An Artful Vacation & A Letter to YOU ~~ !

Linda recently wrote: 

Hi Kira:  I check your website everyday and lately I noticed your have not been around and I am wondering if you are alright.  I miss your postings.  Hope things are good with you.

Dear Linda, 

I am fine. Better than fine, actually. Here’s what happened: 

As like when I arrived in Florida, I was hit with a massive FMS flare-up when I arrived home. My equilibrium was off. What was this strange place, so familiar, yet so foreign to these newly-opened eyes? Every normal movement felt off, strange in only the way new perspective can change things. I rested and remembered and pet the painting and pages I’d created with friends. Did you know I met them both online? Roben-Marie and I have been fast friends for years, but I’d only chatted with Carissa via text messages & on Instagram. Yet it worked. I love the universe, sometimes! 

And then I had a good day — a great day! That was one of the things I learned in Florida….that I can have fabulous, wonderful, low-pain days filled with adventure and art and friendship. I can enjoy things and be happy and dance in the rain. I can wander the back alleys of a town and not know where I am and revel in the thought of being completely, utterly lost

I brought a typewriter home with me! On the plane! I bought a big, beautiful vintage suitcase called Jupiter, put the typewriter (in it’s case!) inside, nestled among my clothes, and checked it. Of course the TSA opened my suitcase! But it made it here, my little $8 find at the magical thrift, and I’ve been writing poems on it every day (I’m challenging myself to 30 poems in 30 days as a way to collect the bones and breathe life into that Wild Self deep inside). 

On that good day, I brought it to the typewriter repair shop near my apartment that I learned about on Sunday Morning. Bill was an excited little kid trapped in an older man’s body, and we giggled over the magic and wonder of old typewriters and the grace of their mechanics and profiles.  

And then the good day ended, and I woke up with a migraine. Remember how I started getting migraines? My doctor has told me they’re related to the concussion I suffered in March, and that it can take 12-18 months for the brain to fully recover. OUCH! This migraine had me down and out for 6 days. 6 days! Physical pain I can handle — have handled for so many years. But pain in my head? You can’t dream right, when your head is attacking you. Everything becomes filtered through the pain and you can walk and move but nothing connects

When that passed, I started collecting the bones. 

No, no, not real bones! No, these are deep inside. I’d already started shedding this skin, rather, my old skin, my pre-Florida skin, before I left. I knew I was going through a transformation. It isn’t so much that I’ve changed — okay, yes, I have! — Rather, I’ve become more myself. There are always parts you hide because you’re afraid of how people will react, or if they’ll stop liking you, and I feel like I trapped myself in a corner I couldn’t escape. I wasn’t fully expressing all the wonders of ME for oh-so-long! 

That’s what my vacation taught me. That I CAN be all the ME I am! And people will naturally be drawn to that authentic light shining from deep within.

I feel freer, now. I am connecting with my Wild Self and writing poems about moonlight and wolves and whispering trees. About the Old Self I shed and the New Self I’m still discovering. Remember how you were when you were a child? It can be hard at times because we’re so concerned with being ‘grown-up’ or ‘mature’ that we start to forget the times we would run around catching fireflies long past our bedtimes, or the faerie kingdoms we used to explore. We let those things remain in childhood because we thought they had no place in our lives, now. 

Oh, but they DO! 

That is where I’ve been, Linda. Exploring the wild forest of myself, building up this new skin, clarifying what am I am and who I am and where I want to go. I want to have Everyday Adventures and meet new people and spread joy and tap into my intuitive gifts. 

But now I’m ready to start taking you along for the ride. I do hope you’ll come with me. I may sound different and have a new haircut, new make-up, a twinkle to my eye. But I’m happy. Genuinely, completely joyous, even on the hard days. 

Now, I need to be off to write a poem or two, and play with my typewriter, and make stickers of my art for my supporters and friends and people I haven’t met yet! 


Some Photos Around Today....

A doodle in my journal last night where I surprised myself with how much I've learned...

...stamps I carved for fun this morning, before working or doing anything else...

(note: a bunch of the gals on my FB page and Instagram accounts want some for themselves, so I'm carving some more! Let me know if you'd like some, too!)

...cutting down and hand-leafing prints for my Etsy shop...

...and some words to leave you with. 

Asking, Asking, Learning


my work's in the center.

Today, we all pegged three of our drawings on the wall, sat back, and gave each other feedback. 

I’m no stranger to this process. I’ve been critiquing my own journal pages for years, now, being honest with myself as to what works and what doesn’t, collecting all the good things together like mythical roll-over minutes (side-note: do those still exist?), letting the good compound atop each other until now, when I’m mostly confident I’ll like the pages I create. 

(This is also the ‘fake it ‘till you make it trick of live demos and uStreams.)

I also encourage this habit in my students and you, my darling readers, because everything we create has a lesson to teach us, even the worst pages we want to pass off on a small child or perhaps some magic faerie that tips bad pages into journals for fun. You know, not made by you

There is good and not-so-good to be gleamed from everything. 

Here’s the thing — you are not your art. 

We’re all learning. No one can pick up a pen and draw amazingly and in-proportion on their first try. There is always room for improvement, something to learn, and something to celebrate. 

What I learned today is this — I may be a pain in the ass in class, asking questions all the time, asking for advice, looking for that little nudge in the right direction, but that’s how passion shows up. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t ask. If I didn’t want to learn, I would just draw whatever I could and give up. 

Yes, I had problem areas. And overlooked shadows. And only had 45 minutes for one of them, but in the long run, I’ve been having so much fun that it doesn’t matter what grade I got or where I messed up — looking at what I’d managed to create with my own two hands and an unfamiliar material (charcoal), I couldn’t help but smile and be proud

So be that person, darlings. Ask questions. Keep searching for answers. Email the artists you love and don’t look back. 

The ones who ask questions are the ones who are passionate, curious, and creative. Never forget that. 

The Magic of Process (& playing in someone else's sandbox for awhile)


Even when you reach that point when you like most of what you create, you’re still going to make things you don’t like. 

There’s little that can excite me more than a weekend spent outside creating art. As we spread our supplies across the long table under the awning, little dogs ran around, growling at each other as they played fetch. Every so often, one would drop a little pink ball at my feet, and I’d pause paging through Traci’s new book to throw it at one of the cinder-brick walls that helped fence in the yard. Becca played in her journal, an altered children’s book rich in texture I keep telling her she needs to gather together to teach, music pumping from her iPhone. 

(And I’m a little jealous, as I’d love to play in Instagram and Hipsmatic as she has the past few days.) 

I’m working on a large parent sheet of my favorite paper, Stonehenge printmaking, laying down stencils I’d packed in my bag at the last minute before heading out that morning. Our artmaking was delayed as I visited my friend Dawn in town as she finished her latest project — painting those unsightly utility boxes at the corners with her trademark bright color and amazing lettering. But now I’m in flip-flops at the end of Becca’s table with my favorite spray inks, letting them mix on the paper. 

And then I’m playing with the printing plate I made from craft foam saved from the closet in the colorful room named “the office,” rubber bands coming off as I brayer on paint. 

It isn’t working well, but it’s working

The afternoon passes much like this. Becca works in her journal and I play around making marks on the giant sheet of paper. I try several of the methods outlined in Traci’s book, getting lost in the thrill of making new marks, brayering down layers and layers of paint over ink. Writing with fabric paint on laminating sheets since we can’t find the transparencies. Gluing foam shapes to sheets to make little repetitive patterns. Drawing with puffy paint and glitter. I’m getting my hands dirty and laughing and enjoying every minute of it. 

And when we break to run off to Jo-Ann’s to return something (which they wouldn’t take back, to our infinite sadness) and grab a bite to eat, I look down at what I’ve created and cringe. 

There are bits I adore. Little squares of space that, on their own, are amazing and fun and lovely, but when added into the whole get lost. I don’t like it. The finished piece is anything but satisfying, and I only add a little bit before we head inside where artificial light replaces the setting sun. Even in the heat of the desert, we have early sunsets in the winter, still surreal after over a year here. The thought that I’ve been sitting outside in the beginning of February in jeans and a sleeveless blouse only reminds me of the timeless nature of my new home. 

I don’t work on the piece again. The magic of the Process is gone. I move on to other things. 

That’s how it goes sometimes. I’m reminded of the lesson I learned awhile ago: not every piece of art you create is going to be good. In fact, most will be bad. Bad, bad, bad. But there’s something redeemable in every thing you work on, every time you put pencil or brush to paper. This is what I want to remind you of, that the magic of Process is the real juice of this creative life we’re living, and without it, you’re just making things to finish. Where is the thrill of discovery in that? 

I think this fundamental relates to another piece I’m working on for you about doing art as your job, in that once you start making things to finish them, to show them off, to gain followers or sell things, you lose your edge and stop having fun. 

I cleaned my art space today and pulled out this piece. Looking at it, I realized why I didn’t like it as a whole. It isn’t the colors, or even some of the doodles. It’s that I was playing in Traci’s sandbox and it’s time to give it back to her. Oh, I won’t stop making marks or experimenting with the tools she’s given us in her new book. But I can’t possibly create something I love when I’m playing in someone else’s sandbox. It’s theirs. Their heart and love and inspiration goes into it all, and I can’t possibly replicate that. And I don’t want to


No. I’ll keep playing, adding in more and more of myself until the dough tastes delicious when I lick it off my fingers. Just a sprinkling of her and all those others in the world that inspire me, multicolored dots added to the batter created of myself. 

I take shots of those bits I like, print them off, and get back to work. 

Grown-Ups Can Have Sleepovers, Too!


I spent New Year's Eve and most of the day after at my darling friend Becca's for a night of art, sparklers, and wine. Lots of wine. So much fun was had, I didn't wake until the next afternoon, but most of the time, I was sitting at her kitchen table working in my journal while she worked in hers. We're that kind of people. 

Excuse the grammar, as there's really no other way to say that! 

The next morning, when I crawled out of bed and padded into the kitchen for some much-needed caffeine, Becca told me the first video for Traci's online workshop (via Strathmore Artists' Paper's 2012 series) was up and she'd already watched it. I first questioned how much longer than me she'd been awake, then dashed into her art room to commandeer her laptop and watched the videos over again. 

(It's a free series, so go over and watch; they're fabulous!)

We were so inspired, we grabbed large sheets of paper and started playing, spraying, and painting. It's amazing how much more fun art is when shared with someone else. 

Here's a mini!vlog of lazy to show you all we created. I must really dash, now, as I need to wash out some hair dye!