November 2008 Archives

exnihilo beach glass pendants

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Something that brings together my favorite things, the unexplainable soul-healing of the ocean, and divine creative inspiration. As if the muse was born from the sea...

exnihilo beach glass pendants.

Each one is a unique creation suited to the glass that it holds, and each piece of beach glass was picked by this family off of beautiful shores. Each one has the exnihilo swirl imbedded in its design.

I began making them today and got so excited because for me they are totally new and are coming from a different creative space. More like where my paintings come from, these pendants are telling me how they want to be made rather than me having a plan. It is a completely freeing and organic expression.

Perfect symbol for exnihilo.

I will introduce them at the show on Dec 6th and then they will go onto the exnihilo store. Like all of my artwork, the sales of these will go toward building exnihilo. But anyone who buys a beach glass pendent will have their name put on that very special list for a chance to sit on the actual beach at exnihilo helping us unveil it to the world, opening week.



thankful things

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Things I am thankful for...

Bryan and Tommy

The annual Tavener Thanksgiving morning outdoor oyster fry.

You heard me.

This dear friend and culinary wizard manages to fill his backyard with neighbors, friends, and family along with fresh frying oysters, crab gumbo, other seafood yummies, fine cheeses, wine, bloody marys... well you get the idea. The food was fabulous (as always) but it doesn't compare to a great and lasting friendship. We warmed our toes next to the outdoor fireplace while chatting with new friends and sampling Tommy's goodies. What a great way to start out the day.


A cozy home where you may often find wild combinations of things such as these paintbrushes sitting in the kitchen along with the thanksgiving duck that is waiting to be plated. This is what life in motion in a creative household looks like.

Daniel and Bryan

The biggest thing I am thankful for and treasure above all else... my two guys. The sun rises and sets on these two as far as I am concerned and I can't imagine life without the love, fun, inspiration, and pride that they bring me. Happy Thanksgiving you two!

the winter of your creativity

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When Bryan changed jobs back in june, one of his blissful perks was a flex-time schedule that means he works nine hour days and gets every other friday off.

this is so awesome.

except that for a long time now I had designated fridays as a kind of artist-date day off. That morphed into the day I would typically paint, or do some other creative activity that would fill the muse's well allowing me to continue to do all the other artsy things that need feeding by perpetual inspiration.

So now I am using a more random diversion approach. For now my artist date has taken the form of this tuesday morning ceramics class, that thankfully, isn't really a class at all. It is really just open studio where there is a "teacher" on hand in case you want to learn a particular thing.

How perfect is that.

So after a few weeks, the teacher Mary, has kind of left me alone but interjected appropriate info when she sees I am struggling or when I have questions. The tone set by the other ceramicists is friendly and welcoming, and folk sort of come and go as they please. It is the perfect place to play with mud and get a small dose of a little community.

I am exercising a couple of muscles with this experience.

One, is to get out of the house. This was almost impossible when Bryan was working in Baltimore. Now that he is at UM it is doable for me to take the car for a day and do things. It would be easy for me to end up like the agoraphobic character in Nim's Island played by Jodie Foster. Having some incentive to leave the house/studio is a good thing.

The other is to stretch the "multi" part of being a multi-disciplined artist. This means branching out and adding a few new creases to my brain matter. And so far it is working, big-time. The result has been a surge in inspiration towards other things, a flood of ideas, and an almost manic need to create.

it's artistic purgatory.

That sounds bad, but it isn't really. Anyone who lives the artist life knows that we can function in fits and starts, between blitzes and burnouts. The key is to identify the difference in the two and do two things...

celebrate the blitzes and ride that wave until it crashes...

and don't beat yourself up when you can't produce during the burnout. It is simply the winter of your creativity.

After all these years I still struggle with recognizing the winter of my creativity, and assume that I can produce full-tilt right through it, and then wonder what is wrong with me when I can't.

but today is not that day.

I am in the other zone right now, and the reason that I call it purgatory is because it takes another kind of wisdom to ride that wave without over doing it. There is the temptation to spin out of control and for me, that can trigger a longer "winter". It is like eating ice cream. You may have a whole gallon sitting in front of you but if you eat the whole thing you may never want to eat ice cream again.

The pursuit of balance is a good thing, at least for this artist.

So, after three hours of working on the hand built portion of the Kabuki pot (pic below), and a pot that I carved into a bell, and a few other small items, I realized I was exhausted and needed to go home. It was only twelve thirty and some of the other potters were just getting going. Part of me wanted to start on another piece, but for me, it was time to stop.

at least for today.

Tomorrow is another day.

How are you at recognizing your creative seasons? Are you forgiving of yourself when you are in a "winter of creativity"? Do you know how to maximize your "spring"?

Kabuki Pot front


Kabuki Pot back


just an example

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One of the new pieces that I will be showing on the sixth of December.

"The Journey In Between"


a rare chance

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I don't really sell my jewelry that much anymore, except for a rare occasion. So for a few hours on Saturday, December 6th you can find me along with several other fine artists at Mayorga Cafe in Silver Spring. All proceeds will go to funding the dream of Exnihilo Artist Retreat.


I am reading a great book by Daniel Pink called A Whole New Mind; Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future .

If you have ever been discouraged about why the world seemed to cater to more structured, linear, fact oriented people...

or struggled with those horrid multiple choice questions when the answer was neither a,b,c, or d...

or wondered why those damned government offices couldn't at least paint their walls a pretty color...

or have ever had a promotion or job opportunity go to someone else because you appeared to be too artsy and therefore supposedly less organized...

or wondered why a number two pencil was superior to a purple crayon...

...if even one of these thing apply to you, take heart!

According to Pink the world is changing. At least the North American part. We no longer are seeking excess, but are now craving meaning. Information no longer has the value it once had because thanks to the internet, everyone can get any fact they want with two clicks in Google. What was the valuable information age is now cheap, and those high paying info jobs are now shipped overseas.

So what is the new currency?


Ok, I am simplifying a bit, but I can't help it. Truly, the new valued commodity is big picture thinking, design oriented problem solving, and touch(story). All things generated from the right side of the brain. Even those horrible SAT's are outmoded.

It is like some sort of cosmic payback for all those folk that couldn't understand that creating beauty in the world had any value. Now that people are seeking meaning instead of wealth, the tables have turned, and the new highly coveted job skill is...

graphic design.

Yea, I was kind of surprised too, but it makes sense when you think of how much of our world is now demanding great design (except for those gov't offices).

Anyway, if you are curious, crack open Pink's book. It takes a good look at what this next age will be, and how the need for meaning has replaced the need for things.

each piece of the puzzle

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As we forge ahead with the day to day, assembling the exnihilo puzzle piece by piece, I feel like things are being revealed. As with any big dream all the details don't present themselves in the beginning, and if they did there would be fewer dreams attempted, because frankly one cannot endure an entire picture. So as if we have finished the outer edge of the puzzle, the frame that will be filled by all the other pieces, Bryan and I are embarking on different projects that will ultimately fill in the center of the picture that is yet unseen.

We don't even have a box lid to compare too.

But that is ok. Because even in my attempt to push things in the direction that I think is right (that usually just means fast) the universe has other plans. And I am glad. Things are aligning in a way that will compel us to take on new skills (or dust off old ones) that will be necessary for the adventure ahead. Like some creative bootcamp that will equip us, the next few years will be like going back to school.

For me this year has been a big one regarding this. Although I am an artist with multiple disciplines under my belt, there have been a few art forms that I haven't tried, and in order to create a "haven for personal creative endeavor" I felt like I needed to delve into some more mediums for the purpose of both networking as well as learning about equipment for a variety of disciplines. And also adding some learned consultants to our team. So this has been the year of the class.

In october I got a taste of glass fusion and shaping glass with a torch. Last week I started a ceramics class and used the wheel for the first time since college (20+ years) and actually remembered how it worked. On the very same day, Bryan, adding to his own stack of puzzle pieces, gave a seminar on recording and sound for videographers in hopes to continue to advance Exnihilo-Music which will have its final home in the Bahamas.

And this last weekend was the absolute dream class... something I have always wanted to learn. Having been a silversmith and honing the skills of small sculpture in my silver creations I always wondered what it would be like to go bigger.

And this weekend I got just that.

To sculpt in steel. Big sheets of steel.

Ok, I didn't actually get to make a complete sculpture in one day, but what this particular class taught was all the different forms of welding and cutting. TIG, ARC, and the old fashioned Oxy/Acetylene. I even got to use a PLASMA cutter.


Needless to say this little girl is hooked. And a single six hour session showed me what I need to know for launching a program on our island that will recycle old junk and turn it into art. Another piece just got added to the puzzle. This was a major missing piece.

So as we find the missing pieces and they find us and fall together to create the finished picture, I will continue to try to pay attention to what seems to be divine leading in this regard. And maybe even enjoy the process.

Which is really the spirit of Exnihilo.

All things in time.


my re-entry into ceramics. two very humble pots fresh off the wheel.


Bryan teaching at the Baltimore Videographer's Association.

floating on a sea of leaves

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Fall has definitely fallen here in the mid-atlantic. It is truly pretty except when you ponder how much raking there is to do. I am settling into the idea that winter is coming and trying not to throw my seasonal tantrum against mother nature.

Ask me how that's going.;-)

Here is our Element seemingly floating on a sea of leaves.


The view of our deck.



making the impossible happen

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It may not be saving the world, curing cancer, or other uber-noble causes, but it is something that I am extremely passionate about...building a place where artists can come and get inspired and learn how to lead a balanced life, creatively, spiritually, and physically.

But there is so much to do to get there...


Our final quote came in on the cost of the first bungalow for the Artist Retreat, Exnihilo.

Hold your breath...

$57,600.00 (12,000. of that is just shipping to the Bahamas!)

Ok it may be a figure that prompts one to faint, but truthfully it is exactly as expected, so all is good. It is also only the cost of the shell, the insides and finishing goodies will be a little more for those materials, but we are doing all the work ourselves. What we didn't expect in our whole big dreamy plan to make this thing fly was that the economy would go south, taking a chunk of my existing income and our retirement funds with it.


So, in the spirit of seeking help from others with the hopes of ultimately building this place to help others...

drum roll pleeeeze...

I give you the Exnihilo Bungalow building fund. (sidebar)

We have set the building fund at a rounded down 50,000 which is a ton to swallow, I know. But we will be updating it with proceeds from the sales of my work not just the donations of others. It is a monumental task to say the least...


So anyone who would love to help us build the first artist bungalow we would be thrilled to take any extra coin lying around. And I am not kidding, check under those sofa cushions and in that ashtray in your car, anything will do and will get us that much closer to making this thing real.

Oh, and anyone who donates $5 or more we will put your name in a draw for a free, one-week stay. Of course that won't happen until all is built... hopefully by our target date of April 2011.

Every little bit counts, and I will be making this annoying plea to anyone who will listen, and probably repeatedly.

Can you help with our MONDO BEYONDO?

That has been the nature of this whole big dream... unrealistic, and yet hopefully inspiring. From the first itch at the back of my brain, to scouting the land, to the very big step of actually BUYING the land, the process has had so many roadblocks to overcome. The highs and lows have been at the very ends of the spectrum from oodles of paperwork and arrogant civil servants that left me in tears, to the joy of planting our first coconut with Gen 1:1 written on it with a sharpy. Who knew where this journey would lead.

The original plan was to be selling our house at this juncture, but a couple of things slowed that down. The housing market hasn't done anyone any favors of late, and we even hit the reset button on Daniel's college education. A lot of discouraging factors that left me sleepless on some nights and mildly depressed on a lot of recent days. In the darkest moments the idea of shelving the whole thing even seemed like the more "realistic" thing to do.

Except for one thing...

The response to the dream has been overwhelming. Every person we tell lights up at the thought of an inspiring place to go to create. People don't need convincing. We have even had a number of fabulous friends (you know who you are!) express an interest in lending a hand in a good old fashioned barn raising on the island- yes helping us build.

And so we press forward.

What will the building of the first artist bungalow do for the whole big dream?

  • It will provide a home base for the development of the rest of the site, a place for us to stay when we are there working on the other buildings to follow, as well as storage. The complexities of freight to the Bahamas makes one prudent about storage.
  • It will provide us with a trial run of building these buildings using the first smaller one as a test before moving to the big building (Gathering House) hopefully curtailing potential problems. (yea, I am an INTJ).
  • It will allow us a finished model (of the rest of the bungalows) for photographing and creating the rest of the promotion material for the retreat as we move into the marketing phase. This will also help us with developing partnerships with other organizations and schools.
  • It will provide a little income as a vacation rental in the one season before the building of the big building ( which will go toward that building).

Our target was March to build, but now we set the date back to May or more probably December. June through November present possible weather challenges in the region (tropical storms, hurricanes).

Our Building fundraiser is set for ending in March. With your help we could meet our goal and be able to move forward.

mock up

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Post election we are back to the business of art, home, and mondo beyondo dreams. Although with a much more hopeful outlook of things to come.


Final design of artist bungalow mocked up on the land. Albeit it is faced the wrong way... the windows will of course, face the water. This first structure once it is built, will be our home base while we build the rest of this very big dream. The larger Gathering House will be next and then following that, two more artist bungalows connected at the roofline.



the country speaks

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It wasn't too bad, just a two hour wait in a long line snaking its way through the halls of my neighborhood elementary school converted into a polling station. And two hours is nothing for the privilege. The fabulous part was the feeling in the air. Instead of a lot of grumbling impatient people that one might expect, there was a diverse collection of smiling faces, people chatting, and an over-abundance of courtesy.

I guess it takes a solemn civic duty to bring out the best in people.

Living near the nation's capital, my polling station features a wide diversity of people from the executive dude wearing suit and tie, to the beautiful lady behind me in full India, salwar dress, and everything in between both in age and ethnicity the scene is reminiscent of a rockwell painting. And Daniel in line behind me for his first time to vote was pretty cool too.

It is inspiring to see what patriotism and the privilege of voting seems to do to people. For one day we put aside the differences and consider what a gift it is to be able to be involved in actually shaping our collective future by finding our voice in that little box called the poll.

A little like Ebenezer finding redemption just in time for Christmas, the american spirit rises to the occasion that our fathers, mothers, fore-fathers, (and fore-mothers) faught and sometimes died for.

From free cab rides to your polling station, to free coffee from Starbucks for voting, the generosity takes center stage as people stop pushing and shoving and actually assist one another so that everyone gets a chance to have a say...

that is the nature of a true democracy.

I pray that it continues throughout the day, that as the polls begin to close and the numbers start to come in we will be reminded that as polarized as this country seems to be in our views of the issues, we can take a collective deep breath and recognize that we did it together.

And continue to be like no other country on earth.


words we can forget

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After roughly two years of pundits, politics, and more recently, joe the plummer, these are just a few words that I hope we won't be hearing after today...

over and over and over and over...

some of these words have even lost their meaning or taken on a different meaning in the process of the repetition...

Liberal, conservative, left, right, left-wing, right-wing, far-right, far-left, left-of-left, left, left, left... ayers, liddy, wright, keating, maverick, polls, bulldog, lipstick, hockey-mom, terrorist, palling-around, socialism, bradley-effect, maverick, maverick, mavERICK, MAVERICK, M-A-V-E-R-I-C-K...

intellectual-elite, redneck, liberal-media, conservative-media, MEDIA, M-E-D-I-A...

anti-american, pro-american,

red-states, blue-states, leaning-states, toss-up states, electorate, popular-vote,

Joe-the- plumber, Joe-the- plumber, Joe-the- plumber, JOE-THE-P-L-U-M-B-E-R

PAC, POW, ACORN, lobby, lobby, loBBY, LOBBY...

pork, pork, pork, PORK!

of course we will probably be gaining a whole new vocabulary starting this time tomorrow.

slinging mud and the last mojito

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Sounds like a movie title. But no, it is just the state of our weekend, and the slinging mud isn't referring to the political kind (phew!).

no... it is the stucco kind.

After a very depressing weekend last week of covering and closing the pool for the winter it was just too cold and dreary for us to do what we had hoped to do and worked for all summer long.

Finishing that damn wall.

So we went into hibernation thinking that the time was lost until next spring. I have to admit being in a real funk all week, and feeling depressed about the change in weather thinking that the sunshine would never return and that winter was at our back door. Thankfully mother nature had other plans. What a gift. With two days of sun shiny weather in the sixties this weekend, Bryan and I set to work, him splitting blocks for the final pillar sections, and me with my hawk and trowel and four more bags of stucco mix.

We pushed until exhausted but managed to put the final points on that project. There will still be the refinishing of the metal fence sections and the cementing of the brick steps but other than that...

the wall is DONE.

And thanks to some great weather, a brilliant idea of Bryan's and the last of the mint from my garden we celebrated with the last mojito of the season.



the metal fence between the pillars is just stuck in place temporarily until we grind it and repaint it (next spring).




the stucco done this weekend-the walls around the stairs


a year and a half ago...


From the other spring's project...the patio.;-)


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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

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