Saturday, July 31, 2010

Art Journal Party At Dirty Footprints Studio

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Connie over at Dirty Footprints Studio is wrapping up her 30 Journals 30 Days by opening up the fun to everyone. She's asked everyone to answer a few questions about their art journaling and to post a link at her website. Go check it out and be inspired and awed at the amazing art journal love she has cookin' up over there! It's a truly uplifting and supportive community she has created.

So, here's my "interview."

How long have you been Art Journaling?

I'm not sure what I do qualifies as art journaling but my introduction to art journaling has been the jumping off place for what I do. My stuff is really more like - decorated morning pages. I am still much more verbally than visually oriented. Still, it was a revelation to me when about a year ago I was introduced to art journaling and felt compelled to put color on the page. I am hoping that as time goes on I will begin to feel even more comfortable expressing myself visually but for now this is where I am.

How has Art Journaling impacted, changed or enhanced your life?

It's allowed me to express myself in ways I didn't know I had in me. It has opened me up to color, shape, line - I didn't know I thought that way. It also never ceases to amaze me how it reveals something I need to know. I'll think I'm picking eggs to put in my art journal just because I am aesthetically drawn to them and then suddenly I'll find myself writing about what I'm trying to "hatch." It's also allowed me to fully embrace my imperfection. I'm NOT a visual artist - much of what I do is rudimentary - but that's OK because my journal is for me, just for me. By being so deeply committed to something at which I'm not very good I've been open to accepting "failure" in other areas of my life. I'm much more able to learn from "mistakes" rather than cringing and curling up in a corner over my "failure."

What are some of your favorite Art Journaling materials to use?

CHEAP ACRYLIC PAINT!!! It's cheap so I don't feel the pressure to create something wonderful and I can use as much as I want. It's immediate color on the page. I also like markers, colored pens, baby wipes, scraps of paper and cut outs from old magazines. Oh, and gel medium - you can NEVER have enough of that stuff!

Who are some of your favorite Art Journalers?

I have to confess that I haven't started collecting names yet. I'm still easing my way into the community. I buy and am inspired by Art Journal Magazine but the names I know are Connie and, of course, Teesha Moore.

What words of encouragement would you say to an Art Journal newbie?

There are no rules. Have fun. Just start. If I can do it, you can do it. Don't be intimidated by other people's beautiful pages. Be inspired and seek to express yourself. You'll be surprised what you discover.

My bio?

Actress, voice teacher, jewelry designer, part time poet, full time mom. In my fantasy world I live by the ocean in a little house situated between a library and and art supply store

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nourishing Myself with Cyber Balance

(a page from my journal)

It's Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie Ridler Studios. This week her prompt was "How Do You Wish to Nourish Yourself?" I wish to nourish myself by reminding myself of my intention to enter the cyber world mindfully and with more balance (which I wrote more about here and which led to this). The internet is a very powerful tool but, for me, it can also be a very powerful drug. I am actively searching for ways to allow my two worlds (my "real" world and my cyber world) to feed and fuel each other. How do you wish to nourish yourself? Join the wishing!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Ripple Effect of Jenny P

Meet my friend, Jennifer Pilong - singer/songwriter, actress/playwright. When I decided to venture into this interview experiment Jenny was the first person who came to mind. In fact, the person and the idea basically came together. Now, I know MANY talented and creative people but Jenny seems to be dedicated to the creative process itself. As she says, "I have a real fifth chakra thing going on!" She has her hands deeply in so many mediums I was curious to know how she balances it all.

I first met Jenny in her incarnation as an actress. She is a card carrying Equity member who has been performing professionally since she was 17 years old and whose theatre credits are too numerous to mention here. Just believe me when I tell you she's a powerful and organic performer.

On the other side of the stage Jenny has musically directed some theme park shows, written a Christmas show which was performed at the Scottish Rite Theatre in Collingswood, NJ and Snug Harbor, NY. She also co-wrote the musical Fruitflies which was part of the Philly Fringe Festival and PGLTF. Most recently she wrote Ripples, a beautiful play about how the ripples we create can make a huge difference. Ripples had a reading at the Walnut Street Theatre this spring and after a few revisions, Jenny is now in the process of submitting it to other theatres and festivals.

Jenny-the-singer is also very busy. Jenny and her song writing partner, Stephen Kocher, make up the singer/songwriter duo, Jenny & Me. They are, as she says, "two happy kids with a penchant for sad songs." She also lends her powerful voice to Hotsy Totsy, "a three gal band that sings killer three part harmony in a style reminiscent of the Andrew Sisters."

As if all that isn't enough, Jenny also designs jewelry, paints, is a "bonafide fancer (that's a fake dancer)" and has recently started the lovely blog, Tiny Stone Big Ripples.

Jenny and I met for coffee last week and had a wonderful conversation. Here's some of what we covered :

Me: Jenny, you are involved in so many creative endeavors. Is there one that you consider your main discipline or are they all equal in your mind?

JP: I think they're starting to become equal. In the beginning, it was singing that I felt most comfortable with but then I got to AMDA (the American Musical and Dramatic Academy) and I realized that it doesn't matter if there's nothing behind the voice. One of my teachers said, "It's nice but it's vanilla pudding." At first I thought, "What do you mean, I just hit a high b-flat!!!" But after my initial impulse I immediately got it. I started putting the intention into my singing and that led naturally to the acting.

I've also always written but never with any discipline or intention until I became an adult.

Me: That leads me to another one of my questions. Did any of your talents come as a surprise to you?

JP: No. I was always drawn to anything creative. If we would have had more fat cabbage when I was growing up I would have taken any kind of dance class, painting class, ANY kind of artistic class I could get my hands on.

Me: Do you ever feel that because you are involved in so many different areas that one suffers while you concentrate on another.

JP: I used to. I always used to say, "If I'd just focus on one of them I could probably be really successful at it." And so, I had to make some decisions. I closed my on-line jewelry shop and sold off my inventory because I decided that the jewelry was just going to be for fun and just for me. I had to decide what I really wanted to make a living doing and I really want to make a living with something like Ripples. I want to write plays that make an impact and be an actress/singer. The acting/singing/writing all seems to work together for me.

Me: Has the fact that you've decided that some endeavors are for fun and some are how you make your living changed your approach to any of them?

JP: No, not really because I still love them all!! I guess the singing/writing/acting thing is just what resonates most strongly for me. I have a real fifth chakra thing going on. There's something about putting forth my truth...!!

Me: Is your creative process the same for everything? For instance when you're working on your jewelry, do you sit down and just start stringing beads together?

JP: Yes!

Me: And when you write, do you just sit down and start stringing words together?

JP: Yes!

Me: So, it's basically the same process?

JP: Kinda. For instance with Ripples, about ten years ago I said, "I want to write this show and I think it's going to be about 'this'." But, I didn't have the focus then. I wrote out the concept, some character sketches and a couple of scenes but that was it. I didn't touch it again until, well, just last year. But, when I started working on it again I scrapped just about everything except the core of the original concept and most of the characters. Then, I just started writing. I write long hand which helps free things up for me. I have this thing about how my writing can't be seen until it's perfect. (Laughing) I'm working on that! But, there's something about the long hand that frees you from that because who's going to read my chicken scratch. I can barely read it. So, I can write and even if I think, "this is crap" who cares because by the time I get it to the keyboard it's going to change.

Me: You mentioned that when this concept initially came to you, you were younger and didn't have the discipline needed to finish it. Did you have to deliberately create a writing routine for yourself?

JP: Well, I started again last summer... and the Phillies games came on at, I would make myself sit down at 4:00pm and say, "You don't have to write the whole time but you don't have the Phillies until 7:00...! So, I'd put on Annie Lennox or something cool and relaxing and I'd just write. Sometimes it was godawful hard, like extracting a tooth and sometimes it was easy. I also gave myself deadlines like, "I want Act 1 finished by here, the edits done by here. I find I work better that way even if they are self imposed deadlines. Otherwise...

Me: You may not bring the project to fruition?

JP: Right.

Me: So, now Ripples is in a transition phase, recently re-edited and ready to submit. How do you flow to the next project? Does something catch your eye, do projects seem to just come into your life or do you deliberately say, "Basta, I'm done with this" and then seek out something new?

JP: All of the above. For instance Sadie (Jenny's six year old friend) was over the other day. She was sitting at the piano and she was singing and making up songs. She looked up at me and said, "It's better if you close your eyes." She had no worry about whether anyone would think it was stupid. She was just in it! The whole day was like that. The next day I wrote a song.

(the song, by the way, is Circles which is wonderful and which you can listen to here)

ME: Do you ever get stuck?

JP: Yes.

Me: How do you get unstuck?

JP: I find that spiders show up in the house when I'm stuck or when I need to get moving on something. Or, I'll dream about spiders, which are about creation and weaving. So, when the spiders start showing up I know it's time to get moving. I also write everyday but it's just writing...

Me: Like what Julia Cameron would call "Morning Pages?"

JP: Yes, just free flowing to get all the crap out. Sometimes, I walk or meditate or have a six year old over.

Me: What feeds you creatively?

JP: Louie, Louie and I together..

Me: Yes!

JP: We are pretty much always in collaboration.

Me: Are you good about taking care of yourself when you're really immersed in a project?

JP: I'm better. I'm starting to recognize that those little things can get me stuck if I don't take care of them. I can't work until the checkbook is balanced or the apartment is clean but again - Louie! If I'm really immersed in a project then he's got those things covered and he brings me sandwiches. And vice versa, I do it for him.

Me: OK, this question is mostly just for me because we both operate in the world differently than most people. Our schedules are much different than those of the rest of the world. I find I need to follow my natural rhythm, in fact, if I don't it can be one of the things that blocks me.

JP: (agreeing) YES!

Me: And, it seems to me that you're totally OK with the way your rhythm falls.

JP: Yes!

Me: So, if you get up at 2:00 in the afternoon, you're OK with that?

JP: Yeah! Louie says, "Don't TELL people that" and I say, "Why not, it's AWESOME!!" But, I've been this way all my life.

ME: Me,too, but I always feel guilty. Everyday I get up and say, "OK, tonight I'm going to bed early and I'm going to get up early."

JP: I have NEVER felt guilty. I've never felt I have to be a certain way. I think it's easier to just go with the flow and adjust as you need to.

Me: Are there any other ways that you have to adapt because the world works one way and you function differently?

JP: Well, it sucks that things close just when I'm ready to start something!

Me: What's next for you?

JP: Well. I'd like to do a full recording of Jenny & Me, I've been hitting the audition scene again and I'm getting ready to submit Ripples.

This is where the "interview" morphed into a full on conversation about where to submit the play, working styles, former roommates, SYTYCD, the Tonys, energy medicine and well - you get the picture. So, imagine yourself sipping the beverage of your choice, relaxing, and enjoying the laughter and vibrant energy of Jennifer Pilong. Let the vibration of her mantra, "I am a creative being here to bring peace, joy, healing and harmony to Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants" ripple over you!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Stuff at Creative Live

I just had to drop in and jot down a quick note about all of the good stuff that's happening over at Creative Live (a FREE, live, worldwide, online creative classroom). This weekend I'm participating in David duChemin's class, Vision Driven Photography. The first session was yesterday afternoon but you can catch the second session today or you can buy the downloadable videos of the sessions for a very reasonable price. Next week I'll be starting the first of a five week watercolor course with Molly Murrah - and all of this is for FREE!!

I have to confess that as I sat down to watch yesterday I couldn't imagine sitting in front of my computer for three hours. Three hours later I was energized, inspired and wished it could go on for another three! David duChemin had me hooked from the first second and I found myself writing down quotable phrases one after the other. Here are a few:

Accept the fact that you will always be frustrated. That's part of being an artist.
Honor and acknowledge the collaboration between you and the moment.
Creativity flourishes in constraint
Embrace the chaotic
Bad ideas are important because they lead you to better ideas.

And those are just a few. His process of allowing vision to drive the technology resonates with me and it has been how I approach any and all of my creative disciplines. But, I think what I appreciate most about his philosophy is the "no excuses mentality" he seems to have. Photography is like any creative endeavor - it's hard work, it's frustrating, you have to learn the craft, you'll make mistakes. If you are waiting for any of this to go away, you are kidding yourself and you will never get down to the messy work of creativity. The way to become a better photographer is to SHOOT!!! Don't wait for things to be perfect - get out there and DO IT!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Coffee Creativity Connection

I am so happy that I am following through with the inspiration to interview the many interesting, talented and creative people I know. My life has been enriched in a myriad of ways by them and I know that by sharing their thoughts, words and ideas here they will enrich and inspire many other lives.

After my first interview I can already see that this is also going to be one of those experiences that will return to me a thousand fold. What a wonderful, joyful, unexpected bonus! The interview process gives me the undivided attention of these folks. Given that they are talented and highly creative they are busy and in demand. Although I know, have worked with and socialized with them, we have not had these kinds of conversations that allow me to see more deeply into who they are.

My first interview took place yesterday afternoon. We laughed, talked, laughed, got way off topic, laughed, connected and when we finally came up for air I couldn't believe how much time had passed. I am already planning our next get together. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. I know you will enjoy getting to know her, too. She is a singer/songwriter, actress/playwright whose mantra is "I am a creative being here to bring peace, joy, healing and harmony to Mother Earth and all of her inhabitants."

I'm off to transcribe and organize. Look for the interview in a couple of days.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


For the past several years I've taught a journaling workshop at the Ritz Theatre's Summer Camp. We talk about writing and drawing and poems and capturing our ideas on paper so we can further develop them or just to express ourselves. This year we wrote a list poem together.

Theatre IS!
Theatre is..
Reality with art, drama and music
Exciting and educational

A story
A song
A rhythm
Expressing your self through art, dancing and singing
A place for me to express myself, let go of all the stress and be my own person
A place where you can use your imagination
Where I laugh the hardest

A great place to be
One of my favorite things
Being someone else
Bringing the power from your insides out to others
Like a ball of fire in my mind I can't stop from spreading

Where you can be yourself or be a dragon, a cat, a mailman, an alien - it’s a place to do ANYTHING
Going to places you’ve only dreamed of
A place where all belong
Showing what you got
I love it all
Theatre is my best adventure yet!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Back

I've been away for a while. I suspended much of my online activity (other than Facebook which I could never quite let go of) because I found I was spending more time on the computer writing about doing stuff rather than actually doing stuff. I'm hoping that this time around I'll be able to achieve a bit more balance. I'm not sure it's possible because I think I tend to be an "all-or-nothing" kind of gal. But, I'm going to give it my best effort.

I have missed all of the interesting, creative people I've met online but this hiatus reminded me that I know some pretty fascinating folks in my everday life as well. That in turn led me to toy with the idea of somehow combining the two worlds. My plan is to interview the people who inspire me, friends whose creativity and talent touch my tangible world but with whom I've never discussed the creative process. This also gives me an excellent opportunity to ask these folks the questions about their work that pop into my head at 3:00am. Win-win.

So, I'm back - tentatively.

My own little place to explore my creativity and imagination