solstice

Today was the Solstice and I heard there was quite a lunar spectacle last night in regions not plagued by cloud cover and snow.  I’ll take the snow though as it makes everything lovely.  It’s been quite a winter already… and winter is just starting.

Tonight I got an early start on one of my New Year’s resolutions which is to get back into playing music in sessions more often.  It felt so good to gather with long time friends and share a few tunes.  Food for the soul.  Some other food for the soul is this interview with one of my favorite authors, the late John O’Donohue, sent to me today by Jessie.   I highly recommend.   So much of his writing centers around the notion of Beauty and its place in our lives.  For him, and me, music is a tremendous source of true beauty.  What brings beauty into your life.  What gives you joy?  Seek it.  Find it.  Share it.  Happy Solstice.

Sanctuary

Hibernation.  There is really no better way to describe my recent state.  With caramel colored dogs littering the warm concrete kitchen floor, I have been sewing and making soup.  I am hoping this homey trend continues as we have been delivered an early winter season!

However, Last weekend I ventured out to a 2 day Bereavement Quilt Workshop with improvisational quilt artist Sherri Lynn Wood.  The experience was intense and therapeutic and I learned loads of basic quilting techniques which I will be putting to good use in the coming months. (Up to now, I have been a self taught quilter.) Hopefully Sherri will have photos of some of what our group accomplished during our time together posted soon on her blog.  I highly recommend visiting her site. It’s chock full of amazing imagery, ideas and inspiration – in the quilty world and beyond!

Somehow, in the midst of that weekend workshop, I managed to carve out a few hours to switch gears and join my friend and business partner Adam from Drawing Down the Vision to deliver a pro-bono workshop to teen aged volunteers participating in the Leadership Development Program at the American Red Cross. We had a great time introducing them to the idea of gathering ideas through the process of drawing.

Needless to say, this was an exhausting couple of days and I have been battling a nasty cold ever since.  I suppose I am a physical processor at heart – hence the hibernation….

Yesterday in the mail I was delighted to receive a holiday card from my friend Jerry Bransford, a guide at Mammoth Cave National Park.  Included were some photos from Jerry’s ongoing research into his family history in the park and a cool copy of a ‘guide card’ that Jerry’s great uncle Mat would have given to tourists during his tenure as a Mammoth Cave guide.  History is alive and well at Mammoth Cave and that continues to be the major thing that inspires me about the park.

Our area was dealt a lovely snow storm the other night which shut the city down for the day.  This meant the gift of a snow day for my daughter’s birthday which was a treat for everyone!  But it also meant that my final meeting with my Keeping A Sketchbook Journal class was canceled.  With the Christmas holiday season upon us, the Art Academy closes for the winter break and I am not sure if we will have a chance to make up the class.  Coming to the end of my own recent sketchbook volume, it is time to begin a new book so I spent my snowy day transforming the covers of two new books which I will fill this winter.  I am always filled with a renewed sense of artful purpose when I personalize a new sketchbook.  It’s a magical process full of promise. The black book below (still in process) will be my typical, day to day book, found always at my side collecting thoughts, quotes, sketches etc…. the cover design is reminiscent of the balanced stacks of pebbles I have around the house.

I also got a second little book as well this time around.  First of all I could not resist it’s fetching size and the lovely linen cover material as well as it’s watercolor paper.  I am not sure what will find it’s way into this particular book.  I have had the desire to make more illustrative imagery lately.  Maybe children’s books.  Maybe beyond. I am not sure. Lynda Barry, in her NPR interview about her recent book, Picture This, spoke about her desire to ‘draw cute little animals’ in the aftermath of 911.  In the midst of all of the grief and chaos, the only thing she could bring herself to do was to draw these cute little animals.  And that it was healing for her.  I was really inspired by this notion.  There has always been a side of myself that wants to draw and paint cute little animals.  (case in point, my dog drawings!)  My plan is to allow the space for these little drawings in the coming new year and see what comes of them.  Hopefully some joy and simplicity.  Hopefully the capacity to just play a bit.  These are things I am consciously injecting into my life.

This morning I went out into the garden to take some snaps of the snow among the shapes and beauty of the sleeping plants.  The dogs romped around the yard searching for now elusive yard smells.  It’s been too long since I have centered myself by drawing my dogs and their antics.  Maybe it’s time to get back to center…

Passage

For the next couple of days I have the incredible opportunity to work with quilt artist Sherri Lynn Wood at a bereavement quilt workshop here in town.  My close knit community of friends and family has been through the ringer of grief recently and this class is likely be a powerful experience.   So much goes into the processing of hard core loss.  I am intensely grateful for the fact that I am an artist and can dive into the act of making in order to attempt to make sense of things when a hard loss hits. It is indeed how we have been able to weather the last year and a half or so.

The intention of this workshop is that we can take things that were left behind by those we lost in the form of clothing, fabrics etc and combine them to become something new, a quilt, an object of comfort.  I look forward to this.  When my friend Pam died of breast cancer, she left for me tons of fabrics and materials which I have used here and there…. I even made a quilt from fabrics she had carefully collected over time.  And yet there is so much more she left to me… vintage clothing, more materials.  It is time to really dig in and USE what she gave me instead of saving it.  I have a few bits of clothing from my grandparents that I plan to use for this project, (they passed within just days of one another), as I want to make use of them, instead of them simply hanging in my hall closet.  The spirit of my dearest friend Mia will be sitting on my shoulder as I work at this quilt.  She was my biggest ‘fan’.  I have an old card I received from her during the time of the difficult trenches of art school that reads ‘you are in school for a reason, believe that you belong there and keep going’.  I don’t have any old clothes of Mia’s, only a moonstone that I wear all the time that carries an interesting shared story from my time with her.  I miss her spirit everyday.

It goes without saying that Esme’s beautiful presence will be with everyone at this workshop in the coming days.  And with her for me at least, thoughts of my father-in-law Larry, cousin Sarah, and Whit, will all be stitched into whatever crazy quilt winds up bubbling up out of this process.

I look forward to sharing it here soon with you…

Simple Gifts

Today I installed a little show of recent work at my favorite coffee shop, Pleasant Perk.  I had the most amazing bowl of soup, created by culinary goddess Amanda and sampled some of the new loose tea recipes she has been experimenting with during her tenure as barista.  Although the shop has new owners now, changes are being made while keeping the soul of the place and this makes me happy.  On a cold snowy day such as this, a bowl of homemade soup can make my day.  If you yourself like soups, check out my friend and fellow blogger Julie Keefe‘s site where she showcases a new soup recipe most Sundays.  On other days her writing and thoughts on things are simply a breath of fresh air.  Soup for the soul as they say.

So, in spite of some serious illnesses in and around my family in recent weeks, my “pet” studio woodpecker *(as if dogs and cats weren’t enough!) and I managed to get enough collages together and mounted on fabrics to show this month at the shop.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by!

In other news, my flight to Taos, NM for next spring’s travel sketch workshop is BOOKED!  I have been holding my breath wondering if the trip would be a go.  Would my class sell at this level?  In this economy?   I am honored to be able to teach in the Taos setting.  I’ll be writing more in weeks and months to come as I prepare for the workshop.  Booking is still available for 4 or 5 more slots until January 15.  If you are not based in Cincinnati and are interested in this opportunity, contact me!  We can work something out for sure.  Meanwhile though, I have a fabulous group this season and we are coming up on week 4 in the sketchbook class.  Their work is amazing!  Maybe this week I can get some snapshots to share here.  But for now, I am off to school pick up.  ‘Til next time…

*a note on the studio woodpecker.  this little fella has been working his tail off on the outside of my studio walls.  it’s hilarious and annoying all at the same time.  everytime I head out to get a good look or photo of him he flies off, the little bugger.  so I figured I’d record him just for kicks and share it here!