Friday, November 23, 2018

"Eyes So Small" - Hiatus Over

I have been away from this blog for 11 months. I have not been away from This Creative Life, however. With all the turmoil in our country and in the world, the creative perspective is more important than ever. Remember that we are the conjurers, the people who are about to make something visible that has not yet been visible.
Ours is not just art work, ours is spiritual work, political work, and compassionate work.  Often we do not know when our work is taking hold. Even when we do not make a sale from a gallery, someone may have seen our work and felt a spark. The work may help someone see or understand something new about their life or their work. Our creation may have inspired them to take new action.
One of the hardest things about being an artist, and one of the best things about being an artist is: living with the mystery surrounding the work we do. I urge you to keep this in mind: even when you feel that you are sitting in the shadow of your art, your art is out in the light still doing its work in the world.


One of the projects I began during my blog hiatus is a process of
archiving writings and images from my art journals and writing journals. The image I have included today is just such a drawing. It was inspired by the writings of Rumi, the 13th Century Persian poet. (That proves that our work keeps inspiring long after we have any sense about its role in the
world.)
Take a look at the drawing. You can see I used my left hand as a template. I often used my hands because they are like a sun:  a hot center and radiating energy in sensual human form. For me, the hand represents our ability and willingness to touch the world and other human beings; and with the eye in center, it signifies the courage to see and engage profoundly.  Rumi's quotation written into the drawing goes like this:

              I am so small I can barely be seen.
              How can this great love be inside me?

This piece first reminded me of how I felt when I was a child looking into the night sky. Fear would run through me with the realization that I was only as big as a tiny grain of sand among the million of grains I'd see on the beach. Then awe would shiver through me feeling that I must be a special type of creature to have been 'chosen' to live in this very sacred place. (Then I would run to my dad and hide my face in the fabric around his knees. He was my protector and no matter what might happen in this mysterious place, I knew he would not let anything bad happen to me.)

But I was not a small child when I did this drawing. So hopefully it can give me, and maybe you, some support for meeting the demands of tomorrow.  The first Rumi statement gives us a question (on the left side).

                  I am so small I can barely be seen. How can this great love be inside me?

 This is not a romantic love etched into the trunk of a tree. It is the enormous love of life that burns in us, like the pilot light of energy that ignites us and compels us through every day.

                         Look at your eyes. They are small but they see enormous things.

Through your eyes you see enormous things. What we see can be overwhelming, but we can move the world with our creative powers, modest though they may be. Here Rumi helps you to keep a perspective on proportions. We do what we can do, acknowledging and accepting that gestures may be small, but their impact may be profound.

The Last Thing:

Above the Rumi quote in my journal drawing I have written:

                                                          Let the outside in less
                                                          Let the inside in more

This message that came to me in meditation,  before I did the drawing. I realized that I was listening too much to the yammering of the external world, and taking too much time and attention away from the teachings of my body and my inner wisdom. I needed to realize that although I am an adult, I am still one small human in a vast world.

It's very powerful when we see a human eye at the center of any imagery. It serves as a reminder  that we see each other through time and space.And we must look at ourselves just as consistently and honestly as we look at other people. The copyright date on this drawing is 2-28-18, but it could have been done today, tomorrow, or three years ago. Our role as inhabitants of this beautiful planet  never changes. I give send this out today as a means of giving thanks, on Thanksgiving, 2018, sending blessings and good wishes to all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

At the Milonga


In my novel, Tango Lessons, the main character spends some time dancing tango in clubs. We call any place where one can dance tango a milonga. So one would never say, “I’m going to a tango club”, instead it would be “I’m going to the milonga.” Then the location could be added. “I’m going to the milonga at Canning”, for example.
I was sorry that there was not enough space within the story line of Tango Lessons to embellish the events of the milongas because it is a rich environment for anecdotes and soap operas.
The drawing in today’s post is one I did on a cocktail napkin at a milonga in Buenos Aires. People no longer smoke in tango clubs (I never thought it was possible to stop Argentines from smoking, but the air is now clean in every milonga), but when I started going there in the 1990’s I’d have to hang dresses out for days to get the smoke out of them, and a shower and hair wash was required every night.
The cartoon illustrates the competition that exists among the women, who always outnumber the men. Also, the men can get away with being old-style machistas as much as they want to be in the milonga. They may prefer to dance with younger women. Or they may limit their dances to women of a certain advanced level of dance. Usually, foreign dancers have a better chance in that regard because many Argentine women did not learn tango in a class, they learned from going to the milonga. Foreigners, then, may be a bit more sophisticated or have advanced foot work because of having good instruction.
Then, there is seating. The person who is the patron of the event has made an investment in having good dancers attend their milonga. So they put the best dancers in the front rows, and unknown or less qualified dancers will be seated at tables back from the floor, less visible. Considering that men do not walk over to a woman to ask her to dance, that visibility is very important.
Now we come to cabezeo (this is all in Tango Lessons, by the way). This is the eye contact ritual that takes place as the invitation to dance. So my lady in the cartoon has built a curtain of smoke to insure that anyone looking at her table will be able to make eye contact with her and her alone.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Feed the animals

On the other side of the deep intimacy of the creative process, one is hurled into the lights and camera lenses of marketing and sharing one's work. This is the hardest part of the process for many of us so-called "creative types". Marketing and selling a book is very different from selling fine art. For one thing, paintings hang on the wall and exhibit themselves while you are off doing other things. Books sit on shelves, pile onto tables, rest in hard to reach cyber pages. They are much harder to be seen.
In the case of self-published books, there are no marketing departments to do the "social work" of getting the book seen and heard and read. I've learned to be patient with myself in accomplishing all the required support a book needs. It's going to be a slow process. I wasn't a marketing major. I didn't grow up with a computer screen in front of me since I was five. Social media is not second nature to me, in fact, trying to be consistent in social media taught me that I am shy, and that I would rather do creative things than connecting things. Show offs are really great at social media, people who like to be seen, people who like to be looked at. Let's face it, some people will do anything to be looked at. I was taught that such a characteristic made a person vain, perverse, and maybe even vulgar. Be that as it may, the Kardashians have proved that vanity can be a money-maker. I don't fit into that social media climbing genus or specie. (If you are a reader of this blog you know I'm often too shy to write too often.)
I am, however, very sociable, and that is a great help when presenting to classes or bookstore audiences. The interactions have been heart warming.
I love hearing from people who are reading or have read Tango Lessons. (I don't get many notes from readers of Freeing the Creative Spirit anymore.) And this is the real kernel in this post, the difference between being a painter and being a writer in getting feedback. We may be different types of animals, but both writer and artist egos love to be fed.
At the moment I have 6 reviews in Amazon, all 5 stars. Well, let's face it, most of them are friends. But they count! And every now and then I get an email from a friend or family member to say they are having a great time reading Tango Lessons. It is a wonderful feeling. I want to know exactly where they are in the story and what reactions they have to certain characters, and where do they think the story is going. But I cannot ask, I just content myself with a kind of self-satisfied realization that tells me I have given the world something that didn't exist before.
In the ACCI Gallery interview I said that the moment I saw a projection of Monet's painting of Rouen Cathedral in the Mist, I suddenly understood that painting/Art was magic. The artist, the writer, is a conjurer. We create something out of nothing and then we give it to the world as a gift.That is our form of magic. I'm sure you have experienced some magical excitement in response to some work of art, or perhaps a work of animation or music. All our art forms are magical means of transporting us beyond the hard, cold, ungiving surfaces of life.
So I'd like to encourage you to feed the artists. If you see a piece of fine art that you admire but can't afford, leave a note for the artist with the gallery person. (Someone once left me a note tucked into the stretcher bars on the back of a painting! That was great!) Write a fan letter, or email. You have no idea how much it means. Our art has a life of its own. It meets people we never meet, so we love to know that someone out there cares about that work we do all alone while the rest of the world is playing golf, going to a street fair, taking a nap, playing basketball, listening to jazz or all the other great things people do who choose not to write.
I started to write this blog in order to pass along my new Amazon Author's Page. The page has a bio, some photos, a link back to this blog. I think one can email the author that way, too. It's all new to me. Here is the link: amazon.com/author/adrianaadiaz
Thanks for reading. Maybe I'll hear from you some time.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Yours Truly in the Spotlight for ACCI Gallery -November, 2017


A C C I   Artist Spotlight  
ADRIANA DIAZ

Adriana Diaz is a true creatrix: a prolific mixed media painter, novelist, creative life coach, dancer, and teacher. Her creative magic is in bringing elements of the physical sensuous
world into her paintings, to awaken viewers to the world around them, expanding their presence and sense awareness of the physical world. With this heightened sense of physical presence, Adriana believes we can become more appreciative and literally in touch with the sensual and spiritually alive nature of the inanimate world.
  
Adriana describes herself as a "crayons first" kid, moving on to major in art, and ultimately becoming a creative life coach, which she practices alongside her painting and writing. She fondly recalls seeing the image of Monet's "Rouen Cathedral in the Mist" at age 18 as the moment she realized that art could be magic. Being of Spanish heritage, Adriana claims a kind of connection to the Spanish painters: Velazquez, Goya, Picasso, and the Catalán artist Tāpies, as their work combines the plastic and aesthetic elements of fine art with their personal political presence, something she strives to achieve in her own work. 
  
        
Wuthering Heights, Mixed Media Acrylics, 36" x 36"

Adriana finds a kinship between the process of painting and the act of writing. "The physical act of writing often shows up in my paintings as marks and 'found languages,' developed spontaneously without forethought. This connects me to the cultural anthropological phenomenon of languages held within the body of the earth. As if our ancestors put them there for safekeeping, intending them to be discovered by their children's children. The marking also connects me to the scribe who in ancient times was the one who recorded or transferred stories through pictures, then marks that became language."
 

Adriana rejoined ACCI Gallery in 2015 after an extended hiatus, and has since been an active member and volunteer on the Events committee. She finds the dialog, sensibilities, and work of other artists to be wonderful catalysts for her thinking and imaging. Making intellectual and artistic activities available in the East Bay, meeting other artists and being part of the joint creative presence at ACCI Gallery are part of what keeps her creative spirit engaged.

 


River Psalm, Mixed Media Acrylics, 36" x 48"

To the Ramparts: Mixed Media Acrylics, 18" x 20"
Find both of Adriana's books on Amazon:

Freeing the Creative Spirit, Drawing on the Power of Art to Tap the Magic and Wisdom Within

  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tango Lessons

Well, I am branching out, attempting to fulfill my creative potential, just as I encourage others to do. We are capable of far more than we think.  Most readers know that I wrote a non-fiction book titled Freeing the Creative Spirit in the 1990’s, and now I have taken another leap into the world of the written word, I have written a novel titled Tango Lessons.
            Tango Lessons does not teach the reader how to dance tango, but it does offer some deeper insights into tango as more than a dance. I tapped into the spiritual and political things I have learned and experienced as an apprentice to the dance. I bring together things from the real world of tango with a fictitious tale about a woman who goes to Argentina to learn about the tango, but more importantly she travels to that foreign land in search of a lost relative, an elder who it appears may not have died in the Spanish Civil War (as the family had presumed).
            The journey comes at a time when she has lost the life she's known. Her twenty-five year marriage has ended in divorce. Her only child has gone off to college. And the house she had known as home has burnt to the ground. Raquel Carval is over fifty, full of anxiety and self-doubt. But she hopes to accomplish one important thing, to find the elder brother of her dying godmother before she takes her last breath.
            The challenges she takes on were unimaginable. She didn't realize that thousands of people in Argentina are looking for loved ones who disappeared more than twenty years ago. She didn't realize that she embodied the courage and beauty of a woman capable of creating a new life, or of accepting a dangerous, even life-threatening mission for the sake of justice and truth. 
             We had a terrific launch party for Tango Lessons. Yes, of course, we danced a little tango, and we ate empanadas and drank red wine. It was a very heart-warming evening for me, to feel supported by friends who I'd not seen in years. Most of them had no idea I'd been working on a book about tango for over ten years. 
            If any readers of this blog are working on a writing project, I want to support you for your courage and determination. Writing is a solitary undertaking. And a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction requires research, planning, time lines, thinking and rethinking. Then there can be months, even years of editing. And in this market, months or years can be spent shopping it to agents or publishers. I finally decided that self-publication was not a sign of failure, but an act of independence.
When I finally held a copy of Tango Lessons in my hands, the success smelled even sweeter than the first time I held Freeing the Creative Spirit, which was published by a big publishing house. I knew that without any other forces behind me, I had stayed with the project for the long haul. I had never given up. I made every hurdle push me to make the story better, the writing more direct. Because it is a story with a good deal of Spanish dialog, the spell check program quit early on, so I had to reread and reread for spelling errors that are easy to lose track of. The book designer's program then took out the italics that were editorially required for the Spanish, so I had to read with a pair of literary tweezers to reset the italics. This blog is the only place you will learn about all that, unless you come to a reading. It's important to include those details of the creative process here because that's what this blog is about. 
           You can see that beyond the years that I put into studying tango, Tango Lessons still had a lot to teach me. And every time I get another email, phone call, or Amazon page review I am rewarded a hundred times over. Readers tell me they can't put it down. They say they stayed awake into the small hours of the night because they had to finish it. Turns out, I wrote a page turner! Critical appreciation is important, of course, but there is also a great feeling to know that the reader is caught up in the story, that the heroine's life matters to them. Literature has the power to instill hope and inspire courage. If I have done some of that, I know the ten years were worthwhile. Hope you will read it and enjoy it.