Friday, January 29, 2010

Question: Why do I do what I do? Answer: Love.

(Wolf and Bear Masks enjoyed by their new owners)

Sculpting a Life
By Susan Gallacher-Turner

I make masks out of window screening and copper. I’ve made all kinds of animals and mythical creatures in metal…cats and dogs, lions, bears and birds including a frog, donkey, tarantula, cheetah, macaw, owl, phoenix, dragon and a thunderbird just to name a few. I’ve made a series of fairies faces and masks that look like leaves.

A decade or so ago, I’d have thought I’d be done with all these masks by now, but I just keep on making them. Not only that, I keep coming up with ideas and creatures that I just need to make.

So there’s that question again…why? And the answer, so simple and clear…love.

I love imagining the animals and mythical creatures. I love shaping them out of aluminum and copper. I love painting them even though the process requires many, many, many patient layers of paint plus carefully detailed painting and repousse’ to get the richly detailed feathers, fur and scales. I love the fact that the depth of color defies the lightness and transparency of the completed mask.

Most of all, I love that people are so thrilled when they see them, feel them and put them on. They are transformed from boy or girl, woman or man into a wolf, bear, frog, lion, dragon or phoenix. I love to see the wonder on their faces when they look in the mirror and see their new masked persona. I love it when they realize that I can’t see them as they were but only as they are with the mask on.

I love that no matter what the person’s age or stage, the mask brings out the clear, true spirit of imagination that we usually only see in very small children. I love being part of that link and transformation.

Yes, it takes a lot of time, effort and skill to make each and every mask but when I’m working on the masks, my life becomes timeless.

Why do I do what I do? Love. Pure and simple.

If you’d like to see more of my masks, check out my website at and read my other blog Susan’s Art & Words at Read more!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gardener's Psychiatric Hotline

The Gardener’s Psychiatric Hotline has been a perennial favorite for garden humor, which those of us in the Northeast could use a little of right now. Thanks to Ron Vanderhoff of Roger’s Gardens for his version:

“Many who read this column will soon retreat to their gardens for long periods of time. Once there, may will find peace, harmony, and beauty. But a few, some of whom I’ve met, will discover other, darker, qualities of the season.

At this season, I worry about many of my dear gardening friends. When talking to them, I see some of the early signs; the soft mumblings, the subtle mood swings, the small nervous tics. I suspect some of these garden comrades are only a dandelion or two away from serious floral psychosis. The annual anticipation of spring, mingled and juxtaposed with delirious expectations of plant perfection and the uncertainties of nature, drive some of my fragile friends to the brink.

These people need skilled help, carefully administered by trained professionals. Perhaps you know one of these people. Worse perhaps you are one of these people. Maybe you yourself are showing some early symptoms and haven’t noticed them yet. Self-diagnosis is difficult. Yet, these people hold pruning shears, shovels, and hedge clippers in their gloved hands. It is a dangerous time. But there is help.

Ring, ring...Hello! and welcome to the Gardener's Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are buying plants, yet have no space or time to plant them, you are obsessive-compulsive.  Please press 1 repeatedly.

If you want someone else to do the digging, you are co-dependent.  Please ask someone to press 2.

If you will plant anything and everything, you have multiple personalities. Please press 3, 4, and 5.

If you are sure the sun, rain, bugs, and plant diseases are out to get you, you are paranoid delusional.  We know who you are and what you want….just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

If you are sure the flowers are talking to you, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which button to press.

If you can't throw away a plant, even if it is dying, you are manic-depressive and it doesn't matter which button you press.

If you think your garden is being attacked by evil spirits, press 6-6-6.

If you continue to plant only flowers with fragrance, you are nasally fixated. Please press the scratch-and-sniff button.

If you occasionally hallucinate and know that this year your garden is going to  look as good or better than Martha Stewart's please be aware that the thing you are now holding to the side of your head is alive and is about  to bite your ear.

If you refuse to believe the plant you are growing is a weed, you are in denial. Thanks for pressing the right button already!

If you are a senile gardener, after listening to all of the selections, continue to stare blankly at the phone for the next ten minutes while trying to remember why you called in the first place.”

Read more!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Television Musings - Rants and Raves from a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter

Welcome 2010!

I know it’s been awhile but I’m back. I’ve been in computer hell. And when I logged on to write this. I noticed my blog form a couple back didn’t even post. I went back and posted the blog from October 19th but in the scheme of things don’t know where it published. Where it was originally supposed to or on today’s date. Moving forward. I hope to be back to once a week. This week I want to talk about Chuck. Chuck was a relatively creative idea for a television show. The contents from a government agency computer downloaded into a human, then was destroyed. The only way the real spies could access the information was through Chuck. Who works at a warehouse store on the geek squad.

That lasted for two seasons. Of course the government was working on a way to get the information back and free Chuck, but at what price. The storyline ran it’s course, But they came up with a new creative outlet. After getting free of the info Chuck downloaded the new version into himself. Not quite sure how. But now if he flashes on an activity he does not know, for instance talking French, instantly he is enabled to the task. To me this is creative but alas how far can it go?
Read more!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sculpting a Life

By Susan Gallacher-Turner

Share your creativity rituals and help light the way for others in the new year.

For years alone in the studio, I began my day with a ritual I called ‘CM’ or creative meditation time. I poured myself a fresh cup of coffee, turned on my favorite music, lit a scented candle and sat down in my chair. Closing my eyes, I attempted to bring my thoughts from the world of everyday activity to the world of creativity.

Doesn’t this sound restful and wonderful? Then why does it take so much work to get my butt in that chair? Why do I find myself at the computer, answering email or dust mopping my floors instead of sitting, focusing and creating in my studio?

I can say I’m too busy but after a few weeks, I get tired, cranky and resentful. Yes, it’s easy to put the needs of others before mine. Yes, it’s easy to find other jobs more productive. And again, yes, it’s easy to blame myself or others for my lack of ‘CM’ time.

The other day, I met an artist friend for coffee. After talking to her for a while, I realized that although I feel all alone in my struggles, I’m not. Almost every creative person finds themselves fighting the foes of fear, procrastination and time.

It’s a new year. And this year, instead of guilt and fear, I want to embrace the feelings of freedom, lightness and joy. I know that getting back to my ‘CM’ time is a big step in the right direction.

But maybe in the New Year, my old ‘CM’ ritual needs some renewal, too.

So I’m asking for your suggestions. What steps do you want to take this New Year? Do you have a ritual that gets your creativity going everyday?

Share it here. I’d love to hear some new ideas. What sparks your creativity can light the way for all of us.

If you'd like to see some of my sculpture work visit my website at or check out my writing and podcasts about other creative people at Read more!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sculpting a Life: Susan Gallacher-Turner's Turn in the Pacific Northwest

Decking the halls for the New Year.

It all started the year my daughter cried when we took down the Christmas tree. I had to admit, taking down all those colorful, shiny decorations, festive plants and wreaths always felt sad to me, too. So, I told her that I wasn’t taking down the decorations for an entire year, I was ‘redecking’ the halls for the New Year.

Since then, as the Christmas holiday décor comes down, the New Year décor goes up. A white, gold and silver theme replaces the reds and greens. On the table, I put a white tablecloth with metallic threads, a gold metallic runner and a centerpiece with a hurricane, white pillar candle and festive beads complete with brass bells to ‘ring’ in the New Year. The mantle gets a snowy theme with little flocked trees and lighted white wreath. The hutch which holds the Christmas china gets redone with crystal champagne glasses and a silver champagne bucket. One year, I made a New Year’s wreath. You can see it pictured above…I cut oak leaves out of aluminum sheeting adding veins and details in repousse’.

It doesn’t take long to add these festive touches but it goes a long way to brighten up everyone’s mood after Christmas is over. My daughter has carried the ‘tradition’ to her own apartment this year as she ‘redecked’ her halls for the New Year, too.

I think what I love the most is the process itself. I renew my home for the New Year. I honor the past year’s good times with the gold touches. I welcome the abundance for the new year with the silver oak leaves. And I open up to new beginnings with all of the white touches; the candles, flowers, table cloth, trees and lights.

What started as a way to make my daughter happy has become a tradition that makes us all happier in the New Year. Read more!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Where Do You Go For Inspiration?

For the past few years, I’ve gone to The Land Ethics Symposium, sponsored by Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve (New Hope, PA). As the line that separates gardening and sustainability becomes more blurred, gardeners and garden-related professionals, environmental consultants, and government officials are increasingly finding themselves at the same events and trade shows.

This year, the symposium focuses on ways to create economical and ecologically balanced landscapes using native plants and restoration techniques. Attendees will learn how such landscapes can solve site problems while being sustainable, practical and attractive.

In years past, the Land Ethics Symposium has hosted such inspirational speakers as sustainable living gurus Marcus de la Fleur and John Peter Thompson , Puget Sound ecological expert and poet Grant Jones , and Morris Arboretum master arborist Jason Lubar .

There’s always at least one speaker who sweeps you back in time and reminds you in a very visceral sense of why you chose a vocation or avocation that connects you to the natural world. I always come back with more ideas than I can possibly implement, recharged and ready to go. We all need this type of re-energizing from time to time. What do you do for creative inspiration?

Last day to register for The Land Ethics Symposium is February 8, 2010. For more information, contact Bowman’s Hill at .

Lois de Vries' thoughts on gardening and environmental issues run the gamut from gardening in her own back yard to promoting land management practices that reconnect people to the Earth. To discover how to express more of your personality and creativity through your garden, or how body/mind/spirit can play itself out in your gardening activities, visit: or contact me at

Read more!

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Emotional Plot as The Engine of The Story

Long time, no post! Have been working on my Character Workout mini-ebook for subscribers to my creative writing site (as well as trying to meet the deadline on my current screenplay). Of all the aspects of the manuscripts and film scripts I get to assess, Character is always something that the writer would benefit from learning more about. But any guidance on Character has to include flagging up the need to approach the work with all the elements in mind because everything in a story has to be completely interrelated.

That's why so many How To Books can mislead. Focusing on the elements of writing as if each is a separate entity not only fatally dooms the success of the work, it almost always smothers the creative source of your unique vision.

And that's why I don't like the word 'Plot'. I use the term 'Emotional Plot', because this phrase implies simultaneous human feeling-and-action. The origin of the word 'drama' applies as much to novels as plays and screenplays. It comes from the Greek word meaning 'something done', and the ancient Greek playwrights thought of their stories as 'people doing things'.

The emotional plot is what drives the story - it makes characters 'do things'. So, focusing on the outward action or plot isn't going to get a writer very far in creating a compelling work unless the focus is at the same time, on the emotional needs of the character. Instead of making the first question: What is my story about? A better question is Who is my story about? Then: What are my character's emotional needs? This question alone should be enough to start to generate the story. Creating character will lead automatically to dialogue, setting, structure, pace - every element of story-telling.

This emphasis on approaching a novel or script through thinking about the emotional situation of the character is what I'm trying to get across in all my teaching and consultancy work. That's why I decided to write the free ebook on Character for subscribers on my new site.

There are so many ways to fire up the imagination when creating characters, and a good many of them are not the usual ones you find in the writing guides.

Read more!