Welcome back if you are a former AFA blog reader or new to Arts For All or this blog written by me, Judy Mallory the Founder and Executive Director of AFA. Through this blog four times a year representing the start of a new season, we will cover all of the arts, not all of them in a single post.
I am working from my AFA home office most of the time because I have Stage 4 Metastatic breast cancer that sits on my bones. In February it will be 8 years. I don’t give up. I have not written for the blog for a time because of surgeries, rehab, tests, change of medication and working on living with low vision and possibly being blind someday. I don’t see well enough to drive now and I am working with the Low Vision Clinic. I am special needs and AFA will be working on adding to our curriculum, over time, classes and workshops to help those who need different ways of creating and learning. I focus a lot on art and as others start to lose their sight, they come to appreciate so much more about what they can see. I always have cared and been involved with the arts and have degrees in arts education and counseling. The arts can heal and impact academics, and pleasure in lives. I am writing this blog for many reasons but some reasons are I want all of us to look at, listen to a wider range of beautiful, creative expressions, bring more pleasure into your life and the world around us. I am passionate about Arts For All, Inc., it keeps me alive. Having something to care about, be involved in and make a difference is one of the main reasons I believe I am still able to work. Many doctors believe attitude is one of the most important defenses against cancer or other health challenges. The blog is an easy way to reach out too many. I believe my purpose is to serve, to educate, and to help others to see the beauty in the world. If so, then we all may be able to take better care of our environment (including people) and improve the quality of our lives.
Research recently talked about the value of being involved in the arts for making a positive impact on your brain. Once you are creating art, performing theater, or music, or dance, it helps your brain in different ways than when you are simply listening or viewing…also does wonders for your health and enjoyment. The arts can go with you for your entire life. Even if you do not want to be a painter or composer, the arts are part of all of our lives in many ways not usually thought of. Hands on learning makes a big difference. AFA offers many opportunities through classes, workshops, camps, parties to provide opportunities- please join us.
Before reading this section listen to this version of Autumn Leaves by Patricia Barber.
Planting seeds for readers to develop awe and wonder, joy and turning off the stress for a couple moments that may carry on during the day.
Take a walk preferably in the woods, forest, or park. Try a neighborhood, Neale Woods, or Fontenelle Forest.
Wonder at how leaves change color, all the colors, textures, sounds of leaves crunching under foot, leaves blowing in the light breezes, air smells differently, less humid, take a deep breath. At home you could be planting bulbs to have spring flowers pop up; isn’t this amazing bulbs surviving the frozen winter to spring forth in the warmth. When in my gardens and yard (where I love to spend a lot of time) I am thinking about how incredible it is. Flowers, trees, produce, and weeds all grow from some tiny seeds or bulbs or acorns (squirrels are busy digging up my flower pots to hide acorns for the winter). I have 8 Japanese Maples, most are very small as I can’t afford to buy large ones but even small and growing slowly, they change colors more so than many other trees; they are beautiful and I have to catch my breath when I look at them. Reds, orange, yellows in my back yard and orange and red in my front yard, even some purple. My backyard garden and yard are very secluded even though I live in midtown. Trees line the perimeters and fence provides trellises for clematis and other vines, there is a small pond with a waterfall. I go to my backyard for peace, a secluded secret garden where I can come to my senses.
Below is an instrumental version of the same song Autumn Leaves. This version is by Oscar Peterson. Listen and compare the differences and similarities.
Come to Your Senses
My granddaughter Sophia spent a week with me this summer and would walk with me through the yard and look at all that was growing (sometimes weeds). She is and always was an incredible artist and now plays the big string bass and is deciding where to go to college for both art and science. We talked about the elements of art: Color, Shape, Texture, Line, Space, and more. These elements are part of all of our lives and are used by engineers or Landscape Designers or even you as a gardener. When designing for planting consider the colors and have color all year long, some place. Think about size of bushes, leaves, trees, and flowers and their textures. There are so many elements to consider including sunlight; when finished it works together to give pleasure all year long. In the back yard I have a very small pond. It has a small waterfall so sound is always there and makes it more relaxing. This is my secret garden retreat, my destresser. I don’t even mind pulling a weed or twelve. My sight is changing and I am not able to see what is growing as well as I used to but then the other senses kick in. The waterfall, the breezes, the sound of the breeze in all of my trees, the birds, the smells of blooming shrubs and flowers fill me peace.
Here is one of my favorite old hymns (here is writing as an art) No matter what your faith is, consider these words written in 1838 by Conrad Kocher.
“For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies
For the Love which from our birth
Over and around us lies
Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.”
This song makes me reflect on all the beauty with this hymn and all the beauty that surrounds us, every day. Focus on the beauty and not all of the tragedy that may surround you. Enjoy this video of Warren Bernhardt’s Praise. It is very uplifting no matter your faith.
Song is so important to feel the essence of Autumn. Not just the sounds (even in the last recording you will hear sounds of nature) but how the songs were inspired by the season. For you, how do some of the songs express fall? The two different recordings of Autumn leaves have different moods and tones even though they are about the same event, falling leaves.
In a few days it will be October and this means to many Halloween.
Do you ever carve a different face on your pumpkin? You should do this this fall. Design and make it a family project. Here are some interesting pumpkins to inspire you. Have carving fun no matter the size of your pumpkin.
The arts were definitely involved in Halloween. In Europe trick or treating went on but if you went from house to house wanting a treat you had to perform either a dance, a song, a play, or something choreographed. Another fun fact about Halloween. There is an Irish myth about a man named Jack who roamed through the countryside and carried a lantern usually made by carving out a gourd, potato, turnip, or pumpkin and placed a candle inside making a lantern. This is where we get the term Jack-O-Lantern.
I want you to look at things in a more expansive way, this helps with creativity and fun.
Complete this puzzle, if you think you have solved it, send me an email. The first person to solve will get a small reward. I want to see if people are doing their “homework”.
What do the following items help to create? What do they then have in common? Relax, think outside the box a little and have fun. Here are the puzzle items:
Another assignment: Look around and since it is fall, look for warm colors: red, orange, yellow. They may appear everywhere, you just weren’t looking or focusing before. Another element of art is shape so for this season look for squares. Maybe you will see this shape everywhere. I am typing this in my small home office I have wallpaper with nothing but medium sized squares, black, and browns.
Movement of the Muse
I hope you will stop and have moments in your day when you can focus, concentrate, let go of stress and experience something visual, hearing, or the feeling of awe and wonder. Just for a moment or two. Leonardo DaVinci an artist, inventor, scientist and a person who was fascinated with all, the connection of things, wondering, his curiosity was amazing. If I can help a few others to be more curious, and appreciative of the beauty and the inter connectedness of everything, I will be so happy. I have been accused of being addicted to beauty.
I love finding the beauty; visually, hearing, feeling (kinesthetic) and emotion, taste and smell. We will be adding culinary arts to Arts For All and will write about this aspect in the winter blog. The schools focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) AFA adds art making it STEAM. However, I am always in favor of a liberal arts education. I also see the beauty in people and that to me then brings in the value of history, understanding, being curious and the connection to all of our beautiful world. So look around, it could be the old adage stop and smell the roses but it is certainly still a good idea.
I love architecture so want to end each blog with a picture of a very unusual building that relates to this blog. Please look at the building for the business in upper New York state that is called Play. Isn’t this building fun? The whole idea. Have fun with play and with the arts.
I leave you with a very traditional classical music piece that is a shortened version of Vivaldi’s Autumn.
Listen to all of the sounds that are looking at aspects of Autumn.
I will be writing and posting in December to bring in Winter.
[Posted on September 24, 2018]