Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year, Y'all!




This is our New Year holiday photo this year. Here's me and the kids and our two dogs dressed as we like. This is not the usual stark family photo. This is us, as we are in color, light, and fortitude in our favorite place, home. It reflects our personalities and art. Life is art and that is a wonderful feeling. 



Title: Us
Photo concept: Clara G. Herrera
 Photo Credit: Lara Strickland

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Giving is a good thing!

One of life's greatest gifts is giving. It should not be sequestered around arbitrary man-made holidays but should be lauded year round.

Try doing at least one good thing for others daily this holiday season, and write down what you did and how you feel. More importantly, how did you make the other person feel?

Carry that through beyond the holidays and feel how it changes your life. It will. Add color to your canvas of life, by giving.

Title: Pigmented Portrait
Medium: Fun Selfie With Color, Ipad photo
Credit: Clara G. Herrera




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

GIVE THANKS BY WRITING LETTERS TO THOSE YOU LOVE.

This first appeared in the Huffington Post. Click HERE for hyperlinks, art, and the whole shebang.


Dear you,

I love you.

Here are the reasons why.

I have started a personal campaign, not to be mixed up with the recent U.S. presidential campaign, of penning handwritten letters to people I love who have made an impact on my life. It fell out of my head that folks don’t do this sort of thing anymore, and, they should.

So, I’m doing it.

Consider it a Thanksgiving to all the folks in your life who aren’t a turkey, and that lasts longer than a day, if that helps. You won’t gain any pumpkin pie weight from it either.

Folks have all kinds of angst related to the recent election. It would do us some good, I think, to disengage for a little while and think of someone whom we love and tell them so, in a slow, well-thought out way.

Writing is scientifically proven to be therapeutic, even if it is just for ourselves.

Artist Vincent van Gogh wrote more than 600 letters to his brother, Theo, about his art and life. Letters provide insight to a soul, sometimes.

The handwritten word is becoming antiquated and lost in society. I don’t know anyone who can read the Declaration of Independence in its true form seamlessly.

I have few students who can read or write in cursive. To be facetious, I write my students a letter in cursive and instruct them not to open it until they graduate from high school. The swirly cursive they see will be an enigma, of the Enigma, in today’s electronic age.

Handwriting is becoming an artform. Letters Live, where famous people read other monumental folks’ letters before live audiences, has embraced this beautifully.

Our societal craving for instant gratification through text, email, social media, emoji, and our limit of characters is limiting our character in some ways.

Think about it. The letter would only take about one episode of Walking Dead to write, and the title would be Writing Alive - without a cliffhanger and all the gore.

When was the last time you checked your snail mail and received a handwritten letter with true meaning, and not just a bill or a “respond immediately because you have won!” Or, the junk that clutters the inbox, and the mailbox. And, I ain’t talking about a card from grandma that was bought in a store and signed with a few lines and a $5 check.

I am talking about a true, one to three page handwritten letter telling you how meaningful you are to someone. Doesn’t that sound great?

It is.

There are many reasons to do this. You have to think on it. You have to sit on it. You have to disengage from technology.

A letter is in fact the only device for combining solitude and good company,” wrote famous historian Jacques Barzun when introducing, “The Selected Letters of Lord Byron,” a collection which Barzun edited.

When I decided to start my recent letter-writing campaign, I thought of my father. He had the most beautiful handwriting. I keep every letter that he ever wrote to me. There are five. He’s been gone more than 20 years, but I read them and know how meaningful they are. I see his perfect strokes of a pen and know he sat somewhere alone, thought, and took the time to write me.

I sat at my kitchen table late at night and in coffee shops over a period of months, writing 14 handwritten letters to try to save my marriage and many letters on my matrimonial tour. They didn’t work. So, I started writing for me again, and started an AcidNeutral blog.

But I reflect on the wife writing and know my thoughts were true, well-thought out, sincere down to the color of paper I chose and the envelopes. Now, I write letters and notes to my children and many others.

You have to think in detail when you write. It’s not a series of keyboard strokes and a send button.

It brings me joy to write these letters because I think so often we forget the fleeting snapshots of people who impact our lives. We go through life without telling people how meaningful they are.

Do they know?

Here is a very intimate way to tell them.

Emails and texts you delete. Letters you keep.

Why not write one and see if one comes back to you. If not, you will know that you have said all you need to say in a very real way that will always be remembered, even if not by the person you wrote, but by you.

(Enriching music: Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, Nat King Cole; Word Up, Cameo)

Hey alpha, there are more than 26 letters. Love, Omega



Photo Art by Clara G. Herrera
Copyright: AcidNeutralArt LLC
Title: Hey alpha, there are more than 26 letters. Love, Omega


Write a letter. You'll feel better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cooking mama



In celebration of the upcoming Thanksgiving, I am preparing to be a cooking machine. My family celebrates Thanksgiving with the regular food - turkey, potatoes, the ever-popular green bean salad. But, I have become the keeper of the family recipes. My job, of my own accord, is to make homemade tamales, beans, tortillas, carne guisada, and chilito.

I like this role. It seems like at least one aunt in a generation needs to keep up the tradition, and I am it.

Our potpourri is the smell of fresh tortillas and Mexican food, not some scent stuff you melt and buy at a grocery store.

We don't constantly have to fill our homes with fake smells. Just fill your home with smells of home.  Home was potpourri, before there was potpourri, and we all remember what that smells like.

Tonight, I'm cooking for my Hero students - tortillas, beans, carne guisada. After, I hope the custodians at my school will have a homemade meal of what we have left. I'm thankful for them. Custodians at a public school do more, work harder, and for less pay than anyone else.

For them, I am thankful.

Are you thankful for someone of the periphery of your life? Do something real for them on Thanksgiving. It's meaningful to give. Giving is receiving.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Incident

Title: The Incident

Medium: acrylic on canvas

 

Figure it out: There is a bird, a cage, spilled coffee, and a cat. Fun piece, I just decided to splash on canvas. There is always more to art, but that pretty much scrapes the surface.

 


Friday, November 11, 2016




What did I learn from the AcidNeutralArt Project?

 

FIND THE FUNNY! 



I am revisiting this because I've learned a lot lately as I forge my way through life. For example, I learned the other day, don't just absentmindedly put a wad of sour cream and onion chips in your mouth without looking when your school desk is infested with fire ants. Just so you know, they were alive and woke me up pretty quickly. A classroom floor filled with spit, half-digested, crawling fire ants, and chips is a sight to see. I had to laugh and be optimistic. It's one more thing I can check off my list in life. Don't eat live fire ants.

 

You have to find the funny. 

 

Another sting I learned a weekend ago while trying to teach my daughter to mow the lawn: bee stings in the butt are not a wonderful feeling. She screamed and yelled. I put ice on her, trying to figure out where those bees came from. Found them, but they found me too. As a curious science teacher, I had to get on my belly in the yard to figure out where they came from. It was not a pleasant experience getting stung in the butt, but I laughed. Tweeted the moral: We bee lawn together but sometimes it's a pain in the butt.

Find the funny.

Wildflower II
Photo Credit: Red Herrera Ellisor
Conejo County, Colorado
Enriching Music: Vivaldi Four Seasons, Spring; Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto #2 (my favorite song)


What did I learn from the Acid Neutral Art Project?
     I am a teacher. I imbibe knowledge. I try to learn something everyday. Here is my takeaway: You can rise above the ashes and become better.

You are fully capable of changing yourself.  You can set an example for your children, and others, about overcoming adversity with gusto and gumption!
     You can achieve what you want, you just have to want to do it, and actually do it. Stop talking and start doing.

Don't let trepidation inhibit your capacity to achieve potential greatness. 
  
       Life is not a random occurrence of cosmic events. We control our choices, our actions, our happiness, our lives. Joy is infinite. Love is infinite. Get out your metaphorical wedding dress and wear that baby with pride and confidence. 

Go forth and conquer. 

You've been given a second chance. It's a new day. It's a new life. Most people don't get that.


You gotta world to rock.


So, go out and rock it!

-30-

Friday, October 28, 2016

Onion Rings

If life gives you onions...make onion rings!


It's a funny thing to wear heels and a glitzy evening dress to a burger joint after seeing Andy Warhol art at a museum. Life is an amazing experience, if you let it be. Live joyfully!



Monday, October 10, 2016

Live Without Fear


I Dare You to Live a Fearless Life

By Clara G. Herrera

FearArt photo credit: Red Herrera Ellisor, a lovely daughter with voice, spirit, and intellect

First posted in the Huffington Post Blog


Fear is a powerful obsession in the human psyche. It is one of the most domineering emotions that we possess.
Some folks are even afraid of door knobs. They got a name for that: ostiumtractophobia. I, like about 12 percent of the population, am not a fan of clowns. That’s called coulrophobia. Humans are weird. We likely fear being weird too.

Fear is a paralyzing place to be. It consumes you from the inside out like a cancer devouring all the joy in life one cell at a time, and you may not even realize it.
I have made a conscious decision to live my life without fear and replace it with the courage to face whatever I have to offer the world.

Of all the emotions, scientists have determined that fear is one of the most powerful. Anecdotally, I know this from experience.

A few years ago, around the Christmas holiday, my fears came to a head like a pus-filled pimple ready to burst. I was paralyzed by terror for months and few knew it.

My marriage, that looked so lovely from the outside, was shattered, bleeding, and in need of triage. I feared I had a communicable disease. I feared being alone. But these weren’t my worst fears.

Here was my horror.

My beautiful daughter, now 18, wanted to kill herself. She’d even picked the date: Christmas Eve and mode: hanging from our balcony. We committed her for a week to a psychiatric facility, all while preparing for Christmas for my two younger children who knew something was wrong but didn’t know what.
This reality haunted my life.


2016-10-02-1475428766-9090870-FearArt1.jpg
 FearArt photo series taken by Red Herrera Ellisor


For months, while trying to salvage my marriage and teach elementary school children, I hid knives, scissors, medicine, and checked on my beautiful daughter’s breathing in the middle of the night. Terror. Fear. A domination of my existence. A panic attack landed me in an emergency room.

I stayed in my marriage more than year, hoping it could be saved, but knowing if I chose to leave I couldn’t until I knew my child was strong enough for me to make my exit. Finally, after frequent check-ins with her therapist, she was. So I left.

I have been shedding my fears like scaly old skin a bit at a time ever since.

When I “thought” about launching a funny Acid Neutral Art Project into the real world about healing after divorce while wearing my wedding dress from almost two decades ago in funky places, my first emotion was fear. What would my former spouse think? Would it bother him? I almost didn’t do it.

A good friend jolted me into the reality of my new life. “What do you care what he thinks?” I had to reconfigure my thinking. Yes, why was I afraid? Now, it is a constant reminder to myself, Yes, what am I afraid of?

If you think about it, why are we afraid of anything that could bring goodness into our lives? We stay in bad relationships because we fear what would happen if we left. We fear being alone. We live as shadows controlled by the trepidations and worries in life that may never come.

It is the albatross that hangs around our necks visible to no one but ourselves. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” used to have absolutely no meaning to me.

Now, I understand.

You stand on the precipice of life. Are you going to stand there or leap fearlessly into the deep blue sea of happy?

Jump in.

The water’s fine.

Have the courage to live a fearless life. I don’t live much in fear anymore, except for the clown part. Still not a fan. They are creepy.

(Enriching Music: Could Have Been Me, The Struts; Shout, Tears For Fears)


Saturday, October 1, 2016

FearArt

Photo series: FearArt

Photo Credit: Red Herrera Ellisor

These photos are a conceptual art piece about how fear governs humanity. I thought about how to visualize fear. How does one do that? Then, I thought how suffocating and debilitating fear is. People take action because they are afraid. They abstain from taking action because they are afraid. Life without fear, is a wonderful feeling.  Why fear the unknown, for it is unknown.

 



 


 

Poem: A Life Without Fear; The Rebirth of Venus

           Photo Credit: Red Herrera Ellisor




A Life Without Fear; The Rebirth of Venus
By Clara G. Herrera

Voice

captured in glass jars
sealed tightly with rusty metal lids
tucked away behind a cob-webbed dusty shelf to be forgotten

Mouth

coiled in barbed wire, invisible blood
ripped by fences she climbed to
escape into hay fields

Hair

yanked back by hurricanes of
tempered sweet denials and lies

Eyes
 
smeared with gunks of glue
coated once thinly then
shellac over time

Hands

heavier with children
gripped later into fists
punching at air

Arms

bounded in a Matisse
reverse Icarus
falling

Legs

guided blindly through a maze
stumbling, trudging, into nothing
thorns
bushes
darkness
body consumed
the day ended
the wandered maze reached a precipice
A high cliff
A roaring sea below

She jumped

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Unveiled

Title: Unveiled
Photo Credit: Red Herrera Ellisor

This is a photo of me in my bathtub underwater. My daughter did not agree with this concept. I said trust me. I am wearing the wedding veil I made, glue-gunned with flowers 20 years ago.  I am in no way comparing myself to John William Waterhouse, but it reminds me of his art. I am a Pisces but I can not express ardently how much I hate water, oceans, drowning.  Water is not my BFF.











Saturday, August 27, 2016


By: Clara G. Herrera
Title: Us, Now

A reflection on technology

Monday, August 1, 2016

Peaceful Tempest


This is a painting I worked on for some time playing with dark and light, as it is in life. The three red jags represent my children. I am represented by the light blue swirl with the red mama heart in the middle overcoming the black wave below me as I encompass its more dark than light. However, the light, represented by yellow, seeps out toward my figure and blue is a representation of truth, peace, calm and harmony. Blue is the overwhelming color in this piece. There's more there, but I'll let you find meaning on your own. Perhaps it means something entirely different to you. And, that's a wonderful thing! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Love is infinite and unbounded. It is more than a googol (Nerds know I spelled it right.) and sweeter than π. Have some, it's worth the wait.


I Love You Jeanie Tuttle/ ALS Sucks!
Buda, TX
Photo Credit: Charlie Tuttle
Enriching Music: Blackbird, the Beatles; I'll Fly Away, Emmylou Harris live
    To me, this is the most monumental and meaningful photo in the series.
    Jeanie Tuttle has ALS. She is the former librarian at the school where I teach. Her family knew nothing about the disease before she was diagnosed in 2012. Her husband quit his job to care for her because it made more sense cost-wise to the family. He loves her and considers it an honor to be able to care for her through the duration of the disease.
    This photo was taken Sept. 15. I'd been to visit Jeanie and Charlie about a month before and told her about the series. To pep her up, I'd text Charlie some of the photos I'd taken - Washington Monument doing the Hook'em Horns sign, others. He thought it was a hoot and said send more, though, as a Longhorn, I told him it kind of made me feel a bit icky that every time I texted him a photo that Aggie fight song would play to alert him to it because that's his dang ringtone.
    The Tuttles are great people. They are the type of people who make you say, "Why in the heck did this happen to them?" They are the type of people who make you say, "What the heck am I complaining about?"
    Charlie joked about taking a photo of me in the dress with Jeanie at a truck stop, but by the time we got around to the photo, Jeanie was no longer able to leave the house.
    She couldn't talk. She was sleeping about 18 hours a day. She had to have a washcloth lodged in her mouth to absorb her saliva because she could no longer swallow and may choke to death. When you enter their house there is a prominent sign on the door that reads, "DNR instructions in the kitchen." It took me a minute to absorb that. It means Do Not Resuscitate.
    It was Charlie's idea for me to hold the oxygen mask and the mask that pumps and pulls out oxygen for Jeanie to breathe, "like a bouquet," he said. "I know it seems macabre, but it has meaning," he said. "People need to know about this disease."
    I asked Jeanie, who could barely nod, to blink when her response was yes to my series of questions. "OK here is what can happen with these photos: 1.They can just be private for us. 2. They can go on a blog. 3. They might get shown in a story. 4. They may go into a book." Blink with what you think is OK for you. Private - no blink; blog - blink; photos in a story - blink; photos in a book - blink.
    She wants to be known. A beautiful red-headed, Texas gal who read stories to thousands of children and recorded them in her lovely Texas drawl. She had a zest for books and inspiring readers. She would instill Charlie to make and paint cutouts and props for the library to inspire children every year in reading contests.
    That's what I thought anyway. I was wrong.
    Without hesitation, when I asked Charlie how Jeanie wanted to be remembered, he said: "Oh, her love of Jesus."
    He told me she realized something was wrong when she couldn't pronounce certain words like she used to do. When she found out, she recorded tons of books with her voice for the library and sent flash drives to all of her nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. "Now Jeanie can read to them forever," Charlie said.
     A teacher friend and I prayed with Jeanie before we left. Charlie left the room. "You women pray, Your prayers are powerful." We prayed silently and held hands all three of us. We all cried. My silent prayer was that when God finally decided to take her, that it was peaceful without pain, without choking. I left thinking I will never see her again. I kissed her goodbye and thanked her for her friendship and told her I loved her.
    I got to see Jeanie one last time on Oct. 3 with several teacher friends. By that time, Charlie said Jeanie was losing lots of blood and nurses suspected she had ovarian cancer as well. She would likely lose so much blood, she would drift off to sleep and not wake up, he told us.
    "What a way to go, peacefully, drifting off to sleep. Yeah for cancer!" he sarcastically laughed. "I bet you don't hear people say that very often? She's ready. She said she's not afraid." He always says, "Jeanie told me," though she can't talk anymore and they communicate with mostly blinks now.
    This last time, we stood in a circle and prayed, teacher friends and I - Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, holding her hands in a circle. If it hadn't been such a sad moment, it could have been the opening line to a joke, "So this Catholic, Jew, and Protestant walk into…" I got to tell her one last crazy story about an adventure I'd had. She could smile a little but was on heavy pain medication wearing an oxygen mask.
    Here is my take away on this beautiful, sad moment that was intimate, loving, and pure. I have encountered many deaths in my life and seeing folks for the last time and knowing it would be the last time or close to it.
    I have zero regrets on each encounter.
    I don't have any "I wish I would have spent more time with them." "Why didn't I go see them?" And that's a beautiful feeling.
    Love the people you love when they are alive so they feel that love and you feel that love for them. If they die before you get a chance to tell them, it is too late.
    When you go to a funeral, it's too late. That mourning is for you. It is for your loss of them.
     I am free of that feeling and I never want to have it.
     If you love someone, tell them. Write them a letter. Let them know it while they can hear you and you can hear yourself say it. But don't ever just say it, do it, show it. I have always lived my life that way.
    I have co-workers whom I love and I tell them, "I love you." They may think it's weird and I don't care. I want them to know how I feel.
    I tell my students as they exit my classroom, "I love you. I'll see you tomorrow. Get out of here!" I mean it. I don't really mean the get out part, they dawdle and I like it. That means they like being in my classroom and that is one of the most ultimate compliments you can pay a teacher.
    I came to realize, over the last few years of life's tribulations that I had numbly settled into talking the talk – to my own children, and to my students, and even to myself. It was typical do as I say, not as I do. Go out and do great things! Be your best! Love! Be alive! But I was not fully, truly living by example. 

Now I am. I am a revolution of action and love, even if it just affects those caught up in my minutia gravitational pull.
   
 It's not lost upon me that I may be the only person who tells my students they are loved that day. Some of my pupils think it's weird and tell me so. I say, "Haven't you ever had a teacher say I love you?" They say 'no.' I say, "Well, I do and I want you to know it. I don't care if you think it's weird. I love you. I want you to have a happy kid's life and I want you to be safe when you're away from me. It's not weird for me." They just look at me funny and cock their heads. Most of the time, by mid-year, they are giving me hugs as they exit and are saying, "I love you" back to me.
    But I will tell you, it gives me peace to hug my kids and to tell them I love them - my own too. If something happens to any of them, I know that they will know I loved them. 

And pure love, not clouded by preconceptions, prejudice, over thinking, deception, is a good thing for everyone. It is living joy.
Jeanie died a few days later on Oct. 8. I loved her and still love her. I have no regrets.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dream Prelude



Title: Dream Prelude
By Clara G. Herrera
Copyright AcidNeutral Art LLC

This piece was created as the first layer for another painting I am creating called: "The Nightmare of Reality." However, it seemed to stand on its own and has become a prelude to that painting. 

When someone undertakes any artistic endeavor, they don't really know how it's going to turn out. What's in your head may splash upon the page in words or paint, or in some ways, it just seems to create itself. It's a wonderful examination of the human mind and the complexity of thought and action.