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The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Play Book is here...

The Play Book is finally here.  Nils's description of the book follows:

The Play Book, by Nils Lou,

ISBN 978-1-4269-1067-8, 120 pages, $20


"This a manual for connecting to the creative impulse by learning to play again.By re-learning to play an authentic connection is made and the mystery of creativity is exposed.

While play can be fun, it is serious business, and isn’t just for children. Play requires the same mindset for an adult as it did when you were a child. It is a state of opportunity with infinite possibilities. Real play has no rules. It allows all possibilities.

The play imperative is about jumpstarting our consciousness—by breaking the habit of ordinary, repetitive routines and introducing play as an essential nutrient for creative living. It is not goofing off. Play has the potential to shift our gears and engage the creative engine of life—to surprise us with unexpected answers to daily problems.

By learning how to play again and making playfulness a part of our conscious experience, life can change dramatically and creatively. Play is a fundamental state of being, crucial to creative awareness. Play power is a modulus for creativity, a gift that can be nurtured as a wonderful tool for opening the world of imagination.

The Play Book exposes common misconceptions about creativity—can we get it? Is it only for certain people? And, how can we let go of conventional, imitative ideas, and connect with fields of possibilities, where expectations are merely a point of departure? The play imperative is the latent child inhabiting our desire to make things. It’s about conjuring the unexpected—in business, in art, in the kitchen, or in life. Play is the prime lubricant.

This is for players. You were once a player, but now as an adult, play-time is perhaps only a memory. Play is a powerful tool for experiencing creative consciousness. It is a tool that can be accessed by anyone desiring an authentic experience—an opportunity to be connected to the energies that give us vitality, imagination, passion.

            The Play Book is set up to help by starting with some simple exercises designed to tune your body and mind to the idea of play. What exactly do you expect to happen? It’s not going to be an ordinary experience, so expect that it will be different." 

Available from or from us where the price is, as Nils puts it, "$18 signed, or $20 undamaged".

I share Nils's philosophy of playful creativity and it guides both of us in our art and our lives.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two years of joy...

Two years ago on Tuesday, my dear Nils and I got married in our backyard while 70 family members and friends wiped teary eyes (as did we).  Best "man" Vickie and "maid of honor" Ron stood by us as our dear friend Suzie read our beautiful ceremony and vows.

It was a whirlwind romance which started on January 12, 2007, when we met on a snowy corner in McMinnville. Little did I know how that moment would change my life.
We met via eHarmony, and were ultimately named eHarmony's Oregon couple of the year for 2007 based on the story of our romance, a story which, by the way, continues through every day of our lives.
After many years alone (16 for me, 7 for Nils) what a great gift to find a mate so loving, good, fun and compatible!  Here's hoping for many, many more years ahead.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Art and Soul Workshops not instead.

Crisp, sunny days with cool nights, cool enough enough to warrant flannel sheets again.  Going into my favorite time of year (if it just didn't lead into winter), I'm sorry to say I have had to cancel out of my Art and Soul workshops for this year.   I found out I have to have major surgery on October 16th, and so in order to stay healthy for this 12 hour surgery I have to avoid things like being in a hotel with about 500 people in various stages of wellness and illness. 

My sincerest apologies to those I have disappointed by not being there to teach you.  But honestly, all of my life I have put the needs of others first, and this time I have to think of me first and concentrate on being well so I can be there next year...and create a DVD of my class...and write a screenplay...and a book...and do more art...and learn to play golf (even though I'm not sure life is long enough to do that)...and enjoy my wonderful husband, kids and grandkids...and garden...and get better at yoga...and...and...and...  I just can't wait to have this surgery and recovery behind me so I can get back at all the things I love to do.

Many have sent their prayers/good wishes/healing thoughts/entreaties to the Universe.  Thank you, I'll take all of them in any form and use them to energize my time of healing.  I'm using this time to listen to my guided visualization pre-surgery CD, to rest, to enjoy a few more weeks of being outside before the long recuperation and to mentally prepare for what is ahead.  My dear husband Nils is my rock.  He is supportive, encouraging and completely here for me, and keeps me grounded on the days I soar into the realm of worry and panic.  Thanks, dear!

Thanks to everyone for being understanding.   I'll be back, better than ever!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Art and Soul workshops coming soon!

Preparing for the 3 workshops I'll teach at Art and Soul in Portland at the end of the month is taking up much of my time.  But it is a fun process that culminates in meeting many new people and seeing old friends, and teaching people new creative processes, which I love.
The Transfers and Transparencies workshop is one I have taught now for...hmmm... how many?...probably 4 years now.  It always fills even if we have 3 sessions of it, as we did last year.  If you are signed up, rest assured you will not fall asleep, even though it is in the evening, as the class is engaging and active from beginning to end.
The other workshop I am teaching is Dumpster Diving Assemblage, a found object art workshop.  I've had fun sorting through all of personally collected goodies to fill Rubbermaids full of "stuff" for my students to choose from.  
I'll be posting this week on the Art and Soul Yahoo! group asking for helpers for both classes.  So if you are attending Art and Soul, but didn't get into my classes before they filled, this is the next best thing.  You can help during the class, and you get all the info and materials the class attendees get.  Usually I turn people away because so many want to participate, so if you are interested, email me (see sidebar where it says Email Me).  Thanks!
(At Least Not For Me, copyright 2005 by Diane Lou.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

A creative solution....

In my previous post, I mentioned the sloping weedy area beside the vegetable garden as well as the desire for a flower bed.  Here's the solution.  First I covered the area with 25 year ground cover cloth (weed barrier), leaving plenty to pull up behind what you see above (That's it behind the steel).  

In looking for something for a retaining wall, I found these laser-cut steel  sheets (2x6') down in the old studio. When the sheet metal company cuts out multiple items for a certain purpose, these are the leftovers.  Nils got them free years ago and we have lots of them in different patterns, the pattern being determined by what it cut from them.  I find them intriguing and wonderful.

We simply supported them with rebar driven into the ground a couple feet, pulled the ground cover cloth up behind and back filled with good soil.  We then topped it off with a 2x6" with a groove sawn into it which fit along the top of the steel to hold it together.

The back-filled area is about 30'x4' and is now filled with newly planted perennials and underplanted with 300 bulbs which should be glorious in spring.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The fall garden

This year's garden has been the garden everyone wants but seldom gets.  Everything grew perfectly and lushly, tasted like heaven, and was breathtakingly beautiful.  This photo was taken yesterday and shows the lush, huge parts of the garden, as well as those areas that have been replanted with new fall plantings of cool weather crops that can tolerate chilly nights and still thrive.  It has been pure joy to watch and nurture it each day, and to enjoy the endless bounty that came from a few packages of seed.  

The area right beside the garden, the area that slopes down towards the studio you see in the background was a weed patch filled with thistles and all sorts of obnoxious things.  When daughter Lenka came to visit, we did a day of marathon weeding around here and that was one of the areas we tackled.  She is an amazing worker!  Once we had that area beside the garden weeded, I vowed not to let it get away from me again.  I put that thought together with the thought that I had really missed having a big flower bed this year to cut bouquets from, and, in the next day or so, you'll see the end result of those thoughts and the creative (and free) solution to the situation.

The completed mural

                                                                      Mural detail.

Here's an aerial view of our finished 6x9' clay mural.  This is the raw state....before firing, which will happen in the East Creek anagama in our fall firing.  The mural will grace a prepared wall on the back side of our house.