Circle of Inspiration

It is always a blast being a part of the buzz at a special NKB weekend like Art Attack or Art-a-Whirl!. I met so many wonderful people and feel honored that they found some of my pieces inspiring enough to buy for themselves or as a gift.

Art Attack 2018 is over but there is still plenty going on in Studio 143 as this new resident prepares for her 2nd winter in Minnesota!

I created an artist statement for Art Attack which helped me to focus on what my motivation actually is at the moment – and it really got some conversations going. So, thanks to all of you who stopped by to read it and shared some of your thoughts.

I have been a calligrapher for over thirty years. Like many calligraphers, I found opportunities to put my skills to work for signs, wedding invitations, cards, logos and the occasional favorite quotation or poem.

As long as I can remember there has always been the debate whether calligraphy is an art or ‘merely’ a craft. Even though I would usually argue that calligraphy was, indeed, an art I often balked at referring to myself as an artist.

Several years ago I came across a book by a calligrapher who wrote that he didn’t really care how calligraphy was categorized. He didn’t want to waste his energy debating the issue. He had to put his energies into creating his work as an artist.

I’ve come to adopt that approach to my work. I am not interested in how others might categorize my work but rather, like most artists, I am more interested in how someone might be moved by my art. Does it have a message? Does it make the viewer happy? Does it make them think differently? Does it open a door to an idea? Is it comforting? Is it challenging?

My current literal work (work that can actually be read) is an attempt to demonstrate the impact of hand-written words. We are bombarded with digital fonts, memes, and virtual text that, to me, makes the message less personal. There are some very talented font designers, graphic designers and typographers out there. The exceptional ones are very good at getting their message across, however, I am more interested in exploring how much more impactful words can be when there is evidence of their creation by the human hands.

How do I choose the words to write out? First, they are usually something that moves me. Words that make me reflect on my own life, my own development. Second, it is always my hope that the words I choose – even a single word – can speak to someone and be of encouragement.

The current political climate and recent events have me focusing on the need to remind myself and others that there is good in the world. I use words of kindness, words of compassion, self-reflection. As we see all to often, it is so easy to type hateful, divisive things. It is my hope that creating and sharing words of love, I can touch another human’s heart in some way – to offer them encouragement. Art. Craft. Doesn’t matter. I create in order to counter the hate.


PEACE: 3×3 walnut ink on eco-dyed paper  (in a floating frame: 6×6)


A typical day still finds me in my working studio at the Northrup King Building. There are days that it takes a lot of mental work to create – lack of inspiration, blocks, doubts, distractions. But, then I remind myself (again and again!) that I really need to put things into perspective. Any ‘risks’ I might be taking are so minimal. There are people out there  (all of us?) who face real risks and challenges every day and seem to face them with courage, with grit, with determination, with a sense of humor. They inspire me. I’m sure they, too, have doubts and fears. It is they, in return, I hope to inspire with calligraphic words of inspiration. Certainly a cyclical and beautiful thing when I can remember that.
I am reminded of exploring the enso at a recent retreat (Make A Mindful Mark). Perfection in imperfection…or imperfection in perfection! Here is an enso “put to use” for a recent submission to the Cranes of Hope project here in MN.
Artist Trading Card for Cranes of Hope (2.5×3.5)
AND I am fortunate to have a studio-mate who, even when she is having her own doubts, inspires me with her spirit, creativity and her ‘go-get-it-done’ attitude. After spending our Art Attack weekend in our studio-transformed-to-a-boutique, I am reminded how fortunate I am to have met Carole Hallman. (check out her work here. And for anyone reading this who is local….she’s also a message therapist!). Here are her hands at work:
Dyeing in progress

With this bit of reflection in mind, with the ‘risk’ of shameless self-promotion, with the ‘doubt’ of being worthy, with the ‘fear’ of I’m-not-sure-what, I want to share that I currently have work for sale in two permanent locations. Open Book shop located in the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the newly established MN Art Truck. Check them out. Great places to buy art and be inspired!

I always have prints available on the fun and inspiring on-line art store Pixels. It is fun to see what my work looks like in different frames and as greeting cards, on pillows, on phone cases! It is a hoot!

So…busy, busy, busy. But I am so grateful I have this opportunity.

Always interested in a discussion on creativity, art, motivation, inspiration (comments below).
Until next time,

2 thoughts on “Circle of Inspiration

  1. Sally, you always give me food for thought! While your work will always be first for me, the communication you do of your thoughts about process, impact and purpose resonate so clearly for me and I enjoy them immensely. Keep writing…on both items (paper, rocks, whatever!) and in your blog. There’s a hungry audience out here!


  2. Pam! Always great to hear from you. I’m glad you find the posts useful/interesting. And I’m glad you get a conversation going. I would love for more people to join in – but if not – that’s OK, It is beoming sort of a journal – at least to get my own thoughts in order. So what are you working on now ? How are you spending your time? 🙂


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