Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just Breath

"Ribbons of Grace" Series in progress 
Summer of 2011: "I was in the car when I realized the truth of the state of my marriage and my inability to save it. I felt foolish for believing I ever could. I pulled to the corner of an intersection and glanced to my right, noticing yet another business had closed and felt the sadness of it. This one, a video store, seemed to be a sign of the changing times rather then the poor state of the economy. 

As I pulled away I saw life everywhere around me and recognized the organic nature of it. That while one business had died away, others were being born, and isn't that true of the living and dying of people and relationships as well? 

That takes away the sadness somewhat. It is what it is, simply a living breathing organism of endings and beginnings. The cyclic nature of it creates the hum of life, the ebb and flow, the inhale exhale breath leading to breath all interconnected. 

The desire to remain or to hold on to something dear to us is simply a reminder that we aren't yet home. There is something bigger then us.The forever we know in our hearts to exist doesn't take place in the now of this life. It is our promise for the future. The guarantee of death leading to eternal life. 

Meanwhile, it just isn't that complicated. Enjoy the living among you. Watch the sunsets and sunrise. Appreciate the time you do have. Love the ones you are with, but don't hold them so tight. Speak the truth always, but be kind. Mourn the losses and let go of what is beyond your control. Live at peace and find the joy in your purpose. Accept what is for today and never let go of the hope for tomorrow. Believe there is something more and go forth without fear."

I wrote the excerpt above almost exactly 4 years ago when my marriage was about to end for nearly the 400th time. Only slightly an exaggeration, I had been down this road before and this time felt like it was for real, but then it wasn't. 

Today I am trying to be gentle with myself. It is the morning after my husband moved out, a week before I will move back to my childhood hometown. 

It is my choice. Was my decision. And I am reminding myself that the things I learned over the past four years needed to be learned. The things I learned over the past 14 years of this marriage, hell over the course of my lifetime even, are the things I needed to learn in the way I was able to learn them to be the person I am today. 

It is the thing I speak about in my art- it all matters. 

Every scrap of paper represents a point in time, it is all valuable no matter how tattered the individual element appears to be; each experience is relevant to becoming who we are and making us the people we are supposed to be. Not one part of my life could be left out without changing me. 

But some days it's harder to see that than others. 

Today is one of those days. So I will just sit here and breath. 

Tomorrow I will tell you a little more perhaps, but today I will just let myself breath.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Some Catching Up To Do: On The Road Again

In an effort to catch my blog up with my life and in anticipation of my commitment to begin life-journal blogging again in the very near future, I'm posting my last few newsletters. Apologies for the repeat to those who subscribe to both lists.

"To Love and Fear" 10" x 10" Collage by Crystal Neubauer

On The Road Again!

I am just back from teaching 3 fabulous workshops at Art Unraveled in Phoenix and am still feeling the glow of all the many things I can count as blessings from the venue and the attendees who participated in my classes there. A big shout out to all of you who signed up for my newsletter and are getting this for the very first time! Thank you for helping to make those classes a success!

I can't even begin to think about writing this weeks news without hearing Willie Nelson bellowing in the background of my mind. It just might be time to turn the TV on for a little distraction!

As you may know, or have deduced from my elusive notes in the past few months, I have been searching for a new home that would allow me to bring my studio and living space back under one roof. The good news is, I have just signed a lease on a house that I feel will suit this need well. The surprising news is, because there are other circumstances involved, I have made the decision to take a bit of a departure from my original plan to find that space here in the city, and will be relocating for a time (1-2 years) to my hometown of Champaign/Urbana.

With the recent release of my book, The Art of Expressive Collage, my desire to write more has been stirred again. I will begin blogging my journey and stories to share with you, the good, the humorous, the frustrating and the victories soon after I get settled in. To say that the way has opened before me once I made this decision would be putting it mildly. What else can I do but share it all with you?

When I opened The Healing House Art Studio, I knew the location was temporary. What I didn't know, was just how much I would fall in love with that little cabin by the lake and the community it sits in. My time there has been profound. I have met many of you as a result and have come to a more solid understanding of who I am and the intent of my life and art.

With this move comes many changes, and I considered, for a time, changing the studio name to reflect that. But this new location feels much like a Healing House also. I will continue to host workshops in the same format, but now I have the ability to offer semi-private, small group intensives with lodging as well. I can't wait to tell you more about it!

The Healing House Art Studio - new location, same spirit. I hope you will consider joining me there!
"Ribbons of Grace Series" 7" x 21" Encaustic Mixed Media Collage by Crystal Neubauer
A Farewell Workshop
I can't leave the original Healing House Art Studio behind without hosting a farewell workshop. Simply titled, "Collage with Encaustic and Paint: A Farewell Workshop", this two day class will feature all the techniques used to create my recent Ribbons of Grace series as shown in the photo above.

Check out the store here for details and registration. I do hope you will join me for this very special workshop- the second to last class, and my personal last time to teach at the original location of The Healing House Art Studio.

Some Catching Up To Do: Book Release Party Started Without Me

In an effort to catch my blog up with my life and in anticipation of my commitment to begin life-journal blogging again in the very near future, I'm posting my last few newsletters. Apologies for the repeat to those who subscribe to both lists.

"The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating With Paper & Glue" by Crystal Neubauer

So The Party Started Without Me!

I've been telling people for months that the book is due out at the end of August, but might actually get released ahead of schedule. Like a month ahead of schedule. 
You know, T H E  E N D  O F  J U L Y.

Yup, I've been saying it for a long time. But apparently not long enough for it to have actually sunk in that the release date was eminent. I woke the day after returning from EncaustiCamp - well technically it was the same day, since mechanical problems caused us to have to unboard the plane and catch another one 4 hours later and I did not get home until 4am, but I digress- I woke to find an excited post on my Facebook wall that my book had landed in somebody's mailbox. And then there was another excited post. And another one! 
And so the party started without me!

But oh what a party it is! To see the photos people are posting and tagging me in, of my book being opened and read with such enthusiasm! To have already received so many emails and messages on my website with literal (albeit written) squeals of delight!

You like it! You really like it! Just writing that made tears spring to my eyes! Seriously, I'm looking for a tissue...

I am running just a bit behind schedule, so my pre-order party pack of goodies is not quite ready to go, but I have not forgotten you! And not having the PDF and bookplate ready does not stop me from proceeding with the main event - a drawing for a piece of art featured in the book. I have all the names of those who wrote to tell me they pre-ordered the book and sent me an image of their receipt when I announced the party way back when, recorded on a spreadsheet. Each name has a corresponding number. Each number was written on a piece of paper, then cut up and put into a bowl. After vigorous stirring, said bowl was placed upon the top of my head, whence I reached in and pulled out number 20.

And so without further ado - JULIA KELLOGG - you are the winner of the piece of an original work of art featured in my book! Hooray Julia! The work will be traveling with me to Art Unraveled this weekend and upon my return, will be mailed to you. Congratulations!

Thank you to every single one of you who signed up for the party! Stay tuned for more details!

Some Catching Up To Do: No Before and After

In an effort to catch my blog up with my life in anticipation of my commitment to begin life-journal blogging again in the very near future, I'm posting my last few newsletters. Apologies for the repeat to those who subscribe to both lists.

"Ribbons of Grace Series" 7" x 21" Encaustic Collage Mixed Media by Crystal Neubauer

No Before and After

"The During is as holy as the after, and it's okay" ~Glennon Doyle Melton

Have you ever come across an article or blog post that was exactly what you needed to read at exactly the moment you needed it? I'm sitting here trying to compose this email to you. Telling you of all the cool things happening in my life and to be honest, it is a struggle to focus on it long enough to get it done. Already I've decided that it's too late to send it out this morning and I'll just have to schedule it to go tomorrow, which will be Thursday morning, and today by the time you read this.

Focus: my mind has been filled to the overflowing lately with a few major transitions that I haven't told you about. The truth is, there is this mix. This real-life glorious mix of great things and not so great things that we all have to deal with and I'm just not ready to talk about it all quite yet. And I spiral into a sort of condemnation. Because, you know, I'm nearly 50 years old and I should have this stuff all figured out by now! But I'm trying to live by a new mantra - ridding myself of the "Shoulds" that shame and blame and hold hostage the growth God intended for me.

So I sit here trying to compose an email about the great things and not talk about the not-so-great things and I remember there was a time when I used to share it all. 
And I want to again. And I will. But not today. 
Today I will share with you that article, the exact right thing I needed to read at the exact right time I needed it. A blog post by the author of the blog "Momastery". Read it now or later, but don't forget to come back and hear about the great things I am ready to share. . . 

Some Catching Up To Do: The Importance of Community

In an effort to catch my blog up with my life in anticipation of my commitment to begin life-journal blogging again in the very near future, I'm posting my last few newsletters. Apologies for the repeat to those who subscribe to both lists.

"Grown Ass Woman"  9" x 9" Mixed Media Canvas by Crystal Neubauer; Now available as Prints and Canvas reproduction
One Thing I Know For Sure - The Importance of Community

On the heels of my nearly two week time hosting my friend Jan Avellana, during which we co-taught a workshop and worked collaboratively and individually to meet deadlines for other projects, I received many messages about the importance of developing creative community when living the creative life or pursuing a career in the arts.

You didn't have to tell me, but it was affirming none-the-less that to truly become my fullest artistic self, I cannot work exclusively in isolation as an artist. I am here in Chicago, Jan is there in Honolulu, but the support and encouragement we have given each other over the past 7+ years has been invaluable to each of us in the pursuit of our artistic careers.

To commemorate our time together, Jan and I created a series of collaborative works titled "Birds of a Feather", a joy to be sure!

To say I am in a time of transition in my life and career seems like the understatement of the year. If you have been following my blog, newsletters, or Facebook feed, or you know me in person, you know that my career path has been one that has unfolded in a faith-filled step by step process. One in which I take the step before me, lean in and listen until I feel led to the next. It was in this place of leaning in to listen that my husband and I decided to make our move to Chicago this past spring. A surprise to be sure, but many times over, we've felt that decision confirmed.

The details are still unfolding, decisions still need to be made about the studio, and I'm still processing where I will place my creative energies and focus for the next year, but one thing I know for sure, it will involve community. Online and face to face, the importance of living and working around like-minded people is invaluable to me. Thank you to all of you for joining me in this space.