufacturing techniques? Is it material use only? Is it concept? When does a work stop being craft and become art? When does it go the opposite direction and start as art but then become craft? These questions were not answered by the Koplos, but they loom overhead during the lecture for the listener to answer themselves. By showing art that can be defined as art or craft, Koplos asks us to question why we need to categorize it all. This separation makes the artist have to choose one category to stand firmly in, instead of letting the art establish its own genre and intention.

Another key point of Koplos’ lecture was the need for critics and people reviewing craft-related objects to have their own visual vocabulary to describe the work. For example, according to Koplos, tapestries need address a different set of questions than a painting. Although both a tapestry and a painting may be wall hanging and relatively two-dimensional, they need to be critiqued by a reviewer who is familiar with the materials being used. Someone who is familiar with the applications and limitations of acrylic paint may not have the same qualifications when faced with a tapestry. Each material has its own benefits and limitations which cannot be ignored when critiquing the artist’s work. Koplos advised that we need critics who are willing to educate themselves on craft related materials, so that they can best describe the materials in front of them. By placing painting expectations on a tapestry, we are limiting how the creator can interact with their audience, and ignoring the history of fibers from which this tapestry can ultimately be judged. Taking down the walls between art and craft does not mean ignoring the history of the materials used and the objects relationships with those materials. We need a shift in mentality about art identified as craft, which leads final point in the lecture.

Koplos described in her lecture an artist who was advised by a gallery to delete all references to craft in her Curriculum Vitae. She continues on that this artist was able to project a craft-free image and therefore to get into more exclusive art galleries. Koplos believe that this cleansing of the Curriculum Vitae to remove all traces of the word craft is harming to artists who do not see fit to do so. She finished the lecture by showing some screenshots of the newest movement in the craft world – the DIY or Do-it-Yourself crafters. Websites such as Etsy.com gives people a way to make handmade, one of a kind items and sell them to others over the web. It is the eBay of crafts. Koplos said that the people selling on Etsy.com are “craft-proud” and that is the attitude that fine artists working in craft related mediums should adopt. She does point out that the quality on Etsy.com varies tremendously, since anyone can post and sell items without any formal training or quality control. However the attitude of proudly proclaiming your craft is one of inclusiveness, and is a welcome change from the exclusivity of the art world.

In conclusion, Koplos’ lecture was a fascinating look into a world in which I was only barely familiar. Her slides included many works that I would categorize as craft, such as functional ceramic bowls and works that I would never even consider in that category such as Kiki Smith’s figures or Tara Donovan's swell of white cups. To question what is art and what is craft is inviting exclusivity that is neither necessary nor wanted. Magazines such as American Craft and Niche provide a place for artists to show items that proudly pronounce their craft materials to the world. Can they be art too? Of course, if the creator so deems it. Koplos’ point about needing critics who are willing to look past the word craft and actually learn about the specific materials that are included in that broad title rang true to me. Since I love writing about are as much as I love looking at it, I see this as a call to action. I believe that there is a niche that can be filled by a new generation of art critics who will be inclusive with their writing and they will help redefine the word, craft - one article at a time.

Feel moved to comment? Please do! I am not sure how the format of a typical 5 paragraph essay works for blog readers, but I am trying out something new here. Academic writing is part of my life as a student, so I thought it was time to share. Maybe next time you will only get an excerpt. Now back to my regular scheduled hectic life!

Happy Art (or Craft) Making. Be Craft Proud!

Jaime Lyerly

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gratitude Time and Affirmation for Artists Video from Art Biz Coach

As the holiday season hits us, I am doing my best to stay grounded and relaxed in my highly stressful schedule. Thanksgiving is this week, and it seems to be the only time of the year that I think about the blessings in my life. Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield reminds us today in her Art Biz blog post on what she is grateful for and how to "exercise your gratitude muscle."

Here is a snip from her blog post from last year called: "Exercise your gratitude muscle"

"Taking the time to practice gratitude isn’t a bunch of hooey. It’s a must for everyone trying to build relationships and an art career. Try it.

I’ve witnessed the magic of a sincere Thank You over and over again!
( Additional resource: See Action 10 in I’d Rather Be in the Studio! for more about following up with people. )

KNOW THIS———-~> Practicing sincere gratitude opens you up to receiving even more abundance.

THINK ABOUT THIS—~> When is the last time you wrote a thank-you note?

DO THIS————~> Exercise your gratitude muscle. Identify your weak points from the four items above and decide what you will work on. Do you think maybe you could send 5 thank-you notes a week for the next month? Or write your gratitudes in your journal every day for 28 days? Challenge yourself and start right now.

Tell us how you practice sincere gratitude and listen to the podcast on the Art Biz Blog. For the last few days I’ve been posting about gratitude there and more is coming up.

Since I am so unpracticed at exercising my "gratitude muscle," I'll give you one line about that I know is true:
I am thankful for all the wonderful and supportive artists that read my blog and interact with me on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing my art and life with you has been a joy.

Here is a gift to you from the Art Biz Coach which goes with gratitude like apple pie and vanilla ice cream. Check out the Affirmation for Artists Video: http://artbizcoach.com/affirmations/
Embedded video (will not view in Facebook, so check it out on my blog post)

Your Turn:
What are you grateful for? Are you exercising your "gratitude muscle" everyday? How about in your art career? Are you one of those amazing people who actually sends hand written Thank You notes? I am not yet... Take a quick moment to comment on this post and I will be very grateful!

Happy art making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Family Constellation Healing Workshop with Ellen "Ellie" Benfatti this Saturday, November 21, 2009 in Vista, CA

Artist, Healer, Workshop Facilitator and 2010 VP. of WCA/SD Ellen "Ellie" Benfatti

The San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Retreat last weekend was such a joy. Not only did I get to do one of my favorite things in the world: teach encaustic painting, but I was able to participate in other workshops and get to know the amazing women who went. To see a quick blog post about the retreat, click on the link above. More blog posts to come as I sort through the retreat pictures. One of the amazing experiences was participating in Ellen "Ellie" Benfatti's Family Constellation workshop on Friday night.

I am not sure I can explain exactly what happened during the workshop, but we as a group decided that is was the balance between left brain and right brain that we wanted to work on. Since my blog is usually about art making, art shows and techniques, I am not sure how much detail you all want me to go in about the healing experiences.

To sum it up, I was so moved by the experience that I was on the verge of tears at the end. I have never felt balance like I had at that moment. My energy is ALWAYS fragmented and pouring out in different directions at the same time. I can focus on one thing, such as working on an art project for hours, but there are almost always different steps to take to keep me interested. Plus, it is easy to work on art because it is fun.

It is the left side of my brain and my life - credit cards, debt, bills, obligations, homework, chores, cleaning, promises that I made - that I am so overwhelmed with that I ignore them and hope they go away. They don't and I am just left with MORE STRESS and I disappoint people that are counting on me. It is my fatal flaw. And I am working on fixing it.

Therefore, I am going to Ellie's Family Constellation healing workshop this Saturday. I had many other things planned for this weekend, but if I can feel even a moment more of that balance, it will change me for the better. By talking to Ellie this weekend, I realized that devoting some time to understanding and working through my own stuff, I can change the energy that I give out and receive.

Check out the information below and RSVP for it right away if you are in the San Diego area. The workshop is being held all day this Saturday at a private residence in Vista. It also is normally $300 for this group session, but she is discounting it to $35 to give an opportunity for others who are more financially strapped to participate. It won't be the same without you there! We need you!

Here is the information about Family Constellations from Ellie's website:


Family Constellations have proven to bring balance to the individual requesting the constellation as well as other family members. In most cases the other family members aren't present during the session. A constellation can be done in private, on the phone, or in group.

Constellation by definition means a cluster. Ellie believes that when there is an unresolved trauma in a family its members will cluster around the trauma. Unfortunately, the clustering is often an attempt to hide the trauma. In most cases the desire to hide the trauma is done out of a "blind love" for the other family members. Usually the "hidden" or "secret" part of the trauma is thought of as a way to protect the children, victim, perpetrator, or the innocent. If this happens the trauma remains hidden and creates an imbalance with in the family's soul. When a client chooses to revisit the trauma through a family constellation an immediate sense of wellbeing can occur. It's as if everyone in the family has been waiting to acknowledge and move beyond the trauma. In most cases, immediate relief, a feeling of lightness, and wellbeing occurs. This relief is often felt by both the client and the other family members. The magical part is that 99.9% of the time the only member of the family present is the client. The outcome is a more loving connection to each other and the people around them. This allows the family to experience a "knowing love." This love is expansive and allows all members to feel more connected and accepted by their family. This feeling is essential for experiencing peace and wellbeing with in the family's soul.

When choosing to have a private constellation colored fields or small objects are used to identify the people and elements needed to conduct the constellation.

When choosing to participate in a group constellation individuals are chosen by the client to represent the people and elements needed to conduct the constellation.

When choosing a phone constellation a client may choose to sit or stand in a room that would allow them to utilized objects surrounding them to complete the constellation. Ellie will guide them over the phone.

Is a Family Constellation right for me?

A Family Constellation is an approach to healing that incorporates the entire family system. The foundational belief it is that when there's been a trauma to the family that hasn't been resolved or restored to balance it can reappear in future generations. Often times when the trauma manifests the descendant who carries this trauma may or may not be aware of it's origin.

When contacting Ellie she can evaluate your situation and decide if doing a constellation would be appropriate for your circumstances.

In many cases physical, mental, and emotional issues are resolved and the client feels an immediate sense of wellbeing.

Constellations can be useful in resolving issues around:

Divorce, Death, Addiction, Abortion, Miscarriage, Illness, Depression, Anxiety, Sexual/Mental/Physical abuse, Loss, Adoption, Loss of Job, Money, Slavery, Moving from a homeland, Victims of War, Religious or Racial differences, etc.

Ellie is not a licensed therapist or Dr. Ellie was trained at The Constellation Institute of Santa Barbara by Dr. Dyrian Chartrand Benz and Joanna Benz Chartrand. Ellie is respected as one of the most intuitive constellation facilitators in San Diego County.


Private Session $125.00

Group Session $300.00 per day

Representative $115.00 Per day

A sliding scale is available if you desire partial scholarship.

November Special attend Nov. 21st and receive a private for 1/2 price.

Next workshop is scheduled for this Saturday, November 21, 2009 from in North San Diego County (at a private residence in Vista. Directions provided at RSVP).

Session Runs from 9:45 am to 4:45 pm, with break for lunch

Lunch 12:30 pm - 1:45 (bring your own picnic lunch).

Special Price for November 21th workshop is $35!

Here are some comforts I always recommend participants bring along for their journey.
Sweater, Scarf or Small lap blanket.
Healthy Snack (most of us bring enough to share)

If people are interested, I will blog about my experience with this workshop afterword. I don't want to get to far off track from my love of sharing art with other, but this is about the WHOLE PERSON. I am striving to become a better artist but also a better person in general. These type of workshops and the energy I get from the San Diego Women's Drum Circle every month held lead me into a more sacred space that is healing for all.

I hope you can join me at this event. Please email Ellie Benfatti right away with any questions and to RSVP for this Saturday. You won't regret it.

To healing the whole person - and making art! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back from the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Retreat!

Encaustic painting set up at home © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Just a short note to let you all know that I am back from the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Annual Retreat, which was last weekend, November 13 - 15, 2009.

I have lots of pictures and stories to tell (don't worry - nothing embarrassing for the wine-drinking ladies,) but this is a super busy week for me with something scheduled everyday and I won't get to them until probably Sunday.

Since this retreat is for women only (because of the close sleeping quarters), it had an abundance of feminine energy, which is similar to my monthly San Diego Women's Drum Circle. However, I have never spent a weekend devoted solely to making art, meeting new people and being out in nature before. Usually, I am trapped inside with my school books (Japanese is killing me....) and spend what little time I have outside of that with my partner Chris and almost 13 year old son, Xen. I couldn't even tell you the last time I had been alone, which is a sad fact in itself. Although I did attend Ellen Benefatti's Healing Family Constellation Workshop on Friday, I have to admit that I left early during Judi Burnett's Portrait Painting Workshop so that I could be alone outside in nature. I sat on a fallen tree branch and wrote in my journal for a hour, before heading off to lunch and then to teach my afternoon workshop. More about these workshops and pictures later.

After a relaxing lunch of mushroom risotto, I came back to set up to teach Encaustic Painting Technique on Saturday afternoon. My workshop went very well, although I am not sure how many people I converted to ways of the wax, yet. We set up the stations outside to keep the smell away from the more sensitive members, and to be outside. What I wasn't counting on was how quickly the sun would go down and how cold it would get! The pictures look like I gave this workshop in Alaska, instead of Julian, California in November. The winter gear and people huddled around the heat guns will give you a hint of the weather change for all of us.

It was an amazing weekend and I look forward to sharing more about the workshops and activities, as well as the stories and general fun we had this weekend. Missing this year's retreat? You can come next year! It is an annual retreat, and while this was my first year going, I know it will not be my last.

Until then, why don't you join us in the WCA/SD Facebook Group page? I am trying to get all the members, prospective members and people who just want to know what we are doing to join this group. You can post your events to our wall, and know that you have an audience that is active in the San Diego Arts community. Share with your friends! They need to be a part of this too.

Happy art-making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Monday, November 9, 2009

Encaustic Sculpture Experiments - In Progress Wax Works by Jaime Lyerly

Three pounds of beeswax in cold pan. "Warm it up, Jaim!" "I'm about to!"
image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

It has been a busy weekend preparing to teach Encaustic Technique at the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Retreat this weekend, November 13-15, 2009 at Camp Stevens in Julian, CA.

I admit that I haven't been doing encaustic often within the last month because of my super busy school schedule and the fact that it has been 90+ degrees during the day! But now that it has finally cooled off here in San Diego, I couldn't resist doing some wax experiments even though I was supposed to be preparing medium for the retreat.

Preparing about 7 lbs of encaustic wax medium was one of my goals this weekend. This should have been the final result. Pretty cakes of clear medium cooling. This image was taken when I was making encaustic medium for the Escondido Municipal Gallery Workshop in July 2009.

Making encaustic wax medium, image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Saturday started off just fine with me melting 4 lbs of wax in my pan. It seems so good! (We need smell-a-vision screens for this blog post!)

Melting the beeswax to make encaustic medium. image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

However as it melted, and I added the damar resin to harden it, the urge to USE the wax instead letting it melt overcame me. I thought about all I had been doing recently without my wax. I have been knitting and knotting fabric and rope pieces to be dipped in wax for my Art Actions. I won some fabrics from artist Carolyn Brown Sadowski. I have some vintage books pages that needed to be waxed, and some more books that my friend Starry just gave me. I rationalized that I haven't turned on my wax in a month and that I NEEDED to wax just a few things to get back into the swing of working with wax to teach at the retreat...

It was a lie.

I WANTED to use the wax for myself. So I did.

I ripped up a vintage book and tossed the pages in the beeswax bath. The damar that I put in was melting and sticky. I soaked these papers. I also dipped individual pieces of paper and shaped them. It was fun to experiment and get messy with the wax.

Old book pages in encaustic wax bath. image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

After experimenting with the paper, I took out the fabric pieces. Dipping materials, especially things like fabric uses A LOT of wax. As I was dipping the fabric pieces, some of them made a sizzling noise. This tells me that there was probably a synthetic material in the fabric that had a lower burning temperature than my wax does. But these are all experiments; so I share my knowledge with you. If it sizzles, it is too hot! You knew that right?

Even though I burns some of the fabrics, they turned out more interesting than I expected after only one trip to the wax bath. They look like leather and I think they are so cool. The images are not the best, but they give you a taste of what they are like. Check them out below.

Untitled Encaustic Sculpture, in progress, fabric and wax, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Untitled Encaustic Sculpture Detail, in progress, fabric and wax, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Untitled Encaustic Sculpture, in progress, fabric and wax, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Untitled Encaustic Sculpture detail, in progress, fabric and wax, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

Untitled Encaustic Sculpture, in progress, fabric and wax, © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

The last image I only covered partially in wax, which kept some of the original coloring while shaping the piece. I am not in love with these pieces, yet, but I am intrigued enough with them to ask for a second date.

One thing I know about them is that they need a place to hang out and lots more friends! I plan to do more experiments soon, but this time without any guilt of what I SHOULD be doing.

Warning: for all of you ready to start dipping object in wax - it "taints" or "dirties" your wax. The wax that I used for these items was clear refined beeswax. Now it is brownish yellow. Not a big loss, since now it has been labeled "collage wax."

Encaustic wax used for collage and dipping, image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

After pouring my collage wax into the muffin pans, I cleaned out the pan and put in fresh pounds of beeswax and made some medium. Here they are cooling in their mini muffin pan.

Encaustic medium cooling, image © 2009 Jaime Lyerly

So I ended up making about 3 lbs of encaustic medium for the retreat and will finish making the medium later this week.

I am so excited to teach this weekend! It will be a full house, but I hope each student will get a taste of working in this exciting medium. I never tire about explaining, showing and working in encaustic.

For those of you not coming to the retreat, I will have some pictures up for you to experience it online. Let me know what you want me to post on my blog. I aim to please!

Until then, happy experimenting! Enjoy the journey! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Monday, November 2, 2009

Helen Redman's art show "Tensions in the Journey: From Child to Crone" at the Women's History Museum in San Diego

Another great event coming to the San Diego area this weekend on November 6, 2009: Founding Mother of the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art (SDWCA) Helen Redman's one woman show "Tensions in the Journey: From Child to Crone" at the Women's History Museum and Educational Center (WHMEC). Check out the press release below from the WHMEC for more information.

Tensions in the Journey:
From Child to Crone

Helen Redman

Exhibition: Nov. 6 - Dec. 5, 2009
Opening reception: November 6, 6-9 PM
Lecture/discussion: November 21, 2-4 PM

For nearly a half century, Helen Redman has been making art. Her stunning portraits and evocative mixed media works track events, both momentous and ordinary, in women’s life cycle. Much more than a visual account of one woman’s perspective on life, her works illuminate something transcendent: they compose a visual memoir of the flux and flow of embodiment and identity across a woman’s life cycle, a memory-laden landscape of time’s passing in a life lived through a certain era and in a particular body.

To celebrate the nearly fifty-year career of the artist Helen Redman, the Women's History Museum and Education Center is hosting Tensions in the Journey: From Child to Crone, an exhibition of selected works from the 1960s-2000s. The exhibition runs from Nov 6 - December 5, 2009, and opens with a reception on November 6th, 6-9 PM at 2323 Broadway, Suite 107, San Diego, California 92102. The exhibition is also part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of women's studies at San Diego State University.


I love Helen Redman's work and think this show is going to be amazing. I look forward to seeing more of her work and meeting this powerfully moving artist. I hope you can join me!

Happy art making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Monday, October 26, 2009

100 Contemporary Artists that You Need to Know, NOW! Including Famous, Established and Emerging Artists

I am finally at 100 blog posts! Thank you for joining me on this journey, however long you have been sharing it with me.

To celebrate my 100th post, I give you monster of a list post of 100 Contemporary Artists that you need to know, NOW. This post goes with my goals of "Artists supporting Artists," and sharing the my knowledge and research with others. If you are on Facebook, you know that I am always sharing events and articles that I believe others would be interested in knowing. This list is no exception. However, before we get to the list, let me clarify a few points.
  • Who is a Contemporary Artist?
According to Wikipedia, contemporary artists are defined as "artists who create contemporary art, i.e. those whose peak of activity can be situated somewhere between the 1970s (the advent of postmodernism) and the present day." Wikipedia has a great list (much longer than mine) of contemporary artists that you can find at this link Wikipedia Contemporary Artists.

The problem for me with their list is exclusive to people who have "Artists in this list have gained recognition or proven their importance because their work has been shown in contemporary art exhibitions of worldwide importance (such as the documenta or the Venice Biennale, the Sao Paulo Art Biennial or exhibited in major modern or contemporary art museums and institutes)."

To me the art that has been chosen for the famous Biennales may not be the most inventive or the most thought provoking. They were chosen by a set of critics who decide what the artist is at top of their game and already dominating the art world. But by the time that you get that far up in the ranks as a critic, you can lose your connection to the local and the NOW. That is where I come in.
  • I went to art school, college for art or studied art history. What can you tell me that I don't already know?
Art History classes are wonderful. They give you information about the artists that made history, and show you enough slides that you can identify a Picasso from a Pollock. If you take a contemporary art history class, you may even read about some of these names towards the last few weeks of your semester. However, art history classes and books are slow to choose new people to include in their books, and usually they get through into a short lecture at the end titled "Feminist art" or "Graffiti artists."

My goal here is to add some more names to the lists of artist that you know. It is not to replace anyone. I seek out new artists all the time to look at, to write about and think about. In the age of the internet, there are endless opportunities to discover artists, famous, established or emerging, that MOVE you.
  • How did you pick the artists to be on this list?
This is a biased list. I fully admit that. I chose artists that moved me when I saw there work. I chose fiber artists, installation artists, sculptors, encaustic artists, painters and book artists. It is what I am drawn to, and so they made it to the list. Here is how I made the list.

I wrote down all the names of artists that were a big influence on me, including many artists from the PBS series "Art: 21." Art:21 is an amazing series that shows famous, established and even some relativity emerging artists in work at their studios, installing shows and talking about their work. It is by far one of the best ways to get a glimpse into the world of a famous artist and really get to know them. And it is in the artists own words; not narrated postmortem. Almost 20% of my list is from that series; and they have been labeled with (Art: 21.) I am not in love with all of the artists on this list, but I do think that we need to know them. The Art: 21 website has video clips and biographies of all these artists and they are very much worth your time.

Also included in my list are including many SDSU instructors, graduate students (MFA recipients too) and local San Diego artists. 30% of the artists on this list are from San Diego. I cannot help it. I see these artists' work more frequently than the famous artists, and know that they are actively showing. With a city as huge as San Diego, there are countless artists that I could include on this list. I just don't know the work of all of them, so I included the ones that I know of who are making INTERESTING work.

Finally, I made sure to add some emerging artists to this list. It is what makes my list different from Wikipedia. These are artists that you need to know NOW because they are the future. Maybe it is because I am an older art student. Maybe it is because I write about art. But I see the future of what art is going to be in the work of the new artists that are just starting out. They are combining mediums, performing, using computers and going back to hand crafts. Every which way that the art world is going can be seen through this emerging artists. They may take a long time to get into the history books, but that is not the apparent goal. Most of them are looking for a way to make their mark on the world one stroke at a time. It is brilliant and energetic. It is real and NOW. And we need to take notice.
  • You forgot my favorite artist __________! Can we add them to this list?
That is the same reaction that I had when I saw that Kiki Smith was excluded from the Wikipedia list! I welcome suggestions for the next list. I am only one person and ignorance of your favorite artist may be the only reason why I did not include them on the list. Please add your comments, names and links to this blog post. I would love to know who moves you.
  • What are with these categories next to the names? How can you limit an artist's whole body of work down to just those few words?
The artists are in alphabetical order by last name. Next to each artist is a short list of identifiers, such as painting, sculpture, ceramic, installation, fiber, video, figure, encaustic, etc.. This, again, is not all inclusive. I can name only a few artists that only work in one medium. I tried to give you a quick hint of what they do so that you are more likely to check out the links.

Thanks for reading my clarifications! Now the list...

100 Contemporary Artists that You Need to Know, NOW! by Jaime Lyerly

  1. Eleanor Antin San Diego, video, photography, performance (Art: 21)
  2. Janine Antoni video, sculpture, performance (Art: 21)
  3. Adrian Arleo figure, ceramics
  4. Ruth Asawa fiber, sculpture
  5. Dia Bassett San Diego, dance, video, sculpture
  6. Lisa Bebi San Diego, painting, paper works
  7. Louise Bourgeois sculpture, metal, public art (Art: 21)
  8. The Brothers Quay video
  9. John Brown figure, sculpture, metal
  10. Michele Burgess San Diego, bookmaking, paper works
  11. Judy Chicago installation, feminist
  12. Chuck Close painting
  13. Sue Coe painting
  14. Deborah T. Colter painting
  15. Miles Conrad encaustic, sculpture
  16. Janet Cooling painting, feminist
  17. Lael Corbin San Diego, sculpture
  18. Joseph Cornell sculpture, assemblage
  19. Bryan Czibesz San Diego, ceramics, sculpture
  20. Brian Dick San Diego, sculpture
  21. Jesus Y. Dominguez San Diego, sculpture
  22. Tara Donovan sculpture, installation
  23. Jeanne Dunn painting
  24. Catherine Easton-Skinner painting, sculpture
  25. Lois Epperson Gale encaustic, painting
  26. Cai Gu0-Qiang sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  27. David Fobes San Diego, 2-D works, furniture
  28. Catherine Foster metal, sculpture
  29. Tom Fox San Diego, metal,assemblage, sculpture
  30. Jordan Gehman San Diego, furniture
  31. Eileen P. Goldenberg encaustic, painting
  32. Andy Goldsworthy land art, public art
  33. Cynthia Gott painting, performance
  34. Grace Gray-Adams sculpture, installation
  35. Alex Grey visionary painting
  36. Ann Hamilton fiber, video, sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  37. Tim Hawkinson sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  38. Joanne Hayakawa San Diego, ceramics
  39. Eva Hesse installation, sculpture
  40. Damien Hirst sculpture, installation
  41. Jenny Holzer video, installations (Art: 21)
  42. Rizzhel Javier San Diego, photography, sculpture
  43. Anish Kapoor public art, sculpture (Art: 21)
  44. Richard Keely San Diego, installation, sculpture
  45. Mollie Kellogg San Diego, figure, painting
  46. Martin Kline painting, sculpture
  47. Barbara Kruger 2-D works, feminist (Art: 21)
  48. Yayoi Kusama public art, installation
  49. Maya Lin public art, installation, sculpture (Art: 21)
  50. Sally Mann photography (Art: 21)
  51. May-ling Martinez San Diego, sculpture, installation
  52. Wendy Maruyama San Diego, furniture
  53. Joanne Mattera encaustic, painting
  54. Jeremy Mayer figure, metal, assemblage
  55. Lincoln Maynard painting
  56. Cheryl McClure painting
  57. Ana Mendieta performance, land art, feminist
  58. Marilyn Mitchell San Diego, painting, paper works
  59. Laura Moriarty encaustic, painting, sculpture
  60. Anne Mudge San Diego, fiber, sculpture, installation
  61. Isamu Noguchi sculpture, public art
  62. Haley Nagy encaustic, book making, paper works
  63. David Nash public art, sculpture
  64. Alexandra Newmark fiber, sculpture, installation
  65. Anna O'Cain San Diego, installation
  66. Michele Oka Doner figure, sculpture
  67. Claes Oldenburg sculpture, public art
  68. Yoko Ono performance
  69. Kathy Ostman-Magnusen San Diego, figure, painting
  70. Marcus Papay San Diego, furniture
  71. Judy Pfaff installation (Art: 21)
  72. Lisa Pressman encaustic, painting
  73. Ken Price ceramics
  74. Lissa Rankin encaustic, painting, sculpture
  75. Helen Redman San Diego, painting
  76. Nancy Reyner painting
  77. Renee Richetts San Diego, paper works
  78. Gail Roberts San Diego, painting
  79. Deanne Sabeck light sculpture, installation, public art
  80. Melissa Stager San Diego, sculpture, installation
  81. Kelly Schnorr San Diego, ceramics
  82. Richard Serra installation, public art, sculpture (Art: 21)
  83. Nancy Spero feminist, painting (Art: 21)
  84. Rebecca L. Shapiro encaustic, painting
  85. Cindy Sherman photography, video, feminist (Art: 21)
  86. Ernest Silva painting
  87. Lisa Sisley-Blinn encaustic, painting
  88. Kiki Smith figure, sculpture, installation (Art: 21)
  89. Nan Smith figure, ceramics, installation
  90. Anna Stoa San Diego, painting, encaustic
  91. Anna Stump San Diego,painting, installation
  92. Ursula von Rydingsvard sculpture (Art: 21)
  93. Kara Walker installation (Art: 21)
  94. Vicki Walsh San Diego, painting
  95. Rachel Whiteread sculpture, installation
  96. Faith Wilding feminist, fiber, installation
  97. Anne Wilson fiber, installation
  98. Linda Womack encaustic, painting
  99. Daniella Woolf fiber, encaustic, sculpture, installation
  100. Andrea Zittel fiber, installation (Art: 21)
Your turn:
What do you think of this list? Anyone that I forgot that I should be added? What about you? Should you be on this list? I am thinking about doing more lists, so I would love your input.

Here's to 100 more posts! Happy Art making! ~ Jaime Lyerly

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Artist Lisa Bebi Paint Over Demo added to the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Retreat in November 2009

Paint Over Technique, Star Glam © 2009 Lisa Bebi

We are honored to have Lisa Bebi to join us as a demo instructor for the San Diego Women's Caucus for Art Retreat on November 13 - 15, 2009 in Julian, California! Get ready to have some fun and make some art.

Here is all the information. Hope you can join us!

The retreat offers a special time to make art, make new friends and reconnect with old friends.


THE FAMILY FIELD AND CONSTELLATIONS, group healing session with Ellen Benfatti
PORTRAIT PAINTING with Judith Burnett
(More details about the workshops below)

Now Added!
PAINT OVER DEMO with Lisa Bebi
See Lisa's innovative Paint Over Technique on her blog, Pimp my Spleen, and in Somerset Studio's Workshop Volume 4.

When: November 13, 14, 15, 2009

Camp Stevens in Julian
1108 Highway 78
Julian, CA 92036
Phone: (760)765-0028
We will be staying in the new Wolterstorff Lodge.

Fee: A $135 (member), $155 (non-member) or $180 (retreat plus basic membership) fee covers registration, 2 nights and 5 meals (organically grown and prepared by Camp Stevens), and all workshop fees. Note: There might be a small materials fee.


From San Diego: Take highway 67 to Ramona, then Highway 78 east to Julian. Camp Stevens is located 2 miles east of Julian on State Highway 78.
There is a “Camp Stevens” entrance sign on the left side of the highway exactly 2 miles from Julian.

A deposit of $35 (refundable before November 6, 2009) is required to secure your reservation, and the full amount of $135, $155 or $180, is due at registration.

Registered participants will receive a detail map, a packing list, schedule, and other details via mail. Please let us know if you require a special diet, or have physical restrictions.

Note: There is no cell phone service.

Workshop Descriptions:
(A WCA/SD membership is NOT required to participate in the retreat)

The family field and constellations; group healing session with Ellen Benfatti
There is a “life force” that flows through families, generation after generation. This force is one, which relates family member’s to each other. This is part of the family field of consciousness. We call it the Family Soul. Ellen will be facilitating a healing session which works with the energetic patterns held within the family. Come ready to heal and restore balance to your body, mind, and soul. The time spent together during this workshop will most likely change your view of yourself, humanity, and your family in a way that fosters more love, compassion, health, and vitality.

Portrait Painting in oils with Judith Burnett
You will learn a basic portrait painting technique. You will learn how to pose your model in order to get a good likeness and a satisfying painting; what materials and colors you will need, and how to mix and apply your paint.

Encaustic painting with Jaime Lyerly
Encaustic is beeswax, damar resin and pigment applied to a surface hot and fused using heat. You will be learning the basic techniques of encaustic painting is this workshop. We will cover history, materials, substrates, tools and safety. We will explore layering, collage, incising, embedding, and transfers. There will be plenty of time for hands-on experimentation. Bring your own collage elements and get ready to try this “hot” way of painting. (see more of my encaustic work)

About Camp Stevens and WCA/SD retreat
We will stay in the new Wolterstorff Lodge, which is built from the ashes of the Bishop’s Lodge; destroyed in the “Angel Fire” in September 15, 2007. The lodge has 24 beds; 4 six person rooms with shared bath, and a meeting room with a fireplace. Outdoor Facilities include a tree house, outdoor chapel and other outdoor meeting and gathering spaces. Visitors can also enjoy a swim in the pool (seasonal), a stroll in the botanical garden, games on the lawns, basketball and volleyball, or an evening campfire.

For more information, or to register for the Retreat, contact Jen Bottoms at (619) 892-3429 or via email.

If you missed my encaustic workshop in Escondido, you can join me for this one! Hope to see you there.

Happy Art Making! See you at the Retreat! ~ Jaime Lyerly

I just did some Lisa Bebi-style draw overs (like her paint overs but with oil pastels) last night, and I haven't decided if I should share them on this blog on my fan page or just keep them trapped in the journal I did them in. They would definitely fit more into my category of an Art Action, since this is a new style I am trying on. Anyone here interested in seeing them?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

5 Art Actions for Busy Artists to Ignite the Creative Spark and Keep it Burning Bright

"I'm so busy!"
"I have no time to make art!"
"If there were only __ more hours in the day, then I could make art!"
"I'm so tired after my long day, all I can do is watch TV..."
"My brain is fried... how am I supposed to be creative, NOW?"

I have heard them all before. I have SAID them many, many times. And with this semester's schedule, I really don't have much time to make art. I am so busy that all you will get in this post is words, not how to pictures. So what can we do to keep the creative fires burning or ignite the creative spark that has dwindled? ART ACTIONS to the Rescue!

My idea of Art Actions are a modified version of SARK's Micro-movements, laid out in her book Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day (and awesome book with a ridiculously long title!). Micro-movements are about making an movement toward your goal by doing actions that take no longer than 5 minutes. Each action gets you moving without the pressure of having to do it all. Brilliant! To learn more about how SARK helps artists and writers, Click here to visit Planet SARK.

Art Actions are my own way of tricking myself into making time for art. Even though I love to make art, it can be overwhelming to even get started on project - especially working in encaustic which takes me 45 minutes even to set up and heat my wax! While these Art Actions make take longer than 5 minutes, help push you towards bigger and more complex projects, while keeping the creative fires burning. They also can BECOME larger projects or a series if you love what you are doing. Or they just can be a way to keep your hands moving. I admit to doing all of these Art Actions while watching movies with my family. TV time gives me about 1 - 2 hours worth of uninterrupted creating time. Not bad!

The trick is NOT to put pressure on yourself to make art.
These are just exercises, like word association and free writing for writers or blind contour line drawings for figure artists. Onto the actions....

Top 5 Art Actions to Ignite the Creative Spark:

1. Organic shape cut outs
Materials: exacto knife, cutting mat, Bristol board or thicker colored paper

Action: Grab an exacto knife and some paper and start cutting. No straight lines; no rulers; no thought. Keep flowing like a smooth line of charcoal, and see what shapes come from your subconscious. Cut out a shape; put it aside. Cut another one out. Cut out a hole in that one. But no trying to make it look like anything! That can come later, if desired.

2. Abstract Oil Pastel coloring
Materials: Oil Pastels, smooth paper (such as Bristol board or poster board)

Action: Choose a pastel, and scribble on the paper. I call oil pastels "adult crayons" because they have all the excitement of being able to lay down color quickly and easily like crayons, but use artist grade materials instead. So color all over the paper and then when it is filled with color, blend them using your fingers covered in paper towel. Again, don't stress about what flows on the page. I lean towards abstract color blotches because the moment I try to do something with a figure or object, it becomes too analytical. Try coloring in the organic shapes that were cut from Bristol board.

3. Paper art re-purposing
Materials: Old art, drawing exercises, or "failed attempts" on paper, acrylic or mat medium, brush, substrate (board, canvas or paper)
Optional: Scissors

Action: Have lots of art that didn't turn out as expected? Rip it up and make it into something new. I choose to rip things up because it is freeing to separate it from its original intent of being art. Now it is just a scrap of paper - nothing intimidating about that! Glue down the ripped pieces onto a blank piece of paper, canvas or board. Or you can add it directly to another "failed attempt." It is wonderfully freeing. The pictures can become a background for something else, but don't stress about that now. Just rip and glue it down with the mat medium.

4. Stamp Carving
Materials: Blank soft rubber carving blocks, carving tools, pencil
Optional: Transfers or images, tracing paper

Action: Stamp carving is so much fun! It requires a little more attention to what you are doing so you don't cut yourself, so make sure that the TV show you are watching isn't too enthralling. I found this wonderful Stamp Carving Tutorial which will help you with the basics. Personally, I don't do transfers onto the block; I draw and then carve using one of two bits. These are addictive. I wait until I have more time to actually ink the stamp and use it.

5. Intuitive Knitting
Materials: Yarn and knitting tool of your choice (mine is the Knifty Knitter)

Action: Grab your favorite yarn and knitting tool and start knitting. Leave all your patterns and stitch counting for another time. Just explore what the shapes you can make with your tool and the rhythm of your stitch. I set limits for myself to work in; such as one type of yarn, and use a 8 inch rectangular Knifty Knitter loom. Just knit. Have curiosity about what is going on with the piece, but don't try to force it into any shape - especially into something functional! That is the easiest way to kill the creative spirit is to try to give it a function. They can become fiber art pieces later, or hidden inside something bigger...it is up to you!

Ready to ignite the creative spark? Try one of these Art Actions! Turn off your analytical mind, send your inner art critic out on an errand and intuitively make something. It is the act of creating, even for a few minutes that will keep you connected to your art even on your busiest days.

Your Turn: Try one of these Art Actions or one of your own design. What kind of Art Actions do you do to keep your creativity alive? Sketching? Collage? Sewing? Taking apart typewriters? Whatever it is, keep doing it! And share it here with us. I would love to hear your ways to keep the fires burning so that when you do have time, it flows out into beautifully crafted art.

Happy Creating! ~ Jaime Lyerly