Normally once or twice a year we welcome the public into our gallery and studio at the Loft Artists Association in Stamford, CT to visit with the artists and check out the studios. This year, due to COVID restrictions, we did not hold this event. So I made a little video here. It’s about 3 minutes or so of me chatting to my camera (an odd experience) and showing some of my art. I wanted to add music but just couldn’t figure it out. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. https://youtu.be/rG46T7pSjVA
I’ve been so busy at work (the day job) the past month that I haven’t been spending the time in my studio that I would like. When life gets in the way like this, with work, appointments, social events, chores and such, it can weigh on a creative person, leaving a dead-inside kind of feeling. I feel best when I’m in the studio pushing colors around, planning a composition, crafting just the perfect angle or texture in a drawing. For me, it is akin to yoga or meditation.
So, time to “stock the pond.” I took some time this week to head into Manhattan with a friend to visit the Museum of Modern Art. What a day! We spent the day bathing in color, light, ideas. Figures, shapes, and commentary draped us in joy and inspiration. The MoMA is such a wonderful place to get away from the grind and soak in some energy. (Socially distanced, of course!)
After communing with all my faves: Picasso, Matisse, Krasner, Hartigan, Pollock, de Kooning, Dali, Magritte, Hockney, Kahlo, O’Keefe…and so many more, I can’t wait to get into my studio today and get to work!
In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends the practice of taking yourself out on “artist dates”, a time to go explore for ideas and enjoy the creativity of others. It opens your mind to new thoughts and ways of looking at things. It nurtures your creative consciousness. The book recommends you do this alone- no friends, spouse, children tagging along. I agree with this in theory, but for me, it was great to find a friend that could come along and just be there, mostly quiet, occasionally pointing out something I may not have noticed and to share the enjoyment. We did both separate now and then to get some space and wander alone. Either way, it was a great experience. I highly recommend it!
As an artist and a musician, I feel blessed that I have an outlet and way of expression for my thoughts, struggles and feelings, and I also get to meet and engage with so many wonderful and interesting people. One of the areas I have been fortunate to be called upon is in donating artwork or music performances to charities for fundraising. My acoustic duo partner in Me & D, David DeLallo, and I were chatting this week about the tough times many people are having lately, whether failing health or economically due to #COVID, or social and environmental issues (#BLM #blacklivesmatter #translivesmatter #immigrantsareessential, #anotherhurricane #wildfires #agingsucks #nomorepolitics and many others).
Due to the crap most people are dealing with lately, many charity organizations are also struggling with funds. Donations fall when people can barely afford rent and food, obviously. We did a bit of brainstorming on ways we could contribute. David put it best on his Instagram post: “So we have decided that we will now be donating any earnings we get from gigs to charity. Starting with our gig on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at Coalhouse Pizza in Stamford, CT 5pm, all proceeds will go to #fof_cats (Friends of Felines) in Stamford, CT which does an amazing job rescuing cats and placing them in good homes…This fall, we will be doing this through online shows (no indoor shows during the pandemic for us.) Stay tuned, and if you have a charity you want us to play for” direct message us.
I just wanted to put out the word that I am still creating art, and Me & D are still making music, but our platform and goals have shifted a bit. Reach out if you have a charity or venue in mind, would like to donate, or would like to participate in some other way. #payitforward #workingtogether
Well Hello there! I’d like to share with you a video of an interview I did for Frank Tosto of Stamford Musicians Group (a Facebook Group.) He runs a regular streaming video show featuring musical guests and other creatives from the community performing, chatting and sharing their latest projects. If you don’t know Frank you should go to Facebook, search and join his Stamford Musicians Group, and enjoy. He is one of the hardest working, supportive (and talented and nicest) guys in the area. Anyway, here is the spot he did with me. https://youtu.be/3ohN8D9ehF4
New Year New Artists! This is the name of the New Member Art Exhibition in which I am participating as a new member of the Loft Artists Association located in Stamford, CT. I was recently juried into this association of artists, which is a huge deal for me since I have sort of been ‘stalking’ this organization since I moved to Connecticut in 2003. For years, I have attended every Open Studios or exhibition they have held and finally decided to submit my own portfolio to the jury to see if they would accept me.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram have watched and commented over the years as my art has evolved and developed. I appreciate that very much. Some of you have even been the subject of some of my paintings and sketches and some have purchased art from me. Thank you for the support!
In addition to joining the Loft Artists Association, I have recently moved into an onsite studio in the building at 575 Pacific Street, Stamford, CT. It is 200 square feet of JOY! It is a place of my own to create, collaborate with other artists, learn and make a huge mess. I will be working in this studio throughout 2020 and hope to share this journey with you.
This past weekend I got to go in and help set up my first art exhibition. I have a lot to learn, but I am very enthusiastic, and I am so impressed by and appreciative of all the help I am receiving from the other LAA members.
New Year New Artists will run at the Loft Artists Association from January 4 – February 2, 2020 with the OPENING RECEPTION on Saturday, January 11 from 5-7pm.
I invite you to join me at the reception for new art, refreshments, socializing and music by Grammy-nominated recording artist Sundad. I also invite you to head over to my home page where you can subscribe to my newsletter/mailing list to be in-the-know on events and happenings in my CarsonArtMusic world, whether art or music.
Suffering from a little cold, so no open mic for me tonight. I really wanted to go play a few songs, but I just don’t feel good. So…Instead, I’m sharing this piece “Keeping Time”. 16×20” acrylic on canvas. It is available!
This one is inspired from jamming with a friend who finds his zen moment in a jam after a long day, losing himself in the rhythm and feeling good. I love him for that. He has an intense, serious career and he must focus on it all day. Then he comes home and showers his family with love and attention. But he finds time for his jam. Because it’s awesome!
Music is good for you. Hopefully listening to a little music tonight while I sketch will get me feeling good soon!
As 2018 draws to a close, like many people, I am reviewing the past year and thinking of what I want to accomplish in the New Year. I don’t really call them “resolutions” but I do set goals and this is a good time to review and tweak them.
For 2019, I resolve to STOP WAITING. “Waiting” is different than procrastination. I think procrastination is not doing something either because you don’t want to, or you don’t feel like it yet. Waiting, on the other hand, is like not taking responsibility for your inertia. It is “I can’t do x yet because someone else hasn’t done y“, where y is something you think is outside your control. It’s a victim stance. I do this a lot and I hate it. Examples:
- I can’t sell my art because my programmer hasn’t built my online shop yet.
- I can’t post pictures of my artwork on my website because my friend hasn’t come over to take good photos yet.
- I can’t write a blog post because I’m waiting for my website to be redesigned.
- I can’t put together an art show because I’m waiting for someone else to do it.
- I can’t book a gig because my band mates haven’t given me their schedules yet.
- I can’t exercise because my workout partner is busy today.
All of these are examples of playing the victim by “waiting” until someone else does their part so you can go on with your life. I do not know why, but I do this. And I recognize it.
In addition, I will stop “waiting” until the time is right. You know, “waiting” until I finally have the perfect thing to write about or the perfect finished artwork to share. The perfect thing and the perfect time is This and Now. So, for now, I will post a painting I am still working on in my studio. It isn’t perfect and it isn’t finished. I plan to finish it this week and get it ready to show in February. It will be for sale then.
Truth is a function of time. I think Einstein said that. I digress. But think about that.
Anyway, Here’s to 2019 being a year of DOING, not waiting. Let’s live our truth in 2019.
This past couple of months has been a very busy time for me. I traveled to Italy, sold my house, moved into an apartment, had visitors for 3 weeks, bought a new car and played 4 gigs. I’ve also been socializing a LOT. I am enjoying downtown apartment life, but it is a challenge for my creativity and for my waistline. I have been out for dinner or drinks nearly every night in the past 2 months.
What happened to my creativity? Maybe it is still packed from the move, in a box somewhere, on a shelf, in the back of the closet, in the dark. I find it so hard to be creative when I’m tied to my “To Do List”. Creating art and music for me come more from a dreamy, emotional state. It doesn’t come naturally for me to be “disciplined” and scheduled about creating, but I have been reading and researching that lately. The blogs and books I have been reading about creativity suggest that to make art I must actually make myself develop an art habit. Schedule time. Put it on the calendar. Plan the project. Get out supplies. Make a proper space in which to work. Not unlike my training for the Half Marathon (see earlier post.)
It is a lot like getting together to jam. You just bring your stuff, plug in and see what happens. Sometimes you have a song planned, sometimes you don’t. You just play. You make the appointment and just show up. Sometimes there are magical moments, sometimes it’s crap, but it’s nearly always useful or at least fun.
I suppose this is how it is as an adult living in our time. We have so many distractions. Work, family, love-life, friends, cooking, commuting, laundry, Netflix, iPads and iPhones, exercise, walking the dog, complaining about the news, investing our money, doctor appointments, Netflix, reading the car manual, pacing in the house shouting expletives (just me?), choosing the right insurance, Netflix, making a will, flipping through magazines and Netflix – it all competes for space and energy. Did I mention Netflix?
So, last night, after work, exercising, walking the dog and cooking dinner, I pulled out my easel. I wasn’t feeling terribly creative at first, so I decided to rework an old painting that I wasn’t happy with.
I got out my supplies. I painted.
So, I present to you, “Jamming”, 16×20” acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas. For sale $400.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
Well, I ran a half marathon and I lived. Goal accomplished!
People have asked me over the past few months as I’ve been training (and talking about it incessantly,) if I have a goal. I suppose they are referring to a “time” goal. But every time this question comes up, I’m like, “duh! To LIVE?!” People have also been referring to it is a race. “When’s your race?” My training partner and I laugh about this. For us, this isn’t so much a race as a “survival test.”
And survive, we did. For us, this was a BIG deal. I am really proud of myself. I set a goal. I found a regimen to follow that promised it would prepare me to accomplish the goal. I found a partner to bring aboard my regimen and my goal for support. I followed the plan. I booked appointments on my calendar for time to dedicate to the plan. I ate properly, I slept well, I used supplements wisely. Ok, that last sentence isn’t true. I ate mostly like crap (too much pizza, beer, chocolate), I slept sporadically (lots of late nights out at open mics), and supplements? Well, I took a vitamin one day, but this is normal for me.
I accomplished this goal during a very stressful time in my life. Some may have thought I was nuts to train for a half marathon while going through major life changes such through the breakup of a 13 year relationship with the love of my life. But it was actually helpful. At a time when I was a little too raw to “create” anything but anger and sadness (and I was getting a bit fatigued of that), running gave me a real physical thing on which to focus. A neutral, happy-ish thing. It was a great distraction.
Things I learned:
Prepare properly. It is important to do the work to build up and to know what to expect.
You do have to listen to your body, but there are times it can be a whiny bitch and you have to show it who’s boss. However, doctors, experienced friends and Google can help with questions about specific pain, blisters, nutrition, etc.
It helps to have support and cheerleaders. A lot. Talk to people and tell them this is a big deal for you. They rise up and cheer you on. Also, having a good training partner, someone to go through the process with is really amazing. We did not do all the training runs together, but we did run together generally once a week. The rest of the time we shared competition and encouragement and misery.
So, now I will take these lessons and try to apply them to the rest of my life. I can set goals for my creative life, my job, my body, money, even relationships and work toward them. Not in a dreamy, wishing kind of way, but in a systematic, planned step by step kind of way. Choose the goal, find the plan, bring in some support. Run.
Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of stress and life changes over the past few years that have taken a real toll on my fitness, self-confidence, sense of purpose, and motivation. After the holidays, I thought, “I need a GOAL to focus on.” So, when I received an email advertising a local ½ Marathon, I jumped on it. I counted the weeks I had until the Greenwich Cup ½ Marathon and Googled until I found the training program for me. My criteria: I had 17 weeks, I only wanted to run 3 days a week to give myself time to rest and cross-train, I was not an experienced distance runner, and I really wanted my week to start on Monday (I saw a lot of programs that had Monday as a rest day.) I chose my plan, put the whole thing on my calendar as “Running Appointments” and shared the schedule with a friend who committed to run the ½ Marathon with me.
The event is this Sunday, April 22, 2018. I’m a little anxious about it. I’m worried about blisters and pain in my feet and hips. I’m excited, too. I will write about my journey next week, but today I reflect on a piece I wrote 8 years ago. I had just come off surgery for breast cancer and I started running short, slow distances. Funny how I can still relate to these thoughts from 2010, but now I can celebrate how far I have come.
How does this relate to the rest of my blog and my “Creative Life” website? I will touch on this more in my next post, but for now I will say this: I learned a lot about discipline, setting small goals, trusting the process, and finding and accepting help. These are useful tools whether running a marathon (or a ½) or creating an art portfolio or recording an album. Or even making a great presentation at work.
Here is that post from March 2010
I Call Myself a Runner
I’d like to call myself a runner. But that’s probably a stretch. I frequently say things like, “I went for a great run last night,” when I really mean I shuffled around my neighborhood some until I got tired, then came home and tried not to look at the cookies in the cabinet. But I’m trying.
In high school, I was on the track team. I cheated. No, it wasn’t steroids. I cheated myself by not really running. When we were supposed to go out for distance road runs, I usually found a nice place to hide out for a while, and then I would catch up with the rest of the team when they came back for cool down. The truth is I hated running. It was just too hard. Needless to say, this lack of effort showed in my consistent last-place showings in track meets and my doughy thighs.
Now in my mid-40s, working long days at my bank job in Manhattan, commuting for over two hours a day on Metro-North, I have discovered something about myself. I need to run. I don’t do it to “be on the team.” I don’t do it to “look good” anymore, although, I must admit, it does help me battle the cookies. I do it because it gives back something that gets robbed away during the weekly grind.
Running is me. It is me breathing. It is me sweating. Shedding the stress of the week. Feeling the rhythm. Listening to the songs on my iPod. Working on my pace. Setting mini-goals like “Pick up the pace until you get to that stop sign” or giving myself reminders like “relax your shoulders, don’t bounce” and enjoying little successes with every step. It is me feeling the pounding of my feet in my running shoes on the uneven sidewalk in my neighborhood. As I run down Washington Boulevard, I breathe in the smells of the river, the trees, the exhaust from cars. I feel the heat of the sun on my face on a Saturday afternoon in March as I run past the Trump Tower. I notice the snow is still melting in some areas along Mill River Park. I jump over puddles and watch for buckled cracks in the path at Scalzi Park. I smile and wave at neighbors out walking or pushing their babies in strollers. I check out the houses and landscaping and cars of my town. I wonder if this sweatshirt is too heavy today.
I’m not going to win any races. I’m certainly not going to break any records or impress anyone out there. But I feel calmer, stronger, freer, and a little less doughy.
And, I can call myself a runner.