Thursday, May 26, 2016

Stephanie Heidemann, Authentic Voicework Singer & Instructor, Tells Her Story

The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone.”

I am a singer, a lover and listener of nature … a woman, a poet, a mother.  My relationship with music has been that of a “conjurer”, rather than an obsession with notes running through my fingers and vocal cords. My passion is demonstrated through my voice. I have made many choices in commitment to the conjuring of music as energy, a divine partnership with the muse that is my beloved. A dear friend of mine (who was a devotee of Sri Satchidananda Swamiji) once said “why sing for people when you can sing for the gods?” That is my purpose, and a calling that haunts me when I don't listen to it.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make
 manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

-Marianne Williamson, Return to Love  

The Resonance Founders, Julian Douglas & Stephanie Heidemann

My first experience hearing this type of music for the very first time was sitting in the woods of southern Indiana, in early spring, with drummer friends. I was 20 years old.  While they played the drums, I began to hear a song within the rhythmic pattern.  

And within the pattern, a tune that taunted me: “dum-da-dum-da-dum-dum-** - DOUBTS!”  

At first, I couldn't believe my ears, but then quickly I could not ignore the clarity of the message. I suddenly knew, that I had many doubts within myself that I still had to deal with -- and that they were “in the way” of something.  Shortly thereafter, I heard a voice from far off in the woods, as if the sun was rising on the horizon. At first, I looked for it, but there was no one there. Listening closely, it was the most pure and beautiful sound I had ever heard. The more I focused on it, the better I could hear it, as if it was coming closer. I suddenly put it all together ... if I could remove self-doubt, a great gift would be given - the gift of voice. 
I quickly became committed to unraveling self-doubt and self-deprecating habits because it was the wall keeping me from this gift waiting to come in.  It was painful, facing them, but the more I did it, the less fear I had. My commitment to receiving the gift was more important. I obtained a Bachelors in Expressive Arts Therapy (Indiana University) through an Independent Major Program, as they did not represent the field yet at that time (1998).  Years later, I studied with Metropolitan Opera singer, Brenda Boozer. 

As my voice teacher would say “singing is a bridge between heaven and earth”.  The voice is a passageway for holding heavenly space for myself and others. We must clear these passages in order to elevate ourselves and others.

I gave birth to my son in 2009, and tried to keep singing yet the stress of trying to hold up my commitment to singing seemed impractical for me.  I have included links to my music, below, and invite you to listen. 

My music partner, Julian and our son

I did a TEDXSarasota performance and soon after fell into a depression. So, I went and got a full-time job to settle the threat to my psyche, finances and my family. I stopped trying to manage working full-time plus find ways to hold after-hours rehearsals. I took a hiatus from music altogether to raise my son, to recover financially and diminish my stress. Every day, I felt the calling of my voice, but was not able to answer. It was devastating, as if I was doing something wrong, by turning my back on my one true calling. I felt support from my parents to keep a steady job, without the stress of the financial burden.

Performing at TEDXSarasota

Three years later, I withstood office work for as long as I could and quit my job. Now, with more financial stability, and my son older and in school, (only one week ago), I decided to stop prioritizing my financial goals over my gifts, to refocus on singing and teaching my Authentic Voice workshops!

And here I am today, in this moment, facing the music. I have started practicing again, even taking lessons to touch base with classical voice foundations, to find myself and my voice again. I am registered for Yoyo Ma's Silk Road “Global Musician's Workshop” next month, to explore and perform with other musicians. I am working toward opening the creative path again and to hearing the divine flow of music again.  I know it is my path, though even still, I find it scary to face the music. Will I succeed? Will I support myself? Will I let my family down? Fear will always be there, but the ultimate act of courage is to sing into the face of fear, and  keep going.

Teaching an Authentic Voice Workshop

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you Brenda for this wonderful platform, and your amazing angelic support! Please stay tuned for more to come.

This is Week 20 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Stephanie’s story today. You can connect with Stephanie through Facebook and her two websites: Authentic Voicework and Stephanie Heidemann. Links to Stephanie's music are listed below so please take a well-deserved break and enjoy listening to the magic she creates with her voice:

1) "Night's Horizon"*This is the first song I ever “heard”/composed- waking up in the middle of the night to the chord progressions here... (1997); A rendering composed by simply following instructions, not by trying or aspiring, but by simply recording what is heard. Music by Stephanie Heidemann & Julian Douglas.

2) "Hello Now Goodbye"
*Video by David Gittens; Music by Julian Douglas, Stephanie Heidemann, David Gittens and Chinling Hsu.

3. "Devotion": (
Begins with a 13c Spanish Cantiga de Santa Maria.

4."Talafawa": *Words and Music by Julian Douglas.

5."Awaken Tiamat" (Video) *Video by David Gittens; Music by Julian Dougas, Stephanie Heidemann, David Gittens. Includes an Ethiopian folksong “Ewa beleyo”.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Raven Skye McDonough, Collage Artist, Tells Her Story

21st Century Athena – 36” x 36", Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

Being born under the sign of Aries, I get easily bored -- with art and nature being the only exceptions. This internal “drive” to move forward, has propelled me to experiment extensively with different media over the years, in order to visually convey a story I am trying to tell.

As a child, growing up in the suburbs of Boston, MA, I started creating art with crayons and colored pencils.  I transitioned into working with pastels as a teenager, then was introduced to oil paint during high school and continued to use it as my main media to create with, at the School of the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA.  My art focus back then was mainly to depict traditional representational subject matter such as still life’s, landscapes and the figure.

After Art School, it was difficult to find an art-related job so I had to put my artistic abilities aside. I transitioned into working with computers and technology in different capacities for the next 19 years while along raising my son, Bart.  

Sunset over Monadnock, 36” x 48” Acrylic on Masonite

In 2004 life changed drastically with my son going to away to college, a divorce, and the sale of our home.  I got back into painting accidentally when my  friend Karen Rocklin-Weare invited me over to her home to play with some acrylic paint and canvas that she had laying around.

Imagine my surprise when abstract imagery started coming out of me onto the canvas! I was hooked and painted every spare moment I could while holding down a full-time job.

From painting large abstract paintings in acrylics I transitioned into plein air painting landscapes in oils after meeting Modern Master Painter Stan Moeller of York, ME. With the encouragement, instruction and mentoring of Stan, so much of how I create (solving technical issues and composition) goes back to the things I learned with him. Watching Stan critique my artwork, and the work of other artists in his workshops, really helped sharpen my eye.  

Raven working in her Venice, FL Studio

After a couple of years, I felt something was still missing in how I wanted my artwork and personal style to look and feel. I wanted to combine the abstract and representational styles into one. It was during this time that I took a one day watercolor and collage workshop with Bill Earnshaw of Bedford, NH and fell in love with incorporating paper into my work. It wasn’t long before I covered all of the canvas with collage paper and a new style of Paper Mosaic collage was born.

Third Eye of the Tiger, 16” x 20” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

The inspiration behind my art has primarily come from my love of nature and wildlife. I wanted to be a veterinarian growing up because of my love for all animals. This is the reason you find all kinds of critters and birds in my artwork.

With the relocation from New Hampshire to Florida in 2010, I now find inspiration from spending  time exploring the Florida landscape, its rivers, and the Gulf waters. Photographing and watching the amazing array of tropical birds has led to some very vibrant pieces.  

Double Trouble, 20” x 20” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

I have created my share of what I call “pretty pictures” over the years which are lovely to look at but don’t really tell a story or raise awareness about social or environmental issues.

Spring Equinox, 24” x 48” Mixed Media Collage on Canvas

After much introspection, I have been compelled over the past 5 years to have my art tell a story, mainly using my collage and mixed media techniques as the tool. The different “mixed media” I currently use include: acrylic paint, paper of all kinds, venetian plaster, molding paste, clear tar gel, and crackle medium.

Most of my current inspiration is drawn from my own spiritual connections and from my nightly dreams. The subjects range from anti-war, environmental issues, political concerns, women’s issues, and the human journey to becoming an enlightened being.

Amazing Grace, 10” x 20” Mixed Media on Canvas

I have also been exploring the fine art of Assemblage. This is where you take random and discarded 3-D items and “assemble” them into a sculptural piece, which will either stand on its own or hang on the wall. This appeals to the “pack rat “in me that wants to save everything and make something new with it, with a further benefit of saving it from contributing to the landfills.   

When creating any kind of art, my intention is for the viewer to be drawn into my artwork long enough to forget their troubles and experience a moment of peace and thoughtful reflection as we navigate this hectic and crazy world we live in. 

The Psychology of Peace, 36” x 48” Paper Mosaic Collage on Canvas

This is Week 19 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Raven’s story today. To see more of Raven’s work and connect with her, please visit her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lori Kiplinger Pandy, Sculptor, Tells Her Story

I didn’t take my first art class until my last semester in high school. My teacher saw some real promise in my work and introduced me to the world of art possibilities. More than just paintings, art was also design, magazines, books, film, cards, shopping bags and more.

After that class I changed my plans from being an English teacher to becoming an artist and won a small scholarship to Ringling College of Art and Design where I majored in Illustration.

My art career has been quite varied and I spent 30 years as an Art Director, gallery artist, advertising artist and book designer/illustrator. My husband, seeing how burned out I was struggling with my perfectionism and constant publishing deadlines, suggested I try something different. So I took a portrait-sculpting workshop and discovered my love of sculpting. When I picked up clay I found it was love at first squish.

After years of trying to paint things to look round, with volume and form, I simply moved the clay under my fingers and it WAS round, with volume and form. I seemed to instinctively understand the scale, proportions, balance and musculature of my subjects but in reality my 30 years of drawing and painting were being manifested in a new medium.

While taking a figure sculpture workshop at Brookgreen Gardens, I shipped my nearly finished sculpture back to my studio. The armature came apart in transit and the ruined clay sculpture rolled around in the box – becoming cubism instead of realism. Had this been one my paintings, I would have been devastated over the lost work and in dread at recreating it. Never before had I realized how much work and stress went into each painting and how I the finished works always fell short of my expectations.

Yet my reaction to the shipping disaster was simply disappointment that I had wasted good money in shipping. Even more curious was the lack of a knot in my stomach at the lost hours of work or the worry about even trying to replace it. Instead was the quiet knowledge and confidence that I could simply sculpt this piece again as good, or probably even better, than before. And what’s more – I was happy to do so.

That is when I realized that I now valued the process of sculpting - finding the forms, balance, proportion and giving the work meaning and a story more than the finished work itself. It was liberating to be free from worry of the final product and more focused on the act and meaning of creating.

Armed with this revelation I re-sculpted the piece from memory and enjoyed the process even more the second time and “Waiting on the #9” was eventually cast in bronze.

It has been a few years since my switch from paints to clay and I have been learning about armatures, different clays and the collaborative nature of casting works in bronze. While the bronze process is long, laborious and expensive, the joy of expressing myself in expressive swirls of fingerprints and tool marks in clay makes it all worth it. But realizing that after 30 years I have finally found my medium and my voice is, quite simply, priceless.

This is Week 18 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Lori’s story today! To see more of Lori’s work or connect with her, please visit the following links: