Various Musings

The ART door leading to my studio! Thanks to Tom for installing the letters.

Lots of stuff on my mind… I’m excited and have really good energy. It’s 12:52 p.m. (luntime when I wrote this) I’m thinking that’s a bit important because I was bummed last night and I knew it would pass. Needed sleep. My mood can be all over the place. Right now it’s up and I’m very grateful. I blogged a while back about getting trees from the City of Oakland and this morning they were digging up concrete in front of our house. I’m so excited. I’m hoping for PINK crepe myrtles. Fingers crossed. We get four trees! Our lot so needs some color badly!

I’m so proud of my friend Hedy Peterson who makes beautiful leather handbags. She has her work on etsy.com. Check it out. I have three! One she designed especially for me. Actually two. I first met her years ago when I was referred to her and she made a custom bag for my portfolio. Her bio is great.

I’m teaching my Artist Business Circle and overall I’ll say it’s going really well. I have three incredible students. I’m inspired by how they all want to help each other. It’s so enjoyable to witness. I feel privileged. Lots of things are coming up for me in this process. Stuff about myself that I don’t like, but also stuff I do. Lots of new ideas, thinking bigger. I work to change the things I don’t like. It’s a powerful place for me to be. I’m creating something that’s bigger than me and exposing myself at the same time. A vulnerable place but I’m very grateful for the growth and chance to be here.

I’m noticing with self-promotion how important it is to express what you do. I believe that people have a desire to help others succeed. I believe this in the biggest sense. Not everyone is going to give you what you want but they may be taking care of themselves. By them showing you this example, they may be giving you what you need.

Side tangent there. Anyway, I’m a collector and I love color and great design. Claudia gave me this great bottle. I think it’s fascinating that she thought of me. Part of why she gave it to me was because I expressed my interest. Cheryl and Stephanie give me aluminum cans. Karen saves empty wine bottles for us for our garden. My friend Sarah sent me, among others, a great map of Oakland art galleries. My mom has come to all of my art shows and purchased my art. Tom has also come to all of my shows and encouraged me (multiple times in fact) to first exhibit at FBCA. It’s so important to me to honor these people who contribute to who I am. When you express your passion and love for something, people want to connect with you. I think that when one witnesses passion in others, it connects them to their own passion. My own thoughts on why it’s so important to express your passion. You’re actually helping other people as well as yourself!

Labor Day Weekend Insights

So much it seems! It’s all good. I have a great cup of coffee this morning that Tom made and I’m up early. We went to a free CORE Training (Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies) last night in our neigborhood. Feels good to be part of the community and to be getting prepared.

My mom told me about the coach Dave Ellis. Very inspiring.

Tom and I cleaned the gutters this weekend. I didn’t realize how much fun that could be. I enjoy the physical exertion. For some reason when I work really hard outside, my sleep is so much better and I wake up without an alarm the next day. Such a great benefit.

Personal Sovereignty

I’m eating breakfast and drinking coffee. I do like mornings, after I wake up. It’s the waking up part that tends to be difficult… well I know I have control over that, just sometimes don’t want to.

I’ve been thinking about personal sovereignty since it was brought up in my therapy group over the weekend. Here’s a pretty good link on the topic. I thought of many different examples but the one that comes to mind here is writing this blog. I wanted to start for quite a while and then at times I don’t think about it and I don’t particularly want to write. Tom gently reminds me about writing and I appreciate it. I feel guilty that I’ve “neglected” posting. But it was something that I started. Why do I feel guilty? I haven’t made a decision to “own” this blog when I feel guilty. I created it and then I let it go. Maybe an issue with not finishing things as a child…

Anyway, I’ve received a lot of great, and some unexpected, benefits by blogging: getting to share my art, writing, expressing myself, connecting with friends, getting a lot of attention from Tom, meeting new people who share similar interests. It’s been fun. I could try commenting on other blogs too and become more connected with the community. Just thinking out loud. Gotta jump in the shower.

On another note, I love reading Michele Maule’s blog on a daily basis. Her current post is about encaustics. Something I know I really enjoy learning and experimenting with. It’s on my list of things to do. Of course I want to learn how to make it myself. So I’m keeping my eye out for an inexpensive double boiler. Here’s a recipe I found online.

Altered dictionary


I’ve been pretty busy lately with lots of different focuses. Here’s something that’s fun that I started in a class taught by Lisa Kokin. She’s a neat woman and I really enjoyed the class. Her site is really beautiful as well. I appreciated the chance to see her artwork in person.

I’ve just placed the buttons on the dictionary for now. I’ll be drilling holes in the book eventually…

Artist Business Circle

I’m really excited about this upcoming Artist Business Circle that I’m facilitating, inspired by Cay Lang’s Book Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist.

Artist Business Circle
__________________________________________________________________

Need help launching your career as a visual artist?

We’ll begin this circle by dreaming big and sharing those dreams in a safe, supportive environment. The sessions include:

• Creating artistic goals and a workable strategic plan to make your dreams a reality
• Practicing self-introductions that pique another’s interest
• Discussing the importance of a mailing list and an artwork inventory record sheet
• Learning a daily practice to discover your mission as an artist
• Discussing your work as a tool to develop your artist statement
• Developing business cards, a resume, bio, letterhead and invoice
• Researching and developing a list of ten places, which reflect your personality, where you’d like to exhibit and sell your work
• Discussing the value of blogging, the effectiveness of a website and selling online

Including guest speakers: Michele Pred and Dona Turner

About the facilitator: Leah Virsik is an artist with a passion for bookbinding and repurposing everyday objects. She brings a marketing degree, a wide variety of resources and a love of research to this circle. You’ll also find her on the Alameda Women Artists board. Learn more about her at www.leahvirsik.com.

Dates/Times: Nine Tuesdays from 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Sept 9, 16, 23 Oct 7, 21 Nov 11, 25 Dec 9 & Jan 13, 2009
Location: Frank Bette Center for the Arts
1601 Paru Street, Alameda, CA 94501

Register Online Now or call 510-523-6957

Questions? Email: leah at leahvirsik dot com

Cost: $150 (FBCA Member) $165 (Non-FCBA Member)
Plus guest speaker fee: $25 or less*

*Total speaker fee will be prorated among all artists.
Minimum sign-up for class is four artists.

Photo: Tom Virsik

Kudos to our Wedding Staff




I have incredible memories of our wedding… intimate, personal and filled with lots of love. We hired great people to help put on this event and I remember walking into the lodge and feeling well taken care of as our photographer, Megan E. Hanson, greeted us with her cameras. Sheryl Black of L’Aubergine Catering and her crew were busy setting up and Reverend Robert Shively was waiting for us. Actors from Woman’s Will were busy rehearsing and Mel Speed of The Music Company was hooking up our sound system. I can’t say enough of all the people we hired.

I had the bright idea of using Tom’s iPhone to stream our music and it turned out that when we hooked it up to the sound system it didn’t work. Megan E. Hanson came to the rescue by letting us borrow her iPod. It just so happened we had some similar music in common. Sheryl Black and her staff were amazing. We continue to get compliments from our guests on how good the food was. I had a hard time enjoying eating during the wedding but Sheryl packed up sample plates for us and when Tom and I got home we ravished through the leftovers. Crème Brûlée has a significant meaning for both of us and Sheryl went out of her way to make this special dessert for us.

My friend Cheryl referred me to Mel Speed at Fura Bodyworks. He gave me my Monroe piercing. When I went in to talk to him about music for our wedding, he had a ton of recommendations from all of his experience with weddings. He is a fabulous resource and has such a positive attitude. He also does wedding coordination and although we didn’t end up hiring a coordinator, I definitely considered him.

Mel referred us to Reverend Robert Shively who was incredible to work with. We had him over several times for dinner and really got to know him. He asked us what tone we wanted for the wedding and we responded with a desire to have something serious and playful. I wanted people to laugh and cry. Reverend Robert Shively brought his warmth, his humor and his genuine spirit to our ceremony. A friend of mine said she and her husband would have definitely hired him for their wedding, if they weren’t married already.

It was really important for us to have whole families and kids in particular at our wedding. I wanted to share the story of how Tom proposed and he suggested we hire Woman’s Will to tell the story. They put on an absolutely beautiful production of Edward Lear’s The Owl and Pussycat incorporating us back into the ceremony. Our congregation and especially the children were mesmorized by Woman’s Will’s performance. This was especially obvious in my brother’s video. That episode of quietness warmed our hearts.

It was August 8, 2008 yesterday and a big wedding day for many people. Listening to the news of this made me want to get married again. I’m so grateful to have such special wedding memories. The intensity of Tom’s touch and the way his voice cracked with emotion as he spoke his vows touch me deeply. I am very lucky and appreciative of Tom. Thank you love for being such a great part of my life!

Photos above by Megan E. Hanson: Tom and I, L’Aubergine Catering and Woman’s Will

Purple painted lamp and other fun things

My mom gave this previously white lamp to me years ago and I’ve moved it from place to place hoping to paint it. I finally got to it with Tom’s help. He not only helped with the painting but also with the encouraging… encouraging me to finish… it’s very helpful… and I feel much more productive with finished pieces. I also started using my great $10 sewing machine for the edges of the velvet.

The light purple is milk paint which I have previously mentioned in this blog and the dark purple is just acrylic with some gloss medium. This glossy/matte contrast was inspired by Sol LeWitt’s exhibit at the SFMOMA years ago.

I’ve been busy today, working on stuff… This morning I did a bit of web design. I’m designing Alameda Women Artist’s new website. It’s so much fun. Slowly, it’s coming together, the css and xhtml, but it’s making sense and I’m learning which is the extraordinary part.

I’m going to take my bike in to get it tuned up for next week’s Oakland Museum bike tour.

Hammie: Installed in Our Garden!

“We’re the house on the corner with the giant purple and mirrored fish head on the lawn,” as Tom likes to mention. Hammie is terribly fun and was a joy to create with Tom. Plus, it’s nice to have him done. The yard is in process. We’re looking to plant Blue Lobelia around the bottom of Hammie, as if he’s coming out of the water, as suggested by a couple of friends. Tom just recently added the purple fountain grass in the back.

A lot of things are getting done. We’re putting art up on walls, I’m working on finishing up decorating a lamp that I’ve had for years. It feels really good and kind of amazing: being so productive and creative. Our home is coming together… I enjoy the planning process. We stained an old mirror frame that I’ve had that works really well with our bedroom furniture. It’s no longer “mine” anymore and the collaboration feels very fitting.

Online Training Recommendation + More

I’ve been hiding out a bit… from writing lately… working on developing a site design for Alameda Women Artists. It’s funny how I’ve been working on this site development… I’ve worked on it, shown it, put it down, come back to it, shown it again, put it down, come back to it again and then it clicks. Just a friendly reminder that process takes time and other people’s input can be very valuable, especially when it’s a project for a group.

I’m on the board now for the AWA and am really enjoying them. I had suggested we listen to an interview by Alyson B. Stanfield of Peggy Klaus on her book Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It for our meeting last night. I have listened to it almost three times and what really stood out for me is how well Alyson B. Stanfield brags about herself in a natural, conversational manner. She mentions her own book and how it relates to the interview. It’s of value to the conversation. I think when we don’t share or brag about ourselves it’s never known what impact there would have been. It reminds me of this quote from Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille which is also mentioned in Carol Lloyd’s book Creating a Life Worth Living.

I’m having a fabulous time on www.lynda.com for $25 a month every chance I can get. Great creative inspiration and online training. I’m working through the coding movies now and am looking forward to their WordPress movie as well.

Thank you Tom for the prodding for me to post.