and other braindrops


April Musings

guest post by Jessica Kovan Art

“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Mary Oliver

What does it mean to think like an artist? I believe one component is to always pay attention. 

Twenty six years ago, my brother-in-law died in April. I went into premature labor with my middle daughter during Brad's funeral on my father-in-law's 60th birthday. 

Why do I tell you this? Because I missed the arrival of spring that year. I wasn't paying attention. When I suddenly realized the trees were budding and flowers were blooming, I was so angry. 

How could the natural world have continued on? Nature was my heart and soul and it didn't wait for me. I now know I was being offered a gift that I didn't see -the gift of everyday beauty. But I wasn't open to receiving it. 

This very clear memory was why I picked back up my art journal when Michigan (and most of the nation) started sheltering-in-place. I knew I had to remind myself to see beauty in the midst of my worries and fears. Art helps me do that. 

Like everyone, for me, the past two months has had it's share of family drama. Jeff and I drove 21 hours (nonstop) to pick up our oldest from NYC and bring her home. My middle daughter had a scary ER visit in a state too far away and is now slowly recuperating. My youngest is on the west coast in the mix of it all. And we have worked very hard to keep my mom out of the hospital - with a bad fall being an exception to our carefully laid plans.

Through all of this, focusing on beauty doesn't always come easily. At times I feel melancholy. And then I remind myself to think like an artist. In doing so, through the lens of my art journal,I DID see the daffodils bloom. I DID hear the red wing blackbird singing. I DID contemplate my comfort foods. And I DID observe carefully a pileated woodpecker in my backyard. I so appreciate the power of art to remind me to pay attention and provide a place to lose myself in the paint. 

I think what has surprised me the most about continually focusing on and thinking about beauty is how many ways you can think about beauty when you pay attention. The beauty of waiting. The beauty of repetition. The beauty of home. The beauty of imperfection. The beauty of nature. The beauty of love. I am lucky to have a built in community through the on-line classes I teach to think about and reflect on beauty. I so appreciate the folks that have jumped on board to art journal with me through my Good Morning Creativity! classes.

They are a community of creative, kind, thoughtful art journalers who are ready and willing to learn new techniques, new ways of thinking, and new on-line friendships. I do believe that is what we all need. 

You are all my community. I hope you and everyone you care about is in good health, staying safe and finding positive and creative ways to spend time. And I most sincerely hope you are able to find beauty in the every day.

From my heart to yours,


To see or learn more about Jessica Kovan Art....

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The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, then you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life. Frank Lloyd Wright

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