Introducing: Craft Classes!

Wow, this is a really exciting post to write!

I’ve been a little on the quiet side lately because I’ve been very busy with shows and conventions, but also because I’ve been working very hard to set up some very cool new opportunities in the art world.  Finally, I get to share my love of “making stuff” with the world: I’ll be teaching art and crafting classes all over northern Ohio!

I’ll have all sorts of fun things for you to try!

Classes are already scheduled in Euclid and Akron, and a venue in Parma is pending (I should know by the end of the week).  I have a few Halloween events open right now for sign ups, and additional holiday classes in the works.  Check out the new tab at the top of the page for more information!  You’ll find any classes for which registration goes through me on the Classes tab.  ALL events, including my upcoming shows and classes for which registration will go through another host, can be found under the Events tab.

I’ll also be offering private events for charities, corporations, and individuals.  Craft classes are great for fundraisers, birthdays, team building, and more!  If you’re interested in hosting an event, please contact me for details.  And definitely check out a class or two – be sure to bring your friends!

Back to School

As of yesterday, I am once again a college student!  It’s been quite a while since I took a formal class for anything, but I’m excited to share that I am going to be taking some art classes over the next few months.  Yes, I’m already an artist of sorts – but I’m far from capable when it comes to so very many types of art!

Anytime you can use an Adam Sandler reference, use it.

For now it’s just one class, an introductory drawing class to help me work on linework and drawing from observation.  As a creative-type, my mind is constantly bursting with images and ideas that I want to put into physical form.  Often, drawing/sketching would be a great way to get started on a project, whether it’s putting together a visual for a craft, or starting an image for a painting or other media work.  Unfortunately, my drawing skills are lamentable.

But that’s okay!  Art doesn’t have to be wonderful every time, and it can take years to develop skills like drawing.  I haven’t had the opportunity in the past to devote so much time to proper instruction, but now that I have the time, money, and drive, it’s time to start working on the next new skill.

Drawing pencils and a blank sketchbook. The possibilities are limitless.

Personal enrichment is a good enough reason to keep taking classes and learning new skills.  One of my favorite songs declares “I want a life that’s a work in progress” and that’s me to a T.  Complacency is not my game.  I thrive on change and growth of knowledge and skills.  There is always another thing to learn or project to improve.  I see people who have reached a point in their life where they’ve decided they’re “done”, there’s nothing more to achieve, and they just sit back and coast.  This doesn’t make sense to me when there’s an entire world out there full of amazing things.

Someone once said “the more time you spend inside of your comfort zone, the smaller it gets; the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the larger it gets.”  From living my life so far, I can verify that this is 100% true!  Get out there, try new things, push yourself a little at a time, and never be satisfied!

You’re going to miss out on SO MUCH if you decide to stop.

Mental Health

Today’s news featured another mass shooting, this one right here in my own state.  Another.  Mass.  Shooting.  I have such a problem with writing those words.  It keeps happening, over, and over, and over, with this story.  Right now, little is known about the shooter in this case, and as details unfold I’m sure we’ll see one of the standard narratives about gun control and preventing “people like this” from getting weapons.  But my guess is there will be that equally common secondary narrative: this person was troubled.

Mental health is the biggest elephant-in-the-room issue we have maybe EVER experienced as a nation.  Sure, it comes up and we talk about how we need to do more about making mental health less stigmatized and increasing awareness and acceptability, yeah yeah yeah.  Do we actually DO anything about it though?

Depression, anxiety, and all their friends can be very real struggles.

Even in my own circles, including family and close friends, it’s difficult to talk about mental health related issues.  When there’s not something visible or tangible for an outsider to measure, it’s more difficult to convey a sense of your struggles.  And all too often, those of us struggling with stages or guises of depression will hear “why are you sad, everything is so good for you?”  Dismissiveness, whether intentional or not, is the most common response.  Worse are those times when your struggles are actually held against you, as if there’s something wrong with YOU for having a different ability to cope with things in your life.

Most often, these responses train us to keep quiet, to bottle up the hard times and internalize our issues.  We fear seeking help, because the help we’ve already tried to ask for from the people close to us has been a non-starter.  If even our loved ones aren’t prepared or willing to accept our struggles as real, how can we approach someone further from the center of our circles, much less someone we don’t even know?

When we try to contain our struggles on the inside, we find ourselves broken.

Getting help is key for mental health issues.  We are unequipped to self-service when chemicals in our bodies and our brains don’t function as intended.  No amount of daily affirmations or “just stop being sad” can turn that around – but our very support systems challenge us to be satisfied with stuffing the cries for help back into ourselves.  It’s no wonder we are seeing so many people lashing out, often violently, when faced with the pressure of concealing or self-tending a mental health issue.

It’s about time we really start stepping up to be more understanding, more caring, more compassionate.  Yes, some mental health issues are frightening and challenging and difficult to experience as a third party – but try to imagine being the person who has to live with those issues.  If you’re scared or distressed by someone in your life who is struggling, I can guarantee they are feeling the same emotions on an even greater scale.  Reach out to them, comfort them, tell them you are there and ready to listen, to talk, to adjust, to hug, to be whatever they need.

That old “be the change” quote isn’t just a flashy saying.

Make it your goal.

Body Modification

Earlier this week, I got my nostril pierced.  Getting a piercing has been on my mind repeatedly over the past few years, despite a negative experience with a navel piercing about a decade ago, and after some debate and research, I finally decided to just pull the trigger.

For now, it’s just a little stud; I may swap out a small ring sometime to see how it looks.  My other possible option was an eyebrow piercing, but honestly I’m very happy with the nostril so far and think I made the right choice!

Oh, and I dyed my hair again.

During my research and contemplation, the words “body modification” came up often.  I started thinking more about what those words really mean.  Typically you’ll hear “body modification” in reference to things like piercings and tattoos.  More “extreme” body modification includes scarification, tongue splitting, and subdermal implants.

But the true definition of body modification includes ANY intentional change to one’s appearance, whether it’s for aesthetics, religious tradition, or any other reason.  Breast implants, hair dying or removal (such as cutting or waxing), circumcision, corsetry, Botox injections, even weight loss or gain – all of these things are intentional endeavors to look different.

It’s sea salt. For healing. No funny business here!

There’s a lot of stigma around body modification.  As I’d discussed briefly in my post about my pink hair, visible changes like piercings, tattoos, and alternative hair colors often generate a negative view of the person sporting such modifications.  People tend to assume these individuals are less educated, less capable, or less valuable in society simply because of their adornment choices.  Such assumptions are often completely unfounded and inaccurate, with minimal knowledge of the actual person behind the ink or bling.

Other sources of modification’s bad reputation are perhaps more fair – genital mutilation in many cultures can be horrific and forced, which is certainly NOT in any way a good thing.  Even male religious circumcision has come under closer scrutiny, as it is often performed on children too young to make a decision for themselves.  Branding and footbinding have largely phased out of common practices in much of the world, but are equally questionable examples.

Tattoo art can be some of the most beautiful forms of self expression.

Self expression comes in many forms.  When those expressions are voluntary and personally chosen, they can be absolutely wonderful ways to communicate one’s beliefs, truths, experiences, or admirations.  Though many body modifications are made involuntarily and are practices that should be curtailed, these noncompulsory choices should be not only accepted but encouraged.  Despite a world that often claims to be increasingly open-minded, individualism still comes at a surprisingly high price.

Dare to be yourself.  Embrace the people you see making choices to express their inner truth.  Encourage the courage it takes to stand apart.

Be-YOU-tiful.

Wabi-sabi

Beauty in the imperfection.

It’s hard to be creative.  A mind full of wonderful ideas always wants to see those visions executed to perfection, and of course we live in an imperfect world.  Art in any form can be frustrating when, despite your best efforts, your finished project isn’t quite what you had pictured when you started. Continue reading “Wabi-sabi”

Pigments

If you couldn’t tell by the wild variety of hair colors I’ve had over the years, I’m a big fan of pigmentation.  Okay, maybe the hair dyes don’t really give that away, but as an artist, and even more so as an art historian focusing on ancient cave paintings, I’m definitely fascinated by the different ways cultures over the centuries have created color. Continue reading “Pigments”

Walking Out

For a very long time now, I have worked.  Work work work.  I started in my mid-teens as a McDonald’s cashier, eventually rising to manager for a while, then branching out into the worlds of retail, customer service, tech call center, office administration, event planning, even physical therapy and manufacturing.  Wherever I could find a job with a steady paycheck, that’s where you’d find me. Continue reading “Walking Out”

Origins: Soul Pose Chicago

Fiercely Serene isn’t just a mashing together of two contradictory words.  My personal mantra was born out of a very difficult time.  It was my very last day living in Chicago, just before I left the dust of an ugly divorce behind, that I found myself at Soul Pose.  Here’s what I had to say about the event back then, and how it started to set me up for the life I’m currently living. Continue reading “Origins: Soul Pose Chicago”