July, 2019 I finally attended my first Urban Sketchers Symposium, this year held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands –and it was amazing! The only downside was that there was a historic heatwave throughout all of Europe, and made it quite challenging to endure the long days spent sketching out in the streets. I stayed in an adorable attic apartment, but it was sweltering as well, so it was a crazy-hot and bright week. Would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT. Next year’s event will be held in Hong Kong, and it’s my intention to get my heiney and my sketchbook in HKG next April!
My photos and sketches from my time in sweltering Amsterdam, where I took the following workshops:
Memories of a City, Reportage with Veronica Lawlor
Amsterdam Rooftops with Hugo Costa
Urban Portraits with Marina Grechanik
While on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, I quietly completed one year of daily drawings, based on a mostly-randomly-selected tweets. It was an extraordinary personal exercise, and challenged me in ways I had no idea would be challenged. A drawing a day? Seems fairly straight forward and people are doing it all the time, no big whip.
I had no idea I was bent towards drawing the naked body, but I really enjoy drawing the naked body. If I could draw the body in one fell, solid stroke, I was happy as a lark and felt accomplished as I began my day. Little victories. Early on during this drawing exercise, I began to attend live model drawing classes, and the things I learned in there, oh my! We all have bodies, right, but have you ever thought about all the different ways we can move, bend, stretch, contort? Simply amazing! The body aside, what about emotions? Emotions can make a body erect as the Washington Monument or crumble in a heap of rumbles all over the floor –and everything in between.
I also liked the idea of trying to tell a story from someone’s tweet. This was not always easy, but in hindsight, it was invigorating. I was accused of being a pervert, gay (really?), asked “how do you figure a naked person from this?” and unfollowed more than a few times. I didn’t mind — although it’s not my intention to be offensive, I was simply practicing my story-telling abilities, which may or may not have included a naked person, but never vulgar and always joyfully intended.
On March 17, 2016, I completed a full year of daily drawings — I did not miss one day, thank you very much.
It has been almost two weeks since #PicTweetArt ended. I’ve dreamt of it, day-dreamed of it, looked at people hard and wondered how I would draw the lines of their face or the shape of their calves. I even got busted in Vallarta for taking a picture of a woman’s legs as she stood in line at the bank because she had truly amazing calves.
As much as I loved how this exercise changed me; it improved my confidence, opened my mind, taught me anatomy, ETC., the most difficult part of #PicTweetArt was reading Twitter each morning.
Ugggggg Twitter. No one talks on the platform anymore, people are mostly pushing out their stuff — just as I was pushing out my stuff. I had to search for real tweets, so many brutally empty tweets that no one gives a rats ass about. I allowed myself about 10 minutes to search for a tweet and as loathsome as it was, I somehow found a tweet for one whole damn year, and I drew that tweet — hard.
All this brutal poppycock aside, I’ve decided to continue the practice of daily drawings via Twitter and starting Friday April 1st, I will be back at it!
I’ve unintentionally started a habit I quite like; each New Year’s Eve I draw my version of a Marc Chagall painting, because Chagall was all about love; at least he is to me. His paintings calm me down, give me hope and make me buzz, happily. I like this ritual…
This was an extraordinarily strange and sad, yet inspiring week; my dear pal Kay passed away after bringing her to the hospital, I introduced the cows to some highly talented chefs, my interview with Modern Farmer came out, and it was my first solo Thanksgiving sans family nor significant other here in Mexico. I was highly distracted and busy with meaty business, yet remain committed my daily drawing because I see how my skills are improving. Plus I feel closer to my mom when I draw.
Thank you for following along; I am enjoying this journey tremendously, and totally appreciate the support I’ve received. I am sad to have lost some people from my life, but am inspired by new friends I have met and the places we are going. My feet are planted firmly on the ground as I reach for it all… and wish it all for you as well.
Don’t be sad because October is over, be grateful you had the opportunity to feel all the autumny-feels xx
This week I made the transition from using pencils and erasers to only using ink pens and I love it! It’s totally nerve-wracking because I look at the paper and I say, “OMG PLEASE DO NOT RUIN THIS!!” because there’s no erasing ink. Then I jump up & down, shake around my hands and pick up that pen. My version of the hocky-pocky ;))).
I’ve been frustrated for weeks and I am finding that tossing aside the pencil and especially the eraser has brought back that buzzy feeling of excitement once again!
Kudos too to Susan Dorf, because I took her excellent class, “The Artist’ Journal” and can’t wait to try more of her tools! I absolutely admire her work and appreciate all that she shared. ANDALE!
Another month of the daily PicTweetArt’s! The point of this exercise, although I wasn’t really sure when I began, was to create a daily ritual of drawing each day. I didn’t occurred to me that my skill would improve, because why would I think such a thing? My skill has improved and my non-stop curiousity about drawing people is pushing me to study the human body. I draw ’em when I’m walking down the street, I draw in my sleep. If you catch me staring at you, I’m probably looking at the line of your neck errrr something.
This daily exercise has also highlighted my weaknesses and where I want to improve; mostly hands and feet. I am practicing drawing the body in one continual stroke, which has been nerve-wracking, but also quite thrilling when I nail the curve of a back or something similar. But almost always, I choke when I get to the hands. Feet are getting better, but hands trip me up!
I am in a weekly live drawing class, which has been great practice for (d’uhhh) drawing the human body, and it’s rather up close and personal. I feel high as a kite when I walk out after two hours of drawing. I am trying to persuade Henry Vermillion to once again teach a drawing class, because I totally admire his work and think his hands are amazing–the ones he’s drawn.
This week I am closing up life at the ranch and joining Reed in San Miguel de Allende for the next few weeks. It’s hot as a witch’s breath here in Austin; everything’s gone and dried up and blowing in the dust. I hear cackles in the wind, it’s that hot.
I’m so very happy to be heading down south; when the news sank in, my spirit shot up about three stories high. My time in Central Texas has not been easy, oh but it has been highly educational.
It’s been challenging to find work in and around Austin, THE hottest, hippest city in America. Countless interviews later, I was probably giving off a much bigger vibe of “no, I really don’t want to work for your company” than their vibe of “now wait, who are you?” After years of working for companies I could not be more opposed to, I find it difficult to pretend to be excited about someone else’s company. Throughout many of the interviews, I could see exactly why I would leave, or more specifically, why they wouldn’t ask me to join. I have had small project work here and there, but mostly I have spent a heck of a lot of time expanding my repertoire of energy, energy, energy, gimme more of that arty-energy-jui-jui-jui.
My fear of failing after being fired a handful of times a few short years ago has had a fierce grip on me, almost smothering at times, but my backbone has returned and I’m ready to get forward move ahead. I failed at being able to succeed in a corporate job; I never liked it, but that’s what I was supposed to do, right? My mom’s voice still haunts me, “for crying out loud Meag, why can’t you just keep your mouth shut?”. This internal struggle has led me to work for some terrible people at some awful companies and guess what? I could not keep my mouth shut and was eventually shown the door.
My inner conflicts reflected as all my outer struggles. I have been in my way forever.
Another challenge to finding work was “being so far away from Austin” in Driftwood, Texas, a small po-dunk Texas Hill Country town, about 22 miles southwest of Austin. Yes, TWENTY-TWO miles, not TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO miles. Driftwood truly has a gritty feel of the wild, wild West; it’s rugged and quiet, hot and empty — for now, the real estate wars are heating up all across Hays County. The Salt Lick BBQ is here and that’s a huge claim to fame for Texas BBQ fans, but there is little else besides ranching, cowboying, and stealing water. Reed’s family has had property here for a number of years, so I have had the privilege of living on a gorgeous National Park, in a state with very little national parks. I have tremendously enjoyed my ranch explorations with Dito Bandito at my side, Henry in the car; I will always think fondly of this little internet-providerless town, ideally from afar.
You get dirty when you live in Driftwood, it comes with the territory and the terrifying shower I avoid like the plague. Here, I have lived precariously close to scorpions, spiders, snakes, fire ants, lobsters, chiggers, kissing bugs, cows, wasps, mean donkeys, mean HORSES, oh and an angry Reed Burns, but the latter has started to mellow as he ages like a fine wine, errr rather a full-bodied, potent, añejo tequila. We have had a rough road together, Reed and I, but we’ve also made great strides as we break down our walls — huge graffiti-filled walls from the early days of our spontaneous, mostly reckless, tequila-fueled, rowdy marriage. I am excited to meet Reed; he’s in his element in Mexico and it is something to behold, when he holds his court.
In early 2001, I moved to San Miguel de Allende to teach Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms dance class and develop my artistic talent. However, in reality, after 10+ years of sobriety, I decided to drink the vino tintos and life took a turn towards a very different path than I had envisioned. It wasn’t awful, but sometimes it was painfully awful. I certainly had some glorious times, but many of my demons came back to haunt, they took a hold and directed my life for a number of years and through a number of scenarios. I eventually made my way back to Chicago after our divorce and I spent the next few years directionless and heart broken.
I am not these things anymore; my heart is alive and looking straight ahead. I take my dedication to all-things-energy very seriously and have experienced some tremendous healing as of late. I was recently attuned in Reiki Level II in Wimberly with Melissa Kleen; I am very aware of the strengthening eyeballs in the palms of my hands. An intensely powerful shamanic surgery with a clairaudient shaman healer has created new pathways in and around my heart during a mind-expanding experience. A traditional cacao ceremony has elevated my heart and I can’t stop giggling, nor crying tears of joy, for that matter — it has also changed my approach to my art and how I see the world. An autoimmune friendly approach to eating has relieved some long-time anxieties and discomfort, in addition to helping me drop some weight I had been struggling with. Curious to see how I will fare when face-to-face with the delicious street tacos of Guanajuato olé!
—> I am totally ready to get to work — I need to get to work.
ANDALE! Nos vemos!! Saying adios to my NIA Dance pals, until next time xx
Update: This was a pivotal month because I feel as though I moved closer to the type of art I want to explore; the humanness of physical love, the energy that dances between people. I do not wish to be vulgar, just visceral and many times I feel I just miss is, I want to go deeper. As I get more established in my new home, I will go deeper. Love on, Fair People!
Now heading into the fourth month of my daily drawing challenge — and the overall affect has been positive; it literally — okay figuratively, has cracked my head wide open on some level. When I fire up Twitter in the morning to select a tweet to draw, I move to a bigger space. I think bigger than me, bigger than you, something outside of me. I remove myself — at least I try. Third eye-thingy, if you will.
Ahhhhh but the ego enters back in as soon as I post the drawing on Twitter, attached to the creator of the tweet. I would say most of the time I get no response, and the overall responses I do get, is that my tweet gets favorited. What is a favorite, by the way? My ego goes, “waaaaahhhhhhhhhh nobody likes me!!” as I throw the crayons across the room. Ah, but the Third Eye chimes in to say, “Hush you, Rigid, Needy Ego, it’s not about you. It’s about creating a ritual, a daily practice to help take you outside of yourself; to see the world in a uniquely special way. It’s not about the details of each drawing, it is the showing up to the paper and seeing the world through your hands.”
Voila. I trust my Third Eye way more than my ego, ergo. xx
I have been in Texas for just over a year and in the past few weeks — no, days really, it has truly begun to feel like home. I am feeling so much support in this cradle in the middle of Texas, I find myself caught off guard and tingly-all-over by the kindness of strangers and not-so-strangers that have helped me get acclimated in my new hometown.
After several months of travelling and setting up shop on the ranch, I have turned my focus to getting into the groove in Austin. I’m back at Square One in that I need to get a job, an address, a routine… and it’s finally starting to happen. I know what I want and now it’s time for the legwork. I have found some work; it is not my dream work, but it is putting me out in front of people, which is a great start. I am highly animated these days and eager to work with others. One foot in front of the other.
Austin is a very fast moving city; hottest city in America, some would say. The recent cover of Austin Monthly magazine quoted 158 people are moving to Austin EVERY DAY. That’s a solid stream of buses dropping off musicians everyday at the Greyhound station.
New friends, YaY!
Austin’s NIA dance community has been a great source of support; it’s teeming with women who are excited about life, love to shake their moneymaker and aren’t afraid to let it all hang out. Their stories are extraordinary and many times moving, and I’m thrilled to have found this support as a new whitebelt teacher and as a new citizen of Austin. Many of these women are undergoing profound personal transformation and have been a great source of comfort as I go through my own. Plus we spontaneously break out in dance when out in public.
There’s something very delightful about not caring if you cause a stir –when stirred properly.
Meetup.com has been a great resource to meet new people and learn of new ideas; I attend about four meetup groups on a regular basis and the momentum is building. One is an art and technology meetup with it’s focus on creating a community in Austin for new digital artists; I volunteered to be the gatekeeper of information and gather everyone’s name and interests. I even presented my #PicTweetArt and #NewEnergyin15 at the last meetup! It was a bit of a departure from the amazing new media presentations that were being highlighted, but I think it was all very well-received. There were LOLs :D. I joined the group to discover new ideas in video and to meet some interesting people.
The artistic sparks are flying, she said with a cheese-eatin’ grin!
I am a member of a Women’s Shaman Circle; the wisdom that’s being shared within this sacred circle has altered my life forever. I am honored to be a part of such a experienced and educated circle of women.
Women helping women. SHAZAM.
I’m also a new member in a specialized qi gong training called Jingui Golden Shield. It is a rare Temple Style of qi gong designed to achieve super health by developing the human energy body very quickly. I discovered this through my Chinese doctor and acupuncturist, Dr. Zhang, who diagnosed me with a deficient spleen a few weeks ago. We are working on this, but basically it’s the early stages of a thyroid condition, and it is my goal to reverse this condition NOW before a Western doctor prescribes daily pharmaceuticals.
Nooooo pills for me.
A worrisome mind, my age and irregular eating patterns are probably to thank — oh and the stress of absolutely everything changing in my life.
I am turning 50 this year and this health condition has added an extra 10 pounds around my belly. It freaked me out — well hell’s bells it still freaks me out, because it gets in my way and I want it gone. Given the amount of energy work I do in addition to biking, hiking, dancing, yoga-ing, qi gong-ing and walking, it drives me craaaaaaazy that I have this new blob that just won’t budge. Then I read a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. I’m remarkably embarrassed I’ve had the audacity to cry about a little midlife weight gain.
I have the privilege of being alive and living pretty well for half a century. I digress. This profoundly moving book about surviving a Nazi prison camp put gratitude in perspective for me in a manner I shan’t easily forget.
My body can still move in amazing ways. I have great new friends I can lean on. I am networking. I’ve always hated networking! I love, love, love learning about energy and sharing it. I am branding and self-promoting, gaaaaa the dreaded self-marketing. I am in Austin, f*cking Texas, the hottest city in America and the good vibes are growing. I have a tremendous friend and confidant in Reed Burns. Sure it’s terrifying to be starting all over, but I am totally grateful for this life.
I am scrappy and I live in America — and if there’s one thing America loves besides Cheezwhiz, it’s scrappiness.
I have decided to lay down my roots in Austin, Texas after sitting on a fence for about a year. I actually cried as I gazed up to Lady Liberty on top of the Texas State Capitol; this State can annoy the heck out of me at times, but fault can be found in any state. I don’t look for that because I have found some awesome new friends, some bubbling opportunities and a fairly clear path ahead of me. It’s where I want to be.
I’ve crossed into the third month of the mostly-random-daily-drawing from Twitter, although it feels as though I’ve been doing these drawing for many moons. I love the challenge of plucking out a tweet, serious or not, and quickly creating a snapshot of said tweet — without the use of words (and believe me, it’s tempting). I still struggle with hands, but I’m feeling much more confident about the emotions I’m able to convey; not every time and certainly not perfectly, but there you have it. The daily practice is what is helping me see clearly — not whether or not I nailed the hands (which I didn’t).
Twitter is rich, full of kings and queens, jokers and leeches. Thanks for following along!
For the past 40 weeks, I’ve been posting a 15-second video to Instagram, sharing insight on what I’ve learned about energy. “Energy?” you say?! “Energy!!” I say! “Energy Balls!” I say even louder!! The road has been fascinating and it will be a lifetime of learning — tip of the iceberg, as they say. Some weeks are better than others and I find I am getting better at just rolling with it. I’m truly dedicated to this, so I decided early on to commit to doing #NewEnergyin15 for one year… but why?
Because there’s so much to learn, so much to know and so much to try. So much to heal. I don’t need to post the videos on the social networks, but why not? It’s fun and helps keep me focused on this, my purpose. Learning about video on the iPhone and all the cool apps available, are an added bonus. Doing energy work in public places has all kinds of perks, mainly meeting new people and getting over my fears. Sharing these videos with you is *your* bonus 😉 The more I learn, the more there is to discover, and so it goes. The videos will go deeper in the future.
Two years ago I awoke to the gift of feeling something different around me, in fact everything had shifted in my life after my mom passed away. I’ve felt compelled to know more about this strange new sensation because my vibration had unknowingly been raised and it literally felt like I was having a heart attack. It was scary. Kundalini rising, wooooosh. It took a few weeks to feel right in my skin, but when I did, holy moley what is all this??! So began the clean up of my life and it continues today.
What’s that? Was that an eye roll? Energy is a bunch of hooey, you say? Faeries Riding Unicorns, Sprinkling Pixie Dust on Glittery Rainbows All Over the Place? Believe me, I have heard it all — mostly because I’ve thought it myself; at least I did years ago, before I could see and feel the things I can see and feel today. I spent years trying to understand and fix myself through self-help books, therapists, groups, workshops, ETC., mostly to no avail because I was a bit dead in the heart. My mission was, “I’ve got to fix this thing that’s wrong with me; WHAT is this thing that’s wrong with me!?” ‘Round and around the treadmill I ran for years and years. It was exhausting and frustrating, and eventually I gave up and went back to my old bad habits. My eyes would roll as I walked away from “energy” people. Weirdos.
Millions of self-help books.
They know the treadmill.
As my mom neared her final day, she said to me, “I wish I had been nicer to you Meag. I was wrong about you. I’m really sorry.”
I fall down, everything’s different. Closed my eyes…
The power of love. The power of forgiveness.
Millions of useless self-help books.
My mom’s death (and perhaps the other heart-breaking deaths I’ve been privy to) completely cracked me open in a way I was not expecting. I now feel a responsibility to understand what’s happening around me and to gain a grasp of it– not a control of it. All those years of annoyance at my mom have been replaced with gratitude for the priceless gift she has given me. There are things to do, but I no longer feel there is something wrong with me. I am excited if I am anything, for Pete’s Sake.
I read about energy. I study energy. I love energy! I practice intuition. I sleep better than I have ever slept in my life. I dance, I qigong, I t’ai chi, I make art— which has improved tremendously since I started playing with energy. I’ve walked through many of my fears and doubts and have witnessed some incredible shifts. I moved to Texas. I am meeting a new tribe; we speak the same language, yet there are plenty more words to learn. How cool is that? But in all honesty, my energy game is way off these days.
This road is not always easy; but it is necessary. There has been heartache and loss, there too has been ghastly name calling; I have been called weird. Alas… I no longer blink at weird; my mom thought I was weird, she then regretted it. I am weird. No biggie.
I’ve set my sights in a new direction because the past few months have been brutal at home and my Spirit has effectively left the building. This affects my everything; I am not learning as quickly nor effortlessly as I had in the past. My energy is stuck, wowza how ironic — and dammit this hurts. Luckily I have found a support system and am leaning on them; I am confident I will bounce back but my biggest fear is that my heart shut down again. Oh please not that. I hold my heart near and dear, literally, figuratively and metaphorically, and will continue to protect it fiercely.
Three steps forward, two steps back. Expanse, Constrict.
Thank you for checking out my new website; Larkabouts is now forever larking about here and there. This site will house my art and energy endeavors, with more categories to come. My heart thanks you for following along — and reading — this far. Stay tuned for a few more weeks of #NewEnergyin15 and then… on to deeper things.
This week’s video is a reminder about why I do this work — I really do love it, even as I struggle through it right now. I am not, nor will I ever give up; I am Grasshopper 4Evah!
Each day I draw a drawing based on a tweet I randomly select from Twitter; the exercise has done amazing things to expand my creativity and inspires me more each day, even on the days that I don’t like my drawing. I did a drawing of Pope Francis recently that literally made me feel weird — but even the creepy ones teach me a lesson.
The more I work with my energy, the more risks I take with my creativity — and this is my goal! My art is pretty safe right now, so there is tons of room for growth, but I also focus on my people skills — drawing them, that is. I struggle with hands and feet, but it’s getting better.
So this week’s #newenergyin15 is all about creativity, playing and setting high hopes! I’m currently taking belly dancing lessons — I love it! It uses muscles that rarely get used in the Western world and makes me feel stronger on oh-so-many levels.
Here I am belly dancing in Vienna, listening to Mozart In Real Life, because this is what I’m going to do some day. Perhaps not all at once, but you get the drift, it’s my vision board… :DD
Practicing stillness or mindfulness can be challenging, and even trickier for me when I do it in public spaces… but the Barton Springs Spillway was a’buzz with friendly folks, many of whom were interested in what I was doing. What was I doing? A t’ai chi move called Cloud hands in s-u-p-e-r slow mo. Slow motion is hard because I want to whizz about always, but the lessons of slowing down have been ginormous, across the board. Summer time…
A 30-day daily art project to rev up the sense and creativity, I started each morning by doing a 15-minute art piece and posted it to Twitter, where a community of artists we doing the same daily exercise. This project literally changed my thinking — it expanded my confidence and helped me to take creative risks. I highly recommend if you are struggling with writer’s block or literally ANY blocks.
I’m a fan of doing energy work (reiki) on my dogs and have seen great results on Henry, but this new Little Dude showed up and all bets were off. Bandito is not a fan! He found a new home at the neighbors and all is calm once again.