L.A. Journey

Last week it was off to Los Angeles to do a book signing and to celebrate the birthday of a friend who got me started writing a book. She and I wrote a book together and couldn’t get a publisher. The book was a divorce workbook, and all those many years ago, publishers considered it “controversial and not appropriate to the seriousness of the matter of divorce.” Now all the ideas we had–divorce parties and cards–are everywhere. Norine and I have found other publishers, and I wish her a very happy milestone birthday.

Before I left I filled up my travel mug with coffee–and then I saw this truck.

Enough coffee for you?

I don’t think I want to drink coffee that comes in a tanker truck–there are consequences to drinking all that coffee–and driving across the desert means not that many open rest stops.

Driving West means you’ll be squinting at the sun all afternoon. I noticed the mountains covered in haze, and the sun set like a red rubber ball, with not much fanfare at all.

Small sun means not so much glare.

Probably the first time I was grateful for air-dirt. Sort of like built-in sunglasses.

Mural in Atwater.

The murals in L.A. are wonderful. This one was on a building that was two stories tall.

I wan't sure if I was looking for more science fiction writers or more religion leaders.

Of course there is an L. Ron Hubbard Way in Los Angeles. No sandworms alley, though.

Visit Zinnia in South Pasadena--it's heaven for collage artists.

If you are in L.A., go to Zinnia in South Pasadena. You can see it at the top, center. Tamara is a wonderful person with a store that is so full of beautiful ephemera, your eyes will not know where to stop looking. And they don’t have to. Say hello to Alley, the very cool cat, too. I’ll be back here to teach a class. We’re working out the details.

For a fabulous dinner, go to the Bistro de la Garre–the waitstaff spoils you and the food is fresh and delicious. Time for a splurge!

-Quinn McDonald is schlepping around the West Coast on a book tour. This week she’ll be in Seattle (Third Space Books on the 25th of October at 7 p.m.) and then off to JournalFest for a few days of creative boost!

Tucson Book Signing and more . . .

Raw Art Journaling in the window of Antigone Books.

Antigone Books in Tucson, AZ is a great bookstore with a good selection of books, interesting location on the 4th Ave. corridor of cool, eclectic shops and a staff that’s friendly and helpful. That was all true even  before they invited me to do a book signing there. I’d spoken to Debbie Cross several times, and she recognized me when I came into the store–probably because I was squealing at the stack of books displayed right by the front door. Or maybe it was because I was carrying a canvas bag stuffed with materials to do the permission slips. Luckily, Cooking Man came along as an art roadie, and helped with set up and clean up. I’m always grateful to have help so the bookstore can close on time, and Cooking Man can stack chairs and pack art supplies with amazing speed.

Close up of another announcement in the window. Yes, I was squealing on the street.

Book signings are fun, but I thought it might be more fun if we also made permission slips–giving people permission to do art, make mistakes, not clean the house right now. And while some people are making permission slips, others are getting their books signed, eating the yummy cream puffs and drinking the punch Debbie put out.  She’d even saved up cardboard pieces to let people work on their laps. What a kind touch!

A cheerful crowd asked good questions. It was nice to see PaperWorks people show up, as well as members of the Tucson Handspinners and Weavers Guild.

As always, I offered to mail the permission slips back to the people who wanted to get mail art and a surprise permission boost. In the selection I’ve shown, I’ve Photoshopped out any names to guarantee privacy.

Here’s a close-up of the borders on some of the cards.

After the signing, we went out to dinner at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails. Excellent service, an mouthwatering menu descriptions that perfectly matched the plate bought out hot and delicious. When something didn’t work out quite right, the staff apologized and immediately made it right, with a smile. I assured them they didn’t have to do anything, but they insisted that they had to not only for my expectations, but for theirs. What an nice customer service surprise. The menu was interesting and varied enough so we’re planning another visit. And because we weren’t on the bikes, we could take home a box for later.

Tucson is a charming town, here are some of the sites we wandered by:

A mosaic in a pocket park, showing two bike riders, birds and fish.

The park had a tarp, and I took an accidental shot of it, too:

Yellow tarp angled in the fence. The shot was accidental, but worth keeping.

This window caused me to do a double-take. Oh, it’s the Church of SATIN.

Sky reflected in the Church of Satin.

And finally, the House of Medusa. Well, sure she was Greek. But she also had snakes for hair, and turned people to stone when they looked at her.

Is this really the best name for a restaurant? I finally decided that they meant “Mediterranean and USA” so I didn’t go in to find out.

Thanks again to Antigone Books, it was an evening to remember!

-Quinn McDonald is always surprised when she signs books. It’s still a little shocking to be signing a book she wrote. And fun.


Perfectionist Seeking Happiness

Browsing in an art store, I found someone who picked up my book, Raw Art Journaling. I watched, not knowing if I should say “thank you for looking at my book,” or just not say anything. Deciding that saying something might make her feel pressured to buy it, I decided to say nothing unless she put it in the shopping basket. Which she did. So I stepped up and said, “Thanks for buying my book. If you want, I’ll sign it for you once you are through the checkout line.” She looked at me and said, “This is a joke, right?”

“Nope, I’m the author. I can show you my driver’s license.”

“So, did this book make you happy?” She asked

“Well, I was already happy, but this book makes me happy, yes.”

“Do you have the perfect job being a writer?”

Ahh, someone in search of the perfect. “I do. I own my business and I do more than write, but I love it all.”

She looked doubtful. “So you don’t have problems? Or days you hate?”

“Well, sure,” I said. “I hate administrative work, and I hate when I feel overwhelmed from time to time. I also hate it when it looks like there won’t be enough work. But as a recovering perfectionist, I realize that if it comes down to the day when I have completed it all, and done it all perfectly, there will be no challenges left, nothing to look forward to. I think perfection would be, well, boring.”

She looked at me for a long time. “So if your life is not perfect, how can you think it is?”

I smiled. “There is a Zen saying, ‘Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.” The difference is what you think of the work, and how you approach it. If everything is a drudgery, my life is drudgery. If everything is a chance, an opportunity, a fresh approach, well, then, I’m more enthusiastic. It’s not life. It’s how I tackle it.”

She looked at the book. “Write that in the book, about enlightenment.

And so I did.

–Quinn McDonald is the happy author of Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art. You can buy the book on this page of her website and get the code (way at the bottom of the page) for free shipping in the U.S. through December, 2011.


Online Class: Raw Art Journaling, The Book

Thanks to all of you who have asked if I’m going to teach an online class from the new book. YES! It starts on August 14. Best of all, I’m being hosted by Jacqui Graham’s very cool group, Artists of the Round Table. It’s a Yahoo Group, you do have to join to take the class.

The class will run for 10 weeks, covering a section of the book each week. You’ll have opportunities to do the exercises and post your work online. I’ll post comments as a creativity coach, not a critic.

The class will look like this:

Raw Art Journal syllabus for Artists of the Round Table Group

There are two sections for each week–a portion to read (the square with the week number and date), and the homework–the part in the colored arrows.

The class will stay up beyond the time of the class if you want to catch up. I’m very excited to be teaching this class.

Best of all, there are only two requirement for the class: Sign up for the Yahoo Group, and buy the book. (That link takes you to my website, clicking the link will take you to amazon.com and give me a few pennies for sending you there.)

There is no additional charge for taking the class! If you want your book signed and live in Phoenix, please come to the book launch on July 27, 7 p.m. at Changing Hands bookstore. You can buy the book while you are there! Changing Hands is at the NW corner of S. McClintock and Guadalupe in Tempe. 6428 S. McClintock –it’s in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s. Phone: (480) 730-0205. There will be desserts, and we’ll be making permission slips!

Quinn McDonald is an instructor in art topics and business communications. She thinks there are a lot of similarities between the two. Creativity is an important part of innovative communication.