Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years - Recreation Time

For many, the word “recreation” means doing something that is physically challenging. However, recreation encompasses a broad range of activities. The word itself is comprised of “re” and “create” and means to recreate oneself. Some people find physically challenging activities to be re-creating. Others gravitate towards quite, focused activities that manifest something external to oneself that is a reflection of inner vision. News years is often a time for us to reflect on the past and consider what we might do in the coming year to recreate oneself. You are invited to share what activities you find most helpful in recreating yourself or what new things you might tackle in the coming year to recreate yourself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Change - There's Nothing So Constant

Change can be stressful. Many of life’s most traumatic events involve change…divorce, death, sickness, being laid off, learning a new job just to name a few. But change can also be a good thing. In order for the neurons in our brains to remain plastic and to build new connections, we need to stimulate our brain by doing things that are a bit of a stretch for us.  Pursuing a new creative outlet is a great way to stimulate our brains. Unlike doing a crossword puzzle, painting, drawing, sculpting, knitting and other artistic activities are kinesthetic (i.e., they involve body mechanics). As such, these activities are more challenging and the benefits may be greater.  

With the coming New Year, I encourage you to pursue some new creative endeavor whether it’s learning a musical instrument, drawing or whatever.

I invite you to comment on what creative challenges you might tackle for 2012.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autumn Morning Walk

Long shadows stretch across the path
Leaves, orange, red and brown scattered like confetti
Silver light filtered through gauze of dust
Air still
Anticipating cold wind that permeates gaps

Time to reflect, to slow
To give thanks, slow cook
The smell of roasted chicken permeates the house

Soft lap blanked wrapped around legs curled on couch

Sonya Edwards, Nov 14, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Energy - A Gift of the Spirit

When my girlfriend Caroline turned 50, I wanted to give her something very special. Caroline is a beautiful woman who likes to dress very classy. I spent 5 hours making her a beaded necklace with purple beads and amber colored Swarovski crystals. When having lunch with her recently, she told me she gets more complements on that necklace than other piece of jewelry she owns. Even strangers come up to her and complement her. My jewelry provides the focal point for her good taste. She said she can trust that my jewelry is high quality. In turn, she later commissioned me to make a custom anklet for one of her dear friends. She said it is a way to support one friend as an artist while doing something special for another friend.  I feel honored that my jewelry was Caroline’s way of saying to her friend, I value our friendship enough to buy you something special.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Locke, California Plein Air Trip - Overcoming Plein Air Overwhelm - Part II

Another challenge that Locke poses is the many angles of the buildings. I actually found myself getting lost in all of the angles. I had the same experience the first time I tried painting in Locke. Fortunately, when I yelled out for help, Martha Esch, one of the resident artists came to my rescue. She coached me on how to use my brush to check the angle. What you do is hold the brush out in front of your chest at arm’s length with the handle parallel to the ground. Then, you raise the brush (keeping it horizontal) to the item (which could be a beam, a rooftop, a window or anything) and the horizontal brush handle provides a reference against which you can determine which way (up or down, left or right). It took a few tries, but after a while, it became easier. A big thanks goes to Martha Esch.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Locke, California Plein Air Trip - Overcoming Plein Air Overwhelm - Part I

The tiny town of Locke, located in the Sacramento Delta, just South of Sacramento, California is one of my favorite places to do plein air painting (i.e., painting outdoors). Locke’s main street is flanked by rows of two-story houses that are more than 100 years old. Many of them are buckling and leaning into the street. The town is full of character and characters. Yes, that’s right - characters. Also, several artists live there and they are very welcoming of visitors. If you love to paint architecture, especially buildings with character, this is a great place.  

One challenge an artist may face when painting plein air is not getting overwhelmed by the vast amount of visual information from which you can choose a scene.  Two tools an artist can use to overcome this challenge are a viewfinder and a digital camera. The viewfinder is a small frame through which you look to isolate a smaller subject in your field of vision. In my case, I have two viewfinders, one that is 2x3 inches and the other that is 5x7 inch frame cut from cardboard. You can make your own like mine, or you can buy a matte at the art store. There is also red cellophane over the 5x7 matt that helps me to read the values (i.e., lights and darks) in the scene. Taking pictures with a digital camera can also help to isolate an area. If your digital camera has a black and white setting, you can use that setting to isolate your values.
The Sacramento Plein Air Painters group meets in Locke occasionally (and usually on the first Saturday of each month). You can sign up for this group by going to and joining the Sacramento Plein Air Painters group.
 More on lessons learned in Locke coming soon.