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Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's great to be on the outside, and other discoveries
“It's possible to go on, no matter how impossible it seems.”
― Nicholas Sparks, Dear John  

Oh Schroeder....I enjoyed being a little artsy myself this weekend - I had a great time showing my art at the Discovery Museum!
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My solo show Tree Dreams will be up through September, so check it out if you're around!
I gave a bit of an artist talk about what trees mean to me in my art, and how art can be a transformative tool - through painting, my feelings can shift, and when others view what I've created , my art has the power to move them as well.  Art moves us all!
I am a self taught artist, so I am spoiled by oblivion and also a creature of habit. I first learned to make “art” when stuck in the hospital for months after a disastrous surgery. My mother simply piled some scraps of fabrics and a kid’s paint set on my bed. You might call that “Mixed Media”!
  I love experimenting with acrylics, painting my world of trees, birds, flight, girls dancing, and tear drops. These are symbols that have appeared over time to me – my “markers” to let me know how “Amy’s” really doing. The minute I start seeing a tear emerge on the canvas, I can tell I’m harboring up some feeling about an old memory. That red knot I’m scribbling away at? Oh, I must be anxious. And when my flowers start to sing…I’m happy.
 I sold quite a few inchie pins, which means I've got to go back down to the studio tonight!
Outsider Art
Image from Huffington Post

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. Carl Gustav Jung

Someone who bought a few pieces mentioned that my art reminded them of "Outsider Art" - I had never heard of the term, so I looked it up and found a wonderful article in the Huffington Post about it.

"Primarily, what we term outsider art is self-taught or non-academic work. So, that could be somebody who is a mathematician who has taught himself how to paint. That could be somebody who [has severe autism] and expresses himself through drawing. That could be a member of an aboriginal tribe in Western Australia, a herdsman for her entire life, who painted prolifically for her final 14 years of life. That could be someone who was drawing to escape violence in New Orleans. It could be someone who took to marble carving to express all of the diverse experiences he's undergone."
An image from the Huffington Post Article

Reading the rest of this wonderful article, "outsider art" truly resonated with me.  As a self-taught artist, and someone who expresses myself through, art, this is exactly what my work feels like.  I don't create art to be a working artist, I create it to heal and to actually understand or access what I'm feeling.

Creating in the hospital
There's a fascinating history about Outsider Art at Outsider Art Fair...
My Mixed Media Work

"The genesis of Outsider Art could well be traced to an imagined prehistoric cave wall, to the work of your favorite eccentric visionary (think William Blake), or to the mythic artist-genius dreamed up by Romantic philosophers and poets. Outsider Artists began to emerge as a force to be reckoned with during the early 1920's, with the publication of two pioneering studies of art made on asylum inmates, conducted by European psychiatrists in search of universal truths about human creativity. "
My mixed media work

 This brought to mind an amazing YouTube video I saw years ago about an autistic gentlemen who was able to draw the entire city of Rome exactly to scale in five minutes, while just taking a brief helicopter ride over the city - watch it, it's really fascinating:
WATCH IT HERE: Stephen Wiltshire draws Rome from memory

I like to describe my art as what I feel, abstract, childlike, expressive, whimsical, mixed media - but I feel Outsider Art is an appropriate term.  Wikipedia calls it "self-taught or naïve art makers who were never institutionalized."
One of my intuitive collages

So there you go - now we're ALL artists, and we have a name for it!  It's lovely being on the outside, don't you think?
With Broken Wings
It's amazing that my art is now in real artist galleries, but that doesn't make me feel any more "professional" - I just view it as an amazing opportunity to show others my heart.  I like being an open book - or canvas, so to speak.
Discovery Museum

 No matter where my art ends up, I will always firmlu stand behind my belief that anyone can make art.  And SHOULD make art.  Art is therapy - and this kind of creative therapy saved my life, at a time when doctors really didn''t know how to.
My inchies - they're on etsy too!!!
Before I Go...
Don't let this happen to you!

Go ahead and make some art.  Draw, scribble, splotch.  You're an artist, remember, an outsider artist. 

I've got seven simple tips to get you started...

 Sometimes things require a second look, a second try, just one more attempt.  Keep trying, keep going, keep creating.  If at first you don't succeed- change the way you see things!

Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.

p.s. If you sign up for my newsletter Inspire, Discover Create, you'll be able to take part in my August art challenge - so go ahead and sign up!  Now that's something you don't want to be on the outside for :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Leap - the magic it takes to break the rules and follow your dreams...

Finding My Way Home
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” 

Risk.  Leap.  Jump into the abyss.  

What does that mean to you?
One of my favorite quotes was said by Patrick Overton.  He said:

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”

Edge of the Unknown -
I even made artwork about this quote - something really resonated with me.


Are you willing to make that leap, take that risk and catapult yourself into the unknown, knowing that you will be given a solid landing or wings to fly?
It is my honor to introduce a wonderful blogger Gretchen, who has written her own reflection on leaping, breaking rules, and following your dream.  

The magic of women who break the rules and follow their dreams
By Gretchen Comcowich

Andi never seemed like someone who would jump. She usually wore a t-shirt and jeans, a diamond and a sweet smile.  We met as we suffering through music history class, and both wore cowboy boots. She was already married – I didn’t understand the concept.  Both of us just grasping at 20.
Maybe it was because I was really young, maybe I was too judgmental, maybe it was because I was just starting to cultivate a strange addiction to the tingle down my spine when I am happily proven wrong, but if you had told me that when we talk now, it would be via Facebook and she would be in Norway I would have told you to check your facts- I would have been sure you had the wrong person.
Alexis Making Waves
Andi’s husband expected her to shut up after college. Both he and even some of her family members thought that she had had her fun, and it was time to put that all away and stay home. I imagine the isolation creeping in like Russian cheat grass taking over the native brush on the Colorado plains around her.  Her dreams, her thoughts, her ideas, meant nothing, she was only as good as the warm spot she left in the bed.

Maybe this is what drove her to jump.

Alexis Making Waves

For graduation from Colorado state University, Andi took herself sky diving. Like an addict shooting up for the first time, she was hooked after that first fall. This wasn’t a needle or a band around her arm, a mirror and a razor blade, it was the sensation of the Boulder Flatirons coming in quick or the tug of ropes on the Shute, and the grins from the other jumpers around her as their feet came safely to the ground. Andi fell in love.
Alexis Making Waves

One jump turned into three, three turned into twelve and soon enough she found herself a certified sky diver. Her husband began trying to keep her from going, she ignored him and snuck out anyway. Like any divorce, there was more to it than a few leaps from an airplane, but I like to think that from up there Andi found her feathers, and saw that the horizon in front of her went far further than the backyard fence.
Alexis Making Waves
After the divorce Andi moved to Norway on a whim. She worked dumb jobs, learned the language and met someone new. She can even still describe the emerald sheen of the fjords as she plummeted toward them. Now, she has a good job, an apartment, a cat, a boyfriend who supports her and a stamped passport: Madrid, Belgium and even a few adventures back here in the American west.
Alexa on the other hand doesn’t have a cat, a parachute, a 9 to 5 or an apartment, she lives in RV. Her dog Beans rides shot gun. For me, she inspires the same sense of awe that Andi does. Alexa is an artist, she paints sea turtles, sharks, jellyfish, octopi and waves that seem so life-like, I can smell the salt and want to stretch my arms so that I can dive under the barrel in a hurry. She is also one of the hardest working and most ambitious people I have ever met.

Like Andi, Alexa found her muse had a wild side. Alexa is a surfer and her surfboard lives in the back of her RV with her canvases, clothes and paints. She lived on Maui for years and made sure that she hit the water whenever she could. Perhaps this is why you can feel each vibrant blue ripple and lather of foam in her brush strokes.

Because of this, her mentor urged her to pack up what she could and sell the rest, buy a ticket to the mainland and start doing art shows. Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Alexa has parked her RV in these states and more and the collectors have come running.
Alexis Making Waves
As school children we all read the posters that told boys and girls to “try try again,” or stated that “We are doomed to fail what we do not try”. However, almost 50 years after Rosa Parks was arrested for not going to the back seat of the bus, almost 150 since the Wyoming territory gave us the right to vote and almost 300 since Abigail Adams urged her husband to “remember the ladies” many of the girls are still expected to sit down and shut up. Women like Alexa and Andi refused to listen.

When I think about my own choices, I think of these women. I know that there is no revolution without risk and women taking risk, are still revolutionary. I know that like many women, I have felt the pressure to “settle down”, have children before I am ready and stay close to my family. While I can’t paint and don’t plan on jumping out of planes, I hope that I too can leap because I too can see the boundless horizons as I fall.  
Alexis Making Waves


Thanks Gretchen!  That definitely inspired me to get in touch with my wild side..maybe not skydive, but ay least try one new thing!
Have a wonderful day and let me know...what leap are YOU willing to make today?

“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” 

― Albert Einstein

Gretchen Comcowich is a Colorado Native, a part time Nantucketer and a Nonfiction MFA student at Columbia College Chicago. She also works as a publicist for several visual artists. Follower her on twitter: @lidamarketing Hawaii resident, Alexa Caskey, AKA Alexa Makin’ Waves Travels the country in an RV with her dog Beans selling her photo real paintings of waves, sea turtles and all things ocean. You can see her work on her website:

Monday, July 27, 2015

So what's it like to work at Disney World?

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
- Walt Disney

Treasure Tree

I could not be more excited to feature this guest post from Jocelyn, who runs the amazing blog where "The world is your oyster, adventure awaits"- I had some fun adventures on my honeymoon last week, but I think my next vacation will be back in the land of pixie dust - Disneyworld - where I can proudly say I've visited 22 times!

I'm a bit jealous - she got to WORK at Disneyworld.  They can PAY you to stay there?  I think I found a new calling...thanks Jocelyn for bringing back some wonderful nostalgia, and tell me after you read this, do you still think Disney World is just for kids?

 What is your favorite vacation spot?  Shoot me a comment - I'd love to round up some recommendations for my next Newsletter - you can subscribe at :)
Life is made up of different points of view. It is how the world moves and creates, how it innovates and inspires.  This is the story of how I learned to start seeing with a new point of view. It’s only a small portion of a much greater story but it contains parts that really, truly resonated with me. It also contains just a touch of pixie dust.

2013 was a big year for me. I moved cross-country at barely 21, worked a full-time job and traveled between 11 different countries all while staying within the city of Orlando, otherwise known as being a participant of the Disney College Program at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Dreams were made and magic was witnessed every day for 7 and a half months. Because I worked in the Magic Kingdom, I was going to the parks ALL THE TIME. That gift, that blessing allowed me to experience the parks in a more up-close, detailed way. It also allowed my father to remind me that I was hurting myself by going to the parks so much. He was right. I went ride-deprived for 7 months after my Florida program ended. First world problems, right?

While I may be a rollercoaster/theme park ride junkie, I am also the type of person who LOVES to just explore and check out the little details that make up places (boardwalks, theme parks, art festivals, food festivals, etc). 

The World Showcase at Epcot is a place that fits right up my alley. With buildings and landscaping that match the named country, it gave me a chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Travel the world. 

I loved walking through the World Showcase. If I had the day off from work, I’d make a day of it. I would start over in Canada when the Showcase opened and I would always, always, always start my trip with a viewing of the O Canada film starring Martin Short (starring? Hosted by?). The 360 theater gave me a regular chance to view some of Canada’s most beautiful landscapes and cities (which is now permanently on my list of places to visit). 

From Canada, I would walk through the UK pavilion, sometimes stopping by to get some fish and chips. Morocco followed and what was special about Morocco was the fact that if you walked far enough into the pavilion, it felt as if you left America. You were in a totally immersive place.
France was one of my favorite pavilions to visit. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to go to, the food is divine (those eclairs…) and I spent small portions of each visit reading the cookbooks.
I really could continue to take you through the rest of a visit to the World Showcase but I won’t (send me an email if you so desire) because there are other things I want to share. 

Being a part of the College Program, I was learning how to see the world from a new point of view. I was surrounded by art, talented people and a creative company. I was in Florida during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival (where my money went to the Ireland and Scotland booths) and for the Festival of the Masters in Downtown Disney, now called Disney Springs. 

I can cook, I can draw, I can take photos. I’m not very good at any of those, not where I would want to sell my work to people. But being around all that creativity, I was inspired. Whether it was reading the cookbooks or eating the Scottish Seared Salmon or the Fisherman’s Seafood Pie (besides making me want more), it had me thinking about working on my culinary skills. Walking through the booths at the Festival of the Masters had me thinking about improving my visual art skills. Experiencing either festival made me want to seek out similar events, to get new ideas and see the world through the eyes of people I have never even met yet.  

Unfortunately my program ended in January of 2014 and I returned to school. But that creative fire had been lit and it’s been burning ever since. After completing more time in school, I applied and was accepted to a second program in Anaheim, California. Here I have found more art and creativity and I am surrounded by some of the most amazingly talented people that I have ever met. My journey through my first program got me started on a creative path that I now share on my blog, inspire Passport, and I am constantly trying to see the world with a new point of view, even if that point of view contains just a touch of pixie dust. 

 Ahhh, the memories.  I can completely relate.  In fact, this was my last day at Epcot...
Yeah, it wasn't easy to pull me from that sign.

My Better Half

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse.” - Walt Disney