Creative Crackdown — #museclues

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I swear the glass isn’t the size of my head. Although I’d be okay with that.

I’d love to blame my current problems and frustrations on writer’s block or an MIA muse, but as most creatives will tell you, if you don’t work the muscle it simply atrophies. Staring at my blank canvas or page, waiting for inspiration to smack me in the face, usually results in the decision to pour a glass of wine and see what everyone’s talking about on twitter. Flash forward two hours and there is still a blank canvas/page, rolling its inanimate eyes in we’ve-been-down-this-road-before amusement.

In other words, there may not be a mystical muse to blame for my current state of overwhelming frustration and general dissatisfaction. Just me.

Well, crap.

So when I turned 52 yesterday [GULP, I really need to start lying about my age] and had just received $52 from mom to spend at will, I went to the local bookstore seeking inspiration. I didn’t buy any books but I did find some cool ideas for free. Then I went to the local arts and crafts store that doesn’t open on Sundays and doesn’t want to pay for their employees’ birth control which is fine but then don’t bitch about abortion and I eventually digressed down several aisles before spending $53 on art supplies in the full-scale hunt for my mystical, hooky-playing muse.

So here’s my plan: Create something every single damn day until I’ve retrieved the passion and confidence that has taken an extended hike in the past few years. I know I suck at NaNoWriMo and I know my schedule and resources would make a Painting-A-Day difficult to keep up with, so I’m committing to SOMETHING CREATIVE every day and I’ll be accountable by posting it online at my creative blog AndSuzSays.com. Every day.

[[[ I’ll just keep repeating that until I stop hyperventilating at the mere thought ]]]

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I’m sure 52 will be as much of a hot mess as this first painting attempt is. I’m okay with that too.

Day 1: Last night I took a selfie of me and my first glass of wine as I “celebrated” the passage of time. Today I celebrated my daily #museclues with a painting of that photo. It’s not really finished because I got so zealous with the oils it was impossible to add details, but you get the idea… It’s a start.

I’ll be posting a blog, essay, story, drawing, painting or SOMETHING CREATIVE each day and tweeting it if anyone is interested, but mainly it’s simply a cheap ploy to lure my muse out of hiding and help me figure out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. Which I think happens at 53 so I better hurry…

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Post-hibernation homework

Published with permission by the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor

After a few heartbreaking false starts, it appears that spring may finally be ready to stick around. Well, at least until it snows tomorrow. I can handle precipitation as long as it’s not frozen and accompanied by frigid winds. I’m more than a little whiny these days.

With the warm-up, I can tell it’s not just my attitude that needs adjusting, but my creativity as well. After a while of everything being brown or white, I’m simply not as inspired – be it words, art, music or other forms of expression – I’m just not feeling it.

Don’t be late for this very important date… with your creative self.

If you’re the same way, crawling out of your figurative cave this spring, I have some post-hibernation homework for you: make a date with yourself.

Years ago I read an amazing book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and I’ve carried some of the most inspiring points with me since then, one of them being an artist date. Cameron is primarily a writer but the spirit of the book and the artist date is really for all types of creative people – and in my humble opinion, we’re all creative no matter what shape that may take.

Unfortunately we’re all too often waylaid by work, family, obligation – or in my case, winter blues – to get those juices flowing and we need to assign ourselves the task of stimulating those senses again. It won’t take a lot of time and it may even be something you’ve already scheduled. The key is opening your eyes and looking at the world a little differently.

Start with an hour a week and designate that time as your creativity date. One of my favorite places to start is the local thrift or antique store. Look past the junk that no one else wants or the dated dishes and clothes that make you cringe.

Look for the treasure. Think about the history behind an unusual knick-knack. Imagine the story behind the old book with the personal inscription. Appreciate the intricate pattern on a single dish that survived from a whole set of old china.

When the weather is finally cooperative, take a walk – just you and your imagination. Along with your stiff legs, you’ll feel your creativity stretch and yawn while you look at the dark bare branches lacing against the sky, their buds not quite visible to those in a hurry. Really admire the mosaic of decades-old flagstone that graces so many of the streets in Berthoud. (No really, look at them and make sure you don’t trip on an uneven edge while looking at the trees.)

Sometimes the date can be less abstract and you can take the time to fully enjoy the arts as created by others. When the kids are in school, spend an afternoon in the theater with a small independent film that has the critics buzzing. Speaking of kids, the Annual Thompson School District art show “Look. Think. Make. Connect!” is at the Loveland Museum/Gallery through April 14. You will be awestruck and inspired by the talent of our regional youth.

So many stories... one of them could be yours. (What is that weird black thing on the table?)

So many stories… one of them could be yours. (What is that weird black thing on the table?)

The Longmont Library is holding a festival this month that includes a talk and slide show with renowned Colorado author and photographer John Fielder on April 17. Any library is actually a gold mine for creative dates. I’ve been known to walk the stacks without purpose, just looking at all the books and seeing what subject sparked my curiosity.

You get the idea. You don’t need to be a writer or painter or musician, but may just need a seasonal jumpstart to your creativity. So here’s your assignment, if you choose to accept it: take an hour this week just for you and your winter-worn imagination. Work that intangible muscle and see what tangible impact it has on the rest of your life. It’s an easy A.

Can’t we all just get along?

Posted in conjunction with Beet Street

I admit I was a little intimidated by this month’s Science Cafe subject. There are a lot of big words in the synopsis and I had to take more than one breath just to say the title of Wednesday night’s program: Conservation Development Global Challenges Research Team. *whew*

Dr. Liba Pejchar

Fortunately, a conversation with Dr. Liba Pejchar, assistant professor at CSU, cleared the fog that threatened to ground all flights in and out of my right brain. I learned that the crux of her studies and teachings centers around conserving the environment, maintaining economical livelihood, and keeping all the neighbors happy.

Piece of cake, right?

If you have even a passing awareness of environmental news – nationally or globally – you’ll know this is a colossal challenge. One that Dr. Pejchar has been passionate about for the past five years. After receiving her PhD in environmental studies at the University of California Santa Cruz she completed a fellowship at Stanford University. She’s also participated in several field studies around the world, but it was in Hawaii where she began to work with ranchers as well as the native wildlife, seeking a win-win solution for all involved.

Biodiversity (one of those big words I tripped over) essentially refers to all life on earth: plants, animals, people. It can also concern a specific region, such as Northern Colorado. When there was an opening at CSU’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, it was a good fit for Pejchar’s research and she signed on two-and-a-half years ago.

The challenge of conservation development is to address the obvious environmental problems facing our region, while acknowledging the fiscal needs of private landowners.

It’s about “recognizing progress, while finding ways to harness it,” explained Dr. Pejchar. There’s also a social component. “Is this (development) good for creating communities and neighborhoods?”

In a perfect world, these seemingly opposing factors are equally respected and everyone is happy. It’s a challenge that transcends the politics of “green” — as in ecology and economy. Head on down to Avo’s this Wednesday at 5:30 where Dr. Pejchar will share her knowledge on this significant and timely topic, employing words of all sizes as well as photographs and maps.

What do you think – can we protect the planet and the pocketbook?

He’s a Magic Man

I can already tell you, I have no idea.

Reposted with permission of beet street, Fort Collins

When you describe someone as manipulative, it’s not usually a glowing compliment, however Dan Jaspersen’s ability to manipulate what you see and believe is not only a source of pride, it’s his livelihood. This month’s Art Cafe – Mentalist, Manipulator, Magician – is presented by the man, who also answers to Dan J.

Jaspersen taught himself to juggle – with one broken arm, no less – at an early age, then picked up a deck of cards in college, ultimately paying rent with his sleight of hand skills. After acquiring his degree in business communications, he was soon employed in Japan working in the field of international relations. But in his heart, he’s always been a performance artist, and less than two years ago his magic act became his regular gig.

“I design experiences for people,” he said, explaining his unique art form.

Unlike the glittery illusionists on television or children’s entertainers who pull rabbits out of hats, Dan has worked hard to create a new style from old school.

“What I love to do is go back into the really old books, tricks and ideas,” he said, adding that even science magazines from the 1950s provide inspiration.

Although Dan’s act is family friendly, he stresses that his primary audience is adult, setting him farther apart from the stereotype magician. His performance is classy, elegant and more thought-provoking, making him a popular draw for private parties, corporate events and education venues. His clientele includes everyone from Colorado State University, to the Rotary club, to Nonesuch Theater. The type of audience often determines what tricks he’ll pull out of his bag.

The Minnesota native now lives in Cheyenne with his family, but with wife Andi’s roots in Loveland, Dan is well-connected and sought out through the Wyoming and Northern Colorado region.

Dan Jaspersen’s program at Avo’s this Wednesday, Feb. 23, begins at 5:30 and he promises to combine some magic with a little behind-the-scenes look at the mentalist’s mindset.

Dan Jaspersen knows your card.

“I believe in magic, but I know better,” he said enigmatically. As a magician, he strives to reconcile the contradiction of magic and the laws of science. “It’s a tricky thing.”

He paraphrased his favorite magician, Banachek, saying, “I like to take five senses and make it appear there’s a sixth.” In fact, Dan admits to mixing psychology and sleight of hand, mining the secrets of mediums and charlatans from a bygone era.

Fortunately for us – his delighted marks – he uses his powers for good, not evil. Bring all of your available senses this week and enjoy Dan J., Magician@Play.