Improvised Life » identity If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 22 May 2015 06:55:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Look At the ‘Do’ a Field of Sunflowers Inspired Wed, 20 May 2015 20:15:20 +0000

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Frida Kahlo’s Artful Wardrobe, Painted Casts and All Thu, 14 May 2015 06:42:22 +0000

Ishiuchi Miyako, courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

One of our most popular posts featured Frida Kahlo painting the plaster cast she had to suffer living in after one of her many operations. Kahlo, confined in terrible casts most of life, painted them, transformed them, took them over as much as she could, turned them into something beautiful, expressive; she turned them into art. That defiant act of transformation resonately deeply with readers.

Recently, we found a trove of powerful images by Japanese photograher Ishiuchi Miyako of Kahlo’s wardrobe, from gloves and stockings to her vividly colored skirts and blouses, as well as her incredible casts, in remarkable detail. Each item is evidence of her powerful drive to self expression, despite her wounds, setbacks and handicaps. (more…)

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Hair as Personal, Cultural, Historical Artform Wed, 13 May 2015 07:47:17 +0000

JD Okhai Ojeikere

When Lagos, Nigeria celebrated its independence from Britain in 1960, a hairstyle called the Tall House “literally sprang up“.  According to the New York Times Lens Blog, hair sculptures as high as two feet “symbolized the aspirations of a new and striving nation”.

Nigerian photographer J. D. ’Okhai Ojeikere, who died last year at the age of 83, spent more than thirty years traveling across Nigeria documenting hundreds of braided styles that appeared during that time. He took close to 1,000 portraits of different braids, twists, plaits and buns, each carrying a distinct meaning.  His book J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Photographs contains his most famous series “Hairstyles”. Each is a deeply expressive, rather magical work of personal and cultural art. For us, they are examples of personal expression taken to wondrous heights with the most elemental of materials. (more…)

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Fran Lebowitz’s Wise, Hilarious Views on Fashion (and Life) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:50:54 +0000

Getty Images

We have Jason Kottke to thank for chosing the choicests bits of Elle’s hilarious interview with Fran Lebowitz about fashion. But even then, it’s worth reading every bit of her unique LOL commentary. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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Hand as Note Pad, Art Material, Tool, “Thundering Channel” Thu, 22 Jan 2015 07:49:53 +0000

Sinnae Choi

The other day at Artists and Craftsman, we noticed the cashier’s ever-ready note pad —his hand — and were reminded of the many ways we’ve used our hands. We mentioned this to Sinnae Choi, Improvised Life’s brilliant aide-de-camp, and she wrote some seriously powerful words about just what hands can do, and be. (more…)

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A Winter Solstice Reflection on Loss and Joy Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:19:20 +0000

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day —and longest night — of the year, when the sun pauses on its southward trajectory, then starts its cimb north, and the cycle begins once again.

Some of us wait to begin rejuvenating our lives until New Year’s Eve when the glittering ball drops in Times Square. But why not begin a new adventure right now, today, as we usher in the New Solar Year? (more…)

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What’s Better: Scared or Sensible? And why? Tue, 02 Dec 2014 09:10:53 +0000

(Video link HERE.) When contemplating a life change, what’s better: scared or sensible? How does one choose? And why?

After wrestling for several grueling weeks with making a radical, lock-stock-and-barrel move, I’ve decided to stay put and work on making a meaningful internal geographic instead. In many ways this kind of psychological change is a much tougher adventure, in unseen, undramatic ways. (more…)

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Annals of Hair Design: LaBelle’s Nightbird Platter-Do (with Music) Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:00:10 +0000


The Hair Hats in our recent Annals of Hair Design reminded me of the great “platter” do, Patti LaBelle wore when performing her album Nightbirds in the 80’s. I loved watching her perform it and wondered how she got that hair to STAY.

Years later, she came to my old studio for a photo shoot and I asked her how she got her hair to make those fabulous platters. (more…)

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Primitive Modernist Body Art: Stars, Stripes, Zigzag, FAB Thu, 25 Sep 2014 21:00:08 +0000


We WISH that we could see people who had adorned themselves like this — with stars, stripes, zigzags, more —as we wander the city. Such possibilities. We envision the top one as wondrous tattoos. (more…)

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What if Your Life Were a Painting? Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:14:08 +0000


We —our lives — are really a kind of artist’s canvas.

When we take that view, we ask ourselves:

What are we painting?

Do we paint with kindness, generosity, anger, fear, bravado, hatred, curiosity… (more…)

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Anthony Giglio Kills at the Moth! Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:00:01 +0000

Anthony Giglio is journalist, sommelier, and author of Food & Wine Wine GuidesCocktails in New York and Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide. He is wine blogger for Details and Improvised Life’s deviser of brilliant, simple strategies for celebrations both grand and low-key.

Of late, Anthony revealed yet another side of himself: a superb storyteller whose personal stories move and transform. He brought down the house at The Moth when he performed “Listen Here, Fancy Pants!” live in May of 2012. Due some non-public-radio-friendly language (we disagree), it has taken two years for it to be made public and accessible online. (more…)

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Do a Wheelie!! Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:00:28 +0000

We LOVE everything that is in clear defiance of age (or any other) limiting stereotypes.

You GO girl/woman/lady/man/daddy/mister/ms/miss/mama….!

via Pinterest

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Moondog: “I’m Not Gonna Die in 4/4 Time.” Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:39:02 +0000

Photograph by Peter Martens

The documentary The Viking of 6th Avenue, recently funded by Kickstarter, chronicles the life and musical career of legendary New York icon Moondog. As a girl, I used to see him in front of Saks Fifth Avenue and other corners around town, a blind man in full Viking regalia proudly, with seeming infinite patience, standing in the midst of the passersby of the time. Many years later I would discover his music and learn his story… (more…)

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