Come one, come all to the Jangle Soapworks Open House at the Old School House in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, this Friday, December 7, from 4-8. With every purchase of my books or wool objects or paintings, you will get a free bumper sticker of my head (while supplies last). Ten other vendors will be selling stuff from pottery to soap, to wool rovings to cards to I don’t even know what! We also have live music this year- one of the bands is my daughter’s violin duo, “The Octolots.” Also, food. It’s basically a party where you can buy stuff.
How doth the busy bee
Improve the shining hours
By making honey sweet and good
From all the pretty flowers.
How doth this lazy I,
Improve (?) the shining hours
By drawing things
And painting things
With my nimrodic powers.”
Poem by Wanda Gág
I, too, revel in my nimrodic powers of “drawing things and painting things,” just like Wanda Gág. Yesterday, I named an online store after this poem. It’s called, of course, “Nimrodic Powers,” and it is an on line shop where you can purchase clothing and bags and magnets and what have yous with my famous art printed on it. I’ve been thinking I should “wait until it’s done” to share this shop with you, but then it became apparent that it will never be done. Or, maybe it is done. It’s a thing that I will keep adding drawings to as the mood strikes me, which could mean “I will add more art to this store every day for the rest of my life,” or it could mean, “it is done. I am never adding any more pictures again.”
Shout out to Christina McMullen for introducing me to the concept of a Zazzle Store. Christina writes good books and I follow her on Twitter. She also makes silly drawings. I egg her on. Then, she announced her Zazzle store, and I bought a few things and discovered them to be, actually, high quality and beautiful. So I decided to make my own Zazzle store.
Speaking of Twitter, McMullen is one of the few people with whom I truly interact on that forum. I used to subscribe to the idea that, the more Twitter followers I had, the more books I would sell. That has not proven to be the case. In fact, there was one instance when I shared a quote from Exhaust(ed), and immediately got a book of mine returned to Amazon. (I didn’t know you could return books to Amazon! Don’t return mine, now, please!) So, you could say that I proved that sharing my work on Twitter actually has a negative impact. Now, I’ve got thousands of Twitter followers, most of whom I “follow” back, and I don’t know them. They don’t know me. I think we’re all just out to promote ourselves. Everyone is shouting and no one is listening. It’s just a creepy mess.
So, I’m done with that. I’m deleting my Twitter account in one month. However, I still enjoy interacting with a few key people (Christina McMullen, Alex Bledsoe, Professor Batty, my dad… and a few more) and I do like to follow a few famous people, so I have started a new account. I’m keeping it small. I’m not following back, unless I know you. So, if I know you, or if you want to follow me and you don’t care that I probably won’t follow you back, my new Twitter account is @MyNimrodicPower I will still promote my books and art a little bit, because that’s just what I do, but I’ll try to be a bit more chill about it.
There is a book to promote right now, actually. Postcards from Joshua Tree comes out next Thursday, September 27. Do you remember when I said that if you joined my Patreon, you could tell me what my next book would be about? No? Well, that happened. And Professor Batty joined at the $25 / month level, and told me to write a book called, “Postcards from Joshua Tree,” about my times in Joshua Tree. So, hey! I did! I also enlisted the help of my many minions at Artsy Fartsy Coloring AND Colouring to color in some postcards for me. So, we technically had over twenty people working on this book, plus the idea came from Professor Batty. I think the end result is really beautiful, if I do say so myself. It’s a book of postcard-length vignettes, each one accompanied by a picture of Joshua Tree or the surrounding area, drawn by me and colored by a volunteer colorist from the coloring group. Then, at the end of the story, in the back of the book is all of the drawings, uncolored. So it’s a coloring book, too! (The kindle version does not include the coloring book, because you can’t color your kindle. Sadly.)
The offer is still on. If you join my Patreon at the $25 / month level, you get to tell me what my next book will be. Also, you get two copies of every book, when they come out. (Due to the high cost of printing color art books, I think one copy of Postcards from Joshua Tree will cost $25, so if you join this month, you get a two for one deal.) Also, on the months when I don’t produce a new book, you get a small original work of art in the mail. Also, you get eternal life. “But Shoshanah,” you say, “That’s so sad! I mean, if I had eternal life, everyone I know now would die, and I would continue living, forever!” And that’s why you should have everyone you know and love also join my Patreon at the $25 / month level so that you can all “live forever!”
Sometimes, it takes me a little bit longer (or even a lot longer) than a month to create a new book. And yet, it has been sort of implied at the “Love to Color” $25 a month level of my Patreon that you might receive something every month for your $25. Last month, the book wasn’t ready, and the $25 a month subscribers just got a post card (that was actually a weird game, but anyway… subscribe at $4 a month if you want to see that stuff). I felt bad for not sending them anything larger. So, this month, I’ve been working a lot with wool. Thanks to the great people at the Cat and Crow in Mounth Horeb, Wisconsin, I’ve learned A LOT about working with wool. But still, no book yet this month.
So, I’ve decided I’m changing the $25 a month level of my Patreon. Instead of just books, you’ll get whatever sort of art I’m concentrating on that month—or, if there is a new book, you will get two copies of the new book! So, basically, you’ll NEVER MISS ANYTHING. You can be 100% Artsy Fartsy supporter all the time. Artsy Fartsy A.F.
In fact, I am changing the name of “Love to Color” level to “Artsy Fartsy A.F.” (It’s redundant, I know, because everyone knows “A.F.” stands for “Artsy Fartsy,” but I like it.)
Because I didn’t send anything to my supporters last month, this first original art piece going out to all $25 a month supporters is actually worth more like $70 – $140 (I’ve sold similar items to local collectors). I call them “Wallflowers.” They are a culmination of all I have learned about wool, a combination of wet felting and needle felting, all made from the organic wool we grow directly from our wooly friends out back (A.K.A. the sheep). Each fantasy creature has a flower growing out of her head. You can mount it on your wall, or plant it in your garden and see if it grows! (It won’t.)
How many will I make? I will make one for every new person who becomes a patron this month at the $25 a month level. And, after that, maybe there will be a book next month. Maybe another art piece. I have a possible project in the works with another member of the Tenderfoot Collective, and that would go out to you, too, sometime in the following months.
For this month only, you can get a unique, hand-made Wallflower of your very own by going to Patreon.com/Shoshanah and signing up at the $25 level. Thank you in advance for your decision to support my art and to bring more beauty into your life.
Over the weekend, while my daughter and husband played Minecraft, I was painting a cat in a fez. It’s fun to paint cats in hats.
I painted the background first, then the fez, then finally the cat itself, which I envisioned as a Russian Blue. I was painting it grey. Zanimal, age 10, came up for a snack and regarded my painting critically,
“What would you say is the focal point of this painting?”
“The cat, of course.”
“So…” she said.
“I think it should be a lighter colored cat, so it would stand out better. Then your eye would be drawn to it more.”
“It’s wearing a red hat,” I said.
“Still… it should be lighter.”
“That’s nice,” I said. “When you do your cat painting, you can make your cat a light colored cat.”
She went back downstairs. I put away my grey paints. I squirted a big glob of black onto my pallet.
And now it is a sweet, black cat painting. Yes, I am petty. But I am satisfied with my black cat.
When I go to the Red Cross and give blood regularly (you’re welcome, hundreds of people whose lives I’ve saved!) they are like super nice.
Sometimes, they give you cookies– not just a few cookies, I mean, like 120 cookies that you can put out at your Holiday Market Party. And that’s nice. It is. It’s really, really nice. But, I don’t know. I mean, I know I’m being nice when I give blood. I know I’m being a good person with that and all. They say “thank you” a lot. They are swell people, and that should be enough. I mean, it is. It’s enough to do a good deed. It’s just… it could be more fun.
Improvements for the American Red Cross
Instead of calling me and saying “the need is great,” what if the Red Cross sent me a telegram with a red skull and crossbones indicating that it was time for me to come?
Instead of driving myself there, what if a hearse pulled by three black horses came to my front door, driven by a large white man who never spoke, only motioned with his strangely stiff hand for me to get in?
What if it weren’t in a nondescript building, but in a gothic mansion in a part of town that you never realized was there, because it was always enshrouded in fog?
What if the people who greeted me were dressed all in black, eighteenth century evening garb?
What if there was a basket at the door where you had to leave your cross necklaces and garlic candies?
What if the questions were asked in a Transylvanian (or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvanian [just as weird]) accent, with seductively raised eyebrows at key points?
What if there were bats in the belfry?
What is a belfry?
I like vampires. I do hope the American Red Cross considers my questions to them. Also, a serious suggestion: When I am done giving blood, while I am sitting there drinking my juice for fifteen minutes, ask me to schedule my next appointment before I go. The Red Cross could be like the dentist. Also, another serious suggestion: Will yougive blood? Because they VANT YOUR BLUD! Or, you know, they probably want to “save someone’s life” or some such junk.
*Members of Artsy Fartsy Coloring AND Colouring (a Facebook Group) get a PDF copy of Morbid Mandalas for free, just for being in the group! To join us, hop into the horse drawn hearse that just pulled up to your front door. Make sure and bring your coloring AND colouring supplies! Once you get to Facebook Town, you might be staying there for a wee bit longer than you intended…
**Donators to my Patreon get a creepy postcard from me each month! Try it out. It’s fuuuuuun. (Imagine Bela Lugosi saying that.) Fuuuuuuun. Eeeet’s fuuuuuun.
When you think about creativity, as an abstract thing, I always used to think it was something akin to absolute freedom. The freer one was, the more creative one could be.
As I have aged and grown as a person and as an artist, I’ve found that creativity is often enhanced by limitations. Limiting your art creates barriers that need to be overcome, thus making it possible and even non-negotiable to learn new skills and achieve higher levels of creativity. Parameters make you look at smaller and smaller things. The more you give attention to small things, the better you are paying attention, and the better your art becomes.
I also used to think of learning as a steady process, sort of like climbing a mountain, step by step. But, again, with some age and experience, I have found that learning is more like painfully walking up a mountainside, slipping down a little, and then, suddenly, flying up a thousand feet, with no real explanation of why. And then, when you expect to fly up the next mountain, when you think it will be easy, you suddenly forget how to fly, and you are stepping tiny steps and sliding again- but after a while of climbing, you realize this mountain started at 10,000 feet, where as the last mountain started at 7,000 feet. You didn’t perceive the altitude change. You were so into the climb. So, really, you’re actually doing quite well.
Without any suggestions or instructions from other people, without any audience input, so to speak, I think I would spend a lot of time walking around the base of the mountain, growing not at all as an artist or as a person. No art happens in a vacuum. It is my whole life and your whole life, it is everything around us, everything contributes. Creativity is a compilation of all things. But it needs parameters. It thrives on rules.
You might know already (or you might not know) that you can subscribe to receive two copies of each new book I put out for $25 a month at Patreon. If you already buy all of my books, it is a genuinely good deal. It is also a genuinely good deal for me, because it is a subscription service, and it gives me a steady income. I LOVE my Patreon patrons. And now, because I want to give Patreon members something more, and because I realize the value of your input and suggestions, I am offering yet another benefit to my Patreon subscribers. If you subscribe to my Patreon now, you can tell me what book to make!
I mean, a whole book. Not just a drawing. Tell me what the topic of my next book will be, and I will make it.
“Get two copies of each book book mailed to you the second it comes out! When you start this subscription, you immediately get two copies of the most recent book. Applies to all books by Shoshanah Marohn or published under my new pen name, Shana Lee. (Due to the prohibitive cost of international postage, this reward is for U.S. residents only.)
You will also also receive a monthly, colorable pen and ink postcard note from me.
THIS JUST IN: Sign up now, before December 21, 2017, and you can (seriously this is crazy but I just decided to do this) decide what my next book will be about. Not just a drawing, a whole book!
1. It has to be legal.
2. No copyright infringements.
3. It has to be nothing to which I am morally opposed. (example: Swear word coloring books. I am morally opposed to them on the grounds that they are bad art.)
4. It must be fewer than fifty pages. (Not counting blank pages, of course.)
5. The book will go into my cue in the order it was received. The order I create the books will be the order in which I received your Patreon memberships. (Look at how many people are subscribed to this, that is the number of books before yours.)
Email me email@example.com if you have questions.”
If you would like to tell me what to do, and thus exponentially benefit my art and make everyone who colors and reads my books happy, please click here.
For a long time now- a few years, maybe- I’ve been thinking in the back of my mind how cool it would be to send people little notes and pictures, on scraps of paper. Like, if I had infinite resources, I would mail people postcards with tiny instructions. Or a poem. Or a story that made them think about something they never considered before. Something short, and unexpected, something to take a person out of time for a moment, and make that person appreciate that moment. Appreciate this lovely magic that is being alive. Even if it were because of sadness.
There’s a weekly email I get from this man, M. Van Vleet where he tells little stories and he’s an interesting dude, in general. He’s written books. I can’t describe him. But in any case, he has sent me a few postcards. Each time, it was unexpected. I think once or twice, I entered a contest he had, and won, and the prize was just this silly postcard. One of them was a postcard of an old timey movie poster with a scantily clad lady hanging from a rope and monsters around her, I think. M. Van Vleet wrote me a short, kind message on the other side.
The joy I received from this postcard was completely disproportionate to the thing that it was. I should not have been so excited! But I was. I don’t know why, but if I could guess, I would say it was because I wasn’t expecting it. And because it was mysterious, from someone I sort of know but don’t. Because it was beautiful in a campy, nostalgic way. And maybe most of all, because I could hold it in my hand. It was a human connection that did not involve a screen like the one you are looking at now.
There’s a book I read over and over again as a teenager, that I don’t want to read again now, because I think it would spoil it. The book is, of course, Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse. Why I, as a thirteen-year-old American girl, related so much to a middle-aged man in Germany, I have no idea. I guess it is a credit to the talent of the great Hermann Hesse. I read that book over and over again. What I liked most about it was the magic. Underneath the streets was another place, where Harry didn’t belong, but he went there, anyway. The sign above the door said, “MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY.”
It’s sort of a trick, really. Magic is for everybody. But the sign makes you feel special, like you might be the only one who will be worthy. Or maybe it makes you afraid- will they let you in?
Underneath that, in a reflection, are the words,
“FOR MADMEN ONLY!”
And with those words, Hesse took everyone who’d ever felt they didn’t belong, and he pulled them under his wing. (What kind of wing would he have had? A bat wing? A crow? Perhaps he had wings like a raven. What I wouldn’t give to have a cup of tea with Hermann Hesse.)
Ever since then, I’ve been longing for the day when I am walking down the street, and I find a little door- a door that I have, curiously, never seen before, although I’ve walked this street a million times before, and over the little door is a sign, “MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY.” I’ve been walking and looking for thirty years, and I have never seen the sign.
But I have seen other things.
I have seen other things, but rarely on the internet. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but rarely. All of the magic seems to happen in that IRL space, where our meat bodies meet. Where you hobble out to your mailbox, and you open a letter and see a familiar scrawl. A doodle. A note from the great beyond.
I have come to believe that we need to add magic to the world. Coloring Inside the Dreams was my attempt at that. I labeled it a coloring book, but it really was a love letter to the nearly lost art of creating magic. (Ironically for sale at Amazon.com.)
I’ve been wanting, for a long time, to do something not so public. Not on the internet. Just sending letters. Notes and pictures. To people like you. I want to write you a little poem, or give you some strange instructions. A dare. Or maybe a story that is from the great beyond. Ethereal. You read it, then maybe you lose it. But you remember it. A glimmer. A reflection on a sidewalk. A sign, over a little door.
MAGIC THEATER—ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY
But I always came up against the sad fact of money. Stamps and paper and ink. They cost money. And my time. Darn. But it does, right? That’s just how it is. Everything costs money. Although, not too expensive, actually. Just a little money.
So… I have created a doorway, now. I’ve got a Patreon account. To support magic. (What have we come to? I know. I know.) And there’s a few levels, because I know some people really do like my coloring books, so you can pay a little bit and see what lies beyond the little magic door (receive scraps of paper from me once a month, always including a pen and ink drawing and some writing), or you can pay a bit more and receive the letters plus all of my books, coloring and whatever else, whenever I print them. Two copies: one to color and one to keep. They will be mailed straight to you, no Amazon involved.
I think perhaps one person will sign up, and you will be very special.