The best thing to do is nothing.
Strike, as in sudden success | Watercolor
©2011 Suzanne McDermott/All Rights Reserved
The time is always right to do what's right. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Doing equals action. Action is the stroke. All action takes time.
Before action comes envisioning, clarity, intention, decision, commitment.
Flow is the allowing, faith, patience.
Nothing is absolute but boy, for the most part, everything seems to take longer than we think it will. (Except for what doesn't).
For example, I intended to launch my new courses at the start of the year. It's going to take longer. Anyway, what I like about "the start of the year" is that there are so many.
With the new moon tonight at 9:18 PM ET, I feel like I'm just getting started with the year. There's been so much scaffolding to create to hold up the rest of the year's plans.
As far as this syndrome of things seeming to take longer than we expect them to, I'm holding to the wisdom that everything takes exactly as long as it needs to, that everything unfolds in perfect order and that now is always the right time. It's the only time.
Yep. Now is the only time. May as well enjoy it, get into it and let go of the rest as well as you can. That's what I'm really working on.
And... no matter how far behind I feel, I always remember to do the next right thing.
Okay. So, you are welcome to a gratis copy of my Drawing Primer. Go here to get yourself a copy. Pass the link along to your family and compadres. Share the link. Share the love (and pencils and paper.)
Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.
Settling | Watercolor | Suzanne McDermott
I cannot remember another end of a year that people were so anxious to be done with. But 2017 seems to be a year that most want behind them. At least that's the word on the street that's reached my ears.
So, let's tak' a cup o' kindness yet, and make a good turn of the year.
I just read* that the words to Auld Lang Syne may be lost any year now so here's a link to its Wikipedia page and another to my fave version, sung by Dougie MacLean*. Now, you've no excuse not to sing and pass it on.
Looks like it'll be a stormy Hogmanay in Scotland this year. I wondered where that word came from and, what do you know, it may be from the Swedish for full and moon.
And it's a full moon! The Wolf Moon shines on the first at 9:24 pm ET.
*The Scottish Presbyterian Eloquence of 1693 recorded: "It is ordinary among some plebeians to go from door to door upon New Year's Eve, crying 'Hagmane'."
Greetings on the Winter Solstice. I encourage you to welcome the light into every aspect of your life. It is only through light that darkness will be kept in check and balanced properly.
I wish you all love and lightness of heart. i wish you safety in the material world and curiosity and openness in your spirit. Be glad that you are alive at such a rare time of the human experience.
More later. Enjoy your company this holiday season or your solitude. Light a candle for your soul and for us all.
This year, I share with you one of my perennial favorites. Paul Gallico's The Snow Goose.
Light a candle or a fire. Alone or with your family or a friend, click here to listen to the incomparable original recording.
Click and listen. I swear that it's worth every second of your (and your family and friends' time.)
Nobody's a natural. You work to get good and then work to get better. It's hard to stay on top.
With a special holiday hello from Miss Tallulah, and lots of love...
Everything a cat is and does physically is to me beautiful, lovely, stimulating, soothing, attractive and an enchantment. --Paul Gallico
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl
I was friendly with the master magician, Ricky Jay in my early 20's. Aside from the night he took me to The Magic Castle, my favorite memories are of random afternoons when Ricky would stop by and, standing in the back alley, toss playing cards across the 2-story building where I worked to particular targets he'd call along the boulevard on the other side. Those were early-ish days of a master practicing his craft and, while I had no desire to learn card tricks, it was a wonder to watch him practice. He was fully present and supremely aware.
In a documentary about his life and his own master teachers, Ricky says:
"The real key to learning is almost like the Sensei master relationship in the martial arts. The way you want to learn is by someone that you respect showing you something."
I practice a different sort of magic and, though it is impossible to teach, I do my best. Teaching drawing and watercolor (and art history practicums!) involves watching people undergo processes of becoming aware. It's gratifying to hear people tell me that their minds are opening. The first step is always drawing because drawing helps you learn to see. It's the most challenging step, really, because to draw what you see requires you to bypass what you think you see; to bypass your thoughts.
Challenging because, on average, we think about 70,000 thoughts per day. That works out to almost 49 thoughts a minute. Quite a distraction from focusing on any object in our environment long or well enough to really see it.
When you start practicing seeing through drawing, you become more aware of the actual magical world that we live in. Becoming present and aware of the magical now is the first step of practicing magic.
"Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see - to see correctly - and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye." ― Kimon Nicolaides
Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.
Practice, practice, practice.
Twyla Tharp composed a popular book on creativity, The Creative Habit. It's a wonderful book that I recommend at a certain point during my Foundation Course in Drawing and Watercolor and also to some creative coaching clients.
One thing, though. From my experience, if creativity is a habit, it's formed by practice. You don't establish any habit right away. You have to practice creating a habit, let's say drawing and watercolor until you rewire your neural pathways so that what you're practicing becomes a habit.
However, my experience is that with any creative practice, you are involved, to a large degree, in discovery. You have to be able to continually tweak what you're practicing, sometimes on a daily basis, in order to expand your abilities and understanding.
In other words, if you establish a particular way (habit) of doing a drawing or watercolor and then discover that you have to change that particular way in order to grow as an artist, you have to un-learn certain habits.
As a different sort of example, let's say you've learned a Mozart piano sonata so thoroughly that it's ingrained in your neural pathways and muscle memory and you can play it "by heart". Then you discover that some of the ornamentation and a couple of notes you've learned are wrong and you have to un-learn and re-learn those parts. That's difficult and requires more practice to change what's become habitual.
Actually, I think that habits in creative work mostly consist of establishing the habit of sitting down to practice. Also, sometimes, establishing parameters like, I will sit down at 4 PM for 30 minutes to practice drawing. So, I don't think that creativity is a habit but the habit of practicing creative work is crucial to creativity.
Seth Godin has been blogging daily for... gosh, I don't know how many years now. His posts are usually short and sweet but highly inspirational and effective. He committed to the habit of writing daily posts and continues to practice daily (for all of our benefit).
Anyone who meditates daily knows that there is the habit of sitting down to meditate and then the practice of actual meditation which can be (and usually is) wildly different during every sitting.
Setting parameters helps with establishing habits that you can practice within. Particular methods designed to lead you step by step through progressive exercises are also extremely helpful. Commitment is vital. Finally, there's nothing like accountability to keep you honest and on track as you establish your habit of practice.
Practice rules. Habit helps.
Ah... The industrious, productive Bee. Bringer of good luck and prosperity.
Not a bad subject to re-launch my daily practice blog. It'll take a bit to re-establish the habit and till then, it's practice.
Practice does not make perfect but it can establish a habit which, if it's a healthy one, can lead to all sorts of good things.
My 2016 daily practice was eclipsed by a big illustration project. This year has been all about creating three new art history practicum courses to follow on my foundation course in drawing and watercolor.
All personal drawing and watercolor this year has gone to rapid demos in live class and longer demos for the online course. I’ve been chomping at the bit to just sit down to draw and watercolor and post for … relief! (At the very least.)
I'm still honing the online art history practicum course to make the best offering possible for early 2018 but am far enough along to putting my personal daily practice in gear again. This bee has been sitting in a saucer next to my drafting table for at least two months. I'm happy, at long last, to immortalize him (or to make him temporarily slightly famous) as he helps me prepare for two new courses online in the new year.
Do not fail, as you go on, to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worth while, and it will do you a world of good. —Cennino Cennini
Bee positive. Pick up a pen or a pencil and draw something. Anything. Just for fun. Or for a meditation. Drawing is one of the surest ways to help you bee here now. (You know I can't help myself.)
I think truth is a layered phenomenon. There are many truths that accumulate and build up. I am trying to peel back and explore these rich layers of truth. All truths are difficult to reach.
Life. It's a series of experiences. Scenes of intentions and accidents.
What, exactly, is going on during any of our experiences is wildly complex no matter what measuring devices we bring. We may have objective material evidence to empirically prove that a certain thing happened in a certain way but there are energies and histories and momentums of objects well out of sight and forces beyond our comprehension that are playing out within and without us all through this wonderful life.
A fact is a fact. The sky is blue. At least the part that I'm looking at now from where I'm sitting right now.
Truth is a matter of perspective and changes depending not on where you may have been standing in the midst of an experience but more often on where you're standing right at this very moment. Our perspective can change with time and distance.
It's interesting though that our understanding of the truth can be changed by facts and by our growth as humans being.
If our minds are open to the truth we have to be able to hold, at least temporarily, an opposing point of view from the one we're convinced by. At least several times a week while growing up I heard my mother say, "Now, just let me play the Devil's Advocate for a minute." Every time I heard that, a little part of my brain went into courtroom mode, examining a case from another perspective. She was probably speaking to my father but, still, it was good mental training for me.
Learning to play the Devil's Advocate has it's drawbacks but not too many. It is not training for simple judgement and definitely eliminates the possibility of herd mentality. Moo. It is always helpful to at least try to see anything from another's viewpoint.
In a few of my art history practicum classes, we examine artists' changing viewpoints on particular subjects. As you might imagine, except to explain where, when and why it arose, gabbing about one-point perspective drives me almost over the edge. It's is a construct designed to create an illusion. So is having a hard grip on one point of view about the truth.
On the road to self-realization we're forced to confront certain truths that we hold about ourselves. Some of these truths can be painful, shameful, destructive, worth disowning. In the process of self-examination, playing the Devil's Advocate can be a healing exercise. This is true about myself but that equal and opposite thing is also true.
Lifting up that paradox to the light with love and wonder is a way to develop true compassion. If we can develop compassion for the most challenging parts of ourselves we may begin to feel compassion for others who seem so shameful, destructive, opposite. It wouldn't hurt. Mmm... maybe it could at first. Opening our hearts can be scary and painful but just think of the potential.
Truth is a many-layered thing. Dense yet filled with light. Just like these leaves.
Truth does not belong to a particular team. Truth does not stand still and neither do we as we grow, change, and maybe acquire some wisdom and compassion along the way.
The arrival of the first dark night
after the first short day
always brings a punchline.
What time is it?
Did we lose an hour?
(If so, where did it go?)
Did I lose sleep?
Yes, that's right...
But I had so much work to do...
Is it later than I think
or is it earlier?
I scheduled a household painting job today.
I didn't know that it would take two coats and
three times as long as I'd expected.
Though, I could have counted on that
and that I'd have preferred a different color
and that I'd paint other bits and pieces
around the house that were nagging me.
After all, the paint brush and friends
were out and up for exercise.
Maybe it's paint fumes
or the aggravation of yesterday's super full moon
but what's next on the agenda is vague.
I need brain washing.
I must go down for a good night's sleep
whatever time it is
and hope for clarity in the morning.
Will it be light in the morning
I'll just have to close my eyes
and wait to see.
©2017 Suzanne McDermott (All Rights Reserved)
"The idea of dying and coming back is what makes the Halloween films work.""The idea of dying and coming back is what makes the Halloween films work."--Donald Pleasence
What can I say?
I must be a grade school stand up at heart. Here are some seasonal riddles for your mild amusement. (More mild amusements, please, these days, thank you.)
(Find your answers at the bottom of this post.)
1. Why did the skeleton stay home from the dance?
2. Why did the ghost go into the bar?
3. What do you call a witch's garage?
4. What type of dog does every vampire have?
1. He had no body to go with.
2. For the Boos.
3. A broom closet.
Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.
Inspiring you to heal yourself, shine your light