Category Archives: Life As Art

What’s happening in Darlene’s life.

My Hermit’s Journey into Advertising

If the idea that Advertising / Marketing / Sales can be used as a spiritual metaphor, I must unlearn my tremendous aversion to it. I hate sales with a passion … to the core. The idea of selling makes me cringe.

Boring Sales

That’s probably because I associate selling with being dragged as a child, along with my siblings, to fairs, conventions, and flea markets. My father expected us to help make sales of whatever new thing he was offering that year. Of course, for us was an exercise in futility. We just did not have “the touch.” While my father delighted in talking to prospects, our prime summer days were spent languishing in dusty halls, or out in the glaring hot sun or in the ear-numbing cold.

We counted the hours for the day to end, hoping desperately to relieve the boredom. We cringed when anybody came by to inquire about some feature of the product we did not know how to answer. Worse still, if dad saw people walk away from us. He knew we’d lost a sale…

Exhibiting at art fairs is not much fun either. I’d be sitting at the exhibitor’s booth, pretty much bored and noticing all the blank faces of people meandering mindlessly past. I’d be passively available, if anyone noticed me. I was virtuously non-intrusive.

On the other hand, the booths that demanded attention received it. I watched the gimmicks of the successful vendors, witnessed the little tricks they used to engage interest. Most of them did what I could never manage–engaging in banter. I silently observed how they used energy to attract energy.

E-marketing

In e-marketing, I can see how an e-mail’s attention-getting headline would correspond to the competing calls of different merchants offering their wares for sale in the marketplace. If opened, the e-mail succeeded in getting past the bored eyes of their recipient. Whether or not the prospect lingers to look at an image or read the content of an e-mail, or moves on depends upon many factors. It’s very subjective.

The spiritual side of advertising challenges this old hermit by asking if I’m being arrogant in my poverty. Do I compensate for and perpetuate having little by feeling spiritually superior to rich people? Is it really a badge of purity not to make a buck?

Updating Old Attitudes

My old attitudes concerning artists and spiritually-oriented people accepting money have resurfaced. For an artist to do very well implies they’ve “sold out” and selling out is considered a bad thing for an artist. With money in the equation, the artist’s work is deemed to be tainted.

I’ve always balked at the practice of placing sales offers at the end of articles in e-mails. To me, it lessens the article. It’s not a true gift if there’s a price tag attached. No, not a gift, a ploy. It’s deceitful. The advertiser pretends they are giving you something for free. Here, take it! But nothing’s free. They are always seeking something in return. They want you to buy something.

Reversing Assumptions

The spiritual side of Marketing challenges me to reverse my assumptions. It asks me: how am I different from anybody else? Is my hunger any less? Don’t I deserve to tout my wares unapologetically, at the top of my lungs, if I choose to?

Like every human being, I have value. I am deserving. So in the end, it’s me I’m selling.

OK. Here I am! Notice me!? I’m the introvert in the corner…

If you opt in below, every two weeks, I’ll offer up some cool observations and insights from my hermit’s perspective and let you enjoy some of my seldom seen Darlene Art (I’m getting better at not hiding the links).

 

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Expect the Unexpected

Just Published! Available Now!

This is an early work of DARLENE’s 1980s art, The Alchemist’s Daughter, which I reworked digitally in 2008. As a Greeting Card, it is called, “Expect the Unexpected.”
It’s a fun image about a girl who, no matter how gifted in the alchemical arts of her father, still jumps around excitedly when it comes to discovering an unexpected creature on her person. So focused was she on the otherworldly, that she didn’t notice something crawling up her arm. 

At one time or another, everyone’s concentration suddenly gets disrupted by something unexpected. That is the charm of this art. As a greeting card, it infers that one is extremely surprised to hear some news.
To take it one step further. Often, we need a wake-up call that puts us back on track to stop and look up once in a while and notice what’s going on around you.

 

Life is Art; Art is Life

“Life is Art; Art is Life.”

It’s my motto. (I made it up the phrase some time ago, but I’m sure someone before me can claim true authorship.)

Life is Art

This means that everything I do is an artistic (as well as a sacred) act — it’s a Magical Dance with Beauty. Thus, I actively search for meaning through synchronicity, symbols and archetypes. As such, it suggests something profound about my relationship to reality as an artist. I tend to be much more fluid than conservative in my World View.

Darlene’s most current business card.

For me, unicorns, dragons, and fairies DO exist. Wouldn’t it be a boring place if they didn’t? That’s where it becomes weird for pragmatists. In their hard-boiled, sensible reality, armed with science and reason, they tell me why mermaids (etc…) can never actually be real. As well as “impossible,” they’ll claim it’s just “fantasy.”

What’s wrong with fantasy? I find myself being sad for them. By choice, sensible people can never travel the paths I have traversed, nor can they understand my rich knowing of the strange and fantastic inner/outer realms. It’s only through my art (which represents the footprints of my experience), that I can offer them a glimpse…

The Power of Fantasy

With more and greater possibilities, fantasy totally encompasses reality. It’s outside the limiting, containing box, an opening of more ways people can relate to their world. Why not perform a cosmic dance on an asteroid? Or swim with the mermaids under the sea? Fantasy is my state of being free. I’m not totally mental. My freedom is tempered by the knowledge of my physical surroundings and the shared reality of the people around me. But because I believe more, I see more.

I’m not stuck in my own little world when it comes to “consensual” reality. Oh, I’m always aware of my surroundings and what is expected. But at the same time, co-existing and super-imposed upon it, is a dream-scape of incredible splendor. That is the state of mind I enter into when I create.

Maybe there’s something to not taking reality so seriously. Gloomy reality doesn’t have as much of a grip, or a pull on my outlook. Of all the cruel happenings in the world today. I choose to shift my focus away from the negative. A wonderful friend once introduced me to the concept that, whenever I view in the media or aired on television, the aftermath of a tragic accident, to scan the scene for the helpers. They are always there. Often, they are behind the announcer.

Look for the Helpers

Notice the helpers behind the scenes. Witness the miracle of their presence. When you do this, you can truly “see” the miracle of them in action, and forgo the disturbing details of the tragedy, the fear and the violence.

Watching such a newscast can be an incredible opportunity to help the helpers help. It’s possible to effect change by offering up your prayers and energy, real time. After a while, you may begin to suspect the helpers may not always be entirely human. And what a privilege it is, to work with angels…

Truly, I believe focusing on the positive, while acknowledging the negative, is the best way to navigate around the invasive, in-your-face evil that parades so openly now-a-days. What if I choose to believe I can effect positive change by energetically adding my healing intent to the scene (and to my art)? As long as I have no attachment to out-come, there is no ego-investment to taint the process. Isn’t keeping open to potential (as opposed to despair) a better use of one’s energy?

Art is Life

Art is my Life. I work through the lens of fantasy, possibility and potential. The art I bring forth integrates the meaning of symbols, psychology, and archetypes with images and words. I dedicate my art towards the empowerment of the feminine, the delight of the imagination, the freed intuition, to heal, and to inspire the young at heart.

Thank you for being my witness.

Creative Spaces

Wow, I finally hit upon a solution to a problem I did not know I had!

My mind usually gets all jumbled up when it comes to working on outside stuff, like art marketing. I often find myself bouncing back and forth between different ideas while attempting to focus on creative work. It’s a struggle to create. Anything.

The solution I hit on is spacial. Instead of mixing business stuff with creative stuff, I simple segregate the tasks by where I choose to be in the house. I now do my creative art projects upstairs, in my art studio, which houses my unconnected handy-dandy ancient computer. From now on, I shall refrain from using my i-pad to taint my creative space with business transactions…

It would be far better to save that for the downstairs. Then all the necessary tasks, which require my attention–business-related email correspondence, paying bills, health-care or official or social stuff to keep up with, etc.–will not interfere with my creative process.

Perhaps that is why I’ve always found myself physically cleaning up a spot before I start a new artistic project. Artists like me are sensitive enough to pick up on the energies of different environmental spaces. The space set aside for creative endeavors needs to be energetically pristine, inspiring, and open. If the space is murky, mucky, polluted with the oily residue of heavy emotions, depression or weariness, this definitely affects the creative process. It’s essential to clear such spaces, whether or not you are an artist.

I find that physically reorganizing a room is therapeutic and the end result is happy and welcoming. Putting away the books, reference materials, paper or food debris associated with the room’s prior use is usually enough. But in cases when it is not enough, I aid the clarification process by smudging a room.

I simply light a sage smudge stick (sold for this purpose) until it smolders and produces smoke. First, I smudge myself, starting from the top of my head and working down. Then, I begin in one corner (usually east, because of the sunrise) and work my way clockwise around a room, saying a prayer while I waft the smoke through the air.

Such a simple thing as this gets rid all of the sticky, nasty, lingering negativity–even serious negativity–as it renders a space energetically neutral. It is so much better to work in a cleaned space–both upstairs and down. Without the mind-fuzz, I can think more clearly when I’m performing left-brained functions but can also access my intuitive abilities better when I am doing right-brained activities.

Be that as it may, the point is that I’m becoming more aware of how important environment can be when consciously separating tasks. Where does one thing end and the other begin? The answer is as simple as moving up and down the stairs.

“Worlds of Empyrea” Kickstarter Provokes Reflection

The Kickstarter

I wonder how many people know or have guessed just how much I’ve been a recluse during the last quarter century. I’ve seldom been “out there” in the public eye, much less actively hawk my art. I probably do less than the minimum when it comes to touting my own abilities. For a long time, I’ve chosen to remain passive, and for all practical purposes, invisible…to myself. Turns out, I haven’t been all that invisible to my fans.

What changed?

I became willing to see a different perspective. I realized my decades-old story regarding my role within the budding RPG industry has only represented the beginning parts of a saga that’s still unfolding. The past represents only the first chapters of a continuing story. In fact, I can shape and reshape the greater saga (in real time), to embellish the rest of the story–so as to inspire, empower and nurture creativity in other gentle souls working from the heart. Perhaps I could be like a beacon for women in the gaming industry (as well as those not within the gaming industry) to never give up on their integrity or passion. By example, if I’m to fully participate in life, I must relinquish my “safe” status as hermit. But it’s all good, because it’s no longer about me.

To repeat, it’s not about me anymore.

No, it’s about new generations of gamers–female and male–who, at whatever age, are maturing into a sense of who they are, and what their lives’ contributions may be, but who sometimes need inspiration, guidance and a foundation to assure them they have a place and can make a difference in this crazy world.

Currently, we reach back into the past to acknowledge, touch, and revere the genius and the synergistic mix of how, when and where it all began. We honor our beginnings while projecting ourselves into a ripe future, bridging our past with the next step towards embodying the relevance needed to create a bright, bountiful future for games and gamers.

It’s an energetic.

Choosing to embrace the energy of a new perspective, all things become possible. As I become open to possibility, I take off the hand-brake of my limiting thoughts. Finally, I’m prepared to, as my late husband would say, “surf the crest of the apocalypse…” (What an image…)!

If you care to ride along with me, just lean into the wave, and allow it to lift you towards wherever your own potential takes you…

Tally Ho !

The Birth of My New Endeavor

It’s no good to be mad at myself for not being able to perceive the solution earlier, especially since it’s a no-brainer. But it’s all in the timing, as they say. I needed to learn some key concepts first. I needed to know how crucial the energy of JOY is and how pervasively JOY operates.

This JOY concept is rather alien to me, given that I’ve had my share of misfortune. I thought I had many reasons to wallow in dark’s anonymity. As if martyrdom was a virtue, I fully participated in my depression. If I allowed myself to feel true joy, wouldn’t it diminish the seriousness of my suffering? I now allow myself a small chuckle at the memory. I was taking myself much too seriously.

It’s great to be at the point where I can finally laugh. It’s funny to me now, remembering myself as the misunderstood, deeply feeling artist working from the depths of despair. Who could have guessed the seeds of (my) art grows faster when JOY is present? The answer is so obvious, its hidden.

But still, I’ve ever so slowly been rising up, like a mist, from gloomy subterranean chambers into a lively expanse of light above. Today, I can appreciate the value of creating JOY. I LOVE that my early RPG illustrations of women provided lasting memories for so many. That’s why, in recent years, I’ve lent the bulk of my energy towards creating art for classic RPGs—in hopes of building positive memories for the next generation of gamers. Contributing to the feel-good memories associated with game play is a very worthy goal.

My newest dawning realization came when I proudly showed off my Coloring Book at a Feminine Empowerment Weekend. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, I’m expanding my market to include a demographic that has been as dispossessed and as invisible as I’ve been. My new demographic is women seeking feminine empowerment. Yet, I want to offer more than an awesome coloring book with archetypal images of powerful women.

I received so many comments about women’s love of mermaids, it got me to thinking. If a lady identifies with being a mermaid so much, why not create a painting of her AS a mermaid? What if I create fantasy portraits for women who wish to sustain the awesome shifts they’ve already achieved? Would women welcome seeing their innate genius and strength of spirit expressed through fantasy imagery? I hope so.

Many ideas occur to me. I could create portraits of women alongside their power animals, or as cat woman, or as an Egyptian goddess or queen or character, the possibilities are only limited by the imagination. Whatever their fancy may be, my portrait paintings will remind women of how unique and special they are—like beautiful, magical beings of light who have much to offer the world. The thought of uplifting their self-image through my art brings JOY to my heart and feeds my Soul.

I realize that this slight change in focus—from a fantasy artist to a fantasy portrait artist—has been staring at me in the face for a while. Haven’t a clue why I could not perceive the clarity of making this shift before now. But I won’t continue to admonish myself. It’s all in the timing. That’s my out. My new, and entirely unique creative endeavor feels good, appropriate, and totally right. I’m not saying that I will not also consider painting portraits of RPGers as their favorite character (think cos play)—of course, that’s always a possibility—but I’ll be directing my main focus as stated.

The portraits I’m envisioning would be painted on large canvases measuring around 36″ x 60″ in size, substantial enough to make an impression from a distance. There is so much to do to prepare this idea for launch and make a go of it…

Thank you for witnessing the birth of my new creative endeavor.

Shifting my Artistic Focus…

There is a secret language of signs and symbols that is accessible to anyone who is sensitive enough to take notice. People should be more aware of how dynamically the Universe (The Divine) speaks to us. Communications from the Divine world are constantly being directed our way to guide our paths and decisions. I’ve learned the wisdom of “going with” whatever the messages present. That’s the beauty of it. We need only be present enough to recognize these messages AS messages whenever they appear. First, notice the message and second, be able to receive its meaning.

The customary ways messages manifest are through dreams, synchronicity, song lyrics suddenly popping up into one’s head, a person inexplicably remembered, street signs and bill boards, the unexpected appearance of certain animals, significant phrases from an overheard conversation, hearing something on the radio, a broadcast or a particular movie scene being shone, recurring numbers, contact from an old friend not seen for decades, an accident –literally any happenstance or encounter can have significance enough to guide people in the right direction. All here is to do is to be open.

In a similar way, a major shift in my artistic focus recently became revealed. Back in September, I’d paid for a marketing class I was unable to attend. A portion of my payment had to be swapped out within a certain time for me not to forfeit. I transferred my funds to a weekend intensive in Colorado called “The Art of Feminine Presence” because it was the closest in cost. I took this odd change in focus as significant and chose to be open to whatever the lessons would yield.

This is where it gets interesting. It wasn’t necessarily, what was taught. It was the fact of me attending with a copy of my recently-created “Fantasy Maidens & Beasts” coloring book to show. My artwork received such an overwhelmingly positive response that if I had brought a stack to sell, they would all be gone. That’s when I realized, “Gosh! I’m catering to the wrong market.”

What a realization! The true demographic for my work are the participants of this class. Thus, I’m reorienting my artistic focus to cater to women who are stepping into their feminine empowerment. So, in a very interesting, but round about way, I found a key piece to my marketing puzzle, even though I did not take a marketing class. My creative orientation will adjust towards aiding the course of feminine empowerment in my art through the use of fantasy images.

And I thank the Divine Universal Mind for revealing this to me.

Consciously Making a Difference

A shift has been happening within me. But I’m not the only one. Now that I reflect upon it, I’m aware of many other sensitive people who’ve also intuitively been preparing for a major shift in perspective. We could feel it. We just did not know how to name it. Nor did we have the language to describe it. Like others I’ve shared with, I feel we are at a critical juncture for planet Earth within our current space/time. I am consciously tipping the balance in favor of an emerging paradigm of life that compels vision, skills, creativity, courage and collaboration.

sunflower-loDuring the last couple of years, I chose to select projects–like Kathleen Wiley’s two books which combine Jungian insights with biblical wisdoms–that see old subjects with new eyes, new perspectives. By putting my focus on Kathleen’s books, I am adding my energy and input to her message. Both of her books have been very favorably received.

Before that, I devoted my time to a much larger book project several years in the making. Occupying most of 2014 and 2015, I am proud to have added my artistic touches to “Mythos Arcanum,” a new RPG game system based on classic D&D. It’s innovation is that it introduces the concept of “philosophic gaming” which encourages critical thinking about the nature of reality. The morality question is openly addressed. There ARE consequences for stealing, plundering and killing. As in real life, players must figure out alternative ways to achieve their character’s goals. So I am choosing to lend my energy to worthy projects that will help people in some way.

The project I’m currently finishing up is a medieval fantasy and mythological coloring book which I will first publicly present at NTRPGA Con (June 2016). Most images depict powerful women with their animal helpers and familiars. The impetus behind the coloring book is due to the gift of a little girl who showed up at my exhibition booth at GaryConVIII. In response to one of the drawings I had on my table, a little seven-year-old girl presented me with a small piece of paper upon which she depicted a unicorn in colorful felt markers. Her gift delighted my heart.

When I looked around the room, I noticed there was not much merchandise being sold for smaller children. Then it hit me. What if I “give back” to the RPG industry by creating something to delight the children, the next generation of gamers? Could it not also feed the child within the adult? I started my coloring book project with images of things I loved and dreamt about when I was a little girl–mermaids, unicorns, dragons–then expanded it to include a centaur, a winged comic-book heroine with a lion, warrior women with different animal mounts etc…

It’s not only about the coloring. It’s about jump-starting the imagination and enticing new creative neural pathways to form and develop.

This is the way I’m making a modest contribution towards solving problems and offering solutions at the micro level. Yet, in terms of the collective, by adding my piece to a new story, I’m helping to change the conversation. My micro becomes a mega when viewed from the perspective of the collective. At the core is the quiet force of Feminine Power.

The transformative properties of Feminine power are effective because it works from the inside. Residing just under the surface within timeless time, The Feminine broadly understands and works with complexity, bridges ideas in novel and surprising new ways and offers brilliant solutions for all aspects of society. My art is my contribution. As I add my essence to the collective dream, the time ripens for the emergence of a new paradigm of cooperation, a world revolution from the inside-out.

Entering the Creative Zone

I’d not thought much about it before. But now I can identify the main reason I like creating art and graphics. It’s the gift of being able to enter into “the Zone…”

Recently, I was working on the computer creating a representation of a strawberry plant. As I was manipulating the pixels, this is what was going through my mind: “leaf, leaf, leaf, leaf, curve, curve, up, up, smooth, deepen green, add more yellow, contrast, no, lighter, stem, smooth the arc…” When I worked on the blooms, as I blended colors and shapes, I also imagined smelling their fragrance. This is the moment I suddenly “woke up” from my reverie and became conscious that I was in the state of DOING, not thinking—I was totally engaged in the moment, becoming fully engrossed within my creative endeavor. That’s when I grasped just how much I give myself over to this trance-like process.

After much consideration, I think “Entering the Zone” is a form of active meditation, a means of exercising the intuition (as opposed to the intellect). Whatever it’s called, I believe any artistic thing created with intent retains the artist’s energetic signature and it seems to have a lasting effect. To me, this comprises a sacred act. To impart to one’s art the qualities of what is aesthetically pleasing is special. I’m becoming more aware of how noticeable this energetic residue is to others.

The only other person I know who talked openly about “the Zone” was the cousin of a friend, an Indiana University professor of some renowned in computer language. At the time, a couple of large Texas corporations were courting him to work for them and offered three times his teaching salary. When I asked him why he stayed, he said that whenever he teaches, when he speaks he goes to a place where the words easily pour out of him. He enjoys being on the threshold so much that he would not trade the feeling of being in the Zone for anything. He’d really miss out if he simply worked at a desk all day.

Becoming consciously aware of the value of creating while in the Zone also means taking responsibility for the energy I impart. With Kathleen’s book, I was “there,” in timeless time during the entire creative process–open to Spirit and able to indulge my intuitive nature. Nothing‘s left to chance. Symbolic content was also streaming in. Deciding to illustrate her book using appropriate symbols served to contribute another layer of meaning to Kathleen’s book.

Well, something must have clicked just right because of the book’s phenomenal success just within the first few weeks of being electronically published. Even though the Kindle version has been available for two years, the book has been blessed with unprecedented sales. Maybe it is simply Kathleen’s time to shine. In this case, I’m glad to have been a catalyst. But maybe, just maybe, the energetic is a powerful factor in its success.

But there is a downside of being in the Zone. And that is it can become physically detrimental over the long haul. For the sake of one’s vision, every twenty minutes you are supposed to look up and re-focus the eyes at something in the distance. But all too often, I’ll be submerged for hours. Once I “come up for air,” I have to make a point of standing up and walking around.

One miscellaneous comment: when I am in the creative Zone, the cat loves to sit on my lap. It’s as if he is riding the creative wave with me. Perhaps he might even be actively accommodating it.