D is for Drawing

For the Blogging A to Z Challenge this month, I’m going to post a different letter of the alphabet every day. I’m trying to stick to the theme of “Things I Love.”

I love to draw.

The fact that I’m not very good at it is beside the point.

My stick figures look like a kindergartener drew them.  When I got back into journaling not too long ago, I wanted to start adding doodles to my work.  I can draw spirals and stars, hearts and 3-D boxes.  Since I wanted to expand my drawing horizons a little bit, I actually Googled “how to doodle.”

Yes, I actually did.

 

Original artwork by Doree Weller Isn't it wonderful?

Original artwork by Doree Weller
Isn’t it wonderful?

I think drawing is like dancing.  Some of us are just self-conscious about it.  I took art as an elective in high school, and I watched other students.  Their wrists were relaxed as they sketched pencil lines and shaded things that turned into actual drawings.  I never wanted to be an artist, but I wanted to learn how to make those pencil lines.

I think it’s the nature of being human to yearn for something you’re not good at.  I have many other talents, but none of them have filled that space where I wanted to draw.  I use color to make up for my lack of talent.

One of these days, I’ll take a drawing class, and hopefully I’ll learn to relax my wrist.  I don’t have great aspirations of becoming an artist.  I’d just like to be able to use pencils to create a shadow of my internal landscape.  Even if I can never capture it, the fun is in trying, right?

Do you like to draw?  Are you any good at it, or are you more like me?

Banned Books Week

From the Phoenix Art Museum Photo Credit: Doree Weller

From the Phoenix Art Museum
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

This week, September 21-27, was Banned Books Week.

I love the idea that people attempt to ban books.  Why?  Because people wanting to ban a book means that it was provocative, that it touched a nerve.  I’m all for entertainment, and some of my favorite books are just entertaining, with no other “value.”  I don’t think that art needs to have value other than entertainment, but I like it when art provokes and inspires.  Art at its best should have an effect on the reader or viewer or listener.  It should touch some chord within, even if it’s not in a positive way.

Art is a reflection of life, sometimes a truer reflection of life than an actual reflection.  One of my favorite quotes is:

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Life isn’t always pretty.  It’s not always neat.  Sometimes it’s ugly and difficult.  Sometimes it disgusts.  Which is why art should be provocative.

Don’t get me wrong; I have been personally offended by art.  I sympathize with people who want certain books banned.  But there’s only one type of censorship I favor: the ability to choose.  That’s right, if something personally offends me, I can choose not to view it or read it or listen to it.  I think parents should always have the right to choose what their children are exposed to, but that doesn’t mean that a certain group of parents should be able to choose for all.

Personally, when I see a list of banned books, I want to read all the ones on the list.  I’m not easily offended, and I always find it interesting to see what offends others.  I’ve read The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Gray, but those are the only ones on the list.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2013.

Things That Make Me Happy

Flowers!  I love flowers too!

Flowers! I love flowers too!

I’m a firm believer that the best things in life aren’t things, and the happiest people are the people who are happy for stuff other than things.  Things can’t make you happy long term.  Things break, get lost, don’t work as well as they used to, and aren’t the latest and greatest after a minute.  Things are not the key to happiness.  Being grateful for the little stuff is they key to happiness.

What makes me happy, in no particular order:

1.  Thunderstorms- I love the flash bang, and I love the sounds of rain.  One of my best memories is sitting on a porch in a rainstorm with my feet on the railing getting wet, and a laptop on my lap while I wrote a story.

2.  Music- Sometimes it’s Mogwai, sometimes it’s the Beatles or Enya or Tiffany.  But no matter what, I love surrounding myself with music.  I love creating playlists of all the random stuff I like for all different times.  I may not sing well, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know all the words.  Or that I don’t sing them.  Because if I have headphones on, I’m not the one that has to hear it, am I?

3.  My dogs- They’re always happy to see me and give unconditional love.  Without them, who would paint my laptop screen with nose smudges?

4.  Books-  Okay, yes, they’re things, but it’s not the books themselves that make me happy; it’s the stories.  I don’t go buying first edition hardbacks; I actually prefer used books, and if they have personality in the way of marks on pages or even better, something written in them, I’m thrilled.  Nothing I like better than finding a secret treasure in a book.  A receipt, a name, a message… it’s a link to someone else who loved that book too.

5.  My laptop- Another thing, yes.  But I hate hand writing things, primarily because my hands hurt when I write too much (like anything more than a sentence).  So I need my laptop so I can write.  Because I can’t be happy if I don’t tell stories.

6.  Friends- I have a few friends who I consider “lifetime” friends.  I think I’m lucky to have a small group of people who I can be my real self with, and who can be their real selves with me.

7.  Quotes!-  I love quotes!  I have a notebook full of them, and I keep as many of them in my brain as possible.  Maybe some people get sick of me quoting things, that that’s just too bad.  It’s my way of spreading love and joy.

8.  Windchimes and prisms-  Another thing, yes, and two things in fact.  But they go together so well.  I don’t love them because they’re stuff; I love them because they make rainbows and soft noises.  How can you not love things that jingle and make rainbows?

9.  Hiking-  When I was a kid, I used to just go walking in the woods behind my house.  Then I’d just find a clearing, put my back against a tree, and read or write.  These days, I still love walking through someplace that hasn’t been tamed yet.  The desert here in AZ, back to cliffs and forest when I move to TX.

10.  Skating- There’s nothing quite like the feeling of skating.  It’s almost like flying.  For me, in-lines almost feel like an extension of my feet.

The thing is… what makes you happy is up to you.  You can always wish for the newest, latest, greatest, shiniest, brightest, but when the shine fades and it’s not the newest anymore, the happiness wears off.  Happiness doesn’t wear off love or memories.    They may end up tempered with sadness or melancholy, but that doesn’t change what was.

“The best things in life aren’t things.”

— Art Buchwald

I Know How Lucky I Am

Phoenix Art Museum; Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Phoenix Art Museum; Photo Credit: RJS Photography

I was mostly born without the sadness gene.

Over the holidays, I saw some people posting about how they were sad or depressed , and it’s hard for me to grasp that.  I’m a therapist; it should make sense to me.  But it just doesn’t.

There’s so much cool stuff on this planet.  I have my dogs and cats.  I love looking at the stars, watching the sun rise, hiking in the desert.  When I lived in PA, I walked in the woods and discovered the spring that ran through the mountain.  I could spend an hour looking at the roots of a fallen tree.  My life is endlessly fascinating.  I’m seldom bored, and even less often depressed.

I don’t mean to say I never have a bad day or have never gone through a bad time; I have.  It’s just that I don’t tend to get bogged down.  I believe that in large part, we make our own luck.  So, if I’m going to make good luck, I have to send positive vibes out into the universe.  Which is usually why I try to see the positive in things and be happy where I am.

In 2006, my grandfather died.  He was one of my favorite people in the world, and losing him was huge.  My grandpa ran an antique shop, and was very close to his employees.  One of them, a woman I didn’t know well, was helping do all the stuff that needs to be done when someone dies.  No matter what I was assigned, my response was, “That’s okay.  We’ll get it done.”  At one point she exploded at me, “Don’t you ever say anything else?”  I hadn’t realized before then how annoying my attitude could be.

The thing is, that is my attitude in most situations.  I was sad that he’d died, and I still miss him, but being miserable wasn’t going to bring him back.  I’m just grateful that I have so many wonderful memories of him, and that I had such a great relationship with him.  In any situation, there are many choices.  I generally choose to accept.

I’m not saying that everyone can do this.  Like I said, I really believe that our ability to be happy is in part how we’re wired.  For me, being positive comes easily.  But I can’t read or follow directions (they get jumbled in my head).  I don’t like exercise and can get so involved in books that I don’t do anything else for days on end.  But, I think that differences are what make people interesting.  I have to work harder than other people so I don’t gain weight.  I also have to work harder to stay tuned in when I’m talking to people outside of work.  But I do work at these things.  Just like some people need to work harder than others to be happy.  But I believe that happy and positive can be habits, just like anything else.

I had a nice interaction at work the other day that reminded me that we don’t have any idea of our impact on others.  I was chatting with another woman and made a comment that was meaningless to me, but it touched her and made her feel that I cared.  Her face relaxed (she had looked tense before) and said, “Thank you for being you.”

What a nice thing to be thanked for.  My response should have been, “Thank you for noticing.”

Magic Snow

DSCN0895I found this link a few weeks ago when snow was hitting the East Coast pretty hard.  An artist had an idea to project a movie on falling snow, and the result was pretty awesome.  It looks like it’s snowing rainbows.

The creativity and endless possibilities art offers us never ceases to amaze me.  Take a minute to click and check it out.

 

Snow Art

DSC_0077People and their ingenuity never cease to amaze me, which is why I love art in most forms.  (People who paint a canvas one color and ascribe it meaning just irritate me).  I love playing in the snow, but my artwork is limited to snow angels and snowmen.  Simon Beck makes snow art.  He makes these amazing images on foot, and they’re huge. He has a Facebook page, but here’s a link to an article with photos if you don’t want to look him up on Facebook.

Inspiration from Pictures

I would love to be able to sketch so I could put some of my pictures on paper that end up in my head.  I’m not a very visual person, so being able to describe what’s in my head is difficult.  My stick figures look like a 6 year old drew them, so I’ve learned to compensate by taking pictures and using other people’s pictures for inspiration.  I love to take pictures of everything.  I call it “taking notes.”  And I can’t delete “bad” pictures either.  I try to, but I want to keep every photo I’ve ever taken, even if it has my thumb prominently displayed.  Even if the next shot was the one I intended.

I admire people who can take pictures, real art.  I recently found a website for Nicolas Ruel, who takes pictures around the world in a series he calls “8 seconds.”  He leaves the shutter open for 8 seconds, and ends up with these incredible, dream-like works of art.  If you’re a photography fan or need some inspiration, check out his page.

Bodypaint

I came across this link for the World Bodypainting Festival, and wow!  I’ve seen body paint done before.  Anyone who’s seen X-men knows that artists can do amazing things with paint and the human body.  Still, many of these surprised me.  Looking at these pictures, I thought how useful they could be for sci-fi writers to use some of these images as inspiration.

I admire and even envy the artists who came up with these designs.  I’ve always wished I could be more of a visual artist and do a better job with describing things, drawing, etc.  I took art classes in high school, and most of my stuff looked like it came out of elementary school.  I have friends who draw, and their hands look so fluid and graceful when they sketch.  These just aren’t things that come naturally to me.

That’s why I collect images and links to all sorts of interesting things.  I know that if I ever need inspiration, there will be artists out there who’ve had the vision I lack.