Category Archives: illustration

On tea and frustrations

It has been one of those weeks for John Joe Badger and company.  Sometimes that’s just the way it is.  Life intervenes with unexpected catastrophes, things are dropped and perhaps broken, loved ones fall ill and must be attended to.  We are all in this together.

When things are a bit shattered and scattered, and we have taken stock of damages, the next thing to do is to put the kettle on.  A good strong cup of tea is called for.

I suppose all this Irish music and trips to the emerald isle have given me a keen taste for a strong cuppa over the years.
New flying feck buttons, key chains and magnets. Limited supply just now, but I am having fun with them!

After a few flying fecks have shot through the air, we always come back around to the tunes – once the dust has settled, and the tea has warmed and soothed our frazzled nerves.

 

Iris solemnly swears she will never eat bad deer poo again, ever.

Hopefully John Joe will have a more musical post for you all next week.  He’s been fiddling with the reed in his pipes and is beginning to “get his crow back”.  Stay tuned!!

 

 

 

ALCHEMY ~ Twist of Hemp, week 10

Piping is tricky.  Most days it seems like an impossible task.  We hear the playing of one of the greats, and we think, “there is absolutely no way I’ll ever even get one note which has the magic of that…..” but we honk away and carry on anyway, the attempt at puzzling it all out being one of the reasons for it all.

Like so many things in this strange life, the beauty of playing any musical instrument is in the process of capturing the seemingly incapturable, and of occasionally being granted a glimpse of it.  Much of the time, it is like turning lead to gold.  Impossible.  But we keep trying.

 

Cran Central Station – Twist of Hemp week 9

The pipers are learning a new march this quarter, their fingers attempt the gymnastics of a classic pipers move, The Cran.  They bubble and dwiddle, sparkle and dribble, deedle and didle and work their way toward the classic cran and that “stuttering warble.”

Carry on pipers!!  Carry on John Joe!  The world needs your music.

 

 

 

Dawn of a new year ~twisted hemp week 8

It is the dawning of a new year, nay – a NEW DECADE!!!!!  With this comes the courage to try new things, to meet new friends and learn to trust more in the old friends we have.

John Joe Badger is keen as ever, and maybe more so, to continue his journey into this new and exciting chapter of his playing.  What will you do this next, new year to challenge yourself?  With whom shall you share these times?

Old friends or familiar, known tunes or new, let this next year and new decade be one of brave new adventures into the challenging and unknown of what you love most.

Bliain nua shona duit, mo chairde.  We will see you in 2020.

Floating on Air(s) ~twisted hemp, week 7

It is the eve of Christmas.  There are parties to attend with fellow creatures, many feasts to enjoy, gifts and food to share.  John Joe is careful to capture solitude amidst this holiday chaos.

Along the way, while practice may fall wayward, John Joe Badger takes some time to listen. Playing is important, yes, but the real trick to learning is the listening.  So between parties and other such social mayhem, put on a favorite record of your favorite player, playing your favorite tunes.  It is yet another way of learning.

Merry Christmas season to all.  May you find light returning to you in whatever form it takes.

Joy of a Simple Tune

~Twist of Hemp~ Week 5

John Joe Badger has worked and worked for weeks on his own, amidst countless cups of tea, and twigs on the fire in the woodstove.  This week, in spite of his misgivings, he accepts the invitation of friends to share a few tunes.  Perhaps he will try to play the one simple tune he’s (mostly) learned for them on his pipes.  Or, more likely, he will play his flute or penny whistle.

But tunes are made to be shared.  And for this John Joe is grateful.

*PHLOOFF*

~A TWIST OF HEMP – Embarrassing Blowouts~

……With much practicing, John Joe Badger has learnt most of a simple jig.  He has invited a couple of his closest friends and confidants over for a cup of tea to share it with them.  But lo!  Just when John Joe reaches the B part, *phlooofff!!*….. An embarrassing blowout!  His friends do their utmost not to laugh, as these things do happen.  Especially in the beginning. 

The fecks continue to fly, of course, yet John Joe carries on.  His friends are delighted at his progress, in spite of the leaks, the blowouts and the goose-like cacophony of his playing.  Keep practicing John Joe!  Oh, and maybe a little twist of waxed hemp to shore up that connection between your bellows and your bag, yes?  Yes. 

Flying Fecks

~A TWIST OF HEMP~ week 3 of John Joe Badger’s journey into Uillean Piping……

John Joe is diligent in his efforts on wrestling the octopus-like instrument we call the Uillean Pipes.  Gallant even!  But there are times during this journey when one might hear some rather colorful phrases coming out of the woodshed, or round the kitchen door.   John Joe realizes he has taken on a beastly task here, and that this will not be easy.

With every mistake, out of tune squawk, honk, or (occasionally, miraculously) note, John Joe looks up, takes another deep breath and tries again.  Letting the flying curses fall where they may….

The Dryness of Winter – A Twist of Hemp

~A TWIST OF HEMP – humidity~

….. in which we deal with dryness.  It is far too cold in the woodshed for John Joe Badger to practice his pipes.  He must bring the noise making inside where it is warm and dry.  Dry, yes.  Winter is dry.  And the pipes find themselves leaking air in all directions.  What is John Joe to do???  Well, he shores up leaky connections on his borrowed practice set with a twist of hemp thread, made sticky with a bit of beeswax.  He puts a full kettle on the stove top to boil.  These two things may help get John Joe through these trying, leaky, dry times.  For today at least……

John Joe’s struggles are my own.  I practice the pipes as much as I can, when I can find time alone in the house.  They are loud!  And not yet pleasant.  (For others at least.) The dryness that comes with a “forced air” heating arrangement is mitigated a bit with cool mist humidification and of course, putting the kettle on as much as possible.  It does help.  And so does the bit of hemp and beeswax.  It all feels very old fashioned.  It’s testing parts of my brain and motor memory which need the exercise!  I may never get to the point of playing this contraption out in the world.  But who knows?  I will say that I already have next week’s John Joe drawing idea in mind.  And it involves flying curses.  Til tuesday…..

Keep on playing!

 

Let us keep courage

Fine Folk grace the pages of my sketchbook, along with wise words from the wisdom keepers I trust.  I look to these wisdom keepers as beacons, following their light,  as will-o-the-wisp….. into the darkness.

One such beacon, writer Robert Macfarlane, was featured in an interview with Krista Tippett of the program On Being.  They discuss a recent book of his called Underland which is a gorgeous, lengthy tome; an exploration of the world beneath our feet as seen and sensed from a variety of angles.  It’s the kind of book that deserves to be by one’s bedside to fill the mind with juicy and delicious language as a doorway into dreaming.  This book apparently took Macfarlane 6 years to complete.  He dipped into other projects along the way of course, but this one crept along, under everything else it would seem.  It was worth the wait.

Underland explores a concept of Deep Time, one that is beyond human, but which can be tapped into by those of us with the proper notions to do so.  If you have been reading my ideas here over the years, you know this is something I hold dear, this time-bending.  I believe it is at the heart of the things we treasure as human beings.  Good art, rich poetry, the ability to go beyond the day to day.  To send our cultural tap roots down into the flow of All Things and perhaps channel something up.  All of this of course takes time and practice.  And there are no guarantees.

“CAESURA”

‘In verse, a pause in the rhythm of a line after a phrase; in choral work, a moment where singers might catch their breath.’

via Robert Macfarlane on twitter

I really admire the depth of the work of writers such as Macfarlane, and I look to them for clues as to how to dig deeper into my own work.  Art as well as writing.  Even on social media channels, he and others like him make places like twitter and instagram into arenas of culture and idea-weaving.  I aim to do the same, having curbed my own use of such channels into avenues of art and music.  It’s a tricky balance in a world filled with instant sound-bytes and the next great and funny thing.  Last week Macfarlane announced he will be off of twitter for a while with the word caesura and its definition.

I thought to myself, ‘I’d like to do that.’

The idea of taking a break from social media is by no means a new one, by myself or anyone else for that matter.  There are books on digital detoxing which I have looked to when desperate for a break from it all.  Lately, thankfully, I have not felt desperate to leave the online arenas of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  I have them fairly well and carefully “curated” in order to see things which inspire me.  New books to read, artists to research and learn something from, science to pique my curiosity and better my stewardship of my little part of the world.   I choose when and how to get my “news” as that can be fraught with peril in this day and age.  We must be careful what we feed ourselves, body and mind.

And yet, although not desperate to leave per se, I could use a break.  What keeps me tethered to the usual channels is the business end of things.  Usually, I am in marketing mode this time of year.  Selling my classes to Taos and Guatemala.  Hustling to show the world that yes, we go to beautiful places, have an amazing time together and make a bunch of gorgeous work.  (WE DO!!!!! )  And this is all part of my job.  But this year, I have been given a great gift…..  My classes for 2020 are mostly sold out (there are two slots left in the second week of the Antigua offering. That’s it!)  For once, I can relax a little bit.  And so I am considering a break over the holidays.

If this idea comes to fruition, I’ll be off of twitter, facebook and instagram from Nov 29 – Jan 1.

I wonder sometimes, if I make something, or write something, but I don’t shout it into the void of the social media platforms, have I really created anything?  This is the culture we are sold in this modern age.  I would like to confront this culture, especially in my own mind.  I’d like to follow some breadcrumbs of my own making just to see where they may lead.  Without the pressure to report.

This will be an interesting experiment.  I just began a weekly story idea which will continue to grow here, but folks will have to come find it, or wait until the New Year when I get back into the swing of things of sharing.  Soon, I’ll be packing for Guatemala and sharing via instagram sun-kissed, color-washed images of our time in Antigua.  It is in this way I beckon to future students to step into the sunshine with me and come on along!!  But with the classes filled to brimming, and a lovely waitlist padded out for Taos, I feel I can take the social media break I’ve been craving for years, without having to crash and burn mentally to get it.  It’s a good place to find myself.

So we shall see.  It is always a balance.  I may yet shift this plan into something less stringent.  But I am always leaning toward trying a new tactic with regard to my presence in the online world.  And for once I have the space to do so.

In other news…….

With Riley School out for break,  I am back to sketching along with my mates in the Cincinnati Urban Sketchers.  Last week we had a “boUrban sketchers” outing where we tasted bourbon at New Riff distillery.  It was great fun!!  Come along with us sometime!

I have a few paintings up at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s winter Collective show, EMERGE.  This one below was the belle of the ball.  I received many complements and offers to buy it.  But alas, it was snatched up by a private collector just days before the show.  I think the theme is one I’d like to explore further.  The quietude of this piece seemed to speak to a number of people.

The other work on which I received a good bit of feedback is this little lovely, Bonny Hills,  whose skies are filled with subtle color.  This is a second theme I hope to explore further in more paintings in the new year.  This one has not yet sold….  One of my fellow collective members said to me, I get the sense you were meant to be in Ireland.  How right she is.

In the music arena, the Riley School of Irish music will present its annual holiday program Peace and Merriment,  at 2 pm December 14.  Our address is 2221 Slane Avenue in Cincinnati.  Hope to see you there!  We also play a weekly session out in town: 1st and 3rd Wednesdays we can be found at Ludlow Garage in Clifton, 2nd and 4th Tuesdays , Streetside Brewery on Eastern Avenue.  Stop in and say hi!