Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kids Books, Successes, Last minute Gifts, International Online Adventures, Victorian Silhouettes, Love and More

It's been a busy time since I disappeared into teaching my first online Hero's Art Journey course, which was a wonderful and transformative experience for all of us. The last passage of time has been a magical time - I took my children's book writing, illustrating, and publishing students to San Francisco to see and hear Chris Van Allsberg and Lemony Snickett (AKA Daniel Handler) moderated by the delightful Mac Barnett and it was awesome! I managed to spend some time in the beautiful Sierras, have continued bringing art programs to seniors - loving them and learning to accept their passing or their diminishing facilities, while celebrating their many successes in art. I also managed to make some time for my own art projects. Here's the seasonal greeting card that I was invited to do for our region's Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator chapter. Quite the honor.

I realized that two of my former students were New York Times Best Sellers this year - Yay Deborah Underwood for The Quiet Book and Yay - Yuyi Morales for Ladder to The Moon ! Another former student self-published a really unique and intriguing book Yay David Tribble for Lord of the Scribes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/lord-of-the-scribes/id463952767?mt=11)! And another of my former students, Mati Rose McDonough, illustrated her first and second picture books  - you can even enter to win one in a competition here. And she's releasing her first painting book Daring Adventures in Paint which I'm sure will be magical. Yay Mati!!!

To celebrate my students' successes I am offering a super-discounted online consultation for your picture book manuscript or illustrations. If you have a picture book in you, I can help! It's $30 off so instead of it being $210 for a guaranteed to blow your mind 3 hr consultation as it is here  www.artspractice.bigcartel.com it's only 180 for a guaranteed to blow your mind 3 hr consultation if you click below -

This special is good until January 15th but you can redeem it for up to a year so sign up soon  : )

And speaking of magical - my new online art (and crafts) course is up and awaiting your viewing pleasure and personal and creative empowerment. Spirited Gift Making takes a spirited and spiritual (whatever that means for you) approach to creating gifts for others and for yourself. I've created it as a self-paced course where you don't have to wait for anything - it's all right there with tons of fun video demonstrations, step-by-step directions, a private gallery and comments page, AND your own e-book of course content and instructions at no additional cost for the ridiculously low price of $25.

It's for complete beginners to professionals alike and everyone will learn something valuable. You'll be learning how to make Victorian Silhouette Portraits, acrylic paint and sculpted wish boxes, needle-felted brooches, watercolor peace cards, framing love frames, serenity bracelets and more. Any one of these projects is worth the price of admission so do check it out  www.spiritedgiftmaking.weebly.com  Please read the testimonials above and forward this blog post URL to ANYONE you know who's artsy/crafty or wishing to access their creativity.

Here's a peek

I've even made gift certificates for last minute gifts for that special person - only $25!!

And lastly but not leastly here's the link to the new updated Hero's Art Journey online art and transformation course with fresh interviews with inspiring artists and new content www.herosartjourney.com

And guess what? I'm also running an early bird special until January 7th for this course too. Only $89 for 5 glorious weeks of personal empowerment and transformation accessing or improving art techniques and creativity. See the post before this one for more info and this one is even better! Here's the link to the course www.herosartjourney.com

Here's the link for the discounted price

Here's a sneak peek of the new Hero's Art Journey video

And another gift certificate

And finally here are a few testimonials from heroes all around the world who took the first Hero's Art Journey course:

What I liked most about the course was that it was not just technique, not just personal growth, not just art history, but a fabulous combination of these things and more. It also felt like a very caring community of artists, which I desperately needed being an insecure beginner! This was a terrific experience! :) ~ Michelle Lansdowne

I spent the day thinking of myself and other people as goddesses and gods. It was a really cool experience/exercise. Highly recommend it, changed my 'reference point' quite a bit. I have enjoyed all the interviews because they give me insights into the way other artists do/see things. I really like the filmed interviews. The course has been a wonderful mix of 'everything'. Life happens and art happens, and this class is a wonderful catalyst for making art happen while life goes on it's busy-body little way. ~ Kirsten Carlson

There is so much material, including demos and interviews. I consider this course a “must have” experience. Most of all, it is highly affordable, and very convenient. The videos are very well done. The material is well organized and presented at just the right pace. I am very thankful to have found Mira because her gifts of instruction have helped me immensely. ~ David Le Roy

Mira, I love the course, and the Flickr community where we get to see each others' work on the different subject matter--very inspiring. The technique videos are great, you make things look easy and very do-able, and I know I will try more new ways of making images because of what I've experienced here…. I love the journey concept, it feels like we're going somewhere, and we do! This is definitely a growth experience for me as an artist and a human being. Thanks for sharing! ~ Diane Stewart

it's so fun to watch you work. it's like dessert topping! i just eat up the visuals with my eyeballs. and i love monster stripes and dragon glitter!  ~ Maya Gonzalez

Dear Mira your course has been a delight in every facet … this was my very first art class, and I had a great time. The Hero's Art Journey melded itself into all the myriad other things that life sends our way in a typical week and also how it stood out as inspiration instead of "to do.” I liked knowing about the different skin colors too, but I fell on my knees in thanks for the how to draw a person video. You made it so easy - I can do that. I've loved the course, the company, the comraderie, the tiny bit of deadline pressure offset by the hugeness of the artistic freedom. Thank you for all your hard work and your enthusiastic honesty. Thanks to you, I've learned oodles about technique and come to the end of the course feeling richer in very deep and personal ways Thank you for all your hard work, but especially thank you for your honesty and for sharing your open-hearted generosity with us. Mira is an enthusiastic and talented teacher who puts her all into her classes in order to draw as much as possible from her students. ~ Nancy Laughlin

If you need someone to push you outside your box I highly recommend taking Mira's course. Even if you're not sure you have the time, its still worth every minuite you can squeeze in. Attending Mira's course is like having a personal trainer. And, the input from all the other students builds on the entire experience. Through her concept of 'hero' I was able to identify with the themes and truly take my 'journey' to the next level. I feel 'unstuck' after several years of spinning. Just do it! Really! ~ Kary

Mira, thank you so much for your honesty and your commitment.... I will treasure this experience and your teachings ~ Barbara T.

Thank you for reading all the way to the end here. I would love to have you in one of my classes. As always - feel free to email me miraguy AT gmail dot com  or contact me in the comments section with any suggestions or questions : )

much love


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adventures on this Hero's Art Journey

Calling out around the World!

I'm definitely deep in my hero's journey creating my first Hero's Art Journey international e-course. Course starts this Monday the 12th so if any of you folks are interested in learning how to draw and paint or work with collage, deepen your existing art practice or reconnect with it, meet some fabulous fine artists and children's book illustrators and authors AND have an amazing life changing experience, now's the time to sign up.

click on images to enlarge
The people already signed up range from total beginners to phenomenal artists. We'll have tons of instruction for those who want or need it on drawing, watercolors, acrylics, collage, stamp making and more, tons of inspiration, and guest interviews from the likes of incredible children's book illustrator/authors and fine artists like Maya Gonzalez, Elisa Kleven, Claire B. Cotts, Hugh D'Andrade, Elly Simmons, and TBA. You do as much or as little as you like in whatever way works for you using eay tech in the comfort of your home and the safety of our online environment.

I'm really proud of the work I've done creating this course, which is loosely based on Joseph Campbell's seminal work on universal myths where each person receives a call into the unknown and extraordinary things happen for those who heed the call. I hope you'll join us. Here's a sneak peek www.herosartjourney.com  and here's where the discounts are

Join some incredible people for a once-in-a-lifetime experience (truly). Are you up for taking the leap of faith? Do you have an adventurous friend open enough to take the leap with you into a world of creativity, mythology, and creativity? Simply sign up here and then email me at miraguy@gmail.com Family members welcome.

Regular price $89
And here are some hopefully intriguing samples from Marge and me (you get to tweak projects so they work for you)

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Little Movie About An Amazing Global Online Transformational Art, and So Much More e-Course

Here it is! The 2.5 minute movie about Hero's Art Journey, the transformational, experiential, online, multicultural, art, mythology, and personal growth course that I've put everything I know into. I'll be teaching drawing, painting, mixed media, life lessons, and so much more for very beginning and/or experienced artists, teachers (lots of lesson plans), therapists, coaches or anyone wanting more courage, creativity, beauty and fun in their lives and work. 

I've made the technology really easy to use and taken choice bits from Joseph Campbell's work on The Hero's Journey. We'll explore meaningful and fun projects while learning lots of art techniques through easy clear instructions using multiple methods of learning (here's where the PhD comes in handy, but don't be intimidated). We'll also form a wonderful interactive community of support.

Class starts September 12th - October 31st with course content remaining for another 3 weeks so folks can really take their time if they need. Size is limited  to have the best possible experience so click on over to www.herosartjourney.com or email me at miraguy@gmail.com for more info or to arrange alternate payment.

This course will be life-changing (as I've heard from many of my past students) in the best possible way and is priced to be fantastic value at $89.Please tell EVERYONE you know and help spread the magic.

Check back to meet more of the fabulous artists whose interviews and techniques will inspire you (including historical, contemporary, and famous picture book artists).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Artists lives, friendships, collaborations, and art

I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. As a child when adults would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say "artist" to everyone's horror. For most of my life, being an artist has been one step up from being a heroin addict or a serial killer. Decades ago a friend took me to her office party and the usual question of "what do you do?" came up - of course I said "I'm an artist." The looks were truly disdainful as if I'd said I had a majorly contagious disease, but then when my friend said, "Mira illustrates children's picture books" the change was amazing. Suddenly I was respectable and worth knowing. Faces were smiling. I'd been redeemed.

With the phenomenal rise in the information age and technology came a greater public valuing of images and image making and visual culture. Image making became more valued through this image driven media. And even though there's been a huge increase in respectability, and even money and status for some folks, and even though the emotional and psychological, intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic rewards are tremendous, being a committed artist is still a big struggle in terms of economics, security, health care, and the daily challenges of doing the work and getting paid for it.

For me, one of the biggest rewards of being an artist (besides doing the work and teaching others how) is meeting other artists. As an artist, children's picture book creator, and art teacher, I have become friends with lots of fabulous artists. I wanted to feature some of them here. I'm also delighted that brave souls who want to learn art or deepen their art practices will meet some of them in my upcoming fabulous global online art course Heros Art Journey on September 12th. Follow the kitty to find out more : )

I recently got to visit 2 wonderful artist friends Briana and Peter for their 30th anniversary. They are exceptional people as you will see from their art and home which was a total fixer-upper. Weaving their usual magic, they transformed it into a magical abode. I took a bunch of pics, which I'm randomly showing some of here. Peter makes wonderful recycled stained glass from glass plates and such and they both make fantastical talismans, sculptures, jewelry, and objéts d'art from recycled metals. Click on images to enlarge.

Something strange happened with my camera amidst all the socializing, so apologies for the weird color (sigh). Unfortunately you miss the glorious color of this stained glass piece which you can only imagine, especially when the light is streaming thru.

As I'm only focusing on 2D art for my course, Briana and Peter won't be featured in it, but the next artists will.

At the party, I ran into a dear friend Claire B. Cotts who had just come back from an exhibition of her work in Tennessee. Her work is brilliant (always has been) and while we were talking she "whoopee" agreed to be interviewed for my course! Knowing Claire - it will be fabulous. One of the things that is especially wonderful about Claire is her equal commitment to realistic narrative and abstract narrative in her work. The girl knows her stuff! Oh and she's also an awesome children's book illustrator.

One last friend I want to share today, who will also be featured in the course is my old mate Hugh D'Andrade (check back in a few days for more fabulous featured artist friends - too many for one blog post). I was lucky enough to be one of his students and then to have him as one of my students. I was also lucky enough to play a very small part in his and another one of my students falling in love in class and they are now both happily married successful artists. Yay! Am hoping Mati Rose McDonough will be in at as well but depends on whether her book projects' deadline is extended. Here's hoping she has time.

Don't forget to check back to meet Elisa Kleven, children's book author and illustrator extraordinaire, Elly Simmons another extraordinary artist (whose also done some children's picture books), Maya Gonzalez ditto, George Littlechild (hopefully), and more. Oh and here's my kitty if you want to register or find out more about this phenomenal course starting September 12th. Oh and can you folks who show up on my feedjit that someone really is reading this, help me out and do that magical exponential social media thing and help me get the word out about Hero's Art Journey? Thank you sweet things.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Art, Passion, and Life - Art as Healing

I love passionate people (mostly). Some passions border on obsession or obsessiveness where you can't stop thinking about it and it's pretty much what you live for, dream about, and want to do with all your heart for all your life. Making art, children's picture books, and teaching/mentoring are pretty much it for me.

My obsession started as a child in a difficult working class neighborhood where art making was my refuge and my joy. I could literally draw out my pain or I could create fantasy worlds that I could escape into (self-portrait mermaids were a common theme as were lovely landscapes). Art making helped me survive many difficult things and heal from them.

My parents were war survivors and died young. After that I pretty much raised myself. If anyone mentioned parents or war, I would simply leave the room. I was scared that if I spoke about them I would start crying and never stop.

One day I did a painting using our family's iconic "family portrait" photo as reference. I was so scared I'd just cry and cry and cry. And I did. But then I stopped and in the process of painting that painting and allowing myself to feel the sadness, something profound shifted. I still have and love that painting (I'm the sad twin in the lower right).

For years, many of my paintings were about sadness or grief or about being confused, conflicted, or angry, until I'd drawn out so much of that stuff. When I lived in San Francisco, I had a year where I just allowed myself to paint darkness, mostly black ink on white paper with a big brush, but also quite a few color paintings about my family and the Holocaust. My best friend and I went to the beach and built a fire and burned all the art. People rushed up offering to buy pieces but I needed to burn them and watch all that sorrow go up in flames. It was fascinating how the canvas on the back of the paint burned first and then the paint turned into chalk and then it was just gone. It was incredibly beautiful.

When I came to the US, I was lucky enough to have a solo exhibition curated by one of my art heroes (and crushes) Enrique Chagoya http://tinyurl.com/3ter9dm . Enrique encouraged me to  show my most intense work and take elements out of the paintings and continue them onto the wall so it was even more intense. I got the most amazing responses to that show including an invitation to illustrate a bilingual children's book about change. This began my career as a children's book illustrator where I got to create empowering anti-racist kids books. Talk about healing.

Now my work is very often about light and color and joy. Even tho I still sometimes paint about difficult things or things that I'm questioning, I do it with a much lighter heart and palette. Am so grateful for the power of art as a force of transformation and good in the world.

When I was a grad student, my dissertation chair asked me "What is your agenda?" I said "to be a force for good in the world." I feel grateful that I get to do this through my own work and by teaching others skills to access their own art making or deepen it. It's always sweet to be in a place of gratitude. Now I'm off to obsessively paint!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The wayward blogger returns with many more adventures

Oh, the guilt! I have been ridiculously busy doing way too many things since I last blogged. I presented at a SCBWI Northern California Central revision intensive. Mine was called "The Art of Re-Visioning Picture Books" and included revising both writing and illustrating picture books. I had the most wonderful group of people, and it was a real joy. Of course, I nearly killed myself putting the powerpoint together because of course, why use one picture book per point, when you can use three? Still, it was a fabulous experience.

I also did an author/illustrator school visit, where I did a presentation for the younger grades, the older grades and a professional development in-service with all the teachers. Each of these was absolutely wonderful. The teachers and I made a place-based science and math mural, where kids would learn about their local environment and animals (science), as well as learn through fun and experiential education addition and multiplication. It was a blast!

 Some of my children's picture books

 Kids are blurred out for privacy reasons

Detail of teacher's math mural. I like how this one shows our mountain lions

 You do the math. Eucalyptus trees, mountains, wild turkeys, 
raccoons, squirrels, clouds, mountain lions, and that might be it.

As the regional SCBWI illustrator co-coordinator, I also hosted a "Picture Books and More Share-a-Thon" where everybody brought a copy of recently published children's pictures books where we practiced first seduction, then deconstruction. Meaning, we just enjoyed the hell out of the books first, and then went back to see what made them so great in both art and text or what flaws they might've had. Then we all went and had lunch together. Lovely, lovely. lovely.

Finally, although, not really finally, I did an "I come to you" children's book writing, illustrating, and publishing intensive in Ahwahnee, near Yosemite, which was so beautiful, it took my breath away. We stayed with two very talented artists Chris Obers and Vicki Thomas, whose work I think you will enjoy. Here are some photos from that trip.

I've also been teaching a local children's book class and a pilot study class for my insanely exciting upcoming "Hero's Art Journey" online transformational art course. It's a tremendous amount of work making the samples, doing the research, designing the site, conducting interviews, writing articles, making demonstration videos, finding inspiring examples and creating worksheets teaching folks how to draw animals, birds, people, dragons and monsters, and all sorts of other stuff. I am planning on making it one of the most if not THE most incredible online art learning and sharing experience. Here's what's going to be on the welcome/introduction page (click to enlarge). Any comments much appreciated. Can't wait to share more details.

I'm also continuing and loving my work with seniors. Here's some of their wonderful work.

I've also been busy with is writing and illustrating some new picture books that I hope to get published. Will post some sample pages as soon as I'm able.

But, my two really big pieces of news are I have an intern who I adore. Her name is Marge and she's brilliant, incredibly talented and a true gift to work with. We are teaching each other lots. My other news is I have a new kitten and her name is Luna. Some of you may remember my blogging about grieving for our old cats, Guido and Possum who died last year. We missed them horribly, but weren't ready to get new cats until recently, when I asked my wonderful husband Guy how he would feel coming home to a new cat. When he said "I'd be fine," it was all systems go! Guy wanted to get a black cat, because they're always the last to get adopted (yet another reason to love Guy), and I wanted a kitten to train, which I'm not doing a very good job of because she is so beyond adorable. It's hard taking good pictures of her, because she's so dark and pretty much always moving [ADHD?] or conked out but here goes. She constantly melts my heart and it's a wonderful feeling.

 My gorgeous intern Marge
 Totally irresistible. Check out that skinny little tail.

 Guess who's ruling this house? Queen Luna.