Plans and Art and Mermaids -- oh my!

"I must be a mermaid... I have no fear of depths, and a great fear of shallow living."  - Anais Nin

I'm sure it appears I've totally abandoned my website and my faithful readers because ... well I kinda did. 

But I promise I didn't!

The only excuse I can offer is that I suffer from two simultaneous and equally debilitating ailments:  "Lookit All The Things! Disease" and "I Can Only Do One Thing at a Time Disorder".

Being a creative has its drawbacks.  On the one hand I have a brain filled with an assortment of wonderful and magical ideas!  On the other hand, I am easily distracted by said wonderful and magical ideas.  So it's a constant struggle to understand my purpose, re-evaluate my intentions, and re-order my activities to align in a way that supports the taking of one step at a time toward the goal.

Hence my lack of appearance here:  I've been passionately pursuing The Goal!

Four years ago I had a secret vision with an intense drive and purpose to serve artists and thus make the world a more amazing place.  And recently, that vision has taken a more solid shape, allowing me to finally act on it!  Y'all this is it, The Big One: 

I'm designing a book.  A gorgeous book, with giant, full-color illustrations, telling the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, "The Little Mermaid".  It's going to be a literal work of visual art, for delighted lovers of fairy tales and imaginative folks passionate about story and art.  People like you and me, in other words.  

Why would I do this?  Because I'm bored or something?  Oh no, no, no.   This massive illustrative project is going to fund my bigger (more vital!) vision to support, encourage, educate, and equip future artists and creatives to push past boundaries and sing their truth!

As an artist, I've had the unique position and honor to meet many other artists, to speak with them, know them, understand them, and one thing is clear about this creative journey: art is opposed.

Art is demanding. It requires something from a person that is more than paint or paper or (in my case) turning on the computer and opening PhotoShop. Making art means culling forth something Other residing within – often very, very deep within. This takes work and self-awareness, and while it is good work, manufacturing as it does such beautiful things, it is difficult work because it exhaustively demands heart and soul.

Art is devalued. As a collective society we'll fork out millions to watch the latest C.G.I. mega-blockbuster, and some of us will even hand over a fiver-plus-ten to attend an art exhibit featuring a name we're familiar with –- but what about that gal working on a wall mural in a child's nursery … or the lady who designs really clever objects made of wood and stone, right out of her garage? For every “successful” artist deemed worthy of money and notice, there are hundreds more struggling to be acknowledged, struggling with self-doubt, doling out thousands for materials, giving countless hours to education, learning and growing and developing more fully in their passion and skill – striving to have a voice which sings of truth in color and lines. And these are the artists who are often overlooked and largely ignored, which explains why –

Art is lonely.  Meant to be partaken of communally, art is ironically a solitary thing. When you're alive inside of yourself and working so diligently to pull that out into the light of day, to reveal it in a way others can partake of, it has a strangely isolating effect. Working so intimately with something, be it brush bristles smeared with paint or kneading bread dough, an individual's art is more accurately described as birth. And birthing something to life can only be done in quiet, dark places. Our friends and family don't fully understand what is going on inside our brains, what is writhing just beneath the exterior surface, and we artists aren't always articulate enough to express it until the final work is produced, which means working solo until the Just Right Time.

Art is a mystery. Creation happens in places within that are sometimes dark and squirrely. Ideas are born of emotions and meaningful experiences, formed in the recesses of a human heart into that something Other. It takes a lot of digging, which can (and does!) consume years and years of a human life. It's an evolutionary process, this making art thing, hard to hack at and difficult to reveal.

And yet, art is natural. It's as ingrained and necessary as breathing. Humanity exhibits this insatiable drive in a variety of ways, from baking in the kitchen and setting the dinner table, to sewing or knitting gorgeous wearables or putting up special made curtains in the family room. The urge to create is strong in us. One could even say it's a driving force, this thing that holds us firmly entrenched in either self-doubt or outright dismissal … but it is also the very thing that is the catalyst for life itself.

I believe in God, and I believe He is the Creator of all good and beautiful beings – and I believe we, the crowning glory of God's creation, are created in His very image to create.

We just don't always know how. And as difficult as art is – isolating, devalued, mysterious, and demanding – many of us don't even want to partake of the creative process. So we just –


And yet ….

How many times have you looked at someone's This or That Thing of Beauty and thought to yourself or even spoken aloud, “I wish I knew how to do that” – but then shrugged it off as outside the realm of possibility? I'm guessing a lot. I hear it all the time, when someone admires what I do, wistfully yearning they could do it too, and I just hurt for that person who is more wrapped up in defeat than she is in victory. Because art is important. If it wasn't, so many of us wouldn't be (or want to be) doing it!

A while ago I experienced a very profound thing: I realized my Calling was not just in “being an artist”, but it is also in helping others experience the joy of creating art themselves. I am built to guide others to the source of their creative energy. I'm designed to help others act on the natural creative force already hardwired in their souls.

That's how “The Fine Art of Becoming” was born, a specialized retreat weekend for the purpose of supporting, encouraging, educating, and equipping artists on their creative journey – which also includes those amazing people who don't (yet) see themselves as artists but who secretly believe (and rightly so!) they could be – they just need that little extra something to prove it to themselves. “The Fine Art of Becoming” will consist of structured, creative experiences and restorative solitude, encouraging talks by experienced artists and creatives active in the field of their expertise, and specialized lessons built to whet the soul's appetite and instill the courage to go forth and make art! It's an entire, immersive weekend to enliven fellow sojourners to their possibility, find their voice, and learn how to bravely go about singing and sharing their truth.

You want a spot on The Fine Art of Becoming retreat?  Registration opens in June of 2018.

[insert record scratch]

I know.  It's a long way off.  But it has to be.  You see, this kind of long-term goal planning takes time and prayer and a whole team of people -- and gobs of money ... something which seems to be in short supply around here.  Guess that whole "starving artist" thing is an Actual Thing.  Dangit.

Hence my illustrated book! Call it Phase One of The Fine Art of Becoming.  A fundraiser of sorts, this thing is gonna be crafted from the highest quality materials with gorgeous illustrations, sure to entertain and captivate lovers of stories everywhere. It'll be a work of art in itself, this book. Just you wait and see.  Especially by artists, for artists, to support artists.

So why “The Little Mermaid”?  You mean aside from the fact that I've been obsessed with mermaids since I was a little girl, even wanted to be one ... but sadly I never learned that breathing under water trick?

Because The Little Mermaid is someone so many of us relate to, even if on a subconscious level. The Little Mermaid belonged neither here nor there. A creature born of water and salt, yet longing for land and air. She never quite fit in, but never let that stop her from becoming who she knew, deep down, she was supposed to be. Her voice was stripped from her, she lost her way, but in the end, she discovered the core values set in all hearts, human or sea creature: vulnerable love, self-sacrifice, deeper belonging and holy purpose.

And that, my friend, is the very definition of Art.

That's why it's important to tell her story and share it in a way that we can all cling to. Because her story is our story.

When will “The Little Mermaid” book be complete?  Well, the process has already begun -- and you get a ringside seat to the whole show!  Parts have been cast and plans are already in motion to complete all thirty-five illustrations and have a publisher secured by May 31, 2018. It will take a great deal of orchestrating the scheduling of sessions, shooting all of my models, shooting additional photographic elements (such as architectural bits or clumps of flowers for a particular scene, and so on), after which each image must be sorted and cataloged. All of that has to happen before I can even begin putting all of the visual bits together in photographic form. Each illustration will take a minimum of six hours to complete – and that's just the final editing!  It is a highly processed, thoroughly detailed undertaking -- but don't worry! I'll keep you up-to-date on the goings on, so you can be the first to know when the final product is released.

Are you in? Good. Let's dive!