the next 50 needs more art

Flipping through my friend   Alice's   gorgeous sketch book on the High Line in New York City, July 2012.

Flipping through my friend Alice's gorgeous sketch book on the High Line in New York City, July 2012.

It's July, which is my birth month -- and this year is a big one, I'm turning 50!  Because I swim in a gene pool shared by long livers (three of my grandparents lived past 95, and one lived until 102!), I figure I'm only halfway done.  So to celebrate my birthday, I've decided that for every day for the first two weeks of this month, I'm going to share images and words representing what I hope the next 50 years will have more of.  Time to say it and claim it, by gum.  And maybe, if what I say resonates with you, you'll  be inspired to get more of these things for your next 50 years, too.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin - find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

~  Maya Angelou

When I was in my twenties, my father called me into his home office.  "Here are all the files from your childhood," he said.  "You're grown now -- you can take them."  In his file cabinet was every single document that recorded my life:  receipts from dance lessons, medical bills and every single report card I ever received, from preschool through university.  As I went through the documents, one report card in particular stood out:  a piece of paper signed by my elementary school teacher that said, "Karen excels at English and Math, but does not show any artistic ability."


This, in part, was likely the reason that I was guided to more mathematical and scientific endeavours -- and why, even though I desperately wanted to be an architect, I studied structural engineering for my undergraduate degree.  Still, I took every elective I could in the college of architecture, and it was my classes in art and architectural history that absolutely kept me rapt:  I loved them.  I might not have shown any artistic talent, but man, I sure had a passion for art.  Still do.

It wasn't until after law school I decided to pursue photography as a hobby -- and the only reasons I ventured into doing so was (a) I was a grown woman, and decided that finally, I could do whatever I wanted with my money, including buying a second-hand SLR camera, and (b) I figured that I might be able to actually figure out how to take a picture, since photography, with its apertures and shutter speeds and vaguely technical-sounding things like ISO seemed an awful lot like math, and I knew I was good at math.  

Little did I know that very little math was required.  But I certainly figured out how to take a picture.  And in the process, I discovered that I'm creative.  I can make art.

Photography has been truly one of the joys of my life .... photography changed my life.  Because of photography, I started playing in my journals and creating art.  It has opened my mind to this truth:  we are all artists.  Some of us just haven't found the medium that sets our soul afire yet.

So for the next 50 years, I'd like to explore more art, in more mediums.  I'm really interested in looking into video and cinematography -- teaching myself the basics, playing with short films.  I'd like to try sketching more, and shedding the idea that I have no artistic ability.  Because really, why would I allow anyone other than myself to decide whether my art is poor or not?  I didn't for my photography, and I'm proud of what I create. 

What if that would be true for other art I create, as well?


Soundtrack:  Painter song by Norah Jones

Also for my birthday, I thought I'd give a nice, deep discount to one of my most popular online courses, GLOW:  a 21-day ecourse for claiming your light!  So if you'd like to get more light in your life, enter coupon code WATCHMEGLOW for 30% off the course.  It really is a great course:  one participant said she was so happy to rediscover "how blessed I am in my life";  another said, "GLOW came into my life at the perfect time. It is slowly changing my mental state and I have been focusing on the positives for the first time in ages."  So join me.  It's the perfect self-care for the summer.