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Doo-Nanny 2012!

Yes, I will be at the Doo-Nanny.

Yes, I’m bringing art.  And flowers.

Yes, I’m looking forward to it.

No, I haven’t finished packing yet.

Excuse me while I get on that.

Ten Thousand Flowers and the Magic Clicky Button

It’s been roughly six months since I got it in my head that I would draw and give away ten thousand flowers and I think I’ve gotten a grand total of six envelopes mailed in my direction. When I infiltrated Flux 2011 and set myself up at a table, I was able to draw and give away nearly fifty flowers there. But now the flowers are starting to accumulate in my art supply bag and I haven’t been able to find a suitable venue to distribute them by hand again.

Knowing that the Internet thrives on laziness, I decided to make it just a step easier for someone to acquire a flower from me.  On the Ten Thousand Flowers page you will now find a PayPal donate button, where you can send me the money to reimburse me for postage and envelopes and provide me an address to mail a flower to.  For simplicity’s sake, round it up to $1.00 for a flower mailed inside the United States and $2.00 for a flower mailed internationally.  If you want to round it up even higher, be my guest–any excess funds can go towards more index cards, internet hosting fees and maybe a cup of tea to sip as I draw.

So if you’ve wanted one of these scribbly flowers but you’ve been procrastinating getting it because you pay all your bills online and haven’t used a stamped envelope for anything in ages, I’ve now cleared a path for you to acquire one.  Enjoy!

Click here to receive one of my ten thousand flowers.

Ten Thousand Flowers and the New Year’s Resolution

So for my 2012, I have decided instead of the usual resolutions about exercise and getting organized, I’m going to take on three self-imposed challenges.  The one we’ll discuss here pertains, as you might have guessed, to my Ten Thousand Flowers project.

I knew when I set myself the task of drawing ten thousand of these things, that I’d come up against the usual resistance and procrastination.  The incentive of having people ask me for them has been a useful nudge but the requests have dropped off and I’ve been terrible about letting the world know that I have flowers to give away.  So as a way to poke me into keeping the momentum going instead of waiting until I’ve run out before making new ones, I’ve placed this New Year’s resolution on my shoulders–each day I must do at least one flower.  I can do more, and probably will, but I’m setting myself a minimum of one flower a day.  To keep myself honest, I will also photograph the first flower of the day and put it up on Twitter with the hashtag #10KFlowers.

Flower #74

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first flower of 2012.

I can’t say with absolute certainty that I will hold to this resolution perfectly in the coming year.  But having been offered Neil Gaiman’s benediction to make mistakes this year, it’s worth a try.

Ten Thousand Flowers and the Self-Drawn Map

I find that when I give myself a ridiculous but quantifiable task such as, say, drafting a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, it helps to have some kind of visual aid that allows me to keep track of how far I’ve come and how far I have to go.  By breaking it down into small enough steps, I can also use it to prod the spot in my brain that takes pleasure in a sense of progress.

I came up with a tracking sheet for NaNoWriMo that allows me to cross off a box for every twenty-five words I add to my wordcount.  I batted around the idea of putting together a sheet that would allow me to mark each one of my ten thousand flowers, but I calculated that it would require a 100 by 100 grid, and I wasn’t sure how to put one together without driving myself mad.  I wanted it to be small enough that I could paste it on the back of the bit of cardboard I carry to bear down on when I take my art supplies with me and go to make flowers outside of my home.  One millimeter squares would do the job, but how on earth to draw them?

Answer: find a website that can calculate and draw a grid to just such a set of specifications.  Print out the resultant PDF.  Fill in the squares completed so far.  Victory!

ten thousand flowers

66 down, 9,934 to go . . .

Now each time I complete a flower, I add a single dot to the grid and over time I hope to fill the thing completely with color.

And, yes, you’re right.  I do have a lot of work left to be done.

Click this link if you would like one of my ten thousand flowers.

Ten Thousand Flowers and the Apology From the Postal Service

After making such a huge show of posting my letter to the Postmaster General regarding my misadventures in acquiring an International Reply Coupon, it seemed only fair that I make note of the response that landed in my mailbox yesterday.  I have scanned it (with some redactions) and present it below.

 

(The full-size scan should be viewable here.)

I’ll have to get a few more International Reply Coupons sent in my direction to test the veracity of this, so if you know anybody outside the USA (or happen to be somebody outside the USA) who would like a scribbled flower mailed to them for the price of an envelope and an IRC, please go to the ten thousand flowers page for details.

Word Art: Abstract #3

This is the third in a series of experiments with doing Word Art in abstract patterns with, well, rather abstract words to go with them.

Abstract #3

Abstract #3

Waves of shining silver water caress a blue sand beach as you stand facing the horizon.

The sun is high and bright in a sky with the palest cast of pink.

You step into the water and feel your feet sink into the soft sand.

You kick clouds up as you progress.

The waves are light and offer no resistance so you continue forward until the waters close over your head.

As the waters embrace your body, you find that breathing is not necessary.

Sunlight shimmers overhead, fractured in a dancing web of light by the surface of the water above you.

Your feet find stone, ragged but level enough to tread upon.

A school of fish the color and translucency of amethyst rush past like a startled flock of pigeons.

The ragged stone progresses to tile and you find a road that leads deeper into the waters.

The road ends in a broad plaza surrounding a building of blue stone with a tall entryway flanked by columns.

You see no windows, but as you pass between the columns into the interior, you see that glassless skylights have been cut in the pointed roof.

It is a single room within.

Black and white mosaic tiles cover the floor.

At the far end of the room is an arched alcove enclosing a statue of a robed woman with blindfolded face and hands outstretched, hands that bear eyes upon the palms that face you.

“Speak!” a voice commands, and while the statue remains motionless, the voice clearly rings from it.

You say nothing, as words require breath, and you have taken none in these depths.

“Speak!” the voice cries out once more.

You remain where you stand in silence.

“Speak!” comes the third shout and this time you hold up your hands, palms faced forward in the manner of the statue and gently incline your head in a slow, deliberate nod.

“Well said!” the voice replies and you allow your hands to fall and turn to exit the way you came.

The road you arrived on no longer leads directly back towards the point of beginning, but now forks into two.

The mosaic floor now extends to where you stand and continues down each pathway.

The black and white tiles all pattern themselves to pure black down in one direction and pure white down the other.

The road of black tile is flanked by smooth white columns and the road of white tile has a pair of gleaming black columns in the same way.

You follow each path with your eye, trying to discern where they lead and while you can’t be absolutely sure, it seems to you that both roads curve in such a way that they eventually lead to the same spot.

Did I mention I’ve been reading a lot of Jung lately?  Can ya tell?

I neglected to take a photograph of the framed result because I promptly took it down to WonderRoot to donate to the art auction at their Bomb the Moon event.  I may have to go down just so I can get a picture of it.

Prints of this work are not available.

The original is not for sale.

 

Ten Thousand Flowers and the Confused Postal Service

I’m up to twenty flowers in my Ten Thousand Flowers project, with four sent out so far.  I’ve gotten one envelope from across town, two from across the country and another from across the world.

I’d never had the occasion to use an International Reply Coupon before, but I didn’t think it would be any more complicated than taking it to the post office, finding the guy in the back who knew what to do with it and sending the flower on its merry way.  Instead, the moment I got home from finally getting it sent out, I sat down and composed the following letter:

Mr. Patrick R. Donahoe

Postmaster General
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington DC 20260-0010

Dear Mr. Donahoe—

I wish to bring to your attention an inconsistency in the operation of the United States Postal Service that is of some concern to me and I believe should concern every citizen of our increasingly global society.

I have recently embarked on the project of giving hand-drawn flowers to anybody who requests one from me by mailing me an envelope and sufficient postage. While a SASE is easily obtained in the United States, in order to send my work to other countries I have requested an International Reply Coupon (“IRC”) with the envelope. It did not occur to me that there would be any trouble in exchanging one for sufficient postage to mail a single envelope back to its country of origin.

Unfortunately, I am perplexed to discover that some post offices in my area simply refuse to accept them. I recently received an envelope and IRC from a resident of New Zealand, and while she admitted to some trouble in acquiring one, I never imagined the trouble I would go through to redeem one.

I visited the post office closest to me and the overwhelmed clerk apparently had no idea what to do with the IRC—she put a stamp on the envelope, another stamp on the IRC and then asked for payment for both. I explained that the IRC was the payment and one manager and supervisor later I was informed that the location did not accept them. Fortunately, the stamps were easily removed and I returned home and called another location recommended to me to confirm that they accepted IRCs. I was told that they did not and I asked which location did. I was provided with a phone number that was busy every time I attempted to call it. I called your information line at 800-ASK-USPS and the gentleman I spoke to assured me that any postal location would accept my IRC. He seemed genuinely surprised to learn that this was not the case, and provided me with phone numbers of nearby locations with the suggestion that I call them directly. I finally reached someone at Buckhead Station who was likewise surprised to hear that certain locations refused my IRC but assured me that it could be redeemed there. I drove there and Mr. _____ behind the counter took my IRC, placed three beautiful stamps on my envelope and sent it on its way. (Mr. _____ was a joy to work with, by the way, and should be commended for his service.)

A simple postal transaction should not be rendered a bureaucratic tangle this way. If individual post offices are going to be inconsistent in whether or not they accept IRCs, this information should be made available on your website so that consumers can plan accordingly. Otherwise, all post offices should be prepared to accept IRCs at any time, no matter how intermittently they may be needed.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and for your service to the United States Postal Service.

Sincerely yours,

Sheila O’Shea

I have no idea if it will make any difference, but I felt the need to make the effort.  At any rate, I do at least know of one post office near enough to me that will accept any International Reply Coupons, so I should be able to continue my global flower distribution efforts unimpeded.

Ten Thousand Flowers and the Gremlin in the Head

Yesterday I went to the office supply store and bought a pack of unlined 3-by-5 cards.  I started using the fine point Sharpies that I’d obtained and found still too blunt to do my word art work with and drew flowers on them.

The first ten of ten thousand flowers.

Ten Flowers

The first five were drawn yesterday, the next five today.  I have decided I want to draw and give away ten thousand flowers to anybody who asks for them.

(If you’d like one, go here for the details.)

The thing that struck me when the intention to do so finally locked itself into my brain was how ridiculously, delightfully right it felt and how, almost instantly, my inner gremlins were on the scene, trying to talk me out of it.

Everybody who creates has to deal with the gremlins.  There are all kinds of names for them–Resistance, the Lizard Brain, the Inner Critic and even the Inner Mean Girl–but whatever you call them, you know what they are.  They’re the voices in your head, the parts of your multitudinous self that try to stop you when you try to do something new and strange.  There are lots of different ways to deal with them, but one thing that I realized when I was working my way past them for this particular project is that they can sometimes be quite useful.

This is a rough approximation of the objections the thing raised when I settled on the ten thousand number and how I responded to them.

This is so stupid.  Who’s going to want one of those ugly scribbly flowers, let alone ten thousand of them?

Well, out of a billion people on the Internet, surely I can find ten thousand who will find a scribbly flower something worth obtaining, as something kind of fun and goofy to make them smile.

How are you going to pay for all the 3 x 5 cards and the postage and the envelopes?  You’re still too broke to eat out at a restaurant!

This was actually a valid concern.  This is a way that gremlins can be helpful.  I brainstormed a bit and then smacked myself on the forehead and realized that I didn’t have to spring for postage or envelopes–I could just ask people to send a SASE to my box.  Problem solved.  Sure, ten thousand 3 x 5 cards are still going to cost, but I can take care of that a few bucks at a time.  My first five hundred should last me a while and I can scrape together the money for the next batch of five hundred in the meantime.

What if nobody asks for one?  What if nobody cares at all?

Then I’ll have a lot less work to do, won’t I?  And I’ll get to keep the flowers!

You’re just going to flake out on this.  I’ve seen you go off on these crazy ideas and then fall down on the follow-up.

This is, again, a valid concern.  But I figure if I keep it simple enough I shouldn’t get too overwhelmed.  It’s not like I’m going to get ten thousand requests overnight or anything.  If I keep steadily making flowers and keeping the supply ahead of the number of requests, I should be fine.  Plus, I tend to flake out more with things that only I know about.  Once I’ve told the world, I tend to be a little better about sticking to it.

What happens if people start coming to your blog and trolling you and making fun of you?

I delete the comments and spare a moment of pity for people who are so dead inside that they feel a need to be cruel to somebody for the crime of making scribbly little drawings to give away to people for fun.

Why are you even doing this?  What’s the point?

There are a lot of points to it, really.  One is because it sounds like a pretty nifty thing to do.  Another is because I’ve felt so pinched and deprived that I really wanted a simple way to give the world something from a place of generosity, that fits with who I am and how I function.  I’m too painfully shy for most volunteer work, I’m too broke to donate much in the way of money, but this is a way I can try to make ten thousand people just a little bit happier and hopefully make myself feel a little bit happier as well.

At this point, the gremlin’s down to the usual “nobody’s going to care about this, you know” mantra, to which my response is “that’s nice, I’m going to finish this blog post anyway.”  So there you are.

Again, the page for instructions on obtaining one of my ten thousand flowers is here.  I check my mailbox about once a week, though that may change if I get enough requests.  Thanks for checking this out!

Word Art: Wishing Stars

There’s far too many lucky stars to count

–The Tender Idols, “Six Minute Feeling”

When I finally settled on pricing my art at the rate of five dollars per square inch, I decided I needed some form of one-square-inch art so just about anybody could afford at least something of mine.  I came up with the idea of doing wee magnets of Word Art with very short pieces on them.  I did the first batch of them at the Upper West Side Folk Art Market and dutifully transcribed all the original words into my iPhone so I could hang on to them:

wishingstars

Wishing Stars

Wish #1

This star is a wish for freedom to be whoever you really are. It is a wish that you may live without a sense of not being the way you should. It is a wish for you to love freely what or who you love and never feel the need to apologize for it

Wish #2

This star is a wish that the cracked places will find healing. It is a wish that your heart will expand in a way to your utter surprise. It is a wish for beauty, grace and for life in all its perplexing ways.

Wish #3

This star is a wish that you will always carry peace within your heart. This is a wish for serenity that knows beyond any knowing to breathe and let things be what they are. This is a wish for the wisdom to recall that all storms will pass and the rain exhausts itself into sunlight.

Wish #4

This star is a wish that the bright light of your inspiration will shine brightly for the world to see. It is a wish that your light will be seen as clearly as possible without filters to obscure the true colors and the true brilliance of it.

Wish #5

This star is a wish for you to know laughter, for you to take all things lightly. It is a wish no matter how critical the situation can become, it does not ever become serious. It is, in a way, a wish that you may see things from the outside and laugh now.

Wish #6

This star is a wish for a rich life full of all the marvels and wonders that this world has to offer to every one of us. It is a wish for you to lack for nothing in life that you have true need of and to embrace gratitude.

Wish #7

This star is a wish that your life may be filled with surprises of the happy kind. It is a wish that you will be gifted with presents you didn’t even know that you wanted until you received them. It is a wish for happy random perfection. It is a wish that apparent chaos may resolve itself into fractal beauty and perfection.

Moon

Sentinel of the night sky, perpetual in change and strangely constant for even as change will come over the face the same face is turned to us each night and only the shadow will shift. We are similar.

Actually, I did the moon first.  I’ve only done it once and I’m not even sure if I’ll do it again or just leave it on my fridge as a reminder of how this all started.

At my first art show, I swapped a wishing star with Chris Hubbard for a lucky star from his booth.  Somebody else bought another.  Then I came to the question of how to replenish my stock.  I decided to allow myself to repeat myself a bit and re-do some previous wishes.  Then I discovered how much easier said than done that was.

The first few stars had been tossed off rapidly–sketch in the stars and come up with words.  Then trying to repeat what I’d done left me wondering how in the heck did I do that in the first place.  It didn’t help that I’d been quietly raising my standards so that stars I would have used before started to appear too shabby for public consumption.  Finally, I hit a wall and could barely even make myself make them anymore.

Eventually, I nudged myself past my reluctance and starting refining my methods so the results both looked better and were easier to do.  (Templates are a beautiful thing, y’all.)  I tweaked my process a bit more as I sat in my booth at the Art-B-Que and while I didn’t sell much in the way of magnets, I did wonders in producing the things.

Art-B-Que May 7-8 2011

Just a quick post to let people know I’ll be sharing a tent with my brother Sean O’Shea of Industrious Designs at the Art-B-Que this weekend in Avondale Estates, Georgia.

Think maybe I should get some more art made for it?