FOUR THINGS TO ASK A STRANGER (almost a parody)

Welcome to Mary Anne Radmacher's blog.

One way to get to know a person you've just met is to ask them to tell you about their favorite friends. It's said that a person essentially becomes an aggregate of the five people with whom they spend the most time.

There's another telling question to ask a stranger. It's all about a book.

1) Is there one book that you have re-read and will read again (and again)?
2) What is the most recent book that you've read and what stands out to you most?
3) What is the title of a book you recommend most often to friends?
4) What was the last book you read that made you so sad when it came to the end? (Because you wanted to keep on reading, not because the ending was sad!).

If the person you are just getting to know has never re-read a book, can't remember what stood out from the last book they read, doesn't recommend books to friends and has never felt sad to stop reading an excellent book...

I suggest that you stop conversing with them. And, perhaps, run. Kidding (not kidding). Perhaps you might consider striking up a conversation with someone else that you might want to get to know. AND start THAT conversation off by recommending a book you've recently read...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Who Taught You That?"

"Who taught you that?" is a question that is as much a part of my memories of childhood as my tree fort and banana seat huffy bike. Adults were frequent to question my source of knowledge. I read several grade levels ahead and my mother had arranged unlimited access to all the material in my local library. I was an early "dot connector." If THIS in true, and THIS is true, I would be able to conclude that likely THAT was true. And the source I would cite for the THAT? Me. I have considered my own soul a valued and viable source of knowing since childhood.

When I first became acquainted with Carmen Torbus and her art work, I noted she often described herself as "self taught." That reference would whoosh me back to my own learning experience where it was somehow implied that knowledge was more viable if one received it from a validated source. An OTHER source. My view toward knowingness is very different than what is generally accepted. I believe the knowledge and capacity we each hold within ourselves is our first line of education. That is the first "go to" place I use myself and suggest for others. Then, absent satisfying discovery there, the search begins to circle outward.

Torbus's "self taught" proclamation said many things to me. She embraces her own vision. She has courage. She's willing to fail in order to make discovery. She's innovative. She is imaginative. And over the time I've become more familiar with her and her work...these observations have been proven correct.

Carmen's book, The Artist Unique: Discovering Your Creative Signature Through Inspiration and Techniques, is wonderfully rich and inviting. A circle of five professional artists will be showing their personal, playful side during the month of June. Along with Carmen and me, Liz Kalloch, Christine Mason Miller and Christine Olivarez will each be picking a technique presented in Carmen's book. We each have our own "Creative Signature" known to the people who follow our work. The challenge for us is to choose a technique that we are not particularly familiar with, share the process of learning and, ultimately, give something we've created to a friend of ours. Even though each of us earn our livelihood through the creative process, we also love to give what we make to our treasured friends. Not all our creativity is tied to our careers. We are each passionate creatives who love to discover, explore and just make things...in our "spare time!"

Be watching for photos and story as I share my journey learning about a media I've been reluctant to try. In fact, I've chosen something that I've been heard to say, in low-hard-to-hear-tones, "I'm just not that good at that..." Carmen's inviting me to say something different! And now, when people ask me, "Who taught you THAT?" I'll be able to say, "Carmen Torbus, one of her friends and me!"

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