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 or email me at 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 . 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!