Thoughts on today's news...
This morning my eyes were drawn to two news items. The first was the death of a journalist int the Ukraine, the second was the rescue of a pet dog from a icy lake in Detroit. The contrast of the expression of human behavior in these two situations, touched my heart. And, stand for me today as extreme examples, and polar opposites, of caring and compassion for the life of another living being.
As humans, I believe that we have one simple choice which applies to every situation. Do we act from a feeling of love, care and/or respect for life? OR, do we act out of fear, hatred and destruction. We can make whichever choice we want in any given situation. But, it would be wise to remember that our choice will influence who we are to become in the next moment and the next after that. Do we wish to become nurturers or murderers. It is up to us to decide this for ourselves.
With each passing day, I think more about how the evolution of consciousness is an individual internal process for each human being yet it influences the growth of the entire species. Something which seems impossible, and yet it feels true to say that one voice, indeed every voice, makes a difference. It is up to us, individually, to determine how to use our voice, which words, concepts and values to embrace, embody and express in the process of becoming who we will be.
I know who I am and who I want to become. I can no longer push away the sadness and the pain that enters into my heart, when I see pain and suffering. Nor, can I deny the joy I experience when I am helpful or caring. I know that for always and ever, and to the best of my ability, a thought which seems overwhelming at times... I want to be kind. I choose to embody kindness, true kindness toward myself and others.
What is true kindness?
Well... that is a musing for another day. I can say that it involves genuine concern, honest communication, active listening, respect for life and equanimity :).
I have been thinking about my place in this world lately. And, whether or not anything that I do makes any difference at all to anyone, other than myself. I can't seem to get any of the projects off the ground, due to obstacles and situations which are largely out of my control, and my failure to compromise on the values which are most important to me. The ones that make me original, human and alive.
I am neither bleak, nor despairing, nor a quitter by nature. But, the thought of giving up has become more prevalent in my mind the past few weeks. I feel a sense of dread, like a weight upon me at times, dampening any and all sparks of joy or enthusiasm I might feel, while filling my mind with thoughts of futility. As uncomfortable as this is, and as painful as these feelings are, I know that they are just thoughts. And, I know that they will pass. Which is hugely helpful for me.
When struggling with denser emotions, it helps me to practice being kind to myself, by remembering that I am just learning how to live. I have never done this before, and it can be really challenging at times. But, I am doing the best that I can. Another thing that helps, is to channel my energy into creative solutions or to follow the thread of an idea to see where it leads.
The stickers above developed from this frame of mind, around a phrase scrawled in my dream notebook. I am intrigued by language and the way that words can be combined to convey multiple meanings. I am fascinated by the phrase... Dream Tomorrow Kinder, its sense of empowerment and mystery, and what it may imply. Is it a request, a demand, a choice or a challenge?
For me, it speaks of broad and limitless possibility. And, an individual's willingness and courage to connect with life wherever, or however, they are.
After working unbelievably hard preparing last-minute holiday signage (above) over the Thanksgiving weekend for a client, they reneged on the contract yesterday. This situation is very upsetting for me. I put so much time and effort into creating the designs, producing the electronic files and making arrangements with a new vendor to print the signs quickly so we could install them asap.
The signage was meant to hang on the aging orange water-barriers surrounding a shared outdoor meeting space downtown. The project was cancelled because even though the samples and final designs received approval from the party who contacted me, they did not reflect the "brand" of a local business which shares the space. It seems that festive is not an aspect of their "aesthetic".
I spent 15-20 hours on this project, for which I will receive nothing. This is, unfortunately, an all to common occurrence for artists working in today's world. Which leaves me a bit heart-broken. To see the project fall flat due to a failure to conform to an established corporate image is disheartening. Yet, quite frankly, quite typical of my experience as an unconnected artist living in a city which tends to be rather cliquish, stuck in the past, unsupportive and narrow-minded when it comes to public art.
There is little I can do about a situation like this, but learn from it, and seek opportunities with folks who want to share joy and smiles.
This year I created new characters for Halloween. The idea of a rabbit vampire came to me the week before the holiday. So, I sketched one out and it cracked me up. The unstoppable dancing carrot arrived next. I know I am onto something if the idea for a character makes me laugh. Then it is just a matter of finding the right shapes, lines and colors to convey its personality to others. Which can take some time and a bit of trial and error. I know that a character is finished when I receive an "adorbs," "awesome," or "OMG, so cute" text message back from Jay.
Using the new characters, I created a simple triptych for the front lawn of the house, and two new stickers to give away for trick or treat. I was gifted a new photo printer earlier this year, so I made the stickers at home. It was a good opportunity to test the color and media settings/variations on the printer. I ganged up the stickers, 12 and 16 to a sheet, and printed them out. I hand cut almost 700 of them one night while dog sitting.
It was fun to sit on the front stairs, with my new neighbor, and pass the stickers out on Halloween night. It was even more fun to witness the reactions of the receivers. Most kids liked them, but a few avoided them completely, settling for just candy, Blue rabbits are not for everyone I suppose!
This is the first design in a new series called Transcending.
This idea for this sticker came during an evening walk around town. It is a direct reaction to the ironic "Fight Hate" sticker that was attached to my favorite park bench. While the sentiment behind the "Fight Hate" sticker seems well-intentioned, there is no way to "fight" hate without creating more hate, as like breeds like.
So, what can we do about hate, an emotion which provides no real or long lasting good? I think, we can simply choose to abandon it. Fighting hate only strengthens it's resolve. Better yet to let it go, to abandon it, to run away and show others the way, or to take the hand of someone who has already escaped it clutches.
However, in order to abandon anything, we must understand that what we are leaving behind is what is holding us back. It is something which no longer serves us or our continued growth as human beings. And, we need be diligent in recognizing and releasing the thought patterns, stories or justifications which hold our hatred in place.
SweetFrau hopes to create banners, stickers and signage to install in derelict spaces. To raise fund for this project, she is selling 3 x 6 inch stickers of this design. To order one or more, please use the contact form.
The idea for this project was to create a guerilla giveaway for Independence Day, which highlighted the indivisible aspect of unity. And, at the same time, the variation of form and function within humanity.
One Nation, Indivisible.
The population of the United State (333 million) includes people of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, and ethnicities. It consists of people from all walks of life, with different points of view, and one common goal. The freedom to BE.
333 individual pins were created for this project. Each pin is a different color, symbolizing the vast array of Human BEings which comprise our dynamic nation.
One Nation, Indivisible. popped up on the streets of downtown Petaluma on Sunday, July, 4, 2021 to coincide with Independence Day holiday. Five locations in high traffic areas were chosen.
I worked myself far ahead last night. I finished the last of the pins at 2:30am. The thought of going to bed without finishing the last batch of pins was REALLY unpalatable for me. Amazingly, I was not tired so I just kept working. The box in the images below contains the 333 pins with their backing cards. They are ready to be locked and ready to be loaded! YAY.
Today, I just had a little clean up work to do, and needed to make and attach the signs for the distribution displays. I finished everything and packed my bag for tomorrow's giveaway by 3:00pm. Which, was nice. I usually procrastinate a little, and end up working, until I go to bed, the night before a giveaway.
I had so much extra time that I even made a little sign for the bag I use to carry the distributions displays downtown. Awesome!!! I will NEVER deny being a it of an obsessive little geek for these projects! It is SOOOO much fun to spread color and joy.
An insane amount of work goes into these projects. While the concept-design is the driving creative force behind them, there are many small details which can make or break the project.
There is a saying "the devil is in the details", which refers to problems or difficulties that result from the unforeseen nature of unexamined details. Having seen this devil arise a few times in the past, when I have rushed things or cut corners, I allow myself ample time to pore over minor details, double check measurements, text and colors, and tweak designs when they don't feel right yet.
While words can communicate meaning, color, line, shape and composition are equally communicative forces. These elements must come together in such a way that they support and enhance each other. It is a challenge, and a grace, to find the appropriate balance to simply/cleanly introduce a concept. The end result should always be more than a sum of its parts.
For me, it is more important to create something that feels right, than it is to produce something that is aesthetically pleasing yet energetically hollow.
One of the things that I notice while doing these guerilla giveaway projects is how ideas/concepts emerge and develop according to their own will and schedule. How some projects turn out exactly as they initially arrived. Others, start out as one thing and change into something else, which better suits the concept. And, how some projects require much more lead time than others, due to materials used and the resources at hand. Still others need the energy of procrastination to push them along.
The Love Bunnies, for example, took a few weeks to produce. Since, having a limited number of molds, I could produce only 24 rabbits at a time, Those rabbits needed to cure in the molds for at least 12 hours. Then air dry for another 24. Then they needed to be painted sealed and have the applique of the words attached to them.
This project started out as an idea for a sticker, which when rolled up for distribution would look like a firecracker. I had some ideas about making the distribution basket into a cake and sticking the rolled up stickers/firecrackers into it as if they were candles. I had some ideas for a character sticker, but when I sat down to work on them, they did not feel right.
So, I abandoned it. I watched Netflix and just let it go. Awhile later, my thoughts turned toward the project again and Independence Day. I instantly had an idea of adopting an image from one older project, and the and concept from another, came into my mind. And One Nation, Indivisible was born.
Over the course of two nights, I mixed 333 colors and created 333 pins circle backgrounds with different colors. Below are some images of the early stages of production.
The growing pile of pins after being assembled which includes placing the pin paper on a metal shell convering it wil a mylar sheet and makeng the front with a button press. The back is then placed into the press and pressure fit into place. Once the pins were done, stickers were place on the back of each one. And, finally.
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