Recently in Creativity Category

Memory Support, an art project

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"Memory Support is a tribute to the forgotten stories of family and the remembered stories of friends. When the structure is full and and the cloth faded, I will burn it to send the memories to the sky, then bury the ashes to enrich the earth."


This has been quite a year of making, reliving, questioning, and forgetting memories. From the brain fog of pre-menopause to my mother's dementia to the loss of several friends - I've been mired in memories.

Overwhelmed by some sad news of a friend's tragic demise, I went outside to tidy the garden. I ended up building a structure of felled bamboo. It just seemed right and opened a flood of detailed memories about friends and family. I was compelled to write some of these recollections on ribbons of cloth and tie these burst of color to the poles. Over the next few days, the collection grew and some friends joined me in adding their memories to the piece.

Today, I am opening the project to the world. I invite you to add your memories to Memory Support. You're welcome to stop by in person and rummage in my bag for cloth and a pen. If you aren't nearby, you can participate via post.

  1. Write a memory on a strip of cloth or a ribbon at least 20cm/8in long. Any cloth is good and any memory you want to share is fine. You can create as many as you wish.

  2. Tie your memory to the structure, or send it to me and I will tie it on for you.

Mail your memories to:

Kristen McQuillin
Hiratsuka 1577-2
Kamogawa, Chiba 296-0232


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Drawing Meditations

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A few months back, Tracey and I teamed up to make a new creative project. We launched something I think is unique to the world - or at least very uncommon so far - coloring pages with guided audio meditations. We call them Drawing Meditations

The idea takes two forms of meditative relaxation and combines them. Pairing coloring with meditation creates a powerful sense of ease and calm. Your left brain focuses on the technical aspects of coloring while your right brain enjoys flowing into the present moment with the meditation. It's pretty cool and it really works well to distract your busy mind and give you some space to "just be" without any other pressures.

I drew the coloring pages and wrote and recorded the narration for the meditations. Tracey sourced all the materials for the Drawing Meditation gift sets we sell on Etsy. They are gorgeous little things and I especially love the pocket-sized coloring books. 

We are hosting an event on March 12th in Tokyo - a live version of Drawing Meditation. I'll be presenting two new drawings plus a tutorial on coloring in techniques. It's going to be great fun. You are invited to attend! The details for Coloring-In Party feat Drawing Meditations are on Facebook, or contact me directly.

Drawing the Circus

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Feeling a little disconnected from the group this afternoon, so I drew everyone in their characters and the big circus dreams we are creating. Maybe tomorrow I can play well with others.

Genesis Art Teacher Training

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I've been enjoying Liane Wakabayashi's intuitive art classes for several years and when she invited me to join the first Genesis Art Teacher Training, I jumped at the chance to learn how I might be able to use this as a quiet creative activity with my social circus work. 

Genesis Art uses a beautiful deck of cards with paintings and titles created by Liane. During a session, students work on one of many exercises to produce a drawing, painting, or collage. During the creation process,  if the student feels "stuck" or at a comfortable stopping place, it is time to compare the work to a card drawn at random. What are the connections and similarities? Where are there differences? Does the card's colors, composition, figures, symbolism, or title give inspiration to adjust the drawing? At the end of the session, students gather with their drawings and cards to talk about the experience. The cards and artwork are a gateway for discussion of topics that we often slide past without much depth.

It was a great two days. Seeing the tools and techniques from the teachers point of view was eye opening. I think my own use of the cards and the exercises will change as a result. There are many ways I can apply these ideas in my work and I'm excited to explore more with Liane's techniques.

Stagaki 2015

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If I'm going to "do it all now" I need to stop faffing around on Facebook & social media. I'm reinstating my Stagaki art project from 2013. The next 50 times I want to share something on Facebook, I'll write it on a postcard instead and mail it to someone.

You send me your mailing address and I'll send you a postcard. Simple as that. 

The 2015 Equinox Storybook

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At our annual equinox bbq yesterday, we collaborated on a short story. Each of us wrote a sentence then passed the book to someone else. The results are odd and probably say quite a bit about the mind of each writer. I did the illustrations this morning and photographed the pages.

stories-0.jpg stories-1.jpg

Things did a sinister retake at the end there! After we completed this one, we tried out hand a 6 word stories and I jotted them down as we shared them. 


We also had an ichi-en hunt with prizes, and Samm led us in a song with musical squeaking pigs.

Here are some of the coins that stayed hidden!

At the Kid's Table

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Lucy and her mandala with Lily in the background. A selection of our drawings.

Tod & I went to an oden party yesterday evening hosted by Elizabeth and Atsunori. Their apartment was filled with food and families. After chatting with the parents for a while, my introverted self decided to go color with the kids. It was about 3 minutes before I had an audience (with lots of questions!) and before long we were all drawing together. Lucy was especially interested in drawing mandalas with me. Lily and I did some shading work. Luka played with stripes and Malika enthusiastically scribbled along with us. Only Elia, in the pink princess dress, opted not to draw. She prefers videos.

A bit later, when the ice cream was finished, we did some circus games together. Tod helped me to demonstrate flying and basing and we did some acrobatics including building pyramids with Tod and one of the dads, Paul, as the solid bases. They kids absolutely loved flying on my feet. I even flew Atsunori! We played soundball, silent statues, log rolling, and the unknotting game. Amazingly, we didn't kick any holes in the shoji or fusama and nobody cried, except at the end when we had to stop to go home.

Best party ever. I really do better playing with the kids than talking with the grown ups.

Women's Genesis Art Retreat in Gifu

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Genesis Art Retreat at the Irori
The Genesis Women's Art Retreat participants, aged 13 - 80, with art gifts.

I spent a pleasant week at a farmhouse in the Japan Alps with Liane Wakabayashi and a group of artistic women that spanned three generations. We gathered to create intuitive art using Liane's own Genesis cards.

1 question, 3 answers
One question with three answers: If I spoke Japanese fluently, how would my life change?

Intuitive art is not about creating Art, but about relaxing into the moment, finding answers to questions, and allowing your subconscious to have expression. The first day was very challenging as I put aside my own drawing style and picked up Liane's softer mediums and techniques. Once I let go of my need to draw my own way, I loosened up and had fun. 

Art and shirt
Sometimes I felt a bit sideways...

The Genesis cards are a bit like a tarot deck.  Each card has a beautiful painting full of colorful details as well as a title. There is a guide book to help you with meanings and ideas in each card. The cards can give insight into questions or help you to add elements to your own art to complete it. It is fun to compare your art to the card you selected, or to ask a question, choose cards and then combine their elements to create a visual answer to your question. Sometimes there are connections you don't even realise, like the design on my shirt reflected in the drawing I did above.

The Princess' Wedding
My favorite of the week, The Princess' Wedding (she is dressing in the tower)

If you are in Tokyo, I recommend booking into one of Liane's workshops. You may discover something about yourself that you didn't even suspect (I did!). Check the schedule or buy your own set of cards:

Building a Geiger Counter

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Meet bGeigie #2209. We built her yesterday. Tod soldered 179 points. I did the non-soldering bits. The build took us most of the day, but it wasn't too hard. I think some of the time was taken up awe, making comments like "Wow, we're adding the smallest disk drive ever" and "This tiny thing is a GPS unit?" and "Gosh, they did a great job making this kit easy to put together."

2209 is part of the Safecast project. Now we can roam around Japan to log radioactivity and report back to the international mapping project. Or we can point her at things and see the lights blink.

Spring Sketching

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I took my watercolors to the park today and although the output isn't anything special, it was glorious to be out in the fresh air focussing my attention on the environment for a few minutes. I am reminded how much I enjoy this form of meditation. More drawing...

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