Why We Need to Exercise Responsible Parenting In Our Creative Process

At the easel, painting a live portrait, First Saturday Arts Market a few years ago.

At the easel, painting a live portrait, First Saturday Arts Market a few years ago.

Responsible parenting is the magical ability to teach and impart self-managing skills to our children in a gradual and masterful way that fits their learning abilities and level of maturity. You will note that my definition does not assume anyone is an expert as there is a degree of immeasurable wiggle-room and ongoing opportunity for improvement. Perhaps that is why they say you become more of a master with grand-parenting.

If grand-parenting gives us room for improvement because we can stand back and look at our “creation” and learn from our mistakes then perhaps we can use this example in the practice of our creative works as well.

So how do we impart self-managing skills to our creations?

A key element that I find missing from many creative processes when it comes to the production phase is the consideration of what it takes to power your production, maintain it, and the plan for its obsolescence or posterity. In other words, the consideration of its full life cycle.

When we consider the full life cycle of a product we are giving it life skills for self-management. We are making a sustainable product.

What is a sustainable product? This definition is like the one for “organic” products. What is truly organic and what is acceptably “organic”. It depends on who is measuring. Our job is to consider every aspect of the product from its reason for being to its design, use, and end of life. Is the product necessary? What purpose will it serve? Does it enrich, communicate, serve? Is it unique, is it an improvement, is it a copy of something else?

Mitch model

Mitch posing for his Character Sketch at the First Saturday Arts Market.

Over the last few decades, we are again paying more attention to the aesthetics of a product but we are forgetting about its production and operation. We need to maintain the balance of quality control in all aspect of the creation’s life-cycle. Just as we look for the optimum design, the right raw material, the most effective and efficient production process to deliver maximum operation capacity, we also need to consider how it will be maintained and how it will ride off into the sunset…because if we don’t, then someone else will have to pick up the slack of our lack of planning and incur costs that we ultimately should be accountable for as master creators. Ineffective design fails to consider these elements in the rush to get the product out to market before its time.

One of the key elements today when it comes to sustainability of a functional product is how it will be powered. If this is an after thought then we will be incurring potential retrofitting costs to the owner when finding the most effective, efficient, and environmentally responsible source of energy. Operation, maintenance and planned obsolescence are critical to sustainable design.

So when considering birthing your next purposeful design, be mindful of what will go into it, how it will go into it, how it will operate, how it will be powered, how it will be maintained, how it will seize to exist, and how it will reintegrate as raw material for other creations.

Now if we could only write the ultimate parenting guide with that!

Rain or Shine – Houston Via Colori 2013

Lilibeth Andre, 2012 Houston Via Colori, The Jaguar Knight. An illustration from my book, The Lady of The Turquoise Pendant.

Lilibeth Andre, 2012 Houston Via Colori, The Jaguar Knight. An illustration from my book, The Lady of The Turquoise Pendant.

This weekend I will be painting my 8th street painting for Houston Via Colori, sponsored by the Center for Hearing and Speech. The festival is a Rain or Shine event so as I sit here sharing that with you and hearing the rain coming down I want to reminisce on past experiences and the other year we appeared to be rained out.

It was 2009 and we, as good artist troopers, showed up downtown. The rain had impeded progress…As good rock stars donating our artistic work for a wonderful cause in a 2-day festival where we crawl on the ground in our hands and knees to do what Michael Angelo did on his back and produce art on the downtown Houston pavement right outside of City Hall…we were ushered into the VIP tent while the Via Colori crew decided it was good to proceed or not. This tremendous crew does a fantastic amount of prep work for us.

Lilibeth Andre, 2011 Houston Via Colori, Self-Portrait, pastel on 10 foot by 10 foot pavement.

Lilibeth Andre, 2011 Houston Via Colori, Self-Portrait, pastel on 10 foot by 10 foot pavement.

When we typically arrive at the festival we already come with our supplies and event T-shirt. The squares we paint on are already marked on the street, we know who our sponsor will be, we have a tent with additional supplies at our disposal, there is food and beverage for us, and we can begin to set up for our masterpiece, because I should tell you that each artist does his very best work that weekend to lay on the ground and create a breathtakingly large piece of temporary art that takes two days to create in front of 3,000 people, and know that it will be safely washed away on Sunday evening by the Houston Fire Department, all to support the work The Center for Hearing and Speech in Houston.

Lilibeth Andre, 2010 Houston Via Colori, detail of an 1,800 square foot mural, photo with the model.

Lilibeth Andre, 2010 Houston Via Colori, detail of an 1,800 square foot mural, photo with the model.

As we tinker and do our rituals to prepare ourselves for our work the morning sun begins to shine on our artwork between tall sky-scraping buildings. The paintings begin to take form. Cameras begin to arrive, the live music begins to beat in various corners of the festival, and food smells, laughter and gasps are heard as the public parades between squares.

The themes are all family-oriented and speak to each artist. They are what the artist wants to share with the Houston audience.

In 2010, I joined a team of 8 artists to create a design by Melanie Stimmell. The image included classical themes, cherubs and some of the real young rock stars that the Center for Hearing and Speech serves. Loving to work on classical art, I was very excited to participate. I got to work on my 13×13 foot area and helped paint other cherubs, clouds and connecting art to finish the 1,800 square foot piece in the two-day.

Lilibeth Andre, Channel 11 for Via Colori, An 8 foof by 8 foot square of the newly recognized last piece of work by Raphael.

Lilibeth Andre, Channel 11 for 2010 Via Colori, An 8 foof by 8 foot square of the newly recognized last piece of work by Raphael.

Earlier that same year, I was invited to create a classical piece for Debra Duncan’s morning show, Great Day Houston, on Channel 11. The theme of her show was Viva Italia, and I got to greet her as she arrived on her bike–in European mode– at the station with my little Italian skills of bella and ciao, so I focused on what I do best, the international language of art and brought together this piece by Raphael. I chose the piece because I  had recently found that the piece was being recognized as the last piece of art created by Raphael, one of my favorite artists since I had studied him in school–several moons ago.

Lilibeth Andre, Houston Via Colori, An attempt to recreate Michael Angelo's marble sculpture, David, in flesh and bone.

Lilibeth Andre, 2009 Houston Via Colori, An attempt to recreate Michael Angelo’s marble sculpture, David, in flesh and bone.

My love for the classics inspires my art work every day. It has moved me to bring this work to the Houston Via Colori, either through the representation of the work of the masters, or through my own creations, and to share it with the community at a bigger scale in downtown Houston.

So as I sit here waiting for the rain to stop and remember the fun I’ve had in this free family festival, I think of the opportunity to contribute, in art, to this great event offered by the Center for Hearing and Speech. I can relish on the adventure of creating live artwork, bigger than a canvas, in this weekend gathering of over 200 artists to share one of my favorite things and contribute to the community.

Lilibeth Andre, 2008 Houston Via Colori, a detail of Botticelli's Venus, pastel on pavement.

Lilibeth Andre, 2008 Houston Via Colori, a detail of Botticelli’s Venus, pastel on pavement.

This  year will be no different, I  have prepared a composition that will include a second illustration from my book, The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant, to offer an opportunity to share my art and to teach about the Aztec culture through a visual artistic interpretation. The generous sponsor of my square this year is Key Energy Services, a key business representative in our community.

I hear the rain stopping. I will leave you now and prepare to head downtown to do my piece of the Via Colori production. Hope you can come down and see it.

P.S. If you take a picture of my work, send it to me so I can post it on one of my upcoming posts. Include your name so I can credit your work too.

P.P.S. If you want to see more of my work you can visit my website!

❤ Love and Peace

Three Vessels

Today, I’m going to tell you a story.

Not long from today, there was a small group of people on a planet called Earth. They were the lone survivors in what had been a series of unleashed devastation like no other witnessed before. Some of the signs had been there to foresee some tragedies. Others crept in slowly or unexpectedly.

The small group of people were those who had proven stronger than the ones who died of disease and injuries.

The ground was razed. Structures were ruble. Drought took care of everything else and though their leader was wise in the ways of nature there was little she could do to go beyond the natural world.

She had led them to a small structure still standing, miraculously. It was only four masonry walls, three really, but it provided some shelter from the elements, proven wildly unknown now.

Their supplies, of what little they had recovered, were now exhausted. They sat on the ground, mostly dirt swept indoors by past winds and floods. Some leaves crunched underfoot. Only she stood. The rest sat on the ground. The walls helped to keep them erect. No one spoke.

She prayed often or sat cross-legged on the ground with her eyes closed. Her breathing changed. Then, in stillness, her eyes moved rapidly and the expression on her face would changed. She appeared almost happy. To see her you would not expect much. She was small and not particularly fit or attractive. She did possess a certain calm that in these circumstances gave them all a reason to follow her as her instincts led them to better environments. Not that there was was much to be reaped for miles and miles.

Now, exhausted of everything, as they sat and hid from the sun with ongoing hope for clouds, she stood and walked towards the opening. She stopped and appeared to listen.

This is what she heard:

“…and in that vault there are three vessels. You can only have one of the three. The rest are rendered useless and cannot be removed. The other you can lift and return to your people. One vessel contains liquid energy as you know it, the other contains water in its purest form, and the third contains seeded fruits that are fresh.”

She was to make a two-day journey, and with that she walked out. The others waited.

—– o —–

What vessel would you choose? Why?

Energy & Mobility

Not exactly what you think when you read “energy” and “mobility”. I heard about the black outs in India. Unmeasured growth and the resources to support it. Let’s look at ourselves in this mirror and see what our future looks like. In the next breath I heard that the economy needs to provide mobility. Let me explain both the way I see them.

Yes, there has been unmeasured growth. The increase in population has generated greater demand on services but in addition to growth, the demand for more electricity has increased per person so what one person used to require to function on a daily basis has now mushroomed because there are greater needs for power (I use this term intentionally). More air conditioning, more gadgets, more cars, greater distance. All need more power. If power keeps coming from the same sources, of the same types and in the same quantities well, there you have it. You will be short during high demand and suffer a black out or other power shortages (fuel, food, gas, etc.).

So black outs are not uncommon in some countries. They say the blackouts also last longer. And if the population is increasing along with demand in all countries of the world then our hunger for power will go unsatisfied. We need to look at other sources of power and the best way to distribute it (off the grid to save infrastructure costs?).

Now let’s look at mobility. Mobility, in this case was not regarding transportation. This mobility referred to economics. The point was that the economy needs to provide mobility. Mobility so that people have the opportunity to move up.

Move up? In other words consume more? Use more energy?

I am all for increasing the quality of life of more people. I don’t see this as necessarily consuming more. I see it as having a nice place to live, a nice community to live in, a job that is rewarding, and time to enjoy all three. Factors that enter in achieving this are sustainability of materials and place, good and affordable education, health care options, community and cultural enrichment, and good stewardship of the earth.

I don’t see this mobility as a vertical ladder up to higher levels of acquisition to prove what wrung has been reached. I see it more as a circle where each element supports and enriches the others and provides the opportunities to give back enriching our sense of community and humanity.

Both of these issues: energy and mobility, seem to prove that we are heading down the wrong path. They are a window into the future and it doesn’t look fruitful. Perhaps it is time we start looking at deeper solutions that are broader and not blind to consequential impacts. If we step back and take a look we can see that everything is part of the same fabric and when we snag one thread, then two, then three, it all begins to unravel quite rapidly.

Let’s find new ways to power our life and a greater satisfying quality of life for more people.

More On Sustainability

The second thing that comes to mind when thinking about sustainability is immersion.

The point of immersion is education. Education is considered one of the most important aspects to implement a better understanding of sustainability. Education can be at different levels. Most believe that it should take place at school. The impressionable age can allow young students to adopt the understanding of sustainability and then take it home to further the education. There is also a need to educate service providers and business in order to begin to develop products and processes that adopt a wholistic understanding of sustainability from the raw materials to the processes, packaging, distribution, and waste. The complete life-cycle.

There is a cost to educate. Then, after the education, one would expect a conversion period that may begin through adption of one practice, and perhaps another would follow.

Immersion is different. Immersion creates a fully integrated environment that immediately modifies the actions and activities of everyone within the environment. An example could be a school.

The infrastructure is fully utilized and energy independent. It is off the grid for energy consumption but can supply others when necessary from its storage cells. The building is oriented to best adopt the natural features of its surroundings. It is not conditioned to create an artificial environment but fits into the natural environment it belongs to. It collects water, filters waste, generates alternative energy and reuses all materials to reduce waste to a minimum.

The design of the building creates for practical, integrated, and social learning. There are indoor and outdoor class environments. Learning progress is monitored and measured electronically so teachers can focus on those students who need it most while recognizing those who are striving as well. There is more engagement because learning takes place continously, without limitations, and it is a celebration.

The facility serves and engages the community as a learning and teaching site. It has 24/7 functionality. It includes a community garden that supplies fresh crops for its students, teachers, and neighbors giving opportuinites to learn self-sustaining practices of nutrition, gardening and kitchen duties.

Sustainability is not taught in this facility. It is practiced through immersion.



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    © Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this text, images or content without express and written permission Lilibeth André is strictly prohibited. For permission to license, exhibit or purchase any of the artwork, email info@lilibethandre.com. Links to this site may be made with full and clear accreditation to Lilibeth André and Art by Lilibeth André.