Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.

~ Kurt Vonnegut

I was recently reading about imagination and visualization. This section really jumped out at me. “Your brain creates miracles every day by converting lifeless information in to pictures and ideas. When you become aware of this, every word becomes a picture drawn with letters, because words are symbols of three-dimensional images. Arthur Gordon said, ‘Isn’t it amazing how we take them for granted? Those little black marks on paper. Twenty-six different shapes known as letters, arranged in endless combinations, known as words, lifeless, until someone’s eye falls on them.'”

  • This week’s artist is – Ann Bidstrup– who I found circuitously. I was reading a forum post by an author I’ve read. She mentioned an artist who used one of her concepts in a piece of work. I looked up the artist (Ann), checked out her work, and thought it was too much fun not to share. And so, here’s some of Ann’s work! Check out her website and instagram for even more!
  • Nicolas-Jacques Conté would have been 268 on Friday! (What a summary: a French painter, balloonist, army officer, and inventor of the modern pencil.)
  • The inaugural figure drawing session at the Seed Studio in the Smiley Building went well enough that they’re going to make it a  recurring event every 2nd and 4th Wednesday! (Still at the Smiley Building, room 106 from 6-8. Live, nude model. Bring your preferred materials. $20 artist fee. No experience needed! For more information, contact:
  • Registration for the upcoming Open Studio Tour is open until August 11. If you might be interested in sharing your studio, learn more and register here.
  • The county fair is next week. Wednesday the 9th is drop-off day, judging is Thursday morning, and entries will be viewable from Thursday mid-day until Sunday at 2. So swing by to enter and also to see what all was dropped off! (Matthew will be there all week, so you can also just drop in to say hi!)
  • Don’t forget to give yourself permission to be creative.
  • On filling sketchbooks with spontaneous observations
  • Here are 15 elements and principles of art. Play with them!
  • Audrey Watters managed to make oatmeal interesting.
  • And here’s a fascinating look at watching paint dry.
  • If you prefer, here’s an article about the making of 17th Century watercolors.
  • Cult Cinema Classics is a YouTube channel – “the first stop for cult film freaks, mad movie misfits, cinema aficionados, and all round tv addicts. Our film archives dive deep into all moving images the 20th century.”
  • Here’s a digital archive of graphic design related items that are available on the Internet Archives.
  • Since we’re staring at screens anyway we might as well take them outside and identity some creatures. To identify something is to pay attention to it.
    • Let’s begin with birds. No matter where you live, you can walk outside, probably right now and hear a bird. Even if you can’t spot it, you can identify it by its song. All you need is Merlin.
    • Next is “Seek” which will help id about anything else alive. Wildlife, plants, fungi, butterflies, amphibians, even bugs.
    • Let’s not forget rocks. Yes, there are apps for identifying rocks. Here are two, both free. One is “Rock Identifier Stone Finder” for iPhone and Rock Check for android users.
    • Don’t forget clouds either. Want to know the official name of the clouds in Jake’s, Jory’s, or Satoru’s photos above? There is an app for that.
    • We’ll end with the universe. Star finding apps include Star Walk 2, SkyView Lite, Stellarium Mobile, and Sun Surveyor. For photographers, here are both PhotoPills and The Photographers Ephemeris. Every one of these apps has its own learning curve to use successfully. Probably take them on one at a time.
    • Finally I should mention that analog alternatives exist. Quaintly, they are named “books”. You can find some great ones here or here.
  • The annual Durango Botanic Gardens online bulb sale is still going, until the 14th. 
  • Hear live music on Friday night’s at Fox Fire Farms! Music, food and wine. Free admission, seating on spacious lawn. Bring rain gear if there is a chance of rain. This week head out from 6-9 to hear the Family Affair Band.
  • The second annual Pino Nuche Art Market and Juried show will be at the Sky Ute Casino Friday – Sunday. Featuring Native art and artists, art demonstrations, traditional craft demonstrations, musicians, and more!
  • Next door at the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum will be the Native Youth Expressions Exhibit and Silent Auction, on Saturday from 6-7:30. Join for the opening reception and silent art auction featuring works from their Native Youth Expressions art program! Enjoy an amazing night among the artists and support local emerging talent! Auction is held during the Russell Box Sr. Retrospective!
  • This is going to be the first Friday of the month, so it’s time for an art crawl! The ArtRoom Collective in the Smiley Building will be open from 4-7, with a demo starting at 5:30. The galleries downtown will be open. So whatever art you want to check out, go visit from 4-7!
  • It’s also time for the 3rd annual Buckley Arts and Crafts Festival at… Buckley Park! Head over Saturday from 9-2 for local artists selling their unique hand/homemade arts and crafts.
  • Sunday is the Hope 4 Durango fundraising event. This is an amazing fundraiser for suicide awareness and prevention. 100% of the proceeds go towards the cause. Cost is $50 per person. The guides volunteer their time. Do good and have fun rafting with Mild 2 Wild and have a picnic in the park after. All the proceeds go to the grief fund of SW Colorado and providing support to those in our community struggling with mental health. Visit to register!
  • There’s a lot of live music around town. Check out to find who, when, and where.
  • Drop by Guild House Games on Monday from 6:30-9 for the free, weekly Chess Club.
  • If you’re a beginner/intermediate acoustic music player looking to play more – head to the General Palmer on Tuesday from 5:30-7:30 for the Slow Bluegrass Jam. This weekly jam is welcoming to all players, with a focus on slower tempo improvisation solos and chord changes. If you can play the I, IV and V chords in G, D and A then you know enough to play at this jam!
  • There are classes/workshops/projects available at the Dancing Spirit Community Arts CenterLet’s Letter Together, the Scrapbook NookCreate Art and Tea, the 4 Corners Gem and Mineral Club, Seed Studio, and the Durango Arts Center. There are a lot more things happening that I don’t include – so if you’re ever looking for something to do, start at
  • I know that you know this – but we sell yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks! It seems like every day or so someone comes in and discovers this. So, if you know someone who might be interested in such fiber and notion goodies – please share this info with them!

I find it fascinating how rich a symbolic language we all have. Squiggles on paper are letters that become words that combine to express whatever we want them to. Splashes of color become a painting. A series of knots become a work of wearable art. In the wrong order, those squiggles are just marks, splashes are a mess, and knots are an unwanted frustration. As creatives, we are manipulators – molding and creating various things to create symbols that convey ideas to others.

Of course, we are not just creators, but are interpreters too. We decipher and understand the world around us through symbols. In our hands, the mundane becomes meaningful. The simplest objects or actions can become powerful symbols, carrying messages that transcend boundaries and evoke profound emotions. The study and use of symbols is an exploration of the human experience, a journey into our collective consciousness. It’s about discovering the patterns that connect us, the symbols that unite us, and the shared language that defines us.

As creatives, we look at the world differently – and we help others do the same.  As always, the world needs your art!

Matthew & the Art Supply House crew