Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

Have You Something Nice to Say?

Last week I did something for the first time.  I entered the “comment stream” of a review on Amazon.

I went on Amazon to check the status of a book several peers in the design industry had recommended  and found a snobby, snarly “Who told you you know anything about art,” review with a single star.  In the review the reviewer validated everything she knows about art with all the initials that she’s earned.  And she warns, WARNS, readers to steer clear of this book for the body image drawings are not anatomically correct.  This made me smile.  I thought briefly about my own body for the last thirty years and mused that it hadn’t been anatomically correct either, but it was still my body!

The point of this book was not to offer Master’s level courses in still life and body drawing.  But rather to inspire and encourage people who had been discouraged from doing anything artful to try their hand at something creative.  The warning ended ominously by announcing that this author needed a lot more practice (and training) before she was qualified to teach.  And sharing the line from the children’s fable, “Remember the lesson of the Emperor’s new clothes.” Making art has been one of the joys of my life.  And I was told early on that I had no talent for it.  No sense of color.  I understand now that those sentences meant, “You are not skilled at replicating the models we have put in place for you, as a student, to copy.”  In my life time I’ve discovered that I WAS very skilled at expressing a line in my unique way.  And that’s all that I’ve ever asked of the art that I’ve created, either for the industry or for my own personal use.  I’ll be exploring this concept more in the weeks to come:  Personal Authority.  My art met the criteria of my personal authority.


Also in the weeks to come I’ll be introducing another artist to you by the name of Carmen Torbus. FYI – she’s got no BA or MFA  in art, but she DOES have an INSPIRED HEART (no acronym, just a bunch of Capital Letters for EMPHASIS).  Her first book is called THE ARTIST UNIQUE.  Her greatest joy is to inspire timid creatives to get out their art stuff and just make a mess and see what they discover.  But, I digress.  Back to the comment in the book review comment stream:

Here’s what I wrote:

Several Professional Artists have recommended this publication to me. And I am anxiously awaiting its arrival from Amazon.

Here’s a familiar question I have encountered all my life, “WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT?”


Commentary such as this comes out of a highly academic path. Committed academics are much like believers of rigid dogma. Unless one has learned from the masters, their knowing is not considered viable. “Self taught” becomes a pejorative rather than an exclamation.

ART that enlivens a soul is about discovery, fearlessness and willingness. Assessments such as this one call to mind the red pen of the teacher that stripped many of their capacity to write or to create. “My freshman art teacher told me I had no talent or capacity and so I’ve never tried again.” Of course there is academic precision. OF COURSE! We need precision. We need the “masters,” and those who obey the rules of the masters. And we also need gentle inspiring souls who have the courage to step outside the lines of convention and invite “ordinary” people to experience the EXTRAordinary sensation of creating/making art.


I will also end this comment celebrating education and independent discovery, BOTH. And perhaps I will also admonish, “Remember the story of the boy and the Emperor’s new clothes.” One sentence spoken by two different individuals, with completely different meanings. Just like art. It’s never just “a line,” when it’s YOUR line.


Planning Ahead for Restoration and Retreat

I returned a week ago from teaching at Dr. Deanna Davis’s  banner event, WOMANHOOD WEEKEND.  Even though I was faculty and there to teach, I came away over flowing with energy and ideas and new insights.  Dr. Davis reminded us all how powerful connecting over learning and friendship is.  It was a fantastic fire lit under my creative burner…and in the days since returning I have completely re-modeled both my writing room and art studio.  And there continue to be practical, measurable applications of all I learned in the context of the Womanhood Weekend.  If I wasn’t already scheduled to go as a trainer, I’d be signing up to attend as a participant!

Dr. Davis has made a very generous offer for friends and fans of me and my work.  It’s the finest discount that will be offered before the 2012 event.  If you are inclined to plan ahead, this is the best opportunity to register.  The Spokane area is lovely and the Northern Quest Resort is World Class. I had the best nights of sleep (away from home) that I’ve had in my travel experiences.



My Womanhood friends have set up the registration page for Womanhood Weekend and Success Summit events. I’m so honored they’ve asked me to be a faculty member again…they tell me attendees sing my praises! They are offering the deepest discount possible on these events through this Sunday, June 5th. Be sure to visit – encourage friends to join you! It’ll be here quick!


The First DAY of JUNE (and the rest of your life)

It’s June First.  I use the first of every month to create a journal in which I will record the observations and experiences of my life…all month long.  The first of anything is special.  It’s fresh.  It presents new possibilities.  It’s a start over place.  Begin Again.  “One more time, with feeling!”

It’s raining outside.  People on this island begrudging admit that it’s mostly been raining since summer before last.  I’m calling June my flower song month.  Because I know the flowers in our yard will get enough sun to grow well, they won’t be dried out and their colors will sing to me, everyday.  They will sing of the promise of viewing challenge in the context of benefit and lesson.  Sing out, sweet flowers.  I need what you’ve got.


“Dance Is the Way the BODY Spells” m.a. radmacher

My friends, Paul David Leopoulos and his wife, Linda, created the THEA Foundation after their lovely teen age daughter was killed by a drunk driver.  Thea’s academic and whole high school experience had been enlivened by her introduction to and participation in The Arts.  Paul David and Linda wanted to honor Thea’s memory by offering that same artful expansion to other students in their home state of Arkansas. I’ve seen the profound impact of their arts programs on their state.  As I try to describe the many ways that ART WORKS…I assess that “dance is the way the body spells.”  People have observed for decades that my proprietary lettering style appears to “dance across a page.”  Yep.  That’s right.  Dance was the inspiration for my lettering.  The characters dance in a line across the page.  Just the way a body spells a sentiment using its own form and the floor.


You may have read (or may not!) or heard that five people were arrested over the Memorial Day week end for dancing in the Jefferson Memorial  They were protesting the same such arrest that occurred in 2008 in which folks were arrested for dancing in the Memorial while listening to music on headphones.  That arrest occurred near midnight with no public eye.  The demonstration of quiet dance, staged at the Memorial this week end, was intended to be caught on film and be placed in the public eye.  As an objection.  A demonstration against an injustice.

I have observed that in any cultural oppression, spanning the centuries, the first expression to be taken away from a culture/society is its artistic, artful expression.  This Jefferson Memorial episode may seem like a small event to you but it’s indicative of a larger, and more concerning issue.


Art saves lives.  Art enlivens.  Art defines a community, a tribe, a culture.  When we look to understand ancient civilizations one of the first measures to consider (and the measure that consistently survives) is the art of that society.  How we articulate our cultural identity through  art, of all forms, is a defining characteristic of our country.  ANY country.
It is ironic that these arrests took place in the Memorial honoring the  champion of personal freedom and the President known to have said, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”

I am known by my friends to be given to fits of unanticipated dance – just about any where.  Is it even conceivable that I could be arrested for that genuine, authentic expression of my joy?  Last week I would have found it unlikely that such a thing would occur in my country.  And today, I am saddened to acknowledge that it has.   These individuals were not just spontaneously dancing as a personal expression.  They were dancing in the Jefferson Memorial to make a larger statement.


Pinochet’s cruel rule over Chile comes to mind.  And the women whose husbands, sons and fathers just “disappeared,” from their lives stood in the only way they could.  Silently.  With dance.  They could not speak but they allowed their physical frame to cry out against the injustice they experienced.  They danced.  And danced.  They danced to stave their loss and to speak for justice.  And finally, the world noticed.

Will the world notice five people who were arrested in Washington, D.C. for dancing? Will they note the harsh and violent way the arrests were conducted?  The more important question I want to ask is, “Have you?”

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