Tag Archives: art

Bloggers for Peace: Art is a Universal Lanquage

Art for Peace

Art for Peace – Collage by Kartika

Bloggers for Peace

This week, I decided to take up the “Blogging for Peace Challenge,” and have committed to blog once each month on a topic that I feel relates to peace.

While for me, art making is a way to enter into a peaceful state because I can temporarily let go of the restraints of daily living, I believe art enhances human relationships and can build connection and communication between people. I also see art as a way for humans to connect with and appreciate the natural environment. Just look at the fields and sky painted by Van Gough – we can see he was in communion with nature. Artists have this gift, this opportunity to share such visions, to move us into states of consciousness where we may not ordinarily go.

We are united in this need to experience beauty, and through human history, the arts have been a universal vehicle for us to both appreciate the creations of others and to create our own unique visions of what is meaningful and beautiful.

Art is timeless

I find it fascinating that we can admire and be moved by the works and artistic expressions of artists from all over the world, from the beginning of time – we can feel connected to the Navaho women who weaved rugs and the Greek artisans who made drinking vessels centuries ago.

Those simple cave paintings created thousands of years ago still move of us. We find them beautiful in their elegant simplicity. And contemporary and modern artists borrow from the styles of all generations of crafters and artisans and artists to inspire their work.

When we visit museums and see artifacts from around the world, whether from Asia, Europe, Africa, or elsewhere, we get a glimpse into the souls of our ancestors. They have all been creators, they have all created beauty from the depths of their souls. They are like us, they are our family. They share our wonder when standing in front The Pieta, they share the need to experience and express the sublime through beauty in all of its forms.

Art is not a luxury that humans can live without. It is a necessity and the artist will go to any lengths to bring his visions into form.

Making art is part of our human DNA – humans are designed to create and to share their creations with others. In this way we come together to appreciate one of our common denominators – our creative potential and the joy of making things, the need to be inspired, and the impulse to follow the muse wherever she takes us. This is the way art can be a bridge to peace and harmony.

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Fairfield Iowa’s Mosaic Murals by Karla Christensen

A Winter Garden
A Winter Garden Mosaic Mural Installation (6 x 10 ft.) by Karla Christensen

We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.
Jimmy Carter

Artist Surplus in Fairfield Iowa

We are artist rich in our little town. We are big on talent and abundant in creativity. It takes lots of courage to go public with one’s creations or to start a new medium or a project born of pure inspiration. I just love people who go for it and start from scratch – the untrained, the outsiders of the art world. I was so happy when my friend Karla became inspired to create art using mosaic tiles. Her creations were inspired by a mix of traditional themes and symbols and her own whimsey. She didn’t have training, but she just started anyway and, step-by-step, began to learn the ropes. The ropes of her new found artistic focus included lots of tile, lots of grout, lots of tools, special paints, and even a kiln. Installing murals downtown required lots of hauling and lifting and standing on ladders and drinking lots of water in the summer heat.

She began in an apartment, in her living room where she set up a large table and made messes everyday. The joy increased and the products produced delight. She eventually rented her downtown studio space overlooking the downtown Fairfield square across from Cafe Paradiso (a convenient walk to get a latte).

Then she was invited to install murals in several downtown locations: The Winter Garden is on the side of Revelations, Fairfield’s iconic restaurant and bookstore, on the alley and around the corner from the front door. The Winter Garden gives us flowers year round. It gives us the image of a girl riding a flying bird in the sky. It helps our imaginations soar. It reminds us of Spring. It transports us to a magical realm.

Sipping Tea and Scenery

A TEA AND SCENERY
Tea and Scenery Mosaic Mural Installation (6 x 10 ft.) by Karla Christensen

Tea and Scenery captures Karla’s two favorite pastimes – the delight of sipping a cup of tea and looking at the Iowa landscape. And, she includes an image of Fairfield’s wonderful bike and walking trail, a project that involved a team of dedicated people to fund and bring to completion.

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A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

Abraham Maslow, American psychologist known for “a hierarchy of human needs.”

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Collage Mandalas

Collage Mandala by Kartika

Collage Mandala by Kartika

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation.”

Carl Jung

Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by the mandala in its various forms of artistic and symbolic expression.

But, I was afraid to create my own mandalas because I have little patience for measuring and precision in art making, and so many of the mandalas I admired in the traditional Indian and other Eastern styles are a form of sacred geometry where the angles are mathematically precise.

The Tibetan mandala painting below is an example of this deeply symbolic and complex form of sacred art, often used as a tool for meditation. The mandala in Eastern culture is symbolic – the circle is a symbol of the eternity of the cosmos and the square is a symbol of the earth or of the man-made world. In Sanskrit, the mandala literally means circle and center.

Tibetan Thangka Painting

Tibetan Thangka Painting

However, I was drawn to creating my own simple versions of collage mandalas, and decided to refuse to intimidated (okay perhaps a bit) by masters of the form worldwide. As I read more about this art form, and see the endless ways the circle is used symbolically in all cultures over the world, the possibilities and interpretations are endless.

Mandala Collage by Kartika

Mandala Collage by Kartika

The sacred circle

A circle is the reflection of eternity. It has no beginning and it has no end – and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.
Maynard James Keenan

Carl Jung became deeply involved with the mandalas as a way to connect with the unconscious and to engage with the universal archetypes that are are the basis of all levels of Self. He had patients create mandalas as a tool for self-understanding and healing.

Currently there is a re-awakening of mandala making – people are realizing that anyone can draw a circle and begin the process of creating a personal mythology that links them to spirit and self understanding. We have been inspired by the traditions of mandala-making and are finding our own ways to create beautiful expressions of the sacred circle.

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Fairfield Iowa: Alley at Dusk

“‎The simple truth is that you can understand a town. You can know and love and hate it. You can blame it, resent it, and nothing changes. In the end, you’re just another part of it.”
― Brenna Yovanoff

Small Town living

Photographers capture moments and freeze them in time. They catch configurations of light and dark, objects and space, people and things, that tell stories and reflect back to us where we have been and who we are in the world.

I love Guy Harvey’s photography, and of course, his photos of Iowa and particularly of Fairfield, are part of my story. How many times have I walked this Alley with its bricked paved road and the storefronts of local small business owners? There is Dotty’s Sewing Nook, owned by Dotty, of course – she’s been there since before I arrived in town in the early 80’s. Then there is this view of the Fairfield Courthouse with the steeple and clock. The Fairfield Weekly Reader, the small local paper where we find out what’s playing at the Coffee House or what apartments are for sale, or who has just started up a new business, has moved to another location, still in town. Paving the alley was part of a beautification project headed by locals who procured the resources – this project represents hours of care and attention, hard work, commitment, and love.

We live moment to moment and the artist captures fleeting time and anchors our life experiences to give us roots and a sense of belonging.

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Saturdays At the Flying Leap Art Studio in Fairfield Iowa

My Collage

There is no must in art because art is free.
Wassily Kandinsky

A healing Saturday ritual

Every Saturday morning, I grab my caramel latte at Fairfield’s Cafe Paradiso (where Oprah had coffee during her tour of our little town), where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and the caramel flavor is organic and locally made, and I walk across the street and enter a building where I climb the stairs to a space of several rooms dedicated to art. In the studio, I meet with my group led by a wonderful  artist, Donna Colby, and  sit at one end of a large folding table – my reserved spot because art is my religion and I never miss church on Saturday. I will stay there from 10:30 to between 3 and 5.

I grab my favorite magazines, gather my paper, glue stick, scissors, and  I unpack my little bag of things I bring from home – lately it’s my art stamps and ink. I say hi to the group, to members of my tribe in my community.

I feel the coffee taking effect and my brain starts to shift – maybe it’s the alpha waves that are supposedly stimulated by the brain when we are being creative. The tension in my mind from the work week shuts up for while. The dictates of time begins to disappear. I start to feel myself again and may even turn of my cell phone.

Permission to take a flying leap

Donna is my mentor who gives me permission to express my vision. My group is most often all women, but when a guy comes, he is usually great and probably in his creative feminine, so he’s one of us. In making art together we are comrades and kindred spirits, wrestling with our blocked creative selves to become free. Some of us are painting, some drawing – we are doing our own thing. We remind ourselves we are our harshest critics, we are sometimes our worst enemies, but sometimes it just takes the gentleness of a supportive and loving group of pilgrims to ease our way toward becoming our best selves and unleashing the muse within.

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My Vision Board: Getting in Touch With My Inner Visionary

We Are All Visionaries

Our life is a manifestation, and we can very well make that manifestation beautiful and meaningful and have a good influence.

Thich Nhat Hanh

One of My Vision Boards

As a collage artist, sometimes I just start cutting out images from my stash of magazines that represent different parts of myself or the kinds of energy I want to attract into my life. Maybe after spending a day at my job on the computer, I’ve simply got to get into the right side of my brain. And, one way to get there is simple–find inspiring images, cut them out, and put them on a bulletin board. I mean you don’t have to be Picasso to cut paper. Somehow, looking at a zebra in Africa or a vase of cut flowers makes me optimistic. Or, turning a page and seeing a confident woman standing in a beautiful art studio surrounded by the tools of her craft, lifts me from the mundane into the imagination where all possibilities exist.

I’m moved by what I see. That’s why I love making art and seeing other people’s art. I like all kinds of art and think people who are creative are some of the most fascinating people in the world, even when they’re crazy. I like the way text looks on paper and the way colors pop from pages, and the way seeing a picture of sky gives me hope that life will be better.

“Imagine and Let Go” is one of the laws of manifestation

Making my vision board tells my brain there is this world of possibilities out there I can tap into. It’s like unplugging from the matrix of daily life and being five years old. I can, for a while, forget about time and that I have to get up in the morning to BE somewhere. I can stop thinking about global warming and Hurricane Sandy and worrying about the election, because I’m busy with my own business–I’m cutting out pictures and pinning them on a cork board.

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Mask-Making Made Simple

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

Mask-making is an ancient art form that has been practiced world wide, and ranges from simple folk art to the level of high art. I love this very simple process of creating one-of-a-kind art pieces that can be either included into larger mixed media or collage pieces or stand alone! This is a perfect project to begin when you have that creative impulse, but are constrained by time, space, or even ideas.

Once you get started, however, if you’re like me, you’ll become so involved in the process, you may end up spending many wonderful hours on just one mask. So, don’t be deceived by its seeming simplicity—this project can take you deeply into the zone of art-making! You may find the mask itself leads you in directions you had not considered, and your inspiration starts to move full speed ahead, surprising you as you move forward.

I like to start by using a colored pencil (Prismacolor pencils are wonderful colored pencils favored by advanced and beginning artists) to draw simple designs lightly on my mask—sometimes I pick the color palette for the paint I will later use as I draw—getting a feeling for the mood and look of the mask I’m creating. In the masks above I used gold metallic and bright acrylic colors.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury

Next, I start painting in my designs—do not be afraid to improvise and move away from the designs you have penciled in! The design will evolve as you go along, so trust your self and be spontaneous and in the moment. Remember, making art is not about the complexity of the project or about playing by the rules. It’s about getting into the zone and letting go and staying focused at the same time.

If I  want to change my design, I cover up the area with Titanium White paint or gesso. So I don’t get too hung up on perfection—it’s easy to make corrections.

“It’s not about breaking the rules. It is about abandoning the concept of rules altogether” – Paul Lemberg

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