Listen up


original cover art for Vivian Garcia’s album In Between times

Last year I worked on two commissions/collaborations for two different musicians. One was for a text book about composing and all the creative cognitive modalities involved in that process, and the other was for the cover of an album. Collaborating with musicians is always such an expansive process and I am grateful for their belief in my ability to create a visual and physical manifestation of their work. I am so pleased to share the second project that was a collaboration with Chicago musician Vivian Garcia.

I have known Vivian since our college days and I remember times when I would run into her on campus and I would always hear her voice first, and then see her round the corner. She was always singing, like a bird. I have always admired Vivian for her dedication to her community and social activism. Her voice is a gift- in song and in advocating, often for those who do not have a voice. Powerful magic there. When I began working on the cover for her album, I listened to a few of the songs and there was a verse that said “like the birds you always take flight in that search for eternal freedom”. Because of my association of her with winged creatures and the beauty of this verse, I knew I needed to bring in bird imagery. The tree image is from one of my flooded imagery that I have saved because it speaks volumes to me, evoking the idea of perseverance and healing. The tree is a grounding symbol and while I feel that Vivian is of the sky with her voice, she is also very earthy, which I think, can be heard in her voice.

It was such an honor and privilege to create the cover of her album and I hope you’ll take a listen.


When I am in the studio I either listen to NPR, music or podcasts. I have been mostly listening to podcasts lately as I have found that listening to NPR and hearing all the awful terrible aggravating things happen leads me to feeling aggravated. I like to be informed, but when it starts to wear on me, I need to lessen the impact. And so, Podcasts! Often of the art variety and a few different ones.

In case you are out looking for some podcasts to listen to, here are the ones I subscribe to:

1. Savvy Painter: really insightful interviews with artists that delve into the whys of artmaking, not the how
2. Artists Helping Artists some of these can be hit or miss, but the host of this podcast is a very good at the business side of art making and it helps to hear her perspective. She also conducts artist interviews that I like to hear. The artists are more of the traditional landscape painters or plein aire genre.
3. On Being as their description says on the website, this podcast has really great interviews with all types of people- religious and spiritual leaders, political activists, scientists, composers- but all centering around these questions: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?
4. Radiolab I love to hear a good story, and these shows are really fun and interesting to listen to
5. While She Naps: totally different genre/world than what I am in- craft/sewing/plush/quilt world, but lots of good insight into the business side of things. It’s good for me to listen to the discussion. I also love to hear the stories of how people take their passion and turn it into a business. It ain’t easy and not for the faint of heart!
6. Magic lessons: I just started listening to this last night and got through 3 episodes already. This podcast is by Elizabeth Gilbert and it accompanies her recent book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear which I have not read yet, but have heard that I must. Her podcast is very engaging and she talks to different people at different stages in their creative path and the struggles they face.

If anyone has any podcasts that they’d like to share, I’m always looking for more. I’m actually at the end of all my saved podcasts and was thinking that I needed to go to the library and get some audio books. I just got a long list of new podcasts recommended to me just yesterday. I’ll make a new list soon to share after I get through the list.


  1. aha! finally! lol
    it took you so dang long that I had to go out and start looking for myself! [jk. on the so dang long. truth. on the finding.]
    so here’s what I’ve liked (and disliked) so far:
    – The Nerdist. because I am Nerd hear me roar. not to mention crushing just a wee bit on Hardwick.
    – Smart People. some crazy interesting interviews (check out Amy Stewart of The Drunken Botanist)
    – Reply All. again, interesting not-known-to-me people.

    I’ve tried Gretchen Rubin’s Happier …kinda meh… Elizabeth Gilbert …extra meh… Artists Helping Artists… not a fan. In fact most of the ones I’ve found that are either self-help style or artist related leave me either cold or downright angry. The only person I can stand to hear on that type of subject is Brene Brown. I wish SHE’d do a podcast.

    I will try savvy painter and on being. keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. angry?! ha! Oh, how I’d love to hear why. Knowing you, I’m not surprised that the Artist Helping Artists is not your thing. But here and there are good tips for marketing. I can see what you’re saying about the Magic Lessons too. I’ve listened to 3 and the 2nd being an interview of my not so favorite writer, did put a question mark on it. But I like what she’s doing and think that it is good for people. Good energy type of thing. I haven’t listened to Happier. I’ll look into that. I will look into the three you mention. Thanks!! Have you listened to the 99% Invisible? Sounds interesting.

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