Sunday, October 29, 2006

a prayer to grow wings

i spent a couple hours painting in the studio, time just for me. this is what came out. i can't say i like it or i don't like it. it felt good putting paint to paper and now i'm moving on.

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then

the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
"Don't love your life
too much," it said,

and vanished
into the world.
---Mary Oliver

Friday, October 27, 2006

busy with art i can't show you

for the past two days, i've been working on 12 gifts for an artists' gift exchange called 'the twelve days of christmas hostessed by the creative and organized Lelainia Lloyd of Tattered edge. unfortunately,'s a secret, so i can't show you what i made but i can show you the pile of wrapped packages. Take a look at the beautiful tag attached to each gift, they are from Laini's Ladies collection, created by the amazingly talented Laini Taylor, aka Grow Wings .

i need to go set up my table at the autumn puget artist's league art show tomorrow. it's funny because puget artist's league stands for PAL; the only rule is that there are no rules, and no meeting - friends from the area just get together twice a year for a community art show. this will be my first, i've baled at the last minute for the past couple years. i feel like bailing again but i am going to ignore that thought and spread my introverted wings and go. i do enjoy meeting other artists and folks from the community and i'll probably have a good time. reading this poem, one of my favorites, by poet naomi shihab nye, always makes me smile and muster up courage from somewhere.

The Art of Disappearing

When they say Don't I know you?

say no.
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.

Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It's not that you don't love them anymore.
You're trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.

Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven't seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don't start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

reflections on the falling leaves

i do love the wind. i'm sitting at my desk, watching the poplars and maples release their yellowed and brown leaves to the wind, each day less cover hiding brown bark bodies. the leaves are gorgeous, i do appreciate their suble and dramatic colors, the way they know how to float, tumble, or sail away from the tree branch, the only home they've ever known, to land somewhere unknown.

two days ago, the wind here was gusting, a sky of leaves, flying, floating. sailing, tossing about. standing in my yard, i bent over a pile of these gathering leaves, mainly big leaves from our giant maple tree, now as tall as the house. sadness washed over me as i picked up one leaf after another, noticing how each one was so unique, different from all the others, but bunched up one on top of the other, i tended to overlook them, see them only as a pile now. each autumn heralds pensive days, weeks, or months where beautiful and poignant feelings course through veins of meloncholy. I've come to expect this visitor, although there is little i can do to prepare for her. she just stays until she moves on, she has a room here, and will come and go as she pleases, heaven knows, even after all these years, i can't know her schedule.

anyway, back to fallen leaves. looking at the pile i had gathered in my hands, it occured to me that i needed to acknowledge them in some way, to say 'i see you - i saw you when you were a bud on the branch, when you grew into the beautiful vibrant green leaf that shown the greenest green in the sunlight, and i see you now, making your grand exit into the world of soil and stones. I had this ridiculous compulsion to pick up every leaf i could find and take a picture of it. when i look at something through my camera lense, i focus, i see what is there in my lense. i felt the leaves deserved that respect, to be seen. you may read this and think "she is being ridiculous, just silly", but these thoughts and feeling are compelling and true. of course i could never photograph them all, and i would certainly get bored of doing it after a very short while to be honest, but i did arrange my handful of leaves, one by one, on the deck, and took each of their photographs. i intend to do a piece with this collection of photos and thoughts, probably in my private journal one day. it's strange how these small acts feel so important sometimes, the deeper meaning wanting to be known, experienced.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

down by the river where the green grass grows

i bet many of you remember the rest of that one, this is all i can remember:
down by the river where the green grass grows
there sat XXXXX? pretty as a rose
along came XXX? and kissed her on the cheek

it came back to me this morning when looking at some photos i took day before yesterday, while i was down by the river. as i sit here nibbling my peanut butter and honey on toast, i read this poem by jane kenyon that took me deeper into that place i know so well.

Evening Sun

Why does this light force me back
to my childhood? I
wore a yellow summer dress,
and the skirt made a perfect circle
Turning and turning

until it flared to the limit
was irresistible. . .The grass and trees,
my outstretched arms, and the skirt
whirled in the ochre light
of an early June evening.

and I knew then
that I would have to live, and go on
living: what a sorrow it was; and still
what sorrow burns
but does not destroy my heart.

I love her poetry and also that of her husband, Donald Hall. I just bought his newest book, White Apples and the Taste of Stone. i just can't express how deeply his words affect me, they are like little threads of light that burrow deep down into my bones like magic.

It's a cold, crisp morning, still in the low forties, but the sun is bright and shining - what a gorgeous fall day. The meandering river, the rain, and all the forces of nature have created a new and beautiful little pool in the meadow where there was only field grass and it's creatures. Now there are cattails, and river grasses, dragonflies dive and hover there, and we even see tiny fish swimming in the dark clear water. Walter has set up a chair at the water's edge.he likes to sit there and read in the quiet. After a moment or two of sitting, i find myself wandering along the river's edge, mesmerized by all the beautiful stones, relishing in the fact that i am so delighted by something so simple as stones, and realizing what a blessing that delight is. I chose my favorites for the day, and picked a handful of dried thin wild sweet pea pods, the color of eggplant. I also found a neat little pile of pulverized deep brown jagged rock in the midst of large smooth stones, tiny little pieces i collected to use as texture in a future painting. i wonder what happened to that stone, what crushed it? there was no evidence of anything else being disturbed...curious.
today i plan on spending time painting and making art. there is a small art show in Belfair, our tiny community, on saturday, and i will have a table there. mostly i look forward to meeting some of the other artists and folks in the community. until next time......

Sunday, October 22, 2006

clicking our way through a portland neighborhood

To top off a most wonderful Art and Soul experience, my dear friend DJ Pettitt (i just love you dj) invited me to spend Tuesday, the day after Art and Soul, with her and Deryn Mentock on a photo adventure extravaganza. Unfortunately, Deryn couldn't make it at the last minute, and although we were all dissapointed, DJ and I admired her decision to see her ailing grandfather instead of going on this day she'd looked forward to for so long. It made us admire her even more if that's possible. I've know DJ and Deryn through the internet for a couple years, but had never met either of them in person. I felt an immediate and strong connection with each of them when we met - it's so mysterious and special when that happens. Unfortunately, I only had a brief time to visit with Deryn, hopefully we'll have a chance to chat over dinner or tea one day in the future.
After we'd checked out from the Embassy hotel, DJ and I took off for the Hawthorne district in my trusty buick (thank you Nikki Blackwood for suggesting the Hawthorne neighborhood).It was exactly the kind of urban landscape we had both envisioned, and we immediately started shooting photos and didn't stop until hours later. After we were both tuckered out, and were ready to call it a day, we stopped off at Peet's Coffee House (i love peets coffee) and i had a coffee and almond biscotti, and DJ had a hot chocolate and chocolate dipped biscotti. Can you tell I have quite an interest in good food and drink??!! As we sipped and dipped and munched, we swapped cameras and had a chance to see what shots the other had taken. It was so interesting to see that often we were interested in the same subject matter but the how, what, and way we chose to capture the image was fascinating to see. I want to learn photoshop so I can incorporate more of my photography with my painting. Because I took over 200 shots, I'll be posting shots periodically.

just a bit more art and soul

I can't possibly cover all I want to say about the event and the people I met at Art and Soul. Glenny and Cindy and all their helpers did an amazing job making it such a successful venue. I am going to go back next year for sure! On Saturday, six of us - Misty, Nina, Lesley, Jennifer, Doris and myself - piled into my venerable 1990 Park Avenue Buick to go to Fabric Depot, a huge fabric store full of treasures and having a 40% off sale to boot. We had only been there less than 10 minutes when I got this shot: Nina had found a beautiful fabric she was having cut, I think it was love at first sight for her. And do you see how full Lesley's cart is already??? Now that woman has an eye for fabric and she knew just where to go to find the treasures.

I spoted a beautiful meshy fabric kind of hidden by the cutting table and knew I had to have some. Well so did Misty and Jennifer when they saw it. If my memory serves me, it was priced at $98 per yard!! But with the 40% off, and only buying a quarter of a yard, it only cost about $20, and all three of us had cool scarves like the one Misty is wearing in the photo.A few more photos to share...this one is of Doris Arndt and Misty on our Fabric Depot shopping extravaganza. I had never met Doris before and I felt an immediate connection with her, she embodies sensitivity, compassion and humor all at the same time, I just love her and look forward to taking one of her classes sometime.
One of the evenings I ate out in Portland was at a delicious Thai restaurant in the Alberta area of Portland. What an interesting area, I would love to go back with my camera and have a photo day; so many interesting galleries, painted murals on outside walls, and refurbished funky stores that housed the most interesting boutiques and shops.
I had the pleasure of meeting the extremely kind and talented Kellyrae Roberts who drove Nina, Misty, and I from the hotel to the restaurant. There we met three of Kellyrae's friends; Laini, Alexandra, and Laini's husband Jim. The food was wonderful as was the company; they were all so friendly and interesting and the conversation was lively. I left feeling like I want to move to Portland!
The last three nights at the hotel I shared a room with my dear friend Stephanie Lee and we spent a couple nights talking (and giggling ) into the wee hours of the morning. She taught a soul stories and plaster class at Art and Soul this year, I so wish I had been able to take one - next time!! Stephanie is one of the most genuine, kind and honest people I know and I'm honored to have her as my friend. I talked with several people who took her class and heard nothing but rave reviews so if you get an opportunity to take one of her classes, I'd certainly recommend it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

more art and soul

It wouldn't seem quite right for me not to share some of what i made in the classes i took, so i will. but to be honest, i don't attend the classes with the expectation of completing something - i go to soak up the material, the energy of the teacher, the energy in the room. having something to show for it is icing on the cake.
I do my best work alone so i don't expect great things coming out of a class where i'm learning. now that i'm home, i can't wait to dig in and play with the techniques i learned. The companionship i share with artists at these events is what feeds my soul. that said, i'll show you a few things i played at. here is the blackbird tea cozy i made in nina's class - of course mine doesn't have a blackbird on it but that's the whole idea - letting my original voice come out, my interpretation of the project.
I chose to use collages and paintings i had done and printed them out on muslin. they were the walls on my house, embellished with buttons, mesh, and such. my posts were colorful chopsticks i've had for a couple years and just knew they were meant for something - i just hadn't figured out what.i think they worked out perfectly and I was pleased with this piece. Like so many of us, I'm so attracted to the house shape, it represents security, solace, and happiness to me.
I also enrolled in Nina's From the Ground Up: Building your Own Spirit House class which was on Sunday. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for an hour of it, as I wasn't feeling well that day. I had been fighting a cold that week, and had expended a lot of energy the day before getting ready for vendor night, and I was feeling too fragile to be around people. I just needed a day of quiet and rest - I'm such an introvert, it just annoys me to no end sometimes. I can only take so much activity and then I need to bask in quiet for a bit. Unfortunately, they are always friends I want to visit with until the wee hours of the night, interesting places to visit (like Fabric Depot), and it's easy to forget to eat. I did stay long enough to get all the directions from Nina on how to put the house together so I WILL be making one, and I'll post it when i do to prove it!
Here are a piece I did in Juliana Coles class. We worked in our journals and I intend to work on them more, they aren't finished. I like Juliana, she feels very authentic and I felt comfortable with her style of teaching. I'm someone that longs to be pushed out of my comfort zone, sometimes it's the only way I'll ever get there! Juliana has a gift for doing that.
And last but certainly not least was my class with DJ Pettitt, Layering in Luxury. I was SO excited to get into her class I can't even tell you. I've known DJ online for a couple years, but we'd never met in person. As so many others, I'm a huge fan of her work and her spirit. She was exactly as I had imagined her to be; warm, genuine, such a sweetheart. Her class was fantastic - she is generous with her knowledge and her materials, and if she ever gets rattled you would never know it. She teaches with a peaceful poise that permeates everything and everyone in the room, and creates an atmosphere conducive to tapping into our peaceful natures. And if that weren't enough, I had the amazing good fortune to share a table with my online friend Belinda Schneider, what a sweetheart she is! I have always admired her artwork and it was such a treat to spend time with her and get to know her a bit. Over the course of the day, I watched her create her book and I must admit, I was in awe, such beauty and originality. The pieces I made in DJ's class are very raw and the one on the right isn't even finished. I admit, i was much more interested in talking with Belinda, and walking around seeing what other folks were creating than working on my pieces. i was absorbing everything the information and the creative energy around me but not feeling the need to be 'productive'. My new friends, New York Madelline, and Lisa Call were also in DJ's class, and it was a pleasure to spend time with them both!
There are several other people I want to mention and I will do that when I post tomorrow. Also I will share thoughts and photos of the the wonderful adventure DJ and I shared on Tuesday when we set out for the Hawthorne district of Portland with our cameras - FUN!!!!
I'm going to leave you with a beautiful poem that was read at my sister's commitment ceremony last Saturday in Minneapolis.
So Much Happiness

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records...
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

------- Naomi Shihab Nye

Life is Sweet

Heather, Jeff and the kids are now in their new house, Heather is feeling much better, thankfully. I'm hoping the pregnancy improves hereon out. The kids spent an overnight with us last night and while Ethan watched cartoons, and Violet cuddled with me in those thick and soft footy pjs, you know the ones. what a delightl way to start the day.

Thanks to the advise of the kind and talented Lesley Riley, I have switched to the Beta version of Blogger and I hope to look forward to an easier time uploading photos; it's been so unpredictable up to this point. Although I didn't get to take a class with her this round, I was fortunate to have a 1/2 hour consult with her about the direction of my art, and where I want to go and what I want to do. It was very helpful, it helped me clarify which notions in my head were the truth, and which ones were simply fearful thoughts, parading as the truth. I look to Lesley as one of my art mentors and can't wait to take one of her classes again in the future - she is a wonderful teacher!

Back to art and soul....

I had been looking forward to seeing my very dear friend Misty again, and it was just wonderful that we had lots of time to share together with other friends, many whom I had met for the first time. Here we are in the Fabric Depot, playing with the veils in the wedding section and ooohing and ahhhhing over all the treasures in the store that we wish we could afford.

One of the most valuable aspects of these art retreats is connecting up with other artists and kindred spirits. I most often come to these things with a tank that is on empty, and it's a miracle how the sharing, listening, and laughter fills my creative tank to overflowing. I feel blessed to be part of this creative community that embraces me, foibles and all!! My hope while I'm there is to help be a part of filling other's creative reservoirs, to remind people how wonderful they are, and creative. I had some wonderful classes, two with the deep and soulful Nina Bagley, my first class was the Blackbird tea cozy and that class just *ROCKED*!!! I loved it! Nina just embues creativity and connection and the room feels saturated with that energy.
One of my absolute favorite things about the class was I met the most wonderful friend who sat next to me (actually Misty had met her at Artfest and had briefly introduced us on Thursday. Jennifer Frank is an absolute sweetheart - I honestly think she is part angel, her energy is so sweet and pure. We had a wonderful time chatting the whole day while we worked - her tea cozy was absolutely beautiful - I wish I'd taken a picture of it. I'll upload a photo of the one I made soon.
I've just begun to write about my adventures of the last few weeks, more to come soon.

Friday, October 20, 2006

i was carried off by a whirlwind

These past two weeks or so it seems. So much experience, to live, process, and then try and share with you. I can only give you small bits at a time, as that is all my mouth can hold.

...I ask for a human language
to make its flying sound
across the air between us,
coming from me and then
separately from you,
and then to see the shape
of our words forming above our heads
like blessing held in their own bodies...
---Georgia Robertson
This is a photograph I took of statuary in Minneapolis last week, the most beautiful cemetary I have ever seen. The weather that afternoon was cold and blustery, the windchill must have been in the low twenties and I had brought only a thin coat. But I braved the weather and spent two glorious hours taking
photos of this amazing place. This one was particularly haunting, what could it mean?
As I typically do when leafing through a magazine, I've starting from the backintending to work my way forward. I guess that's okay, but I'd rather go back to the beginning....Art and Soul. Where do I begin... I arrived Wednesday October 4th, a day after my birthday, and checked into my hotel room with a very bad cold. I tried hard not to breathe or cough on anyone but I admit I wasn't magnanimous enough to stay home because of it, I had to go. Thursday I took Juliana Coles class - it was wonderful. I don't really have anything to show for it but some scrawlings on pages but maybe I'll scan them anyway and post them tomorrow. I like the scrawling - I like that she pushed us out of our comfort zone and pestered us to try more things, to stretch further every time. I ended up having to rest in my room for most of the afternoon so I didn't get to do all the exercises but I wouldn't hesitate to take a class from her again in the future.
It was wonderful to meet up with so many of my very dear friends and have the opportunity to meet so many more lovely people that grew dear to my heart almost instantly.
**Blogger isn't allowing me to upload any more photographs so I'll try again tomorrow, I only took about a billion!!**