Category Archives: picture books

Hamstertown Ball

“You can think and you can fight, but the world’s always movin’, and if you wanna stay ahead you gotta dance.”
— Terry Pratchett

riley-school-turns-20Yesterday a number of us gathered at the local Irish Heritage Center to celebrate a very special birthday.  Our beloved Riley School of Irish Music turns 20 this year and to mark the occasion, we put on a ceili, which could be described as like a wedding, only without the happy couple.  There was music from our ceili band, much dancing, called and instructed by the one and only Éamonn  de Cógáin, lots of food and drink to be had, and all in all was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.
It is difficult to describe the place the Riley School has held in my life personally, and in the collective life of our family.  The music my kids (one more than the other) and I have learned and played over the years has changed us all for the better.  We have life long friendships now which we’d have never found without this school.  I began at the school as a mere parent accompanying my child to fiddle lessons – and I found my tunes and my tribe.  This music has taught me many things which apply to a life well lived and art well made.  I’ve learned to be less shy, to laugh more, to make mistakes and keep on playing.  My son has gone on to pursue music as a profession and my daughter can still pluck out a few tunes on the banjo.  (Party tricks do come in handy and one must always be ready to surprise people.)  We are better because of this little school which teaches what some might call a simple folk music.  Which I suppose it is.  But it’s complexity is to measured by the effect it has on the lives it touches.  dancers-learn-their-3s-and-7sMusicians play so that dancers might dance, at least in the Irish tradition.  It was lovely to have such intrepid souls out to dance this day, many mere beginners.

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But soon our caller Éamonn had everyone laughing and trying steps and smiling and dancing.

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With all of the malcontent the recent political happenings has dredged up, I have been thinking a lot about the place of music and artfull-ness, and dancing and laughing in the face of all of it.  I imagine that those who played Irish music over in Ireland during the troubles certainly must have played in spite of, or perhaps because of, difficult times.  And we do too, now, in these difficult times. To be fair, I suppose many voters do not think we are in difficult times with our new leadership choice.  Though I certainly do.

And so, it is more important than ever to dance.  To play our favorite tunes with vim and vigor.  To paint the brightest of pictures.  After all, we are all running along on the hamster-wheel of life.

I hear told that there was a similar dance, also with a band, in the town square of HamsterTown.  One wonders what tunes they danced to that day, and whether their caller could even hold a candle to our Éamonn.  I imagine, he’d have given him a run for his money…

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Under Pressure.

I am just returned from an intensely inspiring conference at the Mazza Museum, an oasis of beauty and innocence in northwestern Ohio of all places.  If you are anywhere near Findlay, Ohio and have an interest in or love of children’s picture books, I highly recommend a visit.   The weekend conference seemed to be geared toward teachers and librarians, the very folks who use and champion the work of people who make illustrated books for kids (in whose ranks I will be one day!!)  There were also a couple of us art folks lurking in the audience as well of course but it was really wonderful to meet such lovely educators and book enthusiasts.

The panel of authors and artists was top notch.  top-notch-panel

We heard from David Wiesner who spoke eloquently about “worlds within worlds within worlds”.  He signed not only the book I picked up for my nephew, but also my sketch book.  I consider this inspiring glitter to have been bestowed upon my lowly book.

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Next day we heard about “sharing the truth of the world”, “clinging to a raft in a sea of doubt”, and how publishing a book is like an electrical impulse going pole to pole to pole from author Tony Abbot.  He also discussed the tremendous responsibility behind the notion of telling a good story, whether through words, pictures, or both.

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“Children are a much more important audience than adults.” ~Laurie Halse Anderson

Sergio Ruzzier talked of his love of picture books as a child when the ones with too many words proved overwhelming.  I am anxious to try out pen and ink in a new way after his demonstration and talk.  His books are beautiful, and his lecture was really entertaining.

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Brian Biggs’ series Tinytown books (among stacks of many he’s made) are all about “creating a world I want to live in.”  Amen.

Nikki McClure had me in tears during her speech, as I have been on the verge of tears ever since the election and all that has gone with it.  She was honest and vulnerable in her talk as she too spoke of deep grief over the meaning of recent events.  They are not trivial and are not politics as usual.  She spoke straight to my heart.

“Make.  Learn.  Speak.”

“Books are a place of calm and centering.”

“Trust the child.”

“Draw. Draw. Draw.  Thinking comes later.”

“Books should have food in them.”

“Use color to tell the story.”

“All you need is a pencil.  All you need is a dream.”  (in which I am, once again, weeping.)

Dan Santat finished off the conference, exhausted from what seems like a grueling touring schedule, with an inspiring talk about his own work and the trajectory it’s taken.  He talked of embracing boredom, and being comfortable in your own skin as an artist.  That is where one can find one’s individual style.  I shared with him this sweet image of my good friend Alice who is a huge fan of Beekle.

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All in all, it was just what my gentle heart needed after this past week.  I had to drive through the heart of Trump-ville to get there but it was worth it.  And I cried some more on the way home, allowing my grief to flow, although I know the conservatives who voted for our new President-Elect just don’t understand this depth of sadness and are asking us to get over it and stop being such crybabies.

Well here’s the thing.  Perhaps it’s this election and all of the vitriol involved.  Perhaps it’s the essence of middle age.  But I am done being told, in ways subtle as well as straight up obvious, how to feel.  About anything.  To be an artist, in my truly humble opinion, is to have an open heart.  To feel deeply whatever it is I am feeling.  There is really no other way to our best work.  And so I weep.

The Mazza conference was just the shot in the arm I needed just now.  I feel recommitted to getting my stories and pictures out to publishers and eventually into the hands of teachers and librarians and children themselves.  I had spent the days before this conference wondering how to move forward from here in a country so hell bent on moving backward in time.  We had come so far and yet now, we tilt back into a time of rekindled hatred and distrust.  It is heartbreaking.

So the pressure is on now, to give love a chance.   I leave you here with some Bowie and Queen.  In hope.  Under Pressure.

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance
Why can’t we give love that one more chance
Why can’t we give love give love give love give love
Give love give love give love give love give love
Because love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the (People on streets) edge of the night
And loves (People on streets) dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

Hireath

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‘Hiraeth’ – (Welsh)

Connotes a yearning for place that is lost or may not exist, a feeling of longing to be ‘at home’ in the sense of achieving a sense of belonging, of finding your paradise.

~from Rising Ground, A Search For The Spirit of Place by Philip Marsden

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It is summer and we are firmly ensconced in our paradise. Early last week we drove and drove and drove,  many hundreds of miles, to escape the city where we live and work.  To escape the stifling heat and humidity that quantifies summer in southwestern Ohio.  This is vacation time in Vacationland for our family. A yearly trek to this place we once called home and to reconnect with friends we consider family.

As our friend Tom over at Bat Cave Studios so aptly put it, every visit back to this place makes it that much harder to leave it again.

I’ll share just a few of the adventures of the trip thus far, in between which we have enjoyed much visiting and laughing, cooking, eating and drinking with great joy, game playing and swimming, hiking and paddling. We are thoroughly enjoying the company of our loved ones here. But beyond that, there is the sheer lure of this place so far from home and yet so much like home.

I for one spend a great deal of time pondering the deep sense of place I feel here.

Boathouse ponderings
Boathouse ponderings (thanks to my hub, Tony for this one.)

Having lived and worked here so very long ago, we know life isn’t perfect in Maine, or anywhere for that matter. But we love this place and are deeply grateful for what time we do get to spend here.

There are the great gifts of the sea to be had of course and our time in Maine began with these.

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Oysters!! From just up the road in Damariscotta, Maine

“I love oysters. Its like kissing the sea on the lips.” ~Leon-Paul Fargue

“It was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”  ~Jonathan Swift

Not only do we love a quiet lobster dinner on the back deck at our home away from home, but we also like to get out into town sometimes, at least when ‘town’ is by the sea. This year we sampled the beautiful food and drink at Eventide restaurant in Portland. It was divine!

But of course dinner in town is not why we came to Maine.   This year we were fortunate to score some tickets to a special farm-to-table dinner event out on an island…..

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We headed toward a distant bank of fog.
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Thicker and thicker the fog grew.
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There were ghost ships on the horizon.

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Eventually we made it through the mists into another world where all was clear and bright.
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And we were taken up the road to beautiful Turner Farm.
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All of our food this evening was to come from this special place …
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The cheeses were spectacular!!! Thank you girls!

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The stunning table was set with mismatched dishes and linens. Perfect for a barn supper
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We wandered and wondered at how amazing it all was
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Eventually the farm manager and chef gave us the low down on the meal
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Many cheerful and hard-working islanders made it all possible.
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We were happy and well fed. Nourished by amazing food and fascinating company.

The food at this dinner was beyond spectacular. Every course made with the complexity of island simplicity if that makes any sense. I am no foodie so I will leave that to another blogger, but I do know that these culinary gifts shared with great love and intention were well received and we couldn’t have had a lovelier time.

We were ferried home on the good ship Equinox amidst a breathtaking sunset and cleansing ocean air.

But all has not been food and drink and more of  same however. Our timing for this year’s visit afforded us the opportunity to see in person some original artwork by one of my all time favorite illustrators, Barbara Cooney.  The show was at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and featured works for three of Cooney’s most prized books.

Miss Rumphius, one of the first books to call to me as an artist and say "perhaps you might like to make a book of your own one day...."
Miss Rumphius, one of the first books to call to me as an artist and say “perhaps you might like to make a book of your own one day….”
To see some of Cooney's original sketches make her books seem more real to me
To see some of Cooney’s original sketches make her books seem more real to me
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Sketches for Eleanor

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"You will make beautiful, beautiful pictures, said the wild waves." ~ from Hattie and The Wild Waves
“You will make beautiful, beautiful pictures, said the wild waves.” ~ from Hattie and The Wild Waves

“When I grow up,”I tell her, “I too will go to faraway places and come
home to live by the sea.”
“That is all very well, little Alice,” says my aunt, “but there is a third thing
you must do.”
“What is that?” I ask.
“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”
“All right, ” I say.  ~Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius

And now we find ourselves lake side. In recent days we’ve  had visitors from home and from our life back in our Maine time and from since then as well. It’s been a lovely mix and match of loved ones from near and far.   But for today it is just the few of us. The loons are calling and the boats buzz past on occasion.  I’m able to catch up here and perhaps a bit in my sketchbook as well. Up to now it’s really only been color studies.

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Photo by Tom Spatig
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Photo by Tom Spatig

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We swim these waters and treasure the sunsets.

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We walk the paths and explore the vistas.

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Meeting new friends along the way…

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All of this experience deepening the sense of place we have here in our treasured summer oasis.

Who knows where the future will take us. But regardless of the path ahead, a good chunk of my soul resides here in this beautiful place called Maine.

The Green Light

Ever wondered where intrepid hamsters head off to when they escape?  I think I may know….  Ginger Small seems to be in the mood to head to New Mexico again for some tea and piñon in the high mountain desert, and perhaps a little mystery as well….  I shall be joining her to teach my Illuminated Sketchbook workshop of course.  But I hope to follow Ginger’s desert adventures here and there as well, if she permits it.  I’ve heard there has been a lot of rain there this season, and things are exceptionally green, for the desert.

The partial story below was recently discovered and I hope to uncover more of it very soon. It’s rough writing… think of it more as a sketch….

Dear Readers,

A while ago, years perhaps, (or was it just last week?) I was curled up under some fresh shavings, about to enjoy a long awaited and delicately saved blueberry yoghurt treat when suddenly, a soft glow began to emanate from somewhere not too very far outside of my habitat.  This was no normal glow.  It was neither warm, nor cool.  It was just…  green.  In the way newly grown ferns are in the springtime, just prior to unfurling.  This green spoke of freshness and strangeness.  I had a sense this light was for me.  I do not know how I knew this.  Somethings, I guess we just know.  And so I quietly shuffled out from under the shavings to take a peek.

Ginger's mysterious green light

One might wonder why I did not stay hidden beneath my shavings.  I was, after all, quite sleepy, and I was so looking forward to my yoghurt treat.  It may have been simpler to remain hidden.  But I have found that often, the best adventures come on the heels of the moment we trust the small intuitive voice which tells us, though this may be a strange green light, it seems friendly enough.  

And besides, I smelled tea.  And desert sage.  And, could it be?…. a hint of burning piñon? !  

I decided to undertake dire action, and climbed out of my habitat to greet whatever – whomever – might be shining this light in my direction.

Sometimes we must investigate

 The instant I made this decision, to shed the boundaries of my normal habitat, things got very interesting.

Ginger heads up to meet the green light

I was suddenly surrounded by colors I’d never encountered and vistas which made my heart sing.  I was not sure where I was heading, but I had a feeling, it was going to be a wild ride….

Til next time,

G.

In which Ginger Small cavorts with the other-worldly 4x6

…And that was about all I could find of this particular adventure, though Ginger has hinted there is more to the story.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

 

One week down

10923582_10155022976295048_734283691227867210_nA week ago today I arrived in Taos here to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House to begin my long awaited residency.  It has, thus far, been a magical time filled with wonderful opportunities for inspiration around every bend.  I have had a chance to catch up with my Taos based community of friends over tea and the odd burger and beer.  I have had hours to walk and admire the natural beauty, even on the meltiest, most muddy of tracks.  I’ve been able to set up a bit of a routine which looks a bit like ‘up, write, coffee, check emails etc, write or draw some more, take a walk, have some lunch or a visit with a friend, walk some more, work some more, have some dinner, and then paint.’

I am so thrilled to have so much time and energy to myself.  While time is certainly passing as it is wont to do, each day feels nearly endless.

treesI love the idea of having enough energy at the end of the day to get a second wind and play with my oil paints. Here in Taos, where so much seems possible, I have been able to paint a bit in the evenings.  And to think I considered not packing my oil paints…..

cactiIt’s been an interesting transition into full time creative work on a daily basis.  When at home I am used to dividing my time between day job work, animal/household daily chores, cooking etc.  Just dealing with the day to day life of things which are part of my very rich and gratifying life.  I fit the art and writing in where I can.  gorge

However, here in New Mexico, everyday I stand at the edge of a great chasm of time and space which, I will admit, had me a little rattled upon arriving.  While I managed to step up to the drawing board and writing notebook a great deal each day to go about making the necessary work at hand, I spent my first few working days under the great weight of a sense of generalized anxiety, the likes of which I had not experienced in ages.  Not just nerves but the Utter Sense of Crushing Doom for which I am, sadly, somewhat hard wired.  The familiar elephant on my chest just wouldn’t let up.

So I walked, I wrote, I practiced my flute, I painted and drew picture postcards to place myself into the heart and mind of Ginger.  I just kept moving.  There is a lot of current writing and talking about creative work and how it can tend to go hand in hand with anxiety, what with all of the unknowns faced by those of us giving birth to new things and the vulnerability inherent to this work.  At least I’m in good company.

After some well timed conversations with friends who get this side of me, I began to visualize the elephant on my chest and decided to ask her why she might have taken up residence on my heart, disallowing this work I truly love so much.  And a word came to mind.  Play.  And then another. Relax.  So I opted to take an afternoon off of drawing and writing and took myself and my elephant for a hike.  Not just a walk for exercise, but a real hike a little out of town to a little bench I had heard might be waiting at the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge.

Elephant and I had a little chat.  I told her that while I can work when she’s snuggled so weighty upon me, it’s actually much easier to let ideas flow when I am not in a state of overwhelming anxiety.  She looked over at the gorge and asked me if she might ever be able to ride the wind in the way of the Eagle.  I told her anything is possible.

elephant

 

And so, on the little bench at the edge of the Gorge, I helped elephant strap on a little harness which is linked to a very capable parachute, enabling her to safely ride the thermals.  To my knowledge, she is still out there.  But I’ve made her a little bed in the corner by the fire to lie in and have promised her a lollipop if she keeps to herself while I work once she decides to come back.

Adjusting to life in Taos is exhilarating and challenging and different every time I visit, so those first few days feeling so weighty is no huge surprise.  Therefore, it is also no surprise that now the elephant has stepped away for the time being, I am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin again.  I am relaxing and playing and getting even more work done.  (Funny how that works, isn’t it?)

I’m taking my daily adventures and figuring out what Ginger Small has to think about it all.  She’s having a ball.  She has skied with her friends (utilizing the handy Raven Ski Lift Company who are ever so trustworthy as one cannot be too careful in the mountains when one is a mere Small Creature)photo

 

 

And Ginger managed to make friends with a field mouse on the Pueblo who taught her how to walk quietly among the buffalo and to gather the purple cacti that small creatures find so medicinal.  This adventure was exceptionally powerful.

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The Wonderings and Wanderings of a Small Creature in a Big World is coming together – bit by juicy little bit.   I am enjoying the work and am so grateful to have the opportunity to be here. You all continue to remind me how loved and supported I am while out here…

mailMail is a thrilling thing.  I’m excited to head into week 2 of conjuring the Adventuresome Correspondences of one Ginger Small.  

p.s. There’s been a fair amount of counting in a long lost language of rhyme in the Rabbits Who Herd Sheep department as well.

Do stop in over on facebook, instagram, twitter etc to keep up with our adventures.  And thank you, again, from the bottom of my thankfully lightened heart.

Readying a Retreat (and other exciting news)

In just over a month’s time, I have raised over 65% of my goal of $2500 which will offset costs for my upcoming writing/working retreat in New Mexico.  It’s been amazing to get checks in the mail and see paypal bits pop up in messages on the computer.  Thank you SO very much!!

Steampunk Thanks update

 

There are still two weeks left to contribute to my residency fund and every teensy bit helps.  I am busily preparing the cards and other rewards available for contributors as thank you gifts.  It’s wonderful to see Ginger’s adventures in print on cards and it feels like a sneak peak into what she will look like in book form, which of course has been a long time dream of mine…..

card stash

I am humbled by all the support and praise of this little character I spend so much time with.  A dear and far-flung friend of mine said this about our Ginger…

“I love that she’s so fearless! Sailing, traveling, etc. I admire that. I think it strikes a chord with people.”

And it’s true.  She IS fearless.  Or at least, like most of us, she pretends to be.  And that affords her opportunities in the world she might never have dreamed possible!  There is much about Ginger’s story I do not yet know, and that the point of this residency in Taos.  To suss that story out.  There is a wonderful scene in the movie Miss Potter where Beatrix Potter is presenting a new painting to her publisher, friend and future fiancee, Norman Warne, about a rabbit’s Christmas party.  She says about the story of this legendary party…

“Now I know such a legend exists, because I made it up….  I know on this night, that they will eat and talk and laugh and dance, and roast apples on the fire, but I’m not certain how the party ends, because I haven’t made that part up yet.”

And that’s exactly how I feel about Ginger’s story.  There are things I know.  She is adventuresome and a bit of a fashionista, in spite of her shyness.  She loves to meet other animals who are equal parts like her and unlike her, and she loves to send postcards….

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postcard woddland

The postcard angle is where Ginger got her true start and it continues to be a huge theme in her story.  Since I too love anything to do with hand-crafted correspondence, it is no surprise that I have been following the work of the Letter Writer’s Alliance for a number of years now.  With their tag line reading:

it’s no wonder I love the work they do, gifts they share and postal related products and activities they post!  You see that stamp on the post card above featuring the cardinal? That stamp is an example of what the LWA calls “fauxstage”.  Not true postage contributing to the delivery costs of the card, but rather a stamp-like image that adds to the postal allure of the card.  I adore letters and postcards that come with extra cool stamps, don’t you??  Well, it occurred to me that with Ginger’s love of all things postal, a wee partnership with the LWA might be in order.  So I contacted them to see if I might put together a Ginger themed stamp design of my own to offer as a free download on their site.  It would prove to be a fun exercise for me, and would be a gift to offer to others who adore sending well adorned envelopes and postcards through the mail.

ginger stamp for blog

And so, here is the result of our partnership!!!  I took a winter/Solstice-time themed image I created last year in this post, and added some stamp-like things to spruce up its postability and to make it look official, and voila!! You can download this page at their website now, in a printable file version.  I think it turned out really sweet!  And it’s our gift, to you.

ginger stamps page

While we are thinking along the lines of stamps and post and holiday correspondences…. this image is also now available as a printed card that you can get at my Society6 page.

And so, amidst the busy-ness of this season, I am also preparing for my retreat from things in just over a month’s time, for that is when my best work is known to peek out of it’s shy nest hidden at the edge of the woods….

“Physically, the creature endowed with a sense of refuge, huddles up to itself, takes to cover, hides away, lies snug, concealed.  If we were to look among the wealth of our vocabulary for verbs that express the dynamics of retreat, we should find images based on animal movements of withdrawal, movements that are engraved in our muscles.”  ~Gaston Bachelard (from The Poetics of Space)

We’ve had a mad road trip to a cacophonous regional dance tournament and ill loved ones bravely facing down end of life visitations and decision-making.  There are concerts in which to participate and to attend… gifts to seek out and parties to plan for, bake for and to attend.  It is December, and somehow the Spirit of Waiting which our souls crave during this season of Advent and Solstice is harder and harder each year to achieve.  Yet I celebrate all of the gifts of gathering this season brings while I prepare for the calm at the end of the storm.

During those first few precious days of a New Year, I will retreat to work in Taos, at a place that never fails to stir my deepest creativity.  I’d love for you to be a part of this retreat; to follow the story of a small creature in a big world, who believes in the magic of a well drawn, hand-written postcard in the mail box.  I’d love for you to join a young rabbit, who in spite of being a rabbit is quite the shepherdess, as she counts her sheep in a long lost language of rhyme.  Pitch a coin into the little donation basket being offered by these creatures. Be a part of their burgeoning adventures.  I thank you kindly for all of your support.

Happy December to all….

 

 

 

 

A Need for Slowness

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It’s a gloriously frosty morning down here in this Springvalley of ours.

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The cold seems to have settled in for the season and it all feels a bit early, though I suppose it is November.  This week I dug out the heated waterer for the girls so they have access to unfrozen water, and we are back to our morning ‘oatmealworm’ breakfasts to keep them warm, fed and with enough salt in their little systems.  chicksThis time of year always puts me in a bit of a hibernatory place, in spite of  our culture’s Countdown to Christmas mentality.  I find myself drawn to slower pursuits and am inspired by others seeking the same in their worlds.  Since it has been a little while since I have checked in here at my online home, I figured I’d share a a few things I’ve come across which consider a slower world-view, as well as a couple of updates in studio news.  

Brew a cup of tea, or pour a wee dram of something else to warm you…..

The title for this particular post came from a quote from the above video.  “What we have is a need for slowness.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This couple and their enchanting caravan lifestyle came across my path via the interweb-wanderings and sharings from a couple of artist/writer/performer types upon whom I have recently been keeping a close watch.

Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have crafted a world full of magic and old-world style mystery with their art work, poetry, puppetry and beyond and they are fixin’ to take it on the road.  To live a simpler life in general and to share their artful wares and wonders with folks farther afield than their current home in Devon, England.

Tom and Rima created their crowdfunding video with the help of their uber-creative community of fellow artists.  Their project harkens to a world just outside of the reach of modernity, at the edges of our imagination and land of dreaming.  Hence, their new collaboration has the perfect title, Hedgespoken.  I have made it a point to share their project here and there on my own tendrils of social media because I really believe in what they are doing.  I grew up on the move myself (which is a story for another time and a longer burning fire) and have vivid and beautiful memories of time spent in my grans’ airstream trailer each summer.  Nothing fancy or romantic really, but for me, it was life shaping.

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People like Tom and Rima are quietly rebelling against the things that rush our world into the Land of Too Much (be it stuff, to-do lists, etc.) Their theater and home on wheels could possibly slow things down a bit for just a few people along their path, and remind us of the magic to be found in all things, if we but take the time to listen and look more closely.  Hedgespoken is in it’s home stretch of fundraising and I wish them a firm breeze at their backs as they sail on home to port with it.  If you believe in this particular brand of magic, head on over and toss a few coins into their hat.  You’ll be glad you did, as their blogs (here, here, and here) are chock full of fascinating and shadowy paths down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Another delightful bit of sweetness that has come across my path this last week is an interview of a quiet gardener in Ireland named Eimear Moran.  I found her thoughts on finding beauty and synchronicity and yes, the Divine in her own humble back yard to be truly inspiring.  She is another quiet rebel walking the path of slowing down and waking up to things that are in our reach in the day to day.  If, again, we but take the time to listen.

Eimear’s book is nearly available and I look forward to getting my hands on it.  In the meantime, you can keep up with her daily garden thoughts and meanderings at her page on the Book of Faces (I have Rima to thank for coining that lovely phrase.)

With all of these beauty-full beacons to light my own path, I am truly sinking into the season here myself.  My own small crowd-funding project to shore up my residency plans this January in Taos, NM is going well.  I too have a few more weeks to get to my goal and am so grateful for all the support thus far.  Ginger Small and her adventures have gotten the bulk of the attention lately as she is really the sparkly one of the bunch.  But there are also sheep and rabbits coming along with me on this trip.

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Cards are being made of a number of these images, should you be interested in counting a few sheep….foggy sheep sun on foggy sheep

Or channeling your inner rabbit….bunnies

 

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I am having great fun with all of them with thanks especially to my friend Vanessa Sorensen at Nessy Designs. She recently gave me a few pointers in photoshop which has helped me turn some of the mere sketches in my journal into things I can work with in print.  Vanessa and I get together occasionally to sketch and sometimes even to collaborate on a craft project.  The most recent of which is this little wonder of fashion…..

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Part of this notion of slowing down in my life includes activities like knitting, embroidery, printing my own clothes.  Vanessa’s cicada print, my years old skirt and a bit of embroidery to bug out the eyes makes for a wonderful one-of-a-kind fun thing to wear.  And to top it all off, it meant an afternoon spent with a fellow artist, sipping tea and sharing bits of things that had set our minds to wander and our hearts to sing lately.  That is the true gift.  Time Well Spent.

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Speaking of bits of embroidery…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1Leviathan will be on display at the Kennedy Heights Art Center’s upcoming show Imagine, featuring members of the KHAC’s Artist’s Collective.  The show opens November 22.  If you are local here in the Ohio River Valley, do stop by and see us.  Some of my recent skull studies will also be up for grabs…..

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What do you do to stem the flow of time?  How do you bring a desired slowness to your everyday?  I’d love your thoughts and links to others who might be in this same camp of Time outside of Time.

Ginger’s winter preparations… a new post card from Ginger Small

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It is autumn time and despite some sneaky warmth in the weather, Ginger and her friends know that winter cannot be far on the heels of fall.

And so, between jumping into leaf piles, gathering pumpkin seeds, and building winter-worthy nests, Ginger has made some new friends in the forest and they have swapped preparatory skills.  The field mice, experts in softening up a home with fresh mosses and mushrooms show Ginger around the darker sides of the forest.  Squirrels, the quintessential gatherers, share that putting up food for a winter pantry is as simple as gathering nuts and canning berries.  Simple things, when the work is shared among friends.

In return, Ginger teaches her woodland friends how to knit eensy sweaters to keep the drafts at bay and how to brew a proper pot of tea, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

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Ginger loves to make new friends, and to keep up with her old friends via the post.  She is excited to send postcards to all of her dear ones when she is traveling later this season, ready to get to work on her memoir.

If you are interested in hearing more from Ginger Small, just look here, here and here.  Til, then, do stay warm, and keep a proper cup of tea on hand.

 

A Golden Opportunity and a Call to Action

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It is a blustery and quite rain-drenched day here in the Ohio Valley.  Indoors, Ginger Small and I are carefully weaving together our plan for the work that will be done in just a few month’s time back in our home-away-from home in Taos.

But we need your help in turning this plan into a successful reality.

As I have mentioned before, I have the honor and opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in Taos as the Writer-in-Residence at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  I go there this upcoming January with a number of ideas and characters adrift in the watery depths of my imagination, two of which are almost firm enough to touch.  I have Ginger Small’s adventures in pictures, collected over the years, which could use some corralling into story.  And there is a nearly finished picture-book manuscript which needs it’s pictures to come to life.  This is a sleepy-time book about counting sheep, and the shepherdess is a young rabbit named Edith.  I won’t give away much more, as I am sure Edith’s story will change and grow, much like Ginger’s has.

Edith and Ginger need my undivided attention and care to come to life in this world; to take shape enough that they may knock on the doors of publishers and printers. This residency offers me this chance to tighten up these stories and get them out into the world.

How can you help? 

I am aiming to raise $2500 between now and mid December which will assist with the following costs:

~airline ticket

~car rental for part of my time in Taos

~food and sundries

~$ to cover my time off of my day job

 

In exchange for your donation to this project, I will be offering some rewards:

$15 level – hand-printed, single color, lino-style thank you card sent to you in the mail

$25 level – A copy of the Eco-Chic Retreat DVD set (I am proud to be a part of this amazing film project. This reward was kindly donated by film-maker Jody McNicholas of Walk-in Productions.  Only 1 available!) (Update – this reward has been claimed and is no longer available!  Thanks!!)

$40 level – set of 3 Ginger Small note cards featuring a variety of images from Ginger’s best known adventures. OR sheep/rabbit images, your choice!

$75 level – A postcard from Taos! New Taos Themed Ginger Small images will be happening for this trip. We will have them professionally reproduced and then send you a handwritten greeting from our little cottage at Mabel’s.  (approx. 5″x7″, these will be sent as a post card, through the USPS and so will have the look and feel of the original postcards that started us on this adventure in the first place.)

$150 level – All of the above!!!!

$500 level –  Your choice of a one of a kind felted Edith (similar to 3dG and approximately the same size, about 4″ tall) OR an original sheep-themed watercolor, 8″x10″

Most of these rewards will be received by you, with my gratitude, during the month of January 2015.  The Taos postcards will be posted from Taos- to you while I’m at my residency Jan 5-19.  Felted Edith and original watercolors will be slightly longer in coming as they will be made to order.

Many thanks to you in advance for any support you have to lend.  Financial support is of course wonderful, but do not discount how meaningful it is to receive comments on the blog here and over on my facebook page as well.  I picture all of you in the stands waving colorful flags, and tossing handfuls of glitter and confetti into the breeze to keep things whimsical.  The world needs whimsy, and imaginary animals who go on the adventures we dream up.  Thanks so much for your help and encouragement!

~AHB  (and GS & EE, too!!)

(Click this image or the one just like it over in the sidebar to the right to get started!  Thanks!!!!)

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*A note on crowd~funding: As this is, in the grand scheme, a small scale fund raising project, I opted to keep it grassroots.  It is small enough for me to manage here and I decided not to engage Kickstarter or Indiegogo, as I might very well need to go that route to get these stories published into physical books one day soon.  But we shall cross that bridge when we come to it.  I plan to shop them around in old-school style a bit before opting to self-publish. Thanks again for your support!