More than thirty years ago in my former life (those days before marriage and children) I worked as a registered nurse first in a hospital and then in a doctor’s office. Another life chapter began when I started teaching Body & Soul, an international program that combines faith and fitness. Twenty three years later I’m still leading my fitness class weekly and have also been speaking and demonstrating the art of pysanky to individuals and small groups whenever the opportunity arises.
As I reflect back on all those experiences I noticed a common thread…teaching. I never thought of myself as a teacher before but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense. Even when I worked as a nurse, the part I liked best was that one-on-one time teaching.
I delight in taking complex topics, breaking them down to understandable pieces, and communicating those ideas in a simple way the listener can grasp. I also love the challenge of coming up with different ways to transmit knowledge to help the student gain success. And I especially love seeing that student’s eyes light up with understanding when the “light bulb” turns on at last.
In a couple of weeks I get to teach another group of fifth and sixth grade students all about this egg art called pysanky. Arts Camp 2013 at Oak Hills Church in Folsom is one of the highlights of my year. Students from first through sixth grade come together for a week of fun and excitement where they explore a particular art and in the process learn more about the God who created them.
If you know of a student who might be interested, it’s not too late to sign up for this great adventure. My class still has a few spots left and I know there are openings in a wide variety of other arts as well. For more information, click here.
Let the fun begin!
I got a package in the mail this week. I knew it was on its way but had nearly forgotten, so seeing it in the postal box and tearing it open brought a Christmas morning thrill. At last, the promised September 2012 issue from the Egg Artistry Guild of Australia. And on page 19 I found an article with my name and some photos of my eggs. I’m practically famous!
In case you’re wondering, here’s the path that led to this article. At the egg retreat in July I took a class on etching emu eggs and posted a photo of the finished egg to my pysanky chat group. The editor of the Australian Guild saw it, contacted the owner of Pysanky USA, the online store that sponsored the retreat, who called me to ask permission to pass on my information. A flurry of emails back and forth and voila, people in Australia are now reading my one page feature. Small world, huh?
Join the artists this Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 8 PM at the Preview Thursday Reception.
And don’t forget the Second Saturday Artwalk April 14 from 4 to 9 PM.
This time of year often brings thoughts about new beginnings but a profound insight hit me recently. As I reached for a fresh egg to begin yet another project I realized that each egg gives me another chance to have fun, to change my approach, to improve my skill, to make a completely different egg than the last one. In other words, every egg is a “do over.” And I am so thankful that I don’t have to be stuck with the past, but can grow and change and develop as an artist as I work on the next egg.
Here’s the amazing thing though. This principle applies not just to egg art, but to life as well. All of life is one big “potential” when you think about it. Each day is a “do over” that waits for me to move forward one small step at a time. I really like that perspective. So look out 2012, here I come.
Pysanky artists are few and far between here on the West Coast so I was glad to find an online group centered around these eggs. Over the past year I have been enlightened and encouraged not just in this art, but in friendships across the world as well.
Recently one of our more computer literate members put together a 2012 calendar featuring pysanky from group members. As I flipped through a preview of the pages I was surprised and delighted to find a photo of my eggs graces the month of February, which also happens to be my birth month. A wonderful early birthday present! Just call me Miss February.
Need an excuse to go for a short drive? Come see some of my Christmas pysanky at the Ordaz Gallery in old town Auburn, California. Frank Ordaz, an award-winning oil painter, specializes in portraits and you can chat with him as he works in this downtown gallery/studio Tuesdays through Saturdays.
What a joy to spend a high energy week teaching kids about art and God. And I don’t say that very often because I highly value my personal, quiet spaces in life. I am definitely not a high-energy extrovert but I love watching kids blossom as they discover their own artist within.
This year’s class was the best ever. My five fifth and sixth grade girls picked up the basics of using the wax and dyes very quickly and soon began experimenting with colors and designs on their own eggs. And best of all, as they concentrated our classroom became a tiny quiet oasis amidst the chaos of over 400 smiling kids, helpers, teachers, musicians, and support staff across the Oak Hills Church campus. I think my class, students and teachers alike, especially enjoyed that part of each day.
The week finished on a high note with a Friday night Showcase for all the parents. Afterwards exhausted but excited, I found myself already looking forward to next year’s Arts Camp. Incredible, isn’t it? In spite of the hectic schedule, the crazy hours, and the energy it took many of us felt this same way. It’s a God thing.
Here’s a link to the May 2011 Sacramento Talent Magazine. Check out page 16 for an article on me and my eggs.
And if you want to see how they are made, come to Bella Fiore on Saturday, May 14 where I’ll be demonstrating the process from 5 to 9 PM.
…or Making the Leap from “I Do This Art” to “I am an Artist”
It’s taken me years to actually refer to myself an artist. And I think I’m not alone in my reluctance to claim the label. There is something mysterious and wonderful and scary about that term. If I call myself an artist, then I have to produce art, and be good at art and sell art, and make money selling art, or so we think.
Truthfully the title “artist” is helpful because it describes a way people look at the world…not simply as things you can see and touch and define, but in a way that pierces the thin veil between our finite world and God-breathed eternity. And whether I call myself an artist or not doesn’t change the fact that I am an artist. Simple, huh? Well, not really.
Let me take you layer by layer through my own gradual journey to claiming the title artist.
Layer 1—I Can Create. As did many others, I began exploring creative avenues early in life. For most of us it starts with school projects. Those simple drawings led me to creative writing to playing at miniatures to quilting to cross-stitch to clothespin people and eventually to discovering the fascinating world of pysanky. And now looking back I can follow the thread of creativity through the years.
Layer 2—I Can Do This Egg Thing. Pysanky, the layering of wax and dyes on eggshells, is a simple art yet it holds endless possibilities in terms of color and design. I taught myself the basics from a book and found I loved the challenge presented by each new egg. Even the failures provided valuable lessons as I honed my craft.
Layer 3—I’m Improving. The finished egg was never the goal for me but the process of creating was. I treasured my quiet time creating, leaving the rest of the world behind. My family got to see those works but rarely did anyone else so years of finished eggs lay hidden away in a closet.
Layer 4:—Am I an Artist? Eventually I began to give away some of these treasured creations to family and close friends. I was so used to seeing these eggs and thinking them commonplace, that the response they evoked surprised me. It made me realize that in sharing my work, I not only gave pleasure to others, I felt incredibly blessed as well. Gradually I let others into the private world of my art, and with much prodding from other artist friends, I “went public” with a solo show at the Art & Soul Gallery in 2006. Developing a website seemed like a reasonable next step but it took years and much hand-holding. Making the eggs is easy, marketing myself and my work is not.
Layer 5—I Am an Artist…I Think. By releasing my work to the world at large, I opened myself to praise and to criticism. This is where real and imagined fears come to the surface and they can paralyze an artist. I know, I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there. Thoughts like these race through my head. What will they think or worse, what will they say? What if they don’t like my work, and by extension me? What if my work really isn’t good and no one told me? What if…? I have to remind myself continually that what people think of my art, doesn’t change my work or my passion for it.
Layer 6—I Am an Artist…and So Are You. Having come this far, I sometimes have the privilege of seeing and encouraging other fledgling artists in their own journeys. Being an artist is mostly a solo gig. There’s no getting around the hard, often solitary work it takes to produce art. But because of that, there is great need for community among artists, for standing shoulder to shoulder, for walking together, for helping others to see themselves as God-created artists. Whether we practice our art or not, each of us is an artist and fellow traveler in life’s journey. How much sweeter is the trip when we link arms and help each other along the way.
Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, houses a lobby art space called the Art & Soul Gallery. This Advent season it featured “The Art of Christmas,” a very atypical collection of Christmas art The show was the result of local artists meeting together regularly for the past few months to encourage each other in creating art based on Scriptures related to Christ’s birth.
If you missed seeing the art in person, you can still enjoy our combined efforts on the Covenant Artist’s website.