Jennifer Ament + Thoughts on Artistry

I stumbled across Jennifer Ament's artwork today because Facebook suggested her as a friend. Every so often, I find myself curious about who Facebook's algorithms decide are likely friends of mine. After clicking through and seeing her artwork, well, I didn't know her personally, but I did find her artwork so engaging. And it looks like she is a fellow Seattlite. 

Seeing her beautiful work made me miss printmaking in college and really all of the art making that is essentially your job as an art student. After working as an artist's assistant and seeing the type of struggles that are expected of you as an artist, the sacrifices and the hardships, I became way too scared of instability to become a full time artist. Instead, I became a clueless entrepreneur with a totally unstable income and schedule and life, an artist in a business woman's clothing. I think because the industry of fashion appears to be so much more financially stable and thriving as opposed to the abstract world of artists, I gravitated towards creating a business within fashion a few years ago. Ah, but the funny thing is that, as time went on, the more I've needed to structure my business like a traditional business within the fashion realm, the more I have come to understand that I am more artist that business woman. And the world of fashion is just as mind boggling and constantly changing and unstable as the world of art. 

The trickiest thing about being an artist is that to survive, most often you must garner business skills. My inner self wants to flow freely, to have time to think and think and think, be in stillness and quiet, feel deeply, and just live in the moment. But ever since I was a little kid, I've had anxiety and depression, and worry is an annoying presence that often stops me from living in and enjoying what is present. I'm a dreamer and an abstract far forward thinking planner at times, and it is often the fear of instability and the wonder and worry of the future that diverts me down different tracks or stops me from living moment to moment and instead stressing about the future and it's mysteries. In many ways, fear is often what stops us from doing what is best for us, and other times fear is what drives us TO choose something powerful for ourselves. And I feel that both ways in being at the point that I am in my career of many things. That's a confusing sentence, but it's the best way that I can explain it. 

In many ways, I've built my careers of being a retail owner, a jewelry designer, a product designer and an author AS an artist within the realm of business. But actually feeling like an artist within the process of building and sustaining a store, an online retail site, a jewelry line, desktop products, and books is a very tricky experience. I think many artists would agree, the time you actually get to spend on the art itself often feels like far less time that you wish you had. There are always other things you have to do outside of the art making to sustain yourself. And whether I were purely a painter or illustrator like I trained for in college, or whether I was still exactly the person I am now with the jobs that I have, I think I would always feel this strain of never having enough time or space or quiet to just BE an artist, to BE a maker and a creative.

I think that yearning is a good sign. It means that as an artist, you have something to say and to express. It's just that ever present hardship of figuring out HOW to express it and when and why and all that frustrating, maddening but passion fueling crap. UGH. As an artist, as a human, there is so much that I want to express. And I think when I first started my many careers, I thought, THIS is how I will do it, this is how I will express myself fully to the world. And then as each micro business was built, I realized that no one thing will help me express all of myself. And even all of them combined is not enough. Oh, and on top of that, I am a human and I'm always going to find new interests, new passions and questions that need to be pursued and explored and expressed. So of course no one career path is going to fulfill all of me. I'm also going to be morphing. There's also the constant question of what elements of self do I express where? It's my nature to want to release strong feelings that are fully true to myself within all realms of self expression. But being that my name is on my business, there are times when self expression does not make sense with Business, with a capital B.

As I have said a million times over in the last 3 years, I want to feel safe to express myself here on my blog. I want to channel the artist within me to feel free to write and express and release within the space, free from fear and worry. I think many people see me as a feeler and think less of me or don't take me very seriously become of it, but just because I feel deeply it does not mean that I do not think just as deeply. I research, I read, I am always looking to seek and learn and unlock truths. And I want to share that here again. I don't want to prove anything. I just want to share. I want to take inspiration from artists and writers and voices that are empowered and unafraid yet thoughtful with what they release out into the world. As with anything, as I review all I have attempted to do over my last 30 years, I just want to be heard. And annoyingly for me, to experience feeling truly heard it means a shit ton of self expression and release through writing and painting and music making and crafting and whatever other tactile way I can find to express my thoughts. Ah, to be satisfied just talking to people. I think that would make me an extrovert. I love talking to people but I need to express so much more of me in a million other ways. And I need to be alone to make that happen. Not all the time, just some :)

I'll do it somehow. And right now it starts with blogging again. No set commitment, just trying.

Be sure to check out more of Jennifer Ament's work here. Simply magical, it definitely lead me on a late night thought train on what art means to me.


Wanderlust Woman and Western Ruminations + A Gift Guide

Tis the season for some gift guides :) I honestly get a little bored with traditional gift guides, "gifts for her" "gifts for him" though I know a lot of people dig that. It's just not how I personally shop. If you like broader categories of gift guides, I've created a ton in my store, mooreaseal.com if you want to check them out! But if you're more of a gift giver based on feelings and styles, here's the first of a series I am working on for my blog! And I'm starting off with my personal favorite, the Wanderlust Western Inspired Woman. Right now I'm diggin' all things western inspired. Cactus have been trendy for quite some time now but I still love them. Since early this year, I've been really excited to see that a lot of trends from the 70s have been coming back. I'm pro-bell bottoms, high waisted pants, warm toned colors, and that mixed with Western inspired everything has been catching my fancy. I was already vibing on bolo ties and turquoise stones this Fall, and then I went to Nashville for the first time in November and ooooh boy, my love for all things Western inspired went a little nuts.

As much as I love Western inspired stuff right now, I've always had a hard time connecting to country music. I grew up in England and country music wasn't a thing there. And then I moved to a small town in the woods in Northern California and music was a major distinguisher of different people groups. My artistic and mostly very liberal friends liked underground indie music, my friends who liked hunting and dirt biking and were for the most part pretty conservative liked country and rap. I was a music snob in thinking that country and rap were somehow not for me, which is pretty close minded and snobby I'm ashamed of that now. In trying to define myself as a teenager, as we all were grasping to do at that age, I associated being liberal and progressive with what felt "different." And in my small town, different meant the opposite of Country. I still love so much of all that indie music still, so much nostalgia for late nights watching Subterranean on MTV2. But now I understand that not all country music is specifically projecting a conservative message. And in addition to that, conservative is not wrong, it's just different than me.

Music that you listen to can definitely fulfill an important part of your spirit, it can connect you to greater messages, universal truths and meanings. Music is storytelling, and what I love most is a great story. And you know what has some seriously great storytelling? Some damn good country music. I cannot stand Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum, etc, pop-country. In current country music, I do love Kacey Musgraves. Love love. And that's because I love some great storytelling. lately, I've been jamming on some 70s honky tonk, Americana, Roots Rock, Outlaw Country, and some other country off shoots plus some soul, blues and hip hop. A lot of Stevie Wonder. Ahhh, he's an incredible story teller.

Music is definitely a huge influence on style in all artistic fields, from painting and drawing to fashion and home decor. Right now I am listening to a lot of The Band, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, and A Tribe Called Quest. Maybe a weird mash up, but country draws a lot from blues and Appalachian folk music, and soul and hip hop have flowed from the blues quite clearly. I've loved folk music for my whole life, from traditional Celtic music to Joni Mitchell to Devendra Banhart, not so much top 40 radio pop-folk stuff (I cannot stand The Lumineers...it just feels lacking in heart.) So in many ways, I feel the same roots come through in many storytelling musicians from folk to country to hip hop and soul. Traditional folk, traditional country, soul and hip hop not only often have so much heart but a protest spirit which I connect deeply with. Not like I'm a music aficionado in any of these styles of music, but those are just the vibes I get in general.

I could go on and on, on how music so deeply connects to our emotional states, not only influencing our beliefs and daily choices, but even influencing how we style ourselves and our homes. So after aaaaall that ruminating, I hope you dig my Wanderlust, western inspired gift guide above! You can find all these treasures in my store mooreaseal.com.


Twin Peaks Fashion Spread by Seattle Met

It's taken me until this Fall to finally start watching Twin Peaks and I'm so obsessed. (If you have Amazon Prime, it's free to watch it with your subscription!) I feel light years behind all my friends as so many of them have adored it for years and years and years. But I'm in, finally!!! My husband is going to dress up as the Log Lady for Halloween, haha! 
Did you see that there is going to be a Twin Peaks reboot coming next year? OMG YAAAAS! Aaannnd did I mention that the cafe from Twin Peaks is just outside of Seattle, where I live? I've driven past it many times but now that I've finally seen the show, I feel justified in going in and actually checking it out. Time to plan a little trip!

Aaaaaaaand perfect timing for this Twin peaks madness, Seattle Met just included a ton of jewelry from my store mooreaseal.com in their Twin Peaks themed October fashion spread! Here are a few of my favorite shots by Brandon Hill.


Where My List Obsession Began

It's pretty obvious judging by my books 52 Lists Project and 52 Lists for Happiness that lists are not only fun for me but really ground me and make me feel more balanced, focused and fulfilled in who I am. When my depression and anxiety feel really strong, I turn to lists to feel more centered. And during the summer, my depression and anxiety usually are the worst because I get kind of overwhelmed by the activities of summer, the desire to get outside while I still have so much work to indoors, and I miss the ease and freedom of summers as a kid a lot. I miss the time I had to just daydream and come up with... you guessed it, lists. I was a massively shy child and spent a lot of time alone, for better or for worse. I was super spacey (still am) thanks to ADD and just being a creative spirit and because school was a challenge for me, I was grounded pretty much every weekend of high school for not finishing all my work. I'm an introvert through and through and I can get lost exploring my own mind for hours. I was diagnosed with ADD around age 6, then again in middle school and again in high school. It's a daily challenge to battle ADD with depression and anxiety. But because I've dealt with all of them so long, I've had time to practice and discover what works best for me in managing all of those difficult aspects of self. List making is my major tool not just for daily task management but even more importantly, my self management, self discovery, exploration, and self investment.

At the end of high school, I started this little book documenting all of the lists that I wanted to invest in and discover as a way to better get to know who I was and what I loved, what connected with my heart and truest self. I don't think I've ever shared this on my blog, but it's one of my most special possessions. And please humor me in how serious I was about discovering what was cool to me as a teen. I wish I could insert a gif of me cringing here, haha. I just made these lists as a way to research and discover what felt like a reflection of who I am and what I love. To note: I don't like all of the musicians, books, movies, etc on these lists but I DID discover some that have become life long favorites through these lists. The exploration of this little book of lists, going through each list over a summer spent mostly in my bedroom at age 18 was so fulfilling for me. And I'd give a bajillion bucks to get to have a full summer like that again, before social media came about, before my cell phone had color or video on it, and the pressure to be a certain way, look a certain way, and act a certain way became so pervasive online.

This is the notebook. It's tiny and the pages are super ratty and messy. But it's like a little time capsule of me as a teen trying to discover who I was and what defined me. If someone ever steals this from my house I will hunt them down and whatever happens to them, it will not be pretty. JK, Im not serious... or am I?

I spent the entire summer of my 18th year pretty much in my bedroom reading, watching movies that I'd researched, listening to music and searching my local libraries for all of the above. The other part of the time I spent working at a local coffeeshop making garbage coffee drinks (I don't drink coffee and my skills were not the best, ha!!) and making out with my high school boyfriend, hehe. Ahhh introverted youth. Here are some of the books from my list that I have opinions on today:

  • Thanks to this notebook of lists I totally fell in love with Haruki Murakami's books and realized that magical realism was my favorite genre. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was the first book by Murakami that I read and I think it's still my favorite, or maybe Kafka on the Shore.
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carter was another book that I fell in love with thanks to my list of book research. I love short stories, especially ones that have some surrealism like ALL of Franz Kafka's work. All of iiiiiit.
  • Siddhartha is an all time favorite along with some other books by Herman Hesse like Steppenwolf. My dad gave me a copy of Steppenwolf around this time when he saw all the types of books that I was pounding like they were candy. Get ready for a somewhat dark, philosophical and contemplative journey if you are going down the Herman Hesse path. The end of Steppenwolf also is one of the trippiest things I've ever read, fair warning. Herman Hesse's work was some of the first work that I read at a young age that was very deep and dark, containing poetic storytelling that explored the search for the authentic self and self knowledge. I think it deeply influenced the person that I am today, why I focus on self knowledge above all else, and why I love writing. 
  • Choke, and all of Chuck Palahniuk's work. Oh man, I loved it all when I was 17 and 18. It felt so daring and dark. But now that I'm older and a little more comfortable with how boring I am, I just don't find any of his books entertaining anymore. It's a little too much for my sensitive spirit.
  • I remember trying to read Dave Eggers A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius but I couldn't stand it. I guess because I had experienced a lot of trauma in my childhood too, I just couldn't relate to the way he became self destructive and shitty towards women. Not like I am a saint and handled my own trauma well, I just went the polar opposite direction and self imploded with self hate and isolation. Oh I could go deep into that, but to keep this a little lighter, I don't dig his writing but I do love and respect his program 826 which does incredible things for kids in the most charming ways. The Seattle location of 826 changed to a new name The Bureau Of Fearless Ideas. See, look at all this stuff you can learn just from writing a list! I learned about his book, and then more about his as an author and activist and philanthropist, and then his amazing organization, and then how the Seattle location has changed and grown, and how he and I relate in some traumas but channeled it different ways... All of that from writing a list and being open to still learning about an author even though I didn't like one book I read. Lists are rad.
  • After reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school, I just couldn't do East of Eden though I know a lot of people who adore the book. I can't do John Steinbeck. Sorry!

It's really fun for me reflecting on the lists that fill up this goofy little notebook. So I think I might post more lists from inside it's pages. What do you think?