I want to help bring balance to people’s lives through art. Simply put, I want my artistic expression to be a reminder to seek out genuine human connection and true closeness to nature (and the divine) while focusing on the present moment. As I write, I realize I want to explain more about why I have this goal, not only for my art but for my life.
I want to be part of a movement to wake people up from the zombie-like state that technology can trap us in. We are near people every day without connecting to them. We reach more people than ever before in history through technology, sometimes without a single thought of making a positive interaction. We tend to over-correct in response to this over-stimulated, over-busy, over-stressed society we live in by shutting out true connections and replacing them with artificial ones. We walk into people on the street absentmindedly, or crash our cars into other cars because we are too busy “connecting” to people through our smart phones.
Technological development has paved the way for invention, innovation and improvement in almost every aspect of our modern lives, yet this constant hum of synthetic reality has become a replacement for genuine human connection.
We are in close proximity 24/7 to other humans around the globe, mostly through artificial devices: smart phones, computers, automobiles, head phones, televisions, Apple Watches, iPads, gaming consoles, video surveillance, virtual reality, and many more. Technology is swirling around us all the time through apps, social media, websites, email, radio, texts, pod casts, news casts, movies, gaming, programming, and the list goes on and on. We can stand feet or even inches away from people without acknowledging them. We can sit with loved ones to share a meal without even talking to them, looking down at the technology in front of us instead. I see each of these advancements as a possible brick in a larger wall of isolation around our souls if we aren't careful to find balance. The way technology fosters multi-tasking and hyper productivity in our daily life is also a major cause of stress, overwhelming us with a sense of being too busy for honest, heart-felt connection to one another.
We, as the human race, have morphed into human doings, not human beings. I find it interesting that the Oxford dictionary definition of human being is this: “a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.” Think about this for a moment. Has our superior mental development (as it relates to our constant use of technology) hindered our power to articulate speech with our actual vocal cords? Has it even cut into our ability and opportunity for upright stance on a regular basis? Has our artificial, constant closeness to people mindlessly changed our ability to really “plug in” to a human connection on a soulful and healthy level?
Has technology changed how we human? (Yes, I’m changing “human” to a verb for a second.) Human connection isn’t just about those closest to us. It doesn’t stop at our family and friends or our co-workers and classmates – those souls that we have put more effort into, or those people that we have just spent more time around. Human connection to me also happens as we walk on the sidewalk, as we drive down the road, as we take up space in a room of a building, as we stand on our earth, under the sun or moon, and of course as we use our various technological devices. But, we have literally thousands of opportunities for human connection every single day to the people that are right next to us, physically not just virtually.
I’ve been selling my artwork at art shows and festivals for nine years, and I’ve had conversations with literally tens of thousands of people. For the last two years of my journey, I changed my focus when I’m at a show meeting new people. I very purposely set a new intention for that part of my life, which ends up being over 50 full days a year. I actively talk to strangers that end up walking out as friends. I didn’t want my focus to be solely on selling my art (to make a living) but my purpose shifted to really, genuinely connect with people in the here and now. I want to hear their stories of connection to the land and nature, and also to each other. I want to listen to their memories that my paintings may bring to the surface. Over the last two years especially, I’ve paid attention. I see the human spirit in beautiful new and surprising ways. I see people struggle with the same things I struggle with, while at the same time seeing how unique and special and different they all are. My empathy and compassion has increased, and my judgement has slowed. I want to learn from others, even if we only cross paths for a few moments in this lifetime. I can’t tell you how much this has changed by artwork, and my perspective on life. I was scared to be that present, to make it my goal to really connect because I really thought it would be draining at first. I’ve been blown away by how much this focus has filled me up, in direct contrast to my fears. I literally find myself some days trying to figure out why other artists are starting tear down so early, only to discover that the day has flown by because it was filled with so many great conversations. That said, I screw up this goal all. the. time. I forget to focus on my intention to connect. I get tired and hot, or worried about that big dark cloud, or the fact that I have to use the restroom and I don’t know how to sneak away for a second to take care of me. I get annoyed at thoughtless comments by others. I forget to turn off my inner monologue to focus on listening to the person in front of me. I can give so much to new people during the day, that I may forget to give that same attention and 10 times more to my own family and friends. But, I know I’m making progress. I know I can turn that mindful, present-moment focus on quicker and more often when I practice it regularly. I know there’s always room for improvement.
I know that my life is richer and more colorful and inspired and full, not because of the technology that makes my life easier, but by the human beings that cross my path each day and their openness to connect to me, especially if they see the door is open. This is what I want people to take home with them in my artwork too: Genuine human connection and true closeness to nature (and the divine) while focusing on the present moment.
I share this long manifesto with you today because I’ve also made it a goal of mine to define my mission as an artist (as it turns out) on virtual paper, not just in my head alone. I hope this is the beginning of many new experiences I can open myself up to as a business owner, dreamer, artist, and of course, human being.
1) The Markers are used on Non Porous Surfaces only (So it’s best to test in a small area). Like - Chalkboards, Whiteboards, Glass, Plastic, and Windows.
The reason being that Porous surfaces have small holes that can absorb the liquid chalk ink and sometimes it gets difficult to completely erase them.
The markers can be used on Chalkboard paint but many customers have found it difficult to erase them as paint usually makes the surface porous and absorbs chalk ink. In case they do not erase - you can either repaint your chalkboard or use magic eraser.
2) Chalk markers as a medium have high density Chalk Ink, due to which new markers take 2 to 3 mins prep time – Once used the ink flows smoothly.
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Looking for Help: I've recently found out that someone is actively selling paper prints and reproductions of my EXACT artwork without permission, or compensation to me as the artist. They have been selling in the Colorado Springs area in April, and may be in more retail locations and shows. I'm asking for help my friends. If you see a store or booth location with my artwork out there (and I'm not there, or they aren't on my current list of locations: https://www.thebungalowcraft.com/shows--locations.html) will you please grab the sellers information and post a picture of them and my art for me here? It would mean the world to me. Thank you deeply for your help in catching an active thief. Just post a pic and tell me when and where you saw my work and I'd be happy to verify that it's legit. Much love and gratitude...
Brian and I took our kids (Abby & Brady) out of school for two weeks earlier this month and we went on an amazing Alps tour, through Switzerland, Austria, and Southern Germany. Bavarian food and customs were all around us as we explored the mighty Alps. I love feeling small when nature can feel so enormous and encompassing. This road-trip style European vacation included castles and hikes, churches and museums, lake cruises and mountain cable cars, salt mines and Hapsburg Palaces, bustling city streets and quaint, quite walkways in towns that time forgot.
Oh, and cows. Yes, more cow bell is a real thing in Switzerland. This was a trip of a lifetime, and my family is beyond amazing. We have always been a very close family, but this trip pulled us that much tighter together. We did drive around one round about three times, and the roads are so narrow in places that we somehow ended up on a sidewalk once. Oh, and there was that incident with the castle playground in Innsbruck that caught Abby's pants in just the right way to rip a huge hole in her bottom! I'll remember Brady flying through the air at Nordekette, and Abby joining a Mozart opera and quintet on stage forever. Memories for a lifetime, and probably a few paintings will be coming out of this inspiration too.
Did you know our Rocky Mountains are 77 million years older than the Alps? Imagine what they must have looked like before erosion in their prime... I'm blown away by this planet of ours...
As I settle back into my daily life, I'm reminded just how much I love and cherish what I do. It's not work for me at all. I missed my career that was at home waiting for me as soon as we got on the plane for home. This is proof that I've found the meaning in my life. Carpe Diem.
My daughter Abby in Grindelwald, Switzerland
Leidel's in Laterbrunnen, Switzerland
360 Degree Views from the top of Shilthorn
Bird's Eye Views form Bern's Gothic Cathedral
Ceramic work by Freidrich Ernst Frank (1862-1920) on display at Schloss Thun in Thun, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland
Lake Lucerne (and my future home one day...)
Fall Colors Over Lucerne, Switzerland
Hapsburg Palace in Innsbruck, Austria
Brady in meat heaven.
Austrian Alps from Innsbruck
Nordkette, the top of the Austrian Alps
Gothic Glory at Schloss Tratzberg (My favorite castle!)
Movie spots from the Sound Of Music in Salzburg
Hallstatt, Austria. So breathtakingly beautiful that the Chinese built an exact replica of this town!
My daughter swooped up into a Mozart Opera in Salzburg, Austria
I've recently been commissioned by the Civic Center Conservancy to create a painting to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Greek Theater and Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver. On this journey, I've found and fallen in love with the artwork of Allen Tupper True (1881-1955.) and I wanted to share some of his amazing story here.
He was born in Colorado Springs, and spent a great deal of his life here in Colorado. He grew up living at a time where the west was still a beautiful combination of early settlers, Native Americans, frontiersman, trappers, and prospectors. His goal was to always tell the true story of his American West: the hardships, virtues, spirituality, work ethic, and daily life of all the people living here at the turn of the century.
Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
The Happy Hunting Ground Mural for the Colorado National Bank photo collaged with Allen at work on this mural in the 1920s. This mural is the last in this series and has followed an American Indian Chief through his entire life. Sitting on his burial platform, ready to transition to the afterlife, you see him look back over his life through visions and spirits in the sky. Five blue herons help guide him onto his final journey. Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
Mountain Telephone Construction is in the outer lobby of the 14th Street entrance to the current Qwest building downtown Denver. Photo Credit: Victoria Tupper Kirby in her book Allen Tupper True: An American Artist
"Civic Center Park" 20" x 24" gouache on illustration board by Julie Leidel
Allen Tupper True studied at The University of Denver for a year, and then went out east to Delaware to study under Howard Pyle as a book and magazine illustrator from 1902 to 1907. He was drawn overseas to study art in London in 1908 and apprenticed with muralist Frank Brangwyn. Here he learned how to tell a powerful story through his mural work. He became a master of mural painting, and received many public mural contracts all over the American West. His first mural was sold to Anne Evans (daughter of Governor Evans) in 1912. He partnered with Brangwyn on the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco 1913-1915, and was commissioned for an astounding amount of murals (many not listed here but a few of note) for the Denver Public Library 1912-17, Wyoming State Capitol 1917, Denver Civic Center Park 1920, Colorado National Bank 1921-25, Missouri State Capitol 1922-1925, Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company 1927-29, restoration to the Central City Oprah House and Teller House 1931-34, Colorado State Capitol 1934-40, The Brown Palace 1937, University of Denver 1946, Denver's City and County building 1950, and his last mural for the CU Students Union building in 1953-55 where he suffered from a stroke while working.
He was hired by the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation from 1934-42 to design color schemes and decorative floor designs for several dams and power houses including the Hoover dam. True was commissioned in 1935 to design the bucking bronco for the Wyoming license plate that is still used today. He also had many exhibits of his paintings nationally throughout his career, including a solo exhibition at the Denver Art Museum in 1947.
True had been allergic to turpentine for most of his life, which caused painful skin conditions and later caused him to work with egg tempura rather than oil paint, which was his first love. Many of his murals have been lost to time sadly, but some of the best examples of his mural work in Colorado can still be found at The Renaissance Hotel (in the historic Colorado National Bank Building) at 17th & Champa, and the Qwest Building (formerly the Mountain States Telephone company) at 14th & Curtis as well as the Brown Palace and the Colorado State Capitol.
As I work on my commission painting for Civic Center Park here in 2018, I'm reminded that each building in this painting (The Greek Theater, The Denver Public Library, and the Denver Art Museum) now house some of Allen Tupper True's work today. I wanted to honor True's lifetime of murals by paying homage to him through using what I call the "True Light" - his color palette through much of his collective body of work. His choice of color is extraordinary, bringing bold colors forward, mixing with the pastel coloring of the background. His illustrative painting method is also an inspiration to me as an artist.
Some dear artist-friends of mine at the Golden Fine Arts Festival this past weekend said "Congrats on your artwork win!" I had no idea what they were talking about. :) They brought me the May issue of the national magazine Sunshine Artist, and what do you know? A big thank you to Liz King with the Cheesman Park Art Festival for entering our poster from last year!
Here's my trick to take a gallery-wrapped art canvas down to a thickness you can easily frame on your own. The reason I do this is simple. My printer does a STELLAR job in professionally adhering the art canvas to the inside backer board. No mat or glass is needed to bring this art canvas to life in a standard frame. I tried ordering rolled canvas prints, and I couldn't get them to lay flat to save my life it seemed. Then, I realized that this part is already done for me, I just need to make it flat for most frames.
I open up the back, pull off the black backer board (usually in many chunks) and then take out the foam core center. I then gently open up the artwork like a present to lay all the edges flat. If you have box cutters and a cutting mat, then you have everything you need to make that art canvas lie flat for framing without a mat. As you open up the back, you’ll see the beveled edge on the inside that makes the corners so nice and flat when it's folded up. No ruler needed, you just run your knife along that inside beveled edge and it cuts perfectly to size.
Make my art, YOUR art by customizing it to get the designer look you want!
I've had some questions about my raven and the meaning. There's a lot tucked into this one. The messy tail feathers are very much on purpose.
In my raven, there's an Art Nouveau feel of course, so there are some curves thrown in, but most importantly, this raven is a truth seeker. Especially when it's hard and can be unbelievably brave to tell the truth. This raven and the motto were inspired initially by the "silence breakers" of 2017 and beyond. It's quite literally meant to ruffle tail feathers. The truth isn't always easy, and it's not always attainable for many. Odin (from Norse Mythology) had two truth-seeking ravens fly the world and report back to him. They were named Thought (Huginn) and Memory (Muninn.)
In each voyage for every individual, I believe that if we strive to speak truth, happiness is close at hand. Speak truth not only in the present to those around us but, even more importantly, to ourselves. The narrative we end up believing about our inner self through our thoughts and our memories needs to be checked or even reevaluated from time to time. Are we holding up truth even then? Are we honoring our truth by not tearing ourselves down with our inner monologue? Are we glossing over something we really should feel remorse for and make it right? Are we being fair, loving, and truthful to the one inside? Be honest... The voyage of self discovery is the longest journey we'll encounter in our lifetime.
Please join The Colorado Arts and Crafts Society on Saturday, January 20, 2018 for our annual Winter Symposium at the Boettcher Mansion. We are delighted to bring CJ Hurley Century Arts to Colorado as our featured speakers this year. Roycroft Master Artisan CJ Hurley and Barbara Pierce are a dynamic design team from Oil City, PA (formerly from Portland, OR) specializing in historic homes. This is a special year where, in addition to our CACS Symposium, we also have CJ & Barbara for an extended stay (with more activities happening on Sunday, Jan. 21st at Modern Bungalow in Denver, and Monday, Jan. 22nd potentially happening in your very own home). Keep reading this issue of The Arts & Crafts Messenger to see the full line-up of events. (See attached 2017_Dec.pdf file below.)
We’ll begin the Symposium from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. with a professional color workshop by Barbara Pierce. The evening program will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour where beer, wine and light appetizers will be served. Our annual business meeting, catered buffet, and presentation will be underway shortly thereafter. CJ Hurley will be our keynote speaker and his presentation entitled Artistic Couples of the Arts & Crafts Movement: Frances MacDonald & Herbert McNair and Carl & Karin Larsson will begin around 6:30 p.m. in the Mansion’s Fireside Room.
Admission is $40 for members ($50 for guests) and will include a catered dinner brought to us by The Pines at Genesee. RSVP to Cynthia Shaw at 720-497-7632 by January 16th. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring friends or family to learn more about the Arts & Crafts Movement, and sign up for a color consultation for their bungalow or historic home.