Friday, May 3, 2013

What Makes For A Really Great Day?

What makes for a really great day? It must have really been a great day since it is now 9:00 pm on Thursday and I actually feel like writing a post for this neglected blog.  I will probably finish this 36 hours later but it is a start and my tenses may be all over the place. I will try to stay present as much as possible but will most likely end up present imperfect.

Copyright 2013 Marilyn Grad

Back to the question at blog. Waking up is ALWAYS a grand start and finding your groove. It also helps that as the day progresses you somehow manage to laugh and work through the stress and nonsense, and keep matters in perspective. I managed much to my relief. 

Copyright 2013 Marilyn Grad

What made this day feel so great was knowing I had the next two days off and they were going to be filled with some celebrations in art and yoga. Soul food. My plans for the evening included attending a collaborative performance of music and video by friend and coworker, photographer John Atwood at Intuit.

Several hours before that performance, I had the joy and pleasure of selling three bracelets to another co-worker's mother who lives in Austria and was visiting briefly. She had noticed the bracelets I was wearing the day before and wanted some so I brought some in the next day (today-Friday). The few English words she spoke outnumbered my German, but our nonverbal exchange was beautiful and fun. By the time this posts she will have already returned home having worn one of my bracelets on the flight and the others are now probably seeing the sights of Austria. I wish I was a bracelet.

On my way to Intuit, I spontaneously and unexpectedly discovered A Brave New Art World, in the River North Art Gallery district.  I entered participating galleries, saw performance artists and tasted new local beverages that are presently (told you my tenses were going to be all over the place) making their way into the marketplace.

The best was meeting, talking and laughing with contemporary asian art gallery owner Andrew Bae. We had an interesting conversation about the globalization of art. He catered his event with Cuban cuisine which I found hilarious. What can I say? He did too!

If you are still with me and following this (thank you and bless you), what is and was truly great about this day is and was that I was nurtured by my passions and interests with some unexpected surprises along the way. I was happy. Obstacles are getting out of my way. I began to feel roots taking place in Chicago after 30 years here. (Will see how long that lasts.) This and that makes for a great day! Thanks Ganesha. Here's looking to a successful future tense.

Copyright 2013 Marilyn Grad

Friday, February 22, 2013

Enlightenment From The Kitchen Sink

I am a visual person. I like to do visualizations. I even create a vision board every year. When negative, overly sensitive, self-doubt, shame and jealous thoughts possess my mind, far too frequently for my taste and vision, and impair my creative side, I have tools and techniques to get me through them. But sometimes those are not enough or seem to be doing the trick. 

Recently I was given that something else, a visual gift which required me to seek outside professional help. Would you like to see what all the dark thoughts and goings on inside my head would look like without doing a brain scan? Me too. Yes, it is a pre-existing condition of mine so thank goodness I have insurance. I was not declined. 
The gift: It's all here in its all its murky, smelly black and white and silver glory. All that was required of me was to look down at my kitchen sink, wait and watch things clear out. No words necessary.


What a visualization!! and a process. After clearing away the muck resulting from black acrylic paint building up and clogging the sink, it finally opened up with the help of something stronger- a plumber and a mental purge. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Motivated By Words and Numbers, Artistically Speaking

"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself."
Thich Nhat Hanh

I love this quote. I love the art I now make. And I do accept myself-my strengths, insecurities and shortcomings. Truly, I do. However, where Thich Nhat Hanh and I diverge is the second sentence of this quote. I do need to be accepted by others when it comes my art.  Seeing my LIKE numbers go up on virtual social media sites, getting into brick and mortar locations and under some tarp (aka outdoor shows & a tent!) would be a beautiful thing.  Especially financially. It weighs on me. There goes that comparison to others thang.  And like the lottery, I am very aware that I have to keep playing and applying myself to increase the odds in order to fulfill those goals and objectives.

THE NUMBERS: Forget Facebook at the moment. What is now triggering the numbers game is my recent sign up to the See.Me site, formerly Artists Wanted. It is a wonderful site of over 615,000 artists (an intimate gathering), from all over the world and all mediums, who can connect, share and support one another, and are all eligible to compete for cash, grants, and the opportunity show in New York. I really like this site and the international support I am starting to receive in less than three weeks is gaining some momentum. Now that does feel good.

THE WORDS: Last Monday (January 21) and for 6 consecutive days, I have watched,  listened and transcribed the words of artist Wayne White, from an Independent Lens documentary entitled Beauty is Embarressing  that aired on our local PBS station. There was much to be learned and be inspired from this 90 minute film and who knows when it will air again. Love him!!!  Here is a brief introduction:

"Art makes no sense as far as a career. I just want to do it for myself. I am just as insecure as anybody in alot of ways. There has to be this other kind of faith in yourself. I always take this big cosmic view: You're only going to live maybe 80-90  years, if you're lucky, and that's it, that's all you get, so why not?"
 Wayne White 

"If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased."
Katherine Hepburn

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Making An Artistic Statement in 2013: Mine

Twelve days into 2013,  I'm ready to make THE statement about my art. It's time to get the words rolling, honor my blogging vows and start fulfilling goals that did not happen in 2012. How I am ever reminded that it is a process. There is also an inspirational video that takes a no holds bar approach especially when to comes to the green stuff$$.

Marilyn Grad’s Mixed Media Creations is an eclectic body of work, all original, all individually handpainted, and one-of-a- kind or limited edition.  My philosophy and approach to art is simple: it is enriching, healing, sacred and essential in life.  I am currently embarking on a new direction with my art: one that is soulful, insightful, personally fulfilling and incorporates a few of my many passions. A self taught artist, you will see my personality and humor authentically reflected in my creations, which is comprised of wall art, wood bangles and wood boxes. They are unique, colorful, inspirational, spiritual, whim(sical), functional, decorative, and wearable.

I have affection and feel a strong connection to Asian and Indian art and culture; iconic symbolism and representation such as the Buddha and the Hindu deities; Eastern religion and philosophy (Buddhism and Hinduism) and use these in my inspirational and Geisha paintings.  As a yoga student and practitioner, the yogic teachings also have an influential role in these pieces, my life, and most definitely my creative process. All together, it leads to living a more beautiful, calm and healthy lifestyle both on and off the canvas.

Wood is the foundation material I like to use in most of the pieces. It provides me with appreciated support, strength and durability and doesn’t break should you accidently drop it. Other materials I presently use include acrylics, texture paint, gem stones, crystals, natural stones, resin deities, glass tiles, found and recycled objects, canvas, and clay. Every piece is finished with a non-toxic polyurethane varnish.

Thank you for taking the time to read this Artist Statement. I now invite you to look, feel, and connect with my art in your own unique way.

Visit my website at


I had A LOT of doubts and blocks about my artistic future in 2012.  I have my itch back now. This video has corrected the errors of my mindset- easier said than done. I apologize for the overpowering size of this video. I just copied and pasted the code and whoa. This message is huge!  I love how my art is incorporated (thanks blogger) in the video. I like seeing my work in New York. I nice goal and vision for 2013!! Click on the center of the image to start the video.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Help, I've Fallen Off the Bloggers Grid and Need to Get Back Up

I hope to remedy this right here and now before I totally go off the artist's cliff.  This is my contribution and vow to get back up, rebuild and stay there. This year is almost over and reflectively I have asked... So what do I have to say for myself? What have I been up to and down to besides reacquainting myself with I actually forgot how to do use it. Convenient. 

Artistically and personally speaking, I could not force what was not there: writing in scattered thoughts, rough drafts and painting in broken voids.  I wanted some discipline and a few Muses for the holidays and I actually received them. Thanks to them, I can write today. A chilly, overcast day and no open stores helps in the process.

Mixed Media
Marilyn Grad @2012

I actually did work off the grid, like taking Alyson Stanfield's Shameless Self Promotion class, live and in person in October, created some new pieces and explored new marketing ideas, which attributed to some delays, and worked on social me.

So, this being the Holiday Season, specifically Christmas Day, AND mustering the nerve and devotion to get back on the grid, I want to wish you Joy, Peace, Merriment, Health and Prosperity now and for the New Year.

Friday, October 5, 2012

RAW Emotion: Honestly Part 2

Now that a few of my lowlights from the RAW 2012 were shown and expressed in Part 1 (quite cathartic), there were indeed some highlights. It took some raw feeling and surrender of emotion on my part to get over my deep annoyance and disappointment this year. This was my only show scheduled this year so far and the rust had set deeper than I anticipated. Was this another cosmic test or sign to see how badly I still wanted to be and make it as an artist? Is this why there were real and ugly road blocks and multi-leveled personality challenges in my path? I changed my attitude so I could find and strike a balance and put a positive mental spin on all this. Had to. I was really hurting inside (and apparently still am as I write this on my pity pot.) This process was actually my Nirvana moment. 

My sales were not what they were last year at all. I had to make this show less about the money to boost my spirits. It was seeing dear friends who came and found their way to our location, witnessing the smiles and AHA!s my work put on people's faces, making new connections and meeting these cuties and real art aficionados:

The child?!! on the right, who is wise beyond her years and stunned me with her maturity and knowledge about art and other things, was looking at my work, loved it and paused. She proceeded to tell me how she had seen a character style like this before somewhere, that someone else was doing this and it came together. Her family owns one of my Take-Out menu boxes, the ones I no longer make. She was so excited. Me too.

I shared space with Erin Rossi Designs, Twisted Sisters, jewelry artist Elyse Umlauf-Garneau and these two beautiful jewelry artists. We bonded so well, bent some elbows and became "family", Malgorzata Petr of GOSIA Jewelry  with her sculptor artist husband Dandee, and Laura Garza of  So much so that we plan to discuss the possibility of doing our own venue together to show our work.

It does sadden me though when I look at the pictures and the press that others recently posted on FB where there was life and where they seemed supported by their hosts. A genuine sign of community that we lacked.

“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”~ Pema Chodron. 

The point isn’t to wallow or feel overwhelmed with the parts that aren’t all happy and shiny. The point is to look at them, to sit with them, because they are part of who we are.

I felt more raw than I expected and can now only move on and forward. I am proud of myself that I worked and processed through some of my "ego demons."  I now welcome the growth and that I passed my own self-made tests.

RAW Emotion: Honestly Part 1


Well....The 2012 Ravenswood Artwalk came and went. The weather was perfect!! Nirvana. Clear skies, sunny, warm, a great day to walk around a great neighborhood and see some art. This was my third time doing the RAW and I was going in with high hopes. Why not? I did well last year and hoped the momentum would continue. I was familiar with my assigned location having ironically/sadly been in this location my first year when it was a gym :( . This year was going to be different? as the Chicago Mosaic School had taken over the space, beautifully I might add.

Keeping the tradition of posting highlights from each year's show in my blog, I will take you on a mini tour of RAW 2012. I did not get to see too much of the show this year, just enough to know where I would like to request and be next year.

Let's begin on the lows, shall we?  Follow me up N. Ravenswood as we see the construction for the new Metra Rail system underway. Some streets were blocked which made those driving become more creative. WE ARE ALL CREATIVES! in this life in some way, shape or expression.

We'll walk up North Ravenswood and take a left on West Cuyler to the Chicago Mosaic School:

We have arrived and will walk up two flights of stairs to the Second Floor:

There was no promotion/signage on the street so on Saturday morning with two posters one of the artist's had, I collected all the artists business cards, scotched tape them to the poster and together we went outside and posted them to a pole. (Using stress and anger in a positive way) The other wonderful artists that I shared this space with did this again on Sunday on the other side of Ravenswood. We took the promotion by the horns!!

The Begyle Brewery next door and the artists sharing their space had an identical challenge and did this the same time we did:

Wall space was NOT made available to the artists that needed/wanted it (3 total including myself), so I was constantly reworking, stressing and reconfiguring my "plans" and what pieces to bring. Displays have always been one of my banes and not a strong suit. I kept checking this space out several days/times before the show until the hosts and I were on the same page and knew what the final agreed set up would be.

They were gracious in lending me tabletop easels for the wood panels and a spacious workstation table. I did let my dissatisfaction be known. 
It does make a difference when you show paintings against a wall and not a table that also contains your other work, including a sale table upfront. They were not gracious about other matters which led to an uncomfortable and unwelcoming weekend. One more thing to rise above.

Thank goodness for DEAR friends that came and the artists I met that bonded in this space. We did become a family. It helps to surround yourself with them, commiserate and keep spirits up.

Marilyn, continue to persevere. Promise yourself you will.


Part 2 of the tour: THE HIGHLIGHTS!!! The artists, lessons and a metaphor.