Distant Horizons

Horizon 1I’ve been a little obsessed with horizons lately, what with my youngest finishing high school and heading off into adulthood with such headstrong strength and brilliance while my little self heads back under the skies of northern New Mexico to sow my seeds of Artfulness-for-All in the pages of a sketchbook.  It’s an exciting time.

horizon 2

And so my painting practice has found itself acquainted with a line across the page.   Pondering what is upon that line and how I might use it to guide my way through uncharted waters.  After all, when I am sick with the motion of unpredictable seas, I know to look to the horizon for comfort.  The metaphor is not lost on this mama at the crossroads.

Over on the Book of Faces (thank you Rima as always for this useful term!) I keep a little virtual meeting place where folks can see what I am up to and to keep up with all the wily avenues of communication in this unfamiliar sphere.  But lately, I have hit a plateau.  I am told that this is because I must pay to have my page ‘promoted’.  Well.  This all sticks in my craw, if I may be so crudely appalachian.  FaceBook is ‘supposed to be’ a free thing.  A place we can all meet and exchange.  But the minute you admit that maybe you work in the world of art or small business, you must have a ‘page’ and then followers and then, you must ‘promote’ your page.

Recently over there, an artist I follow offered a giveaway to get a few more ‘likes’ on her fb page. Now mind you, she is of the ilk that has thousands of followers.  But I like her approach.  She offered a giveaway in exchange for some grassroots sharing of her page.  And so, I am following suit.

horizon 3horizon 4

I am offering to give this little painting away to someone on facebook who has been kind enough to share what they like about my page.  Just go to my page, to the post (with these images ‘pinned’ to the top)  Share the post (or a past image of mine you might like) and let me know (tag me!!) in the comments of this post that you have done so (that way I’ll know you’ve stopped by. It’s like a virtual calling card of sorts.)  I will put your name into the hat for this little painting.  When I get to 650 ‘likes’ I will post the winner of the painting on the fb post, my twitter page and here at the blog.  Maybe this gets a bit more traffic directed here to this virtual space.  Maybe that is a good thing.  I do not know.  I am just following my nose, and in the path of those who inspire me.

Meanwhile, it’s pouring rain outside and I think there is chicken feed turning to concrete as I write this post.  I must investigate.

Thanks as always for your readership, and your support of this work.  It is greatly appreciated!!

Woven

fox jar 3

Lately I am keenly aware of anything new we bring into the house.  Our youngest is off to college this upcoming autumn and with that will likely come some simplification to life here at home.  I want quality over quantity these days.  And yet, there are beautiful things to behold in this world, and it’s important to me to support my fellow artists.

Last year, I began to set aside some pennies here and there to engage in the purchasing of some bits art. Some of the finest supporters of local artists, myself included, are actually other artists. And I want to be a bigger part of that system.  I have often purchased small things in the past – greeting cards, little prints, bits of useful pottery, etc.  But I have shied away from anything more than that.  Until lately.

In 2014 my purchases included a ceramic work of art by Katie Swartz whom I know from art school. (Her new website can be found here)  I fell in love with this sweet Fox Jar in a local show and bought it that evening with the money I had set aside for such a thing.

fox jar 1fox jar 2

I love the animated feel of this fox and the arrows that seem to be helping him to find his way. Currently The Hub and I are using our magical little vessel as a wishing jar for all things house/home related as we contemplate a potential move to a smaller property.  Perhaps Mr. Fox and his arrows will lead the way to the perfect place…..

Also in 2014, I finally took the plunge and acquired an original work of art my dear and long time friend Cindy Matyi.  I am so sad to say that very shortly thereafter, Cindy lost her long-running battle with cancer and passed away, leaving a huge hole in our shared community of art as well as music.

moths 2

The painting I purchased was actually inspired by a moth that was found while Cindy and I were rooming together at music camp one year.  That was one influential moth, as not only was this painting born, but I now have a tattoo of her on my back!  I never knew the story behind this painting, nor the link it had to me and our shared memory of a big, beautiful, woodland moth, until it was the one I chose from those available in my price range.  A huge added gift of purchasing real art from real artists is the story that comes with the work.  I treasure this painting and think of Cindy everyday when I glance its way.

moths 1

And now it is 2015.  I began the year’s savings with a plan.  I decided to acquire a woven work of art from a weaver in England, whose work I found via an online posting by artist Rima Staines, who lives in the same neck of the woods.  And so, I struck up an online friendship with Eloise at These Isles whose lovely online presence and pictures spoke to my wild heart.

woven 1

Eloise weaves with only the finest materials and as a lover of all-things-fiber myself, I could appreciate much of the delicious descriptions of her woven wares.  While I enjoy knitting and crocheting, weaving is a magic I have never tried and so I marvel at the beautiful patterning that happens out of nothing but string.  These woves, evoke the very landscape in which they are created, and yet they seem to transcend them as well.  While in Taos this past January on residency, I attended some tribal dances at the Taos Pueblo.  Everyone wore differing blankets and shawls and wraps, no one quite like another.  I knew that when I was eventually able to get my These Isles shawl, it would fit right in among them next I visited the sacred Pueblo.

With some St. Patrick’s Day gig money set aside, I placed my order and waited patiently while my shawl was created.  There was much back and forth as to what colors I tend to wear and what my personal style might be carved of in the day to day.  I had to think about this a lot actually, as I don’t normally think about things like that.  We finally settled on heathery grays and greens; colors of the land on a misty day – whether in the British Isles, the desert of New Mexico, North Carolina mountains, or the coast of Maine.

woven 3

woven 2

woven 6

Depending upon the quality of the light, the colors of my shawl change.  Like some enchanted garment, it seems to ‘go’ nicely with anything I might put on.  Though it arrived on an unseasonably warm day, that weather has broken and we are graced with coolness again.  I wear it daily.  Thankfully, it’s warm, but not overly so, making it something you will likely see me in a lot during my upcoming travels.  Out of doors, and in….

woven 5

 

Eloise, being a creature after my own heart, is set to begin a mobile life in a house-on-wheels very soon.  She will be taking her loom with her, as well as her lurcher (aka ‘dog’) seeking inspiration for her weaving at every turn I am certain.  Do follow her work and adventures via her facebook page

As for me, I am for the time being, firmly rooted in the fertile soil of this Ohio River Valley.  (at least until I leave for Taos!!) Occasionally I curl up in my beloved shawl and work on my own little bits of fiber art…. most recently this little set of shoes slated to adorn the tiny toes of a baby due this summer somewhere in Wisconsin.

shoes 1

shoes 2

 

Peripatetic Inspirations

 

I am a runner of paths here in our little village.  I enjoy watching local gardens come alive, and to give my body, so intent on holding onto some unknown but anciently ingrained stressor, a good dose of endorphins to loosen things into the now.

On some of these runs, I feel as if I have wings, fairly flying above the pavement.  I receive many visiting artful notions while running and I am grateful for this reliable gateway into magical thinking.

take off

In recent months, I have taken to cataloging some of the visual bits and bobs which come across my path and to share their whimsy via the interwebby places upon my returning home.  I call this collection of images “found asphalt drawings”, as they are simply things on the ground which catch my eye as I motor along.

the wind like a charging ram blows over this lamb of a day

As human beings we are pattern seekers.  The world, with it’s seemingly inherent and overwhelming chaos, requires our brains to make sense of things via patterns.  Through math, art, the sciences, we can begin to see that the world is not so chaotic after all, if we but take the time to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.02.23 AM

 

Being one taken with animal imagery, I find that my eye finds animal medicine most often in these found drawings. Ravens under the moon….

raven under a full moon.

…or in a nest, awaiting the arrival of a meal perhaps.

raven - incoming

It’s not just birds.  Woodland animals follow me along at times as well.  I was particularly smitten by this deer on the edge of things this morning.

woodland deerAnd of course there are always bunnies crossing my path.  asphalt bunnyWhen the snow began to melt this spring, I was shown glimpses of far off landscapes, full of mystery and fog, like little windows into a Brigadoon of sorts.

rainy landscapeI enjoy the many stories given to me in these found drawings and could see an eventual series of paintings being born from them.  But for now, I am just collecting them. Grateful for whimsical comings and goings….milkyway freefall

Hummingbird?

hummingbirdNot sure what to think of this last one, except perhaps that this particular platypus might have a cold and is now in need of a tissue….achoo

Once Upon a Time (tale of a magic wand in the making)

zach's magic wand

It all started with this image from my friend Zach Sawan. (who is really a friend of a friend but we’ve hit it off, what with being fans of paint, magic and maybe a little mayhem and moonlight.)  Young artists like Zach give me great hope for the world to come as I grow older…that there are old (yet young) souls among us who may give their youthful energy to the task at hand of keeping the flame of creativity aglow in this world. You can see a little more of what he’s currently up to here.

He shared the above photograph at his instagram page and I was instantly captivated. He had created A Magic Wand.

“I have to make one of these!!!” I cried.  And of course, Zach replied “It’s so necessary.”

And it IS necessary.  This spring we are grieving the loss of many trees from our green space who have lost their battle with the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.  We now have a new landscape to contend with and I am wandering around attempting to figure it all out….

stump home sidefront tree rightdrive way tree spotfront yard treeA long, long, (LONG) time ago, I began this blog.  Not sure where it would take me.  And it pretty much began with this image:

grandash21

This tree which we so adore, anchoring the back bit of our little slice of the world.  The Grandfather Ash.

Well, sadly, it too has fallen to the combined efforts of age and the emerald ash borer and sometime soon, it will be coming down, in spite of our best efforts to shore it up and keep it going.

grandfather ashWe love this tree and all it has given us.  With a few near misses of HUGE dropped limbs during storms, we have known the end was near for a while now.

But back to the Magic Wand…. I wandered around the yard picking up some sticks here and there which might fit the little brushy end I had laying around awaiting such a task as becoming The Magic Wand….

wand tipAnd I soon made my way around back to where Grandfather Ash still stands.  He had loads of sticks to offer.  Many of them not as brittle as you’d think, being like ‘real wood’, not just crackly old stick which might belong in a campfire.

And I chose one.

magic wand 1magic wand 2I whittled and worked it into place, eventually coming up with my own Magic Wand.  magic wandWe all have tools that help us be who we are really meant to be.  Perhaps a healer has a hand that can sense a fever, or a stethoscope which magnifies the beating of a damaged heart (just another form of worldly magic, I say), or a builder with a sense of angles and slide-ruler style tools to make them all work.  The pastry chef with his or her French rolling pin to make things just so for pie, or the proper chef’s knife to create that which nourishes.  We all have our tools.  For me, the paintbrush is that tool.  And today I outfitted one of my brushes to be a little different than the rest.

It was fun.

Cats and Dogs

lion 2

There are some delightful new additions to the wonderful collection of animals at our local (world-renowned!) Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  Fellow artists Christina and Vanessa and I took a couple of hours yesterday morning to enjoy some sunshine and sketching in the Africa section where there are lion cubs and painted dog pups on view.

It’s fascinating to me how much like my own domesticated cat and dogs these wilder versions are.  We spent much time drawing and observing the lions especially.  There are three adorable lion cubs who were hanging out with mom, ‘Imani’ and dad ‘John’ fairly close to the viewing area.

lion 4

While we drew them, they slept.

lion1

And mama kept her eyes on us.lion 5

lion 3

John did a fair amount of pacing early in our visit, but eventually settled down with his family to enjoy the cool breezes.  He is absolutely beautiful.

John

Just down the lane from the lions are a pack of African Painted Dogs.  They were not quite as regal and subdued as the lions were that morning.  There was much posturing and wrestling amongst the 10 puppies. dogs 2dogs 3

I did not draw these guys as much but just observed their antics.  So very dog like in their behavior; carrying sticks, stealing said sticks, chasing and playing.  So much like my own dogs.  Their markings are lovely – truly ‘painted’ with whippy white tails.  I think we will be back to see more of these creatures as they grow and change.

What have you been sketching lately?