Women who run with the wolves

Wolf quilt detail

Once upon a time, in the midst of a great sadness at losing one dear to me, I spent a good deal of time with a howling in my heart.  I channeled that howling into many many stitches and eventually created a quilt to honor not only my own howling heartbreak, but to especially honor those closest to that fiery grief.

wolf quilt

This quilt now occupies a special place above my drawing table as a reminder of What Artists Do and why we do it.  While my recent posts here have been rather tied to creatures of the sea, I adore all animals, particularly the wild ones.  Just today, I received a belated, much looked-forward-to birthday gift from my friend Julie– a chance to spend a few hours at Wolf Creek Habitat, a sanctuary for wolves who now live in captivity for a variety of reasons beyond their control.

And so, on this gorgeous and golden late september morning, we hit the road for the hills of Indiana….

The long and winding road

indiana countryside

And we arrived to meet our guide Kathy, whose path it is to care for these magnificent creatures and educate visitors about wolves and the cultural misconceptions which plague them.  Julie’s gift to me was a private tour, without the company of tourists or school groups, and besides Kathy and the wolves, we were the only other beings there.  It was magic.

An amazing opporutunity to get to know these creatures

 

We were permitted to go into an enclosure which houses a stable pack of wolves with a distinct hierarchy, including some rambunctious juveniles.  There are many other enclosures at the sanctuary with other mini-packs and coupled wolves who might not necessarily ‘play well with others’.  Upon entering the play yard where we would spend the next couple of hours, we were greeted with much enthusiasm which included nuzzling, sniffing, rubbing, licking, more (enthusiastic!) nuzzling and sniffing.  (Especially our hair. Pony tails were discouraged.)

A gathering

 

Within a short time, we were deemed by the wolves to be proper company, and were then charged with belly rubs and treated to rolling exercises and photo opps.

rollin rollin rollin 2

rollin rollin rollin

I noticed many differences between these wild wolf creatures and my own domestic canines.  And many similarities as well.  One big difference, is the size of wolf feet.  They are BIG paws with webbing between the toes.  Much like some puppies have large paws for awhile, these grown wolves’ feet seemed disproportionate to my eyes used to dog-sized feet.

Wolves have GINORMOUS paws!

Some wolves seemed more dog-like at times.

some were more dog like than others

But mostly they were very wolf-like.

wolf gaze of wisdom

What's this???

I Simply couldn't get enough of their beautiful eyes

Soon, it was nap time.

naptime

Amongst the wolves

black wolf elusive

Fodder for another wolf embroidery?

We spent a bit more time surrounded by sleeping wolves, marveling at their wild liminality; so dog-like, but so Other.  Like many other majestic wild creatures, wolves have an air of mystery and spirit that surrounds them, even when they run and play together, or roll over for a tummy rub from someone newly trusted among them.  Thank you Julie, for one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.

julie and the wolf

*a note about the title. Women Who Run With the Wolves is an amazing book by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  

And here’s another little wolfish tidbit for your enjoyment…

 

 

 

 

A tale of summer’s travels (part 2)

In which we leave the desert behind and venture to the sea….. monhegan fog

Our summer is not complete without a visit to the coast.  And so, we drove many miles to Maine where we scooped up god-children we see only once a year and whisked them out to sea for a few days on mystical, magical Monhegan Island.  We drew boats and coast lines and hiked miles of trails.

 

 

 

monhegan 4monhegan 5

monhegan 3

We seemed to blend in well with the others who were drawing and observing on the island.

 

monhegan artist

Sometimes artists stand on the rocks for so long that they become like stone themselves.

monhegan ghosts

But not all of Monhegan is wild…

road sign

We stayed quite comfortably in an inn called the Monhegan House.

monhegan view

monhegan 2

As was the case on my last visit to the island, the veil between here and there is quite thin.  It was necessary to pay our regards.

faery hut 2

But there is always time for more sketching in the sketchbook.  Because that is what I do.  In the desert.  And at the sea.

DTSheridan

brilliant artist

poppy gets a lobster

After partaking of oceanside adventure and cuisine for a number of days, we were called inland to the Land of the Lakes.

sheep

farm

The rolling hills of the Kennebec highlands are home to a relaxed pace and sweet berry-pie-laden atmosphere and so we settled in for a week of catching up with our far-flung soul family members.

across the pond

I spent much time observing the lake.

long pond nap

And Drawing.

long pond sketch

 

Watching the skies.

 

long pond mists

And Drawing.

long pond sketch 2

long pond value studies

And watching the skies.

long pond skies

Sadly, it was eventually time to return even further inland.  Back to Ohio where the kids, ever growing, had their more modern, fast-paced lives to attend to.  Maddie is back to her third year of high school, busy with AP classes and digging through the thigh-high pile of collegiate options she is faced with in the coming year.  And college, that is where Jack is.  Across town but a world away, living his life and pursuing his dream of making a life in music.  If this past weekend’s performance of Verdi’s opera Don Carlos is any indication, he has found his place.

And I fill my well where I can, such as sneaking off with my Hub to our own land-locked inland seas for our annual trip to Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie.  There was much kayaking to be had with perfect conditions all around.  And of course, I also sat and drew as much as I could.

 

beach sketch

All of this time around big water has only strengthened my fascination with the folklore surrounding the seas.

island gleanings

selchie pup

Specifically, the legend of the Selkie.  And so, once back at  my drawing table at home, I set about creating a watery world for a Golden Child of the seas…..

selchie beginnings

“I think of mythology as a function of biology, a statement of the impulse system of the body and the organs. Not something that’s made up in the head. What’s made up in the head is a fiction. What comes out of the heart is a myth.”  

Joseph Campbell The Hero’s Journey

In this painting, our selchie heads to her sea cave, far beneath the surface above.  There are wonders to behold in the depths, if we but seek them.  I’ve thought a lot about myths and stories lately and how traveling into ‘the depths’ can challenge us to discover our very own story in this world, while also seeing how our story sits among the other stories.  It’s the weaving together of story, both personal and folkloric, that create the culture we lean upon as human beings.

photo-4

Some of us are lucky to have friends who will accompany us when we dive deep, and make sure we come back up for air.

selchie

photo 2photo 4

And what might a sea cave sound like, you ask?

We have come to the end of my summer’s travels.  I was inspired by the duality of my desert/sea experiences and created these little paintings for a small works show called Small Glimpse, now showing at Red Tree Gallery.  I am fortunate to be able to find myself so far flung in the summer months with my heart’s work each June for the Illuminated Travel Journaling Course and then family time in Maine with music in between for the rest of the time.  All of this beauty brings a magic to my day to day back here at home in Ohio for which I am deeply grateful.

children of the desert children of the sea

A tale of summer’s travels (part 1)

book

When summer comes to this river valley, I get the urge for goin’ as they say.  And so, I pack up my drawing and painting supplies, and maybe a few little books that I have created or altered to suit my needs, and I go.  This past summer was no different, except that due to some invasive happenings on my virtual front porch, I was unable to truly share them with you here until recently. (all has been resolved, of course.)  And so, let’s catch up on all my sketchy adventures of rambling through teaching, painting, playing music, catching up with family.

taos sign

get on a plane

Those of you who know me well, know that the first stop every summer is Taos, New Mexico where I teach an annual Illuminated Travel Journal Workshop (you can sign up NOW for the 2014 trip here!).  Each trip to Taos has it’s own distinct energy and pace and I was delighted with how this one turned out.  We opted to go a few days early this year, in order to make sure everything was in order for the workshop upon our arrival, as well as to acclimate to the climate and altitude.  These few days turned out to be key to setting the tone and intention for the workshop as a whole, and I have already booked the same for next year.

Time.  

D.H. Lawrence said that “time runs differently in New Mexico.”  And it is, after all, the land of enchantment.  It takes time – to sink in and soak up the sacred waters of the hot springs as we gaze up at the wind and water sculpted cliffs.

sketch of ojo cliff

It takes time to go beyond our inner boundaries and pass through the right portals…..

boundaries

portal 1

portal 2

It takes time to really sink into a place, by walking its paths, drawing (on) its beauty, rediscovering its inherent magic, so as to better pass these discoveries onto those attending the workshop.  And so we found ourselves at home in a little place at Mabel’s called Auntie’s Cottage and we set up shop.

our studio home away from home before class

And we took to the paths that lead to interesting things to capture in our journals….

Map to taos

 

sketching in town

 

famous taos truck

gorge watercolor

sketching morning light

a new mug for delicious morning coffee at mabel's!

Soon, it was time for workshop attendees to begin arriving.  They were welcomed to Taos by a Thunderbird.

taos thunderbird

Welcome to Juniper house!  This is the building that houses our gorgeous classroom space as well as a few extra rooms at the inn.

welcome to juniper

We had an amazing group of journal-keepers.  Some had experience with paint, paper, and art-making in general and created lovely images and memories in their books which we shared and discussed in class time.  While others, the truly intrepid ones if you ask me, were true beginners who nervously and courageously learned how to draw and paint just enough to get an impression of something they found beautiful into their books.  As expected, these beginners went leagues beyond where they thought they were able and sometimes tears of joy were shed to know “I am capable of creative work”.  Powerful stuff indeed

taos 2013

We coalesced as a group as we journeyed to the magical places to be found in and around Taos.

azure sky

Sky blue is a tricky color to capture….  The secret?  Most times it’s to add a little green.  One could spend a life time looking at and painting the New Mexico sky.

gorge sketching

The Rio Grande Gorge is a spectacular chasm that defies description.  We spent hours drawing there one morning.  And again, one could spend days, nay, YEARS!  I for one am still obsessively painting the gorge from memory and photos.  But I am itching to get back to the real thing to experience it once more….

gorge painting sketch

Above is a study in oil on a little wooden panel I had laying around, while below are the bones of a triptych that should eventually shape itself into a nice work of art…. I will keep you posted.

gorge unfinished

When the afternoon sun became too intense, we sometimes headed indoors to our breezy classroom space and worked in our books there.  Thanks to Lynne who sent me this cute snapshot of one of those times!!

in class and having fun

And sometimes in the evenings we would head out to a favorite sunset gazing spot.  Here there is a gnarled tree under which someone has memorialized an old four legged friend who might have liked to hike in the area.  This tree helps hold those memories.

a tree that holds memories

During this intense and beautiful workshop time, I was fortunate to have a small space, all to myself, where I sometimes spent a little while simply finding my quiet.  This was also my sleeping space.  My traveling companion and all around right hand woman Julie and I adored our little cottage for pre-workshop time, but during the workshop, it’s good to be closer to Mabel’s Big House and the classroom at Juniper House.  And who wouldn’t want to wake each morning to Taos Mountain delivering the sunrise?

sun comes up over taos mtn

My little room has a screen door that opens on this view.  It’s enough to melt the heart.

the view out back

And it did.  Every morning.  A melted heart is an important tool when teaching a workshop.

I took some time as many mornings as possible, to sit with my own illuminated journal and capture my experience, my thoughts, my view out the window, a little list of all the wonderful things that were happening each day.

taos mtn sketch

 

morning sketch of taos mtn

One of those serendipitous and wonderful moments was that a rather large article featuring our Eco-Chic Retreat was out in the paper during our stay in Taos.  It’s not everyday you arrive in a foreign town and find yourself in the paper.  I was absolutely delighted.  The Eco-Chic team have become my friends and I have enjoyed watching the project’s journey into the world.

We made the paper

Soon, too soon, it was time to travel back eastward.  But not before sinking once again into the waters at Ojo Caliente and gazing up at the cliffs that surround the pools of hot, healing waters.  I even spied a shooting star one night.

offerings from the locals

A small part of my soul was sad to leave my beloved Taos and the strong Mountain which overlooks it.  But I know I’ll be back.  the 2014 trip has just been announced and now, I simply need to gather the like minded souls who might want to open their eyes and hearts to a new way of traveling in this world.  As I wrote in my last post, next year is all me, along with my small team of helpers, and we are taking a leap in putting the trip on ourselves.  But sometimes a reminder comes across in the form of words from the past that seem to point in the direction of following one’s own path…

thoreau

So we left the dry of the desert, and arrived home to this….

While the west thirsted for rains to quench a years long drought (sadly, they now have, with much destruction), Julie and I arrived home to a very rainy summer here at home.  It was so bad in our area that I opted to move the chickens to higher ground.

rain rain go away

And we got some flood insurance in the meantime, which thankfully, we have not had to utilize as things have, for now, evened out.

But the rains did come for a time. And they joined me on further adventures.  

While the Taos trip is magical and beautiful and something I would not trade in my life, it is still work.  And so the next big trip I took was to the mountains of North Carolina to attend a week of music classes at the Swannanoa Gathering.  This is one thing I do for myself that is for no other reason than my own enjoyment.  I opted to go down a day early with a music friend from here in town so we could camp for a night on Mt. Mitchell, which turned out to be more of an adventure than either of us bargained for.  With all the rain we had been having in the east, and North Carolina was no exception, you can imagine what the camping was like at the top of the highest peak east of the MIssissippi.

 

It all started innocently enough with a foggy arrival and dinner hour….

(sidenote: Just a week prior to this, I spent a very soggy weekend camping up by Lake Erie while I attended an all women’s Level 3 Sea-Kayaking course through 41 North.  Surely, SURELY I couldn’t have two rainy camping experiences in a row, right?)

map of our journey

The Rains decided to descend upon us once more, with wind as well, reminding us that Mother Nature is always in charge.  Just before dawn, after a somewhat sleepless night on top of the mountain, we packed up camp as best we could and ran for the car to attempt an escape.  By the light of my head lamp, I spotted a small salamander, something for which the Great Smoky Mountains are notorious, literally riding a stream of water down the steep path.  Even in the midst of chaos, this got my imagination going.

salamander kayaking

 

Paddle faster little man!!!

 

paddle faster

Needless to say, we got off the mountain.  And as check in at camp was not until later in the day, we dried out at the local breakfast place, then the mall, as we waited for sleepy Asheville to wake up.  One thing for which I am deeply grateful, are friends who consider these things adventures and are willing to laugh in the midst of the discomfort of being wet and a little bit miserable.  This gift enabled us to more deeply enjoy the week that followed.  And what a week it was.  I have few pictures.  No drawings.  I was immersed in a faery-like trace of a week of nothing but Irish traditional music along with folks who feel the same as I do about these old tunes and the playing of them.

me and my flute cousin

It was sheer bliss being able to catch up with my musical family, my “flute cousins” as we call each other.  We laughed harder and longer than we do the rest of the year.  We played tunes upon tunes upon tunes late into the night, and into the next day, while still managing to attend classes when the sun rose again.  We knew we only had a week to do this.  And it was precious.

I’ll leave you at this point in the tale of my summer’s travels with a video of my son Jack and a couple of his friends from camp doing their thing at the student showcase.  I have more to tell of our travels and will share them in part 2 of this post.  But for now, enjoy these amazing musicians….

(ps. Their accompanying guitarist?  Yes, the one and only John Doyle.  Where else can a few kids get their set of tunes backed up by a rock star?)

chrysalis blooming

Pull up a chair and let me pour you a cup of tea.  It’s been a long and delightful summer filled with amazing journeys to magical places and I can’t wait to share it all with you in the coming weeks as I get caught up.  But first… I’ve been remodeling this little virtual space, as I said I might, and I am anxious to show you around!

icon-4 copy

Welcome to my new website!!  www.amybogard.com is now a blog-centered virtual world now.  I’ll spare you the tedious techie details, but basically my lovely old website, off of which my blog used to spin, has become a part of the history of the interwebs and is now just a exhaled electronic breath on the virtual ether by now.  I took a few snapshots for posterity before having it turned off and everything redirected to this new space and I now envision the old website and all it’s one-of-a-kind beauty floating ever further out into space like some out-dated satellite or some such.  It served me well for a good long time, but I am thrilled to be here, now, in this space.  Is’t it cozy??  Do poke around and click at will, and let me know what you think.  My friend MB and new “wordpress midwife” is, among many things (like so many mamas I know and love), a fantastic web-master kinda gal with super skills that I am in awe of on a daily basis.  I have her to thank for getting all of the proper widgets in place that can help me stay connected and current in this vast and weird online world, and to navigate amidst it.  She also had some fabulous design ideas and the look of the new site is as much hers as mine.  Big, big love and thanks to you MB!!!

It is said that if you disturb a chrysalis in it’s cocoon before it is ready to face the world, you stand the chance of damaging or destroying it.  My work lately has felt very much this way.  The blog is not the only thing undergoing Big Change in recent months…..

extra  read all about it!!!!!!!!

For the past three summers, I have been leading a group of intrepid travelers to Taos, New Mexico to work in their sketchbooks and create Illuminated Travel Journals, visual diaries of their time in this amazing little town so far off the beaten path, yet at the center of everything, being at the foot of Taos Mountain.  I created this class in partnership with the of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and having a Real Institution behind me gave me the opportunity to sprout some wings and get this workshop off the ground.  For this I am forever grateful.  But as the workshop and myself as well grow and change into a new creature, it became clear to me that I should forge ahead on my own, less a part of a large institution, but rather as the lead wolf in a small committed pack of like minded other wolves who could see my vision for things as they morph into what they need to be.  And so I have amicably parted ways with the Art Academy, with their support and their blessing, to continue offering this trip, with updates, some sprucing up, and forever tweaking the flow of things.  It is up to me to get the word out, get folks registered, answer questions, plan, plot, collect, inform, create and conjure to make the journey once again a reality.  I have taken full ownership and responsibility for it all, complete with a new bank account, the creation of an LLC, and a marketing plan.  And contrary to a time that has now passed, I am not terrified of this side of the work.  This too is something for which I have a whole heap of gratitude.

juniper

(photo credit: Julie Keefe)

Here are the basic facts about the course and you can go to the Join Us In Taos page for even more information and links to all things Taos.

AMY BOGARD’S ILLUMINATED JOURNALING WORKSHOP,  TAOS, NM

June 15-20, 2014

Mabel Dodge Luhan House Historic Inn and Conference Center

Check in after 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 15 with evening welcome reception

Check out by 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 20 with bagged lunch to go

Learn and apply the tools, tricks and techniques that will bring your travel sketchbook journal to life!

Open to all skill levels from drawing beginners to pros looking for a fresh perspective;

new and lifelong journalers alike are welcome.

Workshop fee includes room with full bath, gourmet breakfasts and lunches, as well as a farewell dinner.

Field trips to iconic sites in/around Taos;  opportunities for self-guided excursions and solitary drawing as well as class time and exercises.

Amy will be available for one-on-one assistance and support.

$1100 shared/$1300 single – payment in full by December 15, 2013

$1300 shared/$1500 single – payment in full by March 15, 2014

More Information:       http://www.amybogard.com

Register Via Email:        abeefrnd@gmail.com

And that is the gist of things in the Big News dept.  In smaller (though no less exciting) news,

first egg

The girls have begun laying.  I am not sure how long this will last, now that fall has begun to wrap it’s golden cloak around our region, but hopefully they will develop their laying skills for a few weeks before taking the winter time off.

Do stop back here to this cozy little space, as I have many tales to tell you of my summer’s journeying.  I have been to many places and have learned a great many things…..

“For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?”

~Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways