Refuge oh Refuge

At least 40, probably more, slightly larger than life figures sit inside an inflatable boat, waiting for land. Some have horns, some wear ornate collars, and some look like Nefertiti. There are a clan of mythical creatures, historical figures, and nameless men and children, that are searching for hope. Constructed by thin lengths of bamboo that wrap around them in ovals upon ovals, they are fragile as well as strong. They long for space and peace, knowing that they are barely there to the eyes of others. They are hollow and subtle energetically to the western world, yet immersed in theirs you would feel the weight and distress, and crumbling flesh. This is Ai Weiwei's "Life Cycles" at the Marciano Art Center in Los Angeles.

Refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.

A human right.

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After the show, I clambered upstairs to see some hidden galleries (the place is so much bigger than it looks when you first enter). And came upon Andrea Bower's piece.

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I was delighted to see this piece, because a little spark tickled me, knowing that refuge is found in art, in cultivation of good things in our lives. To seek refuge, we are seeing safety and peace. Sometimes this is external, God forbid it is, and I hope our world can work on helping everyone find safe homes, decent food, and warmth. But many people also seek internal refuge, knowing that even though they are in a warm house, their hearts are longing for a closeness to… the everything. To the joy that we all can experience, but for some reason don’t know how to just “turn on”.

I see this joy as something kids play so easily with. They run around, chasing each other and laughing their heads off. No cash required.

Sometimes, when I need refuge, I light a candle, turn on some soft music and bring out my art supplies and tarot deck. I’ll pull a card or two and let it speak to me. Usually the cards bring forward a theme that I can then work with in a small art piece. This is why I’m so excited to share the tarot deck that I’ve been working on with all of you. I find tarot, basically, art therapy. Images can help us literally SEE what’s going on for us, where talking or reading a book may not touch the abstract place that we need to view from. Of course, with all internal work, our power is within, but tarot can be such a lovely catalyst to accessing that power.

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Photo by Carrie Mallon

Keep track of the tarot deck and potential release dates on instagram: @thespacioustarot !

Love,

Annie

Working on your thing

It's a constant challenge, but that's because all practices are about balance. Our art practice is no different, but it's worth the time regardless of the frustration that ensues. In fact, I'm getting use to this idea of struggle. Life is no cruise, ok? Sometimes we get to board a pretty ship and eat the breakfast buffet, other times we have to work in the kitchen and wait tables. I think it's good for us to have healthy dose of both.

Dr. Jordan Peterson- a brilliant mind- said, "Responsibility gives us purpose, and purpose gives us meaning." Ok, I'm paraphrasing this a bit, but the guts are in that notion. When I focus on the fact that my work is done in order to contribute to my peers, to children, and even support other's persuits, then I have more gumption and energy to do the work well. I am so grateful I even have the opportunity to dink around with paints and photoshop and make things! How cool is that?

And when it comes to our personal art practice, we won't have ALL the time, but we have some time, and usually some time is enough time. And sharing our own ideas is such a gift to everyone around us. It's a way of sharing our story, or true selves, and it empowers others to see parts of themselves they hadn't before.

Here's what I'm working on: The picture book is moving along and wowzas I am happy with where it's landing.

New revised spread for “Sometimes it’s Bright”.

New revised spread for “Sometimes it’s Bright”.

The middle grade novel is in its final editing stages before I submit it to my agent. I am LOVING working in black and white. That is all.

Concept art for “Dream Walker”.

Concept art for “Dream Walker”.

On another note, 2019 is the year I do scary things. One of those things was performing in a sketch show at Upright Citizen's Brigade, Lod Angeles, last weekend. The sketches were hilarious! Yes, I was nervous, but in the end, I did my best, and it was really about supporting the ensemble. Their skills helped me play my part, and my efforts and energy fed them.

What's next? Not exactly sure, but I'm thinking a writing class?!

-Annie

Thanksgiving Vibes

Howdy friends. Happy almost Thanksiving, which is the holiday that grows on me more and more every year! This time around, I'm going to order vegan Thanksgiving dinner, because although I love cooking, I'm feeling like letting the holiday work for ME, instead of work for the holiday. Thank you Kelly for the idea What about you? Do you have major family plans? Major napping plans?

I started off this month with an education in our United States voting process. As a poll worker, I got to see the whole shindig come together. My favorite part was seeing neighbors recognize each other, and kids go ga ga over "I voted" stickers. They're like gold to them.

Then a sweet and talented friend sent along a gorgeous print to me last week. I love her style and I love spooky things, so this was extra delicious. Thank you Zhen!!

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My desk is a bit all over the place as I try to stay grounded with personal projects (still working on the picture book ideas with agent!) and my client work. To help me remember, I purchased some goodies like oat flower essence for recognizing my "calling", and a journal with motivational quotes about being our gosh darn SELVES. They have added a lot to my morning. Just having a ritual in place to work on very specific things that need my attention makes all the difference.

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I'm so grateful for the support of my friends, family, and clients, as well as for the opportunity to make art for a living and for pleasure. This life truly is precious, and I hope you go forward through this holiday season recognizing how special our time is with loved ones- heck! even with strangers. All we have are moments, pieces of time. Opportunities to appreciate being alive. Here's to mounds of this. Happy Thanksgiving and lots of love,

Annie

Dancing, Writing, Cooking, Painting, Singing, Watching, Repeat.

I will admit to anyone reading this, I have been in a rigid "funk" lately, where I have pushed myself to "be creative" every day, but really I'm just forcing myself to produce.

And I've been screaming- "there's no milk left! No milk left!" My spirit animal is a cow, did I mention that?

Being creative means being curious. I love that word, curious. When we are curious, don't we follow it without looking back? Don't we feel excited to discover something, and momentarily forget about all the things on our to-do list, or what was worrying us moments before?

I remember when I was about 11 and I'd walk around my old neighborhood searching for things that would claw at my curiosity. Notebook in hand, binoculars round neck, and even at one time a spy microphone, I was set to discover something outrageous about the way the world works. I know NOW that eavesdropping is highly inappropriate, but hey, I was 11 and it was a blast. I don't regret it! I have notebooks full of weird conversations I overheard, or of watching people in their backyards. It doesn't sound that fascinating when you read those notebooks now, but at the time it was thrilling.

Current piece called, "Meditation". I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it.

Current piece called, "Meditation". I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it.

This is what an art practice is all about.

When you sit down to create, there shouldn't be an end goal in mind.  A thread of curiosity can lead you to places beyond expectations, beyond your doubt, beyond the bullshit and worry.  I was making the mistake of pushing aside any thread and "practicing to make perfect" so that I'd be better than I was before.  

Isn't now good enough?  Honestly, it's all we have, so we better damn well appreciated ourselves this moment.

Practice makes.

We don't need the perfect part.  Because practice is what makes us.  Through a practice, we are unfolding, uncovering more and more of ourselves.

My current vision board. Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

My current vision board. Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

When do I practice?

I have to make time to practice, but I'm shooting for often as possible.  Children do it every day.  I think it's safe to say that we should too.  I think the more we do it, the more we can let stuff go and get down to the real stuff.

It doesn't need to look like one thing.

Reread the title to this post.  All of those things are part of my practice.  I have decided I will not just practice one thing because I am a multisided human being with lots of layers.  Yay!  

Now tell me, what will your practice look like?  Start with this: what are you curious about?  Now go out and follow it.  I can't wait to see where your practice takes you!

 

Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

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Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.

Sitting Disease

I was in a lecture a few Tuesdays ago, and the teacher mentioned sitting disease.

"Of course, we all have it. And we have to be very careful to move the body more," He said. "Now the next thing we can do to detox the body is...."

I sat there (not helping!) and thought about this as he lectured further. My hips were always tight these days. My metabolism had tanked since I stopped riding my bike to work a couple years ago and began freelancing, thus making it hard to loose weight. I don't have my standing desk any more, too. GOSH. I AM SITTING ALL THE TIME. No wonder things are going haywire.

Just this last week and a half, I took I took time off from work. Today is my very last of this "staycation". I didn't sit down much the last 10 days, instead, I walked along the beach, the pier, around museums, in and around parks. Although I didn't do a ton of vigerous exercise, I moved my body for the majority of the day, and felt amazing.

When I walked up the stairs in my house this morning, I felt a lightness that hadn't been there. My knees and hips didn't hurt! Whaaaatttt???

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Since October of last year, I've had some weird issues with knee pain and weak behind muscles. I couldn't figure out why, with all the yoga and sometimes runnind, why my legs were breaking.

This brilliant infographic from juststand.org might shed light on why, if you sit for work all day, you feel crappy like I do. I'm commited to try and sit only 3-4 hours a day, rather than the average 7. My desk is taller as of one day ago (suitable for standing), my chair is a stand/sit combo chair (aka stool) which allows me to use it for support but not for sinking into, and I will march while I watch new episodes of Big Mouth if I must!

I love my hips and knees, and I'm so thankful to feel them loosen up after a crunchy 9 months. I must protect them!

Do you have a walking pracice? Use a standing desk? Take an evening walk every day?

Let me know!

IN OTHER NEWS...

Been working on a pattern for a podcast I recently joined about Disneyland attractions, called The Back Side of Water. In a past life I was a jungle cruise skipper and a mountaineer on Big Thunder Mountain with the other cohost, Alex Stewart. We're making some swag for the listeners. I love painting treats as they are so brightly colored and beautiful, and make my mouth water. Total sugar seduction.

Swag will be available June 15th!

"Sugar Rush" print of treats found at Disneyland.

"Sugar Rush" print of treats found at Disneyland.

Annie is an author and illustrator with books available on Amazon and local book stores. She is open for commission, too! She lives in California, and loves tea, bike rides, reading, and exploring new places.