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Thursday, August 7, 2014

We can only give what we have, right?  If you give a lot, you must have a lot.  The Art of Contribution is also about the Law of Reciprocity.  What we do in service to others is returned to us often times ten fold.  So the next time you think you are doing someone a favor, you are really activating a favor sequence that is supervised by the Universe.  What we do in service to others is really done in service to ourselves...

These days my art life is all about contribution.  As the campaign manager for two time national best selling author, Debrena Jackson Gandy's The Love Lies National Book Tour on Indiegogo, my thoughts, emotions, beliefs, etc., are all focused on contribution.  

This will be Debrena's third book!  For those of you who don't know, Debrena is my friend, client and mentor all in one!  We have a multi-layered relationship that is just magical!  She even included me in the "Acknowledgements."  You know I cried when I saw my name.  It was totally unexpected.  Here's a little about The Love Lies:  

What is the BIG LOVE LIE that has ruined lives, destroyed families, wrecked homes, broken hearts and even resulted in homicides? In Debrena Jackson Gandy's new book, The Love Lies, with foreword by Actress Kim Coles, she reveals this BIG FAT LOVE RELATIONSHIPS LIE along with nine others that have wreaked havoc in our love relationships and marriages.
 This message in The Love Lies is so important and so transformational that it must be shared.  IT'S THAT REVOLUTIONARY. It's been 15 years since her last best-selling book and folks all around the country are waiting with baited breath for her new book and national book tour.     Over the past three years, Debrena has been sharing these mind blowing teachings and principles in her Love Academy intensives and Men-tality Seminars (for men only) around the country – teachings that are challenging our relationship status quo and upsetting our current, flawed relationships “apple cart.
So far, the two live fundraising events we have hosted have exceeded our funding goal by 100% or more!  This would not be the case if we had never contributed to others in the past in various capacities, situations and opportunities.  

With only hours left of the online campaign, you still have time to practice The Art of Contribution by GIVING HERE.  The book is set to be released on September 15th but you can pre-order your copy using the link below.  

hat's your definition of FLAWLESS? Beyonce, has hers but what's yours?  The first step in realizing the art of being flawless as an artist is self definition.  You define for yourself who you are as an artist before anyone else has a chance to convince you otherwise.  

Mixed media African textile mosaic collage Afro figures

An exercise in self definition

It's not hard to find a starting part.  A simple Google search produced the following definition:

adjectivewithout any blemishes or imperfections; perfect.
"her brown flawless skin"
 without any mistakes or shortcomings. 
"he greeted her in almost flawless English"
My journey started as an undergrad.  Before I even sat down to apply to law school, my professor asked me what I would do/be if I didn't get in.  This was not simply a question about a plan b.  It was an exercise in self definition.  Without hesitation, I told her I would be an artist.  Now mind you, I hadn't taken not one single art class in college but I knew the art piece was in me.  

I am so thankful she asked me that simple yet profound question.  It was like a touch point firmly embedded in my memory bank for a time when solely practicing law would not be enough.  A time that arrived sooner than I thought it would.  

LET THE RECORD REFLECT, before an LSAT score, a law school letter, a legal job offer, and a bar exam had the chance to define and design the contents, scope and limits of what I could see possible for me, I DID.  It's a good thing too because that rejection letter from Harvard Law, as gracious as it was, hurt just a little bit (sniff, sniff).  

Being flawless as an artist is not about being conceited, arrogant or possessing a ridiculous sense of entitlement.  It is about looking at the art you create as worthy simply because YOU created it.  

Please don't get it twisted.  This knowledge does not take away from any notion of humbleness or grace and is NOT mutually exclusive.  You can be flawless, know you are flawless and still be humble all at the same time.  It took me some time before I truly got this down.  

Part of this awakening of sorts started back in 2012, when I wrote a piece on The Art of Greatness.  Ever since then, I have been coming into this knowledge of self more and more.  Another part of this awakening involves identifying as both an artist AND an attorney and not splitting the two.  Most would think they are complete opposites and cannot work.  I make it work everyday.  It is who I am.  I am both.  I guess you can say I am legally creative (whomp, whomp).  Or you could say I'm corny.  Either way, I'm flawless.  Ha!  

A case of identity theft

In speaking with "emerging" artists about submitting their work to MODUS DOPERANDI: THE VIRTUAL EXHIBITION, (a call for art where only dope artists need apply), I discovered that there was this hesitation to identify as a dope artist.  Even when the artist was the sole authority on their level of dopeness.  

I was starting to get nervous for a minute and thought that perhaps, I had made too bold of a request.  I was trippin' you guys.  I did find three dope artists who were unapologetic about their dopeness and was so thrilled.  Their work (including some of mine) is currently featured in the exhibition.  You can check it out at Gallery 31.  

But as for some of the other artists, I realized that this was deeper than an issue of confidence.  The artists that I spoke with had confidence.  I mean we were talking at the opening night of an exhibition where they all had their work prominently displayed and a large group of people came just to see their art.  So, I don't think confidence was an issue.  It was more like an issue of identity.  Not knowing you are inherently flawless as an artist is like having your identity stolen.  The question is, who are you allowing to defraud you out of your own identity??

If we are not careful and if we fail to do the inner work of self love as an artist, we can easily fall prey to the critics, comparison, rejection, doubters, naysayers, parade pissers and bubble busters.  

If you have let any of the above hi-jack your highest artsy self, then it is time to take back your identity and firmly plant it in the garden of flawlessness.  Remember, when Dororthy fell asleep in the field of poppies in The Wizard of Oz?  When she woke up, she was confused.  I am not even sure if she knew who or where she was in that moment.     

Apparently, Beyonce does not have that problem.  Bless Beyonce, for telling the whole world that "[She] woke up like this.  [She] woke up like this.  Flawless."  Breath stankin', hair all over the place, no makeup, no lashes, crust occupying all of her eye corners and she still knows she's flawless.  That is awesome.  

Can you imagine?  You're in an interview about your latest art series and the interviewer is asking you about your creative process and you tell them that your art just woke up like this.  It woke up like this.  Flawless.  

"Gawt damn. Gawt damn."-Yonce

If you are flawless, share this post with other flawless ones.  What does/did/will your exercise in self definition look like?  How do you maintain your beliefs in an art world that runs on reviews and constant critiques?  Share your flawless thoughts in the comments.  Oh, and be sure to visit our flawless virtual exhibition at Gallery 31.  


Monday, August 4, 2014

ove. It's just so splendid. When you love yourself and then out of that self love you decide to love's like magic. You get that feeling of unstoppable-ness. You just float around life on cotton candy flavored clouds. Weightless. Limitless. FREE. Wouldn't you agree?

Every year and probably every day, countless love struck couples come armed with their own decorated lock or purchase a lock from the street vendor conveniently set up right in the middle of the bridge, to add their lock of love on Paris' Pont des Arts. A bridge littered with what seemed like literally thousands of locks.  I found the concept to be quite interesting. 
Pont des Arts Love Lock Bridge in Paris, France Overlooking the Seine River.

Are we saying that love can be so elusive that we actually feel the need to lock it down? Our language surely reflects this concept when relationship ultimatums are given or the question is asked, 
So when do you plan to lock things down?  

And isn't interesting that it's not the presence of love that is heavy but rather our perceived absence of it?  If you've ever been heartbroken, you know that what I mean.  

One spot on the bridge became so burdened with this universal love that a whole panel of the bridge collapsed and was replaced by a wooden board.  The wooden board then became fair game for those seeking to tag their love a la graffiti style, only requiring a Sharpee.
I suppose the old adage applies here.  When in Rome Paris do as the Romans Parisians do...only I am not so sure how many of those love locks belong to locals.  In any case, I decided to participate in this love ritual of sorts but with the following understanding:

  • The lock I used was actually one that was purchased before a trip to Panama and carried a lot of great memories.  No need to spend an obscene amount of Euros on a dollar store lock.
  • It was a simple lock to reflect the simplicity and ease of the love I experience daily.
  • Adding the lock to the bridge was not about locking up love but rather anchoring it temporarily until such a time in the future when I could return to it and reflect on any changes like if my capacity to give and receive love increased any, since the last visit.  
With all of these understandings in place, I was ready to lock the lock on the bridge and throw away the key.

A closer view of the locks on Pont des Arts Love Lock Bridge in Paris, France.

I chose a spot on the Pont des Arts that had much more room for love.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

reetings from Paris! In 31at31's Podcast from Paris, my mama, lil' sister and I share some of our first impressions of Paris, France together all while lounging comfortably in our hotel beds.  From french fries to somebody's French boo, you'll hear all about it.  
Eiffel Tower lit up at on a beautiful Parisian Night

Even though I have been to Paris before, I am experiencing a whole new adventure with an arts related focus.  This truly is, The Art of All Things French, with our crusty baguettes, silky smooth cappuccinos, crispy french fries, decadent desserts, limited French language capabilities, and constant camera poses in an attempt to forever capture the moment.

Keep up with the rest of the tour by catching up on previous posts.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

o one should be pissed while on vacay...especially not in a beautiful place like Paris BUT that is EXACTLY what happened. I am proud of how I handled the situation though. It all started at breakfast...

Eating in Paris, of course is fine dining however, things were not so fine this morning. It was really my fault. I had been spoiled really, up until now. Despite my numerous attempts, my accent gave me away and servers usually just spoke in English to me. I did try though! That counts. 

This morning at breakfast though, our server did NOT speak English and I did NOT speak enough French to even order the basic necessity of food. IT WAS SO FRUSTRATING. I totally get how someone from another country that speaks another language must feel like in America. I settled for something I did not want to eat. You know that is NOT my style but I gave up. I felt disempowered and just so unsatisfied.

As trivial as this sounds, it really disturbed my spirit. I couldn't go out like a sucka though. I just couldn't. I resolved in that moment that the next meal I ordered, I would only order in FRENCH even if the server had mercy and replied in English. While mama and my lil' sister enjoyed their French breakfast, I studied my French phrase book.

The other night we found a juice bar right around the corner from our hotel.  So after my family ate we walked over to Bob's Juice Bar.  I memorized my phrases on how to order something.  I proudly ordered my green smoothie in French.  

"Donnez moi s'il vous plait un green smoothie."

Yes!  Redemption!  Results!  The funny thing is I asked my lil' sister (who took some French in high school) how to ask about the ingredients used.  The server spoke English and may have even been American as her accent sounded a little midwestern...she answered back in English.  We all had a good laugh.  Every sip tasted like TRIUMPH and it was delicious.

It's okay to get pissed every once in a while.  You do however remain in a powerless place when you let this emotion take completely over and ruin your whole day or trip.  

So, take a deep breath, find your peace and completely conquer your circumstance.  

Have you ever been frustrated in another country due to a language barrier?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it.    

Keep up with the rest of the BONJOUR BLOG TOUR.  Check out these other posts on Paris:

31AT31 BONJOUR BLOG TOUR: Podcast from Paris 

31AT31 BONJOUR BLOG TOUR: The Art of All Things French

Monday, July 21, 2014

light 31AT31, now boarding for Paris, France.  That's right!  It is time to take 31AT31 on another blog tour.  Last time, it was the Southern Hospitality Tour in various cities in South Carolina and Georgia.  Now we shall explore THE ART OF ALL THINGS FRENCH from the food, museums, galleries, monuments, the people, music and the fashion.  Now, of course this is all pending an adequate internet connection.  I am told the hotel has wifi in both the room and the lobby.  So let's keep our fingers crossed.  

The list of all the places I would like to visit on this second time to Paris is super long and has a serious arts focus.  My first time in Paris, I was only concerned about receiving my first passport stamp and having one (albeit very limited) conversation with a native French speaker.  It was with the cab driver and I asked him how much? as that was the phrase I had spent the most time practicing in between studying for law school finals.  The only problem was, I didn't study possible responses so I just stared at him with a goofy smile on my face when he told me the price back in French.  It is a memory, my aunt still cracks up about. Ha!  

He spoke English, of course.  I only say of course because one of our tour guides spoke 5 different languages because there were 5 different language speakers on the tour.  I am pretty sure had there been one more language added to the mix, he would have spoken that language too.  

This time to Paris will be different.  I didn't have time to practice any phrases so I will be that annoying American flipping through my phrase book.  Oh well!  I get an A for effort.  

A good artist friend of mine, encouraged me to make little art pieces to leave behind wherever I go.  I totally dig that idea so I will do just that if time permits.  I am a last minute packer but in my defense, I travel so much, I can pack my stuff in 2.3 seconds.

What to expect from the BONJOUR BLOG TOUR

 You can expect to live vicariously through me with pictures and perhaps even some video!  I don't even know what to expect so expect adventure and surprises along the way.  I am hoping to discover several things starting with THE ART OF ALL THINGS FRENCH...

Any art related sights you recommend?  I have a long list but would love to hear your suggestions.  Share your suggestions in the comments.  If you have a friend who would like to virtually explore Paris with me, share this post with them.  Bonjour!

Greetings: Podcast from Paris

The Art of Being Pissed in Paris
Love on Lockdown at the Pont des Arts (the lock bridge) 

Friday, July 18, 2014

African fabric is my kryptonite and a natural girl's best friend. I simply cannot get enough of it. It was featured in our island wedding in Jamaica, it is a fashion staple in my wardrobe, often wraps up my long flowing locs in love, and now it is featured in my art. The traditional textiles take me back to a time that only my ancestral D.N.A. knows the truth about.

Now, I am a proud honorary member of the "Cotton Club."  You know, those of us who frequently wrap our hair up in bright, vibrant pieces of fabric, (bamboo least two pair, haha) and run amok all over town.  Man, when I know I did a good wrap and hair combo where some of my hair is styled to compliment the wrap...YOU.  CAN'T.  TELL.  ME.  NATHAN. (Yes, I said Nathan.)  Rocking African fabrics just brings out my swag and yes I be feelin' myself to death, hunty.  When I see other members of the Cotton Club or anyone from Team Natural, there is always a nod of respect and sly smile exchanged as if to say, "I see you.  I mean, really see you and you're beautiful."

Stamp Making Kit and African Fabric for African American Greeting Cards

It was a few weeks ago when I started playing with the idea of turning African fabrics into natural hairstyles.  It started with two mixed media collage pieces I call Afro Jazz.  Then I started using that phrase as an actual verb: Afro Jazzing.  This is what I call my art that incorporates African fabrics into natural hairstyles from afros to fro hawks.  

When I look at the curves, patterns and designs on the fabric, they resemble natural hairstyles to me.  I can usually just cut around the shapes on the fabric to make into a hairstyle.  When the patterns are more geometric and box-like, I simply cut circles or angular shapes.  To give the appearance of texture, I make sure my cuts overlap more than one pattern.  Circular shapes represent afros and afro puffs while, thin strips are made to resemble flat twists.  Here are 4 brand new handmade greetings cards I will start producing that feature the Afro Jazz technique:

African American Greeting Cards Featuring African Fabrics from Nigeria
Afro Jazz Handmade Greeting Cards (5x7 and blank inside for your personal message) with envelops come in a 4 pack for $13 (plus tax +shipping).  Order yours today!

The process involves a lot of patience, can be quite messy and requires some good music playing in the background.  For these greetings cards, I even made the stamp of the side profile woman figure with a Speedball Speedy Carve Stamp Making Kit.  Even the side profile is representative of a natural hairstyle.  Here, I wanted the face to have a design that resembled cornrows.

I actually love making stamps now!  I plan to make a few more designer stamps with the Speedy-Carve Carving Block.  It sort of looks like a giant flat pink eraser and is sturdy and easy to work with. 

Have you tried working with anything new this week?  Would you like more information on how to join the Cotton Club?  Just playing BUT there are secret meetings taking place at all times of the day, all over the world and rumor has will be coming to a corporate boardroom near you.    


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