Paris Street Art
While on a family tour of London, Paris, and Rome, I spent three days in Paris and fell in love with their amazing street art. There’s such a stigma with the word graffiti, that the word seems hardly appropriate for the level of artistic talent on display. Paris reportedly has very loose laws on graffiti, but it’s hard to tell whether the city’s unspoken embrace of the art is what has allowed it rise to such an amazing level, or whether the brilliant artistry is what caused the city to embrace it. Either way, it’s everywhere and it’s incredible! Now while there’s still some done in the traditional way you’ve seen under your local freeway crossing, a lot more is done with a method of plastering pre-made stickers onto the sides of buildings. I presume this makes the application process a whole lot faster, but it also allows for far more elaborate and realistic designs.
The infamous street-artist Banksy seems to have inspired many of these Parisian artists, not just in mood and technique, but also by remaining completely anonymous. There’s a certain feeling you get by seeing inspiring art where the artist wants to intentionally remain unknown. It almost places more significance on the art itself, since that is the only thing seeking and witnessing your appreciation. When you see it and experience it in an unexpected location, you only have a relation to the piece. You have no history of how long it’s been there, or of who made it, or whether the owner of the store that it’s on the outside of asked for it to be there. All you have is you and the art.
Some artists however, feel free to place themselves more in the public eye, presumably because there is such a different level of acceptance for street art in Paris than in other parts of the world. These known artists tend to act in a more serial nature. If you’re not afraid to be known, than there’s no reason to be afraid of people recognizing your art. It’s not like some 16 year old kid spray-painting his girlfriend’s name on all the 7-11s in town. Some of these artists will even have gallery showings happening at the same time their art is out on the streets. Suriani is well known for his stunning animal-human hybrids…
There’s obviously a sense of merging grace with obscurity, and in a way that’s what Paris has always been about; constantly on the cutting edge of art and fashion, and this is only a further extension of that history. A lot of this art is incredibly bold, and much of that must come from the temporary nature of the medium. If you know that your art is going to be potentially removed, or painted over, or vandalized, you may as well make it as wildly ambitious as you can. There’s no need for perfection here, so no need to fear failure, so why not try to make the most enormous and obscure thing you can…
When you see such amazing street art everywhere, the overwhelming sense you get is of how logical it all seems. If you have a decrepit wall in the middle of the city, of course you’d rather have it be an astonishing piece of public artwork.
I stumbled upon these pieces done by Nick Walker, where he highlights the art of making street-art itself. The florescent jacket in the one picture makes me assume he’s wearing it to make himself look more professional, since he seems to be making the art on a public wall in broad day-light. There’s something both inherently modern and timeless about his work, and it’s truly inspiring.
The spontaneous nature of all this art gives such a modern and lively nature to the City of Lights, that you feel like around every corner there’s something new to take you by surprise and that you know no guidebook would ever be able to tell you about. I’ve found this in some of the bigger, more liberal cities in America, like New York or San Francisco, but neither of them matches the modern art movement that is currently thriving in Paris. It makes the city feel so much more alive than you could imagine. And anytime you see a piece, it may be the last time you ever get to see it. That fleeting nature of it imposes a certain relevance on it that links directly to you. It’s like you’re being constantly being bombarded with this beautiful reminder to be aware, and to be present, and to embrace the moment. The artist has let go of his creation, and he thus creates an ongoing cycle of Zen acceptance for any people who subsequently get a chance to view it. But it also can make you feel like more of a tourist because you find yourself looking around so much to make sure you’re not missing anything! Check out this amazing three-dimensional piece in a run-down public restroom…
Or this subtle face hidden outside the Paris Apple store…
And yes, even their more traditional graffiti has a certain elegance to it…
And the best part is that the next time we go to Paris, all the art will be brand new!
Art Journaling July Goals
I first learned about art journaling in one of Kimberly Wilson’s workshops in DC and ever since, I’ve been hooked. A group of some of my favorite women and I get together once a month to art journal to our hearts content for a few hours on a Sunday evening tucked away in a corner of Teaism. We chat while catching up on our monthly goals/dreams/inspirations with magazines, unused (but treasured) cards, tissue paper, and envelopes, peppering in text, phrases, and, of course, glitter.
Art journaling combines images with text, which is optional, to create mini-masterpieces all in one place. I like to create a few pages each month to refresh my goals for the next 30 days and collect pieces that I love in a place other than the upholstered basked in the back of my closet.
This month—July—is the halfway mark for the year 2012. I did two general pages this month. The first reminds me to take time every day to observe and capture beauty everywhere regardless of the state I’m in. The second page evokes images reminding me to take 10 minutes a day to experience pure gratitude. After the general image pages, I love to art journal specific pages that include text similar to what you would see in a regular journal. These pages always reflect on what I want to do each day to create my best life: highlighting how I intend to be constantly improving and growing for that particular month (1 % each day); how I will be bringing in new ideas, inspirations, and experiences during that period of time; in which ways I can dream bigger and remove blocks; and pathways to enhance vitality in my mind, body, and spirit.
On another note, Rachel will be returning from her European holiday this week and I can’t wait to see her and, hopefully, lots of pics from her trip!
The year is now half way over. While I am in the process of art journaling July goals, here are my June inspirations:
1. My summer tablescape with glass, succulents, and birds:
2. Finishing homemade curtains and pillows for our bedroom with Moroccan fabric found at Mood in NYC:
3. One too many Market bagels with our new fetish: smoked salmon cream cheese:
4. Zentangle signs and chandelier ribbons to celebrate hubby’s birthday:
5. Judah’s first weeks in daycare:
6. Weekend trip to LA:
7. Paint the town Frederick (Amazing!):
8. Demolition begins to create our yoga/community room at Chakras: (no pic)
9. You’re never too old for bowling fetes with friends:
10. Fresh hydrangeas (our engagement flower) from my mother-in-law’s garden:
11. Enjoying summer evenings with a view:
Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation
Remember how you survived high-school Trig by drawing your boyfriend’s name 1000 different ways in your notebook? Well it turns out there were some real psychological benefits from all that doodling, and that rewarding piece of mind is now being deeper explored within the craze of Zentangle Art. I just recently stumbled upon this concept of meditative drawing and I think it’s perfect. The key notion behind the creative process is that this is artwork that anybody can do. Even if you think you have zero artistic skill, you can still greatly benefit from this simple meditative process – and actually draw something that looks amazing as well! The confidence and reflective acceptance that can be gained from such a seemingly simple activity is incredible.
Now at first glance, the drawing above appears to be an incredibly complex and plotted piece of art. Yet, this is the result of a straightforward, unplanned Zentangle process. The general structure behind the method is to draw a series of small, repetitive patterns which form together into one unified piece. Each pattern is done one deliberate, solid line at a time, and any mistakes are merely the start of a new pattern. As you can see, the final image is quite clearly more powerful than the sum of its’ parts. Of course, in the true nature of Zen, it’s not the finished product of which you gain peace from, but rather the act of creating it. The idea of focusing on a simple, repetitive notion can release tension in parts of your mind in phenomenal ways. Now I’m no Mr. Miyagi, but here’s the process I’ve learned of not only “How-To Zentangle,” but also “Why-To Zentangle.”
Step 1 – Get a pen and paper:
In other words, you don’t need much – but the pen is essential. There is no erasing anything in Zentangle, and this provides a needed acceptance for how everything happens. If you make a mistake at any point, you should only think of it as an opportunity to start a brand new pattern you’ve never thought of before.
Work small. The beauty of the Zentangle is derived from its’ limited scope. A piece of paper 3x5 inches will easily suffice. You should be able to complete one of these within a half hour.
The other good thing about this is that it’s an actual physical process. You’re not on the computer, you’re not on the iPhone – you’re just reuniting with the fundamentals. Not everybody relaxes by playing Angry Birds at their lunch-break. And if you’re the kind of person who feels a desire for constant productivity, then you should acclimate to this sense of meditation that has a tangible end result.
Step 2 – Don’t think – just start:
At no point during the drawing should you have any preconceived notion of what the end result should be. Take calm in the unlimited potential of the creative process. There are no wrong Zentangles!
Draw several large distinct lines on the page, and use these to make the starting grid-work of your design. Once those are established, start filling in a pattern in one of the grids and don’t start another pattern until the first one is finished. Keep going until you fill up the whole page, making as many distinct patterns as possible.
Step 3 – You’re Done!
Yep, that’s all there is to it. Pretend that old History teacher from Junior year is rambling on in the background, and go to town. Just kidding – but there are a few things to remember if you’re having trouble.
- First off, if the process is stressing you out, then stop. It’s not for you. Zentangle is meant to induce calm, not repel it.
- Depending on how well your creative juices are flowing, you may have trouble coming up with different patterns. At www.zentangle.com, you can actually purchase a Zentangle kit that comes with over 100 different patterns to learn and utilize. There’s also an image gallery on their site that can provide you with plenty of inspiration.
- Don’t be discouraged if your end piece doesn’t look all that great. Keep at it, and try to honestly embrace the notion that the end result doesn’t matter anyway.
- The key to it all is to go with the flow…
Zentangle is not meant to be a task or a project, but rather a state of mind. It’s the repetitive nature of the process that allows the mind to comfortably wander. While you preoccupy portions of your brain with a simple, repeated pattern, the rest of your mind is free to drift and relax. As you become further immersed in the Zentangle, time becomes irrelevant, the patterns begin to develop in unexpected ways, and you find yourself in a state of flow, or as some may say “in the groove.” It is this meditative state of flow that the Zentangle process is hoping to induce. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says in his best-seller Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, “What makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.” If you have faith in giving into the process of flow, and realize that some things benefit from having less analytical thought put into them, then you can find new levels of personal strength, growth, and confidence all through a simple doodle. Don’t try to control the Zentangle, just let it flow out of you. That acceptance and release will help you embrace the Zen state and enable you to incorporate it openly into other aspects of your life. Free your mind and the pen will follow.
Don’t let the unpronounceable name intimidate you, Csikszentmihalyi’s great book on the benefits and psychology of being “in the zone” can be found at www.amazon.com/Flow-The-Psychology-Optimal-Experience/dp/0061339202.
Street Arts Across America
I was looking for a good reason to sneak out for some sunshine and found it – the Street Arts Across America Festival! The event, sponsored by the Kennedy Center, brought the timeless tradition of street art, spotlighting extraordinary work, into Washington DC’s public spaces.
The event was truly unique. It transformed common spaces; we use everyday, into something very uncommon. I was impressed.
Not Just Art
Most people expect the Street Arts Across America to be…just art. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There was entertainment, too, such as: street musicals, parade culture, puppetry, clowning and circus art. There was even dancing, like African dance, zumba, samba, and capoeira. The event was a mixed bag of art AND entertainment.
Lantern Parade and Magic Lantern Show
Performer Entertains Attendees
Audience Enjoys Performer’s Comedy Skit
Band Entertains Event Goers
Dancing from Buildings
Imagine aerial dancers, performing on one of Washington’s most prominent buildings. It happened. I was amazed as six dancers from San Francisco based Project Bandalopp performed on the face of the Old Post Office Pavilion’s 315 foot block tower; located between the White House and the Capital.
It’s the second-tallest structure in the nation’s capital. And the performances were nothing short of amazing. Pennsylvania Avenue was closed to traffic and the streets were full of mats and folding chairs.
The dancers jumped, turned and flipped through the air, with dramatic gestures. Harnessed safely with climbing gear, they spent an hour dancing on the wall. The group danced to original music from Dana Leong, who played live. I was surprised to learn the routine was originally created on a flat surface. But, you couldn’t tell, as the dancers floated through the air, naturally, on a vertical landscape.
Dancers Perform Routine in Mid-Air
Performance is Seamlessly Delivered
Should you check out the Street Arts Across America next year? I say, yes! I can’t think of a better way to spend your weekend. And, I’m eager to attend next year’s event…and experience some truly uncommon art and entertainment.
Weekend in NYC with Oprah and Tony Robbins
Last week Rachel and I scurried to New York for a once in a lifetime experience: the taping of Oprah Winfrey’s new life class show at Radio City. Not just any taping mind you. The live show with Tony Robbins as the guest teacher. In my life, I know I’m on the right track when things just work; they come easily (not like easy where I’m sitting at home watching tv, but easy as in the opportunities and path opens up without difficulty). At the beginning of the year, R. & I discussed how we wanted to plan a trip to attend one of Robbin’s workshops (both of us being huge fans for years and years). Then, the opportunity opened up, we got tickets, and yes! we’re screaming at the top of our lungs with more momentum than ever before.
Rachel’s going to write more about our experience at the show. I wanted to share our New York itinerary leading up to the main event.
- Mood Fabrics (225 W. 37th St. between 7th and 8th Ave)
Stop one: Mood Fabrics which, being outside of the design world, I first learned about from Project Runway (and, actually we saw one of the contestants while we were there). We only walked past the store 3 or 4 times—there is no sign out front and one has to be driven up to the suite by an operator-driven old time elevator. What a fun way to arrive at your destination!
I’m in the process of decorating my home (only 6 months after moving in) and have been on a kick for making my own drapes. We did it at the spa using a damask pattern and panels, which turned out beautiful and so dramatic that I wanted to find some beautiful color-saturated fabric that I could use in my home for the same dramatic effect. Not to mention how much you can save by making your own drapes with a 30 percent off coupon to JoAnn’s and a mother-in-law to do the sewing. At Mood, I was overwhelmed by the oceans of gorgeous fabrics. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make a decision then and there so I took pictures of all the fabrics and then matched one I liked from the pictures after I got home. I also picked out 6 other fabrics for couch pillows. Pier One pillows no more!
2. ABC Home (888 Broadway)
Next stop: ABC Home. R. and I hopped in a cab over to Flatiron stopping two blocks short of ABC Home too peruse the delicacies and foodgasms going on at Eataly. To me, the best thing about New York is soaking in inspiration like a ladyfinger sopping up coffee liquor. At ABC Home, we got ideas for decorating, lighting, beading, bedding, etc. Seeing the work of another designer—even the space of the store, the props, and the lighting, propels us forward to see what ideas we can tweak or bring full throttle into our own lives and businesses for an extra spark.
3. Paper Presentation (23 W 18th St between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas)
Last stop on the creative train a papery, of course. Crafty cards and all sizes, colors, and qualities of papers for crafting, love-letter writing, and storing with a pen wall to compliment your prettiest selections. What a perfectly indulgent Monday afternoon strolling the packed paper aisles.
Before cabbing back to the hotel to get dressed for the Oprah taping, R. & I said hello to Starbucks for our soy Chai lattes and found a seat in Madison square park where a film crew was taping an episode for a show neither of us had ever heard of. We enjoyed our hot treats while taking in the beautiful day, eye-catching flowers and greenery, and skyscrapers.
We finished up and rushed back to the hotel with delighted anticipation to put on our brightest outfits and fluorescent heels to head over to Radio City to witness the long-awaited show…!
Here we are, hamming it up before the taping…What a rush.
Home-Made Baby Banner
Sunday night came and I needed a project to vortex my mind out of the work week. My husband’s cousin Sarah is pregnant with her first baby and her shower is two weeks away. A festive, gender neutral baby banner was on the menu. I immediately recruited my husband to drive me (at 8:45 PM…) to the fire drill sale that AC Moore just happened to be having that night until 9 PM. At 8:58 PM, I rushed that craft store like a quarterback hellbent on victory, picking up some new animal-themed paper that I had had my eye on, mini-close pins, and Martha Stewart glitter that looks like sequins, which I had long been coveting but wasn’t willing to pay $20 for. For $18, though, it was worth every penny.
My use of mis-matched papers with textured fabrics and ribbons was inspired by Leslie Shrewing from the Blogging Your Way weekend in NYC.
I loved the effect of ripping pages from an old book (that I bought for a few cents at a used book sale) and leaving the edges torn. That’s right, I tore pages out of a book. And loved it.
The final effort! I added close pins for the “baby shower look” and shipped the gift off to Sarah, just in time for her shower—satisfied and ready to craft another day…