Monday, January 31, 2011

artistic revelations

I've mentioned in the last week or so that #1 I lost my ability to paint, and #2 I lost my passion for playing guitar. After writing those posts and putting out there that I was feeling stuck in those areas, a miraculous thing happened: I had an incredible moment of passion and faith in my ability to express myself in whatever artistic way I feel inclined to, including painting and guitar. So, my updates....

#1 After all these years of feeling unable to paint in the same free way I was born into this world painting, I had a dream that I was peering over the shoulder of the little girl version of myself as she painted a landscape of trees. She looked up at me and said "I forgot how to do the leaves, can you help me?" I apprehensively took the paint brush from little Lola, dipped it in paint and began to finish the painting, hooting and hollering with glee the whole time, because I felt so uninhibited and able. I kept screaming "I can paint! I can paint!"

I am quite accustomed to having dreams filled with symbolism, depth, wisdom, guidance, insight and moments of clarity......and I am honestly in awe of my subconscious (as I'm sure anyone who pays attention to theirs would be). After this dream, I woke up bubbling with the childlike desire to paint that I haven't felt in such a long time. A few days later, while reading another blog, I was pulled to click through a line of random links that ultimately led me to "Get your paint on!" I was in no way consciously looking for a way to start painting again....but painting was certainly looking for me. Destiny.

I sat reading the description of this online painting course, at first thinking there's no way a painting course that is taken online could be worth it. But, after reading just a few lines about the two amazing women, who happen to live in San Francisco (my second home) I was excited and so on board! I immediately signed up (the very day before the course started!) and proceeded to jump around my living room giggling. It was fated.

The course offers to help you define a painting style and get yourself painting, while providing technique tips, inspiration, and connecting you with a community of like-minded individuals who provide feedback. I start the 5-week course today.....I'll let you know how it goes!

The two inspirational and talented women I will be learning from, Lisa Congdon and Mati McDonough:

#2 In a not-so-symbolic or fated way, I began listening to my husband's music reptetively this week and uneventfully (but excitedly!) regained my urge to play guitar! I brushed the dust off Sloane (my guitar's name) and spent a little time with her. I have never felt so rusty in all my years (a mere 2.5 yrs that is) of playing, but it actually made me want to play more to find my ease again. Yay!

Conclusion: The journey of an artist's passions, expressions, yearnings and blockages is winding and sometimes frustrating. But, there is almost a "silliness" felt when you return to the things that you were born to do. It really doesn't make much sense to believe that you somehow forgot how to do something that was a natural, thriving talent.....but, that is exactly how it can feel at times. In my experience, artists of all kinds have moments of severe doubt that they are any good or can/will be successful, but in my humble opinion, that is what makes us so beautiful. We are complicated, emotional creatures and can hold onto a modicum of modesty even when we meet success.

Epilogue: I think the very fact that us artists tend to be more emotional in nature can directly contribute to artistic/creative blocks. Though I may not have physically lost my ability to paint or write songs, the intense feeling that I had was rooted in my emotions and psychology. It's no surprise that I recently experienced a loosening of some ancient and difficult issues dating back to the time when I used to paint.....and now, I feel able to paint again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

musical inspiration

I've been listening to a lot of my husband's music this week, which has renewed my awe, inspiration, and let's face it, attraction for him. He comes from a very musical family with a former concert pianist mother, a prodigy guitarist brother who can pick up any instrument and learn how to play it immediately, and a genius guitarist father. Alex's talent was always his voice, singing in choir throughout his life. But a few years ago he jumped on the family guitar train, and given his additional talent of writing (he has a masters in writing), he's really found himself a creative niche: song writing.

I decided today that I need to start sharing his music, because he doesn't.....and I think that's such a tragedy. My first selection is "Time Tided," which you can listen to here, on my Tumblr page. It's the January 29th posting (underneath the picture). You won't regret it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

new york, new york

I decided to dig up my New York City collection after reading about my friend Natalie's recent trip to the big city. I never thought I'd end up living so close to New York, but I've always had a connection to it given the amount of friends and family I have living there and so have been a constant visitor.

As much as Manhattan has to offer me, especially as a writer and photographer, I am simply not psychologically or emotionally wired for life on the island. I did consider moving there before I started dating my husband, but it's probably a good thing that I didn't attempt it. I'm not sure if it is the result of being born into a life surrounded by forests, cow pastures, and dirt roads, but something in me goes completely haywire after too much Manhattan exposure (I'm fine living in other cities though). Regardless of that, I do love New York!

I am fully grateful for these past 2 years living in a Manhattan suburb because now I can check New York off my list of things to try. I think the 40-minute train ride is the closest I'll ever come to living in New York. But, it's been great to be able to take advantage of everything the city has to offer and to grow so comfortable on its streets.

I'm feeling a New York photog day very soon (once the Northeast decides to thaw itself out). It's been awhile since I brought my camera along with me (which seems bizarre), but I think it'd be interesting to head in one day by myself and just roam around shooting the uniqueness that is Manhattan.

Here are some of my shots from over the years:

The iconic Brooklyn Bridge shot that has been captured over and over...and over. It's a classic and I never tire of it though, especially in black and white.

An interesting view of the Brooklyn bridge. I am fascinated by the construction of bridges and their ability to support themselves.

How many people think of Sex & the City when they see this?

I'm completely in love with the architecture of the Upper East Side. Streets like this one make me feel like I could live in the city.

I'm not quite sure what this is, but I love anything that is severely rusted. The colors and textures are just so delicious.

I have a special place in my heart for the Beastie Boys (I asked for their first album for Christmas when I was 6 yrs old) so this art exhibit in Brooklyn pulled me inside when I saw the graffitied B Boy lyrics on the wall. You know you want to watch this video. But, I also do love the dense collection of art splattered across the wall.

This photo of midtown at night is very New York to me...the streets are still crowded though the sun has gone down and it's a bit chaotic. Yet there is something beautiful about the chaos, especially the way the nasty, stinky fog seeping out of a manhole lights the scene with a paradoxically intriguing billow of white air.

The Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

What New York collection would be complete without the Empire State Building?

Here is what I love the most about New York: the random and bizarre yet totally interesting.

Ahhhh, Manhattan.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

orange county wedding

I had never considered wedding photography as part of my career path until just a couple of years ago when talking to Alyssa Remington, the woman who gave a cosmic nudge into starting my own photography business. She told me all the reasons she enjoys wedding photography and it suddenly made a whole lot of sense that a romantically inclined, love enthusiast (me) would be deeply inspired by photographing the sacred union of two people in love. I have yet to focus on that aspect of my career, but I do think it would be the right move for me in the very near future.

Here are some highlights from a wedding I took some photographs at in Laguna Beach, California. I hope to add to my portfolio soon!

"The is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage." ~Martin Luther

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

california road trippin': mendocino

California Poster by Paper Parasol Press

One thing I loved about living in California was the endless amount of possible road trips. It is such a large, diverse, visually beautiful state with so much to see that I truly believe it'd take a lifetime to see and experience it all (not to mention the possible road trips into the neighboring states).

I was in a relationship with a very restless adventurer (much like myself) for most of my years in Cali, so we definitely took advantage of the road tripping opportunities. Our "thing" was to climb in the car with no plan for where we were going, and just drive. It could be for hours or days. I can't claim that I was always entirely uninhibited in this practice, but I think my life needed an infusion of that kind of free flowing, paint-as-you-go spirit. But, I digress, back to California....

I tend to believe that moving West still symbolizes the same adventurous spirit that it did when Americans first began to migrate across the United States. That spirit was certainly alive in me as I boarded a plane back in 2005 to San Diego, a place that was completely foreign to me and devoid of any familiar faces. My head was filled with the excitement of all the possibilities and the beginning of a new life....a life so different than the one I had known in New England.

2005, Ventura.

I moved up to San Francisco a mere 4 months after landing in San Diego, having discovered Southern California didn't quite fit me. And my move North began with a long road trip up the west coast, setting the mood for years of the same.

I have many California road trip favorites! I'm going to feature one each week until I run out....I think the cold, snowy weather has got me reminiscing about my days living sans long underwear and down jackets. So to start off the road tripping: Mendocino county. Mendocino is North of San Francisco, and well known for its beautiful coastlines (but really, isn't all of California?). What I enjoyed about it? It is quiet, remote, and has some lovely hiking....not to mention the spectacular cliffs.

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~Lao Tzu

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

worth the wait

I've shared one of the songs I've written and recorded a few months ago, and lately have really been wondering where that impulse and passion to write and record music has gone. It was an every day part of my life when I learned to play a few years back. But, now I stare at my guitar perched on its stand in the corner of the room and I can hardly bring myself to pick it up. I want to, and sometimes I do; but the easy, exciting inspiration I used to feel when casually strumming away late into the afternoon that would result in another song written, has slowly declined and vanished from my expressive inclinations.

I've written about "shadow artists" and I certainly am one when it comes to music (these days). A shadow artist is an artist who is ignorant of their true identity as an artist, while shadowing declared artists (click here for a better description). I suppose I began to shrink farther and farther into the background when I found myself in the daily presence of my husband's music. He sang in choir from elementary school through college, his voice is talented and beautiful. And to me, he is far more creative when it comes to creating variation and excitement in his guitar parts. Hello self deprecation!

My hubby, breaking in his "man room" the day we moved in together.

It's really too bad that I instinctually felt inferior and stopped playing guitar with my husband. Everyone around us thought we'd have some wild, obsessive, constant music making happening in our apartment when we moved in together. We were certainly like that in the beginning of our relationship, writing each other songs back and forth, but we aren't anymore. And I've been saying the whole time "I have to get back to my music! I'm going to start again." But, it hasn't happened yet. I think I'm writing this to put myself on the hook to actually pick up the darn guitar again!

On that note, below are the lyrics to another one of my "songs." I don't put that in quotations to mock myself, but only because I never recorded the cut version of this, which is about 1/4 of the length (much shorter verses) so this rough draft is rather lengthy and unfinished (if you stick it out, the end is better than the beginning). I just "never got around" to finishing the recording.

The interesting thing is that I wrote this song only a few months before Alex came into my life, and it is about the "one" that I would end up with....and I really did feel the way I said I would in this song. It has a very sullen, painful feel to it though, because it was an emotional piece for me to write.

You can listen to the song on my Tumblr page (the Jan 22nd posting). Both vocal parts, and the two acoustic guitar parts are your very own Lola Rain! The bass part, electric guitar and drums are members of the band Lazy Sunday. Here are the lyrics:

Worth the Wait by Lola Rain

I'll find a cement mixer
fill in those old ruts
then it can finally be
just the two of us
Adjusting the rearview
as I maneuver this old machine
wiping my slate clean
So take your last breathe and
eat your last meal
The beast has had his last day
telling me how to feel

Let's take our regrets honey
bury them in the backyard
watch something magical
rise from the seeds
of what was hard
Take my hand but be warned
you'll never let go again
the reasons why I'm certain
you'll learn soon my friend

Because I'm worth
this love my dear
cast away my fears

I thread together
the things that you say
a blanket to curl up in
at the end of my lonely day
Your words wrapped around me
as I drift off to sleep
Darling this feeling is everything
I want to keep

I may have messed up baby
but I did it for you
all my mistakes leading me to this
something new
An obstacle course across
my soldiering heart
The wrong way was the right way
from the very start

Because this is life my dear
wipe away your tears

Your face looks just the way
that I wanted it to
as if I imagined it before
ever laying eyes on you
So whisper anything in my waiting ears
whatever it is I'm sure
will erase these fears

I want the flames of my soul
to burn from your eyes
I don't care that it's taking us
47 tries

Because you're
worth the wait
this waiting
is my fate

Monday, January 24, 2011


One of the greatest blessings in my life is waking up to my husband's kisses all over my face. When I finally open my eyes he says "good morning, I love you!" and pulls me to my feet for a long morning hug. Like a lot of people, I hate waking up in the morning, but this ritual of ours makes the transition from night to day so sacred (and I feel so spoiled). That hug reminds me of what is important in life, and I begin my day with a foundation of love and support that I know will always be there.

I haven't always been this lucky in the affection department, but I feel almost addicted to my husband's affection. We make sure to give each other at least a few substantial, real hugs every day and doing so seems to alleviate so many of life's problems. So it made perfect sense to me when I began to read articles about the scientific effects hugs have on our bodies. Hugs send a surge of oxytocin (the feel good hormone) throughout our bodies; actually lowering stress and blood pressure, improving our mood, increasing our tolerance for pain, and increasing our trust for the person we are hugging. I hate to be cliché, but take one a day!

My wake up hug this morning led me to write this, but also led me to start mining Etsy for some hug-related items. I have struggled for years to find the perfect artwork for my bedroom walls, wanting it to feel inspirational and symbolic of the love I hope to always maintain in my life. Why hadn't I thought of it before? Hugs! The fine art prints below would be perfect! I have got to purchase one in the very near future! And, the other items are just plain adorable.

Human Nature by Kelly A Fine Art & Photography

Embrace by Kathy Marie Creations

Embrace by Jane Linders Alternative Process Photography

A Hug Lasts Forever by The Little Rice

Hugs and Kisses Pillow by Ramona Owen Designs

xo Scarf by LoopDeeDoo

Friday, January 21, 2011

paint without a paintbrush

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." ~Pablo Picasso

I've mentioned before that I began life as a painter, but at some point during my adolescence I began to feel blocked and terrified of my paintbrush. I think I was drawn to painting in my youth, because I felt so free as I painted worlds on my canvas that looked better than my own real world. It was such a wonderful part of my life, and I have missed it incredibly but have not been able to return to it. At the same time, I've lost my ability to sketch and draw, which I loved equally. I never seemed to question whether or not I could draw or paint something in those younger days, it was just something I knew how to do. But, today I am filled with inhibition, self-criticism, and doubt when I even think about painting or drawing.

This all may sound silly or not make sense, one would think I could just decide to paint or draw again, suspend my judgement of myself and give it a try. But, I can't. I'm really at a loss as an artist when it comes to solving this problem. It seems to present itself as a psychological issue, but I honestly feel like I've lost the physical ability to do something, like losing the ability to tie your shoes or comb your hair. Except this is something I love to do. Or was it meant to be this way? Was I supposed to stop painting? Was it just a gateway for bigger and better ways to express myself?

About 7 years ago, I met this very interesting girl. She had piercings in places I would never have imagined were even pierce-able (for example, the back of her neck and inside of her wrists), she held parties at her house with the rule that each guest was only allowed to wear 6 inches of clothing (no, I did not attend), and she made money on eBay selling painted impressions of her breasts. And interestingly, she loved me.

After hearing this girls stories, and admiring her level of bizarreness and her ability to put it out there for all to see, I decided to try painting without a brush. I bought a few pieces of canvas and somehow, someway I was going to get some paint on them! I so badly wanted to paint and was sick of feeling held back. So I took out my paints, covered myself in them and attacked my canvas. I ended up throwing away those first pieces of body impressions, but I felt freer just in making them. And since then, I have made a few that I actually like. I think it's more the symbolism behind these pieces that I enjoy rather than the aesthetic beauty of them. Such an open, expressive spirit such as myself, that thrives on making art, simply could not bear the feeling of inhibition any longer. These pieces symbolize a release, an uninhibited expression, and a dedication to art in whatever form I am able to create it.

Here I am in a photographer's studio being photographed as I paint the canvas below (sorry, my husband would NOT appreciate me sharing the rest of these photos).

"Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings." ~George Tooker

I'm currently working on two pieces to put over my bed. One will feature an impression of my chest, and the other an impression of my husband's chest--a symbol of our hearts and our love. And I'd like to use a large canvas to paint impressions of both of our bodies, and someday add our children's impressions to it as well.

I'm not quite painting like I used to, but I find comfort in the fact that photography has picked up where my painting left off. Now I am able to capture the world and its beauty the way I see it, just as I used to do with my paint. Maybe this is the way it was meant to be for my artistic path. Maybe it's no coincidence that my favorite book as a child was a small book about Picasso and his different periods (of painting). I would study his colors, his style, his lack of concern for the ordinary....perhaps that is the way I was meant to paint rather than in the ordinary way I used to. At any rate, it's a good lesson: when you feel stuck or inhibited, let go of the way you think you should be doing something, and play, make mistakes, allow yourself to find a new way.

"I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No paint, no brush, no canvas. I just think about it."
~Stephen Wright

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the many faces of lola rain

The photos below are the companion shots to "The many faces of Hannah J," although I still favor Hannah's brilliant expressions. Hers were au natural, while I had to be coaxed into laughing with a hilarious story about Hannah's daughter and her new My Little Pony, which she named "butter pop."

All photos by Hannah J

It's so interesting how the presence of camera suddenly shuts down most people's ability to be themselves or feel natural. We've been trained like Pavlov's dog to feel self conscious and guarded when we see someone hold a small black box to their eye. It makes me wonder if this behavioral conditioning is the reason for the genuineness of early 19th century photography. To me, the subjects of these photos always display real emotion, and regardless of the circumstance the photograph was taken in, there doesn't seem to be a hint of self consciousness. Perhaps this is because there was no reflex to having a camera in your face when they were newly invented. Just my theory....

Julia Margaret Cameron
British, 1815-1879

Julia Margaret Cameron