How long did it take you to do that?


Saw a blog by another artist on this topic awhile ago, with a different bent than where I plan to go with the topic, but it reminded me that this is a subject near and dear to my heart.  A couple years ago, I was sketching at a restaurant in San Diego, and someone asked me “You just did that now?!  How long did it take you?”  When I responded “About 30 minutes,” the comment came back, somewhat sarcastically, “Must be nice!”  It got me thinking.

I needed to come up with a better answer to convey that it was really more than that thirty minutes…   I’ve been drawing most of my life, which by now is a few decades…  and I have put in tons of time and effort into the process of learning and practicing.  When I was a kid, I spent a considerable amount of my allowance money on “Learn to Draw” books and would copy things from them.  Growing up, I also took various art and drawing classes through parks and recreation programs and anywhere else they may have been offered.  In college I took extra classes as it was something I enjoyed and wanted to be better at doing, and something I thought I needed to do well to become an architect.  Still, I continue to practice when I can, and especially like to capture my impressions when I travel to new places, both by camera and by sketchbook.

I had a talk with a musician friend about this too.  He said he gets many of the same kinds of comments, “Must be nice you have that gift of music.”  He said it also frustrates him when people comment in this way.  People don’t seem to get that there were years when he would practice as much as six hours a day to learn to play as well as he does, day in, day out.  So yes, it is gift, but also a developed skill.

So I came up with a new answer for the “How long did it take you to do that?” question, “30 minutes and 30 years of practice.”  And people seem to get it.

A different sort of journey…

Having started my blog some time ago, I’ve been meaning to get back to it awhile, and hope to be much more consistent. Weekly seems a good start, though I’ve heard 2-3 times a week is recommended. We will see if I have enough to share that is new that often!

I have been on a different sort of creative journey in recent years as I’ve been sorting through what to do with myself while not working full-time as an architect. I’ve stayed involved in the profession by  participating in many organizations where I regularly read, learn and see architecture and landscape architecture and where I receive lots of continuing education, and I’ve been able to work as a consultant to other architects, but have also been exploring other talents and interests. Thankfully, I’ve been able to do quite a bit of art, and it has been a blessing. On Friday, October 4th, I celebrated having two pieces in the Fall NM Watercolor Society Exhibition that was juried by Ted Nuttal.  Saturday, October 12th, was the opening of “Ecclectic Beauty” at the Tortuga Gallery here in Albuquerque where I am one of five featured artists.  During the last two years, I have created a couple sets of note cards that are currently featured at Los Poblanos Farm (cards of that location) and Plants of the Southwest (a botanical set including mostly agave images as well as one iris). Currently, I am negotiating with at least one more retail establishment that may also carry my cards soon. Earlier this year, I also started offering a series of sketching classes, in conjunction with my talented colleague Terry Brown, FAIA at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm.

My recent creative journey has been one of innovation and entrepreneurship, requiring me to learn many new things, but it’s been a fun one and as people often say, I’m grateful to have multiple talents to draw on (no pun intended) in this more challenging economy.  I find it interesting that sometimes people want to keep me in the box of “architect,” though I have almost always had other things going on in my life including art and music. In a recent marketing group meeting, I actually had to argue with a woman about art being part of my business.  She insisted that art was a hobby and that architecture was my business, as if I myself didn’t know better.  This experience made me wonder if people like Leonardo DaVinci or Thomas Jefferson had to deal with people in this way.  Certainly they were men who not only pursued, but excelled at many different interests in their lifetimes.  Curious, I looked up how long these two men lived, and found it more amazing that Leonardo DaVinci accomplished all he did in just 68 years, while Thomas Jefferson lived to be 87.  Seems to me that many people in today’s society wind down in life far earlier than they should, and that many people are capable of accomplishing so much more.

Starting a Second Creative Journey…

I know, long time no blog.  Guess I thought I would be sharing more of the Artist’s Way journey here with you, but have to say it was a busy 12-week process and I didn’t manage to make time for blogging.  Really enjoyed Julia Cameron’s guide for growth last fall along with six other women who stuck it out for the whole 12 weeks.  It was quite remarkable how much my life seemed to track what was in the book or vice versa–something of a chicken and egg issue, not really sure which was the cause and which the effect.

Learned quite a bit about myself and highly recommend the process to other artists.  It was a good look at what causes me to create and not create, and many of the underlying issues of life that seem to affect my work.  Some of them I was familiar with and some of the revelations were quite helpful, enabling me to better deal with things so that I can move forward more easily and freely.  As a group, we have decided to move forward with another of Julia Cameron’s books, Finding Water, and are currently in our second week.

Lots of morning pages…  for the first 12-weeks, assuming I did them all (which was usually the case), that adds up to 252 pages in the 12-week series, not counting other journaling exercises, of which there were many.  Still haven’t re-read them all though an assignment asked us to do so.  Yet from what I did read, I realized there was an undue focus on my schedule day-to-day, signaling that I very much need to simplify my life in order to achieve more of the things I’m looking to achieve, along with just learning to have more of a balanced life.  Going too many directions all at once is certainly not the best tactic for getting there, yet figuring out where to let go, and what activities to drop, is always the big challenge.

By this second book, I’m finding that the weekly “Artist Dates” prescribed by Julia Cameron are quite enjoyable and do tend to inspire creativity.  I realize too that I’ve gotten involved again in some creative things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. These include 1) playing the piano again as I finally got it tuned for the first time in 18 years or so! and 2) designing theater sets.  Designed my first set for a play (in more than 20 years that is!) still showing this month at the Auxilliary Dog Theatre in Nob Hill called A Shot Away, and now working on the next one for The Price which will open in early February.  Have to say that the books by Julia Cameron really do have a lot of great ideas and are very inspirational, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed broadening and deepening the friendships I’ve made with other artistic women there in the process.


Feeding Creativity

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the opportunity to explore my art in a fun setting.  Attended a workshop called “Deconstructing Our New Mexico Landscape” given at the Georgia O’Keefe Museum Annex in Santa Fe facilitated by Amy Paloranta, M.A. Art Therapy, artist, and arts educator.  It was a great opportunity to focus creating something abstract from pictures I took of some of the beauty on my journey home from Pagosa Springs this summer.  Recently, I joined a group of people in an Artist’s Way Sacred Circle group and am enjoying my commitment to having an artist’s date each week.  Nice to have a reason to make doing something nurturing or inspiring at least a weekly habit (not that I should need one!).

Shouldn’t we be doing these things as artists?!  How easy it is to get bogged down in the day to day routine of things, and not to make time for things that keep our bodies and souls healthy.  It’s also been too easy to say I don’t deserve to do things for myself–though I often do things for other people.  Thankfully I’ve been learning that the scripture does say “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  So, getting back to loving myself is in order…

Would be interested to hear from others what feeds your creativity?  Am just beginning to explore this more myself.  On Monday I’ll be teaching a short session for my watercolor group called “Local Color” and am going to use five poems on a particular theme to inspire people to paint about that theme.  Always find that poetry has a way of feeding my soul and is often good at conjuring up images in my head.  Years ago, I took a class with a man who had us paint a scene described in a Tony Hillerman novel, and it was fascinating to see the outcome of that from various different artists.  Working from the written word rather from visual images seemed to bring in an entirely different level of creativity that was quite stimulating.  I’m excited to see what this week’s exercise will bring from my many talented artist friends, and perhaps I can post some of the results afterwards.

In the next 10 or so weeks, I’ll be continuing my weekly artist dates, and perhaps for long afterwards.  Already I’m liking the idea of scheduling at least a little focused “me” time each week.  Am also interested in seeing the results of spending this time doing more nurturing activities in my art!

So, what have you done lately to feed your own creativity?  Won’t you consider joining me on this journey to get more in touch with your creativity?  I’d love to hear about it if you do!



Moving Forward!

Garlic Flower

Garlic Flower Inspired, original watercolor

This week, I sold four small paintings to a friend, including the one shown here which was inspired by a picture I took of a garlic flower.  Always thrilled when people appreciate my work enough to buy it!

On Wednesday, I started my new part-time job as the Executive Director for Elevate, a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop evolving strategies for the reconciliation of community and the environment.  Seems a good place for me (and I love that I can work from home for the most part) and I look forward to learning more about all that we are doing!  If you would like to follow our progress, you can check out the website at

Am gaining on the development of my new website and learning quite a bit from the WordPress MeetUp group I joined just a couple months ago.  Plenty to learn, but I’m determined and looking forward to being more than a novice with the program at some point in the future.  As part of my new Executive Director position, I will be managing the website, so am having a bit of a crash course in website development.  Never too old to learn, I say!  For people who avoid learning new technology, I’m always spurred on by my grandfather, Henry Morris who was able to learn AutoCAD sometime in his 60s or 70s! 

Am in a bit of a process of refining my life.  Recently revised my Klemmer contract statement to: “I am a serene, focused, vivacious and cherished woman,” and have found it to serve me well so far.  Plenty of room to grow into all of these words.

Am looking forward to a small weekend trip to visit my good friend Father Don Malin in Pagosa Springs, CO.  He will be installed as the new pastor for John Paul II on Saturday evening, July 23, 2011.  Have not yet been to Pagosa Springs, or even Chama, NM, so am looking forward to a road trip through these areas I’ve heard people exclaim about for years!

Also looking forward to getting back to more blogging now that I’ve settled on a webpage format for the time being…

Thanks again for stopping in–I invite you to watch for additional postings and the continued deveopment of my site!

Mothers, Parents, and Loved Ones

Last December, when I received the 5am call on a Friday morning that my mother was on her way to the hospital, I was oddly calm.  However, a flood of emotions followed a couple hours later.  More came when the second call came saying if I wanted to be sure to see her again, I should plan to be there by Sunday or Monday.  I was there on Saturday.

Though I’ve had my challenges at times with my mother (seems most of us do), what was most clear to me in that day of getting ready to get on a plane to Florida to be with her, was that I was SO not ready to lose her.  While I had just spent several days in Arizona with her the previous week for Thanksgiving and we’d had a nice visit, it was the thought of not having her to call anytime I wanted that was hardest to face.  For the time of her incredible recovery (and she has just about completely recovered from a 3-10% chance of living! which is why I know call her “the miracle lady”), it was extremely hard not to be able to talk to her about any little thing going on in my life or hers.

Today I opened a card from Mom, aka miracle lady, to read “Hi to my beautiful, talented and resourceful daughter–your Mom thinks you are doing amazingly well in these difficult times.  Lots of Love, Mom”.  Tears flowed freely.  What a blessing was this encouragement I needed to hear today.  It’s been such a trying year, but in spite of all that I’m most grateful that I was able to take the month to go and be with her all those hours in the hospital and to see her through such an amazing fight for her life.

So, for children who still have their mothers/fathers, I hope you don’t have to experience something like this to realize the value of your parents.  And, for parents who have children who don’t always seem to appreciate you, know that you have the ability to be infinitely important to your children, whether this is apparent to you or not.  To everyone, don’t hesitate in speaking, writing or otherwise sharing those words of love, encouragement and support that can make such a difference in someone’s life.

Things Can Change in an Instant!

This morning I woke up reflecting on how things can change in an instant.  Certainly this is not a new concept, and it’s definitely not something I learned recently, but something I continue to learn and see over and over again in my life.  Perhaps I learned it first, and deepest when my father was killed instantly in a car accident when I was 14, though surprisingly, as deep as this memory goes, it is still a concept I forget from time to time. 

Good for me to remember that being open to what happens day to day is the best place for me to be.  My reflections began from thinking how a phone call I received about a job interview next week impacted me when it came.  I was on a certain track and feeling like things were going in one direction, but when the call came, I realized how excited I was about the possiblity it brought, and how it expanded my thinking.  Not to say that I may not continue in the direction I was heading if the interview doesn’t lead to this job, but what’s important here is the concept of remaining open to what happens.  In fact, more things happened yesterday that could take me in an entirely different direction, so my thinking was again expanded.  As a result, I am realizing, as I’ve been told more than once, that I seem to do best in life when I can stay present in today, not focusing too much on what I think will happen tomorrow.

So, moving on with this thought, and hearing a voice in my brain saying what I have heard in Klemmer trainings more than once, “as we are in anything, we are in everything,” I began to consider how this concept plays out in my art.  When I am creating a watercolor painting or a sketch, it is often the case that I start from a scene, picture or image that inspires me to go in a certain direction.  Then, as I begin to put that idea on paper, something often happens to take me in another direction.  If I remain stuck on the original idea, as in life, I can find myself very disappointed at the results and critical of myself for not perfectly executing what it was I was seeing in my initial vision.  However, if I am open to the change and remain open to it being a positive force, I often end up with something far better than I could have initially conceived. 

This is one of the most exciting and helpful things I have ever learned about the creative process, and it’s quite intimately connected to the how I view the creative forces at work in my life.  Day to day, may I not miss the blessings around me because I’m focused on the original way I was expecting something to be!

My first blog!

Well, still plenty to do here to create a complete website, but have been wanting to write a blog for awhile and am going to take this opportunity to get started.  Not entirely sure where the motivation for this came from (some of it from my mother’s recent crisis and the daily log I kept on Caringbridge for a few months in the last year), but have been wanting to get back to more writing, and this seems a good way to get back to it.  Am guessing that I will find my way and voice over time in this endeavor, and the books I’ve read so far support just starting and figuring it out along the way, so here I am to do just that.

Things that are important to me to write about, depending on the day include the topic of creativity which has long been a fascination for me, and about which I’ve been doing much reading.  No doubt it has roots in my 25+ year career in architecture and art, but also in my musical training and experiences with theater, and any number of other types of creativity experiences.  I also have a stated 500-year goal of ending suicide (thanks to Brian Klemmer’s influence), though have yet to figure out what exactly this looks like or where my work to this end fits into my already busy life, so certainly this will be a topic here on occasion.  My faith and personal growth will no doubt be part of the content here, and certainly this past year and more of exploration in the realm of figuring out my professional life will be mentioned.  Will post another page of information about at least some of my background for anyone who stops in that isn’t already familiar with it.

I look forward to hearing back from anyone who stops here to read what I have to say.  We may or may not agree, but I do welcome your comments and conversation.  From everything I’ve read and experienced so far about blogging, it’s often the discussion and activity that comes from a blog, and not just the blog itself, that makes it such an interesting form of communication and information sharing. 

As I’ve lately been noticing how many blessings there are everywhere in my life, I’m closing this first blog with a litany of gratitude.  Thanks first to God for calling me out of my pain and showing me how very much life is worth living, to Jesus for loving me and making my faith so much more personal, and to the Holy Spirit for choosing to dwell in me.  A very special thanks to my mother, aka the miracle lady, who has always been my biggest fan and who is an incessant encourager in my life–and especially for her role in encouraging and developing my creativity.  Thanks to my ever expanding Klemmer & Associates family who have supported me in ways I didn’t know I needed to achieve things I never believed I could achieve.  Thanks to my huge extended family and friends who are now scattered across the globe.  Thanks too for City of the Lord  in Tempe, a devout group of amazigly gifted people who had and still have a very strong role in my formation as a Catholic and who continue to live lives that inspire me and call me forward in my faith.  Whether any of you are currently in my life or not, you continue to impact me daily, whether you know it or not.  Also, a thank you to my new kind, enthusiastic and talented friend Michael Browning for helping me establish this site in a very short time.  It’s been a very exciting process!

I look forward to sharing more of my life with whoever chooses to stop by, and to hearing back from you about yours!

Karin’s Website Debut!

Wow, I’m on line!  A friend helped me establish this website today, and I’m amazed how quickly it went.  Am ready to write a longer blog soon, but wanted at least post a short message on this somewhat monumental day to say that things are going to be “under construction” for a little bit.  Hope you will check back later, and I will send around something to people as soon as I’m ready for the big public “unveiling” of the site.

Thanks for stopping in!