Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Question on Everyone's Lips: "What's Next?"

Anput Creates Herself

(on exhibit at Harbinger Winery)

Anput is the wife of Anubis, an Egyptian god who is associated with protection of the dead and embalming.  He determines the weight of the truth by weighing the heart of the dead.  Anput is his female aspect - some of her many titles are:  The Dark Mother, Lady of Magic, Lady of the Circle, Lady of the Light and The Dark, Lady of Truth, She who is Crowned with Stars, She Who Protects.

When I was making this painting, I felt very strongly that as a creation myth - and like all creation myths - there is sacrifice in order to become something greater.  The hunter rides the tiger, and the maiden watches a ghost - of herself? her future? Anput falls to the ocean out of the stars and becomes herself.

$800  18in. x 3ft. Shipping Available

Opening Reception  Seattle Art Institute
Weds 4/25 5-7pm

(See sidebar for more info)

I'm very excited to be included in this show - which features high school art teachers' works from the Seattle area - the title of it is "What Those Who Teach, Can Do"  Here is a quick snapshot of my work "Heartstrings Attached" - it's so new that I haven't had it professionally photographed yet. Hope you can make it - for those wonderful Seattleites who make it out to the Olympic Peninsula for my shows - finally something that is more convenient for you!  Here is a link on Flikr to all the works:  http://tinyurl.com/7bjr29f

Port Angeles Fine Art Center &
Peninsula College
(See sidebar for more info)

It's an honor to be selected for this show - which was curated by Jake Senuik of the Port Angeles Fine Art Center and Michael Paul Miller of Peninsula College.  They selected 4 works, and have 2 on exhibit at each venue.  Living in a rural area, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the local talent - the "Yeah, but it's better in New York." syndrome.  It was eye-opening to realize how much cutting-edge work is happening right here now... besides, the scenery on the Olympic Peninsula is a-mazing!

Juan de Fuca Festival Art Factory Workshop
5/26 & 5/26 1-3pm
(See sidebar for more info)

I will be having a workshop at the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts.  The Juan de Fuca festival hosts many notable performers and artists - this year including  ALLEN STONE. The 24 year old son of a preacher man, the buzz surrounding rising young soul man Allen Stone seems almost off the charts.  Conan O’Brien exclaimed after a recent appearance, “Oh my God!  You are awesome.”  In a similar vein MTV noted, “Allow me to be blunt: Allen Stone has the best voice I’ve ever heard, and there’s no two ways about it.” A festival pass also gets you also in to the "Art Factory" 
The Art Factory: Challenges and inspires participants to look at creating art from the inside-out using secrets of visual perception, classic artist "exercises" and brain research as a way to engage people in the artistic process. Major companies have used some of these techniques to help their staff find break-through solutions to “unsolvable” problems. The Art Factory is a series of workstations and activities that are self-directed with the support of Melissa Klein & company to guide your journey. "Can't draw a straight-line" people are especially welcome.

The Question on Everyone's Lips:
"What's Next?"

The last couple of months it has felt like the many earthquakes have rocked my world.  It was like all of my "hoogly booglies" came out of the closet and were like "Gotcha!" Phrases swirled around in my head like: "Who do you think you are?" "See! You are never going to make it! Give up!" "How dare you think you can be an artist?"  "You will starve!"  At work, there was upheaval and tension between co-workers, at home, well, tensions as well.  I was run down from a heavy show schedule, and was too busy to promote the new work. Some of my close friends had/have serious health issues, I couldn't ride because one of my horses (April) was lame, and my office was a mess, taxes... and... and...   

And one question that came up in so many of my conversations with friends, family and casual acquaintances was:  "What's next?"  It seems like everyone is re-evaluating what is important and in the process of re-creating themselves.  "Anput Creates Herself" is a creation myth.  Most creation myths involve some sort of sacrifice - for example, Eve created out of Adam's rib.  It seems like many people are in a phase of sacrifice, but another way to look at it is is SHEDDING - letting go of what you don't want in your life, even if there is an element of loss (of income, of freedom, time) in order to create something greater.  These decisions are difficult, and often fraught with anxiety, but ultimately liberating.  

I admire my little sister - she lives with her husband and two small children in a smallish condo, and she manages to keep it a serene space.  Filled with lovely things, but also with room to play and live.  I asked her how she does it, and she replied: "I have never, ever regretted throwing out or getting rid of something - ever! Let it go!"  So I'm going through my house and clearing the clutter - and whenever I find myself waffling over something that I never use "...but... I spent so much on it!" or "...but maybe I'll need it someday." or "...I might lose that 20 pounds and these jeans will fit."  Then I find myself repeating the "Erica Mantra" of "I have never, ever regretting throwing out or getting rid of something." And out it goes - usually into one of the boxes that I have recently put around the house for donations.  I feel lighter, calmer and life is getting slowly simpler.

Here is a set of 5 questions to help guide you in "What's Next?"

• Are you making financial decisions out of desperation or because it is the direction that you want to go?

• If it is a desperation decision - (and yeah, I get that) how can you minimize it's impact on your life?  Are there short cuts that won't really make a difference in the quality?  Look for unconventional help in any and all places - as a teacher on a small staff that is stretched really thin, I recruit my students to help, it's good for them to get job skills, and worth the initial extra effort to train them.  I work with students with learning disabilities - and they make some of the best helpers.  Not a conventional choice, but a great one.  Recruit friends and family - and make it fun.  Actually it's surprising how fun it can be when you have a great team.  Thank them. Thank them. Thank them with cookies.

• The next time you are faced with a "desperation decision" - can you negotiate for something more in the direction that you want to go?  Have the phrase "Here's what I propose..." on your lips the next time a desperation decision presents itself.  You may be surprised.

• Are you paying too much for your mortgage?  What would your life be like if you were able to cut your mortgage in half?  Can you move into a smaller, cheaper place?  What would be different?  What would that look like AND be a place that you want to live?

• Pretend that you are making a very, very, very good income (for me this is $300,000 - and I am making nowhere near that amount; yet) - and start to make decisions from that vantage point - it can be as simple as deciding, "I don't think that I will agree to do that 'free event' in July because it's not worth my time, which at $300,000 a year is $208 an hour if I work a 30 hour work week and for the $10 in card sales that I might make IF I'm very lucky, it's not worth it."  And when you go to say "No" say "No, thank you." and don't explain it.  If that doesn't work, then say "No!" louder. Don't explain it.  And if that still doesn't work, then you may borrow horse poop from me to throw at them.

The ground under your feet will probably always shift, at some times more, and others less.  And while these changes bring their stresses, they also bring opportunity to shed what isn't working any more and re-create yourself.

Best Wishes,


Melissa Klein is a Sequim, Washington based artist and art teacher. She has shown in Philadelphia, Kauai and the Olympic Peninsula. Her artwork is featured in books, magazines, newsletters and murals. As an artist, she works in a variety of mediums, including a unique style of crackle-milk paint layered with mixed media that she created. She earned a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania (1990) and a Masters of Initial Teaching from Gonzaga University (2003). She currently teaches Commercial Art at Lincoln High School in Port Angeles. She has 2 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and one husband.