Sunday, March 09, 2014

Seattle: What I Learned Flying High Above the Clouds

I've been having so much fun with all the new guest artist series I've been hosting here on the blog and truly enjoying hearing from so many talented artists. It is humbling to know that each one believed my invitation to participate was worth their while.
This past Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception for the two person show I participated in at Gallery IMA in Seattle. It was another step in my artistic journey, to be represented by this beautiful fine art gallery and see my work being so prominently displayed. There were many moments in the four days I was away that I had to remind myself how far I have come from the place where I first started to dream. First started asking myself "What if I could...." questions. 

"At The Touch of You" 20" x 20" x 2 5/8" collage on canvas by Crystal Neubauer
As I flew out of Chicago on Wednesday morning the snow was falling hard yet again. The sky was thick with gray clouds and the interstate had, surprisingly, not yet been plowed, making the drive to the airport a bit more treacherous then expected. 

It felt like yet one more challenge in a week fraught with challenges as I worked hard to wrap up several projects and meet important deadlines. But flying out of the snowstorm that morning it hit me, the sun is still shining above the clouds, I just needed to remember to look up!

But flying out of the snowstorm it hit me, the sun is still shining above the clouds, I just needed to remember to look up!

It seems that when the unexpected hits at the speed of life, it is easy to lose perspective. But walking around the gallery looking at so much of the wall space dedicated to my work and hearing the response of those attending the show, it hit me just how far I've come in such a short period of time. When looking at it from the big picture perspective, it feels like nothing short of miraculous. 

A miraculous step-by-step creative journey.
 "At The Touch of You" 20" x 20" x 2 5/8" Side detail collage on canvas by Crystal Neubauer
"At the Touch of You" Side detail 20" x 20" x 2 5/8 collage on canvas by Crystal Neubauer
Those four days away were a much needed break. I didn't rent a car and I walked a ton. I had time all to myself and regardless of the rain, I got outside to see the sights every single day.

No obligations. No distractions. Just time.

"Do I quit or keep going?"

Healing, rejuvenating, time to find answers to the question that has been weighing on me heavily this past month: "Do I quit or keep going?"

"Fallen" 10" x 10" collage by Crystal Neubauer
And, as typically happens when I'm able to get away from all the distractions and turn off the external noise, I got the answer - a still small voice whispering:

"Keep Going. Press in. Don't stop. Take your eyes off the gray skies, look up. Look above the clouds. And ask. Ask for the help you need. Don't try to go alone. You were never meant to go alone."

When I have the opportunity to connect with other people face to face in front of my work, I know that this journey isn't just about me.

Art is about everybody. It is about relationships and connections. It is about truth and freedom and discovery. It isn't a selfish act to be an artist. It is a pouring out onto the canvas with the very essence of the message you have been given.

It is about bringing hope to the hopeless. It is about finding and holding on to joy. And it is about love. Really it is all about love - receiving it and passing it along, from the canvas, to the spoken word, to the song. It is about linking arms and seeing the beauty in the midst of a sometimes painful world.

"That Love Would Have It's Say" 10" x 10" collage by Crystal Neubauer

This year I have opportunities beyond what I ever imagined would be possible. I have been contracted by North Light Books to write about the art of collage, and have just turned in the first half of my manuscript. New and exciting teaching opportunities continue to come my way,  both for the national venues and where my heart is - with teens. The gallery opening a few days ago, with promises of more, and shows that I never dared to believe would be open to me.

Next up is the American Craft Council show in St. Paul, Minnesota, just one month away. I am at the tipping point in my career- one that had me asking the big question - quit or push on? And I know in my heart I am meant to push on. But I hear the message loud and clear - it isn't a solo journey. It is a community effort. So this week I will be launching a crowd funding campaign and inviting you to partner with me to get there.

I have some really exciting backer rewards and incentives to show my gratitude and from now on, I am committed to sharing this journey, warts and all, by way of weekly updates here on the blog in a series called "Slow down Sunday Weekly Review". I'll talk about what happened in the studio - the highs and lows of it. What it looks like to be an artist behind the scenes. The steps I took to get from those fledgling years in the beginning to where I am today. Be sure to watch for my campaign to launch and sign up for email updates in the sidebar, as well as the e-newsletter under my contact tab so you don't miss a thing! Cause really, I mean it when I say, it isn't just for me. I know you are here because you are on a journey too.

Come on along with me and let's do this artful thing together!

(Update: the RocketHub campaign just went live. I have a newsletter announcing it going out first thing in the morning and ill blog about it later in the day tomorrow, but you don't have to wait! Check it out here.


  1. It sounds like a great trip: "just what the doctor ordered," perhaps. My husband and I honeymooned in Seattle (and Vancouver). It's a good place for new beginnings.

    Oh, and I love "At the Touch of You."

    1. What a wonderful place to honeymoon. I hope to make the trip with my husband next time. Thanks for stopping by Cheryl!

  2. I'm thrilled that North Light asked you to write a book. Can't wait to have it in my hands!

    1. Thanks Robyn! I'm pretty thrilled too and still pinch myself to see if it's a dream!

  3. Anonymous6:39 AM

    Alberto Giacometti said: Basically, I no longer work for anything but the sensation I have while I'm working.
    Don't give up. You need to make art. We can see it in your work-it's visceral,very deep.
    You go girl. Can't wait to see your book.

    1. What a great quote. Thank-you for the encouragement!

  4. So very proud of you, my friend! Your writing, your persistence and leaning in for more of Him - inspires me daily.
    Just checked out the IMA site - your bio is unavailable! :(

    I, too, can't wait to purchase the book!

    1. Thank-you for the kind words!
      The gallery website is undergoing a change of who operates it and they have been unable to get it updated in time for the show. Disappointing, but it really is a beautiful gallery. I hope you will visit it if you are in the area!

  5. Trying to count how MANY plates you have spinning?:) love stooping by your blog, for so many reasons. I come for a dose of meat. For something I can chew on...with my heart AND with my eyes. I don't need any more cotton candy. Keep it up!!!! Laura