Hello, Darling Girl...

I have a transluscent, deep-green-glass cup that I SEE every so often (I'm staring at it now, actually!).  This seemingly simple-something has scripted, glass-infused letters on the front of it: "A Good Girl" - quite a powerful statement to carry around!  I have no actual recognition of ever DRINKING out of it as a child, but I know it has been with me since Toddler-hood.  Along the way, it's been lost or forgotten and found, chipped and glued, and then chipped again. 

It has served a variety of uses from a something-to-put-on-a-shelf, an element in a still life drawing, a painting subject, a vessel which represented all-things-childhood, and a pen-holder / blog post inspiration (it's current incarnation) ...

We often ask our kids (and ourselves) to behave in such a way that provides not a recognition of who we are as Brilliant Beings, but perhaps as a means to afford our own "Good Girl" title. 

I believe art-making (not art-observing) provides a means to uncovering our own Truth but, perhaps more importantly, it provides a way for us to share something of ourselves with others in such a way that allows them to recognize THEIR True Self! The Collective Unconscious - it exists!

Studio Shu was created in order to provide kids and adults a way to get back (or be introduced again) to their Magnificent Self, if only for an hour, and create joyfully from that place of acceptance!  We do not believe it is in the end-product that we find our authentic expressions honored, but in the process of uncovering, daring and supporting ourselves while we create.

When we become immersed in a creative journey, the process of truth-finding must lie in the uncovering of who we have been asked to Be and get back to Be-ing who we truly Are.  When creative expression is given room to be heard, we find self-esteem, self-confidence, creative problem-solving abilities and trust in our Self are immediate by-products!  How GREAT is THAT?

So as we honor our childhood, we can also honor these icons which have appeared in our life as reminders of who we are and how we can authentically Be Hav-ing.  Happy Painting!


Finding Change Through Art

As Published in The Coast News.

Finding change through art class

By Lillian Cox

From left: Lynne Roswall, owner, Studio Shu in Solana Beach and art student Aubri Almendariz, a partner in Minc Model & Talent Agency. “I love the idea of this class as a stress reliever,” she said. “There is a sense of safety in this environment.” Photo by Lillian Cox

SOLANA BEACH — As an accountant, Jeff Wilson works with numbers all day, analyzing data, reconciling discrepancies and preparing reports. 

Taking an art course for adults with instructor Lynne Roswall was a welcomed change.

Unlike his job, it was a chance to express himself.

“In accounting you have to be accurate and there are lots of rules to deal with, and you can’t be creative,” he said smiling. “Creative accounting has a very negative connotation to it.”

He added, “In Lynne’s class you just let it flow and do what you feel like doing. You explore and try to think outside of the box.”

Like Wilson, Aubri Almendariz has a high-stress job as a partner in Minc Model & Talent Agency where she manages the careers of children whose faces have appeared in national commercials and ads for the Gap and H&M.

She enrolled in Roswall’s adult art class two months ago, after watching the positive effect on her son and daughter, Paola and Lola, who were students in Roswall’s children’s class.

“I have people in my family who are artists, but I’m not one of them,” Almendariz explained. “I’ve never painted before and am terrified of blank canvases. Here it is about the process, which I needed, and learning another way to experience life and emotion from a different perspective.”

The adult art class has become a welcomed break from the pressures of her business, and life.

“When I arrive Lynne tells me, ‘Take your head off and put it over here (in another corner of the room),” she said. “When the brush stops moving, she tells me to find a color (she’s attracted to).”

She added, “I love the idea of this class as a stress reliever. There is a sense of safety in this environment. I get through Tuesdays knowing the day is going to pass and, at the end of the day, it’ll be calm when I arrive here.”

Roswell’s philosophy is similar to that of essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

As a working artist, Roswall has come to understand stress and deadlines herself.

“Even as kids, you have stress,” she explained. “Here you come where there are no expectations and no pressure to perform. My job is to guide students – kids and adults – back to themselves.”

Roswall’s classes incorporate paper and tempera paint, which she uses to teach students that it’s not about the beauty of a flower they paint, but the process.

“It’s about who you are, and painting is the medium to get there,” she said.

Roswall tells students that it’s okay to give up on an idea. In Almendariz’s case, a dragon that wasn’t coming together emerged as a beautiful bird once she let go and concentrated on the process only.

“I’ve learned from Lynne that there is a sweet surrender even if means just being here for one hour,” she said. “I can paint red and black if that is what I’m feeling at the time.”

For more information visit studioshu.com or call (858) 349-2942.



Changing the World - one portrait at a time

It is often said that classes in The Arts gives our kids (and adults) an opportunity to strengthen self-esteem, authentic thought, creative problem-solving techniques, yet it is the first to be cut from our schools' curriculum.  Our kids these days are deemed lucky to have 30-minutes (really, 20-minutes, if you consider the 5-minute set up / clean up time that each class uses) dedicated 1day a week to The Arts.  

Studio Shu's purpose is to expose kids and adults to the potential that we all have inside of us. Studio Shu was developed from a belief that we all want to be seen, celebrated and accepted for who we really are and express what we feel, believe, and have to say.  We use art and the creative process as a medium to become introduced to our True Selves and have fun in the doing of it! 

There's an artists by the name of J.R. who is the recipient of the 2011 Ted prize on a wish - that perhaps Art can change the World.  It started out initially a wish he had for himself; to be seen, to mark himself as being Here.  His wish was expanded to others and has now become a global movement with a program called the Inside Out Project (http://www.ted.com/talks/jr_one_year_of_turning_the_world_inside_out.html).  His close-up portraits of interested participants has become a worldwide movement; one of peace, hope and exposure to what perhaps has not been seen or considered in other cultures or in our own.  The Arts can provide a crucial experience to grow, not only for our kids but also our communities.  
Studio Shu can be that for you; a movement, a way to expose and introduce you to your True Self, see your brilliance, bring the world to you and you to the world. However intimate or expansive you wish that to be.

Little Ballerina

I was a little ballerina a VERY long time ago.  I remember I always loved watching the older kid's dance before class, their long legs and straight arms, gracious hands and delicate walk.  I believed the command they had on their bodies, working their steps over and over again, connecting their movements, seemlessly, by memory.

I was always wanting for the 'perfect' line, to stretch my body to the just-right position, to express myself, physically, the way I thought i could, maybe, inside. Although my dancing days ended before I hit double-digits(!), there's something in me, still, that is in awe whenever i see dancers move. I am enthralled at their athleticism, strength and physical connection. But perhaps what I see in them is something my True Self recognizes by their authetic movements and connection to their talent and craft. 

I came across a small, young dance troupe in the mid-90s who were in the beginning stages of something very special.  Most of the dancers had been 'classically trained,' had been dancing and/or involved with dance most of their youthful lives. The choreographer who started this group had a need, desire, calling, passion and determination to develop a group of dancers who would move from an authentic place and use Dance to change perception.  From the tip of a finger to the movement of a big toe, each move was one of purpose and full extension. This group of dancers developed and surrounded themselves with others, dancers and fans, who were willing and open to be exposed to a natural, authentic experience.  We were all changed by watching their process unfold. To dance stories out of a deep emotional connection to purpose and music, brought the audience to themselves and we became connected. They are Eveoke Dance Company.

I am reminded of them, recently, through my work with one little ballerina in particular and a young, determined choreographer, both whom have a need, a desire, a calling, a purpose for authentic expression of their True Self. Through our classes at Studio Shu, our little ballerina has allowed her natural, creative Self to be set free. She is open, determined, curious to experience whatever expression she may have. She has used drawing and painting to free herself into the 'just-right' position, reach for the most authentic mark and her willingness to be who she is and play has given the rest of us the opportunity to connect with that same place within ourselves.  Bravo!

To Love Creation from the Inside...

To love a thing that we, ourselves, create somehow gets mixed up very quickly with those artistic judgements or endeavors of others. It does not take long to run into pre-conceived notions of what 'good' is - whether that be from someone outside ourselves or within. Some people have come up with ways in which we learn to analyze our artistic creations; we can review our work against color palette, application techniques, juxtaposition of elements within a layout, etc. What we find is that set of criteria (which has been set up to judge what is 'good') often fights with the natural expression of artistic creation! As we grow up, we become introduced to what is 'good' by the way someone reacts or comments to our artistic expressions. Does our drawing go up on the fridge or did we get praised with what we had done? Once judgemental comments are made about our creations, before we even learn what the word "juxtaposition" means, we find ourselves, as early as elementary school, already enmeshed in a cycle of the critic. Studio Shu did an event with 8year olds a few weeks ago & the kids in the group were all so excited about creating something of their own. With great care, they selected their canvas, brushes and colors to paint with. Some of them didn't know what to do and asked to repeat the assignment "...you mean paint whatever I want?... well, what should I paint?" I felt their excitement edge it's way into trepidation at the thought that they would have to do something that was going to be seen by others, and the self-criticism started almost instantly. One girl kept repeating to herself, "ugh, this is SO BAD," almost with every stroke of her brush. She finally blurted out "this is so bad I just don't know how to paint!" At that point, I had asked that she put down her brush and stand away from her canvas for just a minute -- we both stood a couple feet from her work & looked. What she had in front of her was an amazingly full, calm and bright colorful scene which was so wonderfully created on her 'I-don't-know-how-to-paint" canvas. We did an exercise to package that judgement up into a secret box and put that box 'somewhere else' to deal with at another time. As she picked up her brush & began to paint again I think she felt a little bit better. She (at the very least) didn't seem to have as difficult a time while she worked. She realized that without that repetitive judgement, she had more fun imagining what could come next in her painting and, actually, saw that what she had done was an incredible expression of her very own - not copied or scripted or dictated! She brought her work back, put it down to dry and said she felt really proud of herself! The process of making art miraculously provides us an opportunity to learn as well as strengthen our belief in our magnificent Selves!

Creating "Great Art" comes from the Heart

It is considered, by some, necessary to have some emotional turmoil, dramatic event or need to 'say' something important to create "Great Art."  We believe you just have to show up and get out of your own way. The 'Great' work comes when we open ourselves up & allow the creative process in.  Technique and skill develops in the constant listening and allowing what wants to appear - that is the tough part.

I find when listening with an open Heart, what has to be made comes through my painting process.  Allowing Heart-time to be a kid again, joyfully, we can create & decorate things with intention and not force what has-to-be-done.  If we follow the lines, we lose an opportunity to develop those personal-intention listening muscles.  By letting ourselves be guided by the creative process, we often find out more about ourselves, trust that what comes out needed to be there & the more fulfilled our Hearts can become.  We believe "Great Art" is the expression & manifestation of authentic mark-making and a filled-up, feeling Heart.  

Back to the Beginning

Those who are just starting to explore the various ways of creative expression may not know what questions to ask, how to use certain materials, next steps to take, or how to play... most of us come into starting art-making wanting to 'get better at (fill-in-the-blank).  The role of 'teacher' might be best suited to provide that guidance.  It is incumbant upon those who have gone before us to provide assistance, not necessarily pave the ROAD for us, but (perhaps) point us in the right direction... a place to veer towards.  

There are many different 'teaching' methods in the arts.  One might be to focus in on the mechanics; that of mixing color, expression of form, image composition.  Some may focus on accurate historical reference of the arts, discuss with artsy language the technique to be used to get the 'perfect' mark or perhaps provide a way to talk about art as something to be sought after.  One can NOT teach what we believe is the most important part of creative expression.  Creativity is strongest in the not knowing -- it is from that place our most true direction comes!  Those 'teachers' who allow us to strengthen our own creative output without bias or preconception, we believe, is the highest compliment.

Studio Shu holds true that of a beginner's mind.  Our teachers provide guidance in the form of questions to consider when creating, only when it is needed, to allow for your most authentic creative expression possible.  We provide a place to Be a Beginner, we are devoid of judgement and we support each of our own creative need to make stuff real!


Becoming REAL

My FAVORITE part of "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams takes place as a conversation in the wee-quite hours of the night between The Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit.  

The wise old horse talks about how one becomes 'REAL'... it is in the 'something-that-happens-to-you' over a long, long time that i often think about...  Becomming REAL (as told from the Skin Horse) comes to one through being loved, REALLY loved.  By the time you've become REAL, "...all your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby..."  (so awesome!).  

Love. The most powerful artsy-magic there is... to allow our kids to feel love - and really accepted - for who they are, isn't that what we are all striving to guide them towards (and have for ourselves)?  

Allowing oneself the opportunity to accept love is one of the more vulnerable things we can attempt to expose ourselves to.  Our kids deserve to be given that opportunity to feel love in a safe and secure environment .  I belive art and mark-making can kick-start something inside all of us and exposes us to find love for and within ourselves.  Art-making allows kids a chance to accept and build Self-esteem and belief... to BE.   What a gift to see authentic creativity strengthened & then flow.  

Some kids dive in making art, some take a while to hear their own voice as they are mark-making and some don't know how to just BE.  Perhaps this is what the journey is all about? 

Studio Shu was created to provide an oportunity for those who want to find their own voice in art-mark-making, be accepted, and become REAL.  Authentic.  Loved.



The journey of art-making is, most of the time, a solitary event.  Although it is possible to paint in groups, the act of creativity has to do with a willingness to step out on our own and open up to whatever-may-come.  Art gives us an opportunity to find our way through to our own Independance, our own voice, find our own rhythm & dance.  Let go of preciousness of ink or paint on paper, find the joy in making something authentic, create something that had not existed before, find your Independance, your voice, make some art & just listen.  


Connection With Your Day

Good Friday / Earth Day - Not sure how these two 'holidays' ended up on top of each other, but they bring me to think about what we do to connect with those we love and what we do to ground ourselves during the craziness of our daily lives. There are always those family gatherings around meals which might offer this (or not), those happy or sad occasions which allow us to take pause (birth or death), milestone events which give us perspective (graduations, performances). But we often forget about the connection we might need for ourselves or with each other during the more mundane times of our lives. Studio Shu is a place that can offer you a way to connect with yourself, your family, your friends through art-making. A place to escape when you least expect you need or even want it! It is a place to rediscover your freedom of expression without any agenda. The only thing you need to do is give over, get out of your own way & create.

At Studio Shu, you do not have to perform, submit, provide, develop, supply, discuss, succeed, talk or have any answers to the 'why' of your actions. It is a space where you can let go of product & enjoy the process of creative expression. Come on in, find some paint, make a mark, get a little messy, create your truth (however it is for right now), release your burdens and ground yourself. Happy Good Friday & Earth day!