Thursday, October 13, 2016

Encaustic Techniques in Printmaking

I am really excited to tell you about this very special workshop that I have been developing with fellow artist Samira Gdisis, owner of The Black Eyed Press. Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to explore this unique combination of materials. These seemingly unrelated mediums come together beautifully; Encaustic Wax and Printmaking - texture, fine details, techniques in both processes that will give you a competitive edge in building on your own body of work or ignite something new.  

Hint: this one is worth traveling to. A list of area hotels will be provided upon request. Second Saturday art walk is happening in neighboring Kenosha, Wisconsin. The acclaimed RAM museum is minutes away, and an option for Sunday morning Yoga is available in the Gallery on 16th. I do hope you will join us! 


Encaustic Techniques in Printmaking

Artist Crystal Neubauer teams up with Samira Gdisis of The Black Eyed Press to explore traditional printmaking techniques in relationship to the non-traditional use of encaustic medium. Participants will have a unique opportunity to explore printmaking techniques, including collagraph, relief, and etching, by applying encaustic medium to a Plexiglas plate for use in a professional printmaking studio.

In addition, students will have an opportunity to explore encaustic monoprinting and receive instruction in translating certain techniques to a home studio application when a printing press is not available.

Discussions and demonstrations will include safe studio practices, product selection, the exploration of building plate texture with wax, creating and incising a smooth surface for etching, using objects to create design, registration for single and multiple color passes, rendering abstract and realistic art prints, and suggestions for mounting and displaying the encaustic plates as a work of art unto itself alongside the printed works.

The workshop is designed for those with no experience in either medium, as well as those with a foundation in either encaustic painting or printmaking techniques who wish to further explore this combination.



Workshop includes the majority of supplies, studio time and materials, with only a short supply list required of each student. Students will be asked to bring the following:

  • Plexiglas cut to 6” x 8” - at least (2) pieces with edges to be finished before class per instruction received on registration
  • Arches Cover 92lb. – at least (2) sheets of 22” x 30” white or cream
  • (1) Encaustic quality brush
  • Fitted heat resistant work gloves (Either construction or kitchen variety will work)
  • Lino cutting kit
  • Inspiration photos or illustrations

Options are available at registration for boxed lunch by the acclaimed Chez Bob and Sunday morning Yoga in the Gallery on 16th.





Workshop Fee



*Kind regards and acknowledgment to Strathmore, R&F Paints, and Enkaustikos. 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Today I Will Choose to Rise


After a rare good health day yesterday, I woke with an ocular migraine in the wee hours of the night- intensely painful pressure behind my eyes wrapping throughout my head into the base of my skull, spinning, dizzy, nausea, body aches, the works- a newish symptom I've been experiencing over the past year.
I finally managed to sit up around noon, shades pulled and coffee in hand, feeling like I was run over by a truck. The busy day of work and email catch up I had planned did not happen.
I am feeling anxious about my future and my ability to manage my finances with this debilitating unpredictable illness called Chronic Lyme. I am in a spiraling flare of the disease after a season of environmental trauma and emotional stress.
There is no quick fix take a pill and get better treatment. Only a long regimen of trial and error to address each area of damage to the body. Good days are simply good days. The goal is to find the right combination of treatment and rest to achieve a whole bunch of good days in a row and stop the progressive damage, in other words- remission. Chronic Lyme does not leave.
Unfortunately people sometimes do. Even the ones who really mattered. The ones you have every right to count on. The ones you needed and wanted to be with the most. In some ways, it's easy to understand; life isn't a fairy tale romance. It's down and dirty in the trenches and real. It often requires more from us than we think we have or even want to give.
It's an eye opener when people check out of your life at the very moment you need them to be there the most. The fact is that it is impossible to have the real connected relationships we are looking for if we avoid the bad days that are bound to come.
We need other people in this journey called life. We are wired for connection and wanting a shoulder to lean on when the storms are raging is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary, asking for help and expecting a kind, empathetic response can be evidence of our strength.
But when it comes down to it, there are certain battles in life that we must face on our own. Like a chronic illness, these battles remain hidden from the observer's eye. Not the battle that comes with fighting for better health, or to save a marriage. Or the one that comes with grieving a death, or losing a friend, or a job.
This is the battle that is both uniquely personal and universal. The battle of the ages. The one that wants us to determine our worth based on our circumstances.
The enemy of my soul wants me to believe that I am less than others, as evidenced by the people who leave, or the illness that stays. It trips me into cycles of anxiety produced performance and harsh self-evaluation.
But there is another voice inside, when I am willing to lean in and listen, the one that wants me to be real and learn to love myself without exception. This isn't a frivolous act or selfishly motivated investment, and it doesn't excuse the actions of others. This is a courageous step to discovering what is true.
We are all worthy of love and compassion. Not because of what we can do, but because our value exceeds what is visible on the surface.
It is at this place of falling apart, where everything around me tries to remind me that I have no worth, that I will rise.
I will not hide in shame or fear, I do not speak to play the victim, nor deny my true needs to make myself small enough to be acceptable and earn a scrap of love.
This is my story, my life. It is not all good or all bad. It is not all black and white. There are magical shades of gray and colors that are exclusively mine. There is nothing I can do, or stop doing, and no circumstance or person that will change my worth.
A wise woman tells me that the enemy's voice is the loudest at the most critical points in our story. I can choose to believe the lies and lose myself in the process, or I can choose to rise and embrace my fullest being in spite of all the noise.
Today I choose to love myself to the fullest. Today I will choose to rise.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kansas City - Not Just Another Workshop

"The Natural Order of Things" 12" x 48" Diptych Collage by Crystal Neubauer
Next Stop: Kansas City - It's Not Just Another Workshop!
Inside/Outside: The Art of Assemblage

Date: Sat, Sept 3, 2016
Time: 9:30-4:30pm
Location: Studio Joy!, 608 E 30th St, Kansas City MO 64109


This workshop is the place to be for the love of all things salvaged and collected. Spend the day creating an encaustic collage on a cradled panel and then elevate it to the status of assemblage by adding your salvaged material and collected objects. Learn the art of encaustic, collage, and assemblage; this day will be a feast of technique resulting in a beautiful work of art for your own collection.  



But the fun does not begin there! 
You are cordially invited to kick the weekend off Friday September 2, with an
excursion in the West Bottoms.

The West Bottoms is a antique/vintage shop hub that opens Fri-Sun on the same weekend as First Friday in the Crossroads. Think of all the cool treasures to be found, and imagine finding the perfect item to use for Saturday's class! 

Date: Fri, Sept 2, 2016
Time: 1-4ish
RSVP: please include a note to Amanda Jolley when you register for the workshop to let us know you are joining us on Friday too.

Next, My First Friday Show Open at Beggars Table Gallery
 
First Friday at the Crossroads can get pretty congested, so we will have the parking advantage by arriving earlier in the evening for dinner together before the show. After I introduce you to my newest works at Beggars Table Gallery, you will want to wander all over the Crossroads to absorb as much art and inspiration as you are able.

Date: Fri, Sept 2, 2016
Time: 5pm
RSVP: Message to Amanda Jolley at the time of registration letting her know to include you in the dinner reservation.


Click here to register for the workshop and get in on all that fun!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On Chronic Pain and Utterings of Joy

ATC Sized "Utterings of Joy" - Small works by Crystal Marie Neubauer
This morning I left for a couple of appointments and knew within 5 minutes that I wasn't going to make it. I wrestled with it at first, not wanting to get any further behind on my schedule, but I knew I was going to make a bad situation much worse if I didn't heed what my gut and body was telling me; I am in a serous flare up of symptoms previously thought to be Lupus, Connective Tissue Disorder, and Fibromyalgia – newly diagnosed as Chronic Lyme and I needed to go home and get back in bed.

You don't think about bones much unless they're painful. 

Stub your toe, fall on the ice, whack your elbow on the counter, these sudden impact occurances cause the kind of severe pain that I've been experiencing on a nightly basis. Except those one-off incidents, while painful, subside after a time. Jump up and down holding your foot trying not to swear, rub your elbow while tears stream down your cheeks and you make jokes about your "not-so-funny bone", and the sharp intensity of it subsides to a mere throb, then finally just a memory that makes you wince and then it's gone.

But my nightly pain is more like a severe toothache- in that unrelenting painful throbbing that demands all of my attention kind of way. As a matter of fact, it is a toothache. Not just one tooth, but all of them. They suddenly feel too big for my mouth and I can feel each one as a sort of sensory X-ray, along with the jawbone surrounding them. And the cheekbones above them. And on into my eye sockets. Throbbing pulsing bone pain that does not stop. I feel each pressure point where my head rests on the pillow, where my knees and hip bone meet the mattress. It is a memory foam, cushy comfy new mattress, but some nights the pain makes it feel like a concrete slab.

At night, I feel my skeleton more than my skin, but my skin- oh how it burns. The backs of my legs, my buttocks, wrapping around my knees, up towards the center of my back and down to the bottoms of my feet in an all over body neuropathy. It burns with that sense that I stayed out in the sun too long but deeper, the way it does when you exercise for the first time after years in the easy chair. My ankle tingles and that crawling electrical-gone-haywire sensation climbs up my limbs, across my shoulders and becomes a full on numb sensation on one side of my face, especially when I hit the proverbial wall. The one where I know I have pushed myself too much that day. And to make it especially challenging, the wall moves from day to day. Some days I shower and get dressed and decide to dry my hair then there it is, I am done for the day and I have to lay back down. Like today.


The exhaustion never ends- it is debilitating and muscular. The closest description to accurate I've read is having the worst flu and the worst hangover of your life all rolled into one. It is a vicious cycle when laying down is the remedy and the trigger. When I am up and moving through my day, the intensity of the bone pain and burning skin give way to muscle spasms and joint pain, which is migratory- but almost always starts with the bottom of my heels in my feet. I get out of bed, or out of my car, or up from my work table and feel like someone took a hammer to them- right on the bottom of my heel bone. I hobble and limp until it stretches out and I either grow numb to it, or it releases enough to function. If I stay on my feet it will decrease, but sooner or later it begins in my knees and occasionally that one special place in my hip, as it lets me know I was moving a little too fast and a little too confidently.  

The tingling also roams - to my hands, my feet, my knees, either one side or the other. And then throughout the day come strange sensations that I can only describe as internal waves of unwell. I'm working in the studio, or talking to a friend, or walking through the grocery store and it rolls up from the floor and rises to my head with a weird feeling similar to when you step off an elevator, but coming from my insides. It happens fast and I am hit with an overall feeling of pre-nausea, that moment just before you know you're going to throw up, but I never do. It lingers anywhere from several minutes to several hours with little dizzy spells and lightheaded sensations to make it extra special.


Depression and anxiety are also symptoms. It is hard to sort out when it comes because of the pain, or as a companion to it, but it doesn't really matter. It is there when I have days with nights like these. And this week has been filled with days with nights like these. It starts with an increase in my detox supplements- a necessary step if I ever hope to get well enough to try to treat the Lyme directly. Each time I increase the dose, these symptoms, many of which have already been my reality for years, flare up to this near unbearable array.

The depression doubles down and whispers it will never get better.

It will never get better.

It will never get better.

There is no relief in sight. It will never get better.

Particularly dark thoughts come when each painful pulse is accompanied by this whispering thread. 

It isn't a mood. It is a symptom that is as real and powerful as the physical pain itself. 


Hours are spent each night going through the same routine. Toss and turn trying to get comfortable, a few hours of light sleep before waking in unbearable pain. Then maybe if I try the lavender oil, or an extra dose of the magnesium, I'll get enough relief to fall asleep, but it usually doesn't work. My mind ticks through the list: Maybe I should get up and take a bath? A hot shower? Maybe if I wrap the ice pack around my neck and put the heating pad on my back? My heating pad is my constant bedtime companion. But each of these remedies bring only a moment of relief before the change in my body temperature causes a reaction similar to a menopausal hot flash accompanied by that rolling elevator of nausea rising and I am tearing the covers off and nearly crawling out of my skin while the room spins. 


When daylight finally comes it takes a while to drag myself out of bed. 

My daytime symptoms, along with the pain and fatigue, include hyper sensitivity to noise and light especially in the early hours. Things as benign as tap water or lipstick cause a blistering swollen rash inside my mouth - my body's response to the toxic load of going undiagnosed and untreated for so long. 

Hyper sensitivity to food and increasing allergies is also a common symptom of Lyme. 

My neck stiffens and has knots along each side, as it clicks and sounds as if bone is grinding on bone. A symptom that I was shocked to find out had anything to do with this illness, but each increase in my detox regimen brings a little more mobility, one tiny glimmer of hope that I am on the right track. 


My hands tremor, my insides often feel like I OD'd on caffeine. 

I can feel my brain shaking. 

My heart rate speeds and slows and slams and beats out of my chest. I haven't had acne this bad since I was a teenager. 

Cognitively, memory problems present themselves by way of forgetting my words, not being able to match names with faces, and getting lost on the way to the same grocery store on the same route I've taken a million times before. I look up and get that sense that I am lost and nothing around me looks familiar and I grow anxious as I drive looking for anything, anything that will spark my recognition. Thank God for cellphones with GPS. 


I could go on and on with this, but I am fairly certain you may not have stuck with me to read this far. I mean, come on, it's depressing! 

Many of these symptoms have plagued me for years, but now they are flaring to the nth degree and coming all at once. I don't know how long I will have to go through this, or if it will ever get better. I have the double whammy of finding that my body does not detox the Lyme or the mold or other toxins on its own, so treatment is going to be long and slow and painful. Someday I may share what happens when I take anything that kills the Lyme, but this is enough info for your reading pleasure right now. 


You might feel worse after reading all of this, and I am sorry for that, but somehow it made me feel better to write it all down. 

To purge just a little bit, the loneliness of the experience. The harrowing pain of it all. To know that someone else can read this and maybe get a tiny glimpse of understanding. I don't really look sick – unless you've noticed the bruises or the acne or the dark circles under my eyes. 

Or caught me with my head on the steering wheel as I give in to the knowledge that I am not going anywhere today.

It is hard. It is very much out of my control. And there is very little I can do about it. 

I am not too stubborn or proud. I don't want to be doing this on my own, but the support of a companion is not there. That's not an indictment, but it is a fact that I cannot change. So I either go through the sickness of detoxing on my own, or I go through the sickness of not detoxing- this illness is not going away.

Either I make the best of each day and try to find my light, or I don't. 

It is up to me and it isn't.

I am alone and yet I am surrounded and filled with the presence of God.

Each day shifts and each day stays the same and I move forward and release the toxic load. One pill, one symptom, one memory, one emotion, one day at a time. 

I don't tell you all of this to wallow in it. I had a completely different post in mind to write- something witty and uplifting and encouraging to be sure. But this is where I am today, and I know it is hard to read or hear or believe.

It can be tempting to look away in the face of other people's pain. We only have so much compassion to go around before we have to shut down. Some of us do it more quickly then others. But pain, in all forms, is universal, and we don't have to suffer it alone. 

I have been on the verge of giving up, even though I don't know what that looks like. But then I remember that I am really not alone. I have all of you. And I have faith – no, it isn't that I have faith, rather I know that faith has me. 

And it isn't that I have God, but I know that in spite of the whispering lies of the darkness, that God has me.

Thank God He has me.

Thank God He has me.

Thank you God that you have me. 



And I still have art. That's what I am celebrating today.


That I can still step into the studio on good days, and even most of the bad, and release all of it by way of these wordlessprayersThese scraps and these bits, and this pain, and all of the darkness and the light. It all comes together with a bit of paste and a song or two. 

My offering sent up to the heavens and returned in the form of tiny utterings of joy

On Chronic Pain and Utterings of Joy

ATC Sized "Utterings of Joy" - Small works by Crystal Marie Neubauer
This morning I left for a couple of appointments and knew within 5 minutes that I wasn't going to make it. I wrestled with it at first, not wanting to get any further behind on my schedule, but I knew I was going to make a bad situation much worse if I didn't heed what my gut and body was telling me; I am in a serous flare up of symptoms previously thought to be Lupus, Connective Tissue Disorder, and Fibromyalgia – newly diagnosed as Chronic Lyme and I needed to go home and get back in bed.

You don't think about bones much unless they're painful. 

Stub your toe, fall on the ice, whack your elbow on the counter, these sudden impact occurances cause the kind of severe pain that I've been experiencing on a nightly basis. Except those one-off incidents, while painful, subside after a time. Jump up and down holding your foot trying not to swear, rub your elbow while tears stream down your cheeks and you make jokes about your "not-so-funny bone", and the sharp intensity of it subsides to a mere throb, then finally just a memory that makes you wince and then it's gone.

But my nightly pain is more like a severe toothache- in that unrelenting painful throbbing that demands all of my attention kind of way. As a matter of fact, it is a toothache. Not just one tooth, but all of them. They suddenly feel too big for my mouth and I can feel each one as a sort of sensory X-ray, along with the jawbone surrounding them. And the cheekbones above them. And on into my eye sockets. Throbbing pulsing bone pain that does not stop. I feel each pressure point where my head rests on the pillow, where my knees and hip bone meet the mattress. It is a memory foam, cushy comfy new mattress, but some nights the pain makes it feel like a concrete slab.

At night, I feel my skeleton more than my skin, but my skin- oh how it burns. The backs of my legs, my buttocks, wrapping around my knees, up towards the center of my back and down to the bottoms of my feet in an all over body neuropathy. It burns with that sense that I stayed out in the sun too long but deeper, the way it does when you exercise for the first time after years in the easy chair. My ankle tingles and that crawling electrical-gone-haywire sensation climbs up my limbs, across my shoulders and becomes a full on numb sensation on one side of my face, especially when I hit the proverbial wall. The one where I know I have pushed myself too much that day. And to make it especially challenging, the wall moves from day to day. Some days I shower and get dressed and decide to dry my hair then there it is, I am done for the day and I have to lay back down. Like today.


The exhaustion never ends- it is debilitating and muscular. The closest description to accurate I've read is having the worst flu and the worst hangover of your life all rolled into one. It is a vicious cycle when laying down is the remedy and the trigger. When I am up and moving through my day, the intensity of the bone pain and burning skin give way to muscle spasms and joint pain, which is migratory- but almost always starts with the bottom of my heels in my feet. I get out of bed, or out of my car, or up from my work table and feel like someone took a hammer to them- right on the bottom of my heel bone. I hobble and limp until it stretches out and I either grow numb to it, or it releases enough to function. If I stay on my feet it will decrease, but sooner or later it begins in my knees and occasionally that one special place in my hip, as it lets me know I was moving a little too fast and a little too confidently.  

The tingling also roams - to my hands, my feet, my knees, either one side or the other. And then throughout the day come strange sensations that I can only describe as internal waves of unwell. I'm working in the studio, or talking to a friend, or walking through the grocery store and it rolls up from the floor and rises to my head with a weird feeling similar to when you step off an elevator, but coming from my insides. It happens fast and I am hit with an overall feeling of pre-nausea, that moment just before you know you're going to throw up, but I never do. It lingers anywhere from several minutes to several hours with little dizzy spells and lightheaded sensations to make it extra special.


Depression and anxiety are also symptoms. It is hard to sort out when it comes because of the pain or as a companion to it, but it doesn't really matter. It is there when I have days with nights like these. And this week has been filled with days with nights like these. It starts with an increase in my detox supplements- a necessary step if I ever hope to get well enough to try to treat the Lyme directly. Each time I increase the dose, these symptoms, many of which have already been my reality for years, flare up to this near unbearable array.

The depression doubles down and whispers it will never get better.

It will never get better.

It will never get better.

There is no relief in sight. It will never get better.

Particularly dark thoughts come when each painful pulse is accompanied by this whispering thread. 

It isn't a mood. It is a symptom that is as real and powerful as the physical pain itself. 


Hours are spent each night going through the same routine. Toss and turn trying to get comfortable, a few hours of light sleep before waking in unbearable pain. Then maybe if I try the lavender oil, or an extra dose of the magnesium, I'll get enough relief to fall asleep, but it usually doesn't work. My mind ticks through the list: Maybe I should get up and take a bath? A hot shower? Maybe if I wrap the ice pack around my neck and put the heating pad on my back? My heating pad is my constant bedtime companion. But each of these remedies bring only a moment of relief before the change in my body temperature causes a reaction similar to a menopausal hot flash accompanied by that rolling elevator of nausea rising and I am tearing the covers off and nearly crawling out of my skin while the room spins. 


When daylight finally comes it takes a while to drag myself out of bed. 

My daytime symptoms, along with the pain and fatigue, include hyper sensitivity to noise and light especially in the early hours. Things as benign as tap water or lipstick cause a blistering swollen rash inside my mouth - my body's response to the toxic load of going undiagnosed and untreated for so long. 

Hyper sensitivity to food and increasing allergies is also a common symptom of Lyme. 

My neck stiffens and has knots along each side, as it clicks and sounds as if bone is grinding on bone. A symptom that I was shocked to find out had anything to do with this illness, but each increase in my detox regimen brings a little more mobility, one tiny glimmer of hope that I am on the right track. 


My hands tremor, my insides often feel like I OD'd on caffeine. 

I can feel my brain shaking. 

My heart rate speeds and slows and slams and beats out of my chest. I haven't had acne this bad since I was a teenager. 

Cognitively, memory problems present themselves by way of forgetting my words, not being able to match names with faces, and getting lost on the way to the same grocery store on the same route I've taken a million times before. I look up and get that sense that I am lost and nothing around me looks familiar and I grow anxious as I drive looking for anything, anything that will spark my recognition. Thank God for cellphones with GPS. 


I could go on and on with this, but I am fairly certain you may not have stuck with me to read this far. I mean, come on, it's depressing! 

Many of these symptoms have plagued me for years, but now they are flaring to the nth degree and coming all at once. I don't know how long I will have to go through this, or if it will ever get better. I have the double whammy of finding that my body does not detox the Lyme or the mold or other toxins on its own, so treatment is going to be long and slow and painful. Someday I may share what happens when I take anything that kills the Lyme, but this is enough info for your reading pleasure right now. 


You might feel worse after reading all of this, and I am sorry for that, but somehow it made me feel better to write it all down. 

To purge just a little bit, the loneliness of the experience. The harrowing pain of it all. To know that someone else can read this and maybe get a tiny glimpse of understanding. I don't really look sick – unless you've noticed the bruises or the acne or the dark circles under my eyes. 

Or caught me with my head on the steering wheel as I give in to the knowledge that I am not going anywhere today.

It is hard. It is very much out of my control. And there is very little I can do about it. 

I am not too stubborn or proud. I don't want to be doing this on my own, but the support of a companion is not there. That's not an indictment, but it is a fact that I cannot change. So I either go through the sickness of detoxing on my own, or I go through the sickness of not detoxing- this illness is not going away.

Either I make the best of each day and try to find my light, or I don't. 

It is up to me and it isn't.

I am alone and yet I am surrounded and filled with the presence of God.

Each day shifts and each day stays the same and I move forward and release the toxic load. One pill, one symptom, one memory, one emotion, one day at a time. 

I don't tell you all of this to wallow in it. I had a completely different post in mind to write- something witty and uplifting and encouraging to be sure. But this is where I am today, and I know it is hard to read or hear or believe.

It can be tempting to look away in the face of other people's pain. We only have so much compassion to go around before we have to shut down. Some of us do it more quickly then others. But pain, in all forms, is universal, and we don't have to suffer it alone. 

I have been on the verge of giving up, even though I don't know what that looks like. But then I remember that I am really not alone. I have all of you. And I have faith – no, it isn't that I have faith, rather I know that faith has me. 

And it isn't that I have God, but I know that in spite of the whispering lies of the darkness, that God has me.

Thank God He has me.

Thank God He has me.

Thank you God that you have me. 



And I still have art. That's what I am celebrating today.


That I can still step into the studio on good days, and even most of the bad, and release all of it by way of these wordlessprayersThese scraps and these bits, and this pain, and all of the darkness and the light. It all comes together with a bit of paste and a song or two. 

My offering sent up to the heavens and returned in the form of tiny utterings of joy

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Long Slow Unraveling


It is an absolutely gorgeous Memorial Day weekend, traditional beginning of summer, throw open the windows, baseball on the radio, lawnmower humming, hamburgers on the grill kind of day, and these sunny skies with puffy clouds have brought a wistful sort of restlessness in my spirit. 

I've been contemplating sharing what's happening in my life, yet finding it impossible to form the words. Impossible really, to even wrap my head around it, let alone find words to tell you. 

I could gloss over the details and tell you how much I am learning through the events of this season, because I am. I am learning. So. Much. I want to rush through these lessons and get to the victorious end and report these things from the other side of it. Standing on the podium, diploma in hand. 

But I'm not there yet. I am in the messy middle.

I've turned a page in the textbook and suddenly I understand what the lessons are. Two + Two = Four but that root? Wait, what was that root number again? I sigh as my pencil begins to dull. Or maybe it's my thinking, as it were, because Lyme does affect the sharpness of my thinking. 

Chronic Lyme. There, I said it. I have just been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme. Those words have been rolling around in my head, stuck on my tongue, for the past few weeks. It explains so very much.

It is a relief really, to know the root cause of the myriad of illnesses and symptoms I've been suffering for so long; the bone weary exhaustion, the arthritic deep muscle and bone pain, the sleepless nights, fluy aches, the pops and fizzles and twitches and spasms in my muscles, anxiety and depression, the dull thinking and memory lapses and missing words. The crazy hyper sensitivities and so many more inexplicable debilitating symptoms.

But then again, it's kind of devastating.

Last week I told you about my awesome new studio, the permanent one in the same building where I had set up a temporary unit for a few weeks to participate in the Racine studio tour and teach my latest workshop. It's a fantastic space in a building that houses over 50 other artist studios. A community of artists like I have been dreaming of working in for several years. I am finally here and I know it is where I am supposed to be right now. But what I didn't tell you was the full of the why I chose to make that move so soon after moving into my huge studio loft apartment in Racine.

Mold. Unfathomably, I moved into another home that has some sort of issue with mold. And I became sick again. Really really sick. It was hard at first, to acknowledge it, because what the actual f#*k?? But the fact is, that I have not stayed inside the apartment for more than an hour or two since the beginning of April, when I finally had to acknowledge that my symptoms were mounting and the management was not going to fix it.

The doctor noted swollen lymph glands, red irritated respiratory track, sinusitis, hives, and it was hard to overlook the complete loss of my voice, but the suspicion of Lyme was what really threw me. What could this experience possibly have to do with that tick-borne disease?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Lyme disease gone undiagnosed for decades- misdiagnosed as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Thyroiditis, Tachardia Arythmias, and a host of other seemingly unrelated illnesses, wreaked havoc on my immune system, causing a hyper-sensitivity to issues like exposure to mold. Compound that with genetic markers, discovered through recent labs, that prove me to be among the 25% of the population whose bodies cannot clear the biotoxins created by mold exposure, lyme, and other toxins and you've got a formula for one very sick puppy. This exposure has left me slammed with a flare of debilitating symptoms I can't begin to describe. 

I have been at a complete loss of words over it, and so have avoided mentioning it at all. But it is hard to put on a happy face and not let on that I am in the midst of this crisis. It isn't unusual these days to get concerned email wondering why I haven't yet managed to fulfill some responsibility that I have committed to. All I can say is that it is hard. And I am genuinely sorry. And I am doing the best that I can to keep up. And so much has gone by the wayside.

Yesterday I moved out of the apartment and stored the bulk of my things in my new studio. My husband and I are still working through our issues, not yet ready to reconcile, and though I have a place to stay, I am without my own home until I can find a clean, safe place to move.

I have begun the first steps necessary to help my body clear the biotoxins that it is unable to release. It will be a very long and painful course to try to stabilize enough to even begin to look at treatments for Lyme, and after decades of this disease doing what it will in my body, there is no guarantee that I will get well. The only guarantee is that not addressing it will mean my health continues to decline.

Author and blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton described coming to terms with the chronic nature of her own battle with Lyme disease as a dreamlike picture of God knitting her life together in a sort of wild and beautiful swirly afghan. For myself, the opposite picture holds true, as I get impressions of a “long slow unraveling”.


Tear down this temple and I will rebuild it, Jesus said. He knew that the old systems had to be completely let go before the new could be established. I don't know whether I will be cured of Chronic Lyme disease, the doctor guarantees it wil get worse before I get better. But one thing I can say is this crisis is being used to challenge the old systems and belief patterns inside me. Each one being pulled away to free me. In a long slow unraveling.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The thing That Led Me To The Thing

"The man who removes a mountain, begins by carrying away small stones."
~Chinese Proverb


This year my poor blog has oft been neglected. I share news in other forums, my newsletter, facebook, instagram, but here I log in and it's nothing but crickets. So here, in an effort to keep you in the loop, dear blog followers, is the last newsletter news that went out in April. . . . (thus, the events noted may have already passed)


Studio Tour and News 

It's been one of those months - the kind that disappear without a trace, slipping away into the landscape of fond memories and unexpected turns. Home from my teaching trip to Seattle and vacation in Hawaii, I've made a big decision about my studio space and started to implement it.

When I moved up to Racine, I was looking for an affordable large space where I could easily connect with other artists. I found my warehouse loft apartment while doing a search for just such a space, and while these units were advertised as an artists community, I've been disappointed to find hardly any artists here. I did meet one woman in the elevator who heard rumor of an artist moving to her floor, but I think she was talking about me.

The city of Racine, on the other hand, has been a tremendous surprise for the good. There is a thriving community of artists living and working all over the city and I've found many opportunities to connect and get involved. I applied for the Racine Art Museum's Fellowship Grant and was thrilled to receive the nicest rejection letter telling me that my work had been strongly considered and encouraging me to add "finalist" to my resume. This past week I was one of the feature artists included in The Journal Times article about the upcoming "Get Behind the Arts" studio tour in both Racine and Kenosha.
Check out the article here to read all about this outstanding event.

And this brings me back to that big decision I was telling you about; while I was disappointed that the building I moved to did not contain the artists community I was looking for, it was the thing that led me to that thing. This move led me to connect with artists who are working in just the type of place I was looking for - the 16th Street Studios in Racine, where over 50 artists have studios. I weighed many factors in contemplating moving my studio again, but in the end I knew I needed to work in the same building as this thriving community sooner rather than later - so as of this Wednesday, I will be signing a lease and beginning the transition.

I will be setting up shop in a temporary space on the 4th floor - studio #4198 while I wait for my permanent space to be ready and you are all invited to come see why I love it so much during the Get Behind The Arts studio tour. Check out the article I linked above for details, or go to the event page on Facebook here. I hope you can make it!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Make Objects That Talk - Brush Making and The Art of the Mark

"Make objects that talk and then listen to what they have to say."
~Art and Fear


https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

With the holidays over, my energies are turning to welcoming you all into my new space. This studio is excellent for hosting workshops. I've set up the tables to allow everyone a seat with plenty of elbow room and we all get to gather as a creative community. No one left sitting in the back of the room or facing somebody's backside in this space. And the more the merrier - I've got two more tables to add to the mix without compromising on space or friendship connections.


The first class is shaping up to be one of my all time favorites. I have been playing with new designs for handmade brushes and tools and can't wait to share them with you in "Brushmaking and The Art of The Mark, with Collage.

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

Now because it is so fresh on the heels of the holidays, and because we are all still recovering our schedules and finances, this workshop has been set up as a one day class with an option second day.

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

The first day will focus on those brush and mark-making tool designs I was telling you about. Check out all the samples I've made for this class! Think of it as an assemblage class for mark-making tools. As a matter of fact, I am contemplating incorporating my new tools into my box assemblage samples that I'll be using in February's class

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

Think that sounds like fun? The second day of class only gets better - bring back the papers you made with those newly created tools on day 1, and I'll show you how to turn them into a beautiful collage. The morning will focus on learning the art and techniques of collage and the afternoon will be open studio format with the opportunity to have me at your side answering questions and using class supplies as you work.

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

I do hope that you will consider joining us. It may be cold outside, but making art keeps it cozy in the studio! Head on over to this link to find out more details and register for the class.

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

https://squareup.com/market/crystal-neubauer-artist/january-brushmaking-the-art-of-the-mark

Sunday, January 03, 2016

On Facing Your Fears and New Year's Resolutions

"Stepping Out"  mixed media collage by Crystal Neubauer



“Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway.” ~ John Wayne

A wise woman once told me that the way to get over a fear was to face the thing you were afraid of and realize you didn't die from it when you get to the other side.

As a sufferer of complex-PTSD I have a lot of practice with this. Wired from a childhood game of “watch the drunk man drive”, I lean hard toward the hyper-vigilant codependency, laced with a side of anxiety frame of mind.

Face the fear and do it anyway. Sage advice and very effective in getting things done. I've tried to live this mantra and have many accomplishments as a result of not letting fear limit me. But in the annual thinking of new goals for the year ritual, I've come to realize that this way of living, while allowing me a certain level of success, isn't really doing me any favors.

Instead of taking an ax to the root of the issue, I've been facing each fear like it's some sort of sumo wrestling match. I get into the ring with my fear, we stomp our feet at each other, noses flaring eyes bulging and start rolling around until one of us comes out on top. During times of high anxiety, it's more like a football game and I'm the only person on my team. I put on my helmet, clutch the ball, put my head down, and barrel my way through the line. Some days I score and others I am squashed under a heap unable to get up.

Always, always, fear has the power and I am the 90 pound weakling looking for a way to trick fear into looking the other way while I slip by unnoticed. Or to hell with it, just throw in the towel and retreat into myself and avoid life altogether.

Now before you get all judgey on me, or start writing me letters to cheer me up, I know I haven't corned the market on harboring fears. Fear is an insipid sneaky little devil that doesn't show up at your door announcing itself as fear, waiting for an invitation to come in. Much of what is wrong in our individual lives, communities and society stem from unacknowledged fear.

Fear is a loner. It travels at night, sneaks into your dreams and convinces you it is real.

Fear doesn't trust you to find your own way. It weaves itself in and out of your thoughts through familiar voices. It can disguise itself as the concerned advice of a friend.

Or convinces you that you are just being a friend when you dole out your own brand of unsolicited advice and try to fix other peoples lives.

Fear is a master of disguise.

Fear is a manipulator. It leaves books laying on the coffee table and articles pinned to its wall hoping you'll read about your problem so you'll come back to your senses.

Fear tells you your boundaries are unreasonable and your decisions are unsound. Fear says you took the easy way out. It cries for you in front of others and makes you question your own sanity.

Fear says you got what you deserved.

Fear makes you doubt which way is up and which way is down. No way does fear want you to know that you know.

Fear is more concerned about warning you than hearing you.

Fear tells you you are different. And it has already taught you different is bad.

Fear thinks you dress funny and pretends to be amused while warning you that leggings aren't pants, and lifting that eyebrow that says “you are going to change, aren't you?!” Because fear doesn't want you to express yourself. Or have any fun.

Fear doesn't want you to look different. Fear wants you to be suspicious of people who look different.

Fear subtly corrects you when you speak. Fear keeps you quiet when you have an idea because you might not say it right. Fear laughs at your grammar.

Fear tells you that you are too sensitive when you call it on its behavior. Because fear does not know how to apologize.

Fear is afraid you can take advantage of Grace. Fear thinks if you're given an inch of grace you will just go crazy and take an entire mile. Fear doesn't understand that Grace knows exactly how much you need and will even go the extra mile for you. Fear doesn't trust Grace.

Fear doesn't want you to eat the chocolate.

Sometimes fear tells you to hurry up and eat all the chocolate.

Fear doesn't think there is enough for everyone. Fear has a scarcity mentality.

Fear uses its own experiences to measure you. And wants you to use your experiences to measure others.

Fear tricks you into believing you don't measure others.

Fear believes absolute truth justifies black and white thinking. There is no gray area with fear, let alone room for all the amazing colors of the rainbow. Fear says if you are right then it has to be wrong.

And fear is never wrong.

Fear disguises itself with the American flag, has an Alma mater, and is fiercely loyal to the team even when someone else has been wronged.

Fear stops you from taking real action that can make a real difference because fear is comfortable and doesn't take risks. Fear numbs out in front of the TV.

Fear won't balance the checkbook. Fear doesn't want to learn.

Fear won't look at itself and doesn't want you to look at it either. Fear is afraid of your emotions. Especially the negative ones.

Fear doesn't want to sit with you through it. Fear only wants to tell you what you should do.

Fear tells you not to talk about it. And for heaven's sake don't write it on your blog! Fear tells you that talking about it is a weakness and a downer and not productive.

Fear says you just want to stay stuck in the past when you should be forgetting it. Fear says that means you harbor unforgiveness and have a victim mentality.

Fear disguises being afraid of others, of the world, and even yourself, as values. Fear convinces you that things cannot change. That they will only get worse. That you cannot make a difference. That you need to protect yourself with weapons, build really big walls and put bullies in charge.

Fear wants you to stay with the bullies. Fear is a bully.

Fear tells you that bullies can't change. Fear says you shouldn't expect them to.

When you really stop to face your fear, you find that it is often nothing more then Donald Trump in a fat suit. A blowhard with really bad acne and greasy hair growing more powerful and full of itself every time you listen to its hateful rhetoric.

Fear wants you to believe it has all the power. Fear will convince you that you have none.

Fear will twist your words about power and say you don't trust God, because you should cherish your weakness and let Him be strong.

2015 was a year that opened my eyes to just how much I fear. It came in large and shame inducing ways, it whispered its subtle lies in the middle of the night, and it pointed its finger from across the street. I've wrestled with it, I've run from it, shrunk from it, numbed out, checked out, and faced it head on and done the things I needed to do anyway.

White knuckles on the wheel all the way baby!

I have viewed fear as the opposition and me as the weaker party. But is that really true?

What if fear is here to teach me? Maybe fear really needs me to listen to it. Maybe fear keeps flaring up because it is afraid.

What if, instead of putting my head down and barreling my way through my fears, I take them all out and hold them in my hands and have a good long look at them? What if I put my arms around my fears and hold them tenderly and tell them it is all going to be okay?

I don't want to live an undivided life anymore. Putting on a brave face for all the world to see, all the while fighting this bloody battle to the death behind the scenes. I don't want to hide myself from fear, or from you, or from myself anymore.

I am not naive enough to think that this revelation will make it all disappear overnight, but I think there is something to this kinder gentler way of dealing with my fear. Of remembering my own power and looking at fear with curious eyes rather then fighting it back with more fear. And so this is my new year's resolution: I will own every part of me. It all matters and is all valuable to the whole of who I am. I will allow myself to face fear with the same love I would offer a friend. I will hear it out and answer it with reassurance and a hug.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect this is what I have been missing in this formula on courage and fear; Facing my fear, yes, but facing it with love. And facing myself in the same way.