Category Archives: Art Simple

Post-a-day 2011 ~ Teaching Learning and New Art

I make art. I write. I teach. Most of all, I learn. I am surrounded by beauty and beautiful people. OMG I am blessed!

I notice small things. I make big things out of small things.

About the joy of teaching:
“My” students are learning and excited about what they are learning. They are producing beautiful drawings and paintings. They are bringing them to class and sharing. They are motivated and doing more outside of class. They come into class and share AHA! moments that happened for them during the week. They are having fun with art and sharing with their kids and grandkids! They are seeing trees, colors, faces, shapes, light, contrast, textures, balance, the moon and the world in new ways!

Adults, they came into class thinking they “couldn’t” draw. They wanted to learn to draw. Oh! Did I already say how excited they are?… excited about learning and I am excited about how much they are learning and seeing. I teach from a fundamental principle of 90% of learning to draw, or paint, or make art is learning to see… then learning how materials work in the physical world, how our optical nerves register information and eye-hand motor skills. We practice. Then we practice some more – like riding a bicycle, practicing until AHA, we find our balance!
We look at art and what has been done before and why. We talk about art history, artists, why art, what’s art and what’s Art and who decides or decided. I ask a lot of questions, they think, then answer thoughtfully, listening to each other. I actually don’t “teach” much, I allow them to teach each other and me… shh! Don’t tell them. LOL! I’ve just learned to ask questions… and love seeing them think, watch eyes pop open and “get” their own answers, discovering, uncovering what they already know…

We are having fun, laughing a lot and are noisy and silly in the Library. Shhh! (Our Library is an exciting place to be!)

Teaching inspires me… opens my brain to new ideas and ways of looking at the world, people, my own work, what I know, what I have learned from GREAT teachers and friends and students.

About making art…
I first learned to see by looking, to draw by drawing, by daily practice… and now I make environmental art, noticing the small, putting many small things together, noticing shapes and colors and patterns in my messy studios. My students have inspired me once again… Less computer time and more studio time, working with my hands and physical materials.

As I tell these students, I once learned to draw like Michaelangelo, and he already did that and is dead! Revered, admired, copied ~ he did what he did so beautifully. The ability to draw is in each of us if we can write our name or make marks on paper or walls.

So, now I paint and draw with stone from a natural palette calling attention to small things. I paint with light, photographing nature and stones. For me, making art is an amazing balance between light and dark, heavy and weightless, lifted by laughter & joy and built on a solid foundation of ancient wisdom, observation, and yes, feeling. It is a dance requiring access to both sides of the brain simultaneously. Even that requires practice.. daily doses of right and left brained activity.

The color filled display of fall has fallen, leaves are on the ground, returning to nurture the earth through winter ‘til spring. The seasons flow and I will go to ground, as well, in a sense. Working with my hands and eyes and in my studios. I LOVE creating OMG responses, in myself and others.

This video says it so well: OMG moments from Louie Schwartzberg – Gratitude (shared by Cheryl Richardson)

Here is a tiny peek at my winter series in stone – many, many works in progress… this is part of one.

Bloomin' stone

May your day be filled with creative living and dancing with the right side of your brain! Life is not set in stone, just some of my art work. 🙂

Namaste ~ StarBear


Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall Gold

Golden Sky, Golden Sparks on Ancient Stones

Ten straight days of sunshine and warm temperatures, unusual for October here, brought the most amazing color to the woods this fall. A friend laughed the other day as he said, “I think my eyes may have improved, the color seems more brilliant and is everywhere this year!”
For me, this has created a wonderful dilemma: viewing and editing 150 images a day and what to share online, what to keep for the books I am working on? On Sunday, I went to Lake Superior, a favorite beach, at dawn. This is my personal church service, to thank Creator for all of the incredible gifts this year. I am grateful for the gift of light, of eyes to see, for the spectacular colors and changes of seasons and life.
I am also grateful for the gifts of my way of seeing and for the cameras which allow me to capture and share. I am grateful to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for their willingness to dare and create what allows me and us to share this beauty. I am grateful for their willingness to try include everyone in their sharing. Because of their daring, we are capable of sharing globally. We can choose to share problems and we can share beauty. We can ask questions and perhaps find answers to global issues. As people Occupy Wall Street, I occupy the woods, the beach, in awe, gratitude and wonder.

I went to the beach in gratitude and returned home with one splendid agate, 150 photographs of nature’s splendor, and unlimited reverence for nature and the rhythms of life.

Golden Ripples, Golden Daze

Tide Pool Prism

Food for the soul, may you enjoy the feast of these simple images.

Namaste ~ StarBear

Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall Upstream

Fall. I fell for fall long ago. The beauty of fall is partly why I stay in Michigan, along with winter, summer, and spring. The changing seasons seem to match my personal rhythms, the flow of nature.

River Bend ~ Manistique River

While shooting these, and totally enjoying the day and the sun light, I thought there was a stick causing the ripples on the mirrored surface of the water. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a sleek furry critter, swimming upstream. Hoping it was a beaver, I watched it swim closer, then dive, disappearing quickly under the river bank. Probably a muskrat, although beaver and otter also live here.

Mirror Bend

Michigan often gets a bad rap as it is known primarily for the Motor City, Detroit, with the negatives. I grew up in Detroit, trained as an artist in Detroit, grew up on a tree lined street where once upon a time we raked leaves into big piles, then hid, jumped and played in them. After dark the neighborhood parents supervised bonfires of leaves. Sometimes we even roasted marshmallows over burning leaves. I can still remember the wonderful smells of those evenings. Do kids still do that? It was part of the rhythm of life, even in the city, a fall ritual as mornings grew colder and days grew shorter.

Just for giggles, how about a little different rhythm?
You can alwys listen to “Muskrat Love” (c. 1976) or “Muskrat Ramble” (c. 1926) by Louis Armstrong.

May your day be warm and filled with colorful rhythms of Nature!

Megwitch ~ Starbear
Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis


Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall continued…

For all of you who do not get to see this every day…
a few more views from roads travelled. The fall color just keeps becoming more brilliant? Raucous? Audacious? Spectacular? Gorgeous? Beautiful? Splendiforous?
Sometimes there are no words.
A friend of mine once coined the word “Brazilliant” to name one my images he owns. It was such a fun and discriptive word, I use it for the title.
What do you call the amazing arrays and displays of color in the fall? Nature’s palette is so palatable and yet so brief in its display. I am so lucky to witness this each year and it’s never the same and always thrilling. Enjoy!

Reflected Glow

Lake Anne Louise, near a tiny place named Blaney Park always offers spectacular views across the lake. Lined with mix of hardwoods and conifers it creates a perfect complementary color scheme. (I happen to be teaching color theory currently – can you tell? LOL!)

Hardwoods and conifers line the shore demanding attention...

I know the photo challenge this week has changed to “sunsets”, and I’m choosing to stay with Fall for now, so more fall is forthcoming to be celebrated while it lasts! I think it’s called “Making hay while the sun shines.” The sunsets will be fabulous this week as well – no rain predicted for 10 days, so also no storms to take the leaves away.

More soon!

Megwitch ~ Starbear


Post-a-day 2011 + Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Fall

Fall ~ So fall this Fall so far is mostly RED!
Oh! Poor me. Life is so hard! LOL!

This fall is RED... 20 miles of walls of color...

I am forced to drive each day this road to work within these leafy walls
lined with red of every tint shade hue…
dark and light and wine and glowing reds
ablaze against green against skies of gray and blue.
The road glows without sunshine and where is yellow?
Hiding, peaking, sneaking, teasing between other brilliant views.

How glad the woods, they be not shy
shouting color to the sky…
“Look at us” they call, demand.
“It is FALL and we are leaving!”

Envy not this place in which I roam
travelling to work, then returning home
within and through these walls of color.
Poor me! Forced to endure this beauty for hours on end
over hills, around a bend…
a brief time this willing prisoner will remain
within these walls of color to exclaim
in awe and gratitude and joy.

Megwitch ~ Starbear


Celebrating Life ~ Sharing Joy

The day was September 18th, a Sunday evening, after time making new friends, re-meeting neighbors and friends, attending a 2-day event, sharing a meal with friends, simple pleasures in life. All of that on the heels of a visit from my favorite (and only) son, and numerous other wonderful house guests over recent weeks, working at  a job I love… and visitors to my studios…

Joy stick... in the studio

Sometimes there is more Joy in my life than I can contain and sometimes I just cannot contain myself. Sometimes it just bursts out in song, or dance or making something.
This day, and after the past 3 weeks, it was just too much to contain… so I gave it to the Lake, the Wind, the Sky. The Wind, the Sky, the Lake, the Light, and the camera all conspired to support sharing my Joy.

Joy~filled Light

Sometimes words don’t work for me. Making things works for me ~ so I offer you Joy and Gratitude for the simple joys in life.

Joyful Breeze

Namaste ~ Starbear


Thank You !

Spiritual Harvest

Yesterday’s Post was #100 on this blog. That seemed significant, a nice round number. So Thank YOU, reader, friend, for visiting, encouraging, commenting. While making the commitment to postaday2011, I was not fully cognizant of how slow my posting goes. I include images whenever possible, and love sharing beauty. I seem unable to post just to post, yet showing up is part of the game… especially in life!
Some wonderful people keep encouraging focus on just one thing – stoneworks, photography, or writing. For me, they are interconnected, inseparable. Combining visual art with writing is my “thing.” I am grateful for being me and the energy life gives me. What is my focus? To continue to share beauty, it is everywhere and always available, in nature, in people, in the universe. That may take the form of images, constructions, nature, words or in combination.
So for today, I am simply grateful for where I live, each breath I breathe, and the life I get to live and share, with friends and strangers alike. Thank you for being you, being who you are, doing what you do.
Another commitment has called, taking priority – completing artwork and other projects. My postaday2011 commitment has not been reached, and yet it is so useful to discover how commitment works.
At times I have commented that when I am fully committed to something, I may just have to be committed in an institution somewhere… LOL!
While I may not post every day, I am here, working, reading others blogs, slowly. Play time is also essential, and getting to the beach… which is playtime, worktime combined.
An earlier post says part of it, and now YOU are a part of the Basket of Abundance .
I am renaming it “Basket of Abundance & Gratitude” just for you – You are all part of the abundance, variety, diversity, life on this planet!
Thank you for being in the basket!

May your day be filled with beauty and love, and if you cannot find it, just look in the mirror and smile!

Megwitch and Namaste ~ Star Bear


Weekly Photo Challenge: Old Fashioned

Old-Fashioned Simplicity

I find some good old-fashioned graphic design to be simply beautiful.
Old fashioned:
Black on white
Thin paper
78 rpm record cover
(78 revolutions per minute… not very fast!)
Message delivered clearly in words and image
No “hype”
No flash
Appealling to many senses
Appealing to the human in us… Listen to your dog and your dog will listen top you. Listen… just listen, attentively.
No electricity needed…
Good Graphic design is music to my eyes.
Really good graphic design can become art.
Maybe I am old fashioned, too?

May your day be filled with simple beauty – old fashioned or not! 🙂

Namaste ~ Star Bear


My Digital Art, c.1976

Is this “Old-Fashioned” Art, yet?

Click for larger view

Digital System - circa 1976

Made by my hands in 1976, when the Digital Age was just coming into being. A friend had just spent a year studying at MIT, working on her MFA. Visiting my studio in downtown Detroit, she was all excited and concerned about what was being done with computers at MIT (probably before many bloggers were born.) We argued about those who were going to be left behind, creating a giant digital divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” as delineated by access to computers.

We laughed, discussed, argued, about the future of computers, the world, the economy, the environment. At about the same time, Bill Gates and his partner were creating Microsoft.
Were they watching our work? Listening? This piece is kinda micro-soft-y…

Micro fiber soft art - click for larger view

Micro-fiber Soft Art Digits-Detail

At the time, I was creating soft sculpture, with new micro fabrics – yet, old fashioned, one at a time, hand stitched. I sold a lot of art to collectors and institutions. I exhibited frequently and was even listed in the Who’s Who of American Art. (Under a different married name – it was after all, 1970’s… again, “Old Fashioned”)

For some reason I wanted to keep this piece… I found it funny, sensual, and a humorous quiet social statement. The blue and silver colors represent the cold steel and hard edges of the computer age, ironically rendered in soft materials. It always makes me laugh, reminding me that I do have a sense of humor…

Two seperate decimal systems in one small package!

Digital System dis-integerred... Even so, you can count on this back-up system!

It’s fun to play with, too. Seperate the pieces and you can “hold hands” with it while communicating on facebook, or if you want something warm and cuddly to touch!
Into toes? They’re here, too.
This piece is also very useful…. form follows function. When the power goes out or the computer crashes, this is a great back-up system… the original “Digital System.”

Digital Systen Vertival

Vertically, visually more fun... positve negative digits - in case of computer failure you can count to 40!

Only a few eyes have seen this piece… and now I reveal my “old fashioned” work to you. The piece is actually titled “Digital Systems”. That was the title from it’s inception.
It measures 18″ h x 9″w x 5″ deep when digits are inter-digitated and is ready to hang or sit. It is now for sale for $1,000.00 including shipping inside the U.S.!

I think it would be a great fit in a computer executive’s office. Maybe in the your office? In any event it is my humorous reminder of how we learned to count, the calculator always on hand.

Contact me if you are interested in purchasing this old fashioned “Digital System” as a gift for a friend or yourself! Leave a comment and your e-mail address will magically appear in my dashboard.
I will respond to any serious inquiries.

May your values stay old fashioned while your mind thinks new thoughts and you count your digits, err, blessings! 🙂

Namaste ~ Star Bear
copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis


Post-a-day 2011 – Circle Dance

Circles of Friends, Circles of Joy

Circles of stone...

Lao Tzu “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
… Step one: “The first step out of darkness can be blinding in the light… as we step into the light and our eyes adjust… we find ourselves surrounded by loving friends.”
Today it is a crowd, cheering me on…cheering for each other and I thought it was baby steps… or just going in circles… then the circles grew larger… while my slow eyes adjusted to the brilliant light. Creator is laughing with us… and the light is coming from everywhere… 🙂
May your day be joyful and filled with color, friends, love and circles of laughter with friends!
Namaste ~ Star Bear
~ copyright 2011~Betsy Lewis
This post inspired by Daring Dreamers, SARK, Mike, Angi, my kids and my incredible circle of friends and of course, you and everyone who “sends” me to the beach for time outs! 🙂 Thank You!