January 28, 2015

More please

Today was a fantastic day. Some of my art friends made the time to come all the way to my gym to box with me and Coach Tee. Here's a shot that my friend Josie took during our time together. I love it.

Kick2The reason they all came to my gym is because they had asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and ... though we had toyed with the idea of doing something grand like going to NYC, plans evolved into something much simpler and I said I really wanted all of us to go boxing together.

After boxing, we all met up for a lovely brunch where we ate yummy food and I was showered with presents ... mostly beautiful books, both new and old. My friend Jennifer asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to have happen this coming year.

"More," I said.

More of what I have right now. Art. Boxing. Food. Family. Friends. Studio. Reading. I think more than ever before, I am able to be in the moment and appreciate the brush strokes when I'm painting. The punches when I'm boxing. The ingredients when I'm cooking. My voice  when I'm conversing with the people I love. The words when I'm reading.

To be in the moment not wanting the moment to be different, or worrying about a past or future moment. It's as good as it gets.

Last night a young gal I know messaged me asking for a book recommendation. She's been through a rough period in her life and is looking for a book that might help her move forward. I told her I'm not much into self-help books but that I could recommend some good fiction. She was open to it. I'm still thinking about what I'll recommend. To me, the subject of the fiction doesn't have to be uplifting per se, to help a person move forward. It simply has to be deeply engaging ... perhaps intoxicating ... so much so that we drink the book in wanting every drop of it to seep into who we are so that we can feel it and we can imagine it, we can get lost in it ... and when we are lost, a moment when perhaps we become separated from the troubles we may have ... to realize how deeply moving a piece of fiction is ... and how our problem about ... you know ... the problem ... now what was that about again? ... starts to fade to unimportance. After all, there are more beautiful books to read, more good food to eat, more boxing sessions to go to, and more deep, beautiful conversations to have with humans who are equally adept at having conversations ... perhaps about the same book that you have read, or a different one that you decide to pick up because their description and the epiphanies they had while reading it as shared over coffee is highly engaging. No, intoxicating.

January 11, 2015

Magical Realism Painting

The magic of reading the written works by author Haruki Murakami is that even though I know that I can't really walk through a wall to get to the other side, the writing sort of makes me believe that I could. If the circumstances were just right.

The writing even sometimes gets me to actually go touch a brick wall to see if I can conjure the energy of the other side ... to potentially enter it.

Recently when I was teaching my Painting by Heart workshop, I had an epiphany.

IMG_1477Painters are frequently asked what type of painting they do. I've usually answered that question by saying that I paint abstractly, or intuitively ... two categories that are fairly well established within the current language that people use to classify painting styles.

Though I don't reject those categories, I think the category of my paintings is more accurately described as MAGICAL REALISM. I'm not sure if that is a category that anyone recognizes within the world of painting but I embrace it and will start using those words to describe my paintings, even if it's not considered official. It's a style where an eye of a girl is also the eye of a blue dog. Where there is more than one moon in the sky. Where uninhibited folded boats with vaginas grow striped legs and walk away. Where a realistic shadow for one object can exist but not for another. Where a mouth is positioned not where it should be but somewhere else entirely.

Where "visible peculiarities" aren't embarrassing but rather intriguing ... as we wonder what is on the other side ... and imagine the circumstances that might take us there.

January 10, 2015

CBP: Crescendoh Bridge Press

Crescendoh Bridge Press (CBP) is a program that provides the following services for those who would like to self-publish a book through Amazon's Create Space program:

  • copyediting, technical editing, and proofreading
  • graphic design and layout
  • photography
  • project management
  • technical know-how

More details about the CBP program are outlined below.

One of the main reasons self-published books look "self-published" is because frequently, they are produced with one or more elements involved with book publishing that lack the expertise needed for the end product to look professional. The elements usually involve words, and sometimes photography, and sometimes illustration and always graphic design and layout. You may be a professional photgrapher who needs help just with the words and the graphic design. Or maybe you need photography services and you need major copyediting services. Whatever your needs may be, CBP can help as much or as little as you want.

If you are interested in using CBP services, you can send an email to mailbox@crescendoh.com. From there, we will ask you some questions about your book project and then assuming that your project is ready for our services, we will create a unique estimate of costs for services, based on your projected needs. If you are agreeable to that estimate, we will develop an editorial schedule with deadlines that we all move forward with.

Believe it or not, what we do is the easy part. The hard part is actually developing the actual content. The hard part may be something that takes you a lifetime to achieve. Maybe you've already achieved it. Maybe there is a manuscript you've written and it's just sitting there but you just don't know how to get the technical parts done. If that's you, you're ready for CBP. If you haven't written anything yet, but just have a dream, or if you want to write something but you don't really know what you want to write about, you're probably not ready for CBP. We are a program that can take your quality content that you've worked diligently on from start to finish, to the final phase of getting it self-published.

Think of it this way. You're an aspiring playwright. You're at a party and you realize that you are sitting next to a great producer of plays. So you tell the producer of your aspirations. And the producer says "Show me what you've written and maybe I will consider producing it." So ... do you have something that you've written that can be produced or do you not?

If you are interested in making a book with beauty shots of your finished art AND step-outs of your art in-progress, we will let you know how to prepare the art both in the in-progress stages and final stage to ship to us. Once that is done, we will take all the photos that are required to create a project-based art book. Don't worry. We know how to do this. Very very well. :)

One of the services that CBP does NOT offer is marketing. We will offer you tips on how to utilize social media platforms to get your book noticed but CBP will be unable to provide marketing services.

So you want to write and self-publish a book? Go write it. And then if you feel you are ready for us and want the services we have to offer, let us know. We'll be ready.

January 09, 2015

Three Boulders Two Morals One Murakami

There's a story that is told by one of the characters in Haruki Murakami's book: After Dark. I won't be spoiling the essence of the novel by sharing this one story, which concludes with two interesting morals.

The story goes like this ...

Photo-55There are three brothers and each of them are given a boulder. They are told that they need to push their respective boulders up a mountain and where they stop is where they can build their respective homes. They are told that if they can push the boulder up as high as possible, they will be able to see the best view they could possibly ever know.

So the three brothers start pushing. After a while, the first brother stops and decides to build his house where he stops. He tells his other brothers to continue pushing their boulders but that he will be ok where he is at, as he will be able to live off of the fish that swim in the bodies of water near his spot. He accepts his spot and is content with the idea that he will never know the best view.

So the other two brothers continue pushing. After a while, the second brother stops and decides to build his house at a spot higher than where the first brother stopped but not at the top of the mountain. He tells his other brother to go on without him but that he will be ok where he is at, as he will be able to live off the fruit trees near his spot.

The third brother pushes his boulder to the very top of the mountain. He finally is able to know the best view that can only be seen at the top and indeed, it is magnificent, and it is there he builds his house. For sustenance, what he has available is moss to eat and icicles to suck on.

The person telling this story points out that there are two morals to this story. The first one is that "if you really want to know something, you have to be willing to pay the price." The price for the third brother being moss and icicles in exchange for the best view.

The second moral of the story is that ...

everyone is different.

I think that the second moral is so important. We are all different. Even if the symbolic boulders we push are exactly the same (which they are not), our limitations are different, our goals our different, our priorities are different.

This second moral gets to a point that I've been pointing out for the last few years, which is that I reject messages from the universe that tell me to go to the top of the mountain or to "go big or go home."

Because you just never know. Eating fish on flat land may have its own nirvana that those who suck on icicles at the top don't ever get to enjoy. Big isn't the best. Small isn't the best. Medium isn't the best. Because we are all different. And who says real views are better than imagined ones?

December 22, 2014

Announcing My New Book! Fangs and Flaws: FangGrrr Adventures

I am thrilled. BEYOND thrilled, actually, to announce my newest book NOW available on Amazon:

Fangs and Flaws: FangGrrr Adventures. A dream come true.


Here's the official description ...

Fangs and Flaws introduces readers to the metaphorical world of FangGrrr, Lion, and their friends, with beautifully simple illustrations and a message that transcends background and culture. 

Readers will tag along as FangGrrr meets Lion, her best friend. The unlikely duo will grow and laugh and play and love, but they'll also make heart-wrenching mistakes along the way — just like the rest of us. In Fangs and Flaws, FangGrrr and Lion will teach readers the power of humility, self-realization, friendship, and forgiveness — with adorable character illustrations that are sure to touch any reader. 

The brainchild of ever-evolving artist and writer Jenny Doh, Fangs and Flaws is the first in a creative and powerful series featuring FangGrrr, Lion, Butterfly, Fox, and all their friends.

Many thanks to the entire Crescendoh Bridge Press team for making this dream a reality.

Order the book here. If you want to.

November 14, 2014

Announcing :: Knitting 101 :: Fingerless Gloves

Have you always wished that you could knit?

Well, March 2015 is your lucky month because I'll teach you! Within a few short hours, your sentence will change from "I wish I could knit" to "I'm a knitter!"

And a whole new universe will open up. :)

Enrollment is NOW open here. Join me if you want to.


November 12, 2014

Rest in Peace Lisa Engelbrecht :: Trailblazing Artist

Yesterday, I learned that Lisa Engelbrecht passed away on Wednesday, November 10, 2014.

I had been aware of Lisa's health battles and though I am heartbroken with the news of her passing, I am also comforted in knowing that she is at rest. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones as they grieve the loss of an incredible human being.

I got to know Lisa Engelbrecht when I was her magazine editor. I love this shot I took of her during one of her visits to the office, as she held up her wonderful book: Modern Mark Making. I loved her visits because she always came with new and wonderful art to deliver, always with a smile and caring heart.

Lisa was a trailblazer with her lettering art as she applied her in-depth knowledge and skills and artistry to create modern reinventions that caused diverse people (including street artists) to find a voice within the world of lettering. Lisa was a leader in building a bridge for street artists to find a way into the art world and for the art world to open its heart and mind to the emergence of such a bridge.

2249_1096127246037_2153_nThrough our working relationship over the years, we developed a friendship.

This friendship was there for me after I segued from the magazine world into my new business venture ... a transition where I felt a bit wobbly at times, trying to find my footing. One of the first art workshops that I offered in my home during this transition was a lettering workshop with Lisa, right smack dab in the middle of my living room. She wowed them all. She was always there to be a sounding board, and to be a veteran artist who would lend her support to my ideas.


LisaeAfter that workshop, Lisa created art on one of the walls of my living room, which is still there, and which I treasure.


Lisa-1After this workshop, we had many other opportunities to collaborate as she taught in Studio Crescendoh, offered lettering demos in the studio during art walks, and also contributed her beautiful art for my book, Creative Lettering.

Untitled-5I believe artists ultimately want to be remembered because of the strength of their art, not necessarily because they are kind and good.

Lisa will remembered because of the strength of her art, and because she was kind and good.

Rest in peace, Lisa.

Love, Jenny




Announcing :: Magazine Magic with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

I'm so happy to welcome back the wonderful Julie Fei-Fan Balzer to Studio Crescendoh! Enrollment for her 2-day Magazine Magic workshop is now OPEN here!

She will be teaching January 17th and 18th, 2015.



October 29, 2014

Announcing :: Form & Function: Jewelry to Give & Keep w/ Stephanie Lee

I am excited to announce that Stephanie Lee will be returning to Studio Crescendoh to teach a 2-day workshop on December 6th and 7th. Just in time for the holidays ... a class where you will use Stephanie's signature methodologies for beautiful jewlery fabrication to create items that you can give as gifts ... for loved ones and for yourself.

Methods that you can also take with you to create more objects of art to give during the holiday season and throughout the years.


If you've never been in the presence of Stephanie's creative process, you are in for a treat.

Enrollment is now open here.



October 27, 2014

Marathons, Baselines, and the High Ponytail

Marathons, Baselines, and the High Ponytail
Art Camp 2014
by Jenny Doh

I’ve been here before. With Terri, and with many others who are in this room, to help us focus on the value of art and creativity. The value of art and creativity.

Since the last time I was here at art camp, I’ve aged. And so have you. We all have.

Another thing that has changed since I was here last is my hairstyle. Last time I spoke at art camp, my hair was short but now, after patiently growing it out for over a year, it is finally long enough to wear in a high ponytail. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll share with you that one of the many reasons why I love wearing it in a high ponytail is that it gives my face a natural lift! A natural facelift without having to go to a plastic surgeon! I love it. So most likely these days, when you've seen me, you’ve seen me wearing a high pony tail … but I also hope that I have the strength of character to occasionally let my hair down and to comfortably be with myself and with everyone else without the benefits of a high ponytail.


There are two books that I’ve recently read that I want to reference in this talk. One is The Great Gatsy by F. Scott Fitzgerald and the other is a piece of non-fiction written by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Aside from writing novels, Murakami has been an avid runner for many years. Since the time he was in his 30s, he started to run marathons and then eventually doing triatholons. By the way, a marathon is 26 miles in length. And Murakami was born in 1949 which makes him now 65 years old.

In his memoirs, he describes his running life with irresistible humility … he describes it as an activity that he was dedicated to … not to become a marathoner per se, but to be someone who decided to consistently do an activity that simply put, was suited for him and his personality.

He goes on to explain something that happened to his running. He says that he reached his peak in terms of speed in his late 40s, where he could run 26 miles in about 3 hours and 40 minutes. He says that even on his off days, it was inconceivable for him to not meet his baseline of coming in under the 4-hour mark for a 26-mile run. But he describes that as he was getting older, he was shocked to find that regardless of his consistency and dedication, the time it took for him to complete a 26-mile run started to consistently fall below the baseline.

He realized that though his efforts and sincerity remained steadfast, the effects that age was having on his body in terms of speed was beyond his sincerity and beyond his control. He could no longer beat the time that he could run as a 40-something person when he was now a 50-something person. With the change in season, a new baseline would need to emerge.

I’m not sure if any of us are marathon runners. I know that I’m not. But I do like to do things like running and boxing and other things that suit me, to stay in shape. My son likes to swim because that’s what suits him. My husband likes to run and bike and those activities suit him. And in my own universe of fitness, I do have goals that I set and try to beat. But like Murakami I have also realized as of late, as a woman in her late 40s rather than in her early 30s, that no matter how disciplined I am, there are certain baselines that I need to occasionally reformulate, as I recognize and accept the effects of time, aging, and gravity.

After reading The Great Gatsby, I saw the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. I thought both the book and the movie were great.

In the movie, there’s a scene where Gatsy has Daisy over to his home, so that he can show her that through lots of work over several years, he has made something of himself … a house, cars, clothes, parties, servants … fruits of labor that served as evidence that Gatsby is worthy of Daisy’s love. As they are soaking it all in, the married Daisy says to Gatsby that she wishes that they could run away. To which Gatsby responds with confused alarm … Run away?! No, we’re not gonna run away. This is what I’ve built for us. This is reality. I want us to stay. I want us to embrace all of this. I want you to declare that you love me. I want you to embrace what I’ve built and accept it as our destiny.

I won’t spoil the plotline for those who have yet to experience the entire story … but I want to segue from this scene between Gatsby and Daisy to the other big change aside from my ponytail that has happened to me since the last time I was here at art camp.

When I was here at art camp last time, I was sister to two brothers. Today as I stand before you, I am sister to one brother. I have been very open and honest and public about the fact that last Thanksgiving I lost my brother Jinil to suicide.

When that happened, I was so struck with grief and found tears pouring out of me 24 hours a day that I was convinced that I would forever be a person who would be crying all the time. I was convinced that there would never be a day when my heart would not feel completely torn and completely broken.

I was convinced that even though the sun would rise, I would never again feel its warmth. Oh how I wished like Daisy to be able to run away.


If speed were the only measurement that Murakami the runner would use to value the act of running, he may have thrown in the towel and stopped the activity that so suits him because his declining speed would be evidence of running losing value to his life.

Thankfully, Murakami shares that though speed has been an interesting measurement, it has not been the primary reason that he values running. He values running because of how it makes him feel. Whether he runs a mile in 4 5 6 7 8 9 or 10 minutes, he does so not because of how many minutes it takes, but because he loves how it makes him feel, at any pace.

An interesting note that Murakami makes is about art. He points out that though activities like running require new baselines as humans age, there are certain activities like art with many examples of where the finest and most brilliant works are created by artists in their later life seasons. For example, Dostoyevsky wrote his two most profound novels including The Brothers Karamazov in the last few years of his life. Scarlatti wrote most of his piano sonatas during the ages of 57 and 62. Henri Matisse dazzled us with his masterful paper cutouts also during his later years, something he did when he could no longer keep up with the physical rigors of painting. 

Perhaps all of this is so because it takes decades of running, walking, cycling swimming, cooking, singing, painting, paper cutting, soldering, wire wrapping or dollmaking for us to sincerely build up a beautiful patina of wisdom … a patina that can’t be hurried … a patina where we have the strength of character to give birth to new baselines of discovery where we honestly embrace all of the joys and tragedies of life.  

In a year’s time, my grief for Jinil is still there but it looks very different. By embracing the sadness, I’ve also been able to embrace joy. By not running away and accepting the reality of my destiny and life season, including the highs and lows, I feel that every facet of my life has become enriched for the better.

I am excited to be here as together we share laughs as we pull our hair up if we want to, share tears and let it down when we want to, as we create beautiful art. But more importantly, as we continue to develop a strength of character and beautiful patina of wisdom from where we can honestly celebrate baselines from the past and accept the new and beautiful baselines that have yet to blossom in each of our lives.



Per the invitation of Terri Brush, I was honored to deliver this speech to Art Camp 13, October 25, 2014, in Lincoln City, Oregon.

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