On the move (experiments)

A couple of weeks ago I took a short stop motion animation workshop through my local artist’s collective at the Kennedy Heights Art Center.  The instructor is Kate Ball whose work is interesting and hand crafted and which has just the right amount of surreal creep factor.  I loved it!  We had a ball working as a group and I knew I’d want to go home and try it myself.  Here are the early experimental results……

I have no idea if I will keep working in this medium as the paints are calling.  But I like that this is just another tool in my took kit in the art making realm.  I do enjoy it.  I hope you do too!!

 

For Friendship

best-of-friends

For Friendship

May you be blessed with good friends,

and learn to be a good friend to yourself

Journeying to that place in your soul where

There is love, warmth, and feeling.

May this change you.

May it transfigure what is negative, distant,

Or cold within your heart.

May you be brought into real passion, kindness,

And belonging.

May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them, be there for them

And receive all the challenges, truth and light you need.

May you never be isolated but know the embrace

Of your anam cara.

~John O’Donohue

Last weekend my good friend Tina and I took a rather long road trip north to Vermont to visit another good friend of mine, Kristin, newly moved to Burlington from Portland.  It was indeed a whirlwind weekend, bookended by many, many hours in the car.  All of it flew by in a flash, and yet seemed to go on for ages as well.  That’s the thing about friendship.  It’s a time bending endeavor.

We laughed harder than we had in ages.  We cried at the shared human experience.  We talked of art and politics, motherhood and menopause.  We dreamed artful ideas which seem ever more real when discussed with our anam cara, our soul friends.

It was a blessing to see my old friend in her new neighborhood, which finally seems like a place she and her family can settle for the long term.  It was an equal blessing to have my other old friend along for the drive, which due to our chit-chat and shared reading and pondering and wonderment, seemed not to be a long drive at all.

But the best blessing of all is that these two now know each other truly, having only met in passing before now.  It was like we had all known each other our whole lives.  Which, perhaps, we have.

It’s worth working on friendships, in spite of or perhaps especially when, life gets in the way.

 

7 (and new lessons available!)

“The number 7 is the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital “T”). The 7 doesn’t take anything at face value — it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions.”   ~From ‘numerology.com’ a la google

I’ve spent this morning updating the website a bit with details for next summer’s Taos-based Travel Journaling Workshop. Although I am still tweaking the cost (no huge changes or increases here, just the structure of lodging options), the dates are set.  And I am now accepting registrations for what will be my 7th summer teaching at Mabel’s.  This is incredible!

What started out as an off the cuff notion in a long ago blog post, a mere whisper of my soul’s deepest longing, has become work I engage in all year long.   Two weeks spent in what has become one of my soul’s dearest home-places (Taos, New Mexico) takes all year to prepare for; gathering registrants, marketing, planning travel, etc.  These past 6 years in which the workshop has grown, been shaped, changed and evolved, I have had my head somewhat down in full-speed-ahead mode as each year sped toward summer.  I was so terrified that if I looked up and considered things properly for even a moment, it might all burst and have been a dream-state all along.

sketching-taos-mountain

But next year’s workshop will be my 7th and this feels like terra firma.  While I never approach a trip to Taos Mountain with anything but humility and reverence, and I know nothing lasts forever, I have a sense of calm about things this season as I begin the work for next year.   I am deeply grateful for this change.

While I am not sure exactly why this next year already feels different, I have some ideas.  Much of my work has felt a seismic shift in the last year or so, mostly due to a workshop I took in Maine last September.  It is as if the painter in me broke out into the open and, while not without a little resistance here and there, she has managed to stay in the light and to keep painting.  This painting practice has made me a better teacher, which has given me more confidence, both as painter and as teacher.  A nourishing spiral indeed.

For a number of years, I taught sketch classes here in town and those morphed into what is now the Taos workshop.  Since that time, I have considered, and then ultimately declined a number of opportunities to teach in a classroom setting locally.  I loathe to turn down work, but I have come to find that I am best at teaching in a setting that has something of beauty to behold.  And so, while I have once again this fall, turned down teaching gigs from good people at good places, I have decided not to shut down local teaching completely.  I simply want to do it on my terms.

photo by Tom Spatig of Bat Cave Studios
photo by Tom Spatig of Bat Cave Studios

So, for those of you in the SW Ohio region who have been interested in working with me as a teacher, but have been unable to commit to the Taos workshop, I am offering small group and individual tutoring in basic sketching skills.  I’ll help you put together your supplies and then we can meet at fun, local sketching sites, which vary depending upon weather and what you’d like to learn, and go from there.

tikal-guatemala-sketch

Drawing and basic watercoloring are such a fun way to experience the world and a couple of sessions with me will get you on your way! Email me (abeefrnd@gmail.com) directly for more information on pricing.  I can work with you individually, or perhaps you and a friend or two might like to start your sketching adventure together!

gorge-drawing

I hope to hear from a few of you locals who have been hounding me (in the sweetest way possible!) to offer some instruction options here in town.  These individualized sessions feel like the perfect answer to this call!

Thanks again to all who have been following and supporting this artful journey of mine over the years.  I am truly grateful.

“To romanticize the world is to make us aware of the magic, mystery and wonder of the world; it is to educate the senses to see the ordinary as extra-ordinary, the familiar as strange, the mundane as sacred, and the finite as infinite. ”  ~Novalis

A very splendid day

sunset-and-his-fellows

“We are as gods to beasts of the field. We order their birth and the time of their death. Between times, we have a duty.”    

~Terry Pratchett (via Granny Aching) The Wee, Free Men

Just over a week ago, a dear friend of mine took me on a field trip. Ohio in summer is not a favorite of mine and I was just home from a summer away – to northern climes and northern light and adventures blanketed by northern breezes.  Part of me was not keen on spending a day outside…..

But as luck would have it, we were gifted with a day back here that felt like northern climes and northern breezes; the first breath of early fall, which is always such a treasure in southern Ohio. With that, it already felt like a day touched with a special form of magic.

And so,  Penny and I headed east out of town, to Grassroots Farm, which, from where we normally stand, felt a bit like the edge of nowhere.

ohio-arrival

We were visiting old friends of hers (now new friends of mine!) on their land of farmish dreaming.  We were treated to a welcome I have seldom experienced and that which I am still processing (and making art!)

Upon arrival, we were greeted at first by the front guard of working dogs who were greatly excited to see us, but who also know their manners.

musketeers-welcoming

nick

Soon we hopped into a four-wheeler adventure to tour some of the farm property and to get a sense of what Grassroots Farm philosophy is all about.

a-passion-for-the-land

My first impression of both Susan and Drausin, the husband and wife team who are Grassroots Farm, is that of a tremendous passion for the work they do.  Work with the land itself, with the animals, and with the food those animals and gardens become.  There is a sense upon arrival at Grassroots Farm of a strong sense of ‘Place’, something I feel is often lacking in Ohio, generally speaking.  I was reminded of the relationship my friends out in Taos on the Pueblo have with their animals, which is beautiful and not found in most places.

Drausin is mostly the farmer, and Susan, mostly the cook.  But it is clear that it’s a team effort.  I rode along and soaked in the imagery with my eyes and with my camera.  Imagery which would become sketches…..

cow-sketch-3 cow-sketch-2 cow-sketch-1

…and then eventually some ‘Art’ once back home with proper paints.

bogard-cows-1

I, like many folk I know, have a difficult relationship with meat as a food source.  But over the years, I have come to know the sources of meat which make me comfortable to be the omnivore my body feels meant to be.  I want to know where my food comes from.  Not just meat, but vegetables as well.  It’s become more and more important to me to develop a relationship with my grocer, my butcher, my farmer.  This may seem like a first world luxury.  Well, you know what?  It is.  And it’s a worthwhile place to put our first world resources.  Business follows where the money goes, and if this style of farming is where the money goes, ideally, this is the direction the farming will go.  This feels like a good direction.

The animals at Grassroots Farm are raised in traditional manners much  more sustainable than most of today’s more popular ways of raising meat.  Or even vegetables for that matter.  I was fascinated to hear the complex relationship the folks at Grassroots Farm have with their animals.

grassroots-cows

I was introduced to many cows, some dairy and others meat cows, but all cared for with diligence.  There are dozens of varieties of grasses grown at Grassroots upon which the cows feed.  How many people do you know with digestive issues, food allergies, immuno-disorders related to food?  So much of these issues stem to the very food our meat is given.  Modern industry lacks the quality of feed, the time taken, to raise animals properly for processing.  I worry sometimes that in modernity, we are losing our ability to make food for ourselves in the future.  In this visit to Grassroots farm, I was, for once, hopeful for a sustainable future in food production.

cows

It’s not all beef and dairy at Grassroots, there were also sheep and pigs to visit.  All farmed with the same impeccable attention to detail as the cows.

14192702_10210293605798812_5216759661344746515_n

Drausin and Susan have committed a part of their land to being permitted to drift back into natural wetlands which is so good for everyone.  These bits of the property especially felt enriched with an otherworldly magic.

reclaimed-wetlands

While farming occupies the day to day for this couple, meanwhile, preparations are in full swing for a private family wedding for which Drausin has created an altar of stone.  During our farm tour, some tweaks were made on the stone work, displaying the attention to detail this family is made of.

altar-tweaking

I’m certain those involved in the upcoming nuptials will be pleased.  It’s a fairytale setting indeed!

The wedding altar was not the only stone work to be found….

modern-stonehenge

Drausin builds beautiful tributes to his  family throughout the property,  as well as places to enjoy time together.  I was honored to visit a few of them.

One of these especially magic places has a fire pit and some seats around for enjoying after dinner time and sunsets.   I did a small painting of this space which has an old well-stone set in place.  The stories that stone might tell…..

portal-wellstone

Soon the farm part of our adventure was over, but the fun was just beginning….

a-splendid-table

We were to be treated to some of what the farm had to offer, through the culinary brilliance of Susan…

dinner-divinity

Everything about this table spoke of love for this food and an artful sense of presentation.

deliciousness

Most of the food was quite simple, actually.  But complexity was to be found in Susan’s mixes of herbs and other subtle flavorings.

moroccon-lamb-stew-to-die-for

Her mussuka stew of zucchini and ground lamb was as divine a dish as I have had in recent years, topped off with a fresh yogurt concoction.

I am excited to visit Grassroots Farm’s farm stands in the coming weeks now that life is settling down, as Susan’s recipes are available for purchase.  To add a bit of her culinary magic to your day to day table would be a gift to yourself ( and the world at large I think! )

But alas, as all good things must end, our day was beginning to golden into evening…..

front-porch-view

We could smell September on the breezes at last.  And see it in the light of things…

golden-light-golden-meal golden-geranium-light

Old Nick, now retired, laid and listened to us chit-chat as the sun sank.

ol-nick-retired

We talked of food and land, and family and friendship.  Drausin left us to finish his farming for the day.  Penny and I did dishes and sang Susan’s praises for the dinner she had prepared and shared with us.

It all felt a little old fashioned.  A little timeless.  A lot beautiful.  Beauty-filled.

gloaming

As we pulled away from this magic place against the gloaming of the evening, we knew we had shared the gift of a magical day.  I knew I’d run home to make some paintings.  As that is what I do.  And I knew that Susan and Drausin would prepare for their oncoming farm tour (which was this past weekend – do sign up for next year!!) and their daughter’s wedding soon to come, and the general day to day that is, Working on a Farm.  I marvel at the work they do and appreciate that it is so close to home here.  If you are local to me in the Cincinnati region, Grassroots sells their meats as well as Susan’s frozen prepared foods at Hyde Park Farmer’s Market and Milford Farmer’s Market.   And be sure and stop over at their beautiful blog to see what they are up to between market days.