Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunrise at Ft. Riley

Well, after a wonderful evening, all night, and into morning, fabulous jewelry making extravaganza, which ended around 5am, I felt it best, as the awake and alert person in the group to follow the gal from Junction City home, so that we would all be sure she made it home safely. A little over an hour trip, we pulled into Denny's and had breakfast and coffee. She went home and I drove over toward Ft. Riley to get some sunrise pictures. Unfortunately, my batteries died after only a few pictures, so I went ahead and drove back to Topeka, watching the sun rise over the Flint Hills and cast beautiful long shadows across the landscape. Here are a few cool shots I got in a camp area near base.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Part 2: The role of emotion in the creative process

I received a comment from friend, fellow crafter, and writer, blogger, Jen of Scrapdash. Her thoughts and insight on this topic offered some different perspectives on this topic that I thought you, my readers, would find valuable. So, I am offering it as a seperate post. To see more photos of Jen's, link here to her Flickr photostream. Here is what Jen had to say in response to my previous post................................................................................................................................ I can relate to the woman in your example. When I was first married, my level of satisfaction in my marriage matched and then replaced what my natural means of expression had given me since the fifth grade. I didn't write for several years. And I didn't make this connection right away because I didn't see yet how I'd been writing chiefly out of a source of pain; I just knew I'd stopped writing...and that I didn't "need" to write. And yet I did need to on a fundamental level.

Or, rather, I needed to write differently but I didn't know how. Sometime before my 30th birthday I realized I didn't like using my writing (or my marriage for that matter) as an escape pod from old hurts. It struck me as immature. Despite all my formal training, however, I didn't know how to change the attitude through which I had been regarding the world. My default setup is melancholic. When that's all you've ever known, it's a funk tough to look beyond.

And then, ironically enough, I read a favorite novel I hadn't picked up since high school. It was like my eyes had been uncrossed and I could finally see beyond myself. I could see more than despair, certainly, but I also could see more than beauty. Both sadness and happiness are made up of stark truths hidden within miasmas of emotion. For some reason at that point in my life, this favorite old story I re-read was able to help me find the solid bits and parts of happiness. And I began to write about them.

Since then I've gone through another dry spell in which my pens might be better used in a game of darts on an acoustic tile ceiling. But I've been encouraged by what Kathleen Norris, a poet, observed about prairie grass. She calls it "a perfect metaphor for the creative process." During times of drought, the grass "seems to die all the way to the roots..." Yet "it's a question of being patient and having faith that the writing process isn't dead, but rather just going through some kind of transformation" because, referring once more to the grasslands, "the minute there's moisture, it just springs green."

I appreciate your practical advice about working on your art, how it can be work and what that work can look like. I've rarely journaled formally but I jot notes on scraps of paper. I'm trying to keep my eyes open and uncrossed, to "remain," as Kathleen Norris concluded, "at least alert enough to receive what the world is trying to give" me."

October 23, 2008 5:21 AM

Thanks Jen for this insightful contribution.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The role of emotion in the creative process

This photo can be found Neshachan's Flickr photostream. It portrays sadness and depression.

Recently, I was reading a string on a craft blog basically supporting the view that in order to produce good art, one must be suffering or sad or depressed. When a person experiences loss or grief the mind fills with creative ideas and the need to express the emotional pain through art or craft. The person leading this discussion said that since she had found a wonderful man to be with her life had settled down and she was the happiest she has ever been. The problem is that now she is having trouble creating and coming up with ideas.

I think this view is an unhealthy one. To rely on drama or tragedy to provide a muse to create really is a cop out. Being an artist or crafter is something that you either are or aren't. You aren't going to create great art if you don't get in the studio and start working....on anything. That's right...anything. If you don't get in there and pick up the tools and start making something, nothing creative will have a chance to happen. Sometimes just starting will take us to places we never could have imagined. It is okay to give ourselves permission to be happy and celebrate joy in our work. We don't always have to express something dark and complicated. We don't always have to scream for the world to hear what we have to say. Happy can be just as deep as sad. Inspiration can be found in anything.

This glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly can be found on his website. This sculpture portrays fun, joy, and happiness.

Sometimes what we make when we think there is no muse can be so profound. Try committing to 10 minutes of activity in the studio. Let what you make be intuitive with no intentions and no conditions. Just make something. Maybe just do an exercise. For example, say you will make something only using blues. Or, maybe make something using only one tool or one material. Do something totally in the realm of play. Take time to play, and your work will become richer and more interesting. We are so blessed to have the gift of being able to work with our hands, creating something out of nothing. Even the things we make that never get sold or given away have purpose. Every piece we make leads us to the next piece, and the next. If we avoid the studio because the idea hasn't been delivered to your front door, you are missing opportunities. The idea will probably only be delivered if you are in the studio working, ready to receive it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The very finest dining in Topeka


515 SW Van Buren St. Topeka, Kansas 66603

Phone: 785.817.6052 Email:

Okay, this is how I discovered this fabulous place. I had decided if my exhibit and "meet and greet" at the Jewelry Box went well, I would go celebrate by having dinner at a place that had live music. Perfectly willing to drive to Lawrence or KC, I started my Google search for something fun. Great food was also a requirement, not just some dive with a house band. So as I was scrolling through various links, I found this link to a news story, a 49 News interview of Row House owner and head chef Greg Fox about Wheatstock. There is a clip of him performing really nice music that he had written himself. The key here is that he was a TOPEKAN. 49 news interview
So then, I started trying to find a performance schedule, hoping that he would be playing somewhere in Topeka, and that I could go have dinner and then go to hear him play. It would be a great evening. So, as I was scrolling through the search looking for times and dates, THAT is when I found Row House. I couldn't believe it. The website was telling me I could have everything I was looking for AND not have to leave Topeka. The site had a phone number and said to call for reservations, so I did. Thinking that the website had to be a mirage, I asked "Um, are you guys open tonight?" "Yes, we are." And I made a reservation for 8:30 for just myself. When I arrived a little before 8:30. I opened the door and Shawna comes right down the stairs and says, "Are you Dawn?", and introduces herself to me. She takes me into a quaint little room with about 10 other people dining. I had a cute little table with a candle and started with a nice glass of red wine. Looking at the menu of what appeared to be completely sumptuous choices, I decided to go with the option of having small portions of the entire listing of courses. I will list the menu at the bottom, after I have finished describing the experience.While I sipped my wine and took in the wonderful atmosphere, I noticed the fresh flowers and original artwork. This piece is an original by Justin Marable, entitled Abandoned But Interconnected. It was hanging above my table for me to enjoy. There were two others in the small room where I was dining. But after dinner, when Shawna gave me a tour of the whole house, I discovered there were several more. Enough in fact, that I suggested that they participate in First Friday Art Walk. There were also original works by two other very talented local artists. They had much more art displayed there than many of the galleries here in town. Not only that, but a great many photos showing Topeka's rich history and the story of Row House. Even the bathrooms had photos and artwork. All properly lit and thoughtfully displayed. Anyway, as I am taking in this first work of art, I am served a "starter", something wonderful that was a surprise, not on the menu. It was a little piece of crisp bread (cracker-like) and a lovely dollup each of a hummus and delicate cheese confection, with a little olive oil artfully framing the tasty centerpiece. So, this is how the evening started. Every plate that came to my table looked like a work of art, beautifully arranged to create a mouth watering aesthetic. Each course was a perfect combination of flavors and textures. I could taste every element of each of these compositions. The ingredients were so fresh. With every bite, I just couldn't believe I was experiencing food this way. Each course was special, and served at appropriate intervals so that I was neither rushed, nor ever waiting. I was ready for the next course just at the time it was brought to me. The desserts were sublime.After I had taken in my last bite of desset and last sip of coffee. Shawna took me on the tour of the house, as I previously mentioned. It is two stories of intimate rooms, each unique and of couse full of original art. She took me in the kitchen, where I got a chance to see where the creativity happens. Even greater, Row House has its own garden. They grow their ingredients right there. I think Shawna mentioned that they (the small Row House staff) do their own planting and tending of these garden areas. I had suspected that they bought from a local grower at least. The food was so noticeably fresh, I couldn't imagine otherwise. At this point I must mention the attentiveness of Shawna, my server, and of all of the other staff. They all conversed with me, and checked to make sure I was thoroughly pleased and taken care of. The chef who prepared my food, Michael Colpitts, actually served me a few of the courses and also checked on me several times throughout my stay. They are a wonderful team, working hard to see that every guest has a personal experience and the very best food possible. I was truly treated like family. I know this is a terribly long post, and I am sorry I didn't bring my camera so I could show you how beautiful each of the dishes was. But, please, please, please, go and experience this for yourself. You will be thanking me, and them for giving you the most wonderful dining experience you probably will ever have. Here is the lovely menu from last night in their words, "Last of summer tastes meet the falling leaves time of year. The salad was inspired by a coleslaw I had recently that rocked my boat. It was tangy, creamy, fresh and delicious. The Tomato soup deserved a spot on the menu this time of year. It was the house soup at Cibo, my restaurant in Nashville. The vegetarian should prove exciting and beautiful, and both entrees are taking Cabernet sauces in different ways. The Halibut gets a Butter, Cabernet, and cream sauce, and the beef is drizzled with vinaigrette made from a Cabernet Reduction and Balsamic Vinegar. Desserts are a bit off our usual track. Figs and Cornmeal cake. Dried Cherry Biscotti dipped in Chocolate, and Butterscotch Crème Brule, topped with candied almonds. " Greg Fox was not there last night, so I didn't get to hear the wonderful live music, but I will the next time I go. You can hear Greg Fox's music on You Tube. Here's the link. The photos in this post belong to Greg Fox, Justin Marable, and The Row House, Topeka, KS

Thursday, October 9, 2008

45 New Kaleidoscopes!

I can't help it. I just love this digital tool. I have plans for a productive use of the images. But for now, it's all in good fun! You can view the whole collection from the Gallery page on my website.

Shockingly Vintage!

So today I was driving along on my lunch hour and drove by this garage sale. Unsure that I had really seen what I saw, I knew this was going to be photo worthy. So, I went home and grabbed my camera and drove back over to the garage sale. And behold! The largest, most velvety, brightly colored, wreck causing vintage lamps I have ever seen. The even better part was that there were two of each and they were being sold as pairs. I know that they are hideous and all, but the retro-modern vintage furniture lover in me almost considered (is still considering) buying the chartreuse goldish green ones. You see, they have an extra feature that the red ones don't have, an internal glow! There is actually a light beam inside the green glass base as well. Incredible! As an extra bonus, I ran into a friend of mine who I worked with over a decade ago. Can that really be possible? He was the seller of these lamps which he says were given to him as a gift. (giggle, heeheehee!)

Daddy Cakes Birthday Surprise

Allison and the girls at Daddy Cakes made my birthday special by bringing me this sugary work of at the library where I work. The presentation was cute, the Daddy Cake absolutely adorable, and oh was it ever a piece of pumpkin heaven! It is their flavor of the month for October- Pumpkin Cheesecake. I think this must be my new favorite. I urge everyone to visit Daddy Cakes and try one of these. Thank you Allison for brightening my day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I talk about my art jewelry

Today's the day. The Library is the place. 10:00am-12:00 pm OR 1:00pm- 3:00 pm. I will be talking about art and craft, being in the trenches of my first year of business, what inspires my work, and what I have learned on the journey. Those who attend will receive a packet with a list of library books, websites and blogs, and information about art events around town. The presentation will be freeform, and people may ask questions as we go. We will have a great time. Come and join me! Jellyfish picture can be found on