Behind The Scenes of An Artist…

A few days ago I had the privilege of finally seeing where my dear friend, Mel Kobayashi, spends her passionate painterly moments. The visit was overdue.

Mel opened the door, blathered on and on about the mess, that it was a lot better than before and that she had been cleaning prior but she still needed to clean some more.

I had stopped listening a few moments earlier. Two massively stunning abstract pieces stopped me in my tracks making me catch my breath and hold my heart. I felt dizzy with attraction. Mel watched me, taken by my reaction. I wouldn’t blame her if she thought I was “acting” as that is a skill I possess, but, oh, no, my shivers were authentic.

I’d like to share her staggering work (in my opinion) with you, and a little more insight to the artist behind the scenes.

TJ: “When did you start painting?”
MO: “I started painting seriously about ten years ago, but I have always been
creating things. I’ve dabbled in just about everything, including
performance art, sculpture, and drawing. I think it’s important to refuel my
artistic process by working in a variety of media and techniques.”

TJ: “Do/did you have a mentor?”
MO: “I had an art teacher in high school, Mr. Bradley, who said that the passion behind love and war are the two strongest drivers in life. He thought I understood both (according to my artwork) and urged me to pursue studies in art, which I did at university in Toronto and Vancouver. And while they are not mentors per se, I also have people around me who have been incredibly supportive of my art, including you, Trilby! (Thank you, thank you!) Through them I have gained confidence in my work, a wonderful studio to work in, and sales among corporate clients.”

TJ: “Did you encounter any obstacles in developing your art?”
MO: “Fine art at SFU, where I went to school, is grounded in conceptual art. As a student I thought it was the coolest art ever! The idea in my mind was to
whack people over the head with our intellectual genius or, better yet, to
sneak up on them and insinuate our enlightened ideas into their minds. But
that art-making style profoundly inhibited my ability to create art for the
joy of it for a long, long time. In fact, it took me more than ten years to
feel not guilty for making pieces fueled by emotion rather than reason. Now
that I am once again in touch with my visceral creative process, ironically,
I also feel free to justify my work intellectually within an historical
context if needed.”

Red Border

TJ: “What do you love most about the action of painting?”
MO: “Painting makes me feel alive. My hair feels alive. My fingernails, my
earlobes, eyelashes, all alive. I feel absolutely free when I paint. It’s a
joy that’s hard to describe. There are no boundaries, no rights, no wrongs.

Instinct rules, at least in the initial stages. Colour, texture, form, movement combine to the point where time stands still. My studio is below ground, which I thought might be scary and claustrophobic at first, but I could be in the middle of Stanley Park or a busy construction pit for all the attention I pay to my surroundings during a session. I am lost in time when I am painting.”

Terrain Red Splotch

TJ: “What medium do you work in?”
MO: “Right now I paint. Paint is expressive – it can be flung, dripped, smeared,
brushed on, smattered, scratched out, washed away, and layered. It comes
transparent or opaque, thick or thin, glossy or flat. You can do a million
things with paint. I like acrylics: 1) they don’t smell and are perhaps less
harmful to the environment than oils, and; 2) they dry quickly, which is
convenient when using thick layers. Lately I’ve been painting on heavy
paper, which I buy in 10-meter rolls. Paper also behaves well on the floor.
It doesn’t shift around or bunch up like unstretched canvas would given my
studio setup.”

TJ: “What would you tell someone if they wanted to try painting?”
MO: “Go for it! I believe that everyone can paint. Don’t worry about training –
just do it. Of course, having foundations in drawing and colour theory may
help you achieve an envisioned effect more quickly, but sometimes the
fundamentals just muddy the path to genuine, heartfelt expression. Children
move from colour-and-form art, which I love, into controlled figurative art
as they grow, but I believe that adults can create very powerful work by
returning to their child-like state, by unlearning art rules. At least I
think this is true for abstract expressionism. I also believe in learning by
doing. Mistakes are good. Some of my favourite effects are comprised of
happy accidents that could not be learnt in any school. Having said that, at
art school, faculty and fellow students may open doors to alternative
art-making and opportunities to show your work.”

TJ: “Thank you Mel for allowing me to share your work and thoughts. I understand the private aspect of the creative process, and honour this moment.”

To see more of Mel Kobayashi’s artwork or to contact her, please visit her site.


The War of Art…battling resistance

It’s 2010 and somehow January slipped by in a speed, and in a series of events that left me a negligent blogger. I feel like I’ve left a love one unattended for just way too long.

So.. it’s February 1st and I’m not waiting any longer for the right moment, the inspiration, and the long comfortable stretches of time that will, of course, make me write a brilliant blog post. Ha! What am I thinking???

According to so many, I just need to show up, and take action.

This is me taking action.

In the “theme” of just doing it, I’d like to share another book with you called “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Inner Battles” by Steven Pressfield. In his book, Pressfield discusses all the ways we resist practicing our art, and what to do about it. I squirmed as I recognized myself in many of the varieties of resistance (from procrastination to fantasies to assorted vices to plain old fear).

If you’re unsure of your styles of resistance, this book will define them for you, and give you the kick in the pants we all need from time to time.

The War of Art” is an easy read in one way, and also very challenging as it pushes you up against a mirror. Time for another re-read for me!

What are some of the ways you dare to admit that you cleverly deviate from producing your art or following your calling?

I’m glad I’ve broken the spell of not showing up here, and I boldly wish you all a Happy, Healthy, and Creative 2010, even though it is already February 1st!

Treat yourself to “The War of Art” at my favourite bookstore, Biz Books, in Vancouver, now online!

Scarves for Animals – Helping the PEI Humane Society

It’s now December 2010 and I am resurrecting a post I did last year regarding some scarves and the PEI Humane Society. A couple new photos and an ongoing plan in time for this seasonal gift giving month! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and all the best…


This post may seem a bit off topic with my usual posts, but not really. It’s still all about creativity and thinking outside the box.

My mother, Joan Kempton-Jeeves, is a Fibre Artist, originally from England, and has worked cleverly and artistically in weaving, wool dying, hooking, quilting, crocheting, and knitting for many years. Her work is unconventional as she enjoys “painting with her wool”. I own many beautiful sweaters, and scarves (I’m wearing one as I write), and living in Vancouver where it’s warmer than the rest of Canada I don’t always have the chance to sport my wearable art. So when the temperature dips to a wool wearing one, I’m content!

In the past couple of years my mother has been knitting steadily with the caveat that she is “cleaning up” her wool, and producing a series of beautiful scarves. Her collection has grown steadily and makes for an impressive group.

Some of Joan's scarf collection & wall hangings
Some of Joan's scarf collection & her wall hangings

My mother is also an animal lover, especially cats, and my family has had a few dear feline friends, all of who are now gone, and one token German Shepherd, who is also hanging out with the cats in animal heaven.

Fond memories of kittens born in our wood shed

So…where are we going, you may ask?

Well…sometimes my Mom likes to make donations to her local humane society, and visit the animals once in awhile, and she had a fabulous idea.

Remember those scarves I was mentioning? Well, my Mom would like to donate her scarves indirectly to the Prince Edward Island Humane Society (Canada). Indirectly means that she will give a scarf to anyone who donates at least 25.00 to the Society. These donations will go under the “Joan Kempton Scarf Fund”.

A closer sampling of the scarves
A closer sampling of Joan's scarves
Multi coloured scarf
Multi coloured scarf
Cream white scarf
Cream white scarf

That’s a pretty good deal! And, I thought it was such a good idea that I said I would help, hence, this blog post. By writing about this and encouraging those who would like to give a great present of a well-needed donation AND receive a beautiful hand knit scarf. It’s a win-win-win situation for all.

Deep Blue & Purple Scarf
Deep Blue & Purple Scarf

What do you think?

If you are interested:

Write to me at And we’ll work out the best way to accept your donation and for you to receive your scarf, and receipt.

If you have any questions about this unique fundraiser, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am more than happy to respond or help out, and choose a scarf!

(p.s. shipping charges are extra… but, we’ll chat)

Green & Cream Scarf
Green & Cream Scarf

The Salmon of Knowledge…

“A man came to the Village Headman and pleaded for help. ‘I can’t stand it any longer. My life is sheer hell. There’s me, my wife, my children, and my in-laws all living together in a single room. We’re arguing, and complaining, and constantly at each other’s throats. It’s destroying us all.’

‘I can help if you promise to do as I say,’ said the Headman.

‘Anything. Whatever you say, I’ll do it. It can’t be worse than what I’m living with now.’

‘Very good. What livestock do you have?’

‘Two goats, a pig, a donkey, five chickens, and a turkey.’

‘Bring them all into your single room and come back to see me in a week.’

What could the man do? He had promised to do as the Headman asked. He came back a week later in a terrible state. ‘The stink! The mess! The noise. I’d be better off dead. It’s like living in a mad-house.’

‘Good!’ said the Headman. ‘Go home and throw out all the animals. Then come see me tomorrow.’

The next day the man returned with a wide smile on his face and his eyes sparkling with happiness. ‘Thank you. Thank you. It’s paradise. So clean, so quiet, and so much space to live life for me and my loved ones.’”

Boy do I relate to this story!! Yesterday, I told my partner that we needed to get some animals (small apartment!).

This is one of many stories in the book, by Nick Owen, titled “The Salmon of Knowledge” Stories for Work, Life, the Dark Shadow, and Oneself. Each tale compiled into this rich, thought-provoking read falls under a specific theme, and contains a moral. Introducing the themed chapters are personal anecdotes from the author, and suggestions of what each story might enlighten.

I was fortunate to meet Nick Owen at the Applied Improvisation Network Conference in Portland, Oregon, in November, where he delivered a compelling keynote speech on Leadership, and touching the heart. Lucky me got to have a brief chat with him the evening prior, and I knew we would be in for a treat. When I asked Nick Owen about his books and he strongly suggested “The Salmon of Knowledge” for me.

Thank you Nick!

Nick Owen delivering the Keynote Speech

If you are on a personal journey of discovery, of life paths, of “just what are we doing here”, of learning to let go, honesty, clearing, acceptance, presence, of illusion, of creativity, of self, this book is perfect. I certainly feel that way as I observe and participate in life’s challenges. Somehow, reading a story, a metaphor that applies to situations in my life helps me to adjust my perspective in a positive way. Or, it just helps me to see that there is another perspective!

Story telling is our most effective way of sharing our experiences. I hope you get a chance to have the thoughtful pleasure I am still having as I read, and re-read this unique collection.

For a little more about Nick Owen’s keynote speech,  read  from “GameChangers“,  Applied Improvisation Conference Speaker, Mike Bonifer.

Playing… “Under The Piano”

Remember those forts you use to build, as kids, in your living rooms, or bedrooms, or outside, using chairs, blankets, and anything that could help to create a cool cave? Worlds far from the one we were in were concocted with no agenda.

Just recently, I relived a similar experience.

Under The Piano Sound Spa” is a new and unique offering by pianist, composer and entrepreneur Craig Addy.

After a short personal conversation with Craig, he invited me to place myself under the grand piano where he would improvise for approximately 40 minutes.

Immediately I was reminded of those childhood living room forts and feeling extra safe and snug. Under the piano, regally awaiting, were shiny gold cushions matching the interior of the piano, a soft bedding of puffy brass blankets and a red velvet one to pull over you for more cozy warmth.

As I tentatively crawled under, I wondered what the protocol really was when you curl up under someone’s piano. I felt awkward but rapidly enjoyed the mysteriously secure feeling.

I closed my eyes and heard the first note, strong but not too loud, and felt the vibration. My body liked the sensation. For the first few minutes, I felt my brain drifting to the banalities of life chores but thankfully the chords would draw me back to the present.

As I permitted myself to relax, my creative juices started to flow.

The sounds transformed as Craig improvised with an awareness of my energy under his piano, producing a symphony of soft notes, thunderous notes, quiet thoughtful notes, sounds of hope, sounds of sadness and melancholy, and soothing sounds.

Images of my past and present life appeared and disappeared.

Befitting, I thought, another childhood memory rose up with Craig’s final notes. I was reminded of me dancing with abandon at age 5 or 6 in the living room of a family friend. Our friend would put all kinds of exotic music on his record player and I would sneak into the living room, my theatre, and dance while the adults visited in the kitchen.

After the session, Craig and I, in my blissfully dopey state, discussed our individual journeys. We acknowledged a musical sadness that had emerged, but also agreed that it was beautiful and not to be ignored. In a society that constantly promotes being positive we tend to hide the sombre side that also has a place in our lives. After all, isn’t good theatre made from comedy and tragedy? The lighter notes that occurred as well balanced the experience nicely.

And, I felt inspired to write!

Under The Piano, to me, is another tool to tap into our creativity and I look forward to experiencing it again. Anything that slows us adults down long enough to open up our “kid” in us, and our imagination, is magnificent.

Thank you Craig! Craig Addy’s In Tune

Waiting for… Godot? …The Perfect Moment?

What a week last week was…

Death was roaming around making it’s presence more evident as it cast itself on people the masses knew. It slammed itself onto the innocent who were standing up to injustice. And it also roamed less publicly into some of my friends’ worlds.

How are you affected by these final interventions? How does it affect all of us as a whole? Are you thinking more about your own mortality?

And, what does that do?

Does it make you feel freer, more able to create and focus, or does it put you into the “deer in headlight” mode and you wonder what to do? Or, do you move into denial after the first shock?

As death creeps closer in, I find myself re-evaluating my own priorities, and examining time. How do I spend it? How do I waste it? With whom do I spend it? If I really knew the exact date of my eminent death, my “dead line”, would I do things a little differently?

In this way, I view “death” as a healthy kick in the pants.

This is not an uncommon discussion and I realize I’m being redundant, however, we humans seem to need constant reminding. We’re a bit stubborn that way.

Two years ago, I watched my close friend die and heard her last breath. A week prior when she was still lucid, she pulled me close and said, “Trilby, I feel like I still haven’t blossomed.”

She was fifty.

Her echoing words continue to propel me toward my desired work.

I listened to a CBC radio interview, last week, with a woman who had been diagnosed with an incurable disease over a year ago, and given 6 to 12 months to live. Her voice expressed, “I’m much freer now, and I know exactly where I want to spend my time.”

She wanted to spend it in her garden close to the earth where she knew she was going.

Fearless was the word she repeated about her current self. “I seemed to live in fear before, and now, nothing can scare me.”

Asked about how it felt to be dying, she answered that she was too busy living to be preoccupied with it. Interesting that she has surpassed the doctors’ predictions already.

Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Seize the moment. I ask myself, honestly, is my energy going where I want it to?

We’ve seen the question many times before, but I’m going to ask it again. What would you be doing if you knew you were going to die in one year?

This article is not meant to be a morbid one.

For myself, I find a liberating sensation flow through me when I think about being more deliberate with time, and priorities. Nothing like a deathly reminder to get me shifting closer to the creative projects I desire to perform.

Just what am I waiting for? How about you?

No waiting here…

Permission To Play… reviving your inner kid!

When I was little, I didn’t want to grow up. The grown up world looked terribly serious and my instincts told me sub-consciously that there would be a drastic change.

One day when we were kids hanging out in the back shed lighting matches for fun (no we didn’t burn the place down), my little girlfriend told me that she couldn’t wait to get married and have kids. Wow. I thought she was nuts. I felt no rush nor desire for the same. None.

Now, gazillions of years later I know what my childhood instincts were telling me. There was going to be a lot less play in the grown up world and a lot more problems to solve. I just knew.

The other day on my walk, I watched an impish mix of  adults and kids playing soccer with abandon. It made me grin and I knew that nothing else could be on their minds. Too busy playing, they were in the elusive “now” where all the great contemporary gurus are telling us to be. (have you read Eckart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now”?) The soccer game was a perfect example.

Silly us adults frolicking for fun.. imagine!
Silly us adults frolicking for fun.. imagine!

Theatre, stage work offers this opportunity for me and I believe my journey to this world was an honest trek from childhood. I needed to keep playing. It felt like air, a serious necessity. Being a character on a stage, in a situation, with a live audience, if you are sincere with your work, will keep you divinely present.

When we get to witness, as an audience, a truly connected, compelling, and riveting performance in theatre we are privy to the players in the now. There is clarity and presence. And a strange truth.

To get to some of these great moments, I believe play is of the utmost importance. En Francais acting is called “l’art de jeu” – the art of playing. If we allow our grown up tightness to breathe and expand, we have an opportunity to experience extraordinary unexpected times.

We need to have the chance to discover and explore. I guess that is why I turned to Le Bouffon as a tool to get us all to our playful selves, and discover some gems in our work.

Bouffons in their element! Adults gone.
Bouffons in their element! Adults gone.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child” Pablo Picasso

This idea of play translates beyond the theatre, musical and artistic world.

Who isn’t more productive when we have permission to laugh, or play in our working environment? A boss who reprimands employees who dare to enjoy themselves at work risks stymieing the worker and ironically losing productivity.

When I worked as a costumer in the film industry, I had a favourite designer who had a great sense of humour. We developed a wacky reputation as laughter frequently burst out of “that crazy wardrobe truck”! That laughter got us through the immense work and long grueling hours much more easily.

How is play in your grown up life? What do you do to nurture yourself in your working world? I’m curious. Do you have a situation to share where play proved to be the answer?

Despite my strong will to play, I still write to myself as much as to you, when I say that play is imperative. My bouffon students have heard me say, “I wish I could take my workshop!” as I watch them play wholeheartedly, forgetting about their adult masks, and discovering the sacred pleasure of the now. Their results? A freedom of expression that leads them to more.

I dare to wish that for everyone.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

“Empathy: Our Greatest Guide (in my humble opinion)”

The above tweet (twitter term) came to me last night while I was having the privilege of witnessing a conversation about writing between an experienced screenwriter, and a newer one who was asking some pertinent questions. I mostly observed and then offered a couple of my thoughts.

Two things happened: one, it reminded me of how twitter can be such a valuable tool if used correctly (don’t worry… this is not a post about twitter, despite the fact I probably could ramble on for a length…), and secondly, the dialogue gave some valuable story advice.

Especially as I dive further into writing a piece for me to perform.

Last night’s discussion touched on emotion and its usefulness when creating effective scenes that will reach an audience. It reminded us to review the people for whom we’re writing, and in the possible ways they could see themselves in the story.

I was reminded of the importance of empathy, and to feel what someone is feeling, to place myself in their shoes. This is an almost impossible feat to do entirely – but one worth exploring if you are going to deliver something with substance…don’t you think?

And, speaking of feet, I wear a plastic support on my right foot as I have drop foot. The “AFO”(ankle-foot-orthoses) goes under my foot and reaches up my calf in an ugly way becoming my best friend so I can’t trip. (I draw on the plastic in the summer so it at least looks funky).

It looks like I’m digressing but it’s related, I promise.

In a rare moment, I met a man my age, the other day, who was also sporting an AFO. It was an instant empathetic moment. We understood so much without even saying anything. We knew in a flash some of the pain, discomfort, and challenges the other one had.


That was a direct one on one moment.

What about mass empathetic moments as a result from a play or a movie?

In our art, or even just our every day life, isn’t it better to work hard at trying to understand a person, a group, a movement, a tragedy, a joy, in order to reproduce a story, a character, a plight, a reason…

Of course it’s impossible to truly understand, & completely empathize, as we are such individuals with such a variety of experiences. But I think that empathy serves well as a guide to a deeper place of truth whether it is for performance, or just relating to a stranger or a close friend.

“I know how you feel.”

As we write, or give life to characters already written, as the twitter conversation implied, we must put our own tears where we want the audience to feel tears, we must feel our own joy in order to pass on the same emotion, and be in our own excitement in order to take others there.

What is my point of this blog post? I guess it is my attempt to remind others as I was gratefully reminded last night that to give “good art” empathizing with your audience is a good stage from which to dive.

I’d like to thank @JBMovies (John’s site) & @vivspace (Vivienne’s blog) for allowing me to watch your valuable twitter conversation unfold.

Enjoy some good musical art from my favourite album on human nature. “One Giant Leap

Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary’s meaning of empathy:

The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Create Your Own Door, & Open It…

When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

Thank you for the great quote Mr. Bell.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those opening and closing doors. I’ve been thinking about the doors that have opened in my life and the doors that have been kept tightly closed. I’ve been thinking about some doors I should have maybe NOT gone through. And, some, I thankfully did go through.

As much as I can, and as much as I remember, I try to pay attention to any dusty lights suddenly extending my way from open doors. Sometimes, I’ve walked into doors, forced my way through doors, and found some doors just way too heavy to open. (I got my finger badly damaged in a closing door twice in my life because I was still trailing my hand as the door closed…hmmm… “don’t linger while the door is closing behind you”?)

Recently, I’ve watched others fall back in shock as doors have slammed in their faces just when they thought they were almost through. (Quick…look behind you! Maybe another door is waiting!!)

Can you relate?

Or, maybe it looks like there are so many doors open in front of you and you have to choose which one is seemingly the correct one. This can feel like playing Russian Roulette.

Sometimes, we wait too long for doors to open. We wait, and wait, and wait. Especially as actors, or people in the arts in need of others for their work to advance. We hope and wait. We get that audition and we wait. We get the call back and we wait. We wait for the jury to jury. We wait for the interview results. We wait for someone to tell us that we can practice our art.

Frustrating? I’ll say! You give power to someone you don’t even know in order to do the work you are destined for or are hungry to do.

A friend of mine who is also an Oscar winning actress was seeking work and wasn’t finding it. (Yes.. even winning an Oscar doesn’t guarantee you work!) Finally, she decided to create her own one-woman play. As she put it… she needed a job! A long story short, the show became a huge success and was requested everywhere. She had created her own door, and opened it wide. More attention eventually came her way and, of course, she was offered more of the work she had earlier been pursuing.

I look to the those imaginative pilgrims who boldly stride forth, and fling their own doors open and not passively wait for others to do so.

With some resistance, I was forced to open my own door several years ago because of a back operation. I had been doing work on film sets in costumes to help fund my theatrical thespian adventures, but after a long period of rehabilitation, and some permanent nerve damage, I knew I couldn’t costume supervise any longer.

So, I got entrepreneurial and started my own business – Hot Scarves ‘n Stuff, a special scarf with heat pads that I had created on a film set. I learned all the “businessy stuff”, and even did a business plan, but most importantly, I learned that you must love and be passionate about the work, which keeps you going through the tougher times.

Hot Scarves on Display
Hot Scarves on Display

Well, I didn’t love my “scarfy” venture enough. Try as I might, I just couldn’t sustain excitement for a fleece scarf. (What WAS I thinking?!!)

But, it did lead me to another venture that I do love- my buffoonery workshops. I had to open one door so I could get to the second door, which I managed to open on my own. (Thank goodness for those ideas that come in the shower!) I am hugely rewarded during my workshops when I get to watch others blossom in their “bouffoness” and become freer beings having fun!

Bouffons in Action!
Bouffons in Action!

The next heavy door I’ve created and I’m slowly pushing open, and I mean slowly, is a theatrical piece I’m writing for myself. Fear is the weighty material of this door, but I know I have to do this, especially as you are witnessing this statement!

What about YOU? May I ask you if this subject stirs some deep projects that have been brewing for some time or are you already boldly throwing doors open for us to watch? (I guess we all open doors at different speeds.) Do you perform work that feels extraordinarily satisfying?

What do think? What is the door you need to create for you? (…buying a canvas, going to a poetry slam, playing at an open mic?) Are you waiting for something? What doors do you want to fling open?

I think I used the word door way too many times in this post, but, there are not too many synonyms for “door”! Wishing you well!

All the World’s a Stage… you just have to listen

I’ve neglected my poor blog the last few weeks as I threw caution to the wind and accepted a road trip proposal from a good friend of mine who was turning a task into an eleven-day adventure. Once on the road, ensconced in her big black truck, the world of computers took a back seat and had to be content to my, maybe, once a day facebook/twitter updates! I was busy absorbing the world passing by, and, stepping on new grounds.

Our route took us from Vancouver through Washington to the Oregon Coast to the California Coast into Nevada back up through California and eventually back to Vancouver, with stops in Seaside, Grants Pass, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Death Valley & Lone Pine, Alturas, & Crater Lake, with our last night in Portland, Oregon.

I saw fields & fields of olive trees, orange trees, lemon trees, and mysterious unknown trees. I saw steep rocky cliffs, snake & ladder roads, breathtaking ocean vistas, miles & miles of white beaches, rain forests, barren lands, mountains of all shapes & sizes, hills of varying qualities.

I saw the most incredible valley of desert, and felt the intense heat of the environs. I saw many funny looking cactus type trees that turned out to be the famous “Joshua Tree”. Some of these trees sneaked in the photos I was obsessively taking in order to hold onto the “now” that was slipping rapidly into the “then”.

Palm Tree in Death Valley!
Palm Tree in Death Valley

I also saw villages of various colours: seaside places, myriad of crab shacks & clam chowder shanties, funny little towns, posh expensive towns (Carmel, Malibu CA) and that “out of the blue” Victorian Tea Shop (where I bought my glass ring for 7$) in Tillamook. “Where is the best coffee in town?” we asked what looked like a local gentleman on the street. “I don’t know! They’re all the best!” he exclaimed. That’s when we discovered our first café kiosk where you can drive up and get your latte or plain old coffee. Happily we found them everywhere!

Our Favourite Coffee stops!
Our Favourite Coffee stops!

I experienced the energy of the cities such as: San Francisco – the Golden Gate Bridge (even right under it!!), the stylish San Fran houses, Fisherman’s Wharf, a view of creepy Alcatraz Island, eating crab & more clam chowder outside, watching the crazy “BushMan” scare innocent passerbys on the street, witnessing the old streetcars billowing with tourists hanging on, tasting (&, okay, buying) fabulous Ghiradelli chocolate, and Boudin’s famous Sourdough bread (yum)…

…cities such as: Los Angeles – crazy busy freeways, apartment sized pancakes on our first morning, regal palm trees lining the streets, warmth, extraordinary bright sunlight, touristy strolls on Sunset Blvd, Hollywood Blvd, Rodeo Drive, driving through Beverly Hills, on Mulholland Drive, down to Santa Monica & Venice, seeing the massive beaches, the festive pier (I adamantly refused to go on the ferris wheel because I didn’t want to get sick – guess what happened later anyway? Hmm… Murphy’s law?), meeting with new twitter actor friends at that neat “Urth Café”, meandering around the Venice Canals, marveling at the foliage & the charming houses, seeing the little house where my Dad spent a winter in 1958 (still the original one), celebrating “Cinco de Mayo” at a little Mexican restaurant (no swine flu!)…

Typical tourist! :)
Typical tourist!

…cities such as: Las Vegas where the luminosity boldly greeted us when we arrived in the evening, the “main drag” noises of people, cars, outside shows, the “volcano” exploding, pirates climbing their masts, gigantic electronic billboards announcing shows & ads, perfumed air, mountains of hotels impersonating Paris, Venice, New York, promises of luxury, excitement of possible fortune (nope I didn’t win), the slapping of peep show promo cards on the street sales peoples’ hands, the friendly service, those tasty Margaritas to top our walk off, and the strange daylight sensation of Vegas the day after.

Arriving Las Vegas
Arriving Las Vegas

The last city we visited was Portland. A city that felt creative, certainly abit chillier, but inspiring especially with that crazy gargantuan book store, Powells, and the weekend market where many artisans got our own creative juices flowing, as did the food! Loved that homemade ice cream! (did I mention it did get a bit warmer?)

On the road, we had surprises such as Lone Pine, and “The Beverly & Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History” revealing a super collection of memorabilia from the Western films shot in the area (perfect for two gals who work in the film industry – and for a couple of  horse nuts!), Crater Lake to where we detoured spontaneously, the road over to Vegas taking us through a fruit belt (those strawberries & grapefruit were so delicious), and the thousands of sea lions on that Oregon beach.

Death Valley
Death Valley

As I write this I confirm my original thought that these 11 days were very theatrical in their movements, in their silences, in their surprises, in their suspense, in their joy, in their noise, in their different colours, temperatures, lighting, in their textures, in their excitement, in their histories, and in their thought provoking moments. Isn’t that good theatre?

We can turn to our everyday rhythms and experiences to inspire our creative ventures whether they be writing, painting, acting, performing, composing. We just need to listen to our own reactions and translate that graph to our work. Ha… easier said than done, but definitely doable.

The vastness & strength of the desert, and the busyness & overabundance of the bold “sin city” are contrasts I find compelling. Hopefully these elements will show up in some form in my creative writing.

What sounds, smells, sights, and tastes in your day informs your work?

Near StovePipe Wells
Near StovePipe Wells